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Pork Chops

We had such an amazing day, my menu for the evening was comfort food to reflect that wonderful day. We had a lovely breakfast out, took a long walk in the dog park with Sierra, went grocery shopping, cleaned up the front and back yards, and took a second walk around the neighborhood to take advantage of every drop of sunshine we could. Then we hurried inside so I could get cooking.

For dinner I decided on Italian Breaded Pork Chops. I’ve only made pork of any kind a couple of times, and never breaded so this was definitely new to me. As with every new dish I start, I make sure to give myself lots of time to muddle through the recipe. This dish is so easy, there was no muddling. 

So good we forgot to take a picture until it was almost gone!

To start with, I modified the heck out of the recipe linked above. I used only 2 pork chops, and therefore half the other ingredients. You can make your own Italian breadcrumbs if you don’t have them by using regular breadcrumbs, or Panko, and adding about 1/4 tsp of each of the following spices: parsley flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, sugar, plus a dash of oregano. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs-this is way too much and you will waste a ton of breading! For 2 chops use about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs.  Use one egg and about 1 Tbsp of milk for dipping. After browning the garlic I set the cloves in a bowl and placed them on top of the browned chops before I put them in the oven. We never waste garlic in this house! 

After browning the chops in the pan, I moved them to a warm casserole dish to continue cooking in a preheated oven. They cooked for about 15 minutes and were prefect-right at 160 degrees. To me, plain breaded pork chops sounded a little dry. So, I decided to make some red sauce to put on top. One small can of tomato sauce, oregano, basil, pepper, garlic powder to taste, and you have a pretty darn good marinara sauce. Usually I add a tsp of brown sugar (that idea came from by best friend-thanks Mel!) to tomato sauce, but laziness took over and the brown sugar didn’t make it out of the cupboard.  It was pretty good without it, though. The whole meal took maybe 30 minutes. Definitely a good one for nights when you don’t feel like going into a lot of prep.

Stay tuned for fudgy brownies. They’re in the oven now-if they taste half as good as they smell we may be up all night on a sugar high!


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Calzones!

Tonight we dined on homemade pepperoni calzones. They were scrumptious! We would change next time: make 4 small ones (instead of 2 gigantic ones) and freeze 2 to bake at a later date. Despite their massive size they were awesome, and not very hard. They do take a little time, since you have to  let the dough rise, but the rest of the prep is real quick and easy. Find the recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Real-Italian-Calzones/Detail.aspx They are much larger than they appear in the picture, trust me.  Actually, don’t trust me-see for yourself. 

This is what ours looked like : 

Huge Calzones

Basically to make these you make a kind of pizza dough (yeast, water, salt, olive oil, sugar, and flour) which you knead like crazy for what seems like a lifetime (really only 5 minutes) and fill it with goodness. 

The Goodness

 You could really put anything inside the dough. We strayed a little from the recipe I linked to above. Our goodness: pepperoni, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, black olives, basil, oregano. Mix it all together in a bowl and stick it in the fridge while you wait for your dough to rise. After the dough has about doubled in size, punch it down and break it into 2 or 4 pieces. Roll those pieces on a lightly floured surface until they are kind of circular. Put some of your filling on one half of the circle and fold the dough over the filling. Seal the edges by folding in and pressing down with a fork. Brush the tops with egg (beat one egg) and pop them in the oven @ 375 for about 30 minutes (use a lightly greased cookie sheet, even if it is nonstick). That’s all there is to it! 

My goal is to make a new dinner and a dessert every weekend. I’m only going to make things I’ve never made before. If any of you have suggestions, fire away! And if you make anything I write about, let me know how it went. 

Now I’m off to make chocolate chip mint milkshakes (ice cream was on sale for 1.99!).


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Fun in the Kitchen

On Saturday I made homemade whoopie pies. The recipe was in the recent Food Network magazine and looked so nummy I just had to try it. It actually wasn’t very hard. Basically just two chocolate cookies with a kind of vanilla frosting between them. Very rich. Very delish.

Kev and I have actually had lots of luck with food magazine recipes lately. The first recipe I tried was Perfect Hot Chocolate. To call it a recipe is kind of weird since most of us have probably made homemade hot cocoa at one point. I mean, you put unsweetened cocoa (baking cocoa), sugar, milk in a pan and voila! Cocoa! Of course, this recipe suggested adding bittersweet chocolate (I only had semi-sweet and unsweetened so I put an ounce of each in) which really made it special. Add some cinnamon for Mexican cocoa. Yum.

Next we tried hot and crispy chicken wraps. Super tasty, easy, and not really that bad for you, especially if you tweak it a bit. Check out that recipe here http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/hot-and-crunchy-chicken-cones We do it the easy way, but tweak it even more. We happened to get a mango jabanero salsa as a gift. So here’s what we do to make everything easier, and healthier. Mix about 1/4 cup of the mango salso with about 3 cups of coleslaw mix. Then mix in 2 Tbsp of mayo. This is your mango jalapeno slaw. For the chicken: purchase chicken breast tenders at the store. For 2 people you really only need 4 tenders for a reasonably sized meal. More than that and you’re going to stuff yourself silly. Wrap the rest of your tenders up for another dish, another day. Now back to cooking the chicken. Put some flour in a shallow bowl. 1/4 cup milk and 2 eggs in another shallow bowl. Wisk them together very well. In a food processer blend about 1.5 cups cornflakes,  2 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1/2 Tbsp crushed red pepper (or red pepper flakes), 1/2 Tbsp salt. Dump the blended contents into a third shallow bowl. Dredge your chicken strips through the flour, shaking off extra flour. Then dunk the chicken into the egg mixture, then roll the chicken in the cornflake mix. Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side in the oil. Place cooked chicken on a rack, or on paper towels so exceess oil can drip off the chicken. Put your slaw and a piece of chicken ina tortilla, wrap it up, and EAT!

The best tortillas are found in the refrigerated area (by the cheese) in Fred Meyer. We’ve yet to see them at Safeway. These are the only flour tortillas we have found which do not contain hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils.  You will want to cook them before you do the rest of the meal so that it will all get done at the same time.

If you end up making any of these things, let me know! It is always interesting to see what other twists people put into their dishes.

Have fun in the kitchen!