Friday, November 21, 2014

Smothered Pork Chops

Today was one of those days when I finished cooking and thought, "I totally nailed it."And then I took I bite...and I was right!

I actually used a recipe and followed it relatively closely. You can find the original here, by Aaron McCargo Jr. We haven't had cable since we moved a couple years ago. I swear the only thing I miss is the Food Network. Down Home with the Neely's, Big Daddy's House, my favorite used to be Ask Aida. She always made something interesting. Anyway. Smothered pork chops.

Here's what I did different. I didn't have 1 inch thick pork chops. I'd guess they were about 1/2 an inch. Since they were smaller I decided I would do more than 2. I prepared 3. I didn't bother dredging them in flour. It just dirties another dish. I sprinkle each side liberally, pat them down, and repeat on the other side. I only have whole wheat flour in the house, so that's what I used. This may have been why my sauce didn't thicken as much as I expected, but honestly I don't think it matters. It was still delicious.

Olive oil works just fine if you don't have grapeseed oil. I think grapeseed oil has a higher smoke content...I'm not really sure what that means but I always have olive oil so that's usually my go to choice.

I used my cast iron pan. Turns out 3 good sized pork chops won't fit! Luckily, I have another small cast iron that was perfect for one more chop. I just cut the remaining ingredients in thirds and divided them appropriately.

Now, I'm sure there's a difference between yellow onion and vidalia, but I had yellow on hand so that's what I used. I chopped half of a pretty large one. I also didn't measure the garlic. I buy minced garlic packed in water. It's just easier and if you pay attention to ingredients you can find some that's not packed with preservatives.

And the last change I made, I only used chicken broth. It's what I had, so it's what was used. Again, I don't think it did much difference to the flavor. It was quite tasty. I paired it with some lightly seasoned brown rice and green beans! Oh, and garlic rolls. Can I just tell you that the best part was probably dipping the garlic roll in the sauce. So good. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mac and Cheese

Do yourself a favor and go to this website and make this mac and cheese. Alton Brown is right on. I love that it's not made from a roux, so there's not any kind of grittiness to it, just creamy goodness. I will say, it was a little too mustardy for my liking. When I make it again, I will either it just use 1/4 t or cut it completely. And, don't fret about the hot sauce. You probably won't even notice it. I used Frank's Red Hot sauce, because we're (my husband) wing fanatics and we always have some. Enjoy the deliciousness.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meat and Potatoes

I love my new job. Essentially, on 2-3 days a week I sit at my desk for 8 hours and answer questions about Epic. No, not the film, the medical records system. I went from microbiology to computer software training. Best decision of my life. They paid me to learn the program, teach their doctors, and now answer questions. It's amazing. The only downside is I sometimes work evenings. I know. If this is as bad as it gets, I am quite certain I will survive. So, being a lover of creativity in the kitchen, I have to do some planning ahead. Today, I did so with meatloaf and sweet potatoes. It was so EASY to put this together and then put it in the fridge until later. All I had to do this evening was take it out of the fridge and stick it in the oven.

Like I do with most recipes, I look at a bunch of them and then make my own. My research today focused on recipes that used oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs. It's healthier and works just as well. Most recipes seemed to agree with 1/2c of oats to 1lb of meat. That's really what I needed to know. Meatloaf is one of those meals where you can really be creative. You can throw in whatever spices and sauces you'd like and see how it turns out! For example, today I had an old marinade packet of seasoning. I've done away with most seasoning packets, so to find this in the cabinet was a little surprising. It was a backyard bbq marinade. I looked at the ingredients and decided it could go in my meatloaf. I also added 1 egg and some bbq sauce.

With meatloaf you have to get your hands dirty. Take off your rings ladies, and dig in. You get an even mix when you do it this way. You can also gauge more accurately how much liquid to add. I usually add my dry ingredients first. (SN: most meatloaf recipes call for 2lbs of ground meat. There are just two of us here, so I just use one. It tends to be perfect for dinner and lunch the next day. If you are cooking for more than 2, then definitely use the 2lbs and use 1c of oats and 2 eggs.) I mixed up my seasonings, oats, and ground turkey. Then I added an egg to the mix. You can beat the egg beforehand, I don't and it tends to be fine. After the egg is in I start adding other liquids. You can use bbq sauce, ketchup, really you can use anything you'd like depending on what flavor you're looking for. I opted for bbq sauce today with some Worcestershire as well. Start small, mix it up, and add more as you see fit. I probably added about 1/2c of bbq sauce. You don't want your mix to be soupy, it should still stick together, but you need to have enough moisture so it's not dry.

How do you top your meatloaf? My mom loves ketchup on top. I usually go with bbq. Sometimes, I make a beef gravy and serve it with mashed potatoes. Today, I had some bourbon glaze sauce in the fridge and I though, why not? I spread some on top and stuck the whole dish in the fridge. When I was ready to eat this evening I took it out and put it in the oven. Then I turned the oven on 350. I was baking in a glass dish, so this allowed the dish to warm up with the oven, rather than going from cold fridge to hot oven and risk breaking. Let it cook about an hour. Check on it or it may burn...

Since I went with a sweeter sauce for the topping, I went with sweet potatoes as the side. Can I just tell you how delicious this was?  I know you're looking at this picture and thinking, ha, she burned it. You're not wrong but, the bourbon sauce caramelized and it's fantastic. Happy cooking friends.