Saturday, March 28, 2015

Pesto & Provolone Stuffed Pork chops

I've been gone for about 2 weeks and after a week of sleep (because really, who sleeps on vacation?) I'm ready to jump back in the kitchen for some creative cooking.

I was grocery shopping today, restocking my fresh vegetables and fruit, and decided to heed my sisters advice to recreate the delicious sandwich we were served on our flight home. It required pesto. I teetered a few minutes on whether I really felt like making my own pesto or just succumbing to the jar on the shelf. If my basil plant had survived the winter this wouldn't have taken a second thought, alas it did not so I came home with the jar. I wanted to do something different tonight for dinner and decided I might as well use the lovely jar of pesto for something other than ham sandwiches.

I took some pork chops out yesterday to cook. I always seem to remember to take something out of the freezer on nights when I am not going to be home to cook. Funny how that works, isn't it? Anyway, pork chops were on the menu tonight and I came home with provolone cheese and decided stuffed pork chops it would be.

Most people use a thick cut chop when doing a stuffing, I had thin so that's what I worked with. I kind of like them this way, you really get to taste the yumminess inside. I use a paring knife to cut a pouch into the chop. I would estimate about an inch slit to start and then I hollow out the middle. I poured a tsp of pesto into each chop and then stuffed a slice of folded provolone inside.

I didn't do much to the outside, just a little seasoned salt and pepper. Cook them about 5 minutes on each side. The cheese gets all melty and starts to ooze out. Delicious.

I paired them with potatoes that were seasoned with a french onion soup mix and then roasted, green beans, salad, and homemade wheat crescent rolls. (I feel like I should also point out that the soundtrack for this dinner is "I'm so Fancy"...yes, I sang it several times while cooking tonight.)

4 thin cut pork chops
4 tsp pesto
4 slices provolone cheese
seasoned salt

Cut a pouch into the pork chop, pour in a tsp of pesto, stuff in the cheese. Cook 5 minutes on each side. So quick, so good.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ranch Pork Chops w/Buttered Herb Rice

So last month my husband and I were hanging out in the living room when he starts snacking on Cool Ranch Doritos. Those are my favorite. I know I've talked about my husband and his ridiculous discipline, but I stay away from snacks like that because I will open the bag and snack on them until they're gone. I sat here staring at his chips and decided maybe I should make some popcorn. And then my brain started working and said, "You should make cool ranch popcorn." Sometimes my brain is brilliant folks.

I found this homemade ranch dressing mix  and decided I'd give it a shot. Of course, I don't do anything by the book so my version has no dried buttermilk or dried chopped onion. I didn't have any so I just omitted them. I figured since I wasn't turning this into actual dressing, the buttermilk probably wouldn't matter and I used about a tsp more of onion powder to make up for the missing chopped onion. Now, how did the popcorn turn out? Not great. I didn't  have really butter popcorn so the seasoning didn't really stick. I still have hope, but for now the seasoning is getting put to use in other places.

That leads me into tonight's supper. I had some boneless pork chops out and decided the ranch was a good way to go. The mix isn't really salty, so I used a hearty pinch and covered one side of each chop. On the other side, I used this rancher steak seasoning I got from a party my sister had. I did a simple pan fry, about 6-7 minutes each side on med-high heat. I didn't use any oil, I tell you if you don't have a good non-stick pan you need to go get one.

I paired the chops with some butter herb rice. Cook some white (or brown) rice in chicken broth and then add butter, marjoram, basil, and oregano. The ratios will changed depending on how much rice you cook. I cooked about 3/4 cup of dried rice and used 1 T butter and shame on me, I never measure the actual seasoning. I just shake the container until there's a good coating and then stir it up. It's simple but very good.

I use a chicken bouillon mix for my broth and only used about half as much bouillon as required, so it was very light and quite good. It worked out well because I over did it with the steak seasoning and the chops were a tad salty. Paired with a bite of rice though, perfect. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Potato soup!

I am longing for spring. It snowed a bunch over the weekend. And today it rained ice. I'm just ready for warm weather! Until then, soup will continue to dominate my mind.

Potato soup may be my all time favorite soup. There are tons of variations of it out there and I love that it never quite tastes the same every time I make it. Here's what I did this time. You know that Crockpot Ham I posted about? Well, there's a reason I never make ham. There's just too much of it for two people to eat. We even get tired of the leftovers. I'm using "we" here even though I'm pretty sure this only applies to me. My husband could probably have continued eating the ham and been just fine with it. I decided I was finished with it though and took what was left and chopped it up. I would estimate there was about 1 cup chopped when I was finished.

My base for my soup was taken from the Pioneer Woman because she's awesome. I follow it pretty well too, with just a few changes. Here's what I went with this time.
3 large russet potatoes, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 T butter
4 c chicken broth
4 c vegetable broth (use the homemade kind!)
1 c milk
3 T wheat flour
1/2 c milk w/1T melted butter (that's what I use when I'm out of cream!)
1 c chopped ham
Cajun seasoning
cornstarch dissolved in water

Chop and dice all of your veggies. In a big stockpot melt 2 T of butter. Once melted, add the carrots, celery, and onion and saute about 2-3 minutes. Add in the potatoes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You can add in your seasonings here. I went really easy on the salt since broth tends to have a high sodium content. Next add in your broths. Let it come to a boil (this may take some time) and then let it cook for another 10 minutes. Mix your cup of milk with your flour. Add it into the soup and stir well. Let it cook another 5 minutes. Pull out your blender and scoop out about 2/3 of whats in the pot. Blend it up and pour it back in. Add the last bit of milk (or cream) and add your ham. Here's where I deviate a lot from Ree, I like thick soup and this was just not thick enough for me. I mixed about 2 T of cornstarch with a little water and added it to the mix to really thicken it up. I let it cook a while longer as well. 

Because of the spiciness of the ham, this soup has a slight kick to it. I love it. I didn't add any cheese, just enjoyed the goodness as is.