Pork Chops with a Apple-Jack Cream Sauce


   This meal came to mind when a fellow blogger asked for me to share a recipe or tips on meal planning for her Link up on www.hinessightblog.com   When my children were little I was fortunate to stay at home with them I left my job and never looked back.  I had 3 babies (Christopher, Taylor, and Madeline) in 4 years!  I remember my days being crazy! They always started very early and by the time dinner rolled around I need a meal that came together quickly and  tasted good.  I never served fast food or take-out, we occasionally had pizza for the local pizzeria and even more rare we ate out at a restaurant.  Not because I was a food snob, but because with 3 small children and a limited amount of money coming in, it was just not an option.  I guess this is when I really began my love affair with cooking and creating good dinners  that didn’t take up a lot of time or money.  My children are now 21, 19, and 17 and when their busy lives allow them to be home for dinner I like to make this meal. It comes together so nicely.  Your  family or guests will think you spent hours preparing, but don’t tell them it only took you 20 minutes!

I used butterflied pork chops and cut them into 2 chops. You can use any cut of pork or even boneless chicken breasts.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,                                                                                         

1/3 cup flour

2 tsp. chicken seasoning,  I used Montreal from McCormicks

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 1/2 pound butterflied pork chops, cut

2 TBSP. olive oil

1/2 cup whiskey,  I used Jack Daniels

1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup half and half

2 tsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning,  I used Pampered Chef

In a bowl, combine flour, chicken seasoning, and poultry seasoning. Take out 1 TBSP. and reserve.

Dredge pork and shake out extra flour mixture.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Saute pork for 3 minutes per side or until golden. Remove pork and set aside. Remove pan from heat and carefully add whiskey. Return to heat and scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan. Add juice and jerk seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add cream. Mix 1 TBSP. of reserved flour mixture with a little water or cream and make a thin paste. Add to pan and stir until thickened. Add pork  and cover both sides with sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover pan. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. To serve place pork chop on a plate and pour sauce over.

Serve with stuffing or mashed sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli.

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Italian Sausage with Mussels and Pasta


Whenever I vacation to the East Coast, I eat as much seafood as I can.  It just seem like the right dinner to have when I am so close to the ocean.  Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a time in Belmar, NJ with my best friend Kerry and her children John and Claire,  parents Buz and Maureen,  cousin Cathy and Uncle Dan Sullivan(who made me an honorary Irishwoman and was the highlight of my stay)!  Their family heritage is so rich, and I loved hearing Dan tell wonderful stories of the past,  sharing coffee with Cathy every morning,  playing on the beach with the kids and meeting and loving all of Kerry’s friends. We had so many laughs.   One thing I enjoyed with every meal was fresh mussels.  So I dug out this recipe to make here in good old Plymouth and continue my love affair with seafood.

What I love about this recipe, there are no real set ingredients. You can adjust the vegetables to your liking and the flavors of the sausage. If you don’t like mussels, you can use clams.  The possibilities are endless.  I use homemade Italian hot sausage from my local market.  They have wonderful favors and they are made fresh everyday. They also have a wonderful seafood department.  When you are buying mussels have the seafood specialists rinse them.  Sometimes they open up and rinsing them closes them and that’s what you want.  Any that stay open, toss them.  When you bring them home, refrigerate until you are ready to cook.  They should have a salty ocean air smell.

Now to share my Irish heritage:  “May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night”.

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                     

Vonnie

 

Ingredients:

1# Italian sausage, grilled and sliced or cases removed and crumbled
1 bag of mussels
1 28 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers, any color and diced
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
olive oil

Pasta
1# angel hair pasta, cooked el dente
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese, freshly grated
black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Coat a large deep skillet with olive oil and heat to medium. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, Stir. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Add mussels and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Keep lid on the whole 5 minutes without peeking! Stir and cover. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Mussels should be opened . Any that don’t open, discard. Stir in Italian sausage and parmesan cheese. Serve on top of pasta.

Pasta:
Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Watch closely and stir. When garlic get to a golden color, add to cooked pasta. Toss and add pepper, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cake


While reading www.thepioneerwoman.com last night I came across this recipe.  Ree Drummond wrote she always wanted to make Truvy’s(played by Dolly Parton) Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa cake from The Steel Magnolias, so I decided I needed to follow in Ree’s footsteps!

Well, not only do I love the movie, I LOVE this cake!  It is so easy to make and is really is like Truvy say: “Oh hell, Clairee, you don’t need a recipe.  It’s just a cuppa of flour, a cuppa of sugar and a cuppa of fruit cocktail WITH the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly.  I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.”! 

You can also serve it with whipped cream or put it in a bowl and pour iced cold milk over top!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                          

Vonnie

 

Ingredient:

1 cup of self rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 can fruit cocktail with juice

Directions:

In a large bowl mix all ingredients until moist.  Pour into a butter greased 8 inch square pan.  Bake in a 350 degree until for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Lattes


The weather forecast for Plymouth is stormy with lots of rain.  I usually run to my local Caribou to get my Latte fix. The girls are always so nice and they make the PERFECT Hazelnut Latte.  The rain has me in a morning fog, so I didn’t go for my regular visit. Instead I made my own. You can use any flavor you want or none at all.  This recipe came out well, as you can see by the smile on my face!

Hope the day is good wherever you may be and the sun shines all day. If not, make yourself a Latte. Your day will be brighter. I guarantee it!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                           

 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups 2% milk

2 tablespoons any flavor of flavored syrup

1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger brewed espresso

 

Directions

Pour milk into a steaming pitcher and heat to 145 degrees F to 165 degrees F  using the steaming wand. Measure the flavored syrup into a large coffee mug. Brew espresso, then add to mug. Pour the steamed milk into the mug, using a spoon to hold back the foam. Spoon foam over the top.

Panzanella Bread Salad


Oh the joys of summer! On the top of the list is fresh, ripe tomatoes, garden cucumbers, and basil that the more you cut, the more it grows. And the tomatoes… Beefsteak, early girls, heirlooms,roma, plum, not to mention the all the varieties of cherry and grape!  Finally the heat is upon us and the garden has finally started to be promising.  This classic Tuscan bread salad is a perfect thing to make with the bounty.  Panzanella at its core is really a way to use up crusty bread that has gotten hard and to celebrate perfect summer tomatoes. It is a cooling summertime salad that relies on the bread as the “filler” to soak up the juices of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as the olive oil you pour over everything.

Once a poor man’s dish, it has become rather trendy. Once you make it, you’ll see why. It’s a great way to show off wonderful, fresh, summer produce and with so few ingredients you will be amazed at how good it is.  I am serving my with my leftover Herb and Dijon Mustard Glazed Turkey Breasts I had for dinner last night! You can serve the salad with any of your favorite grilled meats or it will stand alone for a great Meatless Meal. 
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                                                                              

Ingredients:
4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes*
1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you don’t have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.

Directions:
Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

Strawberry Turkey Salad


The summer night is like a perfection of thought. ~Wallace Stevens            

This salad will be the perfect accompaniment to your summer evening.
It’s light, but very satisfying.  If you don’t have turkey, use chicken or pork.  It will be equally as tasty!!
Add nice glass of sun tea or your favorite white wine and I guarantee a dinner that will be the highlight of your day.  Enjoy this while you watch the sunset!

PS… Last summer I entered this into a local recipe contest and WON!  I got a great chop-chop board as my prize.  Trust me when I say if you serve your family and friends this for dinner you will be a winner too!
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,
Vonnie                                                                                                                  

Ingredients:


6 TBSP Mango chutney
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 pkg. Romaine Lettuce, chopped
…8 oz. turkey breast, chopped
2 pt. strawberries, sliced
1 cup  red grapes
3/4 cup  celery, sliced
1/2 cup  red onion, chopped
fresh mint leaves (optional)                                                                                                                                   

Directions:

1. For dressing, in a bowl whisk together chutney, yogurt, and lime juice.
2. In a large bowl combine, lettuce, grapes, celery, and red onions.  Fill 4 plates with lettuce mixture.
3. Top lettuce mixture with turkey and strawberries. Drizzle with dressing. Top with fresh mint if desired.

Gazpacho


This past weekend  has 31st annual Art in the Park in Plymouth, Michigan.  Plymouth Art in the Park has grown to become the second largest art fair in Michigan.  Held every year in July, this three-day event assembles over 400 artists from all over the country who display their work to nearly 200,000 attendees.  This art, music and food extravaganza was voted one of the “Gems of The Great Lakes” by AAA magazine, as well as #14 in the USA and #3 in MI among the top 200 art fairs in the country by America’s Premier Show & Festival Magazine.
While I was enjoying all the artwork, I had lunch at my favorite place Simple Sandwich.  I had a wonderful bowl of Gazpacho and really wanted to share my recipe with you.  The nice thing about my recipe is how quickly it comes together. For gazpacho, you must peel, seed, dice, salt and drain really good, vine-ripened tomatoes. So what if you don’t have time to fuss with fresh tomatoes?  I’ve found the canned variety makes a fine substitute.  Another advantage: Fresh tomatoes start to deteriorate as soon as the soup is refrigerated, but canned tomatoes are unaffected by the chill.

This is the perfect meal on a hot summer day or night.  Pair it with some sourdough bread and fresh fruit.  I also like to make this when it is time to clean out my vegetable crisper.  Don’t be held to the ingredients listed. Mix and match to your personal taste or what you have on hand.

Enjoy and Happy cooking,

Vonnie                                                                                                     

Ingredients
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (I use Del Monte or Kroger brand Petite Diced)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes
1 small bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes (any color)
1 small  red onion, cut into 1/4-inch diced cubes
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or cilantro (or more)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lime juice

Sour cream, (optional)

Directions
Process 1/2 cup of tomatoes, along with the water and oil, in a blender or food processor until puree.  Transfer to a medium bowl, along with remaining ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Top with sour cream if desired.  (Can be made several hours before serving.)
Makes 6 servings

Slow-Cooked Southwestern Beef from Hinessightblog


 Today I wanted to share with everyone a blog I read often.  http://www.hinessightblog.com/ 

On the Hines-Sight blog,  you’ll find simple, true Southern tales. Leigh will share the daily joys, chaos, and sometimes “pull your hair out” experiences of having small children in one’s forties.  The occasional pitfalls of living on one professional salary, her life experiences, her luxury hotel obsession, and a whole lot of This and That!   She says “Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine, sit back, and travel around the country with her as she takes a peak of some of the world’s best hotels”.  She loves to talk about travel, and if that trip involves a luxury hotel then she’s in heaven.   Her name is Leigh Powell Hines, and she started the Hines-Sight Blog right after her 42nd birthday to help melt a little bit of stress in her life.  She is a former TV Journalist/Communications Executive who made a major career change when she became a first-time and full-time stay-at-home mom at the age of 37.   She also writes weekly for the Raleigh News and Observer’s parenting site called  TriangleMom2Mom.   Her posts are featured on Wednesdays.

 You will find this recipe on her blog, but I loved it so much from the moment I read it and knew I needed to share it!  I really enjoyed just putting everything in the crock pot and letting it do ALL the work for me.  I devoured my sandwiches using the tortillas, but I am sure it is equally as good on a nice crusty roll.  Perfect for those busy summer nights when you have a lot to do before you can sit down to the dinner table.

As always Enjoy and Happy cooking,                                                    

Slow-Cooked Southwestern Beef

From “A Second Helping, Please!” Post
From: “A Dash of Down East–a second helping” by The Junior Guild of Rocky Mount, NC

1 3 to 4 pound chuck roast
Salt and pepper to taste
4  14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chiles  (As I type this for you, I realized I only used two cans because sometimes I misread the recipe before going to the grocery store, but my version  with two cans was very tasty)
2 yellow onions, chopped (I only used half an onion, and also some Onion Onion from Tastefully simple)

Place roast in large crock pot and cover with remaining ingredients.  Cook for at least 6 hours (the longer the better), or until meat has shredded and all the liquid has absorbed into the beef.

Serve in Tortillas with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, chopped onion (optional), and sour cream or toppings of your choice.

If you are a non-beef eater, I think the recipe would also work great with chicken breasts.
Hines-Sight Blog was granted permission to share this recipe from this cookbook

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette


It came to my attention today that I did not have this recipe posted. First let me say, I am sorry for not sharing this sooner and second, be prepared to keep this recipe at the front of your recipe file. You will be making this one OFTEN!!  I like to serve it with warm garlic bread and some fresh sliced melon.  Kudos to Rachael Ray!
This is one of her fabulous recipes.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking,                                                                                         
Vonnie
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 small red onion, grated and chopped, divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
3/4 pound brick sharp cheddar cheese, or American cheese, sliced
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 large hearts of romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 cup sliced pickles, drained and chopped – choose from sweet, half-sour or dill varieties
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Preparation Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 TBSP of olive oil. (You can also pre-heat a grill pan or a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat or pre-heat an outdoor grill instead of the skillet).While the pan is heating up, combine the meat with about 3 tablespoons of the grated red onion, the Worcestershire sauce and the grill and poultry seasonings (you may substitute salt and pepper for the grill and poultry seasonings). Form two-inch meatballs, then flatten them into patties.Cook the mini burgers for 3 minutes on each side, then top with cheese. Tent the mini cheeseburgers loosely with foil to help the cheese melt.

While the burgers are cooking, whisk together the mustard and cider vinegar in a large salad bowl. Continue whisking and stream in the remaining 2 TBSP olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Finely chop up the remaining red onion and add it to the bowl along with the romaine, pickles and tomatoes. Toss the salad to evenly coat everything in dressing.

To serve, arrange the salad on a large platter and slide the mini burgers on top.

NOTE: You can use ground chicken or turkey instead of beef

Baked Potato Salad


This is my Mother-in-Law Mary Jeffers recipe.  She is a wonderful cook and I have always loved when she shares one of her favorite recipes with me.  I have made it for more than 20 years and I always look forward to making in the warm months here in Michigan.  It goes perfectly with all your summer dinners.  It is especially nice because you can serve it warm or at room temperature.

 Enjoy and Happy cooking,                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

2-2 pound bags frozen diced potatoes, thawed
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 onion, chopped
1 pound bacon, cooked and diced
1 cup sliced green olives
4 TBSP. sweet pickle relish
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl mix all ingredients well. Turn into a large grease baking dish and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.