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Archive for the category “pork”

Spicy Pork over Cabbage Saute

spicy pork over cabbage

I’ve been having some of THOSE days recently. You know, days when I look at my work and personal schedules and cannot seem to imagine getting everything done. Or, a day when the schedule seems pretty light, but then a crisis or four surface and I long for an overly scheduled day. I cannot always see such days coming, but after I have had seven or eight in a row, like recently, I have to make sure I take a breaks. Every day. My breaks often involve cooking or exercise. I need a break for a few reasons: 1) to remind myself that a crisis is only a crisis because I chose to make it so, 2) I get tired and exercise helps get rid of it, 3) clearing my mind helps reduce said crises, and 4) I get hungry, as does my family. Sometimes THOSE days are few and far between. This time of year, pretty much every year, there is a concentration of THOSE days. Here is a dish that can be made in pieces when you have spurts of time to prep, and then thrown together quickly at meal time, regardless of what type of day I have.

Spicy Pork over Cabbage Saute

2 – 3 pounds pork roast
1 14 ounce can tomatoes and chiles
1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced with meat
1 cup water
Cabbage Saute for serving

First thing in the morning (or the night before if planning to eat it for lunch) toss into a crock pot the roast cut up into three or four chunks, after seasoning it with salt and pepper. Pour over the top the tomatoes and chiles, lime juice, water and onion. Move stuff around so all the meat and veggies are mixed up. Set the crock to low and leave it for eight hours or so. Serve over cabbage saute. The cabbage can be made right before serving or make in advance and reheat – it may depend on whether the day is planned to be busy or not planned.

Smothered Pork Chops

smothered pork chops

Pork chops are my friend and foe. It is so easy to over cook them, yet under cooking is just plain unappealing. The perfect balance is of the pink just recently disappearing and the chops beginning to firm up is ideal, but sometimes hard to accomplish. My solution in most cases is to smother them. It often does not matter what is used to smother, just have something to go with the chops is the goal. Sometimes I use some homemade applesauce (try it, I promise you will like applesauce and pork), other times it may be a smoky, spicy chipotle sauce. This time, I used onions and mushrooms. The good thing about this combination is that Big D and I love them. The bad news is that Little B and Tall P are not so fond of onions and mushrooms, putting them at risk of having plain chops. I considered this predicament before I started cooking, thus, the limy marinade. I served them up with some roasted asparagus and corn on the cob to make a nice, bright spring dish. The chops worked well without the smother too, especially when sliced thin for Little B, after she inhaled the corn. Tall P ate all the leftover chops the next day, so all was well in our land.

Smothered Pork Chops

9 – 10 boneless pork chops, ½ – 1” thick

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves

2 tsp onion powder

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ cup lime juice

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin rings

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced thin

½ cup water

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Tbsp butter

In a resealable bag combine garlic, thyme, onion powder, chili powder, salt, black pepper, lime juice and olive oil. Smoosh it around until the marinade ingredients are mixed up. Add the pork chops. Seal the bag, letting out as much air as possible. Spread out the chops in the bag until they are all one layer and thoroughly coated by the marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, turning over at least once. While the chops marinate make the smother. In a dry medium saute pan over medium high heat add the onions. Toss sparingly until they begin to sweat and brown/caramelize, about five minutes. When there is some caramelizing on the bottom of the pan add ¼ cup of water. Scrape the bottom of the pan and stir until the caramelizing dilutes in the water and begins to make a sauce. It will all turn a golden brown. Continue cooking over medium high heat until the liquid mostly evaporates, probably another five minutes or so. When most of the liquid has evaporated and there is more caramelizing on the bottom of the pan, add the remaining ¼ cup of water, scrape the bottom of the pan and continue cooking until the sauce begins to evaporate again. Add the mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. When the mushrooms begin to sweat and soften, turn the heat down and let simmer until the sauce is reduced by half. Add the butter and stir until it is completely melted. Set aside and keep warm for serving. Remove pork chops from the marinade and gently pat dry to remove some of the marinade liquid. In a large dry frying pan over high heat add the chops and cook on each side for about a minute to sear. If there is extra liquid it may take a few minutes longer. When both sides are browned cover the pan and reduce heat. The pork chops will release more liquid and keep them moist while the pork cooks completely. When the pork is well done (about 165-170F), turn off heat and keep warm until time to serve. To serve, place a pork chop on the plate, drizzle a little juice from the bottom of the pan over the chop, then top with the onion and mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.



Dublin Coddle

dublin coddleI adore the name of this dish. And oh my flippin’ floopie, it is rich and delish! It reminds me of a chilly, rainy day I spent in Dublin many years ago, popping into a pub to warm up a bit with some food and drink. I did not have a coddle, but the feeling was the same. It totally has a comfort food vibe, and is considered such in Ireland. I thought of it with St. Patrick’s Day coming up and my Irish-ness starting to raise it’s head here in my blog. It is called a coddle because of the slow simmering manner of cooking the dish. Dublin, of course, comes from the popularity of the dish in the Dublin area. I read one place once that the convenience of slow cooking the one-dish meal and the ease of keeping it warm in the oven has a logical basis – it allowed for a warm meal to be ready for the man of the house when he came home late from the pub, after the rest of the family was already in bed. Heh. From my experience there are almost as many variations of this dish as there are mothers and grandmothers. Just like in the US there are delicious recipe variations for meatloaf, chicken soup and apple pie, each cook makes it their own way. I probably committed some form of blasphemy by excluding potatoes from my version of this dish, but we are stubborn about our use of cauliflower as a potato substitute in our diet, so I happily blasphemed. The results were like a beef stew. I know, I know, there is no beef in the recipe. It is just a bunch of pig. That is what I thought! I think the beer mixes with all the other juices and just makes a darned rich broth that is reminiscent of beef broth. Sooooo good! A layer of thinly sliced potatoes as the top layer is the more traditional route, so I included it as an option in the recipe. I thought the quantities would serve four, but we did not have any sides, just a big bowl of coddle. Since there were so many veggies and protein in the coddle it ended up being healthy servings for two very hungry people. If you are not serving sides with the coddle I would recommend doubling the recipe for a party of more than three.

Dublin Coddle

8 slices thick bacon
6 thick pork sausages (mild Italian or ideally some Irish bangers)
1 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup water
1 head cauliflower or 3 medium potatoes
1 large carrot
1 12-ounce beer or hard cider
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces. In a large frying pan cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Transfer cooked bacon to Dutch oven. In bacon grease over medium high heat add sausages and cook until browned, but stop before they are completely cooked through. Cut the sausages into one-inch pieces and transfer them to the Dutch oven. In what is left of the bacon grease add the butter. When the butter is melted add the onion and garlic. Saute until onions are softened but not browned. Transfer onion and garlic to Dutch oven. You are now done with the frying pan. Salt and pepper the stuff in the Dutch oven to your liking, then pour in the water. Slice the carrot into coins, no more than ¼ inch thick. Chop cauliflower into bite-sized floret pieces, or peel and slice potatoes, no more than ¼ inch thick. Add to the Dutch oven a layer of carrot, followed by a layer of cauliflower. You may not need the whole head of cauliflower, but there should be an even layer of it over the top of everything else. If using potatoes make an even layer of slices on top, overlapping them so the other ingredients are substantially covered. Sprinkle the parsley and thyme on top of the cauliflower/potatoes, followed by salt and pepper to your liking. Add the beer or cider. The liquid in the Dutch oven should come up to about the middle of the pot and not totally submerge all the ingredients. Cover the Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid or two layers of foil. Place in 400 degree preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes, then turn heat down to 325 degrees and cook for another 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the cauliflower/potato layer is soft and ready to eat. Turn off the oven and leave the coddle inside it until time to serve. It will stay hot for quite a while.


Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall has officially arrived in Maryland. The leaves are changing, the pumpkin patches are very orange and the mums are blooming everywhere I look. I worried a bit because a storm came through this evening and took away some of my beautiful fall leaves. They don’t last long and the rain likes carpeting the ground with them. Seeing all the shades of green, yellow and orange turn my cooking thoughts towards squash. The colorful vegetable compliment almost any main dish, and they are easy to prepare in many different forms. One of my favorite methods is roasting them in a way that makes them finger food, but I also found that stuffing them is another way to have delicious results. A few weeks ago we bought a variety of small squash to add a fall touch to our home décor. We included with them some Big D bought, which were orange acorn squash. Little B has enjoyed moving them around to decorate different parts of our place each day. When I get home from work I am never sure where they will be – in the bathroom, the patio or right in the middle of the kitchen floor. I wonder if Little B will realized she is eating some of her decorations for dinner…

Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups ham, diced*
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese
¼ cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Divide the butter among the squash halves and spread it around inside each (using your fingers is the easiest way, of course). Sprinkle each half with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. In a large glass baking dish place the four squash halves. Bake for about 30 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown. Remove squash from oven and lower oven temperature to 350F.

Fill each squash half with a layer of spinach, followed by ¼ of the ham. Press the ham down firmly to remove any extra bulk from the spinach. Top with a mix of the cheeses and sprinkle with pecans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until heated through and cheese begins to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for about five minutes before serving.

*This recipe is a great way to use leftover meat, so feel free to substitute the ham for diced chicken, ground beef, pork roast or beef roast. If you don’t use ham, which is typically salty, you may want to consider sprinkling some salt on the meat before adding the cheese and pecans.

Chipotle Chops

These pork chops are not only pretty, but they pack quite a punch! I was actually inspired to make these chops because we had guacamole we needed to eat before it started turning. One thing that guacamole does is soothe a tongue on fire from spice or balance out a salty chip. The can of chipotles was burning a hole in the cupboard, so I grabbed it and started cooking. We so often use the peppers in barbeque sauce or with red meat, but not so much with pork. It was a nice change to feature the peppers, when we usually use them as an accent. There is no doubt about the smoky heat chipotle peppers possess, so if you don’t like them, just move along and make something else. I don’t say that to be rude, just trying to be realistic – people tend to either love or hate them. If you need an awesome recipe for soothing guacamole to go with your chops you can find one here.

Chipotle Chops

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 bone in pork chops, 1” thick
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lime juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Place oil in pan on stove top over medium high heat. Add pork chops and sear on both sides. Remove from heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl place about three peppers and half the adobo sauce from the can. With a fork and sharp knife cut peppers into small pieces (you can also put peppers and sauce in a food processor to chop). Add mayonnaise and lime juice. Stir until well blended. Place pork chops in a baking dish. Spread sauce over chops. Place in oven uncovered and bake until meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve with something soothing, like a salad or guacamole, to help soften the spiciness.

*This recipe also works with a small can of green chiles, which will not look as pretty but will be less spicy while remaining flavorful.

Traditional Irish Breakfast

I almost did not post this recipe. Not because it is broken, but because my picture does not quite tell the whole story. I thought this to be a good reason not to post when I took it, then the next day I thought the reason silly. I love cooking and photography. One reason I began this blog was to combine these two loves. Other reasons include telling stories and sharing discoveries about food. Combine all this and it led me to an executive blogging decision. A picture is worth a thousand words, so who cares if I need to add a few more to complete the story? If I expected perfection every time I shared recipes and pictures with you I would never post anything. So here is my post about the traditional Irish Breakfast, Americanized and wheat free. I will explain.

Big D and I agree that we have found two places in the US where we can get a traditional Irish Breakfast like we had in Ireland. One is in Alexandria, Virginia, and the other is in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yep. Vegas baby! I am sure there are other places, but these are the two we have found in our travels. A bunch of places say they serve a traditional breakfast, but just don’t cut it. Like anyone else, the Irish break their fast after a night of sleep by eating a meal. For the hard working majority and tourists (like me) who relied on B&B vouchers during my trip, a hearty breakfast quickly prepared in one pan is ideal for getting on with the day and not having a growling stomach an hour later. In fact, the breakfast often held us until dinner without a problem. We did indulge in soft serve frozen cream soft serve wherever we encountered it (omigosh I can still taste it. Yum!), but that doesn’t really count, does it? If you are in pursuit of a completely traditional meal as I describe below you can get quality versions of all the hard to find ingredients from Tommy Maloney’s, but as you’ll see it will cost you.

Traditional Irish Breakfast for Two

3 Tbsp butter
2 rashers bacon
4 bangers
2 slices each black and white pudding
1 tomato, quartered
4 eggs
1 small potatoes, cut in bite-sized pieces or thin slices
1 cup baked beans, heated
2 slices Irish brown bread
2 bags Irish Breakfast Tea
2-3 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F, then turn off the heat. Place two serving plates in the oven – as parts of the breakfast are cooked you will split them between the two plates. Heat beans in a small pot on low while the rest of the breakfast is prepared. Melt 2 Tbsp of the butter in large skillet and cook puddings, rashers and bangers until browned but not crisp. Remove from skillet and place on the plates in oven. Fry up potatoes in bacon/banger/butter grease. When potatoes are half done add tomatoes, cut side down, to the middle of the pan. Remove potatoes, when tender but not browned, to warm in the oven. Remove tomatoes to warm plates when done, which means they are soft and the skin begins to wrinkle. Begin bread toasting and tea brewing. Add the last Tbsp of butter into the pan and melt. Add eggs and fry to desired doneness, ideally sunny side up. I usually lower the heat after breaking the eggs into the pan and cover it, which encourages the eggs to cook evenly without needing to flip. Add bread and beans to plates and eat hot!


Can you have a traditional Irish Breakfast without the black and white puddings? Yes, because that is what we had yesterday, but it was not quite the same without it. Like breakfast anywhere, individual preferences and what is locally available forms what goes on a plate. What the heck are rashers and bangers and pudding? Well, two are more easily explained than the third. Rashers are basically ham/bacon pieces cut from the back of the pig instead of the belly like American bacon, which makes for a hearty piece of meat. Bangers are thicker pork sausages – larger than the typical American sausage link, but smaller than, say smoked sausage. Now the pudding does not really have an American parallel. Irish pudding is a mixture of oatmeal, spices and sometimes meat set up in casings like sausage. The white pudding is primarily the oatmeal and spices, while black pudding has the addition of blood, usually pig’s blood, and prepared like other sausage. The black and white puddings have a particular taste and texture which sometimes turn people off. I appreciate them in small quantities. Big D on the other hand could eat plate fulls with a big grin on his face (along with haggis, but that is another story).

In our small Texas town we could not find the pudding, and Big D could not even find anyone who would sell him pig or cow blood to make his own pudding with his sausage making contraption. It is completely missing from our meal. Also, no rashers were available so we substituted thick cut bacon. Bangers were unavailable so we substituted beef breakfast sausages. The canned baked beans available around here are sweetened overwhelmingly, unlike Irish baked beans, so we just left them out. On top of all these changes, we also had gluten-free bread instead of Irish brown bread to address Big D’s wheat sensitivities.

As with traditional American breakfasts, some things on a traditional Irish breakfast plate vary depending on preference – some cannot bear to be without their baked beans, while others want their eggs scrambled or drink coffee instead of tea. As I mentioned earlier, the picture represents an incomplete Irish breakfast, but the recipe takes you through the traditional version to which I was introduced while traveling Éire. Regardless of my qualms about this post, the breakfast was delicious. After eating it we leaned back, smiling, full and happy.


Mustard Cider Pork Chops

One thing about traditional Irish foods and methods of preparation is they are often simple and/or quick. I enjoy making simply prepared dishes just as much as complicated ones. Many more modern Irish dishes combine sweet and savory to compliment meats, which is what I did here. Although the older method of preparing chops (pork or mutton) involves boiling them in broth (Irish food boiled? No! Never heard of that concept before!), but I just could not do it. I had to sear them a bit before letting them simmer in the sauce. So sue me, I broke from tradition. I am sure the Irish food cops will not be knocking on my door anytime soon. These chops go great with colcannon I shared with you earlier this week. I was inspired by the recipe here, but may have made so many changes you might not be able to tell. Have a great weekend and look for more Irish inspired dishes soon!

Mustard Cider Pork Chops

4 thin cut bone-in pork chops
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp cider
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Make two slits in the meat of each pork chop, 2-3 inches apart cutting towards the bone. Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot add garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Add mustard, honey and lime juice. Stir until combined and hot. Place pork chops in the pan, press down a bit, then flip, allowing both sides of the chops to be covered with sauce. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes until seared. Decrease heat to medium-low and cover pan, cooking until pork is cooked through. Serve immediately.

pan pork chops

It is really easy to make dry pork. The first pork loin I ever made was a disaster. I loved the flavors on it – a Jamaican jerk combination of cinnamon, thyme, allspice and nutmeg – the flavor was great, but the meat was almost sandy it was so dry. I wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked. I did a really good job at that part. Ugh. I have since improved my technique to cook moist pork and will share the jerk recipe with you soon. Today I am doing a simple one-pan pork chop recipe that always comes out moist and delicious.

Pan Pork Chops

4-5 thin pork chops, with or without bone
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper (or seasoning salt) to taste

Heat large skillet over medium high flame. Add 1 Tbsp oil. When oil is hot add onions and cook until they begin to brown. Salt and pepper lightly. Make two short cuts on each pork chop – they should run about 1/2 inch from the outer edge towards the center, and be 2-3 inches apart. This will help keep the chops flat in the pan instead of curling up. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Move onions to the edges and walls of the pan. Add remaining oil to the pan. When it is hot add the chops. Cook on each side about five minutes until browned. Add lime juice by drizzling it over the chops and onions. You may need to move the chops out of the way and stir up the onions to keep them from getting too dark. Cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook slowly to desired doneness, about five more minutes. Remove pork chops to serving plate and increase heat under pan. Cook onions and liquid in pan until liquid is reduced by half, about two minutes. Top pork chops with onions and sauce. Serve immediately, ideally with some parboiled rice cooked with broth and some roasted acorn squash.

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