An Off The Cuff Post (and Best, Easiest, Tastiest Grilling Recipe So Far This Summer)

Green Things

One of the things I love about summer is the spontaneity inherent in the season.  Grab something and throw it on the grill!

(Even better if it’s flavored with an impromptu compound butter…)

In this particular case, I was trimming haricot verts on the veranda when my step-son mentioned his “pork chop packets” — fresh green beans, carrots, and compound butter, topped with a boneless center-cut pork chop.  Oh my!  I took it a step farther and seared the chops before encasing them in foil.  Sorry, no “after” photo… they were devoured in a heartbeat.  (Vegetarian version expounded on below…)

Summer Veggies with Compound Butter

As for the compound butter, anything goes.  Key words:  have at it… spontaneous… impromptu!

This batch included softened butter smashed with sliced green onions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and freshly ground pepper — but use whatever tickles ya or whatever’s on hand.  Throw it in the fridge in plastic wrap for a bit to let the flavors “marry,” then add a dab to the packet before adding the veggies (to keep them from sticking), top with a seared chop and a generous dollop of compound butter, seal, and you’re good to grill.

(Note:  Be sure to seal the foil packet well.  Turn once during grilling.  If in doubt about “doneness,” test chops with a meat thermometer before consuming.)

Compound Butter

Regarding the off the cuff portion of this post, I’m finally home again.  Missed ya bunches.  Couldn’t resist writing.  Plus, I’m making these again for supper tonight.  So, so good.  I also imagine they’d be good with chicken.  Or salmon.  Or steak.

Or, just veggies for my vegetarian pals. :)  Use your imagination…

On a personal note, I need to restructure myself and my blog a lil’ bit.  So many ideas, so little time — up until now!  After spending the equivalent to two months away from the place that makes me happiest since January, I’m feeling out of sorts.  Off my game.  Sluggish.  Can we say move it or lose it?!  (Photos may or may not be forthcoming, lol.)

More good things to come though, including the winner of my giveaway later this week.  (Giveaway is closed.)

Happy grilling and stay tuned for transformation…

Enjoying unpremeditated meal planning, writing, and rediscovery,

~Kimby

Portabella Porkchops

Whether you spell them portabellas, portabellos or portobellos, mushroomy goodness awaits — particularly when paired with porkchops.  As promised, I’ll divulge the recipe.

But first…

I’d like to thank Paula from bell’alimento for her inspiration for this dish, as well as for the LeCreuset French oven I won earlier this winter.  (One benefit of blog world is connecting with generous friends who sponsor give-aways and the generous folks who sponsor them.)  Thank you so much.  I’ve been having fun with it ever since!

I chose mine in a gorgeous Truffle color…

Although truffles weren’t in the budget, portabellas were.  Here’s my adaptation of the original recipe

Portabella Porkchops

4 bone-in sirloin pork chops

1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. seasoned salt (I used Lawry’s)

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (more, as needed)

2 Tbsp. butter (more, as needed)

8 oz. Portabella mushrooms, thickly sliced

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 c. dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 rosemary leaves, minced

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Combine flour, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Dredge pork chops in mixture; set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet.  Add mushroom slices; saute until golden.  Season with Kosher salt & pepper; transfer to bottom of French or Dutch oven.

Meanwhile, (if needed) add more olive oil and butter to skillet.  Sear pork chops on both sides until golden.  Lay pork chops over mushrooms.

Deglaze skillet with wine.  (Add a little at a time and scrape the fond to incorporate all of the flavor.)  Add sliced garlic and minced rosemary; lower heat.  Simmer until sauce is reduced to your liking.

Carefully pour sauce into French or Dutch oven between and/or around (not over) pork chops.  Cover and place in oven.

Bake approximately 30 minutes, until pork chops are tender and cooked through.  Remove from oven; allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with rice or noodles, topped with Portabella Mushroom Sauce.

Wishing you a hearty and yummy (not to mention mushroomy) New Year!

~ Kim

P.S.   I’ve been making some changes to my blog, including the addition of “Facebook page live.”  Please be sure to join there and/or like me (gratuitous plug…)  The more, the merrier!

Great Expectations

Sometimes my “food enthusiasm” gets the best of me…

Recently, I posted photos from my oven fest (with nary a recipe) and now I’m faced with the prospect of cramming “how I made it” into one doozy of a post, or stringing you along for another week.  (Thank you so much for putting up with me.)

Here we go…

Nothing says homemade like oatmeal cookies bursting with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.  When I first saw them on Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts (thank you, Erin), they immediately went on my “must make” list.  (FYI, I pressed mine down with a fork dipped in Turbinado sugar before baking — I love Turbinado-topped cookies.)

Recipes are linked to the photos where applicable — it’s the least I could do for making you read the same thing twice…

As for the pie…

I’ve been cranking out pie crust for 35 years.  Some folks even call me “The Pie Lady,” which requires an explanation.  (And a post of it’s own.)  At the risk of teasing you further, stay tuned…

Then there are these eggs…

My culinary repertoire is due in part to family and friends.  (They know I love to cook and they keep me supplied with recipes — a vicarious by-product of “food enthusiasm.”)  This particular dish was SO tasty — and easy — I made it twice in one weekend!

Click on the large photo for Chef Jenn Louis’ recipe or the small one to link to her restaurant — the slideshow is worth the watch!

*Castelvetrano olives weren’t available, so I used Lindsay Green Ripe Olives and was immensely pleased with the results…

Twice.

Jumping ahead to the corn bread…

Sorry, no secret Southern recipe to divulge hereI used a mix.  (For shame!)  But the antique “corn stick” pan is an original. :)

Last, but not least…

I was determined to make an oven-worthy meal after the outside (and inside) temp dropped forty degrees.  My mind settled on pork chops… thick, juicy pork chops… with stuffing.

After perusing Food Network’s website for an hour, I finally selected a chef with ties to my (now) home State.

Oklahoma is famous for a number of things, including Will Rogers, rodeos, football, and Guy Fieri.  Guy Fieri?!

(Ardent “Diners, Drive-In’s & Dives” fans may recall when Guy and his Triple D crew descended on Clanton’s Cafe to experience the wonders of Chicken Fried Steak — among other things…)  I’ve dined there — his picture was on the wall!

If you’ve got a hankerin’ for a plate-sized portion of pork, try Guy’s Stuffed Double-Cut Pork Loin Chops.  Prepare yourself.

ASIDE:  I do my best to make a recipe as is the first time out because chefs spend untold hours tweaking tastes and textures.  (I respect that greatly.)  But when push comes to shove, I punt.

Dinner hour was waning so I “hurried up” the brine.  (i.e. I drank the water, coated the chops with Dijon, sprinkled them with the recommended seasonings, and proceeded…)  You know how it is.

Also, since cremini mushrooms are scarce in our neck of the woods (as are Fontina and shallots, unless you add a 3-hour drive to prep time), I made an “alternate” stuffing:  toasted bread cubes tossed with crumbled bacon and onions (sauteed in olive oil/butter/bacon fat), some minced garlic, 1/2 cup of Ricotta, a liberal sprinkle of dried sage, salt and pepper to taste, and enough pork stock to “glue it together.”  Have at it!

Finally (per the recipe), adding the remaining cremini stuffing to the sauce would have been marvelous, but my bread-y revision would’ve yielded “goo.”  (I baked the excess stuffing in a bowl alongside the chops.)  Next time, I’ll plan ahead.  This truly was an extraordinary recipe and it deserved the “as is” treatment!

Gratuitous Slideshow:

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Any “punts” you’d like to share?

Enjoying the thrill of atonement (and a few deviations),

~ Kim

A Labor Of Love

It finally cooled down over Labor Day weekend and I took advantage of it to fire up the oven.  Call it a labor of love.

(Kind of a monochromatic labor of love, lol.)

Details — and color — coming soon to a blog near you!

Enjoying life’s subtleties,

~ Kim

Comfort Food

What is it about comfort food? Everyone has one — except me. I’d be hard pressed to name one particular “go to” dish that evokes feelings of security, happy memories and world peace.

“Why is that?” I wondered to myself.

Searching through the “food memorabilia” section in the back of my mind, I caught fleeting glimpses of Mom’s macaroni & cheese, Grandma S’s oatmeal with brown sugar and half & half, Grandma M’s kolaches, my sister’s lemon bars, my son’s scalloped potatoes and my daughter’s Pina Colada pork chops. I also remembered every good meal I’ve ever eaten.

“Aha!” I thought to myself again. It’s not a matter of lacking a particular comfort food — it’s a matter of narrowing down the buffet! My brain is a recipe box, it seems…

My collection has expanded exponentially thanks to foodie friends and online recipes. Their marvelous dishes, enticing photography and whimsical, touching stories take me into the heart of their homes — their kitchens — and in turn, I’ve been blessed to prepare some very comforting food for my own family. (And me.)

There are no sweeter words than those of someone you love declaring: “That was really good, honey.” Okay, there are probably a few sweeter words about a lot of things, but for someone who admittedly has a four-word limit on conversational banter, my beloved’s compliments are manna from heaven. I added the “honey” — wishful thinking… :)

In these photos of my results (taken back in the “early days”), I hope to enhance your life with a visual prompt and tempt you to do what I did:  Pick one and have FUN! Food blogs are meant for more than just reading; good ideas –and good times — are just a click away. May you never again ask, “What shall I make for dinner?”

Whether you feel like sinking your teeth into a savory main dish, chopping vegetables for a pay-attention-stir-fry, consoling yourself with a good ol’ fashioned casserole, poking holes into a focaccia that’s as fun to make as it is to eat, or investing time in a labor-intensive batch of chocolate chip cookies chock full o’ bacon (yes, bacon!), you might surprise yourself and discover a new comfort food.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Enjoying sharing the comfort one plate at a time,

~ Kim