Saturday, January 2, 2016


Wanting to eat last night's leftover Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Chops I wanted to have some veggies with my porch chops this time.  I wanted green veggies. Didn't really have anything on hand - no broccoli, no spinach, no green beans.  I had some frozen Brussels sprouts but didn't think I'd like them much with the flavor of my dish.  I wished I had some Zucchini, and of course, I didn't.  But I did have some small cucumbers.  Not the smaller ones that are used to make pickles, but those little tiny perfectly shaped ones they call Mini Cukes.  I had them leftover from something I made a week ago. 

Have you ever had cooked cucumbers?   You will make them a regular part of your meals when you find wonderful ways to cook them!  You could use this same recipe and put it all in a blender for a lovely Cucumber bisque with a small dollop of sour cream on top!  Or try adding them to a pot of chili!  Sautee diced cucumber with the onions before you add all the other chili ingredients!

I used my mandoline with the thin cutting side to make long thin julienne cuts of the cucumbers.

I heated up my trusty cast iron skillet to medium hot and put in about 2 T of butter and 1 T of olive oil.  Tossed in the cucumbers and sautéed until they were tender, but not mushy.  This took about 4 or 5 minutes.  I then added a 1/2 t of dried dill, about 1 t of dried shallots and a little salt.  Stir, stir, stir.  Hmmm, looks good but I'd really like it they were a little creamy.  So in went 2 T of heavy cream and about 1 T of grated Pecorino cheese. 

Stir, stir stir, until the cheese melted and it's all creamy and beautiful!  So very good!

Friday, January 1, 2016


The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria—Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Different pork dishes such as pig's feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.
Well I'm not into any particular tradition other than my Mom always made pork for New Years Day and my first and late mother-in-law always made the best Pork Sauerkraut and Dumplings for the occasion.  So I just make whatever comes to mind that is centered around pork. 
The dish I ended up with was something I would have not minded paying $25+ for in a restaurant.  It was way better than just OK.  It was spectacular!!
As it happened, I had two thick cut sirloin chops in the freezer.  So last night I thawed them knowing that I'd make them on New Year's Day.  At first I thought I'd put them into the small crock pot with a bottle of some craft beer that has been in the refrigerator too long and make some pulled pork.  But when I opened the package, I realized that the chops were just too nice to put them in a crock pot.  As soon as I picked them up out of the package, I thought these are so nice and thick they deserve to be stuffed with something.  So I started searching around for what I have
Lundburg Wild Rice - dried cranberries, dried prunes, lot of herbs and spices, sweet wine.   So I set to making Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Chops with Herbed Pan Sauce. There is no recipe - just kept adding things until I thought it was good.  Here is how I made it.
I cooked 1/2 c of the rice with just a little salt.  When the rice was finished I added a few chopped dried prunes and a handful of dried cranberries.  I stuffed that into the pockets I cut into the thick pork chops that I rubbed lightly with minced garlic and salted liberally.
The stuffed pork chops went into a hot cast iron skillet for about 5 minute to brown the bottom then into a 325 oven for about 15 minutes to finish cooking them.  Out of the oven they came and since they weren't quite brown enough on the bottom even though they were done, I turned on a burner on the top of the stove and  browned them a little more very quickly.  Maybe just two or three minutes.  Out they came onto a platter.
Into the hot skillet went about 3/4 c of pink Moscato.  I don't like to drink this wine as it's too sweet for me, but I had a bottle so thought I'd use it to deglaze the pan.  (good idea!).  I scraped the bottom of the pan of all the brown bits and let the wine reduce.  I added some dried thyme, dried shallots, dried garlic, a little liquid smoke, a little chicken base, and a big knob of butter at the end.  I let this all reduce until it was thickened a bit and then just spooned it over the chops. 
Wow.  I hope I can duplicate this.  And if pork is supposed to bring you good luck on New Year's Day, I'm hoping this one will work!!That was worthy of the time I spent cooking it!!! The sauce was to die for!