Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Maple Worcestershire Pork Chops

maple-worcestershire-pork-chops-titlePure maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce pair up for an amazingly quick sauce to serve over pork that would be equally delicious with chicken.


Since I had to thaw and hack into one of my pork loin roasts to make chops the other day, I had pork I needed to do something with.  Since the hunk of porcine was too small to adequately roast, I decided I may as well do chops again.  I mean, chops are quick and easy and there was a sauce I really, really wanted to try.

In my recipe travels, I encountered a burger with maple-Worcestershire onions that sounds AMAZING.  The idea of the sweet syrup with salty Worcestershire made me drool just thinking of it.  Of course, since Mr. Onion-hater is called that for a reason, I imagined the sauce for a slightly different application.

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First I seasoned the chops with a little salt and pepper and cooked them for 4-5 minutes on each side.  Then I set them aside while the sauce bubbled for a few minutes and added the chops back in to finish cooking.  The whole process took about 20 minutes, including cutting the chops themselves.

I don’t know why I overlooked chops as quick weeknight meal, especially since we are not a-scared of pork in these parts.  Pork loin is still considered a lean meat and is just very slightly higher in fat than skinless chicken thighs and is actually lower in cholesterol and sodium.

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It’s also not as scary as it was in the past.  My mom and grandmother used to cook pork until it was very well done but the risk of things like trichinosis are a thing of the past so you just have to make sure it reaches 145º in the center to kill off any food borne ookiness.

Yeah, I do feature bacon quite a bit on this site but we eat bacon in moderation around here and use it as an accent flavor to keep the fat and sodium in check.  Since Mr. O’s cardiologist has given him a clean bill of health, we still eat our other white meat with no guilt whatsoever.

And recipes like this one certainly help!

Maple Worcestershire Pork Chops
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Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 ~ ½" boneless pork loin chops
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c apple juice
  • ¼ c pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
Instructions
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle one side with the chops with half of the salt and pepper. Place in the skillet seasoned side down and season the top. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and flip the chops. Cook another 4-5 minutes or until the chops are just cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, while the chops are cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk together the juice, syrup and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.
  4. When the chops are done, remove them to a plate. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, 30-60 seconds, until softened. Add the maple-Worcestershire mix to the skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring often until the sauce starts to thicken, 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the chops back to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chaps back to the plate and turn the heat up to high. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and like syrup, 1-2 minutes.
  6. Drizzle the sauce over the pork and serve.
Notes
Inspired by this recipe

 

Broccoli & Pasta with Pepper Jack Cheese

broccoli-pepper-jack-pasta-title

This quick and bold play on macaroni & cheese comes with a bit of health from the broccoli florets.


 

After making the black bean burgers last week, I still had a large chunk of pepper jack cheese to use.  I could say that the main reason I still had so much in the fridge is because it was actually cheaper to buy the 16 oz block than the 8 oz, which is a true but strange phenomena that happens at my local Kroger, but the real reason is that I really just love cheese and pepper jack is one of my favorites.

I needed a quick and easy side to go with some pork chops and this combination just seemed like a no-brainer.  And since I had some frozen broccoli florets in the freezer, I threw those in as well.  I do honestly think fresh broccoli would have been better but I went with what I had on hand and frozen works really well in a pinch, I think.

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I should have let this set for a few minutes before dishing it to give the sauce more of a chance to thicken but I was hungry and my pork chops finished cooking sooner than I expected.  Oops!  It’s one of those things that happen to everyone, right?

By the time I was done taking these pics, the consistency was perfect.  I was concerned that this would end up being a spicier dish than I intended but the milk and the sour cream helped tone it down just a bit.  Not that I would have complained, mind you.

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The pork chops I made to go with these were actually cut from one of the pork loins I had in the freezer.  Rather than doing a slow cooked pulled pork like I often do, I sliced 4 ~ 1/2″ chops off one end and put the rest of the roast in the fridge for use in a couple of days.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before this that I could do that rather than buying separate chops.  The next time I buy a pork loin in the future, I plan to cut off some chops and freeze them that way.  I can be a little slow sometimes but I eventually catch on.

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I was sent a jar of Hidden Cove Lemon Garlic Blend from the Savory Spice Shop to try out and was excited to give this a go.  They also sent me a copy of their cookbook, Spice to Plate, which has 30 recipes featuring 10 of their spice blends.  I looked at the 3 that were for the Lemon Garlic Blend and, while they looked good, none of them really sang out to me.  Now, I do have a few ideas from some of the other recipes in the book so you will likely see some of those later!

So for these pork chops, all I did was season one side of each with a good amount of the blend and some kosher salt and coated the seasonings with a light spritz of cooking spray.  I heated a large skillet to medium high and placed the chops seasoned side down.  While they sizzled, I seasoned and sprayed the top sides just like I did the others.  After 2-3 minutes, I flipped the chops and cooked for 2-3 minutes more.  Then I stuck them in a 350º oven for 15 minutes to finish them.

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They turned out perfectly and the seasoning was really, really good!  It wasn’t too lemony and the garlic was nice and strong.  Most blends from regular grocery stores seem to error the other way so that was a wonderful surprise.  I can see this becoming one of my go-to’s for fast meals without much fuss.

I’m not normally a fan of premade blends but I’m honestly curious about some of the others they sell.  And, even though I was given the blend and cookbook, all opinions I expressed here are 100% my own.

Now… on to the recipe for that delectable dairy-filled dish!

Broccoli & Pasta with Pepper Jack Cheese
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Makes: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 16 oz dried pasta, such as penne
  • 16 oz pkg frozen broccoli florets
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour (I used white-wheat)
  • 1½ c milk (I used skim)
  • 12 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • ¼ c sour cream
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and bring back to a boil. After 2 minutes of boiling, add the frozen broccoli. Bring back to a boil and cook 7-9 minutes or until pasta is done.
  2. Meanwhile, place butter in a medium saucepan and turn heat to medium.
  3. When butter is melted, whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk until also smooth. Simmer 3-5 minutes or until mixture if thick and bubbly.
  4. Stir in all of the cheese until melted. Stir in the sour cream and remove from the heat.
  5. Drain the pasta and broccoli well. Return to the pot and stir in the cheese sauce until everything is well coated.
  6. Let sit about 10 minutes and serve. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

 

Black Bean Burger with Pepper Jack

black-bean-burger-pepper-jack-cheese-titleMashed black beans and cheese coated with panko breadcrumbs make for a perfect vegetarian alternative for a hamburger.  Don’t want spicy?  Just substitute your favorite cheese for the pepper jack.


 

I know that this will come as a surprise to a lot of people but I actually used to be a vegetarian.  I was vegetarian for about 2 years when I was in my mid-20’s and then off and on again a number of times after that.  When my blood sugar started getting really out of whack, my endocrinologist partly blamed my meat-free diet.  Since I wasn’t eating a lot of protein, I was filling up with carbs which are turned into sugars when you digest them.

At the time, I did not like beans in pretty much any form but, to be fair, my only exposure to beans were in prepackaged items.  My thought process was something along the lines of “If I don’t like frozen bean burrito, why should I go through the hassle of cooking beans to make them at home?”  This was true of other frozen bean-based items such as black bean burgers.

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I would try bean-based items at restaurants every now and then and would be disappointed every time.  Black bean burgers always seemed to be flavorless mush that would squeeze of the bun like toothpaste when bitten into or would so dry and hard that there wasn’t enough ketchup in the world to save them.

After making slow cooker “refried” beans, though, I realized beans weren’t as bad as I thought they were.  In fact, when cooked properly, they were down right amazing which is why I started adding them into other recipes, like enchiladas.

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Mr. O and I were out for lunch the other day and on the menu they had black burgers.  I’d had them there before and they fell into the flavorless bean mush category.  I commented that I could make them better.  He said, “Of course you could!”

So… I did! 🙂

I wanted to make a patty that was firm but not dry, moist but not mushy, and definitely flavorful.  I was scared that if I cooked the patties until the outside was crunchy, the patty would dry out.  But then I figured a coating of panko on the outside of the patty would help give it crunch without drying the patty out.

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It worked!  Yay!

Black Bean Burger with Pepper Jack
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Cook time: 
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Makes: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 c panko bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 hamburgers buns
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mash the beans with a fork until mostly smooth.
  2. To the bowl, add ½ the pepper jack cheese, ¼ cup of the panko, the garlic, salt, cumin and oregano. Use the fork to mix together well. Divide the mixture into 4 parts and form each portion into a ½" patty, packing well to keep together. Place the patties on a plate.
  3. On another plate, stir together the remaining ¾ cup of panko with the garlic powder.
  4. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg with the water.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of one patty thinly with the egg mixture. Place the patty egg-side down on the panko-garlic mixture. While the patty is still on the panko mixture, brush the plain side of the patty with egg wash and carefully flip the patty to coat with panko. Gently place the patty back on the plate and repeat with the remaining patties.
  6. Heat a nonstick pan over med-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the patties and cook for 3 minutes. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and carefully flip the patties. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining pepper jack cheese. Cook for 2 minutes then cover the pan with a lid or, if using a griddle pan, cover with a large metal bowl. Cook for 2 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.
  7. Serve on buns with your favorite burger toppings.

 

 

Watermelon & Mint Smoothie

watermelon-mint-smoothie-title

So cool and refreshing, mint brings just a little extra something to this cool watermelon beverage.


 

Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day!  This month I was assigned Nayna’s blog, simply.food.  Nayna is “a ‘homecook’ without culinary school training striving to make [her] dishes feel complete without being complicated. ”  She is also a vegetarian in the UK who was actually assigned my blog back in April!  She had so many delicious sounding recipes on her site but I’m in kind of a smoothie kick right now so that’s where my focus went.

I ultimately decided on her Watermelon Smoothie because it just sounded so cool and refreshing.  And I also added the optional mint which, I must say, should not be optional.  It made me wish I had a porch with a rocking chair so I could sip it while watching the sun set.  I enjoyed it just as much, though, sitting on my sofa watching “Agents of SHIELD.”

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Like my goblets?  These are my absolute favorite glasses and I wish I had more but 2 are really enough.

I only used a quarter of the watermelon I bought so I have lots of melon to eat over the next few days.  Oh, it sucks to be me.  Hee hee!  Mr. O does not like melon so it’s mine, all mine!

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Watermelon & Mint Smoothie
By: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 2 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 c watermelon cut into 1" cubes, seeds removed
  • 1 c ice cubes
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to your blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into 2 glasses and serve immediately.
Notes
Adapted slightly from simply.food

 

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Southwest Chipotle Potatoes

southwest-chipotle-potatoes-titleThese potatoes are not for the faint of heart!  Feel free to add some cheese but definitely don’t skimp on the sour cream.


I can safely say that, right now, this is my favorite side dish.  Even as I am typing this, I am drooling over the leftovers in the fridge that are going to be tomorrow’s lunch.  These are spicy and crunchy with a hint of sweetness from the corn and sweet peppers.  They could be a vegetarian entrée, a side dish for a less exciting piece of meat or add some ground beef to make a fabulous taco filling.

In fact, when I eat the leftovers tomorrow, I plan on eating them in tortillas.  Mmm… tacos.  Spicy, potatoey tacos.  (*happy sigh*)

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I put a tad too much chipotle chile powder on these so I know to reduce it in the future.  In the recipe below, I’m going to put the amount I should have done with the amount I did do so you can choose how spicy you want yours.  The brown sugar stirred in at the end helps reduce the heat a bit as well as brighten the flavor of the red bell pepper.

One of the keys to this is make sure the potato pieces are no larger than 1/2″ otherwise everything else will overcook before the potatoes are done.  Since you only need about 3 potatoes, that won’t take too long to cut, thankfully.

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Fresh cilantro added at the end off heat gives a little earthy note which plays well with the spiciness as well.  I am really looking forward to making this again with a bit of meat added in, a touch of cheese and then making burritos.  Mmm… burritos.

Southwest Chipotle Potatoes
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Makes: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c frozen corn
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, ½" dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded, ½" pieces
  • ½ - 1 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Add the corn and black beans into a fine mesh strainer and rinse in cold water, tossing them together to thaw the corn. Let drain until needed.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. While the oil heats, in a small bowl, mix together the chipotle chile powder, salt, oregano, coriander, pepper and paprika. Set aside.
  3. Add garlic to the heated oil and stir, cooking 30 seconds until softened. Add the potatoes and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the bell pepper and stir. Add the spice mix and stir to coat evenly. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are golden and tender. If needed, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the corn and beans and heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar until completely dissolved. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in cilantro and serve.
Notes
Inspired by Kroger

 

Magic Chicken

magic-chicken-titlePlain ol’ boneless, skinless chicken breast will disappear like magic when cooked in an amazing sauce made of oil, herbs and paprika.


 

Because of my job and long hours, I rarely get to randomly peruse the internet anymore.  We had a rare stretch recently where we were really slow, though, so I was able to get caught up on what I call “homework.”  That is, going through my backlog of cooking magazine and emailed recipe digests.  When I was caught up with those, I was able to spend some time online.  A rare treat!

Sometimes I get lost on the internet and end up on sites without no real recollection of how I got there.  Most of the time, it’s not a big deal since most of the sites I visit are cooking or food related.  During one particular online travel adventure, I stumbled upon a recipe for “Magic Sauce.”

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Heidi Swanson, the blogger over at 101cookbooks.com, said this about her sauce “It’s as versatile as a black dress. Although, it’s not really the little black dress of sauces. Think more bohemian than that – earthy, intricate and interesting.”  After tasting this magic sauce, I really can’t think of a better way of explaining it nor a better name for it.

Now, I do not have an herb garden and money is tight enough right now that $1.99 a shot for small amounts of fresh herbs at my local store is just not feasible when I need several different kinds so I did use dried for my magic sauce.  Because of the dryness of my herbs, I had to put the sauce together a little differently to soften them up.  When money is a little more free or if I end up needing a variety of herbs for something else as well, I will certainly make it with the fresh herbs but, until then, I really, really, really liked this with my dried herbs.

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I am definitely going to make magic sauce again and can certainly see the versatility in this.  So I’m sure you will see other recipes using this captivating concoction, or variations thereof, and soon!

Magic Chicken
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4-6 servings
 
Ingredients
Magic Sauce
  • ½ c olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • .
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 thin pieces)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over low heat. Add the seasonings, minus the lemon juice, and whisk to combine. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425º.
  3. Once the oven is heated, whisk the magic sauce and pour it into a 9"x13" baking dish. Add the chicken and turn a couple of times to coat. Bake 15-20 minutes uncovered until cooked all the way through. Remove from the oven and turn chicken to coat.
  4. Serve immediately.
Notes
Adapted from/inspired by 101 Cookbooks

 

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