Pork Chops with Apple Sage Butter

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This recipe looks fairly fancy (well, fancier than a can of beans . . . the bar is set pretty low around here.) But honestly this entire dinner was cooked in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes which also included pulling crayons out of someone's mouth, giving someone else a timeout for repeatedly hitting her brother in the face, changing a diaper, helping someone who fell off the potty . . . and opening up a bottle of wine. You get the picture.

First a few notes on buying pork chops:

  • Only buy fresh. You should need to talk to a human to get your meat.
  • At my grocery store you can either choose "thin cut" which is about 3/4" thick, or "thick cut" which is about 1.5 - 2" thick. My cooking method is slightly different for each, but I've included it below.
  • If you have a choice for bone-in or boneless, ALWAYS CHOOSE BONE-IN. The bone adds a ton of flavor, and the bits right around the bone are the best. Yes, my family and I gnaw on the bones like animals. Family bonding :)
  • And while you are grocery shopping, buy FRESH SAGE. It's in the produce section. Sage should look like leaves on a stem - not flakes in a jar.

Okay . . . now for how to cook it. As with all meat, I like to give it a good sear and then cook through.

If possible, bring pork chops to room temperature before you start cooking. Ideally, you don't want them right out of the fridge (but you do what you have to do.) Pat them dry with a paper towel and give them a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides.

In a cast iron skillet, heat some vegetable oil over medium/high heat until VERY hot.

Add pork chops to the pan, and you should hear the sizzle right away. Now DON'T TOUCH for 3-ish minutes. If you move them around they won't get that nice brown sear you want. After 3 minutes (or whenever you see one has a nice brown sear underneath) flip it and do the other side for the same amount of time.

During this time, peel and chop an apple or two (for cooking I like a tart apple like a granny smith.) This is also the time to wash and pull sage leaves off the stem.

For thin-cut pork chops: once both sides are seared, I just leave them in the pan over medium heat for about three more minutes and this should cook it through just fine. (I have been known to cut open a piece to make sure it isn't bright pink inside. A little pink is fine as it will continue to cook for awhile.) Remove pork chops to a plate.

For thick-cut chops: I put the whole cast-iron pan in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Then you can do the next step in a separate pan while the chops finish cooking through.

In the same hot pan with all the leftover pork chop goodness, add quite a bit of butter (I would say one tablespoon for each pork chop). As it melts, add the apples and sage. This should all cook together into a nice caramel color in about 3 - 5 minutes. Pour this magic over the pork chops and enjoy how fantastic your entire house smells. 

I try to serve each entree with whatever two vegetables I have on hand.  This day, spinach and tomatoes happen to be the winner-winners. Feel free to serve with whatever your heart desires.  I sautéed spinach (stir in a hot pan with butter for 4 minutes) and sliced tomatoes.  I prepared both of these as the apples/sage were cooking in the butter.

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And here is "the goose" gnawing on a pork chop. We are classy.

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Two years later . . .

Hello? Any lingering readers out there?

It has been about two years since my last post. We have been swallowed whole by this amazing thing called Parenthood. We now have two kiddos. One daughter with a flair for the dramatic, and one son who basically functions as a laid back vacuum cleaner - scarfing down anything in front of him - edible or not.

About once a week someone asks me: "Are you still cooking?"

My quick and honest reply: "We eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Who wants to read a blog about PBJs?"

(Although I would like to take this moment to remind everyone without children to go make a PBJ. THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS!!! Why did I wait until I had kids to eat them daily?)

Two years later, we are starting to come up for air. I am cooking dinner every night. The kids are in the kitchen with me - either laughing or screaming or dancing or pooping (or all of the above.)

So this is my re-entry to the food-blogging world. I want to document our real life dinners. Real life with small kids. Real life where I am usually holding a human while I cook. Real life where I have about 15 minutes to cook, and our family dinner lasts less than 5 minutes - start to finish.

The pictures will be terrible. The recipes will be ingredients that can be quickly stacked together into a meal. And the writing will be filled with my honesty/love/frustration. First recipe below . . . 

Fish and Veggies (and Butter)

My tastes haven't changed in the last few years. I still love fish and veggies. I crave salmon almost every other day. I like it simple: seasoned with butter and salt.

I wish I could say we only eat wild salmon. Unfortunately, my husband and I are crazy about the farm-raised Atlantic salmon they sell at Whole Foods. We buy it fresh and cook it no later than the next day. I'm writing this out mainly for my mother. Madre Mia, if you are reading . . . don't buy frozen fish. It will never taste good.

Happy coincidence, salmon is one of the only proteins my son can eat without any help. He has roughly 8 teeth, so pork chops are still a struggle :) But a fillet of salmon can be flaked in between his chubby fingers and gummed in his delicious mouth. Needless to say, we eat a lot of salmon.

And the fewer dishes we have to wash the better. This dinner is prepared on one cookie sheet. I lined it with foil just to make clean-up even easier.

Place fish fillets skin side down. Surround with any veggies you like: mushrooms, red peppers, sugar snap peas, etc. Melt some butter in a bowl (I do about 1 tbsp. butter per fillet of salmon because I don't like to scrimp on the delicious things in life.) Pour butter over the fish and veggies, and give it a VERY generous sprinkle of course kosher salt. Add some pepper if you like it. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.

There are several elegant ways to tell if fish is ready, but I don't have a lot of time for elegance these days. I just appoint one piece of fish as my sacrificial ugly piece. I flake it with a fork, and when it flakes easily, it is ready to come out. (see middle piece above for ugly flaking.)

Jack inhaled the dinner, then tried to lick his plate. That my friends, is a face covered in butter/salmon juice. We declared it time to take a bath :)

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

A lot has happened in the last few months. Our baby girl is growing like crazy. Her cheeks are as big as ever and her thighs are extra squishy. Her cuteness (and sleeplessness) has kept us from posting any of our cooking adventures. But we're going to get better.

We also moved into a new home. It is awesome, but the awesome-est part of all is that we inherited a garden. mint! basil! eggplant! jalapenos! and the star of today's post . . . SAGE! sweet sweet sage that begs to be put in a pot of browning butter. Honestly, you could pour this brown butter sage sauce over anything and it will make you want to lick it like a cake batter bowl. But we served it over sweet potatoes, and we are never going back.

and a little look at our growing nugget and the garden . . . we have the privilege of tending to them both.

and now back to business . . . the cast of characters for today's meal:

The process is simple: slice the sweet potatoes with skin and all into 1/2 inch rings. Roast them with a little olive oil and salt for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile melt butter in a sauce pan until it starts to turn brown. Then remove butter from heat and add chopped sage. The sage will basically fry in the heat and your kitchen will start to smell like heaven. Serve sweet potatoes and spoon brown butter sage sauce on top.

We enjoyed these guys with some grilled chicken thighs and an arugula salad.

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Serves 2 very hungry people

  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 10 sage leaves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash sweet potatoes, and slice into 1/2 inch rings. Place sweet potatoes on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil (maybe a teaspoon or two) and a pinch of salt (i love salt so I use a HEFTY pinch.)
  3. Put sweet potatoes in oven and roast for 20 minutes, flip once, then roast for 20 more minutes.
  4. Melt butter in small sauce pan. When butter starts to turn a light brown color, remove from heat and add sage leaves. The heavenly mixture will bubble and the leaves will start to crisp. This is incredible.
  5. Spoon brown butter sage sauce over sweet potatoes and enjoy!

Flatbread Pizza

I almost titled this post "Mom Meal #1." It is quick. It is easy. It is delicious. It can be made while wearing an infant in a Baby Bjorn. But I realize baby or not, we are ALL looking for quick and easy meals to make. So this post is not inspired or fancy. It is just an idea for a simple recipe to add to your weeknightrepertoire. Flatbread pizza. Really just a matter of assembly.

But sometimes a simple recipe needs explanation. What kind of flatbread should I use? (I like Naan.) Do you cook the bread first or just put on all the toppings? (I toast the naan in the oven for about 3 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings.) What kind of cheese should you use? (Mozzarella.) If you're using meat, do you need to cook that first? (Yes, cook it first. Or use smoked kielbasa sausage since it's already cooked.) How long do you cook the pizza? (10 minutes at 400 degrees.)

And a little sneak peak into my new cooking set up:

Flatbread Pizza

Serves 2

  • 2 pieces Naan
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons pizza sauce
  • 5(ish) mushrooms sliced
  • 2 handfulls of smoked kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handfull of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. (this isn't mandatory but it keeps the melted cheese from sticking.)
  3. Drizzle olive oil on Naan and add a pinch of sea salt. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove Naan and top with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your toppings of choice.
  5. Cook in oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted.
  6. Remove pizza from oven and top with fresh basil.


Flank Steak with Goat Cheese Salad

Phew we made it! We are back in the kitchen, with a little baby girl sleeping by my side. (Turns out I like to give Gracie cooking lessons. She responds by grunting in her sleep.)

First up . . . a hearty salad that the man will call a meal. Spinach topped with flank steak, goat cheese and caramelized onions. It's not the speediest salad to throw together, but it was delicious and ready in about 40 minutes.

(i forgot to include the walnuts in the ingredient picture. oops. feel free to add some walnuts.)

We start by marinating the flank steak. Drop it in a medium sized bowl with olive oil, vinegar, chopped garlic and salt. Then place in the fridge for 30 minutes (or as long as you please.) I'm also learning that it is nearly impossible to take an appealing photograph of raw meat. My apologies for the photo below, but I wanted to show all the steps.

While the steak is marinating, we'll caramelize the onions. Slice a raw onion length wise from root to tip, then remove the peel. Lay cut side down and then slice onions length-wise into 1/4 inch slices.

Heat olive oil a wide pan (as much surface area as possible since you want all the onions to touch the pan.) Once the oil is slightly shimmery, add the onions with a little salt. Adjust heat to medium or medium low. You want the onions to caramelize slowly but not char (like mine did slightly.) If they start to look dry, just add a bit of water. You will let them cook down slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

The onions are ready when the are a deep brown color and very, very soft.

Now for the steak . . . Remove onions from the pan and add a little more oil (keep at medium heat.) You know the oil is ready when you sprinkle a little water in it and it sizzles. Place flank steak in pan and cook until desired doneness (about 6 minutes each side for medium well.) Since we are going to slice the flank steak anyway, I just cut into mine to see if it was ready. I know this lets out a little of the sacred juices, but I don't really care these days :)

When the steak is cooked to your liking, slice it up and lay atop a bed of spinach. Add a few of those caramelized onions and a sprinkling of goat cheese, and feel free to add walnuts if you please. To finish, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and dinner is served. Enjoy!

Flank Steak with Goat Cheese Salad

Serves 2 / Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • Spinach leaves, the more the better
  • 1/2 lb. flank steak
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup tablespoons walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt

1. Place steak in medium sized bowl and drizzle with 1/2 cup-ish olive oil, 1 glug of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, and the finely chopped garlic cloves. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer.

2. Heat olive oil in wide pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and a pinch of salt and let caramelize for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. They are ready when they turn a deep brown color.

3. Remove onions from the pan and add a little more oil. When oil sizzles if splashed with water, you are ready to cook the steak. Cook steak for about 6 minutes each side or until desired doneness.

4. Slice steak and place a top bed of spinach with onions, sprinkles of goat cheese, walnut pieces and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

the best reason for not blogging

Our daughter has arrived! Grace Marie joined our family on Leap Day and now we can't imagine life without her. It has been an incredible month of sleepless nights and snuggly days.

I just started cooking again which feels great, but we've been so consumed with taking pictures of Baby Girl that we've been neglecting the food photo shoots. I'm sure we will resume soon, so stay tuned!

The bachelor brother returns . . . with pork

My bachelor brother is growing up... He moved into a new house, cares for some ridiculously beautiful house plants, and even owns an apron! Let me remind you of his previous living arrangements. From beer bottles and pizza boxes, to aprons and marble countertops. Quite a transformation.

The time arrived for our second cooking lesson. So, me (and my giant baby belly) came over to teach the bachelor a basic meal, fit for his new digs.

I wanted to show him how to create a balanced meal in roughly 30 minutes. Having plenty of leftovers is still a requirement, so we decided on a Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and an Arugula salad. All man-friendly and fairly well rounded.

First up . . . Pork Tenderloin. The brother followed instructions like a champ. He let the pork rest until it reached room temperature before we began. He didn’t put the raw pork on his wooden cutting board. Kudos on all fronts.

Then we got started. A healthy coating of salt and pepper on both sides of the tenderloin.

Then peel the garlic and slice into thin slivers. He made some sort of funny comment about making garlic shafts or blades, but I forgot. Growing a human has sucked all my brain power and my ability to remember (anything) words.

Notice the extremely large blade in the photo above. You will see it in all the photos. It’s a horrible blunt object, barely connected to a plastic handle. (Note to self: hook a brother up with a nice knife for his next birthday present.)

Brother bear plunged that crude knife all over the tenderloin. Then he slide the garlic slices into these slits. We’re all having fun now.

Now for the cooking. Brother remembered that searing meat before cooking helps keep it juicy. Searing also gives meat good color and a crispy touch to add texture.

So we heated oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Once the oil was sizzling hot, the pork went in for a quick 1 minute sear on all four ‘sides’.

Once there is a nice sear, we added about a cup of chicken broth to the pan to keep it juicy. Then into a preheated oven at 400° for about 20 to 30 minutes.

We removed pork from oven, and covered with foil, making sure to let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This keeps all the juices from running out to quickly.

Meanwhile . . . the sweet potatoes get their turn in the spotlight.

I cook and share these often. They are easy, nutritious and compliment almost any main dish.

The potatoes got a quick peel from the large knife-like object since the brother doesn’t own a peeler. No harm, no foul.

He chopped those sweet potatoes with confidence. We had a little chat about the benefits of chopping into even size chunks to make sure it all cooked evenly.

The artist admires his work:

I wanted to teach my brother that a light coating of corn starch helps these ‘taters get crispy. Always the adventurer . . . I see my brother take a bite of corn starch, which he astutely observes “does not taste good.” Well, now he knows.

Then a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt from the hand of God (as it appears below.)

And into the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes. Give a stir, and then broil for a few minutes to help them crisp up.

Mmm, sweet potatoes. You know they are ready when they have slightly charred edges, and you can easily pierce with a fork.

Now every meal needs a little green, and a simple arugula salad gets the job done. Peppery arugula is spread on a plate, then topped with shaved pecorino cheese. Pecorino is very close to parmesan, but I find it to be saltier (i.e. better!) Drizzle a little olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar (which my brother had stored in the fridge?) and an additional sprinkle of coarse kosher salt. Altogether, Yum.

Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from Simply Recipes

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A little olive oil
  1. Let pork tenderloin rest at room temperature before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, while you liberally coat both sides with salt and pepper. Get crazy.
  3. Peel garlic cloves and slice into very thin slivers.
  4. Stab pork with a knife to create slits, and place garlic slivers into the slits.
  5. Heat oil over medium/high heat in a pan that can easily transfer to the oven (cast iron, copper, stainless steel, etc.)
  6. When oil sizzles AGGRESSIVELY if you splash a little water in it, add the pork, and sear on all four ‘sides’ for about 30 seconds - 1 minute each side. You should see each side turn a crispy, golden brown.
  7. After the pork is seared, add about a cup of chicken broth to the pan. You could also throw in a little white wine.
  8. Place in the 400° oven for about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove and let rest covered with foil for 10 minutes.
  10. Slice into 1-inch slices. Pork should be slightly pink in the very center, but definitely cooked through.

Roasted Sweet Potato recipe

And thank you to the man who makes this blog (and my life) beautiful:

Proscuitto and Manchego Croquettes

And here’s another recipe from the Food52 community. Croquettes! I also called them “magic-Spanish-cheesy-balls-of-goodness.” To be honest, I’ve always thought croquettes were potato based, since they taste so fluffy. Nope. Just a beautiful dough of butter, oil, milk and flour that comes together to taste like creamy mashed potatoes.

This was my first foray into the deep-frying world. Deep frying is fairly simple . . . about an inch of vegetable oil in a large pot. I even found one article that said the moisture from the food rushes outward which keeps too much oil from seeping into the food. So maybe one could call it healthy? Probably not.

Regardless, these little crispy treats are a perfect appetizer paired with a smoked paprika aioli. (Fair warning, your house will smell a bit from the oil, but light a strong candle, and enjoy some croquettes!)

First up, heat a little oil and butter in a large sauce pot until butter is fully melted.

Add the flour while you whisk continually for about 2 minutes. Add the milk gradually, while you continue whisking for 2 - 3 minutes. (Confession . . . I completely forgot to add the milk and couldn’t figure out why the dough looked so slimy and gross. I went back and added the milk to my chilled dough and it all worked out. So don’t freak out if you mess a few things up!)

Switch to a wooden spoon (so your whisk doesn’t get gummy) and add ham, cheese and nutmeg. The mixture will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Taste the dough and add any salt if needed.

Spread mixture on a cookie sheet and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 - 2 hours or overnight.

Using a spoon, scoop up chilled dough and form into little balls with your hands. Next time I will make them a little smaller, as I found it would be easier to eat if each one was bite sized.

Beat the eggs in one bowl, and place panko bread crumbs in another bowl. Salt both. Then dredge the balls in the egg mixture, and then coat with bread crumbs and replace on cookie sheet. Return to the fridge and chill for 1 more hour. (If they are not chilled thoroughly they will tend to fall apart in the hot oil.)

And now comes the fun part. Fill a pot with enough vegetable oil to cover the height of the rolled dough. Heat it on medium high heat until the oil reaches 350 - 375 degrees F. You can use a candy thermometer to monitor, or you can just wait 15-ish minutes. It won’t be bubbling until you add the dough.

Place each dough ball in the oil for about 2 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain. Serve with aioli (recipe below.)

And a few glamour shots . . .

Proscuitto and Manchego Croquettes

Recipe from Food52

Makes 20 - 25

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Proscuitto ham, about 1.8 oz
  • 1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese, about 1.8 oz
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  1. Heat oil and butter in a sauce pan until completely melted. Add flour and whisk continually for 1 - 2 minutes. Add milk and whisk for another 2 - 3 minutes.
  2. Using a wooden spoon add the nutmeg, proscuitto and manchego and stir to combine. The mixture will start separating from the sides of the pan in a few minutes.
  3. Spread the dough on a cookie sheet and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours (or overnight.)
  4. Scoop chilled dough with a spoon and form into bite sized balls.
  5. Beat eggs in bowl and add bread crumbs to a separate bowl. Salt both. Dip balls into egg mixture and then breadcrumbs returning to the cookie sheet. Chill for another 1 - 2 hours.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot. There should be enough to cover the top of the balls. Heat to 350 - 375 degrees F. Working in batches, add balls to the oil for about 2 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. Remove and place on paper towel to drain.

Serve with Smoked Pimenton Aioli:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Place in a bowl and chill until ready to serve.