When I was younger, I never really ate pork chops. I’m not sure why, but it just wasn’t a staple at our house. And similarly, they aren’t a staple in my home. But put them on a menu and that will most definitely be the first thing that I order.
My husband grew up on smothered pork chops and other down home cooking, so whenever we get pork chops from our meat CSA (community supported agriculture) program, he is elated. So I’ve been working on my pork chop cooking repertoire. My favorite pork chop recipe thus far is based on a Horseradish and Cider Glazed Pork Chop recipe from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It’s easy. It’s classic. It’s super yummy. I made a few tweaks to her recipe, where she calls for horseradish I subbed for Dijon mustard. A good Dijon tends to have a horseradish elemental flavor, so I figured this would be an adequate sub. And what goes better with pork than cabbage? Not much…except Beer.
I love beautiful purple cabbage, and I love it even more ROASTED. It’s so easy to drizzle cabbage with a tie bit of olive oil and then throw it in the oven to roast away while you cook the pork chops on the stove top. We scarfed this meal down in no time. It’s pretty and easy and special enough for company. Plus you won’t be spending all of your time in the kitchen. I also whole heartedly recommend the dill…fresh dill! It’s the finishing touch and boy howdy does it deliver.
Dijon and Cider Braised Pork Chops with Dill and Roasted Cabbage
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of hard apple cider
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 bone in pork chops (1/2-inch thick), trimmed of fat, patted dry and liberally salted and peppered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- Roasted cabbage (recipe below)
- In a small bowl, combine the cider vinegar, hard cider, Dijon mustard, and the salt. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in 12-inch skillet (cast iron works wonders), until oil just begins to smoke. Place pork chops into skillet and allow them to brown well on one side (about 3 minutes). Turn the pork chops and cook an additional minute on the other side. Transfer the browned pork chops to a plate and drain the skillet of any excess fat.
- Pour the apple cider glaze mixture into the skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken (about 2 to 4 minutes). Your spatula should leave a trail across the bottom of the pan when scraped through the glaze.
- Return the browned pork chops to the skillet with the thickened glaze. Turn the pork chops to coat both sides with the glaze. Continue to cook them over medium heat until the centers of the pork chops are cooked through (a temperature of 140 F). This should take about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings in the glaze.
- Transfer pork chops to plates with roasted cabbage. Pour additional sauce on top of both the pork chops and the cabbage. Sprinkle with fresh dill.
- 1/2 head of purple or green cabbage (i prefer the color of the purple cabbage)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for coating the roasting pan)
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Slice cabbage into 1/4-inch slices and place into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil, vinegar, and salt. Combine well and place onto an oiled roasting pan.
- Cook for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Remove from oven and place equal portions on plates.
I have a divided house when it comes to silky smooth soups that only contain vegetables and no cream. Pureed smooth, they show off the amazing flavor of just the vegetables without anything masking their natural deliciousness. I love them…a lot. They are creamy without being loaded with cream. They are smooth and comforting and light. I want them in my belly.
The other person in this house does not like them because, well…they are creamy without being loaded with cream and they are smooth and light and in his words, “like baby food”. He wants heartiness. He wants carbs. He wants meat. He wants cream. He wants butter. He wants bacon. Do I live with Paula Dean?
And I craaaave creamy soups that have NO cream but are just ALL vegetables. I love smooth and creamy tomato soup, or carrot soup, or butternut squash soup. And every time I make them, my poor hubs has to eat this nourishing amazing bowl of yumminess and smile and leave ALL the leftovers for me. GOOD. Best lunches EVER. He can have his can of tuna and weird packages of sardines for lunch. Meanwhile, I will enjoy my creamy roasted soups and everyone at work will smell them and say “whoa…what are you having?”. In a good way. At least, that’s how it plays out in my head.
I stumbled on this Parsnip and Apple soup the other day on the most beautiful blog called Golubka Kitchen and I instantly began drooling. I couldn’t get the soup out of my brain box. I adapted it to roast the parsnips and I swapped out the potatoes for cauliflower. I found fennel on sale at the store and so I through it in as well to round out the awesome white soup. I recommend saving some of the fennel fronds and some thyme for topping these delicious bowls of comfort. The soup is also yummy with a good drizzle of olive oil.
So despite knowing that I have a divided house on smooth and creamy dreamless soups, I MADE it. and I loooooved it. I recommend you do the same, because then you will have a few days worth of amazing lunches and they get stuck with canned tuna.
Creamy Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free, and Paleo-Friendly)
Adapted from Golubka Kitchen
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish
- 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1/2 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1/2-inch wide slices
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for drizzling on finished soup bowls)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for seasoning)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (plus more for garnish)
- 3 to 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toppings: thyme leaves, olive oil, yogurt, quinoa
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a roasting pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
- Place chopped parsnips, cauliflower florets, fennel slices, apple slices, and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Toss to coat evenly and then spread evenly on baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing at 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Place half of vegetables into a blender or food processor along with half of the chicken stock, cumin, and thyme. Blend well for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pureed mixture to a medium stock pot. Blend next batch of roasted vegetables and remaining chicken stock for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer remaining soup puree to stock pot.
- Heat soup in stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add additional liquid if soup is too thick. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- Distribute evenly into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and thyme leaves. I added some quinoa to mine for a more substantial dinner.
We are all getting antsy around here. Am I right? I hate getting taunted with a few days of warm weather, then blasted with too many days of cold. It’s a terrible tease. Tulips are peaking out of the ground. Trees are beginning to bud. Patio weather one day and then fire-place/wool socks/snuggy weather the next. Ugh.
Does anyone else feel a little bipolar weather insanity coming on? My body and cravings are in a constant state of flux… Sun!!!!! Give me fresh veggies! Give me fresh fruit! More spring greens!!!!
OOOOoooooh wait…clouds? Snow? Blaaaah. Carb me up it’s cold! Where’s the chili? Where’s the chowder? Salad, really???? Why is it not covered in cheese? Helloooo! I like my cupcake handles, thank you very much! Gotta keep some padding on this bod against the polar vortex!
Wait. But NO! Let’s think positive. Let’s all send out SPRING THOUGHTS. (Don’t roll your eyes! I’m trying to quit being so crabby….I said trying, people).
Wish for camping. Wish for tulips. Wish for gardening. Wish for the smell of grills. Wish for the sound of neighbors chatting with each other. Wish that your lawn will mow itself (get a goat). Wish that those cupcake handles will magically disappear once bathing suite season rears its ugly head (or maybe swimming t-shirts will come back in style).
As you send out your good vibes into the world, here is my positive food vibe. I used one of my fave winter veggies, brussels sprouts, to make a springy slaw! Lime and cilantro pump this puppy up another notch. Red cabbage makes this a total beauty to serve. Oh ya, give me a badge! Healthy and Hawt!
Personally, I love this slaw on my fish tacos. Mmmmmm….recipe to come later. So put down the carbs and chili for just a few minutes and try to get a positive spring mind.
Maybe if we all think positive, spring will finally move in for good. But summer will stay asleep for a loooong time.
Lime Cilantro Brussels Sprout Slaw
- 1/2 lb medium-sized brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
- 1/2 head small red cabbage
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 green onion, white and green parts sliced
- juice of 1 large lime (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Remove any brown or spotted out leaves of the sprouts. The sprouts can be shredded several different methods: shredded in a food processor (using the slicing blade), sliced as thin as possible using a good knife, or using a mandolin slicer. Place in a large bowl.
- Shred half of a head of small red cabbage or slice as thin as possible. Add the shredded cabbage, cilantro, and green onions to the large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, salt, and olive oil together. Pour dressing over shredded veggies. Toss and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing. Eat up!
I’ve been having crazy dreams lately. Actually, I don’t even think the word “crazy” is appropriate. I need new words, like mind-blowingly-weird, redonculous, craztaculuar. Case in point…
Last night I dreamt that I was a midget lesbian that was throwing a dinner party and the guest of honor was Vladimir Putin. In the dream, I was telling my other guests “hey guys, I know he has kind of been shady lately but, seriously, he’s a great FOODIE!”. Which as we all know, erases all errors in life. Shyah. The other thing was that this dinner party was going to feature a bit of a Top Chef blind taste-testing challenge. In my dream, I remember thinking how awesome it was going to be that Vladimir got to taste my food blindly because then he wouldn’t judge me on the fact that I was a midget lesbian, he would only judge my awesome food.
Now the secret is out. I’m officially crazy.
So take your best stab at what that means. Do Russian dictators appear in the dream books? I’ll let you marinate on that dream while I move on to more important things…real FOOD. Not just dream food.
The inspiration of this soup is from one of my favorite snacks, carrots + hummus. The carrots, butternut squash, and a few whole cloves of garlic are slow roasted which brings out the roasty-carmelized tastiness that these veggies hold. Then they were pureed with some vegetable broth. That’s it.
Oh. Wait. I almost forgot!!! The winning touch! TAHINI YOGURT! I HIGHLY recommend swirling a dollop of tahini yogurt into each bowl. I really think this would have won my dream blind taste testing challenge with dream Vladimir. Super nutritious. Super dreamy. Just sayin.
Roasted Carrot and Butternut Squash Tahini Soup with Tahini Yogurt
Serves 4 to 6
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Anja’s Food 4 Thought
- 1 lb of carrots, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 to 3 cups of cubed butternut squash
- 3 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- pinch of smoked paprika
Tahini Yogurt Ingredients
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a roasting pan (or line with parchment paper) and set aside. Toss carrot pieces, butternut squash cubes, and garlic cloves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile near the end of the cooking time of the veggies, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until it is translucent. Stir in the cumin and coriander. Add broth and reduce heat to a simmer.
- When the veggies are done, add the roasted veggies to the stock pot. Blend the soup with either an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, until the soup is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile in a separate small bowl, whisk together the greek yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and just a pinch of salt.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a dollop of tahini yogurt, and sprinkled with a smidge of smoked paprika. Mmmmmm.
Lately I have been cooking and posting a lot of my comfort food recipes. Hearty soul-warming french onion soup, curry (this one and this one), creamy tapioca, lemon pudding…mmmmm. These are foods that not only keep me cozy, but also nourish my tired and warn out mind and body.
They may not be the typical comfort food that most american’s have come to know and love. No mac n’ cheese. No cream o’ something soups dumped in a casserole. Sorry, no big fat cinnamon rolls are coming out of my oven (womp womp). No biscuits and gravy piled on my plate. Although, there are a few times that I miss some of those items, I feel better feeding myself and my family cozy winter comfort foods that are wholesome, full of nutrients to keep our immune systems up, and not laden with preservatives or packed with empty calories.
Lately I’ve been on a polenta kick. Erhmergerd. It’s creamy. It’s sensational. It can be cheesy. It can be buttery. Hellooooo! And all it is is slow cooked stoneground cornmeal, water, and salt. You can add butter (yes) and cheese (OH YA) as options to kick it into winter overdrive.
You will need to spend a bit of time upfront cooking the polenta, like 40 minutes. But you can swirl it, let it bubble away, then put a lid on the dang pot while it boils away (stirring every 10 minutes) and then it’s done. The great thing about polenta is that any leftovers can be reheated with a little liquid to return to its creamy holiness OR it can be cut and baked into awesome polenta cutlets.
Polenta can be topped with a myriad of things: braised short ribs, sautéed mushrooms, or, my fave, a poached egg with braised kale. This dish is perfect for both brunch or dinner. Bonus, make it for brunch one day, and leftovers can be reheated for dinner the next day. Win Win!
Notes: For a great tutorial on easy poached eggs, check this out.
Creamy Polenta with Crispy Kale and Poached Egg (gluten free)
Adapted from The Kitchn
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal (or polenta, not quick cooking)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch of kale, inner ribs removed and discarded, coarsely chop leaves (wash and dry)
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 4 poached eggs (I use this method)
- salt and pepper
- Place water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a vigorous boil. Add salt and stir. While wishing the water gently, pour the cornmeal into the boiling water in a steady stream. Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk the cornmeal/polenta until it has thickened.
- Cover the pot and continue to cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes. Once it is finished, stir in butter and cheese. Place lid on pot and let sit for up to 10 to 15 minutes until ready to use.
- While cooking the polenta, place a separate sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Stir the kale lightly until it is slightly wilted. Stir in the vinegar, cover the pan, and turn the heat to high. Cook the kale over high heat until it is tender (about 5 minutes). Turn the heat off and set aside.
- Poach or fry eggs according to desired consistency. For a great poached egg, follow these directions.
- To serve, place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of creamy polenta in bottom of bowl, top with braised kale, and one poached egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I am in need of a vacation. It’s mid February and the skies are dismal and the temperatures are even more dismal.
So I have decided to create a vacation atmosphere in my home. Cozy, comfy, and relaxing. I curl up with a great record, a cozy blanket, and something creamy….like pudding. This tapioca pudding has the bright flavor of lemon. It reminds me of a random warm day in the 50s or 60s that comes along in the middle of winter and makes you want to run wild outside after having been locked inside from snow mounds and drifts of snow. Actually, at this point, I would go running around outside like a lunatic if it hit 40 degrees outside. I’ve got my bongos ready…I think it might hit 42 today. YES.
So like I was saying. Lemons. Nothing is more refreshing and spring-like in flavor like lemons. This tapioca pudding has what every dismal winter day needs…a ray of sunshine and a warm breeze. But combine that with creamy tapioca pudding and you have comfort in a bowl.
I prefer to use small pearl tapioca, fresh honey, and a mixture of coconut milk and 2 percent milk. But for a completely dairy free version, by all means, use combination of other dairy free milks.
Lemony Coconut Tapioca Pudding
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 3 cups of coconut milk (or half coconut milk and half 2% milk)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup small pearl tapioca or granulated tapioca (I used this type)
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- zest from 1 lemon
- toasted coconut (optional)
- Combine coconut milk, salt, tapioca pearls, egg yolk, and honey in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer while stirring frequently. Turn heat down and allow to simmer softly for 20 minutes, stir frequently and make sure the bottom does not burn. The tapioca will begin to thicken quickly at the end.
- Once the tapioca mixture is thick like gravy, remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest. Portion out 1/2 cup servings into separate pudding cups. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Serve alone or with extra lemon zest and/or toasted coconut on top.