Category Archives: apple

Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions

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Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions

Do you ever have those moments when you are doing something and out of the blue ideas for something else just pop into your head? This has been happening to me quite often lately. When I am driving ideas for a recipe will just BANG hit me,which is awesome right? Well it would be if my ADD wasn’t so dang bad. I mean just driving is a serious challenge for me at times. I have been known to be driving somewhere that I have been to a million times before, and at some point take the wrong exit on the freeway or turn down a wrong road. It is bad enough when I am alone, but when someone is with me it is a tad bit embarrassing! SO when these ideas pop into my head I have to say the ingredient list out loud over and over to try and help me remember. Again, not so bad when you are alone but if you have passengers they really think about exiting the car once it slows down to about 30 MPH!!

This idea started out because when we went shopping the other day, Kevin picked up a couple packs of buy one get one free center cut pork loin chops. He loves pork chops but I don’t make them very often, A-because he constantly complains that the pork chops now aren’t as good as the old ones were. He loved big fatty pork chops and hasn’t seemed to accept the health news that fat is bad for you. Although the fat is pretty darn tasty!! And B- well I just haven’t been that moved by pork. My Dad wasn’t a big pork fan and neither were my kids so unfortunately Kevin was out numbered. Now that it is just the two of us he gets his way much more often. In fact I think he is getting a little spoiled. I had better make sure he doesn’t too cocky about getting his way!
Now, due to my lack of pork cooking, I was a tad clueless as to what I wanted to do with them. I can make a mean roast but my extent of chop cooking was, regretfully a throw back to the old days of smothering them in a can of pork and beans, or frying them. I know that is OK once in a while (p.s. I will be frying the other batch soon!) but I wanted to make them special

After racking my brains for a while I just put it to rest and went off to run some errands. In mid drive the light bulb went off in my head BING I knew what I wanted to do with them. The true test was to remember the plan and then run it past Kevin to see what he thought. Since the chops really were for him I wanted them to be something he would really enjoy. In other cooking he doesn’t get as much of a vote. So I was pleasantly surprised when his face lit up with a smile when I ran down my game plan. He even got into the kitchen with me to help get everything together. 
The result was one fantastic meal. The sauce for the chops was so tasty, sweet with that little bite of bourbon flavor, and the mashed potatoes with the onions and apples? YUM! Mixed with the sauce from the pork chops they were heavenly. I had made 3 chops and it is a good thing because Kevin went back for seconds, after cleaning my plate!!
Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions
Served 2
3 1/2″ inch center cut pork loin chops 
1/4 onion, minced + 1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 strips of bacon, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, separated

1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup Maple Syrup (can add more if you want a sweeter sauce)
1/4 whole grain mustard 
salt and pepper

2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 apples (I used honey crisp), peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (if you want a bit of tang in the potatoes)
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup warm water


Place chopped potatoes apples and onions in a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain in a colander and return the potato mixture back to the hot pot. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and whip the mixture with a hand mixer until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the Greek yogurt if desired.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper chops and set them aside. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the fat renders. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Cook the pork chops in the skillet, about 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chops  and the doneness you desire(we like our chops a bit pink in the middle now that it is safe to do so). Remove chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. 

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and once it has melted add the minced onion. Cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Return the bacon back to the pan and continue to cook another minute or so. Add the bourbon to the pan (remove pan from heat while adding then return to heat), then add the maple syrup and mustard. Mix completely and bring the sauce to a simmer. Adjust seasoning adding more syrup if desired. 

Stir the cornstarch into the warm water and pour into the sauce. whisking until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Carefully place sauce into a blender or use and immersion blender to blend the sauce and break down the onions, garlic, and bacon. 

Place a scoop of potatoes on a plate, top with a pork chop and pour sauce over them both.

ENJOY!! 

Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Brussels Sprouts, and Apples

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I have been trying to come up with some new side dishes that include ingredients that you might not think about using together. I of course have a difficult time not using pasta or rice because, well I a just a huge pasta lover. Rice runs a close second. So I knew I wanted to start with one of those as a base. Pasta of course won the battle. Caramelized onions are another love of mine and I like to use them in many of my dishes. Shoot, sometimes I just caramelize a bunch of onions to have in the fridge so I can use them on sandwiches or in omelets.
Just over this past year or so I have discovered that I really enjoy Brussles sprouts. When I was a child I couldn’t stand them. Mostly because all my Mom did was steam them with no seasoning. I didn’t like that strong cabbage flavor, I didn’t like them hard, and I surely didn’t like the smell of them cooking! So when Kevin and I were looking through some food magazines before Thanksgiving last year, we ran across a recipe using Brussels sprouts and Kevin told me liked them and wondered why I had never made them, I decided I needed to let my childhood aversion of them go and give the little green guys another shot.
OK so now I have pasta, onions, Brussels sprout, but I knew I wanted another level of flavor. I decided with the bitterness of the Brussels sprouts, and the smokiness of caramelized onions, i wanted to add something sweet to balance it all out. What came to mind? Apples. I mean I do live in Washington and right now you have a difficult time going anywhere without tripping over an apple! OK I am exaggerating a bit, but there are a butt ton of apples available in Washington right now!!

I had the major players for the dish but now had to think about how I wanted to put it all together. I of course turned to my favorite liquid, wine! I don’t know which I do more of, cook with wine, or drink wine. I am a huge wino errr wine connoisseur and really enjoy trying different wines to boost the flavors in some of my day to day dishes. While I was cooking with Heather (my son’s girlfriend) last night she asked me what things she could do to pep up some of the less expensive dishes she might be making. I told her that a little splash of wine, fresh herbs, or even lemon juice, can give a dish a whole new life.
So now we are down to make this dish. When Kevin came home and asked what was on the menu I told about the dish I had come up with. He gave me a funny look. When I questioned him as to why the look. He said it sounded good but he would have never thought to put those things all together in a dish. He said he was still very excited to try the dish, especially when I told him I had decided to add bacon as well. Bacon makes everything better right? I just thought the saltiness would be a nice addition and remembered a dish I made last Christmas that had Brussels sprouts as well as bacon in it and they played very nicely together.
Now we are down to make this meal. I was making my Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts as well, so I had many dishes, pots, and ingredients all over my kitchen counters. OK remember I told you my new kitchen is small? I mean it is seriously small! Like so small you have to go outside to change your mind small!! Now that you know that, picture counters covered, and two people in the kitchen, one of which is on the verge of a panic attack! Why was I loosing my cool? Well again you have to remember I have never cooked on an electric stove. WOW who knew that it is sooooo different from gas and why did they not beat  this information into my head?
I prepared the chicken easy enough, minus the heart attack I damn near gave Kevin (see above linked recipe for my attempt on Kevin’s life), and had all of my veggies chopped and ready to go. I cooked the bacon and removed it to drain. Then place my little green buddies cut side down in the bacon dippings to get a nice browned edge on them and crisp them up a bit. Once they were browned I was going to add my onions and then cook them both down a bit to caramelize them. However my stove had another plan for the dish. After placing just a few of the sprouts in the pan I realized that they were going to burn before I could get the others in the pan to join them. Now I am trying to grab sprouts out of a hot pan and panicking trying to figure out how I am going to get them to cook evenly. Kevin calmly stepped in and took over. He removed the pan from the heat long enough for me to place all of the Brussels sprouts in it and then returned it to the heat. 
I know it seems simple, but at the time I was arguing because the pan should be hot to sear the Brussels sprouts and I was cooking it the way I always do. Mind you I was saying these things in the middle of bouncing around and muttering like a mad woman saying things like “wait..will that work” “but….I never do it that way” “God bless America this is going to burn” and (almost in tears) “I am going to ruin this dish”. Yes, not my coolest moment folks. But I allowed Kevin to take over for a bit, and he smoothly took me to a calmer place and I was able to step in and take over. Finishing the dish without another hitch, and feeling like a complete idiot for my previous freak out. He just smirked at me. Hey he owed me one right?
Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Brussels Sprouts, and Apples
6 slices of bacon, chopped
10 to 12 ounces of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and vertically halved
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 cup chicken broth (can sub Vegetable stock for a vegetarian meal)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 apple (recommend Honeycrisp), cored and chopped
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Cook bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, reserve.

 Increase heat to medium-high, place Brussels sprouts cut-side down in the pan and cook without stirring, until sprouts begin to crisp and brown, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and toss to combine with the sprouts, cooking and stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn a golden brown. Add the broth, wine, andapples, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the skillet, and bring to a fast simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium,  cook 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package directions, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Transfer pasta to the skillet with the sprouts and liquid and toss continuously over medium-high heat for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add reserved cooking water a bit at a time if needed. Add the Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and  top with reserved bacon.

ENJOY!!

This post also shared on Morsels of Life

Apple Blackberry Pie

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I think I mentioned in one of my posts before Thanksgiving that I wanted to make something different this year for dessert VS the traditional pumpkin pie. Of course I couldn’t decide on just one thing so I compromised. I made the Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting to satisfy my pumpkin tooth, and then to fulfill the pie opening in the line up I decided on an Apple Blackberry Pie.

Now, I had never made pie before so I was quite nervous about this undertaking. I chose to make Apple Blackberry Pie because I wanted apple and Kevin prefers blackberry so WALA simple choice to me was to throw them in to party together, seemed logical to me.

I was surprised how simple the process really was. I was expecting to stress out and struggle but it all went quite smoothly. Now I am excited to bake more pies! I hope the neighbors are ready!!!

Apple Blackberry Pie
For the pie dough:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup ( 2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1/4 to 1/2 ice water

For the filling:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 pounds assorted apples, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/4 inch slices
2 1/2 cups blackberries (frozen can be used thawed)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk beaten with a teaspoon of water for egg wash
Sanding sugar for sprinkling (optional)
To prepare the pie crusts place the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add the ice water slowly through the feed hole in the processor just until the dough holds together. Don’t process for more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten to form two discs. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Whisk together granulated sugar, cinnamon, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples and blackberries and toss to combine. Pour filling into prepared pie crust and dot with butter. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with the rack in the lowest position. Brush the rim of the crust with egg wash and top with second pie crust. Trim if necessary and pinch the edges together. Cut a small X in the center of the pie crust and then brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place pie in freezer for 30 minutes.
Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and rotate the pie about halfway through baking. Bake about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the juices are bubbling in the center and the crust is golden brown. 

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Revenge of the Chronic Diet

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I am so happy to present my very first guest blogger. Please meet Phyllis Salmons. As many of us have, she has been through the difficult struggle of losing weight. She has lost an amazing 90 pounds two years ago and looks fabulous!

Phyllis before
Phyllis 90 pounds lighter
Way to go Phyllis!!
Revenge of the Chronic Dieter
By Phyllis Salmons
Alas, my body is one of those kinds that even if I get it whipped into shape, it is true that I will
always have to be very careful about what I eat. This realization has created a great depression
when considering that I will never again truly enjoy delights such as Mama’s Apple Pie or her
Sliced Sweet Potato Pie.
A few months ago, it occurred to me that a good number of the calories in pie are in the
homemade crust. Now Mama’s was great, but I have not been one to make my own crust
because of having cats in the house – there is a fear of finding a cat hair in the crust. So I always
used store-bought crusts – not as good, but I felt an appropriate substitute under the
circumstances.
Now I love the crust as much as anyone, but it occurred to me that I could attempt a “low-cal,
low-fat” version of the filling and just omit the crust. Being that portion control is also my
downfall, it was important to attempt small amounts so as not to overeat. LOL did you ever
know of anyone who bought the Snackwell’s band of low calorie cookies and then proceeded to
have them all instead of the stated serving size of two cookies?
I started with the sliced sweet potato pie, making the filling just like Mama did only substituting
Splenda Brown Sugar for the Granulated Sugar – 1 cup of Granulated = ½ cup of Splenda
Brown Sugar = 385 calories.
And
Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread for the butter – where 1 Tbsp Butter is 102 calories
and 1 Tbsp of Smart Balance = 45 calories
Upon tasting of my tasting my Crustless Sweet Potato Pie, truly I was doing a happy dance!
The first photo shows the Crustless Sweet Potato Pie before baking – picturing about three
servings.
The the second photo shows one serving ready to eat!
The Next Experiment
A few weeks later, I wondered if I might do the same with Mama’s apple pie. On my first
attempt, I made the same to substitutions (Splenda and Smart Balance) in a single serve ramekin
so as not to overeat. I used a Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges.
I sprinkled with cinnamon and a little pumpkin pie spice, used the Splenda Brown Sugar and the
Smart Balance. I didn’t know what to do about liquid, so I must have added about a quarter to a
third cup of water. I baked at 400 degrees for one hour.
The smell permeating the house was heavenly! How long had it been since I had smelled that
wonderful delight – if it tasted anywhere near as good as it smelled, then wow wee!
The taste was right on the money, but the apples were literally swimming in hot apple pie juice. I
ate the apples and drank the juice, making a mental note that next time the juice needs to turn
into what would better be called syrup.

Today I tried it again. With the apples sliced into the ramekin, I sprinkled on cinnamon, pumpkin
pie spice (I didn’t have any apple pie spice), with the Splenda Brown Sugar and Smart Balance
on it. To make the syrup, just guessing, I added one heaping teaspoon of flour and 2 Tbsp of cold
water.

This is what it looked like prior to baking for one hour in a 400
degree oven.

About half way through, I stirred it so that the top apples

would get down into the juice that had developed. Ah, this was
much better, not just a runny liquid!

After baking, I spooned the whole thing out onto a serving dish. If I weren’t going to photograph
it, I would have just eaten it straight from the ramekin.

Here it is just out of the oven and ready to eat:

 
OMG! Perfection!

I never have tried to figure the precise calorie count of the sweet potato pie, but clearly it is a
savings over the original version with crust and ample amounts I used to eat. For the apple pie, I
looked online and found a source stating that one-eighth of a 9-in. pie has 410 calories. Now I
figure that my ramekin of  Crustless Apple Pie has enough filling to equal three or four slices of
that apple pie (ok, without the crust), but I figure the whole concoction is about 200 calories!!!
So that’s my tale of the Revenge of the Chronic Dieter! Bwahaaaahaaaa….