Archive for the ‘entertaining’ Category

Pork Chops in Mustard Sauce

There isn’t much to say about this recipe except that it was very tasty.  I think the fact that the pork chops I used were really great helped things. They came from my meat buying club.

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce (Gourmet, May 2005)

  • 4 (3/4-inch-thick) pork chops
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots  *I used red onion*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup country-style Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream *I used unsweetened evaporated milk*
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.

Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot skillet, swirling to coat, then brown chops, turning over once, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a shallow baking pan, reserving skillet, and bake, uncovered, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour off fat from skillet, then cook shallots in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add broth and any juices from baking pan and boil, scraping up any brown bits, 2 minutes. Add mustard and cream and return to a boil, then add lemon juice and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.


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The Curtis Rum and Sprite

I promise this drink has a yellow hue to it once you make it.  Good rum is golden yellow, right?

Mount Gay Rum + Sprite + Fresh Mint + Lime +Ice = A celebration.

Take a tall glass and fill with ice.  Add 2-3 oz of Mount Gay Rum (brand not negotiable).  Fill the rest of the glass with sprite.  Squeeze in 1 lime wedge.  Stir.  Take 3-4 fresh mint leaves and rub them with your fingers to release the aroma, and stir into the mix.   Wha-la.

A Taste of Yellow is a food blogger event hosted by winosandfoodies to mark LiveSTRONG day 2008 on May 13th.  Everyone is now or will eventually be touched by cancer.   Cancer came into my life early, when my older brother battled and beat Hodgkin’s disease. Twenty years later it has come to wage war with my Mother-in-law.  One day we will put an end to this horrid disease. The best we can do in the meantime is to support each other through the roller coaster that is cancer and celebrate every day.

For the Curtis family, we try our best to continue with the life we knew before the cancer came.  The best way I can describe that life is that it is filled with smiles and laughter and celebrations of life.   I think it is truly a gift from God that not only did I get to marry my husband, but I got my in-laws in the deal.  So this drink is for them. We have shared many of them over the past few years.

I don’t know if my post necessarily fits the criteria for the Taste of Yellow event.  Either way, make sure to check out all of the great photos and recipes at winosandfoodies on May 13th.  I was going to post a pork chops and mustard sauce recipe. But Friday night rolled around;  Buffett came on the stereo and the Curtis special got rolled out to toast the end of the week.   This post just felt right.

Let’s raise a toast to the memory of those we have lost and those who keep on keepin’ on.  

Stay strong everybody.

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   I will never understand why I can’t get myself out of bed on time during the week, but on the weekend I am wide awake at 6:30.  Thank God that doesn’t happen every weekend. 

It wasn’t too terrible to wake up early this morning because I got to enjoy the sunshine before the clouds rolled in.  There was also extra time to put this breakfast casserole together.  I know that this recipe is not original.  I was excited to try it because it let me use the breakfast sausage from Brad Moore’s Farm.  This is my first dish using any of the pork that he brought to our Farm to Fork meat buying club (see more info here).

I don’t normally like sausage all that much, but this stuff was great!  There are about 1 million different variations of this casserole, and you can put it together the night before and just pull it out and bake it in the morning.  I halved the recipe and it turned out fine. You could freeze the leftovers and pull them out during the week for a quick breakfast if you wanted.  The next time I will add some vegetables to the mix; tomatoes and green onions come to mind.

Weekend Breakfast Casserole

  • 4 cups of english muffins, cubed (you can use bread if that is what you have)
  • lb pork sausage;   crumbled, cooked and well drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 10 large eggs
  • cups milk(I used 2% and it was fine)
  • 1teaspoon dijon mustard
  • teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13 inch glass baking dish. Place bread cubes in prepared dish, top with sausage and cheese. Beat together eggs, milk, mustard and salt.  Season with pepper.  Pour egg mixture over sausage mixture.   Bake casserole until puffed and center is set, about 50 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.



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    Vegetarian Chili

      Every year at work, we have a chili cook-off to kick off the start of March Madness.  The cook-off is always on a Friday, and it’s always during Lent.  For us Catholics, Lent is a time when we don’t eat meat on Fridays.  The only chili that I felt I made well enough to serve to other people has always had meat in it.  Leaving the meat out just didn’t taste right.  That meant I couldn’t eat my own chili during the potluck lunch! 

      This year, I thought I would do some research online for good vegetarian chili recipes.  This recipe base came from a recipe in Gourmet magazine. You can find it on epicurious.com.  It was highly rated, so I tried it out this week on my Hubby before I made it for the cook-off.  (Thanks for being my guinea pig, Love!)


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    This week we had a pot-luck brunch at work.  Since I’m not that big on sweets for breakfast, I brought a frittata as my dish.  Frittatas are the Italian verison of an omelette.  They are super easy to make, all you need is a good nonstick skillet and a broiler.  I threw everything together in the morning before I went to work.

    My favorite frittata has bacon, feta cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil.  You can use whatever you have on hand or makes you happy. 

     Maria’s Favorite Frittata (this is all an estimate, so just wing it!)

    • 3/4 of a pound of bacon, chopped into small pieces
    • 2 small tomatoes, diced
    • fresh basil, about 2 tbps chopped
    • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
    • 6-7 eggs
    • 1/4 cup of water
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar

    Preheat the broiler in the oven.  Cook the bacon in a nonstick skillet until crispy.  Remove the bacon from the pan and spread out on a paper towel to drain.  Pour the bacon grease from the pan, leaving a thin layer on the inside of the pan. (This step is important to allow easy removal of the frittata from the pan at the end). Place the pan back on the stove and keep on low heat.

    Beat the eggs and the water together in a large bowl, then add the bacon, tomatoes, basil and feta.  Toss together and pour into the pan.  Turn up the heat and cook the mixture on the stovetop until you can see everything starting to set.  Add the cheddar to the top of the frittata.  Transfer the pan from the stovetop to the broiler.  If your pan doesn’t have a metal handle, wrap the handle in aluminum foil to protect it before it goes in the oven.  Broil the frittata until the mixture is completely set and the cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a plate.   NOTE:  THE PAN WILL BE REALLY HOT, USE A POTHOLDER!!!    Frittatas are good warm or room temperature.


     As a side note,  if you think that this recipe sounds good, or if you can’t follow it, please leave me a comment know so I can make changes!

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    This past weekend we celebrated a good friend’s birthday. I won’t say how old he is turning here on the internet. Let’s just say it was a milestone birthday.  For our present to him, we brought him a birthday cake from the Mad Hatter Bakery in Durham, NC.   I know what you are thinking; “Why didn’t you bake a cake for him?”.  The answer is very simple; I don’t bake.  Baking Lenny a cake would not have been a present for him; it would have been a trip to the ER.

    Anyway, I was so glad when his sister told me that Lenny was a fan of chocolate cake.  Chocolate on chocolate cake is the only kind of sweet that I CANNOT resist. So I bought Lenny something that made my mouth drool just reading about it.  Death by Chocolate.  It consisted of three layers of devil’s food cake, with chocolate custard in between finished off with a coating of chocolate ganache.   It was the best cake I ever had in my whole entire life.  Lenny and everyone else who tasted the cake agreed. It was like eating a piece of chocolate cloud. I don’t know how they got something that looked so rich to taste so light.  It probably involves way more fat than I should be aware of.

    I took a picture to show how pretty the decoration looked, but the cake was eaten so quickly there wasn’t time to take a picture of the cake once it was cut.  It probably isn’t fair to show you something that you can’t taste or smell.  All I can say is if you live in the area around Mad Hatter, you must go there and try their cakes. 

    Death by Chocolate from the Mad Hatter

    Happy Birthday Len!

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        I put my order in this morning for our Thanksgiving turkey!  This will be the fourth year in a row that I have used a Fresh Allison Family Farms Turkey from Weaver Street Market for the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinner.   I like to say that we have a “happy” turkey for thanksgiving because Allison Family Farms raises free-range, all natural, organic, and humanely treated poultry.  I think a happy turkey makes a yummy turkey.

       A bird that has lead such a wonderful life deserves an equally wonderful cooking experience.  Get out your pens and papers, because I will now bestow upon you the recipe for a great thanksgiving turkey.   Well, at least we like it…

    The night before the meal:

    •   1 happy, fresh turkey (up to 20 lbs)
    •   1 recipe for brining solution
    •   1 good chest cooler (we never have enough room in the fridge for the turkey this time of year)
    •   ice to fill the cooler

      After rinsing the turkey, place it into either a large roasting or brining bag neck end first.  Pour the COLD brine into the bag, there should be enough liquid to cover the bird.  Securely close the bag and place into the cooler, place ice all around the bird so it is sure to stay cold.  Let the bird soak overnight. 

    The next day (this is the Alton Brown roasting method, works every time)…

    • Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
    • Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Fill cavity with aromative vegetables (onions, celery, lemon, carrots, etc.)
    • Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola  oil.
    • Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes.
    • Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.  
    • Enjoy!

       That is my method of choice for roasting our Thanksgiving Turkey.  What you get is a bird with beautiful brown, crispy skin and moist meat that actually tastes like turkey.  When I am cooking such an important meal for so many people (12 this year), I don’t want to go out on a limb with fancy flavors that not everyone will enjoy.  That is what the sides are for.  Plus, this recipe isn’t very complicated and it works for me every time.  You could always change the brine for a different flavor.   After Turkey day is over I will post some pictures to show how pretty it looks when it comes out of the oven.

        Because the turkey was brined, it should not be stuffed with actual stuffing.  Since I am a Microbiologist by trade, serving stuffing that has actually been inside the bird to a large group of people kind of scares me anyway.  I actually make my stuffing in the crock pot, it is really good. Maybe we can talk about that next… any interest in that out there?  

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