Pork Chops with Blue Cheese Gravy

When I saw this recipe here I knew I had to give it a shot. And WOW is it good! And quick! I had supper on the table in 20 minutes, seriously; this is a fantastic weeknight meal.

You will need:

  • 2-4 pork chops (I use bone-in when possible for better flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Garlic, salt, or whatever seasoning moves you; I actually used lemon pepper and loved it
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. blue cheese/gorgonzola cheese

That’s it!

Now:

  1. Melt the butter in a pan (I used cast iron — shocker) and fry the pork chops till brown on both sides and at least 160 degrees inside
  2. Set the chops aside (I put them in the warming drawer in my oven)
  3. Pour in the cream and let it bubble up, and gently scrape up all the browned porky goodness from the pan so it all cooks together
  4. Sprinkle in the blue/gorgonzola cheese and let it melt
  5. Simmer this sauce, stirring nearly constantly, for at least five minutes or until it’s as thick as you like it — mine simmered more like 10 minutes and it was fabulous

And you’re done! I served it with lemon broccoli:

I made two pork chops, but a full recipe of gravy because I like it gravylicious.

The Yankee ate all of his and some of mine. We tried to get The Kiddo to eat a bite of broccoli, and told him they were trees. He then wanted to know if they were Christmas treees and therefore where the presents were. Parenting backfire.

But great supper! This is definitely staying in the rotation.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

I may have actually squealed in delight when I saw how cute these turned out. Just maybe.

I found the recipe over at Annie’s Eats and knew I had to give it a shot. The love my sister and I have for cherry limeades at Sonic is somewhat legendary. She actually lived in LA (that’s Los Angeles — not Lower Alabama) for a few years (far! Too far!) and when she would come back to visit we would always go to Sonic and drink our weight in cherry limeades. And Sonic happy hour during the summer? Half price cherry limeade? Nearly. Every. Day. Point being, this recipe was a no-brainer choice for my baby sister’s birthday this year.

I stuck pretty closely to Annie’s recipe:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups cake flour (I actually used cake flour, which I never do)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature (I am a rebel and use salted all the time)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. limeade concentrate
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk because it’s all we keep in the house)

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line or grease cupcake pans
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream the butter until fluffy and smooth
  4. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed
  5. Add in the limeade concentrate and mix to incorporate
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions
  7. Add in the flour mixture gradually, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix ingredients just long enough that everything is incorporated — don’t want to overmix it

Fill your prepared cupcakes pans and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then completely on a wire rack

Now the syrup!

Lime syrup:

  • 3/4 cup limeade concentrate
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

After the cupcakes are completely cooled, whisk together the limeade concentrate and confectioners sugar in a small bowl to make the lime syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with toothpicks and gently spoon the syrup over the cupcakes, a tiny bit at a time, allowing it to soak in. I didn’t end up using all the syrup, but feel free to do so! Annie tells me it’s up to your tastes.

Next…

Icing:

  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 Tbsp maraschino cherry juice

To make the icing, combine the confectioners sugar, butter and maraschino cherry juice in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on low speed until sugar is mixed in, then increase to medium speed and beat until smooth.  You can add more maraschino cherry juice as needed to thin out the icing enough to be workable, but I found that 4 Tbsp was just fine. Optional: add red food coloring if desired; I didn’t because the pink of the cherry juice alone was fabulous.

Garnish:

  • fresh lime slices
  • maraschino cherries

Ice your cooled cupcakes, and garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if your little heart desires. I absolutely did desire — this put them over the top from great cupcakes to OMG THOSE ARE FABULOUS cupcakes. I love them!

Pain de Mie fail

Time for another episode of COOKING FAIL.

I read somewhere (of course I can’t find it now, so you’ll all think I made this up; I swear I didn’t) that one could DIY a pain de mie pan by covering a loaf pan with a cookie sheet and then something heavy, like bricks. Since I was struggling to find a pain de mie pan in stock anywhere (I have since found one), I decided it was worth a shot.

So I made up my usual KAF whole wheat bread, and got to the point where it was proofed in the pan, within about 3/4 of an inch of the top of the pan. I then covered the top of the pan with parchment paper, then a cookie sheet on top of that, then two foil-wrapped bricks on top of that. Quite a contraption, no?

And quite a heavy contraption. You would think this would do the trick.

You would think, but you’d be wrong.

It somehow crept out of the top of the pan… but only one side of the pan:

Behold: Fail Bread:

It’s sort of like bread with a spoiler. But a dumb, unnecessary spoiler like a giant wing on the back of a ’79 Rabbit. Good times.

That said, the texture of the bread is actually pretty great, so I’m very excited about the possibilities with a real pain de mie pan.  More on that later, I’m sure.

Chicken parmesan, courtesy of The Yankee

Does that make it Yankee Chicken Parmesan? Like Yankee Pot Roast? But he consulted Alton Brown for part of the preparation, and Alton is from Georgia, so…. Hmm. It WAS good eats, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, I took The Kiddo upstairs to play, and came back down to this:

The picture does NOT do it justice. It makes me want to disappear upstairs more often!

The Yankee tells me that he bought thin chicken breasts, marinated them in buttermilk, then coated them in breadcrumbs that I had made last week from leftover no-knead bread. He fried the coated chicken in olive oil in a cast iron skillet, then drained the chicken on a rack over paper towels — not just on paper towels; this made the chicken unbelievably crispy and yummy on the edges, even after baking with the sauce and cheese!

He fried the chicken breasts in two batches, then they went into a foil-lined lasagne pan. He covered the chicken in marinara sauce, then in full-fat (read: full-yum) mozzarella cheese, and baked long enough to heat everything and melt the cheese. He served it over linguine with garlic bread. OH MY HEAVENS it was good.

And, bonus! All that olive oil frying was so great for the cast iron. I used a spatula to push the used olive oil into a jar for the trash, then wiped the pan down with a paper towel. Look how pretty and shiny it looked after!

I think it’s a keeper. The Yankee and the skillet. ;)

Breakfast Casserole

As with most of my recipes, this one is cobbled together from a few different recipes. It is not, however, cobbled together from old Stuckey’s buildings (20 imaginary points to the first person who gets that).

Further, also as with most of my recipes, The Yankee loved it and The Kiddo ran screaming. I try not to take that personally.

You will need:

  1. 2 cups flour
  2. Salt
  3. 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  4. Sprinkle of instant yeast (optional)
  5. 4 Tbsp. butter
  6. 2 Tbsp shortening
  7. Milk (about 2 cups, divided)
  8. 1 pound breakfast sausage
  9. 1 cup cheese
  10. 6 eggs

The basics:

Brown up a pound of breakfast sausage, preferably in a cast iron because I love them:

While that’s draining on paper towels, make up a basic biscuit dough. I use:

  • 2 cups AP flour (King Arthur only, because I am a flour snob)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • sprinkling of instant yeast (optional; I just like the yeasty flavor and extra rising power)
  • 4 Tbsp of cold butter
  • 2 Tbsp shortening
  • enough milk to make it sticky dough — 3/4 to 1 cup
  1. Pat that into a well-greased 9×13″ dish (you see my trusty Pyrex here):
  2. Sprinkle on the browned sausage.
  3. Sprinkle over that about 1 cup of cheese, whatever you have on hand; I had cheddar and jack
  4. Now whisk together 6 eggs and 1 cup of milk with some salt and pepper, and pour that over the whole thing:
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle:
  6. I let mine sit on the counter for about 10 minutes, then serve:

As a bonus, this can be made the night before and refrigerated overnight; the next morning you just pop it in the oven! If you do this, be sure to put the cold pan in a cold oven, then turn the oven on and let them warm up together so as not to shock the pan.

Variations:

  • Use Texas toast instead of homemade biscuit dough
  • Use canned biscuits instead of biscuit dough
  • Add veggies, potatoes or extra spices to the egg mixture

Enjoy!

No-knead pizza

I haven’t made homemade pizza dough in years, and the King Arthur Flour recipe was just staring me in the face. What’s a girl to do? Get cooking, obviously!

I cut the recipe in half because just The Yankee and I would be eating it (as discussed, The Kiddo doesn’t like anything), and it made one small pizza — perfect size for supper for two.

The dough as soon as I finished mixing it was nothing special — looked more like batter than dough, actually:

The next morning it was downright sloshy:

Then the kneading. I added a LOT of flour. A LOT. All patted out on parchment paper it looked pretty promising:

I baked it for about 10 minutes, then added toppings:

And baked into yumminess:

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Yankee said it’s a keeper. The Kiddo wanted to know where the Cheerios were. As always.

I wouldn’t call this perfect, but it was my first attempt. Next time I would definitely bake the crust longer before I put the toppings on. The KAF recipe said to bake till browned but I got impatient and rushed it a bit. Still, no leftovers = recipe success.

Almost No-Knead Bread

As I understand it, this recipe came from, or at the very least appeared in, Cook’s Illustrated. It came to me, however, printed on a white sheet of paper and tucked into my favorite Christmas present of 2008: a 6.75 quart Le Creuset oven. After eating this bread The Yankee pronounced that the oven had actually been a gift to himself, it turned out. I like his perspective. Also, this recipe requires three ounces of beer, leaving nine ounces that someone just has to drink. The Yankee makes many, many sacrifices in the name of my cooking.

So, the recipe:

15 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/2 t. salt (I use kosher; not sure it matters)
7 oz. room-temperature water
3 oz. mild-flavored lager
1 T. white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Fold mixture until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

Behold a shaggy ball:

2. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined 10-inch skillet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven AND LID on lowest rack, and preheat oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle loaf lightly with flour and make one slash, about 1/4″ deep, along top of dough. Take preheated pot out of oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by the edges of the parchment and ease into pot. Put lid back on and place in oven. Reduce temperature to 425 and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 20 to 30 minutes, until loaf is deep brown and measure 180 degrees in the center. Transfer to wire rack and cool.

Bready yeasty goodness:

I’m hungry all over again just looking at this. Yum. We serve this with, um, anything. Or nothing. My mother-in-law, who is diabetic, chooses this over dessert when she’s here. That’s a compliment!