Sunday, February 28, 2010

Parmesan and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops

For dinner last night, we used a recipe from Cooking Light that I found on  Rick is a big pork chop fan, and they were on sale at Publix so it was the perfect opportunity to use this recipe that I've been wanting to try out.  Rick wasn't too crazy about the suggested sides so we decided that it would be great with our favorite green beans and a baked potato.  Instead of using crushed green beans as the recipe calls for, we substitute slivered almonds and increase the garlic to 3 cloves.  The results was one of the best dinners that we've ever had!  I foresee us having this one quite a few times in the future!  The recipe here is one that incorporates the changes that I made to the original.

Here's what we did.
Parmesan and Sage-Crusted Pork Chops
1/2 cup regular bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 large egg whites
4 boneless thin-cut pork chops
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine breadcrumbs, panko, cheese, sage, salt and pepper in a shallow dish and place flour in another one.  Combine mustard and egg whites in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Dredge a pork chop in the flour and shake off the excess.  Drop the pork into the egg mixture and let the excess drip off.  Coat the pork chop in the breadcrumb mixture and set aside on another plate. Repeat with other pork chops.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the pork chops and cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned and done.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Caramelized Onion Tartlets

I've been trying to get into the habit of having some sort of hors d'oeurve for Rick and I to snack on while I'm preparing dinner so that by the time dinner is ready we aren't starving which leads to overeating.  For tonight's treat, I found this recipe on for caramelized onion tartlets.  I changed it up a little bit, and I ended up with a delicious snack.  My only complaint with the tartlets is that it takes FOREVER (or so it seems) for the onions to caramelize.  Because I knew that this would be an issue, I started on them prior to Rick's arrival. 

Here's what I did.

Caramelized Onion Tartlets
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 oz soft light cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon  finely sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 package of mini-phyllo shells (around 15 per package)
Cook onion, butter, water, salt, and pepper, covered, in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, 10 minutes. Remove lid and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is deep golden brown and very tender, about 30 minutes.

Heat shells on a baking pan for 5 minutes.

Stir together cream cheese, sage, and green onion and divide among shells, then top with caramelized onions.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Night Italian

Last night when Rick came over (with chicken in hand), he said that he wanted us to do chicken parm again soon.  While I do love that dish, I am trying to eat better these days so I decided to try to lighten it up a little bit by not frying it, and instead, I would bake the chicken first.  I found this Cooking Light recipe on and thought that it would be perfect.  As you know from my success with cooking steaks inside, I love using my cast iron skillets in the oven, but when I was looking at the nutritional information, I realized that it wasn't all that great for you so I opted to go with my original recipe. I did, however, serve it over whole grain pasta and halved the chicken breasts which meant more meals for us!

The new challenge, however, was to find something to go with the chicken parm.  I decided that I wanted to do a little appetizer to serve while the main dish cooked.  I decided that I wanted to roast some garlic and serve it with a sliced baguette as a crostini.  I also wanted to make it similar to the crostini that I made a while back but with a tist.  I'd never done roasted garlic myself, but I started it first.  We were really impressed with the final product. I love it when that happens.

 Roasted garlic straight out of the oven!

Here's what I did.

Roasted Garlic Crostini
2 heads of garlic
1/2 baguette, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning Grinder
3 Cheese Blend (Shredded)
Basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400F.

While the oven is preheating, mix olive oil with Italian Seasoning.  Place the sliced baguette pieces on a baking sheet.  Brush the pieces with the olive oil, saving some.  Set aside.

Peel the white skin off of the garlic heads.  Cut the top of the garlic head off (about 1/3 inches off the top).  Place the garlic heads in aluminum foil squares, and place them in a muffin pan.  Cover the garlic with the olive oil mixture and wrap the garlic heads with the aluminum foil.  Place the pan in the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes.  When the garlic is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it cool. 

While the garlic is cooling, toast the baguette pieces in the oven for around 5 minutes.  Once the garlic has cooled, removed the garlic from the skin with a small fork and place it in a bowl.  Spread 1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on the size of the clove) on each piece of toasted baguette.  Sprinkle with cheese and balsamic vinegar, and top with a small to medium basil leaf.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Weekend 2010

I honestly think that Valentine's Weekend this year was absolutely perfect.  Rick and I spent the whole weekend together.  Friday night, we got snow!  For the first time since I've lived in the Charleston area, we got a "real" snow!  Rick and I also had our first snowball fight with the neighbors.  I was sad to see it all melt away the next day.  We kicked off Saturday with waffles made from the waffle maker.  

For dinner, we decided to have snow crab legs in honor of the snow and for our Valentine's Day meal!  Another reason that we opted for the crab legs was in honor of  Captain Phil Harris who was one of the captains on the Discovery Channel show, Deadliest Catch.  When Rick and I first started dating, he introduced me to that show, and we have been enjoying it ever since.  We were both sad to hear that Phil passed away from a stroke earlier in the week.

One of the best part of the meal was the Crab Sauce that I got at Harris Teeter.  I have yet to try to make it myself, but it's a white sauce with horseradish in it.  I love that stuff!!!  Rick and I served the crab legs with baked potatoes, and we decided to try to make hushpuppies for the first time.  The first ones we tried weren't so great, and we added a little more sugar and salt.  The final results were pretty good.  We added finely minced onions to a couple of them, and those were great!  The process was a slow one, and we did them one at a time.  The coolest part, though, is that we made them together!  

2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar 
1/4 onion, finely minced
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable Oil

Heat vegetable oil in a deep cast iron skillet.  Mix all the dry ingredients and onions together in a medium size bowl.  Add buttermilk and egg to the mixture.  When the oil is hot, add tablespoon-fulls of hushpuppy mix to it.  Remove the hushpuppies when they become a golden brown.  Place them on a plate that is covered with a paper towel to drain.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lobster Ravioli in a Seafood Sauce

Don't let the name fool you.  This meal is a super easy, super quick week night meal.  There are a couple of "cheats," though:  packaged ravioli and tomato sauce out of a jar.  Sometimes, I make it as a cream sauce and add 1/3 cup half and half, but I was so excited that I got to use mushrooms that I forgot to add it!  Obviously with the inclusion of mushrooms in the sauce, Rick wasn't here. He's not feeling well so it was just me and the kitties (not that I shared with them).  You can serve 4 if you pair it with a salad.  I divided it into thirds so that I can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow and the next day.

Here's what I did!

Lobster Ravioli

1 package of Lobster Ravioli
1/2 jar tomato sauce of your choice
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine 
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Crushed red pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a sauce pan, heat tomato sauce, basil, and white wine.  Season shrimp wit salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Heat 1-2  tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan.  Add mushrooms and saute until soften.  Add onions and saute until the start to soften.  Add shrimp and saute until they are pink on both sides. Add tomato sauce to pan and heat until it starts to bubble a little bit.

Heat 2-3 quarts of water and bring to a boil (start this as oil is heating).  Add ravioli and cook for around 4 minutes.  Drain and place 1/2 on a plate.  Top with sauce and serve.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Brunswick Stew

This weekend, I finally tried out the somewhat new Woody's BBQ place in Park West.  They had Brunswick Stew on their menu, and our server was nice enough to bring our table a little sampling of it.  It was pretty good even though the meat in it wasn't shredded...which is what I prefer.

I had never had Brunswick stew until I was in college at UNC.  Liz and I took an anthropology class on Southern Culture, and for one of our last assignments, we did a group presentation.  I was assigned to do a group presentation on Brunswick stew.  I'd never heard of it, but several of my group members talked about how awesome it was.  As part of our presentation, we actually cooked some (heated it up in the St. A's kitchen) and gave it to our class.  That one group project launched my love for this culinary creation.  I've had it at many different restaurants, and I think that the best Brunswick stew that I've had was in a small BBQ joint called Clem's Place in the very small town of Norlina, NC.  Clem's Place also has some of the best barbecue that I've ever had.  It's a little hole in the wall that's right next door to a car wash on US Highway 1.  It's been years since I've been there, but I will never forget it!

Where Brunswick stew originates is quite controversial with people from Georgia and Virginia arguing that they are the ones who created it.  Whoever it was, I thank them! 

As is often the case when I have something out, I decided to try to make Brunswick stew myself this weekend.  A friend from a messageboard had posted a recipe a few months ago, and it looked perfect to me....not too complicated and made in the crock pot!  It was definitely a hit here! 

Here's the version that I made.
Brunswick Stew
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste, (6 oz.)
4 pound boston butt
1 1/2 cups frozen sliced okra, thawed
1 cup corn kernels, frozen thawed or fresh
1 can lima beans
1 chopped onion
1 large baking potato, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 1/2 cups chicken stock

Cook pork in crockpot with chicken broth for 2 hours on high. Combine tomatoes and tomato paste; stir to blend. Add sliced okra, corn, onion, lima beans, potato, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover; cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Remove pork from the crock pot, shred, and return to the stew. Before serving, remove bay leaf and stir well.  Serve with hot sauce.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Another Kelly Creation

I have to say that I have one of the most thoughtful friends in the whole world!  This morning, I took NCLEX, and yesterday, my friend Kelly was awesome enough not only to help distract me by taking me shoe shopping and going to dinner with me last night, but she also called me yesterday to invite me over for breakfast!  After I worked out, I showered and headed over there.  She made wonderful Quiche Lorraine Tartlets and delicious, creamy grits!  The recipe came from  It really made my day to start out with such a thoughtful gesture!

Kelly told me that she added cheddar cheese to the recipe.  The recipe calls for Pampered Chef products, but a regular mini-muffin pan can easily be used.  While I'm sure it would also be easy to create the wells for the tartlets, I do think that the mini-tart shaper would be a cool thing to have!

Here's the recipe that she used! (I've made some changes to it so that those of us without the Pampered Chef goodies can enjoy it, too)

Quiche Lorraine Tartlets
1   pkg (15 oz) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts), softened according to package directions
2 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 slices of bacon, cooked and finely chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1/2 cup swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cheddar cheese, shredded
12 grape tomatoes, sliced in half crosswise

Preheat oven to 400°F. Unroll one pie crust onto lightly floured surface. Spacing closely together, cut 12 disks from crust.  The disks should be 2 1/2-3 inches wide.  Press disks into wells of a mini-muffin pan, ruffling edges. Repeat with remaining crust. 

Whisk eggs, half and half and salt in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, combine cheeses, red pepper, green onions, and bacon to batter and mix well. 

Pour egg mixture evenly into tart shells; sprinkle evenly with cheese mixture. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Press one tomato half, cut side up, into center of each tartlet. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake 14-16 minutes or until egg mixture is set and crusts are golden brown. Remove tartlets to serving platter and sprinkle with additional chopped chives, if desired.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Quick and easy brain food

Friday is getting closer and closer, and I'm trying my best to keep the anxiety down and take care of myself as NCLEX is just a few days away.  One of the things that my mom has always told me is that tuna fish is great brain food to eat before big test.  Being short on time, I have decided to share something that I haven't made in quite a while...tuna melts!!  I threw this tuna salad together a couple of years ago, and I don't remember the last time I made it which made trying to duplicate it a little difficult.  Too bad I never wrote it down!  I do my tuna melts on English muffins, cover the tuna salad with cheddar cheese, and broil until the cheese gets a little browned!  I like to eat mine open-faced.

Here's my tuna salad recipe!
Katie's Tuna Salad

1 can of tuna
5 tablespoons Light Mayo
2 tablespoons Dill weed
2 tablespoonsToasted Sesame Seeds
2 tablespoons minced Onion
1 teaspoon Wasabi powder
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
2 slices of Stackers Zesty Dill pickle slices, minced
Drain tuna.  Mix wasabi with a little bit of water and then combine it with the mayonnaise.  Next mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

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