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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crispy Baked Pork Chops and Goat Cheese Creamed Spinach

When we find those big pork loins on sales, we usually buy a whole one, and portion it out into nice, thick pork chops. In the summer, those are amazing on the grill, but you need to find something more creative for winter preparations.

My original idea was panko and parmesan crusted pork chops, but I couldn't find the panko, it was lost in my pantry somewhere. I did have some pressed rice we purchased at an Indian market, so I thought I could put that in the food processor with parmesan and some herbs. It was nice and crispy, we really loved it.

Then, creamed spinach...I am obsesssed. There is something so comforting about the green, creamy goodness, it was the perfect accompaniment to my crispy chops. I decided to add goat cheese at the last minute,  just to make it more interesting. It was sooo good, I know you are drooling right now !

Crispy Baked Pork Chops and Goat Cheese Creamed Spinach
4 six to eight ounce pork chops, thick cut
1 cup pressed rice
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375. In food processor,  combine presssed rice, parmesan cheese and spices. Pulse until crumbly, and place in a flat pan. Dip pork chops in melted butter, then roll in the pressed rice mixture. Place in a baking pan, and put in oven. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, until pork is cooked through.Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

For the spinach:
8 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Melt butter in a large sauce pan, add flour and stir constantly until completely combined and it starts to turn golden. Slowly add milk. Simmer over low heat until sauce begins to thicken, then stir in goat cheese. When cheese is completely melted, add spinach and seasoning. Continue to stir until spinach is completely cooked. To serve, place spinach on plate first, and top with pork chop.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shiitake and Spinach Farrotto

My husband thought I made up the name "Farrotto" but it is an actual thing. It's a risotto like dish made with farro. It isn't easy to find in my normal grocery store, so when I see it, I snatch it up ! And I honestly haven't made anything but farrotto with it, because this is soooo good ! 

It is a bit time consuming, but not hard at all. And this dish is vegetarian, could be vegan if you leave off the cheese. Farrotto doesn't get as creamy as regular risotto, but I am OK with that, because it's still very, very tasty. 

Shiitake and Mushroom Farrotto 
 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup dry white wine 
1 1/2 cups farro
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups fresh spinach
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup shaved aged goat cheese

Add olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat.In a separate pan, heat vegetable stock until warm, and keep it on a simmer while you are preparing the other ingredients. Add garlic and onions, and saute until both are soft. Stir in farro, and saute until farro is slightly browned. Slowly stir in the white wine. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Start adding the vegetable stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid is absorbed. Do not get impatient during this process, or the texture will not be as nice. After the last addition of stock, stir in the spinach and mushrooms. Continue to stir gently until vegetables are cooked. Remove from heat, and sprinkle shaved goat cheese over the top. You can also use parmesan cheese here if you don't like goat cheese, but I like the strong flavor the goat cheese brings to this dish.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Piecaken

I decide I want to try to make one of these, and now suddenly it's trendy ? How did that happen ? I would think a lot of home cooks might shy away from this because it looks difficult,. I have to admit, I was a bit afraid of how to get a pie inside a cake. 

Turns out, it's not that hard. And when you think about the endless flavor combinations, why wouldn't you do it ? This was my first try, so I went with a classic, cherry and chocolate. To simplify it and make it more approachable, I am only going to give instructions and technique, rather than recipes. 

Trust me, you will want to make a trial run with some less expensive and less time consuming ingredients. 

Chocolate Cherry Piecaken

1 batch chocolate cake batter (store bought mix is fine, or your favorite homemade recipe) 
1 8 inch baked cherry pie, chilled (again, store bought, or your favorite homemade)
      *tip-baking in a foil pan will assist in removal to cake later 
Chocolate frosting (I wouldn't skimp here, homemade chocolate frosting is THE BEST) 

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a spring form pan with non-stick spray, and line bottom with parchment paper. Pour approximately half of the cake batter in the bottom of the pan. Make sure the sides of the pie are loose from the pan, then gently, but quickly, invert the pie into the spring form pan, on top of the batter. You did it ! Success ! Then evenly pour the remaining batter over the top of the pie. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely, remove from spring form pan and frost. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Goose Meatballs with Red Sauce

I know, it's going to seem like all wild game, all the time for a bit... 

Everyone wanted to know if I was going to make sausage with some of the meat I have stocked away. I hate to admit it, but that's not one of my favorite things to make, or eat. It did get me thinking about spaghetti and meatballs, however. Who doesn't love those ! 

These were much simpler to make than even I could have imagined. Add some homemade red sauce, and noodles, and you won't even know the difference between these and regular, super tasty meatballs ! 

Goose Meatballs with Red Sauce 

2 pounds goose meat, cut into small chunks 
1 pound ground pork 
4 cloves garlic 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon pepper 
2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs 
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
3/4 to 1 cup water 
3-4 tablespoons olive oil 

Using a meat grinder (I just used the small one for the Kitchen Aid mixer, it worked like a champ!), grind the goose meat and garlic cloves together. Mix together the remaining ingredients except the oil. Adjust water so that the meatballs are very moist, but not watery. In a large fry pan, heat oil until meatballs sizzle when added. Brown meatballs on all sides, but do not completely cook through. Add them into the simmering red sauce, once it is complete.

Red Sauce
2 quarts tomato juice
2 quarts diced tomatoes
2 carrots, cut in large chunks
2 ribs celery, cut in large chunks
1 large onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
Bunch of basil, oregano, parsley and thyme, tied together.

Place everything in a large stock pot together, and simmer slowly for 6-8 hours. Drain or scoop out all the large bits, and let it return to a simmer. Add meatballs, when they are cooked.

Cook all of these together, for approximately 30-40 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through. Serve over your favorite pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese, if you wish.