Friday, January 25, 2013

Bistro-style Pork Chops in the Crockpot

A few summers ago my sister-in-law introduced me to the taste of pork chops cooked with sauerkraut. The vinegar adds a great flavor to the dish and it also tenderizes and moistens the pork. This recipe is one step up with the addition of potatoes, sausage, and peppers. Plus, I love a good crock-pot meal that cooks itself even if this recipe requires a little extra work with the searing of the pork chops and adding the 'kraut at the end.

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1 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork loin rib chops, 1/2 inch thick
6 oz. cooked, smoked bratwurst, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups quartered small red potatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp salt and black pepper
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 cup drained saurkraut
Stone-ground mustard (optional)

1. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the pork, then brown about 4 minutes per side; set aside.
2. Combine bratwurst, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, bay leaf, and thyme in slow-cooker. Place pork chops on top of vegetables. Stir together apple juice and vinegar; pour over pork cops.
3. Cover and cook until pork chops are fork-tender, on high-heat setting for 2-2 1/2 hours or on low-heat for 3-4 hours. If using low-heat setting, turn to high when chops are tender. Add sauerkraut to cooker. Cover; cook for 30 minutes more. Serve chops with mustard, if desired.

Who Dished it first? Cuisine at home Slow Cooker Menus magazine (photo credit)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Coconut Fruit Salad

I'm not really into preparing fruit salads for my family. Our snack of choice is usually fruit and we eat so much of it during the day that I'm usually more concerned with dressing up vegetables in salads instead of fruit. But there are occasions where I want to accessorize my fruit with a little more, something impressive for dinner guests. This recipe is easy, unique, and tastes impressive for such little effort.

Yes, my picture is not very glamorous. I was packing kids' lunches late at night and this is the best photo I could get.

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Coconut Fruit Salad

2-3 C. Sliced Strawberries
1-2 C. Blueberries
3 Apples – Peeled, Cored and Sliced
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Can of Coconut Milk
1-2 Tbs. powdered sugar
1/2 C. Coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (a fun option for kids)

First, chill the can of coconut milk for at least 12 hours. This allows the creamier part of the milk to separate.

When you're ready to prepare your salad, begin by slicing the strawberries, bananas, and apples.  Place the apples and bananas in a bowl with 1 cup of water and the lemon juice. This prevents browning of the fruit. Remove the fruit from the lemon juice mixture before adding it to the salad.

To make the whipped coconut milk: Remove the can from the refrigerator, open and pour off most of the clear liquid that has accumulated. Transfer the remaining coconut milk to a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high for about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until the coconut cream is thick and fluffy. (It won't form peaks but it will thicken.)

Toss the whipped coconut milk into the fruit, adding the shredded coconut (and marshmallows if you want to make this more desirable to kids) and gently mix.

*My notes: I forgot to chill the coconut milk ahead of time so I put it in the freezer for half hour. It didn't quite separate so I ended up pouring the entire can of coconut milk in and whipping it. It turned out just fine!

Who Dished it first? This recipe was inspired by Daily Dish Recipes with alterations made by me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

If you're looking for an easy alternative to shortcake made from the box, this is the recipe for you. All you have to do is mix, knead for 2 minutes, roll out, cut and bake. The results are delicious. Enjoy!

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Easy Strawberry Shortcake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter with pastry blender then stir in the cream and egg. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Roll into a half-inch thick rectangular shape, cut into squares, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

Let shortcakes cool before splitting and filling with sugared berries.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

While at Costco the other day my husband said he wanted to buy their double chocolate muffins. Cringe! Instead, I promised him I would find a recipe and make him muffins that I knew would taste better than those dry, preservative packed muffins.

Since it's cherry season I settled on making these double chocolate cherry muffins. They're very moist with the addition of sour cream and my family ate them right up. They're not great for the waste-line but they sure do taste delicious.

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Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 jumbo (3 1/2-inch) muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center; set aside. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and almond extract in a bowl until evenly blended. Pour the sour cream mixture into the well, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling half full.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

*My Notes: I used regular sized chocolate chips. I was out of almond extract so I substituted vanilla extract.

Who Dished it first? AllRecipes

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baked Potato Soup

Who doesn't love a fully loaded baked potato, complete with chives, bacon, cheddar and sour cream? What if you could eat your fully-loaded potato and not feel so guilty? I made this Skinny Taste version of a lighter and healthier baked potato soup and it's delicious! My kids had no idea they were eating a soup made mostly of cauliflower.

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Baked Potato Soup with Cauliflower

  • 2 russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, stem removed, cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 tbsp chopped chives, divided
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (you can use turkey bacon if you prefer)
Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for 5 minutes, turning and microwave for another 3-5 minute or until tender. Cool and peel.

Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to the pot. On medium heat add chicken broth, milk, potatoes and bring to a boil. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. (I don't have an immersion blender so I transferred the soup in batches to a blender.)

Add sour cream, half of the chives, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup servings into each bowl. Top with cheese, remaining chives, and bacon crumbles.


Who Dished it first? Skinnytaste

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Granola

What tastes like dessert but you can eat it for breakfast? This fabulous recipe for homemade granola.

My husband was craving chocolate granola last week but living in Hawaii the price of a small box of granola is about $7 and I'm not even sure I could find chocolate granola at our local country grocer. (I think my husband's parents spoiled us both by bringing us some chocolate granola from Europe. You can eat an entire box of that stuff with it's real European chocolate. Delicious!) 

This recipe is delicious in it's own right. I especially enjoyed the addition of coconut shavings and almonds to make an Almond Joy breakfast cereal. 

What I REALLY like about this recipe (besides the chocolate) is the technique of leaving the granola in the cooling oven overnight. I've made granola before and it takes a lot of time and tending as you stir the oats. If I'm not careful my granola will turn out overcooked on top and undercooked underneath. Worst of all, having the oven on for an extended period heats up my kitchen and we're all against a hot kitchen, aren't we? This process allows for the oats to dry out to a pleasant crispiness and saves me a lot of work!

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Chocolate Granola

1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c canola oil
1/2 c honey
1/2 c cocoa
7 cups old fashioned oats
Optional ingredients: 1 cup mini chocolate chips, 2/3 cup slivered almonds, 2/3 cup coconut

  1. In a small sauce pan combine brown sugar, oil, and honey; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa.
  2. Place oats, nuts and coconut (if desired) in a large bowl and stir in the sugar/cocoa mixture. Thoroughly coat the oats with the syrup by stirring and then using the back of your spoon to press the oats and spread the syrup. If you're not opposed to sticky fingers you can mix with your hands to get better coverage. It may not seem like enough syrup but just keep stirring until all the oats are colored with cocoa.
  3. Spread the oat mixture in a 11x14 baking pan or 2 9x13 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes turn off the oven. If you're adding chocolate chips, remove the pans from the oven at this point and sprinkle the chips on top before returning the pans to the oven. Yes, you read correctly. Leaving the pans in the oven 1-2 hours or over night helps the granola to finish cooking. Store in sealed containers or jars.
Who Dished it first? Lynn's Kitchen Adventures with slight alterations by me.

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