Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Brined Pork Chops in a Marinara Sauce



Hello Everyone. I hope this new year has been good to you.  I know we are just two weeks in but I must say, so far so good. For the past few months I had been feeling adrift, just not satisfied with things. I almost could not put my finger on what was causing extreme discord in my life.  I just knew I was not happy and something needed to change. Have you ever experienced the feeling like you are just standing still and everything is just passing you? That was what I was experiencing so I made a couple of changes and I have also come to a decision. Why not blog again? I used to love blogging. It helped me come out of my shell and interact with the world, even if only in a digital manner. I have been super active on Instagram for the past year and shared photos of my creations but have not sat down and written a recipe nor have I been trying a lot of new ones. Like my life, my cooking hit a rut. Blogging and sharing with you has always brought me joy. So I decided to go back to basics and do it again.

I'm Back!!!

I am going to try and blog once a week maybe if I have time or if I am feeling extra creative, twice a week. I do not want to force it or make myself do it. If I did, I would suck all of the joy right back out of it. In my opinion blogging should be a relaxing and fun thing to do and an escape. I also plan on learning new things while blogging. I want to become a better editor and also revamp the blog. It will take a bit but hopefully not too long. I need to learn how to do these things first. I think the first thing will be photo editing. Please excuse these photos. They are definitely easier to retouch on your phone. Anyway, long enough ramble.

So let's get to it.

I wanted to share a recipe with you all and I hope you give it a try. The recipe is really easy and while it takes a bit of time, it is not difficult. It is definitely worth it. The pork chop came out juicy and succulent, the marinara sauce was an added bonus and the melted cheese took it to the next level. So good, so tasty. You need it in your life. Give it a try and do not be afraid to let me know what you think.
               Brined Pork Chops in a Marinara Sauce
Quick Brine
  1. 1/4 c sea salt
  2. 3 T sugar
  3. 1 T Black Pepper
  4. 1 T Thyme
  5. 4 c water
  • Mix the salt, sugar, black pepper, and thyme in 2 cups of water. Bring to the point of almost boiling and take off heat.
  • Stir until everything is dissolved and add the other 2 cups of water.
  • Let it cool to room temperature before adding the chops.
  • Make sure the chops are submerged an in the shallow dish and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Put in fridge at let it sit for at least an hour to an hour and a half.
  • When done with the brine, rinse off the chops and pat them dry
  • Season them with salt, pepper, garlic and thyme and set aside.

Pork Chops in Marinara Sauce
  1. 2 Pork chops
  2. 6 T olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves
  4. 1 small onion sliced
  5. 1 c sliced mushrooms
  6. 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  7. 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  8. 1 tsp. basil
  9. 2 T butter
  10. 2 slices of pepper jack cheese
  11. splash of white wine
  12. salt and pepper to taste
* I dipped the pork chops in flour and breading to give it a crust.
I used 2/3 c of a/p flour with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I used 1/2 tsp. of each seasoning mixed in the flour. I then dipped the chops into an egg bath and then followed it with bread crumbs.

Directions for Chops in Marinara Sauce
  • Heat 3 T of olive oil in a pan. Add the breaded pork chops and cook on each side for 3minutes to give a golden crust.
  • Add the other 3 T of olive oil and then add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  • Add the mushrooms and sauté for a minute before adding the garlic. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the vegetables.
  • Cook until garlic becomes fragrant and then add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.
  • Scrape all of the flavor off the bottom of the pan and cook until the wine reduces.
  • Add the butter, crushed tomatoes and the seasoning to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on the pan.
  • Return the pork chops to the pan and top with sauce and vegetables. Cover with lid and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pork chops are done.
  • Add the cheese to top of the pork chops and melt.
  • Serve on mashed potatoes or pasta if you like.
  • So good!! 


Again, please excuse the photos. I promise they will get better.
I hope you have a great week and until we meet again.



Monday, November 27, 2017

Poblano rice, an introduction to my love of Mexican Food

           I am not sure about you guys but in our house we have Mexican Night at least once a week. My husband has always had a love affair with tacos, burritos, chimichangas or anything cheesy and spicy smothered in guacamole and salsa. Me on the other hand, not so much. It definitely has been a long and acquired taste. The only thing I would eat in the past was fajitas and tacos. I always thought I hated most Mexican food until I finally had authentic dishes one of my friends made me try. With one taste, I knew all of my past feelings were wrong and my tastes buds were reawakened by the spices of the cuisine.  In other words, I do like Mexican food I just never had the right dish.

            After one of my friends showed me the errors of my ways I have been trying a lot of new things. I really love ceviche', tacos de lengua, and de olla beans just to name a few. I thought to myself if I like these there must be others I would love. I knew then that I must learn how to make some of these dishes at home for dinner. You know what that meant. I had to buy a new cookbook of course. Purely for research purposes only. Wink, wink. You know I love cookbooks.

            The recipes in this book remind me of some of the dishes I have seen at the local carniceria. Oh yeah. I started visiting the local meat shops and Mexican grocery stores after realizing I love the food. Back to this cookbook. It is called Taqueria Tacos, a taco cookbook to bring the flavors of Mexico home, by Leslie Limon. From scanning this book, I have bookmarked many recipes to try in the future but the one I had to try right away was the Poblano Rice. I am so glad I did as it was definitely flavorful and delicious. Such simple ingredients made such a delightful dish. I cannot wait to make others from this book.

Poblano Rice
adapted from Taqueria Tacos, A Taco Cookbook
Leslie Limon
  1. 2 fresh poblanos charred, peeled, deseeded and diced
  2. 1 medium onion diced
  3. 3 garlic cloves
  4. 2.5 c chicken broth
  5. 2 T avocado oil or vegetable
  6. 1 c rice
  7. 1 c frozen peas
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  • Blend the onion, garlic, and chicken broth in a blender until smooth.

  • Heat a pan over medium heat.
  • Add the avocado oil or vegetable to the pan.
  • Add the rice and sauté until golden brown, around 5 minutes.

  • Combine the poblano chiles with the rice and cook for about 2 minutes.

  • Put the rice mixture into rice cooker and add the onion mixture and stir until combined.

  • Cook on white rice setting.
  • When rice finishes cooking add the frozen peas and mix in.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with your favorite dish.
  • Enjoy!

              I would have never thought of making this rice before reading this recipe. I always thought the tomato based rice or plain was the only thing served with meals. This rice was tasty, piquant, and savory. Perfect for taco night. I highly recommend making this rice with your next Mexican themed night.
            I hope you have a great day and I will talk to you later this week.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Dream - Bourbon Banana Cheesecake

          I feel like Thanksgiving has snuck up on me this year and tapped me on the shoulder. It seems like only yesterday it was New Years and now its almost Christmas. Where did all of the time go? I blinked and the year disappeared. I feel like the older I get the faster time moves and I hate that it does. Remember when you were little and you could not wait to grow up? Don't you wish you could go back and tell your younger self to just enjoy yourself because the time will come that you wish you were still a child. Now I just want to stay the same age forever. I know that is not possible but a girl can dream. Besides age isn't anything but a number. And my age is now permanently 29. That's right, 29!!

          This year for Thanksgiving with the family I thought I would make something different than the usual Pumpkin pie, plain cheesecake, or apple pie. Not that those aren't delicious options, but sometimes it is good to switch things. Sometimes a variation from the norm is a good thing. If I never tried anything different I would never have anything new to tell you or share with you. You would be so bored and so would I.

           I happened upon a recipe for Bourbon Banana Cheesecake and thought "Yes, Please!". I decided this was the dessert for us this year. It combines some of my favorite things bananas, booze, and cream cheese. I felt like this cake would take the holiday up to the next level. Don't worry if you decide to make this, you won't get drunk. Maybe a little tipsy. Just kidding! Unless you are a total light weight, and even then I don't think it is possible.

           The bourbon just elevates the taste of bananas to the next level. It is so unbelievably good that you won't stop after one slice. I am not even teasing you. It is that good! Next time you want an interesting dessert, make this one. You won't be sorry. This might be my new go to recipe for family gatherings.

Bourbon Banana Cheesecake
adapted from the candid appetite
For the Crust
  1. 25 Gingersnaps crushed in food processor
  2. 3 tsp. sugar
  3. 4 T unsalted butter melted
Banana Filling
  1. 3 bananas mashed
  2. 1/2 c brown sugar
  3. 1 T butter
  4. 1.25 oz. of bourbon
  5. 1/2 lemon juiced
  6. 1 T heavy cream
  1. 4 - 8 oz. cream cheese bricks
  2. 1/4 c sour cream
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 c white sugar
  5. 1.75 oz. bourbon

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Combine crushed gingersnaps, sugar and melted butter
  • Push crumbs together to make sure they are fully saturated and will stick together
  • Press unto the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan and bake for 10 minutes
  • Cool Completely

Banana filling
  • Mash the bananas until smooth. I used my hand blender but you can use a masher or the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice to the bananas.
  • Put in pan and add the brown sugar
  • Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves stirring constantly
  • Stir in butter and when melted add the heavy cream and when completely combined add the bourbon
  • Remove from stove and let cool to room temperature


  • Make sure all ingredients are room temperature
  • Combine cream cheese in stand mixer with sugar.
  • Mix until completely blended and cream cheese has fluffed up.
  • Add the eggs on at a time and mix until completely combined after each one. Scraping the sides as necessary. Make sure to get the bottom.
  • Add the sour cream and mix until smooth.
  • Add the bourbon
  • Then add the banana mixture and mix by hand until smooth.
  • Pour cheesecake into spring form pan.
  • Use a water bath and bake for an hour to an hour and 20 minutes at 325 F depending on your oven.
  • The middle should be a little jiggly.
  • Let cool in the oven for an hour then move to baking rack and cool for another 2 hours.
  • Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
  • Top with whipped cream and banana slices if desired.


Monday, November 20, 2017

A long hiatus and a delicious homemade Beef Pot Pie

            It has been forever and a day since I have posted anything on my blog. I know I have disappeared for a long period of time but I just was not feeling motivated to write posts. I don't want to say I was unhappy with what was happening in my life but I was definitely not feeling satisfied with how things were going. I did a lot of soul searching and I figured I need to change some things and also my outlook on life. This does not mean I was not cooking or playing around in the kitchen at all because I did but on the small scale. I just was not finding joy in it.
             I have been debating on whether or not I wanted to continue to write at all on this platform. I have been hemming and hawing on what I should do with this and I finally decided to start writing again. I will try to post at least twice a week if all goes well. I do have a full time job that takes a lot of my time. Usually over 40 hours a week and it is draining sometimes. What helped me come to the decision of writing again was I remembered how much enjoyed it. I loved trying new recipes or writing my own and sharing them. I feel it is good to share the things you love with others. I love cooking, creating, and writing. I think I forgot that for a while. I let life get in the way. I also let myself get in the way.

              Anyway, enough with the explanations let's get on with the cooking shall we. For the past week I have been on vacation with my husband and it has been great. I found some recipes that I have bookmarked to try as well as figuring out what to make for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned I will share. I have been cooking recipes that are good for dinner as well as lunch the next day. We sometimes are terrible at eating leftovers so I have been making things that are easy to warm up and transport to work the next day. Yesterday it just happened to be Beef Pot Pie. I love pot pie but I usually only make chicken for some reason. Why not beef?

            I am glad I made beef because it was delicious and a break from the usual. Although, I must confess I did not make the crust from scratch. I have not had much success with that in the past, maybe some day I will get the hang of it but it was not going to happen yesterday. I figured pie crusts were on sale for Thanksgiving, why not take a short cut? You are probably tired of me rambling so i will just get to the recipe. I hope love it like we did and will visit me often in the future.

Homemade Beef Pot Pie
  1. 4 pie crusts - one for the top and one for the bottom
  2. 1.5 lbs. of stew beef cut in 1 inch pieces
  3. 3 carrots peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
  4. 3 celery cut in 1 inch pieces
  5. 1 large onion diced
  6. 4 cloves of garlic minced fine
  7. 8 oz. of mushrooms sliced
  8. 3 c of beef broth
  9. 1/2 c red wine
  10. 2 T Italian seasoning
  11. 2 T thyme
  12. salt and pepper to taste
  13. 2 tsp. onion powder
  14. 1.5 T corn starch and 2 T water to dissolve it in
  15. 3 T avocado oil
  • Heat oil in large pan over medium heat
  • Preheat oven to 375 F
  • salt and pepper beef and brown in oil

  • remove from pan and set aside
  • add the carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper and cook until softened. About 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • add the seasonings and stir
  • return the beef and its juices back to the pan
  • pour the wine in and cook until reduced by half and then the beef broth and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 1.5 hour or until the beef is tender.

  • Taste and adjust seasonings
  • add the cornstarch slurry to thicken sauce
  • Divide filling between two pie crusts and top with the other two and cut slits in the top to allow the steam to escape.

  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through all the way
  • let cool 15 minutes before serving
  • Enjoy.

                  We cooked one and froze the other for a later dinner. If you freeze one and cook it later bake at 425F for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. I think next time I make this I will make them individual sized for convenience of lunch or dinner for one.

                 I hope to see you here in the near future. I will be posting on a more consistent basis. I have a lot of ideas for recipes and a bunch to try. I am excited for the future. I hope you have a great day and will talk to you soon.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Homemade Hummus

      I love hummus! I love all kinds of hummus especially to dip my vegetables in or on a sandwich instead of mayo. It is so tasty! I typically buy it from the store because for some reason I thought it would be hard to make, or it was a tedious process, or it could be sometimes I feel lazy, but whatever the reason I will probably never do it again. I was wrong guys. Homemade is so much better than from the store. It is so easy and so delicious and there is a world of possibilities of flavor combinations. I know I sound like I am gushing but guys I am so happy! The best part is, you know exactly what is in your hummus because you made it.

     Be prepared to see hummus recipes a lot this summer since I have learned how easy and fast to make at home. Lately, all I have been craving are fruit and vegetables. I think it is because of how hot it has been but that's okay. They are so good for you and really delicious.

    This recipe is just a basic garlic hummus recipe. I did not want to get too fancy my first time just in case it was a disaster. I don't know why I worried so much about making my own. This took all of 5 minutes to make and I have already made another batch because I devoured this one. Next time you are in the mood for hummus I urge you to make your own.

Homemade Hummus
Melissa DeWees
  1. 1 15 oz. can of garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
  2. 3 T olive oil
  3. 1 lemon juiced
  4. 1 tsp. cumin
  5. 2 T tahini
  6. 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  7. 2 cloves of garlic
  8. fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  9. 1/8 - 1/4 c of water
  • Add all ingredients except for water. Blend until smooth. Slowly added the water until you reach your desired consistency. 
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Enjoy!!!!