An Attempt at a Fancy Little Dinner…

Now friends, do not be alarmed when I use the word “attempt”. This meal was in fact extremely flavorful, it just did not turn out quite as pretty as this perfectionist would have hoped. Hey — that’s all part of the “adventure” part¬†in this, right? Right!

This was a huge step for me as I’m not a fan of touching meat and this recipe calls for you to straight up hold it in your hands while cutting little pockets into the center of the pork chop. I’ll eat meat (as long as it’s not Thumper or Bambi) I just don’t like to actually feel it’s essence in my hands. Eeeehh!!

Like I said, this has an adventure in it, but don’t be alarmed….it turns out beautifully for your mouth, just not for your eyes.ūüôā I promise one day I’ll do a recipe that is not from Giada, I just keep finding so many¬†fun new¬†things to try! This recipe is courtesy of the FoodNetwork.com.

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun – Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 sun dried tomatoes, diced (Giada used sun-dried tomatoes soaked in olive oil and I could only find the ones that were not…so when cooking them in the pan, I just added a few more drizzles of olive oil)

1 (10 oz.) bag of frozen spinach (thawed and the water completely squeezed out)

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup (2 oz.) goat cheese (don’t trade for a different cheese…this is what gives this dish it’s perfect bite!)

1/3 cup reduced fat cream cheese (I used full fat just because that’s what I had on hand)

4 (4 oz.) center cut pork chops (depending on the size of the pork chops, there could be enough stuffing left over for a few more pieces of meat)

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 lemon zested

2 teaspoons of Dijion mustard (I used slightly more as I prefered more of a mustard flavor for the sauce, vs. a lemon flavor)

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. (this is where I added a little extra olive oil) Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes.

potprep

Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. The warmth of the mixture will help to soften the cheeses. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the pork chop. Be sure to not cut all the way through the pork chop; remember, you just want a pocket.

porkcut

Stuff each pocket with the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

chopstuffed

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. I cooked for slightly longer for fear of under cooking the meat, but they came out a little tough…I would stick to the 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm.

finishedchop

Now I learned how to de-glze a pan! Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. You can either spoon this mixture directly over the pork chops, or as I did…put in little side bowls and dip each piece as you like.

I hope that your little choppers turn out prettier than mine, (due to my slight over stuffing!) but just as tasty!ūüôā I encourage you to branch out and try something new… even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel such a sense of accomplishment that you gave it a go!

*photos courtesy of my sweet husband, Josh Malone…:) *

Xo!

Kristi

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 6:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thinkin’ of the Islands…

For those of you who don’t know, Josh and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon. Even though it was only 4 1/2 months ago, we are already missing it! We were talking the other day about how much we loved¬†our time there; the beautiful beaches, gorgeous Blue Mountains, tropical smoothies and fun food!¬†

P1010063

When I found these recipes I knew I had to surprise Josh with a Jamaica night!

Again, both of these recipes are from my home girl Giada over on the Food Network! The first is a Caribbean chicken dish that is sort of islands meet Italy. The original recipe calls for 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts and 4 skinless bone in chicken thighs; but since neither of us are really fans of dark meat, I simply used 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts.  It has stew like qualities but an amazing island spice flavor. Josh said it might be his new favorite!

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (the dark brown part here is very important)

4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (cut in half)

1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (you can use a lemon zester to grate this, or even a cheese grater!)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (the rough texture of using kosher salt is important in this dish)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 whole peeled canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves (I used dried b/c a thyme plant has yet to enter my herb family and it still worked great!)

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley (the freshness here is important however, b/c it is also used as a garnish later on)

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 lb.) peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces

1 cup of hot water

In a heavy bottomed 4 quart sauce pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally until very dark, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t be afraid of how dark the sugar will get, in the end you won’t even tell the sweetness, the darkening of the sugar just¬†acts as a smokey seal on the chicken. Add the chicken pieces, ginger, salt and pepper. Stirring frequently until the chicken is brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and break up with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme, 2 tablespoons of parsley, carrots, potatoes and hot water. (don’t worry if everything seems jammed in together, you are about to cover it and all the flavors will marry perfectly!)

prep

Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 40-45 minutes. About 5 minutes before the cook time was over, I seasoned with a bit more salt, re-covered it, and let it finish. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with the remaining parsley.

trinidadianchicken

Now on to dessert! ….

This little ‘milkshake’ is actually more common in Indian food, but it went great with the island flare of the evening and you can dress it up to give it that tropical feel!

These are called Mango and Lime Lassis. The original recipe (again, give it up for Giada!) is made using vanilla frozen yogurt however, I made it with vanilla ice cream. These are so quick and easy to make, yet so decadent you’ll feel¬†as if¬†you are on vacation! =)

1 pound frozen mango, thawed

1 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar (even if you decide to use ice cream vs. frozen yogurt, you still need the sugar to combat the tart-ness of the limes)

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup fresh lime juice, about 4 limes, 5th lime to use as garnish

I always find it easier to arrange all my ingredients before I begin. Especially when you are making something cold, that way you don’t have a melt-y mess all over the place!

milkshakeprep

In a blender, combine the mango, milk, sugar, and yogurt. Blend until smooth. Add the lime juice and blend.

*note: using both hands, gently roll each lime around on the counter to make it easier to juice. If you keep them in the fridge like I do, let them set out for a few minutes before using*

Arrange in cute little glasses, garnish, and enjoy!

milkshake

XO!

Kristi

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Happy First Day of Fall!

That’s right, the season is here! Even though it may not feel like it just yet where you live, the changing leaves, crisp air, pumpkin spiced candles, and Thanksgiving are all right around the corner! Friends of our family, the Sandels, would always celebrate this official change in season. It was always so much fun to go over there and enjoy a fall-type activity (even though it was south Florida and at least 95 degrees) and turkey and stuffing. I decided I wanted to start the same tradition with Josh and I…so to celebrate, I decided to make some fun fall shaped scones. (maybe next year I’ll try for that turkey and stuffing…let’s be honest, I’m just not there yet) It’s a recipe I got from my friend Giada deLaurentiis over on the Food Network. Her original recipe calls for these little guys to be made with heart shaped¬†cookie cutters¬†but to ring in Fall I made them with pumpkin and leaf shaped ones. (I highly recommend using heart shaped ones for a loved one or Valentine’s day as they are super cute as well!) These little guys¬†are so soft and fluffy! Let’s get cookin…..

Strawberry Rosemary Scones

(*the most important thing with these scones is to keep everything coooold. Keep the butter and cream in the fridge until right before you are ready to put it in. I even keep my cutting board that I roll the dough onto in the freezer until I am ready to roll the dough out)

2 c. all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

1/2 c. sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (very important this is FRESH)

plant¬†One member of my friendly little herb collection.¬†Two month survival and counting…. Keep your fingers crossed!

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 c. heavy cream

1/3 c. strawberry jam

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees

– In a food processor,

(Btw….kitchen gagets work better if they are PiNK, just so you know)…

pink 

blend the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, rosemary and butter. Transfer to a bowl. (remember, keep it all COLD! If you need to take a little break, put that bowl in the fridge!)¬†Slowly pour in the cream until dough forms. Flour the work surface (don’t be stingy! use lots of flour; flour your hands and cookie cutters too!) Roll out dough¬†to 1/2 inch thinkness.¬†Cut out the shapes and place onto a greased cookie sheet. (even if your cookie sheet is non stick, still put a light coating of¬†butter on it as they will be so much easier to take off after baked.) Make indentation in each one with 1/2 tsp.

display

Place jam inside each indentation. Bake for 10-15 minutes (less for softer scones) and cool completely.

Glaze:

1/4 c. lemon juice

1 c. powdered sugar

3 tablespoons of water

– Combine all ingredients till a slightly thick icing is formed. (this makes more than you really will need, unless you want a lot, so I usually half the recipe) Also be careful to test this as you go along….you may need more or less lemon and water¬†depending on how tart you like it.

After the scones have cooled completely, drizzle the icing over the top and let that set.

scones

scone

Serve and enjoy your Fall day!

Xo!

Kristi

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Gee, this is fun!

So I’ve never really been a fan of cooking. Mostly because I never tried very hard and I tend to be a bit of a space cadet when measuring, stirring, and open flames are involved. Even after living on my own, I had been pegged by my friend Geoff as the girl who only has Uncrustables and Diet Coke in her refrigerator. *Sigh* He indeed spoke the truth.

On May 17th of this year I was blessed enough to marry the love of my life, Josh Malone. We have since moved to a spec on the map called Gadsden Alabama. Josh is the teaching pastor for student ministries¬† at Meadow Brook Baptist Church and I’ve been finding great joy in helping him with his ministry. However, if I’m not doing that, there is not much for a Palm Beach born and raised kid to do around here. Now that I have a husband to cook for and I can no longer eat a bowl of cereal for every meal, I decided to get creative, tap into my Italian roots, delve into the Food Network, and start cooking!

It truly is an adventure as I am still fairly clumsy in the kitchen and this is a true learning experience. Also, Gadsden has proved to be a VERY entertaining place to grocery shop as you are lucky to find a produce man knowing the difference between a grape and a pineapple.

My friend Melissa Prosser came into town and she helped me use my espresso maker for the first time. We registered for this contraption due to the fact that Gadsden lacks a Starbucks (no, we don’t even have a Target with a Starbucks) ‘GASP’, I know. It seemed very intimidating but we were successful beyond reason as these delightful little mochas will display!

7328_280240090108_586280108_8774616_7677039_n

I’m loving this adventure of cooking and hope you find this both entertaining and useful! Recipes and adventures to come!

Xo!

Kristi

Published in: on September 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment