Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Polenta

I am actually posting something again! Emily, aren't you impressed? This is a sure sign that my play is over and my semester is coming to a close. Don't count on another one for quite sometime though because I will be moving soon and the holidays will hit us pretty fast here. Zach actually picked out this recipe because he loves to grill meat. They turned out really great, but I want to see if it would be good just doing it in the oven instead of on the grill (that way I won't need Zach's help... I really should learn how to use it I guess). Next time I may experiment with that. If anyone else decides to try them in the oven, let us all know how it goes.

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops
Prep: 25 Minutes, Grill: 35 Minutes
Makes 4 Servings (we made it into 6)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms (button, chanterelle, or shiitake... we used portabello)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup soft bread crumbs
4 pork loin chops or pork rib chops, cut 1 1/4 inches think (we got them cut by the butcher)
1/4 cup ginger jelly or preserves or orange marmalade (we left this out, but it probably keeps it more tender)

1. For stuffing, in a small saucepan cook mushrooms and onion in hot better until onion is tender. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in ginger, salt, and pepper. Add spinach and bread crumbs, tossing gently until combined.
2. Trim fat from chops. Make a pocket in each chop by cutting horizontally from the fat side almost to the bone. Spoon one-forth of the stuffing into each pocket. Secure openings with wooden toothpicks. Sprinkle chops with additional salt and pepper.
3. For charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place chops on grill rack over pan. Cover; grill fro 35 to 40 minutes or until chops are slightly pink in center and juices run clear (160 degrees F) turning once, brushing occasionally with ginger jelly during the last 5 minutes of grilling (For gas grill, preheat. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Grill as above)

*Compliments of Better Homes and Gardens New Grilling Cookbook

Polenta With Parmesan Cheese

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Slowly whisk in the polenta.
  3. Add the salt and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and butter. Mix well.
  5. Serve immediately.
Note: These directions did not say to turn down the heat, but I did anyway after I whisked in the Polenta. Even with the heat on Medium the Polenta started spitting out of the pot at me. I took it off the heat completely and then just put it back on simmer and it turned out fine. Also, one cup of Polenta should be 4 servings.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


This is one of those tasty treats you can get in Chicago, but it's hard to find elsewhere. A few years ago I found a recipe in the paper and we've made it a few times - the homemade version is even better than the jars you can get at the store. It is great on sandwiches or nachos.

Preparation time: 1 hour
Chilling time: 2 1/2 days
Yield: 3 cups

6 jalapenos, thinly sliced (I usually only do 3 so it's not too spicy)
2 each, diced: green and red bell peppers
1 each, diced: celery rib, carrot, yellow onion
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped stuffed green olives (I usually omit)
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup each: apple cider vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine the jalapenos, bell peppers, celery, carrot, onion and cauliflower florets in a large bowl; stir in the salt. Add cold water to cover vegetables; cover bowl. Refrigerate 12 hours. Drain salt water; rinse vegetables. Set aside in the bowl.
2. Combine the garlic, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Pour the vinegar into a medium bowl; whisk in the seasonings. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour over the vegetable mixture; toss lightly. Cover;refrigerate at least 48 hours before using. The giardiniera will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Fingers

This is a 2 step process.
Step 1 - find a wonderful 11 year old girl who loves to help make dinner.
Step 2 - take pictures of her while she makes this recipe:


* 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 18)
* 3 large garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
* 3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the chicken tenders to a platter and serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

afternoon snack (or lunch)

good bread (this was a loaf of french bread), cream cheese, avocado and tomatoes.  sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  enjoy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

tomato soup and grilled cheese

i used the following recipe to make tomato soup the other night at jack's request.  i altered it based on ingredients i already had, so as to avoid a trip to the store and i think it still turned out delicious (i actually prefer basil to thyme, so i might have made that substitution anyway).  the kids all loved it and especially loved dipping their grilled cheese in it.


  • 3 lb. plum tomatoes, cored and halved (i used canned tomatoes and was able to completely skip roasting them, although i am sure that is the tastier way to go...  i was going for quick and convenient).  
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs  (i used chopped basil instead)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup mascarpone cheese (optional)
  • 1⁄2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
      cheese (optional)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 slices country-style bread, toasted (we made grilled cheese instead of toast)


Preheat an oven to 275°F.

Arrange the tomato halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Scatter the thyme sprigs and garlic on top of the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Roast until the tomatoes have dried slightly and some of the skins have burst, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using a rubber spatula, stir together the mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pass the roasted tomatoes through a tomato press according to the manufacturers instructions. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, stock and bread and simmer for 5 minutes.

Using a stick blender or blender, puree the soup and season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among 6 warmed soup bowls and top each with a dollop of the cheese mixture.
Serves 6.
sorry to be kind of a cheater by not following the recipe and make it more confusing by still posting it.  i figured there might be people who likes to follow recipes more exactly.  otherwise, just make any tomato soup recipe you love.  

Monday, November 9, 2009

mini cheese burgers

that's it.  we just found these teeny little buns (they were about 2 inches) and made teeny little burgers to go with them.  the kids loved the novelty of it and that was that.  i understand this is not exactly a recipe, but more of just a suggestion and i am fine with that.

as a side, i realize i have been a bit of a slacker on this website (don't get me started on how lame i have been with that online cooking group i joined...).  and, as a result, it seems to have caused some serious family distress.  thus, i am dedicating all my blogging this week (both here and on burch jerks as well as on my 23 other blogs) to my brother-in-law brian.  i hope it will ease some of the pain...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Grilled Salmon Sandwiches

I made these tonight and everyone except George loved them. (Weird because he is the one who eats pretty much anything!) Raph had seconds......that is REALLY saying something. We had corn on the cob and sauteed mustard greens with it. And of course, Halloween candy for dessert!

For salmon:

Good olive oil

2 lbs. salmon fillets, skin-on

salt and pepper

for the sauce:

1 C. mayonnaise

1/4 C. sour cream

3/4 tsp. white wine vinegar

basil leaves

3/4 C. chopped fresh dill

1 1/2 Tbl. chopped scallions, green and white parts

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

3 tsp. capers, drained

For Assembly:

6 brioche or other rolls

basil leaves or salad mix

For the salmon, Ina Garten says to grill. I put olive oil on a non-stick grill pan, sprinkled the fish with salt and pepper, and cooked it on medium-high heat, flipping when it looked about cooked half-way through.

For the sauce, put the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, basil, dill,scallions, salt, and pepper in food processor and process until combined. Add capers and process a couple more times.

To assemble the sandwiches, slice the rolls in half and spread a little butter on them. Put them face down in the hot skillet the fish was in and toast them. Spread a little of the sauce on the toasted rolls, add some of the basil or salad greens, and a piece of salmon, then top of roll.