Pan Seared Pork Chop and Sweet Potato Pasta

As it turns out I am not so good at the “food” blogging side of our adventure. I disclose this little fact because people always ask me for my recipes. Another confession…I don’t have any recipes and am horrible at it. I love, love, love to read recipes. Seriously, I could sit on Pinterest for hours and read away. I buy cookbooks to read recipes, even better is borrowing someone else’s cookbooks! I always give them back, I just like reading recipes. I can count on one hand the number of recipes I’ve followed. I mostly learned how to cook from a wonderful lady named Libby and she was a southern gal and just threw stuff together – it was always wonderful. I guess I get it from her and being a science person the ratios are in my head.

About two months ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease, while incredibly thankful for an answer to my health issues it meant a change in life. I have been a huge “whole food” advocate for many years, simply took out processed food from our diets. But there are many gluten laden items I loved. I guess in a way it was a good thing I was so sick because it made cutting out gluten a bit easier. I am so thankful my husband has decided to gluten free with me, at least at home, it makes it a lot easier! The research on celiac and gluten intolerance is staggering, not something to ignore.

So, last week I made Pan Seared Pork Chops – one of my husband’s favorite things. He asked me to make the “ones we had a couple weeks ago” sure honey…what were they?? I don’t remember. He doesn’t remember. At 10:30pm I think “oh, it must be the balsamic vinegar ones.” I get busy making the marinade while he sleeps. In the morning, he tells me it was pork chops with white wine and shallots…ah, okay how do you now remember that? He shows me the Facebook post – now why didn’t I think to check there. Well, too bad, tonight you get balsamic vinegar pork chops because they are already marinading. This is how it goes in my little world.

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Here is HOW I made dinner…I am doing my best with amounts. Seriously, you are not going to mess anything up in either recipe by “eyeballing” if you think it needs more or less of something. Really, it will be okay!

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Balsamic Reduction

Marinade:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup tamari (soy sauce if you can have gluten)

1/4 cup (gluten free) Worcestershire sauce

2-3 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

dash of red pepper

handful of basil leave torn up

Put 3 or 4 pork chops (we like the thicker chops) in a a ziplock bag with the marinade. I usually put it in the night before but as long as it has a few hours it should be fine. Turn it a couple times while it is in the fridge.

Take pork chops out of the fridge at least an hour before you are ready to cook them (leave in the bag).

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil (I usually use avocado and olive oil) in a good quality skillet (I use a cast iron). Make sure the oil is HOT and then put the pork chops in and discard the marinade. Sear about 3-4 minutes on each side. Your goal is a nice seared look – don’t check it a lot just let it go for a the four minutes. Remove the pork chops and tent on a plate with foil or another plate. Leaving the pan on medium heat add about 1/4 cup of white wine and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and scrape all those little bits off the pan. Let it simmer down till it is reduced by half. I added some mushrooms because they needed to be used up. Place the pork chops back in the pan on low heat just to bring it all to the same temperature. Enjoy!!

Sweet Potato Pasta with Cashew Sauce

If you don’t have a spiralizer what on earth are you waiting for???? I love mine and use it all the time. I hear you can use a peeler to do it but that sounds like a lot of work to me. They aren’t that expensive and if you buy it at Bed, Bath, & Beyond you can use a coupon ūüôā

3-4 sweet potatoes spiralized ( I used the medium thickness this time but you could use any of the settings)

1 bag of spinach, cleaned

3/4 – 1 cup of cashews (best to use plain, not salted)

1/2 – 3/4 cup of water

2-4 cloves of roasted garlic

dash of white pepper and salt

Soak the cashews in water – water needs to cover it. Soak at least a couple of hours, longer yields creamier. Rinse and drain cashews. In a good blender, combine cashews, water (start with 1/2 cup), garlic (if you want to use raw garlic start with 1 clove!), salt and pepper. Blend well, taste and see. If you use the roasted garlic it should have a nice garlic flavor, if you used raw and it is too bitter add a tsp of sugar. If it is too thick add more water, I like it on the thicker side.

In a large pan heat a tbsp or two of oil (good time to use coconut oil but any will do). Add sweet potatoes and toss in pan for few minutes being sure all get to the bottom of the pan. Depending on how much you have it may take 6-8 minutes. Add spinach, it should wilt quickly. Remove from heat and toss in the cashew sauce. Enjoy!

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask…like I said I just cook, not so good with the whole recipe thing. Anyone want to write recipes for me????

Kara

 

Best seafood around…

You may have noticed I haven’t posted much “on the food we eat” page since I got “home” to Maryland. If would like to check out our entire adventure in Maryland you can do that in the “places we go” section or click here.

The truth is I haven’t cooked much. My sister has done quite a lot of the cooking and we have set out to have some of my favorites as well as just some of the best food on earth! Having been raised on the water and just off the Chesapeake Bay there isn’t much seafood I won’t eat. I love, love seafood. This post is dedicated to all my foodie friends!

First thing I always get when I get home…the best chips ever! I really don’t eat a lot of chips but these are wonderful. I love Utz grew up eating their potato chips and pretzels. ¬†The chips with Old Bay they are the best!

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Next, I have to break my sugar/gluten rules to have the best cookies in the world. When I talk about cookies I know what I am talking about and know better than to waste calories on most store bought cookies. Berger’s have been around for ages and they are SO delicious! It is like and inch of chocolate fudgy goodness on top of a cookie that isn’t too thick or thin, it is just right! I should be a paid spokesman for them! As a kid we only ever had these on special occasions. I would hope and hope that someone would bring them to a crab feast!

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When it comes to seafood it is hard to choose favorites…steamed crabs, soft shell crabs, oysters, fish – especially rockfish from the Bay, clams, shrimp, it is all so good! We were treated to fresh ahi and mahi mahi from a friend that had just come in from off shore fishing in Ocean City. They were both wonderful!

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It is a toss up if Cream of Crab or Maryland Crab soup is better…so, in comes the 1/2 and 1/2. I introduced Mark to this and he loves it!

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Here is a sampling of some of the tastiest seafood around. I’ll try anything crab related. Some are good, some not so much. Crabs from the Bay are just starting to really come in. Some places will tell you they are local but they are really from the Carolinas or Louisiana. It just isn’t the same, call me a blue crab snob but that’s the way it is! Crabby Eggs were new to me, they were just okay but only because they used sweet relish and with blue crab and Old Bay it just doesn’t work for me. I may make them with just a little bit of dill pickle…you don’t need much with crab meat and Old Bay!

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You may notice a lot of soft shell crabs…they were in season and I love them. We (really just me) had the absolute best ones on Tangier Island. They were as fresh as fresh can be! I have always loved soft shelled crabs…have a really funny story about them and my friend Amanda but I’ll save that for another time.

If you aren’t having Berger cookies for dessert the other amazing treat is Smith Island Cake, especially when you get it on Smith Island! We sampled coconut, orange and traditional chocolate. They are generally between nine and eleven layers of yummy goodness! Also happens to be the state dessert of Maryland! The Smith Island ladies originally started this dessert to send out to sea with their husbands because it would last longer than others.

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Hope you enjoyed your tour of Maryland cuisine!

Kara

Banana Nutella Cookies

I have a serious love of Nutella, I mean I love this stuff!! I didn’t discover it until we were in Europe a few years ago so I don’t feel bad making up for lost time. These cookies are yummy and easy. I usually make banana bread with ripe bananas and love having an alternative with these cookies.

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I also love Cookie Butter (I prefer Trader Joe’s brand) and these cookies work with cookie butter too! If you haven’t tried cookie butter DON’T…seriously, you will be addicted.

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Banana Nutella (or Cookie Butter) Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour

1 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter or shortening

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

1 3/4 cup oats (old fashioned)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup Nutella or Cookie Butter

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together.

Cut in shortening.

Beat in mashed banana, egg, and vanilla – if you have a good pastry cutter you can use it.

Stir in oats.

Slice the Nutella through the batter – don’t mix, your goal is “stripes’ of Nutella. If you are using Cookie Butter stir it really well to soften it up and then slice it through the batter the same way.

Bake 8-10 minutes.

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Enjoy!!!

Buttermilk Coconut Chicken with Creamed Spinach

Sometimes when I’m thinking of what to make for dinner it is more like backwards mapping in teaching. I think of something I have I want to use and then figure out what I can make to use it. In this case I had a little coconut flour left and decided to use it. Next, what would be good with coconut flour? Well, I have chicken in the fridge. What should I use for the liquid before I roll it in coconut flour? Buttermilk is always good! Dinner is born…in this case it turned out super fabulous!!!! Since I didn’t use a recipe (I never do) I’m just going to tell you what I did and then you are on your own :-)))

While the chicken was coming to room temperature I had it soaking in buttermilk, just enough to cover it. I had chicken tenders on hand but you could use any just adjust the cooking time. While it was soaking I chopped up garlic and shallots for the creamed spinach and washed my spinach.

Once the chicken has soaked at least 30 mins and is room temperature roll it in coconut flour.  In a large ovensafe frying pan (I used my Le Cruset) heat up some oil, I used Pecan Oil because we happen to be in the south and I just bought it from the Pecan Farm! Brown the chicken on all sides, for my tenders just about 2 mins each side. Once you have it browned transfer it to the over to bake at 350 for about 20-25 mins. If you use chicken with the bone you will need to bake a little longer.

While the chicken is cooking let’s make the spinach. In a frying pan or saucepan cook the garlic and shallots in a couple of tablespoons of butter. I like to cook my on a little lower heat for a longer time (this is when my husband starts lurking in the kitchen saying something sounds good). Once they are translucent sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and stir well letting it cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly add in milk or 1/2 and 1/2 (I typically use 1/2 and 1/2 it has less sugar and additives). I used about 1 cup but you can do this to the consistency you like, I wanted it on the think side so I let it cook a bit. Add in the spinach and let simmer to thicken up. Salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the chicken and put the creamed spinach on top! Enjoy! I served it with some sliced tomatoes just for some more veggie and I love tomatoes! I didn’t take more photos…sorry!

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Baked Chicken Pesto

We love chicken so I’m always looking for a new twist. We also love, I mean really love, pesto. I enjoy making pesto in every way – traditional, new spin, or just a lark. Basil pesto is my favorite but I can’t always find enough basil to make it…and I haven’t figured out how to have my garden with me on the road. I miss my garden SO much! I miss all my flowers and veggies and birds and butterflies…sigh. If I can’t make my own pesto Costco makes a great one, it is in the refrigerator section.

Let’s start with what you need…I used a package of chicken thighs (it’s what was on sale). Set them out to come to room temperature while we chop, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. I used baby portabella mushrooms and sweet onions – a combination I love! Slice those up. Chop some garlic, maybe shallot too (can’t remember if I used a shallot or not but I love them so more than likely) if you don’t have shallots not to worry.

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Pour some olive oil in your pan, I used a cast iron pan. Then brown your chicken on each side, 2-3 minutes each. Remove it from the pan and set aside.

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Add just a skosh more olive oil if you need it and add the garlic and shallots. Cook till fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the onions for a minute or two on their own then add the mushrooms.

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Once they’re soft place your chicken on top and then add a dollup (technical term) of pesto to the top of each piece of chicken.

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Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes…if you have more chicken you may need to cook longer. I served with zucchini I put through the spiralizer and tossed with a dollup of pesto and topped with some sliced tomatoes. Be sure to top your chicken with some of the mushrooms and onions!

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Let me know what you think!

Enjoy~

 

 

 

Apple filling…and strudel

There was some excitement about the apple strudel pictures I put on FB. The strudel part is a cheat, phyllo dough. I would love to make my own in the RV but I just don’t have a place to roll out dough.

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The good stuff is the apple filling, which is yummy!! You can use it for strudel, pie, hand pies (our favorite), turnovers, or just serve with dinner. It is easy peasy, the only pain is the pealing and coring…unless you have one of those thingamijiggies that does it for you. Which I have, at home, in a storage unit, collecting dust…only so much can make the journey.

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I always make a lot of this filling. Sometimes I share it and sometimes I freeze it. It is so yummy you’ll want to eat it right out of the pan.

Apple Filling

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced – Granny Smith are good for baking, I usually mix a couple types

juice of a lemon, lemon rind (we like the a hint of lemon flavor, if you don’t omit the rind)

6 tbsp butter

1/2-3/4 cup of brown sugar (depends on how sweet the apples are)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla (use real vanilla)

dash of nutmeg

 

1. Toss apples with lemon juice to keep from browning.

2. In pan melt butter, brown apples for several minutes.

3. Add brown sugar and simmer till they are nice and gooey, yummy goodness.

4. Add cinnamon, vanilla, and dash of nutmeg. Keep stirring and simmer a couple more minutes.

5. I like this thick, especially if you are putting it in strudel or hand pies.

Strudel

You need a package of phyllo dough thawed. I lay out one of the sheets on a dusting of flour on parchment paper then dust the top and roll out just a bit. You don’t want it too thin but you want it a little bigger and to marry all the thin sheets together (makes it easier to work with). Cut the sheet in half. Add filling to cover the middle, don’t go all the way to the edges. Lay other half of the dough on top and use your finger or a fork to crimp the edges together. Brush the top with an egg wash (an egg lightly beaten), make sure your edges are sealed. Cut a few slits in the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes until nice and golden brown.

Repeat process with other sheet or save extra filling for another use.

Too the top you can sprinkle some coarse sugar, drizzle with icing (10x sugar with milk), or sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Enjoy!!

Kara Cookies AKA Kitchen Sink Cookies

If I am known for anything (good) it is probably these cookies…my son absolutely loves them! I’ve never actually named them but most people call them Kara cookies or Kitchen Sink cookies. I have a friend that calls them multiple personality cookies because every bite is a different flavor. I have another friend that used them as energy bites while training for an Ironman. I’m not suggesting they are healthy by any stretch of the means.

These cookies are great to put in the freezer and pull out when you have guests. This recipe makes a boat load of cookies so it is easy to put some in a ziplock bag and freeze them.

I will tell you I don’t think I have ever made them the same twice, seriously. My sweet friend Lori first gave me the idea to put all the different yummy goodness in cookies. I was sort of a traditionalists before but now, anything goes! If you are reading this after my Facebook post today (2/4/15) I only used oatmeal and raisin today by request of the boys working on our motorhome.

Kara Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

4 cups oatmeal

Here is the fun part: 3 cups total of whatever you want to add. My general go to: choc chips (semisweet, milk, dark), peanut butter chips, toffee chips, coconut, raisin, cranberries…really anything you like in cookies

1. Cream butter and sugars together. I use a mixer for these cookies, it gets to be a lot of mixing.

2. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. Add flour, salt, baking soda.

4. Add oats.

5. Add your 3 cups of mixins.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

This makes lots of cookies!!!

Enjoy! Let me know how you like them!

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Monkey Bread

When Tyler was growing up I made bread from scratch all the time. Somewhere along the way I quit making it from scratch…it is a bit of work to do on a regular basis. One of his favorites was monkey bread. Today, when faced with a bunch of hungry boys (okay, they are in their 20’s) at the service center I thought back to that and I whipped it up for them. Well, sort of…my cheat anyway and I’ll give you an even easier cheat! You don’t have to make biscuits (but they’re pretty easy) you can just use store bought ones (told ya, super easy).

The boys scarfed it up today, hope you enjoy!

Monkey Bread

Your favorite biscuit recipe or two store bought containers of biscuits

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup melted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

dash of vanilla

1. In a gallon size ziplock bag mix white sugar and cinnamon. Drop biscuits in, I use a teaspoon to judge amount. If using store bought biscuits cut them in quarters. Mix well.

2. Mix melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla.

3. In a greased pan – I used a bundt cake pan cause I love them but you can use a fluted pan or large bread pan, drop biscuits in first then pour melted butter/sugar mixture over it.

4. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes – just till they biscuits aren’t doughy. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes then turn out upside down on a plate. Be sure to use a plate a little bigger or you will have a gooey mess on your hands…just sayin…

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Beer Cheese Soup

While we were in Rapid City we visited a brew pup that was known for its beer cheese soup. Even though I begged they wouldn’t share their recipe with me. I set out on a quest to copy their soup. I have now read over 20 recipes, not one of them was quite what I was looking for that I tasted in their soup.

If you haven’t had beer cheese soup the key factors are the type of cheese or cheese blend and the type of beer you use. Mark loves dark, nutty brown ales. I wanted to use a dark ale so I needed a cheese blend that could stand up in flavor to the strong ale. I came up with a cheddar and gruyere mix and it worked perfectly.

The truth is… you could really use any beer and any cheese. I was just going for a specific flavor – nutty and cheesy. If you don’t like dark ales you could use a pale ale. If you don’t really want the flavor but want to call it beer cheese soup then you could use a domestic light beer…otherwise don’t waste your time on these.

We really enjoyed this soup! I hope you give it a try and love it too!

Beer Cheese Soup

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 carrots, chopped fine

3 ribs of celery, chopped fine

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/4 -1/2 cup butter

1/4-1/2 cup flour

milk and half and half – you need about 2 cups total liquid

2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp dijon mustard

2 bottles dark, nutty ale

2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups gruyere, shredded

 

1. In a large stock pot, brown garlic and onion in butter. I used 1/2 cup of butter but you can get away with 1/4 cup.

 

2. Add celery and carrot and continue browning until soft.

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3. Two options here – mash this mixture or pulverize in blender. I couldn’t use my blender at the time but normally would have blended it.

4. Return to low heat, add flour and mix well until browned. Depending on how much liquid you have adjust between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of flour. If you blend yours it will look a bit different here.

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5. Slowly add in milk mixture and stirring well (very well) between each addition so you don’t get lumps.

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6. Add dijon and stir. Add beer and stir well until the foam subsides, probably about 10 minutes.

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7. Whisk in cheese and stir well. Simmer about 5-10 minutes till all flavors are blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Great served with a piece of garlic toast or focaccia bread. An easy focaccia bread cheat… take a ready made pizza crust (I love Trader Joe’s), roll it out, make little dents with your finger, spread olive oil over the top, sprinkle with rosemary and bake!

Enjoy!!

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Mom’s Peanut Butter Pork Chops

Sound odd you?? Me too, but my husband’s mom made this for him when he was a kid so I am game to try it out…with the help of my sister-in-law Pam.

I love pork chops and I love peanut butter but honestly wouldn’t have ever thought of putting them together. It must be a Nebraskian thing (they tell me that isn’t a real word but it just sort of explains things round these parts). Mark’s mom, Erna, was a twin. We had dinner with his cousin, Mike, who is Verna’s son (yup, Erna’s twin) and he also remembers the peanut butter pork chops. I didn’t think to have him over when we made them and he was sad he missed out. Mike remembers Uncle Bill making them too. Sounds like this was a family recipe.

Starting with a well season cast iron adds to the deep flavor you experience, but you can do this in any pan. We moved it to the oven so if you have it use an oven safe pan. If not, you can cook it on the stove, just watch you don’t burn the gravy. Brown onions in a little butter or oil (which ever floats your boat). Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and then add to the cast iron pan to brown.

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Be sure to brown chops well on both sides.

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Meanwhile mix soup and peanut butter, adding a little water to make a nice this sauce. Add to the top of the pork chops.

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We decided to cover the pot and put it in the oven so we would have a nice gravy also.

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We served it with fried potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and tomato/avocado salad. Yummy! The pork chops only have a hint of peanut butter flavor, the gravy it made was fabulous! Thumbs up mama Haselton!

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Peanut Butter Pork Chops

4-6 thick pork chops (I think Costco’s are awesome!)

1 large onion, sliced

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1-2 tbsp peanut butter (creamy)

1. Brown onions in a well seasoned cast iron pan.

2. Add pork chops, brown both sides – approx. 3-4 minutes each side.

3. Mix cream of mushroom soup and peanut butter. Add a little water if it is too thick.

4. Spread sauce over the top of the pork chops. Cover and move to the oven. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Remove pork chops and spoon gravy on top.

Enjoy!

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