Pork Chops, Rice & Apple Grille


This is a fantastic recipe for moist pork chops and flavorful rice.  My husband is not fond of pork, but when I first made this dish, he said he wouldn’t mind eating pork this way all the time.

I found the original recipe in the package with the wild rice; below is my adapted recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t know what company provided it since I don’t have that portion left of the packet.

I make this in my large cast iron skillet, so there is very little clean up afterward as long as you have a lid large enough to cover the pan.

pork chops, rice & apple grille

4 lean pork chops, seasoned with salt and pepper
oil for grilling
1/2 cup wild rice + 1/2 cup white/brown rice mixture *
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 apple sliced thin, peel on, core removed
1 1/2 cup chicken broth**

Season the pork chops and brown in a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven in the oil. Remove to a plate.

Add the rice to the skillet, then add the pork chops back on top.

Cover the pork chops with the onion slices, then pour in the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, then cover with the lid and simmer for 45-50 minutes. (If the chops are really thick, you may need a bit more time.)

Add the sliced apple to the pan, cover and simmer another 10-15 minutes until chops are done.

Serve and enjoy!

*I like this ratio of rice best, and since I mix my rice 1/2 white, 1/2 brown in the storage container, it is easy to grab. If you use more wild rice, you’ll need to add more water/broth to the pan, so adjust accordingly.

**Rather than keep broth on hand, I like using Penzey’s Chicken Soup Base and Seasoning. They have stores all over the country, so if there isn’t one near you, check wherever you are visiting because you will not be disappointed.


Lasagna Adaptations

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with lasagna.  

But, damn, it is cute even if it is a little blurry.

Dress worn as a shirt: $2 from consignment store, Maggie necklace: free for hostessing a party, hair totally FREE!! (that’s my favorite part of the picture!)

Mila wore the necklace around all day, and it perfectly matched her outfit.

Anyway, onto something that has something to do with the post title.

I’ve been having great success so far this week with recipes. (Three for three new recipes which I’ll share more about later.)

I made The Pioneer Woman‘s lasagna yesterday for my family to eat last night while I taught my night class. As a result, I didn’t get to eat it until today. (I work from the cookbook which, if you haven’t seen, you really should.)

I adapted the lasagna recipe on the fly and thought I’d share it here as it turned out really well.

First off, I never use cottage cheese (gross!), so I subbed ricotta cheese. I didn’t have sausage, so I only used beef. I didn’t have basil, so I used oregano. I also added some mozzarella.

None of these things are revolutionary.

This next thing WAS revolutionary. At least for me.

Since we can only eat leftover lasagna once, not three times, I made two smaller pans from the recipe rather than one 9×13 and froze one. As a result, I guessed at the number of noodles I’d need.

Midway through, it became clear I was going to be 1-2 noodles short, and I didn’t want to boil two noodles.

So, being the kind of cook that has to deal with adaptations (read forgot to buy ingredients) regularly, I decided to leave off the whole top layer of noodles.

I know. CRAZY!

So, I did this:

  • noodle layer
  • ALL the cheese mixture
  • noodle layer
  • meat/sauce mixture
  • sprinkle of Parmesan cheese

I baked it covered with tinfoil, and it turned out AWESOME with FEWER calories. Additionally, I think the flavors were more pronounced because it wasn’t cheese layer, meat layer, cheese layer which frequently leads to everything tasting like cheese (at least for me).

Each bite was a little bit of cheese and little bit of meat.

Lasagna isn’t one of my favorite meals. I don’t mind it, but I don’t jump for joy over it. But, this lasagna was worth jumping over.

I particularly LOVE how The Pioneer Woman creates a sauce from a giant can of whole tomatoes with the meat. This is MUCH cheaper and MUCH tastier than buying sauce in jars.

So, make the lasagna!


14 Days of Dinner

I am a day late on my 14 Days of Dinner because I don’t have time to grocery shop on Mondays now that it is a teaching day for me.

Tonight, I threw together some of my yummy pancake crepes and served them with some of the apple pie filling I canned this fall.

Here’s what I’ll be making over the course of the next two weeks in no particular order (2 days are left out for restaurants):

White Chicken Chili from Annie’s Eats (If I called this white bean chicken chili, no one in my house would eat it but me.)

Lasagna (For one of the nights I’m teaching and the hubby must wrangle and feed our children alone all night.)

Pork Chop and Apple Grille

Homemade pizza with this fabulous crust

Beef Stroganoff (quick recipe)

Meatball Sandwiches from the Pioneer Woman

Hamburger Soup

Sloppy Jacks

Pork Tenderloin (for the other night I’m teaching) (NEW recipe)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans from Everyday Food January/February 2011 (not online yet) (NEW recipe)

Parmesan Chicken from Everyday Food January/February 2011 (not online yet) (NEW recipe)

Lime Chicken Fajitas (made with steak) from Dana at MADE (NEW recipe)

I’m looking forward to sharing some yummy guacamole with my girl who eats it by the spoonful!

What are you cooking this week?

I need some new desserts that pack a little lighter caloric punch…anyone got ideas?



Our Good Go-To Breakfast or Brinner

Some days call for something special.

Lazy Sunday mornings, the first day of school morning, birthday mornings, brinner nights (breakfast for dinner).

At our house, that good go-to breakfast/brinner is Crepe Pancakes.

You see, we like our pancakes thin as crepes most of the time. This way you can maximize your topping offerings.

Spread with Nutella, roll it up, and you have a Nutella crepe that is not messy to eat.

Add a slice or two of bacon, pour a tad amount of syrup on it, roll it up, and you have a crepe that is not messy to eat.

Fill one up with the blueberry black raspberry jam you canned, roll it up and you have a crepe that is not messy to eat.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Crepe Pancakes (originally provided by my BFF Jakki)

Pull out your griddle from the pantry, find a nice level kitchen surface and warm up the griddle to 375. Because this batter is thin, an even surface will make your life a lot easier. I have found that one little corner results in the best possible level surface. (Had my husband installed the counter tops and the cupboards, I’d have plenty of level surfaces to work with.) I have tried this in sauté pans on the stove top, but never with any luck.

1 c milk and 2 T butter
heat together in the microwave and cool slightly OR if you don’t have a microwave (What! Some people don’t have microwaves!), melt the butter in a saucepan, add milk and heat until warm to the touch, but not hot (about 4 minutes)

While you are waiting for your milk to cool or warm (as it may be), take 2 eggs and blend them in the blender or food processor (my preference).

In a pretty little plum colored dish, combine 1/2 c. flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Add all the milk mixture to the processor/blender (or a portion if you have a three cup or smaller processor) and all (or a portion) of the flour as well and blend until mixed.  When I used a blender, the flour would get stuck on the sides and the batter would get too much air resulting in a different textured pancake for the first few, so I prefer the processor for this job. I add all the milk to the eggs and about half the flour and mix. I pour it into my Pyrex bowl, and add the rest of the flour and whisk until combined. The batter isn’t too airy, yet all is combined like below.

Check to make sure your griddle is hot enough by throwing a couple drops of water on it. If they dance, it’s ready.

Slowly pour your batter from your Pyrex bowl onto the griddle in salad plate amounts. You will know immediately how level your surface is. Until I found my “magic” counter spot, I would strategically hold up one corner of the griddle until the batter set.

When the batter bubbles just like a regular pancake, flip. You want it to be light brown, not pale, not dark brown.  This one is almost ready to flip.

Serve immediately and safe the leftovers in the fridge. Take them out and serve them to anyone for a snack! They are best at room temperature or warm.  Given the mixing in this recipe and how nummy leftovers are, it is better to make too much rather than too little.

I double this recipe, and I get 12 dinner salad sized crepes out of it.  The baby eats 1, my husband eats 2 and everyone else eats 3. This baby says that mama better start tripling the recipe because she needs more!

I gave it a go

I tried it. I really gave it a go, but I just cannot do it.

I tried to like ground turkey.

The taste wasn’t bad unless you had to first cook it.

The weird congeal-ie factor involved in browning it and the weird smell did me in. If it were prepared for me, I would eat it. But, I prepare 95% of the food around here, and I just couldn’t go through with eating it after I cooked it.

I know it is better for me. I know it is better for my family, but I just can’t do it, Jennie-O. Even now when I see your commercial in which you take over a closed restaurant for a day and feed the neighborhood turkey burgers, I think, yes, I would eat a turkey burger IF I DIDN’T HAVE TO FIRST TOUCH IT TO FORM IT THEN COOK IT.

Bleh Bleh Bleh

I’ll stick to my 90% lean ground beef thank you very much.

Apple Season

Life is too short for some things. Eating crappy sale apples shipped in from 5 states away is one of those things. In my opinion.

I readily admit that I am an apple snob. I can NOT stand eating a Red Delicious with its bitter, thick skin and tasteless flesh. I LOVE Honeycrisp apples. YUMMY! With its crisp, sweet flesh and thin, tasty skin, how can you NOT love these apples?

The time between peak peach season and apple season is lonely and long at my house. We buy fresh peaches from local farmers who either grow them or purchase them from small Missouri farmers (who then purchase that farmer’s apples or corn when in season).  The extra expense for fresh from the tree peaches is well worth it when you compare the taste with the grocery store picked three weeks before ripening ones.

Peak peach season ends in July usually around here, but apple season doesn’t really ramp up until September. Meanwhile, Jack and I are clamoring for some good apples while we eat the pears we canned the season prior.

Apple season is just one reason why I love, love, love fall. Whenever I go to the local orchard, I am reminded again of why I love, love, love fall. This past weekend, I bought a peck of Jonathan and a peck of Cortland apples from the local orchard for pies and applesauce. Since I consider life too short to eat pies from the grocery freezer section, I am the pie maker for holidays.

I do. not. show. up. without. a. pie.

I was hoping to make some pies and freeze them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but worried about the freezer room until Jakki suggested I can apple pie filling!

How easy is that?

Super easy!

So, at 9:46 pm I started.   

(Yesterday, Miss Mila woke up in the middle of my apple peeling/slicing/coring and made the quick work it required tricky, so I waited until kids no longer needed me.) What? Don’t you start new and exciting projects at this hour? Unfortunately, I have a long history of doing just that.

Run dishwasher to sterilize jars. Start canning water to boil. Start pie filling yummyness cooking. Get lids and screw tops ready for boiling. (Doesn’t my new painted tile back splash look great?)

Create a workable space for quick apple action! Don’t forget the lemon juice!

Core/peel/slice. Repeat. I kept the apples separated by variety so I could ensure a mixture in each jar.

Fill jars with apples, then filling. I used a wooden kebab skewer to get the air bubbles out. An extra set of husband hands helps with this process.

Boil for 20 minutes and set on rack to cool. Listen to the *pop* while you doze off to sleep. This sound made me so happy as I fell asleep!

All told, this took me about one and one half hours including clean up and prep. Unfortunately, I couldn’t secure enough quart jars, so I had to use mostly pint jars. I think the pint jars will be all right because I won’t feel bad about opening a jar for Saturday morning french toast, oven baked pancakes, crepes, etc.

In the coming days, I’ll be canning applesauce and pears from grandma’s house.

What’s for dinner?

Every couple weeks when I buy hamburger in bulk, I make a bunch of The Pioneer Woman‘s Mini Meatballs and freeze them. I use them for spaghetti, for Swedish meatballs and for meatball sandwiches. Friday night, I made some mini meatballs in a cream of mushroom sauce with no yolk noodles and corn on the cob. The mini meatballs are mini…I cooked 29, and all but three were gone for the four of us (plus Mila).

Everyone is busy making pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Bleh. I hate pumpkin and all winter squash (because it tastes like pumpkin). So, for dessert, I made carrot bars with cream cheese frosting. I used applesauce instead of oil and half whole wheat flour. YUMMY!

Tonight, we went out to a new pizza place, Sam & Louie’s. It had a nice casual atmosphere, a very helpful staff and tasty pizza. We had a coupon that resulted in a savings of $25! Buy one specialty 18 inch pizza and get TWO, count ’em TWO, 12 inch pizzas for FREE. We came home with lunch for tomorrow as well. We’ll go back again.