Friday, August 12, 2011

Smothered Pork Chops and Cauliflower

I've missed posting recipes the past few weeks - we've been busy so I just haven't taken time to get pictures or to get things typed up.  Plus, I kinda went through a dry spell and really didn't have anything I wanted to post.  The past week or so, we've had some good food so I'm back in my groove again :-)

Last night I made Smothered Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Curried Cauliflower Popcorn and my husbands words were "You should open a restaurant because you make some awesome dinners".  With words like that,  I think this is something I'll be making again LOL

Smothered Pork Chops
(adapted from Mels Kitchen Cafe)

 Now, I'm the first one to admit that this recipe as more steps that I like for Crock pot recipes - especially the prep work BUT it is well worth it when you taste the final product.

*Note: If the gravy in the last step doesn’t thicken well, mix another tablespoon of cornstarch to 2 tablespoons cold water and add it to the hot liquid. Let it come to a boil to ensure it thickens properly.

*Serves 6

5 slices bacon, chopped
6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 3/4-inch thick
Salt and Pepper
2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch thick half moons
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. If you have more than 2 tablespoons drippings, drain the excess. If you don’t have quite that much, supplement with canola oil. When the bacon is cool, transfer to a small bag or tupperware and refrigerate until later.

Heat the skillet with the drippings over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot.
Meanwhile, pat pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until they are golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side, cooking them in batches in the skillet if your skillet isn’t big enough to hold all six at a time in a single layer. When golden on each side, transfer the chops to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining pork.
Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the skillet; add onions, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water to empty skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from bottom of the pan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour onion mixture over chops in the slow cooker. Add broth, soy sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar to skillet, bring to a boil and add bay leaves.
Pour mixture over onions in slow cooker.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low until pork is tender, about 8 hours (or cook on high for 4 hours).
When ready to serve, carefully transfer chops to serving platter with a large spoon and tent with foil. Discard bay leaves and pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, reserving the solids. Transfer solids to a food processor or blender with 1 cup liquid and blend until smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into remaining liquid in the saucepan. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl and stir into sauce. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, season with salt and pepper, pour over chops and sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley. Serve

A couple of things I did differently - I did not have any thyme (there is a joke there . . .).  It still tasted fine but hopefully next time I'll remember to pick up that spice.  I also did not heat up the liquid before pouring it over the pork.  This was an over site on my part but it didn't seem to impact the flavor.  Finally, I left all of the liquid in the crockpot and just used my immersion blender to blend everything together first, than poured it into a large skillet to bring it to a boil with the cornstarch.  I served the gravy over the meat and put the rest on the table for the potatoes.

Over the past few months, I've been searching for really good veggie recipes.  I get really tired of just opening a can or frozen bag of corn, green beans, ect.  I'm my search of something good for Cauliflower, I came across this recipe for Curried Cauliflower Popcorn and it is SOOOO good!  It takes the really strong flavor out of the cauliflower and makes it taste really good!

Curried Cauliflower "Popcorn"
(adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

*Serves 4-6
1 medium head cauliflower
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Wash and core the cauliflower and cut the florets into bite-size pieces. Place in a large bowl. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, salt and curry powder.
Turn out the cauliflower onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes, stirring every 6-7 minutes, until the cauliflower is browned in spots and is crisp-tender. Serve immediately.

* So I did one HUGE thing different in this recipe . . .I didn't use curry powder :-)  Darryl and I are not fans of that flavor AT ALL so I just used Nature's Seasoning instead.  Also, on a side note, I used a good size head of cauliflower and there is no way it would have served 4 people - we ate the whole thing easily.  If you are serving this to a lot of people, I would get 2 heads, at least. 

Show us Your Life - Wedding Shower Ideas

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with weekly posts now that summer is on the down hill slide to fall so one good place to start is back with Kellys Korner and her "Show us Your Life" series.  If you haven't checked out Kelly's blog, you really should.  I don't even remember how I found it oringally but I just really enjoy reading her posts as well as these show us your life posts by so many people. 

It has been 10 years since my own wedding showers.  They were fun and adorable!  My sister-in-laws threw me a Brunch Shower for my personal shower and I loved it.  I've been to all kinds - simple, HUGE, at resturants, bachleratte style - but the ones I love the most are just the simple, well-thought out showers that show someone cares :-) 

Since I really don't have any pictures of my own to share I got my "pin" on and went searching for ideas out on Pinterest to find ideas I would either use if I was planning a shower or would love to have for my own . .well, except I'm not having one since I already had them HA!

First up is actually a great centerpiece/gift idea.  You can see this great towel cake over at Klien Korner .  Wouldn't that look great on a table - like a dessert table or even on the gift table?  Plus it is something original, which I always enjoy!

Apparently shower gift ideas are catching my eye ;-)  This was actually done as a Mother's Day gift idea but it would also make a great bridal shower gift.  This idea comes from Aly & Ash and a step by step tutorial is given on how to creat this idea. 

Unlike some folks, I 100% love playing games at showers.  I mean, what is a shower without a few fun and possibly even, corny games?  Made Sweet came up with a cute idea.  It includes a list of things the bride and groom have said; the guests have to decide who would have said that item.  It is a great way to inspire some conversation too!
Here's another really creative game idea from Craftaholics anonymous.  This is another question/answer game but she includes some really cute printables for the guests to use :-)
Beau-coup gives a whole list of game ideas for bridal showers - many of which I think are great :-)  Check out the post for the full list :-)
This next idea is actually a cute way to do a quest book but it would also make a really great game at a shower.  It is a way to do "dirty laundry" a cute way. Savvy Scoop gives the basics on her post but my take on it is that you have the guests write down some fun memory that they have with the bride or you could also do advice to the bride.  Such a cute idea though !

Twig and Thistle shares some cute ideas for a shower including doing regular bingo with homemade cards and she also talked about making a video of an interview with the groom - he was asked questions and his soon-to-be bride had to guess his answers.  That would bring some laughs!

As I was doing this, I was trying to think of some other ideas I've seen done at wedding showers and I realized, it's been awhile since I've been to one!! What fun ideas have you seen at showers??