Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Honey Pecan Pork Chops

***This time of the year just makes me want to let out a happy sigh...I absolutely love the holidays. What are you thankful for this year? I have so much to be thankful for...I truly feel blessed. I hope that you feel the same way!

Right now, I have a turkey de-frosting in the refrigerator and a grocery list of things that I still need to go buy for the big day. This year, I'm responsible for the turkey, cornbread dressing, homemade cranberry sauce and Pecan-Caramelized Brie for the appetizer...no pressure! ;-)

Here are the recipes I'll be using:
Cornbread Dressing - I'll be using a combination of THIS recipe and THIS one.

These are all recipes that I've used in the past, and I can't wait to make them again!

Now, back to the current post...I wanted to include this recipe for Honey Pecan Pork Chops because it's got "holidays!" written all over it. These porkchops are sweet without being too sweet, and there's just something extra special about them! I think you'll love these!

Bon Appetit!***

4 pork cutlets, tenderized, 1/4-inch thick
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Season flour with salt and pepper; dust surfaces of pork with seasoned flour.

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat; brown cutlets on one side, turn; stir together honey and pecans and add to skillet, stir gently. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Serve cutlets with sauce from skillet.

Source: Spark Recipes

Monday, November 16, 2009

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

***As a Southern girl, I just can't resist fried chicken every once in a while. It doesn't get much better than chicken marinated in buttermilk, breaded with fresh bread crumbs, and then fried to a perfect golden brown. However...the one thing that does get better (well, at least healthier!) is when the chicken is baked...instead of fried.

This recipe is the perfect combination of both worlds. You get that delectable crunch that fried chicken has, but without all that extra grease and fat! The addition of Parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs does add a few extra calories, but it adds a great flavor to the finished dish.

I found this recipe in Martha Stewarts' Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook. I can't say enough good things about this particular cookbook. It's divided by seasons, so it really makes it easy to cook according to what ingredients are in season at that time. The recipes are all really simple but certainly deliver on taste. I've probably cooked more recipes out of that book than any other on my shelf.

This recipe definitely doesn't disappoint. It tastes wonderful and is a cinch to make!***

Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
8 slices white bread
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 pounds chicken parts (preferably legs, thighs, and wings), rinsed and patted dry
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil. In a food processor, pulse bread until it turns into coarse crumbs.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, hot-pepper sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Place chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet.

Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 minutes.Note: Leave enough space between the chicken pieces so that they crisp evenly all the way around.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pecan Caramelized Brie - Easy & Incredible!

***WOW...I just made this a few minutes ago, and I couldn't wait to share this recipe with you. This appetizer is the perfect fusion of French and Southern cuisine...In fact, it makes me want to say "Bonjour, Ya'll!" Haha.

This time of year, I also like experimenting with new recipes that I might incorporate into our Thanksgiving dinner. Without a doubt, this will be the star appetizer on our table this year! It is incredibly easy...It only took me 10 minutes to throw together...and it makes a gorgeous presentation!

We recently visited a fabulous, family-owned restaurant named The Char in Beckley, West Virginia. That night when we were trying to figure out where to eat dinner, I came across their website and took a look at their menu. I immediately knew that I wanted to eat there when I saw "Pecan Caramelized Brie" on the appetizer menu. I was intrigued! Such a quick decision is rare, folks. Now, let me just explain something....As a libra, I am SUCH an in-decisive person...just ask Brad...LOL. I have trouble deciding everything...where to eat lunch each day, what to wear, what to make for dinner, I could go on and on.

The appetizer menu wasn't the only part that looked good...it ALL looked good! If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend making time to have a meal there.

Just like the Pasta Rosa that I had in New Orleans, I knew that I wanted to try and re-create the Brie once I got home. I found THIS recipe, which sounded really close to what we had. I did make a few changes...I left out both the cranberries and the hot sauce. The hot sauce just sounded too odd...I wasn't sure about that flavor combo. I also didn't have any cranberries on-hand, but there wasn't any in the version at The Char anyway.

This Brie was seriously like a Pecan Pie on top of a delectable round of cheese...YUM! The savory-ness of the cheese balances perfectly with the sweetness of the topping. I served it with crackers...it doesn't get much better than that!

Bon Appetit!***

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 Cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
One 3-inch round, Brie cheese

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat. Stir mixture until it comes to a boil. Boil gently, without stirring, for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and, shielding hands with oven mitts, quickly whisk in baking soda. Stir in salt and pecans until mixture begins to set, about 30 seconds.
Working quickly, mound warm nut mixture on top of Brie and let caramel cascade down sides of cheese.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Paula Deen's Squash Casserole

***In my opinion, side dishes don't get much better or certainly...comforting!...than a cheesy casserole. This recipe has comfort food written all over it...After all, what Paula Deen recipe doesn't? Plus, this dish is super easy!

Squash is one of Brad's favorite veggies, and we recently came across some beautiful, fresh squash at a local store. I couldn't help but grab some up! I found this recipe by Paula online, and I knew it sounded fabulous. I didn't have the exact ingredients on-hand, but I made some substitutes that ended up being perfect (my changes are in orange below). For example, instead of sour cream, I used mayonnaise...Plus, I changed the amounts and varieties of cheeses just a little bit. One of my favorite cheeses recently is a scrumptious Gruyere...I have yet to taste something with Gruyere in it that I didn't love. It added a wonderful taste to this casserole and a divine depth of flavor.

This recipe is sure to remind you of your Grandmother's cooking...it's THAT good! This is also a recipe that you'll go back to time and time again...I can definitely see it making a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving spread this year.

Bon Appetit!!***

6 cups large diced yellow squash and zucchini
Vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream (I used mayonnaise instead)
1 teaspoon House seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup crushed butter crackers (recommended: Ritz) (I had to use bread crumbs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute the squash in a little vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Line a colander with a clean paper towel. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander. Squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside.

In a medium size skillet, saute the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Spooky Halloween Party!

Our "haunted" house for the evening...

I had fun making this graveyard cake!
The table decorations...

We had so much fun at our Halloween party this year...I just LOVE decorating for the spookiest day of the year, and the party was a hit. There were witches, vampires, princesses, fairies, wolverines, and even burglars! Haha.

On the menu:
Broccoli & Cheese Casserole
Garlic Toast
Pumpkin Spice Cake with a "Bleeding Chocolate" Ganache Glaze! (Graveyard Cake shown above)

Here are a few pics from the night:
I told you that I like Halloween decorations...lol. The lights in the house were dimmed for the party and lit by candlelight. Spooky music played in the background, while spider webs covered everything!!!
My adorable niece, Dakota, and my cute nephew, Tristan...
Nicole and our precious neice, Amber Rose...
I was a fairy!
A fairy and a burglar (aka Brad)! Hehe...
Dakota thought it would be funny to make the fairy wear the witch's hat...
We convinced Tyler to put on the witch costume...LOL...
Me with my cute-as-a-button niece...isn't she an angel?