Fall meals that take all day to cook are lovely but weeknights are still crazy and it might not be the best time to make that 5 hour chili you’ve been dreaming about lately. You can still have a comforting fall dinner any day of the week though. In fact, I find it much more convenient to whip up easy weeknight dinners during the fall and winter compared to summer and spring. Roasting vegetables and cooking a protein is about as basic as it gets for weeknight cooking.Read More
Happy Monday! If you came around these parts over the weekend, you would have seen the first part of this recipe in the Farmers Market Series, Roasted Beet & Fried Goat Cheese Salad. Knowing that the salad needed an entree to go alongside it, I wrote a recipe for Maple Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Instead of merging the two recipes for one post, it seemed like a great idea to turn it into a two-parter…Read More
Oktoberfest is something everyone seems to love to celebrate. While brainstorming recipe ideas for fall, I wanted to include at least one that screams Oktoberfest. Cue the research on schnitzel. Turns out, schnitzel is a type of cooking not an actual recipe name. When you have pork schnitzel, veal schnitzel, chicken schnitzel...whatever meat schnitzel floats your boat...all it means is that the cutlet of meat is pounded super thin and breaded. I could get into the history of schnitzel and even get into the nitty gritty of technical names but Eastern European languages are not my specialty. Bottom line, you need a thin cut of meat, lots of breadcrumbs and ideally some sort of pureed fruit or vegetable to go alongside (ex. Applesauce, mashed potatoes).
Being someone who likes to mix things up, I stuck with a traditional pork schnitzel (with extra seasoning) and roasted some potatoes to serve alongside instead of a traditional applesauce or mashed number. It seems I have a hard time letting go of my Italian roots because it’s impossible for me to make a savory dish without garlic...or seasoning for that matter. If there’s one thing you can count on with schnitzel, it’s that the breading is super simple without much to it. This recipe kicks it up a notch for bomb flavors.
My secret to a perfectly roasted potato is low and slow. I may have already talked about roasting potatoes but it never hurts to drive the point home. Think of potatoes like cookies. If you cook them too high, the outside will brown to fast before the inside is able to catch up. Result: burnt, inedible cookie. For potatoes, it’s a burnt, al dente potato. You want the inside to cook so that it gets super fluffy and the outside should have a nice, crispy crust. It’s the ultimate roasted potato. These are also tossed with spices, herbs and cheese making them irresistible. I’m serious, I dare you to stop eating them. They almost outshine the schnitzel. So crack open a beer, and dig in. This is an Oktoberfest feast you’ll be having every week this fall.
Pork Schnitzel with Parmesan Herb Potatoes
4-6 Yellow Potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼ cup Flour
⅛ tsp. Pepper
¼ tsp. Salt
1 cup Breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Oregano, Thyme)
¼ Vegetable or Grapeseed Oil
4 Pork Cutlets, pounded to ½ inch thick
Salt & Pepper (for seasoning the potatoes)
1 - Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Parmesan Cheese, salt and pepper. Roast 45-50 minutes until crisp and fork tender.
2 - Prep the meat. Place three bowls on the counter. To one, add the flour, salt and pepper. To the second, whisk the eggs. In the third, mix the breadcrumbs and herbs.
3 - Heat the vegetable or grapeseed oil into a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Coat each cutlet in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place in the skillet and cook to golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with a simple salad and the roasted potatoes.
One of my favorite ways to ease up on dinner duty is using the grill. It keeps the kitchen cool and cooks meat pretty quick. It’s also an easy way to add extra flavor. There something about the smoky, charred flavor a grill gives meat that is irresistible. We’ve only got about two weeks left of summer but this is a recipe that translates right into fall. The plums add an extra depth of flavor with their juicy tartness. It’s a great weeknight dinner for those looking to hold on to summer just a little longer.
Boneless pork chops come in two different cuts: thin and thick. Thin pork chops are best for battering and frying. They cook quickly so you risk drying the meat out by cooking them too long. Frying ensures that they’re done swiftly without losing tenderness. Thick-cut chops are much more durable making them perfect for grilling. They also marinate well. This vinaigrette would make a fantastic marinade so if you’d like to add an even greater depth of flavor, make a double batch of the vinaigrette the night before and marinate the chops in half of it.
Baby greens are packed with nutrition which is why I used them often. They also offer a nice variety which mixes up the usual iceberg lettuce salad. This would additionally work with only spinach, chopped romaine or baby kale. Use what you prefer or what you can find at your local store. The plums were a last-minute decision. I bought a few at the farmer’s market and had the idea to incorporate them with this recipe. I felt that the flavors would meld beautifully, which they did. Other fruits you could try are peaches, apricots or chop up some apples and add them raw. Use this recipe as your canvas and make it your own.
Grilled Pork Chops with Spring Greens & Honey-Lime Vinaigrette
4 boneless, thick-cut Pork Chops
12oz. Mixed Baby Greens
½ Cucumber, halved & sliced
2 Roma Tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 Plums, quartered
½ cup Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp. Honey
Juice of one Lime
1 tsp. Piment d’Espelette
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
¾ cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 - Spray the with grill spray or rub with oil. Preheat to medium-high heat. Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Grill on each side 4-6 minutes until cooked through. Brush the plums with olive oil and grill each flesh side about 2-3 minutes until marks are visible.
2 - Mix the salad. Gently toss together the mixed greens, cucumber and tomatoes. Set aside.
3 - Prepare the vinaigrette. Whisk together the honey, dijon mustard, lime juice, piment d'espelette and red pepper flakes until emulsified. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
4 - Pour half of the dressing into the salad and toss. Divide the salad between four bowls, top with the pork chops and plums. Finish with a light drizzle of the dressing and serve with the remaining on the side.
March Madness begins on March 14th and we’re getting you game-day ready. The next few weeks, we’ll be sharing recipes for game day entertaining that are both tasty and easy. Nothing is easier than a taco! Especially when everyone builds their own. Last year, we shared a BBQ pulled pork recipe for sliders that melt in your mouth. This year, we’ve got spicy tacos to get everyone fired up. Caution: these can get a little messy so make sure to provide extra napkins.
The slow cooker is the ultimate entertaining tool. It forces you to prep early which gives you time to get other things done and then voila! Your dish is ready! And you don’t even need to plate it. Serve whatever you cooked straight out of the slow cooker. This a) minimizes dishes, b) keeps the food warm and c) takes one more thing off your plate -- pun intended. These tacos take a little extra work towards the end of their cooking time. The meat needs to be shredded but in the scheme of things, it’s a hearty number that will fill your guests’ bellies so you don’t have to make as many options.
Start with a two or three pound pork roast. Pork shoulder is a nice cut for this but if there’s a deal for another cut at your store, choose that one instead. I go for boneless because it’s more meat but bone-in lends great flavor and works just as well. Add in all your ingredients. This recipe is a little spicier so if you’d like something more mild, cut the chili powder to 1 tbsp. and either omit or halve the amount of chipotle peppers you use. That’s where you’ll find the main source of heat. Serve with corn or flour tortillas and your choice of toppings. We like salsa, lots of cheese, sliced black olives, lettuce, corn, rice and more.
If you want to make this a little more contained and less messy, opt for burrito bowls instead. Whip up a batch of white or brown rice and have guests build their own burrito bowls. Serve with tortilla chips on the side for dipping if you’d like as well. If I’m being honest, I’m a burrito bowl girl myself. I love anything over rice, especially a spicy taco filling!
Pulled Pork Tacos
2-3 lb. Pork Shoulder
14 ounces Crushed Tomatoes
4 ounces Green Chiles
4 ounces Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, chopped
½ Red Onion, chopped
2 tbsp. Chili Powder
2 tbsp. Oregano
2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. Cumin
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
Salt & Pepper
1. Cut the pork shoulder into two or three pieces. Place in the slow cooker. Add in all remaining ingredients, salt and pepper to taste. Mix together, cover and cook 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
2. Remove the meat to a plate and shred. Place back int the slow cooker. Mix together and serve with your choice of toppings. Let guests build their own.
What’s on your game day menu?
We're sending summer off today (officially) with a French meal that is truly fantastic. This is quite possibly my favorite meal from the summer portion of A Kitchen In France. If you need to catch up on the series, search "French Cooking" on the blog or read our original post talking about the journey. We've got two desserts again this week and a main dish that is almost as good as the starter. If you like bacon, this menu is for you.
STARTER: Chilled Garden Pea Veloute
I should start by saying that I did not serve this chilled, I served it tepid warm. It was mostly because of timing but we all liked it at the temperature I served it. Pea soup is something me and my grandparents love. Add a little bacon, the garlic cream and you've got something special right there. I will say this. If you are shelling raw peas, you need a lot. I had one pound of pea pods and I managed to only fill the bottom of a bowl. I added frozen edamame (because that's all I had in the house that was green) to make up for the lack of peas. It turned out quite tasty.
MAIN: Black-Pig Pork Roast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
I'm not sure where to get black pig anywhere around here, nor am I even sure we have black pigs in northern Illinois. But it is apparently a delicacy in the French country! Instead, I simply picked up a 3 pound pork tenderloin. It's wrapped in bacon, surrounded by garlic and thyme, drizzled with olive oil and roasted. It's quite delicious and so easy to put together. The garlic mashed potatoes are the perfect compliment, just as easy to whip up and so tasty. It's a classic dinner that anyone would enjoy and made even better with the bacon.
DESSERT: Peach & Cherry Papillotes
This is basically fruit and a red wine syrup baked in a parchment paper packet. It's delicious, it's easy and it's a great dessert for those cool summer nights the closer we get to fall. Serve it with a small piece of pound cake and you have one heck of a dessert. This is something you could whip up really quick with company and it will impress them.
DESSERT: Red Berry Barquettes
Barquettes are fancy shaped mini tart molds. They look like little baskets and are super cute but if you don't have a barquette mold (like me) don't fret. You can use mini tart molds or you can just make it in a regular tart pan. It will turn out tasty either way. I love this recipe because it's totally customizable. Being a red berry tart, you can use whatever kinds of berries are available to you at the time: strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, red currants, etc. The recipe calls for a cranberry jam but I used a strawberry jam instead. It was so delicious. A perfect treat to hang on to summer if you're not ready to let go.
Now that we've been through the spring and summer sections of A Kitchen In France, tell me what you're looking forward to in fall and winter!
Portobello Mushrooms win at life. They are the best mushrooms out of all that exist. They're large, meaty and satisfying. They also don't have that overwhelming earthy flavor that white and other small mushrooms have. You can grill them, roast them, fry them, bake them and my favorite, stuff them. The trick to making a great stuffed portobello is to find one that is thicker and a bit deep on the inside. Use a spoon to gently remove all of the brown, stringy guts unless you enjoy them. Then by all means leave them. But I find it easier to remove them because it also leaves more room for the stuffing.
This can easily be a vegetarian dish but why not add some meat to an already meaty vegetable. It makes for a deliciously satisfying dinner. Before assembling the mushroom, you want to pretty much cook everything through separately. The meat should be cooked all the way through when you pack it on the mushroom and the portobello needs to bake a little on its own so that any excess moisture can be soaked up. You could assemble everything and then bake it but it will most likely lead to a mushy, greasy mess of over cooked and under cooked ingredients. And who wants that?
I've made a delicious mini stuffed mushroom for Christmas in the past. They're cremini mushrooms stuffed with a cheesy, garlicky breadcrumb mixture. Inspired by those, I created a breadcrumb mix to add as a crust of sorts to the sausage. The sausage is browned and broken up and then mixed with cubes of cheese which make it this gooey, meaty mixture. It. Is. Delightful. The breadcrumbs on top give it a nice crunch after baking and have plenty of flavor themselves with the Parmesan cheese and herbs. It is to die for if I may say so myself. Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think if you try it.
SAUSAGE STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
2 large Portobello Mushrooms
1/2 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
4 ounces Gouda or Gruyere Cheese, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Basil
1 tablespoon Oregano
1 tablespoon Thyme
4 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated - plus more for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Brush each portobello cap with one tablespoon of olive oil each and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes. Drain any extra liquid from the mushrooms by dabbing them with a paper towel.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, basil, oregano and thyme. Set aside.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add in onion and bell pepper cooking until softened, about another 6-8 minutes.
4. Mix the sausage mixture with cubes of cheese. Scoop into the portobello caps. Sprinkle each mushroom with the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle again with Parmesan. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Serve.
How do you normally like to stuff your portobellos?
There are a lot of ups and downs to being self-employed. One of them is the income. Your income is solely dependent on how many clients and projects you have at any given time and the amount of money they're bringing in. Sometimes, you end up in slow periods which puts you on a tight budget. It's stressful and anxiety-inducing but having experienced two for myself, I can definitely say that they're manageable. It's all about micro-managing your budget. Food is the hardest thing to budget for me personally so I came up with a few recipes that are affordably priced for family-sized meals.
One of the easiest Italian combos is sausage and peppers. You can find it in almost every restaurant in Chicago, we prepare it for every holiday meal or celebration in my family and it's a staple for when you don't have time to think of what to cook in my house. It's also a budget-friendly meal. I took it one step further for this recipe and turned it into a pasta. Using store bought sauce that you can find for as low as $1.50, two bell peppers, an onion, one package of sausage links and pasta, this meal comes out to about $7.75 total and feeds four people with plenty of leftovers. It cooks up quick and everyone will love it. I used whole wheat pasta to give it a little boost of nutrition.
WHOLE WHEAT PASTA WITH SAUSAGE & PEPPERS
1 lb. Whole Wheat Rotini
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, sliced
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Small White Onion, halved then sliced
1 28-oz Jar Pasta Sauce
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook till al dente.
2. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook 10-12 minutes until done. While cooking, break the sausage up even more as it cooks. Add peppers and onions, cooking another 8-10 minutes until softened.
3. Drain pasta and add to the skillet. Mix with sausage, peppers and onions. Pour in pasta sauce and mix well. Cook 2-3 minutes until the sauce is heated through. Serve.
There are three more budget-friendly recipes coming up this month so stay tuned every Monday in September and tell me in the comments below how you save money while grocery shopping.