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Monday, 29 December 2014

Bacon Wrapped Pork with Mustard Cream Sauce

I'm always looking for new and interesting ways of cooking the everyday ordinary pork chop.  Having some leftover uncooked bacon from Christmas morning inspired me to create this gem tonight for dinner.  Along with some amazing sauce encouraged by my daughter to invent, this was a nice hardy cold winter supper.

As a side, adding some nice herb roasted potatoes to accompany pork chops is always a hit, so I've included that easy recipe as well. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce

  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops
  • 8 pieces uncooked bacon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp reserved bacon/pork fat
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup white wine or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Sprinkle salt & pepper on both sides of pork chops.
  2. Wrap each chop in 2 pieces of bacon.
  3. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet.
  4. Cook chops (all 4 sides) for about 10 minutes until browned, and bacon almost cooked.
  5. Place in baking pan and continue cooking for another 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Reserve 2 tbsp of fat cooked from pork and bacon.
  7. Combine flour, chicken stock, garlic, honey, and mustard, and cook in the same pan as pork was originally cooking in.
  8. As some of the liquid starts to reduce and thicken, add cream and heat through.
  9. Add white wine and continue cooking until a nice sauce forms.
  10. Plate cooked chops, and pour some of the sauce on chops. Keeping any extra for "gravy" or if more sauce is required.

Herbed Roasted Potatoes

  • 4 white potatoes cubed
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Leaving skin on the potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes and put in baking dish.
  3. Pour olive oil over potatoes and mix until well-coated.
  4. Add all herbs & spices, and mix until well-coated.
  5. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes until edges start to brown and crisp.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

How to Host a Christmas Master-Chef-Chopped Party - Part One

I love the TV shows Masterchef and have recently started enjoying Chopped.  I have done previous cooking challenges with my friends similar to the challenges on the show Masterchef.   There's been one mystery box with normal ingredients, and an hour to cook a surprise main entree for my friends.  

I love doing these challenges because it gives me an opportunity to experiment.  My girlfriends, however, have recently decided I needed a bigger challenge. They suggested that I try to cook a 3 course meal with some "weird" ingredients like the professional chefs do on Chopped.  I am not a professional chef, but nevertheless - I accepted this challenge.

Since they brought me 3 different "mystery boxes" - one for an app, one for a main, and one for dessert.  I had 30 minutes to create and serve the app.  For the main, I had 60 minutes, and for dessert only 30 minutes again.  There was also an additional challenge - each of the boxes contained at least one "festive" item since it's the Christmas season. I could use anything else found in my personal kitchen pantry.

I'm going to blog on this in three different posts - so stay tuned.

Challenge #1 - The appetizer.
Ingredients I was given:

  • Sesame Rice Crisps crackers
  • Chicken cutlets - thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • Fresh cranberries *FESTIVE ITEM
  • After Eight chocolate mints *FESTIVE ITEM
Ingredients I used from my pantry:
  • Goat cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Honey
  • Orange juice
  • Olive Oil
  • Freshly grated Parmasean cheese
  • Egg slightly beaten
This is what I did:
- in a food processor crushed the crackers and added parm. cheese, salt & pepper
- placed crumbs in a large plastic bag
- coated chicken in egg, then placed in plastic bag to coat with cracker mix
- took small piece of goat cheese, and placed in centre of chicken pieces.

- rolled up chicken over goat cheese
- heated oil in iron skillet, then placed rolled chicken in skillet and cooked, turning now & then until golden brown and cooked right through - about 20 minutes.
- while chicken was cooking, I put cranberries, honey, orange juice and about 8 After Eight chocolates in a medium sauce pan and heated until cranberries were soft and cooked
- placed cranberry sauce on plate, and placed cooked chicken on top. 

*RESULTS: This was a tasty appetizer.  I thought the chocolate might ruin the taste of the cranberries, but it enhanced them.  You could only barely taste the chocolate and mint, but it made the cranberry sauce have a richer flavour.  This challenge was a success. 

Served with a dry white wine - Peller Estates Dry White

Coming next....the main. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Whipped Shortbread

Nothing invokes the onset of Christmas more than shortbread in our family.   I got this recipe from a work colleague when I was 18, and I've been baking shaped shortbread cookies every Christmas since then.

There are very few ingredients, but it creates and light creamy shortbread that soon becomes a favourite.

This year I decided to cut out half the calories and fat - by making the cookies mini size instead of full size cookies.

They can be easily frozen and kept that way until an hour before serving.

The ones I made this year are plain, but I've often sprinkled Christmas coloured sprinkles or coloured sugar.  Another twist is to place half of a maraschino cherry on top prior to baking.

Whipped Shortbread

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 1 pound butter (salted)
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1 pinch salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream butter and shortening together with an electric mixer.

  2. Add a quarter of the flour, a quarter of the icing sugar, and salt, then continue whipping until well incorporated.

  3. Continue alternating the flour, and sugar, whipping until completely mixed.
  4. The dough will be very thick and hard to mix.
  5. Place dough on waxed paper, and mix with hands until very smooth.
  6. Roll the dough into 4 ball.  Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper, to about about 1/2" thick.
  7. Use cookie cutters and cut shapes and place on ungreased baking sheet. 
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Cookies will be still very pale in colour.

  10. (If you prefer a crisper, golden cookie, bake at 350 for 15 minutes.)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Warm Chicken Stew (Slow Cooker)

Baby it's cold outside!  Today seemed like a perfect day to make a stew.  I didn't have any stewing beef on hand, so decided to make a chicken stew instead.  By adding a few apple pieces, apple cider, and curry, it becomes a little like Mulligatawny soup.  If you don't like the apple or curry go ahead and leave these out and you still have a great cold day meal.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew (Mulligatawny Style)

Recipe by Fluudbloggler
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas*
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn*
  • 3/4 cup uncooked or frozen carrots*
  • 3 tsp Chicken instant stock mix
  • 1/2 cup white flour or cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 apple (optional)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider (optional)
  • 1 tsp curry (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Cut potatoes and chicken into bite sides cubes and set aside. 

  2. Turn the slow cooker to low, then add water, chicken stock mix (can be substituted for 3 cups chicken stock) and flour.
  3. Whisk until well-blended.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan/frying pan.
  5. Add onions and garlic, and pan fry until softened.
  6. Put onion mix in slower cooker.
  7. In the same pan, pan fry chicken pieces, until golden, but not fully cooked. About 2 minutes.
  8. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  9. Add remaining ingredients.
  10. Stir until well mixed.
  11. Cook on low at least 4 hours.
  12. *If you have a package of mixed vegetables, you can substitute this for the individual veggies. You can also add additional vegetables that you like such as green beans or edamame.