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Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

By now you know me well; I am always searching Pinterest for new recipes to try. In this case, it was to do with pork chops which I had already thawed. This one caught my eye as we both love capers. And no, they are NOT fish! They are berries from a bush. It turned out great or else I would not share it with you. I quickly steamed some cauliflower to accompany the chops. The flavour was really good. You could omit the capers but it really adds to the flavour.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1-inch thick center-cup, bone-in pork loin chops (allow chops to sit at room temp for 30 mins)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200°F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and then generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chops and sear on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.  Flip the chops over and sear the other sides for another 4 to 5 minutes. (The chops should be firm to the touch, but still have a little give).

Transfer the chops to the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

Pour all but about 1 teaspoon of oil from pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds

Add the vinegar and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Some days I just want to be able to throw something together for dinner quickly. Pasta is usually the answer! In this case, I just happened to buy some smoked salmon at Costco to use in salad and I still had some left.

Voila ! Smoked Salmon Carbonara. Bonus – no creams, just fresh eggs and Parmesan for the sauce. Read the recipe carefully, as you don’t want to overcook the eggs and Parmesan. The pasta MUST be a little cool to avoid scrambling the eggs!!! It looked and tasted great. You can skip the capers if it’s not something you like.

NOTE – Capers are immature flower buds from the Capparis spinosa (aka the “caper bush”), which grow all over the Mediterranean, just like olives do. Caper buds are picked before they can bloom into flowers. They are not a fish as some people mistakenly assume, but can be a little salty. Great on pizza, too.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 14.1 oz (400g) linguine pasta, or similar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 5.2 oz (150g) smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of capers (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the linguine or long pasta shape of your choice. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, cut the smoked salmon into thin strips and finely chop some fresh parsley (this is optional).

3. Next, add the eggs to a bowl and whisk together, add the grated parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir to combine.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the pot you cooked it in. Sprinkle over the strips of salmon then add the whisked eggs and parmesan mixture, immediately stir the pasta to coat it evenly in egg and to distribute the salmon throughout the pasta evenly.

5. Tip: wait exactly 1 minute before pouring over the egg mixture. If the pasta is too hot the eggs will scramble but if it’s too cool the eggs will remain raw.

6. The pasta should be creamy and evenly coated in sauce. Divide the smoked salmon pasta between bowls and top with a scattering of chopped parsley and an extra grinding of pepper, serve.

Add capers.

Notes

I’ve seen and made many pasta carbonara recipes in my time and I find that using 1 egg less as many servings works best. Does that make sense? For four servings I use 400g/14oz of pasta (100g per portion) and 3 eggs.

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Hope you will love this recipe as much as we did! Our spinach was not looking good, so I needed to cook it up! Pinterest to the rescue AGAIN! Fortuitously, we had purchased some smoked paprika when we were in Budapest years back and I had never used it. Since I only had chicken breasts I used them and it turned out fine. as you can see below. I cooked up some wonderful Parmesan and garlic green beans with pine nuts to accompany the dish.

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (boneless & skinless)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (for seasoning chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt and Pepper (each for seasoning chicken)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Creamy Paprika Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (sodium free)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (juice of squeezed lemon)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp paprika

1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika, rubbing it evenly over both sides.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (I used cast iron skillet) over medium high heat and cook on the first side for about 3 minutes. Flip, and turn the heat down to medium and cook for another three minutes. Remove and set chicken aside on separate plate.

Making Creamy Sauce:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the now empty skillet. Add garlic and cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes. Add flour using a sifter until well mixed. Add wine next and cook for 1-2 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate.

 Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream and lemon juice. Add salt and paprika. Mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning (if necessary) at this point.

Spinach:

Add in the spinach and cook for additional 2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Return the chicken to the skillet and cook covered for 2-3 minutes if your chicken breasts are thin; or for 5-7 minutes, if they are thick.

Serve immediately.

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Imagine my surprise at finding more butternut squash at our Favourite supermarket, Superama, here in Mexico. It is highly unusual, so much so that I bought all seven of them! They were hidden among the pumpkins which had just arrived. Those of you who live in northern climates will easily find these everywhere this time of year. Pinterest to the rescue with this recipe…

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseed and diced
  • 1-2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, or 1 vegetable bouillon plus 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-high. Add onion, garlic and ginger.

2. Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in curry powder, paprika and thyme. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Stir in squash, coconut milk, vegetable broth.

5. Bring to boil, Cover and reduce to a simmer on low heat.

6. Cook for 15 minutes until squash cubes are tender but not mushy

7. Stir in pepper, salt and cilantro.

Delicious served with rice.

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce

Really enjoyed this recipe even though it looks kinda blah in my photo. Ran out of thyme for garnish…LOL.

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut diagonally into cutlets
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and thick sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 large springs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water or broth

1. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Cut each breast in half diagonally into 2 thinner cutlets. Alternately, place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness.

2. In a shallow bowl combine the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.

3. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium until the butter is melted. Dredge 3 chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, coating both sides, shaking off the excess flour. Add the coated chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat until all chicken is browned.

4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until the mushrooms are well browned on one side. Stir and turn the mushrooms and continue cooking until the moisture is released and evaporated, and the mushrooms are all well browned.

5. Add the sliced shallots to the pan and cook until softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape the bottom to deglaze.

Add the thyme sprigs, chicken broth, mustard and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch. Bring the sauce back to a light simmer and add the chicken. Heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken warmed through. Remove the thyme sprigs, and season the dish with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Garnish with parsley or additional thyme and serve with rice, potatoes or noodles

Roasted Frozen Broccoli Florets

How many times have you realized that the only vegetables in the house were in the freezer? Sure you can sometimes steam them, but often they turn out mushy. Thankfully on Pinterest you can find recipes for using them straight from the freezer without thawing! This recipe is a keeper, along with others I found there for using frozen spinach in a pasta and frozen butternut squash. (more on those another day).

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Roasted Frozen Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 10 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • olive oil spray
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

Instructions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange frozen broccoli florets in a single layer on the parchment paper

Spray the frozen broccoli with olive oil spray to coat

Sprinkle on even amounts of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder over the tops of the broccoli (no need to toss or stir)

Roast at 450 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, checking once or twice, until broccoli is crisped to your liking

Remove from oven and sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

Who expects to find butternut squash in summer, let alone summer in MEXICO? Walking into our favourite grocery store in Merida, Yucatan, there were TWO just waiting for us…at the door! No others in sight…was I dreaming? Nope, snatched ’emup fast.20200801_181203

You northerners can watch for them later. This recipe was a keeper. How can you say no to maple syrup and Dijon mustard?

Sheet Pan Maple Dijon Chicken with Roasted Butternut Squash

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash, uncooked, peeled and cubed into 1- or 2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet (line it with aluminum foil, as it can be runny)
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk maple syrup and Dijon mustard. 
  4. Dip each chicken thigh on both sides into maple-Dijon mixture and place on a prepared baking sheet, skin side up, leaving space between all chicken thighs.
  5. Add cubed butternut squash into the same bowl with the remaining maple-Dijon mixture, mix to coat, and add butternut squash on the baking sheet around the chicken, in one layer. If you run out of maple-Dijon mixture, whisk a little bit more.
  6. Roast for 30 or 40 minutes at 450 F, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through.

The original recipe called for adding Brussel sprouts, but I had some leftover fresh asparagus. They didn’t turn out as I had hoped….

Keto Taco Zucchini Boats

These really do not have to be labelled as KETO, they are just plain great for everyone, especially kids. I served them with a dollop of sour cream. You could also add guacamole as a garnish. My zucchini were medium size, hence I ended up with 4 halves. If you are using larger zucchini, you could get along with ONE half and a salad alongside.

*In lieu of the cumin, chili powder and salt, I used my homemade taco seasoning.

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Keto Taco Zucchini Boats

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 4 Zucchini depending on how many people…
  • 1-pound Ground beef
  • ½ cup Bell Peppers mixed Red & Yellow, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cup Water
  • 8 ounces Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Salsa

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F

Prepare your zucchini by trimming off the stem end. To do this I just gently round the end of the zucchini with a knife, removing the stem. Then cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a measuring spoon (teaspoon)or melon ball scoop, to hollow out the zucchini forming a boat.

Place the zucchini boats in a greased baking dish and sprinkle a small amount of salt over them.

In a skillet over medium high heat brown the ground beef.

Add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, salt, and ¼ cup of water to the ground beef. Continue to cook until vegetables are softened and water has been absorbed.

Once the beef mixture is ready fill each zucchini boat with the beef and vegetable mixture.

Top the zucchini boats with cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until zucchini has softened and cheese is melted.

Pour salsa over boats before serving. Optional sour cream and guacamole?

Nutrition

Serving: 1boat | Calories: 242 kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 301mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 5400IU | Vitamin C: 38.8mg | Calcium: 2180mg | Iron: 1.4mg

Black and Blue Steak Salad

Throw another steak on the BBQ and make this salad tomorrow! This is what you can do when you have a leftover steak.  Black refers to the blackened steak and blue refers to the blue cheese dressing which accompanied the finished salad. (Actually we love putting blue cheese on our steaks along with fresh sage.) So here goes…

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Black and Blue Steak Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 beef Top Sirloin Steak Boneless cut 3/4-inch-thick (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups spring mix greens
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles*
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dressing of choice OR blue cheese dressing in lieu of the crumbles*
  1. Place beef in plastic bag with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Turn steak to coat evenly. Marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator.
  2. Remove beef from marinade. Place beef on grill, on medium heat. Grill, covered, for 7 to 11 minutes. for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.
  3. Remove from grill and slice steaks across the grain.
  4. Add cherry tomatoes to grill for 2-3 minutes or until burst.
  5. Fill platter or large salad bowl with mixed greens. Top with burst tomatoes, avocado slices, sliced red onion, and blue cheese crumbles. Top with steak and serve with dressing of your choice.

Korean Chicken Stir Fry and Zucchini Pancakes

Apologies for not posting sooner, but Internet was down here. Back in action with 2 great Korean recipes! First tried these pancakes at Korean Grill and Ice Cream and they were an awesome appetizer. To upgrade the pancakes to a dinner, I have prepared the Korean Chicken Stir Fry.

 

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Hobak Buchim (Zucchini Pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini about 8 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 2 green hot chili peppers thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup buchim garu (Korean savory pancake mix) or flour (see note)
  • 1 large egg (omit for a vegan version and add some water)
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch gochutgaru (red chili pepper flakes)
  • OPTIONAL baby shrimp and chopped green onions

Instructions

Cut the zucchini into matchsticks. Place them in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes until wilted and released some liquid. Squeeze the liquid out from the zucchini as much as possible, reserving the liquid in the bowl. Set the zucchini aside.

Add the egg and pancake mix (or flour) to the bowl with the zucchini squeezed mix. Mix everything well with a spoon, and then combine with the zucchini, onion and chili peppers. The zucchini mix may look stiff when mixing, but it will become more liquidy after a few minutes. If it’s still too stiff, mix in some water (2 to 3 tablespoons to start with).

Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons of the batter and spread it evenly into a thin round shape. Depending on the size of your pan, you can cook 3 to 4 pancakes at once. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the bottom is light golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping sauce.

Notes

Use 5 tablespoons all purpose flour with 3 tablespoons cornstarch if available.

This recipe makes 6 to 8 3-inch round pancakes, or two large pancakes.

Korean Chicken Stir Fry

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste

Korean Sauce

  • 3 tbsp butter unsalted
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce low sodium
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. Red curry paste or sambal oelek

Garnish

green onions        toasted sesame seeds             red chilis sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Toss the chicken pieces through the egg first, then dredge through cornstarch.

In a large bowl whisk together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Add about 3 inches of oil to a heavy bottom pan and heat to 375 °F.

Add chicken to the pan and fry in batches about 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Stir in the brown sugar and honey and cook for about 1 minute until the brown butter dissolves. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and gochujang sauce to the skillet and stir. Cook for 30 seconds then add the chicken to the skillet and toss well with the sauce.

Serve garnished with green onions, toasted sesame seeds and red chilis.