Quick Tip — Mise en Place

Cooking should be fun but if you aren’t organized, it can be intimidating and stressful. One easy way to reduce some of that stress is to chop, slice, dice, weigh and measure your ingredients for any recipe before you start cooking. This is known as mise en place. When you aren’t organized, you run the risk of ruining your dish because you aren’t focused; you’re measuring when you should be stirring or you’re focused on stirring and mismeasure an ingredient. Doing the prep work before I start any dish has truly helped to keep cooking fun and enjoyable for me. You can get cute little dishes for your mise en place for just a few dollars, or you can just use what you’ve already got on hand.

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Cranberry-sauced Pork Chops it is!

It’s apparently still winter here in New England so… Cranberry-Sauced Pork Chops it is!

One of my favorite recipes from my mom is her cranberry-sauced pork chops. It’s probably more of a fall comfort meal but, given that another snow storm was brewing (it IS nearing the end of March, isn’t it??), I thought it might be nice to bring a little comfort home last night. Since there were only 2 of us, I only made 2 chops but I didn’t cut the amount of sauce because I love sauce!

In a pinch, I’ve also used orange juice in place of the apple cider and it works just fine. I’ve also used boneless chops in the past but I like the tenderness of the bone-in better.

Cranberry-Sauced Pork Chops

6 pork loin rib chops, cut ¾ inch thick
1 T butter
½ C apple cider or apple juice
1 C (1/2 of a 16 oz. can) whole cranberry sauce
2 t cornstarch
1 t brown sugar
½ t finely shredded orange peel
Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. In skillet over medium-high heat cook chops in hot butter for 3-4 minutes or until brown, turning once.

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Drain fat and then pour the apple cider over the chops. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5-6 minutes or until pork juices run clear.

Transfer chops to a platter and keep warm.

Reserve ½ C of the juice in the skillet.

For the sauce: stir together the cranberry sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar and orange peel. Stir mixture into reserved juices in the skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

To serve: Pour sauce over chops!

(While I do actually enjoy making my own risotto, because it was a weeknight, I cheated a little with a store-bought version of butternut squash risotto. I did change it up slightly by using chicken stock (it called for water), and sautéing shallots and a little mushrooms to go in it. Finally, I topped with a bit of freshly grated parmesan and a little bit of pepper.)

This guy was chomping at the bit to try it. Hope you are, too. 🙂

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Donuts or Doughnuts – No Matter How You Spell It, Donuts Taste Good!

Even though it is March 23, we’ve still got about a foot of snow on the ground and I’m not sure it got much above 30 degrees today. Pretty as it is, that snow needs to go!

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I decided that to help ease the pain, I’d make some delicious glazed donuts for breakfast — baked so I don’t have to feel as guilty! I came across this scrumptious sounding recipe from wonkeywonderful.com and was glad that I did. I followed the recipe exactly (though didn’t include the sweetheart candies since they weren’t for Valentine’s Day). Just check out wonkeywonderful’s site for the full recipe! The donuts were quite good and the recipe very easy to follow. My husband liked them a lot but I must admit that I found them to be a little bit dense for a morning treat. I’ll definitely be making them again though I’ll work on making them less dense next time. But they were super easy to make, especially since they were baked and I could just use my donut baking pan. And look how pretty they come out!

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One tip to keep in mind when filling the donut pan is to put the dough in a zip lock baggie, snip one corner off and use it like a pastry bag. Makes it super easy!

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ENJOY and THINK SPRING!!

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