Baked Hawaiian-style Pork Chops

Years ago I found a recipe for “Polynesian Pork Chops” on a Campbell’s Soup can, tried it, and loved it. However, as is my habit I continued to tinker with the recipe working on tweeking it to my personal tastes. Finally I developed this recipe which is a blend of the original recipe and my own personal tastes. Among other changes I made was to bake the pork chops rather than fry them like the original recipe called for. The idea was to make the recipe healthier and take the recipe up to 11. For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

one pound of pork chops (bone in or boneless), aprox. 4 to 6

One 15 ounce can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup

One 8 ounce can of pineapple chunks

One medium onion, chopped

One teaspoon of honey

Three teaspoons soy sauce

one fourth cup cold water

garlic powder

Korean BBQ seasoning

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Season the pork chops by sprinkling them with garlic powder and Korean BBQ seasoning and bake them for 30 minutes. Meanwhile in a sauce pan combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. After the pork chops have cooked for 30 minutes pour the sauce over them and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Served with cooked white rice and stir-fry veggies.

Enchiritos…From Your Kitchen

One of my favorite items on the Taco Bell menu was the enchirito, which was their take on a smothered burrito. Sadly they got rid of the enchirito and replaced it with a fairly generic and less tasty smothered burrito. So I had to learn to make my own. This recipe actually makes quite a bit so when you make it you might want to invite some friends over or freeze them for later use. You will need the following ingredients:

Two pounds of ground beef, cooked

Two 15 ounce cans of refried beans

One package of burrito seasoning

One medium onion, chopped and divided

One 8 ounce can of sliced olives

One 10 ounce can of enchilada sauce, red or green

One package of enchilada size flour tortillas (aprox. 10)

Shredded cheddar/jack cheese blend

Okay, so you start by sauteing half the onions in a hot skillet. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Add the ground beef and brown it until it is cooked all the way through. Add the burrito seasoning and the refried beans and warm through, making sure that everything is mixed together well. Spoon the meat and bean mixture into tortillas, roll them closed, and put them in a 13×9 baking pan. Over the top of the tortillas layer the enchilada sauce, cheese, the rest of the onions, and the olives; in that order. Cover the pan with foil and place it in the heated oven. Bake until the cheese is melted which will take roughly 20 minutes. Serve with Spanish rice, pinto beans, chips, and salsa for a fabulous fiesta feast.

Korean Style Pork and Almond Stir Fry

I love the flavors of Asian cuisine. There is a belief in many Asian cultures that you need to balance your food with many different flavors and textures. However, it was only in the past few years that I have tried Korean food. I was surprised to find that Korean food has one of the most complex tastes of any cuisine I have tried so far. Yet they achieve those complex tastes through relatively simple methods. I developed this recipe as a way of introducing people to the complex tastes of Korean cooking but in a way that is familiar to most of us.

To start with you will need the following ingredients

one and a half pounds of cubed pork

1 1/3 cup soy sauce, divided

two teaspoons prepared ginger and garlic blend

two tablespoons honey

two tablespoons sesame oil

one teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

One medium onion sliced

two small zucchini, cut in half and sliced

one package of sliced mushrooms

one package premium stir fry vegetables, thawed

one cup wasabi-say almonds

two cups chicken broth

one tablespoon corn starch

one tablespoon cold water

two tablespoons vegetable oil

You are going to start by marinading the pork overnight. To make the marinade combine 2/3 cup soy sauce, the sesame oil, garlic/ginger blend, honey, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix them well together and then add the pork in a sealed container overnight. In a large frying pan or a wok heat the oil. Drain off the marinade from the pork and add it to the hot oil. Stir fry the pork until it is brown and starting to develop a crust on the outside of the meat. Add the sliced onion, zucchini, and mushrooms and  cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add in the stir fry vegetables and cook until they are warmed through. Add the chicken broth and the remaining soy sauce and bring the liquid to a boil. Combine the corn starch and cold water and mix into a slurry. Drizzle the corn starch mixture into the pan and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the almonds and stir to incorporate them completely with the meat and vegetables. Serve the stir fry over hot cooked rice.

Crazy Chicken

Across northern Mexico and the American southwest is a chain of restaurants called El Pollo Loco. They specialize in citrus marinaded; fire grilled chicken that tastes absolutely delicious. I was raised on this stuff but it is hard to come by were I live now so I started to experiment with various different recipes to recreate this wonderful treat. Finally I came up with one that is not identical but is pretty darn close. To make this you will need the following ingredients

four to six chicken leg quarters or one whole chicken halved.

four cups of water

eight teaspoons of salt

four teaspoons of pepper

two garlic cloves, minced

one teaspoon of tumeric

four tablespoon of pineapple juice

two teaspoons of lime juice

two teaspoons of lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a blender and blend well for 15 to 20 seconds. Place the chicken in a bowl or pan and pour the marinade over the top. Allow the chicken to marinade for 45 minutes. Turn the chicken over and marinade for 30 minutes more. Preheat a clean grill to medium-low heat. Cook the chicken until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Turn the chicken often while cooking so that the skin doesn’t burn and turn black. Serve the chicken with Spanish rice, pinto beans, salsa, and warm tortillas.

Asian-style Meatball Soup

Nearly a decade ago a man’s fantasy became reality in a form never seen before…okay, yes I am totally riping off the introduction from iron Chef but there is a reason for that. This recipe I am about to present was inspired by an episode of Iron Chef. It actually was about a decade ago and Iron Chef Chen was squaring off against Hisao Oidate, who is an expert in Chinese Medicinal Cuisine. As an aspiring chef the idea that food could be both used to nourish and to heal interested me. I knew that food could help make you feel better but Chinese medicinal cuisine is much more than just that. They believe that what you eat affects your health by creating imbalances in your spirit. And to put it right you need to eat foods that restore the balance between Yin and Yang.

So this recipe comes from what I learned researching medicinal cooking. It is perfect for the cold winter months because it is chock full of ingredients that are meant to be eaten in that season. However this is also great to eat at other times of the year as well. To prepare this wonderfully balancing meal you will need the following:

One pound of ground pork

One head of cabbage, diced

One carrot, sliced

one medium onion, halved and sliced

Two cups of sliced mushrooms

One teaspoon of ground ginger

Four green onions, chopped

Four cloves of minced garlic

Two tablespoons of soy sauce

One-half teaspoon of pepper

Six cups of chicken broth

One half pound popcorn shrimp (optional)

One package of rice noodles

Combine the ground pork, ginger, soy sauce, egg, garlic, and the tops (the white parts) of the green onions into an even mix. In a large stock pot add the cabbage, carrot, onion, mushrooms, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Make meatballs either by hand or by using a scoop and drop them into the boiling broth. Stir gently and cook for ten minutes. Add the shrimp and rice noodles and cook until the noodles are soft. Garnish with the remaining chopped green onions and serve.

Sunday Pasta Supper

A few years back I was looking for something special to make for my (now) ex-wife for Valentine’s Day. Now I know most people would do something like make steak and lobster or more simply and conveniently, reservations. However I wanted something more creative and unique to show her how special she was to me at the time. So I came across a recipe that seemed like a good starting point and the started to experiment and refine it.

The end result was a delicious concoction that I ended up being addicted to. I have constantly been refining it and it gets better every time. A few weeks back I made it for my family for Sunday dinner and they loved it. My mom asked me how to make and I shared the recipe with her and now I am sharing it with you. You will need the following ingredients:

One pound of chicken tenders, cubed

One cup of sun dried tomatoes (the dry packed tomatoes, not the tomatoes in oil)

One 14 ounce can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained (reserve the liquid for use later)

One cup of sliced fresh mushrooms

One 14 ounce can of medium black olives, drained

One tablespoon of diced garlic

One teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

One cup of chicken broth

Two cups of uncooked penne pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown it in the skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are brown and tender. Add the garlic and the artichoke hearts and the garlic and quickly saute for just a minute until the garlic becomes fragrant. Don’t over cook the garlic or it will become bitter. Add the sun dried tomatoes, reserved liquid from the artichoke hearts, and the chicken broth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the olives and the crushed red pepper flakes and simmer for another 5 minutes. Toss the chicken mixture with the pasta as serve.

Italian Sausage and White Bean “Chili”

One of the more popular soups at the chain restaurant “Olive Garden” is their pasta e fagioli, which is sort of an Italian chili. The soup is hearty and great for a cold fall or winter day and let’s face it those days are coming sooner than we might like. However, making the soup the way Olive Garden does it is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. So I developed this simplified version of the recipe that is every bit as tasty as Olive Garden’s but a lot less work. To get started you will need the following ingredients:

one pound of mild or spicy Italian Sausage (I prefer spicy)

six cups of chicken broth

one 20-24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

two 16 ounce cans of great northern beans

one bag of seasoning blend (a mix of onions, green peppers, celery that can be fond in the freezer section of most major grocery chains)

two cups of matchstick carrots. (You can buy a small bag of them in the produce section of most grocery stores.)

two cloves of minced garlic

two teaspoons of Italian seasoning

one tablespoon of white vinegar

one half pound of macaroni, cooked

First off, it is important that you cook the pasta before you add it to the soup or you will end up with a mess, a fantastic tasty mess. Also you need to “shock” the pasta to stop it cooking or it will absorb all the liquid from your soup. To shock the pasta means to rinse it vigorously with cold water to stop the cooking process.

To prepare the soup begin by browning the Italian sausage. One the sausage is browned add the bag of seasoning mix, the carrots, and the garlic for roughly ten minutes and make sure that you stir often so that the garlic does not burn. After ten minutes add all of the remaining ingredients except the macaroni and the vinegar and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. After an hour add the pasta and the vinegar and simmer for another ten minutes and then serve. Since this is an “Olive Garden” soup it would be great served with a green salad and lots of warm garlic breadsticks fresh from the oven.