Maple Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops

2-4 chops – about 1/2 lb. each, bone-in chops are preferred

These are so amazing I’m not sure I’ll ever want to eat pork chops any other way. First, you want to brine the chops so they’ll be even more juicy and delicious.

Brine Basics:
This is your base brine solution for any meat – adjust quantities as needed.

2 quarts water
1 cup kosher salt (if using regular salt, just reduce by half)
1.5 cups light brown sugar

Add Ins:
1 clove, whole
4 allspice berries, whole
1 T mustard seeds
3-4 bay leaves
5-7 sage leaves, fresh and torn
a few grinds of pepper

Bring the water to a boil. Turn off heat and add salt and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add herbs and spices and cool down.

Once cool, add meat to the solution and put it in the fridge. I put mine in a gallon size plastic baggie and be sure to flip over about half-way through so all meat gets evenly soaked. Brining times for pork chops are listed anywhere from 12 hours to 1-2 days. Ain’t nobody got time for that, so mine sat for about 7 hours, and were just fine and tasty thank you very much.

Give your meat a good rinse off before cooking and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat your oven to 375.

Maple Bourbon Glaze:

You’ll want to start this cooking before you throw your chops in the pan to cook, as it will take longer than they need to cook to reduce.

1 cup orange juice (I used simply juice since it has no added sugar, etc. but you can also squeeze fresh)
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup maple syrup (use the real stuff!!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 sage leave, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 squeeze (about 1 tsp) of Dijon mustard

Bring OJ and bourbon to a boil, and cook about 5 minutes. Then add maple syrup, sugar, sage, garlic, and mustard. Bring to a boil again and then reduce to low heat. Be sure to stir frequently as the glaze thickens.

Heat up your cast iron skillet for a few minutes to med-high heat. Sear the pork chops on both sides. This should take about 2-3 minutes each side.

Turn off heat and pour 2/3 of the glaze over your chops. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they reach 160. Meanwhile, you can further reduce the remaining glaze if it needs thickening. Pour this over chops when they are ready to eat.


Pumpkin Chickpea Curry

1-2 T Coconut Oil
1 Onion – diced

3 Cloves Garlic – minced

1-2 T Fresh Ginger – minced
1 Box of Fresh Baby Spinach

1 Bunch of Cilantro – top chopped off, minced

2 – 15oz Boxes of Pumpkin

1 -13oz Can of Coconut Milk
2-3 T Curry Paste

1 Can of Chickpeas

Salt to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large pan until melted. Saute onions, garlic and ginger. Add spinach and cilantro until cooked down. Add pumpkin, coconut milk and curry paste. Stir together and heat for a few minutes. Add Chickpeas and simmer a few minutes until fully hot.

Serve over jasmine rice.

New Year’s Red Beans and Rice

This is a great recipe to use up leftover holiday ham. We usually get a spiral sliced ham (bone in) for the holidays and there are only so many ham sandwiches you can eat! This recipe has been adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Ham Hock, Red Beans and Rice.

Ingredients:1 chopped onion
3 stalks chopped celery
2 tablespoons crushed (or pressed) garlic
6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into small bite sized pieces
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1 ham bone with some meat left on
3 15-oz cans red beans (if using dried this is equal to about 3/4 lb. dried beans)
8 to 10 cups chicken stock
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
Cubed ham pieces (whatever is left, use it all or freeze some for later)
Cooked white rice, I prefer Jasmine
In a stock pot, saute the onions, celery, and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sausage, bay leaf, black pepper, thyme, cayenne, and salt, saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the ham bone and beans. Cover the mixture with the stock. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add ham cubes. Cook for 20-30 minutes while you make your rice, or if using dried beans cook for 2 hours or until the beans are tender. Mash 1/4 of the mixture against the side of the pot with a spoon to thicken mixture if desired.  Serve over rice.

Princess Funfetti Cake

Princess Funfetti Cake

Princess Funfetti Cake (photo by Andi Zeisler)

Princess Funfetti Cake (recipe adapted from Baking Outside the Box)

3 1/2 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup sour cream
1 tsp princess emulsion
7 egg whites
1 Cup jimmie sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour (or use Baker’s Joy w/ flour spray) two 9-inch cake pans.

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl and stir well. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sour cream and sugar. When mixed thoroughly, mix into larger bowl with dry ingredients and add milk, Princess emulsion and mix together with mixer. Add in egg whites and mix again (don’t over-mix). Stir in sprinkles until evenly distributed.

Evenly distribute into two cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Magnolia Bakery’s Traditional Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (adapted for maximum princess flavor)

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
8 Cups confectioner’s sugar
½ Cup of milk
2 tsp princess emulsion (original calls for vanilla extract)
food coloring of your choice

Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar, then milk, and princess emulsion (or vanilla extract). Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (you might not need all of the sugar). Add food coloring and mix thoroughly. Frost at room temperature.


Gluten Free Banana Flax Muffins

Gluten Free Banana Flax Muffins (Adapted from The Minimalist Baker)

• 2 eggs (for vegan flax eggs version see The Minimalist Baker’s recipe)
• 2 ripe bananas
• 3 Tbsp agave nectar, maple syrup or honey if not vegan
• 3 Tbsp unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 cup almond meal (ground from raw almonds)
• 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners, or grease pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs.
3. Next add bananas and mash. Add agave, baking powder, vanilla, almond milk and stir.
4. Add almond meal and ground flax seed and stir once more.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean and they become somewhat firm to the touch with a little give.
6. Remove and let rest in pan for 5 minutes. Then cool all the way on a cooling rack.
7. Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

These muffins didn’t rise much (or maybe not at all) when baking, so next time I think I’ll add a little more baking powder. I also realized that I completely forgot the almond milk, whoops! But they were super tasty!

Veggie Lasagna (Gluten Free)

I used to think that I hated eggplant.  My primary experiences with it have been in the form of eggplant parmesan and the two times I have eaten this I have really wanted to like it, but the flavor and texture just didn’t do it for me.  I assumed that I just didn’t like eggplant.  Until I had one of the best lasagnas ever and afterwords found out it had eggplant in it.

Last week our CSA box came with an eggplant, zucchini and a good helping of tomatoes.  I decided I would try to recreate that lovely veggie lasagna, except my version would be pasta free.  I’d seen an Alton Brown recipe for eggplant pasta and basically just followed that recipe but left the slices in tact to act as my lasagna “noodles” (I also left all the skin around the edges in tact.)  This part is pretty easy – just thinly slice (about 1/4 inch) your eggplant, lengthwise.  Lay the slices on a cooling rack that’s covered with one layer of paper towels and evenly salt the slices.  Let them sit there for 30 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry with paper towels.  Voila! You have “lasagna noddles.”

I wanted to make a totally homemade lasagna, so I started by making sauce from my Aunt Sharon’s recipe for Killer Sauce.

Where it says “Italian tomatoes,” that’s 60s Midwestern speak for roma tomatoes.  Aunt Sharon says that mostly she used to use canned, but fresh will work too.  Since I was using fresh, I added the extra step of roasting and skinning the tomatoes beforehand and I think that gives it a really nice flavor.  I also used fresh basil since it’s peak basil season.

Next, I had a DIY cheese kit from Urban Cheese Craft that has been taunting me for a while now.  I picked up a gallon of milk and made me some ricotta cheese!  Seriously, there is nothing like fresh, warm ricotta cheese…mmmm.

I’ll admit though, I haven’t worked up the courage to go all the way and make mozzarella yet (this is where I caved on the totally homemade thing).

Next it was just a matter of layering.  I brushed a thin coat of olive oil onto a 9×13 pan, then began with the first layer of eggplant, then I thinly sliced zucchini lengthwise and layered them in.  Then slices of mushrooms.  I sauteed half a large onion plus a clove of garlic and mixed that in with 2 cups of my ricotta along with two eggs.  Stirred all that together and put about half of it down on top of the veggies, sprinkled mozzarella on top and then repeated the cycle: eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, cheese.

Next time I’ll remember to take pictures of the lasagna before it all gets gobbled up!


Christmas in July Sale!

Have I mentioned that I’ve been building up my Etsy shop?  What’s that you say?  I’ve been completely remiss in promoting my own Etsy shop on my very own blog?  That’s crazy talk!

My new and improved Etsy shop currently has my fine art photography prints for sale.  These are available in a variety of sizes and for a limited time in July I’m offering 20% off orders!  Between now and July 22, just enter the coupon code CIJPDX to get the discount.

You can also check out my fellow PDX Etsy team member’s sales here. Happy Shopping!