Thursday, March 24, 2011

Settling with Sage Marinated Pork Chops

Remember Oregon Trail? Ok, take that and mix it with Monopoly and Risk and multiply the awesome points times at least 1,000. This equals Settlers of Catan, the most wonderful game I've played since I've discovered the previously mentioned. The goal is to gain victory points by gathering resources to assist you in settling more land. I know your inner nerd is snorting.

Josh and Stephanie were a part of our Catan dinner party. Not only did we have sage marinated pork chops, in replacement of the sheep you gather in the game, but we also celebrated the delicious and intelligent Pi Day. You can guess what day this took place on. I made apple pie and topped it with vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Having our friends over to a relaxing night of dinner and a game truly constitutes as feasting to me. My church has been going through a series on doing life together and hospitality is a part of this. In my mind, eating and hospitality might as well be synonyms.

But, inviting people in to your home can be an overwhelming and time consuming task. On the other hand it's also infectious fun. I'm to the point now when people even mention what they ate for lunch I think about how I could re-make it for dinner one night and then how I can make someone else eat it. If God calls us to be hospitable and to open our homes, if this is truly his heart, then the overwhelming, time consuming part is reduced a ton, because it's for a purpose.

Try it out. See what happens.

Sage Marinated Pork Chops

Olive Oil
Pork Chops

I rubbed all the ingredients on to the pork chops until it was mostly covered with black pepper or sage leaves. I pan fried the chops in more olive oil, medium heat. It doesn't take too long to do, 10-15 minutes, so stay close by.

As soon as they were cooked through I cut them in to smaller serving portions, mostly for the look, and fanned them on the plates next to an apple compote and a garlic mashed potato. That's it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dumpster Diving for Dinner: Pork Chops & Pears

No, I didn't actually go dumpster diving for my dinner. And, my friend reminded me why. It all started with a show called Portlandia, a sketch comedy poking fun at Portland, Oregon's stereotypes. It's is so true it has to be funny. In one of the clips a couple is obsessed with dumpster diving because it's the green thing to do. They find toys, clothing and even food. Of course they use it. There's hardly anything wrong with it... aside from those specks of dirt and the flies circling it. But, when they invite their friends over for dinner the guests always cancel on them. I wonder why.

My time with my friend, who did show up because she's not afraid of my meals, was refreshing. It was one of those talks where things in life are slightly sucky but there's still hope strewn within, because you know the sucky things are temporary. After the venting, eating and inhaling of green tea and grapes we thought it smart to learn more about Portlandia. We ended up watching clips for an hour and a half and we laughed the entire time. I usually make it a strict rule to not do things like this because it is "YouTubing", when people gather around a computer and laugh at silly videos and continue to share them for hours. I usually can't stand it, but obviously my heart needed a good laugh. I couldn't help but smile and share the show with everyone I talked to for the next day.

I would also like to think my dinner was a little bit better than dumpster dive dessert. I made pork chops in a white wine sauce topped off with pears. I thought if apples could go with pork chops why not pears too? Plus, a pear dipped in white wine - come on! It's delicious! It was an extremely simple dish to make and the white wine really did complement the pears and the pears really did complement the pork. But, in the end I'm still searching for that one extra thing to make it pop. I thought I could bake it next time, to make the pork softer. It's possible I got thrown off by the texture. What do you think? What could it use?

Continue the conversation, and please don't suggest baby food from the dumpster out back. Enjoy!

What You'll Need:

Pork Chops
White Whine

I eyeball all of my garlic and shallot. Once it's chopped start to cook it in the butter, and shortly after add the white wine, on medium heat. The butter helps to thicken up the sauce and keep the ingredients from burning to the bottom.

After it's sizzling a little add the chops to the middle of the pan, covering them in the sauce, and then place the pear slices around the pork. I put the lid on after this and let it do its thing, occasionally checking to make sure nothing was sticking to the bottom.

Once the pork is cooked thoroughly and the pears are softened the dish is ready to be served. Simple Enough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Romano Pasta with Diane Keaton

I have a guilty pleasure of loving Diane Keaton movies. I think she plays some really classy ladies. There's just something about her in Something's Gotta Give, with her house in The Hamptons and how her clothes match her interior decorating. I love it!

In Because I Said So she's a mom and she loves to cook. There's one scene where she's had a particularly stressful day so she makes herself this delicious looking pasta dinner and eats it all alone in her kitchen. This isn't to say I've had a particularly stressful day, quite the opposite, but I am saying there are moments when I make myself pasta and I'm home alone that I feel like I too could be the next great playwright (Maybe I should write plays first?). But now I'm mixing up my movies. The point is there's an extremely satisfying feeling in making an elegant pasta all for myself.

On this chilly afternoon the elegant dish was Romano Pasta - a fettucini noodle sauteed in a marsala, garlic, shallot reduction and topped with graded romano cheese.

The marsala and shallot paired up so nicely. They really brought out the sweetness of each other. And the romano cheese added just the right amount of saltiness.

Here's to your Diane Keaton Pasta Meal -

Fettucini Noodles
Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 Shallot
1/4 Cup Marsala Cooking Wine
Pinch of Flour
Freshly Graded Romano Cheese

Begin boiling your water as you start to saute your garlic and shallot in the marsala and olive oil. I cooked mine on medium heat and this reduced the juices to a good level. Let the mix sit on low while your noodles cook.

Once the noodles are ready add them to your pan of garlic and shallot. Sprinkle some flour on top to thicken your glaze over the noodles. Then add half of the cheese while the noodles are still in the pan and the other half once in the bowl.