Smoked Pork Chops

We are big fans of smoked meat and the fact that our local butcher has his own smokehouse means we have it more often than most folks, I am sure.

smoked chops, pierogi

Another meal out on the grill, another dinner on the deck!   John grilled the chops, I made a batch of coleslaw and I pan fried some store bought pierogi.   We enjoyed the pierogi but man, there is nothing like homemade. I really, really need to get a batch made before the school year gets in full swing.  I can’t believe we are heading into September – where did my summer GO? Ah well, I refuse to dwell on it, I will get pierogi made, I still have almost a month left of my favorite season and our students are back in session.  Life is good!

Turkey and Sweet Potatoes

Another meal cooked out on the grill!  I am certainly not taking this for granted this year.   I wanted a different protein, I was getting tired of rotating between beef, chicken, and pork.  Thank goodness my store had some turkey tenderloins on sale.

turkey and sweet pots

Originally, I was going to have baked sweet potatoes, but the hubby ended up having some emergency dental work and his mouth was killing him.  I made mashed sweet potatoes, flavored with some butter, salt, pepper, and a bit of maple syrup as our starch.  Super easy and delicious.  I picked up a container of fresh green beans from the farm stand and steamed them before tossing them in a bit of butter.  We even got to eat outside AND the deer came by for a visit.  You couldn’t ask for a better late summer evening.

Kielbasa and Eggs

The greatest thing about having leftover smoked kielbasa and potatoes in the fridge?  It makes breakfast prep and SNAP!

sunday morning breakfast

I cut up the cooked potatoes and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil.  I cut the leftover kielbasa in half and pan fried it. I started some toast and cooked up three eggs for the hubby.  The only downside, I had three frying pans to clean.  Other than that, it was the perfect meal and it used up two of our leftovers.  Can’t beat that!

Pork Chops and Kielbasa

At the butcher shop this weekend, I picked up a few things – steaks, kielbasa, bacon, you know, the essentials.   Anyway, there was a sign for bone in pork chops, but none in the case.  I asked, and they offered to cut them for me.  I have no problem waiting for good food so I said sure.

pork chops, kielbasa

The rain held off for a bit this afternoon so we were able to not only GRILL the entire dinner, but eat it outside!  Whoo HOOO!

I had also picked up a pound of the butchers homemade and house smoked kielbasa.  We were going to have that as a starter, but not knowing how long the rain would hold off, we just made everything at once.   The kielbasa was EXCELLENT and the pork chops were so tender.

I tossed a bunch of small potatoes in vegetable oil and seasoned them with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  They went into a disposable pan on the grill.   I was craving a salad, so I made one as our vegetable that evening.

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We ended dinner on a sweet note.  I had made a chocolate butterfinger cake with a caramel topping for my niece and nephew’s gender reveal BBQ dinner and promptly forgot it on my way out the door.  In my defense, I had salad, potato salad, presents for the new baby, presents for the parents, presents for the other great nieces and nephews, beer, christmas crack, dressings, croutons, serving bowls and utensils in my hand so I was a bit distracted.  Anyway, my niece ended up making a key lime pie along with the gender reveal cake so we had plenty of dessert.  John wasn’t overly upset that I forgot it, he got an entire cake to himself. At least I remembered the Christmas Crack for my niece.  She specifically requested a batch of the burnt cinnamon sugar almonds that are lovingly referred to as Christmas Crack.  Why Christmas Crack – simple, I usually only make them at Christmas and they are highly addictive.

butterfinger cake with caramel topping

It was so nice to be outside, I am really hoping that we have great fall weather.  At least we don’t have to worry about a drought this summer…..

Chicken Thighs and Risotto

Again with the rain….I am having plans drawn up a for an Ark, anybody interested in helping build it this weekend? Anyway, I picked up a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs from the store.  I decided to do a quick breading on them.  I dipped them in melted butter than tossed them in bread crumbs that I had seasoned with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

chx thights risotto

I wanted something different for our starch, so I went with a batch of risotto.  I started the risotto and while that was cooking, I pan fried the chicken.

Once the chicken was brown on both sides, I slid it into the oven to finish cooking and started on our vegetable dish.  I had zucchini and tomatoes from the garden.  I kept things super simple.  I started by dicing and sauteing an onion, then adding in the zucchini and finally the diced tomatoes.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

John really enjoyed dinner, in fact, he ate the entire package of chicken thighs for dinner that night, minus the one I had.  Granted there were only five in the pack, but still…..I keep thinking one day his appetite with slow down, but so far, it ain’t happenin’ folks!

Pork Braised in Milk

This has to have been the rainy summer on record.  It has certainly challenged me to flex my culinary creativity.  Normally in the summer, I grab a protein, pick a veg from the garden and just grill everything.   With the driving downpours we have been having, I am cooking more and more meals at my stove top.  Not a bad thing, just different.

I have made Marcella Hazan’s recipe for braised pork in the fall and winter.  The dish is amazing.  The milk cooks down to this wonderful, nutty, silky sauce.  Mmmmmmm, you have to try it sometime. Anyway, I had milk leftover from making the cupcakes and the weather was just dreadful, so I decided to do a quick version of pork braised in milk.

I purchased two thick cut boneless pork chops.  First I seasoned them with Penzey’s Pork Chop Seasoning, then seared them in a cast iron skillet. Once they were brown on both sides, I added about 2 cups of milk to the pan, brought it to a boil and turned it down to a simmer.  I let it cook for 20 minutes.

milk braised pork and beans

I gotta tell you, it is nothing to look at but OH MY GOODNESS does it taste good!  I steamed a head of broccoli and heated up a can of baked beans for the hubby.  I cut up several tomatoes from the garden for myself since I am not a big fan of baked beans.   Alls in all, it was a great dinner and I was able to use up the leftover milk, DOUBLE WIN!

Rainbow Cupcakes

My goddaughter turns two this month.   She was having a unicorn themed birthday party.    I talked to her Mom and it turns out the bakery she normally orders her cakes from was on vacation that week.  I offered to make rainbow cupcakes for everyone.

rainbow cupcake batter

I used a recipe that I have made hundreds of times, it is a simple butter cake recipe (similar to a pound cake but with less butter).  I separated the batter into six bowls and added food coloring.

I began to layer the colors into the cupcake pans.

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I bought a bottle of unicorn glitter and one of edible pink glitter to use as decoration. I did a trial run the night before.   I made one batch of cupcakes, frosted them, and used both types of glitter.  The overwhelming opinion of every girl in the neighborhood was pink glitter, hands down.

Anyway, Sunday morning, I made a double batch of batter, colored it and began to assemble the cupcakes.

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They turned out great!  I used a large tip to frost them and then sprinkled pink glitter on top.   They looked so cute!

rainbow cupcakes with pink glitter

They were a big hit with everyone, especially the birthday girl!  So happy to be able to make something for the party.  I even went the extra mile and got her a totally unicorn themed gift.  I found light up unicorn sneakers, a unicorn necklace, a unicorn bag, and a unicorn book.   We had a great time, I love watching this little one grow up, I just wish she wasn’t growing up so fast….