Oh My! Homemade Pasta and Sauces, Carbonara Arancini, Caesar Dressing, Sausages, Chargrilled Oysters & Clams

Next weekend, Jake and I will be hosting a mini Oktoberfest, mostly as an excuse to make sausages and enjoy some time with friends. So, this past weekend, we had our friend, Lindsay, over to do some sausage prep. And of course anytime Lindsay comes over, we have ourselves a cooking fest. This is what was on the menu Saturday night (linked to the recipes we followed, if applicable):

Sausages

We recently bought a stainless steel sausage attachment set for the stand mixer and were excited to try using it. Jake first prepared the meat by cutting it up into smaller pieces and then he placed them in the freezer for a little bit so they would get really cold. He also put the grinder attachment in the freezer to get that nice and cold. While waiting for that, he ground a lot of the spices needed, like fennel, caraway seed, coriander, marjoram, etc. Since we don’t have an herb grinder, he used the coffee bean grinder that we have. I think it might all be the same thing anyway.

Then, he ground all the meat. For the chicken and apple, he actually fed some of the apple through the grinder, as well. Then he added all the different seasonings. These were then placed back into the refrigerator to keep them cold.

Finally, he stuffed the casings. And in the case of the chicken and apple sausage, he used vegetarian casings! The verdict is still out on how all of these sausages taste, since we won’t be cooking then until next weekend, but they look delish!

Arancini

Lindsay made arancini for the first time and it was fantastic! She prepped the risotto and the filling before coming to my house. The filling calls for pancetta, but she used prosciutto. I think it gave the same overall flavor profiles, except probably less smokiness than intended. It did give a sharp saltiness, which was do good and complimented the smoother, creamier flavor of the risotto.

She did the two-step breading with egg first, then rolled in breadcrumbs. A

And instead of pan frying, baking, or deep frying, we decided to use my handy air fryer! Success!

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Homemade Caesar Dressing

With all the heavy foods, lindsay and talked earlier in the day about trying to incorporate some greens/veggies into the cooking day. She also tried another first for her. She made a caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing. It was really good! Unfortunately, I was so full by the time it was done that I only just tasted it and didn’t get to eat a lot! She was originally going to plop all the ingredients into a blender, but we used the immersion blender instead. This was so easy and really should be a simple weeknight meal for anyone – just a few chopped romaine hearts and this dressing, maybe with chicken on top. Perfect!

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Chargrilled Oysters

The third dish Lindsay made was charbroiled oysters and clams. The intent was to just do oysters, but all the stores she went to were low on oysters! The inspiration was a trip to New Orleans this past March for my bachelorette party; we had grilled oysters that Lindsay wanted to recreate. (In my opinion, the ones Lindsay made last weekend were sooo much better.) We employed Jake to try to shuck these, but the oysters were too hard, so we ended up cooking them for a few minutes to get then to open up a bit. Then, we opened them and added the butter sauce. Ugh, these were so good, too!! I’m telling you, we really had a feast. I love seafood in general, but pair it with butter, garlic, parsley, and cheese…incredible. I swear you could put those ingredients on dirt and it would still taste delicious. Haha!

Bolognese

I actually prepped the bolognese sauce earlier in the day because I luckily reviewed the recipe and saw that it needed to simmer for 3 hours. This was simple, but time consuming! Waiting for the milk to first boil down, then the wine to boil down, then the 3 hour simmer…I could’ve taken three naps! It was a really nice recipe and totally yummy, but it didn’t taste like I expected for some reason. I think I’m more used to some of the bolognese recipes I’ve had at restaurants (authentic or not) that don’t have the carrots, celery, etc. I expected it to be a little thinner//less tomato-y. I’m not sure I’d make this again, only because I think I’d like to experiment with more bolognese recipes. I’m determined to find the right one for me!

Pesto

The pesto was so easy and, oh my goodness , it was so fantastically good. I was hesitant about making the pesto because I’ve always been a little “iffy: on the flavor, but this sold me. This was a nut-free recipe, so it really let the basil and cheese shine. In fact, I’m about to drizzle this over our Monday night’s shrimp dinner.

Then, I made two different pastas. One was a two-ingredient pasta I wanted to try because it sounded so easy. It was just one can of pumpkin puree and 3 cups of flour. I found that I needed more than 3 cups. I added the extra flour slowly to the mixture. So, if I had to guess, I probably used a total of 3.25 – 3.5 cups of flour so that the dough wasn’t too wet. And wow, this batch made A LOT of pasta. I ended up with probably 24 oz if I had to guess. I froze 6 bundles of about 3 oz for Jake and I and for Lindsay. Then, we probably cooked about another 6 oz. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and the texture was perfect. I was very pleased with this!

Spinach and Basil Pasta

I was also loving the other pasta, which was made with blended spinach and basil. The color was amazing and the smell was divine. I thought eating it with the pesto would be basil overload, but it wasn’t. Lindsay had it with some bolognese; that didn’t look as pretty, but was still so good!

 

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Now, the diet starts on Monday again and lasts until next weekend’s mini Oktoberfest. You NEED to follow or check back to see what we’re cooking up that day.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

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Turkey Meatballs With A Garlic Dill Yogurt Sauce

I have been craving meatballs so badly recently. I’ve seen so many people making them with the onset of cooler weather and I had to jump on the bandwagon. I air fried turkey meatballs and made a garlic dill sauce to drizzle over them. On the side, I air fried some broccoli and roasted some red kuri squash. The original inspiration for this meal was a Pinterest recipe I had pinned a long time ago. It includes a chicken meatball recipe and the garlic dill yogurt sauce. I chose to create my own recipe for the turkey meatballs, but I followed this recipe for the sauce. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

I’ll tell you – these sides were perfect, but were not my original plan. I had bought dandelion greens for the first time and intended to saute them, use a bit of the cooked leaves to incorporate into the meatballs, and then serve the meatballs over a pile of them. Fail. The dandelion greens were too bitter for my taste and the bunch hardly yielded anything when they cooked down. So, I salvaged a few of the cooked down leaves and put those into the meatball mix.

Anyway, back to the main event…

Turkey Meatballs

For the meatball mixture, I used:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • A few of the sauteed dandelion greens (Omit this if you want)
  • 1/4 cup cooked peas (I had cooked these with the dandelion greens originally)
  • Salt and pepper

I mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl. I then shaped the meatballs. Feel free to make these as large or as small as you want. Mine were about 1.5″ in diameter. I placed these in my air fryer basket and set the air fryer to about 375 degrees. These cooked quickly. It only took about 10 min (or a little less). I moved then around a bit halfway through so the browning would be a bit more even. I also took this opportunity to cut one in half to check the doneness.

Garlic Dill Sauce

Here’s the link from up above again to the recipe.

I actually didn’t realize at first that this recipe called for non-fat yogurt. I had whole milk Greek yogurt on hand. Only when I read the comments saying the sauce should be pourable did I realize that my sauce was too thick due to the yogurt I used. I thinned it out by adding a tiny bit of water and unsweetened original almond milk. I also used a dried dill, but the bottle I have is very fresh and the dill wasn’t too dry.

Red Kuri Squash and Broccoli

I only ended up using about 1/3 of the red kuri squash. Jake and I bought this at the store because we had never seen it before. I forgot to take a picture of it before I sliced the top off. I sliced this into wedges about 3/4 – 1″ thick and roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, flipping half way through. I really like this squash. My palate is honestly not sensitive enough to taste the differences between squash, at least not yet, but this tasted similar to other squashes I’ve had, like butternut. The skin was also edible, so we ate the pieces whole.

The broccoli was just air fried with some salt and pepper.


 

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I served this over a little bed of arugala, but I did that just to add some more greens to the dish. The was extremely delicious. The ginger from the meatballs went well with the yogurt sauce and the sauce actually tasted really good over the squash and broccoli. It seems that this sauce is quite versatile if you wanted to try it with other foods!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Forget the Chinese Takeout – A Simple Beef and Broccoli Dish

Now, I know there is no substitute for the really salty, greasy, and guilty pleasure of Chinese takeout food, but this beef and broccoli dish is sure to please. Plus, it is really easy to make. I finished prepping this dish way faster than most of my other weeknight meals. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

Before I walk through how I cooked up this recipe, here are a few comments:

  • This first note isn’t really a tip, but more so a testament to how good this was. Jake came in from doing yard work and the first thing he said was, “Wow, that smells really good!”
  • In reading through the recipe comments (and I agree) that substituting the protein for chicken or something else would still work perfectly. So, you should definitely try this with something other than beef if that’s what you prefer.
  • I had also asked Jake later what he thought could be improved about the dish and he said more sauce. For me, the amount of sauce was perfect, but I did see other comments of people who doubled the sauce. So, if you’re a sauce lover, go ahead and double it.

The ingredients you need are listed in the recipe at the link above, but here’s what I did:

First, I sliced up the steak tips into about 1/4″ slices. You could even do thin strips if you prefer smaller pieces and more sauce-to-beef ratio. ๐Ÿ™‚

I then prepared the mixture that would coat the beef, giving it a little more texture with the cornstarch for pan frying and some flavor with the garlic powder. I liked that this was a liquidy mixture, rather than some other recipes that simply tell you to toss the meat with cornstarch.

In most cases, I like to prepare the later ingredients before I start cooking. So, I took this opportunity to cut up the broccoli, begin cooking the rice, and prepare the soy sauce mixture.

I used a deep pot because I wanted room to toss the beef and broccoli in the sauce, without accidentally flipping everything out of a pan. I heated up oil and cooked the beef until I had some browning on the outside and the pieces were cooked through. I took the beef out and put in a bowl to set aside. (I usually like to place cooked food in the microwave, not turned on, to keep warm.)

I then cooked the broccoli. I actually also decided to add some sliced mushrooms, which was a nice addition. When done, I tossed the beef back in and added the sauce mixture I had prepared earlier. I tossed to coat everything and let that cook for a few minutes.

Then, it was done! My rice had also finished cooking in that time. Just plate and serve! I happened to have some sesame seeds on hand, so I sprinkled some on top as a garnish. Since I love sriracha, I also added a drizzle of it on my dish.

This was very yummy and I would definitely make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

The Perfect Fall Treat – Mini Cider Donut Muffins

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We don’t usually drink apple cider, but we bought some last week so we could make that delicious bone-in pork recipe. Of course, we had a bunch of the cider left over. With fall now officially in the air, cider donuts are apparently a must. I’ve never personally had cider donuts, but Jake raves about them. That gave me the idea of maybe trying my own cider donuts and using up some of that left over apple cider. Most of the recipes I found required buttermilk. That would’ve been yet another ingredient we buy a jug of when all we need is a cup or less. So, instead, I found a cider donut muffin recipe. No buttermilk and no frying! (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

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I prepared the wet mixture, which included one egg, 3/4 cup apple cider, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

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I then put the dry ingredients (as directed in the recipe) into my stand mixer bowl. I turned the mixer on to mix up the dry ingredients a bit and then I poured the wet mixture in batches until well combined.

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The mixture seemed a little too wet. I thought maybe I forgot to add a 1/2 cup of the flour! I ended up adding about one more tablespoon of flour.

I decided to use a mini muffin tin because I wanted more bite-sized donut muffins. I sprayed the muffin tin with olive oil spray. I then used a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the batter into each muffin spot. That seemed to be just the right amount.

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I placed the mini muffin sheet on top of a baking wire rack, which was on top of a baking sheet. I did this because I didn’t want the bottoms of the mini muffins to cook faster and darken more than the rest of the muffin. I baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. When done, I set everything on the counter to cook as I prepared the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture. I only melted about 4 tablespoons of butter (rather than the 7 tablespoons in the recipe.) I also halved the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

To get each mini muffin out of its little hole, I poked a toothpick around the edges and pried the muffin out a bit, taking care not to rip the bottom part of the muffin.

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I decided not to cover the entire mini muffin with the sugar both because it was easier just to dunk the top and also because I thought it might keep the muffins a little lighter/healthier. I dunked the top of the muffin into the butter and then immediately after into the cinnamon sugar mix. I then set each on the wire rack.

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These cooled very quickly, so they were ready to eat almost immediately after I was done coating all the muffins. These were great! Not the same thing as the fried cider donuts, but still a winner – great to just make and eat at home or to bring as a mini dessert for friends and family. If you have kids, this would be a great shared baking experience to try!

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Sincerely,
Fu’d

Garbage Quiche with a Phyllo Dough Crust

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I just received my new toys from Williams Sonoma yesterday. I don’t usually shop there, but we received a gift card (Thank you, Jim and Cindy!) as a wedding gift. I bought several items; two of them are a 3-piece stoneware baker set and 4-cup glass measuring cup. I purchased the stoneware baker set because all we have of that sort are Pyrex baking dishes. Those work great, but they don’t look great for serving guests or to bring as a guest to someone else’s house. I bought the large measuring cup because Jake needed one recently and I had been thinking about getting one and so I took this opportunity to go for it.

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My new purchases from Williams Sonoma

This morning, we didn’t really have anything specific to make for breakfast, but we did have eggs and vegetables that needed to be used soon.ย What came to mind was to make a frittata or quiche.ย So, I dug into the freezer and found some left over phyllo (or filo) dough that I thought would work great as a crust. I call this recipe a “garbage” quiche because it will work with virtually any sort of vegetable or protein you have – whatever you have on hand! In fact, my favorite fillings for a quiche are ham and artichokes.

Here’s what I used:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
  • Vegetables:
    • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
    • a couple of large broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
    • 3 campari tomatoes, 2 diced and 1 sliced
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (all to taste)
  • Garnish: fresh parsley (optional)

Here’s a summary of what I did.

If you’d like more explanation/description, read past the summary steps. I know, sometimes I at least like to know the tips and tricks before I get started so I can adjust accordingly.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
  2. Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and water. Beat the eggs.
  3. Add all the vegetables (except the sliced campari tomato) and half the cheese to the eggs. Mix to combine.
  4. Spray or rub a baking dish with oil/butter. Layer the phyllo dough in the dish, with the dough going up the sides and slightly over the top.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the dish.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the top begins to get a little firm, but is still liquidy.
  7. Place the sliced campari tomato on top of the egg and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and egg is cooked through. (This will vary.)

Additional Explanation/Description of Steps

First, I cracked 5 large eggs into the measuring cup. (I normally would’ve done this in a small mixing bowl, but I was too anxious to use that measuring cup for something!) I seasoned the eggs with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I also added a splash of water to the eggs to give them a little volume. Beat the eggs, seasoning, and water.

Then, I chopped up my vegetables. I diced two campari tomatoes, thinly sliced a little red onion, and small chopped a few broccoli florets. I added those to the egg mix along with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine.

(At this point, I sliced a third campari tomato, but we’re going to add that later. I also sliced an avocado, which we’ll add later, as well.)

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Sliced avocado to go on top of the quiche

I defrosted the rolled up dough by microwaving it directly inside the ziplog bag for about 30 seconds. I sprayed the baking dish of my choice with some olive oil. I forgot I had previously cut the phyllo dough, so I had smaller rectangles. I simply laid out the sheets with some slight overlap. I did this part very roughly. A lot of recipes that do this will have you put down one piece of phyllo dough and then brush it with butter, repeating that 5 or 6 times. I didn’t bother. I simply took a pile of about 5 sheets and laid it down. I then just sprayed some more olive oil spray over the top. You can see from my photo that my pieces were just slightly too small and didn’t hang over the top of the dish. If you want a little more of that golden phyllo dough to stick out the top, just use larger sheets that hang over the edge and trim to your liking.

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My messy phyllo dough layering in the baking dish

I poured in my egg mixture into the dish, on top of the phyllo dough.

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Egg mixture poured into the dish and on top of the phyllo dough

I popped this into the 350 degree Farenheit preheated oven and baked for about 15 minutes. I then took the dish out and layered my sliced campari tomatoes on top. I had also added the sliced avocado at this time, but that was a mistake. (The avocado browned a bit while cooking in the oven, so I covered it with some cheese. My suggestion is to put the avocado on after everything is done cooking just as a garnish/topping.) Take this opportunity to also sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

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Adding sliced campari tomatoes part-way through baking

Bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and your baking dish. Check the doneness by sticking a toothpick through the middle. If it still looks a bit liquidy, it needs to cook longer. If it feels firm and doesn’t seem watery, then it is likely done.

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The finished quiche

Voila! The final product. Garnish with parsley and sprinkle with a little additional paprika if you’d like! This would be the perfect dish for breakfast or brunch with family and friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Happy breakfast/brunching!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Pitas

This was soooooo good! I made this meal once before, but I changed it up a little this time. I used a recipe from Pinterest (surprise, surprise) as my basis. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) The results were delicious. It was really filling, but I was still craving more.

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The Filling

The recipe calls for two heads of cauliflower. I had one large head, which was more than sufficient for Jake and I who like to eat a lot. First, I cut up the large head of cauliflower and cut off/discarded any really large pieces of the stem. Feel free to keep them if you like, but I wanted to make sure I had enough room filling the pitas to use all the florets.

The recipe also calls for 2 cans of chickpeas. I only used one – drained and rinsed. I put the drained chickpeas on a paper towel, took another paper towel and patted them down, then rubbed my hands around a bit over the towel and chickpeas. This is so I could dry them a bit and also loosen some of the clear shells around them. I picked those away and discarded them. (Don’t go crazy doing this – you could be there forever and drive yourself nuts trying to peel them all away.)

I decided to add a few chopped mushrooms, as well.

With all that in a large bowl, I drizzled some olive oil and added the seasonings. I mixed it around and did a little taste test. I ended up adding some more Garam Masala. I actually also decided to add some cumin and turmeric.

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I spread the filling out on two large baking sheets so there wasn’t too much overlapping and put them in the oven. I would suggest the middle rack. The recipe calls for the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, but I found that to be too hot – I was getting more of some burnt pieces than browned pieces (and my sensitive smoke detector went off, ugh), so I turned the oven down to 400 degrees Farenheit.

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Jake wanted some shrimp, so I planned for two shrimp per pita. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I then cooked them on the stove with a little butter.

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The Spreads

The Pinterest recipe includes directions on how to make an avocado cilantro lime dip. I didn’t feel like going through the trouble of all that, so I made a modified version. It was just one avocado smashed with some plain Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, lime juice, and some thinly sliced red onion.

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The other spread was a carrot sriracha hummus that I bought at our local grocery store. The brand name on the hummus is Lantana.

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The Pita

I also just bought pita from our local store. The brand is Joseph’s – it is a Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat pita and only 50 calories per pita! These were the smaller kind – only about 5″ in diameter or so. Feel free to use whatever pita you want, though – most kinds should work great.

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I assembled all of the pitas ahead of time, mostly to get a good photo!ย  Otherwise, I would’ve served it tacos or a fajita style so that we could create our own custom pitas with all the fixings. In the end, this was really good and really filling. Although I wanted more of this, I didn’t even want snacks after dinner, like I usually do! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Happy eating!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Bone-In Pork Chops and Cabbage with a Mustard Cream and Leek Sauce

My friend, Kami, is one of the only people from college that I still stay in touch with. She and I have a sort of cosmic mental connection, meaning I can say something extremely vague and she’ll still know exactly what I’m talking about.

She very recently sent me a text message with the picture of a recipe that looked like it was in a newspaper. I looked it up and it was from the Boston Glob. (Here’s the link to the newspaper article/recipe.) She also sent me a photo of her real life and successful attempt at the recipe. Wow, did it look delicious! I hope she doesn’t mind (and if we are channeling that cosmic connection, then I don’t think she will), here’s her photo below.

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She sent me the recipe because she thought it’s something I’d be interested in as a nice fall transition recipe.

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So, here comes the next part…Jake and I were at the grocery store today. I hadn’t previously mentioned this recipe to him and he literally said to me, “Do you want to get bone-in pork chops?” Heck, yes! I immediately pulled up the image of the recipe and scrambled around to get all the ingredients we needed.

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Kami was also nice enough to tell me some of the things that she thought weren’t great or that she would do differently next time, so I was able to incorporate those.

First, she mentioned that the pork chops weren’t as juicy as she would like. I interpreted this as they were a little dry or overcooked. When I told Jake about this recipe, he had immediately asked if it called for the pork chops to be brined (as he normally likes to do). I originally intended not to brine the pork chops because the recipe didn’t say to do so, but after thinking about Kami’s comment, I decided to do this. I used 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of salt. I also added a tiny bit of the sliced leaks, parsley, garlic powder, and pickling spices. I think all that’s really needed for a basic brine is just the water and salt. I did this for the minimum of 30 minutes.

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Second, Kami mentioned that she wished she had some buttered noodles or potatoes on the side. Based on what I saw of the recipe, I could definitely see this. All the recipe really has is the meat, vegetables, and sauce. Some sort of starch would complement it nicely. We happened to have bought little potatoes at the grocery store, so I halved them and air fried them with a little bit of oil, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.

Lastly, Kami didn’t mention this, but when I mixed the heavy cream, grainy mustard, and dijon mustard, I thought that the amount of mustard was a little small. So, I squirted extra of both kinds of mustard into the mix. This was more of my own preference because I like that mustard-y taste.


Here are some photos of the cooking process.

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This was a really great and hearty dish. Unlike usual, I couldn’t finish my meal! (That’s a first! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) If I make this again, I’d reduce the cream and perhaps even use light cream instead of heavy cream. I would definitely put this on the list to make again, though. If you’re looking for an impressive dish for a special occasion, this is it.

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Thanks, Kami, for sharing!

Sincerely,
Fu’d