Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops & Crash Hot Potatoes

Friday, June 25, 2010

"MMmm, pig" is a phrase that gets uttered around here quite often (other related phrase: Everything's better with bacon!). I hadn't catered to the pork craving in awhile, so last night I made Parmesan-Crusted pork chops and served crash hot potatoes on the side.

I've had the pork chop recipe for years, and don't remember where it came from, though I think it might have been featured on a Food Network show at some point. The crash hot potatoes come from The Pioneer Woman Cooks (Ree Drummond); you will find lots of lovely, tasty, hearty recipes over there - take some time to browse around.

I started the potatoes first, since they take a little longer than the chops.  I boiled some baby red potatoes; while they were doing their thing, I prepared the baking sheet by liberally drizzling it with some olive oil (you will want to be very liberal; it keeps them from sticking)

Once the potatoes were ready, I set them on the baking sheet

From there, I used a metal potato masher to squish the potatoes down a little bit (not all the way), and then turned the masher 90 degrees and pressed down again.  You don't want to mash them, but make them look a little bit like a potato cookie

Then I brushed the tops with some more olive oil, sprinkled them with some kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs (I had chives and rosemary growing in my container garden, so those are the ones I used; feel free to use whatever you have on hand)

Those get put on the top rack of a 450 degree oven.

After the potatoes were in the oven, I turned my attention to the pork chops.  First, they get pressed into grated Parmesan cheese

Then they get a dip in an egg bath

Then they finally get pressed into some Italian bread crumbs

Swirl some EVOO into a skillet and brown on each side for about 6 minutes per side, or until a golden brown (mine are a teeny bit past golden.  Oops.)

Transfer them to a pan and finish them in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or so. At this point, there were only about 15 minutes left on the potatoes, so I turned the oven down from 450 to 400 and put the chops in the stove with the potatoes.  When done, I pulled out the pork chops and put the potatoes under the broiler for just a minute or so to compensate for the turn-down in temp.  You don't necessarily have to do that if you find yourself in the same situation; we just happen to like crunchy.

They turned out great (I will be honest; looking at the picture above is making my stomach rumble a little growl ravenously) - crunchy on the outside (I'm a firm believer in the crunchy texture and using it liberally in your food) and soft inside.  So did the chops.  A really nice pairing, to be honest.  The pork chops have been in my mix for a few years, and will continue to be so; the potatoes have now joined the list and will be made at least once or twice a month.

Recipes are below:

Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I was looking for something just a little different to make as an after-dinner bite/evening snack.  Since any time I ask "What would you like for a sweet?" the invariable response is "peanut butter cookies!" or "brownies!".  And I love both of them - I really do - but I also like the chance to try something a little new once in awhile.  Especially since I've collected an entire box and binder full of recipes I want to try, and the pile is only getting bigger, not smaller.  So PBCs and brownies got vetoed last night, and I decided to make some of the Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons that I had stumbled across over at Brown Eyed Baker.

Not only are these fairly easy to make, the vote handed down was that they are tasted something like a grilled Almond Joy candy bar, which basically is saying "two thumbs up" (anything hailing from or reminiscent of the Hershey family scores highly around here).

The ones I made are tasty, but not overly beautiful, I will admit.  I'm chalking it up to the fact that they were my initial attempt at homemade macaroons.  The next time around, I will probably make them a little smaller; I think that will help with the over-all shape, as well as how they look after they've been dipped.

All you need to do is mix the sweetened condensed milk, salt, egg white, and vanilla together in a bowl.  Once blended, stir in the coconut until well-combined.

Next, you will want to line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a tablespoon or small scoop, drop the batter in small mounds about 2" apart on the baking sheet.  Wet your fingers, and use your fingertips to loosely form the mounds into haystacks or volcanoes.  Wet your fingers as necessary if they start to get sticky or hard to shape.

After they come out of the oven, they need to briefly cool on the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.  Once cooled, they can be dipped in chocolate.  Of course, waiting for them to cool before the dipping was proving to be a long wait, so one may have been sampled naked.  And may have been really, really good.

After they were cooled, they got the dip.  And they were really good, too.  You can never go wrong adding chocolate.  I bet they would also be good dipped in dark chocolate (or even tinted white chocolate, but I will have to try that out to see if it would also be visually appealing).

Here's the recipe, again from originally found on Brown Eyed Baker:

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 lg. egg white
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 325; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2) In large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla and salt.  Stir in the coconut until well-combined.
3) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  Space the macaroons about 2" apart.  With wet fingers, shape the dough into haystacks.  Continue to wet fingers as necessary if they start to get sticky or hard to shape.
4) Bake one sheet at a time for 15-20 minutes, until they turn a light golden brown.
5) Cool on cookie sheet for about 2 minutes, until starting to set.  Use a metal spatula to move the macaroons to a wire cooling rack.  Cool for an additional 30 minutes, until they reach room temperature.
6) Melt 8 ounces of the chopped semi-sweet chocolate.  I did mine in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between.  You can also melt it in a heat-proof bowl set over a bowl of barely-simmering water.  Once melted and smooth, add in the remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate, and stir until smooth.
7) Holding the tips of the macaroons, dip the bottoms and 1/2" up the sides of the macaroons.  Scrape off excess chocolate, and set back on the parchment-lined baking sheets to set.
Makes 24-36, depending on how big you make them.

Banana Nut Crunch Muffins

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First let me say Happy Father's Day to my Dad and my Grandfather!  And Happy Father's Day to all the other Dads out there!

Muffins are such a great food.  They're a portable breakfast-in-your-hand that require no utensils, and sometimes double as a late-night snack.  What I didn't realize until I baked these particular muffins, is that muffins can also fill your kitchen full of a scent so wonderful that you temporarily forget that other foods exist and declare that you want to smell this coming from the kitchen every morning for the rest of your life.

I first made these muffins a couple of weeks ago, and they quickly jumped to the list of "you must make these every week.  Every day is also acceptable".  But I didn't actually get a chance to make another batch until Friday night (I get the urge to bake at what some may consider to be very random times of night).  I had a few bananas left over from the frozen chocolate-covered bananas (a nod to snacking at Walt Disney World) I'd thrown together a couple of nights previous, and I couldn't just let them go to waste.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt

In a second bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, brown sugar, egg, canola oil, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined

In a third, smaller bowl, make the crumb topping by combining brown sugar, flour and cinnamon and whisk together.  Add in butter with your fingers until mix resembles cornmeal

Grease jumbo-cup muffin pan(s) and fill about 1/3 of the way full of batter.  Sprinkle some of the crumb topping over the batter, then sprinkle with a few chopped walnuts

Top with batter until cups are about 2/3rds full.  Finish by generously sprinkling (there will be plenty) with more of the crumb topping and additional chopped walnuts

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out cleanly.  Let cool briefly in pan(s) before removing to a rack to cool

Here's the recipe (adapted from one for Banana Crumb Muffins on
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2T flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1T butter
 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 375.  Grease jumbo-cup muffin tin(s).
2) In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a second bowl, beat together the bananas, sugar, brown sugar, oil, egg, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
3) Prepare the crumb topping: whisk together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  With your fingers, work in the butter until mix resembles cornmeal.
4) Fill muffin cups 1/3 full of batter (I used a cookie scoop to obtain a relatively consistent size); sprinkle with the crumb topping mix, then sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
5) Finish filling muffin cups to about 2/3rds full.  Generously sprinkle the tops with more crumb topping mixture and then more chopped walnuts.
6) Bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean (you may see a little bit of banana, just use your judgment).  Cool briefly in pan(s), then remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes 8-12 muffins, depending on how full you fill your cups and how big your muffin tins are.

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