French Onion Rice and Pork Chops

French Onion Pork Chops and Rice

When I was first married I had to fix pork chops at least once a week for my husband.  He adored pork.  But I think I ruined it for him by overcooking it.  I cooked them to death.  I could do a pork roast ok, but the poor little pork chop was like leather.  So as the years went by he changed his tastes and didn’t ask for them too often.  I figured out if I told him we were having pork chops for dinner he would either suggest we go out or he might bring home a pizza.  I kept a package of pork chops in the freezer for quite a while. I’d pull it out to thaw and he would put it back in the freezer!  It worked!

I think if he were still here he might like this pork chop recipe.  I think it would be good with chicken too.

French Onion Pork Chops and Rice


Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders with Sweet and Spicy Coleslaw

This is my first time to participate in the Foodie Pen Pal.  It was fun to learn about another blogger and gather some things to send her that were of interest and some things to tell her about the area where I live.
The Lean Green Bean

I was matched with Angie.  Check out her story I Love Tangie.  She makes and sells homemade cleaning products.  (Like her own laundry detergent.)  She is into a recycled world to save our planet.

I must say I will read her news and try to be more conscious of my world.  I recycle what I can.  I don’t use spray cans.  But I did pollute the air with Aqua Net when I was a teenager.  In wild, windy West Texas you had to have something to paste that bouffant hairdo in place.  Oh my, memories!  We will save that memory for another time.

Even more exciting is the package I received from Krystin.  She lives in Edmond, OK. She has lots of opportunities for family entertainment in her area on her blog.  Last week it was all about Easter events for the little bunnies on the Saturday before Easter. Sell a Metro Home  I’ve learned a lot about Edmond, OK just reading it.

I need to go visit Krystin.  She also listed all the places for a little retail therapy nearby.  I thought Oklahoma was like the Drummond Ranch (Pioneer Woman) with miles of open space.  She makes it sound like she is surrounded by miles of shopping malls.  I can go for that.

She sent me a package with the best of Oklahoma “foody stuff”.  Some Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly for my spicy side; some bar-b-que sauce and gravy mix for a taste of great Oklahoma cooking, and some dried okra. (Cuz I mentioned I liked okra.)  If you haven’t had it, you should look for it in your whole food section of your Sprouts.  It is delicious!

Oh and did I mention she lives just minutes from an historic round barn? Aracadia Round Barn History   It’s on the historic Route  66.  Built in 1898 and restored in 1992.   This would be a great school field trip. It would be a little far for the kids in El Paso, but it would be amazing to see.  She sent me a post card with a little about it.  So I had to do some research on it.  You will find it very interesting – just like her site.

Edmond, OK Treats

Thank you, Kristyn for the great package and the geography and history lesson.  I’m always open to learning about something new and exploring new tastes.  I used the jelly in a Sweet and Spicy Cole Slaw for some sliders.  It was a great hit.  Here’s what I did.

Every other Sunday evening I meet with a Casa group (from my church) for a pot luck dinner and a study.  The pressure is on to come up with something good and different.  I’m usually counted on to bring a dessert.  This last Sunday I was in the mood for something different.  And I had made this pork which I could not possibly eat all by myself.  So I came up with this quick slaw and got some rolls and we had sliders.  I thought that would be different.

As it turned out there was no dessert.  We had fried chicken, Irish soda bread, a relish tray, stuffed mushrooms,  my pork and slaw and more bread and meatballs in a cream sauce.  We were all thinking heavy on the meat I guess.  It usually results in a rather well-balanced meal.  Next time I’m sure we will all resort to our usual offerings.  Normally we are very traditional.

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork Sliders

The pulled pork was so easy to make and smelled so good I wasn’t sure I would wait to serve it to have a slider.  But I waited.  I made the slaw to serve with these sliders.  Everybody loved it.

I used the Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly I got from Krystin (my March Foodie Pen Pal).   But you could use any pepper jelly or red chile flakes and Sweet ‘n Low for the sweet taste.  This is a quick slaw that sets up fast.  I think this would be good on almost anything.

Sweet and Spicy Coleslaw


Creamy Mushroom Sauce for a Casserole

A friend at work, Nelda and I were discussing how the Food Network has influenced our cooking style.  I think it has improved my cooking and it has certainly made me more aware of how I can improve the flavor by using broth and fresh herbs and olive oil.  When I learned to cook with my mom, we didn’t use those at all.  She had 4 children to feed and the budget didn’t include all the extras.  Salt and pepper and maybe a dried bay leaf were her flavor enhancers.  She made good food though.  As time went by she began to venture out to try more and different things. I cleaned out her kitchen when she moved, her spice cabinet was still pretty basic.  There were more flavorings she added to cookies, cakes and pies than there were for savory dishes.

I was reading a food blog and there was a discussion about plain home cooked food and nothing would do but I was going to have a pork chop and rice dish.  I always stop at that thought because of all the salt in canned food.  I decided if I can make my own Suiza sauce for green chicken enchiladas, I can make my own cream of mushroom soup.  It was pretty good and satisfied my need for a good casserole.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce for Casseroles

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups chopped baby Portabella (or button) mushrooms
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth or ½ cup broth/1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick skillet until butter has melted.  Add the mushrooms and shallot and add some salt and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms and shallot are soft.

Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. (Adjust the liquid you add depending on how thick you want your sauce.)  Using a whisk add the broth and milk and stir until bubbly and slightly thickened.

At this point I use it as I would canned cream of mushroom soup (no need to dilute). I know and can pronounce all my ingredients.

Brown your pork chops (I like thin cut ones.) in a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet.  Let them brown on both sides with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Remove to a prepared oven-proof dish.

I used the same skillet for the sauce as I browned the pork chops in, and sautéed the mushrooms and shallot in the oil and just added a bit of oil and the butter to melt before adding the mushrooms and shallot.

Sprinkle about ½ cup white rice over the pork chops and add the sauce.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.

I served this with steamed cabbage and a small plate with radishes and onions from my garden.


Italy in a Meatball

Ever since I was young I have wanted to travel to Italy.  I don’t have any specific reason to go.  It just seems like that was the center of the universe in early days and the history, people, scenery and food are enchanting, enticing and romantic.  I think Tuscany would be a good place to start.  Well, it’s a dream.  We all need those.

When I can’t decide what I want to eat, that usually means Italian flavors are what will satisfy.  If I have these meatballs made up and in the freezer, I can pop out a few and have dinner done in a flash.  I usually have serving size portions of my homemade sauce ready too.  Of course the cheese is a good rich part of this meal. This with a nice salad and a glass of wine with the music playing softly in the background can take me away!  (Wasn’t that an ad for something else?)

I originally made this up to submit to Johnsonville for a contest.  However, as usual, I didn’t read the fine print and didn’t realize I couldn’t mention any other brand names nor show them off in the picture.  Needless to say my recipe didn’t get entered.  But it is still good and they missed out.

Italian Sausage Meatballs with Penne and Cheese

  • 1 pound Johnsonville Italian Sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1 1/2 cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese (divided) (I used reduced fat cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Bertolli olive oil
  • 24 ounce jar Bertolli Tomato & Basil sauce (or your favorite homemade)
  • 14.5 ounce dried penne pasta (I used Barilla Plus multi grain pasta)

Remove the sausage from the casings.  Add 1 egg (per pound), ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes and ½ teaspoon garlic granules.  I don’t feel the need to season the sausage too much.  It has a wonderful flavor with the fennel already.  Mix these well and make out into small meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. 

At this point, I cool them and put them in a storage bag to use later.  I cook for one so an entire batch is way too much, but this is great to have on hand for a ready-made dinner after work.

Cook pasta as directed on package.  Drain well and put back in the warm pan.  Add 3 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon Bertolli olive oil and 1 cup Kraft Parmesan Low Fat Cheese.  Mix well.  Top each serving with the sauce of your choice and put 4 meatballs per serving on top.  Top off with more Kraft Parmesan Reduced Fat Cheese and a little fresh basil from the garden.

I served pan cooked egg plant drizzled with Bertoli olive oil with mine.

Delicioso!  Ciao!

Keeping notes on recipes…..Or escapades with Customs at the border crossing!

Our favorite family recipes aren’t written down except in the collections I have put together for my children.  They probably were at some point. (The side of a can of soup or the back of a box of pasta)  The recipe as we know it today has evolved and I never write down those minor tweaks to remember what I did.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those foods someone asks you to make for their birthday or a holiday.  Repeat requests for a special food is what I deem traditional food.  Those things that everyone will gather round to eat at dinner time if you mention that is what you are making.  It makes them feel loved because you are making what they like best.   Without fail I could tell my son I was making Dorito Casserole or Broccoli Rice Casserole and he would make sure to be there.  He loved the leftovers too.  The same with my youngest daughter.  Scalloped potatoes always brings “Yum.” Brisket does the trick for my oldest daughter.

Have you ever made something off the top of your head and then you can’t remember exactly what you put in it to make it so good?  I have done this forever.  Or I found a recipe in a magazine, bought the ingredients, made it and totally lost the recipe or couldn’t remember which magazine it was in.  That is the one thing everyone liked the best.   I have never had the presence of mind to write things down as I get the creative juices flowing or tear out that page.

It seems I made the same things over and over because my kids would eat it and their dad liked it.  Actually, I don’t remember my children complaining about too much we had to eat as they were growing up.  They didn’t like tuna fish sandwiches.  I discovered much later my oldest daughter doesn’t like anything with mayonnaise in it.  I never noticed she didn’t eat creamy potato salad, but she never said a word until she got much older.  I don’t remember my son ever complaining about any food I made.  I probably would have made it anyway if their dad liked it.

One time I made a pork roast for my mother’s birthday that was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and simple to make. I put it in the crock pot and we took off for Juarez, Mexico (about 20 minutes from my house!) to buy yarn.  My mother had heard we could buy yarn to knit with on her knitting machines there at very reasonable prices.  So we took plastic garbage bags with us and took off.  Once we found the shop we loaded the back of my car with black bags of yarn and headed for the bridge to get back on US soil.  I can’t imagine how naïve I was to think Customs wasn’t going to want to examine those bags and questions us about what we were going to do with it. To this day I am amazed we made it back with the yarn.  The woman who went through the back of my station wagon and each and every bag just kept asking us what we were going to do with it.  When I told her my mother practiced knitting on knitting machines, and she would use every ounce of this yarn for her children and grandchildren she finally shrugged her shoulders and walked away.  I put those bags back in the car and headed across that bridge!  We neither one spoke until we were back on this side of the river.  Then we laughed just to relieve the tension.  (Back to the meal.)

I can still remember the ingredients for this pork roast today.  My dad was on a special diet for his heart and she had not fixed pork in a long time.  He wasn’t with her on this trip, so it was a special treat for her.  I scribbled the recipe down for her on a piece of paper.  Years later I found that piece of paper in a drawer in her kitchen when I cleared out her house to sell.  I remembered then how good that meal was.  It was for her birthday.


Pork with Garlic in the Slow Cooker

  •  4-5 pound pork loin roast
  • 3-4 garlic cloves peeled, cut in half length-wise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 package Lipton dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow onion sliced into ¼ ” thick slices
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cut pockets in the pork roast and insert the peeled garlic cloves liberally all over the meat.

In a large pan (I like a Dutch oven) heat the olive oil.  Season the roast with salt and pepper and sear the roast until brown on all sides.  Remove the roast from the pan.  Cover the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion slices.  Place the roast on top of the onion slices. Sprinkle the roast with the dry onion soup mix and thyme.  Combine the mushroom soup and wine/chicken broth.  Pour this over the roast.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

You can use the sauce to serve over the meat.  This is delicious served with oven roasted butternut squash and new potatoes.  We had a Pumpkin Cheesecake for Momma’s birthday.


Fancy Dinner-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

What to cook when I want a nice Sunday dinner but I don’t have the big crowd that a BIG MEAL would require?   A pork tenderloin is a nice size for just one or two and the leftovers are perfect for lunch on Monday.  Tenderloin is also the perfect sponge for any flavors you might want to add.  There is a spice shop in Austin at the Arboretum called the Savory Spice Shop.  They have the most interesting spices and spice blends and their prices are the same as the grocery store.  Not only that,  the flavors are potent!  On even the basics I can use just a small measure and taste the full flavor. I panic when I run out of cumin and have to buy it at the grocery.   I go there whenever I go to visit my daughter in Austin.  It is our favorite shopping spot and just around the parking lot is The Cheesecake Factory in time for lunch!  Click Here for their Facebook Page.  They always have interesting events going on in the store and Alicia and Michelle are always there to show you around and give you good suggestions for what you need.

One Sunday I was in the mood for spicy-sweet.  I rubbed down my tenderloin after church and cooked it up for dinner.  I added some roasted potatoes, asparagus and a salad for the perfect post-gardening dinner.

Spicy-Sweet Pork Tenderloin

Prepare the tenderloin by trimming all the fat and patting dry.  Then rub the spice mix into the meat (rub recipe below).  Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour, overnight if you think of it. 

Pre-heat the oven to 400°



When you are ready to bake, pre-heat a medium pan that is oven safe over medium high heat.  Depending on how your tenderloin trims up it will be square or triangle shaped.  Sear the tenderloin on all sides until brown about 4 minutes a side.  Place the pan in the oven and let cook until a meat thermometer registers 150°.  Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

For lunch the next day slice the left over pieces into thin strips and serve over salad or with a cup of brown rice.

For the rub:

  • 2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Hungarian Sweet-Spicy Paprika (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 2 tablespoons of Black Canyon Chili Powder (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice
  • Salt and Pepper

MiddleSister Diets

MiddleSister shares some of her favorite diet friendly meals with us.  I can’t believe my child doesn’t like tomatoes.

I have found myself saying lately things like, “everyday can’t be a food party” and “sometimes it just has to be plain and simple.”  Clearly, I am dieting.  I have been following various recipes in low calorie and low fat cookbooks.  Unfortunately, I do not like fruit, especially tomatoes.  Almost every recipe has fruit and/or tomatoes.  So, I have taken their recipes as inspirations to make my own.  A few of these follow and you can expect more the longer I am dieting.

Turkey Cordon Bleu (serves 4)

I love Chicken Cordon Bleu, but it’s pretty scary in calories and fat.  This recipe is just as tasty and served with your favorite Cordon Bleu sides, just as scrumptious.  I cooked it all up and ate for four meals.  No one else in my house eats what I do.  Be careful not to overcook as it becomes too tough and rubbery.  I overcook meat all the time because I like it all well done.

  •  4 turkey breast cutlets
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices deli ham (I prefer honey baked)
  • bread crumbs to coat (I used panko)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • non-fat cooking spray/olive oil to make the breadcrumbs stick
  • ¼ cup white wine (whatever you have laying around)
  • ¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth

Flatten out the cutlets and then layer them with the cheese and ham (1 each).  Mix together bread crumbs and thyme.  Roll it all up and hold it together with a toothpick.  Spray the outside of the turkey with enough spray to hold on the bread crumbs.  Coat with a light layer of the bread crumbs and place in a sauté pan and cook until browned (about 8 minutes).  Add the wine and broth and bring to boil and the sauce thickens a little.  I guess about 5 more minutes.  I served this over some spinach and leftovers over with green salad.  For a heartier meal, you could serve with potatoes or double up on the portion size.


Sausage and Peppers (serves 4)

I was cooking for the family, Tumbleweed Contessa included, but I needed to stay within my low calorie guidelines.  This recipe was really tasty and I think you could pair it with various different sides.  I paired it with polenta cakes grilled indoors for coloring and warming, but mashed potatoes or rice would go well, too.  Or, you could just serve it with a crusty French or Italian bread and butter.

  • 4-6 Seasoned Sausages (chicken or turkey are lower calorie) I like the Italian ones.  Emeril Lagasse has some great flavors.
  • 2 bell peppers (the more color the better the flavor) cut in thin strips
  • 1 large jalapeno, diced
  • 1 onion (white, but red could be good too), slivered
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 jar of marinara sauce (I never knew there were so many flavors)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced

Slice up the peppers and onions into thin strips.  Cut the sausage into 1 inch slices.  Spray a sauté pan with the non-fat spray and add the onion and peppers until they are slightly softened.  Add the sausages and Italian seasoning and simmer until the sausages are browned.  Add the marinara sauce, water and parsley until it’s all heated through.  To serve I bought a tube of polenta.  Sliced 1/4 inch and grilled on the grill pan.  I think you could add more or less sauce depending on how the side will soak it up.

For dessert, I made sugar free chocolate mousse and put them into chocolate shells.  It was just enough chocolate.

Jamaican Hamburger Salad (serves 6)

What did she say?  I was bored and really wanted a cheeseburger.  There are not enough calories in a day for a really good cheeseburger, so, I got creative.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon Lodo Red Adobo (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1 tablespoon Jamaican Allspice (Savory Spice Shop)
  • 2 tablespoons combined minced ginger and garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Bag of Salad (divided into 6)
  • ½ bunch of cilantro (divided into 6)
  • 6 Kalamata Olives (each plate)

Mix up the beef, cumin, coriander, adobo, allspice, ginger and garlic, and onion.  Shape into 4-6 patties.  Grill to your preferred doneness.  Meanwhile, plate the lettuce and top with cilantro and arrange the olives around the side.  Top with your burger and there you have it.  Of course, my husband ate his on a bun and ate some French fries.

So, everyday does not need to be a food party, but it does not have to be plain and simple either.  With a little creativity, you can make the simple slightly extraordinary. 

A Southwest Christmas Morning Breakfast

I am sure that you are busy wrapping up the odds and ends for the big day.  Me too!  If you haven’t planned something here for Christmas breakfast here is one of my family favorites.  I love this for Christmas morning brunch.  I look forward to making this again and again.  This recipe appears a little involved, but it really isn’t.  The sausage can be browned and ready to use in a container in the refrigerator.  The cheese can be grated ahead of time too.   This is warm and very flavorful.  It serves 8 or more with good sized portions.   A smaller version can be made by using half the ingredients too.

Hot Chocolate and Monkey Bread for Christmas Morning

What is your most memorable menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?  Our familyChristmas Dinner tradition is dinner after the family service at church on Christmas Eve.  The granddaughters need to get home and get ready for Santa to come.  We have a breakfast/brunch on Christmas morning and a dinner later in the day at my daughter’s so the little girls can play, play, play with their new toys.

Christmas Eve has to be easy to put together.  I burned the lasagna one year because the service went way too long (or at least longer than I had planned.)  So I have settled on spaghetti, salad, a slice of garlic bread and cookies left over from the Cookie Exchange party.  Easy.

I like a simple menu for both breakfast/brunch and dinner on Christmas Day.   We discovered a new hot chocolate laced with butterscotch schnapps at a recent cooking school we attended.  It was wonderful.  Living in the Southwest a spicy flavor is usually appealing.  The Breakfast Burrito Casserole is great and everyone can help themselves as they get up.  A hot sweet roll is good with the hot chocolate too.

My Ideal Christmas Dinner Menu

  • Baked Ham thinly sliced
  • Baked potatoes with cheese, bacon and chives
  • Steamed Broccoli with a cheese sauce
  • Fresh vegetable tray with Ranch dipping sauce
  • Hot Rolls – Butter
  • Chocolate Cake

I have a dry hot chocolate mix I have made for years.  The kids could make their own in the morning or after school in the microwave.

I have seen lots of recipes for a pull-apart bread.  This one works for me and can be prepared the night before and put in the refrigerator.  Then pull it out to rise before baking.  It is just the right sweet bite.

Looking for something to take to a party?

Are you running around with your hair on fire?  I am.  There is a stack of presents that need to be wrapped, cards to write, parties to get ready for and, oh yeah, work to do.  So, I thought I would stop for a minute and write on my blog :)

Here is a quick and easy appetizer that you can take to a party. Thank heavens for cream cheese! I use bacon and green chiles, but  you are only limited to what is in your pantry.  Chopped olives, green onions, salsa, pepperocini (drained) would all make nice additions or substitutions.