Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jazzin' Up Dinner

Not to brag, but last night I made a really tasty and easy dinner! That second adjective (easy) is key for me. I am by no means a master cook. I frequently text my mom asking how to do something or search online. I like recipes without too many ingredients and steps. I enjoy cooking, but I don't have all night to prepare multiple ingredients and create this elaborate meal. Give me quick, simple, and delicious! However, I do from time to time like to jazz things up and make my simple meal seem more intricate and fancy. Tricky? Maybe. Worth it? Definitely!

That being said, I LOVE the Betty Crocker Cooking Basics cookbook that my mom gave me for Christmas a few years ago. It gives so many helpful tips on how to buy various food items and how to prepare them. It provides step by step instructions from prep to finish. This past weekend, I went through it and slapped sticky-notes on probably a couple dozen pages of recipes I want to try in the near future, although every single one sounds delicious. Last night's meal: Pork Chops with Apples.

Here's how to make it:

1 medium Granny Smith (I used 2 smaller-than-medium and I think it was the perfect amount)
2 T packed brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
2 pork chops

(see what I mean...short list of ingredients! I like it!)

Preheat oven to 350.

 I used an apple cutter to cut each apple into 8 pieces and then I sliced each piece in half. Line the bottom of your casserole dish with the apples. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the apples. I did more cinnamon than it calls for. I didn't even measure but just sprinkled it all over.

P.S. Part of jazzin' up dinner in my opinion means to use cute dishes/serveware. I just got married a couple months and got all the dishes and serveware I wanted for presents (yay! thank you guests). I am still at the point where some items are being used for the first time. Such as this casserole dish from Crate & Barrel. It came in a set with 2 smaller ones in different colors. Mmmm, I love it.

Set the casserole dish aside while you prepare the pork. I bought a 6 pack because it was slightly cheaper than a 3 pack. Plus, now I have 2 sets of pork chops in the freezer for a future meal rather than 1 extra that won't make a meal for my husband and I. BTW, these are bone-in, but I don't think it matters. Trim most of the fat off of your chops.
Put some cooking spray (I use EVOO) in a skillet on medium heat and let the pan get hot. Put your chops in the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turning once. Here are mine after the turn. They will not get fully cooked in the skillet, don't worry, they are going in the oven!
 After the 5 minutes, place the chops on top of the apples. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 45 minutes.

Another part of jazzin' up dinner for me is to have a couple side dishes. Now remember I said I'm not a master cook. So, yes, I still make mashed potatoes from a box and I used frozen peas. :S But come on, it's not the worst I could do. I'll get there, give me time. To make these just follow the directions on the box/bag...super simple!
 BUT....I did decide to jazz the potatoes up by adding some basil and garlic! Yuuum!
When the timer beeps at 45 min, check your apples with a fork to see if they are tender. Cut into the center of your chops to see that they are barely pink. If done, let rest for a few minutes. (Tip I learned from Rachel Ray to always let meat rest after cooking so that all the juices settle and you don't cut the meat and drain all the good flavor out right away). While my meat was setting, I made the mashed potatoes (peas had already been cooking).
 My workspace. I love having ingredients prepped and ready to go at my side.

Now for the presentation! Typically, I plate the meal in the kitchen. But tonight, (part of jazzin' it up) I put everything into serveware and set it on the table. Again, notice the pretty dishes! My Parker bowls from Crate & Barrel. I have the mixing set (blue bowl with mashed potatoes) and the Minis (yellow bowl with peas). S&P shakers are Fiestaware.

Doesn't it look nice?

 Yuuum! So pretty on my Eva Mendes plate (from Macy's). Husband gave this meal a thumbs-up and said he could eat it every other week! Score!!!

Let me know if you try this recipe. What do you do to jazz up a meal? What dishes/serveware that you own do you just love?

Positively Splendid


  1. So excited to see you trying new things, using all of your beautiful new pieces! Looks like a yummy dinner.