Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chophouse Pork Chops


Summer is unofficially, officially upon us.  Finally!  After the long, harsh winter we suffered through here in the Bluegrass, it is a welcome site!  And with the arrival of summer I have lost some all of my motivation.  Seriously.  All I want to do is lay by the pool (thanks to my neighbor who conveniently has one), sip on a frosty glass of iced tea and grill.  Please don't bother me with thoughts of doing anything else like, I don't know, working.  Oh, wait.  I decided to add a second job to my life.  It's hard out here for a single girl.  That's what I get for attempting to be responsible and trying to get ahead.  Ok, that's a lie.  I'm trying to catch up.  

Anywho, I was walking through the grocery store and saw some gorgeous thick cut pork chops and I knew that I would be grilling those bad boys for dinner.  A couple of summers ago I accidentally created a marinade for some pork chops simply by opening up my fridge.  I grabbed some tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) and worcestershire and just kind of stood there and stared at it for a while.  Obviously, it would need garlic.  What good marinade doesn't have garlic?  The answer is none.  It's a necessary ingredient.  After gathering these three ingredients I opened my cabinet and stared a little longer until I had an a-ha moment.  I needed a sticky sweet element and just happened to have some Country Rock Sorghum looking right at me.  Perfect!

Now over time, I've played with the ratios and this is what I've come up with that suits me the best.  It's the only way I'll eat grilled pork chops and I am a-ok with that.  The sorghum creates a sticky glaze and paired with the tang from the worcestershire and the salty richness of the tamari--Yum!  It just makes me drool.

If you're interested in ordering some Kentucky sorghum of your own, here is a link to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website where you can search for any of our Kentucky Proud products.  We have so many great items!!

With my grill being super old and not the most reliable thing on the planet, I've included this pork chop grilling guide.  Just make sure that the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.


Chophouse Pork Chops

Makes enough marinade for 5 or 6 thick cut pork chops

Ingredients

1/3 cup sorghum
1/3 cup worcestershire
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Pour over pork and let marinate for at least 2 hours.  Overnight is preferable.  

Grill, cooking to an internal temperature of 145 degree.  Serve with your favorite sides!  Enjoy every single bite!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sorghum BBQ Sauce



Let me preface this post by saying I am not even close to being a pit-master, grill-master or BBQ afficienado. I will most likely never be any of those things. However, I know what I like and I know that I wanted to be able to pronounce a all the ingredients in the sauce I was slathering on my ribs or soaking up with my pulled pork. 

I've made several attempts at the perfect barbecue sauce and this is the closest I've come to falling in love. I'm normally a sweet and sticky sauce type of girl and that's pretty much what this is. I've used Kentucky Proud sorghum in it so when placed under the heat, it will turn sticky--trust me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not prejudiced against other types of sauces. I love them all. It's just that my first instinct is to go for the sweet sauce. I'm not sure why. Must be that sugar addiction I've had since birth. 

Now, before you look at the list of ingredients, I must warn you that it is indeed long, but not nearly as bad as it looks. You dump it all in a sauce pan and let it simmer away for 20-30 minutes. See? Not that difficult. Grab everything out of your pantry and cabinets, set it on your counter and start measuring. Easy peasy. Don't be intimidated. 



You'll also notice that there are three different sweeteners in this sauce. Calm down. You won't be eating this every day so I suggest you start living a little!! 

Finally, I realize people take barbecue very seriously. To some it's a religion. Do I love barbecue? Yes. I'm very much a beginner when it comes to making it though. Please remember that! 


Sorghum BBQ Sauce

2 1/2 cups no salt added tomato sauce
1/3 cup sorghum molasses
1/4 cup packed turbinado or brown sugar
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons worchestershire 
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1-2 pinches of cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat and let cool completely before refrigerating. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Benedictine and Watercress Sandwiches


I love entertaining.  I mean, I LOVE it.  Feeding people makes me happy.  Sadly, life gets in the way and doesn't leave a whole lot of time for friends to get together.  However, with my friend Lori's birthday coming up, I knew that would be a perfect chance to get a couple of my girls together for a lite lunch! 

Entertaining doesn't have to be difficult.  You don't have to slave over a stove for hours.  It doesn't need to be fancy or time consuming.  It's mostly about bringing people together.  So before you get yourself all stressed out, remember those words.  Also, don't try new dishes.  You're just asking for disaster.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again; in Kentucky we love our sandwich spreads.  Not only can they be used for sandwiches, but also as dips for crackers or veggies.  This benedictine is perfect for veggies.  It's light, cool and refreshing.  Perfect for a lunch on a warm summer day.  If you're feeling exceptionally daring you could add some buttermilk to it, thin it out and make it into a salad dressing.  I've not tried this.  It just occurred to me.  I will be walking straight into my kitchen when I wrap this up and trying that out though.

You're probably asking yourself, what in the world is benedictine?  Excellent question and I'm about to tell you.  It's a mixture of cucumbers, onions and cream cheese.  What could be better than that, right?  Think about this recipe when your garden is overflowing with those cucumbers later this summer.  It's a great way to use them up!  The most difficult part of this recipe is getting all the water out of the cucumber, which really isn't that hard.  So, you're welcome.  

Around these parts you can find benedictine in the grocery stores.  It's normally a mint green color.  The color frightens me.  There's no point in buying it when you can make it just as easily!

There are lots of things you can add to make this sandwich great.  I choose watercress because I like how this peppery herb kicks it up a notch and I wanted to keep it on the vegetarian side.  Many people add bacon, which, I mean, it's bacon.  You can't go wrong there, right?  Micro greens or any lettuce you might have growing in your garden would also be a fantastic addition.  Experiment with it and let me know what you come up with!


Benedictine Spread

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1-2 tablespoon white onion, finely diced
2 heaping tablespoons mayo
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

To start, peel the cucumber and slice in half, length-wise.  With a spoon, scoop out the seeds.  Roughly chop the cucumber and place into a food processor or food chopper.  Place in a fine mesh strainer to drain the water off of the cucumber or simple place the chopped cucumber on a paper towel and squeeze the water out of it.  

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cucumber, onion, garlic powder, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  It's best to refrigerate overnight.  

For the sandwiches, spread the benedictine on one slice of your favorite bread.  Top with a few pieces of watercress to add a peppery punch to your sandwich.  Top with another slice of bread.  Serve.

What do you like to serve when entertaining?  Who are some of your favorite guests?  I'm partial to my girlfriends and my parents.  


Monday, May 12, 2014

Gom-Gom's Chocolate Pie



My mother is not a picky person in general with the exception of two things--fried chicken and chocolate meringue pie.  In her opinion simple fried chicken is best.  Salt, pepper, flour.  That's how her mother made it.  I'm sure she fried it in lard in a cast iron skillet.  In my opinion, that's what makes it good.  I am afraid to even attempt fried chicken.  It scares me.  Mostly because I'm terrified of having a gorgeous, golden brown outside and a raw, disgusting inside.  Not only that, do you batter the chicken or just coat it in flour?  Oh, the humanity!  One day I may will try my hand at it. I love a challenge.  Fingers crossed.

The second strong food opinion my mom has is chocolate meringue pie.  She believes it should be served at room temperature.  Don't even think about bringing her a piece of pie that's been refrigerated. It will not fly.  She will constantly compare every pie she tastes to her mother's chocolate pie.  Legend has is it that my Gom-gom made the best chocolate meringue pie east of the Mississippi.  Ok, so there's no legend and no one has ever said that, but you would definitely think it the way my mom talks about this sinfully delicious dessert.

Since starting this blog, rediscovering my food roots is definitely something I've been very interested in.  I recently had one of my aunts give me Gom-gom's recipe in hopes of surprising my mother with it for Mother's Day.  It's impossible to surprise this woman.  Mostly because when I have cooking questions, she's the one I call.   One thing leads to another, I let it leak that I'm making this pie and she talks me into making a recipe that she thinks is "easier".  WRONG.  I mean, it was so wrong on so many levels that I can't even begin to explain just how wrong it was.  After two, yes, two failed attempts at that pie, I went back to the drawing board, Gom-gom's original recipe, and what do you know?!  Yeah, it worked perfectly.

Like any good recipe that's been handed down through the generations, I would not say this recipe is easy.  I would also not say that it's hard.  It just requires a little bit of patience and some time.  It's nice to get out of the microwaveable, instant world we live in sometimes.  I promise you, it will be worth it.  You have my word.

Pie crusts--I can barely deal at this point, but after two failed attempts at that as well, I found a genius over at Add a Pinch who claims to have the perfect pie crust, and you know what?  In my book she most definitely does.  It was SO easy!



Gom-gom's Chocolate Pie                                                                  Printer Friendly

Makes 1 (9 inch pie)                                                                                      

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 1/3 cups white sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
3 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups hot water

In a medium sauce pan stir together the sugar, cocoa powder and flour.

Separate the eggs.  Place yolks in a small bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of the hot water to the yolks, stirring constantly.  This will prevent them from cooking and scrambling once you add them to the saucepan.

Place the saucepan with the dry ingredients on the stove over low to medium low heat.  Slowly incorporate the water, adding about 1/4 cup at a time and stirring well to combine.  Whisk in the eggs.  Once the eggs and water are fully incorporated, stir constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon until this mixture begins to thicken to a pudding consistency.  This may take anywhere from 10-20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Let cool and pour into your pie crust.

For the meringue:
6 egg whites (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl (I recommend a stand mixer) and beat at high until peaks begin to form.  Mix in vanilla and sugar. *

Make sure the filling is completely cooled before adding the meringue.  Cover all of the filling, making sure that the meringue forms a seal all the way up to the pie crust.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Allow pie to set and cool for a few hours before slicing.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I do! What are some of your favorite recipes that have been handed down through your family? I'd love to hear them!


*There are many variables when making meringue, including the weather.  This is also not a "quick" process, so be patient.  Let the mixer do all the work.  You can also add cream of tarter which will help them thicken up quicker.  I have found that room temperature egg whites are the key though.  Eventually they will get where you need them to be.

This post was shared on The Yuck Stops Here.  You can visit this party here!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Repurposing a Dresser Into an Entertainment Center



I've decided to switch some things up around here just to liven things up a bit and let you in on some other things going on in my life.  Believe it or not, I do things other than just cook and eat!  Not many other things, but still…  

About 14 months ago I made a life changing decision to completely embrace Lexington and purchase a house here.  I found the cutest little short sale and made an offer.  Then I waited and waited and waited some more.  It was an excruciating 3 days.  When the bank finally got back to me, it was only to inform me that they would be doing the sale of this house "auction style" basically and they would allow other interested parties two additional days to make offers.  At that point they would reward the best offer with the house.  Holy moly.  Are you kidding me?  This was modern day torture.  Restless nights and days lacking focus followed.  After what seemed like an eternity, my realtor called telling me I was now a happy homeowner!

If only that was the end of the story!  Actually getting to my closing date was an emotional story that I'll save for a later date.  Seven weeks, many, many tears and a near nervous breakdown later, I had the keys to my house.  

So that's the story of how I entered the Lexington, Kentucky real estate market.  Once I moved in, I needed to furnish this place.  And I needed to do it on the cheap.  I was moving from a one bedroom, one bath apartment to a two bed, two bath with a loft and a lot more space in general!  Enter my friend Lauren.  She and her husband had also recently purchased a house and they had all kinds of furniture that came with it.  She was basically giving stuff away at one of our girls nights.  I ended up with this fantastic dresser.


Thanks to Pinterest, and the fact that I really didn't have an entertainment center to fill enough space in my roomy new family room, I knew exactly what I would be turning this into!  

I started by removing all of the drawers and armed myself with a can of black spray paint because I was in a hurry and I hate sanding.  It took about 2 coats to do the job.  I lucked out with the pulls and knobs.   After a long soak in some soapy, hot water and a nice scrub with an S.O.S pad they were all like new! I removed the middle row of drawers and from there I began my loooooong search to find the perfect accompaniment for my new piece of furniture.


It also serves as a great piece to decorate for holiday seasons!  I totally love it.  However, after several polar vortex (again, what's the plural of vortex, vorti?), the fact that I spray painted it really started to irk me.  So, right before spring, I drug this back out to the garage, gave it a good sanding and hit it with a couple of coats of Olympic One (my absolute favorite paint.  I've used it everywhere in my house!) Black Magic in a satin finish.  I also slapped a coat of Sea Sprite (also Olympic One) on the sides of all of the drawers as shown below.  When I said slapped it on, I meant it. It's a terrible paint job.  I figure no one will ever really see it. One day I will go back and touch all of that up but the weather got super nice, super quick and I immediately wanted to spend all of my time outside!


Finally, after 10 months I found the perfect baskets to fill the empty space where the drawers once lived.  I was strolling through Garden Ridge when the heavens opened up and angels started singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  It was just one of those magical moments.  I wanted three baskets and they each needed to be about 13 inches long.  Instead of spending $20 each I decided to purchase the smaller ones which were $7.99 each and turn them sideways.  I am in love with them.  Metal baskets with chicken wire, covered in a cream colored linen.  They were exactly what I wanted!



Finally,  I have a finished product that I am completely proud of!  Except for the fact that I still need to touch up the little spot where my brother-in-law removed the track for the drawer.  That sounds like another project that I'll get around to on a rainy day! 



What do you all think?  I would love for you to share some of your projects that you've come up with! Meanwhile, head on over to my sister Wendy's blog and check out some of her ideas for decorating and organization!

Thanks for stopping by!!