Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tasty Thursday - A 'Go-To' Meal!

Welcome to Tasty Thursday!

As I've shared with you before, I like to keep my freezers stocked with basics that we like to eat. One of those basics is boneless pork loin chops. When Kroger has their boneless pork loins on sale, I'll buy several, have the butcher slice them to order, then head for home. Once there I'll divide the chops into meal-sized portions and seal them with my Food Saver vacuum sealer. When I want pork loin for dinner, I take a pack of the freezer and within a couple of hours on the counter, they are ready to cook.

This meal is one of my 'go-to' meals. By that I mean it's something I can cook in a minimal amount of time, with not too much effort, but yet have a delicious meal for dinner. Here's the menu:
  • Grilled Boneless Pork Loin Chops with Spicy Mustard Glaze
  • Roasted Potato Wedges
  • Sauteed Asparagus, Carrots and Onions

Let's start with marinating the pork!

I just LOVE Ken's Steak House salad dressings! My favorites are the Buttermilk Ranch, Country French with Vermont Honey, and the Balsamic and Basil Vinaigrette. The Balsamic and Basil is great as a light vinaigrette, but it's also incredible as a marinade. So an hour or two (or more) before I want to cook the pork, I put the pork into a zipper bag, and pour in about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Put it in the fridge and forget about it until about 10 minutes before you want to put it on the grill.

Next up, if you want things to cook quickly, it's a good idea if you prep and pre-cook the carrots a bit.

For just the two of us, I use two large carrots, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4 inch slices.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then pop in the sliced carrots for just a couple of minutes, until they are just beginning to be tender.

While they are cooking, grab a big bowl and fill it with ice water. As soon as the carrots begin to feel tender, drain them and throw them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

When they are totally cooled, drain them and set them aside, or even put them in the fridge. If you are doing this meal for guests, this part can even be done a couple of days in advance, and the carrots stored in the fridge until you are ready to finish cooking them.

With the carrots out of the way, I quickly make the glaze.

This is sooooooo good, and very easy to make! (Note, my husband isn't a big fan of mustard, but he loves this glaze!) Start with 2 to 3 tablespoons of mustard. You can use any kind you want - regular yellow (what I used), brown, grainy, Dijon, just whatever floats your boat! And add a tablespoon or two of honey.

Mix these together a little bit, then add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, depending on your taste buds ability to handle the heat!

Stir all the ingredients together and sit aside until you are ready to baste the chops with it.

Oh, and now's a good time to start the grill! I use a gas grill, but an electric (Geo. Foreman, etc.) would work fine! Either way, you want it to be hot when you put those chops on to cook.

Now let's start on the potatoes. This is the easiest potato recipe you can imagine, and they are SO good! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then line a baking dish with aluminum foil. Now, if you don't mind washing dishes you can bypass this step, but I just love being able to roll up the foil and have a clean pan underneath! Next, scrub a few baking potatoes under running water. Try to get them all about the same size so they will cook evenly.

Slice the potatoes into wedges. I usually cut them into halves, then each half into three wedges, as you can see here.

And since I hate washing dishes, I take a plastic bag (the 'Food and Bread Storage Bags' are very inexpensive if you use the store brand) and dump the potato wedges inside. Pour in a couple Tablespoons of oil, either olive oil or canola oil is what I usually use. Also season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, Italian herbs, or whatever flavors you prefer. Toss these well in the bag to coat with the oil and seasonings.

Dump the potatoes into the pan and arrange them - skin side down - in a single layer. Then you just toss that oily bag into the garbage!

Place them in the pre-heated oven, and let them bake about 1/2 hour, or until fork tender and kind of fluffy.

My grill is hot, so I take the pork loin, glaze, tongs and my trusted timer outside to the deck Set the timer for three (3) minutes, place the pork on the grill, and set the timer. Now you can start getting the table ready to serve. Tonight we are eating al fresco, or outside on the deck.

When the timer beeps, go turn the chops, baste the top side, set the timer again for 3 minutes, and continue preparing for the rest of the meal.

I guess we should start the veggies now! In a saute pan or skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium high heat. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of diced onion, and a teaspoon or so of minced garlic - and yes, I use the kind in a jar! Years ago when I attended demos at a local Kroger Cooking School, the chefs always used that, so if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me! Saute these together until the onions are tender.

Wash fresh asparagus and break into 2 to 3 inch long pieces. Add these to the skillet.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like. This time I used a pinch of red pepper flakes and some dried tarragon.

When the asparagus is beginning to get tender, add about 1/4 cup of white wine (or water, or broth), cover and allow to steam for just a couple of minutes.

Now would be a good time to go check that pork loin again! Turn the pork every 3 minutes as the timer beeps, and brushing with the glaze each time.

And back to the veggies!

Add the pre-cooked carrots into the pan, and continue cooking until the asparagus and carrots are jut done - do not overcook!

Turn off the heat, and add a tablespoon or two of butter or margarine to the pan, and allow it to melt in and around the veggies. YUM!!!

Now everything should be done. This meal took me less than an hour to prepare and cook, and that is pretty good considering it was all from scratch, using no mixes or frozen entrees or such. Doesn't our patio table look nice!

And doesn't dinner look scrumptious???

I hope you have enjoyed visiting today. Please let me know if you try any of these dishes - I'd love to hear how you liked everything! Have a great day, Becky


Faye said...


Ladybug in TN said...

When do you want to start as my personal chef?