So, the holiday’s are pretty much over, and now it’s that odd limbo between Christmas and the new year where everything is still in Christmas mode, the media is trying to make New Years eve sound more awesome than it really is, and you notice just how many bowl games there are (too many).
I haven’t posted anything cooking related since just after Thanksgiving, so I have some catching up to.
I didn’t cook Christmas dinner this year, we ate out instead. But, there were plenty of missed Saturday dinner posts I need to make up for.
First Saturday, we had apple-pecan pork chops, a quick and easy recipe that’s both sweet and savory. First the ingredients:
- 2 pork chops (I used bone-in, but boneless also works, and if you’re using boneless, you might want to get 4 chops instead of 2)
- 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced (I didn’t even bother to peel that apple, but peeling or not is a personal preference here)
- One 2 oz. packet of pecans
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- Salt & pepper
I seasoned the chops with salt and pepper, then, over medium heat, I melted a tablespoon of butter and cooked the chops until both sides were browned. Then, I removed the chops, added another tablespoon of butter to the pan, and cooked the apples about 4-5 minutes, then added the pecans, a little more butter, then I added the brown sugar.
Once the apples and pecans were nicely coated with all that buttery, brown sugary goodness, I turned the heat down a little, put the chops back in the pan, spooned over the apples and any sauce, and cooked covered until the chops were completely cooked.
The chops were served with some sauteed mushrooms (nothing more than butter, salt, pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar), and some asparagus topped with grated parmesan cheese, and we had ourselves a very nice dinner. 🍽
The next Saturday, we had pasta and parmesan chicken. Not chicken parmesan, mind you, because there was no breading involved here. There were a few more ingredients there than I needed for the pork chops:
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast cut in half to make fillets
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (okay, that may have been a bit more than 1 teaspoon
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 2-1⁄2 cups chicken broth
- One 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- I six oz bag of spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Dried oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes (I used them in roughly equal portions of about 1/4 teaspoons each, though a bit more red pepper and oregano may have made their way into the mix just because)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Over medium heat, I added a bit of olive oil in my big, not quite so new, but still nifty pot, and, after seasoning them with salt and pepper, cooked the chicken breast fillets 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned. I then removed the chicken and set it aside. I added the onions and cooked them until they just began to brown, then added the garlic and cooked that for just about half a minute, I didn’t want that garlic to begin to burn. Then I added the pasta, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and seasonings. I brought that to a boil, then backed the heat down to medium-low, covered the pot and let it simmer about 15 minutes until most of the liquid had been absorbed by the pasta, stirring every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking.
I gave the pasta a little taste and added a bit of salt and pepper, then stirred in the spinach, added the chicken back to the pot, and topped it with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I turned the heat down to low, covered the pot and cooked for about another 10 minutes until the chicken was completely cooked and I had lots of nice, melty cheese.
If you like cheese, this dish is for you, it was plenty cheesy, though, in Brett’s opinion, it was too cheesy (I know, I’m dating a heretic). Topping the pasta with a little more parm for serving was just adding to the excess. It was also plenty filling, and this made plenty of food, so leftovers are a given. This also became Sunday lunch. 😊
And this brings me to this past Saturday. I made sausage and peppers. The decision to make sausage and peppers came about because when I was shopping to get what I needed for the parmesan chicken, I picked up a jar of merlot marinara sauce, even though I didn’t need it. I just spotted the sauce, thought that looked tasty, and got it. It occurred to me later that I would have to use that sauce at some point, so why not sausage and peppers.
So, for this, I used:
- 6 links Italian sausage (either sweet or hot, I mixed the two)
- 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
- 3-4 tbsp. light olive oil
- 3 bell peppers, cut into strips (I used 2 green and 1 red pepper, just for the color variety)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Minced garlic (I think I dipped a spoon into the jar twice, but you can go by your own preference)
- I jar of marinara sauce
- Parmesan cheese
- 8 oz container of sliced bella mushrooms (completely optional, we just like mushrooms)
- Red pepper flake (to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
Heating up the olive oil in my nifty pot (a large skillet will also do) over medium heat, I poked the sausages several times then added them to the pot to brown. After browning the sausage, I removed then and set them aside. I then added the sliced onion, salt, and pepper, and cooked until caramelized. I then added the mushrooms, bell peppers, and oregano. Cooking until the peppers softened, I then added the garlic, continued to cook for a quick minute, then added the marinara sauce and returned the sausage to the pan. I covered the pot and continued to cook until the sausages were cooked through.
Now, how you serve your sausage and peppers is completely up to you. You can serve them with pasta, in your preferred sandwich roll, or just as is. I usually serve them with pasta, but this time we had them as is, with a side of steamed veggies. Topped with grated parmesan right before devouring. 😋
I should add that the marinara sauce you use is also completely your preference. I’ve used plain marinara, basil marinara, marinara mixed with pesto sauce, and, this time out, the merlot marinara. It always comes out great. What I like about sausage and peppers is it’s so easy to make and to customize to your preference. You can add garlic, or not. You can add red pepper flake, or not. Want sage, add sage. Parsley would also work. What I also love is just how easy it is to make. I really could make this with my eyes closed (well, not really, but maybe with my glasses off, and while squinting real hard).