Category Archives: Pork-a-licious

Ladies’ Night

My friend and fellow blogger Ivette from Here’s to Looking at Life has been dying for me to watch the movie Amélie for quite some time, not just because it’s my name en français, she knew I would love it! Being that we are total food dorks, the idea came about to have a French-themed food night to go along with our little movie…best laid plans is all I have to say.

Joining the intimate party was my niece Alex, Ivette of course and Lindsay from Apron Adventures. We started cooking pretty late, well because there was good French wine – we loved Le Coq Rouge for $11 at Whole Foods Market – and cheese, crackers, grapes and apples to munch on while we gossiped about everything under the sun. For our main course, we chose this delicious Dijon Croque Monsieur recipe with Haricots Verts Salad from Cooking Light and for dessert Alex made these awesome Café Au Laits from Gourmet.

The Dijon Croque Monsieurs were very easy to assemble and I liked the fat-free milk/egg substitute wash for the sandwiches that gave them a nice crisp texture. This was a simple, cheesy, ham-a-licious sandwich that we all enjoyed and the haricots verts salad (we used bagged green beans and they worked just fine!) had a delicious and easy vinaigrette and we added in some toasted almonds for crunch; recipe below. Click here to see our finished dish from last night at Here’s To Looking at Life.

I didn’t make the Café Au Laits but watched Alex make them and it came together really, really, really easily and by the end of the night we inhaled them although we said we were just going to have a bite. 😉
Why best laid plans? We didn’t even watch the movie! Leave it to a group of besties to get around each other with great food, good wine, the best company and not need anything else to entertain us – I wouldn’t have it any other way. C’est si bon!
Haricots Verts Salad
Cook ¾ pound trimmed haricot verts in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge beans into ice water, drain. Place beans in a medium bowl; add ½ cup of slivered red bell pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives, 2 tablespoons minced shallots, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinaigrette over bean mixture; toss to coat (add almonds if you desire).

Cuban Sandwiches with Tomato Jam

So after a HUGE and DELICIOUS Thanksgiving meal courtesy of Mama Ingle (thanks Mom!) I really wanted to do something light and healthy, therefore I chose a sandwich jam-packed with Gruyere cheese, grilled onions, jalapenos, prosciutto, pickles, shredded pork and a homemade tomato jam. Yeah, light and healthy just like I said. this Cuban Sandwiches with Tomato Jam recipe from Food and Wine magazine after eating everything in sight the past few days, but alas I did and I’m quite happy about my choice thank you very much.

I don’t know what the heck compelled me to try

This recipe looks more labor-intensive than it really is. It’s actually more “set it and forget it” than lots of steps that make you want to pull your hair out. You let the pork roast for four hours and make the homemade tomato jam that sits for about an hour at a low temperature. After the jam and pork were done, everything else assembled pretty quickly and then you simply grill the foil-wrapped sandwich which made the cheese melty and the bread nice and crispy. This sucker throws a flavor uppercut so prepare to be floored by how yummy everything is once it is grilled. I loved all of these flavors together and honestly was a little surprised that it all worked out as amazingly as it did.


Try making this on a lazy, football Sunday (ha I just came across this video when looking for fitting “Lazy Sunday” images) and you will have a tasty and unique sandwich for the Sunday night game. I served baked chips and fresh mango on the side. Also, I reserved the leftover tomato jam (since it’s just me) for a later use and the remaining pork I will use for lunch to place inside some corn tortillas with some light sour cream and fresh avocado. Love it!

An Oldie But a Goodie

I’ve mentioned a few times that out of all of the cooking magazine issues I keep, it is usually the holiday issues. Not only am I a 5-year old trapped in a 29-year old body when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I love the food so much it is almost painful for me when the holidays are over. (You should see me when I have to take down my holiday decorations, there might be tears involved).
I was thumbing through my old Cooking Light 2007 and 2008 December issues last week and as if I was looking through an old photo album of loved ones, I kept sighing and pointing to certain recipes saying internally, “I remember the time I made that, how delicious and I need to retest and see if it is Cooking Inside the Lines worthy!” Now, you can imagine the grumblings that occurred internally too when I found three delicious looking recipes from the 2008 issue that I had not tried. Quel horreur!

I have to say I planned the timing out pretty well and everything came together very easily, even towards the end of cooking which can sometimes get pretty insane. The Pork Chops were pretty darn awesome. I really liked the Colonial Corn Pudding a lot. Instead of oyster crackers I used multi-grain saltine crackers and they tasted great in the dish. The baked potatoes were good but I think I used too much chipotle that overpowered the other flavors a bit.

Finally, the cobbler. I found some quince at Whole Foods Market the other day and because when cooked it can lend an apple flavor to dishes, I decided to use these instead. This was my first time working with quince and I have to say me likey. Quince is a tough little bugger so it’s best to poach or cook for long periods of time to bring the full flavors out and soften it up. I poached the cut-up quince for 45 minutes before placing in my cast-iron Dutch oven to finish the cobbler recipe. It was delicious! I loved this topping and the quince did take on an apple flavor but had a more firm texture than an apple would have.

I think this meal was a perfect comfort dinner for a rainy night here in Austin. Give them a try!

Amazing Dish from Austin’s Own Olivia Restaurant

So, I know for certain there is some sort of God or higher power because he or she has bestowed this Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder with Semolina Gnocchi recipe to us humans here on earth. This recipe, from Austin’s own Olivia Restaurant, is featured in Bon Appetit’s Top Ten Best New Restaurants. Go Austin! I have never been to Olivia, but if this recipe that can be made at home is any testament to what can be enjoyed at the restaurant…table for one please? (Picture from Olivia Restaurant ‘s Web site)

Just to note, this dish from start to finish takes two days – yes, a whole 48 hours – to make but I have to say even for someone who likes to take on challenging recipes, this one was long in time but not too labor intensive. In fact, a lot of it is sitting time to give the pork shoulder time to break down in the DELICIOUS milky, tomato sauce that kind of reminded me of tomato bisque soup but better. Plus, the semolina gnocchi was super easy to make. I found the semolina flour in the bulk section of Central Market so I wasn’t spending too much money for a specific flour. Thank you to Lindsay from Apron Adventures for pointing out the bulk section which I tend to pass by in the grocery store each time never knowing the gems and jewels hiding inside like spices, flours, nuts and even chocolate. Please go explore your store’s bulk section if you haven’t had a chance, I feel like such a moron for not doing so before!
I finished the semolina in the oven and warmed the pork shoulder deliciousness on the stove. As I poured the pork shoulder and sauce on the gentle semolina square I shivered with excitement from the intoxicating aromas. I took my first bite and…whimpered. Yes lambs, I whimpered and then clapped my hands with glee. This is the best dish I’ve tested so far on Cooking Inside the Lines.

When you think of a snugly blanket, a fireplace and something warm to eat to continue the snuggle factor, THIS IS IT PEOPLE. Yes, this recipe takes time and I know it has some special ingredients, but I’m ordering you to try this now. :) Heck, even just make the pork shoulder and sauce and you could be set, but I’m telling you with the tomato bisque-ish sauce with the tender, cinnamon infused pork that’s mixed with the soft, polenta-style cakes filled with Parmesan and nutmeg flavors, this is the epitome of “comfort” in a bowl.
This is a 10 out of 10 for me. Loved it and I’m going to Olivia soon!

Picture from Bon Appetit Web Site

Ancho Mama’s Pork Chops

I love Chile Rellenos but I never seem to seek them out in restaurants or I guess don’t see them too much in my recipe search. In fact, the last time I had one was this delicious little beauty we tasted for the National Mango Board. Seriously, this was an awesome spin on the traditional chile relleno. So, when I was flipping through the new Bon Appetit recently and came across this Pork Chops with Chiles Rellenos and Ancho Sauce recipe, I recalled the mango chile relleno and decided to try this one for size.

Fabulous, just fabulous, is the only word I can use for this dish. When I read all of the ingredients and preparation, at first blush I thought this might be too spicy or smokey even for my heat-loving palate but it most certainly was not.

The pork chops sit for two hours at room temperature with a simple blend of salt and ancho chile powder. While that sits you can make the simple ancho chile sauce and chile rellenos. I loved the easy-to-make chile relleno filling that had oregano, cheese, boiled Yukon Gold potatoes and toasted cumin seeds. YUM!

The pork chops were smoky and delicious and the chile relleno (which I cooked-off in the oven at 350 degrees) was amazing, plus the ancho sauce with its sweet, smokey notes drizzled on top of of it all was perfect. Since I was cooking the pork chops inside, my one recommendation is to be sure to turn on the oven vent and open a window, that chile powder is intense.

This is definitely going on the top of my recent favorites and will be a fun and delicious dish to enjoy throughout the year.

My New Relationship…

…with a Cuban Sandwich. It all started so innocently at my local H-E-B. Eyeing me from across the checkout aisle was the new Bon Appetit magazine with some juicy looking ribs on the cover, but it wasn’t the ribs that made me fall in love, no, no, it was a Cuban Sandwich with Zucchini Pickles recipe from their Reader’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes section. I love Cuban Sandwiches and have been dying to try one at home. Reading the recipe I knew that this was going to be a serious committment on both our parts and let’s just say this was an intense relationship from the start. First, you have to make the brine and then “cook” the pork in the brine for two days AND do the zucchini pickles which drain in a sink for two hours and then need time to “pickle” themselves.

As with any start of a relationship, I’ll admit I was a little nervous. With all this waiting and brining and waiting some more, would this be the Cuban sandwich of my dreams? It got down to our official date night last night and you have to roast the pork for 45 minutes and then let it rest an hour, quite the diva isn’t it?
Finally it came time to assemble the sandwich and I really did look at it and say “ok buddy here we go!” how lame am I right? I bit into the sandwich and thought…”yeah it’s pretty good but not as delicious as I had dreamed in my head,” isn’t that how all relationships are? 😉

I can’t find the recipes online (see how demanding this relationship is!?) so have posted both recipes below. If you are willing to make this effort for a sandwich, not a holiday meal a sandwich, then try it. It was good but the best part of it was the Zucchini Pickles, yum!

I’m moving on to a new Cuban sandwich recipe so if you have a favorite for the love people share with me!

Grilled Pork with Blackberry-Sage Sauce

You know when you first take a bite of something and then you immediately slow down because it’s so good you want to savor every bite? Yeah, that was this dish in a nutshell. I ate this so slowly and was quite upset when the experience ended. Now that’s a great dish! I love me some pork tenderloin and the blackberry-sage sauce was the perfect complement to the juicy, succulent pork.

The sauce was pretty simple to make and I simply roasted the pork tenderloin in the oven until it registered 155 degrees and let it rest for ten minutes. I served with a side of sauteed garlic green beans. In my eyes this was a perfect Sunday dinner.

Grilled Pork Chops with Cucumber-Dill Salad

I took some great pictures of this dish last night and then found out my camera hates me and somehow deleted them! Oh well. I have a sweet spot for any kind of a Cucumber-Dill Salad and this one was a good one. The pork chops were simply seasoned with salt and pepper and were quite juicy and perfectly cooked if I do say so myself. 😉

This was a simple, easy and healthy weeknight meal and one of my favorites of the 1 bag, 5 meals idea from Everyday Food. Enjoy!

Thai Salad with Pork (or the salad that made me literally lick my plate)

So I just got the new Family Circle and am dying to try some of the recipes in the June issue. First up this Thai Salad with Pork recipe, that yes, I may have licked my plate when I was done. What really made this dish amazing was the dressing. A little backstory for you. I grew up in East Texas and have been visiting Shogun’s (a hibachi grill) my entire life. They make this ginger dressing that is out of this world and this is the first homemade dressing I’ve made that reminded almost exactly of their’s. So maybe it was a little bit of delicious dressing mixed with fond childhood memories? I don’t know.

The other thing I liked about this was how quick and simple it was to make and on a good-for-you scale this one registers way up there, with cucumbers, red bell peppers and lean-pork. I didn’t have bean sprouts (which I love) so I decided to do something very un-cooking inside the lines and added fresh mango to add a sweet note (and more vitamins and fiber) to the dish and it was great.

On a random side note, I was watching Andrew Zimmern’s latest installment of Bizarre Foods last night and saw an ad that next week is his tour of Texas. Being a very proud Texan, especially of our food culture, I can’t wait to see where he ends up. It airs next Tuesday, May 26 at 9:00 p.m. CT.

Everyday with Rachael Ray Greens with Eggs and Ham Recipe

It’s kind of been an Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine week in our house. You will find these kinds of “weeks” occur often since obviously I get so excited to cook new recipes when magazines hit the stands that I can’t contain myself.  I made this recipe of Greens with Eggs and Ham recipe  and boy did I choose wisely…I took one bite of this salad and loved the flavors. This is my first time cooking with escarole and will definitely seek it out in the future. It is mild in flavor but still very distinct and held up to the rest of the items on the plate. I know many who do not like anchovies but I don’t seem to mind them since they tend to disappear into whatever they are cooked in and provide a wonderful bite and salty flavor as they did with this dish. The crispy prosciutto was the perfect salty/crispy complement to round out the salad and I also have a thing for ooey, gooey eggs running on my plate. On the weekends we make a wonderful fried egg sandwich – recipe to come soon – that definitely has a great runny yolk factor and is one of my absolute favorite things to eat. I digress, overall this dish of Greens with Eggs and Ham was a lemony, crispy, salty, eggy array of goodness that I will make again and again.
I say 8.5 out of 10 people!