Herb-Crusted Pork Chops with Roasted Carrots

herb pork chop

Easter dinner with my family has traditionally been a large, heavy meal consisting of a honey ham, mac and cheese, green bean casserole with cream-of-something, and banana pudding full of so much sugar that I’m still surprised my teeth didn’t fall out! Now that my husband and I are focusing on a healthier lifestyle, Easter dinner looks very different this year.

Instead of ham, I am using pork chops since they are so versatile. One of my favorite ways to prepare pork chops is to do a light mustard dressing and herb crust with almond meal and fresh herbs from my garden. It gives the pork a tangy, complex flavor while keeping it simple and healthy. If you are grilling this Easter, also check out my recipe for smoked honey dijon rack of pork!

I went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up carrots from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and organic spinach as side dishes. Roasted or sautéed veggies with herbs and olive oil are perfect. If you need to dress up (disguise) vegetables for little ones or picky spouses, my Italian roasted brussels sprout recipe works great too.

What is your favorite Easter dinner recipe?

Herb-Crusted Pork Chops with Roasted Carrots

  • Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil or coconut oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds of organic boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup of dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 tablespoons each of fresh thyme and rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 1 pound organic baby carrots
  • 1/8 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme for carrots (finely chopped)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish and cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. I use olive oil or coconut oil spray.

Mix dijon mustard, garlic, and honey together. Salt and pepper the pork chops and brush both sides with the mustard mixture.

Mix almond meal/flour, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme and rosemary together. Dip the mustard coated pork chops in the flour mixture and make sure to coat well. Set the pork chops aside for 10-20 minutes to allow the flour to adhere to the meat.

While the pork is resting, wash and trim ends of carrots. Place carrots in baking dish and add olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Toss well to coat.

After the pork has rested, spray and heat a pan on the stovetop. To get a bit of a darker crust, lightly brown the pork chops and then put them in the oven. I find that the almond meal can get a bit soggy if I do not brown them first.

Once the pork chops are browned, place on a cookie sheet and bake them (along with the carrots) for approximately 30-35 minutes until done.

Enjoy and have a lovely Easter weekend!

pork chops with herbs

 

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Limoncello Raspberry Basil Sparkler

Lemon cocktailWhat do you do with an entire container of limoncello and free afternoon? Mix cocktails, of course! While limoncello is lovely to sip on its own it also makes a great base for craft cocktails. I also wanted to incorporate some sort of wine product and just happened to have a bottle of Prosecco in the wine fridge. To compliment and balance the sweetness of the limoncello, I added basil (my basil plant is going crazy right now!) and gin. If you do not like raspberries, blueberries can be used for this recipe.

What are your favorite limoncello cocktails?

Limoncello Raspberry Basil Sparkler

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 raspberries
  • 2 leaves of basil
  • 2 ounces limoncello
  • 2 ounces gin
  • Ice
  • Prosecco

Directions:

Muddle the raspberries and basil together in a cocktail shaker.

Add the limoncello, gin, and ice. Shake for 30 seconds.

Strain into a cocktail glass ( I used a highball glass) and top with Prosecco.

Relax and WineDown!

Limoncello

Lemons

With the Texas summer hanging on for dear life, a batch of limoncello is a nice break from all the Rosé, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc we have been drinking the last few months. Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur typically served as a digestivo, an after dinner drink. Traditionally, limoncello is made from the zest of Sorrento lemons steeped in grain alcohol and mixed with simple syrup. It is especially nice to sit outside on warm summer nights and sip a cool, fresh, lemon treat!

Limoncello base recipes are all fairly similar so I modified a recipe from Gabriele Corcos from the show Extra Virgin. I love that show! I like a strong lemon liqueur so I used more lemons and less grain alcohol. If you like sweetness you can always add more sugar and/or use meyer lemons.

Limoncello is a wonderful drink on its own, but you can also use it to make infused cocktails and desserts. What is your favorite limoncello infused recipe?

Limoncello

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Steep Time: 6 weeks

Ingredients:

  • 16 lemons
  • 1 liter grain alcohol (Everclear or equivalent)
  • 1.5 liters water
  • 2.3 lbs. granulated sugar

Directions:

Using a potato peeler, peel the skin of 16 lemons. You can use meyer lemons if you like a sweeter limoncello, but I used lemons I found at Costco.

Place lemon peels in a large container and add 1 liter of grain alcohol. Seal container tightly.

Place container in a cool, dark place and let steep for two weeks.

After two weeks, strain the limoncello liquid and discard the lemon peel.

Bring 1.5 liters of water to a boil. Once the boiling point is reached, remove water from heat and add 2.3 lbs. of granulated sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Let simple syrup cool completely.

Once simple syrup has cooled, add to limoncello mixture. Stir to combine. Seal tightly and place in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks.

After 4 weeks, limoncello is ready to enjoy!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom risottoHi there! Long time, no blog! Life got a little crazy with leaving one job, interviewing, and getting ready for a new one. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.

I managed to sneak in some time to make my famous wild mushroom risotto last week. It isn’t healthy in any way, but risotto is my ultimate comfort food (just ignore the butter). Totally worth it when you are craving a heavy meal though. Enjoy with fresh bread and a bottle of Bordeaux (or your favorite wine)!

Do you have a favorite risotto recipe? If so, please share!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

  • Servings: 6
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 cup of onion
  • 1 package fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 package dried oyster mushrooms
  • 1 package dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups risotto
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Truffle salt or oil

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and soak dried oyster and wood ear mushrooms for 20 minutes to reconstitute.

While mushrooms are soaking, mince garlic and shallot (or onion).

Melt stick of butter over medium heat. Add bella mushrooms, shallot, salt, and pepper. Cook down for 10 minutes until mushrooms and shallot are tender. Add garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add two cups of risotto to the mushroom mixture and stir to coat risotto. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes to “toast” the risotto. Keep a close eye and stir frequently to prevent burning.

As the risotto starts to toast the pan will start to dry out. Add 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze. Cook for 3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to pull the reconstituted mushrooms from the liquid and add to pan. Save the mushroom broth!

Reduce heat to medium.

Add one to two soup ladles of the mushroom broth at a time to the risotto. Cook the risotto until the liquid is incorporated and add more broth. Stir constantly. Once the mushroom broth is consumed, switch to a chicken or vegetable broth.

Continue adding broth and cooking down until risotto is tender and creamy in texture. This can take up to 30-45 minutes. Just keep stirring and checking the texture. Once done, stir in one cup of Parmesan cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like truffles, add several teaspoons of truffle salt, a light drizzle of truffle oil, or freshly shaved truffles.

Notes:

I use the dried mushrooms because that is what is available in my grocery store. However, you can use any fresh wild mushrooms. You would need to increase the amount of broth to about three cans.

I usually go through the entire mushroom liquid and one can of broth before my risotto is done.

I ricotta, You ricotta, We all ricotta!

Homemade ricottaHello, my name is Michelle, and I am a cheese addict. One of my favorite obsessions, errr, I mean foods, is cheese. I literally cannot live without it! We all need a little ricotta!

I was feeling inspired after a tasting at Austin’s new Italian food truck, Patrizi’s. Patrizi’s serves up fresh, traditional fare and offers patrons a piece of Italy right in the heart of Austin! I especially loved the pasta pomodoro served with fresh ricotta cheese and I thought “Why not make my own ricotta?” Pasta+Wine+Cheese=Brilliance!

Ricotta cheese can make plain, drab food taste like a decadent feast. It can liven up weekday dinners, satisfy a sweet tooth, and can be used in place of a variety of cheeses such as Parmesan. Needless to say, I will never buy store bought ricotta again! It is too easy to make and tastes far better than the stuff sitting on the shelf for weeks.

I made this batch of ricotta with whole milk and heavy cream I found at the grocery store. I would recommend using organic milk and cream if you can find it. I think it would make the cheese taste richer. If not, you can use products that are most convenient to you. It still turned out wonderful.

There are many different coagulates you can use to create the “curd”. I chose lemon juice over vinegar because I thought the taste would be fresher. You can certainly use a white wine vinegar if desired.Preparing Cheese

Straining cheese

I use fresh ricotta on pasta, pizza, as a topping for toasted bread, or as breakfast topped with honey, walnuts, and raspberries. If eating with crackers or bread, I highly recommend adding fresh, cracked pepper and lemon or orange zest. Simple, but out of this world!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 75 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Cheesecloth

Directions:

Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Juice two lemons for the coagulate and set aside.

Heat milk, cream, and salt over medium-high heat until liquid hits a roaring boil. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. When liquid starts to boil, lower heat to simmer and add three tablespoons of lemon juice. Stir for two minutes until the curd starts to form. Turn off the heat and let sit for one minute.

Pour curds and whey into strainer and cheesecloth. The whey will drain into the bowl. Let sit for one hour to pull the moisture out of the cheese. Discard whey (unless you want to use in other recipes) and refrigerate cheese. Ricotta will keep 3-4 days in a covered container.