Cast Iron Cooking

I LOVE my cast iron skillet! Nothing gets a better sear, which in turn provides the meat with so much flavor that you just cant get from a regular nonstick pan. I know they get a bad rep for being heavy, hard to clean and a process to season blah blah… But trust me, once you have a seasoned cast iron skillet, taking care of it really isn’t as much of as hassle.   For me I have found if I clean it with warm water and a sponge right after cooking works best. You will be left with a pan that provides the best even cooking, easy stove top to oven transition, and a sear that just cant be beat.

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As I was flipping through my Southern Living I came across this recipe that not only recommended a cast iron skillet but also was a one pot meal. Done and done!   Let me say it did not disappoint! I am not normally a fan of cooked apples, but in this dish they worked really well. I didn’t cook them for as long so they still had a little crunch to them and were not mushy. This will definitely be a recipe I use when I need a quick, tasty weeknight meal! Its even good enough to impress company with!

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Skillet Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients: 

  1. 2 bone-in pork chops (1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1 granny smith apple cut into slices
  4. 1 medium onion cut into thin slices
  5. 1/3 cup chicken broth
  6. 1 cup whipping cream
  7. 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  8. 2 tablespoons bourbon (I used jack daniels b/c it was what we had)
  9. 8 fresh thyme springs
  10. salt and pepper

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet (or a regular non stick skillet) over medium heat. Cook the pork chops 5 to 6 mins on each side till they are nice and golden brown. Remove from the skillet.

2. Add the apples and onions to the skillet. Cook until browned about 4 to 5 mins (I added my apples a couple mins after the onions). Remove from skillet.

3. Add the broth to the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes loosening the browned bits from the skillet. Whisk together the cream and mustard and then add to the skillet. Cook and stir constantly until bubbly.

4. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Add the pork, apples, onions and thyme to the skillet.

5. Bake at 450 for 10 mins and then let stand in skillet for 5 mins before serving!

Braised Beef Short Ribs

I do not buy into all the hype over Valentines day. I do not like chocolate (I know I am a weird one), I do not enjoy going out to eat with 1000’s of other couples and fighting the crowds/reservations etc, and even attempting to walk into a Hallmark stresses me out.  But I do enjoy a nice dinner at home, splurging on a nice bottle of wine and I am very thankful for the man I married. So on this Valentines day we opted for dinner in, per usual, and had Braised Beef Short Ribs with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes and a salad!

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Ok trust me on this, this really is an easy recipe…don’t be intimated by the ingredients or length of time. It does take some preparation and  a little while to cook (we didnt eat till after 8 so in anticipation I bought cheese for the husband to munch on…heaven forbid he starves 😉 ). But once the dish is in the oven (maybe 30 mins prep time), you can pour a glass of wine, sit back and relax until your dinner is ready! The hard work is over and its just a waiting game. And was it worth the wait! The meat was fall off the bone tender and melted in your mouth. Then pair that with the creaminess of the goat cheese mashed potatoes and the red wine sauce that braised with the meat, well you pretty much have perfection

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If your mouth isnt watering it should be! Also this makes a lot when serving just 2 BUT makes a great left over lunch 🙂 .

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Braised Beef Short Ribs

Adapted from Bon Appetit:

Ingredients: 

  1. 5 lbs bone in beef short ribs (I think I only had 4 lbs)
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 3 medium onions chopped
  5. 3 medium carrots chopped
  6. 2 celery stalks chopped
  7. 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  8. 1 bottle of dry red wine
  9. 10 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  10. 8 sprigs thyme
  11. 2 bay leaves
  12. 1 head of garlic halved
  13. 4 cups of beef stock

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.

2. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

3. Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

We had a rare event here in Charleston, a forecast with snow in it!  Of course the news stations were making a huge deal out of it calling it “Winter Storm 2014”. Me being from Boone, where we get lots of snow, kinda laughed at the reactions to the possibility of an inch of snow. I will say though that everyone was on top of it, and we did not have the traffic nightmare that other places like Atlanta experienced, so well done Charleston! While the event came with more ice then snow, we did get to see some of the biggest snow  flakes I have seen in a long time! I will admit me and the husband were giddy over seeing snow (even if it only lasted for 1o mins). After living in the mountains my whole life, while glad to escape the cold weather, I definitely have a soft spot for snow!

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On this cold winter day (and plenty of leftover kale), I came across this recipe in my Southern Living magazine. It did not disappoint! It was the perfect comfort food for this (sorta) snowy day. The spiciness of the sausage and red pepper flakes combined with the silkiness the splash of cream added to the soup….perfection! And I have found another recipe where I enjoy kale! Maybe jumping on the kale bandwagon wont be as hard as I thought.

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Sausage Kale and Potato Soup

Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pound spicy italian sausage
  2. 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  3. 1 large onion, chopped
  4. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  6. 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
  7. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  8. 2 large bunches of kale, stemmed and chopped, about 4 overflowing handfuls
  9. 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  10. 4 medium or 2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced
  11. 8 cups chicken broth or stock, 2 boxes
  12. 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions: 

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Brown the sausage. Once the sausage is browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic. Saute until translucent then add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook until they start to caramelize. Add the kale and cook until its bright green and wilted. Add the nutmeg and stir. Throw in the sausage and potatoes.
  3. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer until the potatoes are done. Once the potatoes are fully cooked add the cream and serve!