Chipotle Apple Dipping Sauce

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Pork chops and apple sauce… not a huge fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love pork. I love breading and baking chops (pictured above), grilling chops, and grilling tenderloins. I super love slow cooking pork shoulder when it goes on sale. However, accompanying chops with applesauce doesn’t excite me in the least. I figured, though, that there has to be something worthwhile in the pairing for it to be considered the classic that it is.

I made a dipping sauce for breaded pork chops by combining about 1 and 1/2 cup of no added sugar applesauce, 2 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of molasses, 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce, and a dash of salt into a small saucepan and heating on a low heat until the mixture was bubbling and well combined. The sauce kicked ass and I would definitely make it again for the same purpose or for another, such as a topping on a burger. Even if you do not wish or have the means to create that exact sauce, just the simple addition of any amount of chipotle peppers to applesauce will be a tasty accompaniment to pork chops.

Side note, the pork chops were served with a very simple broccoli casserole. I caramelized some diced onion with a little bit of butter, added a small amount of water and chicken bullion, and carefully steamed chopped broccoli in the same saucepan. Once the broccoli was lightly steamed, I added a little more butter, a little bit of 2% milk, and a little cheddar. I thickened the liquid in the saucepan by adding some corn starch dissolved in a very small amount of cold milk and then brought it to a simmer before dumping the whole thing in a casserole dish. I topped the broccoli mixture with a light sprinkling of cheddar and with crushed cheddar goldfish crackers. If this sounds like a lot of work its really not… cheesy broccoli either baked or just with a light cheese sauce is one of my go-to craving replacements for macaroni or rich starches.

Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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It occurred to me the other day that I could make a low-calorie base for a broccoli cheddar soup. When I make a creamy broccoli cheddar soup, I can’t skimp on the cheese but I learned I can skimp on the cream and butter. To make the base for my soup I boiled two cups of cauliflower in two cups of low-sodium chicken broth. Once cooked, I took the cauliflower off of the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Next, I blended the mixture with about a cup of 1% milk and set aside. Next, I cooked some diced onion in a little bit of butter until translucent and added the cauliflower mixture, about 4 cups of frozen broccoli, a splash of beer, and a few cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Once the broccoli was cooked, I removed about 1/3 of the total soup mixture and blended it, making sure to leave some nice big chunks of broccoli behind in the pot. Finally, the blended portion is returned to the rest of the soup mixture and I let the whole thing simmer for a bit before serving up a bowl with some extra cheddar on top. I added salt to taste at the end but I did season the onion with salt and pepper while it cooked. This soup did not disappoint in the least. I look forward to continue to work on making variations on healthier soup bases. I think next time I’ll try adding some barley or brown rice to the blender.

Twice Baked Potato: Why I Love Crispy Prosciutto

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I’m very particular about my twice baked potatoes. I guess I’m that way about a lot of things in the kitchen. The other day Gar was grilling steak and I kept hovering and staring until he said, “What?” and I said (mildly accusingly), “How many times have you flipped that?” he said “once” and I said “good.” Back to the potatoes, once they are baked I like to make a couple slits, open them, and let them cool slightly before scooping out as much of the potato as possible. A handful of pulses in a food processor works great to mix all of your ingredients. The potato you see in the picture was 369 calories (including the prosciutto) and very filling. I combined my potato with 2 tbsp. of fat free half and half, 1/8 cup of 2% shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 3/4 of a cup of broccoli, a few mushrooms that I sautéed with a little margarine (I had some mushrooms I needed to use), salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Once everything was combined I stuffed the mixture back into the potato, topped it with just under 1/4 cup of the cheddar, and baked it in a 425 degree oven for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, I put some left over prosciutto in the toaster oven at 400 degrees and cooked it for about 10 minutes on each side until it was dried out and crumbly and used it as the final topping on my potato.

Now, let’s talk about crispy prosciutto for a moment. I bought some prosciutto for a chicken saltimboca recipe I wanted to try out from my new Batali cookbook. I wasn’t too impressed with the recipe (I’ll post about it next week) but I had a decent amount of prosciutto left over that I needed to use.  Topping things with dried, crispy prosciutto is a great way to use leftovers. It is so easy to make and it provides the great smoky pork flavor without bringing along the grease that bacon usually does. Finally, it is so incredibly crispy without tasting burnt or being difficult to chew. I highly recommend using prosciutto in this way. On this potato, small paper thin crispy pieces of yummy flavorful pork permeated every bite, I was loving it.