Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

As the household ‘chef’, or primary cooker of main meals, you’d usually think you have a general idea of everyone’s palates and tastes and going on that info alone, you’d think you’d have a pretty good idea of what recipes will be a hit or a miss. But even with all that information handy, most pork chop recipes have always been more of a miss than a hit for me in the dinner dept. There’s never been anything particular to lay the finger in, just more of nothing being a show-stopper. And apparently that’s the bar I’ve set. So far they guys have only gone ga-ga for them a few ways, breaded, fried, and topped with caramelized onions,  herbed and soaking in mushroom gravy, or my crispy, baked Italian ranch chops. But especially with the hubs, I am so glad that I hadn’t given up! After all, the hubs IS my picky eater.

While smothered may not typically be something I’d enjoy hearing, when it comes to these pork chops, it is essential. Slow cooked, all day long, in their rich, onion-based gravy they’re fall-apart tender and every bite is dee-vine. Topped with a generous bit of crisp, crumbled bacon and parsley? Ohhhhh, yes. We serve them over a bed of mashed potatoes so we can truly appreciate every single bite of gravy.

Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

5 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 tsp brown sugar, divided
4 garlic coves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
2 bay leaves
6 pork chops, quality cuts
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

1. In a large skillet or sauce pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp.
2. Place the cooked bacon on paper towels to soak up the excess grease, leaving bacon fat in pan.
3. Discard all but about 2 tbsp of the remaining bacon fat and add in the onions, 2 tsp of the brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring often until the onions have softened and have begun to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
4. Add in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck on browned bits. You want those!
5. Place the mixture in crock pot and add on the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth.
6. Add in the remaining 2 tsp brown sugar, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Stir to combine
7. Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper and add them into the crock pot, pushing them down into the juices.
8. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours. When there’s only an hour or so left, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to the gravy.
9. Place pork chops on a serving plate and cover with foil.
10. Remove the bay leaves from the gravy and transfer the ‘gravy’ to a bowl to ‘rest’ for 5 minutes. Scrape off as much fat from the surface as possible.
11. Stir in the vinegar and add any additional salt and pepper, if needed.
12. Serve the finished pork chops over a bed of mashed potatoes, or even cooked rice. Ladle a generous helping of onion gravy over the top of the pork chops and top with bacon and parsley before serving.

Meat Lover’s Pizza Casserole

I think it’s safe to say that we all look forward to pizza night every other Friday. Some nights, it means placing an order on the computer and having it delivered about 45 minutes later. Other nights, it means Mom thawing out the pizza dough the night before and getting busy with a variety of toppings. It could be your traditional pepperoni, or even as funky as Mac & Cheese pizza. We love pizza. Period. But then, naturally, you’ve got those ‘oops’ moments. You know the ‘pizza night’s come up again, and even though you told yourself multiple times, posted sticky notes, and tied a ribbon around your finger, you still forgot to thaw the dough out’ moments. And it’s 30 minutes until you told everyone to be at the table. See, an ‘oops’ moment. Luckily for me, one of my guys favorite pizza flavor combos will forever be meatlover’s.

Meatlover's Pizza Casserole

And what’s not to love? Especially for a meaty, hearty kind of appetite. Where else are you going to find beef, pepperoni, sausage, ham, and occasionally bacon thrown together into one incredible dish? This is my pizza night savior on those no-dough nights. Instead of a traditional pizza crust, I opted to mix there favorite flavors with some pasta. And man, oh, man is it good! All their promised favorite flavors, mixed with some fun pasta shapes.

meatlovers pizza casserole 2

And it’s customizable. Use whatever pasta is your family’s favorite shape. I didn’t include them in the recipe, but add in some ground beef, or swap it for something else. The sons consider it a real treat when I sprinkle some crispy, crumbled bacon over top the pepperoni and cheeses. So whether you forgot to plan ahead like moi, you don’t want to do delivery, or it seems like too much work, with this meal you won’t have to let that stand in the way of you and your family enjoying your next pizza night.

Meatlover’s Pizza Casserole

 1/2 lb bow tie pasta
1 lb mild pork sausage
2 (26 oz) jars spaghetti sauce
1 large onion, diced
1 lb cooked ham, cubed
sliced pepperoni
3 (8 oz) bags of shredded mozzarella
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano

Directions

1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, or until al dente. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process, drain and set aside.
2. Add the sausage, onions, garlic, and oregano until the sausage has cooked through and the onions are translucent. Remove them from heat, drain if necessary, and set aside.
3. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Add some sauce to the dish, just enough to lightly coat the bottom when spread out.
4. To create the first layer, add 1/3 of the cooked pasta and spread it out evenly into the dish. Cover the pasta with 1/3 of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle one bag of cheese out evenly overtop. Sprinkle two tbsp of Parmesan out evenly over the mozzarella. Add the cooked sausage mixture and spread it out evenly.
5. For the second layer, spread half of the remaining pasta into the dish. spread half of the remaining sauce out over the pasta. Sprinkle another bag of mozzarella and two tbsp of Parmesan evenly over top. Sprinkle the diced ham out evenly to finish the layers.
6. To prepare the final layer, add all the remaining pasta, the rest of the pasta sauce, the last bag of mozzarella and the rest of Parmesan, and finally top with all the sliced pepperoni.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai food rocks the hubs world. I kid you not, the hubs could eat it every single day, for any meal, and be quite a happy camper. I am not nearly the fan that he is. I remember struggling through menus trying to find something that appealed to my pallet as he took me to various Thai dives when we were dating. Luckily, the company made it all worth it! That and there was always something I could find to enjoy. The real problem for me was the over abundance of peanuts. Peanuts and pork. Two seemingly totally different flavors that blend flawlessly in this recipe, and many another Thai dish. Here the tenderloin is taken to the next scrumptious level with the help of some peanut sauce. Go to your local grocery store right now, and I promise you its ethnic section (even the smallest) has Thai peanut sauce, probably even a Thai AND American made version. The stuff just seems to get more and more popular as time goes by. This key ingredient doesn’t disappoint even in our quick, from scratch batch.

 Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai. Peanut. Pork. Tenderloin. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. And let’s take another look at these pictures. Not the best staged photos, but still mouth-watering. Drool-worthy really.

(Go ahead, lick the screen. Nobody’s watching)

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin

Thai Peanut Pork Tenderloin 2

recipe adapted from Let’s Dish

1 (1.5 lb) pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp lime, or lemon, juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine marmalade, garlic, coriander, cumin, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, lime juice, orange juice, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together until evenly incorporated.
2. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and place it in gallon sized zip-locking plastic bag. Carefully, add in the marinade, and then gently squeeze the excess air out of the bag before sealing it shut.
3. Refrigerate and let the meat  marinade for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 8 hours.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet (like cast iron or even a dutch oven) over medium-high heat, until the oil is shimmering.
5. Add the pork tenderloin, and sear on all sides, until it’s nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes total. Place the entire skillet into the preheated oven, and cook at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
6. While the pork is in the oven cooking, pour the marinade out of the plastic bag and into a small saucepan. Add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Slice the tenderloin and pour the sauce over top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

These sliders. If you’ve seen them floating around the web, but haven’t given them a try yet, now’s the time to get to it. They really are that good. After my first bite, I could’ve kicked my own self for dragging my feet for so long.

Ooey, gooey finger-lickin’ good. Yes, that’s exactly what these sandwiches are. Prepare for the deliciousness. I think we can all agree that when cheese is involved with any meat, it’s pretty much a wonderful thing. Ham and cheese may be a beloved classic, and most definitely a wonderful thing, but add in the poppy seed mustard butter onion sauce thing and it’s umm, wow! The sauce is what really knocks this one out of the park.

 Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

So they’re yummy, and super simple to assemble, two things that don’t always go hand-in-hand in the kitchen. Doesn’t that just make them perfect for even your busiest days or nights?

The sons’ and the hubs drool over these things now, even the leftovers (if there are any the next day, which is rare). Are you thinking it sounds great, but bummed because you don’t have tiny any pretty petite buns on hand? If you’ve got some kind of larger bun, you’re in luck. I’ve made these on kaiser rolls, dinner rolls, and once even on hamburger buns with the same drool-worthy results.

Game day, brunch, a regular party, dinner, even a hot lunch. Whatever the occasion these bad boys will be the stars of the show.

Don’t want any pressure? Great. The sandwiches can be made up to a day in advance. Just don’t fix and sauce ’em until you’re ready to heat and serve. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with mush. And I haven’t met a ‘mush’ yet that I actually liked.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

Hot Ham & Swiss Cheese Sliders

24 Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
24 pieces of ham, regular or honey flavored
24 slices of Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy Seed Mustard Sauce:
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1½ tbsp yellow mustard
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp minced onion
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

1. Spread the mayo onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese inside of each roll. Close the rolls and place them close together into a large baking dish, or onto a heavy cookie sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until evenly combined. Pour the sauce as evenly as possible overtop all of the sandwiches. If you don’t want to use all of the sauce that’s ok. Just make sure to use enough to cover the tops of the rolls. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly browned and crisped. Serve warm.

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

Pork that’s slowly roasted in the crock pot until it’s so tender it falls apart, and is then mixed with a sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar & honey barbecue sauce, makes for a crowd-pleasing platter of pulled pork sliders. Not only are they great party appetizers, but the sons tear them up when we have them for either lunch or dinner, and the left overs are just as yummy. I know, I know, the name makes them sound pretty fancy, but they couldn’t be any easier. Let the pork cook during the day and when it’s done it’s a snap to mix in the homemade sauce, making them a perfect option for any day, including those busy weekday meals. Got leftovers? This freezes beautifully to save for a later meal. Or you could always make up an entire batch and freeze that if you’re looking to have meals stocked on stand-by.

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

Balsamic Vinegar & Honey Pulled Pork Sliders

recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper (1 medium)
1 tsp crushed dried thyme
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
20 slider buns
coleslaw, optional
sliced sweet or dill pickles, optional

Directions

1. First remove any excess fat from the meat. Place the trimmed meat in the crock pot, cutting to fit if necessary. Add in the onion and pepper, and sprinkle the vegetables and meat with the thyme and rosemary. Pour broth over the meat.
2. Cover and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours or on high for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.
3. Meanwhile, we’ll be making the bbq sauce. Combine vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, black pepper, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly thickened, while stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer meat to a cutting board. Use two forks to pull meat apart into shreds, discarding any fat, or use a stand mixer to do the job for you. Strain the peppers and onions and discard the liquid. Return shredded meat and vegetables to the crock pot. Stir in barbecue sauce until fully incorporated. Cover and cook for 1 more hour on low.
5. To serve, spoon the bbq onto the slider bun bottoms. Top with coleslaw and pickles, if desired. Cover with bun tops. Eat & enjoy!

Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

An easy Cajun-style dinner, this Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice is quickly assembled in the bowl of your slow cooker, and comes out a perfect savory dinner that can easily feed a hungry crowd without any extra calories.
Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

This easy Cajun and rice dinner is chock full of meat, making it the perfect low calorie meal on a family budget, especially since it’s bursting at the seams with flavor.

Read more

Caprese-Style Italian Sausages

Things have been a little quiet around the dinner table here lately. So when I came across this idea I thought, why don’t you get a little conversation going, you conversation starter, you. They definitely did the trick. Everyone had something to say, and all opinion were unanimous. These were delicious, and a nice change up to our normal way of eating Italian sausages, which was smothered with caramelized onions and peppers.

Caprese salad makes the perfect topping for Italian sausage. The hubs and I prefer a more traditional Caprese salad (‘relish’) with chunks of creamy, melt in your mouth fresh mozzarella, but the sons like their cheese melted on top… so, melted it is! They make a great addition to any cook out or get together, and they’re great for an easy lunch, or even dinner.

Caprese-Style Italian Sausages

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Caprese-Style Italian Sausages

recipe adapted from Lemons For Lulu

5 Italian sausage links
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 tsp dried basil
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

1. Let your grill preheat on medium. Before putting the sausages on the grill, use a fork to poke a few holes in each one to allow steam to escape and a quicker cook time. When the grill’s ready, grill the sausages for about 10 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

2. When sausage is done, put them in buns and top with the shredded cheese and basil. Drizzle each sausage with a little oil and a little vinegar.
3. Place the assembled sausages on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven under a broiler until the cheese is nice and melted.
4. Top with tomatoes and serve!

If you’d prefer the more traditional Caprese style, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve had it both ways, but the sons prefer their cheese melted. To make a Caprese relish, use 1/4 cup diced fresh mozzarella in place of the shredded. And 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh basil instead of the dried. When sausages are ready, sprinkle with the cheese, basil and tomatoes.Drizzle with the balsamic and oil and serve.

Herbed Pork Chops in Mushroom Gravy

These pork chops will melt in your mouth. They are so good and easy to prepare and assemble. They are first sauteed in butter, then baked, before being served smothered in a creamy mushroom gravy. Doesn’t that sound fantastic? My mouth’s already watering just typing up the recipe. These pan seared chops come out tender and juicy. Mmm, pork chops and gravy… it certainly doesn’t get much more southern than that. Wherever you’re from, this dish is guaranteed to ‘south’ your mouth. Serve them with some creamy mashed potatoes so you can be sure to savor every single drop of gravy, too!

Herbed Pork Chops
in a buttery, garlic, & mushroom gravy

4 Sons 'R' Us: Herbed Pork Chops in mushroom gravy

recipe adapted from A Mom’s Take

3-4 thick cut pork chops, or 6-8 thin cut, boneless pork chops
½ stick butter
3 tsp minced garlic
¼ cup all purpose flour, or cornstarch
¼ cup milk
1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp thyme
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium high heat combine butter, garlic, mushrooms, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme.
2. Once butter has melted, add your pork chops and seer on each side for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
3. Once both sides of the pork chops are a golden brown place in oven and bake for 35 minutes or until centers are no longer pink. *Time may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of your pork chops.
4. Remove skillet from oven and remove your pork chops and sit them aside to rest.
5. Whisk flour and milk into your pan with the remaining liquids after removing the pork chops. Whisk until all lumps are removed. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
6. Serve over the top of pork chops.