Now that its Spring, I need to get some new hobbies. I mean, its not like I don't have Winter hobbies or anything, because I totally do. Its just that....some people would claim that they are neither productive nor interesting. In fact, some might claim that they are downright shameful. I beg to differ, though. There is NOTHING shameful about having "watching reality television" as a hobby. What else are you going to do when its cold and dark outside? Oh, what's that you say? Skiing? Reading books? Making snow angels? Pssh. That stuff is for rookies.
Jokes aside, I have decided that its time to do some self-improvement and make something of my free time. How is that going to happen, you say? Well, in addition to keeping up with this blog (I'm going strong at 13 months!!), I'm going to become a master gardener and superior...crafty person. And by crafty person, I mean I am going to make my own photo canvases for the sunroom wall and tile the kitchen backsplash. I think that's enough to start. And the gardening part....I've actually tried to do that before and it didn't go well. I am pretty sure that last Spring, we killed hundreds of dollars worth of plants in a few short weeks. Who knew you had to water plants so much and that squirrels like basil? I mean, really!
Anyway, wish me luck on my new endeavors! I'm sure there will be plenty of time for gardening and crafts between episodes of Teen Mom, anyway.
Now, on to the real point of this blog. Food. This pork and couscous was one of the best things I've made in recent memory. It was amazing....the wine sauce was sweet and savory at the same time, and I swear I could eat that couscous salad every day for the rest of my life. Oh. So. Tasty. I adapted the recipes based on what I had on hand, but I think it turned out well. Plus, there was extra wine for me to drink. Score!
Pork Chops with Red Wine/Garlic Sauce
Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman
3 whole boneless Pork Chops
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
Salt And Pepper to taste
6 whole Peeled Garlic Cloves (smashed)
1-2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Red Wine
1/2 cup Beef Broth
1 whole Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Butter (additional)
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and sear them on both sides until they're nice and golden, about 3 minutes per side. (Don't worry, they don't need to be completely cooked yet). Remove the chops from the skillet and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Stir them around and cook them for several minutes, or until they get nice and golden brown (be sure not to burn the garlic, though!).
Pour in the red wine, then add the bay leaf. Stir and let it reduce, raising the heat if necessary. Cook the sauce for several minutes until it starts to thicken.
Stir in the beef broth (gradually) and add the pork chops back into the pan. Allow the chops to cook in the liquid for a few minutes, then pour in the balsamic. Stir to combine, and then cook for a few more minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the middle of the chops registers at 145 degrees.
Remove the chops from the pan once more, then let the sauce reduce a little more. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle in a little salt and pepper.
Arrange pork chops on a platter, then pour the whole skillet of sauce (including garlic) over the top.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Dried Cherries and Israeli Couscous, AKA "Couscous Salad Deluxe"
Source: Adapted from Eat Live Run
20-24 Brussels sprouts, very thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, preferably black pepper-rubbed
1 cup Israeli couscous (I used tri-color)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons French fried onions (like the kind you use for classic green bean casserole!)
handful of pine nuts, toasted
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt to taste
Prepare couscous according to package instructions, but use chicken stock instead of water (it makes for a much better flavor!). Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove bacon and roughly chop. Add thinly sliced Brussels sprouts to the hot bacon grease on the stove and saute for about five minutes, until the sprouts turn bright green.
Add the sprouts, bacon, dried cherries, and pine nuts to the cooked couscous. Top with french fried onions and toss well and season with salt to taste.