Mexican-spiced pork chops

Mexican-spiced pork chops

I served these earthy chops with quick pickled veggies for freshness and crunch and spicy roasted potatoes.

These pan fried pork chops are fast and simple yet earthy and rich. A great weeknight recipe to have in your back pocket. Pork chops are inexpensive and if you follow a few steps, very tender. But it’s easy to dry them out! Feel free to experiment with how you season your chops, however, follow these six tips for consistently delicious pork chops, every time:

  1. Always buy bone-in chops
  2. Buy 1/2″ to 2/3″ thick cuts, any thicker and you’ll have to pan-roast
  3. Sear on high for about 30 seconds then lower heat to medium
  4. Using tongs, pick up chops and sear up the fat on the sides
  5. Use a heavy bottomed pan such as cast iron or stainless steel
  6. Cook about 3 minutes per side

For 4 Mexican-spiced pork chops (pictured above), 

A night or two before cooking, rub chops with:

1 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Refrigerate in ziplock or tupperware overnight
Bring to room temperature
Turn heat up to med-high on heavy bottomed pan.
Once hot, add canola oil

Add chops to pan, listen for a gratifying sizzle.
Resist the urge to move the chop for a minute or two.
Turn heat down to medium after about 30 seconds in pan.
Cook for 2 more minutes.
Flip chops, turn up heat for about 30 seconds, then down again.

2 sprigs of oregano
1 head of smashed garlic
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter to pan

Tilt pan and baste chop in butter, herbs and garlic with a spoon
Sear the sides of the chops using tongs.
Repeat process with remaining two chops.
Allow chops to rest about 10 minutes prior to serving.

Enjoy with a fresh salad or quick pickled veggies and a starch of your choice!

Salmon quinoa cakes

I made these salmon cakes after watching Damaris Phillips’ Food Network show, Southern at Heart. I thought the idea was genius. Filling, flavorful and fast. I adjusted the recipe to be more practical for a simple weeknight meal. Serve it with cooked quinoa and a simple acidic spinach salad. Acid really cuts the richness.

Salmon quiona cakes

These salmon quinoa cakes taste indulgent, yet they are packed with good fats and nutrients! It’s a win-win.

For 6 cakes:

1.5 lb skin on salmon fillet
1.25 cup cooked quinoa
3 scallions, sliced
1 chipotle pepper, stem removed
4 cloves of garlic
zest of 2 lemons
1 egg, whisked
2 tbsp flour
3 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
1 tbsp coconut oil
Lemon wedges for serving

Oven to 400° F

Line baking pan with foil
Place salmon on foil, skin side down
Bake for 10-12 minutes,
Allow to cool, remove skin
Flake fish into large mixing bowl

Measure 1 cup quinoa, soak for 5 minutes, rinse well in mesh strainer
Boil 2 cups of stock, or water with bouillon, or salted water in saucepan, reserve hot liquid in a bowl
Add rinsed quinoa to dry saucepan, toast quinoa over medium heat until dry and nutty smelling
Add broth or water back to quinoa, bring to a boil, then down to simmer
Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on low, allow 5 minutes to rest, covered after you turn heat off
Only use 1.25 of the quinoa for the cakes. Serve the rest with your meal or reserve for another time

Preheat oven to 350° F

Finely chop garlic and chipotle pepper (remove seeds if you don’t want heat)
Add scallions, garlic, chipotle, quinoa, salt, pepper, lemon zest, egg and flour and mix well
Form 6 patties, place on a rack on a baking sheet
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Once hot, add the cakes to the pan in batches and brown about 2 minutes per side
Return cakes to the rack on the baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes

Serve with lemon wedges, an acidic salad and cooked grains.


Savory Breakfast Pudding

Savory breakfast pudding

Simple and impressive: Savory breakfast pudding

Breakfast pudding is a weekend staple. It’s quick, easy and very adaptable. I got inspiration for this English style dish from the master: Martha Stewart. While her recipe is very similar, I find adding an extra egg and a little more salt really helps with the pudding’s consistency and flavor.

1 ½ cup flour
1 ½ cup whole milk or half and half
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tspn salt
4 large eggs
About 1 pound of sausage (I prefer fresh, circular sausage )
4-6 scallions
8-12 grape tomatoes or small ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoons canola oil or butter

Preheat oven to 425-450
Heat a seasoned 10” cast iron pan to medium high
Add the canola or butter to pan
Brown sausage in the fat, about 4 minutes a side. remove and reserve
Brown scallions in fat, about 5 minutes
Off heat
add sausage back to pan
Blend flour, milk, melted butter, eggs and salt with beaters
Pour mixture into pan over the other ingredients
Add tomatoes around in mixture

Add pan to oven, cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the pudding cooks through and crips up on the edges.

Allow about 5 minutes to cool and set before serving.

Variations: Tomatoes out of season? Mix it up! Crisp up leftover potatoes, some Swiss chard, and goat cheese for a delicious Fall/Winter savory pudding.

Stir fried tofu with spicy coconut cabbage

Marinated tofu with spicy-coconut cabbage

So I’m not a huge vegetarian cook, but I do live in New York and I’m in my twenties, so I’m always looking for ways to make inexpensive meals with milage. I also love Chinese flavors, so viola! Thus came about my marinated tofu with spicy coconut cabbage.

This recipe is ripe for adaptation. No soy sauce? Add some salt. Can’t find cabbage? Try bok choy or broccoli.  Like it spicy, add some chili oil with the coconut oil. Be adventurous!

Ingredients for Stir Fry

1 package firm or extra firm tofu (10 to 12 ozs)
1 small red cabbage, sliced thin
1 small green cabbage, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
fresh basil, chopped to garnish (optional)
3 to 4 scallions, sliced thin, whites and greens separated
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 jalapeño or thai chili sliced paper thin (seeds/ribs depending on spice preference)
1 cup rice white rice

Ingredients for Marinade

1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 cloves garlic, grated
zest and juice of 1 lime (2 if your limes aren’t juicy)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 teaspoons tbsp of Mirin or sugar
2 tbsp of canola or olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

In a large bowl or flat bowl, combine and mix all marinade ingredients.
Drain and rinse tofu. Make ½ inch slices, then cross slice into triangular slices.
Pat tofu with paper towels to remove excessive moisture.
Add tofu to marinade and make sure all pieces are well coated.
Cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate, at least overnight, up to three days.

Basic Rice

In a medium saucepan add 2 cups water, boil:
Add 1 cup rinsed rice to boiling water, lower heat to simmer
Cover with lid
Cook about 12 – 15 minutes, remove from heat

Cooking the Stir fry

Carefully remove tofu from the marinade, reserving the liquid. Dab with paper towels to help with browing.
Preheat wok or skillet to high. Add canola oil when pan is heated.
Just before oil smokes, add tofu in one singular layer for about 3-4 minutes per side, allowing space (do this in batches if you must)

Remove cooked tofu, reserve on a plate. Then:

Turn wok heat to high
Add coconut oil to pan
Add garlic and ginger, toss for about one minute
Add scallion whites, toss for for about one minute
Add jalapenos, cook for one minute
Add reserved marinade, cook a minute more until thickened, then..
Add cabbage, toss and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until cabbage is tender, yet firm
Toss In tofu, turn off heat,
add chopped green scallion and basil

Spoon about a cup of rice into a bowl, top with a spoonful of stir fry, serve immediately

Marinated tofu with spicy-coconut cabbage

Stir fried vegetarian dishes can save you time and money.  And they are healthy! A great weeknight dinner

“Supermarket” inspired Rigatoni Bolognese

Tasty, cheap with major milage: Pasta Bolognese

The final product: Rigatoni Bolognese – after lots of love and attention. Read my recipe story so you save yourself some effort!


Super market meat may be cheap but get ready to work. Hard. Here is what you need to make a Bolognese sauce your nona would be proud of (even though you skipped the fancy meat counter):

2 lbs ground meat  (I prefer a mix of pork, veal, and beef, but you can go any way with it)
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tspn dry oregano (or 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh if you have it)
1 tbsp tomato paste
16 0z canned San Maranzano tomatos, pureed
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Vodka (any dry or distilled you have on hand)
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tbsp Olive oil
2-4 tbsp Lard or butter

Your favorite pasta, reserve a cup of the pasta liquid if it’s dry pasta!

I was at a Key Food store in Brooklyn, picking up pantry staples for my new place. You know, all those little things you need to (actually) cook food: Flour, honey, rice, vinegar, and so on. But I needed something to cook that night. With very limited kitchen functionality due to the move. I wanted something simple, with good flavor that would feed us for a few nights. Bolognese.

Sadly, my new neighborhood Key Food market did not boast the best meat section. I went in thinking spicy pork ragu, but the sight of grayish, hardly marbled pig discouraged me. The most suitable pre-packed meat option was a trio of veal, beef, and pork. There was no fat ratio on the label. This was discouraging because this boy usually jumps for 80/20 exclusively. But If I wanted avoid another delivery from Shanghai Gardens… this was my only option.

Cheap Sunday supper

After adding milk, vodka, love, and more love

After lugging nearly $250 worth of groceries and pantry staples home, it was time to think. How do I make delicious Bolognese from this super sad super market meat? Unfortunately, due to the move, my options were quite limited. So I threw some veg in a food processor and starting thinking about the meat. I did what I always do, season, brown, break it up, but I could SEE how dry it was. Normally, I add milk at the end of cooking my Bolognese (it’s just what people do). But I figured this needed the richness now so boom. Milk added, cooked into the meat then I removed it all into a dish to focus on my veg.

How was I going to make this dish taste rich and decedent with every step? I decided on bacon and butter. I cooked up the veg with bacon, butter, and seasoned it all with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then I cooked in some tomato paste and followed that with pureed San Marzano tomatoes.  I cooked the fragrant tomato and veg mixture for a few minutes then re introduced our trio of meats. I added a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper, another little hit of pepper flakes, set the stove to a simmer and said a prayer.

2 hours later, the place smelled great. Sadly the Bolognese did not taste great. The seasoning was okay, but the meat was dry and the flavors weren’t melding. What was I going to do? VODKA! Drink it, yes, but also put a whole bunch of it in my sauce! I added about a 1/2 cup to cup of vodka to the Bolognese. I figured this would help break down fats and meat more, help the flavors mix and add depth to the sauce. Turns out, I was right! After another 30 or so minutes,  I could tell the vodka was doing it’s magic. The sauce was beginning to to taste meaty. My final touch was another cup or so of whole milk. Once that cooked for another 30 minutes or so, a final touch of grated Parmesan Reggiano and I had made it to the end. Supermarket Bolognese.

I strongly recommend starting with quality, high fat ground meats and sausage when you make Bolognese at home, but let’s face it, we don’t all have the money or resources to start there. So if you live near a Key Foods (or any chain supermarket) and have some time on Sunday, make Bolognese. But be prepared!!! I used Vodka but any booze would do. And make sure you have good fatty flavor enhancers like milk, cream, butter or lard around to substitute for the super lean meat to fat ratio.