Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cranberry Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetable Soup

Here are two delicious recipes I tried last week after a week of eating eggs for dinner.  It was not a cooking week, so I felt I had to put forth some effort by the time Friday came around. Surprise, both recipes were a big hit, especially the soup - even with my husband and my dad!

We ended up inviting my parents to dinner, and it turned out to be a really fun and delicious dinner, with the soup and a salad as the first course, then pasta and meat. And both recipes were really fast and I made them in the afternoon and then just warmed them up. Thought you ladies might be proud. :) I'm back to eggs or pancakes for dinner. yikes.

Cranberry Pork Chops - From Keeping Up Cookbook

1 TBSP butter
1 onion, chopped
3 lbs pork chops, about 1-inch thick
2/3 cup bottle chili sauce ( I used the Sweet Chili Sauce from Panda Express located by the Asian foods)
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard (I used Dijon)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries or 1 (14-oz) can whole cranberry sauce

In a 400 degree oven, melt butter in a 9x13" glass baking dish. Add onions to dish and back uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until onion is soft. Place pork chops in dish and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes. Stir together chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and cranberries. Spoon over the pork chops and continue backing for 30 minutes or until meat is fully cooked and cranberry sauce has slightly caramelized.

This recipe is also terrific with turkey or chicken breasts.

(The only thing I did differently was I shortened the baking times for the pork by about 5 minutes each time because I was worried the pork would be over done. Worked well in my oven)

Roasted Vegetable Soup From Keeping Up Cookbook

This recipe has you puree the vegetables and make a type of bisque. I love the vegetables in pieces, so I just cubed everything, including the eggplant (skin and all) and diced the onion and then roasted the vegetables and tossed them in the broth. Also made the recipe not so messy.  I added a bit of fresh parmigiano as well, which added to the flavor. 

4 ripe roma tomatoes, halved (or cubed)
1 large eggplant, halve lengthwise (or cubed, skin and all)
1 small onion, halved (or diced)
6 cloves of garlic peeled (or diced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
(Also roasted fresh mushrooms - other vegetables would work as well!)

1 qt. (32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1/2 cup cream or half and half
crumbled goat cheese, for garnish
chopped, toasted pecans, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange vegetables on a baking sheet. Bush with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until vegetables begin to brown and are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven.

Using tongs and a spoon, scoop flesh from eggplant halves into a large saucepan, discarding skins. Add remaining vegetables to pan, along with broth and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

In two batches, carefully puree hot soup in a blender. Blend until smooth and return to pan. Stir in cream, return to a simmer, then season with salt and pepper (if needed - plenty salty already, I thought).  Serve with goat cheese and pecan garnish if desired.

(Note: This method of making soup could be used with most any vegetable. Instead of eggplant and tomatoes, try cauliflower and broccoli, or butternut squash and apples, etc.)