Monday, September 25, 2017

Baked Stuffed Pork Chops, A Family Favorite

My mom, Gloria,  is a terrific home-cook.  Her stuffed baked pork chops recipe is a favorite with our family, especially my sons.  I really haven't made it much over the years because it never seemed to turn out as tasty as Mom's.  One time when Mom made this dish for me and I commented that I just couldn't make my stuffed pork chops taste as good as her's.  As she ran down the recipe I realized I consistently omitted two critical ingredients.  There should have been applesauce in the stuffing and the white wine in the sauce.  Mom had never told me about these secret ingredients. They make all the difference in the world!

 Baked Pork Chops with Stuffing

Baked Stuffed Pork Chops
Baked Stuffed Pork Chops

This pork chops recipe is easy to make and a perfect comfort food for autumn and winter dinners.  I'll often prepare the dish a day ahead and then bake it the next day.  That makes this a great dish for you to prepare on the weekend for cooking early in the week.  It will take an hour to bake, so you'll want to plan ahead to allow for that.

When I have the time, I'll make my own applesauce to add to the stuffing and then to serve on the side.  If you haven't made your own applesauce before, you should start.  Homemade applesauce is easy and so much tastier than jarred sauce.
Baked Stuffed Pork Chops

The part of this recipe that makes this dish special is the simple sauce made from the cream of mushroom soup mixed with a little white wine.  The pork chops will cook in this sauce which keeps the chops nice and moist.  Spoon a little of the sauce over the chops before serving them for a little extra flavor.

Baked Stuffed Pork Chops

Printer Friendly Recipe
Baked Stuffed Pork Chops Ingredients
Baked pork chop ingredients
  • 4 pork chops (you'll find this dish more flavorful if you use chops with bones)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 7 oz. herb seasoned stuffing mix
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the butter and oil together over medium-high heat.  Season the pork chops with salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the pork chops and then remove them from the pan.  To the same pan, add the onion and celery.  Saute vegetables 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the seasoned stuffing mix, chicken broth, and applesauce.  Stir to combine and taste for seasoning.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Browned Pork Chops
Browned Chops and Sauteed Vegetables

Mix together the mushroom soup and white wine.  You can skip the wine, but it will make a difference in the end result.  Trust me!  Place the pork chops in a baking dish and pour the sauce around the chops.  Spoon the stuffing mix on top of the pork chops.

Baked Pork Chops Ready to Bake
Ready for the Oven

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 60 minutes, until the pork chops are cooked through and the sauce is bubbly.  Serve with your favorite vegetable and watch your family gobble it all up!

Here's my homemade applesauce post.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Light Up Your Life with Pine Cones

Have you noticed how it is getting dark earlier at night these days?  The thing I like least about fall and winter is how early the sun goes down.  Today I'm sharing a simple, pretty solution to the dark hours ahead of us.  Read on for a DIY fall decoration that will light up your life.

A Lighted Fall Pine Cone Basket 

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A Lighted Basket of Pine Cones
There are two solutions I gravitate to to solve my dislike of the dark nights of fall and winter. Sure, you can turn on the lights, but I prefer little pockets of light to brighten the dark corners of my rooms. For that, I'll use either flameless candles or strings of mini LED lights.
DIY Fall Illuminated Pine Cone Basket

Flameless candles with automatic timers are my first love.  You'll find them all over my house.  They are easily tucked into shelves and fit nicely into bathroom and bedroom decor.  They make perfect night lights. The strings of LED lights are a favorite for seasonal decor.  They work on wreaths and look sparkly in glass containers.  You can find these LED in many retail stores and at many price points.  Some even have seasonal holiday bulbs.  I tend to choose plain bright white lights because they go with everything.  They were the perfect choice for my DIY pine cone basket.

How to Make a Lighted Basket of Pine Cones

You will need:
This project will take you a couple of days, mainly because of drying time for the paint.  

Step One
Prepare your basket and pine cones.  This is a great project to repurpose an old basket you have in your basement like I did.  When using an old basket you'll want to clean it first.  Go ahead and give it a good wash.  I wash my baskets in a hot water and dish detergent.  Then I set them outside to completely dry.

If you gather pine cones for this project you will want to clean them, too, to remove any dirt and bugs.  I like to clean mine in a bucket of hot water with vinegar and dish detergent.  Rinse them well and let them dry in the sun or in a low oven, set at 200 degrees F.  

Step Two
Paint the basket and pine cones.  Spray painting is something I like to do outside.  I use old plastic tablecloths as my spray paint mat.  They work well to protect any surface from the paint and can either be reused after the paint dries or discarded.

Spray both the basket and the pine cones lightly with the gold paint. Multiple coats of a light spray work much better than one coat that produces a finished product with drips.  You'll find that each light coat of paint will dry very quickly and you'll be able to apply multiple coats in one day.

Once the paint dries on the basket apply the antiquing glaze to give your basket an aged look.  Let it dry.

Step Three
Assemble your lighted basket.  Arrange the pine cones in the basket.  String the LED lights around and through the pine cones, hiding the wire as best you can.  Set the timer to come on at dusk.

Some Tips for Buying LED Lights and Flameless Candles

Pay attention to the color of the light.  Warm light, daylight, multicolor lights will impact the look of your decor.  Take the time to choose the color you want.

Pay attention to the color of the wire connecting the LED lights.  If you want to hide the wire, choose a color that will blend in well.  Choose clear or silver wire if you want to put the string of lights in a clear glass container.

Know what kind of battery powers your lights.  I only choose lights with AA or AAA  battery packs. The batteries last longer, are cheaper and are easier to find in the stores.  Multi-packs of these batteries can be purchased at nice savings.  When using the timer, I usually only replace the batteries once during the fall-winter season.

Lighting Essentials

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Bacon Wrapped Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin

Today I'm sharing a pork recipe that is impressive enough to serve to guests but easy enough to prepare on a weeknight.  You will just need to think ahead enough to prepare a marinade ahead of time.

This bacon wrapped chili lime pork tenderloin gets its flavor two ways.  First is the flavorful chili lime marinade that you'll want to use to marinate your pork tenderloin for at least eight hours. Then, just before cooking, you'll wrap the tenderloin with bacon.  It's good stuff!

Bacon Wrapped Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Bacon Wrapper Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin
Pork is a meal choice that works any time of year.  It works for comfort food recipes and lighter grilling options.  This bacon wrapped chili lime pork tenderloin is a dinner choice that falls between the light meal and comfort food dinner options. I love using pork tenderloin because it is quick to prepare and also cooks quickly. 

It just so happens that I chose a chili lime marinade for this pork tenderloin, but just about any marinade will work.  You might even want to try this with one of the pre-seasoned pork tenderloins you can buy at your grocery store.  Then you won't even have to plan ahead.  How easy is that!
Bacon Wrapped Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin

The lime in this chili lime marinade delivers a fresh pop of flavor.  Be sure to add the zest of the lime for an additional zing.  As you can see in the picture, I added my tomato and grilled corn relish along side my pork tenderloin.  Oh, it was so delicious!  I highly recommend the relish on the side.

Bacon Wrapped Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin

Sliced Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Serves Four

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 6-8 slices of bacon
  • 3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, if you like spicy
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl. mix together all of the ingredients, except the pork tenderloin and the bacon.  Place the pork tenderloin in a glass or ceramic baking dish or a zip top plastic bag.  Pour the marinade over the pork tenderloin being sure to cover well.  Refrigerate overnight, or up to 48 hours.  The longer you marinate, the more flavorful it will be.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Wrap the marinated pork tenderloin with the slices of bacon. Place the prepared pork tenderloin on a shallow baking sheet.  Toss chunks of potato with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to roast along side the pork tenderloin.

Bake the pork tenderloin for 40-45 minutes, or until it registers 145 degrees F on your meat thermometer.

Bacon Wrapped Chili Lime Marinated Pork Tenderloin
The Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
Don't forget to check out my tomato and grilled corn relish to serve as a side with this pork tenderloin.  It's especially nice this time of year.

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Shared on Meal Plan Monday.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to Make Fresh Applesauce

Applesauce is a perfect complement to a pork dinner. I always have a pork tenderloin on hand in my fridge for a quick weeknight dinner.  A pork tenderloin roasts in about 20 minutes and if you buy one of the marinated options there is absolutely no prep time required.  That can be a real life saver when you are running behind and need to get dinner on the table. One of the things I do to make these pork tenderloin dinners my own is to serve them with my homemade applesauce.

A Homemade Applesauce Recipe

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Homemade Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce
Homemade apple sauce tastes so much better than any jarred sauce that I have purchased and takes so little time to make that I never buy apple sauce anymore.  September and October are the best times of year to make your own fresh applesauce as so many delicious apples come to market.  You can have the applesauce cooking on the stove in about five minutes and it will be ready when the pork tenderloin is ready to serve.

This is a four ingredient recipe.  How easy is that?  Just use my recipe as a starting point and adjust the salt, sugar, and cinnamon until the apple sauce is perfect for your tastes.  I like to use an apple variety that cooks down easily like McIntosh or Cortland, but you can use any variety you like. Choose any variety that looks and smells the most enticing.  Mixing different kinds of apples is also yummy.  You'll also want to use a good quality cinnamon because cinnamon and apples are the costars in this recipe.
How to Make Homemade Applesauce

I like to peel the apples for my applesauce.  I don't use a fancy apple peeler.  I just use my favorite vegetable peeler from OXO.  I actually like peeling apples and can usually peel an apple with one long ribbon of the peel.  Don't be too fussy with the peeling.  Leaving a few stray pieces of the peel in the applesauce will add to the color of the final product.

The tools you'll use to make your applesauce are very low tech.  All you need is a sharp vegetable peeler, a sharp paring knife, and an old fashioned potato masher.  You probably have these already in your kitchen.

Donna's Applesauce

Applesauce Ingredients
Applesauce Ingredients
Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4

  • 4 medium apples, Cortland or McIntosh, peeled and chunked
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Taste your apples to assess how sweet they are.  Decide how much sugar you think you need.  I always start with less sugar because I like my apple sauce to have a little tartness.  Mix the apples, salt, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the water.  Two tablespoons are usually enough.

Cover the pot and let the mixture come to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer.  Cook the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples start to collapse.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Using a potato masher, mash the apples until you get the consistency you want.

Mash the Applesauce with a Potato Masher
Mash the Apples
I like to leave some chunks in my applesauce.  Taste your applesauce and add more sugar or cinnamon as needed.

Chunky Homemade Applesauce
Chunky Homemade Applesauce

Serve your homemade applesauce warm or chilled. Make extra applesauce and mix it with your favorite plain yogurt or serve it on top of your morning oatmeal.  It's also delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

Essential Kitchen Tools

OXO Vegetable Peeler
4-inch Paring Knife
A potato masher

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Monday, September 11, 2017

DIY Cheap and Effective Rug Cleaning

We've been a dog family since...forever.  That is why you won't find any wall-to-wall-carpeting anywhere in my home.  I do like area rugs to make my home feel warm and inviting.  Area rugs help absorb noise and add pops of color throughout my home.  All of the area rugs need to be cleaned periodically, especially since my sixteen-year-old dog, Sadie, has increased the frequency of her accidents. You might be wondering how to clean an area rug at home.  Today I want to show you how I clean my area rugs.  It is a cheap and effective rug cleaning method.

How to Clean Your Area Rugs

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Cheap and Effective Rug Cleaning
Cheap and Effective Rug Cleaning

Sadie had an oops moment today on one of my hall runners.  That made today a perfect day to show you how you can keep your rugs fresh and clean.  I decided to show you my process using the two polypropylene rugs I have in my front entry hall.  These rugs are workhorses and take a beating. That's why polypropylene is a good choice for the entry location.

Here's a picture of my sweet Sadie.  This is one of my wool rugs that I clean using this method.


I do have wool rugs in my family room and living room.  I've used this method to successfully clean both wool and polypropylene rugs.  You'll want to test your rugs for color fastness before you attempt to clean them, but a quality wool rug should be able to be cleaned this way, too.  Don't attempt to clean rugs with a canvas or cotton backing.  In my experience, the cotton backing shrinks and the rug will never lay flat again. I won't buy a rug with a backing for this reason.

I always clean my rugs outdoors.  That means you'll want to be sure you have a space that is large enough to accommodate the wet rugs for two to three days.  It will take that much time for the rugs to dry. You'll also want to be sure no rain is expected until the rugs are dry.  If you are cleaning a large rug it will be difficult to move them once they are wet. So, you'll want to recruit some help for moving the wet rugs.
How to Clean Your Area Rugs

It will take a couple of hours to get the rugs cleaned and a couple of days for them to dry.  The hardest part is moving the wet rugs around.  They do get heavy.  You'll definitely want help for a rug that is 8x10 feet large or more.

Rug Cleaning Tools

A bucket
A sturdy stiff bristled brush
A hose with a spray nozzle
Oxy Clean Powder

The Steps to Clean Your Rugs

Thoroughly vacuum your rugs and pre-treat any spots.  Check the front and the back of the rug for spots and stains.  This is especially important if you have a pet.

Rinse the rug with spray from your garden hose, soaking the rug completely.  As an aside, I use this Fireman's spray nozzle on my hose and it is the best!

Spray the Rug
Rinse with the Garden Hose

Scrub the rug with a mixture of water and Oxy Clean.  Follow the directions on the Oxy Clean box to make your cleaning solution.

Scrub with a sturdy brush and your bare feet. I like to start with the brush and finish with my feet. Make sure you have distributed the soapy water well and worked the soap into the fibers of the rug.

Rug Cleaning Tools
Rug Cleaning Tools

Rinse each rug well, spraying a strong stream of water from your hose.

Roll the rug and stand it on its end to drain.  This will remove a lot of the water from the rug.

Roll and Drain the Rugs
Roll and Drain the Rugs

Rinse each rug again using the hose.

Roll the rugs again and stand them on their ends to drain.  Leave the rug to drain for a couple of hours.

Open the rug and spread it over a railing or lay it flat to dry.  You'll want to lay the rug flat for most of the drying time so it doesn't get any annoying lumps in it.  I like to lay mine over my deck railing for a day and then lay them flat to finish drying.

Drying the Rugs
Drying the Cleaned Rugs

Check your rug periodically to monitor the drying process.  Sometimes I flip the rug over to help the back to dry.

Admire your work. After twenty four to forty eight hours your rug should be dry enough to bring back inside.

The Cleaned Rugs
The Cleaned Rugs in My Entry
Cleaning your rugs using this method takes some effort but you'll know they are clean and well rinsed.


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