When the Husby and I first started dating, we did the whole getting dressed up and going out to a nice dinner, but after thirteen years together, we’ve perfected our Valentine’s Day routine. I buy him a card – one from me and one from the kids – weeks in advance and the night before or morning of, he runs out for a cheesy grocery store bouquet of roses. Unintentionally for the past few years, we’ve ended up going to the Auto Show during the day. And we always end our night by curling up on the couch with a heart shaped pizza from Lou Malnati’s while watching a movie.
Today started out same as always. The cards were exchanged, the flowers purchased, the Auto Show attended. But this year, I decided to change things up a bit. The theme for this week’s swap was super apropos – special occasion – so it seemed fitting to get in the kitchen and cook. I wouldn’t say that we dressed up like we used to but we did enjoy a nice meal together.
We liked this entree although we both agreed that the sauce was a bit salty (likely due to user error since I didn’t measure). For as much as I like to drink wine, I always forget how easy it is to make a pan sauce so this was a nice change from a plain old porkchop. The only change I would make next time would be to sear the pork before baking in order to give it some color. I did also wish that the flavor of the wine would be a bit more prevalent.
Pork Chops with Pinot Noir Sauce.
- 4 Boneless Pork Chops
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
- 3 Tbsp. Coarse Kosher Salt
- 1 Shallot, finely chopped
- 2 Cups Pinot Noir (I used Mark West)
- 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Pepper
- 3/4 tsp. Sugar
- 3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, chilled
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the water, kosher salt and sugar in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, then add the pork chops and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and season with pepper, to taste.
Place the pork chops on a foil lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
While the pork cooks, set a skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the shallots and cook for 30-60 seconds, then add the Pinot Noir. With a wooden spoon, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the wine to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, until reduced by half.
Add the chicken broth, stir, and cook an additional 15 minutes, until reduced to about 1/3 cup.
Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper and sugar. Stirring constantly, add the butter one tablespoon at a time until sauce is smooth and thickened.
Serve the pork chops with two tablespoons of sauce.
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For as much as I love my slow cooker, I don’t use it nearly enough. It’s so easy, but there are so many bad crockpot recipes out there that I hate taking the chance and ending up with a dud. But I took mine out of hiding the other day to make this super ridiculously easy meal and I’m so glad that I did. It was so nice to not have to worry about cooking dinner after a busy day. I just put the ingredients (there’s only two!) into the crock first thing in the morning and had a hot meal waiting for me 10 hours later. Swoon.
When dinnertime came around, I defrosted some Brioche Burger Buns and added 2 shredded apples and a handful of golden raisins to a store bought cole slaw mix and served the sandwiches with some chips. Easy peasy. Dinner on the table in all of 10 minutes worth of effort? I’ve gotta use this baby more often.
Slow Cooker Rootbeer Pulled Pork – as seen on Dinner with Kirsten
- 1 2-4 lb. Pork Shoulder, Butt, or Loin
- 1 16 oz. Bottle Root Beer
Place the pork shoulder in the crock of a slow cooker and cover with the root beer. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Remove pork from the crock and drain the liquid. Shred the pork with a fork (or your fingers, if cool enough). Mix in about half a bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce for BBQ pork, or a jar of salsa to use in tacos.
Around this time last year, my friend Shawn hosted a holiday cooking party. She invited over a group of friends for wine, appetizers and dinner. But before the big meal, she channeled her inner Giada and showed us all how quick and easy it was to prepare the super delicious, good for you meal. Ever since, this meal has graced my table at least twice a month. You can prepare and cook both the pork chops and the butternut squash at the same time.
Shawn’s Easiest Ever Pork Chops
- – 1 Package Boneless Pork Chops, butterflied if preferred
- – 1/2 Bottle Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette Dressing
- – 1 Pacakage Goat Cheese, crumbled
- – 1/4 Bag Trail Mix with Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit (I always use Trader Joe’s Oh My Omega Trek Mix)
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange pork chops in a baking dish and cover with dressing. Top with goat cheese and trail mix. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Shawn’s Roasted Butternut Squash
- – 1 Butternut Squash, cubed (I leave the peel on to add extra nutrients, but you could certainly peel it as well)
- – Honey (a big drizzle should be enough)
- – Cinnamon, to taste
- – Nutmeg, to taste
- – Cayenne, to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a baking dish. Bake for 35-40, until tender.