Lately, my own kitchen has been closed. Not due to lack of demand, however (as there will always be one person who wants my cooking). No; lately I’ve been very busy. Wednesday, when I wrote last, I ended up doing a bit of cooking (which I’ll discuss later). Thursday, I indulged in good company and good food at TGIF. Friday, due to circumstances, I wasn’t able to cook, however, I indulged in a simple, however delicious, meal that I’d not had in a while. Over the weekend, when I should have been out, I decided to stay in for the evening, Saturday and Mom took us to Olive Garden for dinner. Overall, it was a week of wining, dining, grilling, and indulging.
I’m getting better at this improvisation cooking. Wednesday afternoon, out of the blue (and after a very long day) I offered to make dinner over at the Boy’s house. It’s become ritual that I cook one or two nights when I’m over there, as is fair. I don’t mind it, nor does his mother. It’s a win-win situation. I get to cook and they get to eat great food. Cockiness aside, I hadn’t had a chance to make my way to the grocer, nor did I know what was in the cupboard and freezer. Opening the freezer, I found various meats, and decided upon pork chops instead of beef or chicken. They needed to be defrosted, so I set about with defrosting them with the fastest means possible: the microwave. I’m thankful microwaves have the defrost option, else goodness knows I probably would have accidentally ended up cooking the pork all the way through in the microwave. That, microwaved pork, sounds disgusting in and of itself. Moving on, however; the pork being all frozen together in the way that it was, I was forced to defrost all three pounds of it together. The defrosting alone took and hour, but when it was finished, coking everything took all of 20 minutes.
While the grill heated up, I made a quick rub with a tablespoon of oil and Goya sazon seasoning, to season the pork chops. You know that saying, “less is more”? That most certainly applies to this. It does not take a lot of the oil/powder mix to cover the chop and season it. After I seasoned all 8 chops, I took them out to the grill and, well there’s no graceful way to flop chops on the grill, is there? I put them on the grill, the bigger ones going in the back directly above most of the heat.
When I was happy with how I’d arranged them (every grill person has their own personal preference about how they lay meat on the grill), I went back inside and started on the potatoes. I honestly wish I could tell you that I slaved over the stove to make these potatoes. Truth be told, I didn’t. This meal was a quick and easy one, because in reality, we’re not always going to have 1-3 hours to spend working in the kitchen on dinner; that’s just how it is these days. Mini-rant about not being able to indulge in the spending my desired amount of time in the kitchen, aside, the potatoes I whipped up, literally, were okay. They were from the box and resembled a goo that you could get in a high-school cafeteria. Ugh. Needless to say, I’d have preferred to soak, peel, cut, boil, and smash potatoes myself; but you make do with what you have in the kitchen, I suppose.
Pork Chops & Easy Potatoes
For those afternoons when the day has simply run from your grasp and you have no time to cook; these easy chops and ‘tatoes are the perfect, easy, meal.
3 lbs of pork chops (bone in or boneless works*)
2 packets of Goya Sazon seasoning salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
garlic salt to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
If your chops are frozen, defrost them for an hour in the microwave. 30 minutes on each side will do the trick.
After they’ve finished defrosting, go and turn the grill on.
While the grill warms up, on a plate, mix the Goya and oil together and spread it in a layer over the plate.
Not necessarily dipping the chops in the mix, one at a time, rub the chop in the mix enough to get a bit on each region. Rub it in with your hands** and place them on a plate to bring out to the grill.
Place the chops on the grill, letting them cook for five minutes on each side.
While the chops cook, follow the directions on the “insta-potatoes” box.
When you make the potatoes, stir in the Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.
Take the chops off the grill, if you haven’t already, and serve warm with the potatoes
I mentioned briefly, earlier, that I went out to lunch with a friend during the week. I mean, every good chef needs an afternoon/evening to themselves, right? All in all, that afternoon was absolutely wonderful. I suppose it helps that I’d just woken up and was going out for my first and only meal of the day, but regardless. I was in excellent company and the food was delicious. My friend and I ended up down at TGI Friday’s. We sat, talked, essentially wined and dined, without the wining. Yet again, here I am wishing I was of age. Though, Friday’s isn’t a place to have wine with dinner I don’t think. Anyways, musings aside (and I’ll spare you any form of criticism as I was too busy having a splendid time out), the food was, as I said, delicious. We did that 3 courses for 15.99 or something to that effect. We ordered fried mozzarella & green bean fries as the appetizers. I love green bean fries, they’re, I wouldn’t say loads healthier, but healthier than actual fries are and are a vegetable. The mozzarella was, as you know, the usual that you would expect from anyplace with mozzarella sticks. They were, cheesy. We ended up ordering the same entrèe: cajun shrimp and chicken alfredo. It (the alfredo) was absolutely delicious, albeit messy. The sauce wasn’t too thick, nor was it too watery, but it could make for a mess. Finally, our dessert was the same also (then again, unless you like cheesecake, I advise the Oreo ice cream thing). It was the Oreo ice cream thing. Sorry, I can’t be more professional about it; I never remember the name of it. Regardless of my forgetting the name, however, it’s divine. It’s an Oreo cookie with cookies and cream ice cream in the middle. The platter it’s served on is drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauces. To top it all off, a plump strawberry sits on the opposite side of the platter and is the perfect accent.
Friday, I’d planned to make the Homestyle chicken and baked macaroni and cheese for dinner. Believe me, it would have been a delightful meal, however, things happen. Instead of my cooking, I sat back and indulged in a simple, yet delicious, meal of pasta putnesca. It was absolutely perfect in that it’s been far too long since I’ve had regular spaghetti that I haven’t made. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the kitchen and cooking, but even a chef needs a day (or in my case, week) away from the kitchen. Moving on, I’d forgotten just how good regular old spaghetti and jar sauce can be. Yes, I do love to make sauces myself, but when your in a fix, there’s nothing like that jar of Ragu to help out. A little bit makes the perfect base to any sauce and you can usually build and perfect upon it to match your own tastes. However, I didn’t have this opportunity. I was merely eating what was made for me. As I said, even a chef needs to be kicked out of their own kitchen sometimes.
Saturday evening was a nice night. I had originally made plans to see my boyfriend, however, we decided it would be best not to hang out that day. So instead I was given the opportunity to grab dinner with Mum and my 2 sisters, Sydney & Sara. Our favourite “girl’s restaurant” is the Olive Garden. They have great food and the servers are simply brilliant. We weren’t disappointed this time. Though dinner should have been “quick” (a good friend of mine pointed out that dinner at the Olive Garden is never quick), it turned out to be two hours. But I’m not complaining. I was surrounded by good company so there was lots of laughs and the food never disappoints me. Mum always orders the same thing no matter when we go. I’ve gotten into the habit of sampling different things throughout the menu. This time was no different. They’ve been advertising for carbonara ravioli with chicken or shrimp. Despite my seafood fix, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chicken dish at the Olive Garden and I wasn’t let down. It was great (would have been better with a good glass of red wine, but that’s not going to happen for the next two years). The chicken accented the ravioli perfectly, like they were made to be eaten together. It being a simple dinner, we didn’t do dessert, but after an accompanying bowl of chicken and gnocchi soup with the entrèe, I was definitely more than full. It’s always been a mused about that one of these days we’ll just go to the Olive Garden for just their infinite soup, salad, and bread sticks for lunch, but it’s yet to happen. When it does, I’ll be sure to write about that experience.
In the end, it’s all been worth it, not being in the kitchen for almost a week, now. My upcoming adventures will be great, I assure you. I’ve already made plans for a lunch date out to get pizza from Bertucci’s. I’m jonesing for Chinese food so I’ll have to go to my oh so favourite place, the Hu Kae Lau for dinner sometime. And of course, this week, I’ll be making that chicken, hopefully.
Until then, stay hungry, Mates.
*Boneless pork chops are great when you want to cut them up and make dirty rice of sorts with the left overs. All you need to do is trim the fat around the edges and your golden.
** I do hope you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty? This recipe mixture has resulted in my hands taking on an orange hue for a few days following my making things that involve the sazon. It will come out, don’t fret, but I don’t advise getting it on clothing. Thank heavens for aprens.