Monday, September 10, 2012

Rasberry Crumb Bars

Aren't you proud of yourself when you put something together really quick, using nothing but the ingredients you have on hand?  Last week, I threw together coriander rubbed pork roast, wild and brown rice medley, and braised cabbage with caraway seeds.  Yes..I was proud of myself!  
I found myself in that situation again yesterday, when at the last minute, I volunteered to host Bible Study at my house.  My darling husband pitched in and vacuumed the entire downstairs (even the staircase--thanks honey!) I ran around the house with a dust cloth, and glass cleaner, while one of the girls cleaned the powder room.  It's so great to have help when you need it. ;-)

During the cleaning frenzy, I set my butter out to soften, and by the time we were done, it was ready to go.  I'd done a quick search on the internet for crumb bars, and decided to go with the fresh raspberries I had in the fridge.  I wasn't sure the only other fruit I had--frozen cranberries would be sweet enough.   I also substituted brown sugar for some of the white sugar for a bit of chewiness, and some rolled oats for texture.  Feel free to use blackberries, blueberries, or a mix of berries instead of raspberries.  This is a great way to give a final nod to summer's bounty and welcome the first hint of cooler weather. :-)

Raspberry Crumb Bars 

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats (not the instant oats)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 cups fresh raspberries rinsed lightly and gently patted dry
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and set it aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the butter and using a pastry cutter, cut it in until you have a crumbly dough.  Gently stir in the egg. Take half of the dough and pat into a thin layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Set aside. 

In another medium bowl, gently toss the raspberries with the 1/2 cup white sugar and cornstarch.  Pour the raspberries into the pan, and evenly distribute any remaining sugar/cornstarch mixture.  Take the other half of the dough and crumble it over the top of the berries.  

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.  Let cool to room temperature before cutting into squares.  Serve alone, or with ice cream (black raspberry ice cream anyone? ;-)

I will be perfectly honest and say that only 1 person was able to come to Bible Study.  Oh well, more raspberry bars for the rest of us.  I know somebody snuck another helping when I wasn't looking (my money's on Rebecca), and both girls begged for a bar in their lunchboxes for today.  Of course, I let them...these things are so good, I'd better get 'em out of the house!

I hope you are lovin' the "cool" front we got over the weekend.  Sure, it's still warm (around 90 degrees today), but the humidity is only at 32%--REALLY nice for our part of Texas this time of year).  Break out the bowls, turn on the oven, and bake these up--you can have them ready in no time!  

God bless your table tonight!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

It's not quite fall yet here (today's high is supposed to be 99 degrees!), but sometimes you just get a hankering for fall flavors.  That's what happened about 2 weeks ago, while I was digging through the deep freezer to find something to make for dinner.  I came across a package of bone-in pork chops, there were plenty of apples in the fruit bowl, and fresh sage in the herb garden outside--bingo!  Pork chops and apples. :-)

This is a simple, fast meal to get on the table on a busy weeknight.  I went so fast, I didn't take pictures of the cooking process---sorry guys.  It took me 35 minutes, start to finish...not bad!  And it's healthy to boot.  All you have to do is make a green veggie or salad on the side, and you're all set. ;-)

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

6-8 fresh sage leaves
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
4-6 bone-in or boneless pork chops, about 1/4 inch thick 
2 gala or golden delicious apples, cored and cut into 1/4 slices 
1/4 cup apple butter or unsweetened applesauce 
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 cup white wine 

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  When it's hot, but not smoking, drop in the sage leaves.  Fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.  By frying the sage leaves, we'll impart that great flavor from the sage to flavor the oil, and use it to infuse the pork chops. 

Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  In the same pan you used for the sage leaves, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Brown the chops (in batches if necessary to prevent crowding the pan) on both sides and remove to a plate.  It's not necessary at this point to cook the pork chops through...they'll finish in the sauce. 

Now drop the butter into the pan, and toss in the apples.  Saute the apples for about 6-8 minutes until they're nice and golden brown, but not cooked through.  Add the white wine, apple butter, and more salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a gentle boil, and put the pork chops back in, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate (don't throw that's flavor for your sauce!).  

Simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  You want the pork cooked through, and the apples tender, but take care not to overcook both.  

Plate the pork chops and apples on a large serving platter, and pour the pan sauce over the top.  Garnish with the fried sage leaves.  

You could certainly add onions to the pan along with the apples, but that usually starts a riot with 2 of my kids, so I left them out.  Everyone loved the apples...who can resist warm apple slices and pork?  Not me! ;-)

David was home late as usual, but he loved this dish too, and took leftovers to work the next day for  lunch.  You'll notice in the pictures that I made 10 pork chops.  Four to six chops doesn't feed us anymore, so I usually double just about every recipe I post.  

 Let me know if it's getting cooler in your next of the woods, and if you're cooking fall flavors.  We'll be sweatin' it out here in southeast Texas for another month or so before we cool off, so enjoy it for me!  

God bless your table tonight!