Foolproof Broiled Pork Chops

I hate bedtime.

Wait, let me clarify.  I love my bedtime.  But I dread Libby’s.

Up until a few months ago, we had a solid routine.  A little Peppa Pig, Charlie and Lola, or Yo Gabba Gabba!, dinner, play, pajamas, books and cuddles, then lights out.  Libby would even tap on her crib to let me know that yes, it’s time for night night.  There might be a few tears after I put her down, but usually nothing more than 5 or 10 minutes, and the rest of the evening was available for other things like chores, projects, and catching up on Tivo because the Libster was down for the night.

God I miss those days.

Now our routine is more like cartoons, dinner, play, bath, books, and lights out followed by tossing and turning, crocodile tears, fingers in my eyes, fingers in her eyes, and any other delay tactic she can come up with to avoid closing her eyes and going to sleep.  For a while she was milking the “my mouth hurts” ploy to get extra cuddles.  Now she just straight up melts down when I try and leave her room.  Even when I think she’s asleep, as soon as I take a step towards the door her little head whips around off the pillow and the drama commences.  Lather, rinse, and repeat at intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours…All. Night. Long.

On a good night, if the stars have aligned and I managed to appease the gods, it can take as little as one hour to go from bath to sleep.  I’d say very few nights in the last few months have been “good” nights.  Sometimes I fall asleep waiting for her to give up the fight.  Other times I’ve given up after multiple trips back into her room to calm my tiny tyrant and either crawled in bed with her or brought her in bed with me.

I’ve gotten a  LOT of well meaning advice and I’ve done my own researching.  Yes, I tried letting her cry…90 minutes of sustained rage didn’t do any of us a damn bit of good.  Yes, I ruled out ear infections and teething.  Yes, I offered loveys and turned on white noise.  And she’s having none of it.  What she wants is to fall asleep being held and to not wake up alone.

You know, I can’t say that I blame her because those are pretty nice things no matter how old you are…this life lessons courtesy of my 2 year old.

My point is that there’s a lot of tired going around my house.  And not a whole lot of anything else.  Which is to say that sometimes I make some food.  And occasionally I get a pretty picture before shoving it in my face.  This is not one of those times.  You’re just going to have to trust me on this one that the end result is worthwhile.

And if you’re chronically sleep deprived, don’t you dare feel bad about putting on whatever cartoon it takes to occupy your tiny tyrant so you can rest your eyes while the chops do their thing in the brine.

Foolproof Broiled Pork Chops

Adapted from Cook’s Country

BAH Note: If you follow a few easy steps you will be rewarded with the perfect chop.  This is really just the method for achieving the perfect chop.  You can dress them up with a compound butter (see below) after they come out of the oven.  Or not.  I think they are absolute perfection in their naked state.

The folks at CC advise that your oven rack should be about 5 inches from your broiler element.  If you can’t get it this close, or if using the broiler scares the bejeebus out of you, go for more distance between the rack and the broiler.  You’ll need to cook the chops a little longer but you’ll also give yourself a little buffer with that fine line between broiled and charred.

If you are inclined to spice things up, rub the chops with your spice mixture of choice before they go in the oven.  Reserve some of the spices and stir them into 2 tablespoons of softened butter.  When the chops come out of the oven, slather them with the compound butter before tucking them in to rest.

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 center cut, bone in chops, about 1.5 inches thick
  • 6 cups cold water

Combine the sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir until completely dissolved.  Add the chops, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Turn the oven to broil.  Remove the chops from the brine, pat dry, and place on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Set the baking sheet on the oven rack and carefully pour 1.5 cups warm water into the bottom of the baking sheet.

Broil for approximately 20 minutes, turning the chops over after about 10 minutes, until they register 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Transfer the chops to a platter and rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes.  Let the water and baking sheet cool down in the oven while you enjoy your succulent chops.

{printable recipe}

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

cupcake ninja

Did you know that cupcakes can be so good that they need protection?  They can.  These are.  Let me  tell you how they came to be.

After stumbling across Movita Beaucoup’s delightful blog, courtesy of More Stomach, I added her feed to my reader.  Not long after that she had the nerve to post a recipe for one bowl yellow cake with lemon buttercream frosting.  Now I do love me a one bowl recipe as evidenced by my sworn allegiance to Abby Dodge’s Emergency Chocolate Cupcakes, so I had to investigate the Beaucoup. Luckily, Easter presented an opportunity to give them a go and they instantly won me over.

The cake is pillowy soft with an enjoyable tang from the buttermilk.  It makes a perfect canvas for whatever flavors you want to showcase.  For Easter I threw the zest of one lemon into the cake batter and then made a strawberry lemonade frosting.  They were a homerun.

Fast forward a few months and I was trying to find the perfect treat to make for my cousins who were visiting from Detroit.  I threw out a few options in a conversation that went something like this:

Me:  I can’t make a damn decision about what to bake for Cousins Birthday on Friday. Here’s the options….how about you pick:  Apple Upside Down Cake; Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars; Caramel Apple Muffins; One Bowl Yellow Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting.

Jen: Looking at recipes…I’m leaning towards the yellow cake or the pb&j bars!

Me: What do you think about the yellow cake with a jelly filling and peanut butter buttercream frosting?

Jen: Ummm. Amazing.  Omg. Pb frosting.  You’re a genius!

Me: As Daddy Pig tells Peppa, I am a bit of an expert ; )

So it was that I set about turning the easiest yellow cake into an homage to the classic pb&j sandwich.  I kept strictly to the cake recipe….no tweaks, no additions, no deviations.  Once the cupcakes had cooled, I used my favorite unitasker to make a hole in the middle for the jelly to hide…and those little cupcake cores may or may not have become a perfect little snack as I filled and frosted.  Next came the jelly and a generous dollop of peanut butter frosting.   All that was left to do was keep them safe until after dinner and shove them in our faces.

Hence, the ninja.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Adapted from Movita Beaucoup and Brown Eyed Baker

BAH Note: I had to make a second batch of cupcakes because I overfilled the tin on my first batch which caused me to overbake the cupcakes and completely mangle the goods trying to get them out of the pan.  Learn from my mistake and don’t fill your pan any more than half full.  I ended up using about two tablespoons of batter per cupcake in the second batch and it was spot on.

I lost track of exactly how many cupcakes I got but this recipe will make approximately 12, or a single 8 inch round cake.  If you have a little batter leftover after filling your pan, drop cupcake paper into glass jars or custard cups and make a few extras for snacking…nobody has to know.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Line a cupcake tin and heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the workbowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle beater and mix on low for about one minute.

Add the butter and mix on low for about two minutes until the mixture resembles sand and no large bits of butter remain.

Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix for about two minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally.  Add the egg and mix until combined.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give the batter a final mix to ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Fill each cup with approximately 2 tablespoons batter and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then remove the cupcakes from the pan to cool completely.

Remove a small core from each cupcake and fill the hole with your choice of jam, jelly, or preserve before topping with frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

{printable recipe}

Pudding Pops

Pudding Pop

Dear Libby,

I hope that you will always have golden summer moments like this one.

Love,

Momma

Pudding Pops

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan and The Craving Chronicles

BAH Note: These pops are ridiculously easy to pull together.  Just remember that they need time to do their thing in the freezer before they are ready to serve.  Of course, you can skip the pop part and just dive into the bowl of pudding.  Either way, you really can’t go wrong.

Many thanks to Theresa of The Craving Chronicles for introducing me to Dorie Greenspan’s pudding recipe. My apologies to Ms. Greenspan for monkeying with her process to make it fit my style.  Regardless of how I got there, the final product may change my life, or at least my waistline.

  • 2 1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg + 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.  Stir to completely combine the melted butter and chocolate and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla, 3 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, egg and yolks.

Add the remaining ingredients (2 cups milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, cocoa powder, and salt) to a medium saucepan.  Whisk until the cocoa is thoroughly combined and the liquid looks like chocolate milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture just comes to a steam.

Working in several small batches, whisk 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the steaming milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Whisk the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the pudding thickens.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer (to catch any bits of cooked egg) into another bowl.  Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture and stir until fully combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the top of the pudding, and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until completely chilled.  Spoon the chilled pudding into your molds and freeze.  Let the pops sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 {printable recipe}