A Charming Birthday Dinner

Yesterday, my husband celebrated his birthday.  While he had a crummy day at work, I made certain that he had an nice evening with a great dinner, along with his favorite movie, The Big Lebowski, playing in the background.   I started planning his birthday dinner when we got back from our honeymoon.  He wanted a dish with meat and a birthday cake.   Check for both of these.

I settled on a menu of pork chops and cornbread stuffing.  His birthday cake was going to be a Key Lime Pound Cake with a Key Lime Glaze.   Of course, I thought it would be a menu that I could accomplish during an afternoon away from the office.  However, after dealing with the DMV for most of the afternoon, I was left wondering whether this would be too time intensive.   I decided to woman-up, because I knew he would be surprised by the effort and love.

The cornbread stuffing is a recipe that is so simple.   In a saute pan, I melted 2 tablespoons butter with four cloves of garlic over medium heat.  After the butter was melted, I threw in one onion that french cut, and one red bell pepper that was roughly diced.   After the onion began to caramelize and the pepper softened, I placed cubes of cornbread in the pan with a cup of chicken broth and  1/4 cup of apple cider for an added level of sweetness.  (Note:  I fudged and bought a large cornbread square from our local Whole Foods Market.)  The stuffing was seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, and sage.  It was delicious and paired well with the pork chop.

Next, I proceeded to season the pork chops with a mixture of salt, pepper, tarragon, garlic powder, sage, and thyme.   Creating a rub, I patted the pork chops with the seasoning mixture.  After heating a cast iron skillet with some oil, I seared the pork chops on high to give them a good crust, then I reduced the heat to allow them time to finish cooking.   The pork chop was juicy and moist…success!

The star of the dinner was dessert.   Of course, this took a while to bake.   Pound cakes have always been the least favorite of desserts, and it was probably because they come across as being dry and crumbly, not very moist.  When I came across this recipe in Southern Living, I knew it was going to be a winner. My husband is a huge fan of Key Lime pie, so I knew he would love this Key Lime Pound Cake. It was time intensive, but the cake was moist and better than pound cakes of the past. I did make some slight revisions to the recipe by adding an additional teaspoon of lime zest. The flavor profile was unbelievable, and this is something I will make again in the future.

Best pound cake ever!

Best pound cake ever!

So tell me, what’s your favorite birthday dinner? Also, what’s your favorite birthday cake? Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!

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Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Cheese Grits

One evening last week, I had a craving for something sweet and savory.   After looking in the refrigerator, I saw a package of boneless pork chops that looked ready for a cast iron skillet and some 1 on 1 time in the oven.  However, fear came across me.  How do I transform pork chops into something sensational for a weeknight?  Enter a recipe I found on How Sweet Eats that incorporated the sweet flavors of maple syrup and bourbon.  It was easy to prepare for the most part (that is until I saw the blue flame from the alcohol cooking off in the sauce…I honestly don’t know why I freaked out).  All in all, the pork chops were phenomenal.  They just demanded something decadent to join them.

Enter Cheese Grits.  Granted, I did not grow up in the south.   As a Marylander, I was not exposed to the delicacy of consuming grits.  In fact, my Mother hated them and refused to cook them.  However, I felt it was time to give Grits a chance.  While shopping at Trader Joe’s, I noticed they had a bag of quick cooking grits.  I bought a bag and transformed instant grits into a masterpiece.

Cheese Grits

Pkg. of Quick Cooking Grits

1/2 c. Shredded Quattro Formaggio Cheese

1 tsp. sage

1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. rosemary

Follow the directions on the package of grits for the most part, with the exception of water.  You want to use chicken broth, in place of water.  Add the thyme, rosemary, and sage while cooking.  Once the grits are finished cooking, fold in cheese over low heat.  Serve warm.

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