Basic Baked Porkchops

This is one of those “variable” recipes – the basic ingredients (center cut porkchops, onions, canned tomatoes) stay the same, but the spices and side dishes are pretty infinitely variable. It’s good, simple, hearty food that isn’t fussy and is easy to throw together on a weeknight.

Here’s the setup:

  • Four 1” thick center cut porkchops (or whatever porkchops you have, enough for 4 people)
  • Two small or one large onion, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced.
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce (plain or seasoned)
  • 1 14oz can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes (plain or seasoned) with liquid
  • Non stick skillet
  • Oil
  • Shallow pyrex baking dish (I usually use an 8” square pan)

Pick your seasonings before hand – I’ve tried several, and these two seem to work wonderfully:

  1. Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning Blend, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  2. Salt, Pepper, Grill Seasoning (I use Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper plus a little crushed red pepper flake)

So here’s how it goes:

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Place about 1 TBSP oil (or a spray of non-stick cooking spray) in the bottom of a non-stick skillet. Heat to HIGH. Season your porkchops liberally with whatever seasonings you choose. Sear the porkchops for about 1 minute on each side – you’re looking for golden brown and delicious, not cooked all the way through.

Evenly space the porkchops in your baking dish. Dump the onions and garlic over top of them and kinda spread them out some. Follow with the tomato sauce, and then the diced tomatoes. Mush it around so it’s mostly level and you don’t have any really high/low spots (some onions poking through is OK).

Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice over the top of the tomatoes and don’t be shy – probably a full teaspoon of whatever seasoning blend, plus a good pinch or two of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Your tomatoes should look well seasoned.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the porkchops are done.

Serve plain, with mashed potatoes, with (brown) rice, with egg noodles, with salad, or with whatever side dish your heart desires.

Good, simple, easy food. Healthy and delicious.

Mushroom Barley Soup

This is not a quick recipe.  It’s not particularly /hard/, but it takes some time to turn into delicious goodness.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

  • 3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces *
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms ** – trimmed and quartered
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 quart beef stock (I use Kitchen Basics Reduced Sodium)
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 beef boullion cube
  • 1 cup pearl barley***
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar

You’ll also need a large, heavy bottomed pot like a dutch oven.

Cook the bacon in the pot over MEDIUM heat – you want to render out the fat from the bacon – until it is crispy.  Add the onion and cook 5-8 minutes (still over medium heat) until the onions just start to turn golden.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until they are tender and the pot is almost dry, 5-10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute more.

Add broth, barley, water, boullion cube, and oregano – bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, 30-40 minutes.  If the soup needs more water to thin it out, add whatever is necessary.  Season with plenty of black pepper and stir in the vinegar.

Serves lots!

*If you are extremely averse to bacon, you will need either butter or olive oil to saute your veggies in.  Please, consider this a “splurge” food, as the bacon really does add a lot of flavor for being so small in comparison with the rest of the soup!

**Yes – one POUND of mushrooms.  I use creminis (which are the same as baby portobellos) because they’re the same price if you buy them out of bulk stock instead of in the little wrapped packages.  YMMV, as always, depending on season, region, and megamart store.

*** You can use quick-cooking barley if you like.  I keep pearl on hand, so that’s what I use.  If you use quick-cooking barley, reduce the “simmer” time to 10-15 minutes.