Sautéed Pork with Apple Brandy Sauce and Roasted Carrots

This was a meal I wanted to cook because my wife, per her doctor’s orders, has to try to eat gluten-free for the next few weeks and she really didn’t like anything she had found so far. I also wanted to do it for her just to cheer her up! So let’s go.

Mashed potatoes – potatoes boiled until soft, drained, then put back on the stove where you add a lot of butter and cream, some salt & pepper and beat them until smooth.

Roasted carrots – medium carrots peeled, sliced in half, tossed in some olive oil, seasoned with some salt & pepper, tossed on a pan and put into a 400F oven until the edges start to turn golden brown.

While the carrots are roasting, dice up an apple, put it in a bowl with 4oz brandy, 4 tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon of cinnamon and let it hang out until after you cook the pork cutlet.

Pork cutlet, last part, salt & pepper both sides cook in a medium hot pan with butter for a few minutes, turn and finish cooking until you have 145F internal temperature. Take it out of the pan and set it on a plate with the mashed potatoes and the carrots while you make the sauce.

Lastly the sauce, carefully pour the cup with the apple, brandy and seasonings into the hot pan, it might flame up a bit, stir all the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan left from cooking the pork. Let the apples cook for about 2 minutes while the pan sauce reduces. Turn off the heat and stir in a couple of tablespoons of butter and let them melt into the liquid in the pan. This should thicken the sauce a little. Check for seasoning and if all is good pour over the pork and enjoy a very delicious gluten-free meal!

Pan Seared Pork


Homemade Spring Rolls

On the way home from having lunch with my wife, I noticed that there was a new oriental market that opened up by her office, so I swung by to check it out. It was a nice little place and the owners were very helpful. I had been on a quest for rice paper for a while checking the local supermarkets without finding any. This place had a few to choose from so spring rolls were on the menu for dinner. So let’s roll on in on how to make them.

As you can see I picked up some crab meat from the store, along with some bean sprouts and Thai basil. I julienned some carrots and sliced some romaine lettuce somewhat thin to go inside the rolls.


With everything all laid out nicely the tricky part starts now, softening the rice paper sheets. There are two ways of going about this task. One way is the long soak in cold water; the other is the quick soak in hot water. This part is totally up to you, but remember, there is only a limited amount of time to make and roll it. I prefer warmish water for a medium soak. This leaves the sheet somewhat firm yet flexible while you are working with it. Practice with a few using one ingredient, like the carrot sticks, until you are comfortable wrapping them up in a tight roll.

I find it easiest to roll them on a wood cutting board; they tend to stick to the counter top. Plus, you can leave the leading edge hanging off the board to make it easier to pick up and roll. Dip the rice paper in the bowl of water for however long you choose.

Place the wrapper in front of you. Imagine a clock on the face of the rice paper. Place the ingredients in a line as if you were filling the face of a clock between 4 & 5 o’clock across to between 7 & 8 o’clock. Now bring the 6 o’clock flap, which was hanging off the board, up and over the ingredients and roll tightly a little bit towards 12 o’clock.

Now take the sides and fold them towards the center, making a tight package encasing the ingredients. Continue rolling to 12 o’clock position. Right before you totally roll it, stop and rewet the top of the roll so the flap really sticks to the roll. Hopefully you will end up with something like the picture below.

rolled spring role

I got the first one done and I realized I had no dipping sauce!!! You could go out and get some sweet chili sauce in a bottle, but that’s not for me. I want spicy peanut dipping sauce!

In another bowl combine 2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce & water and however much ground cayenne power and black pepper you can stand. We like it hot! If the sauce is still too thick, keep adding water to thin it out to your liking. Adjust the heat to your liking also.


Make the rest of the rolls and keep them in the refrigerator covered until you are ready to eat them.

That night we had the Spring Rolls along with the spicy peanut dipping sauce and a chilled bottle of Sake that was recommended by the owners of the shop. A very nice end to a great day.

springroll cut

Enjoy ~

Eggplant Parmesan

My wife brought home an eggplant from the farmer’s market a few days ago and asked I make a meal without meat this week. I was in the mood for pasta anyway so here is what I did.

While making dinner the night before, I took the eggplant sliced it about ¼ of an inch thick, sprinkled some table salt on both sides and laid the circles on a wire rack over a sheet pan, covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is to “sweat” the bitter juices out of the eggplant. I feel this really helps the flavor of the eggplant come through better and be less bitter.

The next day I took the eggplant out of the fridge, quickly rinsed the salt off the circles, dipped them in flour, then egg wash and then in seasoned bread crumbs.

I fried them in a large non stick pan with a little olive oil over medium heat. Set those aside on a wire rack to cool.

Now let’s build the stack. Start with some of your tomato sauce on the bottom of a pan that can go in the oven. That’s so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Then place an eggplant disk on top of the sauce. Top that, in my case with some left over pesto sauce and some tomato sauce and on top of that, some mozzarella cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 more times. Make sure not to put the cheese on the top layer just yet.

Set the oven to 325F. Place the eggplant stack in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to cook while you are boiling the pasta to go with the meal. After the stack is thoroughly heated, pull it out and top with some more of the mozzarella cheese and leave it in the oven until the cheese is nice and melted.

Pour yourself a nice glass of Italian red wine, sit down and eat your Italian feast.

Eggplant Parm



Shrimp Bruschetta

We were having some people over and I was grilling dinner by the pool so I thought some shrimp bruschetta would be a light start to the meal that goes very well with some white wine.
Before the guests came I had already cooked the shrimp in some water, flavored with lemon juice, peppercorns and white wine,  shocked them in some ice water and cut them in half the log way.
I had some pesto and some roasted red peppers left over from making dinner a few nights ago so I used them also.
I had picked up a nice baguette from the bakery sliced it, brushed on a little olive oil and toasted them on the grill. Spread a little pesto on the bread, laid some of the roasted peppers on top, topped that with the shrimp halves laid out nicely. Then topped the shrimp with a piece of the roasted red pepper again and some chopped basil for garnish. Finished everything with a light sprinkle of good extra virgin olive oil and some coarse salt & pepper.
I have to admit they didn’t last long and they were really good.
shrimp bruscetta
~ Enjoy ~

Enhance Boxed Stuffing

My in-laws were coming over for dinner last weekend and my father in-law mentioned a while ago that he likes stuffing. I saw that I had a box of dried bread chunks buried in the cupboard, for hurricane season, and I figured why not, even though it really doesn’t go with BBQ chicken I was making. So here is how I did it.

As you can see that is a whole stick of butter along with two tablespoons of salt and pepper, a white onion diced, five stalks of celery diced and a few carrots diced up also. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften.


Add two cups of chicken stock to the pan along with two tablespoons of Bell’s seasoning. Now take the mixture and pour it over the bread chunks, mix gently and you will notice it will be a little wet, this is fine because we are going to cook it tomorrow afternoon.


Let it cool on the counter top for about an hour, cover it with foil and put it in the fridge for later. When it comes time to cook it, place it in a 300F oven for about forty minutes to an hour or until it reaches 145F in the center of the pan.

You will have moist fluffy delicious stuffing to accompany your meal.

Enjoy ~

Herb Crusted Scallops

Rinse under cold water and pick the muscles off the scallops, season with salt and pepper

Take bread crumbs and add to them some Italian seasoning, fresh chopped basil, marjoram, parsley. Dip the scallops into the mixture covering just the tops and bottoms and set aside.

seasoning for scallops

seasoned scallops

In a large sauté pan heated to medium high add some good oil and cook a few of the scallops a few at a time for maybe a minute or two then carefully flip them over. You are looking for a nice sear and good color; however you don’t want to cook them all the way through.

scallops cooking

When done transfer to a plate and slide them into the fridge for about ten minutes, to stop the cooking process, while you make the sauce.

As for the sauce, wipe out the pan, add a tablespoon of oil and add 1/4 of a diced sweet onion. Sauté for about 7-8 minutes. While the pan is on medium-high heat deglaze with about 1/2 cup of your favorite white wine, let it reduce for another minute or two. Add the juice of a fresh lemon. Finish the sauce by adding 1/4 cup of heavy cream, bring to a boil then lower the heat to low.

Take the scallops out of the fridge and place into the hot sauce just until they heat through; be careful not to cook them too much, you don’t want to overcook them, they will get hard and rubbery.

scallops in sauce cooking

To be fancy, plate some rice down the center of a plate, place the scallops on top and then spoon some sauce over the rice. Serve right away and enjoy.

scallops on rice

fancy pic finished plat


Honey BBQ Chicken Thighs with Mac-n-Cheese

As you might have figured out by now I just can’t cook for the two of us. So we had some chicken thighs left over from earlier in the week. They were just the thing I needed to make a quick dinner. My wife and I both had hard days and I knew this meal would make anyone in her family happy.

So here we go – turn the oven on to 275 degrees and let it preheat. Take a pan out and place some aluminum foil on it, this step will help greatly with clean up. Put the chicken on the pan and let them hang out for a minute. In a small bowl mix the following ingredients: tomato sauce, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, honey, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper. Play with the flavors that work best for you. You could even use premade honey BBQ sauce, if you do, I’d recommend adding extra honey. Carefully pour the mixture on the top of the chicken making sure to keep on the chicken. Put the pan in the middle of the oven and forget about it for about 30-45 minutes.

During the week sometimes you need some comfort food quickly. This time I reached up into the pantry and grabbed a couple of boxes of elbow noodles. I made a rue with butter and flour, then added about 2 cups of milk along with pepper and some chili powder. Stir on low heat for a couple minutes, then add in 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. We make mac-n-cheese often and will experiment with different spices and cheeses.

Carefully take the chicken off the pan, try not to pull up any of the aluminum foil, because it is going to be sticky. Give yourself a couple of big scoops of mac-n-cheese and take a few minutes to savor the flavor of your childhood and let the day’s troubles melt away.  Make a quick salad to round out the meal and for something healthy. Enjoy ~

bbq chix and mac n cheese

Oxtail Stew

I know that there was a request for this item a while ago but I had to track down a Jamaican woman that used to work for me who made this dish and it was always really good. So here we go. My take on oxtail stew.

Start with 2.5 to 3 pounds of oxtails washed and dried and dredge them in a mixture of 50% flour 50% sugar and sear them in a hot pan on all sides. When done set aside for a few minutes.

oxtail seared

seared oxtail

To the hot pot add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 2 Tbsp of chopped garlic, some fresh thyme, 17 whole allspice, and I had a scallion kicking around the refrigerator, so I threw it in too. Cook together making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.

celery and allspince

all veges and spices searing

Put the meat back into the pot and the juices. Now add ½ cup of red wine, 2 cups of water, a quart of beef stock, 3 tbsp of soy sauce, 3 tbsp of ketchup, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp brown sugar and one whole scotch bonnet pepper. Even though I had 2, I only used one, being this is the first time making ox tails. In retrospect, I should have used them both for more spice.

scotch bonnet pepper

Here is the easy part, put the lid on, turn the pot down to the lowest simmer your stove allows and let it cook for the next 4 hours. Stir once in a while and you will see the broth reduce and thicken by itself.  Now add 2 cans of drained and rinsed cannelloni beans, stir them in and let simmer uncovered for about an hour. About this time make some rice to serve with the stew. I made brown rice in this case.

oxtail cooking

This dish made the house smell so good. When eating just watch out of the little bones, the meat is tasty and just falls off the bone. So sit back, grab a bowl and Enjoy!

oxtail stew on rice

Chicken Pot Pie

There was a “cold front“ that came through Florida last week and as a tribute to my wife’s New England upbringing I thought I would make my version of chicken pot pie. So I started poking around the fridge and here is what I came up with.

1 large onion, 3 medium carrots, 3 celery sticks all chopped into medium pieces and set aside.

cut veges

Cut 4-6 red potatoes into small pieces, boiled them for about ten minutes then tossed them into some ice-cold water to stop the cooking because we are going to cook them again with everything else.


Start with four 6 oz chicken breasts and cut them into uniform chunks like in the picture.

whole chicken breast

chopped chicken brast

Dust them in some seasoned flour and sear them off in the pot you will be making the stew in then remove and set aside on a plate.

floured chicken

seared chicken

Now take the vegetables you already cut and sauté them with some garlic, when soft add the potatoes and the chicken cook for a few minutes. Add a quart of chicken stock or broth and a cup of heavy cream.

Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for about an hour uncovered, stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. It will thicken as it cooks and makes the house smell really good.

Before serving, taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

chicken pot pie in a bowl

As a side note, by using the potatoes instead of puff pastry you are saving some calories so you can have another bowl or two.


London Broil with Brandy Sauce

For the money I like to cook London Broil Steaks, they are easy to cook and taste great.

  • Take the steak out of the fridge about an hour before cooking it to let it come to room temperature, rub a little olive oil and season heavily with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the grill as hot as it will go and cook about 5-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees, then remove from the grill.
  • Cover with aluminum foil to let the steak rest for 15 minutes.

london broil uncut

While the steak rests make the sauce.

  • For the sauce put 2 tbsp of butter in a sauté pan and heat it until melted.
  • Add 2  tbsp of flour and cook until it is slightly off white.
  • Carefully add 1/4 cup of brandy to the pan. Be careful it will catch on fire.
  • Cook until the flames go out, then using a whisk add ½ cup of heavy cream.
  • Add a cup of water mixed with 1 tsp beef base.
  • Let it cook stirring constantly until you achieve the thickness you desire.
  • Add black pepper to taste to the sauce. Beef base is already a little salty.

Cut the steak slightly on an angle or bias place in the plate.

london broil with rice and squash

Serve with some brown rice and the spaghetti squash that you started earlier, top with the sauce and enjoy.