December 26, 2009

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner 4

Christmas Dinner 5

Christmas Dinner 7

For our Christmas Day dinner I decided to put my beginner cooking skills to the test and make a hearty meal consisting of: Pork Chops with Country Gravy, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, and Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans. Everything came out very delicious and surprisingly well timed. B definitely helped to keep things moving at a smooth pace. We also paired the meal with a bottle of Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo, which turned out to be a great idea. The pork and bacon were also organic. Before I sat down to dinner, I quickly took some photos of my plate (as seen above) under my new Lowel Ego lights. Love them. Notice the difference?

More photos can be found here.

This meal wasn't actually that difficult to make, nor did it take too long. If you're looking for a perfect trio of dishes to make for four people on a weekend night, here are the recipes for everything!

Pork Chops with Country Gravy
From Cooking Light
Prep time: 5 min / Cooking time: 20-30 min / Ready in: 30-35 min
Yields: 4 servings (1 chop per person + 1/2 cup gravy)


1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 oz)

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dried marjoram

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage

4 (4-oz) boneless center-cut loin (ideally organic) pork chops that are about 3/4 inch thick

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk (skim should be fine)

cooking spray (if you don't have nonstick pans, otherwise forgo)


1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, salt, dried marjoram, dried thyme, and dried rubbed sage in a shallow dish. Mix ingredients up a bit. Dredge pork in flour mixture, turning to coat; shake off excess. Reserve remaining flour mixture for the gravy!

2. Melt butter in a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Reduce heat, and cook for 10 minutes or until done, turning pork once. According to the FDA, fresh pork should cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 160º F (medium) to 170º F (well done) . Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

3. Combine reserved flour mixture and milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Add milk mixture to a small sauce pan; place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Serve with chops. I actually did this step in parallel to cooking the pork. If you have an extra set of hands in the kitchen, you can save some time by doing this too. However, still allow 5-10 minutes for the pork the rest.

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Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Prep time: 15 min / Cooking time: 45 min / Ready in: 1 hr
Yields: 10 servings


5 lb washed unpeeled redskin potatoes, quartered

4 oz / 8 tbsp butter at room temperature

2-4 oz Romano cheese, grated

1/4 cup and 2 tsp chopped garlic

2-1/2 tsp salt

2-1/2 tsp dried oregano

pinch of dried parsley


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 45 minutes; drain.

2. Move potatoes into a large bowl or back into the pot. Stir in butter, cheese, garlic, salt and oregano. Mash with a potato masher or with an electric mixer. Mash until desired consistency is achieved. Sprinkle parsley on top to decorate and serve!

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Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans
From Simple & Delicious
Prep time: 5 minutes / Cooking time: 20 minutes / Ready in: 25 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


3/4 lb (36-40 long pieces) fresh green beans

4 bacon strips (ideally organic and thick)

3 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1/8 tsp soy sauce


1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Place beans in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove to paper towels.

2. Drain beans; place about 12 beans on each bacon strip. Wrap bacon around beans and secure with a toothpick or place the loose end on bottom of the wrap. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, garlic salt and soy sauce; brush over bundles. Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.


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