Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Fresh Apple Salsa

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Fresh Apple Salsa

I’m getting Fall fever, even if it is still 90 degrees here in Florida. I drank my first pumpkin beer this week, I’m going to get my fall decorations out this weekend and I made my first seasonal dinner.  You can never go wrong with the combination of pork and apples so when I saw a recipe in my Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook for Root Beer Pork Chops with Apple Salsa I knew I had to try it. I loved the idea but made some changes to the recipes to fit my tastes.

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Fresh Apple Salsa

4 Boneless Pork Loin Chops

1/4 c molasses

6 oz root beer

1 T oil

Combine Root Beer and Molasses in a ziplock bag or shallow dish add pork chops and refrigerate 4 hrs-overnight, turning occasionally. Heat oil in a large skillet over med high heat and add pork chops. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until seared with some dark brown coloring. Turn chops and repeat on the other side. Add remaining root beer mixture to pan  with chops and bring to a boil. reduce heat to low and cover, cook for 4 more minutes or until desired doneness. ( use a meat thermometer if desired)

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops

Fresh Apple Salsa

2 large crisp apples, (I used Fiji, Granny Smiths would be good also)

1/2 c chopped onion

1/4-1/2 t minced jalapeño pepper

1 T lemon juice

2 T honey

1/4 t salt

1 T chopped fresh parsley

add all ingredients to a bowl and stir, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This makes more than needed for the pork chops, use the leftovers for wraps, chicken salad, or peanut butter would be great, or also as an accompaniment with a cheese plate or with cinnamon sugar pita chips.

Fresh Apple Salsa great on top of pork or chicken

Root Beer Glazed Pork Chops with Fresh Apple Salsa

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Peachy Keen Crumble

Peachy Keen Crumble

 

Easier than pie dessert, crumbles have all the flavor and none of the work. Try this one with the Summer peaches that are on sale and in stores now.

Peachy Keen Crumble

6 cups ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

3/4 c sugar

1 T vanilla extract

1/4 t salt

4 t corn starch

6 T butter at room temp

1/4 c brown sugar

1 C flour

1/2 t cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 375. Mix peaches with sugar, corn starch, vanilla and salt in a 8×8 baking dish. Let sit.

Peachy Keen Crumble

Meanwhile mix butter, sugar, cinnamon and flour in a mixer until it forms a crumbly mixture. Pour on top of peaches.

Peachy Keen Crumble

 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Peachy Keen Crumble

 

 

Heading North to Get South: Finding Florida

The Floridian Restaurant St. Augustine

Florida is a unique state, it’s it the most Southern state geographically but probably the least Southern state in the South. In fact, in Florida, the further South you go the less southern charm there is, this leads us to a small identity crisis. We have lots of outside influences because many residents are from somewhere else, they came here on vacation and decided to stay. So we don’t have a lot of traditions or local delicacies, we are mostly chain restaurants and strip malls.

This past week my family and I headed North to St. Augustine, a city on the East Coast of Florida just South of Jacksonville. I had been there before and have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I thought it would be this great town with charm and history, real traditional Florida, and instead I found a tourist trap. It was complete with day glow t-shirts and cheesy attractions, just like most of Florida. Most of the restaurants there offered fried shrimp and hamburgers, all frozen from Sysco I am sure. There was beautiful architecture and beaches but it was all marred by neon signs and wax museums, not at all what I was looking for.

I am glad I gave it a second chance, this time I stayed away from St. George Street (the biggest neon offender) and hung out on the outskirts of Old Town and I was rewarded. Our first great find was a restaurant called The Floridian.They are doing what I thought was impossible in Florida, serving delicious traditional Southern recipes made from local, seasonal and sustainable food. Not only that, but the menu is full of options, you can make many of the dishes gluten-free or vegetarian. We started with some local beers, Red Brick’s Hoplanta (yes it’s from GA, but I had never had it and it’s close enough) and Intuition’s I-10 IPA. Intuition’s was more to my liking , more of a West Coast style IPA.

Red Brick's  Hoplanta and Intuition Ale Works  I-10 IPA

Then we had some appetizers, Fried Pickles, house made pickles spiced with the locally grown Datil pepper ( think a sweeter version of a habenaro) Served with buttermilk herb dressing.

Fried Pickles

and the  Oysters Floridian, broiled Oysters with  home-made pimento cheese ( a southern staple that is making a comeback) and pickled slaw.

Oysters Floridian Broiled Oyster with Pimento Cheese

For my main course I chose the N Grits with Shrimp ( other options besides the shrimp were blackened or grilled fresh catch or tofu.) The grits were actually polenta cakes topped with the shrimp in a creamy remoulade sauce with fresh strawberry salsa and local feta cheese.

N Grits with Shrimp

My husband and son also had great meals, Waffles with Pulled Pork, and a Fried Green Tomato Hoagie.

The next day my son and I tried another local eatery called Yard Bird Cafe. It is a cute cafe hidden in a plaza on King Street, it is only open for breakfast and lunch. I would call it southern favorites with a college twist. It is across the way from Flagler college and I imagine a lot of students and staff frequent this restaurant, large portions of hearty homemade food that is inexpensive and unique. Black eyed pea hummus, Peanut butter and banana french toast, Chicken with peach and fennel salsa to name a few.

I had the homemade Chicken and Biscuits, delicious, and they came with a side of collards, my favorite, made even better with the local datil hot sauce. Yes, there are biscuits under there. My son had a pulled pork cuban sandwich.

Yard Bird's Chicken and Biscuits

So this time instead of coming back from St. Augustine disappointed, I came back re-energized and inspired for my home state, I even made my own pimento cheese. We do have great local farms and dairies (and breweries), we do have traditions and local cuisine. We just need to seek it out, embrace it and make a name for ourselves. We may not be a true Southern state, but we may be something better if we try.

Pork Chops with Orange Butternut Sauce

 

Butternut squash and pork chops are classic fall food, this sauce gets a little zip from oranges which are also coming into season.

Pork Chops with Orange Butternut Sauce

8 boneless pork chops

2 T butter

3 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed

2 garlic cloves

1/2 c chopped onion

3/4 cup orange juice ( used fresh squeezed if possible)

1T balsamic vinegar

1/2  t dried sage

1/2 t ground ginger

1/2 t ground cinnamon

water

salt

chili powder

Melt Butter in a large pan over med high heat. add squash and onions, saute until onions and squash are browned. add garlic and saute until garlic is soft and golden.

add orange juice, vinegar, ginger, sage and cinnamon , bring to a simmer and cover. cook for 15-25 minutes or until squash is soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon. Use a hand blender to make into a puree ( you could also hand mash or use a regular blender) remove from pan and set aside.

Sprinkle chops with salt and chili powder, brown on each side in the pan. You may have to do this in small batches depending on chop and pan size.

 

Add puree back to the pan with chops cover and cook over med heat for 20 minutes or until chops are done. add water if necessary ( I used about a 1/4 cup). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

 

 

A Nod to My Northern Neighbors: Peach Pecan Pie

 

It’s that time of year here in Florida where you can’t drive on a major road and not see a sign for fresh Georgia peaches. We are lucky to be a neighboring state. Georgia also grows delicious pecans so I decided to try to use them both in a dessert. My oldest son’s favorite dessert is pecan pie which he usually gets only once a year at Thanksgiving, so I decided to lighten it up with the fresh peaches and make it into a summer dessert. Turned out delicious and best of all this recipe doesn’t contain any corn syrup.

Peach Pecan Pie

1 9″ ready to bake pie crust

2 eggs

1/2 c melted butter

2 T flour

1 c brown sugar

1 T milk

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t salt

3/4 c pecans

1 c fresh peeled and diced peaches

Beat eggs with a whisk in a large mixing bowl, add melted butter and continue whisking. Stir in flour, sugar and salt. Add milk and vanilla and then stir in peaches and pecans.

Pour into pie shell and bake 45 minutes. Tent with foil if crust starts to get too brown.

 

It is done when sides are set and there is only the slightest jiggle in the middle

 

Let cool and serve with whipped cream if desired