Pork chops recipe can add tang to dinner meal

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

I have to tell you a little about my fabulous Mother's Day. My day included church, lunch duty, folding laundry while listening to the Cardinal game, and various other household tidy-up chores. And all day we worked with Lexie on a very loose tooth. She so wanted her first loose tooth to come out but was afraid it might hurt. After eating dinner her Aunt Pat was sure she could get it out, and wouldn't it be neat to lose the very first tooth on Mother's Day. Sure enough, Pat grabbed a wash cloth, gave it a good tug and out it came. Lexie's eyes were wide open and a look of shock tore over her face as I screamed "It's out!" Even the smallest things in the lives of our children are just the highlights of my day.

Last week I was invited to speak at the elementary school I attended as a child. I spoke to the fourth and fifth grade classes on my career and writing the "Recipe Swap" column. The school seemed so much smaller than when I was there as a child, and now some of the children I went to school with are now the teachers and even the principal. It was a great experience to, if only for a little while, relive those days inside the McClure Elementary School building, which is now Shawnee South. The children were very well behaved and very polite, which I was proud of them for. I hope they can hold on to a few words I had to say, and realize that it is never too early to start developing those skills which come natural to students, even in the fourth and fifth grades.

A friend of mine shared a very different salad recipe with me and I thought I would pass it on to you. I have not made popcorn salad before, but I will give it a try sometime.

Popcorn Salad

1/2 cup green onions, sliced

1 cup diced celery

3/4 to 1 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup crisp fried bacon

1 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced, drained

6 cups popped popcorn


Grated cheese, for garnish

Combine green onions, celery, mayonnaise, bacon, cheese and water chestnuts together in a large bowl. Mix in the popcorn and stir to coat. Serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish with additional cheese.

Jodi Thompson of Jackson, Mo., has been at it again and I am so glad she has shared these recipes with us today. My husband enjoys pork cooked in almost any fashion, and these pork chops sound delicious. I know he will enjoy them.

Jodi commented that "these pork chops are super easy and absolutely delicious and yummy. Start it early in the day before you go to work. When you get home, heat up the grill and cook these fabulous pork chops."

Pineapple Pork Chops

In a plastic bag or glass dish combine:

Inch-thick pork chops, bone-in

1 large can of pineapple chunks and juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

Fresh basil, shredded (optional)

Let this marinate at least 6 to 8 hours. Grill chops 6 to 8 minutes on each side. If you like, skewer the pineapple and grill that, too. Jodi also wrote "really easy and really good, nice enough for a company dinner. Be sure to use thick chops with bones for more flavor and juice, less drying out."

For a side dish to the chops, you might like to serve this rice salad starting with a convenient box mix to take the guess work out of cooking perfect rice.

Asian Rice Salad

1 package Fried Rice style Rice-a-Roni

Prepare the rice as directed. While still warm, add:

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1/4 cup pineapple juice (reserved from can used for chops, but nothing that has touched that raw pork)

1/2 cup chopped almonds or peanuts

3 minced green onions

1 small handful of minced fresh cilantro (optional)

Let this sit while you prepare the chops; serve at room temperature.

Cheesy skillet supper

1 pound ground beef

1 can sliced mushrooms (optional)

1 cup onion, chopped

Brown ground beef, mushrooms and onions, drain.

1 (16 ounce) can salsa

1 (4 ounce) can Rotel green chilies

Add and simmer for about 2 minutes, then take shredded Mexican cheese and sprinkle on top and let melt. Add crushed tortilla chips before serving.

This is a great casserole prepared with easy-to-make homemade Mexican Tomato Sauce. If you like Mexican food, you'll enjoy this dish. Prepare it in the morning, if you'd like, refrigerate it then bring to room temperature 1 hour before baking.

Tortilla Casserole

1 pound lean ground beef round

1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

3 cups Mexican Tomato Sauce (below)

12 corn tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

3 green onions (both white and green parts) finely chopped

1/2 cup sliced pitted black olives

In a heavy large skillet, saute the ground beef, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain off fat. Season with the salt and pepper and stir in 1 cup of the tomato sauce; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce across the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Cut each tortilla in half. Dip 8 of the tortilla halves in the remaining sauce and arrange them, overlapping, in a layer in the baking pan. Top with half of the beef mixture, then a third of the cheese, smoothing to make the layers even. Sprinkle with half of the green onions and half of the olives. Repeat the layers; top with the remaining tortillas, sauce and cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through and bubbling.

Makes 6 servings.

Mexican Tomato Sauce

1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes with their liquid

1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (optional)

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons corn oil or olive oil

In an electric blender or food processor, puree all of the ingredients, except the corn oil, until smooth, about 1 minute. In a medium-size saucepan, combine the oil and the tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick about 25 minutes. Makes about 3 cups.

My friend Debbie Johns asked me if I had a potato salad recipe that was different and good so she could use it for a church dinner she was to attend. Although I received her e-mail message too late for the dinner, this is the recipe I would have shared with her.

Smashed Potato Salad

3 pounds small to medium red potatoes, scrubbed

1 bunch thin scallions (6 scallions)

1 container (16 ounces) reduced-fat sour cream

In large pot, bring to a boil potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and enough cold water to cover. Boil 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, cut off white part of scallions and coarsely chop (reserve green tops). Transfer white part to food processor; add sour cream. Process until smooth. Finely chop enough of green tops to equal 1/2 cup. Drain potatoes, saving 1/3 cup cooking water. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl; mash. Stir in sour-cream mixture, reserved cooking water, chopped green tops, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.

Mother's Day came and went, and all too quickly. But I know it will be a day that will be remembered in the mind of one 5-year-old, her Aunt Pat, and in mine, too.

I hope you had a great Mother's Day. Have a wonderful week ahead and happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699; Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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