Pork Chops Jimmy

In which I want to know “Who wants to know?”

The recipe opens with the line “Son Jimmy’s favorite pork dish.” It’s things like this that prick my imagination.  Who was Jimmy?

He probably wasn’t Jimmy Ray.


I can’t quite imagine Jimmy Ray eating a pork chop topped with apples, maraschino cherries, and brown sugar.  But I have a feeling that the Jimmy that these pork chops were named after was a Groovy Teen.  How could he not be?

I originally made this recipe in the fall when my apples were ripe.  If you don’t know about my apple trees, you can find out more about them here and here.  I made so many apple recipes at the time, but figured that you may not want to read about nothing but apples, so backlogged this one.  Pork chops Jimmy Stacked

The pork for this recipe came from the sale bin.  I love seeing what is in the reduced meat section of the grocery store.  Sometimes there are things like beef shanks or pork neck bones.  I love to get those cuts of meat and slowly cook them until they fall off the bone and have made magical gravy to serve over mashed potatoes.  Usually I’ll throw some garlic in there to roast.  That either gets incorporated into the sauce or spread on homemade bread.

None of which is relevant to this recipe.  I only brought it up because I did not have 3/4 inch pork chops.  I had tiny little thin cut pork chops because they were on sale.  Pork Chops Jimmy framed

That part is important because thin pork chops cook much quicker than thick cut pork chops.  Which means that they can overcook quickly if you aren’t watching them.  Nobody likes a dry pork chop.  To try to mimic the effect of the thicker pork chops, I sandwiched an apple slice between layers of pork.  I feel like they were still a little dry, but not too bad.  It wasn’t quite that experience of biting into a nicely marbled pork chop on the bone where the fatty edge is just sort of melting into the rest of the meat.  (And all the vegetarians that are accidentally reading this are cringing).

This is a solid meat and potatoes sort of dish.  It’s sweeter than I like an entree to be, but not so sweet you feel like you need insulin.Pork chops Jimmy up close

Speaking of potatoes…I ran into Target while my husband stayed in the car with the kids (one of whom needed a nap like you wouldn’t believe).  While he waited he read an article of genius facts or something like that.  When I got back in, he attempted to impress me with the fact that everything in the world could be labelled as a potato or not a potato.  Of course I started brilliantly discussing how not everything we label as a potato is actually a potato and yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing.  Then I asked “Would it be a better classification if we labelled everything as “tuber or not tuber?”  To which my clever husband replied “That is the question.”  I retorted that that wasn’t funny, as I laughed and he snort-laughed next to me.  We never fail to amuse ourselves.  (If you don’t get why this was not funny, review Hamlet).

And don’t serve sweet potatoes as a side dish for this meat.  It’s just too much sweetness. Pork Chops Jimmy

Breakfast Pie

In which I remind you about the most important meal of the day.

Time to get crazy.   I’m doing a special bonus recipe off my normal Tuesday and Thursday posting schedule.  Woo hoo!  Apple Breakfast Pie

In all honesty, this is because I made something similar for breakfast this morning and was trying to to remember where I got the idea. (clears throat…of course it was great-grandma).  I don’t know why I don’t do stuff like this more often.  It’s so freaking easy.  It doesn’t require a lot of time or attention or anything else.  Bisquik Breakfast Pie

Get out your big yellow box of Bisquik, chop some apples and go to town.  This one is adaptable.  For breakfast this morning, I topped the biscuits with raw beaten egg, ham, goat cheddar, and some Italian herbs.  It makes a lovely breakfast.  Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Pie (2)

This thing is so easy, you could probably even make it with your first cup of coffee before you get ready to start your Monday.  Breakfast Pie

Cranberry Fluff

In which I get advice from a coworker.

Isn’t there something so nice about the word “Fluff”?  It’s soft and comforting and towels out of the dryer.  When someone tells you that a “fluff” is on the menu, you know what to expect.  Something soft, puffy, creamy, and cloyingly sweet, perhaps with marshmallows and definitely with whipped cream or Cool Whip.  At nearly any deli counter in America, you can pick up a plastic tub filled with pistachio pineapple fluff.  (Sometimes the salads are called “Ambrosia” instead of “fluff”, but we all know what they mean.)DSCN3235I found this recipe when I was looking for recipes to bring to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner.  I scoured 11 different recipes looking for the perfect dish to bring along with my Cherry Meringue, Pumpkin, and Apple pies.  I asked a number of coworkers for their favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving and one of them mentioned “Cranberry Fluff”.  I had never heard of it.  When I called my grandma to ask about it, she fondly remembered it as one of her favorites.  How could I not make it after that? DSCN3236As an aside, that was such a good conversation with my grandma.  I love talking to her about her food memories and bonding with her that way.  We chatted for a decent amount of time about the blog.  I hope she knows that she’s really the inspiration for it.


I had a few minor modifications.  My apple was sweeter than I was expecting it to be.  The grocery store didn’t have green grapes that day, so I used red ones.  I didn’t read through all the instructions and didn’t let the cranberries, marshmallows, and sugar sit overnight.  I let them sit on the counter for a couple of hours instead.  The purpose of this is really just to soften everything and ensure that there are no big chunks of marshmallow.DSCN3239


So the verdict…holy buckets.  This was easily the best fluff salad that I’ve had.  It’s not as sweet and mushy as a lot of fluff salads.  The fruit and nuts add texture.  One of the kids thought the “pink fluff” was better than the “green fluff”.  It was good enough that I didn’t mind eating the leftovers (which were gone before I had to go back to work.)  It made a nice change from super tart cranberries.  It was sort of like a Waldorf salad, but not mayonnaise-y.  DSCN3238All in all, this dish is a keeper.  Get yourself some Wisconsin cranberries and make this one.  I think it’s a better dish than the Cooked Cranberry Salad.  (And in case you didn’t read about it before, the teacup is Wedgwood that I found at the thrift shop for less than $1.  I love the color, I love the pattern, it coordinates with my dining room and the rest of my blue and white dishes.)

Cranberry Fluff

Champion Apple Pie

In which I have a very sweet helper.

Champion Apple Pie is as American as Rocky…

We are the Champions…of Apple Pie.

Since I have already admitted my struggles with pie crust, I could brag about the champion I am for successfully recreating this apple pie, but I won’t.  Because truthfully, the pie crust was nearly the undoing of me.  You may notice that this pie crust is exactly the same pie crust as the pie crust I used for the Cherry Meringue Pie, with one exception.  It uses lard instead of butter.  I don’t know why this made everything so flippin’ difficult.  Maybe it was because I made it on a different day, maybe my cup of lard was a little short.  Maybe one of the tablespoons of milk wasn’t completely full.  (I sort of feel like I’m reciting my own personal “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”) For whatever reason, my pie crust was dry.  When I tried to roll it out, it crumbled.  The edges cracked and split.  I knew how to troubleshoot, of course, but I still got mad.  I added a bit of extra water and it ended up smooth.  It’s not that I don’t know what to do to fix it, it’s that I just can’t seem to get to the point where I can enjoy the process. DSCN3243I think I compare myself to my mom.  She always makes beautiful pie crusts.

Despite my irritation at the pie crust, I remember that when I was young, my mom used to let me crimp the pie crust.  She showed me multiple ways to make a beautiful decorative edge by pinching, by spreading my fingers and poking another finger between them, by using a fork to create a criss-cross pattern.  But the most important part was that she actually let me help.  So I got over myself and when my darling little daughter came over and wanted to help, I spread my fingers out on the edge of the pie crust and helped guide her little finger in between mine to create a fluted edge.  DSCN3246It’s that moment that made this more of a champion apple pie than the fact that I was able to solve my pie crust issues.

Speaking of cheese…I did take a slice of cheddar and melt it over a leftover slab of this pie.  Delicious.DSCN3241Atypically, this pie does not call for any pie spices.  Not a drop of cinnamon in the whole thing.  It is still delicious.  Maybe it’s because I picked the apples myself and froze them.  Maybe because the recipe won some award or other.  But I’m guessing it has a lot to do with those sweet little fingers poking through mine to create the gorgeous crust.Champion Apple Pie


Apple Butter Cake with Caramel Icing

It’s part of your American Heritage

I have this friend that has become quite the cook since I first started talking to him.  He takes trips to Italy and Morocco to learn about cuisine and comes home and replicates it in his kitchen.  He started baking bread a few years back and makes gorgeous loaves.  When the Great British Baking Show started being aired and he mentioned watching it, I knew it was a matter of time before he started to foray into cakes.  I think he made a game pie before he made his first cake.  I got pictures from him every step of the way.

I had a conversation with my neighbor the other day about baking cakes from scratch.  We usually talk with a fence between us.  It reminds me of the show Home Improvement.  We discussed how people just don’t make a lot of cakes from scratch any more, “But it’s not that hard” one of us said.  “And the cake is so much better.”  “You know everything that goes into it and it really doesn’t take that long.”  When I made this cake, I knew that we had to take her a piece.

This is not one of the sort of cakes you see on the Great British Baking Show, it’s not a delicate Angel Food cake full of air.  With every bite of this cake, you can taste your American heritage.  It’s a cake that just feels like it was developed on the prairies.  Something that, could they have afforded it, Ma Ingalls would’ve made for Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and Grace for a special occasion.  Definitely something Laura would’ve made in her later years in Missouri. DSCN2864For this cake, I used my homemade apple butter.  If you don’t have homemade, just use whatever sort of apple butter you like or have access to.  (Apple butter is super easy in the crockpot, though, so you may want to try).


The Apple Butter cake is a butter cake.  There are a few types of cakes, and knowing which type of cake yours is can help determine what method to use while making it, even when just given a list of ingredients.  I used a 9×13 pan.

Ok, so after the cake was made and cooling on the counter, I knew it needed frosting.  But deciding which frosting is always a challenge.  I baked a jam cake in July and tempered the sweetness with some cream cheese frosting, but that didn’t seem right for this.  I dug around in the cookbook I made of my great-grandma’s recipes to find something suitable.  Caramel icing seemed perfect.  Making the caramel icing was not quite as easy as making the cake.  First of all, there is a HUGE typo in the recipe.  I verified on the original card to be sure.  Softball stage is 225, not 325.  I didn’t make the error, but felt necessary to call it out just in case.  Don’t skip the cooling down stage. And remember that frosting should take about 7 minutes to get really creamy and wonderful (it’s why there is a thing called 7 minute frosting).


I topped mine with pecans because I like a little crunch.  Leave them off if you don’t like them

DSCN2868No one complained about eating this cake for dessert 3 days in a row and they were a little sad there was none left on the 4th day.

Apple Butter Cake

Caramel Frosting

1 cup white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB butter

Combine sugar (white and brown), salt and milk, cook until syrup forms a soft ball (325° F) in cold water.  Remove from heat, add butter, and let cool.  Beat until cool and good spreading consistency.