Roast Turkey Breast w/ Sausage, Pecans & Cranberry Stuffing

In acknowledgement to our American neighbors who are celebrating Thanksgiving today, I am featuring a stuffed turkey breast meal on the blog today.

Technically, stuffing cooked inside turkey/chicken is called ‘stuffing’ whereas stuffing cooked separately is called ‘dressing’. But no matter what you call it, stuffing can easily upstage the turkey.

If you’ve never made sausage stuffing, your missing out on all the flavor and savor it adds to the meal. Any kind of ground sausage that you think would blend well with the other ingredients will work well.

You can use dried herbs, but your best flavor will be achieved from using fresh. I not only like herbs in the stuffing but using them in an herb butter for rubbing on the outside is so good.

Toasting the bread cubes isn’t always necessary. The toasting process is meant to dry out the bread to prevent your stuffing from becoming soggy with the bread absorbing too much liquid too fast. ‘Stale’ bread is already dried out and can be used instead of toasting. Crusty bread, such as sourdough or a French loaf, make good choices for preparing stuffing.

The addition of fruit and nuts further enhances the flavor and texture. For me, I can easily make a meal of the stuffing alone. I guess its another one of those ultimate ‘comfort foods’.

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Roast Turkey Breast w/ Sausage, Pecans & Cranberry Stuffing
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Turkey Breast
Herb Butter
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Turkey Breast
Herb Butter
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a saucepan, cook sausage meat until brown & crumbled, about 5-7 minutes. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon to a paper-lined plate & set aside. Drain off excess fat from saucepan.
  2. Add butter to saucepan & melt. Stir in onions & celery; sauté until softened. Add apple & garlic; cook & stir for 2 minutes. Stir in herbs & spices. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Stir in sausage, bread cubes, pecans & cranberries. Add chicken broth & stir to combine. Set aside.
Turkey Breast
  1. Arrange turkey breast skin side down on a work surface so that it lies open & flat. Cover with plastic wrap, then pound lightly with a meat mallet to flatten & make an even thickness all over. Discard plastic wrap & season turkey with smoked paprika.
Herb Butter
  1. In a small dish, combine all herb butter ingredients & set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F.
Assembly
  1. Spread stuffing over turkey breast, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the edge. Close up snugly, tucking in the stuffing as you go, then tie with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals around the entire turkey breast. Rub turkey all over with herb butter & arrange in a roasting pan.
  2. Roast uncovered, basting occasionally, for 2 1/2 hours or until cooked thru. Cover with foil if top browns too quickly. Transfer turkey to a craving board, tent with foil & set aside for 10-15 minutes. Remove & discard twine, slice turkey & serve.

Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage is a humble food and probably originated , as most comfort food has, from leftovers. Common place in Russian, German, Irish, Hungarian and Slovakian cooking, cabbage is an ingredient that is filling and inexpensive.

Readily available, this cold season crop is the under-appreciated cousin of brussel sprouts. There’s nothing particularly mysterious, alluring or exotic about it. Cabbage’s distinctive odor might have something to do with its unpopularity. When cooked, it has a pungent and pervasive, slightly sour, sulfur-y smell.

All that aside, cabbage becomes buttery soft when cooked. This allows its wide and sturdy leaves to be used as wraps for soft fillings. Any type of ground meat can be used, seasoned with garlic, onions and spices. Additional ingredients may include rice, breadcrumbs, barley, eggs, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, dried or fresh mushrooms, etc. The ‘sauce’ for baking stuffed cabbage, varies widely by cuisine.

These cabbage rolls are the full meal deal’, all rolled up in one …. corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes and cheese. Yum!

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Corned Beef & Potato Cabbage Rolls
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Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
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Cabbage
Filling
Sauce for Baking Cabbage Rolls
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Instructions
Cabbage
  1. Place about 1-inch of water in a large kettle. Using a sharp knife, Cut the thick stem out of the bottom of the cabbage head leaving all of the leaves intact. Place the cabbage head into the pot of water. Cover the pot & bring the water to a boil. Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes. Once the cabbage is steamed, remove it from the pot & place it on a plate to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking dish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine 'pulled' (cooked) corned beef, mashed potatoes, egg, mustard, parsley, salt & pepper. Mix well & set aside.
  2. Gently remove 15 (there will be a few extra in case of any that tear) cooled outer leaves from the cabbage head. Set them aside. Chop a cup of the remaining cabbage & add it to the filling mixture. Mix well.
  3. Lay a one cabbage leaf on a cutting board, with the stem facing towards you. Cut out the tough bottom section of the vein in the leaf, creating a V-notch. Place roughly 1/4 cup of the filling at the center of the leaf (around the tip of the notch). Roll the bottom (cut side) of the leaf up over the filling. Fold the two sides in. Continue rolling away from you to wrap the filling tightly in the remaining leaf.
  4. Place roll in baking dish. Continue with the remaining filling & leaves, creating two rows of 5 rolls each in baking dish.
Sauce
  1. In a small dish, whisk together beef broth & flour until no lumps remain. Pour over cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil & bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven & sprinkle top of the rolls with Swiss cheese. Cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes. Nice to serve with some RYE BREAD STICKS.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer not to cook your own corned beef, just purchase a thick piece of 'deli' corned beef, using forks you can easily 'pull' the meat apart that's needed in this recipe.

Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Turkey & Rice

Squash is one of those quintessential autumn foods that we have come to recognize. Even though it is considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all summer squashes including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. The main difference between the classifications is that summer squashes have soft skins and tender seeds and are fairly perishable, while the winter types have hard shells, fully formed seeds and are very suited to long storage.

For all their many splendored shapes and colors, squash is not something most of us crave, although they are an integral part of the cuisine in scattered points of the globe, such as South and Central America, the West Indies, India and Japan.

The acorn squash is similar in flavor to the butternut squash yet has a bit of a nutty taste to it as well. Resembling its name in shape, the acorn squash usually weigh between 1-2 pounds and generally grow between four and seven inches long.

Roasting them partially before stuffing makes the squash a lot more tender and easier to eat. I am always aware of the concept of ‘seasonal eating’. I was born in September, so I figure its totally natural to love fall food (& colors) such as squash, pumpkin, apples and cranberries.

The large cavity of acorn squash just begs to be filled. In this recipe, seasoned ground turkey and smoked Gouda cheese join forces in the savory stuffing. One squash the size of a grapefruit or a little larger is usually enough for two people.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash w/ Turkey & Rice
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray the fleshy part of the seeded, acorn squash & place halves on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until flesh is slightly tender. Cook rice & grate cheese, set aside
  2. In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil. Sauté garlic & shallots for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cumin & thyme & sauté another 3 minutes. Remove veggies from pan & set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining Tbsp of oil to skillet & brown the ground turkey for about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain if necessary & add to mixing bowl along with cooked rice. Stir to combine well.
  4. Using a spoon, take equal portions of the filling & place into the cavity of each acorn squash half. Place the baking tray back into the 400 F oven & bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Top each acorn squash half with sprinkles of the shredded cheese. Place back in the oven & bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with sliced green onion.
Recipe Notes
  • To make it easier, microwave the acorn squash for a few minutes, just to soften a bit before attempting to slice in half.

Mushroom Meatball Wellington

Meatballs don’t have to be boring. Tender, juicy meatballs, wrapped in puff pastry and served with a zesty sauce makes an easy, inexpensive version of the classic beef wellington.

Economical and versatile, cooking with ground meat opens up plenty of avenues for experimenting. Beyond reliable beef, almost all meats can be ground, but each kind of meat should be treated differently to fully enjoy the benefits.

Consider the fat content of ground meat before you buy. Some fat content is desirable as it adds flavor and helps to keep meat moist during cooking. Choose different types of ground meat for specific dishes. For example …. fatty beef makes juicier burgers but leaner ground turkey or chicken works better served as smaller meatballs or in a sauce. Ground pork makes for a cheaper burger than beef, plus it is unlikely to dry out. Flavor pork with spices like mace, or herbs like sage, thyme and fennel seeds and of course always ensure its cooked through. Ground meat is one of those things that generally ‘you get what you pay for’.

These meatballs make a tasty meal that can be ‘dressed up or down’, depending on what it is served with.

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Meatball Wellington
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Saute mushrooms, onion & garlic until onions & garlic are soft & most of the moisture has been released from the mushrooms, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine cooled veg mixture, pork, breadcrumbs & seasonings; mix all ingredients until incorporated. Shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs.
  4. Cut thawed puff pastry into thin strips. Wrap each meatball with a few strips of the pastry & place on the baking sheet. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden & meat is cooked through. Remove from oven & place on serving platter. These are nice to serve with steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

Slow cooked meat is definitely not a new thing. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it falls apart, ready to be easily shredded or ‘pulled’ apart to serve.

I’m sure most of us have attended a classic Hawaiian Luau at one time or another in our lives. The main course of this Hawaiian feast is always the ‘kalua’ roast pork. Kalua is a traditional Hawaiian cooking method that utilizes an ‘Imu’, a type of underground steam oven.

My experience, was that it was definitely pull-apart tender but far too greasy for my liking. It has taken a lot of years for me to want to make even a North American version of this pulled pork idea. To my surprise, it didn’t turn out greasy and was pretty tasty.

The idea that it has to be roasted in an outdoor pit is really not true. It can be made easily in a standard domestic oven. Of course the seasonings, temperatures and serving methods are all open to debate.

Pork shoulder is ideal for pulling purposes, either bone-in or boneless. It has an optimum fat content that yields to create tender, ‘melty‘ meat, but its essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Using a dry rub will also help create tenderness and flavor.

There are numerous ways you can serve pulled pork such as on some fresh brioche buns, with cornbread or in tacos. We are going to have ours in corn tortillas with some kohlrabi coleslaw and roasted rhubarb sauce.

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Pulled Pork w/ Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
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Instructions
Pork Shoulder
  1. Drizzle pork with 2 Tbsp of oil; sprinkle with spices & orange zest & rub into meat. Place in a plastic zip-lock bag & refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  2. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place meat in a roasting pan & bake until thickest part registers 170 F. on a meat thermometer. Basically, roast until it's falling apart. Remove roast from oven & transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks & 'pull' the meat to form shreds. Keep warm until ready to assemble tortillas.
Roasted Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Prepare sauce on the day you START to marinate meat.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & spray generously with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place chopped rhubarb & garlic cloves on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until rhubarb is soft.
  4. Transfer the rhubarb & garlic to a food processor or blender. Puree with one cup of water until smooth.
  5. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients & mix well. Add additional water, as needed, until sauce is desired consistency.
  6. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool before pouring into a small glass pitcher. Refrigerate any leftovers when meal is finished.
Kohlrabi Coleslaw
  1. Prepare dressing in a screw-top jar; combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt & pepper. Cover & shake well. In a bowl, combine kohlrabi & carrots; drizzle with dressing.
Assembly
  1. During the roasting time of the meat, prepare kohlrabi coleslaw. When everything is ready, lay out warm tortillas, top with coleslaw & pulled pork shreds. Drizzle with prepared rhubarb sauce. Fold or roll tortilla & enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • Instead of drizzling the rhubarb sauce, you can put your shredded pork in a bowl with some rhubarb sauce & combine. I find that distributes the sauce more evenly ... just a personal preference.

Beef w/Porcini Risotto en Croute

Italy, often regarded as the home country of pasta, still has a deep love for another popular dish called risotto. Risotto like pasta can be dressed with an endless variety of ingredients.

Mushroom risotto is a delicious variation on this classic dish. The beauty of mushroom risotto is in its earthiness of the mushrooms you choose. Italians make mushroom risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms when they are in season in spring and fall. If you are unable to find some at an Italian store, dried porcini mushrooms make an excellent substitute in this recipe.

The key to preparing items en croute is that however long it takes to cook the pastry until its golden brown, is how long the item will spend in the oven.

Normally, Beef En Croute can be an expensive proposition. By using a well seasoned ground beef instead of ‘Beef Tenderloin‘, it can be transformed into a more economical meal but still have a degree of richness & elegance to it.

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Beef w/ Porcini Risotto en Croute
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Risotto
Porcini Mushrooms
Pastry
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Risotto
Porcini Mushrooms
Pastry
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. Dice onion & garlic finely. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan & cook until tender soft. Add risotto mix along with hot chicken broth. The rice should be soft cooked in about 20 minutes. Stir in Parmesan & 1 1/2 tsp butter. Your mixture should not be loose or dry. Set aside to cool.
Beef
  1. In a saucepan, saute ground beef along with diced onions, garlic & spices. Cook ONLY until beef is no longer pink. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Mushrooms
  1. Brush mushrooms with a clean damp cloth & slice. Heat oil in saucepan & saute mushrooms with thyme to release some of their moisture. Remove from heat & set aside to cool.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Brush one of the puff pastry sheets with egg white. Down the center of the pastry sheet, spread the risotto & top with half of the mushrooms. Next, top with the spiced beef & remaining mushrooms.
  3. Lay the second sheet of pastry on top & either braid the edges or press pastry together with a fork. Beat together egg yolk & remaining white plus a bit of water. Brush pastry evenly with beaten egg. Bake until golden about 20 - 25 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • When using dried mushrooms for this or any dish, soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes, strain the liquid, & add it to your dish or save for another day. In this preparation, add it to the broth.

Hamburger & Caramelized Onion Pizza

Pizza is one of those foods that works for just about everyone. From meat eaters to vegetarians, kids, adults and everyone in between. Year-round, its the perfect entree for family or party events.

Brion & I always enjoy pizza, preferably homemade. Usually my go-to toppings would be veggies, chicken or seafood, but nothing says it can’t be ground meat.

One of the things that seemed to improve on the flavor of this pizza was the caramelized onions. It takes only a few extra minutes but is worth it. For the sauce, I tried a blend of prepared lite Alfredo & marinara and then used a combo of cheeses instead of just one. Its always interesting to me what develops when you ‘step out of the box’.

Of course, if you have time to make a full fledged pizza crust it will take it all to the next level. But, I never hesitate, when I’m too busy, to use a purchased, refrigerated pizza crust. Pizza is just good, so do what works for you!

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Hamburger & Caramelized Onion Pizza
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Instructions
Pizza Crust
  1. For my PIZZA CRUST RECIPE, you can find it in either JULY or AUGUST 2019 blog entries on this site. It is a yeast dough so it will take a bit of time to prepare (but worth it).
Pizza Toppings
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter & add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes or until onion is browned & caramelized. Remove onion mixture from skillet; set aside.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp butter to skillet & saute mushrooms until tender & moisture has evaporated. Remove from skillet; add to onion mixture. Place ground beef & garlic in skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until browned. Drain off fat. Stir in caramelized onions, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper.
Assembly
  1. Spread Alfredo/marinara sauce blend over either homemade or purchased PIZZA CRUST. Sprinkle with a small portion of your cheese blend. Top with ground beef mixture, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced green olives & remaining grated cheese. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crust is nicely golden brown.
Recipe Notes
  • To grill pizza, heat one side of gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white. Place coals to one side in charcoal grill. Place pizza onto grill opposite coals. Close lid; grill, rotating once 12-15 minutes or until heated through & cheese is melted.

Bacon Wrapped, Cauliflower Stuffed Meatballs

It seems the cauliflower craze has managed to last longer than just about any other that’s come before it. A total superstar when it comes to all the popular diets currently on everyone’s radar, including keto, paleo & whole 30. All signs point to cauliflower becoming the longest lasting food trend of all time.

Cauliflower ….. a naturally gluten-free food that just requires heavy seasoning, is healthy, versatile and ‘tasteless’. Its an entirely blank canvas for all your cooking needs because you can make it taste like ‘anything’ you want.

Last summer, Brion & I stopped for lunch at a popular take-out restaurant. He decided to try their much advertised ‘plant-based burger’. He was not impressed. Let’s say … it was not as advertised!!

In a previous blog, a while back, I had made cauliflower pizza crust and we had really enjoyed it. So today I am making meatballs stuffed with cauliflower in a cauliflower cheese sauce. I guess, this is my version of a ‘plant-based meatball’. Hopefully that works out better.

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Bacon Wrapped, Cauliflower Stuffed Meatballs
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a large pot, cook head of cauliflower in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove the stem & cut off florets. Set STEM aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, with eggs, onion, garlic, mustard & spices. Mix well. Divide meat mixture into 7 equal amounts & flatten each piece in your hand (one at a time). Place a cauliflower floret in the middle of each, then seal the meat around it forming a meatball.
  3. Wrap a slice of bacon around each cauliflower meatball. In a saucepan, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat & cook the meatballs on all sides.
Cheese Sauce
  1. Chop the reserved cauliflower stem. Shred cheese & place in a food processor with milk, seasonings & chopped cauliflower stem. Puree mixture until smooth.
  2. Pour the cauliflower cheese sauce over the meatballs in the pan & allow to simmer about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted & smooth. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Braided Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Stuffing

EASTER GREETINGS!

Easter is synonymous with spring, it represents a time of renewal. The winter months are now in our rear view mirrors and we can look forward to those wonderful summer days. Fresh new buds are on the trees, just waiting to burst out as the season unfolds. Everything speaks of new life and fresh hope. Spring is so unique (even if we still have snow on the ground in our part of the country).

Though ham is traditional in many homes, there are just as many people who would prefer something different for dinner on Easter Sunday. Holiday cooking is all about making a meal that feels more special than what you would cook on a regular basis.

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats due to its tenderness and versatility. This meal started out with an idea to stuff a tenderloin and developed into so much more. I must say, I was even more pleased with the final results when we both enjoyed it.

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Braided Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Stuffing
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
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Tenderloin Rub
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Tenderloin Rub
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Instructions
Pineapple Stuffing
  1. Drain pineapple; reserving 1/3 cup juice. In a large saucepan, melt margarine. Add walnuts, celery & sage; cook stirring until celery is tender-crisp. Stir in green onions, pineapple & reserved juice. Remove from heat; toss in cornbread stuffing mix & set aside.
Tenderloin
  1. Using a sharp knife starting 3-inches from end, slice tenderloin lengthwise twice; making 3 equal strips. Carefully take the knife & cut pockets lengthwise every 3-inches in the center of each of the tenderloin strips. Spread the combined rub ingredients over meat & allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before continuing with preparation.
  2. When meat is marinated, stuff each pocket with pineapple stuffing. Place a strip of bacon along each tenderloin strip. Braid the stuffed tenderloin/bacon by crossing the right section over the middle section then the left section over the new middle section. Continue until you run out of tenderloin.
  3. Insert a wooden or metal skewer into the end of braided tenderloin to keep it together. Tuck in the remaining stuffing mixture in the folds of the braid.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 F. Remove from oven & loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Serve with pineapple salsa.
Pineapple Salsa
  1. In a large skillet, combine pineapple, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, red onion, cumin, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook over medium-high heat until thickened, 7-10 minutes. If there is still a lot of liquid left, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pineapple to a bowl & continue to cook the liquid over high heat for 5 minutes more, then pour the liquid over the pineapple. Mix in the onions & cilantro. Season with salt to taste.

Wiener Schnitzel

Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father on his birth date. Being of German decent, my dad always enjoyed having meals he recalled from his childhood. My mother excelled at cooking, so I can only imagine that she got the ‘taste of his memory’ perfect. A meal that dad enjoyed but was not one that came up very often at our house, was ‘wiener schnitzel’.

‘Wiener schnitzel’ is actually a geographically protected term in Germany and Austria and can only be made with veal. In researching this subject, I came across at least eleven more versions of schnitzel which still followed the preparation techniques of the original wiener schnitzel. In addition to different types of meat used, a schnitzel can be served with a topping or a filling.

As usual, I’m doing an oven-fried version instead of pan frying in oil or butter. It would be so nice if Brion and I could be sharing this meal with my Mom & Dad today.

Time slips by and life goes on,

But from our hearts your never gone,

We think about you always, we talk about you too,

WE HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES BUT WE WISH WE STILL HAD YOU.

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Wiener Schnitzel
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Course Main Dish
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly oil a wire rack & place over a baking sheet.
  2. Place each cutlet between two pieces of plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet until about 1/4-inch thick.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper & milk. Place the flour in a plastic bag & buttered bread crumbs on a plate.
  4. Place one cutlet at a time in the bag with flour; shake to coat. Then dip in egg mixture; covering each. Finally, dip in buttered bread crumbs, coating each side well. Place breaded cutlets onto the prepared rack.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes; flip & bake for another 5 minutes. Check to be sure they are cooked. Serve with lemon slices & your choice of veggies.
Recipe Notes
  • Boneless pork chops can be substituted for veal & taste excellent.