Bavarian Pork With Sauerkraut

I grew up in a home and with an ethnicity that relied heavily on sauerkraut for cooking. I even remember my dad drinking the juice directly from the jar, saying it was good for your health. Blech! Even though I did like sauerkraut as a kid, I really learned to love it as I got older. And luckily, I married a guy who loves it, too. Even if he is from the South. However, neither one of us will drink the juice. But I will cook with it.

I found this little gem of a recipe so long ago I can’t even remember where it came from. The original recipe calls for baking it in the oven, but I prefer cooking it in the crock pot, with a thin layer of the sauerkraut over the pork chops. I apologize in advance to my vegetarian and vegan friends. Having included that disclaimer, here ya go:

1# pork cops 1/4-1/2″ thick

salt and pepper to taste

2 C drained sauerkraut (Feel free to drink the juice and toast to my father’s memory).

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large apple, sliced thin

2 tsp brown sugar

2 TBSP chopped parsley

1 tsp allspice

Brown pork chops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.  Toss the sauerkraut with the chopped onion, 1/2 of the apple slices, parsley,and  brown sugar. Place in a baking dish (or bottom of crock pot). Lay the pork chops on top with the remaining apple slices. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour, or cook on low for 8 hours in the crock pot.

This dish really hits the spot on a cold winter’s night. And my ancestor’s would be proud!

Ballet Bourbon Balls

Just in case you need a snappy new recipe for your New Year festivities, I have a treat for you! This bourbon ball recipe is from one of my ballet teachers from years ago and is a twist on the traditional rum balls.

Every holiday season, my teacher would come to the ballet studio armed with paper plates of Christmas cookies. Her baking skills were surpassed only by her phenomenal dancing and teaching abilities. No matter how hard we tried to resist the temptation of these tasty treats that were certain to wreak havoc on our ballet bodies, the minute she pulled the cellophane off of the plates and the smell wafted across the dance floor, we all folded like a deck of cards.

Her Bourbon Balls were my personal favorites, and after relentlessly pestering her for the recipe she finally capitulated. However, she did swear me to secrecy, and as far as I know she has never shared this recipe with anyone else. And now I share it with you. But please don’t tell her. It will be our little secret.

Nothing about this recipe is healthy, but it sure is tasty and will be a big hit at any party. Just make sure you enforce a 3 ball limit on your guests. These little treats pack a punch!

2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup finely chopped walnuts, or you can use a combination of walnuts and coconut

3 TBSP corn syrup

2 TBSP cocoa

1/3 cup Bourbon (use the good stuff–Wild Turkey 101 Proof is highly recommended)

Additional confectioner’s sugar

Thoroughly mix together wafer crumbs, sugar, cocoa, and nuts. Add corn syrup and mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls, then roll each one in the confectioner’s sugar. Refrigerate overnight in a single layer on a waxed paper lined sheet. Roll each ball once more before baking. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven on a lightly greased cookie sheet for about 15-20 minutes until done. Enjoy!

Baked Lasagna With Red Wine

Welcome back to Cheryl’s kitchen, where the food is always good and the kitchen is always a mess. Since this is the first recipe I’m sharing with you, I wanted it to be special. This is a recipe that my mom found in our local newspaper over 35 years ago. Since there were a lot of Italian families in our area, I knew it had to be good. I was right…for once!

Baked Lasagna

3 cloves chopped garlic

1# ground round steak

1 28 oz can tomato puree

1 6 oz can tomato paste and 1 can water

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

¼ cup red wine, plus one full glass for the cook

2 tsp salt

½ cup fresh Romano cheese

1# ricotta cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese

1# box oven ready lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13x9x2 baking pan or spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Brown the meat with the garlic in a large pot. Combine the onion and tomato puree in a blender and blend until smooth. Add to the meat mixture along with the tomato paste, water, oregano, basil salt, and wine. (You might want to refresh the cook’s glass while you’re at it). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Cover the bottom of the pan with 1/3 of the meat sauce. Grate Romano cheese evenly over it. (Ahhh, who am I kidding? I use the pre-grated stuff  from the deli, but please don’t tell anyone. It’s one of my ninja secrets). Place a layer of noodles over it the meat and Romano. Spread ½ of the ricotta over noodles. Grate 4 oz of mozzarella over the ricotta. (If you really feel the need to grate your own mozzarella, go right ahead. I prefer taking advantage of the modern conveniences of cutting corners and buy a package of grated cheese. No, it’s not cheating. Besides, in my martial arts training we had a saying that if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. I believe the same applies to cooking). Repeat, ending with meat sauce and Romano.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour at 350. This gives you enough time to kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy one more glass of wine, just in case it is calling your name. When it’s done, remove the foil and let it stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy, because you certainly deserve it!

Introducing Cheryl’s Kitchen

I can’t believe that I have had a blog for almost 8 years and I have NEVER added a recipe or two. What’s up with that? I do love to cook, as long as I have the time. Otherwise I am running around my kitchen like a lunatic, totally frazzled with the age old question repeating itself in my head. Which is, “What’s for dinner?”

The reality that dinner was all on me hit me after I graduated college and moved to Denver when I realized that if I wanted to eat, I had to cook. I’ll never forget the first dinner I cooked for myself. Frozen fish sticks, frozen veggies, and pre-packaged rolls. I thought that was cooking. And I wondered why I was getting fat.

I am a totally self-taught cook, and I learned mostly through trial and error. And there was a whole lot of error along the way.Most mothers teach their daughters how to cook. At least they did during the era that I grew up. But, since my mom had 3 little girls in 4 years, things were a little different in our house. My oldest sister was responsible for helping my dad with the yard work and heavy lifting. My next sister got to do the fun stuff like helping my mom with the cooking, baking, and ironing.

And then there was me. I got to clean the kitchen and the bathroom. By myself. Lucky me. So, where my sisters at least got some parental interaction, I was left alone with my thoughts and a can of cleanser. I guess that’s where my fertile imagination came from.

I bought my first cookbook 40 years ago, and I still have it. Although, when I use it I modify the recipes so much that even the author wouldn’t recognize them. After all, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition as well as cutting corners over the years. I’ve also learned how to lighten the calorie count while maximizing flavor and nutritional value. But please don’t let that scare you. Not all of them are light and healthy, but I assure you that they all are tasty.

I hope you love my kitchen as much as I do. Welcome to Cheryl’s Kitchen!