By Paula Dream (AKA Kale Haygood)
My goodness, STAR readers! Will 2017 be known as the year of disasters?
On that subject, has anyone remodeled a kitchen recently? My advice is, number one, make sure you have a full prescription of Valium. Number two, get Valium to deal with Home Depot employees (also known as warm bodies). Number 3, you must have a huge bank account or a large line of credit. Number four, fill out an application to extend your line of credit for cost overruns.
I had to pawn my orthopedic shoes and rhinestone c*ckring to clean up the mess.
But we have some great recipes this issue. Cupcakes are wonderful for a grab-and-go breakfast or snack, pork chops are out of this world, and don’t turn up your nose at the Eggplant & Shrimp Skillet ’til you try it!
Finally, now more than ever, Paula asks that you please support MONTROSE STAR advertisers, many of whom are still suffering financially from downturn in business, as well as ongoing repairs. (Thanks, Harvey!)
PUMPKIN CARAMEL CUPCAKES
1 package (16.5 ounces) yellow cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
4 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 carton (16 ounces) caramel apple dip
Chocolate frosting and decorating icing (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine the first eight ingredients, beating on low speed for 30 seconds, then beating on medium speed for two minutes. Fill prepared cups three-fourths full. Bake 18 to 22 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (AKA, the “toothpick test”). Cool in pans 10 minutes to cool completely before removing to wire rack or dish towel spread on counter. Frost cupcakes with caramel apple dip. Decorate with frosting and decorating icing if you choose. Great for breakfast or a dessert snack.
APPLE CIDER PORK CHOPS
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 boneless pork loin chops (6 to 8 oz. about ¾-inch thick)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon course-ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Fresh parsley, minced
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown chops on both sides in skillet. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine garlic, mustard, honey, apple pie spice, pepper, thyme, and salt, then stir in apple cider. Pour into skillet over pork chops. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook covered until a thermometer inserted into the chops reads 145 degrees, or for about four to five minutes. Remove pork chops from skillet. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cider mixture in skillet. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened, for one to two minutes. Pour over chops. Sprinkle with parsley.
CAJUN EGGPLANT & SHRIMP SKILLET
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery ribs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces uncooked shell-on shrimp (31-40 count), peeled and deveined
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1-1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Place eggplant in large saucepan, add water to cover and then bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer covered until tender, for three to four minutes. Drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and green pepper, sautéing until tender, for about five minutes. Reduce heat to medium, then stir in tomatoes and eggplant and sauté for five minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes and
pepper. Add shrimp and breadcrumbs, and sauté five minutes longer, stirring well. Bake 30 minutes, then remove skillet from oven and top with cheese. Bake five minutes more.
BONUS TIP: I love cooking stuffed bell peppers, but sometimes the peppers do not exactly want to cooperate and stand upright for cooking. Solution: Cook peppers in Bundt pan immersed in the larger boiler pot. No worries!
Paula Dream, AKA Kale Haygood, owns Beyond Service, a Montrose-based home-cooking catering company. For more information, call 713-805-4106 or email email@example.com.