Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Lemony Green Beans

Sometimes I set my expectations too high and I am disappointed.  Other times I don’t really expect much and I end up being blown away by the end result.

Whether it’s food or people, I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in life.

And on Friday night, I was blown away by a dinner that I wasn’t sure would be anything special.

Pork chops.  They can be boring.

And mashed sweet potatoes – been there, done that.

I don’t think I even have to explain why green beans could be seen as dull.

But boring and dull are not how I would describe Moroccan-Spiced Pork Chops with mashed sweet potatoes and lemony green beans.

In fact, this dinner was worthy of a glass of wine.

morrocan pork chops

To ensure that the whole dinner is ready at the same time, get started on your potatoes first.  I cut up the potatoes (the last of our sweet potato stash) and placed in a pot of cold water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender.  While the potatoes were cooking, I made the red pepper sauce that was incredible and should totally be in the title of the dish.  The red pepper sauce is a mix of roasted red peppers, almonds (for a lovely texture and nuttiness), garlic, coriander and cumin whirled together with a little bit of EVOO to bring together the sauce.  Once the sauce was prepared, I seasoned the pork chops with all the spices that were going to be in the potatoes (this is an extra flavor addition that isn’t in the original recipe):  coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper.  The pork chops are seared until cooked through.  Once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain and mash them along with coconut milk (I had an already-opened-can that was begging to be used) and all the above spices.  The green beans are simply steamed and then tossed with a pat of butter and the juice of half a lemon before being sprinkled with salt and pepper.

This wine-worthy dinner comes together in about 40 minutes and is truly special.  So many flavors from the Moroccan-inspired spices.

For our wine, we poured a 2012 Meredith Estate Pinot Noir.  

merry edwards

The aroma had hints of berries and wildflowers while the wine was incredibly smooth on the tongue.  Despite being a Pinot Noir it was rich and full without being heavy.  An incredible wine that I highly suggest sipping.

 

Friday Favorites

Well that was an interesting (and cold) week.  I’m so happy to be back to my regular schedule today.  As much as I love catching a few extra zzzzz’s, I do love my 5 am workouts and the tone they set for my day.  Our original weekend plans fell through because of the weather but we’re going to make use of a “free” Saturday to do a little searching for wallpaper and furniture.  #welcometoyour30s

Favorite Colorful:  Winter Chopped Salad.  There are officially 28 days left of winter.  And this bright salad could possibly take away my winter blues.

Favorite Bite:  Mini Lasagna Cups.  How stinkin’ cute are these little two-bite appetizers?  Cheesy, saucy, crunchy, and handheld.

Favorite Truth: 

Favorite Obsession:  Thibaut Wallpaper.  How am I ever going to choose one?

Favorite Take-Out Fake-Out:  Spicy Sesame Basil Noodles.  Noodles are having a moment in my life right now.  And can we walk about all.the.flavors in this dish?

Favorite Inspiration:  {link to photo}

Favorite Sunday Dinner:  Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder on Flatbreads with Minty Yogurt Sauce.

Favorite Sip:  Blood Orange Gin and Tonic.  Last weekend Big Guy squeeze some blood orange juice for a mimosa bar.  The color was stunning and now I want to mix it up with a little gin.

Stay warm out there!

Friday Favorites

Happy {almost} Valentine’s Day!  We don’t have any crazy plans for this weekend as we keep our Valentine’s Day celebration pretty simple and low-key.  But as usual, I’m very glad to see Friday has arrived.  I hope that you all have a weekend full of love and laughter!

Favorite Stuffed:  Thai Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Red Curry Peanut Sauce.  How beautiful are these purple sweet potatoes?  I’m thinking that’s what we need to plant this year.  And the peanut sauce sounds incredible.

Favorite Project:  Preserved Meyer Lemons.  This will require patience, seeing as though it takes 30 days to enjoy, but I’m intrigued.  And I already know what recipe I’d use them in.

Favorite Twist:  Messy but put-together.  If only I was talented enough to make this happen.

Favorite Drool:  Coconut Oil Brownies. These might just be little bites of Heaven.  And after thinking about brownies for more than a month, they’re happening this weekend.  My favorite brownie is fudgy and rich.  No cake-like brownies for me.

Favorite Meatless Monday:  Panko Baked Avocado Tacos.   Creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside.  Yes.  Just yes.

Favorite Adorable:  Valentine’s Day Pepperoni Pizza.  Let’s be honest, food is way more romantic than flowers.

Favorite Flavors:  Coconut-Curry Mussels.  We’ve never cooked with mussels in our kitchen but something about this recipe makes me want to change that.  That broth is just begging for a hunk of crispy bread.

  Favorite Upgrade:  After seeing this, our front door seems so boring.

Favorite Brunch:  Mini Cream Cheese and Green Onions Biscuits with Spicy Sausage Gravy.  I love all things tiny and I think a Bloody Mary would complete this meal for Sunday Brunch.

Favorite Bubbly:  Blueberry Bellini.  Berry beautiful and berry delicious.

Cheers!

{Virtual} Coffee Chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you tell you about our cheese plate last weekend.  I’m still thinking about the cheese plate.  The manchego was my favorite and I adored the Spicy Fennel, Orange and Garlic Marinated Olives that we made to go along with the cheese.  p.s. The olives only get better the longer they sit.  Need help putting together a cheese plate?  Take notes from Jessica.

If we were having coffee this morningI would tell you about the bottle of wine that we enjoyed with the above cheese plate.  We shipped this bottle home from Sonoma and the wine was so much better than I remember.  Perhaps it’s because after a week of red wine it all starts to run together.  But I’m not complaining.  The bottle was from Papapietro Perry, one of the first vineyards we visited on our trip.

Papapietro Perry Winery specializes in small lots of handcrafted, single-vineyard designate Pinot Noir and Zinfandel produced from the finest grapes the Russian River, Anderson and Dry Creek Valleys have to offer.  In addition, we are now producing a limited amount of Chardonnay.

Along with our continuing passion for Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, our mission is to assist you in enjoying one of life’s pleasures—the union of good food, good wine and good friends.

This particular bottle is a 2012 Pinot Noir from Peters Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.  This beautiful wine is juicy with notes of cherry and spice and paired perfectly with the smorgasbord of food.  We actually brought home two bottles of this particular wine and we are going to age the other bottle.  This bottle will age well until 2022.

 

pinot noir

 

If we were having coffee this morning…I will tell you that I plan on featuring more about the wine that we enjoy.  Trust me – it won’t be a daily thing, probably not even weekly.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would suggest you visit Ilios Noche if you’re ever in Charlotte and in need of a lunch or dinner spot.  I took my sister and my brother’s girlfriend to lunch on Saturday and we all loved our meal.  To start, we all ordered a drink.  A Pinot Noir (from the Russian River Valley!) for Maggie, a glass of Reisling for Jamie J and a Late Summer cocktail for me.

LATE SUMMER (smooth, fresh vanilla and juniper notes, full body) Bombay Sapphire, fresh cucumber, St. Germain elderflower,cucumber bitters

Oh, and we shared an order of the Baked Goat Cheese with Herbs.  It was served with the most delicious buttered bread ever. And for lunch, I ordered the Fennel and Grape Salad with Salmon.  Maggie ordered the Fig Pizza and it was ahhh-mazing.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about the delicious Brussels Sprouts Gratin that we had last Saturday.  These were served alongside a juicy steak (wrapped in bacon!) and roasted potatoes.

brussels gratin

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how much I miss my family and how happy my heart was last weekend for all of us to be reunited for Deacon’s baptism.  (my sister-in-law is not pictured but it’s not because I don’t love her.)  Any one that knows me knows how much I adore my family.  It makes me want to live closer.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would point out my annoying hair.  I have a few pieces of hair that can’t seem to decide which side of the part they want to be on and so they just stick out straight.  Not a good look.  I feel like the awkward Emily that I was in middle school.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would remind you that God’s got it.  Whatever it is for you, He’s got it under control.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that one of my tricks to getting through a cold winter is BRIGHT nails.  I am currently rocking “Dutch Tulips” from OPI on both my fingers and my toes and it just makes me smile.  Oh, and a stack of bangles never hurt either.

dutch tulips

 

Friday Favorites.

This past week snapped me back into reality fast and I think I’ve finally “recovered” from our trip to Sonoma.  After a long and busy week, I’m looking forward to opening a bottle of wine and relaxing this evening before a busy, busy Saturday and Sunday.  I’m sending warm thoughts to you all (and an early Spring!).

Favorite Belly Laugh:  Sushi Sandwiches.   We watched this YouTube video about 73 times in Sonoma.  And I still laugh every.single.time.

Favorite Glazed:  Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts.  The other night we were watching Best. Ever. on the Food Network and it was all about Best. Breakfast. Ever.  Some time during the episode Big Guy revealed that he has never had a sour cream doughnut.  Gasp.  Now if he’s telling the truth I need to show him the light.  The light to my most favorite doughnut.  Perhaps I need to recreate this soon so that he doesn’t shock anyone else with this confession.

Favorite Healthy:  Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad.  Between the roasted carrots, the cilantro vinaigrette and the creamy avocado this plate is simply gorgeous.  I love the contrast of cooked carrots and fresh avocado.  Texture heaven.

Favorite Inspiration:  You guys, I can’t stop thinking about updating our living room.  (Stop rolling your eyes, Big Guy.)  I’m just ready for something new.  And blues are on my mind.

Favorite Refreshing:  Coconut Clementine Green Smoothie.  There is a half-empty can of coconut milk in my fridge that is begging to be added to my smoothie mix.

Favorite Sweet ‘n Spicy:  Thai Pineapple Fried Rice.  I forget how much I love rice bowls until I have one.  And then I want another one.  I think Big Guy agrees with me on this.

Favorite Dip:  Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Dip.  I am totally on board with any dip that involves goat cheese.

Favorite Bite:  French Onion and Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms.  I don’t know how anyone could not like mushrooms.  But hey, whatever, more for me.

Favorite Space:  Oh look, here’s a blue and black living room.  Hint, hint.  Nudge, nudge.

Favorite Date Night:  The Montanara Pizza (Classic Fried Italian Pizza).  Pizza and a bottle of red wine from Sonoma sounds heavenly.

Favorite Sip:  Ginger Rosemary Zinger.  I’ve been eyeing the candied ginger in my pantry for quite some time and I knew I wanted to incorporate it into a cocktail.  This is the cocktail.

Cheers!

Crisp Cauliflower Fritters {and nacho goodness}

You have no idea how good it feels to be back in the kitchen.  In fact, that’s one of the things I miss most when I’m on vacation.

So on Sunday morning, I grabbed my green juice, textbooks cookbooks, a notepad and a pen and started menu planning for the week.  The menu came together quite easily and I have my craving for healthy food to thank.

But first let’s rewind to the glorious nachos that made my life complete on Sunday.  I’ve been craving nachos like WHOA and I knew that’s what we were going to have on Superbowl Sunday.  But we totally could not make up our minds as to what kind of nachos.  Big Guy was obsessing over the smoker so I finally gave in and the man had some one-on-one time with The Bandit while smoking ribs.  He smoked ‘em, bathed ‘em, grilled ‘em and sauced ‘em and finalllllllly we were able to make nachos.  In addition to the pork, the nachos included fontina queso, more cheese, salsa, Greek yogurt and jalapenos.  It’s what my nacho dreams are made of. And yes, I have nacho dreams.

I may or may not have also made a fun Superbowl drank for myself.  A ginger shandy that was a mix of 2 parts IPA, 1 part Ginger Beer and 1 part limeade.

I just couldn’t bring myself to drink wine with this mess of a platter and football.

Back to the Cauliflower Fritters…they seem so boring compared to the above.  But they’re not!

Despite the fact that I am not a lover of raw cauliflower I find it quite lovely when cooked.  And even more lovely with brightened by lemon zest.  These crispy vegetarian fritters are a combination of steamed, mashed cauliflower, chopped onion and shredded potatoes mixed with two eggs and and a little flour (I used rice-flour, but I think all-purpose would work best) to hold them together.  For flavor, garlic, lemon zest and cheddar cheese are added to the cauliflower mixture.  Once combined, form into fritters and lightly pan-“fry” until crisp and cooked through.

The fritters are served with a tangy sauce that combines Greek yogurt, a little mayo, lemon juice, green onions and a sprinkle of salt.  Do not serve the fritters without the sauce.  Trust me.

I know they aren’t near as pretty as the nachos but my body was actually craving this kind of meal made complete with a side salad.

feb dinner

And no, I didn’t stay up for the whole game.

I proudly made it until half-time.

 

 

 

Friday Favorites

After a cold, rainy, wet week I am more than ready for a little sunshine and salt air.

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Oh, and I’m always ready for the weekend.  But before we get our weekend started, here’s my favorites of the week….

Favorite Whoa:  Slow Cooker “Rotisserie” Chicken.  This would be such a lifesaver during the week.  Simply prep and cook on Sunday and I would have chicken for salads for the entire week.

 

Favorite Slice:  Marinated Kale and Whipped Ricotta Pizza.  Jessica understands my love of pizza.  Whether she realizes it or not.

 

Favorite Truth:  

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Favorite Drool:  Whole Roasted Onions.  I love onions.  Kind of like how I love garlic.  And these onions remind me of roasted garlic which is one of my favorite things in the world.  These and a steak.  Yes.

 

Favorite Cozy:  I am dying over all the winter neutrals I’m seeing lately.  Obsessed.

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Favorite Decadence:  Extra Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies.  I can’t even deal.

 

Favorite Indulge:  Crock-pot Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Ragu with Gnocchi.  How perfect would this be for a cold Sunday evening?  All you need to add is a glass of red wine.

 

Favorite Must-Have:  A coffee nook!  I really don’t like having a ton of appliances out on the counter top but I use my coffee maker every.single.day.  This is the perfect solution.

 

Favorite Combo:  Black + Blue.

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Favorite Tipsy:  Le Fizz Cocktail.  A simple, fizzy cocktail that would be a perfect part of any weekend plans.

Cheers!