Pork Chops with Spiced Apples

pork chops with spiced apples in skillet | jessicagavin.com #pork

This week marks the official beginning of fall, which means cooler temps, mini pumpkins everywhere and cozy comfort foods. I was really sad to see the dwindling of summer produce at the market yesterday, but they were replaced by marvelous apples! There are so many varieties to choose from like honeycrisp, jazz or the traditional green.

It really depends on how you decide to cook the apples, and since I wanted to use them for a sweet and savory topping for this pork recipe, Fuji apples were my pick. Incredibly sweet yet sturdy when cooked down and sauteed, Fuji apples are great at infusing flavors into it’s flesh and staying nice and tender once cooked. I was excited to transition from using the grill during the summer time to breaking out my trusty cast iron pan to create my hearty and delicious pork chops with spiced apples recipe…. 

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Arugula Walnut Pesto Pasta w/ Shrimp

delicious plate of arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp | jessicagavin.com

Do you ever reminisce about what made you fall in love with your soul mate? Deep question huh? For my husband Jason and I, our common love for Italian food was just the beginning of our romance, haha. My husband grew up around a big Italian family who would get together and prepare huge homemade suppers (think the Godfather), so he is accustomed to traditions and quality of family meals. Jason may not be the head chef in our kitchen (that’s my job), but he sure has his expectations and opinions when it comes to making Italian food just right, and isn’t shy to tell me!

My first test came when Jason’s mom gave me the most amazing kitchen gift, a pasta maker! She must have been putting me to the ultimate test, to see if I could properly feed her son! It’s a good thing that I got rolling because I got mama’s stamp of approval and Jason and I have been married for 3 years now (and together for 10)! The pasta machine has sure come in handy over the years. I usually like to make a traditional egg pasta dough, however I wanted to create a healthier whole wheat noodle to make an arugula walnut pesto pasta with shrimp recipe…. 

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Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon Fillet

cedar plank salmon recipe | jessicagavin.com

Salmon is one of my favorite seafood choices because it cooks in minutes and is packed with healthy nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also takes on any flavors you choose with very little effort. At our house, we still have our lean “salmon mondays” so I wanted to think of a new recipe to put into our weekly rotation. I was really happy when Jason spent a good part of the weekend upgrading our Weber grill with some much needed replacement parts. When he returned from Home Depot he surprised me with a fun new cooking tool to play with, cedar planks! I had never tried this cooking technique before so I was excited to try a grilled cedar plank salmon fillet recipe and add a blend of aromatic herbs and spices to make the fish even more tasty…. 

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Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Glaze

grilled pork chops with honey mustard glaze | jessicagavin.com

When you’re in the mood for a healthy and lean protein, chicken can get repetitive and a little, well, blah. That’s why I like to switch it up and grill pork chops, a tender yet hearty cut which infuses flavors quite easily and cooks within minutes! A savory dry rub added to season the meat just before cooking adds a quick hint of flavor and a super simple honey mustard glaze generously added at the end of cooking locks in the juices and makes the pork even more tastier. Grilled pork chops with honey mustard glaze will certainly be your new favorite recipe. So easy you can throw into your weekly dinner rotation!… 

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New York Strip Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Pouring Chimichurri Sauce over Steak | jessicagavin.com

In my opinion, nothing is better on the grill than a thick slice of juicy New York strip steak. The strip cut of meat has nice marbling with some chew from a tighter texture when compared to the tenderloin cut.  The strip also has a slight edge of fat on the sides which adds even more flavor to the meat. The New York strip cut has a pleasantly strong beefy flavor and pairs extremely well with freshly ground herbs, savory garlic, spices and some dried chili’s for a kick.

This New York strip steak with chimichurri sauce recipe gives you instant gratification, the sauce is blended and done within seconds and the steak is hot off the grill within minutes! The sheer size of this cut is intimidating, but so simple to prepare with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper before grilling. I made two strip steaks for my husband and I but we only really needed one to share, I should have invited Fred Flintstone over!

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Memphis-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs

mopping rack of spareribs | jessicagavin.com Every time I get a rib craving, I hear the Chili’s Restaurant theme song play in my head “I got my baby back, baby back ribs…”, haha. It took me a while to figure out what were my favorite type of ribs, the mammoth style beef ribs or succulent baby back spareribs (pork ribs). I was surprised to discover that St. Louis style pork spareribs are my ribs of choice after becoming addicted to them at our local Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Q restaurant.  I think what sold me was just the right meat to bone ratio and that awesome dry spice rub that adds extra flavor and punch with each bite!

I have a culinary confession to make, I’ve never cooked ribs before! I have been hesitant to make ribs at home for fear of over cooking them and also the intimidating uncertainty of which method to use. It’s easy to second guess yourself with so many cooking methods from boiling, smoking, roasting, barbequing and a combination of multiple methods. I’ve been building up my barbeque confidence this summer, so I choose to give St. Louis style pork spareribs a try. I decided to use the low and slow barbeque method then finishing the roasting in the oven. The result is the most flavorful and meaty home cooked Memphis-style barbecue pork ribs – you’ll never have to go out for over priced barbecued ribs again!… 

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Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip | jessicagavin.com

It’s barbecue season and instead of grilling the usual chicken, ribs or sausages, why not try one of the more under appreciated yet delicious cuts of meats, tri-tip! When Jason and I attended college at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo, we quickly learned that one of the culinary delights on the Central Coast of California was the famous beef tri-tip cut. Downtown San Luis Obispo has numerous restaurants that offer the seasoned hunks of meat on their menus, often thinly sliced and served on a soft french roll and drenched in BBQ sauce.

I particularly enjoyed to get my tri-tip sandwiches from Firestone Grill or during thursday night’s farmer’s market from restaurants grilling on their huge BBQ pits in the heart of downtown SLO. Since graduating and migrating South over 7 years ago, we haven’t had much opportunity to get some authentic Santa Maria style tri-tip in quite a while, with many BBQ restaurants falling short of the ones we had in San Luis Obispo, I decided to make some right at home…. 

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Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce | jessicagavin.com What barbecue sauce do you use? At our house the refrigerator is typically stocked with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. I typically like a thicker, sweet and tangy sauce, however I’ve been building up my hot spice tolerance (I hope that doesn’t make me go into labor!). Jason recently made some nice upgrades to our Weber barbecue grill just in time for the summer, so I’ve been grilling as much as a can.

I’ve always wanted to experiment with my own homemade barbecue sauce and I didn’t realize how easy it was! It’s really fun to play around with the balance of sweetness, acidity, thickness and spice levels. I created this sweet and spicy barbecue sauce so we can pour, slather and dip it on all of our grilled meats, drool…. 

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Super Tasty Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken

delicious tequila chicken marinade | jessicagavin.com

Very interesting things can happen when you’ve been drinking… some you remember, some you don’t. Well this drunk chicken infused in a margarita inspired marinade sure had a good time! Summer is officially less than a week away (woohoo!) and these hot summer nights I’d rather not be cooking in my sweltering kitchen! My husband certainly appreciates a yummy meal, but there are times I feel like I just did a steamy session of Bikram yoga after cooking for an hour (so not attractive). Since moving into our new house, this is the first time we had the chance to use our “gently used” Weber barbecue left behind by the previous owners. To commemorate the occasion, I decided to make a grilled tequila lime chicken with a refreshing mango salsa…. 

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Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms

chicken marsala with mushrooms recipe | jessicagavin.com

You can find chicken Marsala with mushrooms on most Italian restaurant menus and for good reason, it’s simple to make and delicious. I typically order handmade ravioli when I’m having Italian food, however I recently wanted to try something new. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quick and easy it is to make this timeless chicken Marsala dish. Not to mention, the sweet and savory Marsala mushroom sauce is simply addicting!… 

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Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo

chicken andouille sausage gumbo pot

New Orleans is a melting pot for extravagant culture, exuberant energy, live music and it’s incredible food! I traveled there a few years back for work and I didn’t know it at the time but when I had my first taste of delicious gumbo, I was hooked! It immediately became my favorite dish from Louisiana. While I was there I had to try the various types of gumbo from each restaurant in The Big Easy!… 

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Guinness Corned Beef Stew

Guinness Corned Beef Stew

I can’t believe St. Patrick’s Day is almost here again. Last year I made baked honey mustard corned beef but this year, I asked Jason how he wanted to celebrate his Irish heritage and he suggested a corned beef stew. I always wanted to try a recipe with beer, so I thought this would be the perfect way to make traditional boiled corned beef more interesting! This Guinness corned beef stew has layers of flavor while the meat and vegetables are incredibly tender. There is a nice richness to the stew liquid. You don’t have to worry about dry, stringy and tasteless corned beef with this recipe!… 

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Honey Hoisin Pork Tenderloin w/ Carrot Puree

Honey hoisin pork tenderloin recipe

Are you looking for a flavorful, healthy, yet easy to prepare recipe for your weekday meal? This honey hoisin pork tenderloin recipe is a great option that is not only simple but it also looks like you could have spent hours in the kitchen! The combination of rich, savory and fresh flavors infuse into the pork tenderloin effortlessly. With a few minutes to sear the pork tenderloin in the pan and then finishing the cooking process by roasting in the oven leaving you have plenty of time to prepare your tasty sides!… 

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Lasagna with Meat Sauce

lasagna with meat sauce

Sometimes for dinner you just want a simple and comforting meal. When my husband came home from work and saw me building the lasagna layers, he was so happy! Jason grew up with an amazing mom who loved to cook from scratch and she created the most delicious and elaborate Italian suppers. So for Jason this lasagna with meat sauce recipe is one of those familiar meals that I like to surprise him with every now and then. … 

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Chinese Potstickers

3 servings of potstickers

What was your favorite childhood food and do you still crave it? Well, I used to love eating handfuls of delicious Chinese potstickers! Growing up eating Chinese food at least four times a week, especially dim sum, it really set the tone for my taste buds. There is something about these handmade moon shaped dumplings, filled with savory pork and scallion filling, then dipped in salty and tangy soy and vinegar sauce that made for one of my ultimate comfort foods growing up. I’m excited to share with you my favorite homemade Chinese potstickers recipe, perfect for Chinese New Year!… 

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

buttermilk fried chicken stack on waffles

I’ve never been a person to say no to fried chicken, it’s my culinary kryptonite. I just can’t get enough of the salty, crispy coating, and biting into the tender and juicy chicken meat. My childhood diet often times consisted of orders of McDonald’s chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce (which I still love), red and white striped buckets of KFC fried chicken (I prefer original recipe), and little fried drumettes from Oakland Chinatown which had the tastiest scallion batter. Fried chicken has certainly evolved with many chef’s adding their own blend of spices and coatings, sandwiching them between waffles and served at the swankiest and hippest restaurants…. 

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Chinese Beef with Broccoli

Chinese beef with broccoli stirfry

If there was one tactic for my parents to get me to eat my vegetables, it was to order beef with broccoli at our favorite local Chinese restaurant in Alameda! The dish at Hong Kong City restaurant was so simple yet comforting; two ingredients drenched in a sweet and savory sauce which made each bite of broccoli a little more enjoyable…. 

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Delicious Surf and Turf Recipe

Delicious Surf and Turf recipe

I wanted to start off 2014 with an amazing meal that would set the tone for recipes to come in 2014. There is no better way to celebrate and indulge than with a homemade steak and lobster tail dinner. This Surf and Turf recipe is the ultimate elegant meal featuring the king and queen of proteins. Beautiful tender and juicy filet mignon and succulent fresh lobster tail. Cheers to a good year!

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Thai Chicken Vegetable Curry

healthy serving of fresh curry mixed with veggies

I have a culinary confession to make, I have an obsession with Trader Joe’s grocery stores. I simply love their philosophy: all natural ingredients, non hydrogenated fats and no GMO’s. Without overly plugging them, I just want to say that I am consistently happy with their selection of tasty and fun offerings that change with the seasons. Okay, so I may have a little bit of a bias here because my two best friends – Soren & Kristina work for Trader Joe’s but that just means I get great insights on new items in the store from yummy desserts, cheeses to wines. Thanks guys!… 

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Spiced Lemon Chicken

Spiced lemon chicken with humus

Are you in need for a fast healthy and tasty dinner? I personally struggle with having time after a long day at work to cook an elaborate dinner. I try my best to make meals that are packed with nutrition in order keep energized for the next day. My spiced lemon chicken recipe is the perfect wholesome meal during those hectic weekdays. I always stock my pantry with essential spices such as garlic, cumin, coriander and paprika, so I can make a quick spice blend to add more flavor to my proteins and the best part is you do not need to marinate for hours!… 

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Cranberry Almond Quinoa

Cranberry almond quinoa recipe

Do you love bread and pasta but are trying to watch your carbs? It’s often difficult to find a flavorful and healthy replacement for pasta, rice or bread. I was lucky to be introduced to quinoa during college by my dear friend Jasmin. At the time we would bond over delicious home cooked meals, wine, yoga and hiking. These were our perfect ways to unwind after long days of studying…. 

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Broiled Molasses Glazed Salmon

Molasses glazed salmon fillet

Have you ever enjoyed your meal so much at a restaurant that you wanted to recreate that dish at home? This happened to my husband and I at our wedding of all places. Our meal was catered by The Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove and we selected an incredible maple glazed salmon with ancho chili spice. We were hooked and you will be too!… 

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Stir-fried Bitter Melon Recipe

stir-fried bitter melon recipe with Black Bean Sauce

If there is one taste I have a challenge enjoying, its bitter. Growing up in a Chinese family, I could not avoid the occasional super healthy bitter melon soup my grandparents would make, or a saucy bitter melon dish that I would let pass me on the lazy susan at Chinese restaurants. On the flip side, we all know that typically a vegetable that doesn’t taste great, is usually good for you…. 

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Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta

Fresh summer squash blossoms

The summer season yields not only delicious summer squash, but mother nature produces wonderful bright orange edible blossoms. You can typically find these eye catching blossoms at your local farmers market, I purchased mine at a recent visit to Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market…. 

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Grandma’s Italian Meatball Recipe

Italian Meatball Recipe | jessicagavin.com

On our wedding day, I made a very special vow to my husband…

“I promise to always nurture, listen, comfort, and feed you, making sure to cook your grandmother’s famous meatballs at least once a month.”

It may seem like a silly promise, however my husband Jason’s love for his Grandma’s Italian meatball recipe always brings him a sense of comfort and happiness. For me to be able to recreate a dish that he loves is really important to me. When he walks through the door at the end of a long day and smells fresh tomato sauce and meatballs broiling in the oven, his big smile is priceless!… 

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Roast Leg of Lamb with Herb Breadcrumb Crust

roast leg of lamb with herb breadcrumb crust

Here’s a delicious roast leg of lamb with herb breadcrumb crust recipe for all you lamb lovers! Tender, juicy and delicious lamb is something that many people either love or hate because of it’s strong and distinctive flavor.  My appreciation and fondness for lamb has increased over the years especially after learning different cooking techniques in culinary school. In particular I remember having to laboriously clean racks of lamb by “frenching” the bones of the chops…. 

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Garlic Sourdough Croutons

bread-loaf-slices-with-cubes

Artisan bread is my weakness, especially bread with a chewy center and firm crust. I especially like a particular sourdough rosemary loaf that the OC Baking Company makes and sells locally at the Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisan Market every Saturday. The only problem is the size of the bread is insanely HUGE! I literally have to carry it like a baby because it doesn’t fit in any of my grocery bags, haha. I like to use half of the loaf for dinner or sandwiches the same day but I don’t want the delicious bread to go to waste, so my easy solution is to make garlic sourdough croutons…. 

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Cantonese Char Siu Recipe

Cantonese Char Siu Recipe | jessicagavin.com

One of my favorite Chinese dishes growing up is savory and sweet roasted barbeque pork, affectionately called char siu in Cantonese. During our weekend visits to Oakland’s Chinatown, I would always see these beautiful pieces of roasted meat hanging on display in restaurant windows. The flavors are a mixture of intensely concentrated sauces like fermented black bean, soy, hoisin and sesame paste. The aromatic blend of Chinese five spice adds a kick of pungent flavor and sweet aroma, complimenting the umami flavors of the sauces. Sugar is used to balance the saltiness of the marinade, and Chinese sherry called Shaoxing helps the flavors to merry together and infuse into the pork. I want to share with you this traditional Cantonese char siu recipe I learned during culinary school. I hope you enjoy!… 

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Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

butternut squash soup recipe

In the fall of 2007 after I had graduated from my master’s degree at Cal Poly, I packed up my bags and headed to Italy. I absolutely love Italian food and the culture, so I decided to go on my first international trip solo. I was a little nervous going alone but I experienced one of the most exciting and memorable culinary adventures of my life. When I think about all of the sights, smells and tastes of Italy, I still get goosebumps and cannot wait until I return. One of my stops in Italy was in Tuscany, in a small wine and olive region called Foiano della Chiana. I stayed at a beautiful farm house “argritourismo” called Fattoria Santa Vittoria. Tuscany became my home for a few days and I truly fell in love with Italy, it taught me how to enjoy and live in the moment. I recently found a butternut squash soup recipe from my journal and wanted to share it with you…. 

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Grandma’s Ginger Beef Stew Recipe

Grandma's Ginger Beef Stew Recipe

I love comfort food and my grandma, Kam Kwei Yee (I call her Yin Yin) makes a deliciously comforting stew. Her ginger beef stew recipe is one of my favorite dishes, in fact when I was 12 years old, on the day before I got my braces put on my dad asked what was the last meal I wanted to eat and I requested this exact dish!… 

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Japanese Eggplant Salad

Japanese Eggplant Salad

Japanese eggplants are elegant and beautiful to serve, they can also be cooked a variety of ways. My dear friend Kaui has an incredible green thumb and graciously gave me some eggplants and tomatoes from her garden. I knew exactly what recipe I wanted to try with the generous gifts from my friend. I had been eyeing a Japanese eggplant salad recipe from Terra: Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valleyby Chef Hiro Sone of Terra Restaurant. The umami and pungent flavors from the marinade and dressings are highlighted in Chef Sone’s recipe.  This Japanese eggplant salad has multiple components, but I promise, the flavors are what you can expect to taste when dining in Japan!… 

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Roasted Lemon and Herb Chicken

Roasted Lemon and Herb Chicken

Nothing is better than a home filled with the smell of fresh herbs and roasted chicken; it is intoxicating. I was in the mood for a little comfort food, so I gathered some of my favorite root vegetables like sweet potatoes, fennel, onions, celery, carrots, and some summer ingredients like sweet white corn and heirloom tomatoes. These vegetables would be the “nest” for the roasted lemon and herb chicken…. 

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An Evening of Tapas Recipes

Caipirinha During my recent visit to Michigan, I had the chance to combine foodie forces with my good friend Angie, aka. The Michigan Bon Vivant. Angie is a big supporter of buying fresh organic produce, is passionate about finding ways to educate others on improving our nation’s food culture, and also knows her ethnic cuisine! As we dined together one evening, we decided that we needed one more food experience before I left for California, so Angie had the brilliant idea to make some of her favorite tapas recipes at her home…. 

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