Quigley's Couscous Salad

We spent the last weekend in lovely Aurora, IL with my brother and his family.  We went to a Kane County Cougar's baseball game with the whole family on Friday, spent a special Saturday with my nephew, also my godson, then I cooked Father's Day dinner for the family.  It was a great time and we don't get to do it nearly often enough!

Monday was just Dave and I.  My sister-in-law had recommended wandering around downtown Naperville and gave us a couple of restaurants to try.  One was Quigley's Irish Pub.  It was raining and lunch time so we ducked in to get out of the rain and have lunch.

I had a turkey Reuben.  I'm not a fan of sauerkraut!  Dave had a "real" Reuben.  We both ordered the couscous salad as our side.  It was delicious, a mixture of couscous, quinoa, orzo, red and green peppers and dried cherries.  There were also these little orange colored bits I didn't recognize.

I asked the waitress and she said they were baby garbanzo beans!  Yes, you can make garbanzo beans taste good!  You just have to get them when they are babies!

I asked if they would give up the recipe and to my surprise she told us she was pretty sure we could get the grain mixture at Trader Joe's.  Another reason to love that place!  Then they just add the peppers and dried cherries and a little olive oil.

So when we got home, we stopped at Trader Joe's and we did find the "Harvest Grains Blend".   We picked up some peppers and a purple onion and Craisins are stocked in my pantry!

Simple and tasty!  I love it when I can recreate a recipe!

I prepared the grains per the package directions.  I used chicken stock rather than water and I used a walnut infused olive oil instead of butter.  Once cooled I added the chopped vegetables and Craisins.  

Gotta Blog about Snappy Dog... again!

I've mentioned Snappy Dog salsa before.  I've mentioned how in our house the jar is a single serving (well double, the two of us can down one in one day!).  It's the only cooked salsa we buy.  Now they've got a new variety and it is so good!

Dave and I found ourselves with a little unexpected free time on Saturday morning so we hit Farmer's Market.  Again, I bought way more than I had intended to.  My plan was a bag or two of Sunrise Gourmet Pasta and see what other goodies were available.  I won't get into that again.  Yes, I need some sort of program!

Snappy Dog was there and to our surprise they had a flavor we had not yet tried, rhubarb!  We tried.  We liked.  We opened a bottle tonight to "tide us over" until the pork tenderloin, potatoes and asparagus are done.  Yea, single serving.

I highly recommend you seek out some Snappy Dog salsa.  We like the hot variety.  The extra hot is too hot, even for us.  We now really like the rhubarb too and will be snapping up (pun intended!) a few more jars of that!  Oh and mix a jar up with some avocado for some amazing guac! 

You can buy Snappy Dog at the St. Paul Farmer's Market and I know they carry some of the varieties at Byerly's.  For a full list of stores that carry it go HERE.  You can also order online but why do that when you can go to Farmer's Market?!

Ok, I better go check on dinner....

Mmmm... Pork Chops!

I'm not a huge fan of pork chops.  Pork tenderloin, yes.  Bacon, yes.  But pork chops are so often dry and devoid of flavor, I'd rather something else.

Not true with these pork chops.  They were the signature item at a B&B Dave and I used to frequent.  I assure you, unless you have been to that particular B&B, you've never had anything like these.

The first time I made them, I made them for Dave.  It was before we were married and I wanted to make him a nice dinner.  I called my brother.  I know that when a restaurant puts out a cookbook they almost never give you the exact recipe from the restaurant.  They want it to be close but not quite so you'll keep coming back.  So I called him to ask what was missing from the recipe.  He was the head chef at the restaurant at the time.

His exact words were, I'll never forget them, "don't even try you'll screw it up".  I insisted and eventually he told me the trick was to keep the chops completely immersed in liquid the entire cooking time.  That was all I needed to know!

You start with center cut, bone in, pork chops cut two inches thick. Yes, two inches thick!  I had a butcher cut them an inch thick once because he didn't believe I really wanted them two inches thick!  They will be about a pound a piece.

Next you need a reduced pork broth.  Ok, so the first time I made them I didn't have any of that so I used beef broth cut with a little chicken broth.  It seemed to work.  From that point forward I save the remaining pork broth after the chops are cooked.  I strain the bits of seasonings and pork and remove the fat and put the remaining liquid in the freezer for the next time I make them.  And you will want to make them again once you've had them!

Other than that there are no real tricks to this great recipe.

Here's a LINK to the recipe.  NOTE:  Four cups of pork broth and 1/2 a cup of wine are not nearly enough to cover the chops for the entire cooking time.  You will need more! I generally start with about six quarts of liquid then reduce that by half.  I also decrease the cooking temperature to 300 and cook for closer to 4 hours.

Also, I don't thicken the gravy with flour.  I use corn starch. I think you can taste the flour while the corn starch just thickens.  I also finish the gravy with a few tablespoons of butter.  If you're going to eat a pound of pork, what's a little butter?

Brown the chops well then place them in a covered roaster.  Cover with the delicious broth and stick them in the oven.  After an hour or so your house will start to smell amazing!  After two to two and a half hours check on them. Make sure no additional liquid is needed.  If it is add more broth or, even better, more wine!

The gravy is amazing.  Check my note above about using corn starch instead of flour and finishing with butter.  I've also finished with a little dark chocolate in the past too!  Gravy is one of Dave's favorite foods!

Because there's gravy there must be potatoes.  That's Dave's rule.  I make mashed.   Sometimes I flavor with roasted garlic, sometimes with blue cheese.   Either way they are delicious!   They are bound to amaze friends too and you don't need to tell anyone how easy they really are to make!
Dessert?  Well, you won't need much after a dinner of these chops!  Tonight we're going to have banana bruschetta!

"Light" Potato Salad that tastes good?

It's summer!  102 degrees in early June, it's definitely summer.  And potato salad is a very popular summer side dish right next to the baked beans.

I like good potato salad.  What makes good potato salad?  I don't really know, I just know when I eat it.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with real mayo and other yummy, fat filled ingredients.  I don't care if it's a mustard-based or mayo-based potato salad, I like both equally when prepared well.  So I decided to see if I could find a lighter version that still tasted really good.

I found a recipe for Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives on the Cooking Light website.  They claim to have made a tasty potato salad with 80% less fat and 60% fewer calories than "classic" potato salad.  Ok, I'll try it!

The grocery store didn't have any Yukon gold potatoes (what's up with that?!) so I bought red potatoes.

The dressing is light mayonaise, fat free sour cream (which I never buy, low fat yes, fat free never), parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  This is mixed with cubed, cooked and cooled potatoes, celery, chives, parsley and peas.

I like a little dressing with my salad, not the other way around.  The same is true for potato or pasta salads.  I like to taste the ingredients, not just the dressing.  The dressing should enhance the ingredients.  There was almost too much dressing for my taste.
You get a fairly good-sized serving for the 173 calories and 5 grams of fat.  The full nutritional information is below.

Does it replace "real" potato salad?  Um, no.  Dave and I both thought it was a little bland and that there was too much parsley.  It was just ok.  While I don't think I would make this exact recipe again, I will try a lighter potato salad again.  What will I change?

Well, I'll either grill or roast the potatoes to add flavor there.  I will reduce the amount of parsley and add green onion in addition to the scallion.  I'll use low fat sour cream instead of fat free too.  It will increase the fat a little but I'm hoping it will increase the flavor just a little too. 

So stop back to see if I can perfect light potato salad before the snow flies...
Nutritional Information

  • Amount per serving
  • Calories: 173
  • Calories from fat: 25%
  • Fat: 4.9g
  • Saturated fat: 1.1g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.1g
  • Protein: 5.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 27.8g
  • Fiber: 3.1g
  • Cholesterol: 7mg
  • Iron: 2.4mg
  • Sodium: 289mg
  • Calcium: 79mg


If you're like me you love cookbooks.  You have to have new cookbooks even if there's just one recipe in it that you want.  Sometimes I get lucky, like with the Barefoot Contessa's How Easy Is That cookbook where I've tried many of the recipes and they were all wonderful!  Sometimes I'm not so lucky and even the one recipe I thought I'd love turns out to be something I don't care for.

In a recent email from Tasting Table (if you haven't signed up I highly recommend it!) they highlighted a new website that reviews cookbooks, The Cookbook Blog.  The blog is well written with beautiful pictures of the recipes reviewed.  There is a "monthly favorite" recipe as well.  The editors look through all of the recipes from the previous month and post their favorites.  I can see myself spending lots of time on this site!

The editor of the site is Noah Galuten.  He is a food writer for things like LA Weekly food blog Squid Ink and Los Angeles Magazine. He started his career with the food blog Man Bites World, in which he tried to eat the food of a different country, every single day, for as long as he possibly could.  If you want to see Noah’s personal website, on which he posts almost nothing, visit NoahGaluten.com.

Looking to review your own cookbooks and recipes?  Well then I have another site for you!  It's called Cookbooker.com and you'll find some of my reviews out there!  It's another great website.  The difference between this one and The Cookbook Blog is that it is populated with reviews by folks like you and me.  Not "professional" bloggers or chefs, just everyday cooks who want to try out new cookbooks and recipes.

Check them both out!

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