Italian Beef Stew

Italian Beef Stew

No stew for you!

I wish I could say that I was gearing up to make this delicious hearty stew this weekend, but sadly I am not.  I have been living on the dark side of eating habits over the Thanksgiving holiday. We went on vacation to a resort that everywhere you looked was amazing food taunting me to try it and boy did I try it!  I tried it like it was my last week on earth to eat.  I even tried to exercise while we were there, but nothing could put a dent into my gluttony.  The shame…. but it sure was fun!

Well, I am paying for it this week, I will be sucking down raw vegetables and fruits for the next several days until I get myself right again. Hopefully, you did not indulge as much as me and can make this stew. If you did, no stew for you! Sorry, always looking for a reason to use some Seinfeld Soup Nazi humor.

I am not much of a beef stew lover and I am not just saying that to be sour grapes and all since I am on detox mode.  I think beef stew is well… kinda a boring.  So, I created a recipe that makes the typical beef stew a little more interesting and complex in flavor.  I added some cannellini beans, pesto, crushed red pepper, Italian parsley, green beans ( not really Italian, but my son loathes peas), and the best ingredient, 1 bulb of roasted garlic. Yeah baby!

My family looked at me like I was a culinary genius when they tasted this hearty and meaty creation. Yep, told you guys that other beef stew was just boring.

I will definitely be making this stew again for the family as soon as we right size our diets.  I can already hear it calling my name… now hush it stew!  I have some kale and celery to eat for a couple of days.

Italian Beef Stew

Serves 4
By author Fresh Basil


  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 32 Ounces unsalted beef stock
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1.25 Pounds lean stew beef (round or chuck shoulder) (cut into cubes)
  • 3-4 Medium carrots (chopped)
  • 2 ribs of celery (chopped)
  • 1 Small yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Medium bay leaf
  • 1 14 ounce can no salt added green beans
  • 1 14 ounce can low sodium cannellini beans (drained)
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto (fresh made or store bought)
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley (chopped)


Roasting Garlic
Step 1
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top of the garlic crosswise to expose the cloves. Place the bulb on a large piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Form a pouch with the foil and press together to enclose the garlic. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cloves are soft.
Step 2
Carefully open pouch and allow the garlic to cool. Squeeze out the cloves from the bulb and discard the garlic skins.
Roasted Garlic
Step 3
Place the beef stock and the garlic into a blender. Blend until incorporated and set aside.
Step 4
Place the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a large plastic storage bag.
Step 5
Add to the beef to the flour mixture, seal bag and shake until meat is coated.
Step 6
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven or large pot on medium heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate. (Leave the juice from the meat in the pot.)
Step 7
Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot if needed. Add carrots, celery, onion and cook over medium high heat. Stir occasionally, until onion is translucent.
Step 8
Stir in tomato paste and crushed red pepper and cook about 1 minute.
Step 9
Add the beef stock to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Add beef and cover pot. Simmer until meat is tender. About 1 hour and 20-30 minutes.
Step 10
Add the green beans, cannellini beans, pesto, Italian parsley, and salt and pepper to taste to the pot and cook 10-15 minutes.
Step 11
Remove from heat and allow the stew to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving.

Finally October

 Finally, October!

Finally, it’s October! Wow, I have so many reasons to be ecstatic about this month arriving….

Finally October

We are finally settled into our new house that  my family and I absolutely love. The kids have tons of space to run around, ginormous oak trees to climb, and room to breath. My husband’s commute to work has dropped from ninety minutes to thirty minutes. We live by several ranches with cows grazing in every direction you look. You know I like that since I am from the country.  I feel at home with all the bugs, cows, trees, and wide open spaces.

It’s unbelievable that our 15th wedding anniversary is finally here this month.  Just seems like yesterday we were married, but have a catalog of precious memories to go with it. Such a strange feeling that fifteen years can fly by that quick. One of the funny things about having fifteen anniversaries is we have bought every card for each other so we both ended up creating our own cards this year.

Finally October

 Look at us, we were just a couple of youngin’s thinking we knew everything.  Yep, now I know  I know nothing and wish I knew everything like I did when I was 24 years old. Man, I was so smart back then… The one think I do know is that I love my husband more deeply every year I am with him, and we are as thick as thieves just like we were when we were first married.

Finally, having the time to think about blogging and write new recipes after my several month hiatus.  I really bit off more than I could chew with this past move. I can barely walk and chew bubble gum at the same time most days. This move was like walking, running, backpedaling, somersaulting, tightrope walking, and chewing gum at the same time.  Not pretty.

Finally, getting a break from the hot and humid Houston weather too. I was born and raised in the Midwest and humidity all the way into October is a bit much for this girl. I woke up this morning and the air was a crisp 55 degrees. Yes! Maybe the air conditioning will stay off all day today?

With the arrival of cool weather, I can finally start cooking some cozy one pot meals again like….

Irish Porridge

Irish Porridge

3 bean chili

Three Bean Chili

cannellini beans with smoked ham

Cannellini Beans with Smoked Ham

Turkey Chickpea Chili

and Turkey Chickpea Chili.

 I have to admit, I made a big pot of chicken and noodles on a 90 degree day last week.  I just couldn’t take it anymore, fall weather is supposed to start in October. I don’t think I will ever get used to the delay of the fall down here.

Finally, and I mean a big finally, because we have been waiting for this one for 29 years, my hometown Kansas City Royals are in the postseason this year! Yes, people, this is exciting stuff, we have all been waiting patiently and boy does it feel pretty darn amazing.

I was just a kid who happened to be old enough to remember the Royals winning the World Series in 1985.  It was exciting, magical, and the year I truly fell in love with baseball. I am reliving some childhood memories this October, and that is truly a priceless experience in my book. I was so excited that I made the kids put on their Royals shirts so I could take a picture to send to their Papa. My kids aren’t as excited as me since I made them sit next to each other in the picture. Siblings….

Finally October

And finally, my Dad gets to see his Royals play in October. That man has logged more hours of being a Royals fan over the years than anybody I know.  He will listen to them on the radio even if they are in the middle of a losing season. That’s some hard-core commitment!

 His and my love of baseball has always been a big part our bond since I was a kid. I was the kid who would spend hours in the yard throwing the ball up in the sky and catching it.  He was the dad who would come home after work and spend hours playing catch with me.  It’s a great feeling to be able to share the excitement of a  Royal’s postseason with him. Come to find out though, I think my mom turned out to be the biggest fan. According to my Dad, he has to turn the channel some nights when the Royals are playing because she gets too wound up or “nuts” as my Dad would call it. That just makes me laugh every time I think about it.

All the postseason players and coaches are wearing gear this year that has the words, “Always October.” Well, I say it should be “Finally, October!” Being Royal in October never felt so good.

Oven Baked French Fries

Oven Baked French FriesTwo Clowns Don’t Make a Right


Dear Ronald McDonald:

You can stop smiling because my kids do not love your fries anymore… they love mine! Haha!

Best Regards,


Yep, that is right, my kids no longer get excited about  feasting on fast food fries.  I have been diligently working on a homemade fry recipe to win back my kid’s innocent taste buds that were hijacked by the happy-go-lucky clown. Lets not kid anyone, I am the biggest clown for ever introducing the fast food fries to my kids in the first place. Not all the blame rest on the hands of Ronald. Two clowns don’t make a right. err…. wrongs? or whatever, we are both wrong!

So here are the secrets to a good oven baked fry –  number one,  I want the fries to be simple to prepare and quick. Almost as quick as getting in the car, waiting in the drive thru, and driving home.  We need the right potato to speed up the cooking process. If you can get your hands on steakhouse roasters, (long fingerling potatoes) you can skip the soaking method  that is necessary for a russet.  Russets seemed to have more starch than a fingerling. You have to soak them to remove some of the starch to get the fries crispness level up.

Hey, remember all those soggy oven baked fries from the school lunches back in the day? Oh man, those were a culinary nightmare!  Not happening with this recipe. The second secret is a very hot oven and a hot baking sheet.  This is where all the crispness will come from and no soggy oven baked fries will ever come from your oven.

The third secret is some flavor.  You can get real creative with your seasoning and choice of herbs.  I normally just use a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and my favorite herb is rosemary.  I kinda dig Smashburger’s rosemary fries, so we get our Smashburger fix by adding this herb.  Skies the limit on this secret, if you come up with a flavor combination that is just amazing, please let me know.

So people, lets just be honest… we are Americans and we love our fries! It doesn’t mean we have to give them up to be healthier.  We just have to be smarter about how we prepare them, how many we eat,  how often we eat them, and how much we are moving in between eating our beloved fries.   I hate to sound like your mom,  but please serve something green with those fries too.

In my opinion, It’s not the innocent potato that is making Americans unhealthy, it is the over processing , fried in unhealthy oil, and the overconsumption of these fast food Frankenstein french fries that has ruined the potatoes reputation.  So enjoy your oven baked french fries and tell Ronald McDonald adieu!

Oven Baked French Fries

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
By author Fresh Basil


  • 1 1/2 Pounds long fingerling potatoes (I use MountainKing Steakhouse Roasters or you can use russet potatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I use grapeseed or olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fine sea salt (to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 " fresh rosemary sprig (remove stem chopped fine about 1 teaspoon)


Russet Potatoes - If you choose to use russets, cut potatoes in about 1/2 inch wide wedges. You will need to soak the russets to release the starch which will help the fries from sticking and allow them to crisp up.  Soak fries in a bowl of cold water lightly salted for at least 15 minutes or for best results 1 hour. Drain potatoes and lay them out on a kitchen towel and dry thoroughly. For seasoning and cook time follow the recipe below.


Step 1
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place in oven while oven is preheating.
Step 2
Cut fingerling potatoes in half and then cut into about 1/2 inch wide wedges and place in a medium size mixing bowl.
Step 3
Drizzle on oil, add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary. Toss until well coated.
Step 4
Carefully remove preheated baking sheet out of oven and spray with cooking oil spray. Place fries in a single layer on baking sheet. Tip -Avoid overcrowding the potatoes. This will cause fries to not get as crispy and stick together. (You can use two sheets if your baking sheets are small.)
Step 5
Bake fries for about 35-40 minutes or until desired crispiness. Around 30 minutes into baking time, gently flip fries over with a spatula. Season with a bit of sea salt if desired and serve immediately.


Chicken Spiedini Romaine Wedge with Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Chicken Spiedini Wedge

 The Italian Love List

Shortly after graduating college, I moved to Kansas City. My plan was to live there for a short stint and move somewhere warm and tropical (p.s. I loathe the winter.) The short stint turned into almost 8 years. Those eight years were full of great memories; first real job, marriage, and the birth of our first child.

In between all these life milestones and frequent ice and snow storms, my husband and I had some of the best food experiences of our lives. We are no longer residents of Kansas City but we visit our home away from home a couple of times of year and relive our culinary memories to the fullest.

I find myself not only packing our bags when we leave but a couple of extra pounds of food love to my waistline.  Well, a few pounds found during my semi-annual “Kansas City Tasting Tours” is worth it and I don’t mind spending a little extra time in the gym or detoxing for a week.

Kansas City is a culinary smorgasbord of delicious cuisine, Italian and BBQ just to name a few.  KC’s Italian is by far my favorite (who would have thought.) I am fairly confident we have made our appearance in about every well-known and obscure Italian restaurant in the KC Metro area. If we have missed a couple, we will surely cross it off the list sooner than later.

One of the first memories I have of Italian cuisine in Kansas City is the famous chicken spiedini. My husband, the Italian culinarian, was as intrigued as I with this grilled chicken dish. He was very familiar with the beef spiedini from his years of being a New Yorker, but the chicken was a newcomer to him as well.  The chicken spiedini is mesmerizing with its garlicky lemon flavor, lightly rolled in seasoned breadcrumbs and grilled to golden perfection.

Is chicken spiedini similar to chicken parmesan? hmm.. kinda, but way better. Is it like a gourmet chicken nugget?  It is an insult to call it a nugget, so, no!  Is it the best, most flavorful breaded morsel of chicken you can put in your mouth and while you are chewing, you ask yourself, “Where have you been all my life?”  YEP!

So, this is how the Chicken Spiedini Romaine Wedge came into existence, my love affair with Kansas City Italian cuisine and my creative ways of justifying how to eat my favorite foods in a healthier version.

The Chicken Spiedini Romaine Wedge recipe is a simplistic version of spiedini, no pounding, rolling, or skewering required. All the flavor of the spiedini and no intimidating and time-consuming prep work.

Kansas City Italian Love List



Garozzo’s Ristorante


Carrollo’s Italian Gourmet Grocery  

Chicken Spiedini Romaine Wedge

Serves 4
Prep time 1 hour, 20 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 35 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Inspired by Kansas City Italian Restaurants
Serving Size 4 ounces chicken and 1 romaine wedge
Per Serving
Calories 348 kcal
Protein 32.8g
Total Carbohydrate 22.1g
Dietary Fiber 3.2g
Sugars 6.2g
Total Fat 13.9g
Saturated Fat 2.3g
Sodium 604mg


  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 10 Cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (fine)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh italian parsley (chopped and dried thoroughly)
  • 4 romaine hearts (rinsed and split in half lengthwise)
  • 1/3 cup red onion (sliced thin)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (sliced in half)
  • 1 cup cucumber (sliced)
  • 3-4 Teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce


Step 1
In a blender or food processor, add lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, water, red wine vinegar, basil leaves, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Pulse 2 -4 times until well blended. The marinade will have a paste like consistency. Place marinade in a medium bowl, set aside.
Chicken prep
Step 2
Cut chicken breast into approximately 6 chunks per breast. Place chicken chunks into the marinade and toss till evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
Chicken Prep
Step 3
While chicken is marinating, place panko bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, salt, and chopped parsley (make sure parsley is dried thoroughly) in a shallow baking dish. Stir ingredients until incorporated.
Grill Prep
Step 4
Preheat Grill on medium high heat.
Chicken Prep
Step 5
When chicken is done marinating, lightly dredge chicken chunks on both sides in panko bread crumb mixture. Set breaded chicken on a plate and spray both sides with olive oil cooking spray.
Time to grill
Step 6
Place chicken on grill. Lightly spray or brush soy sauce on chicken. Flip chicken when coating has a golden brown color. Repeat soy sauce on other side. Turn grill down to low when both sides of chicken are golden brown. Grill chicken until internal temperature is 165 degrees F.
Plate it up!
Step 7
Place split romaine wedge on plate, top with chicken, grape tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and parmesan cheese.

Buttermilk Pesto Dressing

Serves 8
Prep time 25 minutes
Meal type Condiment, Salad
By author Fresh Basil Original
Serving Size 2 tablespoons
Per Serving
Calories 33 kcal
Protein 2.3g
Total Carbohydrate 1.5g
Dietary Fiber 0.1g
Sugars 1.4g
Total Fat 1.9g
Saturated Fat 0.4g
Polyunsaturated 0.5g
Monounsaturated 0.9g
Sodium 36.6mg


  • 8 Cloves garlic (roasted *)
  • 2 Tablespoons walnut pieces
  • 1 1/2 Cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1/8 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Chobani plain non fat greek yogurt*
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Roasting garlic is optional. I prefer the flavor of roasted garlic and it is a little easier on your stomach when you are using the pesto for a condiment or in a salad dressing.

The recipe calls for Chobani yogurt.  I prefer to use this brand because the sugar content is lower than other greek yogurts I have come across.

Store in refrigerator for 2-3 days.


Step 1
To roast garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place garlic cloves in aluminum foil drizzle an 1/8 tsp of olive oil on garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Close foil to make a pouch and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until garlic is soft and slightly golden. Set aside an let cool completely.
Step 2
Place walnuts in a food processor or blender, give a couple quick pulses until walnuts are chopped fine.
Step 3
Add basil, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, black pepper to blender or processor. Pulse 2 or 3 times, open lid of processor or blender and scrape down the pesto off the sides of bowl with spatula. Repeat this step until all ingredients are finely chopped.
Step 4
Add olive oil and blend until olive oil is incorporated with other ingredients.
Add salt if needed. You will have leftover pesto (you're welcome). Store remaining pesto in smallest airtight container. Shelf life 3-5 days in fridge.
Step 5
In a mixing bowl, add buttermilk and yogurt. Whisk together. Add lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto, black pepper, salt. Whisk until all ingredients are incorporated.
Step 6
Serve immediately or cover in an airtight container and store in refrigerator.




Watermelon Popsicles

Watermelon Popsicles A Big Bunch of Nothing

See this chair?  This is what my husband requested to do for his Father’s Day, sitting by the pool and doing a big bunch of nothing. Well, he sure made it easy on me this year, I can totally give the gift of nothing.

Watermelon Popsicles


See those muscles?  This is about all the heavy lifting and physical activity my husband will be performing on his special day.

Watermelon Popsicles


See me?  I won’t be doing any of that kid throwing business, I am the supervisor of kid throwing. Throw her higher she likes it!

Watermelon Popsicles


See these two kids?  They will get along in the pool for about 50% of the time and then torture and tease each other until I have to remind them it is their Dad’s day not their day to act like wild animals.

Watermelon Popsicles

See this drink? Watermelon Agua Fresca, (with possibly some Tito’s) is what my husband and I will have after we make up a batch of the watermelon popsicles for the kiddos  We are just as impatient as the kids, we want the refreshing flavor of watermelon right now!

Watermelon Popsicles

In honor of our Do Nothing Father’s Day weekend,  I came up with a Watermelon Popsicle recipe that is light and super refreshing.  My kids love popsicles more than they love well…. about anything, especially these.  No added sugar and all the ingredients are all natural.  If you have ever tried to buy popsicles in the store with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners they rarely exist, and the ones that do cost a fortune, $5.00 for 4 popsicles?  Um.. no thanks!

Whatever you and your family are doing for Father’s Day, even if it is a bunch of nothing like us, I hope all the Dads out there enjoy their special day. Sometimes doing nothing is this best gift you can give to those amazing hardworking dads.

Watermelon Popsicles

Serves 8-10
Prep time 10 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Smart Treat
By author Fresh Basil


  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves
  • 5 Cups seedless watermelon pulp (chopped small)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice


Step 1
In a saucepan, bring coconut water to a boil. When water has come to a boil, add mint leaves, turn off the heat and let infuse for about 10 minutes. Discard leaves and let coconut water cool to room temperature.
Step 2
Add infused mint coconut water, watermelon, and lime juice in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are liquefied.
Step 3
Pour popsicle mixture into 2.5- 3.0 ounce molds. Cover with stick inserts and freeze until completely firm.
Step 4
To serve, dip or run lukewarm water on outside of mold to loosen.




Spicy Blackberry Pork Chops


Spicy Blackberry Pork ChopsAnonymous

I am a big fan of a perfectly grilled pork chop as long as I don’t know the name of the pig the pork chop came from. What?? Yal, this is one of my little quirks about being a meat eater.  I know it may sound a little out there, but if I see the animal’s face and you tell me its name, I am one-step closer to becoming a vegetarian. I am the daughter and sister of men who raise livestock so this exact scenario has happened to me couple times.

A couple years ago, my brother, decided to raise two pigs to butcher. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for raising your own meat.  In my opinion it happens to be one the healthiest ways to supply a carnivore diet.  You know the health of your animals and what it has been fed.

So, silly me curious as always, decided to take a trip out to the farm to check out the pork producers.  Not only did I see the faces of the two piggies, my dad decides to give them names, Bert and Ernie. Well, that was enough to seal the deal for me, I refused to partake in any grilled pork chops from the Sesame Street pigs.

Spicy Blackberry Pork Chops

The day finally arrived and the homegrown pork chops were on the menu at my parent’s house. I made it very clear to him that I would not be dining on pork chops that day. Over the years my dad and I have had our struggles with me being a reluctant meat eater. He usually meets my resistance with humor.

I showed up at his house and he told me he went to the store and bought anonymous pork chops just for me. Only my dad would do such a thing just to keep me from becoming vegetarian. I still get a good chuckle about it every time I pick up some chops at the meat counter…  “Excuse me kind butcher, I will take the anonymous chops over there and definitely not the ones with a surname please.”

Anyhoo, we do eat our fair share of anonymous pork and Spicy Blackberry Pork Chops is one of my family’s favorites.  These chops are perfectly sweetened up with the blackberry perserves, a  lingering flavor of spiciness, and a hint of fresh basil.  If you are a meat eater of anonymous or named pork, I think you will really enjoy this recipe!

Spicy Blackberry Pork Chops

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
By author Fresh Basil


  • fine sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Pounds 1 inch thick boneless pork chops (trimmed)


  • 2 Tablespoons blackberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-4 Medium medium fresh basil leaves (finely chopped)


The grilling instructions in the recipe steps are based on gas grilling.

Grilling Tip - Best pork chops for grilling need to be close to 1 inch thick. Save your thin cut chops for frying and braising.

Glaze - This glaze contains sugar from the preserves and sugar can burn!  Watch the grill like a hawk after you brush on the glaze. Make sure the chops are over indirect heat after you glaze them and turn off at least one burner or turn down the heat if possible.


Step 1
Preheat grill on high.
Step 2
In a small bowl, add all glaze ingredients and stir until combined. If you would like a little dipping sauce, divide out a tablespoon or so in separate bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
Step 3
Lightly season pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Lightly spray cooking spray on both sides of chops to prevent sticking to the grill.
Step 4
When grill is heated, place pork on the grill. Cook until pork is seared or has grill marks on bottom side of chop.
Step 5
Flip chop over and grill until chops is seared. Move chops to top rack and turn off at least one burner. Brush Glaze on chops when they reach about 140 degrees F. Cover Grill and cook pork chops until they reach 145-150 degrees F.
Step 6
Transfer chops to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.



PBLT Salad

PBLT Salad  Country Girl French Fusion

I pretty much would to eat anything with the initials BLT attached to it. The combination of salty bacon, crispy lettuce, and if you are lucky, juicy red homegrown tomatoes sprinkled with fresh ground pepper and sea salt, sandwiched between two slices of crusty bread is just hands down one of the best things you can feed your face!

Not only do I love the perfect combination of flavors of a BLT it  is also a nostalgic sandwich from my childhood.  Growing up in a small town, gardens were plentiful and friends and neighbors were eager to share their harvest.  We would have tomatoes everyday starting around July all the way through September. Man, those were the days…. We would eat tomatoes until we were down right punch drunk and begging people to stop dropping tomatoes off at our back porch!

PBLT Salad

Lots of BLTs were consumed in my parent’s kitchen during those months.  I can’t even imagine how much bacon they had to fry up to satisfy five kid’s love of the BLT?  I am sure my dad would have loved to have known about my bacon in the oven method back in the day.  No standing over the stove watching the bacon like a hawk, and no big greasy mess to clean up.  The baking tip is in the recipe.

Last month I purchased My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.  This cookbook has some amazing and delicious recipes, I highly recommend it!  One of the salads I have been in love with is the frisee’ salad with bacon, egg, and garlic toast. The sharpness of the Dijon vinaigrette paired with the salty bacon, crisp homemade croutons, and creamy potatoes will leave you wanting more and planning the next time you will make it. Maybe for breakfast the next day? I am tellin ya, it is that dang good!

David Lebovitz’s lovely salad inspired the PBLT Salad.  PBLT Salad is a twist between the French classic, salade lyonnaise, and an American country girl’s love of the classic BLT.  PBLT Salad is delicious with hard-boiled eggs, poached eggs (my favorite), grilled chicken, pork ,or beef.  A  perfect salad for all those lucky ones who have homegrown tomatoes coming out of their ears in August.

PBLT Salad

Serves 4-6
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Adapted from adapted from My Paris Kitchen (David Lebovitz)



  • 2 1 inch slices day old crusty bread (wheat,french, or sourdough)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley (finely chopped)


  • 8-10 red new potatoes
  • sea salt
  • 6 Slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 Large romaine hearts (chopped)
  • 2 Cups arugala
  • freshly ground pepper


  • 2/3 cups neutral flavor oil (I use grapeseed oil or light olive oil)
  • 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Small cloves fresh garlic (peeled)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 Tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard (I use Maille Old Style)
  • 3 Tablespoons water


Step 1
Place a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan lined with aluminum foil in oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Step 2
Slice bread in 1 inch slices. Cut or tear bread into 1x1 inch cubes or pieces. (If your bread is fresh, let bread sit on counter for about an hour to dry it out a bit.)
Step 3
In a mixing bowl, combine oil, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and chopped parsley. Add bread and toss until well combined.
Step 4
Take pre-heated pan out of oven and spread croutons in a single layer onto pan. Scrape any remaining bits and pieces from bowl onto the croutons. Stir croutons a couple times during baking time and bake approximately 15-17 minutes or until crisp and golden. Set aside until ready to serve.
Step 5
While croutons are baking, add all vinaigrette ingredients to a blender. Blend vinaigrette for about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.
Cook Bacon
Step 6
When croutons are done, line a shallow baking pan with aluminum foil and place bacon on pan. Bake in a 400 degree F. for about 15-20 minutes or until bacon is brown and still meaty (not overly crisp). Turn bacon halfway through baking time. Take bacon out of oven and place on a paper towel lined plate. When cooled, chop and set aside until ready to serve.
Step 7
While bacon is cooking, place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a sprinkle of salt and bring potatoes to boil. Decrease the heat to a low boil and cook potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes and cool. When cool cut into slices.
Assemble salad
Step 8
Divide romaine, arugula, potatoes, bacon, and tomatoes evenly onto plates. Top with croutons and drizzle with vinaigrette and a couple grinds of fresh black pepper.
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