Category Archives: Real Life

Apple and Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions and Apple Cider Sauce

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We don’t eat turkey in my house.  We do a ham each year at Thanksgiving so Karly and myself decided rather than take part of the stuff off we’d do our own pork off.  BUT I didn’t want to make up a ham so close to Thanksgiving as my husband and I would just be finishing the first ham when Thanksgiving finally rolled around.  So I went scrounging through my porky recipes to try and figure something else out that could be served at Thanksgiving or at least feels like a “fall” dish.  I think I succeeded.  Inspired by my husband’s like of the stuffed pork chops from Trader Joe’s and my own like of caramelized onions and sauces, I created this dish.  You know it’s a winner when my neighbor who is a vegetarian stops by and says dinner smells good and reminds her of fall.  Then I informed her it’s a pork dish and she responds, “Might be worth trying it still.”  Yup, winner winner!

Food Card-- That's What She Crafted

I started with cutting up my apples and onion.  Diced onions went straight into the hot pan while the diced apples waited on the cutting board, and the slices of apples and onions waited their turns in bowls.

We are bacon snobs here in my house.  This bacon is home cured and smoked.  Don’t have time for that?  Thick cut bacon from the store works just fine.  4 slices please!  I like using my handy cast iron weight to keep things flat.

Onions nice and translucent and soft and in go the apples.

Onions and Apples-- That's What She Crafted

After the apples start to soften remove from heat and move mixture to a bowl.  Add a slightly beaten egg and chicken stock or broth.  Mix.  I forgot to leave out bread and forgot to toast it a little before I started so I baked my bread for a few minutes.  Oops.  Crush and tear up the bread.  Chop the crispy bacon.  Fold into the mixture making sure the bread soaks up all that liquid.

I don’t know about you but I can never find chops to the thickness I want without having to track someone down at the meat counter.  I bought a pork loin and cut my own slices (and froze my extra slices for another day).  Score the fat to prevent curling while cooking or trim it off.  Then create the pocket.

Stuff!  There’s lots of stuffing left so I took the extra and put it in an 8×8 pan.  Baked at 350 for 30 minutes and added the meat drippings when the chops were done.

Stuffed!-- That's What She Crafted

Back in the same pan I used for the onions and apples.  If I didn’t mind waiting on the bacon I could have done this dish all in one skillet.  Alas I didn’t want to wait and cooked a few things at the same time but 90% of the stovetop work was done in my trusty cast iron skillet!  Medium high heat, a tablespoon of olive oil, and NO TOUCHING for 3 minutes= browned perfection.  Repeat for my second batch.  Apparently I forgot to take pictures of the chops in the pan, whoops! Heading to the oven!  Don’t forget to cover!  Now to make the toppings!

Browned and ready to go in the oven-- That's What She Crafted

Hey look it’s the trusty cast iron again caramelizing the onions.  1 tablespoon olive oil and lots of stirring.  It’s worth it I promise. 20 minutes later browned goodness.

And time to pull out the chops!

Resting----That's What She Crafted

Apple slices turn!  Cook until they just start to soften.  Add the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Then add the apple juice and spices.  You could substitute real apple cider here too if you wanted.  Simmer.

Apples simmering--That's What She Crafted

Pork Chops!  Assemble!  You can just go with a plain stuffed chop.  Or you can dress it up topping with the lots of onions, apples, and spoon on the sauce.  If you cooked up the extra stuffing you can serve it on top of the stuffing too so it catches all those yummy juices.  Side salad or some roasted veggies and you’ve got a nummy meal!

Plain stuffed chop--That's What She Crafted

Topped stuffed chop--That's What She Crafted

Apple and Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops
with Caramelized Onions and Apple Cider Sauce

Ingredients:

Stuffing
4 slices of thick cut bacon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½  large onion diced
1 large apples diced
3 slices of old bread**
1 egg slightly beaten
2/3 cup chicken stock or broth

Pork Chops
4—1.5- 2 inch thick cut pork chops
Apple Bacon Stuffing
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toppings
½ large onion ¼ inch slices
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1  apple ¼ inch wedge slices
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup apple juice
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

** Leave the slices of bread out on the counter for 24 hours or if you’ve forgotten lightly toast the bread and leave it out for an hour or so.  You want dried out crusty bread so it absorbs the moisture.

Directions:
Stuffing
Brown the bacon until crisp.
While the bacon is browning, heat the oil to medium heat and then add the onions.  Cook until soften and translucent then add the apples.  Cook until softened.
Move the onions and apples to a medium work bowl and add the egg and chicken stock.  Mix.
Crush/rip the bread slices to large crumbs and mix into the onion apple mixture.
Roughly chop the bacon and add to the mixture.

Pork Chops
Heat oven to 350
Create a pocket in the pork chop by cutting through the middle leaving ¼ to ½ inch of space along the edges.  Also if you are not trimming off the fat make sure to score every inch to inch and a half along the fat end to prevent your pork chop from curling.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
Stuff the pork chop using the stuffing you made earlier.  You can use toothpicks to help hold everything together if needed.  You will have leftover stuffing.  If you desire you can grab a small baking dish and bake the leftover stuffing at 350 for 30 minutes.
Using a skillet heated to medium high heat, depending on the size of your skillet heat 1 TBS oil for cooking two chops or 2 TBS for all four chops.  Brown on each side for 3 minutes. (Repeat for the second two if you are having to do it in batches)
Move chops to 13 x 9 dish and cover.  Bake for 20 minutes or until pork registers an internal temperature of 145.
Uncover and let it rest for several minutes before serving.

Toppings
Heat 1 TBS olive oil in pan at medium heat.  Add onion slices.  Stirring frequently allowing the slices to brown and caramelize.  If onions are sticking to the pan you can use a little of the apple juice to help deglaze the pan.  This will take 15-20 minutes.
Remove onions from the pan.
Adjust heat to medium low.  Add apple slices.  Cook until apple just start to soften, about 4 minutes.
Add maple syrup and a touch of salt (pepper too if you want).
Add apple juice, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and simmer for 3 minutes.
Serve the stuffed pork chop topped with lots of caramelized onions, apples, and cider sauce.
This main dish would pair well with almost any roasted vegetable!

 

Happy Eating!
Viever

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Yabba Dabba Doo!

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Flintstones!  Meet the Flintstones… well just Pebbles and Bam Bamm.  Mr. Viever was a party pooper this year and said he didn’t want to dress up so no Fred and Wilma.  This is also the first year that I have made the kids’ costumes so I wanted to do something relatively simple, fun, and themed!

Pebbles and Bam Bamm-- That's What She Crafted

Bam Bamm
Bam Bamm--That's What She Crafted

 I sent out an SOS to my sewing mama friends.  I needed a shorts pattern as I have none.  Sure enough they came through for me and pointed me towards Create Kids Couture’s Aidan’s Appliqued Shorts Pattern.  I followed the pattern as adding a fleece sash by sewing one edge down as I made the channel for the elastic.  The sash I cut based on the measurement from my son’s waistband over his shoulder and back to the waistband for length and then had it about 2.5 inches wide.  The bone I free handed out of felt cut two small slashes into the fleece sash and inserted the bone; I left the bone end of the sash unattached.  I also chose not to hem the shorts and just cut out ragged triangles instead. Rough and tumble kid is supposed to be from the stone age no hem required! I then stitched on several of the fleece triangles I had cut out to finish off the Bam Bamm look.  After he put on the shorts I then safety pinned the bone end of the sash to the shorts.  Gave him the club (directions on how I made it below) and we have ourselves Bam Bamm!!

Pebbles

Pebbles-- That's What She Crafted

I used a tried and true pattern for me: ModKid’s Baby Hannah.  This is the fourth set I’ve made for my daughter.  Perfect outfit for California summers.  It’s fall now but during the day it’s warm enough to wear and in the evenings I’ll pair it with a long sleeved shirt and leggings. I did learn something from doing Bam Bamm’s costume first.  This time I STARTED by sewing on the fleece triangles to the fabric THEN I sewed up the pattern.  So much easier then doing it the other way around!  To finish of Pebbles look I cut out a felt bone and attached to an alligator hair clip.

Bam Bamm’s Club Tutorial

I knew Bam Bamm needed to have his club but didn’t want to go buy a plastic one that would gather dust.  So I grabbed a small baseball bat that S got last year for Christmas and decided I would wrap it!  When S saw it this morning, he asked me what it was.  I told him it was a club for his Bam Bamm costume.  He then asked me if he could open it.  I guess my gift wrapping skill could use some work but for club making they are just fine!

Supplies: Small bat, 2 paper bags and Scotch Cover-Up Roll

Supplies-- That's What She Crafted

I used a gift sized paper bag to start and ripped it open along the seams. Then I used that bag to cover the large part of the bat to create more bulk. Secure with scotch cover up roll.

Opening the second full sized paper bag along the seams I then wrapped up the whole bat.
Fully wrapped-- That's What She Crafted

Starting at the handle of the bat I made small strips and wrapped with the cover up roll.  Make it tight as you can for a good shape!
Handle-- That's What She Crafted

Using a square portion of the cover up roll cover up the large end and then use more of the cover up roll to go around the large part of the bat.

Squish, crunch, and “bam bam” a few things for the wrinkles and to make sure your cover up roll is sticking well.  Use additional strips as needed!
The club-- That's What She Crafted

Happy Halloween!

Viever

Painting Pumpkins

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Hey! I’m here to show off one of our most favorite Halloween traditions. Back in 2010 during October, we were debating how to make our pumpkins. The kids were too young to be allowed to carve and well, carving pumpkins wasn’t all that fun. Aevarie didn’t like pulling out seeds (it was far too gross) and there isn’t much else she could do. So my mother had the brilliant idea to paint our pumpkins instead. Perfect! And a tradition was born!

2010 painting pumpkins

This tradition also started a “paint yourself along with your pumpkin” tradition.

2011 pumpkin painting

We just use regular acrylic paint and random paintbrushes.  Both you can get at any Walmart, Target, etc for super cheap. And remember to make sure your kids wear clothes you don’t care about. The paint will not come out! It is also good to get paper plates and cups of water for the kids to put paint on and wash their brushes out with. You may also want to not actually let the kids have power over the paint…..I’ve let my kids and oh my the mess!

2012 pumpkin painting

 Gavin has started “carving” his pumpkins, but the girls are still too little.

 This year was even better because we were able to use our “wishful thinking” pumpkins that just popped up and grew in our garden. 😀

2013 pumpkin painting

And you may be asking, is that Paisley in a pair of Matilda Jane leggings??? Why on earth would I allow her to paint in those. Well, sadly those are the ones Paisley decided to cut a huge chunk out of and I couldn’t find any other pants for her to wear quickly enough. So, I’m not totally crazy and you may breath again.

 This is one of my kids most favorite traditions we have.

Thanks for letting us share with you!

– Karly

Note: The kids were supervised and no paint was eaten or ingested. Safety second folks! You know, because “fun” is first. And they all received showers right after this to get them all sparkling clean again. 😉

A Pixie Birthday Party

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My little girl V is turning one on the 13th of this month.  It’s so hard to believe that she’s been with us a year while at the same time it feels like she’s aways been with us.  At the end of last month we used part of Mr. Viever’s paternity leave to travel to see friends and family and at that time through her birthday party celebrating her first year among our family members in Arizona at my in law’s home.  We did the same for S when he turned one and it was so nice spending time with family and being with those who loved us most to celebrate the life of our child so we had to do it again for V.

V is a bit on the small side and I call her a little pixie, so a party theme was born! Now some random background, I’m not a fan of Tinkerbell.  Just plain don’t care for her, her sass, or the fact that Pixie Hollow took over what used to be Ariel’s Grotto at Disneyland- I know I’m a bit of a freak but Ariel’s my favorite!  So when I was on my search for decorations, I wanted fairies but not of the Disney sort.  I found the perfect little cupcake toppers and matching garland on Amazon and suddenly two days before we were to leave for Boston for a week, (we’re a little on the nutty side and planned travel to Boston for a week, one day at home, then drive to AZ for the weekend of party fun and a relay triathlon) I was struck with a NEED to make V a party dress to match the fairy decor.

Party Banner-- That's What She Crafted

I used Zafarani’s Saffron Twirl dress (It’s still on sale price for $5, go get it now!) as my base for the dress knowing that it would make the perfect party dress and that with a small adjustment to the back button band I could create some awesome removable wings.  So I ran off to JoAnn’s during  naptime and bought fabric and all I needed to make wings– that’s right make the wings, never mind the fact that I ordered wings as party favors already…. crazy lady right here.

During her second nap, I used these tutorials (no sew wings and these gorgeous textured wings which when I have the time I want to fully do justice) as  guides to make my own wings. I didn’t quite follow either exactly as I knew I wanted the center piece to attach to the dress as in the second tutorial but I didn’t have the time to do the layers or the wire shaping of the second tutorial.  I did do some sewing for my wings as I used one set of panty hose and did the bottom portions of the wings separate from the top requiring a seam as I wanted more shaping than the first tutorial did.  Also to attach the pantyhose to the center I also hand stitched the panty hose in place there then used felt with my glue gun to cover up the wire and any panty hose ends that were sticking out.  I also used a glitter glue stick in my glue gun to add some texture to the wings before spraying it down with fabric glitter paint.  Thankfully I remembered to throw the dress fabric into the washing machine at this point otherwise sewing when the kids went to bed would have been postponed, whew!

Now to the dress.  I changed up a few things.  I added an additional skirt layer of a shimmery/glittery tulle material to mimic the look of the fairy dresses in the decoration pieces.  I also made it so that the button band was removable (rather than sewing in the band as instructed I made the whole dress and then did two button holes on the dress and attached two buttons on either side of the band) so I could use a band without snaps for the wings on days we didn’t want the fairy look.  The outfit was done with one day to spare for packing for our whirlwind adventure.

The food.  I knew I was going to need to pick something that would appeal to the toddler crowd and the great-grandparent crowd while also being easy to prepare.  So we went with the theme of brunch finger foods.  We made apple pie dip and cinnamon chips, bacon corn muffins, set out the fixings for fruit parfaits; bought a few different sweet dessert type breads (banana nut, pumpkin strudel, and pound cake), mini cinnamon rolls, BBQ wings, and a veggie tray; catered a few subs and our favorite slushy drinks Eegees (local to Tucson, if you are ever in the area you HAVE to try some my favorite combo is lemon strawberry and favorite flavor of the month cherry cider, and get some fries and ranch too, yum).  My in laws made a mu shu pork dish for lettuce wraps and my husband’s grandmother made sausage/potato/gravy burrito wraps.  All in all the food was GOOD and best of all we didn’t run out of anything.  My in laws actually informed us this last weekend that they were still eating down the leftovers a full week post party.

Apple dip--  That's What She Crafted

Lastly I made fruity cupcakes (used 1 banana and subbed the second for 3 medium strawberries and substituted the honey for maple syrup) topped with a little whipped cream sweetened with a little maple syrup.  Birthday girl was very happy with her first tastes of cake.  Kids and adults alike also got to have mini ice cream cups served with their cake though the birthday girl missed out on them (mean mama I know.)

Party ended post cake when the birthday girl declared (loudy) that it was naptime.  Our littlest guests left donning Peter Pan hats or fairy wings while our grown up guests were invited to TAKE FOOD HOME!  All in all it was a wonderful family gathering and a lovely celebration for  our girl’s first year of life.

Viever

Family--  That's What She Crafted