Spring is an amazing time of year and my favorite because that’s when the Earth comes alive. All sorts of beautiful things happen. Trees are budding, tender plants push through the ground, and romance is in the air and warm weather is just a few weeks away.
I am a romantic through and through. Always have been and with any luck I always will be. Romance is much more than a quick trip to tangle the sheets. It is about being with someone you love and doing little things to show them how much they mean to you. In my case I cook because I love it.
When summer arrives and the gardens are ablaze in color, I want to move the romance outside. So why not share a summer night with your someone special? What better way than with a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine, and music. You don’t need much to set the mood and turn your patio, balcony, or kitchen into a lover’s nook. Make your night be special with great food because it is the doorway to infinite possibilities.
A printed flat sheet is perfect for a festive tablecloth or set out placemats for the plates and serving dishes. Use plenty of candles in different sizes and a variety of holders scattered around the table to enhance the mood, but definitely avoid scented candles. Stemmed wine glasses sparkle in candlelight and add a festive feel to your dinner. Use your regular dishes or, for fun, mix it up with a number of different plates that don’t match but complement each other for the different courses. Experiment and have fun.
Now that you have the perfect location and setting for you and that right person, may I suggest you spoil yourself with an intimate dinner meant for lovers. A dish fit for a king or queen that takes a little time but is well worth it. Prep more chops then freeze them to finish cooking for another meal.
Stuffed Pork Chops
Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).
Slice a deep pocket in each chop. Pack in stuffing. Use toothpicks to hold pocket closed as much as possible by inserting down through both layers of meat at one end then up as close as possible. You’ll use 2 toothpicks per chop.
Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet until it shimmers over medium-high heat. Add chops and brown on each side 2 – 3 minutes.
Pour stock into an ovenproof dish. Lay chops in dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake 35 minutes.
This recipe makes more than you’ll use for the pork chops but it freezes well to use with other meals.
Empty bread cubes into a large bowl.
Fry sausage in a medium-sized frying pan, breaking meat into small chunks, until no longer pink. Add sausage and its juice to bread cubes.
Melt butter in same skillet. Add celery and onion when the foam subsides. Sauté 3 – 4 minutes until translucent, be careful not to let it brown. Add vegetables with all their juices to the bread cubes. Mix well.
Pour egg onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.
Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.
To Bake as a Side Dish
Spoon mixture into an ungreased baking dish. Do not pack it in. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate stuffing until you are ready to bake it, but no longer than two days.
Spoon the mixture into freezer bags, label, and pop in freezer no longer than 3 months. I use several sandwich bags that serve 2.
No matter which route you take, remove stuffing from the refrigerator/freezer early in the day to allow it to come close to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top is brown.
May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!
Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.