Spiced Pear & Shallots Chutney

The warm notes of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg paired with the sweetness of the pears and shallots are exactly what your pork and chicken dishes need to go from good to WOW!

Are we all done with Pumpkinsanity (pump-k-insanity) yet and everything in the world having to taste like pumpkin spice? I mean when I see my normal box of cereal now offering Pumpkin Spice flakes or O’s I’m like “Done!  I’ve checked out!” Don’t get me wrong. I love pumpkin and pumpkin spice BUT I’d like my tea to taste like tea, my ravioli to not taste like a pumpkin pie and my freaking cereal to taste like bran TYVM. Enough is enough. I mean it’s just too much.

<off her soap box>

Okay I feel better *wink*. Today I’m sharing with you a recipe that honestly came out of a “crap, I need to use up these pears before they go bad and mushy” and my throwing stuff in a pot and hoping for the best. It’s funny as many of my recipes kind of start out that way – a thought and a prayer. As this was simmering away in the pan I decided to whip up some lunch for us. Now thankfully I had pressure cooked a bunch of chicken the night before (for weekly meal prep) and had leftover pork tenderloin which meant I didn’t have to do much work other than re-heat.

Spiced pear & Shallot Chutney

So for years when it came to chicken or pork I’d either eat it with mashed potatoes and gravy (kind of where you take a fork of chicken, shoosh it through the potatoes and gravy and put it all in your mouth at the same time OR I’d dip the meat in ketchup. You can quit making that ‘ewwww’ face now. I love ketchup and growing up in Pittsburgh, having the Heinz facility here, you had to love ketchup and put it pretty much on everything. I merely was doing my part.

While I’m still a ketchup lover, I would choose this recipe over ketchup on my meat!

Side Dishes to rock your Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving next week go with some new and delicious sides to add to your dinner menu like Green Bean Casserole Stuffed Mushrooms or Creamy Corn Casserole!

So wow, Thanksgiving is next week. Holy Crap! When did that happen? But I’m happy though as I’m ahead of the game. I have my turkey already bought, have my meal planned out and what sides I’m serving too! He wants cheesecake and I want pumpkin pie which means I’ll make 2 small ones and end up taking the rest to his parents. Sadly his parents don’t come to our house for Thanksgiving and I hate leaving the house a holiday which means Mama Fantabulous cooks for her other 2 sons and I cook for us.

Now when it comes to Thanksgiving I still make my standards – creamy mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes and stuffing but that’s where I stop. Years ago I started a new tradition where I would introduce one new side to every holiday meal either replacing one (i.e., my Mom’s boiled cauliflower and 47 pounds of butter) or adding a new one (creamy corn casserole).

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving requires green bean casserole and I’m sorry but once I created a grown-up version of it, I can’t do the standard canned soup recipes. The canned soup is great in a pinch but homemade is a bajillion times better. Plus I’m huge on presentation and you just can’t make green bean casserole “pretty”. However I give you 2 different variations of it – one with the sauce ladled over top and another with the mushrooms actually stuffed with green bean casserole. Stuffed inside… dwell on that people!
What’s your must-have Thanksgiving side dish?

Tuesday’s Tip with The Kitchen Whisperer – Blooming Spices

Boost up the flavors of your spices by ‘blooming’ them first to help them release their maximum flavor!

When using spices we often just add them in at the end of a dish or right at the beginning. While both methods will give you spice flavor you’re probably not realizing that by not blooming them first, you’re not helping them reach their maximum spice level. You see the key to great success in any dish with spices (albeit hot or just flavorful) is about timing. Granted you’ll get more flavor out of a dish if you add the spices when you first start cooking it like you would with chili rather than adding everything at the end. But timing is just half of the key; the other half is blooming the spices.

Okay, okay, okay ‘explain what blooming is Lori!’. I hear you guys loud and clear.

When I thinking ‘blooming I think of a Bloomin’ onion! lol

Weekly Menu

Get out of that same ol’ recipe rut and try one of these delicious and easy recipes this week! This week I highly recommend making the Potato Gnocchi in a Bacon Cream Sauce and the Crack Chicken Casserole – Tots, Crispy Bacon, Cheeeeese and BBQ Ranch Sauce!!

Happy Sunday TKW Family!  What’s shakin’ in your world? Tis the season and things are ramping up here. Work is making that one final push to get stuff pushed into production before we go into the end of the year freeze which means long hours and lots of work. TKW is always busiest from October to January which yes I start listening to Christmas music around early October. I know, I know, I’m one of those people who actually look forward to when the radio stations go all Christmas music 24×7 for the season. It’s just happy music; stuff that makes you feel good and for many of us, reminds of our childhood.

Christmas for me was such a magical time of year. You all know my story – youngest of 6 from a very, VERY poor family. We simply didn’t have stuff and going to the store to buy things like clothes or the latest and greatest toy just really didn’t happen. However Mom and Dad always found a way to get us each at least one “new” thing from the store. They’d often go without and sometimes they wouldn’t pay a bill just so we’d have a nice Christmas. They always made it so special and Mom would make $20 spent on each kid look like we had a million presents. I think that’s why I get so excited when I see lots of presents. It’s not so much about what’s inside of it but rather seeing all the pretty papers, bows and ribbons. Mom would put so much thought into each individual present that she’d even make unwrapping a single packet of gum exciting.

What we lacked in money and ‘fancy’ things, we made up in other ways a million times over. From the foods from scratch to the homemade gifts. I can still remember sneaking down one Christmas Eve night to go to the bathroom and seeing my new “used junkyard” bike that my Dad made for me. He would go to the local junk yard and find parts, sand them up, slap on a new coat of paint and voila! Beautiful purple banana seated bike. And because Mom was who she was, she put silver tassels on the handles to make it more “Lori”.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Go Crazy & Jelly Bars (Cookie Butter Peanut Butter & Jelly Crack Bars)

Taking PB&J to a whole new level! Crunchy chocolate pretzel crust, raspberry awesomeness, creamy ‘butter’ filling, and decadent chocolate ganache make these bars over the top CRAZY!

So this recipe is one of those “I need something sweet and I don’t care if I have to eat peanut butter out of the jar” type of recipes. Actually full disclosure, that’s how this recipe came to be. I was starving and wanted something sweet but also something fast. Peanut butter!  Peanut butter is my go-to dessert/sweet/protein/just-get-it-in-my-mouth-as-fast-as-possible food. I was in my kitchen, working on some recipes but didn’t have time to make myself something real to eat so out came the spoon and jar of peanut butter.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who eat peanut butter out of the jar. It’s my jar so I can do whatever I want. So I’m sitting there, happy as a little piggy with a newly found mud puddle when I “accidentally” grabbed the spoon from the jar of cookie butter. It wasn’t intentional though I can’t say if it wasn’t subliminal. Anyway I was like “OH! Well that’s a nice surprise!” You see I was working on my Ultimate Cookie Butter Cream pie and had it out along with a big bowl of ganache at the time.

Go Crazy & Jelly Bars - Cookie Butter Peanut Butter & Jelly Crack bars

So there I am, in the kitchen a spoon in each hand and a fretted look on my face as I really needed a third hand to scoop the ganache. That’s when I decided to whip up a few buckeyes. Well about halfway through making the filling I decided to incorporate the cookie butter and then I realized I needed a textural element thus the pretzels. See while I like traditional buckeyes, I prefer a crunch to them so often I’ll add pretzels to it or rice cereal.

Whether you go straight cookie butter, peanut butter or both, you’re going to love these bars!

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