Monday, January 24, 2011

Pineapple Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple and Spicy Fries

2 pork chops
Juice from 1 can pineapple slices
2 T brown sugar
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2/3 c dry sherry
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together except pork chops to make marinade. Pour into bag and refrigerate for a few hours. When ready to make, preheat oven on broil and place top rack on the second-highest shelf. Place chops in a baking dish (I use a 13x9 cake pan) and pour marinade in. Place in oven for 15 minutes, flipping once.  Remove pan and move rack to top shelf (carefully!) and put pan back in oven for a few minutes.

3 russet potatoes
1/3 c. flour
1 T season salt
2 T Franks Red Hot (or more, but definitely not less)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
enough water to make a batter
deep fryer w/ oil or a pan deep enough to fry in

Cut potatoes into fries. I like steak fries, but do what feels right. Mix flour, season salt, Franks (I put that sh*t on everything) sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add water slowly to form a paste-like batter that's thick enough to stick to the fries. Thinly coat the fries a few at a time and put them in hot (350 degree) oil one at a time so they don't stick together. Fry in small batches until they float and drain on a paper towel.

1 T brown sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
1 can pineapple rings

Mix soy and brown sugar in a small bowl. Soak pineapples for a while (about as long as it takes to batter the fries) and grill on indoor electric grill. I used my panini grill, which only has one setting that would be similar to a medium high setting on the fancier grills. A Foreman grill also works great. Remove when you've got nice grill-lines and the pineapples are steaming.

When it's all said and done, place 2 pineapple rings on top of the pork chops and serve next to the fries. Sorry there are no pictures. If I had any idea that this would be so good, I'd have taken some. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just a Cozy Weekend with Paninis

This Friday, I had absolutely no interest in leaving the house for our usual date. The boy was pretty much okay with that idea, so we got carry-out on Friday. Saturday I made all of these ambitious plans that included revisiting The Red Lion Grog House for lunch (as well as going to the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Comedy Sportz), but after we got around to eating the ambition was gone and we went home and fell asleep on the couch.

Sunday mornings (or early afternoons) I always make us brunch. Nothing too fancy, just sausage or bacon, French toast, pancakes, or cinnamon rolls, potatoes, and either scrambled eggs or an omelet for The Boy. This Sunday was no different (except that I bought Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and didn't bake them long enough. I'll go back to making them from scratch from now.) After brunch we usually watch movies this time of year since it's so cold in Indiana - and the Colts season is over. I'm typically a pretty good girlfriend and let him watch football on Sundays all day while I go out and spend time with my friends and family. Today I just stayed home and whined about football for a while - this is why I'm blogging now.

I was still feeling pretty lazy tonight when it came time for dinner, so I decided to make my favorite paninis. The Boy was begging for them last night, but it just wasn't happening. These haven't been named yet, so I'm open to suggestions.


  • 2 slices of whole wheat (or other favorite) bread
  • sundried tomato aoili (recipe below)
  • fresh baby spinach
  • roasted red peppers
  • caramelized red onions
  • 4 slices brittle applewood smoked bacon
  • 4 medium sliced slices of quality deli turkey (I prefer Boar's Head or Deitz & Watson, but the Kroger brand Private Select is also really good)
  • 1 or 2 slices of Swiss Cheese to cover bread
Assemble sandwich as follows: bread, aoili, spinach, red peppers, onions, bacon, turkey, cheese, bread. It's assembled that way for a reason. Brush the bread with olive oil (or melted butter) and grill on panini press until bread has nice toasted grill marks. Slice in half with a big straight-edged knife (I use my carver) and enjoy.

Sundried Tomato Aoili
4 or 5 sundried tomato halves in oil, drained
1 clove garlic
2 coarsely chopped basil leaves (optional)
1/2 c mayonnaise

Pulse sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil in food processor (mine broke and I chop everything by hand, which works fine but generally sucks)
Add mayo and blend until smooth.

*Tips & Tricks:
  1. If you don't have a panini press, you can either use a George Foreman Grill, or press the panini between two pans and cook it that way. The choice is yours and neither is ideal, but I've had better luck with two pans than the Foreman Grill.
  2. The super-secret reason I put the ingredients in that order is that the aoili holds the spinach in place, the red peppers are full of moisture, so there needs to be a good barrier between them and the bread, hot stuff in the middle so that the middle gets hot faster and the bread doesn't burn, and cheese melts better when it's close to the heat source. 
  3. The Boy doesn't like spinach. That's okay. Leave off what you don't like. In fact, he loves it when I use ham and turkey on the sandwich. Do what feels right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Iaria's Italian Restaurant

317 S. College Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana
(317) 638-7706
Tues - Thurs5pm - 9:30pm
Friday 5pm - 10pm
Saturday 4:30pm - 10pm
Tues - Fri 11am - 1:30pm
Closed Sunday and Monday

It doesn't look like much. It's an old building with tacky neon lights on South College Ave and you would never know it was there, but Iaria's nearly always has a full parking lot and a long wait on any given weekend.

The decor is old and outdated, too. There is an old wooden bar at one end of the bar side and two lines of green booth seats back to back in the middle of the bar area with tables lining either side. They put paper placemats down on the table and roll the silverware in paper napkins that adorn the Iaria's logo. It's loud and busy and you can hear the bus boy drop all of the plates into his bus tub. So how have they drawn such a crowd? How do they get celebrities to sign pictures so they can hang them on the wall?

 Iaria's was established in 1913 and underwent a few major changes in its business plan over the years. Back then, College Ave was Noble St. When the Iaria family moved to Indianapolis from Virginia (although they were originally from Roccoforte, Italy) they purchased a home where the dining room sits today. They took in boarders and Antonia Iaria fed them the same spaghetti sauce recipe that the restaurant still uses today. Three years later, Pete Iaria's Italian Grocery was born in what is now the bar, and that's how things stayed until 1933 when they started the restaurant. Iaria's is now in it's forth generation of ownership.

I always end up in the bar area. I have eaten at Iaria's several times in my life, but I have no idea what the actual dining room looks like. I can't imagine it's much different. We called ahead and got right in. 

Our server was being run ragged and she quickly stopped by our table to let us know she'd be right with us. We were still looking over the wine list, so that's okay. In the mean time, delicious warm Italian bread was dropped off at the table. When she came back I asked how the House Chianti was and she said that she liked it and offered me a sample. I ordered a 1/2 carafe and The Boy ordered a Goose Island 312 along with some calamari. The Chianti was nice. It had a sweeter flavor than most of the Chiantis I've had, but still had that nice spicy finish that I've grown to know and love. 

She then took our order. Whenever I see veal on the menu, I have to order it. I love veal and I don't want to hear about those poor baby cows. They taste delicious. At any rate, I ordered the veal parmesan with pasta and The Boy ordered  cheese tortellini with a tomato cream sauce. Both are served with homemade ministrone and a side salad.

 Almost instantly our calamari was delivered. They are freshly breaded in Italian bread crumbs and fried and served with piping hot homemade marinara sauce. You can usually tell a lot about a restaurant by its calamari and this was very good. The seasoning and the sauce were delicious and the calamari was not chewy. The marinara is a little sweet, but it works very well with the calamari.

Next, she brought out our minestrone soup with precision timing. The Boy liked it, but I thought it was a bit bland. We both salted it and added some parmesan cheese, but I just couldn't love it. It is homemade and has nice big chunks of zucchini, beans, and all of the typical ingredients, but I felt like it was lacking in the tomato department.

Again, with perfect timing, our salads came. So far, we're really impressed with the service. They have meal timing down to a science. We both ordered EYE-talian dressing with our salads. On a side note, whenever you go to a family owned Italian restaurant, get the Italian dressing. Don't order ranch. Most often, it's homemade. The salad itself was pretty typical. It looked like a spring mix with some shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers. The dressing is thick, tart and zesty, but not over-powering. We both loved it. The side salad can be substituted for the antipasto salad for you salad people out there. It's also really good and totally worth the upcharge if you're in the mood for antipasto.

 As soon as we finished those, our entrees were brought out (they must have little gnomes with headsets under the table to tell them when to bring the next course). The Boy's plate looked delicious. The tomato cream sauce is a beautiful color that is almost a light orange. It looked nice and fresh. The veal is kind of piled on top of itself with melted provolone and tomato sauce and the pasta is served in a bowl with the same sauce poured over top of it. I'm still excited about it at this point. I cut into the tender meat with my mouth watering, but I was sad to learn that the famous Iaria's sauce, which is very sweet, does not work at all with the veal. I ate a little more of it hoping that the flavors would start to meld together, but they did not. When the server came back to check on us, she asked how everything was. The Boy was stuffing his face with those cheese-filled tortellini and that delicate sauce, so he was obviously fine. I said, "It's okay," kind of indifferently and she read right into it. 

"Just okay?!" I explained that the sauce and the veal didn't work with my palate and she offered to fix it for me, but I declined. I still had the spaghetti ahead of me. She apologized for the food to which I replied it was fine and thanked her. After all, she didn't cook it. I wasn't that disappointed. I'm even more impressed with the service at this point, though. Usually when I respond like that, they say "great!" and leave.

When we were finished eating, she offered to box mine up for me, but I knew that it would just sit in the fridge for a week (or six) and I'd throw it out when it started to smell, so I didn't take my left-overs with me. The Boy cleaned his plate and was full to his eyeballs.

When I went to Rome, there was a chef who had a restaurant around the corner from our apartment in Trastavere who turned us on to an Italian digestif called Amaro - we ended up getting really drunk off of this bitter-sweet licorice flavored drink, but last night at Iaria's, I couldn't remember the name of it. I even texted the people I went with and asked, what was that drink we got from the chef that we got really drunk off of? He replied "A-something" which was exactly what I told The Boy. I asked the server if she knew what I was talking about and she brought me Anisette - it is a digestif that tastes like licorice and starts with an "A" so I give her an A for effort. It wasn't what I was looking for, but it was delicious - and strong. I sipped it slowly and let the licorice and mint flavors consume me while I waited for my food coma to pass.  

We also ordered a piece of tiramisu to share when we got home. They make it from scratch, so we had to try it. It was absolutely wonderful with a light espresso flavor.

The Verdict: I'm going to give it another shot. The server really wowed me and this is the first meal I've had there that wasn't perfect.  The Boy loved his meal, so next time I'll just stay away from the veal. The total bill was only $84 for a beer, a 1/2 carafe of wine, an appetizer, 2 entrees, a digestif, and dessert. We would have spent more at a chain restaurant for poor service and poor quality pre-made food.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Congratulations to our Winner!

Congratulations to Jen! The winner of the blog contest! I will email you your gift certificate.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Basil and Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops

Dearest Friends and Followers
I would like to apologize for my broken promise. This week I have been a bit under the weather and haven't posted a recipe yet. I haven't really prepared anything, so I'm going to share with you an all-time favorite of mine. It's really easy.

Basil and Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Chops

  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless pork loin chops, 1/2 inch thick
Mix the brown sugar, basil, garlic, salt, and chili powder in a small bowl. Add in olive oil until brown sugar mixture is crumbly.

Coat both sides of pork chops with brown sugar mixture.

Heat remaining oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook pork chops 7-8 minutes on each side, flipping once.

Tip: Make sure you don't over-heat your skillet or the glaze will burn.

These are great to make on one of those nights when you really don't want to cook. The mess is minimal and they're quick. In the summer I serve these tender, juicy pork chops with summer squash and zucchini over caramelized red onions. If you decide to give them a try, let me know how they turn out!

Also, there is still time to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift certificate! Just follow my blog or leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monon Food Company

6420 Cornell
Indianapolis, IN 46220
I'm going to be completely honest with you. We did not go on a date this weekend and I apologize for the late post. It was New Year's Eve and we spent the evening with The Boy's mom and step dad - we ordered pizza and wings and had some beers. Instead of telling you about a dinner date, I'm going to tell you about a breakfast date.
As of December 4th, the Monon Food Company, located in Broad Ripple right next to the Monon Trail, started serving brunch. Pancakes and sausage are two of my favorite food groups, so we had to go check it out.

We had a beautiful Saturday morning with no particular plans for the day. Neither of us felt much like sleeping in and this time of year, I go a bit nutty when I'm cooped up in the house a lot, so we decided we would go find a new breakfast place, check out the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (they talked me into an annual membership - I'm such a sucker), and then finish out the day with a friend at Bourbon Street Distillery for a few drinks. I'll fill you in on the Distillery at a later date.

We headed up to Broad Ripple because breakfast restaurants on my side of town are mostly limited to chain restaurants. There are a few gems here and there, but I wanted something out of the ordinary and Broad Ripple always delivers. Worst case scenario, we'd grab something quick and spend some time walking on the Monon Trail.

From Broad Ripple Avenue we turned north on Cornell (that's where all the free parking is, but don't tell anyone I told you). The Boy parked the car and we turned around - there it was. A giant sign on the porch of the Monon Food Company read "Now Serving Brunch!" Oh yeah, we found it.

We were greeted by the hostess and seated at a small table by the window. Other than the staff, we were the only people there, but they had just introduced their new brunch menu. The interior was clean, bright, and modern and the service was fast. Our friendly server was over promptly with coffee for me and orange juice for The Boy.
We took a few minutes to look over the menu and it was anything but typical. They don't have buttermilk pancakes on the menu. Instead, they serve delicious buckwheat banana pancakes with pecans which I ordered with sausage patties. Both were wonderful although I didn't actually read the menu description, so the first pecan I bit into was a bit of a surprise. The Boy ordered a sausage and cheese omelet and potatoes. I didn't try his omelet because I can't get myself to like eggs and I avoid milk when I'm going to be out in public, but his potatoes were unbelievable and very well seasoned. The Boy did comment that it was the best omelet he'd ever had. 

Our total was just over $20 before tip which may be a little steep, but the quality of the food was great and there were several good choices. The ingredients are definitely fresh and the food was hot, although we were the only table. so anything less would be completely unacceptable.

The Verdict: This was a great selection for brunch and they serve lunch and dinner as well. While the price seemed a little on the high side, portion sizes were good and the food was delicious. I don't know that I'd specifically make the trip to Broad Ripple just for brunch, but if I'm headed in that direction, I would eat there again.
Don't forget to check out our giveaway and enter to win a $25 gift certificate!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Silk Pie (Vegan)

This rich, decadent chocolate silk pie is (almost) guilt-free. And the best part is that because it's vegan, it's lactose-free (but don't worry, I won't tell anyone).
Let me first point out to those of you nay-sayers, tofu takes on the flavor of whatever it's seasoned with, so in this case, it will taste like chocolate. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone make tofurky Christmas dinners or anything. It's basically used as a substitute for milk and eggs in this pie.

1 16oz package of silken tofu, drained
1-2 T honey
1/3-2/3 c Kahlua to taste (1/3 doesn't taste boozey at all, 2/3 has a definite Kahlua flavor)
1 package of vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (Kroger has one particular line of vegan chips, though they're not advertised that way. Read your labels)
1 graham cracker crust (These are usually vegan, but as always, read the label. Feel free to substitute with a GF crust if that strikes your fancy) .

Put silken tofu and honey in food processor and blend it until it's smooth. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it makes your life a little easier when you mix the chocolate in later.

Melt chocolate and Kahlua together until smooth in double broiler (or a metal pan over boiling water if you don't have one). Be careful not to scorch the chocolate in this step. Keep it moving!

Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor with the tofu and honey and blend until smooth and there is no white left, scraping the sides occasionally. 

Pour into pie crust and chill for 2 hours until set. The lumps won't smooth out on their own, as you can see in the photo. Now I make it pretty by smoothing it before I put it in the fridge.

That's it. It's super easy and absolutely delicious. My family loves it. Everyone in my office loves it. Even The Boy loves it! And I promise, no one will ever know it's tofu.

Don't forget to enter my contest by following my blog, linking me, commenting, and referring your friends. You can enter as many times as you'd like to win a $25 gift certificate. Check the contest link for the official rules and ways to enter.