Roll With It

As many of you may have noticed, many grocery store prices started climbing in the second half of the year. Widespread droughts and more are to blame, but laying blame doesn't really help when it's time to put dinner on the table. So, if you're like me and my family, there's been a lot more looking around to find the best deal at the grocery stores and markets you frequent. It means planning ahead with menus and ideas, but keeping things flexible enough to work around specials that might present themselves when you're doing your shopping.

A perfect example involves a package of pork chops that I got at the market last week. Pork chops weren't on my list, but the store had an unadvertised special on packages of thin-cut, boneless pork chops and I wasn't about to miss out on that! Normally, I'd slice a pocket into a pork chop and stuff it with my favorite cornbread stuffing, but these were cut thinner than what I normally use. So instead of forgoing stuffing -- which might be considered a sin in my home -- I pressed the pork chops flat on a cutting board and placed about a quarter cup of stuffing onto the center, wrapped both sides around the stuffing, and pinned the chop around it using wooden toothpicks. I arranged the pork chop bundles over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil seasoned with my favorite cajun seasoning and baked them for about twenty-five minutes in a 350-degree oven. The results were truly outstanding:

The pork chops and center of the stuffing stayed moist while the outer edges of the stuffing took on a lightly browned, crunchy texture. The bottoms of the chops browned quite nicely and took on the flavor of the seasoned oil and the pan juices were perfect for drizzling over the chops on the plate. I made a simple waldorf-type salad of chopped cabbage, apples, pecans, dried cranberries, and a mustard-mayo dressing to accompany the chops and dinner was served. The salad was simple enough to get assembled while the chops baked, so dinner was on the table in well under an hour. During this busy holiday season, that's one of the nicest gifts of all!