Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and are ready to welcome in the New Year!!! Christmas at our house was as fun as ever. After all the intensity of this last year it really has made me stop and realize how precious each moment is. Not to sound like a Hallmark card, but for Christmas all I really wanted was not to worry too much about meaningless things that fill our time and instead give the gift of an experience together. Memories last much longer than that cute pair of boots or a toy that will break next week. If I didn’t appreciate my family before then this last year certainly put all that into perspective.
So we had Santa write a letter to the kids (wink, wink) telling them very subtly that we will be going to Disneyland!! (This should make for some fun posts about how to eat gluten free on a budget while vacationing.) Me and my hubs are so clever! We haven’t told them the exact date in hopes of having some leverage to enforce good behavior until then. Brilliant, right!
We put a huge Mickey Mouse ballon in an even bigger box, wrapped it with a big red bow and rigged the ballon to fly out as soon as the box was opened — which they were prompted to do at the end of the letter. I mean when you’re saying things like “magical land”, “princesses, roller coasters, and sand” what else could it be but the happiest place on earth? In our minds we could see our children reading Santa’s letter (which rhymed thank you very much) and screaming in realization and delight.
Well, after reading the letter it took them about 10 minutes to figure out the riddle. After lots of hints from me and confused looks as to why there was just a big ballon in the box they finally, in disbelief guessed it. Too funny! Oh well. The excitement, though slow in coming was worth it.
Even though Christmas is over I’m still loving the holidays, the prospects of a crisp new year, and being around lots of friends and family. If you’re planning on entertaining over New Years this dish will impress! Caramelized onions and mushrooms, juicy herbed pork chops and apple slices…mmmm. Not only is it good, but it’s healthy. No breading or cream of anything. In fact, this dish is Paleo (gluten free) and dairy free.
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 boneless pork chops
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tbsp rubbed sage
1 celery heart (leaves and all), chopped
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, no MSG & Gluten Free (1/4 cup divided)
1 tbsp. gluten free corn starch
1 apple, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Salt and pepper and saute onion, garlic and mushrooms until caramelized. We don’t want them to get over done so scoop them into a bowl, cover and set aside for a few minutes while you cook the chops (you may need to add a drizzle more olive oil). Pat dry, salt and pepper pork chops on both sides before putting them in the hot skillet. Brown chops for just a few minutes – about five on each side. Don’t worry about them being done in the middle. You just want them browned.
With a fork, whisk the corn starch and reserved 1/4 cup broth together. Now pour in the vinegar and some chicken broth. Start with a cup and as the liquid evaporates you can add more to keep the bottom of the pan covered. Stir in the herbs and chopped celery heart (F.Y.I. the celery heart is just the middle few pieced in a celery bunch. They are more tender, paler in color and have more flavor). Turn the burner down to medium-low, put a lid on and let it simmer for another 5+ minutes depending on the thickness of your chops. Mine were fairly thick so they simmered for closer to 8 or 9 minutes.
Remove the chops and set on a plate to let the juices reconstitute. In the still simmering pan throw the onions and mushrooms back in, toss in the apple slices and pour in the corn starch mixture and allow to thicken. This should just take a minute or two. Scoop up the sauce and all the goodies in it and liberally distribute on top of each chop. Serve along with a big green salad.