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Weekday dinner inspirations: pork chops pizzaiola, baked mac and cheese

Mon | Delish delight

Baked Mac and Cheese is a thing of beauty that can be bent to your own tastes. Cook a pound of pasta (shells, corkscrews, penne). While pasta is cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan, then add 1/4 cup flour. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. Add 4 cups of liquid (whole or low-fat milk, chicken broth or a combination), bring to simmer and keep stirring. Add 4 cups grated cheese (I like sharp cheddar mixed with a bit of Asiago). When cheese melts, drain pasta and stir into sauce. Pour into baking dish and cover with bread crumbs and thinly sliced tomatoes if you like. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, until brown and bubbly.

Tues | Chomp chop

Pork Chops Pizzaiola (recipe below) gets its flavor from tomato-oregano sauce, similar to the red sauce on pizza. Serve with quickly sauteed spinach and some bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Doctor store-bought mashed sweet potatoes for Nutty Sweet Potato Bake by mixing in a diced fresh pear or even an apple. Spread the mixture in a baking dish and sprinkle pecans and cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Serve with roasted chicken and steamed green beans.

Thurs | Tangy tastes

Red and Blue Burgers are grilled patties topped with thinly sliced red onion, blue cheese crumbles and mayonnaise, all on lightly toasted buns. Serve with a fruit salad of chopped apples, halved grapes, pecans and celery dressed with vanilla yogurt.

Fri | What a dish

Scallop Caesar Salads are a classy and delicious way to end the week. Saute big, meaty sea scallops in extra-virgin olive oil with just a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place them on top of traditional Caesar salad. The heat from the scallops makes a lovely foil to the ice-cold salad. Serve with crunchy breadsticks.

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Pork Chops Pizzaiola

4 (1 1/2-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup chicken stock

Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crushed garlic and stir it around to flavor the oil. Add the chops and caramelize on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate and reserve. Stir in the fennel seed, onion, red pepper flakes and oregano. Reduce the heat and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute, then add the wine and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and stock and whisk to combine. Slide the chops back into the pan, cover and simmer to finish cooking the chops, about 5 to 6 minutes. Arrange the chops and sauce on a serving platter and serve.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray's Look + Cook (Clarkson Potter, 2010)

Weekday dinner inspirations: pork chops pizzaiola, baked mac and cheese 11/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 3:30am]

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