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Cooking for 1: Pork Chops with Cran-Apple Sauce

April 11, 2011

There is nothing trickier than cooking for one.  You are faced with that tough paradox of wanting to eat a good, nutritious meal, but not wanting to put in too much work .  It is all too easy when you are cooking for yourself to scrap together things from the fridge, snack on unhealthy foods, or even order in.  But where is the health benefit in all that?  As a military wife, eating alone becomes part of the norm and I am here to tell you that it doesn’t mean your health or appetite should have to suffer.  Whatever the reason you may find yourself with a place setting of one, remember YOU are worth the effort!  Dinner for one doesn’t have to be difficult and there is no need force yourself into a week of leftovers.  (Little known fact: I hate leftovers and there are about 3 things I am ever willing to eat the next day.)

While I am fortunate to have my husband home for dinner every night during his shore tour, I found myself back to eating solo for a few days while he was traveling.  I thought it was the perfect opportunity to cook up some splendid meals for myself and share the results with all of you.  Hopefully it will inspire those of you that might be in the same boat to take the time to cook for yourselves. 

Before I share my first recipe, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Unless you buy fish or meat directly from a fish monger or butcher, chances are you won’t be able to purchase single serving.  Freeze extra servings individually so they are ready to go for your next meal.
  • Choose recipes that won’t produce too many leftovers.  You cannot (and should not) attempt to eat an entire casserole or lasagna.  Be creative and use smaller baking dishes to create individual size portions or use recipes that have cook once, eat twice results.
  • Focus on meals that limit your waste and don’t need too many ingredients you won’t be able to use up.  You’ll notice that the recipes I’m sharing this week include ingredients I mostly have on hand so I don’t have to worry about throwing out excess.
  • If you are forced to buy more of something than you will need, try to make it work in a different meal.  You shouldn’t avoid fresh herbs or vegetables just because one recipe only calls for a small amount.  Have an entire head of cauliflower?  Steam it one night, include a little in your macaroni and cheese the next, create a cauliflower mash the third.  Unused fresh herbs can also be prepared and frozen for later use.  Or start an indoor herb garden so you always have some on hand and it won’t go to waste.

Now, on to the good stuff!

Pork Chops with Cran-Apple Sauce
Yields: 1 Serving

1 Center-cut pork loin boneless chops (each about 3/4 inch thick)
1/4 tablespoon Olive oil
Black pepper
1 McIntosh apple (peeled and chunked)
2 tablespoons Dried sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup Cran-apple juice

1. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle chops with extra virgin olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the meat on both sides. Place the chops in a hot pan and cook 6 to 7 minutes on each side under a loose tin foil tent. The tent will reflect heat back into pan while allowing steam to escape.
2. Once the chops are turned, season with salt and pepper, to your taste. After the chops are cooked through, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes for juices to redistribute before serving.
3. In a medium saucepan, working over medium to medium high heat, combine apples, sweetened dried cranberries, and cran-apple juice concentrate. Cook apples into a chunky sauce, about 10 minutes. Remove cran-apple sauce from heat and let it settle.
4. Serve cran-apple sauce over pork chops.

Kate’s Tips

I selected this recipe because it is a versatile take on the classic pork chop, plus it is supremely easy!  The most time intensive step is peeling and chopping the apple!  The original recipe calls  for concentrated cranberry juice, but I always have regular cran-apple juice on hand so it is an easier choice for me.  Use whatever juice you are more likely to drink.

I find that one full apple is more than enough for a proper sauce.

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