Isn’t it amazing that salsa is the #1 condiment in the United States? We love salsa in our house. Whether it’s a chunky pico de gallo, or a smoky salsa verde – we have yet to meet one we diddn’t like. This recipe is no exception. When I came across it on my friend Josie’s site, I knew it was going to be a winner. First of all, it’s Rick Bayless. The man moved to Mexico for 6 years to better learn the cuisine. He knows his salsa, folks.

I also loved the addition of fire-roasted tomatoes as the base. I like using good quality canned tomatoes for the restaurant style salsas that I’ve made in the past, so I knew the flavor could only be amplified by using the fire-roasted variety. The store only had fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic on shopping day, so I adjusted my recipe by reducing the amount of fresh garlic in the recipe by a couple of cloves. My changes are reflected below. The tomatoes lended a smokey sweetness, and the cilantro and lime juice just made it so bright and fresh. Made a nice sized batch that stored in the refrigerator wonderfully for a few days!

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe all summer. Several of my favorite blogs had posted it over the past couple of months and everyone raved about it. We had it for dinner earlier this week, and I can finally say I see what all the hype was about. It’s great because I usually have most of the ingredients on hand, so I could see it being a “go to” meal when other dinner plans did not pan out for whatever reason (which happens fairly often around here). I also have an over abundance of fresh oregano and marjoram in my herb garden right now that I’m trying to use up before we get our first frost in a month or so.

The dish was a breeze to put together. I did make a few changes from the original recipe. Since Hurricane Irene pretty much did away with the vegetable garden, I had to buy cherry tomatoes…and, they just weren’t the best. They diddn’t release very much liquid when they burst open, so I added some vermouth to help compensate and deglaze the pan. It imparted a definite flavor into the pan sauce, which wasn’t a bad thing. However, I felt like it distracted from the flavor of the tomatoes a bit. I’m looking forward to trying this dish again soon with some better quality tomatoes. I would play it by ear, and if you feel like you need a little more liquid, add a splash of white wine.

I had my first pumpkin cream cheese muffin at a very notorious coffee shop some years ago. They always looked gorgeous, but in the grand tradition of most store-bought baked goods…they were not anything to “write home about”.  I thought about trying my hand at making my own, figured that they were too complicated and forgot about them. When my friend Annie posted them last year, I knew I had to make them.  I did not get around to making them last year (pregnancy was in full swing at the time), but they were at the top of my list for this fall.  I finally got around to  making them last week, and let me tell you, they are wonderful!

I personally feel like they fall under the realm of cupcakes more than muffins. The pumpkin cake is so light and moist. Not that dense cake that a muffin usually calls it’s own. I’m not going to complain though, I can eat a “muffin” in the morning for breakfast and not feel the least bit guilty. Then again, I’ll eat a cupcake for breakfast and not feel the least bit guilty either. At least I’m honest. Whenever you choose to enjoy them, I’m sure that you (and whoever else you share them with) will love them, and love you for making them. Enjoy!

It’s no secret that I have a penchant for anything Italian. However, there are only so many lasagnas and risottos one can eat before they yearn for something new to try. The idea for this recipe sparked years ago, when I spotted a recipe for pork chops with vinegar peppers in The Sopranos Family Cookbook. However, the recipe called for spicy pickled peppers, which diddn’t really appeal to me . I thought bell peppers would bring more flavor to the “party”, as well as look more attractive.

I’ve always been a huge fan of balsamic pan sauces when it came to any pan-seared meat, so decided on that for  my deglazing agent to get all those yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. Plus, balsamic vinegar is pretty mild on the acidity scale. That’s just what I was looking for to pair with pork, which is on the milder side.

I used boneless pork chops this time around, because it was all that was available to me at the store last week. I usually like to get a thin cut bone-in chop if I can, because I  think they have better flavor and retain more moisture. But, the boneless was great. Just make sure you don’t overcook them, as they can dry out so quickly! Alternatively, I’m sure the dish would be wonderful with chicken breasts or thighs.