Saying welcome to 2019

For many of us, 2018 was a fantastic year that you will never forget with meeting your mate, having children and grandchildren, a job promotion or better job etc. and so on, and then for others it was not such a good year due to losing a loved one, sickness, loss of a job, loss of a special relationship and the list goes on and on.

Reading today’s column you will recall both good and bad happening during the year.

In two days, when we welcome 2019, we should all have a list of good things (like children write a list for Santa to fill) and that we would like to see take place in our lives this coming year.

When you look back to the past year would you do many things differently if you could do the year over again or are you thankful with the outcome of last year? This time of the year, I would guess that the most common wish that people make is that they would like to lose weight and start a strict diet. However, usually these attempts turn out to be very difficult to fulfill, causing your diet plan to last for only a few days or weeks. Naturally, it is very difficult for most people to stick to a healthy diet during holidays and special occasions, saying we will start after all the good foods and desserts are all gone. But who are we fooling but ourselves, for after Thanksgiving comes Christmas, New Year’s, then Valentine’s Day with all the chocolate and on to Easter, so start your diet anytime and stick with it.

There are many different parties on New Year’s Eve where it seems the tendency lately is to go out for dinner and then retreat to your homes where it is safer to see the New Year in at mid-night.

Celebrating at home is also a very good way, especially if you plan on drinking alcohol, plus you don’t have to worry about getting stopped by the police. LOL

Pork and cabbage are the traditional foods to bring in the New Year, and in our family we add the tradition of cutting “Vasilopita” (a special sweet homemade bread) which is baked with a silver coin in the bread and on New Year’s Day, the head of the house slices the bread in front of the family — with the first slice going to Jesus, the 2nd to the house and then from the father, mother, grandparents and on down the line from the oldest to the youngest. Whoever receives the slice of bread with the coin is the luckiest person in the family starting the New Year.

It is exciting to watch, especially the grandchildren faces as they anticipate the coin being in their slice of the bread, but then you can also expect a tear from one that slice has no coin..

I wish you a very Happy and Healthy 2019. As I have gotten older, I always put “healthy” between Happy and New Year because good health is the most important thing we have.

Until next week (year!)

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Cherry-Stuffed Pork Chops

1 package couscous with toasted pine nuts

6 boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick and 6 ounces each)

1/2 cup dried cherries

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Meanwhile, cut a deep slit in each pork chop, forming a pocket. Stir the cherries, brown sugar, butter and ginger into prepared couscous. Stuff 1/2 cup into each chop; secure with toothpicks. Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper. Grill pork chops, covered, over medium heat for 10-12 minutes on each side or until thermometer reads 150. Discard toothpicks.

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Individual Beef Wellingtons

6 beef tenderloin steaks

4 tablespoons butter, divided

3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped shallots

1 can condensed beef consume, divided

3 tablespoons port wine

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

In a large skillet, brown steaks in 2 tablespoons butter for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm. On a lightly floured surface, roll each puff pastry sheet into a 14×9 rectangle. Cut each into two 7-inch squares. Place a steak in the center of each square. Lightly brush pastry edges with water. Bring opposite corners of pastry over steak; pinch seams to seal tightly. Cut four small slits in top of pastry. Place in a greased 15×10 baking pan. Brush with egg. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and meat reaches desired doneness. Meanwhile, in the same skillet, saute the mushrooms and shallots in remaining butter for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Combine flour and consume until smooth; stir in mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in wine and thyme. Cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Serve with beef.

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Pork with Gorgonzola Sauce

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 pork tenderloins

salt and pepper to taste

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

additional cheese crumbled

In a small bowl, whisk the Dijon mustard, olive oil and thyme until blended; set aside. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over high heat, brown pork on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a foil-lined roasted pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Spread Dijon mustard mixture over all sides of pork. Bake at 425 for 10-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic in butter for 30 seconds. Stir in flour until well blended. Gradually whisk in the cream, wine and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Add cheese. Cook and stir until sauce is reduced to desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Slice pork and transfer to serving plates. Spoon sauce over pork. Sprinkle pork with additional cheese.

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Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 cup butter, cubed

1 medium head red cabbage, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 medium tart apples, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the cabbage, salt and pepper. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in apples and water; cover and simmer 45 minutes longer or until cabbage and apples are tender. Combine vinegar and brown sugar; stir into cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until cabbage and apples are glazed.

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Lemon Almond Asparagus

2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed

1/4 cup butter, cubed

5 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

lemon peel strips

In a large skillet, bring asparagus and 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until crisp tender. Meanwhile, melt butter; stir in lemon juice. Drain asparagus, top with butter mixture, almonds and if desired, lemon peel.

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Eve Pudding

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups chopped peeled tart apples

1 cup chopped dates

Sauce

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to creamed mixture. Fold in apples and dates. Transfer to a well-greased pudding mold; cover. Place mold on a rack in a deep pot; add 1 inch of hot water to pot. Bring to a gentle boil; cover and steam for 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove mold from pot; let stand 10 minutes. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the eggs, sugar and butter. Heat over low heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and reaches 160, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into egg mixture. Unmold pudding onto a serving plate; cut into wedges. Serve with sauce.

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Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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