PARMESAN HERB MUSHROOM CHICKEN

PARMESAN HERB MUSHROOM CHICKEN adapted from Cafe Delites

CHICKEN
2 tablespoons butter
6 skin on, bone in chicken thighs*
PINCH of garlic powder, to taste
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Generously season chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add butter. When melted sear chicken thighs 2-3 minutes on each side (skin side down last) until golden and crispy.
  • Transfer chicken pan to the oven and roast until completely cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
Transfer to a warm plate and set aside.

SAUCE
2 green onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (I like to substitute beech mushrooms for a nuttier flavor)
1 tablespoon FRESH minced basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons FRESH chopped Flat Leaf Parsely
1½ cups Half and Half
2 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese , divided
FRESH ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 KNORR chicken bullion cube, crushed
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with
2 tablespoons Half and Half
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley for garnish

  • Drain all but 2 tablespoons of some of the excess fat from the skillet.
  • Return skillet to the stove over medium-high heat and sauté the onions and garlic a minute or so in the pan juices until fragrant.
  • Add the mushrooms, herbs and 2 teaspoons of parsley, sautéing until mushrooms begin to soften.
  • Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the half and half and bring to a SLOW simmer, stirring occasionally, and being careful NOT to boil.
  • Add in the bullion cube powder and season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  • 
Mix together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons half and half.
  • Add cornstarch mixture to the center of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for another minute until cheese melts through the sauce.
  • Add the chicken back into the pan and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes in the cream sauce.
  • Taste test and adjust seasoning, if desired.
  • Fold in spinach leaves, stirring to coat and cooking JUST until they wilt.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of parsley and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.


NOTES – To substitute chicken breasts for the thighs there is no need to bake them. After adding the breasts back into the pan, continue simmering in the sauce until completely cooked through.

BEEF RAGU & PASTA ala SLOW COOKER and A LITTLE PASTA HISTORY

Strozzapreti AKA priest-choker or priest-strangler are an elongated form of cavatelli, a hand-rolled pasta typical of the Tuscany region of Italy.

The name has many theories as to the name. One of the theories is because of gluttonous priests were so enthralled by the savory pasta that they ate too quickly and choked themselves. Another explanation involves the “azdora” OR A  ”housewife” who “chokes” the dough strips to make the strozzapreti. It is presumed that the housewife would express such a rage possibly triggered by the misery and difficulty of her life that would fill her with enough rage to be able to strangle a priest!” And yet another legend suggests that wives would customarily make pasta for priests as partial payment for land rents (the Catholic church rented to many farmers) and their husbands would be angered enough by the priests eating their wives’ food to wish that the priests would choke as they stuffed their mouths with it. And yet another possible explanation is that the pasta resembles a clerical collar which is commonly referred to as a “Priest Choker”.

The more commonly accepted theory is that following Sunday mass, a priest would visit homes of the villagers and enjoy dinner with them. The more pleasant the experience for the priest the more often they would come back to that particular home. As a means for the family to let the priest know that he might have worn out his welcome, they would serve this pasta which later earned the name “Strozzapreti.”

The dough is first rolled out in thick flat sheets. It is then cut into strips. The strips are lightly rolled or twisted between the palms. The large pasta is separated into 3-4 inch pieces by pinching it. Unlike spaghetti or macaroni, this pasta is not uniform in size or shape.

Different regions makes this pasta slightly different. In Romagna it is made with wheat flour, water, salt and sometimes eggs. Where as in Emilia it is made from flour, water, Parmesan cheese and egg whites which are all beaten together. In Pici it is more similar to the Tuscan style which is hand rolled, solid fat tubes of dough that are cut, but not twisted giving it the appearance of a taut rope. In Corsica it is a large gnocchi made of cheese and vegetables and then baked.

Unless you make your own pasta regularly this is a difficult pasta to find in your average grocery store. I usually substitute the Barilla Campagnelle pasta which is a thinner cone shaped pasta with a ruffled edge and is often known as “little bells”.

BEEF RAGU ala SLOW COOKER
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 -3 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon House Seasoning (see below)
28 ounce crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
Prepared pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Spray a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Arrange the onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle the roast with the house seasoning on both sides.
  • Arrange roast on top of the onions and garlic.
  • Sprinkle the carrots on top of the roast.
  • In a medium bowl, blend together the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, red wine vinegar and Italian seasonings.
  • Pour over the roast.
  • Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours until the beef is EXTREMELY tender and falls apart.
  • Skim any fat from the top.
  • Use 2 forks to shred the beef.
  • Stir beef into the tomato sauce.
  • Adjust seasonings.
  • Re-cover and cook for another hour to allow the flavored to meld together.
  • Serve over prepared pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

HOUSE SEASONING MIX

1/4 cup fine sea salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon FRESH ground black pepper

  • Combine in a small bowl until well blended.
  • Store in an air tight container.

 

STUFFED CHICKEN ALFREDO SHELLS

STUFFED CHICKEN ALFREDO SHELLS
20 whole Jumbo Pasta Shells, Cooked And Drained
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
FRESH ground salt And pepper, to taste
Avocado Oil
3/4 cups ricotta cheese (whole milk, NOT low-fat))
3/4 cups SMALL CURD cottage cheese (whole milk, NOT low-fat)
3/4+ 1/4 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
2+ 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole LARGE eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced FRESH parsley
2 tablespoons minced FRESH basil
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 cloves garlic, minced

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a grill pan or iron skillet over medium heat, drizzle with avocado oil.
  • Cook the chicken on both sides until cooked through.
  • Remove and shred with two forks and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, eggs, 2 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and chicken, stirring to combine. Add heavy cream as necessary 1 tablespoon at a time. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sprinkle with the flour. Whisk and cook until the roux turns golden brown.
  • Pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly, and cooking for a few minutes, until thickened.
  • Add the garlic, the additional 1 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, and minced basil and stirring until well blended.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  • Add 1 cup sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • Using a spoon, fill each of the jumbo shells generously with the chicken/ricotta mixture.
  • Lay them face down in the pan, then pour the sauce all over the top.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheeses.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is golden.

SAUCY MEATBALL SLIDERS

SAUCY MEATBALL SLIDERS makes 6 sliders
3/4 pound ground beef
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
1 batch authentic meat sauce
6 buns
Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • In a large bowl combine your breadcrumbs, ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 tablespoons meat sauce, egg, salt and pepper.
  • Add ground beef and minimally mix by hand JUST until well blended.
  • Form 6 meatballs.
  • Place meatballs on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.
  • Bake 15-18 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  • While meat balls cook, heat sauce in large skillet.
  • When meatballs are finished baking add them to sauce, turning to coat.
  • Toast buns.
  • Plate bun bottoms.
  • Add a meatball to each bun bottom and top with a spoonful of meat sauce.
  • Top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Add bun tops.
  • Serve with salad.

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CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE

CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE
1/2 pound penne pasta
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
Wondra flour for dredging
Fresh ground black pepper and salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 batch marinara sauce (recipe below)
1 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices Provolone cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 9×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta per package directions on the al dente’ side. Drain and set aside.
  • Combine flour and seasonings in a ziplock bag.
  • Heat butter and oil in skillet until sizzling.
  • Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Add chicken pieces to hot oil and quickly sear all sides.
  • In a large bowl gently combine sauce and pasta with the majority of the Mozzarella and Parmesan reserving some for the top.
  • Gently fold in chicken pieces and stir to coat.
  • Spread ingredients evenly into baking dish.
  • Top with provolone slices followed by the remaining Parmesan and Mozzarella.
  • Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes.
  • Uncover and return to oven baking another 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.
  • Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

SAUCE
1 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small red onion, chopped
24 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 KNORR beef gel
3/4 cup moscato white wine
Juice from 1 lemon
5-6 cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
3 tablespoons Classico sundried tomato pesto
1 teaspoon fresh ground Himalayan pink salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

  • Heat avocado oil in a large saute’ pan over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and garlic sauteing until tender.
  • Whisk together the beef gel, wine, pesto and juice from the tomatoes.
  • Add seasonings, blending well.
  • Add tomatoes and gently crush.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 2 hours.

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CHICKEN PARMESAN LASAGNA

CHICKEN PARMESAN LASAGNA

Barilla ready to bake lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon avocado oil
3/4 pound ground chicken
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1 small stalk celery, diced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained VERY WELL
2 tablespoons chicken broth
3/4 cup marinara sauce
8 ounces ricotta cheese
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 small egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
9-10 button mushrooms, sliced thin

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9×9 deep baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • In a large skillet heat avocado oil over medium high heat.
  • Add chicken, onion, carrot and celery, stirring until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are soft.
  • Add garlic and cook a minute more until fragrant.
  • Stir in tomatoes,marinara sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper.
  • Reduce heat to low simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl stir together the ricotta cheese and egg until smooth and well blended.
  • Toss together the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
  • Over a medium-high heat melt butter.
  • Add mushrooms ans saute until caramelized.

ASSEMBLY

  • Add 1/3 of chicken mixture to baking dish.
  • Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  • Add a thin layer of chicken mixture.
  • Top with a layer of the ricotta mixture.
  • Top with a layer of the cheeses.
  • Repeat layers 2 more times ending with mushrooms before final cheese layer.
  • Cover and bake 20 minutes.
  • Uncover, bake another 20-25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is golden.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO PARMESAN CHICKEN

CREAMY SUN DRIED TOMATO PARMESAN CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds large THINLY sliced boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black cracked pepper (adjust to your tastes)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
5 ounce jar sun dried tomato strips in oil drained (reserve 3 tablespoons of oil for cooking)
3 tablespoons reserved sun dried tomato oil or olive oil, divided
5-6 button mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 – 2 cups spinach (optional)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley to serve

  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and onion powder.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved sun dried tomato oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Sear the chicken for 2 minutes or so each side, or until golden and cooked through.
  • Transfer to a warm plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pan.
  • Add shallots and garlic, sautéing a minute or so until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add in the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms if using sautéing 1-2 more minutes to release their flavors.
  • Add paprika and Italian seasoning, stirring to blend.
  • Reduce heat to a medium-low.
  • Add white wine and then the heavy cream, stirring to blend.
  • Bring to a gentle simmer, while stirring occasionally.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese. Allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes until cheese melts and blends into sauce.
  • Add in spinach leaves if using and allow to wilt in the sauce.
  • Add the chicken back into the pan; top with parsley and serve over pasta.

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AUTHENTIC ITALIAN MEAT SAUCE

AUTHENTIC ITALIAN MEAT SAUCE

6-8 button mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
2 carrots, cleaned and finely chopped
1 slice sourdough bread, torn into pieces
2 tablespoons whole milk
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Classico sun dried tomato pesto
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained but reserve juice
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons FRESH torn basil or oregano pieces
3 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pasta of choice

  • Add bread and milk to food processor. Process until well blended.
  • Add meat and process until well blended.
  • In a large dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add carrots and onions, cooking until carrots soften.
  • Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mixture darkens. Be sure to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato pesto, cooking a couple minutes more.
  • Add reserved tomato juice.
  • Add beef mixture and cook, stirring regularly to break up beef into small pieces.
  • When beef has lost its raw coloring DO NOT CRISP BROWN BEEF**, add diced and crushed tomatoes and blend well.
  • Simmer on low 30 minutes until sauce has thickened and flavors are well blended.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese and season to taste.
  • Serve over prepared pasta.
  • Garnish with fresh basil or oregano.

NOTE:** You want the meat to be tender so do not cook until it is dry and crispy!

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BALSAMIC BAKED MOZZARELLA CHICKEN

BALSAMIC BAKED MOZZARELLA CHICKEN serves 4
adapted from CafeDelites.com

4 skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons lemon olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix
FRESH ground salt teaspoon salt, to taste
FRESH ground black pepper, to taste
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounce jar marinated artichokes, drained well
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 LARGE shallot, sliced
1/4 cup QUALITY balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3/4 cup fresh shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped basil

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Place chicken breasts in a baking dish and drizzle with lemon olive oil.
  • Mix together Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  • Rub seasoning all over each breast.
  • Arrange the tomatoes, half of the garlic, shallot slices and red onion slices around the chicken in the dish.
  • Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, sugar and remaining garlic in a jug to combine.
  • Pour over the chicken breasts, flip each breast in the sauce to evenly coat.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts), or until no longer pink in the middle.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and broil for 4-5 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
  • Garnish with parsley and basil.
  • Serve over pasta
  • Drizzle with the pan juices.

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SPAGHETTI with RICOTTA MEATBALLS & PECORINO GARLIC BREAD

In my humble opinion (especially now that bread is a rarity in my diet) a “dressed” garlic bread is the ONLY way to go! The strong penetrating flavor of the  Pecorino cheese in the garlic bread as well as the meatballs raises your normal spaghetti to a NEW level.

 

SPAGHETTI with RICOTTA MEATBALLS & PECORINO GARLIC BREAD – serves 2

2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH Parsley, minced
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH Basil leaves, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, minced and divide in thirds
3/4 pound LEAN ground beef
2 tablespoons Ricotta cheese
¼ cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1/3 pound spaghetti noodles
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
Avocado oil
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
1 French Roll

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Bring a medium pot of salted water to a FULL boil.
  • Prepare a small baking sheet with foil
.

 

  • Mix together the ground beef, ricotta cheese, parsley, 1/3 of the garlic, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the Pecorino cheese with your hands until well blended.
  • Shape meat into ping pong sized meatballs.

 

  • Heat avocado oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add meatballs to hot oil stirring occasionally until browned ALL over, 6-9 minutes.
  • Set aside.

 

  • While meatballs are cooking cook spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  • Drain pasta. Toss with oil.

 

  • In a small mixing bowl combine 1 tablespoon of Pecorino cheese and 1 tablespoon avocado oil together into a paste.
  • Stir in 1/3 of the garlic.
  • Place bread on lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Spread paste over bread and bake until golden brown.
  • Top with sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

 

  • In a medium sauce pan combine marinara, a pinch of salt and reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil.
  • Return meatball pan to a medium heat. Add remaining garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until meatballs are warmed through, 8 minutes or so.
  • Plate and serve immediately.

Linking up to FULL Plate Thursday.

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE

This is a very altered recipe from the Southern Living Slow Cooker cookbook. I changed amounts, flavor profiles and we really think it was for the best. There was no garlic in the original recipe and they used cheddar cheese! So NOT Italian!

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE makes 6-8 servings
1 pound ground chuck (for something spicier, use Hot Italian Sausage)
1 LARGE shallot, diced
15 ounce jar CLASSICO Four Cheese Tomato Cream Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup Wondra flour
12 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken into pieces**
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
avocado oil

  • In a large skillet over medium high heat a small amount of avocado oil.
  • Add ground chuck and diced shallot. When just about browned add garlic and saute’ a minute more.
  • Drain off all fat and return meat to pan.
  • Add CLASSICO sauce to meat and blend well.

 

  • In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, melt butter.
  • Add flour, whisking until golden.
  • Slowly whisk in evaporated milk until well blended and thickened.
  • Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

  • Lightly spray the slow cooker with non stick spray.
  • Spoon half of meat mixture into slow cooker and spread evenly.
  • Top with half of the spaghetti pieces.
  • Spoon half of Parmesan cheese mixture over the spaghetti pieces and spread evenly.
  • Top with half of the Mozzarella cheese.
  • Repeat layers.

 

  • Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours.
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

NOTE**: I can sometimes find “pot size” spaghetti which is just half size spaghetti so much less mess with breaking and they fit in the slow cooker perfectly.

PORK MARSALA

The Marsala wine is the key to this dish. Hubby HATES mushrooms so I often substitute shallots and the recipe is just as good.
PORK MARSALA
4 boneless pork tenderloin pork chops, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
2 eggs, well beaten
Fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1/2 cup Wondra flour
2 tablespoons avocado oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small bunch green onions, sliced thin
1 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch or Wondra gravy flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Buttered egg noodles
Chopped flat leaf parsley

  • Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Generously season pork pieces with fresh ground black pepper and salt.
  • Dredge pork pieces through egg and then flour before adding to skillet.
  • Cook 3-4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through (based on thickness). Set aside and keep warm.
  • Add onions and mushrooms to the skillet cooking 5-6 minutes until golden.
  • Add Marsala wine and beef broth, scraping bits from bottom of pan as you deglaze it.
  • Cook 5-6 minutes until liquid is reduced by half.
  • Whisk the cornstarch into the heavy cream until smooth.
  • When Marsala is reduced and a deep rich color, add the cornstarch mixture and cook 2 minutes until begins to bubble and thicken.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add remaining butter.
  • Return pork chops to pan, turning to coat.
  • Serve over buttered noodles.
  • Top with sauce and chopped flat leaf parsley.

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