Baseball Extravaganza

What started as a birthday present from my parents to Dan one year has become an annual tradition that we look forward to every summer.  My parents are big fans of the Houston Astros and enjoy attending as many games as they can.  Several years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Astros in Houston, and my parents gifted their Pennsylvania native son-in-law with tickets for us to join them for 2 games of the weekend series.  We decided to stay at the baseball-themed “Inn at the Ballpark,” located less than a block from the Astros ballpark in downtown Houston.  At the time, staying at a baseball hotel and attending 2 baseball games in the same weekend seemed like a lot of baseball, so we nicknamed the experience the “Baseball Extravaganza.”  We had such a good time that weekend that a tradition was born.  Our baseball weekend has become a rite of summer for us — usually falling on Labor Day weekend and always including a wonderful stay at the Inn.

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Horseradish-Maple Glazed Pork Chops

We often use leftover pork for a second meal during the week, including such dishes as stir-fried pork, banh mi sandwiches and moo shoo pork.  Sometimes I prefer pork as a leftover because so many of these dishes have a sauce or other components to liven up the pork, which otherwise can be a little bland.  These chops are anything but bland, yet not too flavor-specific that they can’t be turned into a totally different second meal (we used our leftover chops in fried rice.)  I found the recipe in one of Bobby Flay’s cookbooks, “Boy Meets Grill.”  Chef Flay writes, “think about these three flavors going together — grilled pork chops, pungent horseradish, and sweet maple syrup — it makes sense.”  We initially thought that pairing horseradish with syrup actually does not make sense, but we are not accomplished chefs, nor Food Network stars.  So we took Bobby’s word for it and were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed the sweet, yet spicy flavor.

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Chicken Stew with Green Olives

Now that it’s September, cooler weather is FINALLY on the way, and we could not be happier.  It’s been a brutal summer here, but we have been blessed with glorious temperatures in the low 80s for the last couple of days and we are excited for fall.  In addition to a break from the hot weather, fall means cooking more of our favorite soups, chili and other comfort-food dishes.  This stew, adapted from a recipe in Glamour magazine, is a great dish for the transition from summer to fall.  The olives and basil give it a bright, summery flavor, while the broth and tomatoes provide richness.  It’s also really easy to make with simple ingredients:  chicken, leeks, olive oil, garlic, white wine, tomatoes, chicken stock, green olives and basil.

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Pork Fried Rice (with leftover pork)

As promised, here is another of our favorite uses of leftover pork, Asian style.  We adapted the recipe from “The Best 30-Minute Recipe” cookbook (which we can’t recommend highly enough), but the dish is pretty flexible in terms of both ingredients and sauce.  This version is what we prefer, but you can always put your own spin on it, which is one of the many reasons we like this recipe.  We also appreciate that it’s a quick, easy and delicious use of leftovers.

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