We’re often reeled in at the market by their relatively reasonable price. But what do you do with pork chops or pork steaks when you get them home? Our mothers and grandmothers used to pan-fry them or bake them within an inch of their lives, driven by an outdated FDA mandate that implied you’d die if you ate pork that was served at anything under 180 degrees. Today, the FDA’s revised recommendations are kinder to lean pork; it need only be cooked to 145. The recipes below yield juicy, ultra-flavorful pork, which is perfect for autumn dining. Please share your favorites with us on social media!
5 Ways to Grill or Smoke Pork Chops
1. Cider-Brined Pork Chops
Celebrate the arrival of fall with these delectable chops, brined in apple cider (find fresh-pressed at your local market), smoke-roasted, then seared. Finish, if desired, with a Calvados (apple brandy) glaze.
2. Monroe County Pork Steaks with Spicy Vinegar Dip
The heat-seekers among us will appreciate this regional barbecue favorite. Tipped off by our late fire wrangler Rob Baas, Steven made a special trip to Monroe County, Kentucky, to sample these pork steaks at their source. (He even wrote about them for the New York Times.) Pork blade steaks or thin pork chops work, although blade steaks have more marbling.
Like their bovine counterparts, pork T-bones encompass a strip loin and a nugget of tenderloin separated by a T-shaped bone. Here, they’re cooked dramatically on clean shovel blades heated over an open fire. Inspired by a technique used in the Australian Outback, this preparation will have your guests talking for years.
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5. Brined Triple-Thick Pork Chops with a Chile Rub
A cool Minneapolis restaurant, the Butcher and the Boar (it closed during the pandemic but rumors say it will reopen under different ownership in 2022), shared this flavorful recipe with Steven. Brined for 12 hours in a solution that contains curing salt, these thick pork chops (look for 2 bones) are then smoked. They can be eaten at this stage, but are even better when glazed with olive oil and a chile-inflected rub.
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Cinnamon Roll Blondies are blondies with a layer of cinnamon-sugar mixture in the middle and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting. If these bars make you crave a cinnamon roll, try my homemade Cinnamon Rolls.
Cinnamon Roll Blondies
It starts with my blondies recipe, but I didn’t add butterscotch chips to the batter. Instead, I made a layered blondie with the batter on the bottom and top with a cinnamon-sugar mixture in the middle. Then, I topped the bars with a homemade whipped cream cheese topping. It’s like a cinnamon roll in a bar form. To be more specific, it’s like eating the center of the cinnamon roll, the best part, that is loaded with cinnamon!
Cinnamon Roll Blondies Ingredients
There are three parts to this recipe–the blondies, cinnamon layer, and whipped cream cheese frosting.
Brown Sugar: You will notice that brown sugar is the only sugar used in these blondies (no granulated sugar). This gives the bars a great rich flavor. We preferred light brown sugar over dark brown sugar in this recipe.
Cornstarch: The cornstarch helps the bars have a light and chewy texture.
Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture: The buttery cinnamon and sugar mixture is the middle layer of the bars. As I stated above, it’s like getting to the center of a cinnamon roll in every bite!
Frosting: The whipped cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to these bars.
How to Make Blondies
You will want to first make the bars since they have to cool before adding the frosting. To make the blondies, first, combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir well before adding the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing it all together. Next, add the vanilla.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch (the ingredient that helps the bars from getting too dry), baking powder, and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the butter and egg mixture until completely combined. If the batter is getting too thick, you can always use a hand mixer.
Add half of the batter to a prepared 9×9-inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Before adding the second layer of batter, make the cinnamon sugar layer.
How to Make Cinnamon Roll Mixture
Once the blondie batter is ready, make the cinnamon mixture. To make the cinnamon mixture, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Evenly spread the mixture over the first layer of the blondie batter, followed by the other half of the blondie batter on top.
Bake the Cinnamon Roll Blondies for 35-38 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove the blondies from the oven and let them cool completely before adding the whipped cream cheese frosting.
How to Make Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
It only takes a few minutes to whip together this cream cheese frosting for the Cinnamon Roll Blondies. So, once the bars have cooled completely, put the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, start on low to get all the ingredients combined.
Then, mix on high for 4-5 minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy. Finally, frost the cooled blondies, cut, and serve. This would definitely be a dessert bar you could serve for breakfast or as a dessert. Store the blondies in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Can I Freeze Cinnamon Roll Blondies?
Yes, you can freeze these bars. However, I recommend freezing them without the frosting. The frosting is easy enough to whip up when ready to serve the blondies. To freeze them, let them cool completely. Then, store them in a freezer-safe container for up to a month. Let them thaw at room temperature.
Looking for More Dessert Bar Recipes?
Strawberry Lemon Blondies
Ooey Gooey Banana Bars
Carrot Cake Bars
Cinnamon Roll Blondies are blondies with a layer of cinnamon-sugar mixture in the middle and topped with whipped cream cheese frosting.
Cinnamon Swirl Blondies
Author: Amanda Rettke–iambaker.net
1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) unsalted butter, melted
1¾ cups (350g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups (285g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (½ stick or 57g) butter, softened
1½ cups (188g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×9-inch pan by lining it with parchment paper (or lightly grease and flour). (You could use a 9×13-inch pan for more servings, but the bars will be thinner.)
Whisk melted butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until fully incorporated.
Add the eggs and the egg yolk, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
Whisk in the vanilla extract.
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
Using a rubber spatula, gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter and egg mixture until completely combined. Set aside as you prepare the cinnamon-sugar layer.
In a small bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.
Spread half the blondie batter into the bottom of the lined baking dish. (The batter is thick.)
Evenly spread the cinnamon layer over the blondie batter.
Add the remaining blondie batter on top, spreading it out to the edges of the pan.
Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until the edges just begin to turn golden brown and the center is no longer jiggly.
Allow the bars to cool completely before adding the cream cheese frosting.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
Put cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix on low until just combined. Once ingredients are all incorporated, turn the mixer on high and leave it for 4-5 minutes. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
Spread frosting over cooled blondies.
Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.
The following kid-friendly baking recipes are my suggestions if you’re baking with eager little kitchen helpers. Baking is an exciting activity that everyone can enjoy. Not only is it quality time spent together, baking ignites creativity, teaches how to follow instructions, involves math & counting, and always brings smiles. The purpose of this page is to help adults find recipes that are fun and manageable when baking with children. As always, young bakers should have adult supervision in the kitchen. Post includes recipes free from common allergens as well as average recipe times.
I am NOT a pro at this, but between my entire team and I, we’ve baked with children enough that we understand what goes into the process. In this post, I’m sharing which recipes are fun yet manageable with children as well as the helpful advice I’ve learned along the way. What’s your best advice when it comes to baking with kids?
5 Tips for Baking with Kids
Embrace the Mess: If you feel most calm in a tidy kitchen, set your expectations before starting. Baking with kids can be messy, but that’s the fun of it.
Big Bowls: From experience– use very large mixing bowls so there’s plenty of room for stirring, pouring, splashing, etc.
Pre-Measure If Needed: If you’re baking with more than 1 child, it’s likely helpful to have some ingredients pre-measured so all they have to do is pour into the mixing bowl. If you’re baking with 1 child who is beginning to understand math, it might be fun to have that child help measure so there’s learning involved. For example, “We have 2 cups flour and 1 cup cocoa powder needed, how many cups total do you think that is?”
Allow Enough Time: Baking takes time and baking with kids takes longer. The recipes listed below include the average time, but including children in the process may slightly extend those times. Consider it a fun journey rather than a means to an end.
Assign Jobs/Make it Fun: For example, if you have an 8 year old and 4 year old in the kitchen with you, give each a specific job such as the older child measures and the younger child stirs. If you’re baking with a child who is beginning to learn counting, have that child count all of the ingredients. To create excitement, you could call the child “chef” such as “please hand me the whisk, chef Sally” and label your kitchen tools with fun names such as “Sally’s Super Special Spatula” or “Dominic’s Mighty Mixing Bowl.” (This works wonders with super young bakers!) You could even pretend you’re doing a cooking show and make up a fun name for your show.
Kid-Friendly Baking Recipes
Muffins are my #1 suggestion if you’re baking with kids. Muffins are (usually) easy to mix together, fun to spoon into liners, quick to bake, and you can enjoy them right away. They’re handheld, manageable for young bakers, freeze well, and keep all week long for snack, lunchboxes, or breakfast. Versatile, convenient, quick.
And our go-to choice is this Banana Muffins recipe which usually takes 30 minutes. For a special treat, you can turn them into “cupcakes” by dipping the tops in chocolate ganache and adding sprinkles. I like using these naturally colored sprinkles for decoration.
Don’t limit yourself to just these! Browse all muffin recipes.
The following 4 recipes are all quite different, but very fun for kids. Wholesome breakfast cookies require just 1 mixing bowl and we love to indulge in the mini no yeast cinnamon rolls and sprinkle pancakes. The giant cinnamon roll is a longer baking project, but kids love to help roll/assemble it.
Homemade Kid-Friendly Snack Recipes
The following 4 recipes would be a fun afternoon activity before snacktime.
Easy Treats in Under 1 Hour
The following recipes are easy desserts/candies that come together in 1 hour or less.
Yeast Breads & Quick Breads
The following 5 recipes are savory baked goods. When it comes to baking with little helpers, I especially love making biscuits because they’re quick, require few ingredients, and kids can get their hands right in the dough. I also suggest Greek yogurt zucchini bread or pumpkin bread— you don’t need a mixer for either.
Kid-Friendly Cookies in 1 Hour (No Chilling)
The following 6 recipes are convenient because none require you to chill the cookie dough. Don’t limit yourself to just these! Browse all no chill cookie recipes.
Decorating Baking Projects
The following 3 recipes are fun for young decorators.
Simple Baking Projects for Kids
I call the following recipes “baking projects” because each are a little more involved than a standard recipe such as rolling out dough or frosting & sandwiching cookies.
Additional Simple Baking Projects
Kids would also love making a small-batch cheesecake, a quicker cheesecake that you can bake in a loaf pan. Very approachable!
Involved Baking Projects
The following 4 recipes would be fun if you’re baking with older children. I wouldn’t necessarily call any of the recipes “advanced,” but they do require dedicated attention and guidance. All require some chilling or rising time.
Nut Free Recipes
Most of the recipes above are nut free with the exception of recipes for peanut butter baked goods. As always, double check recipe ingredients before starting.
Gluten Free Recipes
Here are all of my published gluten free recipes.
Egg Free Baking Recipes
Here are all of my published egg free baking recipes.
8 Ingredients or Less
If you’re looking to bake a recipe with few ingredients, I have an entire page dedicated to recipes with 8 or fewer ingredients, even some as low as 5 ingredients or less. I include dinners, desserts, breakfast, and snacks. Have fun!
Grilled Scallops in the Shell because I couldn’t go all the way to the ocean and not cook some seafood! It’s been a minute since we’ve done scallops and grilling some on a shell felt like the perfect way to celebrate a much needed vacation. My wife and I spent a fun afternoon visiting the local seafood shack, picking out our dinner and getting a bit creative on how we were going to cook it. Now, I know this isn’t the first time someone has cooked scallops in a shell, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun, fresh recipe for us. Keep reading to see how it can be for you too!
What are the two MVPs of all seafood dishes? If you said butter and lemon, you’d be correct! Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t other, very classic and standard ingredients you could use. It’s just that when I think about cooking seafood, I automatically reach for the lemons and butter. This leads me to our Grilled Scallops in the Shell preparation. I start with… lemon juice! I placed all my scallops on a dish and covered them with the juice of one lemon. I mixed the scallops by hand to ensure each one had an even coating of the lemon juice.
Up next comes the seasoning. To keep things simple (remember I was on vacation, so simple is good), I reached for my all purpose Seafood Seasoning from Spiceology. I poured a thin layer across the top of the scallops. Then mixed them by hand again to ensure an even coating of seasoning across all these grilled scallops. Now, onto the butter.
The butter preparation is also pretty straightforward. I started by melting butter. Next, I dumped the parsley, scallions, red chili flakes, garlic and horseradish into the dish containing the melted butter. Mix that all together, but with a spoon this time. I should note, not all horseradish is created equal. The horseradish we picked up was as 10/10 on the set your sinuses on fire scale. Luckily, my wife and I love horseradish so we still added a decent amount to our compound butter. You can easily adjust how much you use in your butter based on your personal preference for these grilled scallops in the shell.
It’s the shell grilling that makes this recipe fun for me. I love cooking in unique ways and this one is definitely an eye catcher. Plus, it’s so simple to make Grilled Scallops in the Shell!
For this cook, I lit up some Cowboy Charcoal and set my grill grate directly on top of the hot coals. Now, when I say directly on top of the coals, I don’t mean over the coals on the grill grate stand. I literally mean set the grill grate on top of the coals. I was tempted to place the shells directly on the coals, but wanted the flat surface of the grill grate to help hold the shells upright.
Place the scallop shells on top of the preheated grill grate so that they have time to warm up. Next, place one scallop in each shell. You should hear a sweet sizzling sound and see small bubbles popping at the edges of the scallops. Flip them once the bottoms of the scallops start to turn golden brown in color. Let them continue to cook for a bit after you flip them, then we’ll add the butter.
I used a spoon to pour about a tablespoon of the compound butter over each scallop. If you don’t hear the hallelujah chorus singing as a backdrop for the butter pour, you’re doing something wrong. This is where this Grilled Scallops in the Shell recipe comes to life! Let the scallops continue to cook in this butter for a couple minutes before pulling each shell from the grill.
Shells are Served
Pull the Grilled Scallops in the Shell from the grill and place them directly on your serving platter. No garnish needed for this beautiful dish, although I did place some grilled lemons on the side for a pop of color. If you did want to garnish with something, I think some finely grated cheese would be incredible. We just forgot to get some at the store, but I promise these are delicious just as they are. Best enjoyed with friends and family! Cheers!
Grilled Scallops in the Shell is on the menu! Cooked in their own shells, I couldn’t go all the way to the beach and not cook some seafood.
Grilled Scallops in the Shell
Author: Derek Wolf
8-10 Scallops with side muscle removed
1 tbsp of your favorite Seafood Seasoning
1 Lemon juiced
Charred Lemon for garnish
Horseradish Herb Butter:
3 tbsp of Melted Butter
1.5 tsp of Chopped Parsley
1.5 tsp of Chopped Chives
1 tsp of Minced Garlic
1 tsp of Prepared Horseradish
½ tsp of Red Chili Flakes
½ tsp of Hot Sauce
Place your scallops on a plate and pat them dry with paper towels. Lightly add some lemon juice, then season thoroughly with seafood seasoning. Place the scallops in the fridge for 10 minutes, uncovered, to dry out the outside in order to make them crispy. When ready to cook, pull out scallops to come to room temperature 5 minutes before cooking.
In a bowl, add your melted butter and all the other ingredients for the Horseradish Herb Butter. Mix together then set aside until ready to use.
Preheat a high heat fire (around 400F) for direct grilling. Add your scallop shells to the grill 1 minute before cooking with a little dab of oil in each shell.
Add your scallops to the shell to cook for 1-1.5 minutes per side. Once you have flipped them over, add a spoonful of butter sauce over the top of each scallop. Let simmer in the butter until done. Once done, pull off and let cook for a couple minutes.
Add a little more butter to each scallop, serve with charred lemon and enjoy!
If you’re looking for a festive fall dessert, this is it! All of the flavors of apple pie are stuffed into this fluffy dessert tamale. If you’ve never made tamales and think it’s too difficult, we urge you to reconsider! Once you’ve made a tamale, you realize how easy they really are.
Fluffy masa dough is whipped with vegan butter and vanilla, sweetened with apple juice and coconut sugar, and spiced with cinnamon and ginger, then stuffed with our date-sweetened apple butter and cooked until fluffy and tender! The result is a cake-like sweet and spicy tamale oozing with apple pie flavor. Just 10 ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!
What are Tamales?
Tamales are believed to have originated in Mesoamerica (a region that includes parts of Mexico and Central America). They consist of a corn-based (masa) shell and flavorful filling that’s wrapped in either a corn husk or a banana leaf and then steamed.
While you may be more familiar with tamales stuffed with a savory filling, tamales are also enjoyed with sweet fillings, including various fruits. You can learn about different variations and find a more traditional Mexican sweet tamale recipe from Mexico in My Kitchen.
How to Make Apple Butter Dessert Tamales
These tamales begin with the sweet masa dough, which includes tamale classics like masa harina, salt, and baking powder.
We infuse the dough with coconut sugar and apple juice for sweetness, vegan butter to make it rich and flaky, and cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla for fall flavors.
The filling is our incredibly delicious, date-sweetened apple butter, which is made by cooking apples down into a luscious, caramelized spread. It’s one of our favorite ingredients to make and have around during apple season, but if you’re in a hurry, choose store-bought or make homemade pumpkin butter instead.
With the filling and masa dough ready, it’s time to make tamales!
Spread the dough in a dried corn husk, top with apple butter filling, and start rolling.
When the seams of the corn husk meet (photo above), fold the narrow end of the husk under the tamale (photo below) and place the tamale in a steamer basket for cooking.
Repeat with the remaining tamales and steam the big batch all at once.
While these tamales require a little extra planning and preparation, this recipe yields a large batch, so you can store them in the freezer to enjoy whenever a dessert craving strikes.
We hope you LOVE these dessert tamales! They’re:
Perfectly sweet Tender Fluffy Cinnamon-infused Warm & SO delicious!
Enjoy them as is or serve with vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream and our vegan caramel sauce. They’re the perfect dessert to serve at a dinner party or large gathering!
More Apple Desserts for Fall
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Prep Time 1hour
Cook Time 1hour
Total Time 2hours
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days
Water for soaking
2cupsmasa harina(not cornmeal // masa harina has been cooked and soaked in lime water, then ground into flour)
1 ½tspsea salt(plus more to taste)
1tspground ginger(adds spice // optional)
2/3cupsoftened vegan butter(we prefer Miyoko’s or Earth Balance)
1 ½cupsapple juice(divided)
FILLING: If you haven’t prepared your apple or pumpkin butter yet, do so now. Otherwise use store-bought to save time.
HUSKS: Soak the dried corn husks in a large bowl of warm water until pliable, ~15-20 minutes. Then drain, shake off any additional water, and pat dry with a towel. Keep wrapped in the damp towel until ready to use.
MASA: Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the masa harina, baking powder, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger (optional). Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, beat (or whisk) the softened vegan butter with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of apple juice and the vanilla extract until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and beat (or whisk) until combined.
Add the rest of the apple juice 1-2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Beat (or whisk) on high for several minutes until a sticky dough that resembles peanut butter or thick cake batter forms (see photo). You may not have to use all of the apple juice. Set aside.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt to taste (for flavor balance), cinnamon for warmth, ginger for spice (optional), or coconut sugar for sweetness. You want the masa to be pretty flavorful with a noticeable amount of salt for depth to balance the sweetness of the apple butter filling. Set aside.
ASSEMBLY: Arrange so the wide end of the husk is closest to you and ensure no residual water is left on the husk (pat dry as needed). Then place 2 heaping tablespoons of masa dough on the wider end of the corn husk and spread out into a thin, even layer toward one edge of the husk, leaving the narrow (upper) end empty (see photo).
Place about ~1 ½ tablespoons of apple butter along the center of the masa, creating a log lengthwise. Fold 1 side of the husk over the filling (toward the empty side of the husk), then keep rolling until the seams meet. With the tamale seam side up, fold the narrow end of the husk away from you and under the tamale. Set aside (upright in a loaf pan or bowl) and repeat with remaining tamales (as recipe is written, you should have ~24 tamales).
Place a steamer basket into a large pot and pour in enough water to fill just below the steamer basket. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low.
Place the tamales, standing upright (with their open ends up) in the steamer basket. Put the lid back on, and steam/simmer for 1 hour. The tamales are done when the husk pulls away from the dough easily, the masa appears puffy in appearance, and the tamale doesn’t feel limp or soggy. Let the tamales rest for 10 minutes uncovered (off the heat) before serving. During this time, they will continue to firm up and become even easier to unwrap from the husk. If you’re unsure if they’re done, remove one tamale and let it rest for 10 minutes outside of the pot to see if it unwraps easily. If it’s still sticky or tender, return to the pot and continue steaming for another 5-10 minutes until it’s firm and easy to unwrap.
To serve, unwrap tamales and enjoy warm as is, or top with vegan vanilla ice cream, coconut whipped cream, vegan caramel sauce (or a drizzle of maple syrup or date syrup), and/or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Store cooled tamales covered in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop until hot.
To freeze, let tamales cool, then add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a well-sealed container where they should keep for at least 1 month, oftentimes longer. To cook from frozen, let thaw, then heat either in the microwave or in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop until hot. Or microwave for 1 minute, remove husk, and then continue heating in the microwave or in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop until hot.
*Prep/cook time does not include making apple butter. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with our homemade apple butter and without optional ingredients.