Tina’s Recipes from Must Love Cowboys
By Cheryl Brooks
One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Must Love Cowboys was that the heroine, Tina Hayes, shares my love of cooking. She has always wanted to cook for a gang of hungry firefighters, and I’ll admit, she gets that from me. In my mind, creating a great recipe is as much an expression of creativity as writing a book. Plus, if you’re cooking for your family or a group of friends—in Tina’s case, it was a bunkhouse full of smokin’ hot cowboys!—it’s very rewarding to watch them enjoy the meal you’ve prepared. Cooking for your loved ones is also a terrific way to show them how much you care without actually putting your emotions into words. This was the easiest way for a shy woman like Tina to demonstrate her feelings toward the Circle Bar K Ranch cowboys as a group, and Wyatt McCabe in particular. :)
During the process of writing, I tried out several new recipes that ultimately made it into the book, and I’d like to share one of them with you now, along with a tried and true recipe for butterscotch pie.
Tina’s Baked Pork Chops
The original version of this recipe came from Allrecipes and was submitted by MakeItHealthy.
- 4 extra-thick pork chops
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning or Italian seasoning (optional)
- 2 beaten eggs
- 2 cups bread crumbs (plain or Italian)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- ½ cup milk
- 1/3 cup white wine
- Mix garlic powder and seasoned salt with the flour. Add poultry or Italian seasoning for a little extra flavor if desired. Dredge chops in seasoned flour and shake off excess. Dip chops in eggs and then breadcrumbs. Place chops in baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350 F. After 1 hour, mix soup, milk, and wine and pour over chops. Cover with foil and bake another 30 minutes, then watch it disappear!
The pie filling recipe comes from Joy of Cooking. The meringue recipe was given to me by a friend who got it from her grandmother. The addition of the cornstarch mixture keeps it from weeping as much as other meringues.
Prepare a baked pie shell. I use the rolled-up Pillsbury kind. If using a premade crust that comes in an aluminum pan, be sure to get the deep-dish type. Bake according to your recipe or the package directions.
Mix the following ingredients together and cook until thick and clear. You can do this in a saucepan on top of the stove or in the microwave. Keep a close eye on it if you use a microwave because it will boil over very quickly. Allow to cool. I always do this part first and stick it in the freezer while I’m making the pie filling.
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
After the cornstarch mixture has cooled and you have the pie filling in the pie shell, in a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites until frothy, then add ¼ tsp cream of tartar and a dash of salt. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form, then gradually beat in the cooled cornstarch mixture and add 4 more tablespoons of sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
In the top of a double boiler, combine:
- ½ cup flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups milk (To avoid lumps, add about ¼ cup of the milk and mix well before adding the remaining 1 ¾ cups)
Cook and stir the mixture in the top of a double boiler over boiling water until thickened. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, beat 3 egg yolks, then add a few spoonfuls of the hot mixture and stir before adding it back into the double boiler. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling. Cook a few minutes more until thickened. Remove from heat and add:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Stir until the butter melts, then pour the filling into the baked pie shell. Top with meringue, sealing the edges, and bake at 325 F for 20 min until the meringue is lightly browned. Allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour, then refrigerate until chilled and enjoy!