Michael Cina and wife Greta look forward to sharing family meals with new son Solomon.

“When we have guests over the kitchen is the place we end up having conversations long after the food is gone,” says Michael Cina of Roseville, Minnesota. “A good meal really brings people closer together. Cooking for someone is more than a gift; it shows your love. It transforms the ‘every day’ into a special occasion.

“We have a lot of specific memories of meals and the people who have shared them with us and what we talked about.”

More memories are on the way now that Michael and his wife Greta this year welcomed their first child into the family. “I’m already getting excited about eating meals as a family and I can only see my love for cooking grow because of that,” says Michael. “Hopefully we can pass along the joy of cooking to our son Solomon!”

Michael, a graphic artist and music lover, likes to show his creativity in the kitchen. “Cooking is like jazz music,” he says. “You are at your best when you can improvise.”

That’s exactly what happens when he prepares Walnut and Raisin Pork Chops, which he “made up on the fly” a few years ago around Thanksgiving and still tinkers with every time he makes them. “Whenever I make this recipe it is different, based on what I have around the house.”

Walnut and Raisin Pork Chops

Some of the greatest fall flavors come together in this recipe from Michael.

  • 4 medium-thick pork chops
  • 2 TB. olive oil (or 1 TB. olive oil and 1 TB. butter)
  • 3 TB. brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. GROUND BLACK PEPPER, to taste
  • 1/4 Cup walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 Cup dried cherries or cranberries (craisins)
  • 1/4 Cup golden raisins
  • 3 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TB. whole seed mustard or Dijon
  • 2-3 tsp. THYME
  • 2 sliced apples

Put oil in a large skillet. Use both butter and olive oil for a richer taste. Mix together the brown sugar, CHIPOTLE, salt and PEPPER. Coat the pork chops evenly on both sides with the spice mix. Place the chops in the unheated skillet and turn the burner to medium. Cook for 5 minutes and flip. Add the nuts, berries and raisins. Pour the balsamic vinegar evenly over everything in the skillet. Add the mustard, SAGE, THYME and apples. If the pan is getting dry, add small amounts of water (1-2 TB. at a time) to keep moist. Cook about 10 minutes until done (depends on how thick the chops are). Watch carefully so the pan doesn't get too dry or the sugar will start to burn. Serve hot with a salad; cook extra berries and nuts for a nice salad topping.

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Nutritional Information: Servings 4;
Serving Size 1 chop (205g); Calories 460; Calories from fat 250; Total fat 28g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 540mg; Carbohydrate 31g; Dietary Fiber 2g.

Walnut and Raisin Pork Chops

Need any spices for this recipe?

Description Price Quantity
Black Pepper Shaker Grind 2.1 oz. 1/2 cup jar $5.69
Chipotle Pepper Ground 1.2 oz. 1/4 cup jar $5.59
Sage Rubbed .4 oz. 1/4 cup jar $2.49
Thyme French .8 oz. 1/2 cup jar $4.79