Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies and a hearty supper are good for what ails you. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Sometimes we need a little extra TLC in our lives. This can come in the form of making a homey meal for ourselves and our loved ones like mom used to make. More than ever, I’ve been into preparing hearty aromatic oven suppers, pots of soup and employing the crockpot to create something warming and delicious. Not only is it the season to be doing this type of cooking, but this winter of 2021 so far calls for extra nourishment and soothing.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at

This combination of braised pork chops and red cabbage was on the regular rotation of weekday meals when I was growing up. The pork chops (always bone-in) braised in piquant broth until tender with this tasty cabbage served alongside was a much-loved meal in our household.

The braised red cabbage can be made ahead and served warm or cold. Any leftovers are delicious piled on a corned beef or ham and cheese sandwich.

A chocolate 9-by-13 cake with peanut butter frosting was standard dessert fare when I was growing up. Remembering that treat inspired me to make these sandwich cookies to drop off with the grandchildren today. (Yes, I saved a couple aside for myself.)

I only recently discovered the bags of unwrapped mini peanut butter cups, which save time. You can always use the regular size wrapped cups though. Just chop them into pieces and try not to eat too many while you’re working!

Oven-braised Pork Chops

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup onions, diced
4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a large heavy cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until they are softened and lightly browned around the edges. Move onions aside and add pork chops to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook chops for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned. Add garlic and sauté for about 1-2 minutes longer or until garlic is slightly tender and aromatic. In a measuring cup, combine chicken broth, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour mixture over chops. Cover the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until tender. Yield: 4 servings

Braised Red Cabbage

1 tablespoon oil
4 strips bacon, diced
2 apples, cored and diced
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
4 ounces prunes
1 clementine
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 (2-pound) red cabbage, finely sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté bacon over medium heat with 1 tablespoon oil. When bacon is crisp, add rosemary and stir for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and rosemary to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Add caraway seeds and apple to the pan. Using kitchen shears, cut prunes up into the pan. Sauté and stir for 2 minutes then grate in zest from the clementine and squeeze in the juice. Add balsamic vinegar, cabbage and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Cook with the cover ajar on low heat for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through, stirring well every 5 minutes. Stir in bacon and rosemary. Yield: 8 servings

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
5 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (7.6-ounce) package mini peanut butter cups, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Mix in yolks. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Combine milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture alternately with milk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in peanut butter cup pieces. Drop by teaspoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool cookies on racks then sandwich together with peanut butter filling.

Peanut Butter Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk

Place butter and peanut butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable, adding more milk if needed. Beat for at least 3 minutes or until fluffy.

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