Not Just Another Day…Celebrate It! Happy Birthday!

Birthdays are special.  It doesn’t matter what people say, how old you are or which birthday it is…they are special days in our lives.  They are days which should be celebrated.  Celebrate the life of the one having the birthday.  Oh, I know, everyone says “it is no big deal”, or “just another day” or “I stopped counting”…well you can stop counting, just don’t stop celebrating.

Think about it for a minute.  How many days, times a year do we actually stop to celebrate?  Celebrate someone, a life, an accomplishment?  Not nearly enough.  Let’s see…one birthday a year, Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Mother’s/Father’s day, one or two miscellaneous days…that is terrible.  Maybe ten days?!?!  Ten days in which we allow ourselves the “luxury” of celebrating?  Okay, maybe a few more if your team wins a championship, or you get a promotion or close a big deal…if you are lucky enough.  But c’mon.  That is not nearly enough celebrating going on in our lives.

Well, last week was Diana’s birthday.  And we celebrated.  A couple of times and ways.  One of the ways, is that I always cook a birthday dinner for Diana on her birthday.  I usually try to surprise her.  But she had surgery and has been home…surprises are tough to come by.  So I asked her what she wanted.  Back to the day of when we were even dating, I used to hear that on Diana’s birthday she always wanted pork roast, sweet potatoes and applesauce as her birthday meal.  So I was kind of expecting something along those lines.  And she did not disappoint.  That is what she requested.

Now the sweet potatoes are pretty basic…and least what she was wanting.


  1. Boil the sweet taters, then let them cool.
  2. Peel them and cut in half.
  3. Place in a pan with melted butter.
  4. Add brown sugar…keep burner on low.
  5. Add more butter or brown sugar as needed and monitor until they are sticky, gooey and look more like dessert than a side dish.

The pork was a little more challenging…but really good.  I decided not to compete with her mother’s cooking and her memories.  So I turned to my trusted friend in the kitchen and out at the grill…Bobby Flay.  It wasn’t too long before I cam up with a couple of options.  So I let Diana pick…and she choose Grilled Pork Chops Adobo with Spicy Apple Chutney.  The Apple Chutney was a nice option from a standard applesauce (which I am sure we will have a few times this autumn) and the pork chops were close enough to the pork roast that it seemed like a great match in pairing them together.

Grilled Pork Chops Adobo with Spicy Apple Chutney

Adobo Marinade

  • 2 cups drained canned tomatoes
  • 3 Tblsp ancho chile powder
  • 3 Tblsp pasilla chile powder
  • 1 canned chipotle, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tblsp honey
  • 1 Tblsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Puree the ingredients in a food processor. May be made in advance.
  2. The day before serving, pour the marinade over the pork chops.  (I reserved about a cup to serve as a sauce with the pork chops)
  3. Grill the chops over a medium-high heat.  I imagine you could also broil if desired.  Brush the chops with the marinade until brown.  (about 5-6 minutes each side, depending upon thickness)

Spicy Apple Chutney

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 Tblsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 Tblsp minced jalapeno
  • 2 Tblsp finely diced ginger
  • 2 cups orange juice (I used fresh orange juice)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 honey
  • 8 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tblsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tblsp diced red bell pepper
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Peel the oranges and reserve the zest.  Peel away as much of the white pith as possible. And cut the oranges into segments.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan, saute the onion and jalapeno until onion is translucent.  Add ginger, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar and honey.  Cook until the sauce is reduced by about half.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add 2/3 of the apples and cook until the fruit is tender.  When tender, turn off the heat and fold in the remaining apples and oranges.
  • Pour chutney into a bowl and allow to cool.  Before serving, mix in the red bell pepper, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.
  • As is the case with many things, after letting this sit for a while, even the next day, the flavors have time to permeate through this dish.

Serve the chops with a bit of chutney on the top, some adobo sauce on the side, and additional chutney as a side.

As is customary, everyone having a birthday should also have a birthday cake.  Baking is not my forte’, preference, strength, etc…  So I made a suggestion or two, but in the end, Diana made her own birthday cake.  I know, that’s terrible.  I am sorry.  But she made a German Chocolate cake…and no one can make a German Chocolate cake like Diana.  It is very rich, very good and very fattening…but remember we are celebrating.  And I do not think calories count when you are celebrating!?!?! Do they?

Oh, I almost forgot.  We had a bottle of Stella Rosa wine with this.  This is a “sweeter” Rose’ than usual, with some natural bubbles.  Normally I may not pair this wine with this meal, although it was very good.  I imagine a Malbec with hints of berries and vanilla might go well with it…which means I guess I will have to make it again to find out…and I will.

So Happy Birthday Diana.  We will continue to celebrate as long as we are able.  Celebrate your birthday, mine, the boys, the family and life.  Together we will celebrate.  And if possible try to celebrate life more often.  Let’s celebrate the simpler things in life, those we tend to overlook.  We deserve it.  Everyone does!! So Celebrate!

Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 3:17 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am so very blessed to have you in my life! You have always made me feel so special. You have always taken care of me and now, you wait on my hand and foot anticipating my every need. You cook for me, making these wonderful meals even while you are busy with your work. You bring home flowers and “surprises” because you like to make me happy. But, most importantly, you love me unequivocally. I hope, with however much life I have left, that I can possibly show you just how important you are to me and how very much I love you!


    • Thank you babe. You are special. And i love you very much.


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