Teacher Appreciation Dinner

Happy crew…I think they are all saying TCA. 🙂

For the past four years, we’ve either had our teachers over for dinner or taken them a home-cooked dinner on the last day of school as an appreciation gift. I figure everyone needs to eat and serving and welcoming teachers into our home gives our kids an opportunity to practice hospitality and demonstrate their gratitude in a tangible manner. All the kids helped with dinner in some capacity and they felt proud of their efforts.

O writing the menu board
Roasting the prosciutto

This was the first year that we had all three kids in school so that meant three teachers plus spouses. So fun! I have made this menu before with some variations but it’s a crowd pleaser and relatively easy to prepare.

Our Menu:

  • Molasses-and-Coffee Pork Chops
  • Sagaponack Corn Pudding (my favorite summer corn recipe!)
  • Green Bean, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Salad
  • Vanilla Pound Cake with Strawberries and Ice Cream

The molasses-and-coffee pork chops sit in a brine overnight of molasses, coffee, ginger, and a few other ingredients. It sounds like an odd combination but it works and tastes very flavorful.

Molasses-and-Coffee Pork Chops

Recipe Courtesy of Alton Brown

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 6-to-8 ounce bone-in pork chops, 1 inch thick (I get mine at Costco)

Combine the coffee, molasses, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ginger, and thyme in a large bowl. Place pork chops in a ziplock bag and carefully pour the marinade into the bag and seal. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the pork chops from the bag and grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

The original recipe did say to save the marinade and cook until reduced but I didn’t want to take my chances on cooking a marinade that contained raw meat so I omitted the glaze.

The pork chops after marinating overnight
Right off the grill

The green bean, prosciutto and goat cheese salad was made for our staff appreciation lunch last month at school (thanks, Kelli!) and I liked it so much I made it for this meal. For the salad, I layered baby spinach, blanched green beans, cooked prosciutto, dried cranberries, honey-flavored goat cheese crumbles (Trader Joe’s), and toasted almonds in a bowl and served a homemade basil vinaigrette separately to prevent the salad from wilting too quickly. Right before serving, I added fresh black pepper to the salad.

I loved the combination of salty prosciutto and the sweet goat cheese

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. If it’s too thick, you can add some hot water to thin it out.

For dessert, we kept it simple and served store-bought vanilla pound cake with ice cream and strawberries. It was a delightful evening and I’m so glad we were able to host our teachers!

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