Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pork Chop Experiment | Onions and Garlic and Wine, oh my

And Shittake mushrooms! But that just wouldn't fit right in the cutesy title.

I really didn't feel like cooking tonight. In fact, after trying to convince my husband that HE could start dinner and I'd find the Bulls game (which he declared was NOT a fair trade), he started getting the pork chops seasoned for me. And he started rice. Yes, he is a good man.

I went in the kitchen and got one of the pork chops in the good old cast iron skillet. I also decided since I don't have to work for the next two days that tonight was a good night to open the bottle of wine someone gifted us with for Christmas. As I was standing there making sure the pork chop and broccoli didn't burn I thought hmm, I bet this wine would be good with these pork chops...(just another confirmation that wine makes everything better, even your thinking skills!)

I got some already chopped onions from the freezer, noticed the mushrooms and grabbed those too, and grabbed some garlic. When the first pork chop was finished, I added about a tablespoon of butter to the pan and let it melt. Then I added my onions and mushrooms. I let those cook until they were at least thawed and then I threw in about 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. The smells. Yum.

Next, I grabbed the bottle of wine. This was a pinot noir. I poured it in the skillet until it covered the bottom of the pan. I let it cook down until there was very little liquid left.

I didn't want to take any of the mix out of the pan, so I scooted it to the sides and put the second pork chop in the middle. Then, I loaded the mix on top of the pork chop and let it all cook.

Paired with broccoli and rice. (And yes, I only took half the "good" pork chop so my good man could try some of it). Man was this a crazy good experiment.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Chicken thighs & mashed potatoes in the Crock Pot!

Like the rest of the world, I love anything I can put in the crock pot and have done when I get home. I've been a little more creative recently, coming up with  my own concoctions rather than perusing Pinterest for ideas. Today's was a huge success. It was so simple too, which is even better.

I started with chicken thighs. I just used three since we're a family of two. I rinsed them, left the skin on, and put them in the crock pot. I seasoned them with cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, and garlic powder. I usually do the seasoning while they're in the crock pot, there's less mess that way. Once seasoned, I added 1 cup of chicken broth.

Next, two large potatoes. These were big, bake potato type potatoes. I peeled them and chopped them in big chunks, I'd guess around 1 1/2 inch cubes. Nothing neat, you just need big chunks. I plopped them all on top of the chicken. To give you an idea of how large these two potatoes were, you couldn't see the chicken once they were in. I added some more garlic powder and lemon pepper and turned the crock pot on high. It cooked for 6 hours.

When I got home this evening, I turned the crock pot off and scooped out all of the potatoes. This was a little tricky because the chicken just shreds right up after cooking in the broth for so long. I put all of the potatoes in a bowl with half a stick of butter and mashed them up. You could add some milk here, but I didn't find it necessary. The potatoes have so much juice to them from the broth, that the butter was just enough. I swear these are the easiest, real mashed potatoes I've ever made.

I made some green beans as a side and that was dinner. So much flavor, so much goodness.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Buffalo Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries are my new favorite thing. They're delicious and when they're homemade, they're actually quite good for you. Well, as long as you cook them in a manner that's good for you. Deep fried is deep fried, regardless of what it is :)

Have you discovered the Pioneer Woman? I've been using her recipes forever. Every one I have used has been fantastic. Her sweet potato fries were no exception. I was just feeding two, so here are my changes:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced to your desired thickness
2 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Seasoned Salt
Chili powder

As per usual, I did not measure the seasoning. A couple shakes of salt, a couple shakes of pepper, and a healthy pinch of chili powder all went into the melted butter and garlic. Also, I love garlic on sweet potatoes so there's a hearty dose in my version. The rest is all per Ree, 15-17 minutes at 450, flipping in the middle. Make them yourself. The frozen bags are easy, I know, but these are so delicious and they're not fried.

I didn't have any sriracha so I made the ketchup version of her sauce. It worked well, especially since I'm pairing them with buffalo chicken.

As much as I love sweet potato fries, the chicken was my favorite part. I am fairly certain that this recipe is in a Weight Watchers cookbook. Somewhere in our numerous moves since being married I lost that cookbook so it was really a guess at how it should go. As far as guesses go, this was a good one.

1 large chicken breast sliced into "fingers" (think human finger size, not restaurant chicken finger size)
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1/4 cup your favorite hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot is our fave)
You can really use as much hot sauce as you want. This was about perfect for one chicken breast. My recommendation is that you add it last so you can see how saucy it will be, you have a little more control that way.

I seasoned my chicken fingers with some cajun seasoning. Just a light coat. Cook your chicken in a frying pan until cooked through. I didn't use any oil or butter for this step. My dad and stepmom got me some pretty awesome pans last Christmas, so it's really not necessary. If you need to, I'd use it sparingly. Once they're cooked through add your butter, let it melt and add the garlic. Then add your hot sauce. Add as much as you desire and mix everything up in your pan. Let it cook a few minutes to heat the sauce well and you're set. So good and so easy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lettuce wraps and healthy eating

So, I'm just coming off a 10 day green smoothie cleanse. If ever you're interested in doing one I recommend JJ Smith's book. Great smoothie recipes and information. It's meant to help detox your body of toxins that you ingest. It does that and also helps you lose some pounds quickly (13lbs in 10 days for me!) Here's the thing about coming off 10 days of no meat, grains, dairy, or processed sugar...some of those things you love may hurt when you try to eat them again. My aunt makes the most delicious bread for Thanksgiving. The whole family looks forward to it every year and she makes plenty for us to all eat during dinner AND take a loaf home. Ours has been wrapped up in the fridge since then. Yesterday, my first day off the smoothies, I cut into the bread. I slathered on some butter and had myself two giant slices. I then spend the rest of the evening with stomach cramps and indigestion. Sad day folks. So, that being said, I think I'm going to try to cutting wheat out of my diet. That leads us to tonight's dinner.

My husband came home with a big thing of hamburger patties. The good kind. You know the ones. They're not frozen, they're thick, and they're delicious. But wait a minute, I'm trying to not eat bread. I've seen these wraps before, I figured what the heck.

One thing I have resolved is that if I'm going to eat healthier, I'm going to make sure I have all of those healthy things I LOVE so I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. I took a trip to the grocery store this afternoon and bought a few of my favorite things. I really should have take a picture of what my burger looked like, it was quite pretty. So pretty that I ate it in about 2 minutes. I'm not sure I breathed. The pic below gives you a really good idea of what mine looked like though.

I had a nice big leaf of romaine lettuce and placed my grilled burger on one end of it.(side note folks: my husband bought me a grill that goes over the stove, it's amazing. He also seasoned the burger and made it for me while I was working. I have no idea what he put on it but yum). I next added a thick slice of tomato, a thick slice of onion and a quarter of an avocado. I folded the lettuce leaf up and dug in.

Can I tell you something? How delicious is a burger in lettuce! You can actually taste the meat and all of those favorite veggies of mine. It was so good. I had left over tomato, onion, and avocado so I folded them up in another leaf and had myself a veggie wrap as a side. Just fantastic. I'm very much looking forward to this new wheatless journey!