Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweet 'n' Spicy Omelet (SSO)

Yesterday was J's birthday, and since we both had to work, I wanted to at least start his day off with a breakfast that he loves but wouldn't normally have during the week. h recently went to a Fast & Fit Meal Prep get-together (I had to work so couldn't go with him), and this little gem was one of the ideas he came home with. When he first told me about it, I thought it sounded weird but I made it for him one morning (my first time to make an omelet too, btw) and it was purdy darn good!

SSO

Eggs, agave, lemon pepper seasoning, and cheese. It doesn't get much simpler than that. The only thing you need to add, is patience. Omelets take a minute. Or ten. And while it takes a little longer than it might for breakfast tacos or whatnot, it is totally worth the wait. And now, I'm thinking of other omelet variations I can make for my honey on the weekends. The possibilities are endless! But I definitely suggest trying this one.

Sweet 'n' Spicy Omelet (SSO)
Source: Larry St. Clair (a friend of J's)

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Agave nectar
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice)

Preparation
  1. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Stir in the agave and lemon pepper. 
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. 
  3. Add the egg mixture, cover, and allow to cook until the edges are firm (the center will still be runny/soupy.) This can take up to 10 minutes - be patient!
  4. When the edges are firm sprinkle the cheese on top, replace the cover, and allow the cheese to melt. 
  5. Using a spatula, carefully fold one half of the omelet over onto the other half. Allow to cook for another minute or so, so it melts together then carefully slide it onto a plate. 
  6. Drizzle with extra agave, if you'd like. Enjoy!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Balsamic Pork Chops

Oh Monday, how did you get here so quickly again? Last week seemed to just fly by. I did get the majority of my looooong to-do list done, though, so at least there's that. And most importantly, we got J's passport application turned in...wooohooo!! The cruise in December can't get here soon enough!! Until it does though, I'll have fun daydreaming about and planning for some fun adventures when we get to our exotic destinations.

Balsamic Pork Chops

And while these pork chops aren't "exotic" per se, they are definitely worthy of date night ratings. As in, you could make these at home and enjoy a restaurant-grade meal with your honey. Without the crowds, noise, or a hefty price tag. Yep, yep. Of course the balsamic sauce wouldn't have anything to do with my love for them. Really. Ok, maybe a little bit, but the thick-cut pork chops cooked to perfection and covered in the sauce and served with your favorite sides - how could it be any better??

Balsamic Pork Chops 2

I think I have mentioned a few times that I don't cook pork chops often because I haven't found many ways (non-fried) to cook them where I am impressed by them.Well friends, I have found one. And now I want some of them for breakfast. At 5:30 am. I'll refrain though. That might be a little weird.

You, however, should make these for dinner. Soon.

Balsamic Pork Chops
As seen on Bakerette

Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 (3/4 inch-thick) boneless pork chops
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 can (14 1/2-ounce) chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Preparation
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, rosemary, salt and pepper. 
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about a minute, until fragrant. Dredge the pork chops in flour, add to the skillet, and cook about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add broth and vinegar to the skillet and scrape the bottom to loosen any browned bits from the bottom. 
  4. Cook for about 6 minutes at a medium simmer, or until balsamic mixture is reduced by half. Add the pork chops back to skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Don't overcook or they will be dry and tough. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs

Maybe I should rename the blog, Thai Meatballs. What'd ya think? Ok, so I wouldn't really do that, but I sure do like all the different variations I've come across. Coconut milk, curry powder or paste, and a few other ingredients and voila! Delicious Thai flavored sauce over scrumptious meatballs. Yup. I'm definitely a fan. And you will be, too. Promise.

Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs 2

I'm half-way through my vacation week and my to-do list still has a lot to be checked off. Today, however, I plan to pretty much get it finished. I have a couple of errands to run this morning and then it's go time. By the time J gets home from work tonight, I plan to have this house looking like new. Ok, maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but the clutter, the bathrooms, and the floors should be taken care of, at least. 

As glad as I will be to have those things checked off of my list, it's tomorrow that Ii'm really excited about. We're going to look at a potential wedding venue! It seems like the perfect fit for what we want, but pictures online can be deceiving, so...we'll go see for ourselves and decide from there. Fingers crossed!!

In the meantime, you should make these meatballs. I'm guessing you'll be just as excited about them as I am about looking at the wedding venue. Or at least close. 

Thai Pork and Veggie Meatballs
As seen on Fake Ginger

Ingredients
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded
  • 2 small carrots, shredded
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro (plus extra for garnish)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz) can of coconut milk
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (+ extra for cooking meatballs)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place shredded zucchini in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink and press down with paper towels or a large spoon to press out the moisture. 
  3. Place zucchini, carrots, pork, turkey, ginger, cilantro, garlic, curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a large bowl and use your hands to combine.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon, form the mixture into balls and set aside on a plate. 
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well-combined and smooth.
  6. Place a large oven safe skillet over medium heat and add a teaspoon of coconut oil. Once saucepan is hot, add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, to the pan and brown on all sides. 
  7. Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
  8. Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
  9. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or your favorite grain and veggie. I served mine with quinoa and sauteed zucchini. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blackberry, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Salad with Grilled Chicken

Good morning all! It's Monday and I'm up and ready to get this day going! I'm on vacation from my primary job this week and I've made myself a to-do list a mile long. I am determined to get things done that I don't normally have time for, if it kills me! But, most of that will start tomorrow. Today, I'm going to meet with J's niece (a wedding planner) to go over wedding stuff. Squee!

And in preparation for an upcoming cruise and the wedding, of course, I'm trying to incorporate a few more entree salads into our meal rotation. Not that we don't eat pretty healthy as it is, but I love salad and any excuse to have more of them I will use!

Blackberry, Bacon Blue Cheese Salad w Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette 2

I seem to find a lot of great looking salad recipes that don't have a main protein in them. Yes, bacon is technically a protein, but bacon alone will not sustain my guy. He needs substantial protein in every meal to feed those big, manly muscles of his. So, when I find a salad that sounds delish but lacks protein, what do I do? Well, add chicken of course!

Blackberry, Bacon Blue Cheese Salad w Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette 3

J also loves blue cheese. I....do not. But because I love him, I make things I don't like sometimes and leave that particular ingredient out of my portion (olives, for example...blech!). This salad, however, I went ahead and made as-is for myself. I mean, you can't really put the blue cheese on top, take a pic, and then take it off. I tried. J loved the salad and at that blue cheese up. I added extra dressing because...well...balsamic-anything makes everything better. 

Blackberry, Bacon, Blue Cheese Salad w Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

This really was a great salad, with it's crispy bacon, blackberries, chicken and greens with creamy blue cheese chunks and, of course, the honey-balsamic vinaigrette. I'm a big fan of fruit in my salads, and blackberries just so happen to be my most favorite fruit so...yeah. Blackberries + balsamic = one happy girl.

Blackberry, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Salad with Grilled Chicken
Adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

Ingredients
  • 4 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • ⅓ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 4 c. mixed greens (I used a baby spinach, baby kale, and baby Swiss chard mix)
  • ½ c. crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ c. fresh blackberries

Preparation
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and slightly crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the grease. 
  2. While the bacon is cooking, trim the chicken breasts of any fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  3. When the bacon is removed from the pan, drain off most of the bacon grease - but not all of it! Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken pieces to the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Remove from heat. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the dressing by placing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, cinnamon, and dried basil in a jar with as screw top and shake vigorously to combine all the ingredients well. 
  5. Prepare your salads  by dividing the mixed greens among your serving bowls, then top with chicken, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, and blackberries. Drizzle the dressing on top, and enjoy!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chicken Romano in White Wine Sauce

Hello thunder and lightning storm! Yep, that's what I'm listening to and seeing right now. The bad part...it's hotter than a motha up in hurr, which means it's humid as all get out when the rain falls. Gross. Humidity and this girl's hair are NOT friends. Not even a little bit. Luckily, I get to sit on my hiney in an office all day at work so I don't have to be out in it. But still. That steamy heat coming off the asphalt when I walk to my car is horrid. I have such a rough life, right? You can go ahead and smack me now.

But despite the frizz-inducing, thick, sticky air that surrounds Austin at the moment, I'm holding on for dear life to what is left of summer. Because I am not looking forward to 30, 40, or 50-degree temperatures. At all. Ever. Winter can suck it.

Except on Christmas. That's one day when it should NOT be 80 degrees. It just feels weird. I speak from experience, so just trust me.

Chicken Romano 2

I think I'm one of the few people I know who uses her oven on a regular basis, year-round. A lot of people prefer to use their outdoor grill or crock pot to reduce the increase of heat in their home (thus resulting in higher a/c usage), but not this gal. I just wanna cook what I wanna cook and not worry about the method as much while I'm planning. We are also very fortunate that our  house stays naturally a little cooler than most. In the summer, that's a bonus. In winter...notsomuch.

So, naturally, when I saw this chicken recipe I had to add it to the menu. Yes, it requires time in the oven but you guys...it's worth it. And hey, if you're one of those who don't like to use the oven, save this for when the weather gets a little cooler. It's delish. And would be great if you're having guests for dinner. And even if you're not. Spoil the hubby/boyfriend/fiance/girlfriend/wife - whoever. Make someone special a nice dinner - just because. Not because it's their birthday or an anniversary. Just because you love them. Sometimes I think that extra effort "just because" means more than all the fuss for a "special occasion". 

Chicken Romano

Oven-baked chicken topped with freshly grated Romano cheese in a white wine sauce will surely wow your dinner companion(s). I served it with Israeli couscous and sauteed zucchini.

Chicken Romano in White Wine Sauce

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup flour (I use white whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preparation
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and toss to coat.
  3. In a large , ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown for a couple of minutes on both sides. Reduce the heat to low, and the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. 
  4. Remove from the heat, cover loosely with foil (don't clamp it down and burn yourself!), and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chicken generously with Romano cheese.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pork Tenderloin with Sage and Marsala Sauce

Good morning and Happy Labor Day, friends!! I hope that you all are able to enjoy some time off of work today, with good food, friends and/or family. J had to be at work at 5:30 this morning, and I stayed up to get some things done around the house. I'm off work for most of the day, but unfortunately I have to go into my second job tonight at 5. I'm just thankful for the time off during the day, to get some things done. Like, sharing a new recipe with you all!

I don't cook with sage very often, and I don't think I've ever used Marsala for anything other than Chicken Marsala, previous to this, but I figured that now was as good a time as any to try it another way.


Pork Tenderloin with Marsala and Sage Sauce

I feel like I've been making a lot of pork tenderloin recipes lately,  but I'm ok with that. We eat a lot of chicken and salmon, so pork is a nice variance in the rotation. And this one did not disappoint. It cooked perfectly, with minimal pink but still moist and juicy. And the sauce went very nicely with the pork. A little sweet and a good flavor from the sage. 

Pork Tenderloin with Marsala and Sage Sauce 2

Not exactly a labor day grilling recipe, but a great recipe nonetheless. Maybe a good dinner to plan for tomorrow? Or maybe Wednesday. You may need a salad or five to recover from all the beer and mass amounts of meat that you might be planning to ingest today. Whatever day you decide, just make sure you try this!

And again, I hope you have a Happy Labor Day!

Pork Tenderloin with Sage & Marsala Sauce
As seen on Fine Cooking

Ingredients
  • 1 large pork tenderloin (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb.), trimmed 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

Preparation
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork tenderloin with the salt and pepper, to taste and place in the skillet and sear both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes total. 
  3. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 140°F, 10 to 15 minutes. Move the pork to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.
  4. Pour off any fat left in the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the Marsala and bring to a rolling simmer. Stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Continue to simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the chopped sage. Stir the sauce until the butter melts.
  6. Slice the pork into 1/2-inch medallions and serve with the sauce spooned over the top, with your favorite sides.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What's Baking: Beef & Guinness Pie

It's Thursday y'all! And this weekend is Labor Day weekend. How in the world did that happen?? Summer has just flown by and it'll be cooler weather around here before we know it. Well, if we're being honest, it probably won't get much cooler around here until November. But cooler than 100 degrees is cooler nonetheless,even if only to 90 degrees. With the cooling fall and winter weather, however, comes the desire for warm, comfort foods. And thanks to this months What's Baking challenge, that's exactly what I'll be sharing with you!! Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen is our August host and her challenge was for us to bake something that represents our heritage.

Beef & Guinness Pie

My dad is adopted and we don't know his lineage,but on my mother's side, the majority is black Irish. There are other bits and pieces of black Dutch and such, but Irish is the main component and also what I identify as my heritage. I searched and searched for a traditional Irish dessert or baked good, but had  a reeeeeallly hard time finding anything that I thought J would like or eat. So, I headed to Facebook and messaged one of my truly Irish friends - like she has family there and goes to visit - and asked her for some suggestions. She reached out to the family, and this was one of the suggestions. 

Beef and Guinness Pie. When I first saw the name of the recipe I was like...uh...what? But then I looked it up and it's basically a big ol' pot pie with Guinness beer in it. I'm not a beer drinker myself, but figured I'd give it a try. And wound up having one of my besties and her family over for dinner the night I made it, as well. 

Beef & Guinness Pie 3

I actually wound up making this on two different occasions because, frankly, I had poor time management the first time and sort of threw the puff pastry on top and it was rather...ugly. So, I made it again this past weekend so it would look a little nicer for you all. You're welcome :)

It was a little thin and liquidy the first time around, so I added less beef broth on round two and it was much more pot pie-like. I used the adjusted measurements in the recipe below. I'd say all around it was a great dish and a great nod to my Irish heritage. A big thanks to Ali for a great challenge, and be sure to check out her blog for the round-up soon!



Beef and Guinness Pie
As seen on Leite's Culinaria

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, such as chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tsp flour (I used white wheat flour)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 beef broth 
  • 24 oz Guinness beer
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp A.1. Steak Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp thyme, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 sheet good-quality puff pastry (allow to thaw while you are cooking the beef)

Preparation
  1. Place the beef chunks in a large bowl, sprinkle the flour over the top and toss or stir to coat. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the meat, in batches if necessary to not overcrowd, and cook until browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, along with the onion and garlic, and cook over medium heat until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Return the meat to the pan, then add the stock or broth, Guinness, canned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, and chopped herbs and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 
  5. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer, uncovered, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally,  for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. 
  6. Spoon the mixture into a 7-inch-diameter ovenproof pot or casserole dish** (round, square, oval...shape doesn't matter). Allow to cool while you preheat the oven. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  8. Brush the top edge of the pot or dish with water, then gently place the sheet of pastry over the stew, pinching the pastry against the edge of the pot or pie dish to seal. You can crimp the pastry to form a decorative edge, if you so desire.) 
  9. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden brown. Serve immediately while still hot. 
** I took my dish and placed it top-side down on the puff pastry - before filling it - and used a knife to cut about 1/2-inch extra in the shape of the dish, for better fitting.
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