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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

AKA… my husband ate pork chops, and liked it!

One of my biggest meal planning struggles is that I don’t like red meat or fish/seafood and my husband spent his entire life thinking he didn’t like pork. But a few years ago, he tried honey garlic pork (a recipe too simple to warrant its own post – simply pork roast cooked, cut into chunks and covered in store-bought sauce) and liked it. Then we started making bbq pulled pork sandwiches, which he apparently loves. But I still couldn’t convince him to eat pork chops, the food responsible for his worst childhood memories. Haha.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

I came across a recipe for Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops that promised pork chops so juicy and tender that they just fall apart in the slow cooker as you’re trying to take them out. I wanted to try it because I like pork chops and miss having them. And hubby reluctantly agreed.

But he loved them!

He said they had flavour! He said they were juicy! He said they were tender! He said he wished there had been more!

Turns out, he just doesn’t like pork chops that are underseasoned and cooked to the consistency of a rubber boot. πŸ˜›

So these will be supper again this evening!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Directions:
In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is simmering and hot. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the pork chops for 1-2 minutes on each side in the hot oil until golden. Transfer the chops to the slow cooker. Add the garlic to the drippings in the skillet and stir constantly over medium heat until the garlic is aromatic and golden (but not burned or it will turn bitter!). Stir in the soy sauce, broth, brown sugar and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over chops.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours until the meat is tender. If using bone-in pork chops, fish out the bones from the slow cooker. Remove the chops from the slow cooker to a shallow pan or plate – they will most likely be falling apart in tenderness at this point. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce in the slow cooker. Return the chops to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker heat to high and cook for 30 minutes to an hour longer, until the sauce is slightly thickened. If you want a super duper thick sauce, once you remove the chops from the slow cooker, pour the sauce into a pan and place it over medium heat on the stove. Add the cornstarch slurry and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thick. Add the pork and heat through.

Normally, I’m opposed to slow cooker recipes that require cooking before putting the food in the slow cooker. Seems to defeat the purpose to me. But any recipe that gets my husband to eat pork chops is definitely worth the extra step. πŸ˜‰

And I only did two chops at a time. So I reduced the cook time to 6.5 hours on low. They were still completely cooked.

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Mmmmm!

Probably the best thing about getting back on track with making meals according to a meal plan is finding a new recipe that is just yummy! And tonight I did exactly that!

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna

INGREDIENTS

For the lasagna:
10-15 no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (use rotisserie chicken for lots of yummy flavor)
12 ounces frozen peas
Β½ cup Parmesan cheese
Β½ cup Swiss cheese
1 cup water
ΒΌ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
fresh herbs for topping

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
1Β½ tablespoons minced garlic
6 tablespoons flour
Β½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
ΒΎ teaspoon salt
5 cups milk

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant – stir continuously to avoid burning because burnt garlic will taste bitter. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.

Layer the lasagna: Grease a 9×13 pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the bottom of the pan with (about 5) broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ΒΌ cup Parmesan, β…“ cup water, and 1Β½ cups sauce. Repeat this layer once more. Top with a layer of broken noodles, β…“ cup water, 1Β½ cups sauce, and Β½ cup Swiss cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Making it pretty: Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh herbs like parsley and thyme. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.

I did make a few minor adjustments.

I didn’t crumble the noodles and use broken pieces because I made it as a regular lasagna instead of a “bake”.

I only prepared about half the chicken and sauce because I didn’t make a full-sized lasagna. Being my first time making it, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. So I opted for a smaller size. If I had known how yummy it would be, I would have doubled the recipe instead. πŸ˜‰ But the proportions given would have been perfect if I had made the full amount and done a 9×13 pan.

I didn’t use rotisserie chicken. So I tossed my shredded chicken in a little garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and black pepper to add some more flavour to the chicken itself.

We’re not big fans of Swiss cheese. So I used some Monterey Jack I had on hand instead. I also shredded a little extra and included a sprinkle in between each layer. You can never have too much cheese. πŸ˜‰

It was absolutely delicious. Hubby was skeptical because “it’s not lasagna without meat”, but he loved it. Even the toddler ate it. And he’s getting a little more picky lately. So that’s definitely a success.

I’ll be adding it into our meal rotation!

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My life has been forever changed!

There are a handful of recipes I make the call for shredded chicken and I dread shredding the chicken every.single.time. When I first started shredding chicken, I did it the old school way – chicken and two forks. And it took forever. Then I got a little more high tech and began shredding it in my magic bullet. Easier than shredding it by hand. But still not ideal. You still have to chop the chicken into little cubes, and you can only do half a dozen cubes at a time. And the chicken becomes basically minced instead of shredded. But it works. For any recipe I’ve ever needed shredded chicken for, it’s fine.

But now I have found the easiest way possible to get perfectly shredded chicken in next to no time.

The Kitchenaid. (Or, I assume, any stand mixer.)

Toss still-hot, cooked chicken into the bowl. No need to cut it. Throw in the whole pieces. Use the paddle attachment and, BAM!, chicken is shredded and life is changed.

Happy shredding!

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Meal planning!

Saturday evening, I sat down armed with my work schedule and hubby’s work schedule and planned out our meals for the next two weeks!

There are actually a ton of long overdue reasons for choosing to plan our meals I’m advance:

Eating healthier: when we don’t meal plan, we resort about once a week to picking up unhealthy takeout for supper just because we have no idea what to make. Which ties into the next reason…

Saving money: it’s a lot cheaper to plan a healthy supper and buy the necessary ingredients than it is to pick up takeout. We also waste less when we meal plan because we just buy what we need (or staples that are on sale) rather than walking aimlessly around the supermarket and buying stuff we don’t actually end up using. And we plan on what to do with any leftovers. So they don’t sit in the fridge until they’re thrown out a week later. Lots of ways to save money. πŸ™‚

Reducing stress: I dread for about 3 pm every afternoon to come, because that’s when I’m faced with the task of deciding what to cook for supper. I’m generally a very organized person, so not having a plan stresses me out. Having our suppers planned ahead of time reduces that stress.

Adding variety: when we don’t meal plan, we eat the same handful of things over and over and over again because they’re quick and easy and we have the ingredients on hand. Before long, we’re sick of eating the same thing over and over. Actually taking the time to plan meals ahead of time allows me to reduce the repetition. I planned those two whole weeks of meals without any repetition in our main dishes.

I’m sure there are other reasons too. But those are the ones I can think of offhand. And it’s going really well so far. We even bought a dry erase board to keep in the kitchen with our meals for the next week or two written on it. Here’s hoping we can keep it up!

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Crispy OVEN Sweet Potato Fries

I’ve been on a quest to find a way to make crispy sweet potato fries in the oven. Crispy sweet potato fries in the deep fryer? Easy. Crispy sweet potato fries in the oven? Not so much.

I tried dusting them with corn starch. But they were just kind of… meh. They had a little crisp to them, but were still fairly soggy. And you could feel the texture of the corn starch on the outside. Not a method I’d use again.

Tonight I found the magic ingredient – egg whites!

I will admit – I was a little skeptical. I was worried they’d taste like eggs. Don’t get me wrong, I love eggs – sometimes I’ll just make an egg on toast for breakfast or lunch. But I didn’t find the idea of egg / sweet potato fusion to be appealing.

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These were awesome!

I beat two egg whites until they were frothy, added whatever spices I wanted to use for seasoning (paprika, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder), and beat again for a few seconds. Then just dipped the fries in the egg mixture and baked on parchment at 400 F.

Very crispy and sooooo goooood! You absolutely cannot tell there’s egg on them!

… and they’re significantly less evil than Brownie in a Cup. πŸ˜‰

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BBQ Pulled Pork

YUM!

Tonight’s supper was our first ever homemade BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and it was absolutely delicious! Mmmmmm!

I used Clubhouse BBQ Pulled Pork seasoning for the slow cooker. All you have to do is mix brown sugar, ketchup, and cider vinegar with the seasoning packet, and pour over the pork roast in the slow cooker. Cook for eight hours on low, then shred the pork and pop it back in the slow cooker for a few minutes to coat everything with sauce. The result is amazing! Our house smelled soooo delicious all day today!

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We topped ours with French’s Fried Onions to add some crunch!

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The only thing I would change for next time is that I would do it on a nice crusty kaiser bun, because the regular hamburger bun got a little soggy. That was the original plan for this time, but our grocery store was all out of kaiser rolls. Even with the slightly soggy bun, it was still fantastic!

This is a recipe is definitely a keeper! Mmmmmm!

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YESsi? or gNOcchi?

First of all, aren’t I clever? πŸ˜›

 

Tonight, I tried making gnocchi using chef Michael Smith’s recipe. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I wasn’t overly impressed. But, then again, I’ve never had gnocchi before. So I have no idea what the problem was.

Maybe I made them perfectly and just don’t really like gnocchi?

Maybe I would like properly made gnocchi, but I did something wrong?

I’m not sure which is the case.

 

In other news, I have a couple of job interviews tomorrow – not for dietitian jobs, but for retail jobs in the mall. I can’t sit around forever waiting my dream job. So cross your fingers that I at least get something out of this.

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