HONEY GARLIC PORK CHOPS

The original recipe for these pork chops came from Pinterest but they were breaded and fried. I wanted to make these a little bit healthier, so I decided to just make the sauce and use it as a glaze instead. These pork chops turned out really good. They were moist and tender, but they didn’t soak up the glaze as much as I would have liked. It didn’t matter, though, because I spooned some of the sauce over the pork after I’d cut it up and it soaked it up beautifully. I served these with roasted asparagus and broccoli cheese rice. My youngest son, Matthew is always the last one at the table asking how many more bites he has to take before he can be done. It’s always a struggle to get him to eat anything. He had two helpings of pork chops and three helpings of asparagus. Any time he asks for seconds, I consider the recipe to be a success.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

5 – 6 boneless pork chops, about 1 inch thick
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Glaze:
1 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger
dash of cayenne pepper (to your taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp.  chopped garlic
2 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Brown in olive oil 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove pork chops to a greased 9×13 baking dish. Whisk together the sauce ingredients and pour over the pork. Bake for 25 minutes. Let meat sit in the dish for about 5 minutes before serving in order to allow the meat to soak up the juices. Pour extra sauce over the pork chops when serving.

Source: Inspired by Sweet Tea and Cornbread

DELIGHTFUL CHICKEN

This is a really easy and really delicious dish. My family enjoyed it and asked that it be put into the regular dinner rotation. It took only a few minutes to put together, and I love an easy meal. Serve it with steamed vegetables and some au gratin potatoes or rice.

4 boneless chicken breasts
2  ( .7 ounce) packets of dried Italian dressing mix (such as Good Seasonings)
1 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 inch x 9 inch casserole dish. Rinse chicken, pat dry with paper towels and beat with a meat mallet until they are a uniform thickness. (I butterflied my chicken also.) Combine and the dried Italian seasoning mix and the brown sugar, mixing together well. Dip and press the chicken pieces into the mixture, coating front and back and place into your prepared pan, topside of the chicken facing up. Any extra coating that remains can just be sprinkled over the chicken. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until chicken is done. Turn the chicken and spoon the sauce over the top a couple of times during the baking time. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken when serving as well.

Source: Adapted from Food for a Hungry Soul

TORTILLA SOUP

 

Does it seem like I’ve been visiting the Pioneer Woman’s site a lot lately? I have made a lot of her recipes in the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s because she has a lot of good Mexican food and comfort food recipes and that’s what I crave when the weather gets cold. I saw this recipe for tortilla soup the other day and knew I had to try it. It’s really tasty. Matthew, who never eats anything, had two bowls, and Andrew asked to take it to school for lunch the next day. I call that a success. It’s a little bit time consuming, but most of that is hands-off work. It has to simmer for a while. I think you could easily make this in the crock pot and add the tortilla strips a few minutes before you’re ready to serve it. I topped mine with cheese, sour cream, and fresh avocado. Yum!

Tortilla Soup

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. diced onion
¼ c. diced green bell pepper
¼ c. red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles
32 oz., fluid low sodium chicken stock
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 c. hot water
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. cornmeal
5 whole corn tortillas, cut into 2 to 3 inch strips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and/or grated cheese.

Source: The Pioneer Woman; Photo also courtesy of the Pioneer Woman (I forgot to take a picture again. Doh!)

THE MOST AMAZING ENCHILADAS

I love Mexican food. I make a it a lot at home because my family likes it and I find that most of it is pretty easy to make. The boys are really partial to burritos. Jason would eat anything as long as it was wrapped up in a tortilla, and Andrew is pretty much the same way. I’ve made the Pioneer Woman’s burritos and chicken enchiladas before, and I also noticed the beef enchiladas and have been meaning to make them for a while. I’m so glad I finally did. These are spectacular! They are fantastic left over too. I made one pan of a dozen and had plenty of meat and sauce left over for another pan (I used small white corn tortillas), but I used the leftovers to make my easy burritos the next day instead. I did not use the black olives or green onions in my enchiladas, simply because I didn’t have any, and they were still amazing without them. These enchiladas are a little bit time consuming, but SO worth it. I had to borrow the Pioneer Woman’s photo becaues they didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture. Try them this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

Beef Enchiladas

Sauce:
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. flour
3 7 3/4 oz. cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. finely chopped cilantro1-½ pound Ground Beef

Meat:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
2 4 oz. cans diced green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt

Tortillas:
12 to 14 white corn tortillas
1/2 c. canola oil

To assemble:
3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. chopped black olives, optional
1 c. chopped green onions, optional

To make the sauce:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the meat:
Brown the meat with onions and green chiles in a skillet. Drain off fat. Season with salt and set aside.

To make the tortillas:
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft and pliable, but not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan lightly with non-stick spray. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives and green onions, if using, in the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas to cover. You may not use all the sauce, but you can use the rest for another pan of enchiladas depending on how much meat you have left over.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas and top with sour cream, if desired, before serving.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman. Photo also courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.

MEXICAN CHICKEN CASSEROLE

I am so sorry I have been gone for so long. Life has been hectic around my house. We had a garage sale this past Saturday and I have been consumed with cleaning out my cabinets, closets, and attic and trying to figure out how to get a 16 foot trailer full of my junk priced in just a week. Yuck. On top of that, my kiddo has had the stomach bug, which let me tell you, is about as fun as having a garage sale. I have some posts ready so I will try to get those up on a more regular basis than I have been posting. I’ve got some yummy stuff to share with you, this recipe included. So, without further adieu…

When I first saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, I wasn’t sure about it. It looked really good, but I’m very weird about food texture, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the texture of this casserole. However, I was needing a quick and easy meal for dinner and I had all the ingredients for this on hand, so I thought we’d try it. I’m so glad we did! The whole family loved it, and so did I. Though the tortilla chips are soaked in chicken broth, there is no soggy texture to this dish. We had it left over the next day and it was even better. This is a delicious 30 minute meal that I will make over and over again.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ c. chicken broth
5 c. tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. Mexican blend cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, onion, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the Rotel, black beans, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats

COOK IT FROZEN SALMON AND FRUIT SALAD

The folks at Alaska Seafood have initiated a campaign to encourage people to cook Alaskan seafood frozen for speedier, easier meals. They were kind enough to send me some beautiful frozen Alaskan salmon so I could try this new way of preparing it using one of my favorite recipes. I would have never considered cooking salmon straight from the freezer, but it’s great. You get the nutrition and freshness of wild Alaskan salmon without the wait for thawing and marinating. It’s ready in less than 20 minutes. As a busy mom, it’s hard to get a healthy dinner on the table quickly. Salmon is packed with high-quality protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and it also contains heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and is a powerhouse of good nutrition. The fact that I can pull it from the freezer, cook it, and have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes makes this a fantastic thing for me. I want to eat healthy and I want to feed my family nutritious meals, but I need to be able to prepare them quickly.

I love salmon and eat it often. My favorite recipe is my grilled Asian salmon, so I used that recipe for the “cook it frozen” salmon. I changed the method a little bit to allow for the fact that the salmon was frozen. I served it with steamed vegetables and a fruit salad with honey lime dressing. It was a delicious and refreshing summer meal, and it was super healthy! If you’d like to try cooking seafood straight from the freezer, visit the Alaska Seafood website to learn more about where to buy and how to prepare Alaska seafood.

Grilled Asian Salmon…The Cook It Frozen Way

4 to 5 skinless Cook It Frozen salmon fillets
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. ginger powder
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. dried onion or finely diced onion (I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion seasoning)

Heat grill to 400 degress. Rince salmon under cold water to remove any ice crystals and pat dry. Place salmon in a pie plate or shallow dish. Mix all ingredients together and pour over the salmon, making sure it is coated well. Tear an 18 inch wide piece of aluminum foil so it is 4 inches longer than the salmon, and place the salmon on the foil. Pour half of the remaining marinade on the salmon and bring the sides of the foil together and fold several times to seal the packet. Place the salmon packet on the grill, seam side down, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes. Open the packet and brush salmon with the remaining marinade. Loosely seal the packet back up and grill for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until salmon is opaque and firm to the touch.

*If you’d like for the salmon to have grill marks and a little bit of charring, you can cook it for the last couple of minutes directly on the grill.

Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

3 c. seedless watermelon, cubed
5 to 6 peaches or nectarines, sliced
1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
6 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Place fruit in a large bowl. Whisk the honey and lime juice together and drizzle over fruit. Sprinkle with salt. Stir gently to combine.

Source: adapted from Rookie Cookie

SLOPPY JOE, SLOPPY, SLOPPY JOE!

I wonder how much money we could all save if we made a lot of those things that we buy in a packet, jar or can from scratch? I’ve tried lately to make a few of those things that I buy pre-made from scratch. Sometimes it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s not, but it’s amazing how much better things taste when they are made at home. It doesn’t take that much more work; measure, mix and done. It might take a couple more minutes than tearing open a bag or opening a can, but the final outcome is worth it. These sloppy joes are a great example of a little extra time for a huge payout. These are fantastic! I don’t know if I’ll ever use the canned stuff again.

Again, for those of you who like to cook once a month, or make double batches so you can put one in the freezer for another time, this is a great freezer meal. Put it in a large freezer bag and freeze, and when you’re ready to serve, thaw and reheat. Also, a great tip is to buy hamburger meat on sale in large quantities and then come home and brown it all. Separate it into approximately one pound portions and freeze each in a freezer bag or tupperware container. You can either put the meat in the fridge the night before to thaw, or thaw it enough in the microwave to where you can break it up and then finish thawing and reheating it on the stove. Having the already cooked meat in your freezer saves so much time. If you meal plan, you’ll know to thaw it beforehand and then half the job will already be done when you get ready to cook dinner.

To make these sloppy joes in the crock pot, either brown your meat or use your already thawed pre-cooked meat and add the other ingredients together with it in a crock pot. Cook it on low for at least four hours or all day. I think cooking it slow in the crock pot will allow the flavors to blend even more, and might even make for a tastier sloppy joe!

Sloppy Joes

2 ½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained

½ large onion, diced

1 or 2 bell peppers (any color), diced

5 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 T. worcestershire sauce

2 T. tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Brown and drain ground beef. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. Stir together ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, tomato paste and worcestershire until smooth. Add this along with the water to ground meat and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve on warmed or toasted hamburger buns.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman