Green Eggs and Ham…

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In honor of Charlotte’s favorite book, which I probably read 100 times a day at least, I had a huge hankering for HAM this week. Usually Nick owns the big meat roasting category, but since he has been swamped at work, I decided to attempt my first ham solo, and it was a success! They are actually shockingly easy, and the best part is, you can prep it all ahead of time while the little one naps.¬† Continue reading “Green Eggs and Ham…”

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Pre Thanksgiving Carbo Load…

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My apologies for the lack of posts this last month. Life kind of caught up to me, and I found myself not having a lot of computer time these last few weeks. I hope everyone is recovering from their Turkey Day food comas. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and I enter serious sad mode once the day has past. Luckily, I have Black Friday sales to distract me ūüôā

Continue reading “Pre Thanksgiving Carbo Load…”

Sweet Toppings & Salty Sides…

pork-w-datesI’m pretty much obsessed¬†with Figs & Dates…if they weren’t so expensive, I would buy a pound¬†a week, but between that and¬†my weekly intake of almonds, cashews, and berries, I have to cut my losses somewhere. Last night¬†however, I decided to make fresh¬†dates the focus (they were cheaper than the figs), while bringing back the usual seared pork chops (boneless this time), with a new twist on our usual roasted cauliflower. I tossed the cauliflower in a easy mustard mix beforehand, and I have to say, I don’t think I will ever look back; it’s mustard from here on out! This dish was great, because the entree was very sweet, but it was paired with a tangy salty vegetable, adding a nice zing! Overall, a fast dish to make, as Char was down by 7pm, and dinner was served by 7:20pm (we put the veggies in to roast around 6:40- and started the pork at 7-to help you plan). Continue reading “Sweet Toppings & Salty Sides…”

Dallas Inspired Pork & Gravy Tacos…

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And another taco dish makes the blog! We probably¬†have tacos of some sort at least once a week. They are so quick to make and we keep finding new ways to change them up, with different sauces or toppings. Nick lived in Dallas a few years ago (oh wait,¬†almost a decade now-WOW), but to this day, he STILL talks about these pork tacos with gravy sauce he loved down¬†there. For the last few years, we have been trying to reinvent this gem in Nick’s eye ūüôā¬† I think we nailed it! FYI, the more gravy the better applies here. Continue reading “Dallas Inspired Pork & Gravy Tacos…”

Melting in the City…with Mango Pork

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The city is literally boiling this weekend, with temperatures reaching 95 degrees;¬†however, the¬†humidity makes it feel like¬†110 degrees. Back in the pre-baby days, this made for a great excuse to head to a beer garden to ‘hydrate’ all day, however, with Charlotte in tow, we find ourselves running out of things to do. Yesterday we tried to be brave and face the heat, but found our selves in bed by 8:30 pm, a strong result of¬†the sun sucking every ounce of energy out of us. With that being said, we haven’t wanted to cook too much this weekend, so this pork dish was a perfect refresher. It’s our usual pork with a spicy brine and fresh, cold mango salad on top. You could put this topping on chicken or fish too. We paired it with some simple rice and beans and a VERY chilled white wine ūüôā

Charlotte continues to conquer the world by standing on anything she can get her hands on. Last week we tried a few new finger foods, such as baked beans (BIG love), prunes, and when mom got a little lazy, a fresh blueberry muffin (I can’t even tell you the last time I had one of those-WOW delicious).¬†¬†I know I keep saying how fun it is becoming, but seriously each week gets better. She had her 9 month check up, and she is already 2 1/2 feet tall. I think I entered a state of shock, when the doctor closed the door with “See you at her 1 year.” HOW??

Ok, time to go blast the a/c…..Stay cool out there my friends!!!

Ingredients: serves 2-3

  • 1 lb of pork tenderloin
  • 1 mango; chopped
  • 1 bunch of scallions; diced
  • 1/4 tea spoon of chili powder
  • 1/4 tea spoon of cumin
  • t table spoon of kosher salt & pepper
  • For the pork brine:¬†
    • 2 jalapenos; charred and chopped
    • 3 cups of water
    • 3 table spoons of salt
    • 2 table spoon of lime juice
    • 1 table spoon of fennel seeds
    • 1 table spoon of pepper

Instructions:

  1. Combine brine ingredients above in a pot. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 5 minutes (until salt dissolves). Let cool to room temperature
  2. Once cooled, seal in zip lock bag with pork inside for 4-6 hours.
  3. Take pork out and dry off some with a paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  4. We cook the pork the same way we usually do, just with a different brine. See the steps¬†here….Pork Tenderloin.
  5. Chop mango into bit size chunks. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder spices, salt and pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator, sealed for 20 minutes to get it cold.
  6. Mix chopped scallions into the mango mix right before serving.

 

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Hump Day Pork Chops…Lime & Garlic style

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One of Nick’s favorite meat¬†dishes¬†is a good hearty pork chop. Usually we use a¬†pretty basic recipe with a ton of spice flavor and salt. However, we stepped it up¬†a bit last night with these lime & garlic rubbed chops. This was super easy to prep ahead of time, so by the time Nick walked in the door¬†all we had to do was put them on the stove top. Usually I am a little timid with lime juice, but I must say adding a little more than usual, with a TON of garlic, really helped bring out a great taste here! We served them with simple green beans, which were steamed then baked in olive oil. Nick’s the king of cooking¬†pork chops, always timing them right to make sure they aren’t over done. A word of advice, trust your thermometer, even if you don’t think the chops look ready yet.

Not much new to report on lil miss Char this week…. She is just loving life motoring around the apartment, climbing up on anything she can get her hands on (especially her crib during nap time). I joke about how I used to be so excited to start solid foods with her, and now I spend majority of my day cleaning up her food mess (aka 3/4 of the finger foods she chooses to throw on the floor, instead of her mouth). I have to admit, this truly has been the most exciting and enjoyable¬†month with her….I feel guilty saying that, like I should almost miss the infant/newborn stage. But honestly, I really think these last few weeks have been so so much fun with her, as she develops her own personality and sense of humor. Below are a few pics from today….

Lime & Garlic Spice Rub Pork Chops: serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil
  • 2 table spoons of kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of the following spices each:
    • cumin
    • chili flakes
    • chili powder
    • cayenne pepper
    • garlic powder
    • paprika
  • 1 lime: you will want to use 1/2 lime for juice in the spice rub, as well grate the zest into the rub (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 5 garlic cloves; finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine spices, kosher salt, pepper, lime juice & zest, and chopped garlic. Make sure you dice the garlic finely. You could even grind them in a food processor if you feel like it.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 450.
  3. Toss pork chops with the mixture in the mixing bowl, making sure both sides are thoroughly covered in spice rub. If not, feel free to add additional spices, lime juice, or salt & pepper. I added some additional salt, pepper, and lime juice at the end.
  4. Heat oven-proof frying pan over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tsp of butter + 1 tsp olive oil, spreading to cover the pan Add pork chops, allowing to sear ~3 mins (make sure a nice crust has formed). Flip pork chops and sear other side, ~ 3 mins. Put the pork in the oven, allowing to roast for ~10 mins, or until inside of the pork is cooked to medium. Remove from heat, and allow to rest for 5 mins.

 

 

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Lettuce Wraps for Bikini Season…

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Happy Friday Everyone! It’s been quite some time since my last post. We were¬†in Florida this past week, celebrating the 4th of July with my fam. We had such a fun time, and it was so great to finally have everyone in town at the same time (it’s been a while since the entire gang has been able to be present). It was so adorable to watch Charlotte with her cousins Grey and Luke. They shocked me with how protective, warm, and cuddly they were with her. And big milestones this week….we officially have a crawler! My life¬†is currently over, as I spend my day following her around as she hits her head on EVERY¬†object possible.

This dish below is an easy weeknight meal we made before our trip, that created 0 leftovers before we left. Pulled pork is one of Nick’s favorite things to eat, and I have found it so simple to make in¬†the crock pot, adding different mixes¬†of spices and simple sauces. This dish was¬†more on the sweet and savory side, thanks to pinches of honey and cinnamon.¬†But what I really think was¬†the best part of this dish¬†were¬†the lettuce wraps.¬†So often we use¬†taco shells, tortilla wraps, buns, etc; but lettuce wraps add such a¬†refreshing and crunchy element to the meal. When ever we do an Asian inspired dishes,¬†we tend to incorporate our cabbage and carrot slaw, which is made up of mostly soy sauce and sesame oil. It adds just enough dressing that the dish requires no additional sauces, not to mention its super quick to make.

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Asian Inspired Pulled Pork  Lettuce Wraps with Cabbage & Carrot Slaw: serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of scallions; finely diced
  • 1 1/2 lb of pork tenderloin (remember pork shrinks in the crock pot)
  • 1 large carrot; spiralized
  • 1 cabbage; chopped
  • 1 bunch of romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup of rice

for the crock pot:

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • 3 table spoons of sesame oil
  • 3 table spoons of honey (add more if you prefer sweeter)
  • 2 table spoons of garlic powder
  • 2 table spoons of¬†worecheshire sauce
  • 2 table spoons of cinnamon
  • 2 table spoons of cumin
  • a few pinches of salt & pepper
  • 1¬†table spoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 table spoon of chili flakes
  • 1 table spoon of brown sugar

for the slaw:

  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 3 table spoons of sesame oil
  • 1 table spoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • pinch of salt &¬†pepper
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves

Directions:

Pork:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine soy sauce, honey, sugar, worecheshire , sesame oil, and all spices. Put pork, chicken stock, and mixing bowl sauce into the crock pot. Make sure the pork is covered in the sauce. Add additional spices if needed. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. About 15 minutes before serving, I would start making the rice side (it takes about 15-20 to cook).
  3. 5 minutes before serving, pull the pork apart, so that it becomes stringy. Let marinade in the sauce. However, turn off the the pot, or the sauce will quickly dry up.
  4. Add scallions on top of the pork before serving

Slaw:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and spices.
  2. Spiralize carrot and chop cabbage into strips.
  3. Toss into mixing bowl with the sauce. Season with salt & pepper.

As you can see below…taking a family photo of 10 is quite challenging…..

 

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Paella for the win…

 

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Happy Sunday¬†everyone!!! I can’t even contain myself to wait a day longer to write about this great meal we cooked Friday night. Sadly, my only contribution was buying the ingredients, but I’d like to think I helped add some spices at the end to make it just right ūüôā

Paella is one of our favorite dishes when having guests over, because you can make a huge batch of it, and really add any proteins you like to switch it up. We were hungry, so this batch consisted of chicken thighs, shrimp, and chorizo sausage. Man, was it GOOD!

We had a much needed relaxing weekend as we prep for our next Toronto adventure: Charlotte’s baptism next week. We’re¬†crossing our fingers for happy flights with this little 7 month old! Below are some pics of Charlotte at her friend Blair’s 1st birthday party this weekend. She loved the balloons and live music, however, slept through a good 3/4 of the party … (#wedontfeelguilty).

Paella

Chicken, Shrimp, & Chorizo Paella: serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb pack chicken thighs (we like a lot of meat, but you could shave back here if you want)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • 4 cups arborio rice
  • 6 cups water, warm
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined (again feel free to add more or less depending on your preference)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Spice Mix for chicken:
  • 1 part paprika, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 parts dried oregano

Instructions:

1) Marinate the shrimp for ~30 mins by mixing them with a generous amount of olive oil (so that the shrimp are well coated), 1 tsp each salt and pepper, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Don’t over marinate or the lemon juice will slowly cook the shrimp, forming a gross ceviche.
2) Generously dust the chicken with the spice mix. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat (we actually used an electric wok, and cooked it all at the table!) Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Keep the leftover oil
3) Add chicken skin-side down and let brown, ~3 mins each side (it doesn’t need to be fully cooked through, because you’ll add it as the rice cooks.) Remove from pan, and keep with the sausage.
4) Add the shrimp, saute quickly (~1 min each side), until the shrimp has just turned pink (again, you’ll cook it more later, so no need to worry about them being cooked all the way through.)
5) In the same pan, sautee the onions, peppers, remaining garlic, and 1/2 the parsley. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes and spices, cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
6) Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains, ~3 mins. Pour in water & chicken stock, bring to a simmer. Add chicken & chorizo, allow to simmer over medium heat until rice is al-dente, ~12-15 mins (try not to stir, as this makes the rice mushy).
7) Add the shrimp for the last ~2 mins of cooking. Once the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for about a minute, until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect (you want a nice crispy bottom).
8) Remove from heat, garnish with some of the parsley.

And DIG IN!!!!

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Meat & Milestones …

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We had lots to celebrate yesterday! Not only was¬†it Cinco de Mayo, which was obviously¬†enough of a reason to throw¬†a happy hour, it also happened to be Nick’s birthday (for his sake I won’t list how old) & Charlotte’s 6 month birthday. On top of that, we got the green light from the doctor to start solids this week. She has already had oatmeal and yams (separately) in the past few days. I posted a video below so you could see how the first few times went (my apologies my video taking skills are poor). I’d say the oatmeal was a breeze, and¬†the yams definitely threw her for a loop at first, but now she’s full throttle into them! I heard yams are a good starting vegetable, so hopefully we don’t have an epic fail with the next vegetable we introduce. PS After¬†her weight in at the doctor’s, I can’t say I was surprised by her hungry appetite, coming in at 19lbs strong (no wonder my back is KILLING me).

In true celebration form, here is one of our favorite go to meals, which has never let us down. This Balsamic pork rub is SO SO easy and you can prep it ahead of time, with ingredients guaranteed to be¬†already sitting in your spice cabinet. We usually don’t have leftovers¬†when we cook this roast,¬†which is quite scary, because it’s only the two of us eating over 1 lb of meat. However, I’d like to consider it lean, so it’s OK in my book! We top of the dish with simple asparagus that is baked in a balsamic glaze and a simple couscous.

Balsamic Glazed Pork and Asparagus: serves 2-3

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • 1 lb of pork tenderloin
  • 1 table spoon each of salt & pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 packet of Italian spice salad¬†dressing mix (I use the Italian good seasons packet found in the salad dressing aisle-see link below)
  • It’s not not necessary, but I do add these spices to the mix as well, to give it a little more kick:¬†about 1 table spoon each
    • cumin
    • garlic powder
    • chili flakes

For the asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 table spoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 table spoons of honey
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

*It works best if you marinate the pork ahead of time, giving it a few hours to soak in. You can also cook the asparagus the same time as the pork, maybe pulling it out 5 minutes before (depending on the heat of your oven)

For the Pork:

  1. In a bowl mix together 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, Italian spice packet, and additional spices. Stir vigorously.
  2. Add in 2 table spoons of red wine vinegar and  1 table spoon of water to the mix.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to the mix. Stir vigorously again.
  4. Pour marinade into a large zip lock bag and place pork tenderloin inside. *I prefer to salt and pepper the pork generously before throwing it in the bag. Toss the bag around a little to get the mix to adsorb into the meat, then store in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  5. Preheat over 425F
  6. Take pork out of the bag and place on a baking tray. You can pour the remaining marinade onto the roast.
  7. Bake in oven for 35 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 150F. Let pork rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. We usually cook the couscous while we wait to slice, since that is a quick 5 minute thing to do.

For the Asparagus:

  1. Wash and cut ends off of asparagus, and spread evenly onto a baking tray.
  2. In a mixing bowl mix together 4 table spoons of balsamic vinegar and 3 table spoons of honey. Drizzle generously all over tray. Follow with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Lastly, I drizzle a good amount of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) all over as well.
  3. Bake asparagus in oven at 425F for 30 minutes, or until tender. If desired, you can re sprinkle some of the balsamic honey mix when there is about 5 minutes left in the oven, to give it a nice glaze.

Click below for Char’s first yams:

First yams…

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Happy Birthday and Half Birthday to my two favorite people xoxo