pork chops, steaks, and a ‘little nugget’

What happens when you forget to buy a primary ingredient for dinner? Improvise!  That was my Wednesday evening, as I’m prepping dinner I go the ‘dairy drawer’ in my fridge and frantically search for smoked gouda. NO WHERE TO BE FOUND and then it dawned on me, I forgot to buy it; womp womp womp.  No worries, I wouldn’t let that stop me from making some tasty stuffed pork chops. Yes, we had pork chops last week but they are inexpensive and a great source of protein, so why not. I had smoked gouda and spinach stuffed chops in mind but that quickly changed to …. caramelized onions and sauteed apples stuffed chops.  Even though apples are not wise for a diabetic to eat, we just remember “everything in moderation”.  Again, with the high protein in pork + a side salad of dark greens – apples wouldn’t actually do much to Josh’s sugar level.

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You can also see the instant “mashed” potatoes … I added a decent scoop of garlic to these and a large spoonful of sour cream.  I will say it again, there’s nothing wrong with buying these “cheat” items but do something with them, make them your own. Plain instant potatoes are kind of gross – a soggy lump of mush and lack flavor.  Adding butter alone is pretty standard, go a step further and think of toppings you’d put on a baked potato; dice them up and throw in the pot. Good to go!

P.S. is anyone else a fan of those mini corns? They were my favorite topping at a salad bar and I had no clue (until a few months ago) that you could find them in the canned veggie aisle. Want to make a boring salad interesting? Take the same approach as you would to those instant potatoes.  Olives, mini corn, dried cranberries, croutons, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, diced red/green peppers, cucumbers … we mix up the toppings every month or so because salads can and will get dull!  Remember, go for the dark green lettuce for a healthier choice.  While iceburg lettuce looks the least like a ‘weed’ it doesn’t contain a lot of nutrients.  If it looks like you could have picked it from your backyard, that’s the bag you want to grab or get spinach; looks like a normal leaf and is really good for you.

We ended the week with steaks and sweet potatoes.  It was perfect grilling weather, 75 degrees… no complaints here for a mid-December evening! Our steaks get minimal cooking time, we’re talking 4 minutes on each side. I will not eat a steak if it doesn’t ‘moo’ on my plate 😉  The sweet potatoes took about an hour so plan accordingly.  Ain’t nothin’ simpler than that guys!

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I have graduated from dipping my steaks in Ketchup; my dad would be proud.  I can’t eat it completely naked even though we used some tasty seasoning; I reached for A1 instead. Please, hold your applause 🙂  Yes yes, a salad again. It’s the best side in my opinion; I like making them and Josh always requests one.  So that is usually our veggie helping.

Real quick before I sign off, it’s my little nugget’s 5th birthday this month. She’s so fat it’s appalling but we love her anyway. She eats healthy and gets exercise, we don’t indulge in doggy treats or human food either. It’s just who she is.

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I know you haven’t read much about my sous chefs lately … well with a bigger kitchen and two levels for the dogs to frolic, they don’t get in my way anymore.  They are at my feet when they hear me say ‘dinner’s ready’; they aren’t dumb… they come around hoping to trip me while I’m serving food.  Gotta love ’em!

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murder she wrote

OPA! My inspiration: Greek food. Prepping everything took 30 minutes… 1 entrée and 1 side dish; add on grilling the flank steak, 6 more minutes. Can it get any easier than that? Of course it can! If my sous chefs would actually help everything would have been done in 15 minutes. I tripped on sous chef Geno at least 10 times and then the stupid step stool jumped out in front of me twice.  Maybe Geno moved it on purpose hoping I would trip and drop some tasty food for him to inspect.

Really though, this is the easiest meal to put together. Even better, the recipes called for repeat ingredients which allowed me to set up a buffet station, more counter space for me!

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Josh was the grill master once again but I almost had to turn to my bestie, the broiler. We thought the propane had run out but thankfully he was able to get the grill going.  As usual, the dogs went nuts outside and ran “mad dog” the entire time.  Needless to say, sous chef Ella was pooped after playing with the big boys!

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After I finished prepping the 2 dishes there was enough time for a dance party. With an apron like this… we’re never too serious.
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I was super pumped for this meal, Josh was mostly excited about the feta cheese. We actually fought for a piece that dropped on the counter. I won and became “the meanest person ever”… mind you, the open container was sitting about 5 inches away. HA!  The cucumber salad was amazing, I think it’s my new vegetable obsession.  The recipe called for English cucumber but regular cucumbers will work if you peel them first and they’re cheaper, MUCH CHEAPER. I used 2 regular cucumbers since they’re a bit smaller.

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Overall, dinner was a hit – a few minor adjustments were realized on our end though.  The flank steak needed to be cooked longer, maybe 5 minutes on each side to MEDIUM.  If we were cooking normal steaks we prefer them “moo-ing”.  The flank steak was hard to chew through since it was still pretty rare.  With our attempt to be healthy I opted for multi grain pitas but they fell apart as soon I tried to open the pocket. They continued to break in pieces while loading the toppings too.  The pita’s were P.I.T.A’s. Someone needs to come up with better quality “healthy” bread, it’s so frustrating.

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The night ended with an easy clean up. Even our sponge was happy about it (the yellow smiley face guy… not the depressed “used to be pink” sponge).  I take that back, almost easy clean up… after the steak sat while we ate, the blood pooled under the cutting board. Gross, it looked like a murder scene.  Josh suggested we call Dexter and have him analyze it. As I wiped up the mess, in unison we started singing “murder she wrote“. Freaks? No, 100% mind readers.
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I can’t promise any “gourmet” meals over the weekend… even the best of us need to take time off.  Next week however, I can not wait for! My friend Kathy is bribing me to watch Miss E by sending me home with prepared dinners. I’d be crazy to pass up a chicken that will be marinating for 3 days. She knows I’d watch Miss E even if she offered PB&J, that kid is freakin’ cute.

I wonder if dogs like jalapeños …

Knives dropped: zero … wow, this is some accomplishment.  Actually it’s not, Josh had the dogs outside while he was cooking on the grill.  I know, I know! You must be thinking, Josh helped with dinner? Well this is how that magnificent miracle went down.
J- can I help with anything?
D- do you want to put the steaks on the grill?
J- what do you want?
D- do you want to make my blog?
J- YES
D- go start the grill
He always asks to help and I usually give him a dumb task such as getting out the griddle. It’s not that he can’t cook but he’s screwed up spaghetti. No, seriously.
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Back to tonight’s dinner… Grilled sirloin steak with mango & chile salad (coconut-ginger rice was to be a side but let’s be honest, I ain’t got time for that!). This was a super easy dish, took 25 minutes of prep, it should have been 15 but the damn mango was too ripe & was leaking EVERYWHERE. My counter turned into a mango juice pool… I almost lost a knife. Half way through mutilating the poor mango, I realized I should have peeled it, whatever, it turns out the same.
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So, chopped cilantro without slicing my fingers – I don’t have the best technique. I compare my chopping style to the “grandma bowler stance”… it’s awkward but gets the job done.
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Yes, that’s bottled lime juice, deal with it.  I hate buying limes because I forget about them, I can’t make that up! Now remember to cover the extra cilantro with a wet paper towel & store in a container… to the fridge it goes for another meal.  It can last for a week so freakin’ reuse it (read my 1 TBSP blog on July 16). Next I had to chop a jalapeño, I took the ribs & seeds out of my half and left Josh’s half in tact, he’s a freak & can handle any amount of spice. What’s that you say? The furry white and black thing at my feet? Oh, that’s Sous Chef Ella hard at work.  She got a taste of that pepper, serves her right. Let’s continue, almost time to get the steaks on the grill until Josh stops me, and I shit you not he asks me to measure his arms. Remember, he asked to help and managed to get side tracked with his muscles. Here’s how that went down: I’m in the middle of chopping carrots for a side salad and…..
J- where’s your measuring tape?
D- it’s on the other table
J- I want to measure my arms
D- ok
J- babe, measure my arms… well, when you get a chance. I want to see how big my arms have gotten
(he’s standing in the kitchen, holding the measuring tape out to me)
D- you realize I’m putting this in my blog too
J- no! Don’t do it! Actually good, because if April reads this she’ll appreciate it.
Sorry, no picture… but I did stop to measure his biceps and they are a gnarly 14 1/2 inches.  He’d want me to brag.

Image  Alright, dogs… uh, sous chefs are ready to approve of the steaks

Image Final product! Cut the steak AGAINST the grain after letting it rest for 5 minutes. Side dish: brown rice & cilantro (healthy option!), not everything has to be “fancy”. I typically aim for one homemade item each night, seriously who has time to make an entire meal including 2 side dishes + the entrée. HA.
You want the perfect steak? Salt & pepper each side, brush on some vegetable oil – good to go. 3 minutes on each side. NO MORE, NO LESS. Josh isn’t allowed to leave the grill once a steak goes down. P.S. if you don’t have a grill, the broiler should become your new bestie.  Really! Cook any meat on top of a greased cookie cooling rack (pan underneath covered in foil), BOOM… meats are juicy and takes maybe 5 minutes for steaks on “HI”. I love the broiler.

We had a side salad as well, I used the left over grape tomatoes and lettuce from yesterday’s dinner. Plan to use ingredients more than once.
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California BLT’s + zucchini/tomato/goat cheese wrap.