Slowly introducing cool-weather comfort foods

Finally. It’s finally October however that doesn’t mean the weather is cooling down any 😦 We had an enjoyable weekend with windows open and the AC off… today it’s sticky-humid and 72 at 8:30am, a high of 90 is expected. Just when I wanted to start decorating for Halloween/Autumn the weather gods turn! I love heat and I love sun but I’d take a real fall before winter gets here – it’s supposed to be a doozie again this year. So with the tease of cooler temps I started to introduce new comfort foods to the weekly menu.

How about stuffing covered baked pork chops.Yes you read that right. Since stuffing is a no-no item with our new eating ways, I was missing it. I think it’s overlooked 99% of the year and then everyone goes crazy with it at Thanksgiving, it needs to be used more often and this is a great way to incorporate it throughout the year.
IMG_7723IMG_7725

Egg wash, flour, egg wash, coat in uncooked stuffing – seriously it’s that easy! Bake it and cover with yummy gravy (it’s absolutely needed or else you might chip a tooth on the stuffing, lol). Add some veggies (steam bag, cheat!) and instant mashed potatoes (added lots of shredded cheese, another cheat!). I’ll tell ya once again – if you have a “labor intensive” feature for dinner then opt for easy side items, in my case steam-in-a-bag veggies and instant potatoes. Use your own extras or seasonings to add some creativity and flavor. Although 2 pork chops took maybe 10 minutes to prep but dredging is messy which is why I picked easy side items.

Baked fish was on order as well this past week, I’ve made it once before – it’s a Rachael Ray recipe. Giving another nod to comfort foods I whipped up a mushroom & orzo dish, this one I’ve made 2 times before (1st time grand reveal at Christmas), the 2nd time I used whole wheat orzo and it was disgusting … the texture was not appreciated by myself or my husband, it was like cardboard! SOGGY CARDBOARD! I went for regular orzo this time and it was just as yummy as I remember the 1st time was. It’s a keeper.  I’ve also started using frozen pearl onions, do yourself a favor and copy me. Peeling a pearl onion is a pain in the neck x 12 (how many I originally used).

I had to turn it in to a casserole because I cooked it in the morning and reheated it for dinner.

IMG_7707

Who’s up for a 2 pot meal? EASY CLEAN UP!!! I heart the Pioneer Woman and her yummy creations. This recipe was on her show a few weeks ago when it was still 90 degrees and I was waiting for the right time to make this. Friday it was beginning to cool off and I knew the weekend would be nice as well; we always have leftover pasta so I wanted to enjoy it over the weekend too; anyway it was perfect! We got comfy on the couch with this piled high in a bowl, then there was silence. A sure bet that the meal is delish. Ok so back to the easiest dish ever; the pasta is cooked in 1 pot and the sauce/chicken/moz cheese goes into another. The cutest thing EVER at the grocery store were these mozzarella balls – you could either fight with the huge ball of moz and slice/dice it into small pieces to scatter around the sauce OR buy these lil fellas! Same price and none of the fuss. Yes of course it made plenty of leftovers which we enjoyed on Sunday, we needed a meal to comfort an embarrassing Steelers loss … while it didn’t make us feel any better about that game our stomachs were at least satisfied.

IMG_7734IMG_7731

At the beginning of last week since it was bea-u-tious and I figured to make a fun, tropical inspired steak. The sun was shining and screamed “MANGOES!”. I found the most amazingly juicy mango and was incredibly pleased with how much “meat” was on that sucker. I’ve finally figured out how to slice mangoes the right way, thanks to The Kitchen (TV show).

IMG_7695

Here it goes – I used the mango mixture on top of the rice and steak, 2 for 1 deal.  All it is, is mango/jalapeno/cilantro/lime juice. DONE.  While the rice cooked I tossed in cilantro and lime juice to boost the flavors.  Once plated I topped the rice with mango and same for the steak, add a side salad and it really looks like something you’d pay a good penny for at a restaurant. Hubby is home for dinner for the next few weeks due to a training class he’s in right now so he actually has “normal” work hours. I love it and am living in the moment each night we get to have dinner together – no planning what can be reheated and not turn in to rubber, it’s pretty fantastic.

Advertisements

kids need music … and P.E.

Things are a’changing around this house, the last few weeks have brought exciting news 🙂

First, Josh and I are purchasing our first home! You know what this means? A BIGGER KITCHEN! A fridge that cools and a freezer that won’t defrost; doors that don’t let rain in; a garage door that closes; blinds that are functional; walls that have wood studs and insulation; this list could go on and on and on and… you get it. We’re looking at a mid-November closing date. Gosh, I am so excited.

Second, I accepted a teaching position at a private school, classes start on the 26th!  This will be school #2 that I get to start a music program at.  Maybe that’ll be my “thing” – I go to school’s that don’t have a music curriculum and start one. Every school should have a music program, I could seriously go on a 10 page rant about kids needing a creative outlet in school. And P.E. … kids need P.E.; after all, San Antonio is the most overweight city in America.

Speaking of overweight, back to the blog topic… This recipe was passed along to me and who could resist a name of “chicken bombs” when thinking “I wonder if I’ll make this?” I made it the week after seeing it! The chicken was full of flavor and cheese oozed out; super easy to make and incredibly tasty.  I left off the bacon … originally planned on using turkey bacon for a healthier option but figuring I’d have to cook the dish inside, I didn’t need my house filling with smoke. I think I’ll nix the bacon even if we do cook it on the grill in the future, I can never get bacon wrapped items to turn out right.  The bacon is either soggy or burnt, no thanks! I love bacon but you know what, you don’t need it to survive.

Image

Josh requested a fresh veggie side, I hadn’t made steamed broccoli in a while so I knew it was time to get back to it.  Buy 1 head of broccoli ($1.50! CHEAP!), I added an onion that was already in my pantry. That’s it! It takes maybe 1 minute to prep and 10 minutes to cook. No complaining that you don’t have time! For flavor, I sprinkled on veggie seasoning, ex. Mrs. Dash … whatever you prefer.  I did add a SMALL dollop of butter just to coat the veggies once transferred to a serving bowl.

Image Image

For the chicken you’ll see I placed the cookie rack on a foil lined casserole dish.  Since the chicken needed to be basted a few times while baking, I didn’t want the BBQ sauce pooling around the chicken, making it soggy or turning in to burnt edges.  With a deep dish under, the sauce was able to drip off nicely.

Don’t want leftovers? I used 2 large chicken breasts and cut them in half (as directed), you can see it made 2 chicken bombs per person. One disagreement I have with the recipe, it says if you don’t care for spicy peppers then you should opt for green bell peppers instead of jalapenos.  Guess what, removing the seeds and ribs (as instructed in the recipe) leaves you with a bland pepper.  That’s where the “spice” is typically found. I hate spicy peppers and handled the rib-less/seedless jalapenos just fine.  Get your facts straight, Leslie. 😉

This one’s a keeper!