I want to share a recipe given to me by a dear, old friend who is not really old at all, but with whom I share an “old” friendship, at least in my view of things. In fact, I guess I have known Steph for just about 20 years now. Whew!
Stephanie shared this pork roast recipe with me long ago, and I have played with it and added a couple things along the way. It’s easy, it’s fairly inexpensive, and you can either eat it at home with family for Monday night supper like we did tonight, or cook it for company if you want to!
Take a center cut pork loin roast of any size. This is a fairly lean but also pretty inexpensive portion of the piggie.
You will need:
* several tablespoons of a nice spicy mustard
* copious amounts of minced garlic
* fresh rosemary
* 4-5 slices of bacon (I like the center cut variety)
Rinse your roast and pat dry. Douse your roast with the mustard. Slather the spicy stuff all over — don’t worry that you are using too much.
Next, chop/mince/dice or do whatever you like to do to garlic — and spread that atop the mustarded loin.
Remove the rosemary “leaves” from their stems, cut finer if you prefer, and sprinkle the rosemary over the garlic.
I forgot to take a picture of this next part, and I’m sorry for that. Keep in mind there are often at least two or three short people trying to ask me important questions/share vital information while I attempt to get supper in the oven. Usually there are dogs sniffing around also, greatly interested in the goings-on at counter level in the kitchen. If things are especially interesting, the resident rabbit will also have been brought into the room at this time to offer tips and advice on preparing the evening’s meal. Evidently, I am easily distracted.
At any rate, you’ll have to use your imagination for this step: just lay a few slices of the bacon along the top side of the roast, ends touching or barely overlapping. I usually use about four for a 3 to 4 pound roast.
I like to cook this recipe on a little roasting rack in the pan so the juices gather easily underneath and enhance the flavor of the dish, but it’s not necessary. Pop the porkie in the oven and roast at about 400 degrees until the roast is cooked to about 155-160 degrees in the middle.
Now here is the important part: do NOT attempt to cook this roast if your meat thermometer is broken. I may have learned this the hard way today. Let’s just say that when your meat thermometer says 180 degrees and the inside of your roast is so undercooked that it’s still oinking, well, you may be fairly certain that aforementioned thermometer is no longer of any use. You will, at this point, in an effort to avoid giving your loved ones food poisoning, overcook the lovely roast so that it more closely resembles shoe leather than nice, tender gently-cooked pork loin. (Sigh.)
Even overcooked, this dish is still pretty good, but please take my word for it, and use a thermometer that works! When your meat is done, slice it thinly, and be sure to cut up plenty of the bacon to enjoy with the roast. Spoon the wonderfully rich roasting juices from the bottom of the pan over the meat to serve it, and your family will devour this meal, lick their fingers, and declare you the bestest cook ever!!
If you get tired of eating the leftovers, the sliced meat transitions beautifully into barbequed pork you can serve as sandwiches a couple nights later!
Day 10 of South Beach was my little sis’ birthday…in honor of her special day, I want to do a shout out to Sandra, who has a fun, new blog starring my youngest nephew, Jacob, who is of course, one of the most adorable babies in the world.
Day 10 (also known as Friday) wrapped up a week of swim lessons for the youngest Horne, Acting Camp for our girl, and Wrestling Camp for the three boys. Whew, busy week! Who ever said summer was full of long, lazy relaxing days spent at the pool? Hmmm…maybe next week we’ll try a slower pace.
I got the harebrained idea mid-morning on Friday to take our kiddos over to Fort Worth in the evening to enjoy an outdoor concert put on by the FW Symphony in the Botanical Gardens. Called the hubby to see what he thought, and he loved the idea. We managed to surprise the kids, who had no idea about the evening plans. There were a LOT of questions during the car ride over. They’ve been to the Dallas Symphony several times, but we’ve never gone to hear the Fort Worth Symphony. The program was right up their alley, and part of the reason I chose this concert: all the music was from major motion pictures, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and others. The music was really beautiful, and once the sun went down, there was an amazing laser light show set to the second half of the program, and the final piece of the evening included a fantastic fireworks display. Definitely a fun family night.
Supper was a picnic in the beautiful Botanic Gardens while we waited for the music to begin. I was so tempted to just drive through and grab food somewhere since the outing was a rather last-minute decision on an already-full day, but am thankful that in the end we managed to save money on eating out and stick to our diet.
For our meal, I whipped up two very simple salads which I packed into our cooler for us to enjoy. The first was a variation on an old favorite: Tomato/Basil/Mozzarella Salad with extra greens to stretch it farther:
Those little white things look a lot like marshmallows, but they are actually tiny fresh mozzarella balls! I used my favorite summer tomatoes: Camparis, which have a lovely sweet flavor. To these three wonderful ingredients i added some EVOO, splash of balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper, and a huge bunch of salad greens. All the various flavors melded beautifully together by the time we enjoyed our salad.
Our other salad was a Chicken Caesar which I threw together using a breast from a rotisserie chicken, a bunch of romaine, some gratings of parmesan, and a bottled Caesar dressing.
The salad supper was perfect considering the very hot evening, and neither of us were hungry at all after enjoying such wonderful fare.
What a lovely start to the weekend this was! My handsome hubby and my beautiful girl together:
Sweet boys chomping on supper while they waited for the performance to begin:
This cute little guy actually spent much of the evening in my lap despite the hot and sweaty temps!
He amused himself by trying to take the perfect self-portrait of the two of us…I deleted close to 50 of his “masterpieces” much to his dismay, but here is one that I kept:
along with one more sorta artsy-looking one:
Well, I decided that our Burrito Bowls Jay brought home from Chipotle yesterday were so wonderful that I would do my best to create an in-home version for our next supper time meal. I tried out a new recipe which cooked the chicken in the crockpot while we were away in the afternoon.
While not quite as amazing as Chipotle’s burrito bowls, these were really good!!
We had chicken and refried black beans (which are a fun change from both plain old refried beans as well as the simple black beans) topped with sauteed onions and peppers
and a little fresh cilantro to finish it off:
We had plenty of our favorite salsa
But sadly, no Tia for Jay or I. Oh Tia, how I have missed you these last 7 days!!
Certain parties might have had a bit of fun with us over our inability to consume copious amounts (or actually, any amount!) of our dearly beloved corn chips.
I gotta say, our improvised burrito bowls were really yummy as South Beach meals have gone, but I miss either some rice to go underneath it all, or a wonderfully carb-filled tortilla to wrap around all of it. Sorry if I sound like a Debbie Downer, I’m just keepin’ it real, folks!!
After a week on South Beach, Phase 1, did we see any results? Or should I clarify, any quantifiable results? The answer is “yes”, definitely, but you will have to wait till the Day 8 Post to hear what they are. I will be back tomorrow to say hello to our blog, but I will not be writing about South Beach.
So….with that little bit of a teaser, I would like to close out Day 7 by sharing the following recipe which I found and modified to suit us…and which resulted in some nice ‘n’ spicy chicken to use in our burrito bowls:
1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons oregano
4 cloves garlic
1 red onion, quartered
1/8 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
4 chicken breasts chicken (note: Chipotle actually uses dark meat, I’m pretty sure)
Combine chipotle pepper and remaining ingredients except for chicken in a bowl, and puree with a hand blender.
At this point, the recipe suggested marinating the chicken for several hours or overnight and then grilling or cooking inside on a grill pan…
Throwing all the ingredients into a crockpot, cooking on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6. Which is what I did, given I knew I’d be away from home during the last few hours before suppertime.
You will have meat that falls off the bone because it’s so tender and the consistency is similar to a stew! You can add 1 cup of a stock or broth to keep it from drying out.
Day 2 on the beach went alright. We successfully stayed away from the carbs and sugars we are eliminating for right now. Supper looked like this (from my point of view, it was missing a nice baked potato or other equally delicious rendering of this most beloved starch, and maybe in general was a bit heavy on the green veggies, but all in all very tasty!):
And after supper the two oldest children helped me bake a “delicious” Lemon Ricotta Creme Souffle, an SB Phase 1-approved dessert. Now, if I’m being completely honest, only the book claimed it was delicious. I personally give it a rating of “so so”, but admittedly, I am a fan of the white flour, sugar, and butter!! Still, this was interesting and I’m glad we tried it. But in the future I will likely spare myself the work to bring about this end result.
With that rave review and since I am now posting the recipe, I know you are going to race straight to the kitchen and whip up some of this souffle for you and the ones you love….but before you do that, check below for the Day 3 report.
Creamy Lemon Vanilla Ricotta Souffles:
1 cup part-skim ricotta
2 large eggs, separated
3 tbs granular sugar substitute
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375. Coat 4 ramekins with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk ricotta, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the sugar substitute, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla until combined.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer (I used a handheld) at high speed, beat egg whites and salt till soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Add remaining 2 tbs sugar substitute and continue beating till stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into ricotta mixture till combined. Repeat with remaining egg whites.
Spoon ricotta mixture into prepared ramekins
and bake till souffles have risen and are set and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
So yes, these are the finished product. Please note that the dark spot in my picture above is not a roach, but a little section of our countertop which has peeled away from the rest of the formica. And yes, those are a set of goggles and some sunscreen in the photo; I am trying hard to just capture a slice of real life here.
After tasting my souffle, I decided a sprinkle of cinnamon and some very light whipped cream (has less than 1g of sugar per serving so I don’t think I am cheating too awfully) added something to the overall enjoyment.
Day 3 on the beach started out just fine. Despite fantasizing hourly about gooey chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, I was greatly encouraged by my morning weigh-in (actually the creator of the diet really discourages weigh-ins, but on this point I really do not listen well). Feeling more comfortable already in my clothing was quite encouraging, and Jay said he could tell a difference at his weigh-in too. So in spite of our cravings for the carbs we missed, we felt motivated to press on.
And then around midday, our tummies began rumbling in a most unpleasant way. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say that for the remainder of the day there were plenty of strange gurglings and many other unpleasant symptoms we experienced. Due to our little woes, supper on Day 3 consisted of a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt. With a side of Immodium.
Frankly, this was the hardest stage of the diet for me so far. When my tummy is sad, all I want are some saltines and then maybe a nice plain 1/2 a bagel, slightly warm from my toaster. Even a plain frozen waffle feels comforting (after it is toasted, and no longer frozen, of course). I google searched for “what to eat on South Beach Phase 1 when you have _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ” but found nothing helpful. I did learn that we are not the first South Beachers to experience this most unpleasant side effect. Some attribute it to possibly the extra fiber in one’s diet during this first phase, while others believe it to be a combination of the fiber and the consumption of some sugar substitutes which are known to cause stomach upset in some people.
Regardless, I give Jay credit for helping me to stay “on the beach” on Day 3. I feel certain I would have just given up and grabbed myself a saltine or two had he not held firm. Let’s hear it for awesome hubbies!
A couple of days ago we returned home from a trip to Target to discover
1 – We had a flat tire
2 – The large freezer in the garage was apparently defrosting inside, despite the door being firmly shut.
The tire had to wait till the next day for my sweet husband to attend to it (thankful both that Jay saw to the tire, and that he kindly switched cars with me so that I could ferry the rest of us to our appointment we needed to keep that morning).
The freezer worried me a little (had it stopped working suddenly?) but after a thorough questioning of the troops, I discovered that a little blonde-headed tyke had come upon the door slightly ajar earlier in the day (likely thanks to the youngest member of the family) and had dutifully shut it immediately, but didn’t realize he should maybe let the Momma of the house know.
The only food greatly affected other than my beloved Tin Roof ice cream appeared to be a package of pork chops near the opening, which I snatched out of the (mostly still) icy box, and took to the kitchen for a thorough inspection. Deeming them still slightly frozen and safe to cook with, I rinsed them with water, then dumped them into a ziplock bag with the following hastily-concocted marinade:
Grilled Pork Chops (aka the main supper course on Day one of South Beach Phase 1):
7-ish pork loin chops
1/2 cup remaining white balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge (Wow, I just learned how to spell “vinaigrette” been doing it wrong for years!)
splash of low sodium soy sauce
few more splashes balsamic vinegar
couple splooshes of dijon mustard (yes, I did say “Sploosh”…if you are wondering, I think a “sploosh” is just a tad larger than a “splash”.)
Toss into fridge overnight. Heat grill, and plop the pork chops on the rack. Cook till done, give yourself bonus points for nice dark grill marks in special patterns on either side of the lovely chops.
You can see that we also enjoyed broccoli that first night. Shout-out to my friend Chrys, mom to four boys ages 5 and under (God bless her) and the wonderful woman who shared this recipe with me. It is absolutely my favorite way to enjoy this delicious vegetable.
About a pound (maybe 2 heads?) of broccoli, cut into pieces
2-ish cloves of minced garlic
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice (use half a lemon)
(optional) small sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese
Toss broccoli with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. You careful cooks will do this in a bowl, me, I hate to get one more dish dirty so I just toss it all together on the cookie sheet I’m going to roast with. Pop the broccoli into a 425 degree oven, and roast about 10 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. It will smell wonderful!! Remove from oven, spritz all over with the lemon juice, and if you like, sprinkle with parmesan. Now: try to keep from eating the entire panful before supper starts!!
Note: I will sometimes add cauliflower to the mix for fun, and to change the recipe up a bit. Ina Garten also has a wonderful take on this recipe, it makes about four times the amount listed here, and adds some additional ingredients which look delicious. I see Ina tosses her broccoli with the garlic and olive oil right there in the pan, too, so I consider myself in very good company!
Last Friday the children and I took some homemade chicken noodle soup to my very sick MIL. Well, it was mostly homemade; as I was leaving our house with soup in hand, I managed to drop the bag which was holding the container of soup. The plastic container holding the soup shattered when it hit the concrete floor of the garage, and alas! almost every drop of the precious broth I had coaxed from those chicken bones and vegetables was lost. I replaced the liquid which had drained out with some canned stuff I had on hand, and meekly took what was left of my “get well soup” over to my in-laws’.
In exchange for my rather meager offering, Grammy Ruth bequeathed two lovely squashes to me. For a couple of days I pondered what to do with my pretty acorn and butternut squashes, and after a bit of online searching I was inspired to cook a soup I have never before tried.
Here is the recipe I drew from, though as usual I tinkered significantly with both the ingredients and the method of preparation.
As suggested, I first sauteed an onion and a carrot in butter and olive oil. For my base I used 1 acorn squash, 1 butternut squash, 3 sweet potatoes and 1 granny smith apple.
The recipe suggests boiling all vegetables until tender and then pureeing them in a blender along with chicken or vegetable broth. Given I broke our blender a month or so ago while making pesto (and yes, this has made preparing margaritas somewhat challenging!), I decided to roast the vegetables in the oven and then mash them. In addition to adding a lot of chicken broth, I tossed in some white wine and a good amount of half ‘n’ half. For spice, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and paprika along with fresh parsley.
We enjoyed the pumpkin-colored soup topped with homemade garlic/asiago croutons which added a nice flavor to the dish.
I assumed that Jonathan, my resident soup-hater would taste one spoonful of this concoction and look woefully at me as if to say “Do I really have to eat this?”, as he often does at the supper table when I’ve served soup. When the soup is potato based he frankly looks more nauseated than pleading. To my surprise and delight, he loved my creation, and finished every drop in his bowl…miraculous!
Oh, and Mommy Ruth, if you are reading this entry, (and I know you are!) you will be happy to know that my squash/potato mixture made so much soup base that I froze a nice portion for you to use someday when you are feeling more like squash soup. I assure you that I will do my best this time to not drop it on the garage floor on my way to your house!
I have been experimenting more with pasta of late. It is a delightful basis for a meal because you can throw odds and ends of what you have in your fridge into a skillet with some garlic and olive oil, and produce an entree that tastes like you just sat down in a nice Italian restaurant.
For this latest dish, I wanted a meal that would have great flavor without too much spice. And that also would not use a lot of meat. Here is more or less what I threw together; you could adjust and change amounts and ingredients around to your liking without too much consequence, I am thinking, as long as you keep the basic proportions of sauce to meat/veggies. Do not be put off by what look like at first glance a large amount of ingredients; it is mostly various veggies I put into the dish and then a few liquids thrown in to create a delicious lemon-butter-wine sauce.
1 package (12-16oz) your pasta of choice (I used farfalle, or bow ties)
3 slices bacon (if it fits into your budget, I believe prosciutto would taste even better in this dish)
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 green onion
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1+ cup fresh spinach washed and dried
flour, for dredging chicken
1 chicken breast, cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 cup chicken stock (I make my own, but canned will do fine)
1-2 Tbs butter
1/2-ish cup white wine
lots of lemon juice (I am totally guessing here, but maybe a 1/3 cup?)
freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Prepare your pasta “al dente” and set aside.
I used my electric skillet for the rest of this dish, but a large stovetop skillet would work well.
Cook your bacon, remove from skillet and set on paper towels to drain.
Remove bacon grease from skillet (I pour it out, then wipe the inside of the skillet with a paper towel).
Now to the skillet, add 1 Tbs of the olive oil and your garlic, stir to slightly cook, and add other vegetables up through the spinach. It won’t take long for these to cook through, maybe about 5 minutes. Remove veggies to a plate or the already used pasta pot till you need them.
Add the other 1Tbs of olive oil, and your flour-dredged chicken to the skillet. After chicken is cooked (about another five minutes) sprinkle a bit more flour into the chicken, and add your broth, butter, the wine, and lemon juice to the skillet. The liquid will thicken into a nice sauce. Crumble your bacon back into this mixture as the sauce thickens. Now add your vegetables back in, sprinkle with black pepper, and stir till everything is warmed and mixed together.
Serve over pasta, sprinkled with your favorite parmesan cheese. Add a glass of wine and salad to round out this wonderful, tummy-pleasing meal!! Mangia!
Last night upon returning home from soccer and pizza with friends from church, I slapped together a couple of meals for our family to eat later this week. One of them was a pan of the yummiest chicken enchiladas I’ve ever managed to make, so of course, I feel it is my duty to share it with my readers!!
I “sort of” followed a recipe. But as always, I altered it enough that I am going to just write down my own version, and refer you to the original recipe which did inspire my creation. I found the original recipe added in steps that just seemed unnecessary, and way too time-consuming. So I opted for ease.
One more note: despite the original recipe calling for two enchiladas per serving, we found that the way this dish turned out, one enchilada per adult was plenty of food for Jay and I. Probably just as well since they are not at all low calorie!!
2-3 ish cups of cooked chicken breast, cut in strips
lemon/lime juice (I used all the juice in one small lemon this time)
2 Tbs canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 chili pepper, minced
1 can rotel, mild
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 can Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup fat free half and half
10 flour tortillas
1/2 can green chili enchilada sauce
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
small amount chopped green onion
Toss chicken breast strips with lemon or lime juice and cumin. Set aside.
Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a large skillet, heat oil; add onion, chili pepper and tomatoes till softened, about 5-8 minutes.
Add in chicken, since it’s already cooked it doesn’t need to stay in long, just enough to heat and distribute the flavors. If you were using uncooked chicken you’d cook it for a while during this step.
Add in rotel, 3/4 of the broth, all the wine, half the can of soup, and the half and half. Stir to combine, and heat to a simmer – you want this to “cook down” a bit before assembling your enchiladas.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl (I just used the bowl I tossed the cooked chicken in earlier) combine remainder of the broth, other half of the can of chicken soup, enchilada sauce, and sour cream. Stir to combine; this is going to be your topping after you assemble the enchiladas.
This next part could probably use some modification since it is rather messy, but it resulted in the moistest enchiladas I’ve ever cooked, so perhaps it wasn’t all bad.First, be sure to spread a little of either your topping mixture or your sauce chicken mixture in the bottom of the 9×13 pan, to help keep the enchiladas moist.
Then, since the skillet mixture is going to still be rather soupy even after cooking for a time, use a slotted spoon or even a spatula to fill each tortilla with a good amount (1/2 to 3/4 cup, maybe?) of the saucy chicken and vegetables stuff. Place enchiladas seam-side down in your pan. I could only fit 10 into mine, you might fit more if your tortillas were smaller. I managed to get all the chicken meat and most of the veggies used up this way, and there was a good amount of the saucy mixture left in the pan. Dump the topping you mixed up into the remaining sauce, combine the two, and pour over your enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese, and a handful of sliced green onions if you like. Store in fridge for up to a day and/or bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or till cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with salsa, avocado, and some rice and beans for sides. ENJOY!!
The last time I was at the grocery store, “pancake syrup” was on the list of things I needed. However, upon stopping at the syrup aisle, I was shocked at the price for our regular bottle of Log Cabin. The larger size was $3.99!! And I just could not find it in myself to pay that price for high fructose corn syrup poured into a bottle with a pretty label. Mind you, I’d love to just feed our family the pure maple syrup, which is better for you, and tastes a thousand times better, but recent (lack of) income woes around our house have necessitated that we cut back all spending drastically, so that didn’t seem a wise purchase either.
While I pondered what to serve my hungry children atop their waffles and pancakes, there stirred in the back of my mind a vague memory of my own mother whipping up some homemade syrup concoction on her stove during the days of my childhood. It wasn’t a regular thing in our house growing up, or surely it would not have been so vague, but clinging to this thread of a memory, and a little bottle of maple flavoring, I finished my shopping trip determined to find a recipe of my own for cooking some homemade syrup.
The children were rather surprised when I announced this morning that I was going to create syrup instead of pouring it from a bottle, but they went along with it willingly. I even had a cute little assistant to help me.
The recipe was easy, quick to assemble and cook, and used few (and inexpensive!) ingredients! Upon tasting “Mommy’s Syrup” there was unanimous agreement around the breakfast table that it was much, much better than Log Cabin. What praise!!
For kicks, I looked up the ingredient list for Log Cabin, and have to say, that even though I have not in the past been a huge reader of labels, was unimpressed by what goes into a bottle. When you can say that your homemade recipe of water, sugar, and a dab of butter and maple flavoring is WAY more healthy than what you’d buy in the store, you start to wonder how in the world the manufacturer can get away with charging $4 for a plastic container filled with I’m not exactly sure what. See for yourself:
Ingredients: Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar Syrup, Pure Maple Syrup, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate and Sorbic Acid (Preservatives), Artificial Flavor. Source for these ingredients Note it has pure maple syrup listed even though there’s not one drop of maple syrup in it!
For anyone interested, here is the recipe I used this morning to make my syrup. I changed it up a little (don’t I always change my recipes up a little?) by substituting a cup of brown sugar for one of the cups of white sugar. I first put only the cup of white sugar into my pan, and lightly “cooked” it, stirring often so that it did not burn. Then I added my brown sugar, boiling water, and maple flavor as directed. I also added a tablespoon of butter. I cooked it for about 7-10 minutes till it thickened slightly, stirring much of the time. When it was ready, it looked like this:
I served it warm over waffles, and stored the remainder in the fridge where I understand it will keep for some time.
What a deal! It was simple enough – and inexpensive!! – to make, and so happily received, that I have lofty aspirations of never again buying the stuff in a bottle.