Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Creamy Iced Coffee

Neil loves coffee. Well, maybe not so much loves as needs coffee. Every night, I set the coffee machine to go off at 4 in the morning so when he stumbles into the kitchen his little shot of caffeine is waiting to wake him up. I'm not really a coffee person. I love the jolt of caffeine but the coffee taste doesn't do it for me. At least when it's hot. I love a frappuccino though.

Iced coffee is apparently the new thing. Or maybe the new thing is making coffee ice cubes to put into your iced coffee so you don't have to deal with the watery taste of melted ice cubes.

I'm trying to kick my daily coke habit (cola for those who don't know me at all), but I still need caffeine or else I get headaches. I know this isn't much better for me than coke in terms of sugar and calories and what not but I'm hoping it will help me at least not need to drink a can of coke everyday. And then I'll be an iced coffee addict. But at least I won't have to go out to one overpriced coffee place and pay $4.00+ for something I could just make at home!

The recipe below is how I take mine. Feel free to cut back on the amount of milk/sugar if you don't like yours overly sweet!

Creamy Iced Coffee
Source: Allrecipes

1 1/2 quarts brewed coffee, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half cream
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a pitcher, combine cooled coffee, milk, and half and half. Stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve over ice. Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pork Chops with Apples

These chops, plus The Grits from a few days ago had sitting on my Pinterest "Yum" Board for about a month, along with a bunch of other delicious looking things. I finally decided during my 23 x 23 post that I was going to start making some of the delicious things I had tagged and this one was my first pick.

The real winner of this Pioneer Woman recipe is without a doubt the grits but if you aren't a grits fan (even if you are) you should definitely try these pork chops, perhaps with some mashed potatoes.

Pork Chops with Apples

6 whole boneless pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 whole Gala apples, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 dash salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter and heat until butter is melted. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and brown them on both sides until nice and golden. Remove pork chops from skillet and set on a separate plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the apples and stir to combine with the oil and butter that remains in the pan. Pour in wine and vinegar, then whisk along the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Stir, then return pork chops to the pan. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Serve pork chops on top of creamy cheese grits and spoon the apple sauce over the top. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits

Alternate post title: Heaven in Your Mouth-at least if you like grits.

I'm in a love love relationship with grits. There's no hate at all for the pounds that are probably added every time I eat them. Ever since I can remember, grits were a part of breakfast whenever we went to South Georgia to visit my Dad's side of the family. My Nanny (that's Grandma to all you uninformed folks) would make them for us and we would gleefully add spoonfuls of brown sugar to them until they turned a nice light brown color and were so sugary sweet they couldn't really be considered a breakfast food.

The only time I remember being appalled at my Nanny's grits was when she added pork brains to them. Yes, you heard right, pork brains. My sisters and I of course refused to eat them and I still can not figure out why anyone would ruin a perfectly good bowl of grits with pork brains.

In college, I was first introduced to the wonderful deliciousness of cheese grits. I lived right across from the 24 hour dining hall and around midnight-1:00 the Snelling staff would put out breakfast foods, including cheese grits. The majority or my all nighters were pulled at a dining hall table with a plate of cheese grits in front of me. And every morning after my 8:00 (ugh I know-I was an ignorant freshie who didn't understand the value of sleeping in) Astronomy class, I would hit up the dining hall for cheese grits and bacon. I'm pretty sure that's the reason for the weight I gained my freshman year.

When I got married, Neil took over making breakfasts. Every once and a while, he would add cheese grits to the morning meal and it would reaffirm my decision to marry him :)

But then, I came upon the grits recipe to rule all the other grits recipes. It's even better than the sugary brown sugar grits of my childhood. Why, it has BACON! And heavy cream. It's a Pioneer Woman Recipe so you know it's full of fat but also incredibly delicious.

If you ever watched the show "Wife Swap" or you just have a cousin who watches way too many YouTube videos, you'll probably recognize Mr. Curtis from this little clip below...

"She can't run in those little high heels."

Man I love that video. Anyways, enough randomness. Scroll down, past the picture of us feeding Lucy cheese grits from a spoon to get to the best recipe ever posted on this blog. The Pioneer Woman uses real grits but they only sale instant out here in California so I've included the modified directions for instant grits. Head over to her website if you are lucky enough to live in a place that recognizes the value of non-instant grits.

Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits

8 slices regular bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 whole yellow onion, chopped
1 cup instant grits
2.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1.5 cups water
1 cup heavy cream (change depending upon preference)
1.5 cups grated cheese
dash cayenne, for heat
salt, as needed
pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, cook bacon over medium heat for a couple of minutes to render fat. Add onions and cook with bacon for a few minutes, or until bacon is chewy and onions are golden brown.

Add grits, chicken broth, and water. Stir together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 5-7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Keep checking on the liquid level and if they get dry, add a little more broth. Once thickened, pour in cream. Cover pot and continue to simmer on low heat for another 8-10 minutes. When grits are done, add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Serve warm. Enjoy!

*By the way, these were on my 23x23 list as one of the things from my Pinterest "Yum" board!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Arroz Con Pollo

Back in high school, I originally planned on taking all four years of spanish and minoring in it in college and going out into "the real world" with a valuable skill. That plan ended my sophomore year with Mrs. Baker. Don't get me wrong, she was a wonderfully nice lady and a good teacher, but she had my older sister a year before me so her expectations were set way too high.

Every time I did bad on a quiz, she would hand it back with a sad little, "Pobre Dana," even though she knew my name was Tyler. If I did good it was always "Dana" who got the felicitas (I think that's the right word for congrats). She also had a nice little southern accent and let me tell you, spanish is hard enough to learn without throwing in the southern accent. I'd attempt to show you how she spoke her southern spanish but "Como say yahma" doesn't come out quite the same over the internet as it would in real life.

That ended my dreams of being a spanish minor. I dropped it the next year. Sometimes I wish I had kept up with it, especially since I now live in southern California.

Anyways, the point of that little story is that I can proudly translate my post title as "Chicken with Rice," or maybe "Rice with Chicken." I can't remember how the order of words go but I do remember the 3 weeks we spent in Spanish 2 learning everything grocery related and spanish hitting words on the board with a fly swatter when she called them out in English. What- your teacher didn't allow you to aggressively push someone out of the way just so you could hit "la leche" when she yelled out milk? You missed out. Big time.

Arroz Con Pollo

2 lbs chicken pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water

Brown chicken pieces in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add vegetables and garlic and continue to saute until translucent. Add rice, thyme, and bay leaf; stir for about a minute. Add water, bouillon, and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking another 10 minutes. Do not lift the lid (It makes the rice gummy). Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekly Meal List

It's a short list this week full of some meals I've already made but I am excited about Friday's meal! I love me some meatballs!

Monday: Sesame Chicken
Tuesday: Pizza Night!
Thursday: Enchi-ritos
Friday: Meatballs with Peppers and Pineapples

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

Apparently, some couples find it romantic to cook dinner together. Neil and I are not one of those couples. For one, he has more interest in eating rather than cooking. But, I think the real fault lies with me: I'm a control freak. I like doing things my way and making sure I hit all of the bases. We've tried cooking a few times together and while we were able to produce a decent meal, it wasn't very romantic. So we save the romance for the candlelight dinners and the most Neil helps with dinner is cutting. The hubs likes dinners where he gets to help me out with cutting things so this was a perfect dish for him (and me).

Besides the fact that Neil got to help me out, we also liked this dish for the flavors. I suggest toning down the fennel seeds but other than that, it was delicious. We definitely recommend this one for both the couples who like to cook together and for the spouse that likes to cook alone in the kitchen.

Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers

3/4 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1.5 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450ยบ. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 tsp salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1.5 tsp oil and sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1.5 tsp oil to pan. Add chicken. Cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over and cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes or until done.

Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, shallots, and rosemary. Saute for 3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium high. Stir in vinegar and remaining salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken. Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Peppery London Broil

If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that taking me to a fancy steakhouse is a waste of money. Mainly because I eat mine well done with a lot of A-1 steak sauce, which he considers a waste. He on the other hand likes his medium-rare (closer to rare) and considers A-1 an insult to steak. So the fanciest we get with our steak is a night at Outback where I order off the kid's menu and usually have to ask the waitress for a bottle of A-1 sauce cause the little cup she brought me won't cut it.

This was my first time making steak and if you can tell from the picture, I kept mine under the broiler almost double the time that Neil's cooked. We were also unfortunately without A-1 sauce so I had to enjoy the steak plain. And it wasn't too bad. I know that doesn't sound like the best endorsement but coming from me that's like an "A" rating. Neil thought it was delicious and has asked me to add steak to the menu more often!

Peppery London Broil
Source: Taste of Home Cookbook

1 beef flank steak (about 3/4 pound)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

With a fork, poke holes in both sides of the meat. Make a paste with the garlic, seasoned salt, and red pepper flakes; rub over both sides of meat. Place the steak in resealable gallon-size plastic bag. Add Worcestershire sauce and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Remove meat from bag and discard marinade. Broil or grill over hot heat until meat reaches desired doneness, about 4-5 minutes per side. To serve slice thinly across the grain. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

When my 7 alarms go off in the morning, I usually hit the snooze button for at least 6 of them. Yep you read that right. It takes about 13 alarms to get me out of bed in the morning. And even after I turn that last one off, I usually lay in bed for another 5 minutes telling myself that I'll just count to thirty and then get up. And around 20, I forget where I was and have to start counting. I'm so not a morning person.

So since I'm basically dysfunctional in the mornings, I'm not really a breakfast person. I'll have the occasional bowl of cereal and I love when the hubs makes me bacon and pancakes but I never eat breakfast during the week. But since I'm all about making new goals for myself this week, I decided I was going to eat breakfast every morning, or at least drink it.

Smoothies are so easy to make in the morning, especially since I added almost all the ingredients to a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer. So all I have to do is empty the bag into the blender, add the milk and honey, and pulse that baby up. That's about as much work as I can handle in the morning.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Source: Tyler's Taste Test Original

1 banana
4 strawberries
1/4 cup ice
1/4 cup of vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup milk
honey, to taste (if you like your mornings a little sweeter)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend :) Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chicken Stir-Fry

Unless we have company, we usually just have the main dish for dinner. It's just a huge hassle to make sides when there's only the two of us. I love making stir-fry because you get your carbs. veggies, and meat all in one. Because who has stir-fry without rice?

Chicken Stir-Fry
Source: Taste of Home Cookbook

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 cup water
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules

Place chicken strips into a re sealable plastic bad and add cornstarch and toss to coat. Add soy sauce, ginger, and garlic powder to bag and shake well. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Stir fry chicken until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Add remaining oil. Stir-fry broccoli, celery, carrots, and onion for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add water and the bouillon and return chicken to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly. Enjoy!