Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pork chops with some crazy good sauce

Hello everyone! Hope you're all enjoying the spring (finally)!

Dinner from two nights ago was another easy recipe. I should probably stop saying that stuff is easy. I really never make anything complicated and I feel like adding the word "easy" to something that clearly is well, easy, is a tad redundant. I've said "easy" 5 times already, so tell you what: If I ever make something difficult, I will tell you it is difficult. Henceforth, you shall all know that everything I make is ... easy. (That's 6 times, who wants to play a drinking game? :-))

This is where I got the recipe:

I couldn't find medallions, so I sliced up a piece of pork loin I already had in the freezer. It came out a little dry, but maybe that's because I overcooked it a tad. One tip that I found came in handy: When pan frying something and you don't want it to get too dry and hard, add some water to your pan and keep an eye on it so that when the water evaporates, the meat doesn't get stuck to the pan. Overcooked or not, it was super delicious though. All I added to the meat was salt and pepper and a pinch of oregano. That's it.

Once the meat is cooked, transfer it to a plate and put some oil in a pan. You can use the same one from the pork, no one will judge you.

Throw in a can of mushrooms, or use fresh if you've got'em. Add some pepper and saute those for a few minutes. If you are using fresh mushrooms, saute for a little longer because they give off more water. Get your Boursin and put in a dollop (or in our case, half of the package) and let it melt over the mushrooms. Stir and take off the heat. Pour it on top of the meat, or put it in a bowl so everyone can add how much they want.

What's Boursin? Its a soft, spreadable cheese from France and it is really, really delicious. You can find it at the supermarket for about 5 dollars. Trust me, it is superb.

I paired the pork chops with some fresh spring dandelion greens and dinner was a major success. You read that right- dandelion greens. Get some, boil them lightly and come back to me with your comments.

If you don't know much about dandelion greens, read up on the many nutritional benefits here:

or do your own Google search :-)

Dinner costs:

Pork loin: $7.45
Boursin: $5.00
Mushrooms: $1.00

Total: $13.45 (not bad, I think)

I didn't include the cost of the greens because they were free from my backyard. Pesticide free and I couldn't get anything fresher if I tried. (They are also sold at grocery stores if you don't feel like rooting around your yard :-))

Happy eating!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lamb chop heaven

Hey there everyone! A very happy week to you all!

I was so stoked to make these on Saturday night and I am even more stoked to give you guys the recipe!
Like I mentioned in a previous post, where you get your lamb is pretty important. Lamb is a pricey meat and if you're going to spend money on something, why not get quality for your buck? So again, if you've got a butcher nearby, go to that guy for your lamb.

That being said, I came across this recipe on my favorite food low-carb food blog right here:

I didn't have the Ras el-hanout spices called for in the recipe, and I'm not a huge fan of cumin, so I decided to keep the spices on the lamb pretty darn simple. Plus, when you're got cuts as fresh as I did, you don't want to overload the meat with a bunch of stuff that will take away from the awesome flavor of the lamb. So I went with salt, black pepper, oregano and a dash of cayenne pepper and put those bad boys on the grill pan. This would also work well on the outdoor grill, but it was chilly out, and I was lazy, so grill pan it was :-)

I made the charmoula sauce exactly according to the recipe and it. was. AWESOME. I mean, I read the blog post and I was all like "Yeah, yeah, I'm sure its okay." But it was beyond ok. My taste buds were having a party that kept on going. It was that good.

I grilled some asparagus as a side dish and just added lemon juice, salt, and olive oil and bingo! There was Saturday night's dinner. I couldn't stop stuffing my face with those chops and the best part was that I totally could because it was a delicious low carb dinner that  will probably wind up being a new staple in this house. Hope you all enjoy it too!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

Hey there everyone!

Monday night's dinner was supposed to be lamb, but I was running late and didn't get a chance to get to my butcher, so chicken it was. :-)

As an aside about lamb, (which I will hopefully be making in a couple of days), it is really worth it to get it from the butcher as opposed to the supermarket. If you have no other options, then by all means, the supermarket is fine. But if you've got a butcher nearby, preferably a halal butcher, then run, don't walk, there. :-)

Okay, I didn't make lamb though, so enough about that.

Quick and easy recipe here, guys. (Like I ever do anything complicated ;-))

Get some chicken breast tenderloins and wash them off. In a pan, heat up some olive oil and when its hot, add the chicken. Add your spices on top (I used salt, chipotle pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, and a dash of fajita seasoning, and oregano.) and cook for about 20 minutes on each side on medium high heat. (I like my chicken well done.) I used to call this meal Fajita Salad, but I don't do all the fajita-y things to it, so Tex-Mex sounded better.

Side note: When using flavor packets, like Fajita Seasoning or Taco Seasoning, less is always more. In other words, don't use the entire package. ;-)

Once the chicken is done, set it aside and slice up some peppers and onions. Throw those into the pan and wilt them with some spices added if you are using fresh olive oil. If you are using the olive oil from the chicken, don't add anything, flavoring should be fine. Once that's done to your liking, add the chicken back in and saute that for a few minutes.

Chop up some lettuce, top it with shredded cheese and add your chicken and veggies.

(If you aren't really strict about your carb counts, Mission makes these really great Carb Balance Tortillas with 6 net carbs each. You could make your own wraps! Not too shabby, I think.)

Get yourself some sour cream and guacamole and bam! you've got dinner :-)

Happy eating!

Meatball Parm!

Hello and happy mid-week everybody!

This weekend was kind of  disappointing. I was all hyped up to see the Northern Lights because apparently, according to a map floating around Facebook, we here in New Jersey were in a prime spot to see them. And everyone knows that if its on Facebook, it must be true, right? Right??

So needless to say, that didn't happen. Which only means that I'll have to plan a trip up to some northern locale in the future to see this phenomenon, yet another thing to add to my bucket list, I guess. :-)

Something good did come out of this weekend, though. I finally got to see "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", which for a J.R.R. Tolkien geek like me, is super awesome. But that's not what I meant, when I said good. I meant that I found a kick-ass meatball parm recipe and it tasted better than I imagined.

Here's the recipe from my favorite low-carb food blog:

The only thing I did differently is to double the ingredients because I wanted leftovers for Sunday night. That's a big commitment to make when you're trying a recipe for the first time, but the blog I found the recipe on has never let me down, so I committed to a double dose and I wish I had made more to freeze and enjoy later in the week again. Yes, it was that good. (The only thing I did differently was to use ground beef that was 85/15 because I really didn't want a lot of fat, and I put them in the oven instead of frying them.)

I also made a run to Bed Bath and Beyond for one of these:

Because I found a recipe for zucchini noodles. Yes, noodles, guys. I haven't touched a noodle, spaghetti, macaroni or anything similar since September 2012 and this recipe caught my attention really quickly.

This is so simple really. I julienned the zucchini, placed the noodles in a colander and added a little bit of salt and let then sit there for 20 minutes so the excess water could be squeezed out.  I planned to pair these with the meatballs so I kept the seasonings kind of basic. I sauteed some garlic in a pan with olive oil and then added the noodles for 2-4 minutes so they could get some flavor. Top off with some black pepper and voila! Noodles. (When you are ready to make them, gently (GENTLY) squeeze the noodles before putting them in a pan.)

So that was dinner on Saturday AND Sunday because it all tasted soooo good. :-)

If you make this, let me know how it came out and by the way, you're welcome! :-)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Stuffed Calamari

Hello and happy almost weekend!

Wednesday's dinner was something I decided to make using what little brain my kids have left me with. :-)
I used to make it with rice, but since rice is a no-no with us here, I decided to do it a little differently. I'm talking about everyone's favorite cephalopod, squid, or most commonly (and less gross sounding) calamari.

I wanted to do something different than our usual calamari and brocolli so I got 15 calamari tubes from the seafood counter at Shoprite and decided to stuff them.

Here's what I used:
15 calamari tubes (I could have bought the tentacles to use in the stuffing, but I didn't. No explanation really, I just didn't :-))
1 lb of bay scallops
1 tomato
1 package of frozen mustard greens
Red peppers

I've never cooked with mustard greens before this. I had bought two packages a few months ago and I forgot them in the freezer. I didn't want to use spinach again, so I figured I'd give these a shot and I am really glad I did.

Wash your scallops in a colander and set them aside to drain. In a skillet, warm up some olive oil and saute your garlic and scallions. Add the scallops and let them cook for about 10 minutes. Chop up your tomato and add it to the skillet. Put the mustard greens in the microwave according to the directions and when they are done, add them to your skillet as well. Add your spices next. (Salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper were what I used.)  Let that all cook for 5 minutes or so and turn off the heat.

Wash off your calamari tubes and using a small spoon (preferably with a pointy end) start stuffing them with your scallop/greens mixture. Be careful, and I can't stress this enough, not to overstuff them. When they start cooking in the oven, the calamari will get smaller and if they are overstuffed, they'll split open and it'll defeat the purpose of, well, stuffed calamari.

You should feel like they aren't stuffed enough when you put them in the oven, in other words.

Put them in a baking pan and set your oven to warm up to 370 degrees. Cut some red peppers into strips and place them on top of each stuffed calamari tube. Drizzle some olive oil on top, too.

This next step is optional, but I really love the flavor I get from it. Grab a bottle of white wine (if you have it, folks. No need to run out and buy) and pour 1/2 cup into a measuring cup. Add 1/3 cup of lemon juice and mix together. Pour it on top of your calamari before putting it in the oven.

(If you don't have any wine, put some water and lemon juice in the pan so that the calamari doesn't stick to the bottom and you get left with some sauce.)

Let that cook for an hour or until the water given off evaporates and you are left with a sauce in the pan around the calamari.

Pair it up with some grilled asparagus:

(I didn't have lime juice, so I used lemon juice. I also didn't have pecans, or soy sauce, and I didn't add any sweetener, but nevertheless, it came out AMAZING. Seriously, try this recipe :-))

There you have it, Stuffed Calamari and Grilled Asparagus :-) Happy eating!

Taco Salad

Hey folks, hope you all are well out there :-)

In my first post, I mentioned giving credit where credit is due and I just wanted to take a moment to give props (look, I can talk "street") to my husband. He's the one that got us both started on low carb and he's the mastermind behind this next recipe. So, thanks, Hubs, you're the best :-)

Okay, so enough with the sap. This recipe has become a standard for us, meaning we eat this once a week. Its easy, delicious, and did I mention easy? :-)

Here are your ingredients:
1.5 lbs of ground beef (I prefer leaner meat, so I usually buy 85% or 90% lean beef)
Taco seasoning
Mexican blend shredded cheese

For the salad:
Lettuce (any kind you want, really)

Brown the beef in a small pot or skillet until it is mostly done. If you feel like there is too much fat, drain it.
Cut your lettuce and scallions, mix together in a large bowl and set it aside. Like the scallop salad from last week, I don't dress the salad with anything because the oils from the meat will be more than enough to coat the lettuce.

In a wok or large skillet, warm up some olive oil and add some garlic and scallions. Add the mushrooms and peppers and saute them a little before adding the beef. While that's cooking, add your spices. Don't go nuts on the salt or the taco seasoning. I tend to use 1/3 of the envelope of taco seasoning, a few dashes of salt and some cayenne pepper. But feel free to do things according to your own tastes. :-)

Spread some of the shredded cheese over the salad, and when the meat is done, pour that on top of the cheese and lettuce. Add some more cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream and dig in! The leftovers are great the next day, too :-)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pepper Pork Loin

Hi out there :-)

Last night's dinner was supposed to be made on Saturday  but because this weekend was freaking insane, I made it last night and learned a new trick to boot.

I had bought a piece of pork loin (3 lbs for $7.60) at Shoprite and I defrosted it on Saturday. Since I didn't cook it that night, and I really didn't want it to go bad by putting it back in the fridge, my aunt gave me a useful tip that saved my meat. (*wink*)

I put the pork loin in a pot and seared it on all sides for a few minutes, let it cool down, and stuck it in the refrigerator with its juices. So today, when I was ready to cook it, I didn't have to worry about whether or not I would die from eating bad pork. ;-) (The only drawback I found with this little tip was that the pork came out a little drier than normal, probably because it had already cooked a bit during the searing.)

This recipe is pretty easy, like most of the stuff I make.

Get some pork loin, defrost if frozen, and wash it off in a colander. Put some Pam in a baking dish, and place the pork in the center. Cut slits along the top of the meat and stuff garlic cloves in the slits. This serves to give the meat some extra flavor and you get an extra roasted garlic treat when you eat.

Chop up some more garlic, slice up some onion and a few peppers, open up a can of mushrooms and throw everything into a large bowl. Mix everything up and add some olive oil and your spices. I used salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano and some garlic powder. Mix it all up and add some lemon juice to the mix as well.

Pour your veggies on top of the meat, cover your baking pan with aluminum foil and put it in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for two hours. After that time has passed, unwrap, set your oven to 390 degrees  and bake for another 30 minutes so the meat gets some color and any water from the veggies can evaporate.

Depending on your oven, cooking times may change so keep an eye on your food and when you feel it it good to go, eat it :-)

Pair it up with some salad or a side or broccoli and enjoy :-)