Thursday, January 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Chops

My Facebook newsfeed always has a recipe someone posted or shared on to their wall. And every once in a while, something catches my eye. Or it gets shared by numerous friends and I see it every other post. This is what happened with the Teriyaki Pork Chops. Well, I should be more specific. The post I kept seeing was:

I have to admit, there were a few days I scrolled right past, but then after seeing it appear on my wall, shared by several friends, I got curious. I love everything crockpot. Meals made in the slow cooker are so convenient. Everything is just about ready when dinner time rolls around. So one day, I clicked it. It brought me to Mommy's Fabulous Finds (a mom, blogging about her fabulous finds/ideas). I scrolled through the recipes to see what all of the fuss was about. I gave a few "meh's" until I got to the Teriyaki Pork Chops. I stopped there because 1. we don't eat a lot of pork chops in this house and 2. I love anything teriyaki. The recipes looked easy enough but I didn't want to prepare it, then freeze it. So I bookmarked the page to come back to later. And later I did. Here is my version of the recipe with a couple of added twists. 

Original Recipe
Crock Pot Teriyaki Pork Chops
  • 4 pork chops, about 1 in thick\
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Sprinkle salt & pepper on pork chops if desired, place in a gallon-sized freezer bag. In a small bowl mix garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chicken broth together, add to bag. Place flat in freezer, when ready to use thaw in fridge overnight. Empty contents into crock-pot and cook on high 4-5 hours or low 6-7 hours. 

A photo journey of my preparation of the meal.

In the crock pot I mixed together the minced garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and chicken stock. I mixed well until all of the brown sugar was dissolved. 

After I had prepared the sauce, I got my chops ready. I bought four because two was not enough for this family of three. I seasoned each side of the chops with salt and pepper (I use Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper). While I was seasoning the chops, I had some oil (EVOO) heating up in my NEW stainless steal skillet (Christmas present - which I LOVE).

Once the chops were seasoned, I placed them in the preheated skillet to brown both sides. Browning (or searing) helps keep the meat moist when you cook it. 

After they were down browning, I placed them in the crock pot. I turned it on low and let them cook away! (Note: my crock pot seems to cook hotter on low than normal crock pots, so in the future I'll probably cook them for a shorter amount of time). 

During the cooking process, I also flipped them a couple of time to make sure the marinade/sauce coated both sides. 

Below is what the chops will look like when they are done cooking. 
When they were done, I removed them and placed them on a plate and then covered the plate with tinfoil to keep the chops warm. 

The liquid in the crock pot was still warm and had a lot of flavor. So I took out a bag of leftover spinach and threw the remainder of the bag in the pot. My crock pot has a "stop top" setting so I turned the dial over to that setting and started to let the spinach wilt. 

When it was done, I topped the chops with the wilted spinach and it was SO good. The spinach had soaked up the sauce nicely and that gave extra flavor to the meat when you eat the two together. 

For a side I made some Parmesan noodles. I just took a box of spiral noodles and cooked until al dente. When the noodles are cooked, ladle a few spoonfuls of the noodle water from the pot into a bowl. You will need this later. Drain the rest of the pot and put the noodles back into the now empty pot. Take 2-3 tbsp of butter (I use unsalted) and mix it in with the noodles. Here is where the starch water comes in handy. Your noodles may seem to be getting a little "dry" so take some of the starch water you saved from when you boiled the noodles and add it back in to the pot. This will help moisten the noodles. Then take your grated Parmesan cheese and add as much or as little as you like. I LOVE Parmesan cheese, so I mix quite a bunch in. Again, you may need to add some of the starch water to moisten the pasta back up. Make sure you only add a little bit at a time, not too much or the noodles will become soupy and we don't want that. The more cheese you use, the more starch water you'll need, so make sure to alternate so you get the right ratio. When you're done adding the cheese, season with salt and pepper. 

And voila! A delicious dinner!

I hope that you'll be inspired by this recipe! Make changes as you see fit as you make new discoveries each time you cook!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome 2014

I have not been a very good blogger. I have a horrible tendency to get really excited about a project, start it, continue with it for a short amount of time, and then completely abandon it. I have great vision and then it all just fizzles. So, my goal is to KEEP posting in this blog as often as possible (I say that now).

Last year was a whirlwind of endings and new beginnings. The biggest news is that we BOUGHT OUR FIRST HOUSE! Now, while most people my age have already accomplished this, it's awesome for our family because it finally means we are stable. Instead of moving every 2-3 years, we are staying in one spot, for the rest of our lives. It's a little overwhelming knowing we closed a chapter in our lives, but exciting that a new one is beginning. Eric decided that the Army was just not for him anymore. And while I will miss some aspects of being a military wife, the stability is a huge sigh of relief. We started looking when Eric decided to not renew his contract. And looking took about two weeks until we found our HOME. We looked a few prebuilt homes and one we were seriously considering putting an offer on. But the work we needed to do to make it what we truly wanted was more than we wanted to take on. So we started looking at home builders. We looked at a few, but we finally found an affordable builder with a floor plan we loved. It took six months of waiting, but we finally moved in end of August.

It's OURS. We can paint the walls, put holes in the them, hang whatever we want and not have to worry about changing it back or losing our deposit when we move. We still haven't unpacked all of the boxes, but it does feel like HOME. What's even greater is that we love our neighborhood. Because of our move, I was able to reconnect with a childhood friend. It had been probably 20 years since the last time we spoke, but when we reconnected, it was like time never passed. It was great to hear about the 20 year lost and pickup where we left off. Because of this, we were able to meet the rest of our neighbors and found the piece that was missing in all of those other "homes". While we made great friends in Louisiana and Alaska, there's nothing like walking our your front door and having friends across the street. Brooke has made a lot of new friends and she loves that they are just a door knock away.

Eric also got a new job. He also received his BS in Business Management this past fall. I am so proud! Starting this January (tomorrow actually), he will begin classes to become certified to become a police officer. He has gone on a couple of ride alongs and loved it. So, when December comes, we will reevaluate where our lives are heading and make some important choices. 

Brooke started the first grade. She is now half way done with the year. She loves school. I am just hoping that enthusiasm stays at this high until the end of her scholastic career. A parent can hope right? She thrives and that makes us happy. 

So with this, I hope 2014 brings you even greater things that 2013 did!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A different twist on French Toast...

I love French Toast. I love that it tastes like home. I love syrup. And so does my family.

So let me share a little secret. I don't use regular bread. Most people use texas toast, regular loaf bread, day old deli bread, etc...Not me! I love using the Archer Farms "gourmet" breads. They have a few different selections in the bakery section, so there are options! My favorite is the Apple Fritter. There are little apple chunks in the bread and the top has granulated sugar. I never said this bread was healthy. Just delicious. Archer Farms also makes Cinnamon Raisin, Cinnamon, and Blueberry Streusel.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to use this bread for french toast, but if I can share this little bit of heaven with someone new, then I've done my job.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps - Recipe

I am not a gourmet chef. I have unrealistic visions of myself sautéing  whisking, stirring, flipping, and poaching delicious dishes. But in all honesty, I'm a simple cook who cooks for her very picky family. So, here is one of the dishes that our whole family enjoys. It's tasty, somewhat healthy, fast and easy to prepare. Enjoy!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Wraps

You Need:
- 2 to 3 uncooked chicken breasts
- Bacon (I use low sodium bacon)
- Tomatoes
- Lettuce
- Shredded Cheese
- Ranch Dressing
- Avocado (optional)

- Bake your chicken breasts for 30-35 min at 350 degrees. The chicken is done when the juices run clear
- Fry your bacon to your preference of doneness (is that a word?)
- Once the chicken is done baking and the bacon is done frying, warm your tortillas by microwaving them in between two damp paper towels. I do 3 tortillas for 45 seconds.
- Assemble! (How easy was that?)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Korean Tacos - Recipe

We have a new favorite dinner in our household, one that my husband loves, and for that I am grateful! I get a hankering for Asian style food all the time. Could by my Korean genes making themselves apparent, but who can say. And being Korean, I LOVE Korean food. Go figure. Another food I love, even though I'm not Hispanic, is tacos. So, I thought to myself, why not combine my two favorite things? And this is what was born.

Beef/Chicken Bulgogi Korean Tacos

- 1 lb ground beef or chicken
- 6 tbsp soy sauce (I use Kikkoman, all other brands taste like gross brown salt water)
- 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 2 tbsp sugar (I dissolve it a SMALL amount of boiling water - some people use pear juice instead - but you need some sort of sweetness)
- 2 cloves minced garlic (I cheat and use the preminced in a jar)
- Pepper to taste
- Soft Burrito tortillas
- 2 cups White Rice
- Kimchi
- Sriracha (opt)
- Lettuce

Cooking Time!
- In your rice maker, start cooking your rice. 2 cups of white rice and 2 1/2 cups water.

(I LOVE this rice maker)

- In a medium skillet, start to brown the ground beef or ground chicken. 
- While the meat is cooking, combine the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, sugar, garlic and pepper. Stir well. 

- Once the meat is full cooked and drained, return to skillet. Pour the marinade over the meat and simmer on low until the rice is done cooking. Give the meat a stir every once in a while to make sure the marinade soaks in. 

- When the rice is done cooking, warm your tortillas. I place 3 between two wet paper towels and microwave for 1 minute. 
- You can assemble your taco any way you like. I put white rice on the bottom, then add the meat, then top it with Kimchi. Eric likes to add the Sriracha (hot chili sauce) and lettuce. Brooke likes it in a bowl, all cut up and easy to scoop!

This is an easy way to appease my Asian food cravings while keeping it somewhat healthy and guilt free. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chicken Taquitos Recipe

I subscribe to to get their daily email. They send out a recipe or two per day and I always open their message to see what the goody of the day is. Most of the recipes they send are no-gos because I have a SUPER picky husband. But once in a while I get a winner. And this was one of them. I tweaked their recipe a bit because I wasn't a fan of the author's ingredient choices. But all in all, it made a good starting point and they turned out delish!

(Inspired by)

* 2-3 uncooked chicken breasts (original recipe called for canned chicken, but I prefer fresh chicken)
* 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
* 12 corn tortillas
* 1 pack taco seasoning packet
* EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) - optional
* sour cream - optional
* guacamole - optional

- In your crockpot, place your uncooked chicken breasts in the bottom. Cover the chicken with water and mix the taco seasoning in (I use low sodium taco seasoning)
- Slow cook the chicken breasts in your crock pot for 4 hours on low (may take less time). 
- When the chicken is done cooking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Grease a baking sheet
- Preheat a small skillet on your oven over medium heat
- Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred/chop the chicken 

- Put all of the shredded/chopped chicken in a large bowl and mix in the two cups of shredded cheddar cheese. You could use any shredded cheese you want: pepperjack, monterey cheddar, etc would be good as well. 

- In your preheated skillet, warm the tortillas one at a time over medium heat until flexible, about 10 seconds per side. I would warm a tortilla, and while I was filling that tortilla with filling, I would preheat the next tortilla. All about being efficient!
- Once your tortilla is warm and flexible, spoon some of the filling in to the middle. I used about two regular spoonfuls. 

- Roll the tortilla and place it seam side down on your greased (or sprayed) baking sheet. I lined mine with tinfoil, just a habit of mine.
- Repeat until all of your filling is gone. 
- Lightly brush the tops of the filled tortillas with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). This will help them become crisp and crunchy when baked!
- Bake for 30 minuted in your preheated oven. 

(Ignore the janky one at the top left - I didn't heat the tortilla long enough)

- Top with sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, etc.
- Enjoy!

(I love guacamole, don't judge)

** You could jazz these up even more by adding diced onion, peppers, or other veges. The original recipe called for mixing some hot sauce in with the chicken and cheese filling, but since we have a 6 year old who isn't too fond of "snappy" (spicy) foods, us adults just drizzled some on top when they were done baking **

I have to say, THESE WERE DELICIOUS. These will become a regular staple on our dinner menu. They were super easy to make (especially with slow cooking the chicken all day). Both my husband and daughter enjoyed them as well. You could also make these as an appetizer or substitue the chicken for ground beef! So many options to make it your own :) I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we did! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grey Loves Design - Blogger Templates - Etsy

I have this weird obsession with templates. No, really. I think I start new projects, just so I can search for the perfect template. I know this sounds crazy (and maybe it is), but I love browsing other people's talented work. So when I started this blog, I went on the hunt for the perfect template. I have an account on Etsy just for my purchases because I don't like purchasing things through my sellers accounts. I spent a good three to four hours Saturday scouring blogger templates on Etsy. I would heart one here, grimace at others there and so on. But I kept coming back to GreyLovesDesign.

I had purchased some templates from Maree (owner/designer) a week earlier for my handmade business blog and was impressed by her quick turn around time and professionalism. But this time, I was looking for additional items; a matching Facebook cover and avatar for the new Whimsy Boulevard page ("like" me). I emailed a few designers through Etsy and being the impatient person I am, stalked my email waiting for responses. Of course I decided to customize all of this on a weekend, when most people aren't working. But, I received a few emails back and just couldn't justify spending as much as they were asking. Now don't get me wrong, these designers were not overpriced. Especially for what they sell. However, I had my Scrooge McDuck pants on this weekend. But I kept coming back to Maree's shop. She has some super adorable and AFFORDABLE templates I loved. And the best part? She has a promotion in her shop until the end of April: Buy 2 for $25.99. This made my Scrooge very happy. So, being the impulsive person I was, went ahead and purchased that listing even before I found out if she could make a matching Facebook timeline cover and avatar. Not two second after I hit "confirm" did I get an email from Maree telling me she could. I emailed her back and told her that if she set up a custom listing, I would go ahead and purchase it right away.

Much to my surprise this morning, Maree had sent not only my templates, but had included the Facebook timeline covers and matching avatars, for no extra charge! This made my Monday morning absolutely wonderful. So, if you are looking for a cute new blog template, please, PLEASE check out GreyLovesDesign. She can also work with you on a completely custom, one of a kind template at a super reasonable price. And if you need help installing your new template? Maree can do it for you for a small add-on fee.

I have included screen shots and links to some of her other templates I absolutely LOVE.

Harley Nicole: the other design I purchased

Mary: love the soft feminine and floral design

Margo: I have a small chevron obsession

Macie: may need this for next winter. Love the subtle wintery theme!