Happy Groundhog’s Day

I’m so thankful that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow today because it was a freezing cold winter day and it was hard to bear, so I am ready for the early spring weather.  Do you ever feel like you are living much like the movie Groundhog’s Day?

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I often feel like my days are consumed with the same old stuff!  Wake up, eat, get ready for work, drive the long drive to work, teach, tutor, drive home, cook, eat, sleep, repeat.  Thank goodness for the weekend to break up the monotonous work days.

Actually breakfast was slightly out of the ordinary—grits topped with a fried egg.

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Today’s lunch involved comfort in a bowl—lentil, sweet potato, bacon soup minus the crumbled bacon or yogurt dollop.  I had a banana for some sweetness and since I missed it in the form of my usual breakfast oatmeal or pb and banana sammie.

After work and tutoring I headed home to snack on some pita chips and hummus with the husband.  And then began on dinner—smothered green beans and baked pork chops.

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Smothered Green Beans

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 chopped onion

1 lb. fresh green beans (stems removed)

1 can diced tomatoes with celery, green pepper, and onion

Salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste)

Directions:

1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onion and sauté over medium low until tender.

2. Add green beans, canned tomatoes, and seasonings.

3. Add 1/2 can water to pot.  Stir well.

4. Simmer on low for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until beans are tender.

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The pork chops were seasoned with salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and baked at 350* for 40 minutes.

Exercise has been MIA since Saturday.  (Sidenote:  I guess no one is interested in playing Mr. Tim’s Scolf game since no one commented.  By the way, if you search Scolf on Facebook, there is a page dedicated to it.)  Monday and today were late days at work for tutoring and yesterday the weather was stormy and I just wanted to get home and not end up in flooded waters stuck somewhere.  Tomorrow it shall resume; work out clothes will be brought to work.  After all, they are already packed in my gym bag.

How do you overcome that Groundhog’s Day feeling?  Do you do extra-curricular activities during the middle of the week or take it easy and stick with basic everyday activities?

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Pork Chops with Garlic Orange Reduction and Sautéed Mustard Greens with Potatoes

Often I forget about cooking pork chops, but if I catch them on sale I will scoop up a pack or two.  Generally, I go with center cut pork loin chops with the bone-in because that is what I grew up eating weekly along side Monday red beans and rice. 

Pork chops are a reasonable protein choice due to the comparable caloric values of that in other protein choices; a 100 gram chop has about 130 calories with 4 grams of fat compared to a 100 gram skinless chicken breast containing about 115 calories and 3 grams of fat.  

Of course calories are dependent upon the cut of meat and the cooking method used.  I recommend center cut pork chops and tenderloins as both are lean cuts of meat.  As for cooking, stay away from deep frying or dredging the pork in buttery marinades.  Use fresh herbs and spices for full flavor meats; also, fruit compotes or fruit juice and vinegar reductions pair nicely with pork.  Opt for pan searing or baking to cut out any unwanted fat and calories.  In addition, having chops that are pre-portioned help with managing portions more easily than having to measure out a serving from cooking a whole pork tenderloin.

Last Thursday morning, I took my center cut pork loin chops from the freezer in preparation for dinner.  I was unsure of how I wanted to prepare them, but knew I needed a quick cooked meal since arriving home near 7:00 that evening.  I decided on a quick pan sear with a garlic orange reduction and sautéed vegetables that I had on hand.

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Pork Chops with Garlic Orange Reduction and Sauteed Mustard Greens with Potatoes

Ingredients:

4 center cut pork chops

salt and pepper (to taste)

2 tbsp. garlic, minced, divided

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tsp. light brown sugar, divided

1-16 oz. bag mustard greens

1 medium red potato, diced

2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

Directions:  Steam potatoes in microwave in a bowl with two tablespoons water, covered with plastic wrap for 5 minutes or until tender.  Set aside.  Spray large pan with cooking spray and heat to medium.  Season chops with salt and pepper.  Pan sear pork chops 4-5 minutes on each side until done.  Remove to plate and cover.  Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp. garlic, orange juice, and 1 tsp. brown sugar to small saucepan; cook on medium low stirring frequently until mixture reduces by half about 15 minutes.  In same pan used for chops, add chicken broth, 2 tsp. brown sugar, and garlic.  Scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and stir for 2 minutes.  Add greens in handfuls until all fit in pan and stir in potatoes.  Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes until wilted and liquid is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper.  Plate greens and potato mixture.  Top with a pork chop.  Drizzle garlic orange sauce over the top.  Enjoy!

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The flavor combinations of the sweet orange sauce worked well with the salted pork loin chop.  The husband is a big fan of sautéed greens much more than I am so he thoroughly enjoyed this meal.

My eats today included:

Oatmeal with half a crumbled oatmeal cookie and peanut butter

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And instant coffee for quickness

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Lunch was some lentil, sweet potato and bacon soup from the freezer with a couple of mint dark chocolates from Mom’s visit to TJs Chicago.

My meeting after work today lasted until 5:45, so Chris and I ate last night’s leftover beef and spinach lasagna.

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Finally, my sweet tooth kicked in and the handful of wasabi peas from a coworker did not cut it.  I had peanut butter and sweet potato pecan butter on toast.

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**Added note:  When consuming pork, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 160* to prevent trichinella poisoning. 

Luckily, I’ve never experienced any major food poisoning, but a coworker was once hospitalized for over a week due to consuming undercooked chicken.  Have you ever experienced food poisoning?  Do you have any food safety tips that should be followed when cooking with meat? 

And the Award Goes to…

My Husband, Chris, for his Outstanding Grilled Turkey Burger last night.

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In the turkey mix of lean breast with lean ground:  soy sauce, bread crumbs, goat cheese, onion, garlic, egg, salt and pepper (I think that’s it).  Plus we had a side of roasted zucchini and sweet taters.

Breakfast yesterday was…

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And lunch….

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Have a lovely day! 🙂

Onset of Winter Brings Soup Craving

After seeing pictures of Lentil Soup on some other blogs since the turn of Fall, I have been wanting to make some of my own.  So several weeks ago I purchased a pound of Camellia’s dried lentils intending on simply following the recipe on back of the package for cooking the legumes.  They were stuck in my cabinet with little thought as to when they would be cooked.

I’ve grown up my entire life eating Camellia’s red beans, great northerners, black eye peas, but I do not [think] I have ever eaten lentils.  With the onset of the cooler weather this past weekend, I decided today was the day to conjure up some lentil soup of sorts in addition to using up some of the sweet potatoes from hubby’s garden.

After scrounging the Internet for a recipe after work today, I decided I did not have all of the ingredients needed for each of the recipes I found–including some items I’ve never cooked with like leeks and pancetta as well as some more common items like celery and carrots.  Alternatively, I decided to “wing it.”  The entire time I was a bit nervous as to how it would taste, but Chris and I both agreed it was flavorful and delicious. Okay, truthfully my husband said, “I love it! Are you going to tell them on your blog?  Make it a good one.” 🙂  He also mentioned it had a nice aftertaste and said it made the house smell good.  So here goes!

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Lentil, Sweet Potato, & Bacon Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried lentils, rinsed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 slices of bacon

6-10 cups water (I used about 8 cups.)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Salt and Pepper

Optional toppings: hot sauce, gouda cheese, greek yogurt

Directions: In a large pot, brown bacon until cooked through; remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.  Drain out most of the bacon grease leaving approximately 1 tablespoon in pot to saute’ onions.  Add onion to pot and sauté for 5-8 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Toss in sweet potato cubes, lentils, and 6 cups of water (add more throughout cooking time if necessary to make soup) and stir.  Season soup with curry powder through salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Crumble bacon before serving soup.  Ladle soup into bowl and top with desired toppings and bacon pieces.

DSC00360 I ate a bowl of this with way too many of these.

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Crackers  + Brummel & Brown

The rest of today’s meals included:

Sweet Potato Pie + Greek Yogurt + Maple Syrup + Cinnamon for Breakfast.  And a mug of chai tea.

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Lunch was a Sandwich Thin topped with Laughing Cow Light Swiss, Bell Pepper, frozen cucumbers from my refrigerator, spring mix + apple and peanut butter + five Triscuit crackers.

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Surprisingly, my sammie was yummy with frozen, soggy cucumbers and all!

Now I have to go finish cleaning the kitchen and packing leftover soup to stick in the freezer.

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Good Night and Stay Warm! 😉