What's for Dinner {22} - Sexy Pork Chops

I wouldn't necessarily call these chops sexy but I couldn't help but keep up the tradition from whose recipe I followed. They were pretty good looking...

Gary and I don't make pork often. I can't even remember the last time we did. Why, I really have no idea. For whatever reason I feel like it's a "special occasion" type of meat. After this recipe, that's going to change. I definitely want it more often than that! One thing I do suggest is to have a meat thermometer handy. That is the true way to insure you've cooked it to your liking. Otherwise, I'm 100% sure I would've seriously under or overcooked the meat.

Like I mentioned before, pork is a special occasion meat. My special occasion this time? My mom was in town to babysit Owen AND Bridget was coming up to join me for the awesome Pentatonix concert at Luther. I wanted to treat them to a nice meal while in town and I think it was a hit! I was a little rushed so I forgot to take any pictures. Next time!

Sexy Pork Chops aka Sautéed Pork Chops with Lemon-Garlic Sauce from The Mountain Kitchen

Sexy Pork Chops: TheMountainKitchen.wordpress.comIngredients:

*(4) 1″ thick Pork Chops
*salt & pepper
*2 tsp olive oil, divided
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 c white wine
*1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
*grated lemon zest and 1 T lemon juice from one lemon
*1 T chopped fresh parsley
*1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, turning once, until pork is browned and internal temperature reaches 145˚F. Transfer pork to serving platter and cover to keep warm.

Add remaining tsp of oil to skillet. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and broth. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from bottom of the skillet, until liquid is reduced by two thirds, about 5 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in a little salt and pepper, lemon zest and juice, and herbs. Serve pork chops drizzled with sauce.


Freezer Meals {1}

For some time now, I've thought about venturing into the world of freezer meals. I must admit, I was initially super intimated. It seemed like a lot of work, our freezer is the size of a shoebox and Gary isn't a huge fan of "leftovers". Any meal that is made and then frozen qualifies as leftovers. Regardless of my fears, I decided to venture on.

After taking an entire week to compile tons of recipes and then to choose which four I wanted to make, I spent a total of five hours last Saturday shopping for and making a whopping 37 servings of recipes. I ended up using four recipes and added one bonus recipe with the leftover chicken. I'll explain later.

37 servings  |  $1.90 each  |  WORTH IT

Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Chicken
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup prepared mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Combine all ingredients in freezer bag and freeze.

Place ingredients in slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Makes 6 servings.

Parmesan Garlic Chicken
6 chicken breasts (we had one extra)
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix together cheese, garlic, and dressing mix. Dip chicken breasts into olive oil, then coat with cheese mixture. Place in freezer bag and store.

To serve, thaw completely. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes. Makes 7 servings.

Mediterranean Pork Chops
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chick broth
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
8 thick cut pork chops

Split all ingredients into two bags. 

To serve, cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with salad and rice or noodles. Makes 8 servings.

Baked Ziti
1 pound dry ziti pasta (or really any kind of pasta would work- I actually used Penne pasta)
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (season with pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and minced garlic)
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (I added a zucchini to my sauce just for more veggies!)
8 slices provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 7-8 minutes; drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. When pasta is ready, mix in to the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray 2 8x8 inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. Layer as follows in each pan: 1/4 of the pasta/sauce mixture, 4 slices of Provolone cheese, 1/2 of sour cream,  1/4 of pasta/sauce mixture,  1/4 mozzarella cheese. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake covered for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

To freeze this meal: Follow the instructions above, except for the last step of cooking it. Cover the assembled ziti with foil and stick in the freezer (I usually use 2-3 layers of foil just to keep out the freezer burn). It will last in the freezer for about 30 days. When you are ready to eat it, remove from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw 24 hours in advance. By allowing it to thaw in the fridge, you can cook it at the regular time and temperature (350 degrees for about 30 minutes). If you do not thaw it in advance, it will take much longer to cook. If you cook it completely frozen, it will take anywhere from 90 minutes - 2 hours to cook all the way through.

You can eat one for dinner now and freeze the other for dinner another day! This is precisely what we did!

If you happen to cut chicken like I do, you'll end up with a heaping pile of extra pieces of chicken that are better cut into smaller pieces. We tend to use these as ingredients for paninis or tacos. In this instance, it created 8 bonus servings! WOAH. For those that don't know, I have to cut every piece of fat I can find from each piece before eating it. That tends to mean I have one more appropriately-sized serving and another thin strip as extra. And here is what we made with the bonus servings!
Stubbs Marinated Chicken
extra chicken, cut into smaller pieces (I had enough for 8 servings)
your favorite Stubbs Marinade (whole bottle)

Combine ingredients into two bags. We had enough for four sandwiches or tacos in each bag.

To serve, thaw completed overnight. Cook and then make paninis or tacos.


Little Mr. {Four Months}

Month four has arrived!

Owen had a great month. Me not so much. While Owen recovered quite well from RSV (though he probably still has it in his system), I got a new cold every.other.week. I am happy to take the brunt of all the colds in our house but man it's exhausting. Kleenex and hand sanitizer have become my dearest of friends. But like I said, Owen is doing great and I could not be happier about that!

The most exciting thing about Owen not being so sick anymore was he became so much stronger in so many ways. He feels heavier, grips more tightly, kicks with more force and rocks a mean tummy time. Owen also now babbles like crazy. He LOVES to talk. I love asking him about his dreams or how his day was and he responds with the loudest squeaks and raspberries. It's the cutest.

One of my main worries last month was Owen not being able to take in as much as he needed to gain weight. Well, he more than made up for that. He went from drinking >4 oz at a time to well over 6 oz at each bottle in what seemed like no time at all. I am also SO excited to report that when his intake increased, Owen's ability to sleep through the night magically appeared. We had him on five bottles a day at that point I believe but because we noticed he was taking in a lot more, we decided not to wake him for his late evening feeding. We figured he'd wake up at some point but instead the 12-hour nighttime sleep took its place. Awesome. I definitely feel like the "sleep training" we loosely practiced from the very beginning helped his ability to sleep that well so soon. 

This past month was also the first time I was absolutely certain Owen went through a growth spurt. The little guzzler took in at least 28-29 oz for at least a week. And the fact that many of his 0-3 month sleepers no longer fit was a good indicator :)

4-Month Appointment (3/18/2014)
Weight: 13 lb 1 oz
Height: 25 1/2 in

3-Month-Mommy-wants-a-weight-check Appointment (2/18/2014)
Weight: 11 lb 5 oz
Height: 24 in

2-Month Appointment (1/14/2014)
Weight: 10 lb 9 oz
Height: 22 7/8 in

2-Week Appointment (12/2/2013)
Weight: 7 lb 12 oz
Height: 21 in

Newborn (11/16/2013)                  
Weight: 7 lb 9 oz           
Height: 20 1/4 in

Catch up on Owen's First Year!


What's for Dinner {21} - Sandwich Roll-ups!

I've wanted to make this for so long but never got around to it. Why? I have no earthly idea because I am hooked. Like could-eat-it-every-single-day hooked.  Which, for the most part, I have the past couple of weeks - I still look forward to it every.single.day. and am embarrassingly disappointed when I've finished them. It's a vicious cycle, people.

Here's how to make this in case you want to ride on the same crazy lunch train as me!

Vanessa's Super Fabulous Sandwich Roll-ups

1 mediam sized tortilla
1 T Ranch Dressing (enough to lightly coat the tortilla)
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper (I'm pretty liberal with this because I like the heat)
2  slices pepperjack cheese
4-6 slices of deli ham, shaved
handful of chopped romaine lettuce

Mix together the ranch and cayenne pepper. Lightly coat one side of the the tortilla.

Place the pepperjack next. I like to use 2 square slices and make it cover as much of the tortilla as possible, but not overlapping. I want to have cheese in every bite. Then layer on your ham and lettuce.

Carefully roll up your tortilla. The ingredients tend to slide as you roll it up so try to keep them all in lockdown!

Lastly, cut it in to 1-1.5 inch slices. I usually get three good rolls and two floppy end pieces. Doesn't matter, they are STILL amazeballs delicious.

This picture shows Buddig Turkey, which works well too, but I prefer deli ham. The first time I went to buy ingredients, the deli had already closed. It was annoying but I made it work :)

I like to pair this with some fresh veggies for a nice healthy lunch!



Owen and I shared something pretty special tonight. Well, maybe just me but I didn't make him cry. I promise.

I played and sang to him some of my favorite Sara Bareilles songs! I'm happy to report that, yes, there were no tears. Only giggling, a little bit of squealing and lots of kicking.