Thursday, March 8, 2018

Braised Adobo Pork with Polenta

Dinner the playbook has a lot of simple, family-friendly meals that aren't boring.  The flavor of the meat, and polenta, from this recipe was great!  But next time I will the same amount of meat and double everything else (except polenta) to have more sauce.  The meal seemed a little dry, but I'll give it another try soon.

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2½-pound pork loin, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • bay leaf
  • chipotle in adobo (not the sauce, just the dripping single pepper; you can freeze the rest)
  • ½ cup cider vinegar (or store-bought vinegar-based barbecue sauce such as Shealy’s)
  • garlic cloves, halved
  • medium onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1 cup medium or fine cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides in the hot oil, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the pork and add the tomatoes, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, chipotle, cider vinegar, garlic, onions, and ¼ cup water to the pot; it should be about two-thirds immersed in liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours. (The pork should be practically falling apart when finished.)
While the pork is braising, make the polenta: Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Pour the cornmeal into the pot slowly, whisking as you go. The mixture will thicken after 2 or 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and let the mixture bubble on the stovetop for another 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and adding water if it becomes too thick for your liking. Before serving, remove the polenta from the heat and stir in the butter and Cheddar.
Remove the pork from the pot to a cutting board or platter, shred with two forks, and toss back in the braising liquid. Remove the bay leaf.
Sprinkle the cilantro over the pork and serve with the polenta.

Yumm Sauce

One of my favorite spots for a quick bite to eat when we're traveling in the Northwest is Cafe Yumm.  I have been known to ask my family members to pack bottles of their signature yumm sauce when coming for a visit!  But now I have yumm sauce whenever I want (which is pretty much always), thanks to this great knock-off recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  The flavor is unique, as you'll see in reading the ingredient list, but I've not shared it with someone yet who didn't enjoy it - or at least do a really good job pretending to!  It's great as a dip for veggies, pretzels, or chips.  It's also great on meat or as a salad dressing, and goes especially well on your version of a taco salad.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup avocado, canola, or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup canned Great Northern or Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 large lemons)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt
  • Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast


  1. For the Yumm sauce, add the oil, almonds, beans and water to a blender. Process until very smooth, 1-2 minutes (or as long as needed).
  2. Add the coconut milk, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, curry powder, oregano, cilantro and nutritional yeast. Process again until creamy and smooth. Add additional water to thin out the sauce, if needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (this tastes best after it’s had time to rest – even several days – but you can also use it right away).

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Creamy Greek Chicken Soup

Just made this yummy twist on a traditional chicken noodle soup.  It's a good option for those who need to avoid dairy since the eggs give it a creamy taste.  But make sure to follow instructions on how to incorporate the eggs so you have creamy soup and not scrambled eggs!  As usual, I made a few changes, and the recipe comes from this fun book I checked out from the library, so I'll leave my version of the recipe here for future reference!

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth (add more if you go heavy on the rice)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
handful of fresh dill, chopped, or 1 tsp dried dill
*1-2 cups cooked chicken 
*1-2 cups cooked rice

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute about 2 minutes, until carrots are slightly softened. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  If using dried dill, add this also.
In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice until smooth. Slowly ladle about ½ cup of the hot broth into the egg-and-lemon mixture, whisking to combine.
Remove the simmering broth from heat (very important).
Very slowly, drizzle the heat eggy mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly for 2 full minutes. Add salt and pepper, fresh dill (if using), chicken, rice and serve.
*If using leftover chicken and/or rice, make sure to reheat so when you add to the soup in the final step, it doesn't bring down the temperature of the soup too much.  I mixed my rice and chicken together with a little chicken broth and reheated it all in the microwave before adding it to the soup pot.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins

These are a pretty basic muffin, but still very good and would pair nicely with any sort of jam or butter you wanted to spread.  I made several changes to the recipe and didn't want to forget what I did, so here is my version from the original recipe found in The Wycliffe International Cookbook.

1 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup oil
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking spice (or just plain cinnamon)

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk.  Cover and let soak for one hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

Add eggs and oil to the oat mixture and stir until well mixed.  Add flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spice and stir just until everything is moist.

Fill prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 17-20 minutes.  Tops should be lightly brown.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tender Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

Thanks to a Costco sale on pork chops, I had enough meat to make this meal twice in two weeks!  Mashed potatoes is a must.  The recipe couldn't be more simple, but you do need to allow three hours to cook, so plan ahead.

  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops (at least 1/2-inch thick) (I used boneless both times)
  • 2-3 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • 1-2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the onion slices in an even layer over the bottom of the dish. Top the onion slices with the apples. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the apples and onions. Season the pork chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the pork chops in a single layer on top of the apples and onions. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for three hours. Do not open the oven and lift the foil – the pork chops, apples and onions need to be tightly covered the whole time to work their magic (and not dry out).

  • Serve each pork chop with mashed potatoes and topped with the apples and onions.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Overnight Cinnamon Eggnog French Toast

Happy New Year!  I think this might become a New Year's morning tradition in our home, because who doesn't love starting a new year by eating dessert for breakfast?!  I made several changes that are reflected below.  The original recipe can be found here

1 loaf day-old French bread cut into 1” cubes
6 eggs
cups eggnog (full fat)
1/2 cup milk (whatever kind you want to use)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
Brown Sugar Pecan Crumble Topping
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, cubed (1 stick)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

  1. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray then add French bread cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients (not including Crumble topping) then evenly pour over bread cubes. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Brown Sugar Pecan Crumble:  Add pecans to a medium bowl and add 1 Tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla; toss to evenly coat. Set aside.
  4. Add butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to food processor and pulse until it resembles coarse pebbles (or use a pastry cutter).  Add brown sugar mixture to pecans and toss to evenly combine.
  5. Evenly sprinkle Brown Sugar Pecan Crumble over the bread and bake at 350 F degrees for 45-55 minutes, depending on how soft/”eggy” you like it. Serve with fresh berries and/or bananas and lots of coffee!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Chicken Schwarma Bowls

I've shared this recipe with several friends already and thought, instead of sending a photo of the wrinkled page I tore from my Cooking Light magazine and my suggested changes, I should just post the recipe here!  I've made this for my family several times and we love it!  We call it "Mediterranean Pile-Up"

3 cups skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (thank you, Costco, for your delicious and affordable rotisserie chickens!)
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp cumin, divided
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp tahini (don't skip this!)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups cooked grain like farro, quinoa, or brown rice
2 cups chopped cucumber
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp black pepper
chopped kalamata olives, optional
crumbled feta cheese, optional

Cook grain of choice according to package directions.  I like to use chicken broth for part or all of my cooking liquid.

Place chicken and oil in a large bowl; toss to coat.  Combine 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, and paprika in a bowl.  Add spice mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat.

Combine remaining 1/4 tsp salt, remaining 1/4 tsp cumin, yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, and garlic in a small bowl.  Set aside.

To season chickpeas: In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas with 1 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt. 

Place 1/2 cup cooked grain in each of 4 bowls.  Top each serving with about 3/4 cup chicken mixture, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup tomatoes, about 1/3 cup chickpeas, and a large dollop of Greek yogurt mixture.  Top with parsley and black pepper.  Serve with pita chips.


My family likes to build their own bowl, so I just serve all the toppings separate and let everyone pile it up.  We also really like kalamata olives and feta as optional toppings.  This can be served warm (I microwave the chicken and chick peas), room temp, or cold. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

week of September 11

Rainbow Power Kale Salad - my son was gone for this meal, but my girls liked it far more than I thought they would!  I think the different colors and textures made for a beautiful and delicious salad.  Keep the dressing and peanuts on the side and you'll have great leftovers for the week.

Oven Fajitas - a standard favorite

Green Taco Wraps - a made "real" meat as well, but we put our fillings in lettuce leaves and everyone was happy.  If, like me, you don't have a food processor and use a Vitamix for food processing, make sure to put the walnuts in before the lentils to avoid too many mushy lentils.

Date Night!

Chicken Curry - I first tried the recipe on the side of the Patak Mild Curry Paste jar, but have made some changes and we all enjoy this dish:

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp curry paste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, drained of juices
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add onions and saute a few minutes.  Add garlic and cook just until fragrant (1 minute).  Add chicken pieces and cook about 5 minutes, until starting to brown.  Add curry paste and mix well.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Bring to a low boil and simmer, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and sauce has thickened.  Stir in coconut milk and cook just until heated through.  Serve over rice or with naan bread!

Friday, August 18, 2017

week of August 14

Orecchiette and Spinach Soup - I used red pepper instead of tomatoes and it was still great!

Mediterranean Couscous and Chicken wraps - one of my go-to summer meals

Mexican pile-up

Sausage, Quinoa salad, and watermelon - perfect for a pool picnic!
For the salad I combined:
quinoa cooked in chicken broth
garden cherry tomatoes, chopped
garden lemon cucumbers, chopped
fresh basil, chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

leftovers before guys' night at the ball park and girls' night at the salon =)


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Heaviland Menu Swap - Summer edition

Jessie and I have been swapping menus about once a season for over five years!  We choose a week and send each other a menu consisting of 5-6 new recipes (that we've made but the other person hasn't), plus a bonus dessert and/or breakfast idea.  It's always such a fun food week!  Shopping for different ingredients, cooking new meals, introducing the family to foods that aren't necessarily part of our regular routine, and all the while thinking of my dear friend.  

Hawaiian Fried Rice - use fresh pineapple!

Chili-Lime Chicken Kebobs with Honey Lime Fruit Salad - grating lime zest on the fruit took our normal fruit salad to a new level.  I should have marinated the chicken longer to get more of the chili-lime flavor.

Fruit, Nut, and Goat Cheese Salad - if I had to pick a favorite meal from the week it would be this: so simple, but absolutely delicious.

Banh Mi Sandwiches - I doubled the meatballs and made these when we hosted dinner for our community group . . . several asked for the recipe afterwards which is always a good sign!

Italian Mac and Cheese - what's not to love about noodles, meat, and cheese cooked together?!

Slow Cooker Jalapeno Popper White Bean Chili - I was surprised by how well this chili went over with the entire family.  It was delicious!  And not too spicy (though you could kick it up a notch if you wanted to)

Frosted Banana Bars

Welsh Breakfast Cakes

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