Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shredded Pork Quesadillas

I've made no secret of the fact that I LOVE the shredded pork quesadillas from Qdoba Mexican Grill. The only problem is that the closest one to where we currently live is 3 hours away (and in another state.) There are actually two that fit that criteria... but I don't see myself going to either one any time soon. We do have a Cafe Rio where we currently live and I adore their Enchilada style burritos as well as their salads. However... their pork is sweet and ...confession... I don't really like sweet pork (I know I may be weird.) Plus Cafe Rio does not put salsa in their quesadillas like Qdoba does... and honestly the addition of the Pico de Gallo in the quesadilla makes a huge difference. Try it and see if you don't believe me!

I have been on a quest to replicate Qdoba's quesadillas and think I finally have (of course I can't do a side by side comparison and it has been about a year since I've eaten one... so there's that!) If we end up going to my husband's family reunion this year (2 weeks after baby is due... I'm not holding my breath!) there is one on the way to where it is being held and I may happen to stop and see if this one is as close as I remember. The main difference is in the tortilla... but I can handle that difference ;).

 Shredded Pork Quesadillas

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kitchen Tip: Keeping lettuce crisp longer

 Summertime is almost here, and what's better on hot summer days/evenings than a wonderfully crisp salad? However, if you're like me (and I'm not saying you are...) you're a lot more likely to have a salad if you don't have to wash and pick through your lettuce every time you want one. Also, sometimes I have the best of intentions and then the lettuce ends up going all wilty before I get to it. Every happen to you? If not, kudos to you! If so, this trick may help! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Menu: May 21-27

I hope you had a great Memorial Day. My family and I did. We got to spend time at my parent's house, then we went to the cemetery (late afternoon, which was nice as there weren't nearly as many people there!) Since we got my husband GPS unit for Christmas we were able to mark the locations of graves in my family with it so we can find them easily! (This cemetery has my Great Grandmother & Grandfather, Great Aunts & Uncles, my Grandparents and my little brother (I can always find his though). I'm sure there are more than I know of that I'm actually related to, but that will have to wait until another year!) I plan on making (or having my cartographer husband) make a map for my mom because she can never find her grandparents. 

After the cemetery we stopped by a store and browsed. Then went out to eat dinner and tried to find some local geocaches. We're still both very much amateurs at it and it can take us a while to find them, yesterday we didn't have too much luck... Of course it was getting dark so we didn't have too much time to actually devote to it! Overall it was a great day and we enjoyed the time we got to spend together! I hope you all had a wonderful day as well.

Now on to the Menu, this week we had: 

French Onion Soup, pulled pork sandwiches and carrots
Pork Quesadillas (had twice)
Leftover Night (It was a nice conglomeration of leftover food! That totally didn't go together...)

What did you have for dinner last week? Or what are you planning for this week?

Friday, May 25, 2012


Ever feel like you are broken? I didn't when I first learned I had PCOS. It just explained some things that I had been wondering about... and wondering if I should talk to a doctor about these things or if it was just me being paranoid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Brownie Chunk Cookies

I promised my sister in law I'd post this after I talked about making them... However I know it's a bit later than I said it would be! So I hope you'll forgive me...

One thing about pregnancy is cravings and cravings that help create new and delicious things are great! (I'm not talking about the cravings that create gross things, like pickles and squirt-able cheese... yeah I did eat that around Christmastime... nobody else liked it and to be honest the next day I didn't even want to try it again! Still don't in case you were wondering.) I decided that brownie chunk ice-cream was so good (after having eaten some - I ate way too much ice-cream when I had morning sickness. Okay and since then too!) that having brownie chunks in a cookie would be delicious as well... So the next time we had brownies, I cut the pieces that weren't eaten up into chunks and stuck them in the freezer to make cookies with. I have to say I wasn't disappointed. These turned out absolutely delicious!

 Brownie Chunk Cookies

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu: May 14-20

A list for today:
1. I'm tired
2. Have I mentioned that I'm sleepy? 6.5 hours of sleep is not enough for me...
3. I'm 30 weeks pregnant.
4. I have to get up at least 2 times (most likely 3) every night for a bathroom break.
5. I want to get a whole night's sleep without waking up.
6. How many of you are laughing at number 5? I know I did!
7. Pet Peeve: being told to get as much sleep as I can now... (before the baby arrives)
8. My heartburn is getting worse... I've already had to move to taking at least 1 Zantac 150 every day. (Some days I can get away with just one... today is not one of them!)
9. My son is sleeping and instead of taking a nap I took a shower... sometimes being clean supersedes getting sleep!
10. I'm not excited about actually cooking dinner tonight.
11. I did 2 loads of dishes today and my kitchen is still not clean...
12. Dishes did not get done yesterday.
13. If cooking didn't require doing dishes I'd be so much more enthusiastic about it!
14. Anybody want to come be a dishwasher at my house? 
15. Didn't think so...
16. I'm on the two week visit schedule at the OB's office.
17. Why does 10 weeks seem like such a long time?
18. Why does 10 weeks seem like a short time when I remember all I want/need to get done before then?
19. Have I mentioned I'm tired...
20. I need to go start making dinner...

Speaking of dinner, here's what we had for dinners this past week:
Spinach Bacon Quiche (I made this crustless and used regular onion instead of leeks)-we had for dinner 2 nights- with pineapple (one night was actually apples) and steamed broccoli
Bacon PepperJack Stuffed Chicken, broccoflower, honeydew melon

Breakfast Burritos, bananas and steamed asparagus  (was going to be chicken chile rellenos, but the chicken I'd just shredded ended up dumped on the floor due to one clumsy little mistake! Not a happy occurrence. I used the peppers in the burritos though.) 
Chicken Finger Salad (just a simple salad with chicken fingers.)
Mac & Cheese, cauliflower and honeydew melon

What did you have for dinner? Anything fun or interesting?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I've been keeping a secret...

I have to admit that I've tried to start this post a few times. A couple of times I had the post open to edit and just closed it with the screen completely blank. There is so much I am wanting to say and I'm also hesitant to even start this discussion. This is going to be a multi-post topic as there is no way I'm going to write it all in one post!

I've known for a little over a year that I've had PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome). Luckily the awareness of PCOS is growing and I have not had to struggle my whole life not knowing why I had all these symptoms - only about 10-12 years (Awareness should be growing because about 10% of women in the US have PCOS whether they know it or not!). I think part of the delayed diagnosis (besides lack of awareness) is because each time I went to a doctor I only had one symptom I discussed and then because we'd moved a lot, each doctor only heard about one symptom... I didn't really connect that each of my symptoms were, uh, connected. I was very lucky to have a doctor at my last Pap Smear who noticed some signs and probably asked some questions (I honestly don't remember now) and told me that I had PCOS. However, it is not something that I've announced to the whole world or even had the desire to talk about openly - I'd rather push it under the proverbial rug. Up until now I've only told a few people that I have PCOS. I think partially it is because it has the word Ovary in its name and my ovaries are not something I just bring up in casual conversation... I'm a little old-fashioned that way! (I have learned that there have been multiple attempts to rename it in the past but none have been successful... it was named after one symptom of the syndrome. PCOS is a syndrome not a disease as symptoms are not consistent.)

When I first learned about having PCOS, I'd never heard of it and so was a little curious. I did a little research online and found that just having PCOS put me at high risk for Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and a few other not so happy things. I also learned that by keeping a healthy weight I could reduce my higher risk of developing these not so happy things. Sounds easy right, just lose a few pounds... except people with PCOS actually have a HARDER time losing weight. Which I personally think is not fair since PCOS increases male hormones in your body - so should losing weight be EASIER! After I learned all this, I doubled my efforts of trying to eat healthy and lose weight (partly because I wanted to live past 50). I was actually fortunate to go on my first real diet (I'd never actively dieted before... just tried to eat healthier) that is actually close to the recommendations for women with PCOS. At the time I had no idea that I was so lucky in finding the right type of diet right off (I just knew it stressed eating fruits and vegetables as well as healthy grains - cutting back on the amount from the USDA recommendations however. So I knew it was healthy and since it worked, I stuck with it.) Then I got pregnant (infertility is common with PCOS and is something I'll discuss later) and for some reason a lot of vegetables actually taste like dirt or earth to me when I have morning sickness so out the window went my healthy eating... and I have to confess that I do have a tendency to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I want to (instead of eating healthier like some people... I blame it partly because I had been on a diet for so long!) 

About 2 weeks ago I needed to take the glucose screening test to see if I had gestational diabetes. After the test I was just curious as to how much glucose I had just drunk. I learned it was equivalent to about 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar (except sugar is half glucose and half fructose... fructose is digested differently than glucose. Our bodies handle straight glucose a lot better than fructose... but I wanted a general idea.) I also learned that because I had PCOS I was also at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. I would have to say that is when I decided to delve more into learning about what PCOS is and why it puts me at a greater risk for everything under the sun that I don't want to be diagnosed with in my life (okay slight exaggeration here)! I am still on a quest to learn more, but feel that I have learned quite a bit and will be sharing some of this stuff with you in the coming weeks.

However before I leave today, here are some common symptoms of PCOS: 
Irregular periods (also heavy bleeding and painful menstruation)
excess hair (facial-specifically beard/mustache area, body hair-back, toes, chest.)
male pattern hair loss
polycyclic ovaries (diagnosed by ultrasound)
 -there are others, but these are some of the most common

This is part of my series on PCOS and learning to understand and live with it. *I am not a medical professional, nor do I have a lot of knowledge of PCOS other than what I've read. This is just me, my opinions, how I understand PCOS and how I am dealing with it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Salsa Verde Pork Loin Roast (Slow Cooker)

Yesterday I shared with you the recipe for Roasted Salsa Verde. Today I'm going to show you what I did with that wonderful little salsa. I am really tempted to make this again really soon, I loved the taste of this pork roast that much! I really, really, really want to use it to make quesadillas! I want to see if they taste anything close to the pork quesadillas at a place we use to eat while hubby was in grad school. If they do, watch out because that will be on the menu every month at least! It was one of my favorite things to eat... I actually used the leftover pork from this to make enchiladas - which are currently in my freezer just waiting to be cooked after baby is born. I made a few freezer meals for when my son was born 3 years ago, but this time I'm going to have a few more at the ready! I already have about a month's worth of burritos ready for my husband's lunches during that time (chicken, beef and a few pork.)

The other day while eating this pork on a salad my husband stated that it would taste good on a shingle. I can say he's not the only one in love with this delicious pork! (And no I don't suggest trying to eat it on a shingle!)

Salsa Verde Pork Loin Roast - Slow Cooker
First, you'll need a slow cooker and a pork loin roast. Mine was about 3 lbs and I had to cut it in half to fit in my slow cooker... which I do need to replace with a larger one.
Pour the Salsa Verde over the pork loin roast. If you don't want to make your own, you can buy it in a jar at the store - 16 oz bottle and dump the whole thing in there. (With my recipe I actually had some left over... about a cup or so. You can add it all or reserve it for another use.)
Make sure the loin roast is pretty much covered.
This is where I remembered I forgot to add the cilantro to the salsa, so I just tossed some sprigs into the slow cooker.
Cook on low (or high if pressed for time) for 8-10 hours (high for about 5) or until cooked through. (I only took this picture after I removed one piece of the roast - it didn't shrink down that much ;).
Next, shred the pork - removing the fatty pieces from it as you go.
Look at that delicious shredded pork!
We just ate the pork with rice (coconut rice actually.) I topped it with a bit of the juices from the slow cooker.
I highly suggest trying this out soon. I know I will be making it again really soon!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Roasted Salsa Verde

This year I have discovered a new love... It has the name of Salsa Verde. Now I've known about salsa verde for a while, but until this year I had never realized how delicious it is! I'm not talking about using it for chips and salsa, but for actually using it as the cooking marinade/sauce. Seriously I wish I would have discovered this years ago! This recipe calls for roasting all the ingredients in the salsa verde before pureeing them. I adore the taste of the roastedness of the ingredients. I've made this and frozen it before as well. I can't tell you how it is to eat it plain once it has thawed as I used mine to cook chicken in the slow cooker (and boy was that DELICIOUS!)

Roasted Salsa Verde
First, you'll need 1 white onion, cut into chunks, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno and 1 anaheim pepper.
 You'll also need Tomatillos - I used 8 medium-large or about 1.5 pounds. (For those of you who don't know what they are - ) they are these green things that look sort of like tomatoes on the baking sheet here... In the stores they have a little husk around them (pictured here). I just learned about tomatillos a year or two ago... and have loved them since!
 Now, you'll want to drizzle some oil on the onion (I used olive, but any vegetable oil should work.)
 You'll also want to coat the garlic cloves (skins still on) with oil as well.
 Put them under the broiler for 5 minutes. (I typically use mine at 400-500 degrees and the pan 4-5 inches below the heat source.)
Everything should start browning.
 After 5 minutes, remove and flip the peppers and tomatillos over, then stir up the onion. Oh and don't forget to also flip the garlic over as well.
Once everything has been tossed around a bit, put it back in the oven for 5 minutes so the other side can get toasted as well. 
 Remove from oven,
Place the peppers in a kitchen towel/washcloth, etc. You can also use a freezer bag - it needs to be heavy or else it will melt.
Cover the peppers with the cloth or seal the bag and let them rest for 5 minutes.
 Put the tomatillos and onion in a blender or food processor.
 Now for these little babies. Cut the end off and then the rest is pretty simple...
 Simply squeeze the peel and the garlic should pop right out.
 Be sure to have it over something to catch it! I just did this over the baking sheet.
 Put the peeled garlic cloves in the blender/food processor as well.
 After your peppers have rested, uncover them and remove the skins.
 Simply grab at a piece that is loose and peel back.
 Repeat until all the skin has been removed.
(I won't tell if there are still a few small pieces of skin on your pepper...)
 Once the pepper is peeled, cut off the stem. If you want a mild salsa you'll want to cut the pepper open and remove the seeds.
 However, for this salsa, I left them in... I knew what I had in mind for this deliciousness and it wasn't for straight eating (in which case mild is what I typically go for!)
 Toss the jalapeno into the blender/food processor.
 Repeat the peeling and removing of the stem with the anaheim pepper as well.
 Once all the ingredients are in the processor, simply blend it up completely! You can also add 1/3 cup of cilantro as well. Add salt to taste.
 Now you're ready to use this deliciousness! I'll shortly be sharing with you what I used mine for!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu: May 7-13

I hope all of you had a wonderful mother's day and were able to remember how wonderful (hopefully) your mother is! I also hope that those of you who are mothers were able to have a wonderful day... We were all feeling a bit under the weather so it wasn't the perfect day it could have been (has anybody really ever had the perfect mother's day? If so please feel free to leave a comment telling me how, because for me they tend be the day that things don't happen like they should and it is better at reminding me everything being a mom entails!)

Something else I realized - I shouldn't bottle and process 6 jars of jam and 3 jars as well as 4 freezer jars of syrup the day before Mother's day... at least not if I want a clean kitchen on that day (especially not if my husband isn't feeling very well! He did do dishes twice on Saturday but there is still stuff to be cleaned up... and so far today I've done pretty good at ignoring it!) However, I am excited to have strawberry jam and syrup! On that note, have I mentioned that this year is the first time I've ever canned anything (well besides helping when I was younger.) The first thing I every canned all by myself was spaghetti sauce... then I made strawberry jam. I have to say that if you're planning on canning for the first time - jam is SO MUCH EASIER than spaghetti sauce. I highly recommend starting with something simpler than spaghetti sauce - even just canning whole tomatoes would be better! The spaghetti sauce took the whole day. Whereas the jam only takes 1-2 hours. Just a hint for those of you who like me have never canned and decide to try it. 

I should really get off my tangents and talk about our menu...  This week we had: 
Grilled Chicken, veggies and twice baked potatoes

Chili Rellenos

Ate out (this was the day I had my glucose screening test and was really tired on top of it!)

Tropical Chicken with Coconut Rice

What did you have to eat last week?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

So I have to apologize... I recently discovered that I was going to post this around the time I got morning sickness and totally spaced it! So 5 or 6 months later I'm finally getting to it... It is times like this when I decided I need to be more organized when it comes to what post and when... however at the time I did not know that editing photos and posting recipes would make me feel really ill. Seriously I did not even read my favorite food blogs when I had morning sickness! It honestly made me more nauseous than I already was, and I didn't need anything to make me feel worse. Luckily at about 14 or 15 weeks the morning sickness left and I felt so much better... In fact as I looked back on the months prior it felt like I had been living in a fog and had come out. It was so strange and yet I was so grateful to NOT be there anymore! I will have to say that it helped me to understand people who say they were so sick and were living in a fog - I know people have much worse sicknesses than morning sickness who say that and I'm not trying to make light of it. I'm just saying that I have a bit more understanding and empathy for them now. 

Where was I? Oh yeah Chicken... I am really good at going off on tangents and forgetting where I was. Pregnancy brain is real and I think it is worse this time than it was last time! I honestly feel like the part of my brain that remembers things is partly missing... I wish it would come back, and soon! Anywho, I should start posting the recipe before I start wandering again.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
First you'll need Panko - Japanese Bread Crumbs. Can I just say how much I love this ingredient?! I discovered it just a few years ago and was hesitant at first, but now I absolutely adore it. It gives a wonderful crispness to the food.
You'll want about 1-1/2 cups - it doesn't have be precise...
Next, you'll need some flat leaf (or Italian) parsley.
Chopped up of course.
Next, you'll want 1/4-1/3 cup parmesan. I typically use the canned stuff in this recipe, except I'd ran out (I don't use a lot of it so it is one of those ingredients that I don't worry about checking to see how much I have - do you have any ingredients that you typically only know you need more when you want to use it?) so I used some fresh grated as well.
Toss the parsley and parmesan in with the panko. This is Parsley Parmesan Panko - what a nice alliteration... and totally not planned when I put this recipe together ;).
Mix them together. Set aside.
Next, you'll need 2 eggs. If you want to make it a bit healthier, you can just use egg whites. Beat them together and place in a shallow pan. Set aside as well.
You'll also need 1 cup flour.
Place on a plate or in a shallow pan as well.
Add 1 tsp salt.
to the flour,
and 1/2 tsp pepper - I used white pepper, but you can use black if you prefer.
Dump it onto the flour.
Mix to combine.
Coat your chicken breast in flour. I actually cut my chicken breasts in half before I did this... I'm trying to not use a whole breast per person (saves money and is closer to an actual serving size!)
Be sure to get both sides coated.
Then dip in the egg mixture.
You're hands may get a bit messy - unless you use kitchen tongs for this... I never have, but may try it eventually!
Once it is coated in egg, place in the Panko mixture.
Being sure to coat it on each side.
I like to use my hand to press it down so it gets a fuller coat.
Place on pan and repeat with remaining chicken. I made 6 half-breasts (3 whole cut in half...) Planned leftovers - I like them. ;)
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Remove from oven and serve warm.