Mexican chicken and sweet peppers

Ever since I found this post about making your own Mexican spice mix, I have been addicted.

Mexican Chicken and Peppers

This time, I made chicken breasts in the skillet with this seasoning. I tend to put in a little bit more crushed red pepper than the recipe recommends, because we like it a little bit spicier.

Mexican Chicken and Peppers

I used a little lime juice on the chicken as well, and cooked over medium heat, turning once after about 8 minutes (these chicken breasts were HUGE). After I removed them from the pan, I added some shredded cheese to K’s portion and let the meat rest for about five minutes.

Mexican Chicken and Peppers

I cooked the chopped sweet peppers with the same spice mixture. I would normally add them to the pan the chicken cooked in, but this time it got a little bit burninated, so I cooked the peppers in a separate pan. Despite the chicken pan looking burny, the chicken itself was fine, and it was all delicious!

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oven-cooked pork chops

While the cooktop was out of commission during the countertop project, I was forced/inspired to come up with some alternative means for cooking dinner.

oven cooked pork chops

One of the things I did was cook both chicken breasts (skinless, boneless) and pork chops in the oven, using the same preparation techniques. For each, I put the meat on a baking sheet and added a modest amount of olive oil on the meat, then turned the meat over and sort of smooshed it around so that the olive oil got all over both sides.

Then I added seasonings: my basic is salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and some lemon juice. Then I cooked on 350 until the meat reached a safe temperature. Then let the meat sit for about five minutes and serve! This is essentially the same way I cook meat in the skillet, I just flip it over every four minutes or so when on the cooktop. You can switch up the seasonings with whatever suits your fancy – if we’re doing Mexican, I use appropriate spices and sub lime juice for lemon.

In the photo above, you can also see another of my recent projects: some cool hot pads. I found some Star Wars fabric in the remnant bin awhile ago and realized that it would be perfect for a small project like this. And who can’t use a few new hot pads? After making these I finally got rid of some that I remember buying when I moved into an old place I used to live – and realized that when I bought them it must have been the late 90s. Time for them to move on!

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Balsamic pork roast

We had a half a pork loin thawed for dinner the other day but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I asked Susan, who recommended using Balsamic vinegar to flavor it. Sounded good to me!

Balsamic pork roast

The pork loin was about 2.25 lbs and was really not completely thawed when we started (oops). But it was SO CLOSE that we thought it would be okay. We marinated it in the fridge for a few hours in a ziploc bag with 1/4 cup each of Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, plus a bunch of Italian seasoning and some garlic powder. When we cooked it, we surrounded it with chopped potatoes and carrots and then covered the whole thing with aluminum foil. We baked it in the convection oven at 350F for about 2 hours.

Balsamic pork roast

All in all, it turned out well! We neglected to trim the fat off the bottom, though, so I picked that off before eating my slices. (K thought it was delicious.) The veggies turned out well and were just right – not overly soft! This was a good one, though the pork wasn’t quite as juicy as I had hoped. So far my best success with juicy pork (and chicken) seems to be cooking in the skillet.

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turkey taco salad

K recently mentioned that we should get some ground turkey to make tacos. I hadn’t done this before, and I’m happy to say that it turned out great on the first try.

taco salad

We used this recipe for making the seasoning, and just added it to the turkey once it was browning in the skillet. I had chopped hearts of romaine and sweet peppers, a tiny bit of shredded cheddar, and a healthy dollop of cilantro-heavy salsa. Sadly my avocados weren’t ripe enough yet, or I would have added one of those as well. I chose to break up my taco shells into pieces – I can never manage to keep a hard shell taco in one piece while eating it, though K had better luck with his. This is definitely a recipe I’d repeat.

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juiced

Every morning I like to have a glass of orange juice with or after breks. It makes me feel like I’m all vitamin-ed up for the day and ready to have energy for accomplishing a ton before lunch.

morning OJ

These juice glasses were a wedding shower present from my sister‘s mother-in-law, and I just adore them. They weren’t on our registry or anything, but they go perfectly with our dishes and are just the right size for the amount of juice I want to drink in one sitting. It was so thoughtful of her to find them for us and see how perfect they are!

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big salad

The big salad may not be in vogue the way it once was, but it is a mainstay of my favorite things to eat.

big salad

Recently I happened to have just the right combination of things on hand to make a truly excellent salad:

  • baby spinach leaves
  • hearts of romaine
  • 1 sliced and chopped Fuji apple
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • 1 small avocado
  • some chopped sliced oven-browned turkey lunch meat

big salad

This combination is so excellent! I could eat this every week, if not more often. It’s got such a good combination of tasty items that it doesn’t even need dressing.

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crockpot experimentation

I once again forgot to thaw any meat for dinner on Friday, so when I realized this around noon I decided to try an experiment.

crock pot chicken with potatoes and green beans

I threw a couple of frozen chicken breasts into the ninja crock pot (click here to see some ninja 3-in-1 crockpot reviews) along with a bunch of herbs and salt and pepper. I chopped up a few redskin potatoes and threw in some frozen green beans for good measure. Finally, I added a couple cups of water and some lemon juice, set it for 6 hours on low, and crossed my fingers.

It came out pretty well! The potatoes were cooked perfectly, which meant that the green beans were a little overdone in my book (just about right in K’s opinion – he doesn’t like his veggies to crunch). The chicken was tasty, but a little dry. I wonder if that is because of starting it frozen? Any sciencey folks care to speculate?

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more spicy beer chicken

I’m getting a little more comfortable when it comes to experimenting and/or winging it in the kitchen. This time I made some slow cooker chicken, which is becoming a staple for us.

slow cooker Mexican beer chicken dinner

This time I put in two chicken breasts which were mostly thawed, a bottle of New Holland Full Circle, and the following spices:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Then I put it on low for about 8 hours, and when it was done, used a spatula to break up the chicken. It turned out to be really tasty! A bit on the spicy side, but not so much that my sinuses truly cleared out, which means it could have been slightly spicier and it would have been okay with me. I chopped up some hearts of romaine and a red sweet pepper, and put some salsa on for good measure. I liked it in the taco shell, but even better as just a taco salad. It’s easier to eat that way!

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leftovers reimagined

I have a love/hate relationship with leftovers. On the one hand, I love having them because it means another meal is already taken care of without much effort. On the other, I don’t really like eating the exact same thing two days in a row. So I’m always trying to figure out ways to mess with the leftovers so they don’t seem like the same meal again.

leftover turkey salad

This started out as crock pot turkey breast. My usual method for that is to put the turkey breast in with a cup or so of white wine, some Italian Seasoning, a little bit of lemon juice, a bunch of garlic, and a root vegetable if we have some on hand (then cook on low for 6-8 hours). It works quite well and is super flavorful. Last night, though, I needed to eat some of the leftovers but I wasn’t in the mood. So I reheated some of the turkey and tore it into bite size-ish pieces, and then added it to some fresh baby spinach leaves and threw in a little bit of brie (a seriously reserved amount! trying to keep it relatively healthy here) and some sesame seeds. The turkey was still super juicy, so there wasn’t even any need for dressing, and this was a really good way of making the leftover turkey feel different. Plus I got to feel super virtuous because of all that fresh baby spinach!

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chicken bacon noodle soup

It has been bitterly cold this week and I decided that it was about time to try making some soup in the slow cooker. Of course I hadn’t planned ahead or anything, so all the chicken I had on hand was frozen, but lo and behold, Doctor Google says that there are recipes where that’s not a problem! I found this one, and even though we didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, I was able to make it work. And it turned out SO GOOD.

chicken bacon noodle soup

Seriously, I could not get over how tasty it was.

Here’s the official ingredients list and how I changed it:
2 large chicken breast, frozen
8 slices 1 package center cut bacon, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 pepper (personal preference for spice)
1 can 1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can 1/2 bag frozen cut green beans
1 cup finely cut chives (did not have on hand)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (K dislikes mushrooms)
12 oz. egg most of a 12 oz bag of whole wheat noodles
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt (season to taste)
64 oz. water

I had a package of bacon that was more than 8 slices, but since it was only about half-thawed, I just cut it all up into smallish pieces and threw it in, hoping for the best. You can’t go wrong with more bacon, right? I was a bit worried at the adding-the-noodles stage, because it seemed really watery and sort of like some ingredients floating in non-broth, but I diligently shredded the chicken with my crock pot spoon and hoped for the best. As it turns out my concern was unfounded because it turned out to be awesome and with barely any broth at all! The noodles really soaked it up, I guess, and what was left was flavorful and delicious. I’m happy to report that it stayed awesome for leftovers, too, though after being refrigerated overnight there was literally no broth left whatsoever. I definitely recommend this recipe and will be making it again without a doubt.

chicken bacon noodle soup

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