Spice Rubbed Pork Chops

I seriously suck. I have had every intention of writing a post this past week (and a half), but then I would go home and get caught up in reading and forget my original game plan for the night. Between reading and travel, I honestly haven’t had the time to sit in front of a computer and type up any variation of a decent post. Here is a quick post to make up for my silence lately!

I promised a recipe for this post – and a recipe you will get. But first an update. I completed one of my fitness goals! This past weekend, I participated in a 5k! I did the Shape Diva Dash. It is a 5k with obstacles and, the best part, for women only. To be honest, I didn’t train as hard as I wanted, but I set a goal of 45 minutes and I completed it in 44. I am already signing up for a race in October. It’s called the Insane Inflatable 5k. Check it out here: http://insaneinflatable5k.com/

Climbing the Very Last Obstacle

Climbing the Very Last Obstacle

Finshed the Race

Finished the Race

On to a food post! I believe I mentioned that I bought a ton of pork chops from Costco a few weeks ago. If not, I apologize for another pork chop post but I need to get them out of my freezer. I have a tendency to eat and cook the same things. My goal with all the pork chops was to make each dinner differently and so far, I think I have achieved it. This recipe is definitely a repeater though! Thanks Weight Watchers for the recipe!

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops (serves 4 = 6 points plus)

1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp unpacked brown sugar

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 pork chops

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to Broil.

2. Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl and mix into a paste. I had to add a little more Worcestershire.

3. Rub the mixture onto both sides of the pork chop. Place on a pan and broil for 4 minutes on each side until the center is no longer pink.

Verdict:

I feel like I say this every time I make a new pork chop recipe, but this one is my  new favorite. I was a little hesitant at first. Rubbing the mix on the pork chops was… well, lets just say it did not look appetizing. If you can get past how it looked while preparing, it was delicious and a must try!

The Unappetizing Way to Prepare the Pork Chops

The Unappetizing Way to Prepare the Pork Chops

The Delicious Finished Product

The Delicious Finished Product

Getting Back on Track

I can basically sum up the month of May in a single sentence. May was a years’ worth of stress, anger and tears squeezed into 31 very long days. Work was stressful. A loved one is moving to a new job in a new city (YAY! But also dealing with her stress is, well…stressful!) My home routine has drastically changed (long story). We adopted an incredibly energetic kitten that our other cat attacks every chance she can. Oh, and we’re planning a wedding.

Not to mention I have been put into a situation I’ve never faced before and hopefully never will again. I simply cannot understand how some people could be so rude/hurtful/cold/hateful/place-your-favorite-negative-characteristic-here. Have you ever seen Pitch Perfect? You know that line, “Leave it, it’s fueling my hate fire.” Yeah, that’s been me – hate fire fueled and angry. It’s exhausting. Cue the emotional eating.

To be honest, I’ve struggled. It was all I could do to get up and go to work when all I wanted was to cuddle up underneath blankets and sleep away the day. Because of this, I stopped eating healthy and took 3 weeks off from the gym (I lied a little in the last post – it really has been 3 weeks). Junk food and exercise did not help. I felt the hole I was in getting deeper. If I kept going it was going to be harder to get out and then all of a sudden I’d look up and realize I was 60 pounds overweight again. It needed to stop.

The purpose of telling you all this isn’t to whine or to demand pity. It’s to share something I seemed to have forgotten these past few weeks. You see a few days ago, I put my big girl pants on and decided I wasn’t going to continue to mope and fume and let other peoples horrible decisions take control of my life. I weighed myself (only up 3.5 pounds, thank goodness) and got my butt to the gym. I was amazed how quickly everything seemed to turn around. I ran through my anger. The stress went from unbearable to tolerable.

I sometimes underestimate the power of working out. Too often, we focus on weight loss or building muscle or training for the next big race and, we forget how important it is emotionally. My body was starting to depend on endorphin’s from exercise and when I stopped my stress worsened.

Here is a pretty good article from the American Psychological Association that discusses The Exercise Effect.

Next time when life is starting to get the best of me, I am going to remember that the gym is going to help me out much more than my bed. I’m more than grateful to be back at the gym and I am so blessed to have a fiance who motivates me to go. The next step is to get back on track with cooking.  My next post will be a recipe. Promise!

Motivation

Kittens and Color Wars

I have been absolutely awful. I typically try to blog at least once a week and here I am finishing up two weeks without a post. Not to mention my meals have consisted of restaurant food and I have taken a week and a half off from the gym (WOW!).

To be fair, I have had a lot going on. We had our engagement pictures taken. Then we got our pictures back which took more time then getting them taken because I just kept looking at them.

Also, we adopted a kitten. We have had a cat for over a year now and decided it was time we open our hearts and homes to a new kitty. To be honest, we really wanted a puppy. A friend at work got one and she is adorable. We started looking but we live in an apartment which makes adopting a pup even more complicated. So we decided on a 2 month old kitten now named Grey Goose aka Goose! It was a great decision but he demands and expects a lot of attention.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any recipes (restaurant food, remember?) or any exercise stories to share. You will just have to settle with photos of our color war and Goose!

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Pre-color War

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Playful even after the surgery

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The day we brought Goose home

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After three days, Bailey and Goose finally get along enough to be in the same room together

Raspberry Chipotle Pecan Pork Chops

Growing up we had Sunday dinners, and it is something I have tried to continue on my own. I love the idea of having family time over food and I can’t wait to start the tradition with our future kids. Delicious food and great conversation. What beats that?

I typically try to make those meals special. If I’m tired it’s the Crock Pot, otherwise I attempt to cook something I wouldn’t have time for during the week. This Sunday I was going with pork chops as I had bought a pack of 47 at Costco (not literally 47, but it felt that way). I got my inspiration from the salad dressing I was currently eating. Raspberry Pecan.

However, I decided that would be a little too sweet so I changed it to Raspberry Chipotle Pecan Pork Chops. I was excited. I just knew I was creating a combination of flavors no one had ever dreamed, let alone tasted. I’d be famous for my creativity. I let my imagination run rampant, until I started typing this blog and decided to see if it had been done before. Apparently it isn’t that creative and is actually pretty common. Go me? Oh well, at least it was tasty!

Raspberry Chipotle Pecan Pork Chops (7 points plus)

2 Pork Chops

Raspberries

Adobo Sauce to taste

Pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put pork chops in a baking dish.

2. Mash the raspberries. (I put the raspberries in a ziploc bag and just crushed them) Add the adobo sauce to the raspberries. Pour on top of pork chops. Sprinkle pecans.

Mashing up Some Raspberries

Mashing up Some Raspberries

3. Bake until cooked, about 30-45 minutes.

Raspberry Chipotle Pecan Pork Chops

Raspberry Chipotle Pecan Pork Chops

Verdict:

I used way too many raspberries; I practically smothered the pork chops. Also, I probably could have added more adobo sauce. Overall, it’s definitely a recipe I want to build on!

Kitchen Sink Salad

I view a meal for dinner as something that needs to be cooked, whether it be the stove, oven, or the Crockpot. I do have a few exceptions to this idea: cereal for dinner, tuna salad, and/or some sandwiches.

Thanks to ending the week with extra lettuce (Thanks Meredith!) and taking our first real trip to Costco (seriously the best place ever!) I felt inspired. And I really wanted to utilize all the fresh fruit and veggies currently sitting in my fridge. The best way to use all of it: Salad.

The points value changes based on how many olives/croutons/pecans/etc you add. I didn’t calculate mine. I went for a run in the morning and went with a “Salad? How bad can it be?” mentality. Yes, I know some salads are very unhealthy, but I didn’t go overboard on my less healthy ingredients

Kitchen Sink Salad 

Lettuce

Carrots

Mushrooms

Olives

Pepperoncini

Croutons

Goat Cheese

Pecans

Strawberries

Ken’s Fat Free Raspberry Pecan Dressing

Directions:

1. Mix and eat.

Kitchen Sink Salad

Kitchen Sink Salad

Verdict:

I wasn’t sure how I would like it. I only use strawberries in a summer salad and certainly never combined with olives. Surprisingly I liked the weird combination of flavors. The only thing I would change is the dressing. It was too sweet when combined with the strawberries. I think the Sun-dried Tomato dressing I have would have been better. Overall, I think I need to change my definition of dinner.

Barbecue Glazed Turkey Meatloaf

Let’s talk about meatloaf for a minute, shall we? I feel like everyone either loves it or hates it. For some reason, it isn’t a type of food that people can go either way on. Maybe it has to do with the name. There really is nothing appealing about a “loaf of meat”.

Growing up, I would have been classified as a meatloaf lover. I would go to my grandparents house once a week and after I had a piano lesson with my grandpa, I would cook dinner with my grandma.  Meatloaf was one of the recipes we would make and I don’t know if I truly thought it was delicious or if I just loved being over there.

After I traded in piano for my guitar, I stopped eating at my grandparents every week which meant no more meatloaf. I think I had it once a few years later and doused it in ketchup in order to get it down. There went my love for this food. I never thought I would voluntarily eat it again.

But when I started weight watchers, one of my coworkers gave me a weight watchers recipe for Barbecue Glazed Turkey Meatloaf and swore it was delicious. I decided to give the food one more chance and I am very glad I did.

Barbecue Glazed Turkey Meatloaf (6 servings=4 WW points plus)

1 1/4 pounds of uncooked ground turkey breast

1/3 cup dried plain breadcrumbs, seasoned

1/4 cup low fat shredded cheese

1/4 cup uncooked onions

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 black pepper

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 tsp packed light brown sugar

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp spicy brown mustard

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with tin foil.

2. Mix the turkey breast, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, egg, oregano, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until combined. Shape into a loaf and put in dish with tin foil.

3. Combine the ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard in a separate bowl. Use the mixture to cover top of meat loaf in order to create a glaze.

4. Place dish in oven and cook until done, around 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Meatloaf and roasted butternut squash

Meatloaf and roasted butternut squash

Verdict: 

This recipe was originally meant for the crock pot, but we altered it for the oven. The meat is moist and the glaze gives it a great flavor so you don’t need to smother it with ketchup. It isn’t a meal I could eat every week but Kevin has requested this recipe 4 times now so it is slowly being added to our rotation. Not too bad, even for a loaf of meat.

Tomato and Mushroom Chicken

I wish I could say that each recipe I come up with is something new and exciting. That I constantly experiment with new flavors and ingredients. That’s not the case. The majority of the recipes that I make have the same ingredients – I really am a creature of habit. My recipes are predictable. Basil. Tomatoes. Mushrooms. Olive oil. Cheese. Ninety percent of my meals contain one or all of those ingredients.

Naturally, when I decided I wanted to make chicken, I used all of those ingredients. Tomato and Mushroom Chicken.

Tomato and Mushroom Chicken (serves 4, 7 points plus)

4 boneless, skin-less chicken breasts

2 tomatoes

Large handful of mushrooms

Fat Free Feta Cheese

Garlic to taste

Basil to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Directions: 

1. Brush chicken with olive oil. Place in baking pan. Season with garlic, basil, salt and pepper.

2. Add cut up tomatoes and mushrooms to pan. Sprinkle feta over the chicken mixture.

3. Bake at 350 degrees until cooked, around 40 minutes.

Tomato and Mushroom Chicken

Tomato and Mushroom Chicken

Verdict: 

The tomatoes and mushrooms gave the chicken a really great flavor. Mozzarella or goat cheese probably would have been a better cheese to use as feta doesn’t really melt. Despite the fact the feta hardened, the meal was delicious. Definitely a recipe I want to build on!