Monday, September 1, 2014

Parmesan Sage Pork Chops {Recipe}



Another part of our eating local, knowing where our food comes from, getting away from factory farm meats is buying our pork from a local farmer.  In February, D and I bought a whole pig we named Wilbur 2. Not to keep at out house but to keep in our freezer so we would have tasty pork for the rest of the year.  Wilbur joins Ferdinand 2, the 1/4 steer, who also lives in the freezer.  (We had previously bought a pig and steer so that is why they have the 2 after their names.)

We like that we supported both a local farmer, the same folks who run the CSA that we have taken part in in the past, and we know how the animals were cared for.  We also have a great local butcher who processes the meat and makes the best bacon and brats ever.  Seriously, we can't eat regular store bacon after eating Wilbur bacon - it is that good.  Don't worry, I will have some bacon-y recipes coming soon but today it is about the chop...the pork chop.

Growing up my family never had pork chops for dinner. We were more of a beef, chicken and fish family.  So I always wondered what my friends were talking about when they said it was "pork chop night." When I got older, I tried making pork chops and always ended up with something tough and dry. I think shoe leather may have a similar texture. 

D has shown me that this isn't the normal state for a pork chop.  That they can be juicy and delicious.  He finds the tastiest recipes.  This is one of them.  

Parmesan Sage Pork Chops
Source: Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (we used a smoked salt - so good)
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Herb Seasoning blend
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sage
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Spray a square baking pan large enough to fit pork chops without touching.
  • Combine flour, salt, and ground pepper in a shallow dish.
  • Combine bread crumbs, Italian herb blend, Parmesan cheese, and sage in a 2nd shallow dish - a pie pan works great for for the shallow bowls
  • Place beaten egg into a 3rd shallow bowl. 
  • Heat skillet over medium heat with butter and olive oil 
  • Rinse and dry pork chops.
  • Gently press pork into flour mixture to completely coat, shaking off any excess flour.
  • Dip into beaten egg, making sure to coat entirely.
  • Press one side firmly into bread crumbs. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Gently shake chop to remove any lose bread crumbs.
  • Place breaded pork chops in skillet.
  • Brown pork chops about 4 minutes on each side, then transfer to the baking dish.
  • Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes(or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of pork reads 160 degrees). 
  • Let sit for a few minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Willow & Cricket Wednesday - 8/27



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What To Do Before Starting C25K


Before D and I started C25K, we did a few different things.

First, we talked to our doctors.  Before starting something strenuous like this, especially when you are overweight, it is always a good idea to make sure there are not any concerns that may impact you.  Both of us got the green light so we were onto our next To Do, good shoes.

Since I have been working on the "run only when chased" model of running for the last 10 years, I went to my local running store to get fitted for new shoes that would work best for my gait and weight.  I didn't want to start off with bad shoes that would result in injuries later.  If you aren't a runner but would like to start, I would suggest getting professionally fitted.  The guy who helped me looked at my shoes, had me walk and then jog a bit in the different shoes he suggested.  It was amazing how different they felt.

Another confession here, I was a little worried about the shoes since I didn't want anything crazy colored.  Have you been in a sports store lately?  The display looks like rainbow blew up.

Source
Thankfully the pair that worked best for me is much more bland.  I mean, no one wants to see size 10 wide hot pink shoes coming at them.

Here are my new skips.  They are the Brooks Ghost 7.  I love them.  They are light and have a lot of support.  Perfect for someone just getting back into running.

So shoes in hand, it was onto my next To Do.  Good bras.  I had been getting by with so called high impact ones from Target. But now that I was going to be running, they just weren't going to cut it.  Even with doubling up, there was still a lot of locomotion, if you know what I mean.

I got a bunch of recommendations from various community boards and ordered 3 different sports bras for large breasted women that had good reviews from both the community boards and Amazon.  The Enelle, which looks a bit like a breast plate and two from Glamorise, the No Bounce and the Sport Double Layer.  The Galmorise both worked out best.  So they are keepers.  I took the Sport Double Layer out for a test run for Week 1, Day 2 yesterday and it was glorious how little movement there was.

So now I have the shoes and the bras so there is no more excuse for not getting out there.

Source
There was one final To Do - downloading the free C25K app onto my phone.  It is available on both Android and Apple.  This is a great tool and keeps track of your time so you don't have to.  It notifies you with both a vibrate and a voice alert when your transitions are.  This is very helpful on the last running minute, which feels like a whole lot longer.  :)  It also works with your music apps.  Start your music first and then start the app, the voice alerts come on over the music so you don't miss them. 

Week 1 is now done, though I did repeat Week 1/Day 3 since my knee was quite sore and I couldn't do all the runs the first go round.  But tomorrow begins week 2.  Each session is 5 minute brisk walk to warm up, 90 seconds followed by 2 minutes walking (for 20 minutes), followed by 5 minutes of cool down walking.  It will be interesting how that extra 30 seconds will go. 

If anyone else has done C25K, I would love to hear from you about your experiences, successes, trials and tribulations.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Caprese Salad {Recipe}


One of the things that D and I are working toward is eating more foods that we know the source of.  Or foods we make from scratch. It is a bit more time consuming but we have found that the results are worth it.    

As we work toward that end, a couple of months ago, I bought a cheese making kit from Amazon.  This is the one - Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit.  $25 and it has enough rennet and salt and citric acid to make many many batches of mozzarella cheese (something like 40 batches).  And you can use the leftover whey to make ricotta cheese.  So it is like a double win.  It takes about 30 minutes, a gallon of milk and the stuff in the kit to make 3/4 of a lb of mozzarella cheese.  The instructions are very easy to follow and our first batch turned out to be amazingly tasty.  The only thing I would do differently is to get some food safe gloves since stretching the cheese when it is so hot is not entirely comfortable. 

The cheese was softer and smoother than the stuff you get in the store.  I added a bit of extra salt since I knew we would be using it for a Caprese Salad appetizer later that night.

Cheese making aside, this is one of the easiest appetizers ever and perfect for a summer evening on the patio.

Caprese Salad
Ingredients
  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil Paste (which is what you use when Meijer is totally sold out of fresh Basil and ends up being so good)
  • Olive Oil
  • Grey Finishing Sea Salt

Directions
  • Slice fresh mozzarella into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick
  • Spread a thin layer of basil paste onto each slice
  • Slice tomato the same thickness
  • Layer on a plate
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with finishing salt

You can serve with a basket of crostini or do as we did and skip those letting the tomato, basil and cheese flavors shine alone.  Don't skip the glass of wine, though.  :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

C25K. Here we come!

Source
Confession time here:  D and I are overweight.  Our BMIs put us in the obese category.  This is not at all a good thing.  So in 2014 we decided to do something about it.  I signed up for My Fitness Pal (MFP*) and started tracking everything I ate (that was an eye-opener and I quickly figured out why I was so heavy).  We got a food scale and started weighing all the foods we are eating. 

Up until now, we have mainly been watching what we eat and doing some exercising, mainly riding the exercise bike and walking.  This has been pretty successful and I am down almost 38 lbs from January. D is down about 30 lbs.  Woo hoo!  Seeing the scale slowly move downward has been a positive thing.

However, now it is time to step it up a notch and really get serious about the exercise thing.  So we have started Couch to 5K or C25K as it is often called.  It claims to get you ready to run a 5K in 9 weeks.  We will see if that actually happens.  I haven't run any real distance in almost 10 years.  So this is the first in a series to let you all know how it goes.

We do have an end goal to our training.  A Zombie Dash at the end of October.  We thought we would celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary by running from zombies.  (we are so romantic!)

I will be updating weekly on our progress.  So far week one has been a success, we have 2 runs under our belt with the third planned for Saturday.  Willow and Cricket join us and seem to love getting out and moving a little faster and further than our usual walks. 

In case you want to start your own C25K program.  I copied it from the Cool Runnings website

*If you are on MFP and want to be friends, send me an email.  I know the only way to be successful is to have support from people making the same weight loss journey.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fresh Strawberry Pie {Recipe}


Making my Dad a strawberry pie for Father's Day is becoming a regular tradition.  Two years ago, I made him this baked strawberry pie.  Last year it was a strawberry meringue pie.  After getting one baked and one fresh, Dad said he like the fresh kind better.   I have to say, I agree.

So this year, the search was on to find another fresh strawberry pie.  Brown Eyed Baker to the rescue!  I have actually made this pie twice and the recipe below is with my minor modifications.  And since I am not great at making pie crusts, I just went with store bought and it was still delicious.  So if you are like me and have a tough time with pie crusts, don't feel bad about going with store bought.

The Father's Day Pie was a huge hit and according to my mother, he only let her have one piece.  Upon that news we made him another one for his birthday and he was so excited to see the candles in his birthday pie.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Source:  Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:
1 frozen pie crust

For Filling:
4 pints (about 4 pounds) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons pectin for low-sugar recipes(make sure it says for low/no sugar on the container or box)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:
  • Prepare pie crust according to package instructions
To make the Filling
  • Select 6-7 ounces misshapen, underripe, or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large.
  • In a food processor, puree the berries.
  • Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  • Stir in the berry puree, making sure to scrape the corners of the pan.
  • Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, and bring to a full boil.
  • Boil, stirring consistently to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that the cornstarch is fully cooked (mixture will appear light and frothy when it first reaches a boil, then will darken and thicken as it cooks).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in lemon juice.
  • Let cool to room temperature.
  • Check the remaining berries and measure out 3 pounds of the reddest and prettiest ones; halving only extra-large berries.
  • Add the berries to the pot wit the the glaze and fold gently with a rubber spatula until the berries are evenly coated.
  • Pour the berries into the pie shell, piling into a mound.
  • Turn any cut sides face face down so all you see is the outsides of the berries.
  • Arrange the berries so that holes are filled and the mound looks attractive. 
  • Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours. 
  • Serve within 5 hours of chilling.