Archive for January, 2011

Black Eyed Pea Salad

Last night I was making Josh his favorite meal, French Dip sandwiches, but I needed a side dish to go with.  So I decided to use the opportunity to try a new recipe for my Cookbook Challenge.  I am still working on The Deen Bros, Y’all Come Eat, and once again, this cookbook did not disappoint. 

I ended up deciding on a Black Eyed Pea salad recipe.  The picture looked good, and I thought it would round out our meal nicely.  But by the time I gathered the ingredients, I started having my doubts.  I don’t know why, but all of the sudden it sounded like a bunch of random things thrown together.  Balsamic vinegar with black eyed peas? 


It ended up being delicious!  Even Josh loved it, and he isn’t always a fan of balsamic vinegar.  He says it smells like feet.

First, gather up those ingredients:

Now, chop and combine everything in a large bowl.

Now, combine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and salt + pepper in a bowl and whisk away.

Drizzle the dressing over salad, and stir to coat.

Finished Product:


These French Dip sandwiches are nothing fancy, but they are our favorite meal.  We have them for just about every special occasion.  Someday I’ll write a post all about these.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

From The Deen Bros, Y’all Come Eat

2 15oz. cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 large tomato, finely chopped (3/4 cup)

6 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion

1/2 lg red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 lg green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 jalepeno pepper, seeded (if desired) and finely chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

salt + pepper

**In a large bowl, stir together the peas, tomato, green onions, bell peppers, jalapeno, parsley, basil, and cilantro.  In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, and salt + pepper to taste.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

****I cut the oil to 1/2 cup, but left the vinegar at 1/4 cup.  It was plenty of dressing.  Also, I just had some for lunch, and it was even better after chilling all night long.

On a separate note, I wanted to thank my little Sous Chef for always standing close by while I’m cooking.

Sammy keeps an eye on me from a distance.


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Comforting Sunday Supper

Fried Chicken might be one of my favorite meals.  It is not healthy, not very pretty and kind of messy to eat.  But it takes me back to good memories, and is always comforting.  Growing up, my brother and I spent many weekends with my Grandma and Grandpa, and a frequent meal we had together was fried chicken.  One particular night, my little cousin was eating it with us.  He couldn’t have been more than 3 years old at the time.  My Grandpa was being silly, as he often is, and said something along the lines of “I think I’ve got the chicken’s big toe!”  Without missing a beat, my cousin proclaimed, “And I have the chicken’s penis!”  To this day, if I’m eating chicken, that story pops into my head.

I guess that’s why I picked Oven Fried Chicken as my last recipe to try out of The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites for the COOKBOOK CHALLENGE.  And honestly, the picture in the cookbook sold me before I even read the recipe.

I don’t have step-by-step photos of this recipe, because dredging chicken thighs in flour is rather messy and unattractive.  (I didn’t use breasts or legs… no penis either.)  But all I did was remove the skin, let it soak in buttermilk for an hour or so, and dredged the chicken in a combination of flour, red pepper, white pepper, black pepper and cumin.  Yeah, this chicken had some heat to it!  Then popped it in a 450* oven for 35 minutes. 

I’ll admit that I was a bit worried upon first look.  I mean, it wasn’t really FRIED chicken, but baked chicken.  It didn’t have that extra crispy skin, but more of a soft breaded-like coating.  It was however full of great flavor, with quite a bit of kick to it!  The buttermilk marinade kept it very moist, and helped the breading stay glued on throughout cooking.  Overall, I would call it a success.  Not going to lie, it isn’t the best I’ve ever had, but I would feel good about serving it to my family as a healthier alternative to deep fried chicken.

I needed a recipe to go with the chicken, so I thought now’s as good a time as any to start the next cookbook for my CHALLENGE.  My choice?  The Deen Bros Y’all Come Eat.  I’ll discuss my reasonings for this choice in my next post.  The first recipe I picked was Corn Bread Casserole with Fresh Corn and Green Beans. 

Seemed to fit the bill for a comforting side dish, and Josh and I are lovers of all things corn.  This was so quick, and so easy. 

Gather ingredients:

Combine everything into a large bowl, and stir.

Once combined, pour into a buttered 9×9 pan,

and bake at 350* for 60-75 minutes.

Now cut yourself a piece, and eat it with Oven Fried chicken and some roasted sweet potatoes for a seriously comforting supper. 

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Baby Gear Success

Tomorrow I will be 27 weeks pregnant.

Holy guacamole… it’s flying by!  Yesterday something clicked in my head, and I realized that Little Man will be here in 13 weeks or less.  What?!?!?!  I’m going to be a mom in 13 weeks?!?!?  This thought was the motivation I needed to get my ass rear in gear and start accumulating necesseties, and quit using curse words.  As you saw previously I have been picking up the cutesy stuff here and there.  I’m a sucker for baby clothes.  But what about the Diaper Genie?  Or travel systems?  Or, most importantly, the crib?  Well… yesterday I went shopping and took care of a LOT!

Here’s the goods:

Chicco Cortina Travel System

Sammy gives his seal of approval.

Also came home with:

The First years Ignite lightweight stroller

The Diaper Genie II (If this kid takes after his father at all, this just may end up being the most used nursery purchase.)

Swaddle Me wraps

And a  diaper bag.

This morning I also got the nursery furniture and crib matress ordered.  It’s all coming together, slowly but surely!

I’m now off to the kitchen to start working on a recipe for the cookbook challenge.  Check back tomorrow to see!

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My husband proclaimed these pork chops “The best chops I’ve ever eaten!”  last night.  He had good reason, for these were probably the best chops I’ve had as well.  But first… the challenge…

Remember yesterday when I said I’d only made one other recipe out of that Cooking Light cookbook

Well that got me thinking, “I have TONS of cookbooks, and have only made a few recipes out of them.”  I seriously adore cookbooks.  I read them like novels.  Some girls buy purses, I buy cookbooks.  So why am I not putting them to use?

THE CHALLENGE:  I will pick a cookbook from my library each week,

 and try at least 3 new recipes from each one. 

We’ve got nothing to lose here, but everything to gain.  (Hopefully not in the form of lbs.)  As proof in the pork chop recipe I’m about to share with you, I think we’re going to find some new favorite dishes along the way.  Since I already made the Cheese Enchilada Casserole from the Cooking Light cookbook, I decided to choose a few more recipes for the challenge.  Tonight I made Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops, and Green Beans with Roasted Onion Vinaigrette.  Enjoy!

The pork chop preparation begins the night before.  You combine buttermilk, sugar, salt, lemon rind, and fresh herbs and pour over the chops in a Zip Lock bag. Refrigerate overnight.


When ready, remove chops from bag, and discard buttermilk mixture.  Pat dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle pork generously with pepper.

Get your grill pan hot and ready, coat with cooking spray, and add pork chops.

While the chops were grilling, I was busy roasting some red onions for the Green Beans:

This meal was seriously quick to come together, and was one of the best we’ve had in a while.  We don’t eat pork very often, but things have a way of changing.  The final products:


Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops

Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 cups fat-free buttermilk

2 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp chopped fresh sage

4 (6 oz.) bone-in center-cut pork chops

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

cooking spray

***Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top bag; shake well to dissolve salt and sugar.  Add pork to bag; seal and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Remove pork from bag; discard buttermilk mixture.  Pat pork dry with paper towels.  Sprinkle with pepper.

Heat a nonstick grill pan over med. high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add pork chops; cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side, or until desired degree of doneness.


Green Beans with Roasted Onion Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 lbs green beans

2 red onions, peeled

4 tsp olive oil, divided

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

3 Tbsp Champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp stone-ground mustard

***Preheat oven to 400*.  Cook green beans in boiling water 5 minutes.  Drain and plunge beans into ice water; drain.  {;ace beans in a large bowl.

Cut onions in half vertically.  Drizzle cut side of each half with 1/4 tsp oil.  Sprinkle halves evenly with salt and pepper.  Place 1 thyme sprig on 1 onion half, top with other half.  Wrap in foil.  Repeat procedure with remaining thyme and onion halves.  Bake at 400* for 1 hour or until tender.  Cool to room temperature.  Discard thyme, and chop onions.

Combine remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, onions, dill, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl.  Toss beans with onion mixture.


We had seriously happy tummy’s last night.

** On the Diapers side of all this, I am headed out to order our nursery furniture, and pick up our stroller today.  (Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!)  SO EXCITING!  I’ll post pictures as soon as I have them.

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Watch out.  This casserole is dangerously delicious.

I was flipping through an old Cooking Light cookbook yesterday morning, and thought to myself, “Why have I only made one recipe out of this entire thing?”  I then made it my mission to find a recipe for dinner, which was not hard to do. 

The Cheese Enchilada Casserole jumped out at me immediately.

I was headed to the grocery store anyways, so why not just revise my list a bit?

This is an extremely easy recipe to make, let alone healthy and exquisite tasting.  I will include the full recipe at the bottom, along with my newest challenge…

First thing’s first… gather the ingredients…

And start the prep work.


Once you’ve combined your ingredients, layer 2-3 corn tortillas, 1/2 of the cheese mixture, and repeat in a 1 1/2 qt casserole.

Grab your taco sauce, and pour it on top.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Now, get some Monterrey Jack cheese, grate it up, and sprinkle evenly over taco sauce.

Ready to be baked at 375* for 20 minutes, or until cheese is nice and melted…

While the casserole bakes, feed your freshly groomed dog.

Set the table.

The time has come… remove the casserole from the oven, and sprinkle with chopped green onion.

Dig in.

And enjoy with someone you love.

Cheese Enchilada Casserole

Courtesy of Cooking Light.

1 cup reduced fat shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped tomato

1 cup fat-free cottage cheese

1/3 cup sliced green onions

2 teaspoons chili powder   (**I used chipotle chili powder here for a smokier flavor)

2 cloves garlic, minced

6-9 (6 inch)corn tortillas

Cooking spray

1 cup taco sauce

1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

2 Tbsp chopped green onions

**Preheat oven to 375*. 

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Arrange 2-3 tortillas in a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Spread half of cheese mixture over tortillas.  Repeat procedure with 3 tortillas and remaining cheese mixture; top with remaining tortillas.

Pour taco sauce over tortillas; sprinle with Monterrey Jack cheese.  Bake at 375* for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp green onions.


Stay tuned… I have a recipe challenge in the works!  SNEAK PEAK:

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Random Baby Cuteness

It’s totally normal to photograph your unborn child’s cute clothes and post them to a blog, right?



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“Never Ever” Burgers

For dinner last night we had some delicious “Never Ever” Burgers.  There is a reason for this name… stick with me.

My mother-in-law’s boyfriend gave us some Kobe Beef hamburger patties for Christmas from a local shop he goes to called A Cut Above Natural Meats

This small business prides itself on offering “The Freshest, Top Quality All Natural beef, poultry, pork, seafood, sausages and exotic meats.”  They refer to their product as “Never Ever” all natural meats.  On their website, “Never Ever” is defined as “no antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones given to our meats from birth to plate.” 

This meat was FANTASTIC!  It was a little fattier than what I normally buy, but it was oh so juicy, and the flavor was out of this world.  I simply opened the package, sprinkled a little salt and pepper on these patties, and put ’em on a hot grill pan.

Thank god we had fancy meat, because other than that this meal was not exactly “exciting.”  Some corn and some applesauce… good to go.  That’s quite alright though, because upon my first bite, I told Josh it tasted like a great steak in burger form. 

Sorry for the lack of photos… apparently while “Never Ever” Burgers taste delicious, they do not photograph well.  Surely you get the idea though.

Chris, if you’re reading this, thanks again for the meat.  We enjoyed the meal very much!!

On a separate note, Brody wanted me to mention how much he is loving this blog.  The dog loves having his picture taken.  As soon as the camera’s in my hand, he stops whatever he’s doing and looks at me, and I swear he is saying “CHEESE….”

Sammy, on the other hand, is not quite as enthusiastic:

"Seriously, again with the damn camera?"


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