Today I have a special post for you all!! My intent was to share recipes I made this weekend, but a little gift in the form of a guest post from my brother popped up in my inbox when I got home.
Plus, because I ran 3 miles yesterday, then was on my feet running around for about 7 hours today, I’m utterly exhausted. And, since I survived an earthquake today, I’m giving myself permission to relax tonight. Okay, so I didn’t actually feel the earthquake at all, but it definitely happened in my area and others who were in the very near vicinity of me felt it. My honey actually doesn’t have school tomorrow because it caused some damage to some of the schools in his county. I haven’t gotten his report on what happened yet, but I’ll fill you in when I get the scoop!
Okay, enough of me talking. Without further ado, I give you my wonderful brother’s version of Two recipe Tuesday! Enjoy!
Eat Happy, Be (somewhat) Healthy, Live Well
This is a new semi-regular feature on the blog by Kristin’s brother. If you’re paying close attention you’ll notice I made a bit of a play on words for the title of this piece to reflect our different styles. Most of the recipes that my sister posts on here are healthy, if not VERY healthy. My style with food is born out of a couple factors: 1) I had a ridiculously high metabolism until about 5 years ago, so I could eat whatever, whenever (I often jovially refer to myself as Fat Kid [in a skinny body]) and 2) I spent a good number of years in the restaurant industry in some capacity enjoying stops at all manner of places but my time at an upscale Creole place in Madison, WI really taught me most of what I currently know about food.
Based on previously being able to eat whatever I wanted and love of flavorful food I will trend towards more indulgent recipes that allow you to add a bit of your own flair as you see fit. I tend to use recipes as guidelines and go rogue as often as possible, sometimes it makes me look absolutely brilliant, and sometimes it’s barely edible.
Here’s where the Be (somewhat) Healthy comes into play with most of the recipes that I’ll be presenting and something that most restaurants don’t want you to know about – a meal is only as healthy as the ingredients that go into it; control your ingredients and you control how healthy a meal is. You can make an indulgent meal in your own kitchen that is infinitely healthier than the same meal in a restaurant because you control the amount of salt/sodium goes into it as well as using more natural ingredients which often have less unpronounceables in their composition. A great example is one of my favorites, alfredo sauce for a pasta dish – get it at a normal restaurant and there’s no telling how many hidden ingredients there are, but make it at home (my take on it is very simple – butter, heavy whipping cream, and parmesan cheese; add some finely diced onions to the butter first for a touch of sweetness) and you know how much of what is going into your body. Take it a step further and add fresh broccoli to your pasta dish and the fiber in it will slow your absorption of the meal giving you more time to be somewhat active and work it off. Now, I wouldn’t go recommending having pasta with alfredo sauce everyday.
All of this being said, let’s get to what you really came here for – the food. My first recipe is actually one my sister has made and featured a few times: Chickpea Protein Balls. I had one of these when I came to visit for a family reunion and was very intrigued. As someone who works from home and has a tendency to graze on snacky type things especially on days when I work out these seemed to be the perfect food, tasty treat-like food that’s actually good for you. I finally got around to making these and have lovingly renamed them:
Chocolate Salty Protein Balls
- ½ Cup Almonds – roasted @ 350 degrees for 12 minutes and lightly salted, then ground into a powder
- ½ of a Lindt Extra Dark (80% Cacao) chocolate bar ground up with the almonds
- 1 Scoop Vanilla flavored Whey Protein Powder
- Splash of Skim Milk
- 1 Can rinsed and drained Chickpeas
- ½ Cup Organic Peanut Butter – I used less than the original recipe due to the protein powder thickening it up
- ¼ Cup Honey
- Vanilla extract – eyeball it
The bold ingredients above and my lack of measuring the Vanilla are the only ways I’ve differed from Julie’s recipe. Otherwise you can follow it verbatim and arrive at the photo above.
Overall they came out OK. The peanut butter I use acts like a really dry red wine, and I think it played its part in making these somewhat dry and almost heavy tasting; the protein powder no doubt played its part in drying them out as well. As you can tell from the picture the ground up dark chocolate made them much darker than normal. For some reason chocolate chips and I are mortal enemies…plus Dark Chocolate is supposedly one of those Superfoods with antioxidants and such – that link is written by an MD and has the medical snake & wings thingy so it has to be legit, right? The roasted almonds actually don’t add much to the flavor profile due to being overpowered by the peanut butter; next time I’ll probably skip roasting the almonds or ease up on the PB.
Since my first recipe was just a modification to one you’ve already seen I’ll give you another bit of goodness. Below is my take on pork chops & applesauce, I believe I got the base of the recipe from a Men’s Health magazine in the last year or so but can’t remember.
Southwestern Pork Chops & Applesauce
- 2 Thick-Cut Pork Chop
- Sea Salt to taste
- Cracked Black Pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. Butter
- ¼ Rutabaga peeled and diced***Optional
- ½ Small-Med Yellow or White Onion per 2 people finely diced
- ¼ to ½ of a Jalapeño/hot pepper or more depending on how much heat you want
- 1 Clove Garlic
- Chili Powder
- 1 Med-Large Red Delicious Apple per 2 people roughly diced with skin on
- ½ Bell Pepper – Red if you want sweeter and more color on your plate roughly diced about the same size as your apple
1) Heat a skillet on high heat with Olive Oil (or Grapeseed Oil if you’ve got it, it apparently does better with higher heats but I’m not sure what it does to a dish flavor-wise). Sprinkle the chops with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. When the skillet is decently hot, place the chops in there and sear until you get some nice coloring about 2-3 minutes. Flip the chops, reduce heat, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes depending on how thick your chops are, and then remove from heat.
a. The intent is to get them to a point where they are Medium to Medium Well – meaning that the center of the chop is warm and pink – don’t worry they’ll continue cooking as you pull them off the heat and place them on a plate. Keep them on the heat too long and they’ll turn to ash in your mouth
2) In the same pan, add some more olive oil and the butter.
a. Add the diced rutabaga if you’re using it, let simmer for about 10 minutes to soften – it’ll still have some crunch to it.
3) Kick the heat up to high and add the onions and jalapeño/hot pepper. Simmer until the onions start to caramelize around the edges. Then add the garlic, a couple of shakes chili powder and cumin; sauté another minute or so.
a. Sautéing the jalapeño dissipates some of its heat throughout the rest of the dish by binding the spice to the oils/fats that are then present on all other ingredients.
4) Add the apples, bell peppers, and cinnamon. Sauté for another 2 minutes or so while mixing everything together; if you want mushy apples go a little longer, crisper apples and peppers 2 minutes or less should do it.
5) Portion out onto plates in whatever presentation suits your style best.
Nick, thanks so much for sharing these recipes! I hope you all enjoy them!
On another note, Happy 3rd Anniversary tomorrow, Nick and Jessi!!!! I love you both 🙂
Do other members of your family cook or is it just you? I love that I can talk cooking with my brother!