Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mama's Cookin'

One of my biggest purpose as a Mom is to cook my kids a healthy meal almost daily.

I say "almost" because there are times when you are on the road and cannot avoid, shall I dare say it, yes McDonald's or Burger King or KFC.

I know Martha Stewart "swears" that she has not ONCE eaten fast food, but then again she also swore that she did not have any insight on her stocks.............

Tonight for dinner I made Pork Chops w/ Bell Pepper & Corn Relish over Mashed Potatoes and side order of Arugula Salad w/ Tomatoes & Parmesan. We do not eat small meals at our house, that's the European ancestry in me.

The Pork Chops were inspired by a Cooking Light Book called Weeknight. I did not have all the right ingredients and so I skipped a few but it still came out delicious. Keep in mind that you can substitute pork chops with chicken breasts or fish or even tofu (for my vegetarian friends).

Pork Chops w/ Bell Pepper & Corn Relish

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (red or white)
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. coriander
1 (15.25 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tsp cider vinegar
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp black pepper, divided
1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
4 (4 0z) bone in pork chops

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 2 mins. or until tender. Add bell pepper and the next 2 ingredients and cook (stirring occasionally) until pepper is tender, another 3 mins. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 tsp of the salt, and 1/8 tsp of the black pepper. Cook 1 min. Spoon relish into a bowl (save for later). Wipe pan clean with paper towel.

2. Combine the remaining salt & pepper and paprika, sprinkle evenly on both sides of each pork chop. Heat oil in nonstick skillet and add chops to the pan. Cook 4-5 mins on each side, depending on the thickness of the chop. If you are ambitious enough, and have a meat thermometer, the internal temp of the pork chop should be at 160 degrees. Serve with relish on top.

I am absolutely addicted to the texture and peppery taste of Arugula. I eat it weekly in the summer time when the supply is abundant. There is nothing dull about this tasty green. If you are tired of the same Romaine or Boston lettuce, I highly recommend Arugula.

Arugula Salad

3 cups of washed and drained arugula
1-2 red beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
Juice of 1 med lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Slivers of Parmesan cheese

Place arugula in a bowl with tomatoes. Toss the salad the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp. of olive oil, salt & pepper. Arrange salad on a plate and garnish with slivers of fresh Parmesan cheese. Use a potato peeler for cutting Parmesan slivers.

My kids know that Mommy's looking out for their happy bellies when she makes Mashed Potatoes with about 5 lbs. of butter (maybe 4 lbs.). No matter what else I serve with the meal, the Mashed Potatoes are guaranteed to be scarfed down first. Kids need Carbs and Carbs rely on children making the most of them.

I always, always, use a hand masher because I like a lumpier texture. If you prefer the absolute smooth version use an electric hand mixer.

Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. of Idaho potatoes
3/4 cups of milk
1 1/2 sticks of butter
Salt & pepper to taste

Peel potatoes with potato peeler and cut them into eights. Cook in a large pot of salted (a tsp. of kosher salt) boiling water until tender, about 20-25 mins. Test with fork to see if it will pierce right through the potatoes before removing from stove.

Drain potatoes and place in a bowl. I like to warm up my milk & butter in the microwave for 40 secs prior to adding it to the potatoes. Add milk and butter to potatoes and with the hand masher or electric mixer beat until they are the desired texture. You may need to add extra milk, 1 tbsp at a time if the potatoes are too dry. Add salt & pepper and mix for 1 min longer. Taste and serve.

The entire time I cooked dinner (35 mins), I had an eager participant. My dear Kate shoved her face full of bread while watching Mommy. She too ate the mashed potatoes with us.

As a ritual, we all hold hands at the dinner table and go around saying our Thank Yous. It's a way for us to remind ourselves and one another how blessed we are every time we have the opportunity to eat as a family.

Lance is the best at recapping the days events minute by minute, while Ethan zips right through it. And Kate is grateful to not be strictly on Formula anymore.


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