Brined Pork Chops

This is one of my favorite grilling recipes! The brine tenderizes the pork while infusing boatloads of flavor. I pair the pork chops with seasoned sweet potato fries, a green salad and skillet corn bread, making this meal a real crowd pleaser and the perfect spring/summer outdoor meal!

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups light buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp favorite hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 6 pork chops

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients with the garlic and salt.  Add the pork chops and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably over night.
  2. Remove pork chops from the brine and allow to come to room temperature before grilling.
  3. Grill for approximately 12-15 minutes over medium heat, flipping half way through.

Suggestions:

I like to use boneless center cut loin chops with this recipe, although, bone-in chops work well too.  I think this brine would also pair nicely with chicken.

As far as hot sauce goes… I’ve used both Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and classic Sriracha for this recipe and both taste delicious!

*Adapted from The Today Show

 

Stuffed Turkey Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara

First off, thank you to all the incredible chefs and home cooks out there! I can’t tell you how many times a simple scroll through my Instagram motivates me to try a new recipe or to re-create a special dish.  Tonight’s meal is the result of such inspiration!  I recently saw a gorgeous food pic featuring chicken parmesan meatballs… I even screen shotted it, it looked so yummy!  I followed up by looking up the recipe and buying the necessary ingredients.  When I set out to make the meal from the picture, I decided to put my own spin on it to see if I too, could make a picture perfect dish! In actuality, I didn’t need the recipe I was so inspired; instead I followed my instincts and what resulted, I am hoping you’ll agree, is not only worthy of a photo, but simply delicious!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 1 1/3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, plus extra
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus extra
  • salt
  • red pepper flake
  • 3 – 4 string cheese sticks, each cut into fourths
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I prefer Chianti)
  • 1 cup jarred marinara sauce
  • 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I use low sodium/fire roasted)
  • 1 tbsp chopped (or torn) fresh basil, plus additional as garnish
  • 1 tsp honey
  • chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the turkey, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, 1 tsp garlic and measured spices, along with a pinch of salt and red pepper flake.  Mix well.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop out enough of the meat mixture to fit in the palm of your hand once flattened to about 1/2 in thickness.  Place a string cheese chunk in the center of the meat.  Fold over the edges of the meat around the cheese trapping it in the center.  Roll the meat between two hands to form a ball and then place it on a lightly greased cooking sheet.  Repeat until meat mixture is used up.  You should be able to make 12 – 16 meatballs.
  4. Bake for 8 minutes, turning once.
  5. Meanwhile, in a enamel coated cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until glistening.  Add the mushrooms and the remaining minced garlic and continue to cook over medium heat until mushrooms begin to soften.  Add a dash of salt and pepper as well as a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and red pepper flake.  De-glaze the pan with the red wine and allow to cook down until most of the wine has evaporated.  Add the prepared sauce as well as the can of diced tomatoes and the chopped basil.  Add a tsp of honey, stir, taste and season as desired with additional salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer while meatballs cook.
  6. When the meatballs are done, add them to your sauce and allow it to continue to simmer for 15 – 20 more minutes, covered.
  7. Serve the meatballs with a generous ladle of sauce over pasta or seasoned zoodles.
  8. Garnish dish with additional parmesan, chopped parsley and/or chopped basil and Enjoy!!!

Suggestions:

You could sub ground beef or chicken for turkey when making the meatballs.  Instead of string cheese, try using a small mozzarella pearl!  

Chicken with Peas and Potatoes

I saw Nigella Lawson make a similar dish on the Today Show last week and decided to put my own spin on it!  What’s great about this dish, besides its amazing flavor, is its simplicity.  It’s not only easy to make (requiring one large bowl and one baking dish), the result is a simple meat/potato/vegetable ensemble that everyone in the family will love!

Ingredients: Feeds 4-6

  • 1, 24 oz package of frozen sweet peas
  • 1.5 lbs baby yellow potatoes, quartered
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 leeks sliced into 1/2 in thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup sweet vermouth

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, toss peas and potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic and 1 tbsp of dill.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish, lightly greased with cooking spray.
  3. In the same bowl, toss chicken thighs with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on top of the peas and potatoes.
  4. Scatter the sliced leeks on top of the chicken, peas and potatoes.  Pour the vermouth over the everything.  Sprinkle with remaining dill.
  5. Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 40 minutes, basting the chicken occasionally.  Remove foil, bake an additional 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly and leeks have begun to caramelize.

Suggestions:

  • Substitute white wine for vermouth, or use low sodium chicken stock.
  • Lighten things up by using chicken breast instead of thighs.

THANK YOU

Below is an excerpt from my Instagram, thanking my followers for their continued support!  I wanted to share it on here as well and thank you all for following me too!  I feel truly blessed in many ways for being able to follow my dream and try and turn what I love (cooking/eating/feeding and inspiring others) into a job!  Please read and know that I am grateful!

IMG_1685

Hey, ya’ll! Just a quick thank you to everyone who follows me and “likes” what I’m doing on here! I just reached 500+ followers, thanks to you!!
This may seem like no big deal to some, but for me it is! When I set out a few months ago to share my love of food and feeding people with the world, I had no idea how I’d be received. From Day 1, the support, positive feedback and love that I’ve received from like minded foodies like you has blown me away!
I truly appreciate each and every “like” and comment and I want you to know how much I deeply enjoy cooking every meal, taking every picture (can’t leave out eating every meal😋) and sharing this journey with “my peeps”!
It’s been a trip watching my following grow and it fills me with a great sense of pride, confidence and satisfaction one can only appreciate if they are fulfilling their passion.
Thanks again for joining me on my food journey and here’s to the next leg of our adventure… I’ve got a really awesome collaboration in the works which I can’t wait to share with everyone, so stay tuned!
XO, Leigh

Beef Stir Fry

The homemade stir fry sauce used in this recipe is a total game changer!  That, and the tender sliced flank steak and fresh snow peas, complete this dish!  Best part, everything came together in less than 20 minutes (cook time)!

Ingredients: Feeds 4

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup low sodium beef stock
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil, plus 2 tbsp for frying
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of raw flank steak, sliced 1/4 in thick
  • 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup yellow pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup carrot, julienned
  • 2 cups snow peas (approx 1/2 lb)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Directions:

  1. Whisk the first 8 ingredients together (soy sauce through garlic) to create the stir fry sauce and divide the mixture in half.
  2. Marinate the sliced steak for at least 30 minutes in a large bowl using half the sauce.
  3. In the meantime, in a wok or similar style skillet, heat 2 tbsp of sesame oil over medium high heat.
  4. When the wok is hot, add the onions and peppers and sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften.  Add the carrots, snow peas and reserved sauce and continue to cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove the veggies from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Add the sliced steak to the wok with approximately 1/4 cup of the marinade/sauce, discard the remaining sauce.  Cook until steak just about reaches your desired doneness.  Quickly add the veggies back in, stir and allow to cook another minute or two until steak is done and veggies are reheated.
  6. Serve immediately over brown rice or similar starch.
  7. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Suggestions:

This stir fry sauce would work great with any protein!  If I were using chicken however, I would sub chicken stock for beef stock.  Similarly, if I were using shrimp I might use a fish stock or for just vegetables a veggie stock.  You get the idea!

Lastly, you want your veggies to be cooked but still vibrant in color and crisp in consistency!  Cook time is short and sweet over high heat.  They will even continue to cook once they are removed from the heat, so keep a close eye and tell yourself… less is more!

*Stir fry sauce recipe adapted from tasteslovely.com

Fajita Seasoning

You’ll never buy the packet again!

Ingredients: Makes enough to season 2 lbs of meat or veggies

  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Mix everything together and use it to season chicken, steak, shrimp or veggies the way you would use a store bought seasoning packet.  Or… whisk in a 1/4 cup of olive oil (omitting the cornstarch) to create a delicious marinade.

*Adapted from allrecipes.com

Salmon for Supper

This is a quick share based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received on Insta for this dish! Read on to learn how I pulled off a delish, healthy, no fuss meal in about 30 minutes!

Salmon

I purchased a salmon filet weighing approximately 1 3/4 lbs and left the skin on.

I mixed 2 tbsp of prepared pesto with 1 tsp of harissa paste and spread it on top of the salmon and placed the fish in a lightly greased baking dish, skin side down.

I layered the salmon with thin slices of fresh Roma tomato and a sprinkle of seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400 then broil for 3 minutes or until the breadcrumbs begin to toast.

Polenta

I brought 3 cups of water and 1tsp of salt to a boil, then added 1 cup of polenta (yellow corn grits).

Stir frequently and reduce heat to very low. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the polenta to cook before you stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and a pinch of black pepper right before serving.

Sautéed Spinach and Kale

This is the easiest side dish you’ll ever make!

Simply sauté a pound of mixed baby spinach and baby kale (I buy it prepackaged and washed) in 2 tbsp olive oil with some garlic (I use dried garlic flakes), salt and pepper.