Chicken Brown Betty

Lately I’ve been spicing up our weeknights with 3. 2. 1. Go dinners!  Made with typically dull boneless, skinless chicken breasts this simple prep jazzed up our Monday night supper.  It seemed like it extended the weekend and it took less than 30 minutes to make!

Photo Nov 23, 8 24 44 PM

Recipe & Ingredients

4, boneless, skinless pastured chicken breasts
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lard, duck fat or coconut oil
1/2 cup King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
3 tablespoons raw gf butter
2 sprigs fresh sage
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

Take your chicken breasts and pound to 1/4″ thickness between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; salt and pepper to taste. Dredge in flour coating evenly.

Heat lard or other fat in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  Cook chicken for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes per side or until done. Remove from pan.

Turn heat down to medium; add butter and sage sprigs and cook until butter browns. Discard sage.  Add the shallots and thyme and cook for 30 seconds.  Add lemon juice and cook for 30 seconds.  Pour mixture over chicken and serve.

“Cheat” Meal or Southern Fried Splurge?

Should it really be termed a ‘cheat’ meal?  Perhaps ‘treat’ or ‘splurge’ is a better word.  There is such a fine line with a meal turning from what it is meant to be – a reward of sorts for those that follow a healthy nutritional lifestyle 80% of the time along with solid workouts to an all out binge sometime lasting weeks on end.

IMHO a cheat or treat meal should be about once a week ONCE you are working out consistently and have reached a weight and lifestyle that you are happy with.  One that you can maintain year round.  Exceptions would be those preparing for a physique competition or performance — if you’re really serious your focus needs to be 110%, first place isn’t cheating.

Well, fall is settling in, the sweats will soon come out, I ain’t stepping on any stage or field anytime soon and I’m at a weight that I’m good with for the season.  That being said I eat relatively clean throughout the week and allow myself a splurge meal on the weekend — I don’t want to be weird.  Here’s one of my favorites. . .

Photo Nov 15, 6 05 51 PM

It was Sunday afternoon and Monday is hardcore legs, time to carb up!

Photo Nov 15, 6 00 56 PM

The Choppers

Fried Pork chops

Photo Nov 15, 6 00 53 PM

The Sides

Smashed Taters:  peel and cut up your favorite potato (Russet, Yukon, reds or a combo); cover with water, bring to a steady boil and cook 10 – 12 minutes or until fork tender.  Drain.  With an old fashioned potato masher, smash em’. Add butter, cream or milk and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steamed green beans:  cut or snip and snap into pieces; in a steamer bring water to a boil and steam green beans until tender – about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Add butter, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Gravy: do not let gravy intimidate you.  All you really need is some fat for flavor.  To the drippings from the pork chops add 1/4 cup gluten free flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.  Slowly and stirring constantly with the whisk add in 2 cups of raw milk, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Cornbread

Get a Jump on Christmas!

Does the mere sound of the word “Christmas” make you cringe since we haven’t even had our turkey dinner yet?  I broke my golden rule this year of doing nothing related to Christmas until after the Thanksgiving dishes were done. But only as it relates to Christmas cards. . .

christmas_card_w_words

For years I sent them diligently cramming them all into a matter of days even tho I didn’t enjoy the chore of writing them.  Then when the demands in my life seemed to increase I even had a few bah humbug years when not only did I not send cards I didn’t even decorate.   After all, you just have to take them down a few weeks later.

Many of us may go through periods in our life where we let stress or negative happenings overwhelm us enough to stray from things we once found enjoyable.  Guilty but no longer.  I love decorating my house and enjoy receiving Christmas cards.  Even if there are periods where your world is not perfect those simple pleasures can lessen the stress, bring forth resolutions and help you realize what is really most important.

Besides you will never ‘have enough time’, learn to let go of the unimportant.

Back to the Christmas cards. . .

christmas-card-1379737357Fdt

While writing 60-70 cards seems like a daunting task writing 3 is very doable and even pleasurable.  While social media has enabled me to renew long ago friendships and keep in touch throughout the year a handwritten card is still a great way to reach out and show people you care.  You don’t have to see them on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis to maintain friendships or acquaintances but receiving a card via snail mail will brighten their day and bring forth a smile.

A week or two after my Halloween decorations were put away, fall deco out and pumpkins prepped for Thanksgiving I decided to start my card writing early.  I dug out my Christmas cards, bought a couple of new boxes and put them on my living room table vowing to write three a night.  Well, nighttime is not my time to shine and three days later after 12+ hour days, a quick shower and meal what sounded like a plan wasn’t getting done.

So, quick change of direction — let’s try writing them first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee.  That’s my chill, plan the day and prepare the mind time.  Well I began writing them on Nov. 11 and to date have 27 cards written.  The old adage “how do you eat an elephant?” And the answer “one bite at a time” is working very well.

I’m taking a 4 day break while I am out of town for Thanksgiving and even with that will be on schedule to have them in the mail no later than Dec. 10th.  And meanwhile, back to turkey prep!

63c3ff0ce5f814526f22354c1eb27c39

And rest assured as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is digested, the dishes done, a few football games and a solid 8-9 hours of sleep I will be shouting 3. 2. 1. go!  As I hit the shopping trails with my sisters in laws and nieces!

 

Tenderloin of Pork w/ sauteed apples

Another easy one dish meal to add spice and variety to weeknight dinners.  Let’s not forget the ‘other white meat’; pork tenderloin is as versatile as poultry and goes well with many different spices.  The fall flavor of apples and autumn spices complement this nutritious meat.

Photo Nov 07, 6 30 46 PM
Go shopping at the beginning of the week, that way you have all the ingredients on hand

Photo Nov 07, 5 41 02 PM
Slice the pork into 10-12 medallions.  Season with the rub mixture

Photo Nov 07, 6 03 31 PM
Combine the sliced apples and shallots and toss with lemon juice

Photo Nov 07, 5 57 28 PM
Cook pork for 2 1/2 minutes on each side

Photo Nov 07, 6 12 08 PM
Transfer to plate and keep warm

Photo Nov 07, 6 13 30 PM
Saute apples and shallots

Photo Nov 07, 6 15 01 PM
until shallots are slightly caramelized

Photo Nov 07, 6 23 05 PM
Top pork medallions with apple mixture; we served with a spinach salad

Photo Nov 07, 6 31 38 PM

Recipe & Ingredients

3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2, 1 pound pastured pork tenderloins; cut into 10-12 medallions
3 tablespoons gf raw butter or other healthy fat
4 cups sliced unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apples
2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup unpasteurized apple cider
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Preparation

Mix all spices together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle evenly on both sides of the pork medallions.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the fat over medium high heat in a large cast iron skillet.  Add pork and cook 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove to a plate and keep warm.

After slicing your apples and shallots toss with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet.  Add the apples and shallots; saute for 10 ish minutes or until apples starts to brown and shallots begin to caramelize.  Add apple cider to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the fresh thyme leaves.  Serve apple mixture with the pork.

3. 2. 1. go Lemon Chicken

Sometimes you need a little culinary excitement in the middle of the week, this lemon chicken skillet dinner is just the ticket to wow your date or spouse without a lot of effort leaving time for other things. . .

Photo Nov 06, 7 57 45 PM
Go shopping the weekend before so you have all the ingredients on hand

Photo Nov 06, 6 57 04 PM
Pound the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until 1/2″ thickness

Photo Nov 06, 7 05 35 PM

Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.  Melt 2 teaspoons of the duck fat or medium high heat and cook the chicken and 2 sprigs of thyme for 5 minutes.

Photo Nov 06, 7 26 40 PM

Bake the chicken for 8-10 minutes in the oven and transfer to a plate.  Cook the mushrooms and boiled potatoes in the remaining duck fat.

Photo Nov 06, 7 46 04 PM

Add the thyme, lemons, broth, flour/milk mixture and remaining salt and pepper to the skillet; bring to a boil and simmer until slightly thickened.

Photo Nov 06, 7 48 17 PM

Photo Nov 06, 7 55 22 PM

Add the chicken and steamed green beans in, cover and cook for about 2 minutes until chicken is heated through.

Recipe & Ingredients

2 russest potatoes peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons duck fat
3, 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh thyme sprigs
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup gf raw milk
2 tablespoons King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
1 3/4 homemade chicken stock
8 very thin lemon slices
8 oz haricots verts (french green beans)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain

In a large cast iron skillet melt 2 teaspoons of the duck fat on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.  Add chicken and the thyme sprigs to the pan; cook 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Turn chicken over.  Place pan in oven and bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done.  Remove from pan.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of duck fat.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, add the potatoes and thyme and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, stirring once.

Meanwhile steam the haricots verts in a separate saucepan for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.

Combine the milk and gf flour in a small bowl stirring with a wire whisk until well combined.  Add remaining salt, pepper, flour mixture, stock and lemon slices to the skillet; bring to a low boil and simmer 1 minute or until slightly thickened.  Add in the chicken and green beans; cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes until the chicken is heated through.

It’s a Process

Are you a list person?  I am.  I love lists; it keeps me organized, ahead of the game and enables me to get things done more efficiently. I find great satisfaction in taking that highlighter and crossing something off my list.  One fact I have had to come terms with is that the list will never be finished.  If it were all growth, progress and success would be too.

Photo Nov 12, 7 44 15 AM

For every item that gets crossed off 2 more will be added on.  Not everyone will work well by this system but I certainly do and have found most Type A successful people write things down and have lists. I have learned well emulating them.

Your list can be on your phone or computer but I prefer a lined pad and pen.  I have several lists.  A master list off which I further sub divide into a weekly list and then a daily list.  Each list has 3 columns.  An A column for things that need to get done now, a B column – important but not urgent and a C column which are generally relegated to when time allows. C items need to get done but are far from urgent.

Photo Nov 12, 7 51 11 AM

This has worked well and helped me with time management and efficiency.  Once the pressing or more urgent tasks are done for the day I move onto the B tasks.  If it’s a really good and productive day I will even get some C tasks completed.  If it’s not the main goal is to complete the A tasks realizing that not everything will go the way you want it to all the time, you must learn to adjust decisively on the fly, let it go at times, get a good nights sleep and attack on the morrow.

Perhaps the most frustrating challenge has been the things that are out of my control to accomplish.  And generally they are or rather should be simple and straightforward.  Nope.  I am referring to things in which other people are involved.  They can be really simple C items i.e. go to Office Depot to get ink cartridges for printer (which is completely our of ink) and find out they no longer carry the ones needed.  They’re needed right now so cannot order on line and must find a Plan B.  Luckily I researched and found them at Walmart.  Now I have to drive to that store and pick up the cartridges.

Or you purchase something and once you get to the office or home you find it is damaged, the wrong size or doesn’t fit.  Can’t cross it off.  Stays on the list and back to the store you most go.  Little things but annoying and time consuming nonetheless.  All C items.

More irritating the computer or some other technological device will malfunction.  You must call whomever services your devices, generally wait for them to get back to you, try several things that don’t work and another day or so goes by before the problem is resolved.  More annoying or B items.

And finally the worst– those involving any kind of  bureaucratic, city, county, corporate socialistic type of organization and their red tape BS.  Yep, that’s my summation.  I’ve learned you just can’t tell them to GFY; only in your mind not verbally as that will get you no where fast.  You must play their game by their rules and not let it piss you off or react.  It will eventfully get done but usually not until a lengthy and ridiculous process is followed.  Such is our world today.  These are generally items from the A category.

I used to keep it on my A list, helpless to go to the next step while I waited–very frustrating.  I finally resolved that irritation by moving it to my now C / P (process) list and further designating whether it was a C or a P item.  If it was a P item I then realized it would get done, would not be forgotten was just going to take some time and for the moment was out of my control.  It is a banked fire and will ultimately be put out as soon as those in control finally move through all their little steps. Can’t sweat it, it’s a process.

Photo Nov 12, 7 54 12 AM

At the end of the day on Friday the slate is wiped clean and we begin anew.  All unfinished items are transferred to a fresh list.  Anything that crops up over the weekend that is not to be handled at that moment gets put in the appropriate column.  I keep the ‘work’ list out of sight until Monday morning.

I have a shorter personal list for the weekend which consists of household chores, errands and some fun stuff.  I intentionally do not overload that list; I look at the weekend, any events on calendar and do not put more on that list than I can accomplish and enjoy doing.  It usually gets finished and the other list, well. . . it’s a process, it will be there.