Pan Seared Chicken and Veggies

Ok, I admit it, over the weekend I didn’t cook much…hardly at all…more like not at all. 

Friday night I had leftovers from Chatters Cafe, Saturday I skipped breakfast and had a late lunch at Pecan Grille; more about that place in a later post…  Sunday I went to brunch at Chatters Cafe (another great experience) after church with some friends, and brought home leftovers that ended up as my dinner yesterday evening.

So today, I pulled out the chicken breast I thawed last week, and chopped up some of the yummy veggies from the farmers market and the church garden for dinner tonight.

My sister-in-law in Colorado sent me some spices for Christmas that I used on the chicken and then pan seared it in an iron skillet.  Turned out very yummy.

For veggies I chopped up some snap peas and bok choy and stir fried them in the iron skillet then sprinkled some Balsamic vinegar over them.  I also cut up a fresh tomato to give my dinner plate some color…and besides, I love tomatoes…  🙂

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Oh, I had some of the lemon sauce left over from last week’a lemon chicken, so I heated a bit of that up and put it on the chicken too.

Bountiful Harvest!

Broccoli flowers

Broccoli Flowers! This one shoot already went to flower, I brought this one home, can't wait to make something yummy with it!

One of the things that I LOVE about living in Houston, or generally south of the Mason Dixie Line, is that we have a year-round growing season.

Today, I went over to my church to help work in the garden that supports the food pantry the church has for the less fortunate.  We had SO MUCH to harvest that we all took a little bit of the harvest home with us.  You see, we had so much, that apparently the food pantry will not be able to get rid of it by next Saturday, when we harvest once more.

Today I brought home broccoli, cabbage, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, carrots, snap peas, turnips and mustard greens.  Lots of mustard greens…

Snap Pea bushes

Snap Pea Bushes

Broccoli

Second round of harvesting the broccoli, you don't get one big head, but lots of littls shoots that are just as yummy as the first harvest

Cabbage!

Me with the cabbage harvest

Turnips! I have never made turnips before, so I will be doing a bit of research on how to make them.

Carrots!! A friend of mine said she has a delicious recipe for carrot soup. I had a taste of a fantastic one at the farmers market several years ago. Unfortunately, they didn't share their recipe. 😦

Oh, and these teeny, tiny red peppers that are considered “red gold” to be used extremely sparingly in salsas, soups, chili, or any spicy dish.

"Red Gold" Hot Hot Hot peppers!!

These babies are 1) so hot and 2) so popular down here, that Dick, the guy who is the garden “leader” takes them home, and puts a few in tiny plastic ziplock baggies so the folks at the food pantry don’t just hand the whole bag of them to one person.  I got 5 of these coveted babies.  Now I have to figure out what to use them in.  🙂"Red Gold" plant

Havesting the Red Gold hot peppers

The pictures are of the harvests, not of what I brought home myself.  🙂

So, the question is, what am I going to do with all the wonderful veggies I brought home?

1) stir fry some of them along with some of the veggies I picked up at the farmers market last week.

2) SOUP!  Carrot soup, broccoli soup, veggie soup, chicken soup with veggies.

3) Roasted root veggies with braised chicken or beef.

4) Going to do some research on the internet for more ideas of what I can make with them so my palate doesn’t get bored.  Ha ha!

Happy Cooking!

Home Cook Turned Restaurant Food Critic

Well, not really…maybe just an amateur one for this evening. 

You see, I took chicken breasts out of Tue freezer for dinner tonight, but they weren’t thawed out, plus I had chicken for dinner yesterday.  Lastly, I wasn’t on the mood to cook tonight, anyway.  So, off I went, planning on going to a place near my house called “Tossed”, that is a fancy salad place.  On my way o passed a place called “Chatters Bistro and Cafe”, a relatively new place that opened.  There have been several other establishments in this location, none of the survived…obviously…

Anyway, I decided to give the place a try.  They are a locally owned and operated establishment with two locations on Houston.  I LOVE supporting local businesses. 

The atmosphere of the place is friendly, casual, yet upscale at the same time. They have a small bar area for happy hour gatherings and even a corner with a couple of couches, either for waiting for a table (if need be) or gathering with friends over drinks and appetizers after work.

Food choices are western Europe/Mediterranean, with a little American thrown in (burgers and fries are included on the menu).

Tonight I ordered Gyros plate.  It was supposed to be served with French fries, but I was able to substitute rice and veggies.  It also came with choice of soup or side salad.  I opted for tomato bas soup. The serving of meat was enough that I brought 1/2 of it home for lunch tomorrow. Most guys would probably consider the portion size just right for one meal…or if I was really hungry. :-). So, I would say the food was good, the prices very reasonable and portion sizes just right.

The service I received was very good, and the waiter provided some suggestions when I couldn’t decide what to order. He was also accommodating when I asked to swap out the rice for the fries, and added the veggies as well.

I would have taken a picture of my dinner to post, buy forgot my smartphone at home…

All in all, this is a place I will support and look forward to trying some of their other entrees in the future.

If you live on Houston, or happen to travel here for some reason, check out the restaurant’s website at http://www.chatterscafe.com, and maybe have one of your meals there.

Remember, when you support local places 68 cents for every $1 you spend stays in your local community, franchises about 35 cents stays local.

Lemon Chicken

Today was a wer rainy day on Houston, so I was wanting comfort food come dinner time.  I had a chicken breast in the fridge, so I went online looking for new meal ideas.  I settled on a Lemon Chicken recipe I found on allrecipes.com. 

You cook the chicken on the stove top after sprinkling with flour mixed wig salt and pepper on both sides.  Then set the chicken aside and keep warm.  Then you saute some onions in some butter, add a couple tablespoons of flour some salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Once that is done, add 1 cup chicken broth three tablespoons lemon juice and cook until hot and thickened.  Serve sauce over chicken.

For side dishes I had fresh tomatoes and my current favorite standby stir fried brussel sprouts. 

The chicken was good, but a bit disappointing.  I will have to doctor it up a bit next time, maybe add some spicy peppers. 

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Well, tonight’s dinner wasn’t very adventurous.  I “over did” lunch with a burger and fries from Five Guys Burger.  I know, not part of my healthy eating plan, but I had such a strong craving I just gave in.  Anyway, so tonight I am keeping dinner simple, besides I’m not very hungry after such a big and filling lunch.

Cauliflower Soup

Chop one onion and mince a clove of garlic.  Add to pot with some olive oil and saute for 5 minutes.  Add chopped up cauliflower and several cups of broth of your choice. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.  Puree soup with immersion blender, leaving some veggie chunks in the soup.  Add velvetta type cheese and stir until melted and incorporated onto soup.

I also planned on broiling a small piece of fish, but after having the soup, I wasn’t hungry for anything else. 

Well, this isn’t dinner, but it looked so good I had to repost so I can fins it to make these soon…maybe next weekend as part of Sunday breakfast!

cozywalls

I would like to thank Louisiana and Kentucky for the French donut and the distinctly American spirit, respectively.  Without you, this dish of pillowy fried squares of sweet sorcery would have never been possible.

Beignets: You can make them from scratch, but Cafe Du Monde conveniently produces a boxed mix.  I got to visit the original Café Du Monde location in New Orleans this past summer. Though it was the afternoon and felt like 100-degrees outside, I still thoroughly enjoyed a plate of fresh french donuts and a Café Au Lait and chickory under the giant porch fans.  The ground at the outdoor café was practically covered in white powdered sugar, just like the donuts! This weekend our ground was covered in white, powdery snow – the perfect time to whip up some piping hot beignets.

I did a little more than beignets by deconstructing a dessert that I read online…

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Beef It’s What’s For Dinner Tonight

Pulled out some beef tips from the freezer yesterday.  Sprinkled with some Lawry’s seasoning and let them marinate in the fridge over night.  Browned them and threw some onions and carrots.in the pot with them to cook.  I didn’t have any celery, so I used some celery seeds to get the celery aromatic flavor as well.  I am out of potatoes, so none of them tonight.  Put a little bit of need broth in with it and let it cook until the beef was tender.  Here is a picture of it cooking.

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Once this is done I will stir fry some brussel sprouts for q nice veggie side dish.

Weekend Visit to the Farmers Market

This weekend I returned to the local farmers market after not going for many weeks.  I miss all the fresh, locally grown produce that I can get at the farmers market in my area.  I really need to make an effort to be better about going there for my produce purchases instead of the grocery store.  I picked up broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, green onions, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, portabello mushroom, eggplant dip and cilantro dressing.  I may have missed something on this list, since I am typing this from memory and too lazy to get up and check the fridge to see if I missed something…  🙂

Last night I made a simple salad from spinach I had left over from a trip to the grocery store, some tomatoes, a bit of diced kale, and some of the cilantro dressing.

Tonight I made broiled tilapia, and topped it with some of the cilantro dressing.  For sides, I had sliced tomatoes and stir-fried brussel sprouts and onions. 

A Grill Out Kind of Night

Today was a beautiful day in Houston. So Mich so, that I decided to fire up the grill to make part of my dinner tonight.

Tonight’s dinner-spinach salad with grilled chicken breast and a bowl of French onion soup with potatoes.

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For the salad dressing I used a little bit of lemon infused olive oil – which is absolutely wonderful –  and Balsamic vinegar.

Tilapia Fish Cakes with Baked Potato

Tonights dinner wasn’t very colorful, but I did have a healthy searving of veggies ( broccoli cauliflower and carrots) for my afternoon snack.  🙂

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Fish cakes
1 lb Tilapia filets, ground
1 1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Minced green onion
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 curry powder
1/4 cup minced red pepper
Salt and pepper

Mixed everything together.  Except the bread crumbs.  Only mix in 1/3 cup of bread crumbs.  Shape into 8 patties.

Combine remaonig bread crumbs and curry powder.  Dredge fish cakes in mixture.  Fry 3-4 minutes per side.