Rule #92: Necessity breeds invention.

They say that necessity breeds invention, and well, this little dish is no exception. Wayyyyy back in the day, when Jon Boy and I were just young pups in love, we were living in Dallas when a major ice storm hit almost out of no where. We both barely made it home after work because the roads were absolutely terrible. Delivery was out of the question for dinner because everything had shut down already. So, we peeked into the fridge praying there was something in there to scrounge up for dinner. Lo-and-behold: The Sh*t Mexican Pork was born.

Okay – so I obviously didn’t name this dish that because I’m trying to act like a grown up now, but… it is… the sh*t.

pork tenderloin

You wanna know why it’s the sh*t? (I know, I can spell it out, but it’s more fun not to.) It only needs FIVE (ish) INGREDIENTS, each serving (this recipe makes 4) is 170 calories each, and it’s friggin’ delicious! It got it’s name because after his first bite, Jon Boy literally said, “Woah! This is the sh*t!”

mexican pork

Now then, let’s do this.

You take 1 1-lb. pork tenderloin (you can definitely use two tenderloins if you’re cooking for more than 4 or if you want heartier portions). Make sure the silver skin is trimmed off as much as you can. Dice it up into about 1/2″ pieces.

mexican pork

Liberally season the pork all over with Kosher salt and black pepper. (BTW – I didn’t include those in the ingredient count because well… they’re just not. Five sounds better than seven.)

mexican pork

Now, here are the performers in our little Mexican Pork Parade. Vegetable (or chicken) stock*, green bell, red bell, white onion, fresh salsa, and salt + peppa.

*You may not end up needing the stock depending on how thick the sauce is.

mexican pork

We use fresh salsa for this recipe – you can find it in your produce section near the prepared veggies and fruits. Choose whatever heat level you like. We go for the mid-level serrrrrrrrrano type. I like the fresh salsa more than the jarred because it’s a little thinner and has (as the name states) fresher ingredients.

mexican pork

Slice up yer bell peppers and yer onion.

mexican pork

Now, you have a choice here. You can either spray a large skillet or Dutch oven with cooking spray or pour in a little vegetable or canola oil. Your choice. I usually just opt for cooking spray, but for the pictures, I used a little oil. I honestly think I prefer it without the oil – fewer calories, and it all turns out just about the same.

Brown the pork on one side, flip, and brown on the other side over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes per side).

mexican pork

You don’t need the meat to be all the way cooked through at this point. That will happen later when we add the salsa and stock.

mexican pork

Make a hole in the middle of the pan.

mexican pork

Throw in the veggies.

mexican pork

Give it all a stir and sauté until the veggies are tender (about 8 minutes).

mexican pork

This part is totally optional, but I like to sprinkle in some Goya Adobo All Purpose Seasoning for a little flavor. If you don’t have this or don’t want to buy it, just skip this and move on down.

mexican pork

Once the veggies are tender, make another hole in the middle of the pan.

mexican pork

Throw in the salsa (carefully). Add a little stock (about 1/4 cup) to thin out the sauce. Lower the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

mexican pork

Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice with your choice of garnish. We love us some avocado, sour cream, and cilantro. You could also get down with red onion, radishes, a little shredded lettuce, and maybe even some more salsa.

mexican pork

So, in about 30 minutes, you’ve got a healthy + yummy dinner. De nada, amigo!

pork tenderloin


Mexican Pork

1* 1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin, cut into 1/2” pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 white onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
A few dashes of Adobo all-purpose seasoning (optional)
1 container fresh salsa (heat level of your choice)
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock (optional)

Liberally season pork with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Spray a large Dutch oven or skillet with cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, brown the pork on all sides (about 3 minutes per side).

Make a hole in the middle of the pan, add in the onion and bell peppers. Sauté until veggies are tender (about 8 minutes). Sprinkle on some Adobo seasoning (optional).

Once the veggies are cooked, make another hole in the center of the pan and add in the salsa. Lower the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pork is cooked through. If the sauce seems too thick, add in the stock.

Serve over white rice or cauliflower rice with your choice of garnish.

Garnishes
Avocado
Sour cream
Cilantro
Red onion
Radishes
Salsa
Shredded lettuce
Tortilla strips

* If you want heartier portions, or if you’re cooking for more than 4, feel free to use 2 pork tenderloins. Just add in some extra salsa or stock to extend the sauce.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Mexican Pork

This recipe is the thing of dreams. It’s super low-calorie, good for you, and it’s easy enough for a weeknight [oh, and yummy, too]. You can prep everything ahead of time, so that when it’s time to eat, all you’ve gotta do is brown the chicken cakes in a skillet then cook ’em in the oven. Dinner could be done in less than 15 minutes, my friends.

tuscan chicken cakes

healthy + simple + delicious + make ahead

tuscan chicken cakes

Forming the patties and then chilling them helps them to bond together a little more than they would if you just formed them and cooked them right away. The same kind of technique can be applied to things like meatballs (like these or these).

tuscan chicken cakes

You can make the chicken patties ahead of time (up to a day ahead), cover them, and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. When it’s chow time, pour some breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.

tuscan chicken cakes

Brown the chicken cakes on both sides.

tuscan chicken cakes

Then, throw ’em in the oven to keep cooking the insides. Keep them warm until you’re ready to eat. I use oven-proof skillets for this dish, but if you don’t have those, just brown them in a skillet and pop them in a large Pyrex or oven-proof dish to warm them through.

tuscan chicken cakes

I’d definitely recommend making the Tomato Basil Relish ahead of time as well. The flavors get better then longer they can marinate together.

Tuscan Chicken Cakes Tomato Basil Relish

Basil is one of the rare plants I’ve managed to keep alive* since we’ve moved to Houston. This little guy has given us fresh basil for months now – which is both delicious and thrifty. I’d recommend trying your hand at basil growing if you’re a green-thumb newbie.

*Please note Basil’s dead neighbor in the picture. Sorry, little flowers. RIP.*

fresh basil

This relish is light, full of flavor, and packed with all the tang you need to even out the chicken cakes. There are similar ingredients in the cakes + the relish and they compliment one another perfectly.

Tuscan Chicken Cakes Tomato Basil Relish

The relish doubles as a salad dressing, too. Just spoon it over some mixed greens and you’ve got dinner covered, baby.

tuscan chicken cakes

This Golden Aioli is friggin’ yummy. It’s super simple, too: mayo + yellow mustard + honey. Doesn’t get much easier to make a creamy dollop to spread on your crispy chicken cakes. Definitely make this guy ahead, too, if you can. One less thing to worry about at dinner time!

Tuscan Chicken Cakes Golden Aioli

I wanted to make these as healthy (but still delicious) as possible, so I subbed out some mayo for Greek yogurt. I also didn’t use a lot of honey mustard like the original recipe calls for. You can definitely use honey mustard instead of the Dijon, but I liked the zip the Dijon gives it.

tuscan chicken cakes

Either way, enjoy this delicious dinner without any guilt – each chicken cake has only 130 calories.


Tuscan Chicken Cakes with Tomato Basil Relish and Golden Aioli

Chicken Cakes
3 cups (1 lb.) cooked chicken breast, shredded and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs, plus more for breading
1 5.3-oz. container plain Greek yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/4 cup basil pesto
2 tbs. EVOO
Mixed greens, for serving

Tomato Basil Relish
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp. basil pesto
2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tbs. EVOO

Golden Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. honey

For the Chicken Cakes
In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, red onion, breadcrumbs, Greek yogurt, egg, Dijon, roasted red peppers, and pesto (everything but the EVOO and mixed greens). Form 6 equal patties and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day ahead.

When you’re ready to serve, remove plate from fridge and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 300. In a shallow dish, add about 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs. Heat the EVOO in a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. One-by-one, coat each patty in breadcrumbs and cook 3 minutes per side. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until heated through. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the Tomato Basil Relish
Whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Serve immediately or make ahead and store, covered, in the fridge (best made ahead of time to allow ingredients to marinate).

For the Golden Aioli
Whisk together all ingredients. Serve immediately or make ahead and store, covered, in the fridge.

Serve the chicken cakes on a bed of mixed greens. Drizzle tomato basil relish on top with a dollop of the golden aioli.

Tuscan Chicken Cakes with Tomato Basil Relish and Golden Aioli

Adapted from Genius Kitchen

I’ve posted this recipe before, but I had to share it again because it’s one of our go-to dinners when we’re hungry but don’t wanna cook (like last Saturday night). This was one of my Daddy’s favorite things to throw together on a weeknight after work and school. I love how food memories are some of the strongest we’ve got, ya know? I can hear my Daddy’s boots clodding around the kitchen as I type out this little post…

Anywho – all you’ll need to whip up this comfort food dinner is whatchya see below…

and an oven… you’ll need that, too.

chicken in cream of mushroom

Here’s the breakdown:

1 box/can cream of mushroom on the bottom of an oven-proof dish (I always use our Dutch oven)

chicken in cream of mushroom

Throw on some chicken breast + freshly ground black pepper (lots of it)

chicken in cream of mushroom

Drizzle on some Worcestershire sauce (and seriously… does anyone ever pronounce it right?)

chicken in cream of mushroom

Throw on some more cream of mushroom (1 box/can), more pepper + Worcestershire

Cover and bake at 350 for an hour or until chicken is cooked through. We serve ours over plain old white rice with some roasted green beans on the side.

There aren’t any measurements in this recipe because ya really can’t screw it up. Just throw on lotsa pepper + Worcestershire and you’re off to the races. Clearly, if you don’t like a lot of pepper, just use less. If you need more meat, add more meat but also factor in more cream of mushroom and the seasonings. You really can’t go wrong!

chicken in cream of mushroom

If ya don’t gotchya a Dutch oven, ya gots ta get one. These little lovelies are a cook’s dream. They’re great for use on the stove top, in the oven, and even outside on the grill if you’re crazy. They distribute heat much more evenly than other skillets. They’re easy to clean (but only hand wash for these babies). Plus, they’re kinda pretty.

chicken in cream of mushroom

You can grab one at Walmart (Lodge brand is great) for only about $30. My aunt and uncle gave me this diddy a few years ago when I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. Let’s just say this baby is a family heirloom now – Le Crueset is here to stay!

chicken in cream of mushroom

I’ve been playing with my new toy (camera), and I think I’m slowly getting the hang of this baby! I can’t believe how much better the quality of pictures is with the actual camera v. my iPhone. The Bluetooth feature makes uploading + editing a piece ‘o’ cake, too.

fall flowers

I have to say that Mr. Big Man here isn’t the biggest fan of the new camera – the pre-flash kinda freaks him out. Also, he wanted to help Mama cook, but babies + Le Crueset don’t mix well. He sho is cute though.

We went over to Nana and Grandpa’s house to celebrate the September birthdays in the family last Sunday. Corey had to sport his J.J. Watt jersey, and he must be their lucky charm because the Texans won!

corey douglas

I was having fun playing with my camera… probably too much fun.

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

corey douglas

Happy Birthday to us!

(notice that I’m 21 again)

birthday girls


Chicken with Cream of Mushroom + Worcestershire

2 boxes/cans cream of mushroom soup
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350.

In a Dutch oven or oven-proof dish with a lid, make a layer using one box/can of cream of mushroom soup. Place chicken breasts on top and sprinkle generously with black pepper. Generously sprinkle Worcestershire sauce on top. Cover with remaining cream of mushroom, more black pepper, and more Worcestershire sauce.

Cover and bake at 350 for an hour or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over white rice.

These little bowls of yummy are so simple to make, I really shouldn’t even call this a recipe. But I’m going to anyways, so booyah. I love a weeknight dinner that’s healthy + easy, but that can also be customized by each person chowing down (chili, tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.). This little gem is one of those dishes.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

Before I tell ya about that yumminess, I have to capture this little bit of toddler heaven the other day before school. I love the bond these two share. That Daddy + Son gig is real treasure… makes me want a mini-me-little-ball-of-sass girl soooo badly!

daddy and corey

We tried a new white wine this week, {Mantellasi Sasso Bianco} and it was fantastic! The best part about this little number is that it’s only $9. It’s light, crisp, and a bit citrusy.

mantellasi wine

Anyone else experience the “NOOO SHOOOOOEEE” in the middle of the store? Tell me I’m not alone.

corey douglas

It was just the one shoe + sock. The other set was apparently okay to stay on. Smug little toddler, ain’t he?

corey douglas

I’ve got a couple of recipes I’m excited to share with y’all soon! One of those dishes are these Tuscan Chicken Cakes are nothing short of miraculous. They’re only 130 calories each and taste sooooo yummy! Jon Boy went back for seconds because he loved them so much, and BONUS: he didn’t have to feel guilty about it!

Once I get my act together, I’ll post this little fella for ya.

Tuscan Chicken Cakes

Now, for the Salsa-Crazy Chicken Bowls. The chicken can’t get any easier to make, and you can customize the bowls just like they do at good ole Chipotle.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

Here’s what’s up. First, marinate the chicken breast in Salsa Verde (we use Herdez medium) for at least 8 hours or overnight. I threw ours in the marinade in a Ziploc the morning I cooked this dish.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

You wanna know why this lovely is called Salsa-CRAZY Chicken Bowls? Because I’m gettin’ cray cray with my salsas, y’all! Salsa verde is the marinade, and you cook the chicken in a fresh RED salsa. Whhhaaatt! Mind blown, I know. Don’t buy the jarred stuff when you’re getting the red salsa. Buy the refrigerated stuff in the produce section. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Oh, and make sure you’ve got some cumin.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

To cook the chicken, spray some Pam in an oven-proof skillet/dish (I use a Dutch oven). Brown the chicken over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes per side). Dump in the red salsa after flipping the chicken once. Sprinkle on some cumin – I think I used about 2 tsp. but use as much or little as you’d liked.

After the chicken is browned, chunk it in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You can just keep it warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve. Just turn off the oven and keep the dish covered.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

Meanwhile, make ya some beans. What’s a Mexican chicken bowl without beans, ‘m I right?

I used 1 can of black beans with the mysterious juices from the can. Dump it all into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add some bean seasoning (I use this one). Cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. Mash a few beans at the end with a fork or potato masher. Stir, cover, and keep warm until serving time.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

A great thing to add to your bowls is a bunch of roasted veggies. You can do broccoli, sweet potato, green beans, brussels sprouts, corn, squash, or any other crazy veggie you’ve got lying around. Just toss ’em with EVOO + S&P, roast at 400 until they’re as tender as you’d like. We actually had leftover roasted broccolini, so I just heated it up, chopped it up, and threw it in our bowls. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge, too!

salsa crazy chicken bowls

When you’re ready to grub, take the chicken to a cutting board and chop it into bite-sized bits.

salsa crazy chicken bowls

Then, build yer bowl. Some ideas for toppings are:

Sour cream

Cilantro

Diced tomatoes

Diced bell pepper

More salsa (because hey, it’s a salsa-crazy kinda day)

Avocado

Lime wedges

Tortilla chips

salsa crazy chicken bowls

Chow down without reservation, my friend. This bowl you’re gawking at here comes in at only 215 calories. We actually had ours over zucchini noodles (zoodles), but next time, I’m just going to leave those out. I don’t think they added a ton of “ooomph” and I could always use one less dish to clean. Sorry zoodles, ya didn’t make the cut.

salsa crazy chicken bowls


Salsa-Crazy Chicken Bowls

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar salsa verde
1 container fresh red salsa
2 tsp. cumin
1 can black beans
2 tsp. pinto bean seasoning
Roasted veggies (broccoli, green beans, sweet potato, squash, corn)
Toppings of choice (avocado, sour cream, cilantro, diced bell pepper, diced tomato, lime wedges, tortilla chips)

Marinate the chicken in the salsa verde in a large Ziploc for at least 8 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350 and remove the chicken from the fridge so it gets closer to room temperature (about 10 minutes).

Spray a large Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet with Pam, and brown the chicken over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes per side). After flipping the chicken, pour the fresh red salsa over the top and sprinkle on the cumin. Cover and bake at 350 until chicken is cooked through (about 30 minutes). Keep warm until serving.

Meanwhile, make the beans. Heat the beans with their juices in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add some bean seasoning, stir, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Mash the beans with a fork or potato masher, cover, and keep warm.

Chop the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Assemble the bowls with your choice of roasted veggies and toppings.

What a perfect time of year: the end of summer, the beginning of school, the beginning of (slightly) cooler weather, and of course fall decor. Gotta love it! I also love this time of year because of the delicious summer vegetables available at Farmer’s Markets and in the grocery stores. Completely perfect tomatoes + summer squash + succulent corn-off-the-cob make for the ultimate end of summer vegetable medley.

Mexican Veggie Medley

What’s not to love here: deep Mexican spices + cool cotija cheese + zippy cilantro + delectable summer veggies.

And all for just 110 calories per serving (4 hearty servings from this recipe).

Mexican Veggie Medley

BUT! Before I get into this delicious side dish… a few randoms for this perfect Friday.

I just put this little fella together to stay on our porch (hopefully) all fall. I got the planter for just $30 at Target – I’d been stalking him literally all season. As I was checking out, a very sweet woman in line gave me a tip to stuff the bottom with grocery bags, then pour on the soil and plant the flowers. It’s working well so far and is WAY cheaper than having to fill this whole bad boy with potting soil. I once read in a Southern Living magazine that when it comes to making a dramatic potted arrangement, you want: a thriller, a filler, and a spiller. In this case, my thriller + filler are the same plant, and the purple sweet potato vine are my spiller. Love the concept though!

fall planter

If those cheeks ever go away, I’m going to protest by eating until they grow back onto my face. I can’t even handle.

corey douglas

My little J.J. Watt, y’all.

corey douglas

Except not really. The thought of him playing football makes me get mama rage already. Ain’t nobody hittin’ my baby.

corey douglas

He was still sleeping when I picked him up from school on Thursday. I had to take a picture of the absolute sweetness of this scene. It was kind of torturous to wake him up. I could’ve watched him sleep like that for at least 3 days.

corey douglas

Okay – back to veggies.

Here’s the easy peasy breakdown for this yumminess:

Wrap each corn cob in foil (no oil or S&P – just foil).

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw ’em on a baking rack and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.

 

Mexican Veggie Medley

I can’t remember the first place I saw this trick, but it became an instant game changer when it comes to cutting corn off the cob.

Getchya a bundt pan (okay, please tell me you read that like the lady from My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

Mexican Veggie Medley

Set the corn cob in the middle of the bundt [booooonttt] pan. Start cutting the cobs and let the little fellas fall straight into the well of the pan.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Whoever thought of this is a genius. It’s so much easier to cut + keep the kernels together than just doing it on a cutting board. Gotta love a good kitchen hack.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Next, getchyer summer veggies + chop ’em up. Just a rough chop will do, but make sure the pieces are as uniform as you can get them.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw everything into a biggo pot with some EVOO. Sprinkle with seasoning + sauté over medium-high heat for a bit.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Meanwhile, crumble up some cotija goodness.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Before you know it, your easy-peasy, Mexican-y, healthy side dish is done.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Throw on that cheese + some cilantro.

Mexican Veggie Medley

Pair this with your next taco night or make it all into a huge taco bowl with some beans + grilled chicken. Nom Nom.

Mexican Veggie Medley


Mexican Veggie Medley

3 corn cobs, husks removed
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tbs. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. EVOO
1 yellow summer squash, chopped
1 zucchini squash, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled
2 tbs. cilantro leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

Wrap corn in foil and place directly on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, or until kernels are cooked. Once cool enough to handle, cut kernels from corn.

Meanwhile, mix together all the spices (oregano through pepper) in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt EVOO in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, garlic, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with spices and stir to combine. Cook just until squashes are al dente (about 10 minutes).

Remove to a serving platter and garnish with cotija cheese and cilantro.