Before Joe and I got married, one of my greatest stressors was what we were going to do career-wise. I was working (very happily I might add) in my current job in Des Moines and Joe was searching for a job back in Iowa (he was working in Illinois at the time). Knowing how much we both loved our jobs, I was worried about one of us having to sacrifice a career we loved.
Thankfully, Joe’s company ended up giving him a work territory in eastern Iowa, meaning we could live halfway in between his territory and my work. And since that meant I would be over an hour from work, my company allowed me to work two days a week from home in order to save money and my sanity.
Initially, it was a little difficult to adjust to working at home. So many distractions, poor internet connection at home, you get the picture. Thankfully, Joe and I discovered that a building right across the street from our apartment rents out office cubicles. I can promise you that once we decided to rent out a space, my work situation improved immensely. It’s so nice to be able to have a little work/life separation during the days I work from home, and I feel as if I get so much more accomplished.
Of course on the days I work from home, I have two extra hours on my hands (!!) In the morning, I use my extra hour to get caught up on blog work, do laundry or clean up around the house. And in the evening, I usually spend my extra hour preparing meals that are a little above and beyond what I would normally make on a weeknight.
This week I put my efforts into making this Maple Glazed Grilled Chicken for Joe*, paired with homemade mashed potatoes, which I never make. The sauce that goes atop these chicken breasts is incredibly easy to make and packed with flavor. If you have even more time to spare, I imagine that this sauce would make a great marinade for the chicken a couple hours before putting it on the grill. But, if you’re anything like me, planning that far in advance is not going to happen. In that case, using it as a barbecue sauce (as in the recipe below) works out nicely, too.
*For those of you wondering, I made myself roasted kale and roasted sweet potato fries with cumin and ground mustard.
Maple Glazed Grilled Chicken
Loosely adapted from Cooking Light magazine
*1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half width wise to make two thin chicken breasts
*Salt and ground black pepper
*1/4 cup maple syrup
*1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
*2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
*1 tsp. dried oregano
*1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
*1/2 tsp. Worcheshire sauce
*2 tablespoons ketchup
*Preheat grill to medium high.
*Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Set aside.
*In a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat, combine the maple syrup, chicken broth, garlic, oregano, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently with a silicone pastry brush or rubber spatula. Add in the worcheshire sauce and ketchup and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced slightly and the mixture has thickened to resemble thin barbecue sauce. Remove from heat.
*Brush chicken breasts with some of the sauce. Lightly grease the rack of your grill with nonstick cooking spray.
*Place chicken breasts on grill and brush with some more of the sauce. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip chicken. Brush with some more of the sauce. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until chicken is cooked through and no pink remains. Remove from grill. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Hi again! How was your weekend? Joey and I spend a bunch of time watching football, like four games worth. Since it’s the playoffs and all, we figure we’re justified spending hours on the couch for the next few weekends knowing the dreadful stretch of football-less weekends is coming up quickly.
A tried and true Florida Gators fan, I am still basking in the glow of the Denver Broncos-Pittsburgh Steelers game and the glory that is watching Tim Tebow pass for 316 (!!) yards. Call me obsessed and color me blue and orange.
Since we were watching so much football and entirely too absorbed to cook real meals, I did a little dump-and-stir meal for Sunday lunch that actually turned out to taste fantastic. Or so says my husband, who ate it in front of the television. The chicken was fall-apart tender and the potatoes were soft and spicy. Just the way a no-fuss stew should be.
Serves 2 to 3
*2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
*1 standard-size jar of medium salsa
*1 (8- to 9- ounce) cans corn kernels, drained
*1 large baking potato (russet) cut into cubes
*1/2 cup water
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. dried oregano
*Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
*Additional oregano (optional)
*In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, combine all the above ingredients except for the cheese and additional dried oregano. Cook on low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken pulls apart easily with a fork and the potatoes are tender.
*Spoon mixture into bowls with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with shredded cheese and additional dried oregano, if desired.
I can hardly believe that 2012 is already here and 2011 is just a memory. While I spent the most of last week and this past weekend sick with a killer cold, we did manage to have a little bit of fun ringing in the new year.
Joey’s sister and brother-in-law, Amber and Jake, along with baby Baylen, as well as Joey’s brother, Jason and his fiancé, Ali, all made the trip to Grinnell to stay with us for the long weekend. Since I was a slacker with my camera, I’ll have to wait for Amber to send some photos my way before posting a recap of our weekend. Today, since I was still feeling pretty under the weather, we spent most of the day laying low and watching football. It’s what Nutmeg does best…
Typically, when we have people over, I stress out about preparing meals. It’s not the cooking that gets me worked up as much as the combination of cooking and enjoying myself in the process of it all. I’m a bit of a work in process where entertaining is concerned.
Joey, realizing this, said he wanted me to pick easy meals that didn’t require much stressing about. And since I wasn’t feeling like myself with this cold, I was more than happy to stick with quick and easy. French toast for breakfast, make your own sandwiches and fresh fruit for lunch, and my mom’s chili with homemade cornbread for dinner on New Year’s Eve.
Although my mom wouldn’t brag about her chili, it really is something special. First, because it’s thick, hearty and filling. Second, because it’s unbelievably easy and comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s easily adaptable for vegetarians, too, if you leave out the ground beef.
Of course, you can make this chili in advance and allow the flavors to meld together as the simmer on the stovetop, it’s entirely up to you and when your company wants to eat.
Easy Three Bean Beef Chili
*2 lbs. lean ground beef or ground turkey
*1 large (30 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
*1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
*1 (30 oz.) can Mrs. Grimes Chili Beans, undrained
*1 (15 oz.) can black beans, undrained
*1 (15 oz.) can white kidney beans or white great northern beans, undrained
*2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder, depending on how hot you like your chili
*Salt and pepper to taste
*In a large stockpot over medium high heat, brown ground beef or ground turkey. Drain off fat.
*Add remaining ingredients to the stockpot. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.
First off, WOW! I’m trilled that so many of you entered the giveaway. Reading what everyone was thankful for was amazing and really pushed me to think more about what I’m thankful for. The winner of the giveaway is Star Van Gelder. Star, please e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll work out the details to get you your knife!
One of Joey’s all-time favorite meals is spaghetti and meatballs. And although I don’t have even an ounce of Italian in me, I do think I make a pretty mean version. Growing up, my favorite meal was when my mom would make what we called porcupine meatballs. They were large meatballs filled with rice and baked in the oven. We actually ate our meatballs with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies instead of atop pasta and it was amazingly delicious.
For the past couple years I’ve been making meatballs simmered in marinara sauce for optimal flavor and to maintain moisture, which is especially important when you are cooking with something leaner such as ground turkey.
Healthier Turkey Meatballs
*2 slices whole wheat bread
*1/3 cup skim or low-fat milk
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 lb. ground turkey
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 (28-ounce) jar tomato-basil marinara sauce or other preferred marinara sauce
*4 to 6 servings whole wheat angel hair pasta, prepared according to package instructions (optional)
*In a large bowl, soak the whole wheat bread in the milk. Crumble up the bread with your fingers into small pieces. Add in the egg, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the turkey and work mixture together with your hands until evenly combined.
*Form turkey mixture into meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
*In a very large skillet (that has a lid) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs to the oil in the pan. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. Meatballs should have a crisp golden crust on both sides. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains.
*Serve atop the whole wheat angel hair pasta. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.