Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice

Guess who’s back?  Back again?  Rookie’s back…tell a friend!  Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back…

Ok, that was a total college flashback, but, I’M BACK!!  Wow, life has been CRAZY in The Rookie Baker household, most of which has been the good kind of crazy, but crazy nonetheless.  Shortly after I wrote my last post (8 months ago…), we made the crazy decision to sell our house and buy my in-law’s house in a town 20 minutes away.  What we didn’t expect was for that house to sell in less than 3 weeks, during the husband’s busy travel season.  We survived it, and in early June we finally moved to our new home!  It is much smaller and the kitchen leaves much to be desired (sooooo hoping to do a kitchen renovation in the semi-near future), but we love it here!  My in-laws live 5 minutes away (a good thing for sure!) and our boys have already made friends in our new town.

Speaking of those boys, both of them have had birthdays since my last post!  I am the proud mom of a 5 year old and a 2 year old.  Crazy.  Our oldest started kindergarten in September and is enjoying a swim class four nights a week.  That alone keeps me busy, but then add in the tiny one’s therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, library story hours, weekly mommy and me swim class, volunteering for the PTA, and the husband’s hectic travel schedule, and I swear all I do is run around like a crazy person!  Cooking has certainly taken a back burner over the last, well, 8 months, but I’m slowly getting back in the kitchen!  Because our schedule is chaotic most weeks, I’ll likely be posting a good number of weeknight friendly recipes that are kid (and adult) tested and approved.

Enough about me, let’s talk about this recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice.  We are HUGE Chipotle fans, and were thrilled when one opened in our old town just five minutes from our house.  Let’s just say we may have singlehandedly kept them in business as we navigated the chaos of selling our house.  I love their burrito bowls and was on the hunt for a recipe I could make at home so I could recreate this family favorite.  Skinny Taste to the rescue!  This rice tastes exactly like the rice at Chipotle, and dare I say it, perhaps even better.  I make this at least once a week as the base for burrito bowls.  Stay tuned for a few great slow cooker recipes that pair perfectly with this rice!  On its own or as the base of a burrito bowl, this rice is truly a family favorite!

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice
1/2 lime, juiced
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
3 tsp vegetable oil

In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed.

Source:  Skinny Taste

Skillet Pork Chops with Rice and Parsley Butter

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With our schedules as hectic as they’ve been lately, I’ve not done a great job of getting dinner on the table.  We’ve certainly kept the local restaurants in business as of late.  You know it’s bad when my tiny man, who is normally a big fan of Chinese takeout, politely requests a ham and cheese sandwich over chicken with broccoli.  Or, when the husband comes upstairs after work and doesn’t ask what’s for dinner, but where we’re ordering from tonight.  So, in an effort to minimize complaining and save our budget and waistlines, I’ve been on a quest to find quick weeknight meals that are healthy and delicious.

One thing I always have on hand in the freezer is pork chops.  I always stock up when the local grocery store has the buy one get one free sales.  When I saw this recipe, I was intrigued.  On the table in 30 minutes AND the side dish is included?  Count me in!  This was such a simple dinner to make, and, much to my surprise, full of flavor and delicious!  Everyone enjoyed it, even baby boy who, up until two months ago, wouldn’t eat anything other than baby food and yogurt.  That’s a win in my book!

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup long-grain white rice
4 (6- to 8-oz) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons of the butter together with the parsley. Set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine 1 cup of the chicken broth and the rice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 6-7 minutes, or until the liquid has been completely absorbed (note: all microwaves vary, so keep an eye and maybe check yours early just in case). Be very careful when you remove the plastic wrap from the bowl, the steam is super hot!

While the rice is cooking, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. Cut two slits, about 2 inches apart, in the fat cap around the outside edge of each pork chop (this will prevent them from curling up as they cook). Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it’s melted and the pan is hot, add the chops. Brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes total. Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.

Add the final tablespoon of butter to the skillet and melt, then add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and thyme, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the rice and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, the nestle the pork chops and any accumulated juices in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook for 10-14 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the pork is cooked to your desired doneness (it should register at least 145 F on an instant read thermometer). Top the pork with the parsley butter when serving.

Source:  Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, orginially from Cooks Country, August/September 2011

Lemon Chicken

I know, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated here…my laptop met an unfortunate end a few weeks ago. I normally do my blog updates from the comfort of my favorite chair with my trusty laptop, and I’m usually feeling too lazy to sit in my office to use the desktop computer once I FINALLY have the kids in bed, so my posts have certainly been lacking. However, my cooking has not been lacking, and I’m very excited to share this recipe with you!

As soon as I saw this on Tracey’s blog, I IMMEDIATELY added it to my meal plan. I love lemon in just about any dish where lemon could be appropriate, and for all of the recipes I’ve tried with lemon, this one is at the very, very top of my favorites list. The chicken was tender and delcious, and the lemon sauce was bright and flavorful. Served with a a side of some fantastic green beans (recipe coming soon!), this made a quick and healthy weeknight dinner that will certainly frequent our dinner table.

Lemon Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz each)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 lemon slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Place the chicken on a cutting board. Working with one breast at a time, place your hand on top and use a sharp knife to cut the breast in half horizontally, to make two thinner chicken cutlets. (Don’t worry if they’re not perfectly even, mine never are!) Place each cutlet between two sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or skillet to pound to 1/4-inch thickness.

Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and pepper. Lightly dredge each cutlet in flour, shaking off the excess.

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil to the pan. Once the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Reduce the heat to medium, and add the chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any brown bits. Add the lemon slices to the sauce and let sit undisturbed for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the parsley and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve (you can garnish with the lemon slices if desired).

Source:  Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Southern Living (via MyRecipes)

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I’m very happy to have found yet another “take-out fake-out” recipe!  Sweet and Sour Chicken is another one of my Chinese buffet favorites, but I usually only get a few pieces since it’s deep fried and the sauce, while yummy, is full of sugar.  This version is loaded with peppers and pineapple, something the restaurant version is usually lacking, and instead of deep frying the chicken, it sits in a cornstarch and egg white mixture for 15 minutes and is cooked quickly in a bit of canola oil.  Of course, the best part is that we all enjoyed this!  I picked out the peppers, the toddler man picked out the pineapple, and the husband happily accepted our cast offs.  I will most certainly make this again soon!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 egg white
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks (I used chicken breasts)
One (10 oz) can pineapple chunks (reserve the juice)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 to 3 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 2)
2 Tbsp high heat cooking oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks

In a bowl, whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat evenly.  Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

In the meantime, whisk together 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, ginger, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt.

Set a wok or large saute pan over high heat.  When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in 1 Tbsp of the oil and swirl to coat.  Add the red and yellow bell peppers and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from the wok onto a plate.  Wipe the wok or pan dry.

Return the wok to the stove on high heat.  When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in the reamining 1 Tbsp of oil and swirl to coat.  Add the chicken, spreading it out in one layer.  Let the chicken fry, untouched, for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned.  Flip and fry the otehr side the same for 1 minute.  The chicken should still be pinkish in the middle.

Add the cooked bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and the pineapple juice mixture.  Let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Source:   The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, page 106

Mongolian Beef

I must be on a major Chinese food kick lately, because this is the second of three “take-out fake-out” recipes I’ve tried in the last week or so (stay tuned for a fabulous sweet and sour chicken recipe later this week!).  I’m a sucker for Chinese take-out, as are the husband and tiny man, and we’ve had more than our fair share since the baby made his debut.  As much as we enjoy that take-out, it’s really not that great for you, and so I’m continually on the lookout for a healthier alternative.  Enter this unbelievably good Mongolian Beef. 

Though I’ve never had the restaurant version of this before, I can imagine this is a much tastier, and most certainly healthier, version.  The sauce had a nice flavor with a good kick from the red pepper flakes, and it took me less than 15 minutes to get on the table.  The husband has already requested that I make this again very, very soon, and I’m sure I can oblige that request!  The only change I made was using sirloin instead of flank steak because that’s what I had, and I also didn’t use the green onions as the ones I bought met an unfortunate demise in my refrigerator (I’ll spare you the details).

Mongolian Beef

1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup of cornstarch
3 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar (measured, not packed)
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large green onion, sliced thinly

Pat steak slices dry and add to a bowl with corn starch. Toss to ensure all pieces are just coated. Shake off excess corn starch using a strainer.

Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large wok or non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger, stir until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Turn the heat to high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Pour the sauce back into the wok and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the green onions (a pinch reserved for garnish), stir, and remove from heat. Plate, top with remaining onions, and serve.

Source:  Confections of a Foodie Bride, orginially from Pink Bites

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce

My mom HATES any kind of fruit pared with meat, so growing up, the thought always disgusted me as well.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to be more intrigued by the combination and have set out to try some savory dishes that incorporate fruit as well.  I bookmarked this recipe awhile ago knowing the husband would probably love it, and I finally got around to making it, thanks to the dried cherries I had leftover from my planned Christmas baking that never happened. 

If I didn’t enjoy the meat/fruit combo before, I certainly do now!  This was phenomenal – quick, easy, and very tasty.  I had it on the table in about 15 minutes.  Absolute perfection.  The only change I made was using lean pork chops instead of the pork tenderloin because that’s what I had on hand.

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce

4 boneless pork chops, trimmed of all visible fat
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dried tart cherries

Season the pork  chops with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over a medium-high heat and cook the meat until there is just a slight blush in the center about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and tent with foil.

Add the remaining teaspoon of oil and the shallots to the pan and saute until they begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the cherries and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve.

Source:  Ellie Krieger via Food Network’s Website

Garlic Marinated Pork Chops – AKA “Robot Steak”

So, you’re wondering what in the world these pork chops have to do with “robot steak”, right?  Here’s the short story.  The toddler man was watching a Sesame Street episode that involved robots, and he spent the better part of the day I made these pretending he was a robot.  ALL.DAY.LONG.  It’s cute for about the first 10 minutes, then it gets mindnumbingly annoying.  But we never thought the day would come when robots were allowed in our home, so I roll with it.  Anyway, as I was putting these under the broiler, he exclaimed very excitedly, “Robot Joe is VERY excited for robot steak!”.  Hilarious.

Now, the reason all of this robot stuff is quite amusing is that he used to be TERRIFIED of robots.  Starting at about 18 months old, he would screech in terror every.single.time he saw a robot, especially the ones on Sesame Street.  We started recording all of the episodes and previewing them (on fast forward) after he would go to bed to make sure there were no robot episodes anywhere ever.  This lasted until about 4 months ago when he exclaimed that he now loved robots.  To the point that he has requested a robot party for his 4th birthday in June.  I’m still befuddled about this, but we’re planning a robot party for June.

By the way, these pork chops were insanely easy, and insanely good.  I like that combination.  A little bit of spicy, but still very kid friendly.  Don’t skimp on the salt either…I forgot to add it, and they would have been much, much better with it.

Garlic Marinated Pork Chops – AKA “Robot Steak”

4 (6 oz each) lean boneless pork chop
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 lime, juice of
lime zest
salt and fresh pepper

Trim any fat off pork. In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least 20 minutes.

Line broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Place pork chops on the broiler pan and broil about 4-5 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

Source:  Skinnytaste