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Chicken, Pork Chop and Shrimp Meal Prep

When I do meal prep I try to plan on having at least one different protein in the mix to change it up. Although the sides are the same in this prep, having a different flavored protein keeps things interesting enough that I typically won’t get tired of eating the same thing as quickly. That being said, I did eventually get bored of eating the same thing after day 4. Unfortunately, I will be back to the drawing board to make the meal prep more diverse. I suggest freezing some of the ingredients for later, which I regret I didn’t do. I try to avoid freezing what I cook because I think the food becomes bland when it’s frozen then re-heated. I think this is one of the reasons you see such high sodium content in frozen foods. If you are cooking for 2 people, this is probably the perfect amount.

The key to putting this large prep together requires timing and having all your “mise en place” ready to go. The order in which you prep and cook everything will save you time and energy so you’ll feel like cooking every week is not such a chore. Plan ahead and think about what takes longest to cook and start there and work your way down to the quick cooking ingredients. I began cooking  the potatoes, rice and vegetables, then finished the proteins.

Altogether with prep and cleanup, the total cook time took me about 3 hours. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes you longer, with practice you will get faster.

Ingredients

5 ea. 4 oz Pork Chops

2 ea. 8oz Chicken Breasts

8oz. Shrimp

2 ea. Cauliflower heads

3 ea. Bell Peppers (1 Red, 1 Yellow and 1 Orange)

1 ea. Yellow Onion

1 Large bag Kale chopped

2 cups Brown Rice

3 ea. Sweet Potatoes

1 ea. Head of Garlic

2 Tbsp Red Chili Flakes

1/4 cp White wine

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp un-salted butter

Directions

Brown Rice

Rinse brown rice under water until the water rinses mostly clear.

Add cold water until it covers the knuckles on your hand when it’s placed on top of the rice.

Start rice in cooker and turn on to cook.

Once the rice is done, let it cool till room temp or put in fridge to cool quickly.

Tip: Start cooking the rice early in the morning or mid-day so you can come back to it when it’s ready.

Sweet Potatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 425°

Scrub clean sweet potatoes in cold water (3 ea. For this prep).

Dry then rub potatoes with olive oil and season with S&P.

Wrap the potatoes in foil and cook in oven 45 minutes or until tender.

When done, cool to room temp then roll-cut into bite size pieces.

Roasted Cauliflower

While sweet potatoes are cooking, chop 5 cloves of garlic and put in large bowl.

Rinse and chop cauliflower into bite size pieces.

Add cauliflower to bowl and season with red pepper flakes, S&P then toss with olive oil.

Place on cooking sheet in an even layer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 10 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool till room temp.

Pork Chops

Take 5 ea. 4oz Pork chops put on a plate and seasoned with S&P.

In a pan on med-high heat, drizzle 1 TBSP olive oil and sear all sides of the pork chops until browned.

Place seared chops in a baking pan.

In a small bowl pour 1 can of cream of mushroom soup with ½ can of water and whisk together. Once combined, spoon the soup over each pork chop then poor the rest in the pan.

Place pan in the same 425° oven and cook for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through. Cook time depends on the thickness of your chops. If you want to play it safe use a thermometer until their temp reaches 145°.

Nutrition Info: Per Serving: 210 calories; 8.5  9.6  23.6  65  924 

Peppers and Onions

Cut 1 ea. Yellow onion into slices and begin sautéing slowly on med heat.

Slice 1 ea. Red, Yellow and Orange peppers and de-seed.

Once onions are beginning to become translucent, add peppers to pan,

Continue to cook until onions and peppers become slightly carmelized, then you can remove them from the pan and put them on plate or any other container to cool.

Kale

Place a large pan or preferably a wok on medium heat.

Prepare one bag of wash and rinsed chopped kale by removing the stems. If you prefer the extra fiber, then you can leave the stems on… Extra fiber never heart anybody (don’t quote me on that) I don’t like the taste and you have to cook the kale longer.

Drizzle 1-2 TBSP olive oil in pan then add the kale. Sauté until wilted and stems are cooked through then season with S&P.

Tip: Add a couple TBSP of water to steam especially if you keep the stems on.

Once cooked through about 5-10 minutes, remove kale from pan and let cool room temp.

Chicken Breast

Butterfly 2 large 8oz ea. chicken breasts and season with S&P.

(You can use the same pan used for the onions and peppers after making sure it is wiped clean)

Place a pan on med-high heat, drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil and sear both sides of the chicken breast until browned then place in the same 425° oven

Cook for 4-5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Check temp is reaches 160-165° or until juices are clear.

Set aside on plate to let cool.

Shrimp

I used about 8oz frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled.

Set another pan on med-low heat and add 3 cloves of chopped garlic and red chili flake.

Immediately when fragrant, turn pan to med-high add shrimp then season with S&P.

Add tsp lemon juice, ¼ cup white wine then reduce by half.

Once shrimp are in a slight “C” shape and look opaque, then they’re done.

Remove the pan from heat and add 1 Tbsp room temp diced butter then stir or monté to bring sauce together.

Place in another container to cool.

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Assembly

Put out 10 large containers and then when food is cooled to at least room temp get ready to distribute.

Place 1 cup of brown rice into 5 of the containers and 1 cup sweet potatoes in the other 5.

Distribute the sautéed kale, roasted cauliflower, peppers and onions into each of the containers.

Slice and distribute the chicken breast into 4 of the containers then place one pork chop into another 4 containers with mushroom sauce spooned over each chop.

Distribute the garlic shrimp in the remaining 2 containers.

Optional* Sprinkle sliced scallions on top of each dish if you like for a garnish.

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Exotics at Redmond Town Center (RTC)

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First off, I just want to say what an amazing FREE event this is for everyone in the car and local community. If you love cars as much as I do, then you have to make it a point to wake up early on one sunny Saturday morning during the summer to look at some beautiful machines. I made it to almost every weekend to grab a coffee, walked around and admired the scenery. There’s no better way to start a Saturday in my opinion.

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The Exotics at RTC all started by founders Paul Bunn, Greg James and Jason Stutzman back in 2008 when the gathering would take place in Old Main Street in Bellevue Washington. Logistically that location was not ideal for parking and large gatherings of people, so it’s popularity eventually faded away. That was until two event goers, Tom Nault and Victor Tiscarino planned to resolve those issues by seeking out a new venue and keep the meet going. Long story short, after the two found their ideal location at Redmond Town Center mall, the car meet was reborn.

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If you have a car that you would like to show there, keep in mind the event planners are very selective. The term exotic means the car should be rare, not a daily driver you see on the highway on your way to work. You are not going to find many tuner cars here, but that doesn’t mean that the event is restricted to just Lamborghinis and Ferraris. If you have a car that you are proud of, reach out to the event coordinators to find out if it meets their criteria.

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Exotics at RTC promotes specific event days such as German and Italian specific manufacturers to be on display. If you plan on going, I highly suggest going to one of these special event days because they are typically bigger and show cars within the RTC promenade itself. Also keep in mind the event only happens if there is a minimal chance of rain in the forecast. If you are a local you already probably know to check the forecast, but be sure to also visit their blog before you consider attending. I have a link to exotics at RTC website below, check it out for more details.

https://www.exoticsat.com/

 

 

 

 

Hiking Mount Pilchuk

The drive from my home in Kirkland takes about 1 ½ hours to the Mt Pilchuk trailhead. It is a scenic drive through Lake Stevens and Granite falls. Lake Stevens is where the actor Chris Pratt is from if you didn’t already know. My buddy who went hiking with me kept reminding us of this fact for some reason and now it’s stuck in my head. The last 3 miles to the trailhead is mostly dirt road with occasional large potholes. If you have all wheel drive with good ground clearance, this shouldn’t be an issue for you. If you’re driving a car you will have to go slower to avoid some of the large potholes. You can get by fine without all-wheel drive, it just gives you more assurance. In the winter time the trail gets a good amount of snow, so you definitely want all wheel drive available. I recommend picking up a forest pass at the ranger station if you don’t have one. Unless you don’t mind the $5 ticket you will receive for not having one like I did. Woops!

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The hike itself I would so is moderate to difficult. Most of the trail is well kept, has stairs, ladders and rocks to climb which makes it easier. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. As you get towards the top, it gets more challenging as you have to scramble across rocks to reach the fire look-out spot.

pilchuk firelookout

 

Dogs cannot reach the very top unless you are brave and they are small enough to carry. I would recommend leaving your dog at the bottom where it is much safer. Unfortunately, we were surrounded by clouds so we didn’t get the view we hoped for, but now I am determined to come back on a clear day because you can tell the view would be amazing. Overall, I give this hike a 4.5 out of 5 for how much I enjoyed it.

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We stopped in Granite Falls on the way back for a beer and bite to eat. The place we went is called Buzz Inn Steakhouse. I highly recommend going here if you hungry or thirsty after your hike. It’s nothing fancy but affordable prices, good menu and everything tasted great. You will thank me later.

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$6 Mug of beer at Buzz Inn Steakhouse

Buzz Inn Steakhouse website below:

http://www.buzzinnsteakhouse.com/home.html

If you want additional details of the hike, I shared the WTA website link below. I

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-pilchuck

Featured Image credit: Norm Buckley

Protein Balls

I know I know… Balls am I right? Nothing funnier than offering a family member or friends to try your balls. Who can forget the NPR skit on Saturday Night Live about Schweddy balls? Anyway, I’ll try to spare you some of my child-like humor and tell you about my balls. They are a great snack and if you eat protein bars and stuff like that, it’s a great alternative. I just store them in the fridge or take them with me for a quick snack. People will envy your balls in public as they should. This recipe makes about 15-20 balls depending on size and will typically last for a couple days. You don’t want your balls hanging around more than a week, keep your balls fresh.

Ingredients

1 ½ cp Oats

½ cp vanilla protein powder

1 TBSP Chia Seeds

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup smooth peanut butter (Natural/Organic just about any nut butter will work)

3 TBSP Honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate chips cut in half (or try dried fruit cut in small pieces easy to roll into balls)

4 TBSP almond milk (Add more if mix is too dry)

Instructions

  1. Add dry ingredients, oats, protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, chocolate chips to mixing bowl.
  2. Add “wet” ingredients, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, almond milk.
  3. Mix together with spoon or dampen your hands with water to keep your hands from getting sticky.
  4. Use a small scoop or two tablespoons to measure out balls onto a parchment paper or plate (parchment paper works best because these balls are sticky).

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5. Using your hands, roll balls to uniform ball shape and store in the fridge in an air tight container.

6. The balls can be eaten immediately for all to enjoy.

Falafel with Tahini Yogurt Sauce

I am a big fan of Middle eastern/Mediterranean foods and flavors. My first job in a what most would consider professional kitchen was in an upscale Mediterranean restaurant. I still have occasional work nightmares from my time working there because I was very green, but eventually moved up to one of the lead chefs. In the time I spent there, it introduced me to some dishes and recipes that I was familiar with so I learned a lot.  Recipes using grape leaves like dolmas,  tzatziki, escalivada,  Spanish tapas and sauces like romesco and charmoula were new to me but became some of my favorites.

I do not believe we ever had falafel on the menu, I believe it’s more of a middle-eastern recipe, but you can usually order it at a Greek restaurant. Also, I recently have been trying to eat less protein from animals and more vegetarian dishes. Not planning on going vegetarian or vegan or anything like that but I don’t feel the need to eat meat every day. Falafel is a filling dish in which I really don’t miss not having meat in.

This is a recipe I recently tried that you can use for lunch, dinner or prep out for a meal plan week and assemble as you go. When I made this, I prepped some accompaniments like sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green onions, mixed greens, just so I could quickly throw it together in a pita for a sandwich or together as a salad and take it to work.

Falafel

1 lb. dry Chickpeas

1 small Onion small diced

¼ cup Italian parsley chopped

5 Cloves Garlic minced

2 Tbsp flour or chickpea flour

1 ¾ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground cardamom

Vegetable oil for frying

For the tahini lime dressing
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions for Falafel

  1. Put the chickpeas in a large container or jar and cover with water at least 3 inches over the top. Let the chickpeas soak overnight at least 6-8hrs.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas after they have completed soaking. In a food processor combine remaining ingredients except the vegetable oil used for frying. I do drizzle about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in the mix as well to help combine everything.
  3. Pulse the ingredients until a coarse consistency is reached. Kind of like a “wet sand” consistency.
  4. Once the desired consistency is reached and you can make a test ball to see if it will form well, then cover and let it sit in the fridge for about 1-2hrs.
  5. When ready, fill a deep skillet with 1 ½ inches of cooking oil (Vegetable, Peanut, Grapeseed etc.). Put on medium-low heat.
  6. While the oil is heating, use a medium sized scoop or 2 Tbsp to scoop the falafel mixture to 1-2-inch sized servings. You can make them bigger or smaller for your preference.
  7. After the mixture has been all portioned out, lightly wet your hands and roll the falafel into balls so they are uniform in size and won’t fall apart when frying.
  8. Turn the heat up to medium and start by putting 1 ball of falafel in to fry. This will help to make sure your oil is up to temp before adding the remaining falafel.
  9. Flip the balls half-way through cooking until golden brown on both sides.
  10. Pull the falafel from the oil with a slotted spoon or spatula and let dry on paper towel.

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Yogurt Tahini Dressing

  1. Whisk together Tahini, Yogurt, Garlic, Lime Juice,  olive oil, jalapeno (optional) salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Whisk in 1 Tbsp of water at a time if the dressing is too thick.

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Assembly 

To assemble, you can put in pita bread smeared with yogurt dressing, cucumber, kalamta olives, tomatoes, green onions, feta cheese, mixed greens. Drizzle more dressing if preferred on top.

Or alternatively place all ingredient on a bed of mixed greens for a falafel salad. I tried both variations with this recipe, you really can’t go wrong with either.

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