Tropical Shrimp Salad

You learn something new every day!  Did you know that the same substance that makes people allergic to poison ivy is in the skin of a mango?  I have spent my entire relationship with my hubby refraining from eating mango because he had a reaction to it.  Well, we just found out that it’s just the peel of it, so as long as I had it all prepared we could enjoy it!  Thank goodness, because this meal was delicious!  As the weather is warming up, fresh crisp salads seem to taste even better than usual!

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Grilled Citrus Brined Pork Chops

Brining has got to be the best thing you can do to a pork chop! It’s so easy and you can throw in whatever you want! Today’s brine started off as an experiment and turned into a culinary masterpiece! Make sure you give your chops a three hour bath. Don’t over brine though, you will wind up with mushy pork!
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Ingredients:
2 large pork chops (I used center cut boneless)
2 cups hot water
3 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Honey
2 smashed cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 orange sliced very thin
5 sprigs thyme

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together water, salt, and honey until Salt is dissolved. Add garlic, peppercorns, orange, and thyme and refrigerate until cold.
2. Place pork chops in a gallon ziplock bag and pour brine over them. Get all of the air out of the bag, seal, and refrigerate for three hours.
3. When ready to grill, preheat grill to medium high heat. Grill chops for 4-5 minutes per side.

Note: I like salty meat. If you are not a fan of salt, rinse brine off chops with cold water before grilling.

Broiled Spicy Shrimp and Scallops

The hardest part of developing recipes if deciding which ingredients to use. Walking into the grocery store with no plan is not a fun task for me. I knew I had spinach at home that I wanted to use, and luckily that gave me some guidance. The seafood department was calling to me! I have a weakness for scallops and shrimp, so dinner jumped out at me! Super easy to prep, quick to cook, and delicious to eat! Serve it with a side of Perfect Sautéed Spinach, and you get an awesome healthy meal!!20141122-080332.jpg
Ingredients:
1/2 pound bay scallops
1/2 pound shrimp – peeled, deveined, tail on
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Cayenne pepper to taste

1. Turn on broiler.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir shrimp and scallops in. Transfer to a broiler proof pan (I am afraid to use Pyrex in the broiler, so I used my brownie pan). Sprinkle cayenne pepper on top (I like it spicy so I went very generous).
3. Broil for 12 minutes or until seafood begins to slightly brown.

Perfect Sautéed Spinach

Sometimes figuring out a paleo side dish is downright tedious. Most recipes are the same old thing you have each night, or so complicated that it is exhausting to prepare after all the work you put in to the main dish. Not this one! So easy, so quick, so delicious! Warning: spinach cooks down big time! You may wish to double up!
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Ingredients:
1 9 oz bag of spinach
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
2. Add spinach, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover.
3. Cook while shaking pot to stir it up every now and then until spinach is wilted (less than 5 minutes). Do not over cook! No one likes mushy spinach!

Spiced Up Portuguese Cockles

My husband had been traveling through Korea and China on business for two weeks. Obviously, I was going to make whatever he wanted when he returned to welcome him home. Through Skype, I asked him what he was craving after eating deep fried everything in China. He said that everything I blogged while he was away looked so good and he was looking forward to anything healthy again. I then got him to narrow that down. He wanted cockles.

Mmmmmm cockles! My man is very lucky to have married a Portuguese girl! I grew up watching both my Vovo (grandmother) and mother cook incredible creations in the kitchen with such ease. These ladies never ever had to follow recipes. They would just create culinary masterpieces. I like to think that growing up exposed to this is what has instilled in me my love of cooking. Following in their footsteps, I don’t use recipes either…I create them.

I wish my Vovo were around to see my creations. She passed away in 1999, before I ever even fathomed that I would be blogging. I credit my love of cooking to those hours I spent watching her seamlessly make meals to feed our family.

Not all supermarkets and fish markets will have cockles. Quite frankly, I have no clue where to purchase them other than the Portuguese supermarket called Seabras. I am pretty sure that Seabras does not exist outside of New Jersey. If you can’t find cockles, this recipe would be delicious with any small clam. The smaller the better! Also, piri piri isn’t that readily accessible. I am slowly using up my supply that I got on our perfect honeymoon to the Mediterranean. Any chili powder would work as a substitution.

Without further ado, I bring you Spiced Up Portuguese Cockles!

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Ingredients:
2 pounds cockles – washed in cold water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion – chopped
5 cloves garlic – minced
2 red bell peppers – chopped
1 green bell pepper – chopped
1 cup white wine
1/4 tsp piri piri (not going to lie, I put much more in, but not everyone loves spicy food like we do!)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Over medium high heat, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and garlic, and sauté while frequently stirring until onion is translucent and garlic is lightly browned.
2. Add peppers, and cook for about 5 minutes until very fragrant.
3. Add wine and piri piri. Allow to reduce for 5 more minutes.
4. Make sure that your molho (Portuguese term that could mean any type of sauce from meat drippings to gravy) is delicious by adding salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow boil.
5. Add cockles, stir, and cover. Cook while shaking it up ever few minutes. Once all cockles are open, you are ready to serve it piping hot with some delicious Portuguese bread on the side for dipping!
6. Enjoy to the very last bite! As you can see here, my hubby sure did:
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“Breaded” Honey Mustard Pork Chops

The cold has set in here in New Jersey, so it’s time to get that oven going every night again! This recipe is so yummy that it is hard to believe that it is good for you! Everyone will want some, including the dog. Who am I kidding? The dog always wants what the humans are eating!

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Ingredients:
4 center cut boneless pork chops
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Honey Mustard Dressing (see below)

Honey Mustard Dressing – just whisk together:
2 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Coat pork chops with honey mustard dressing and place on the baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl, blend almond flour, garlic powder, and salt. Sprinkle an even coat over the chops.
4. Bake for 45 minutes. Crank up the heat to 425 and cook for 5 more, or until almond crumbs are browned.

Paleo Herbed Turkey Meatloaf

I am still feeling the need for comfort food and I am looking to unload the end of season garden veggies and herbs at the same time. This meal did the trick!

This meatloaf recipe is not only incredibly moist and delicious, but it also has hidden veggies in it to trick your pickiest of eaters! It’s so good, you may want to make a double batch to have leftovers for tomorrow!

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Ingredients:
1.5 lbs. ground turkey
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 onion – minced
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 egg
1/2 cup almond flour (not here for paleo, use bread crumbs)
2 Tbsp. Worcester sauce
3 large springs of fresh herbs (I went with rosemary, thyme, and oregano) – minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the ketchup. Use your hands, it works best! Shape into a log and place in a baking pan. Coat top with ketchup.
3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until done. Remember, ground turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees.
4. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Turkey Beet Chili

I am back! Wow, this has been a crazy busy fall for me! After the wedding excitement of the summer, I hit the ground running as I rejoined the real world. I coach in addition to teaching, so the fall season tends to be a blur for me. We started our volleyball season in mid August, and it has been non-stop since then. My husband has been incredible at picking up my cooking slack, but now I am ready to get back in the kitchen! After an undefeated volleyball season, a county championship title, 39 mile walk for breast cancer, plus bonding with my wonderful new students, I am back with more ideas than ever!

Unfortunately, our beautiful garden is turned down for winter. We picked the last of our beets, so I wanted to mix the fresh garden flavor with the comfort food of fall. Beet Chili it is!

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Ingredients:
1 medium onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large beets – peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1.5 lbs lean ground turkey
1 can chick peas – drained and rinsed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup chicken stock
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat and brown the onions and garlic. Lower heat and stir in beets.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, brown the turkey. Drain and add to the beet pot.
3. Stir in chick peas, cumin, chili powder, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Reduce to low heat, and allow to simmer for at least one hour.