I am in a rut. A food rut.
I can cook. Really, I’m quite good at it, but somehow I find myself making the same seven or eight dinners all the time. And honestly, how many times can a person make the world’s easiest from-scratch spaghetti sauce before it stops being impressive? That’s what I make. Spaghetti. Crock pot meat. Tacos. And tacos? Not really even that much cooking. It’s mostly chopping and putting things into bowls. Woohoo.
It’s really very frustrating, but what can I do? You make what you know and if you work all the time and are really good at making excuses, you find ways to never try anything new. So there you go.
So I’ve decided to kick the habit of boring dinners. Here’s what I’m going to do: a couple days every week until the end of September, I’m going to try a new recipe. The winners will be added to the rotation, and the duds will be recycled, and who knows?! I might get a dozen new recipes out of it.
I started last night with my first new meal
Apricot Glazed Pork Chops, Brown Rice Pilaf, and Steamed Broccoli.
Nothing special about the broccoli, just steamed and finished with a little salt and butter.
The Brown Rice Pilaf was probably the most complicated, and only because it took a little advanced planning. You see, brown rice takes about 50 minutes to fully cook, and if you’re starting dinner when you get home at 6:30, it can take forever to get it on the table, at which point you’ll cave and order Chinese. The pilaf also called for toasted walnuts, and the toasting process, which not lengthy, is also a step you can do ahead of time.
Knowing this, on Sunday afternoon, when I was baking for work, I went ahead and made the rice (1 cup dry), and toasted the walnuts in the oven at 400 degrees for about 6 minutes until they were golden and fragrant. I toasted a cup of walnuts, half for the pilaf on Monday, and the other half for lunch later in the week. If you plan your meals, you really can cut down on prep.
For dinner, reheat the rice and add 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts, 1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill, 1 Tbs butter, and a handful of dried cranberries (raisins would work too). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the Pork Chops: Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and your pork chops, cooking 6-8 minutes on each side, until done. Remove the pork from the pan and add 1 Tbs aged (minimum 7 years aged!!!!!!) balsamic vinegar and 1 cup apricot preserves to the drippings. You want a glaze, but if it get’s too syrupy, add some water to thin it out a little. Cook for a minute to combine and then add the pork chops back into the pan. Turn them once and cook 1-2 minutes until coated.
Ah-maz-ing. The rice is nutty and filling, the pork chops are sweet and savory and the broccoli adds delicious texture. Dried cranberries and dill, who’dathunkit?
This meal was delicious and healthful and definitely makes it into my dinner rotation!
PS. Observant readers will notice a new button the sidebar. I recently read an article that said that technically, you’re supposed to gain permission from the original source before you pin anything to Pinterest. I didn’t know that, but as a blanket statement, you are free to pin anything of mine, without asking. Of course, I’d love for you to leave me a comment telling me you did!!!!