Thursday, June 27, 2013

Winner, Winner! Pork Chop Dinner!

WOW! It's been a while since my last post, hasn't it? We were actually in Moline, IL last week replacing the roof on a church there. 
It was hard work and it was HOT, but it makes you feel good to help people out, especially when they are so appreciative as this bunch was. Talk about a long ride! It took our group 18 hours to get there, but the scenery wasn't all that bad, see?
We had a great time, but, boy have I been tired! I think I am finally getting back into the zone, though.

By the way, if you're ever in the Quad Cities Area, you HAVE TO eat at Miss Mamie's! That place was wonderful! We found out about it by searching for restaurants on Trip Advisor. Miss Mamie's had great reviews from others, so we went there and almost everyone in our 11 person party ordered something different and it was all amazing! (You can read my review on Yelp here.) I had the coconut shrimp (that looked more like prawns!) and the spinach salad. The homemade poppy seed dressing on the spinach salad was absolutely mind blowing! The waitress, who was very patient with all of us Southerners :), was not budging on the girl! If you're ever in the area, trust me, you won't be disappointed!

On the way home, we stopped in Metropolis, IL for gas. (We ate at The Grill just off Ferry Street. The food there was also delicious, so if you like Mexican/American, give them a shot, too.) If you are scratching your heads thinking, "Metropolis? Isn't that where Clark Kent a.k.a.Superman lives?"  You bet it is! This little town is the official Home of Superman. On Superman Square, there is a huge bronze statue of your truly, but just in case you don't believe me, here's proof:
That's us posing with the big guy! The town really is cool and there's even a museum if you have time to look around (we didn't.) Anyway, it was a neat photo op. (FYI: Dippin' Dots is directly across the street, just sayin'!)

Now, on with the pork chop dinner! So, since we've been gone, we've eaten a lot of food out, so I wanted to fix a good meal at home this evening, but I didn't know what I wanted. I found some pork chops in the freezer and sat them out to thaw. At lunch, I Googled pork chop recipes and I found this simple recipe for Cornmeal Crusted Pork Chops at Elly Says Opa!

Y'all, This is one of the best pork chop recipes I've had in a long time! Allow me to share it with you. You will need:
4 boneless pork chops (about 3/4" thick)
1 c. cornmeal
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1/8 c. canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs.
Season your pork chops with a little salt and pepper, dredge through the egg, then coat in the cornmeal mixture. (I prefer to repeat this process for a thicker batter. You don't have to, but it does produce a thicker crust.)

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the chops. Brown on each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer the chops to an oven-safe baking dish. 

Cover the dish with foil, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees. 
(I know. Some of you are cringing at the thought of this, but the USDA lowered the standard from 160 degrees a few years back. Reference.)
Serve these babies up with some mashed potatoes and baked beans and it really doesn't get much better than this!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Try It Tuesday

Today's "Try It Tuesday" is gonna be a little bit different. I have a cool, new product that I want to share with all of you that I think you're gonna love: Fitbit Flex.

For those of you who don't know what this little baby is- don't feel bad- I didn't either until I read this article back in May. I really didn't know all that much about personal fitness trackers, but my sister says that our cousin was talking about them last Christmas. (I'll blame that lost memory on the tryptophan in the turkey.)
Anyway, these little gadgets tell you how many steps you take, how many calories you burn and (some) even track your sleeping habits. The Fitbit Flex does all these things and more. (It measures your BMI AND has a silent alarm to wake you up on time!) all for $99!
Cool, right? But why did I feel like I had to have one, you ask...great question! Actually, since I have been using My Fitness Pal to track my physical activity and daily caloric intake, I thought the Fitbit would be a great compliment to this habit. In fact, one thing that actually "sold" me on the Flex is that it is integrated with My Fitness Pal. For example, when I enter my daily calories into My Fitness Pal, it sends this information to Fitbit. Also, when Fitbit senses that I have run or jogged, it syncs the calories burned to MFP. If you have ever used MFP to enter calories burned, you will appreciate how helpful this is!
The Flex has tiny little lights to let you know how close you are to achieving the goals you set. Your default goal is to walk 10,000 steps (a.k.a. 5 miles!). You can access your progress by tapping twice on the Flex.

Each light indicates 20%, so at the time this picture was taken, I was 60% complete. The fact that I can wear something that can update me immediately on my goal status really keeps me motivated to keep moving...because, sometimes, I need a reminder.

When it's time to go to sleep, quickly tap the Flex for a few seconds until it blinks, vibrates and fades out. This indicates that the Flex is in sleep mode and is assuming that you are, too. When you wake up in the morning, you "wake" the Flex by tapping it the same way you did when you put it in sleep mode. This time, however, it will flash and blink letting you know it's ready to go when you are!
You can choose to set the silent alarm to wake you so that you don't bother your sleeping spouse. I actually tried that this morning and was really surprised how the vibration on my wrist woke me up immediately.
(I did set the alarm clock, just in case.)

A few things to know about the device:
It will work best if you can sync on the go, so if you have an iPhone or Android device, chances are it'll work smoothly for you! (You can check here to be sure your phone is supported.) Otherwise, if you're not mobile syncing, you will have to wait until you get home to sync with the USB dongle (included) in your computer.

Another thing that you might like to know about is that the wristband clasp is a tad bit difficult to snap closed. (Large and small bands are included, but if you need an XL you can purchase it online.)
Since the Flex is meant to be worn 24/7, be sure it fits comfortably before you fasten it closed, because it is a headache to take off and on.
Oh yeah, the standard band colors are black and slate gray/blue, but you can order different colors to match your wardrobe if that's your bag. They come in orange, sea foam and navy.

One more thing to note is that the Flex will need to be charged approximately every 5 days, so if you are going out of town, be sure to pack the charger.

As you can see, it is USB based, so you can plug it in your computer or laptop. I'm not sure if you can use the USB port in your car or car charger, so try that at your own risk...

What I already LOVE about the Flex:
I have officially had the flex for 24 hours now and I already feel like I have gotten my money's worth out of it.I pulled up my "dashboard" (the online overview of activity) to see how well it was syncing with my iPhone and I was surprised to find that it was doing quite well! But that's not the best part...The best part is that I got to see how well I slept last night. See?

Notice the red lines. They mean that I woke up during the night and the darn thing knew it! The funny thing is that I actually remember waking up during most of those times. At 4am, Lucy was snoring her little face off and I had to keep nudging her to get her to stop, At 5:40am, I woke up and made the hubs' breakfast before he left for work. The 6:40 and beyond lines were me hitting the snooze button until I finally got up at 7:00 and woke the Flex up.
Mind. Blown.

The step tracker is actually pretty accurate, too. For example, here are my steps for the morning:

See where I got up to make breakfast and then went back to bed? This would be perfect for sleepwalkers to see how much ground they cover during a night, right?

 I could say SO much more, but we all have things to do and places to go, so there's my song of praise for the Fitbit Flex! Here's what others have had to say about it:
"Flex is the most complete product of its kind you can buy." -cnet

"Nearly flawless,,,There are a lot of sleep and activity trackers to choose from right now, but none better than the Fitbit Flex." -Wired Magazine
"Flex is the must-have wearable fitness device of 2013...Flex is the new device to beat for people looking to take charge of their health." -Laptop
"The $99 Fitbit Flex is the best you'll find. It's extremely comfortable, very competitively priced, stylish, simple, and most inportant of all, comes with all the benefits of a web account." -PC Mag

I can't wait to see how it does for the next 29 days!
Have I convinced you to get one, yet? Then, click here to order yours! If you still need more information or would like to do a bit more research, click here, here and here.
Flex out.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Try It Tuesday

Today's post has been in the works for a while. I really should have shared this with y'all a long time ago, butlike I always say- better late than never. I made this dish from a recipe I found on Pinterest, and it was SO easy, I really couldn't find any way to make it any simpler! You can't beat that, right?

Another great thing about this recipe is that it's versatile and you can easily modify it for fewer portions.

Here's the recipe for 4 servings:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (a package of tenderloins work well, too!)
1/4 c. Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
1/4 c. real bacon pieces
1 c. shredded Colby Jack cheese (or any other blend)
1-14 oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained OR any salsa of your choice

When cooking for two, I obviously cut the recipe in half proportionally, but you can suit it to your taste any way you like!

(I like to cook these in foil packets, but you can bake it in a regular baking pan as you would any other chicken dish.)
Preheat the oven to the 350 degree standard.
Take the chicken breasts (that you've wisely soaked overnight in buttermilk- for those who know) season them with s+p and lay them on individual  aluminum foil strips. Then cover them with 1 Tbs of BBQ sauce, the salsa, bacon pieces and finish off with the cheese.

(Pic taken before cheese and bacon pieces, sorry! I'm an eager beaver!)
Fold up the foil packet, or cover the chicken with a sheet of foil if you are using a baking dish, and bake for at least 30 minutes. Remember if you soaked the chicken overnight in the buttermilk, there's no chance the chicken will dry out, so just be sure to cook long enough for the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees.

Ok, so there you have it! Simple and easy!

Here are other ways you can modify this recipe:
-You can grill it with all the toppings, then put it in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
-Use whatever you have on hand! If you don't have salsa or Ro-Tel, dice up a tomato with a few jalapeno slices.
-Once the chicken is cooked, you can cover with shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream.
-If you don't have any shredded cheese on hand, use a slice of sandwich cheese.
The possibilities really are endless!
Also cool, is that you can serve this with just about anything! I chose green beans and mac n cheese, but you could serve it over a bed of whole grain rice (the chicken will be very juicy) or mashed potatoes. The most important thing is really to just have fun with it and make it your own!