~Feeding our Families one recipe at a time~

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Salsa and Freezing Herbs and Vegetables

We used to make our own salsa and guacamole all the time, and we eventually just stopped as life got busier. I had a really good food chopper, but gave it to Goodwill (brand new) b/c we never used it. As we've begun cooking more, we have re-realized how fun it is to prepare dinners (and snacks) together.

We love standing at our tiny kitchen counter together, chopping our own herbs and veggies. That 15 minutes or so that would other wise be "saved" by using a food chopper, is one of our favorite parts of these moments. We get busy in our own worlds, with the kids, work... but making a little snack and spending that time talking, laughing, chopping... it's good for us. Almost therapeutic. Of course, snacking on the delicious treat is most excellent as well! Do you have something like that for you or your relationship? It may even be something you do not even realize. Once you figure out what that activity might be, try and cultivate it and make it part of your weekly routine.

Salsa Recipe:

1/2 can well rinsed black beans
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped (or jalepeno if you like spicy)
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2 T vinegar (though we usually skip this)
salt to taste

Sliced avacodo, shredded cheese and chips for serving. Or serve over rice and cooked cubed seasoned chicken with corn for a "Chipotle" like meal.

Combine all, seal in airtight container and let stand for approx 30 mins for the flavors to blend together. I like to put a slice of avocado on my chip, dip in the salsa and then sprinkle on a little cheese. Delicious.

*tips... I freeze onion and herbs, and some other veggies I chop!! I only use a handful in my meals, but I put it in almost everything I make.  So, when I chop a fresh onion (or bell peper or whatever), I use what I need, then cut up the rest and put it in an airtight freezer bag and freeze. (Some veggies need to be blanched first for the best freezing, and some veggies don't freeze well at all, this link has good advice).  Of course, they are best when going to be cooked in the next meal, as they lose their crispness when they thaw, but still excellent if you are going to be using them soon.


Freezing makes it easy when cooking, just throw in a little frozen onion and it cooks just fine. For herbs, chop them up, and fill an ice cube tray with them. Cover with a bit of water and freeze. When cooking, just plop in your herbed ice cube, here's an easy tutorial with pictures at bananablender. You can do the same thing with pesto herb mixes (directions here) as well .

Vegetable Pork Chop Skillet Dinner

This is one of the tastiest and easiest dinners I have made in a while. I just went grocery shopping the night before, but wanted to use up the older veggies before they went bad to make room for the new ones. 

So, I typed into google, 'pork chops' and 'red bell pepper', found  this recipe and thought, wow, that's really easy! I added  mushrooms and altered the sauce a bit and it was perfection. The onions were easy, because I just pulled prechopped ones I had in a freezer bag already to go. We served the meal over steamed rice and had (store bought) strawberry shortcakes with fresh chopped strawberries and whipped cream for dessert.

You could substitute green beans or asparagus for the bell peppers in this easy and delicious recipe.
♥ Ingredients ♥
  • 4 (3/4 inch) thick pork loin chops
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons Girard's Caesar Dressing (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves (I used Emeril's table blend instead)
  • 1/2 tsp flour or cornstarch to thicken sauce

♥ Preparation ♥

Sprinkle chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat and add chops, onion, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes on one side, shaking pan frequently so garlic doesn't burn, then turn chops and add pepper strips and mushrooms. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes longer until pork registers 160 degrees F. Remove chops and peppers from skillet and set aside, covered to keep warm. 

Add Worcestershire sauce, water, dressing, seasonings and flour, scraping bottom of skillet with rubber spatula to loosen pan drippings. Cook until sauce thickens slightly, then return pork and vegetables to skillet. Cook for 1 minute longer to coat pork with sauce, then serve. 4 servings.