Friday, March 30, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Fast Chipotle Buffalo Chicken Wraps

This week my two oldest daughters helped make the menu for the week. One was in charge of lunches and the other dinner. Sophie, my middle daughter, actually picked out the chicken wrap for lunch, but we had it as a quick dinner one night. It was a an easy and fast dinner to throw together on one of those nights that everyone doesn’t get home from their activities until later.

Sometimes on these nights it is easy to succumb to the “lets just pick up some dinner” on the way home. But those dinners are never the healthiest and always more pricey then what I can make at home. That’s why I love when we make these weekly menus out. We look over our plans and find easy, quick dinners to make on the nights we have activities. When we have a plan of action we can stay on track! Something my little family is trying really hard to do. So without further ado here is how they are made:

These are the 4 ingredients for the Chipotle Buffalo sauce.

-2 TBLS Chipotle Crushed Sauce
-1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
-2 TBLS Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
-3 TBLS White Vinegar
Whisk all together and set aside.

For the Blue Cheese Dressing:
-2 TBLS reduced-fat mayo
-2 TBLS nonfat plain yogurt
-ground pepper to taste
-1/4 cup crumbled Blue cheese
-1 TBLS vinegar
Whisk together in another bowl and put in the refrigerator.

Next you need about 3 split chicken breasts and cut them into 1 inch strips. Heat  a skillet with 2 teaspoons olive oil and cook the chicken over med-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Topping for the wrap :

Take whole-wheat tortillas and warm in microwave for about 10 seconds. I’m a family of five so I do five at a time. Dice up a large tomato or cut in half several cherry tomatoes, along with some shredded lettuce, and celery. My family likes the spring mix so we put that on everything.

Now to assemble the wrap:

Place warm tortilla on plate, spread 1 spoonful of Blue cheese dressing, top with 3 or 4 slices chicken, lettuce, celery, and tomato. Drizzle with some remaining hot sauce and roll. –inspired by a recipe we found at Eating Well


The verdict from the family was it was very yummy, but my kids didn’t really care for the Blue cheese. They tried it, but decided it was too strong.  A lite ranch dressing would be a yummy alternative as well as maybe trying a cheese like feta, instead of the blue cheese, in the dressing. I feel I need to be completely honest and tell you my 4 year old preferred her chicken without the hot sauce so I set a few pieces aside for her after they were cooked. Also, my husband is staying away from flour products so he ate his like a salad.

Aside from the Blue Cheese everyone gave it 5 stars. We served it along with some blackberries that were on sale at the grocery and everyone was happy. For a late night dinner this was the perfect amount of food, or it would be the perfect lunch!

What does you family like to do for those crazy nights when you don’t get home until late?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Busy Week and a Wildflower Photo Winner!

So I’ve been missing in action again! As you know the wildflowers in Texas are blooming and we have been taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather to traipse across Texas so WB could take his pictures.  We’ve had so much fun finding beautiful spots and waiting on the light to illuminate the flowers in all their glory.
Thanks everyone who entered the Wildflower Picture Give Away and checked out my husbands photography blog. He loved all your sweet comments! I picked the winner (by putting all the entries in a hat) and a big congrats to Marcy Kennedy. I’ll be in touch Marcy, be thinking of which photo you’d like to have. And if you didn’t win, you can buy pictures straight from WB’s site. Nice advertising plug I just slipped in there, sorry couldn’t help myself.
The other thing that is keeping me busy, is my baby is turning 5 in 5 days! She likes to ask every 10 minutes or so “What were you doing right now 5 years ago?” So I found a picture this morning of what her sisters and I were doing 5 years ago.
We have a whole week of celebrating planned. Yes, we celebrate it up around here. That, and I feel a little guilty that she doesn’t have any friends here, yet, that are her age. So instead of a party with a bunch of giggling 5 year olds we’ll be celebrating with family. Which really isn’t bad thing at all. But I’m trying to get all the festivities planned and there just never seems to be enough hours in the day. If I could just figure out a way to go without sleep!
But I plan on having a Conflicted Chef post up tomorrow. One thing I can always count on us doing around here is eating!
So just curious how many hours of sleep do you need each night?

Okay, I am so scatter-brained I announced the WRONG winner! The actual winner is Ginger Calem!! My brain is really taking a vacation, obviously I still need more sleep.  But Marcy if you like the pictures I'll send you one too, just let me know which one:)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Conflicted Chef- Emma’s Breakfast Sandwiches

I posted this a few years ago on another blog, that I had devoted to life at Cotton-Top Hills. But we moved last May and I no longer keep that blog up. To tell you the truth I still have a hard time saying “Cotton-Top Hills” without crying, but I’m getting better. But these sandwiches are worth repeating. They are super yummy and very easy!
My twelve year old is on her way to culinary school.  Okay, not quite yet, but it’s where she wants to go someday.  She cooks for us constantly and is thinking up new twists on everyday recipes.  This breakfast sandwich recipe was derived from a sandwich she had at a little restaurant in Galveston, The Lunch Box cafe.
For bread she likes to use baguette, but we use whatever bread we have around. This morning mine was on English Muffin. First toast the bread.  Spread honey over both slices and natural peanut butter on one slice.  Top the peanut butter side with blueberries. Top the other slice with sliced strawberries and walnuts.  You could use pecans, but we had walnuts today. Put the two slices together and enjoy.  It really is very yummy and nutritious, not to mention easy!
That’s it. And it always gets 5 stars in my house. Of course the hubby needs some sort of meat with it usually or a protein shake. I, personally, am good with the peanut butter and nuts fulfilling my protein source. But to each his own!

What’s your favorite breakfast sandwich? And don't forget to enter my Wildflower Canvas Photo give-away. I'll pick the winner on Monday morning!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wildflowers In Texas And A Give Away!

This weekend we headed towards the hill country. It’s where my husband grew up and his parents still live. It is also one of my favorite places, especially in the spring when the Bluebonnets and all the wildflowers are blooming. We love to travel off the main route, leave the highways behind and meander down the back roads. I feel so at home on these winding country roads spotted with old barns, churches that were built over a 100 years ago, and the occasional deer bounding across your path.


WB is a an engineer by day. He works in absolutes, chemical equations, numbers, and solid lines. But when you put a camera in his hand, or a wood-working tool, or a sketch pad suddenly he is transformed into this artistic being. He has an artistic eye that has been honed by his analytical self. The combination of the two are quite impressive, if not a little odd.

So as we meandered down these back roads , WB took beautiful pictures of the wildflowers. My children and 16 year old dog patiently rode along and didn’t complain too much that the 2 1/2 hour trip that turned into a 4 hour one. After all, WB had taken a sabbatical of sorts from the photography world soon after my second was born. Cameras and lenses are expensive, and the time you put into taking and editing photos is time consuming. He used his artistic talents in other ways and sold his lenses to pay for things like braces, and music lessons.


I’d love for you to go check out his photography blog and look at some of the fabulous pictures from this weekend. If you’ve never been to Texas in the spring you are in for a real treat. And just to sweeten the deal go look and come back here and tell me one of your favorite pictures. Your comment will enter you into a drawing to receive a free  8 X 10 canvas wrapped wildflower photo taken by my husband, photographer extraordinaire! Did I tell you he’s had his work published in magazines? Yep he has, being a writer I get really excited telling people he is a published photographer. I’m not sure he gets as giddy about it, in fact he may be embarrassed I even mentioned it. Sorry, hon.

The two links to his two posts on the wildflowers are here and here.

Okay, here’s how to enter the contest:

  • Go to Scott’s website and come back here and tell me your favorite photo. (1 entry)
  • Leave a comment on his blog, he would love that. ( 1 entry)
  • Tweet it, just let me know you did in your comment. (1 entry)
  • Share on FB, again let me know you did. (1 entry)

If you leave a comment as anonymous, because you don’t have an account, just make sure I know who you are and have a way to get in touch with you. If you have any problems leaving comments send me an e-mail and I’ll help you out.

The contest will end next Monday at 8:00 am. Good luck and thanks for supporting WB!

Do you have a favorite wildflower and what grows in your area?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Baked Pork Cutlets–The Conflicted Chef

My grandmother made some very yummy fried pork chops. I think sometimes she cooked them with the leftover fat from the bacon she cooked that morning. Um, yes, it was melt in your mouth good and brought a smile to my face. And every once in awhile I’ll fry up some bacon just so my house has that decadent smell. I’ll even use the fat in my cooking.  But most days I think about cholesterol and calories and I steer away from that sort of thing. My motto “all things are fine in moderation” rings through my head. Which means I can’t cook with bacon fat every day, no matter how I love it.

So fried pork chop cravings are soothed with a healthier spin most nights. First thing I do is toast some whole wheat bread and then pulse them in the food processor until they are fine crumbs. This makes a great breading for the pork. Next, I add some spices to liven up the mixture a bit. Salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, etc. are all good seasonings to add. You know what you and your family likes best so pick according to taste.  I sprinkle with a little bit of oil, this will help the crumbs stick to the pork and get crispy.


I like to buy a pork tenderloin, all fat trimmed, and slice into inch think pieces. Then, if you pat them with a little cornstarch, instead of flour, you’ll create a nice crispy coating. The cornstarch absorbs the moisture from the pork and the starch granules will swell during cooking which keeps you from having soggy breading. Next dip in some egg white, then your spiced bread crumb mixture and place on a wire cooling rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place on a cookie sheet and pop in the oven. The result is crispy, healthier pork chops then the fried version.


Here’s the base recipe that you can tweak with your own spices. This time my spice of choice was some sweet paprika my parent’s brought back from Hungry:

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon  sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Slice pork into 1 inch slices
  3. Mix breadcrumbs, paprika, pepper and salt in a shallow dish. Drizzle with oil and mash with a fork until the oil is thoroughly incorporated. Beat egg white with a fork in another shallow dish. Sprinkle cornstarch over the pork slices and pat to coat evenly on both sides. Dip the pork into the egg, then press into the breading mixture until evenly coated on both sides.
  4. Place the pork on the sprayed wire rack, which is placed on a cookie sheet. Bake until just barely pink in the center and an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F, 14 to 16 minutes


My kids loved this version of “fried” pork chops. I received 5 smiles for this recipe (which includes my own). And we were so healthy with dinner that I think this weekend we deserve some bacon. Maybe some bacon cheddar cornbread… If I do I’ll be sure to share. We all deserve a little bacon in our lives!

Happy Cooking!