Monday, January 13, 2014

Pork Chops with Apple Compote + Cooking with Coconut Oil Book

So, y'all know I'm definitely not a health food fanatic. We try to eat lots of veggies and avoid yucky things like saturated fat and trans fat and sodium, but you won't see me buying chia seeds or protein powder or whatever, and I can't seem to make myself enjoy Greek yogurt. Paleo, Whole30, and whatever other diets are cool these days... I don't really do that stuff.

BUT - I do have a large jar of coconut oil in my pantry because I love to make these coconut chocolate chip cookies, so when I got asked to review a new cookbook that would tell me what to do with all the leftover coconut oil, I was totally excited.

There's this cute new cookbook called Cooking with Coconut Oil by Elizabeth Nyland, and it's kinda sorta AMAZING. It turns out there are lots of wonderful health benefits to be gained from coconut oil, and cooking with it is tasty, too!


So I get to share one recipe with y'all - pork chops with apple compote! This onion-apple topping is so delicious... I think I'll make it over and over again to put on lots of other things besides pork too. Here's the recipe:

(photo from the cookbook)

1 small sweet onion, or 1/2 large onion, peeled and diced very finely
2 small tart apples (such as Pink Lady), peeled, cored, and diced very finely
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Pork Chops
2 tbsp coconut oil
sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste
4 thick-cut pastured pork chops (loin or rib end)

1. Make the compote: In a small saucepan, combine all compote ingredients and set over medium heat.
2. Cook, stirring occasionally, 35 to 45 minutes, or until a sauce-like consistency is reached and apples and onions are soft.
3. Meanwhile, make the pork chips: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit and place a heavy baking tray in the middle rack. In a heavy, cast-iron pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
4. Season the chops on all sides with salt and pepper. Place in hot pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to oven and allow to cook for approximately 10 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chop reads 145 degrees Farenheit.
5. Serve compote over pork chops.

I used the thin-cut pork chops instead because I like that they're less fatty, so I skipped the oven part and just seared them in the pan for a little less time. Still delicious! And now, for my not-as-good-as-the-cookbook-but-it-still-looks-yummy-right? photos:

(compote cooking)

(pork chops cooking)


The rest of the cookbook looks delicious as well, and I can't wait to try more recipes. Lots of coconut fun! Oh, and you should consider buying to cookbook - you can find Cooking with Coconut Oil on Amazon!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kristen's Graduation

My little sister, Kristen, graduated from college last August, but she had to wait until December to actually walk across the stage. We all went to Fort Worth for the graduation, and it was such a special time celebrating Kristen!

A few photos of my sweet sister, whom I am SO immensely proud of...





Here's one of Jeff and me with both of my sisters...


...and one of the whole family!


The graduation was really nice and not too long (a nice benefit of graduating from a private school rather than somewhere ginormous like A&M... haha). Kristen looked so happy through the whole thing, which was really fun to watch.



It was a bittersweet day for me because Kristen's moving to New York in just a few short weeks to pursue her dance career. We've never been anywhere close to that far apart (we both went to college in Texas), so it feels a bit like the end of an era and a bit like I'm sort of losing my best friend. I'm so excited for her to chase her dreams and do amazing things though! I guess I'll just have to take a few trips to NYC! ;o)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Look Back at 2013

Wow. 2013 was a big, big year for us. New jobs and new diplomas for each of us, a new car, lots of traveling, lots of quality time with family and friends, and a few house updates thrown in for good measure. We've been busy!

We took trips together to Seattle, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, Canada, and Singapore, plus lots of in-Texas trips (Johnson City, Llano, Fredricksburg, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Lake Livingston, South Padre Island, McKinney, Plano, and San Antonio). Jeff travelled to Africa for work, and I went to Midland, TX, Dallas, TX and Washington, DC for work.We had plenty of Houston fun too... everything from strawberry picking to brewery touring!

I shared 51 recipes on the blog (it always amazes me how large that number is at the end of each year!). 2013 marked three years of marriage, ten years since we first met (how was that a decade ago already?!?), 24 years of Katie, and 26 years of Jeff!

Here's a quick look back at our 2013 highlights:


We rang in the new year at our second annual New Year's Eve party.

We watched the Aggies win the Cotton Bowl at a party hosted by my parents.





We visited Aunt Lucy (Jeff's great aunt) in San Antonio.


We celebrated Easter with our families.



I spent a day in the hospital, and now I know what kidney stones feel like (spoiler alert: NOT good).

Jeff turned 26.


I went strawberry picking with my little sister.


We went to the Houston Symphony to hear them play the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

We took a trip to a resort in Louisiana for a weekend event with Jeff's work.

We celebrated Father's Day with our dads.



We went on a cruise to Alaska and Canada.


We went to Seattle.


We enjoyed our annual trip to South Padre Island with my family.



I started working full time at a law firm.


We did some more Fightin' Texas Aggie Tailgating in College Station.

We took a trip to the pumpkin patch.


I found out I passed the bar exam!



I took a work trip to DC.



We went to Fort Worth to see my sister, Kristen, graduate from TCU.


We celebrated Christmas with our families.


What a year! We can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for us! ;o)