Food Hugs: Chicken Alfredo Bread Boat

Food Hugs: Chicken Alfredo Bread Boat

As my brother has been in recovery and we have been catching up on the movies we have missed for years, we have also had some ideas about what would be good to eat. After all, when you’re confined to rest, what better than movies and food to pass the time? I completely understand the concept behind eating to heal the body. We are ignoring that and eating to get a carb and fat high. Frankly, it’s more fun right now.

Enter the hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with alfredo, chicken, cheese and bacon. It got a massive thumbs up from the family. I was too full from dipping the bread insides in the alfredo sauce like a fondue. If you only get that far, it’s still a great party dish. Or food hug. Because sometimes you just need a hug.

Chicken Alfredo Bread Boat

1 loaf soft white bread with a rounded top (Italian bread loaf or such)

1 large grilled chicken breast (or leftover fajita chicken from a previous dinner), sliced thinly

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

5 green onions

8 slices bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp all purpose flour

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

 

Cut the top off the bread and scoop out the insides to make a boat and still have some space to absorb the alfredo sauce. Lay the top and bottom pieces on a baking sheet (or use the insides and top for an impromptu fondue appetizer).

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat and add the flour, then whisk to combine and keep whisking to cook off the flour. Add the chicken stock slowly and whisk to combine, then all the heavy cream, parmesan, pepper and garlic powder. Whisk until the sauce starts to bubble and the cheese is completely melted.

Spread the half of the alfredo sauce that you don’t eat out of the saucepan into the bottom of the bread boats, then top with the chicken, a layer of cheese, the green onions, the rest of the sauce, the bacon and a last little sprinkle of cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until melty and browned. Slice and serve!

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Smothered Pork Chops

Smothered Pork Chops

My mom and brother apparently have been watching some food tv while he recovers from surgery, and they made a very specific request for smothered pork chops. I have never made said dish, but was happy to oblige. We have had so many very kind people provide meals, but this is not one that will be as good after traveling…especially since they also wanted fried okra.

Basically, we were done with salads for the day.

 

Smothered Pork Chops

4 regular bone-in pork chops (I didn’t use thin cut chops because I didn’t want to risk overcooking them)

1 large sweet onion, halved then thinly sliced or diced, whichever you prefer

1/4 cup butter (half of a stick)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp each garlic salt, black pepper, cumin and paprika

4 cups chicken broth

Mix the flour and spices in a shallow dish. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and toss in the half stick of butter (or a bit more). Dredge the pork chops in the flour mixture and press the flour into them. Pan fry 3-4 minutes on each side in the butter until golden brown. The chops will not be cooked through. Set them aside on a plate.

Keep the pan on medium heat and saute the onions until soft and translucent. Add the flour from the dredge pan and mix thoroughly. (If you forget the onions and add the flour first, make the roux then add the onions and it will still work out fine. I would know!) Cook the flour in for 2-3 minutes until everything is mixed and a dark brown. If it is too dry, add a little more butter. Stir in the chicken stock one cup at a time until a smooth gravy develops. Add more chicken stock if the gravy is too thick – it will cook down for about another ten minutes.

Place the chops back into the gravy (I had to cut the bone off a couple of them to make them fit) and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until done. The gravy should be bubbling hot. Serve over potatoes with okra, then follow with brownies, ice cream and Mad Max: Fury Road.

 

New Things/Good Things

New Things/Good Things

I had a grilled cheese sandwich Sunday night after a four hour nap.

That was after my week of adjusting my mindset about eating and exercising. I stopped eating gluten the next day, not because I have anything against gluten (quite the opposite), but because I like me more than I like gluten.

Food has been one of my coping mechanisms for anxiety, and years of untreated anxiety disorders has translated to years of weight gain without really understanding how to have a healthy relationship with food because I didn’t even have a healthy relationship with myself. My brain craves carbs and fat when I have anxiety. I found it way easier to eat than to stop avoiding.

Until last week.

Last week I decided to lean it, to stop avoiding and to face anxiety head on. I got really honest with myself and with my therapist. And I stopped needing food.

Exercise is much more appealing now. In fact, I skipped the office this morning for a 5 mile walk and talk instead. I’ll go play Pongis later. I can eat whatever I want today, but I am still choosing the foods that are good – no gluten, low sugar, lots of protein and veggies and nuts and no processed food. I’m well below my calorie allowance for the day because I’m eating nutrient-rich versus calorie-rich food, and I’m not even hungry.

Gluten is not necessarily a negative contributor to my mental health, but removing it from my diet makes me more conscious about what I eat – similar to when I stopped eating beef seven years ago. Because I have struggled for many years with food as a coping mechanism, I have done what I could to limit the damage.

Now that I understand why I don’t have a healthy relationship with food (I picked food and work rather than alcohol, cigarettes, etc.) and am willing to lean into the underlying cause, that changes.

It’s a new thing. It’s a good thing.