How to Feed a Firefighter [Who Doesn't Cook]

   I wrote the other day about new year's resolutions and protecting your goals.  Last year I tackled a fault of mine and am pleased I was able to turn things around.  What was my problem?  Cooking at home.  I have always enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen.  When I was first on my own, I had a dozen of go-to recipes I loved.  Of course, when I met my husband he didn't like any of them.  Spoiled from a decade plus as a fireman, who is served warm meals three times each shift cooked with love and passion by the resident chef, and a consummate bachelor, dining at a different restaurant on each of his days off, he wasn't much help in the kitchen.  But he knew what he didn't like- anything I made.  Last year I decided enough was enough.  I had to get creative.

Me (and my mom) getting creative in the kitchen.

   Because he was so hard to please, unless I smothered beef with queso on the nights he was home, I had to find savory recipes which would hopefully open the doors to healthier eating.  When we first started dating, he found out through his yearly physical at the fire department that his bad cholesterol level was extremely high.  I don't remember the exact ratio but his total cholesterol level was 225.  At first, I was shocked.  His appearance certainly wasn't hard on the eyes- fit, muscular, and tough as nails.  Though the more I thought about it, I realized this is probably a frequent problem in the firefighting field.  What do you think a bunch of mainly men would cook when they knew they could shop for it themselves and their wives would never find out?  Biscuits and gravy, steak, steak, and more steak.

   In the beginning of our relationship, most specifically when he told all of my girlfriends over martinis on a regular night out that I had just served him the most disgusting thing he'd ever eaten an hour prior, I knew cooking for him would be tough.  (For the record, I had made spaghetti with lean ground beef, my favorite tomato and basil sauce, sans the pound of grated cheddar ??? cheese he apparently requires, served with steamed veggies and homemade garlic bread, light on the butter.  The man doesn't eat anything green besides pickles and iceberg lettuce.)  Tough because I didn't believe there was a point in cooking at home if it wasn't at least attempting to be healthy and have a few redeeming qualities.  If you want to eat junk, we should just go out for dinner.  And so we did. 

   We ate out pretty exclusively for years and it continued even after we had children.  Part of me was relieved to not have to plan meals and clean up the mess every night, but a larger part of me was actually missing the smell of dinner permeating our home and teaching the girls how to cook.  I don't know if it's my inner-nerd who loves mathematical equations and science experiments or the heart I wear on my sleeve, wanting to be the one to feed my husband's soul, but I missed being in the kitchen.  The problem was made worse after we had the girls and all they ate were the foods likened to hors' doeuvre trays at a cocktail party- fruit and cheese. 

   Somehow we found a Viking oven on Craig's List when we were building.  After we moved in, there was no holding me back!  Although, I made myself tread lightly the first year.  (If you haven't met my husband, you're probably wondering how it could take so long to change his mind.  If you have met him and know him, you're wondering how I could change his mind so quickly.)  Now that we've been here for over two years, I have hit my stride.  But yes, I had to compromise on several healthy ingredients and he still won't touch vegetables. 

recipe source

   My major hurdles were to make anything but steak and burgers since they always eat that at the station and because they're not good for the arteries.  And I needed to incorporate pork.  He loves pork.  I don't.  I first broke the ice with these Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce, but he hated all the spinach and cabbage.  And it took forever to make.  Luckily, I found a few recipes on Pinterest that are crowd-pleasers for the toughest crowd around.

   Just in case you're wondering if his cholesterol ever improved, it absolutely did, but through no efforts of mine.  We've come to the conclusion that since we live in the country now, about twenty five minutes from anything besides a gas station, he can't make his almost-daily run to Taco Bell.  And his cholesterol plummeted to a healthy 170 without the aid of medication.  Moral of the story: stay away from their bean burritos with extra cheese.

   Here are a few of the recipes that we added to the rotation, foods that serve as great common ground for us and will hopefully lead to much more palate growth in our future:

Salmon with Sriracha recipe here

Salmon with Sriracha Sauce and Lime

Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe from her cookbook taken from Self.com.

Serves 4


  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tsp sriracha sauce*
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • *Buy Gwyneth's book to get her favorite homemade sriracha recipe.


  1. Heat oven to 425°. In a bowl, whisk together juice, zest, syrup, sriracha and salt. Place salmon in a baking dish lined with parchment paper; pour lime-maple mixture over top. Roast salmon until cooked through and flaky, 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve.
P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps from Iowa Girl Eats

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

"Serves 2-3
1lb ground chicken breast
1/2 onion, minced
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1″ knob ginger, peeled & minced
2-1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon water
1/2 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or more if you like it hotter)
dash of pepper
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry

1. Heat a large, non-stick skillet on high. Add chicken, onion, salt & pepper, then cook until chicken is nearly done, stirring often to break up the meat. Add garlic and ginger then continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink.

2. Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil, peanut butter, water, honey, chili garlic sauce and pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add into the skillet and stir to combine.

3 Add green onions and water chestnuts into the skillet then cook for 1-2 minutes until the onions are soft and the water chestnuts are heated through.

4. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and serve with cold lettuce leaves."

Visit Iowa Girl Eats here for great step-by-step photos and tons of great recipes!

FYI, I use boiled organic boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of ground chicken, just to be safe.  This is a stand-alone dish.  It takes much longer than it looks to prepare everything, but it's worth it!!  (My husband thinks I should throw most of it in the food processor but chopping is therapeutic for me.)  I never make the drive to P.F. Chang's anymore mainly because I don't have to after this recipe!

The Best Pork Chops You Will Ever Taste

The Best Pork Chop You Will Ever Taste from HubPages

I found this recipe via Pinterest on HubPages.  Be ready, they're going to tell you a lot about what you will want to do...

"You will want a large baking pan to cook these pork chops on and I would suggest that you line it with tinfoil for ease of clean up. You will want to use large loin cut pork chops for the best flavor. Now you will want to preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

For Your Pork Chop Recipe You Will Need.
1. Ranch Dressing In A Bottle.
2. 3 Cups Fine Dry Italian Bread Crumbs.
3. 1 Small Package Dry Italian Dressing Mix.
4. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese.
5. 1 Tablespoon Dry Powdered Garlic.
6. 6 Large Loin Pork Chops.

You will want to mix ingredients 2 - 5 in a large bowl and mix together very well. Now pour a layer of ranch dressing out into a plate. Take one pork chop at a time and coat it on the plate with ranch dressing and then put the pork chop with the ranch dressing on it into the large bowl with the bread crumbs and coat it well on all sides. Add more ranch dressing to the plate if you need to.
Have your tin foil lined baking pan setting there ready. Spray the tinfoil with vegetable cooking spray. Place your breaded pork chops onto the tinfoil covered pan and once you have all your pork chops on the pan place it into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the thick part of your pork chops reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. As soon as your pork chops are done remove from the pan and serve as soon as possible."

These really are the best pork chops I've ever had, and I'm not a pork chop fan!

Speaking of pork...

Crockpot Carnitas from Skinny Taste



Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas

from Skinny Taste

"(Mexican Pulled Pork)Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
8 • Serving Size: 4 oz (1/2 cup) Old Points: 4 pts Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 176 • Fat: 7.7g Protein: 25.8 g Carb: 1.3 g Fiber: 0.1 g


  • 2.5 lb pork shoulder blade roast, lean, all fat removed (I used Smithfield)
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut into sliver
  • cumin
  • dry adobo seasoning (I used Goya)
  • garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup 99% fat free chicken broth
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves


Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium sauté pan on medium-high heat, brown pork on all sides for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Using a sharp knife, insert blade into pork, cutting small holes and insert garlic slivers. Season pork generously with cumin, adobo and garlic powder all over.

Pour chicken broth in the crockpot, add bay leaves and chipotle peppers. Place pork in crock pot and cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After 8 hours, shred pork using two forks and combine well with the juices that accumulated at the bottom. Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and cumin (you will probably need to add more). Let it cook another 15-30 minutes."

I serve it with Pickled Onions and Cabbage Slaw from 2Sisters2Cities and Mango Salsa from Cookin' Cowgirl.  This is also great for large groups!
If you get around to trying any of these, let me know how it turns out!

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