18 Weeks – Baby #2/Weekend Wind-Up

I was remiss with my pregnancy update over the weekend, so I’m combining it with my weekend wind-up to kill two posts with one stone 🙂

Weekend Wind-Up

Our weekend was just grand!

The weather on Saturday was just miserable. It was cold and rainy. But there were a couple of events to brighten the day! One was the birthday party for my friend M1’s little girl who turned two! She held it at a local community centre in a gym that had all sorts of activities for kids around her age. It was awesome to just let Molly roam free, knowing everything was safe for her to play with. After play time we all headed to another room for food (we watched proudly as Molly ate a whole slice of pizza, without cutting it up!) and cupcakes. A fun time!

Event number two was a very much overdue date night for me and BFF B! She met me at my house to say a quick hello to Molly and A before we headed off to a really lovely restaurant down by the waterfront. I had a very tasty meal of duck confit perogies to start and grilled salmon on a bed of salad for my main. Dessert? Pumpkin creme brulee! We had an awesome time catching up. We’re in touch all the time but there’s nothing like chatting in person with your best friend 🙂 We vowed to try and do it more often, especially now that I’m not needed to put Molly to bed.

Sunday we ran a few errands, including picking out the ever important pumpkin to be carved later on in the week. We mostly just relaxed, as both of us were feeling under the weather. But not enough under the weather to miss dinner at my parents! I brought a special dessert, which I’ll write about later this week.

I’ll leave this portion of today’s post with these adorable pics of Molly:

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In the second one I said “smile for Mummy!” and this is what she gave me. Such a cheeky monkey!

18 Weeks – Baby #2

I didn’t have an 18 week update with Molly because that’s the week A and I got married! Aw. This is my favourite shot from our wedding day:

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It’s just so perfect, in so many ways. I was 18 weeks 1 day pregnant. And here we are again. Life is surreal sometimes, isn’t it?

How Far Along? – 18 weeks (plus three days as I write)

Size of Baby – About the size of an mango, 6 inches long, around a half a pound.

Gender – We hopefully find out one week tomorrow!

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Maternity Clothes – Yup, and so happy to be wearing them! I went shopping last week and over the weekend to pick up some ‘winter’ staples: a pair of skinny cords and skinny jeans, some long comfy sweaters and a maternity winter coat!

Stretch Marks – No change

Weight – Seven pounds gained. We’re doing good!

Sleep – Meh. I’ve got some sort of cold/pregnancy related nose stuffyness that’s making it uncomfortable to sleep.

Movement – Absolutely! Little pops of movement now and then, becoming more frequent as the days pass.

Symptoms – Nothing major. Still in the second trimester bliss period! May have some serious pregnancy related sinus issues though. I’m so stuffed up! It could be a cold though. My eyes are watering too. I bought some saline spray to use to hopefully loosen things up.

Cravings – Iced tea, which I learned has less caffeine in it than chocolate…since I haven’t given up chocolate to avoid caffeine, I figure iced tea is a go!

What Do I Miss – Caffeine (coffee level caffeine)…and that’s about it.

Nursery –I need to hop on Pinterest and start gathering ideas.

Emotions – Pretty good! I woke feeling glum this morning but that’s because I had the kind of dreams that stay with you. I dreamed everyone was mad at me. So awful!

Best Moment of the Week – Feeling the baby move more. It’s incredibly reassuring!

Layin' Down Some Beets and Other Gardening News

“Fact. Bears eat Beets. Bears. Beets….Battlestar Galactica”

Ah Jim Halpert. I find myself quoting this gem from The Office whenever I’m tending the garden and gaze upon my rows of beets. Or rather gazed. The beets are no longer there! One of my chores last weekend was to harvest these red beauties and preserve them.

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Fresh from the garden!

In hindsight, I should have weighed them to find out how many pounds I was able to grow, but I thought of it too late. Ah well.

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to preserve them. Last year I pickled the small crop I grew, just one jar easily preserved in the fridge. But this was a much larger number of beets to deal with. There’s no way I can eat this many before they go off in the fridge and I didn’t feel like putting the energy into canning them properly.

After a quick bit of research, I decided to freeze them! I cut off the greens (which no, I did not keep to use. Again, hindsight), washed the dirt off and put the whole lot to boil for 15 minutes.

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Boiled beets

Once cooled, I put on some rubber gloves (essential when working with red beets!) then peeled and chopped the beets into chunks. The peels of boiled (or roasted) beets slide off effortlessly!

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Peeled and chopped

Once chopped, I hunted out my trusty Food Saver and packaged them up. I left some out to use in a salad for dinner (and am kicking myself for not taking any pictures of that! It was very tasty. Here’s the recipe), but ended up with five bags! Apparently once thawed they should taste as if they are fresh from the garden.

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Molly seems to like eating them, though we’re careful to feed them to her on a fork 🙂

In other garden news, things are doing quite well in the veggie department, some better than others! Here’s a pic of the side bed, where I’m growing (left to right) kale, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, spinach (not doing well), cucumber, zucchini and rhubarb. DSC_5729 copy (1280x848)

Along the back are sunflowers. Funny enough there are four that are growing a lot faster than the others, though they were planted at the same time and get the same amount of sun. My theory is that because the cucumbers in front of them were slow to get going, they didn’t have competition for nutrients and were able to grow faster than the others.

We’re not eating the leaf lettuce fast enough. It’s out of control:

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The cucumber are using the sunflowers as a trellis. I love the curly tendrils:

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I’m excited that the zucchini are flowering this year! Last year’s crop was dismal.

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In the larger bed (no pic right now) we’re growing tomatoes, peppers, peas and formerly, the beets. The tomatoes are starting to fruit, as are the peas, but nowhere near ready to harvest yet.

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DSC_5736 copy (848x1280)In non-vegetable gardening news, I’m really happy that the Miss Molly Butterfly Bush I planted is blooming! DSC_5728 copy (848x1280)It’s been looking a bit ragged (something has been nibbling away), so I was worried it wouldn’t make it. Whew!

And that’s it for my garden update!

Oreo Rice Krispies Squares

I have a new mission in life: to make all the treats I can find that use Oreos as a ingredient. They’re so versatile! And yummy. I LOVE Oreos.

So it made complete sense that when I came across this super easy recipe, elevating a favourite childhood treat to a whole new level, I had to try it.

Ready for it?

Oreo Rice Krispies Squares. (click for recipe)

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Boo ya! Perfect, right? I thought so. Though not the most visually appealing treat (trying to think of ways to pretty them up a bit), they made up for it in taste. Traditional Rice Krispie square taste with pops of Oreo chocolate throughout. You’ll be fighting with your spouse over who gets the piece with the biggest chunks of Oreo…

That may be a bit more one-sided than I make it out to be…

Ok I admit it..

I took back the piece I offered A when I noticed it had a huge Oreo chunk.

C doesn’t share Oreos!

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Weekend Wind-Up

Father’s Day weekend was quite the success! Here are the highlights:

  • Molly slept all night Thursday!! The entire night, no waking! Other than my boobs feeling like they were going to explode, it was bliss!
  • Friday night we picked up a stand alone, cantilever umbrella at Target for half price! Such a steal. Though why summer patio furniture is on clearance and pretty much non-existent now in a lot of stores before summer has even officially started is beyond me. We will now have some shade in our west-facing backyard.
  • I was a cleaning machine on Saturday! My floors were particularly messy after a week with the kiddies.
  • I put together our new umbrella almost entirely on my own. I love it! But in the process of doing so, managed to get my first (and hopefully last) sunburn of the year. Ironic since I was putting up something to keep that from happening.
  • My kick-ass hubby fixed the dip in the front patio and put the wall back together in the front. We just have to get the plants in now. Rain on Sunday prevented that from happening.

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    Still a bit more to do, but the hard stuff is done! Yippee!
  • Father’s Day was great! Molly and I gave A the pictures I posted in a desktop three-way frame to put on his desk at work (I want to try and make it a yearly thing). After we woke on Sunday, I made belgian waffles using my new waffle iron! They were amazing! I whipped up some fresh whipped cream and chopped some strawberries to put on them along with maple syrup (or Aunt Jemima in my case…horrible for me I know, but I prefer it to pure maple syrup)DSC_5215 (1280x1024)
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  • We had the birthday party for my friend M2’s little girl on Sunday. She’s two! The party was at a kids play centre and Molly had a blast! She jumped right in with the other kids (all older than her) and held her own. I have no worries about her in a day care setting. She particularly loved the little red cars. I shot this video of her pushing one around and around
  • On our way home from the party she fell asleep and we drove about fifteen minutes north, roaming around for 45 minutes. It was a lovely day for a lazy drive
  • We had an impromptu BBQ at my parents Sunday night, just the four of us and Molly.
  • A and I watched Warm Bodies and Jack the Giant Slayer over the weekend. We really enjoyed both movies!

And that’s about it. Five weeks left until I’m back to work 🙁 I guess the count down is on…

Strawberry Upside Down Cakes

It ain’t the prettiest dessert on the block, but what this little cake lacks in style, it more than makes up for in taste! Cake, strawberries, chocolate chips…I really don’t need to elaborate do I?

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I made this tasty treat this past Sunday when I was craving something cake-y. I was inspired by one of my mom’s long standing desserts, Strawberry Upside Down Cake, which she makes in a square baking dish. I thought to myself: why not try making individual portions in a muffin tin? Seriously brilliant idea, if I do say so myself!

Couple of notes: my mom’s recipe calls for frozen strawberries but I used fresh and they worked just fine. Her recipe also uses plain yogurt, which I didn’t have. I used sour cream instead and it worked really well!

Strawberry Upside Down Cakes

Makes 12 mini-cakes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter, melted

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

10-12 oz fresh strawberries

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp orange rind or zest

1 ½ cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¾ cup sour cream

½ cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

Melt butter and divide into muffin tin. You’ll end up with about a 1/2 tsp per cup. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter and pat down. Lay 2-3 berries over sugar (outside facing down). Set aside

In a large bowl, with electric mixer, cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla and orange rind or zest.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternatively with sour cream (3 additions of flour mix and 2 additions of sour cream). Stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter over each muffin cup.

Bake 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Loosen around the edges of the muffin cup and invert onto cooling rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

Weekend Wind-Up

Tired were we on Friday night, and facing the unknown reaction to the change in Molly’s sleep habits, I set aside my planned baked salmon for take out pizza 🙂
It turns out it wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be to introduce a new routine to get Molly to sleep, but I’ll post more on that in the next few days!

Saturday morning flew by with some chores around the house and at 12:30 I got myself ready and headed out to pick up my mom (Molly stayed home with A). We were off to a baby shower for one of our old neighbours from well over 15 years ago. She wasn’t even in high school when we met her! So bizarre that she’s having a baby. We had a lovely time there and enjoyed a yummy lunch (I LOVE shower food) and the most amazing cookies and cream cupcake (Oreo based, my fave!) I’ve ever had! Not too sweet, the cake was dense and moist, the icing smooth and buttery. Sadly the bakery they came from is on the other side of Toronto 🙁

We got home around 3:30 and because Molly had a late morning nap, she was ready for an afternoon snooze when I got there. She woke shortly before six, our schedule completely thrown off for the day. Ah well! We had BBQ burgers and then the three of us went for a nice walk.

Once Molly was asleep (9pm…argh!), A and I cuddled up to watch a movie. He’s wanted to watch Chronicle for a while now, so that’s what we picked. It wasn’t too bad. I went to bed late but when Molly woke up at 5am and didn’t show signs of going back to sleep, A gave me my first Mother’s Day present by getting up with her.

We put her back down at 7:30 and enjoyed another little bit of sleep before getting ready to go to my parents for Sunday brunch. Before we left I was presented with the rest of my gifts: cards from Molly and A, chocolates, a gift card for Joe Fresh clothes (a fave of mine) and hanging flower baskets!

To tell the truth, I discovered the hanging baskets the night before. In a rare move, I went out the front door to check in with A who was cleaning his car and decided to head around back via the side of the house, which is where he was keeping them. I never go that way, usually out the back door. Oops. Such a great idea though. They’ll last awhile as opposed to cut flowers.DSC_4509copy (1024x1280)

Brunch at my parents was amazing!! My mom rocks the kitchen like no one else! She made a yummy egg strata with prosciutto, scrambled eggs, back bacon and sausages, grilled vegetables and yogurt parfaits with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Oh and banana chocolate chip muffins (totally healthy with while wheat flour, wheat bran and ground flax). Yum!
We saw my dad off as he left on a business trip (hence brunch not dinner) and then we took ourselves off to Costco. Molly needed new sleepers (18 month size there…what!?) and I needed ground beef. An odd pairing, I know. We also picked up a new outdoor may for the front porch, some board books for Molly, a Shepherds Pie for dinner, and yoga capris for me :-).

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Home we went and I tried and tried to get Molly to nap but she wasn’t having it. There’s usually one reason she won’t nap and my suspicions were confirmed a half hour later when we had a code 2 in the diaper department! By that time though it was 3:30 and I didn’t want her to nap. We tried keeping her up but around 5:30 A came upstairs with her and she was half asleep on his shoulder. Poor baby. She went to bed easily enough but woke several times in the evening. My theory? She didn’t have supper with us or her usual big nurse before bed because fell asleep so quickly, so she kept waking up hungry.

It was a fantastic weekend and I want to thank my hubby and Molly for making my first Mother’s Day so special! I’m a lucky girl 🙂

Weekend Wind-Up

Sorry for the delay! Yesterday was crazy and I had not a moment to myself until after Molly went to bed, at which point all I wanted to do was sit. So sit I did.

I found myself saying a lot of the following this weekend:

It’s so nice out!
I can’t believe how nice it is!
I’m so happy that it’s so nice!

Obviously I need to add some more descriptive words to my vocabulary, but folks, we were truly blessed with stunning weather this weekend. 23-25 degrees Celsius, sunshine and blue skies….perfect! If it could only be like that year round…but then maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it as much…nothing like a Canadian winter to make 10 degrees feel like summer!

Saturday morning we all slept in, though only after Molly had been late going to bed and up a lot (I’m about to hit my limit with that…steps are going to be taken as soon as her cough is gone to help this issue). A requested coconut French toast for breakfast, a request I happily obliged (recipe below). Once we’d done a few chores around the house, the three of us piled into the car and headed East to Cobourg. We were meeting up with my in-laws for a surprise birthday supper for my mother-in-law. Cobourg is sort of a central location between those of us in Durham Region and those out near Kingston. We decided to head down early to accommodate Molly’s nap schedule and to walk around town and on the beach, enjoying the beautiful day! We met everyone for dinner, surprising A’s mom with accomodations for the night, dinner and a spa package for the next day. After dinner (I had ribs, yum! Molly liked them too) we took a walk on the waterfront to an ice cream parlour where I let Molly have her first taste of ice cream! Mint chocolate chip. It was just a touch of the tongue. I’m not ready to give her more than that, especially that close to bedtime!

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Early in the afternoon. She loved being outside!

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Me, on the boardwalk.
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The beach! Definitely not warm enough to go in the water yet. Not that I would. Lake Ontario gives me the heeby jeebies.

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This was at the end of the day. She was so tired, you couldn’t get a smile out of her!

Sunday arrived with another glorious day weather-wise. But sadly the hubs wasn’t feeling well! He’d wrenched his back the day before installing Molly’s new car seat and also ended up with some sort of flu bug by the time evening came around. Poor guy.
I felt fine though and went out in the morning to weed the back gardens while Molly napped. When I was done I headed off to my favourite garden centre and picked up some plants: kale, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, beets and rhubarb. There is still danger of a frost but those veggies are fairly hardy in the cold. I planted them on Monday with my gardener-in-training, CJ while the babies napped. In a few weeks we’ll plant tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and cucumber as well as refresh my herb pots.

A quick visit to my parents with Molly, grocery shopping and BBQ hot dogs rounded out a lovely weekend! I hope you all had a good one, wherever you were!

Coconut French Toast
Serves 2 (3 slices for him, 2 for me)

5 slices of bread
5 eggs
1 tsp coconut extract
1-2 tbsp buttermilk
Shredded unsweetened coconut

Butter (I don’t measure)

Preheat a griddle, non-stick pan or cast iron skillet (my preference is the cast iron skillet) and toss some butter in there. Blend eggs, coconut extract and buttermilk in a bowl. Spread unsweetened coconut out onto a plate. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides. Then dip each side onto the shredded coconut. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Use as much butter as you need and check frequently. It can very quickly go from golden brown to burnt. Serve with your condiment of choice. I prefer syrup , while hubby uses ketchup (what?? crazy).

New Recipe: Baked Salmon with Avocado-Melon Salsa

Eons ago (it was 2004 but it feels like eons), my family took a trip to Prince Edward Island, home of red sand and famed red headed heroine, Anne of Green Gables.
While in Charlottetown, we ate at the Culinary Institute of Canada where I had one of those meals that you just can’t forget. I’ve had a few of those meals in my life…wild mushroom ravioli at a restaurant in London, England (’05)…butternut squash ravioli with brown butter sauce in Laguna Beach, California (’07 and ’08)…roast chicken dinner at the Port in Pickering for our first Valentines (’11)…bananas foster at the Commanders Palace in New Orleans (’10)….
I love food!
At the CIC in Charlottetown I had grilled salmon with mango peach salsa that was forever burned into my brain. It was fantastic, a wonderful moist salmon fillet paired with the perfect sweet and tart blend of a fruit salsa. Last week on new recipe night (fish), I tried to recreate it.

I didn’t do a bad job, though I had some ingredient issues. The salmon wasn’t a problem; we stocked up at our last trip to Costco. It was the salsa that stumped me. I didn’t have mango and I didn’t have peach, kind of instrumental in a mango-peach salsa. But I did have avocado and cantaloupe in my fridge. Googling salsas using those fruits, I discovered that many call for red onions and lime juice. I didn’t have those in stock either so I worked with white onions and bottled lemon juice. I gathered them together and within minutes my salsa was done.
Considering I concocted the whole thing myself, something I never do, it turned out quite lovely. It was a really fresh topping for the salmon. My hubby actually liked it too, even though when he saw it in the bowl he said and I quote:

Do I have to eat that?

He didn’t have to but he did.

Good husband.

_DSC4218 copy (1280x848)Baked Salmon with Avocado-Melon Salsa
Serves two and a quarter (Molly loved salmon!)

2 6 oz salmon fillets

olive oil (I never measure)

1/2 avocado, diced
1/2 cup melon, diced (I used cantaloupe)
1/2 small onion, diced
3 tbsp lemon

1. Pan sear the salmon in olive oil for a minute or two on each side. Place in an oven proof dish and bake for 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees F until it flakes with a fork.

2. While salmon cooks, prepare the salsa. Simply combine the remaining ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes.

3. Spoon salsa onto baked salmon and serve!

Homemade Teething Biscuits

We’re in teething mode around here! The first two of Molly’s teeth arrived with little fuss but it seems we’re not going to get off easy with the next lot.

The other day I came across a recipe on Pinterest for homemade teething biscuits.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making snacks for Molly and thought this would be a good place to start! Once I got both kids down for a nap, I got to work.

It was a very easy recipe to work with, though I had to adapt it a bit as I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. The original recipe called for baby rice cereal, which I don’t have. I do have baby oat cereal, so I used that instead. Since Molly won’t eat the oat cereal on its own with a spoon, this is a great way to use it up!

The end result was pretty good! Molly was my taste tester and she seemed to like them!  I tasted one and it was quite pleasant. I might add a bit of molasses next time and see how that changes things.

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Homemade Teething Biscuits
Adapted from Sweet Treats and More

1 cup baby oat cereal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 banana, mashed
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together until a soft dough forms (I used my hands).
2. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thickness.
3. Use a cookie cutter to create shapes or cut dough into rectangles.
4. Place shaped cookies onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
5. Allow to cool and then baby can enjoy!

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New Recipe: Memphis Style Pork Chops

Last week, new recipe night fell on a particularly tough day with the kids. Molly was teething, constantly attached to my boob and couldn’t be put down while CK had a minor meltdown if I moved more than five feet from him or couldn’t pick him up.

It’s probably a good thing I forgot we have a couple bottles of wine in the cellar…

But as tough as it was, I was determine to follow through with making something new for dinner. My challenge was pork. I found a really great recipe in my Fast and Fresh Family Dinners cookbook published by Better Homes and Gardens: Memphis Style Pork Chops.

It looked fairly easy to pull together and better yet, I had all the ingredients on hand, except for apple cider vinegar. I substituted rice vinegar and I don’t think there would have been a major flavour difference. I made three chops rather than the four the recipe originally suggests. The recipe calls for them to be grilled on the BBQ but we hasn’t refilled our propane at that point, so I used the indoor grill instead.

They turned out really well and to quote my hubby:

This is how you do pork chops!

Memphis Style Pork Chops**
Adapted from Fast and Fresh Family Dinners by Better Homes and Gardens

1/2 cup bottled chilli sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chilli powder
3 boneless pork loin chops, cut 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. In a small saucepan, stir together chili sauce, molasses, vinegar, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, stir together basil, paprika, salt, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Rub this mixture into pork chops and refrigerate for an hour or more.

3. Place chops on indoor grill set to medium heat. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until juices run clear (160 degrees F), turning once and brushing with chili sauce mixture during the last 5 minutes of grilling.

**Sorry no pics! The ones I took were in horrible light and I just can’t post them