Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday Night Pork Tenderloin

Wanting to make something nice for Sunday dinner, I turned to one of my favorites - the pork tenderloin...

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Pears

  • 1 large or 2 small pork tenderloins, totaling about 1.5 lbs
  • 1 can pears in juice
  • 3 apples, cut into 1" wide chunks
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 T honey
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 2 T stone ground mustard

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, and mustards.

Place tenderloin(s) in baking dish. Surround with apples and pour pears & juices around it. Pour soy sauce mixture over tenderloin.

Cover dish with tin foil. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove foil and bake 10-15 minutes longer (until center of tenderloin reads 140 degrees on a meat thermometer). Set pork on a cutting board and tent with foil.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cooking to allow juices to redistribute. Slice in 1/4" slices and serve alongside of apples and pears.

Couscous with Carrots and Cranberries

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 2 tsp chopped chives

In a saucepan, combine chicken broth, salt and carrots and bring to a boil. Add couscous and cranberries, remove from heat, and cover for 6-8 minutes.

Stir in chives and serve alongside of pork tenderloin, apples, & pears.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicken Soup to Spice up the Soul!

Over the weekend, I watched Rick Bayless's show called "Mexico: One Plate at a Time." The show featured a number of recipes using lime as an ingredient.

He made a lime chicken soup on the show that inspired me to go into my kitchen and create a similar dish that I will now have as part of my permanent repertoire - it was so good! I admit, I was hesitant about LIME in chicken soup, but it is an amazing flavor you just have to try!

The ingredients I used were items I had on hand. Quick, easy, but satisfying- this spicy 1-pot meal is a great weeknight dinner!

Sara's Lime-Chicken Soup

For the tortilla garnish:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tortillas, sliced into 1/4" strips

Heat oil in a large pot on the stove one medium-high (the same pot will be used to make the soup later).

Add tortilla strips and stir constantly until they brown slightly and start to crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the soup:

  • 1 32 oz container organic low-sodium chicken stock (I like Wegman's store brand)
  • Juice of 2 limes (this juicer is really the best at getting all of the juice out!)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies and juice
  • 1 can pinto or cannellini beans (rinsed)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 chicken breasts

To a large stockpot, add chicken stock, lime juice, tomatoes & juice, beans, onion, salt & pepper and heat to medium-high.

Sink chicken breasts into broth, cover, turn heat down to med-low an walk away (that's the best part)!

Leave soup to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board. Pull chicken apart with 2 forks into bite sized pieces. Return to soup.

Serve topped with tortilla strips and a dollop of sour cream!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The kitchen tool I couldn't live without...

I did not make anything too entirely noteworthy for dinner last night, just chicken chili. In fact, I cheated and used a McCormick seasoning mix, which are great for weeknight meals when you don't feel like standing on your feet making dinner for an hour after you've worked all day. McCormick, please contact me if you are interested in forming some sort of alliance... ;)

The packet instructs you to cube your chicken, but I just used ground chicken which worked beautifully. I also had a jalapeño in the fridge, so I diced that up and threw it in the pot with a little diced onion. I served it over rice with a little sour cream, shredded cheddar and slices of avocado to garnish. Yum! Chicken chili is a nice, lighter alternative to the regular beef chili that I make (which is a favorite of mine... maybe someday I'll even give you my recipe!).

Since I do not have much to write about concerning last night's dinner, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about favorite kitchen gadgets. Speaking of serving chili over rice, one of my favorite gadgets is my rice cooker. I love being able to measure rice, water and salt, flip it on and walk away. I sometimes make large batches at a time to use throughout the week.

The best part about my rice cooker is that it also has a steamer basket that I can nest on top of the bowl, so while I am cooking rice, I can steam vegetables at the same time! I bought my cooker for $20.00 at Target a while back and it is sadly time to replace it. The non-stick surface has been scratched by too many metal spoons dishing out rice (oops!). So my search begins for an upgrade…

Another tool/gadget I could not live without are my tongs. I particularly love my Oxo Good Grips tongs which have nylon heads so they don’t scratch your pots & pans. In fact, I love just about everything that Oxo makes. I use tongs all the time when I am cooking on the stove top (which I do a lot). Sautéing a chicken breast, taking pasta out of cooking water, making a stir-fry…

What cooking gadgets do you use the most? Do you have a gadget that is just your favorite even if you don’t use it often?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nothin' says lovin' like potato chips from the oven!

My good friend Priya and I were chatting about mandolines the other day, and it made me think of a coworker who is always talking about the oven-made potato chips that she makes. Inspired, I went in search of a way to prepare this version of America's snacking staple. I rarely give my mandoline any attention and it is such a great tool, I felt the need to dust it off and show it some love.

I scoured the internet for a good way to prepare them and found something along the lines of:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Scrub potatoes and slice very thin with a mandoline. Spread them out in a single layer on the baking sheet and spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt after removing from the oven.

I tried this recipe with two different types of potatoes to see which would work best: baking (aka russet, Idaho) and all-purpose. The baking potatoes were not good for this project at all. Their high starch content caused the chips to be either under-baked or extra-crispy with no happy medium. The all purpose potatoes worked much better. Keep an eye on them though; they cook unevenly and become brown very quickly.

It may not be worth doing instead of just buying the stinking things, but this project was fun to try and a healthier option than most store-bought chips. If you feel up for this job, I warn you that you may need to try this a few times; practice will probably make the finished product much better. Also, don't plan on saving any leftovers - I tried this and resulted with undesirable soggy potato slices.

Do you have any noteworthy experiences with your mandoline? Please share them with us!

I apologize for the lack of a picture- I am working on getting original photos of my projects on here. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hail to the London Broil!

Ahh, the London Broil. Technically, London Broil refers to the preparation style of a flank or round steak. The ease and versatility of the London Broil has made it one of my favorite little entrees! Plus, my grandmother used to make it a lot, so there is something nostalgic about this little beef wonder...

On Tuesday night, I marinated a top round steak in Worcestershire sauce and a little salt & pepper, broiled it (7 and a half minutes per side produced something a little too well-done for my taste but still yummy!) and used half of it in Cooking Light's Southwestern Steak, Corn, and Black Bean Wraps in honor of Cinco De Mayo. A little tip I learned is if you have a gas range - place the tortillas directly over the flame on the burner for 8-10 seconds per side. It chars them slightly and gives them a wonderful flavor.

I reserved half of the London Broil for the next day, and served the wraps up with tortilla chips (Trader Joe's!), guacamole (Wholey Guacamole is my favorite pre-made brand) and of course... margaritas! While my boyfriend Ryan didn't seem to appreciate my festive approach to the evening, I was quite content.

Wednesday night, I used the left-over London Broil to make Cooking Light's Steak, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Mozzarella Couscous Salad. I had a little leftover aged Asiago cheese that I threw in as well - you can NEVER have enough cheese - and it was delicious.

For all of these Cooking Light recipes, you can find them here.

*Side note - I omitted the cilantro in the Steak Wraps. As some of you know, I hate cilantro. To me, it tastes like soap - which is rumored to be caused by genetics. I was amused to find that Julia Child also hated cilantro, which to me validates my pure hatred for the herb. If you share in this phenomenon, I thought you might like to know there is a website for those of us who do not enjoy eating soap -!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Chipotle Dressing

Dear Faithful Readers:

I am sorry that it has been so long since I've posted. I was on a brief hiatus, but rest assured, I am still here!

That being said, I'd like to share a recipe that I made last night for dinner with the girls. It was an excellent summer meal and very easy to make. The recipe is from the June/July issue of Cooking Pleasures Magazine.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Raspberry-Chipotle Dressing

  • 1 (1 1/4 lb.) pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce*
  • 8 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
Heat grill to medium/medium-high.

Sprinkle pork with salt & pepper, cover and grill for (turning to brown on all sides) 12-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (pork will be a little pink in center, don't be afraid! This is completely safe and much tastier than cooking the daylights out of your meat!)

Remove pork from grill and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

Meanwhile, whisk preserves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chiles in medium bowl.

Arrange pork over spinach (I did not use spinach, but served over rice with a side of asparagus & a salad). Top with dressing, sprinkle with fresh raspberries.

*Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce can be found in the Hispanic foods section of the supermarket.

PS- I apologize for my lack of quality photos in recent posts... you can surely tell the difference between my pictures (amateur) and Ryan's (aka "the boyfriend" aka "the multi-talented man"!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

La Mousse Chocolatée

I am not the world's biggest fan of chocolate (strange, I know!) but one thing I absolutely adore is chocolate mousse. The recipe I use is fairly simple, and extremely delicious!

Chocolate Mousse (makes 4 servings)
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 extra large eggs, yolks and white divided
Break the chocolate into pieces and process in a food processor until it is the consistency of coffee grounds.

Heat cream to the boiling point. With the motor of your food processor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process a few seconds until smooth.

Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks to the hot chocolate mixture and process for a few seconds to incorporate. The heat from the chocolate will cook the eggs, so do not worry about consuming raw egg yolks. Transfer to a large bowl and cool completely.

In an electric mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. If you don't have an electric mixer, you may do this by hand. Temper the eggs by adding 1/4 of the whites to the chocolate mixture and carefully folding in using a large rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg whites.

Pour the mousse into the serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For serving, I topped with raspberries, a dollop of home made whipped cream, and more raspberries. To make home made whipped cream:

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract (most recipes call for vanilla, but I think this gives it something extra)
Whip cream in a mixer or use a hand mixer until almost stiff. Add sugar and almond extract; beat until cream holds peaks.

Make this treat for someone special and sit back as they worship the ground you walk on... ;)

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