Sunday, February 28, 2010

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin, Apple Braised with a Cider and Garlic Glaze

I purchased some pork tenderloins at Costco a few weeks ago.  They were on sale and I'd never actually roasted one before.  I got a roasting pan for Christmas and I was looking forward to using it!  I found this recipe online, thought the flavors sounded delicious.  When I opened the package of tenderloins I found that it wasn't actually one tenderloin, but two - I should have know - I bought them at Costco.  I'd already thawed them and thought, what the heck, I'll double the recipe and pawn the leftovers off on my friends (not that that would be too hard).   

A couple notes about the recipe - I found that the cooking time was much shorter, by almost an hour.  My tenderloin was a little smaller than the recipe, but the cooking time was significantly shorter.  My recommendation would be to baste the roast about once every 15 minutes or so after browning.  After 30 minutes, start checking the temperature.  Make sure the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees and be sure to let the roast sit, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes.  Also, the glaze was delicious and I found myself wanting more.  I would double the glaze recipe to be sure there is plenty of glaze.

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin, Apple Braised with a Cider and Garlic Glaze

1 1/2 - 2 lb boneless pork loin
2 tsp butter, melted
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup apple juice
1 onion, washed, un-peeled, quartered
1 rib celery, chopped
1 large firm apple, quartered and seeded, un-peeled
1 1/2 cups apple cider
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

Pre-heat oven to 450 F.

Trim most of the visible fat from the pork. Rub melted butter over the pork loin. In a shallow dish, mix together herbs, salt & pepper.

Place pork loin face down in the herb mixture, pressing it in well. Turning pork over, coat with the rest of the spices. Place in a shallow roasting pan, and roast uncovered for approximately 30 minutes, turning pork to brown well on all sides.

Reduce heat to 325 F. Pour apple juice into pan, add onion, celery and apple. Cover with foil. Continue to roast until pork is done and very tender, basting occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest (still covered) for 15 minutes.


Pour 1 1/2 cups of apple cider into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and simmer until only 1/2 cup remains. Pour in the pan juices from the pork and return to a boil. Reduce until it becomes a sauce consistency of about 3/4 cup volume. Strain and serve with pork.



Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

1 (5-pound) bag Yukon gold potatoes
2 shallots, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 (8-ounce) package shredded six cheese Italian blend (I used mozzarella and asiago)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish. Place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer one-third of potatoes evenly over bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with half of shallots, half of salt, and half of cheese. Layer second third of potatoes over cheese; sprinkle with remaining shallots, salt, and cheese. Top evenly with remaining potatoes.

In a small bowl, combine cream and water. Slowly pour cream mixture over potatoes. Cover and bake 11/2 hours. Uncover, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Makes 10 - 12 servings

Note: Potatoes can be prepared 1 day ahead. Complete method to baking stage; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tomato Basil Soup in Puff Pastry

I made this tomato basil soup recipe upon a recommendation from a friend.  I’d also wanted to try a Cream of Tomato Soup in Puff Pastry recipe from a great book my Mom purchased for me called, Soup’s On!  In this recipe, tomato soup is put into small crocks and then covered with puff pastry, baked until a small dome of dough puffs up on top of the crock.  The recipe for the Cream of Tomato Soup looked a little bland for my tastes, so I used the puff pastry idea with a Tomato Basil Soup recipe from The Food Network.  Here’s the combination of both recipes plus a few small alterations. 

Tomato Basil Soup in Puff Pastry

3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with their juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 quart chicken stock or water
1 lb puff pastry dough
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet (covered with foil for easy clean-up) and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. 

Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock.  Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, a blender, or food processor.  Taste for seasonings.

Let soup cool a bit and pour into oven-safe crocks.  Roll out the puff pastry to ¼ inch thick.  Cut out rounds slightly larger than your crocks.  In a small bowl, beat together the egg with 1 tablespoon cold water.  Use a brush to pain the dough with the egg wash and then turn the circles, egg wash-side down, over the tops of the cups, pulling lightly on the sides to make the dough somewhat tight like a drum (Try not to allow the dough to touch the soup).  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Lightly paint the top of the dough rounds with egg wash without pushing the dough down.  Bake until the dough is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Do not open the oven in the first several minutes of cooking, as the dough may fall.  Serve immediately.




Monday, February 15, 2010

Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue

1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat. Serve in fondue pot.

Use dippers such as hazelnut or almond biscotti, salted pretzel sticks, cubed pound cake, sliced bananas, strawberries, sectioned navel oranges, ripe fresh diced pineapple.

* Recipe found here.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is my all time favorite type of salad.  You can't beat fresh tomtatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  I've seen quite a few recipes for this salad and ordered it at a variety of restaurants.  The recipe below is my favorite way to eat this salad.

Caprese Salad

3 Vine-Ripened Tomatoes sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
1 lb of fresh mozzarella sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
15-20 fresh basil leaves
1/2 bag of Spring Mix salad
Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cracked Pepper
Dash Salt

Scatter Spring Mix salad onto the serving plate.  Top with sliced tomatoes followed by basil leaves.  Pour small amounts of Balsamic Vinaigrette over the salad depending on your tastes.  Add slices of mozzarella and top with a dash of salt, some cracked pepper, and a sprinkling of oregano.  Finish with a drizzling of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 

Fondue Dinner

This Valentine's Day I prepared a delicious fondue dinner for my boyfriend who had never eaten fondue before. We cooked chicken breasts, steak, and dough in oil. I made a Caprese Salad to accompany the meal.  Hope you enjoy the pictures from our dinner!

The Pot
A good hot oil fondue pot will usually be made from steel, copper, or enameled cast iron. It will have short handles to avoid being knocked over and can go up to very high temperatures (375 degrees Fahrenheit). It should be curved at the top or have splashguards to avoid hot oil splatters.  My pot is electric and it has a plug that is magnetized, so the slightest pull on the cord separates the cord from the pot.  This is a great safety feature and I'd recommend that you research the safety features of pots before you purchase one.

The Oil
Popular oils for meat fondue are vegetable, canola, grapeseed, and peanut oil. Peanut oil and grapeseed oil are the highest quality, but they are also the most expensive. Vegetable and canola oil work fairly well, although vegetable shortening is preferred to either of these because it has less odor. Oil should be heated to just below the boiling point (about 375 degrees Fahrenheit). A deep-frying thermometer is a handy tool for helping to determine the temperature of the oil.

The Meat
Choose a tender cut of beef such as tenderloin (recommended) or sirloin. The more it is aged the better. Use chicken breasts as well! Meat should be cut into ¾ inch cubes and have all fat and sinew removed. Plan for six ounces of meat per person.

The Bread
Purchase some unrisen dough that you should be able to find in the freezer section of your local grocery store.  Thaw the dough and cut into bite size pieces.  Lay these pieces out on a baking sheet or large plate.  Place a light towel over the dough and let rise in a warm location for a few hours.  Directions can usually be found on the dough's package.  Make sure to serve the bread with garlic butter - just melt butter with smashed garlic.

The Dipping Sauces
Raid your pantry and refrigerator for various sauces that can be used in which to dip the meat.  Examples: A1, BBQ, teriyaki, hot sauce, rooster sauce, and melted garlic butter (for the dough puffs).

Fondue Dinner

Chicken Breasts
Beef tenderloin or sirloin
Oil (enough to fill half of your pan)

Trim fat and sinew from beef and cut into ¾ inch chunks. Blot with paper towel and put in refrigerator while oil is heating. In a medium saucepan, heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer to fondue pot. Do not overfill the pot. About half full works best.

Spear a chunk of beef with fondue fork and place in hot oil. Cook until beef is done to your satisfaction (approximately 30 seconds for rare, 45 for medium-rare, and 1 minute to well done). Remove from fork and transfer to plate (fondue fork will be very hot). Eat with sauces of your choice.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a deep-frying thermometer. You can still test the temperature of the oil for cooking. Simply drop a bread cube into the oil and see if it turns golden brown within 30 seconds.

Too many fondue forks in the pot at one time will lower the temperature of the oil and cause the meat to not cook properly. 




*Most of this information comes directly from a really helpful fondue website

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

I found this recipe about 3 or 4 years ago in Cooking Light.  My only experience with Swedish Meatballs is the Ikea store cafeteria.  Don't quite think it's that authentic, but it tastes great - hehe.  In this recipe I used ground turkey instead of chicken and whole wheat bread instead of rye.  Upon making this I realized I was going to need to double the amount of chicken stock and add a tad bit more sour cream.  When I make this again I'm going to add onions to the meatballs too.

I served the meatballs with Cooking Light's Buttered Poppy Seed Noodles.  It's simple to make - cook 8 oz of wide egg noodles.  Add a tablespoon or two of butter, chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds, some salt and pepper to the noddles - combine!

Swedish Meatballs

2  (1-ounce) slices rye bread 
1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast 
3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided 
1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg 
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper 
1  large egg white 
1  tablespoon  canola oil 
1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 
1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour 
1  (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream 
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 cup. Place breadcrumbs in a medium bowl; set aside.

Place chicken in food processor, and pulse until ground. Add chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, pepper, and egg white to breadcrumbs in bowl; stir until combined. Shape mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, chicken broth, and flour to pan, stirring with a whisk until combined. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in sour cream, and return the meatballs to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 10 minutes or until meatballs are done and sauce is thick. Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve with wide egg noodles and a vegetable.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 269 (21% from fat)
Fat: 6.3g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.6g,poly 1.5g)
Protein: 32.3g
Fiber: 1g
Cholesterol: 72mg
Iron: 1.5mg
Sodium: 783mg
Calcium: 117mg

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Korma

This recipe was delicious and I'm now even considering using Greek Plain Yogurt instead of sour cream in all of my recipes.  It was so spectacular as a topping to these pita sandwiches.  

I don't often cook with ground chicken or ground turkey and I was pleasantly surprised by the consistency and taste.  I will admit I was a little worried as I cooked the ground turkey (Yes, I used ground turkey instead of chicken because I couldn't find any!).  The turkey looked mushy and paste-like.  In the end, though - I was impressed!  I also doubled the amount of peas and cilantro in this recipe because, well frankly - I just love peas and I put cilantro on everything.  

While shopping in Trader Joe's, I came across some Middle Eastern Flatbread that I've used before to make tacos.  This bread is soft, chewy, and flavorful, so I used this instead of the "better for you" pita.  I didn't use cashews because I'm not a big fan of nuts, yet I bet that would have added a nice crunch to each bite.  I also didn't add any hot sauce because I'm a mid-western Caucasian and sensitive to spice.  I know most of my friends would have added a dash of hot sauce to their pita though.

Chicken Korma

1 large red onion; 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
3/4 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
4 pocketless pitas (or flatbread)

Chopped cashews and/or hot sauce, for garnish (optional)

Puree the chopped onion in a food processor with the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sliced onion and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, until slightly dry, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the chicken and cook until opaque, breaking up the meat.  Mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup water, add to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes.  Add the peas and cilantro and season with salt.

Meanwhile, heat another skillet over hight heat.  Brush the pitas with oil, season with salt and toast in the skillet, about 1 minute per side.  Divide the chicken mixture among the pitas.  Top with more yogurt and cilantro.  Garnish and cashews and/or hot sauce, if desired.

Serves 4

Per serving:
Calories 463
Fat 25g (Saturated 4g)
Cholesteral 57mg
Sodium 748mg
Carbohydrate 41g
Fiber 3g
Protein 21g

Recipe taken from The Food Network Magazine "Chicken Korma" March 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Philly Cheeseteak Casserole

Philly Cheeseteak Casserole

1 (16 oz) pkg. bowtie pasta
2 T. vegetable oil
2 onions chopped
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can milk
4 (4 oz) can mushroom
1/2 t. thyme
4 C. shredded Cheddar cheese divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 C. bread crumbs
3 T. butter melted

Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté' onions until they begin to soften. Add ground beef and cook stirring until evenly browned. Drain off grease and pour into the bowl with the pasta. Stir in the soup, soup can of milk, mushrooms and thyme until well blended. Mix in 3 C. of the cheese, and season with salt and pepper. 

Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and melted butter. Mix in remaining cheese. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top if golden and crispy.

French Onion Soup

This is my mom's recipe. Maybe you've noticed a trend ;-) I do get quite a few of my recipes from her. She's an amazing cook!

French Onion Soup

1 quart thinly sliced yellow onions
1 clove garlic, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 cans (10 1/2oz) condensed beef broth
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup medium dry sherry
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated and divided
Thinly sliced French bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Saute onions and garlic in butter until golden brown (this may take awhile). Mix in undiluted beef broth, wines, Worcestershire and salt. Heat through. Add 1 1/2 Cups Monterey cheese. Ladle into four or six oven proof bowls distributing cheese as evenly as possible.

Top each serving with one slice of French bread. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese (so the top is completely covered) and Romano cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and soup is hot and bubbly.

This recipe is easy to add or subtract to suit your tastes. You can use more or less butter, sherry, and cheese.