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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions


Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions
slightly adapted from Inspired Taste

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1-1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large apple, cored and sliced
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter

Method

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees Celsius).

Trim tenderloin of any silver skin. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Then, using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with 1 teaspoon of the oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, and rub until evenly coated.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork tenderloin and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned all over (this should take about 8 to 10 minutes). Transfer the browned pork to a large plate or cutting board.

Add the apples and onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned around edges, about 4 minutes.

While the apples and onions cook, use a pastry brush (or use your hands) to rub the pork all over with the mustard, sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon of the thyme and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and rub until it is evenly coated.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of thyme to the apples and onions, stir. Then, place pork tenderloin on top of apples and onions and slide into the oven. Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads between 145 and 150 degrees. Transfer pork to a large plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest about 10 minutes.

While the pork rests, place the pan with apples and onions back onto the stove and turn heat to medium. Add chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan, lifting any brown bits from the bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Add butter and stir until melted.

Slice pork into 1-inch slices then serve on a bed of the apples and onions with pan sauce drizzled on top.



NOTES

I am super proud of this recipe. I've been trying to make some kind of pork chops, apples and onions dish for ages and while they were mostly very good, none were mind-blowing. I abandoned the idea for a good couple of years. Then I stumbled across this beautiful looking recipe using tenderloin instead of chops and I knew I had to try again. My kitchen skills are much improved since my last attempts and I had a feeling I would not only be able to find the right balance of meat to onions to apples to herbs, but also pull off a pan sauce worth raving about.

And I did. It was a resounding success. Steve, who was rather, um, not fond of any of my previous versions and was hesitant when I told him what I was making, said after a few bites: "You have to make this again next week. This is ridiculous."

Agreed. It is a spectacular, delicious, repeatable dish. Finally. Success!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

M&M and Chocolate Chip Cookies




M&M and Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Sweet Anna's

Ingredients

2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (6 ounces) mini m&ms

Method

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper (I don't have three; I rotate two).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the egg, egg yolk & vanilla until smooth.

Beat in the flour mixture until just combined and then stir in the chocolate chips and m&ms.

Spoon the dough by rough tablespoons onto the baking sheet. Allowing plenty of space in between cookies so that they have room to spread.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of your cookies - until the cookies are barely golden brown around the edges. Keep an eye on them. Don't over-bake.

Remove them from the oven, leaving the cookies on the baking sheets until they have firmed up enough to lift off the pans, 2 or 3 minutes.

Enjoy warm or transfer to cooling racks, then store in an air-tight container.

NOTES

The M&M cookie recipe I have been looking for. Not too thick, crisp around the edges, dense and moist in the middle, with plenty of chocolate and candy chunks all the way through. One for the books.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snickerdoodles



Snickerdoodles
with help from Foodie with Family and Sally's Baking Addiction
(makes 3 dozen)

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 and 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Method

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed, until smooth. Add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 parts. The dough will be quite thick and you may have to stir the last of it by hand.

Toss 2 tablespoons granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Take a heaping tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the cinnamon-sugar topping. Sprinkle extra cinnamon-sugar on top if desired.

Bake cookies for about 12 minutes. The cookies will be very puffy and soft. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Method

I finally made snickerdoodles! I couldn't be happier. These came out puffy, tall, soft and light, just the way I wanted them, and they were absolutely stunning with coffee the next day:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fudgy Chocolate Chip and Peanut Brownies

No, not peanut butter, actual peanuts. Apparently this is not a thing? Read more after the recipe.



Fudgy Chocolate Chip and Peanut Brownies

Ingredients

3/4 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons water
20 ounces + 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup roasted, salted peanuts

Method

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease (or spray with non-stick cooking spray) a 9x13 baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat. Stir in 20 ounces chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate chips and the peanuts with a tablespoon or two of flour to lightly coat. Gently fold into the batter, then pour into the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies set up. Do not overbake! Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

NOTES

So. Peanuts. Steve really likes peanuts in the chocolate chip cookies I've been making, so I was intent on making brownies with them as well. But, much to my surprise, I couldn't find a recipe for brownies like that anywhere. I hunted for an hour and no luck. Hm. I decided I was just going to have to invent my own. I'd never made brownies at all, though, so I at least needed a base. I carefully studied six or eight different recipes and gathered ideas from all of them before venturing off into the kitchen. That's my favorite way to create a recipe, really, and I have great success that way. This time was no exception.

(Side note: obviously if you don't like/are allergic to peanuts you can omit them or substitute with chopped pecans or walnuts!)

These were decadent, rich, fudgy, delicious BLISS. I did underbake them a little, I think out of fear of overbaking, AND I cut into them too quickly. Our first plates were basically a goopy chocolate peanut mess (oh. darn.). Later in the evening and the next day, completely cooled, their texture was flawless. So yeah, I do recommend leaving them in the full 30 minutes and also letting them cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Noodle Soup



Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients

1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1-1/2 pounds cooked turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 quarts stock (preferably homemade turkey or chicken stock)
1 12-ounce bag wide egg noodles
1-1/3 cups frozen green peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and celery and saute about 5 minutes, until soft. Add turkey, thyme, salt and black pepper and stir to mix well. Add stock and bring mixture to a boil. Add egg noodles. Cook 10 minutes, until egg noodles are just tender. Stir in peas and cook until peas are just heated through, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve.

NOTES

Best noodle soup ever. Simple, delicious, nourishing, and the perfect thing to do with the first couple of quarts of homemade turkey stock from Thanksgiving.

(Note: obviously, if not holiday time, this could easily be made with chicken instead.)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chicken, Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry


Chicken, Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

Ingredients

4 to 6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bites (see notes)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon each of cumin, cardamom, coriander, garam masala, kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 14.5-oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2 cups hot water
16 ounces cauliflower florets
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 "bunch" cilantro, finely chopped

Method

Heat a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and saute until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes, until barely tender. Add cumin, cardamom, coriander, garam masala, kosher salt and cayenne and stir for another 30 seconds until very fragrant. Immediately pour in the petite diced tomatoes, scraping the pan until all the cooked bits come loose. Add the hot water and cauliflower, bring just to a boil, and cook until cauliflower is soft, about 6 or 7 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in chickpeas and cilantro. Serve over rice or with naan, if desired.


NOTES

Simple, nutritious, very quick - and so delicious I made it twice in one week. I ate mine pretty "soupy," with no grain or bread, though obviously that would be the preferred way for most.

Cooking note: this could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the chicken and starting the pan off with a tablespoon of olive oil instead. Additional chickpeas could be added for bulk and would make the end result less liquid.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Chipotle Chicken Chili


Chipotle Chicken Chili
(heavily altered, but inspired by this post from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (see NOTES)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 12-ounce bottle beer (I used regular Modelo)
1 cup water
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
2 14.5-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (about half a "bunch")

For serving: sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, scallions, limes, corn chips, etc.

Method

Heat large pot over medium high heat, then add the chicken, cumin, oregano and salt. Saute for about 7 or 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the onion and garlic and stir. Cook for a few minutes more, until onion is soft. Add the beer and cook for 2 minutes to slightly reduce. Add the water, tomatoes, chipotles, beans and ancho chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a hard simmer. Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the lime juice and cilantro. Stir to combine, then remove from heat. Serve with desired accompaniments.


NOTES

Salty, sweet, smoky, spicy; this was instant love. Intense flavor with so few ingredients and chock full of protein to boot? Our perfect kind of meal.

As always, if you start with chicken breast, you will need a teaspoon or two of oil to get things going. Also, mine is soupier than a traditional chili, I realize, so if you want to make it thicker, you can blend some masa harina with water or more beer (1:1 ratio) or add a third can of beans. Ree did both in the post that inspired this dish. Up to you, but Steve and I loved it so tremendously as is, I think I will leave it for now.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken, Chickpea and Barley Stew



Chicken, Chickpea and Barley Stew

Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 quarts stock or water
1 cup uncooked barley
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 to 10 ounces spinach, finely chopped

Method

Heat a large deep pot over medium high. Add chicken and saute until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add carrots, onion and garlic. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, and pepper; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the stock or water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Add barley and simmer for 20 minutes, until barley is tender. Add chickpeas; cook 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in spinach until wilted. Add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup hot water, as needed, to create desired consistency. Serve.


NOTES

This was absolutely delicious and everything I envisioned it to be when I was concocting it in my head.

This is also a wonderful example of how learning proper cooking method can gift you with multiple recipes. All this is, basically, is a riff on my chicken and orzo soup (which was a riff on my Italian sausage and white bean soup HA!), but with spinach instead of kale, chickpeas instead of white beans, barley instead of orzo. Couple of additional herbs. Voila. New stew.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Skillet Sausage, Red Beans and Rice




Skillet Sausage, Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients

12 ounces precooked andouille (or other smoked pork sausage), sliced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 medium red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (one color or a variety)
1 large stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water or stock
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (see below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)

For serving:
Cooked white rice
Chopped scallions
Louisiana hot sauce

Creole seasoning:
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
5 tablespoons paprika (I use half hot, half sweet)
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Method

Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Place the sausage in the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it has released some of its fat into the pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Saute 5 to 6 minutes, until vegetables are just soft. Stir in tomatoes, water, Creole seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is desired consistency.

Remove bay leaves. Stir in the kidney beans and fresh herbs. Serve immediately over cooked rice, with chopped scallions and Louisiana hot sauce on the side.

NOTES

Take the meat, beans, vegetables and seasonings of my Crock Pot Sausage, Red Beans and Rice, combine it with the method and tomato base of my quick Weeknight Jambalaya, and you get this: a hearty, complex, spicy, powerhouse little dish that only takes 15 minutes actual cooking time. Awesome.

Steve took a few bites and said he could eat this anytime I want to put it on the menu. Instant win.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice



Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice
slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients
1 medium pineapple, cut into large chunks (I get about 1.5 lb yield)
4 cups white rice, cooked (yield from 1 cup dry)
6 medium bone-in pork loin chops
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
1 large sweet onion, sliced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha
3 cloves minced garlic
2 whole eggs
1 small red or yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1-1/3 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons soy sauce (additional)

Method

Saute pineapple chunks over high heat in a cast iron skillet until they have good marks/color on the outside. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a very large deep skillet. Add the pork chops to the pan. Saute on both sides until they have nice color. Throw in the sliced onions and work them into the crevices between the chops. Shake the pan and move the onions around and let them cook for a good couple of minutes.

When the onions are starting to soften, add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, and hot sauce. Shake the pan, stir it around, and let it cook and bubble up for a good couple of minutes until the pork chops are completely cooked and the sauce is thicker. Remove the pork chops to a bowl, then let the sauce bubble up and cook for another 30 to 45 seconds. Pour it over the pork chops. Set aside.

Add the other 1/2 tablespoon oil to the same pan and return it to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and sauté for two minutes, until just soft. Add garlic and stir it around, then crack in the eggs and immediately stir them to scramble. Add peas and a couple of tablespoons (additional) soy sauce. Add cooked rice and stir it around to cook for a couple of minutes. gently stir in the cooked pineapple chunks.

To serve, pile rice on a plate, then top with a pork chops and onions from the sauce. Drizzle a little bit of sauce over the top.


NOTES

Oh. My. Goodness. This is heaven on a plate. Ree NAILED it with this one. I made it once and we loved it and then... well, I tried, as I do with most things, to make it into a one-pot dish with cut up pieces of pork.

Nuh uh. No. I made it the second time tonight and yep, it's perfect just the way it is. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Make this. Make it make it make it. You won't regret it.