Monday, July 19, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Spiced Apples

I love pork tenderloin, it is lean, cooks fast and while at first look it seems to be an expensive cut but there are no bones, tiny amount of fat.. that means there is very minimal waste, so it ends up being quite reasonable.

It is a very often overlooked, healthy protein that is wonderful for a week night meal when you have little time and want maximum reward.

Today I spiced the tenderloin with a mixture of

1 Tablespoon sage
1 Teaspoon thyme
1 Teaspoon all spice
1 Teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Mix this up add a little olive oil (to make a paste) and rubbed it all over the meat. Let it set for about an hour...

Put a little olive oil in an oven proof pan and sear the meat on all sides...
then cook it off at 425 for about 20 min.. until the internal temp is about 150 (this is super tender and just slightly pink in the center) Don't overcook!

Don't forget to let the meat rest for about 10-15 min before you cut into it.

While your meat is in the oven cut up a few (I used 4) apples. I use pink lady or fuji, I don't know much about apples but these are the ones we eat in our house and I am not going to buy special apples for a recipe. Heat about 2 tablespoons of butter, add the apples and let them start to get a little color on them, add 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 cup water, it should start boiling pretty much right away, just let it boil for about 2-3 min until your sauce thickens... then remove from the heat. Serve over the pork or with a little cinnamon cream for dessert. You can't go wrong either way.

Today we served this with roasted veg and a creamy cheese soup.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sandwich Night

Another boring sandwich night? I think not! With a few swaps you can turn a sandwich into a wonderful meal.

Swap out your flat white bread for a roll, baguette, or even better you own home made bread (pictured)
Swap out your bulk lunch meat for a Salami, Serrano ham, Chorizo......
And please swap out your square American cheese for a Provolone, Goat, Munster, Swiss......
In place of your lettuce try a few basil leaves

Toss a few olives on the side, maybe a nice spinach salad and you have a sandwich night that will not leave you disappointed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Healthy Enchiladas??

I was talking to a very special someone who was looking for a healthy version of my enchiladas... um... healthy enchiladas??? OK so here goes...

I am using boneless skinless chicken breast because that is what was requested but you can use a super lean cut of steak like a flank steak or a round with all of the visible fat trimmed off. I am a fan of been in enchiladas so I would use steak but today we use chicken.

The star of our show

The Sauce

2 med onions (diced)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 beef bullion cubes (yes use beef even though we are cooking chicken for the filling)
3 tablespoons canola oil (canola oil is just as heart healthy as olive)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons hatch chili powder (find this here)
2-3 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Toss onion and 1 tablespoon oil on a cookie sheet...

and bake at 400 for 30 min (stir at the halfway mark) add garlic and cook 5 min. Remove from pan and set aside.

Put remaining 2 Tablespoons oil in a deep skillet, sprinkle the flour in and whisk...

let this cook for 5 minutes. Whisk in chili powder (it will look a little like red clay)

Add 2 cups water, bullion cubes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over med heat...

When bullion cubes are dissolved (I put 3 in here today and it was a little much so stick with 2) add onion and garlic and remove from heat. If it is too thick just add a little more water.

To assemble the enchiladas take a corn tortilla dip in the sauce...

top with cooked shredded chicken and cheese, keep doing this until you have the right amount per person. (excuse the messy photography here)

Top with a fried egg.
Ok ok, I know...fried egg... maybe not so healthy but hey, I cooked the onions in the oven to reduce oil, used reduced fat cheese (ok not really but you can), used skinless chicken breast... let me have the fried egg!

Note. The chicken used here was just cooked in foil with a little salt, garlic, onions then shredded.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


It is said that a true Italian makes pesto with nothing more than a knife, and a food processor is just shy of the devil himself.. but today this Italian girl has about 5 minutes to make this batch so we will use the food processor.
The recipe for pesto isn't really a recipe exactly, some times I add a little lemon zest and juice, sometimes I do not...
Keep this in mind, for every cup (ish) of basil you want 1 clove of garlic.. this is a nice balance.

today we are making a rather large batch so we are going to use
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
almost a cup of Parmesan (fresh grated please)
some good quality extra virgin olive oil
and a large zip lock bag of fresh basil
toss the garlic in and give it a whirl (or you can use the garlic paste we made here)then toss the nuts and cheese and let it go for a min...

add the basil and drizzle the olive oil in until you get the consistency you want, you will want a moist pesto the oil helps preserve all of the good stuff we put in.

Ok so you just made pesto... now what?!? Well, you can slather this on bread, pasta, chicken, fish, pretty much anything you want. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coming Soon Pesto!

A dear friend gave me a HUGE bunch of basil... stay tuned!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Soft White Bread

I have had some questions about the soft white loaf I posted on here earlier so I have played around a bit and found a simpler recipe for you guys...I have also created a video for it so you can see step by step what we do.

The cast for the show today
4 cups flour (bread or all purpose)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dry milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon butter
approx 1 1/4 cup warm water (hot will kill your yeast, you want your water to be about body temp)

Bake at 350 until golden about 30 min

Note about the video... for some reason getting it from my computer to you tube it lost a lot of quality, you tube couldn't keep up with my mixer speed! lol
Excuse the poor quality during the mixing scenes.

That's a wrap! (if you want to keep the crust soft that is) LOL

Friday, April 30, 2010


If you don't know what a "sopaipilla" is let me introduce you to heaven...sometimes this is a savory heaven stuffed with meat and cheese, other times it is a lovely pillow begging for a drizzle of honey (or chocolate is you are my daughter lol) Here is what we need for our culinary trip to New Mexico!

4 cups flour (all purpose or bread)
4 tablespoons shortening (not the butter flavored)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup warm water

cut the shortening into the flour (using a fork, pastry cutter or your finger tips break the shortening up into tiny pieces that are worked all through the flour) then add the salt, baking powder and stir together. Next add the water, the dough will be messy and look way too dry...

but once you work it a little bit...

it all comes together. From here cover it with plastic wrap then with a towel and let it rest for about 30-45 min. Then roll out super thin, see how thin this is?

Still not thin enough... keep rolling... nope not yet roll a little more... the thinner they are the better they puff (and taste!) Then you need to cut them into squares and deep fry them.. watch how they transform in the video below

Now isn't that a beauty???

Now what?? Well you can stuff them like we did here with some shredded pork, New Mexican chile and cheese.

Or, open them up and fill them with honey

Or just drizzle the top and take many pictures because they are so absolutely beautiful!

Whatever way you have them I hope you enjoy a little taste of New Mexico!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pancetta, Crimini and Goat Cheese Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes, there are so many ways to make it but this I think is my favorite (today anyway) This dish is salty, creamy, buttery... what more could you want out of a rice dish??

To make this risotto we use Arborio rice, you can find it most places these days.

Also we use some pancetta, crimini mushrooms, goat cheese and in my opinion risotto isn't risotto unless it is topped with parm. You will also need about 6 cups of stock, whatever you have on hand, tonight I used the beef stock I made last week but anything will work.

Drizzle the pan with a little olive oil and brown up the pancetta, then add a little butter (real butter please) and the sliced mushrooms... mmmm don't these look yummy?!? Let these cook down then remove from pan but leave the oil...

Add the dry rice into the oil and let cook for about 10 min or so, while this is cooking start heating your stock you will want it simmering...

Add a ladle of the stock, stir and cook until the liquid is gone and then add another ladle... repeat until rice is soft... Risotto is easy but it does take about 30-40 min of your attention you want to add your stock slowly so your risotto will be creamy and you should be stirring almost constantly. When your rice is soft and creamy stir in a blob of goat cheese

and then... top with parm. We use a veggie peeler to sliver it, we like big ol chunks in ours. It is so yummy, the creamy rice with the texture of the mushrooms and the almost chewy pancetta... oh it is so good!

Collard Greens

I have heard the words before, I have seen the HUGE, slightly frightening bunch of them in the produce section. I have heard my friends in the south talk about them like everyone knows what they are... I have always been curious but I was too afraid to ask. Then, about 2 weeks ago I met this wonderful lady in the store, she was an older woman looking a little lost in the spice area so I offered my help, we talked for a while about food and the such, as she started to walk away she said (to herself) Oh I still need to get my collards... so I held my nose and jumped in hoping not to look like a fool. She showed me where they were and told me all the ways she had ever had them. Some ways took all of the "healthy" out of eating a veggie and I was starting to get a little discouraged but then this method came out so I thought I would give it a try. I loved them, the rest of the family was good with them. I wouldn't say they were much excited about them, they are after all "green" LOL

So my 2 cents.. try these. The taste is sort of like a spinach but they have a bit more texture. If you are like me you are always trying to find ways to get more veggies to your family, and if you guys eat spinach then you should like these.

First things first, clean them.. they are HUGE so the easiest way I found was to let them soak in a sink full of cold water for a bit, give them a little toss every few minutes. Then move them to a large surface so you can start prepping them.

I am sure I could have found a prettier leaf to show but oh well... see the thick stem? That needs to go. I tried a few different ways and I found it easier to run a knife down both sides. Once you have stemmed it (hmmm wander if that is even a word.. oh well it is on this blog LOL ) you want to cut it into bite size pieces. It is easier to stack a bunch up and give them a nice rough chop.

Next you want to shove them down into the biggest pot you have (depending on the size of your pot, you may need to do this in 2 bunches) Then add water.. how much? I couldn't really tell you, the greens were all the way up to the top so you don't cover them like you would when you boil anything else, you are more steaming them so I added a few glasses full, turned them on med heat and let them go for about 20-30 min ( I think I should have let them go just a little bit longer maybe as long as an hour if you have the time.)

Then drain them and try to press out most of the water. While they sit, saute some onions and garlic in a little olive oil, add the cooked and drained greens into the onion mixture and saute for about 15 min. Before serving hit it with a BIG splash of red wine vinegar OR the juice of maybe 1/2 lemon. There you have it I hope you try it out. They really are yummy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taco Shells

Tacos... some like them crunchy, some like them soft. Some like them with fish, steak, chicken... is there anyone that doesn't like some sort of taco? I use to buy the shells that come in the box, you know the ones, it is almost a crap shoot... are you going to get shells or "chips" this time?? Will your taco dinner turn into nachos because someone dropped the box of shells?!?

Then there is the cost
store bought taco shells 2-3 bucks for 12.
store bought corn tortillas 2-3 bucks for about 80 tortillas

More than the cost there is the taste and nothing comes close to a freshly made taco shell!
There is a learning curve but it is very small, and if you give your self about 10 extra min the first time and you will be a pro at the end of dinner and you will know just how crunchy you want yours.

The Cast
corn tortillas
(I use peanut oil because your house doesn't smell like the alley behind your local burger joint when you are done frying. Plus peanut oil has a much higher smoke point.)
deer fryer
(you can do this in a pan but it has to be deep enough to "fold" the shell)

Heat your oil to about 350-375

Slowly drop your tortilla in the oil and when it floats.... (about as long as it takes you to pick up the spatula)

When it is floating like this (above).... put a metal spatula down in the this (below)...

This will take maybe 30-40 seconds for crunchy. Drain your shells (a cooling rack on a cookie sheet works well, you can even shape the softer shells over the rods, just dip the tortilla in the hot oil and when they float remove them and "straddle" them over the rods)
And there you have it, enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Real Mashed Potatoes

There are somethings you just shouldn't do... boxed mashed potatoes is one of them.. oh I have been guilty at times of falling into the "they are so much faster" pit. But really people, they are potatoes you buy in a BOX! It just isn't right.. not to mention they don't taste anything like a real mashed potato. Now I know there are many kind of mashed potato and I am a fan of most of them.. I like the bacon, cheesy mashed, the roasted garlic and rosemary mashed, the oh you get the idea I like me some mashed potatoes. But there has to be something said for the classic. I have tried so many other peoples mashed potatoes through the years and some of the things people pass off as mashed potatoes.. well they should be ashamed! (And we all know you know who you are! lol)

Here is one thing I must say first.. I am a little.. well.... chubby. I really shouldn't eat mashed potatoes and we don't too often. I have tried the foe mashed potatoes (cauliflower) and they are not too bad but this isn't the time to talk about saving calories. Please, if you are going to use skim milk and fat free/fake butter you are better off using the boxed potatoes. This here is a place for real food people!

potatoes... I am sure some are better than others we use small baking potatoes that you buy in the 10# bag.

peel em, cut them up (they cook faster) and toss them in some cold water and bring them to a boil.

When you can poke your fork through the thickest part it is done...

Put your potatoes in your mixer bowl (you can use a hand masher if that is all you have but they may not be as creamy) with about a ladle full of the potato water

Once you get them pretty much lump free you need to add the secret ingredient.. now if you have a week heart you may want to sit down for this... or if you have a fat phobia... you will also need to sit down for this.. ok you ready....

CREAM BABY!! Yes heavy whipping cream you can use half and half but really people why would you when you can use heavy whipping cream? Please for your sanity sake don't look at the nutrition facts they are not pretty but lets hope these potatoes are a treat and now part of every meal you eat!

Once you have over come heart failure of using real cream then take the real butter and salt and add to taste. These are the most creamy potatoes you will ever put in your mouth. Now get off of your butt and go take a walk gotta start burning off these calories you are gonna take in when you make these!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Country Fried Steak

This meal is not good for you, it isn't healthy and it isn't in the slightest something you should eat.. that being said it tastes really really good! This is my oldest son's favorite meal of all time so every once in a while I like to make it for him. Home made always tastes better than the $10.99 platter at the local joint for the same thing. Not to mention when you are feeding 2 teen age boys you need 2nds!

It took me a while to figure out how to fry. It use to drive me nuts I mean really how hard is it to fry a piece of meat? I tried and tried with no luck.. then my dear friend clued me in. Here is the golden rule of frying.. don't mess with it! I was so afraid I would burn it that I was always messing with it, then I would end up with all of the lovely crust in the bottom of the pan and a naked piece of meat. Not good!

The ingredients
cube steak (today I used pork because that is what was on sale)
oil for frying

If you want a good breading on your meat you need to do a few things.. first make sure your meat is dry please, the coating will stick much better.

Next set up your breading station... Dry -- Wet -- Dry In dry #1 I have seasoned flour. Sometimes spices burn so I find if you season up the first flour then you have the flavor but you don't risk burning the spices. So my flour is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and sage.
In the Wet we have a few eggs and a splash of water beaten.
Dry #2 flour and Panko bread crumbs. (half and half)

So you take your raw meat...

and go through your dry-wet-dry station you will end up with something that looks like this.. Yummy huh?!? LOL
You will want to use a heavy pan, cast iron is good for this but I have far too big of a family and far too small of a cast iron skillet. So I used my big ol pan for this. Just make sure it is deep enough, you are going to have a good amount of oil.

Put enough oil in your pan to come halfway up the side of the steaks. Bring your oil up to temp over med heat. Once your oil is heated place the steak in the pan (away from you please so you don't splatter grease on yourself) then leave it alone... I would love to tell you just how long to leave it but I can't it depends on your meat, heat, ect... but when you see the golden sides (the same color you want in the end) and it releases from the pan easily then it is ok to flip...

do the same thing on the other side and you are almost there!

Once you have cooked all of your meat (doesn't it look YUMMY?!?)

discard most of your oil you want to leave a few tablespoons of oil in the pan. Return to heat and add a few tablespoons of flour whisk this and let it cook 2-3 min. lalalallala Ok time up??? ok you have made a rue! WOOHOO! look at you!

OK back to gravy... slowly whisk in milk until you have the amount of gravy you want. Then slowly bring this to a boil (whisking often please, you don't want to burn the milk!) Once you are at a boil, turn down your heat to low it should get to the consistency of gravy very quickly.

Once there just turn it off top your steak with it and sink your teeth into a good old fashioned home cooked meal! Of course you will not be American if you don't make potatoes with it.. check out the next post for the potatoes! Happy cooking ya'll!