Tuesday, October 30, 2012

P90 Pork

When my sister recommended a recipe from the P90X recipe book, I snootily scoffed - P90X? Seriously? Aside from the ridiculousness of those infomercials, I've received plenty of recipe inserts in products - smoothie and soup recommendations with blenders, how to bake a whole chicken in my toaster oven - I'm all set. Right after college I purchased my first food processor (mammoth of a thing) and with it came a recipe for potato and leek soup. I was young, and I was in need of guidance with my new, massive kitchen tool. So I made the soup and boy was it nasty. Some may say it was my cooking, but I blame the recipe. And based on my first experience, I never made another recipe that came with a product again - of course, until this one. The tenderness of the pork and the sweet saucy glaze was all it took to win me back. The snobbery is still there slightly, but with more delicious meals like this, I could be won over.

Island Pork Tenderloin
- recipe courtesy of the P90X cookbook

    •    16 ounces pork tenderloin. Lean.
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    •    1/2 teaspoon chile powder
    •    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    •    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    •    2 teaspoon olive oil
    •    1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    •    1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
    •    1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce


Preheat 350 degrees.

Stir together:  salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with the spice rub.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat and brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes.

Stir together: brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco sauce and pat onto top of tenderloin.  Place pork in a roasting pan and cook in oven for 20 minutes.
 Allow to rest a few minutes before carving.

Cook's Note: This took me longer than the recommended 20 minutes to cook, and my oven runs hot. Just be sure to cook it until your tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. I served this with a side of Browned Rice and some roasted garlicky green beans. The rice is perfect for the sticky sauce. And though I've yet to try it, I bet this would be delicious with some roasted apples or pears and a little extra sauce.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Slide on In

I've never been a football girl. My love is reserved for the boys of summer. The only part of football that I've ever enjoyed is those delicious game day treats - a time of appetizers, hearty sandwiches, and pots full of chili serve as lunch and dinner. Dunch? Linner? Either way, football season is a time to start piling on a little bit extra to keep us warm through the coming winter. So in between touchdowns stack your plate with these sliders. To some, these surely make watching football worthwhile. And even though I've really grown to enjoy watching the game, I still come for the food first.

Meatball Sliders on Garlic Rolls
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add sauce and and meatballs to a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until sauce is slowly bubbling and meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mince garlic on cutting board. Sprinkle the garlic with kosher salt and drizzle with olive oil. Using the flat side of the knife, mash garlic. Drag the flat side of the blade back and forth across the garlic mixture, creating a paste (the oil and salt will help emulsify the garlic). In a small bowl, mix together garlic paste, basil, fresh cracked black pepper, and butter. Spread mixture over each half of the rolls, placing open-faced on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in oven until starting to brown, about 7-9 minutes.

Spread sauce on each of the bottom buns - enough to cover it. Top each with a meatball, a little more sauce, and a half slice of provolone. Lightly spread a small amount of sauce on the top bun, place on top of the meatball and cheese, and bake for until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove, plate, eat.

Cook's Note: This works great for a weeknight meal as well. Meatballs freeze pretty good, so it's easy to make a big batch and portion them out. You can easily take out a couple at a time for sliders for one. The garlic butter mixture will last in the fridge for a few days as well, so be don't be shy about saving any leftovers.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shrimp-tastic

There are certain things that are expected, growing up in New England, and my lack of affection for seafood is a cardinal sin from which no penance will ever set me free. It's blasphemy. I'm okay with it, but my father usually wrinkles his nose and shakes his head each time he asks me to come over for lobster, and I remind him of my dislike for those which are yanked like teeth out of the mouth of the deep blue sea. It's almost as though he forces me to say it out loud - hoping I'll change my mind, come to my senses, and repent. While I insist that this will never happen, I have drummed up some bravery and tried to come out of my shell (no pun intended. Well, maybe a wee one). Take shrimp cocktail, for instance. A recent summery trip to Acadia National Park (and the lovely town of Bar Harbor) led us to happy hour, sipping half-priced wine, and snacking on fresh Gulf Shrimp. Simply delicious. Maybe my dad's praying that his daughter will finally come to her senses is working.

Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Click here for recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten and Food Network 

Cook's Note: I added some ice cubes to the bowl of cold water, to get the shrimp colder, faster. They still weren't very cold, so I placed them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to get them nice and cold before serving. Also, I tweaked the cocktail sauce a bit - besides halving the recipe, I added quite a few more dashes of Tabasco and a bit more of the chili the sauce, since I like it spicy. I only cooked 8 shrimp to make this a meal for one, and you can serve it up with a summery salad. The cooked shrimp will be just fine for a day or two in the fridge, so feel free to make up a batch so they'll be at the ready.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Full of Beans

As much as I want to cook at least one meatless meal a week, it's a challenge at times. Because of this struggle, I try to cram as many vegetables and healthy sides into every meal. I rationalize it as such:  the amount of vegetables and healthy grains I eat negates any of the "bad-for-me-ness" that's associated with whichever meat I'm cooking. Now, I'm no mathematician (or nutritionist, for that matter), but I'm not exactly sure I'd stand by those calculations. And I'm sure there are those of you who are mathematicians or nutritionists who would gladly school me in the pros and cons of my theory, but allow me to sail along in my ignorant bliss. Which leads me to this bean salad (stick with me). It is hearty enough to stand alone as a meal, as far as I'm concerned. My boyfriend was a bit thrown by the texture (this is true of him and all beans, for what it's worth). However if you, too, feel slighted by the texture, serve it as a yummy snack or appetizer with tortilla chips. Oh, and it's also a delicious accompaniment to a hunk of grilled meat, if you so care to indulge.

Pinto, Black, & Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn & Avocado

Click here for the recipe, courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine 

Cook's Note:  I did not use the red beans in this salad, since I didn't have them in the cupboard. I think the texture would have been a bit more firm had I included them. The jalepeno really mellowed out during grilling, so if you like it a bit more spicy add either 2 of them, or perhaps use a serrano pepper. Also, the flavors were even more vibrant the next day so don't be afraid to let it sit. This makes a good batch that is great for a cookout or to munch on over a few lazy, summery days.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sweet Summer

The end of the school year had me on hiatus from posting, but fear not! I have returned with something refreshing to keep your body cool this summer. My sister recently infused some tequila with jalapeno and lime recently, and the burn that accompanied it was not my idea of quenching. This recipe, on the other hand, is so very smooth. The cantaloupe tames the vodka and the mint adds a freshness to this drink. It's fruity, yet not too sweet. Pour it in a glass and top it off with some club soda, or serve it on ice. The infused concoction is not too boozy, but watch that fruit - it's deliciously pickled with vodka.

Melon-Mint Vodka
-recipe courtesy of Everyday Food Magazine-
 
    •    2 cups diced cantaloupe
    •    4 springs mint
    •    500ml vodka (just over 2 cups) - I used Grey Goose
 

Combine ingredients in a clean, one-liter jar with lid. Stir in the refrigerator and shake daily for 4 days until infused. Strain and discard the solids - unless you want a spiked fruit garnish for your beverage - then keep 'em!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Refreshed

The few days of sun we've been getting lately has me longing for hot summer days - sitting in the sun, sipping cocktails, grilling meat. On a nice toasty day I love a good mojito. Pair that with some fresh springtime strawberries and mint and it's a fresh-plotion (yeah, I just coined that). Put them together, splash in some rum, and you've got a fresh and tasty springtime libation. And as the rain falls and summer seems so far off, hopefully this drink will tide you over.

Rum Refresher with Strawberry & Mint

  • 1 large, or 2 smaller, strawberries – sliced
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 ½ oz light rum
  • vanilla selzer water
Place strawberries, mint, sugar, and lime juice in a glass and muddle. Add ice, rum, and fill with vanilla selzer water. Stir. Garnish with a slice of strawberry and lime.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sweet Spring

This time of year I'm anxious with anticipation. The produce at the market starts becoming fresher and local, yielding the rich flavors I've missed so much over the winter months. I've noticed that the strawberries have looked a bit perkier recently, and on a recent trip to a local farm I was overwhelmed by their scent the moment I walked into the store. I knew I wasn't leaving without those strawberries. This is the beginning of the cooking season that stirs such sweet memories - picking vegetables for dinner from my father's garden, or plucking dew-kissed strawberries first thing in the morning to plop into my Rice Crispies. Seeing it's only April, I'm excited for the road ahead.

Fresh Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese
  • 1 cup baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard   
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
In a bowl, combine baby spinach and next 4 ingredients, through the goat cheese.

In a measuring cup, combine balsamic vinegar and next 5 ingredients. Whisk until well combined. This will make more dressing than you will need for one salad. Store extra in an air-tight container. It should keep a few days.

Slowly add 1 tbsp of the dressing and toss. Add more (or less) dressing, depending on how much you like. The spinach leaves should be coated with the dressing, but not saturated. Enjoy!

Cook's note: This salad would be equally delicious with blue cheese in place of the goat cheese. You can add shredded roasted chicken to make this salad it's own meal. I served it as a side with homemade pizza.

Share it