Category Archives: Recipes/Cooking

Recipe: Beer-Braised Tacos

Photo source: Food & Wine magazine/ foodandwine.com

Now that we’re back to cooking regular meals and have settled in to our new home, I thought it was about time to get back on top of my recipe posting. I noticed it’s been quite a while since my last recipe post.

Today’s recipe is a GOOD one. We’ve made it three times and every time it’s awesome.

The original recipe for Beer-Braised Tacos is from Food & Wine magazine. As usual, we altered it slightly to make it easier and to cater to two people. Other than that, we made very few changes as this recipe is simply great the way it is. The only minor down side is that the turkey has to ‘braise’ for about an hour – if you’re starving, this isn’t the recipe for you (or it can be you should just have some chips and salsa while you wait).

We made this with a side of black beans and a salad, which kept things pretty healthy. I think it would also be great with a fruit salsa, which we haven’t tried to make yet.

The ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two 1-pound bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed (We love the drumsticks, they work so well)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced (you can also cut some for garnish as well)
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • 1 jalapeño—stemmed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 ancho chile—stemmed, seeded and chopped (we used the can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce and used three since they are a lot smaller)
  • One cinnamon stick
  • One 12-ounce bottle Mexican dark beer (we used the Dos Equis Amber)
  • 1 cup water
  • Corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs, for serving (we also chopped tomatoes, onions and queso fresco cheese – So good!)
To make it:
  1. Use a large enameled cast-iron pan (like a dutch oven or just big soup pot – something with a heavy bottom is best), heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook over med-high heat until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the garlic, diced onion, oregano and jalapeño and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is softened.
  3. Add the tomato, the chiles and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until the tomato releases its juices.
  4. Return the turkey to the pan, add the beer and water and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the turkey to a plate and let cool.
  6. Discard the oregano sprig and cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through. Remove the turkey meat and shred it. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree. Return the sauce to the pot and stir in the shredded turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey onto the tortillas. Top with minced onion, sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs (and anything else you’d like).
We used a lot of cilantro, queso fresco and tomatoes for garnish, so feel free to load it on there!  It. Was. Awesome.

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Recipe: Strawberry Puffs

Every summer, I get a craving…for strawberry puffs. I know that many of you have no idea what in the world a strawberry puff is, so allow me to elaborate.

I first learned of this wonderful fruity goodness in college, thanks to my friend and roommate, Lauren. They involve strawberries and vanilla pudding – with a dash of almond extract.  Here’s a blog post with the recipe and photos of the finished “puff.”

They are amazing. And they are perfect for summer or to take to a potluck or party — what more could you need besides fruit, pudding and whip cream?

Also, I’ve found that if you don’t have the time to make them look pretty or if you’re allergic to strawberries (or just don’t like them), this works well as a fruit dip for just about any type of fruit. It’s also just plain wonderful to eat with a spoon (though extremely unhealthy).

Now, I’ll stop with the rambling. Here’s how to make them (as usual, with my notes in parenthesis):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 package of vanilla pudding mix (Instant is best and you can always try the low or non-fat version, no idea if it will make a difference.)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (This really can’t be substituted for milk or half-and-half. I’ve tried them both and you end up with pudding–which I probably should have figured out before even trying it).
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 package strawberries (18-20)

To make it (you may want to take a look at the photos on Lauren’s blog, as I think they are extremely helpful when it’s your first time making this):

  1. Remove the stems from the strawberries.
  2. Cut an “X” in to the top part of each strawberry, creating a little hole for the “puff” (you can skip this step if you just want to dip the strawberries into the puff mix).
  3. Whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form (you can also try the pre-made whipped cream, but use more of it if you go that route–roughly two cups).
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the pudding mix with 1 cup of cold milk (don’t follow the directions on the box here–we are not making pudding).
  5. Fold in the whipped cream and almond extract (this is your last step if you are just using it as a dip).
  6. Using a piping bag (or plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner) and top each strawberry with cream (about a small spoonful for each strawberry).

Serves: 10 (or one if you like them as much as I do)
Serving size: 2

Now you’re ready to enjoy your puffs–and I’m sure that you will!

Image  & recipe source:Laurealism.com

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Recipe: Plum BBQ Chicken & Stuffed Jalepno Peppers

Recently, we tested out a few new recipes. I initially didn’t think they would go together well, but they surprisingly did! Both of the recipes were from Cooking Light magazine (where else!?).

The first recipe was for pork tenderloin with plum barbecue sauce. We switched that one up a bit and used chicken breast instead.

The second recipe was for grilled stuffed jalepenos. We left most of that recipe alone, except we didn’t grill them and I completely forgot about the bacon (and this recipe would be AMAZING with some in it). I also would like to note that this could easily fall in the appetizers or hors d’oeuvres category, but we liked it as our “veggie” for the evening.

Finally, we made basic couscous, but added some grilled red peppers to it. This was a marvelous idea. We both loved how well it went with the entire meal (and some Mad Men television).

It was all extremely easy to make too – just sounds fancy! Now, on to the goods–the recipes. As usual, chef notes are in parenthesis and servings are listed at the end of the post.

Enjoy!

For the Plum BBQ Sauce and Pork

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 whole cloves (I almost did an extra garlic clove here, whoops!)
  • 1 1/2 pounds black plums, quartered and pitted (almost any plum will work)
  • 1 star anise (this was definitely something we couldn’t find, so we omitted it from the recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed (or chicken breasts – one per person)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To Make It

1. For making the sauce. Heat-up a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes, until softened. Add sugar and the next 10 ingredients (through star anise); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until plums are soft and the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally (don’t let it stick to the pan and burn, there is a lot of sugar in here). Discard cloves and anise (we definitely forgot to do this part too).

2. Preheat oven to 450° (this is only necessary if you are roasting the pork or chicken, my guess is that grilled chicken or pork would be great as well — we put our oven at 400 for the chicken).

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork (or chicken breasts) evenly with salt and black pepper. Add pork to pan; sauté 7 minutes, turning to brown on all sides (we skipped this step and just put our raw chicken in the oven to bake).

4. Transfer pork to a foil-lined jelly-roll pan; coat with 1/2 cup plum sauce. Roast pork at 450° for 15 minutes. Remove pork from oven. Turn pork over; coat with an additional 1/2 cup plum sauce. Roast 10 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of pork registers 155°. Remove from pan; let stand 10 minutes.

5. Top chicken or pork with remaining plum sauce for dipping.

Serves: 8 servings

For the Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

  • 2 slices center-cut bacon (can be left out for vegetarians)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese, softened (we use the non-fat kind always)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 14 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped seeded tomatos

 To Make It

1. Preheat grill or oven. You’ll want them hot–around 400 degrees.

2. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, and drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon.

3. Combine crumbled bacon, cheeses, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a bowl, stirring to combine. Divide cheese evenly and fill the pepper halves.

4. Place peppers, cheese side up, on grill rack or grill grate coated with cooking spray (we opted for the cookie sheet covered in foil, with cooking spray and it worked well). Grill or bake peppers 10-15 minutes or until bottoms of peppers are charred and cheese mixture is lightly browned (you really just want to make sure they are heated through and the peppers are cooked somewhat).

5. Sprinkle with cilantro and tomatos, and enjoy!

Serves: 14 servings (serving size: 2 pepper halves)

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Every Town Needs A Good Grocery Store

Is it really too much to ask for one nice grocery store near our house (under an hour)?

My answer? No. I don’t think so. I’m not even asking for a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s. A PublixTop Foods or Safeway would work just fine for me.

For the last 49 weeks, we have been shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart, our local Kroger, the local Butcher Shop (which is awesome) and every once and a while, the Commissary on base.

Yes, it seems rediculous to visit three or four stores on a weekly basis just for food, but that’s the only way to get everything we need to feed our cooking habits. Perhaps I could pare down the weekly meals, but that’s no fun — especially when I look forward to cooking and trying out new recipes daily (it’s worth noting the main reason for this is that the restaurants SUCK here — there’s a limited selection and they seem to only offer fried unhealthiness — especially as it relates to appetizers).

Yes, I know I may sound like a snot in writing this post, but it’s something that just kind of blows my mind about this area of the country.

Every store here has poor quality produce, few organic selections, a limited selection, at best, of items like Greek Yogurt. If I had serious dietary restrictions, I’m not sure what I would do!

I’m sure it takes a nice neighborhood and some higher income areas for a Whole Foods to come to town, but I’d think something like a Trader Joe’s might go over well here. It would be the only healthy option and with a military base nearby, I would think that people would flock to spend money there. I must be missing some info. There’s got to be a reason for not building something awesome in Columbus…

What I’d love to find all in one store?

  • Produce doesn’t go bad within two days of purchase
  • Meat or chicken not nearing expiration date, also organic chicken at a ‘reasonable’ price
  • Milk that doesn’t leak when you buy it (and that lasts to its expiration date)
  • Basil that doesn’t wilt or have holes in the leaves
  • Garlic (preferably the ones that aren’t purple — not sure what’s going on there…)
  • Fennel
  • FRESH HERBS!!!
  • Canada Dry Sparkling Water, preferably Raspberry flavor (funny that this is the link that came to the top in my search)
  • A Starbucks (I know, this is probably pushing it)
  • Fully-stocked Chobani Greek Yogurt (they are out almost every time I go to Kroger)
  • Wine (real wine, not that Arbor Mist stuff)
I think that’s it for my ‘priorities,’ though I’m sure I could continue to add to it if I spent some more time on this.  Only a few more months of this (two!) and we’ll hopefully be moving on to a place with some bigger, better, healthier stores…

Until then, I’ll end my rant here and will spend some time thinking of all the goodness that Columbus has to offer. Fried pickles (and every other type of vegetable), Smackers frozen yogurt and the BEST BBQ ever.

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Our Easter Feasts

I hope that everyone had a GREAT Easter holiday!

Nick and I played it pretty low-key. We were originally going to trek to Birmingham for the weekend  but decided to stay home and enjoy our own much-needed weekend of relaxation and laziness.

We made a lot of food over the weekend. On Easter specifically, we focused on two big meals:

1. Our breakfast (even though we ate at 1 p.m.), which consisted of a favorite of ours from this springs New Orleans trip to Stanley. This is probably one of the best restaurants in NOLA. They had the BEST Eggs Benedict, which is what we tried to recreate for our meal.

2. Our dinner, which consisted of a crazy amount of prime rib for two and some twice-baked potatoes. Not your typical Easter dinner meal, but just divine.

Here’s a quick look at the food and the recipes we used (just links today, since we had to make a lot of recipes and each one can be found online)!

For Breakfast:

Stanley’s Breaux Bridge Benedict  – Made with Homemade Boudin (a New Orleans sausage, prepared with rice and vegetables). Oh. So. Good. This was a key ingredient for the Breaux Bridge Benedict.

 We made it from scratch versus buying it (because I have no idea where we’d get it here). You can find the link to the recipe above.

Additionally, the recipe calls for poached eggs.

Now, if you’ve never done this on your own, it can be a challenge. We also don’t have a special “egg poacher” to make this happen. Our version is some giant spoons to keep the eggs together in the water – ha!

To complete the recipe, you need some big-freakin’ french bread pieces, hollandaise sauce and American cheese (screams “cure for a hangover,” doesn’t it?).

And finally, when all the pieces are done, you get to stack ‘em up and eat! This recipe then pairs perfectly with a mimosa or a bloody mary to complete your Sunday morning brunch!

Many, many hours later, we made dinner…

For Dinner:

We went with a prime rib and paired it with one of our favorite brands of Cabernet Sauvignon by Louis M. Martini.

We had never made a prime rib before, so it was a fun new dish for us to try. And during the cooking process I definitely learned a few things – one, this is EXPENSIVE to make and two, I like bone-in versus boneless. When you go boneless, you don’t get to snack on the ribs after it cooks – this is  ONE OF THE BEST PARTS!

We followed this recipe for our prime rib. The best part of it? The thyme au jus sauce and the sliced garlic (also note that the thyme au jus makes this recipe – it’s so good you almost want to drink it).

I think we were also surprised at how easy making a prime rib is. You have to do very little to make it taste great. We also timed the cooking perfectly – getting the full range of temperatures in the roast (medium rare to well). This is pretty abnormal for us in testing out recipes.

For the sides, we roasted asparagus with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper (no recipe, it’s just spread over the bunch of asparagus and roasted at at 375 degrees) and then some great twice-baked potatoes. These were pretty easy to make as well. I’m actually going to start making them more often – so good, and so easy to make.

Overall, loved the dinner and the combination of recipes. I think this also makes my list of all-time favorite meals.

How was your Easter? Eat or drink anything wonderful? Spend time with great friends and family? Keep me posted!

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Recipe: Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca

This recipe is just about the easiest thing to make ever AND it tastes REALLY good. I was expecting completely gourmet, but I’m not sure we hit that mark this time (there’s always next week to try again).  It’s a 20-minute meal, but tastes kind-of like you spent an hour cooking. It’s similar to bacon-wrapped chicken breasts (which I’ve never made), but less salty and I believe much healthier.

Here’s what to do to make this dish complete – make a bed of angel hair pasta to put under the chicken and to pour the sauce over. Also, I like to make asparagus with this dish as a side. Add a little lemon zest and it pairs perfectly with the chicken.

As always, “chef’s” notes in parenthesis:

The Chicken Saltimbocca:

  • 4 (4 oz.) chicken cutlets (chicken breast is even better here, IMO)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 oz sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips (2 for each cutlet)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (No need to use fresh, any lemon juice will work. I also thought this was too much, made the sauce very lemony, use your judgement on this one)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch (I used more – but don’t go over a tablespoon, the sauce will be too thick)
  • Lemon wedges (always optional)
  • Pepper (I added this, I think the sauce could use it)
  • Parmesan (Added this to the recipe, cheese makes everything better!)
For the asparagus:
  • Bunch of asparagus (trimmed)
  • Olive oil (to drizzle on the top of asparagus)
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Lemon (for zesting over the top of asparagus)
  • Parmesan (for sprinkling on top)
Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Place 3-4 sage leaves on each piece of chicken (4-5 for the breasts). Then wrap two prosciutto slices around each piece of chicken securing the leaves in place.

At this time, I’d preheat the oven to 400 for the asparagus. Place the asparagus on a cookie sheet with some olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Spread evenly across the sheet, ensuring there is one layer and that all spears are covered evenly with the oil and toppings. Bake under high heat for about 15 minutes, tossing once.

Now, for the chicken. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add one tablespoon oil to pan; cook for two minutes on each side or until done (Ours took a LOT longer than two minutes on each side because we used chicken breasts vs. cutlets. Keep that in mind when you are cooking. Also, I covered with a lid for a while to help the chicken along). Then, remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Combine broth, lemon juice and cornstarch in a bowl. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture and the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute or until it slightly thickens (THIS was an issue for me. I did the sauce three times, all three with different amounts of cornstarch. I just didn’t believe that the 1/2 teaspoon was enough. Eventually, I used just over a 1/2 teaspoon to get this sauce right. It shouldn’t be think and you don’t need to use any amount over a tablespoon. It will actually be pretty runny by sauce standards. We also thought it was a BIT on the lemony-side and I’d add pepper).

Once you’re through there, pour sauce over chicken and angel hair pasta on the plate and serve with your asparagus side. Sprinkle Parmesan on top to-taste.

The original recipe is from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light and serves four.

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Recipe: Really Good Pot Stickers (Pork & Vegetable)

For the Super Bowl this year, Nick and I made a smörgåsbord of appetizers to enjoy the game with — dips, fondue, drinks and of course, homemade pot stickers. Pot stickers are one of Nick’s favorite things. When we lived in Omaha, we used to get them at Costco regularly. This was our first attempt at making them from scratch.

Overall, it’s not very economically friendly to make them from scratch, but there’s likely a lot less sodium in them (which is always a goal of ours when making food at home).

We also made a spicy soy sauce to go along with this (not entirely from scratch, though). Anytime you have to add spice, it makes the food better!

Here’s how to do it, according to William Sonoma’s Essentials of Asian Cookbook - with my notes in parenthesis next to each step.

For the filling:

  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
  • Boiling water, as needed
  • 3 cups minced Napa cabbage (any cabbage really will work for this)
  • Salt (we use kosher salt for almost all recipes)
  • 1/2 lb. ground/minced pork
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (or regular pepper)

For the rest:

  • 30 wonton wrappers
  • cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • Soy sauce for serving (add some red pepper flakes to make it awesome)

Now What?

Begin making the filling by placing mushrooms in a heat-proof bowl with boiling water and then cover. Let them soak for 30 minutes, then drain and trim off the tough stems and discard. Mince the caps and set aside. (We used regular mushrooms and chopped finely – worked just fine and tasted GREAT).

Next, in a large bowl combine cabbage salt and let sit for 20 minutes (we definitely didn’t do that and they turned out fine).

After that, combine pork, green onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, cornstarch and pepper. Then, take the cabbage and drain any excess water. Add to the bowl with the pork mixture. Add the mushrooms. Stir to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate the filling for 30 minutes.

Now, we’re ready to assemble to pot stickers — SO FUN AND MESSY.

Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place it in the palm of your hand, place a heaping tablespoon of the filing into the center of the wrapper. Lightly brush the edges of the wrapper with water and fold the dough in half over the filling for form a half-moon.

HERE’S where it gets tricky – Use your thumb and index finger to make 4-5 pleats. Press the pleats to seal. Gently flatten the bottom of the pot sticker so that it sits upright while on a flat surface (we didn’t do this – I like them to roll around). Place the pot stickers on a baking sheet dusted with cornstarch (we completely forgot this step).

Now, in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. When the oil is

hot, add 8-10 pot stickers. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown (1-2 minutes).

Add 1/4 cup water to the pan, cover tightly and steam until all water has evaporated and the pot stickers are tender (5-7 minutes).

After that, your pot stickers are ready to be dipped in soy sauce (with red pepper flakes) or any other dipping sauce you would prefer.

Then enjoy with a nice white wine (I prefer a Chardonnay, always…)

These things were delish and I definitely recommend you trying them. At the very least, they are a fun thing to try and make.

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Recipe: Balsamic-Glazed Pork, Arugula Salad with the Goods

Last week, Nick and I made some great balsamic-glazed pork, paired with arugula salad and rice. This was one of the best meals we’ve made in a while.  The pork recipe came from Cooking Light magazine, though we made quite a few alterations to it to “make it our own.” These changes are noted below in parenthesis.

The entire meal took about 20 minutes to make – which was perfect for a nice, weeknight meal.  The other great thing about this recipe was that it had lots of left over sauce for pouring over the pork and the rice – which is one of my most favorite things to do. The more sauce the better!

Additionally, the recipe recommended making polenta for the side. We didn’t have it anywhere in Columbus (or I couldn’t find it) and I didn’t know what it was, so we decided the rice would work just fine to round out our meal.

Here goes!

For the pork:

  • 4 oz. boneless center-cut pork chops, trimmed (we used one 8 oz. pork loin piece and seared it like a piece of steak then placed it in the over for 5 minutes to cook through)
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons chopped rosemary (we used dried and it worked just fine – helps to save some $$)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (used our garlic press which worked well for this particular recipe)
  • 1/4 cup shallots

For the salad:

  • 5-8 oz arugula lettuce (about a handful for each person – you can also use spinach here)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles (goat cheese is great here too)
  • 1/2 a pear (sliced into sticks or chopped up – I also like to leave the skin on)
  • 2 slices prosciutto (each sliced into strips)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Dash of thyme
  • 1/8 cup shallots and/or minced garlic

To make the pork: Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half (about five minutes).

Place a grill pan (we used a skillet) over medium-high heat to warm. Combine rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic; rub mixture over pork.

Place pork in pan; cook for five minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness, basting with the reduced balsamic vinegar. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving – top with any left over balsamic. While pork is in the oven start a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and stir the shallots until golden brown (about three minutes). (Note: we did most of this then put it in the oven to finish versus keeping it on the top of the stove. We also covered it with foil for the last 5 minutes to let it rest).

While the pork is resting, start your individual sized salads and your dressing.

Split arugula lettuce between two individual serving bowls (a soup or salad sized bowl/plate) and toss with blue cheese crumbles and walnuts (also split between the two bowls).  Divide sliced pears and prosciutto evenly on top of each bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine Dijon, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, oil, thyme and shallots/garlic (I typically taste this first to see if it needs a little something more). Drizzle the dressing over individual prepared salads, to taste.

Slice pork and pour extra sauce and shallots over the top to serve.

Serves: 2 (the sauce could easily serve 4 so if you’re looking to make this for more than two wouldn’t double the sauce until you get to 6-8 servings needed).

Give it a try in the next few weeks – you’ll LOVE it!

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Recipe: Mexican Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

Cooking Light's Mexican Casserole

I love Mexican food and could almost eat it pretty much daily (Not sure Nick would though). Because of that I’m constantly looking for new recipes to make that will fill the cravings.

This month’s Cooking Light has a great new recipe for a Mexican Casserole with homemade salsa. It’s a great, healthier version of your typical Mexican casserole. Lots of fresh veggies and it’s got a good kick to it. We halved the recipe so it would make four servings. Enough for dinner and leftovers!

Check it out — takes quite a bit of time (for weeknight cooking), but is fun to make and is oh so good. This would be a great dish for having folks over for dinner with some chips and guacamole.

Here are the details (my notes in italics):

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
8 servings

Ingredients

Salsa:

  • 8  plum tomatoes, halved and seeded (we used roma)
  • 3  garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1  small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1  seeded jalapeño pepper, quartered
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1/8  teaspoon  black pepper

Casserole:

  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 1  cup  fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1  cup  diced zucchini
  • 1  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 3  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  (10-ounce) can green chile enchilada sauce
  • 1  (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 12  (6-inch) corn tortillas (FYI, these come in large packs, only)
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • We also added some cheddar cheese
  • Garnished with fresh guacamole

1. Preheat broiler.

2. To prepare salsa, combine first 4 ingredients on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 20 minutes or until charred, stirring once. Remove from oven; cool slightly. Place tomato mixture in a food processor; add cilantro, lime juice, and pepper. Process until smooth. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. To prepare casserole, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 cup onion, corn, zucchini, and bell pepper; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and next 5 ingredients (through green chiles); sauté 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat.

5. Spread 1/2 cup salsa over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of tortillas over salsa. Spoon 2 cups chicken mixture evenly over tortillas. Top with 3/4 cup salsa. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of each cheese. Repeat layers, starting with remaining tortillas and ending with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes until bubbly. (It took a little bit longer for ours to cook, even though we halved the recipe, pretty sure it’s because our oven is pretty much worthless and doesn’t hold heat).

 

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