Friday, April 13, 2012

It's a New Day! Roast Pork Loin with Apples, Potatoes, and Sage

     So I disappeared for a while.  I thought I was gone forever.  I figured the food blogging world was one in which I would enjoy other people's contributions but one for which I didn't have time to add to myself. However, recently a number of friends and acquaintances have told me they just think it's so amazing that I'm cooking a new meal every single day and that they have tried out various recipes from my blog, and that I'm such an inspiration to them.  As I've experienced these conversations more and more recently, my husband said, "I don't think you have any idea how much influence for good you are".  Gosh, really?  Talk about a guilt trip too, how can I just abandon these nice people who have given me so many compliments lately?!  
     So here I am.  Yes, I'm still cooking a new meal every night.  It's no longer part of the challenge between my husband and I and so I don't stress if I do end up repeating something or have the occasional Kraft macaroni and cheese nights.  But, really, those come maybe once every other month or so.  No, my blog is not nearly as cool as The Pioneer Woman.  No, I don't know much about blog design and I don't have a cool camera to capture the mouth watering moments of cooking.  But, I do have recipes.  And I do love to cook. And bake.  And I can't wait to grow and can my own food when I have a yard.  So I'll share some recipes I've tried recently.  
      Starting with this one:  Pork loin roast with potatoes and apples.  This was so easy and SO DELICIOUS.  Like eat 1 1/2 lbs of meat all by yourself delicious.  I served this with homemade rolls.  

  • 3 tablespoon(s) margarine or butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh sage leaves (I used 2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
  • 1  (3-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of fat
  • 1 1/2 pound(s) baby red potatoes, each cut in half
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pound(s) (3 to 4 medium) Gala or Jonagold apples, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 to 2 cups chicken broth

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In small bowl, stir 1 tablespoon margarine, 1 tablespoon chopped sage (1 tsp. dried), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. With hands, rub sage mixture all over pork loin.  (I melted the butter completely, added the spices, and used a basting brush to do this part)
  2. In 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" jelly-roll pan (I used a 10x13), melt remaining 2 tablespoons margarine in oven. Remove pan from oven. Add potatoes, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon chopped sage (1 tsp dried); toss to coat. Push potatoes and onion to edges of pan and set small roasting rack in center; place pork on rack. Roast 20 minutes. (I didn't have a roasting rack, it cooked great without it)
  3. Add apples to pan, around pork, and roast 30 to 40 minutes longer, depending on thickness of pork, or until meat thermometer inserted into center of pork reaches 145 degrees F. (Internal temperature of pork will rise 5 to 10 degrees F upon standing.)  I had to roast mine a bit longer than this as I found the internal temperature didn't rise for me while standing... Also, I noticed when I added the apples that the potatoes were drying out so this is where I added the 1 cup of chicken broth.  Even if your potatoes aren't drying out, still add the broth, it makes delicious drippings when all is said and done! 
  4. Transfer pork to warm platter; let stand 15 minutes to set juices for easier slicing. With slotted spoon, transfer potatoes, onion, and apples to platter with pork. Pour pan drippings into small cup. Skim off and discard fat from drippings. Serve pork, sliced, with drippings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chocolate Banana Green Smoothie

     Looks yummy, no?  Okay, it looks pretty gross but hear me out - for those of you who haven't joined the green smoothie movement, you have got to give it a try.  I promise you don't taste the spinach...  I was first exposed to green smoothies when I was at a friend's house for dinner a couple of years ago and his mom made a "green drink".  Apple juice, strawberries, spinach, and ice.  I'm adventurous so I gave it a try and loved it.  At the time I didn't realize it was the new craze.  I didn't start making them until after I got married and started shopping at the farmer's market which inspires me to eat more wholesome foods and that 1 lb. container of spinach is just too hard to resist anyway.  With only 2 of us, I have to do something with all of that spinach!  I just had my first baby so I'm trying to run off the last 8 lbs. of baby weight and these smoothies help me start my day off with the energy I need to do that! This is the smoothie I threw together today and I think it is the best one yet!  What a healthy way to satisfy that chocolate craving!  I used unsweetened cocoa powder - it's full of fiber and no sugar! These are estimates of how much of everything I used since I just threw it in the blender until it looked and tasted right... which I encourage you to do as well! 

Handful of spinach
1/2 - 3/4 c. vanilla yogurt
1/2 c. almond milk
1/2 to 1 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
1 banana
1 tsp flax seed - or more if you want
dash of honey
large handful of ice

1.  Put spinach in first - this ensures it doesn't get spit up from blending and stick to the sides.  Put everything else on top except ice.  Blend.  Add ice and blend again on the ice crush setting.  Enjoy!!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Corn Chowder

     Corn Chowder.  When I decided to make this, I remembered I like chowders but must have forgotten how much.  This is out of this world satisfying and delicious.  It's weight watchers approved but I think my husband and I missed the point because it was supposed to make 6 servings and by the time we left the dinner table there was only enough left for one more bowl!  It also has no meat - I've been cooking more and more meatless meals because it's budget friendly and helps with our weight loss goals.  But anyway, my husband gave this a ten, which is a rare honor.  Whip this one up the next time you're in the mood for soup!  

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 12-ounce can nonfat evaporated milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper

1. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper, garlic and cumin; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

2. Add corn and potatoes, return to a simmer and cook until all the vegetables are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Place cornstarch in a small bowl, slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth. Stir into the soup and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Makes 6 Servings (1 Cup Per Serving)

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 200 calories; 2 g fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbs; 10 g protein; 4 g fiber; 208 mg sodium

Friday, October 21, 2011

Potato Lasagna

     This dish is awesome.  So yummy and pretty painless to put together if you buy the frozen broccoli, pre-diced ham and already shredded cheese.  Try this one soon! 

1 jar Alfredo Sauce
1 c. milk
3 large potatoes, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
5 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. diced ham
1 (10 oz.) package chopped frozen broccoli, thawed 
2 c. shredded Swiss cheese or colby jack ( I used colby)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Lightly  grease a large baking dish.  
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the Alfredo sauce and milk.  Spread 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese and salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  
4.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the ham, broccoli and 1 1/2 c. of the cheese.  Mix well and spread 1/2 of this mixture over the potatoes in the baking dish.  Then top with another layer of potatoes, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste again.  Next, top with the rest of the ham mixture, and finally top with the remaining swiss cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over all. 
5.  Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake at 350 for additional 25 min. or until potatoes are tender.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lobster and Honey Roasted Potatoes

     I'm back!!  I took a leave of absence as I became a new mom to a beautiful little girl, but, she's 6 weeks old now and it's time for me to juggle in these blog posts again!  On August 14 my husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary.  Do you know what that means?  It means my one year cooking challenge ended!  Successfully, if i might add.  I know there aren't 365 posts on here but I did do it.  :)  And it was a blast.  I loved this past year of cooking.  And, surprisingly my life is a lot easier in the kitchen because of this challenge.  I've created habits of planning a menu each week, which means I have a shopping list and rarely have to go back to the store because I've forgotten something.  It's nice to always have what I need on hand and it's been so fun to eat something different every day and to learn so much in the kitchen!  I've had so much fun that I'm continuing.  Not necessarily as a challenge, because I'm not going to stress about it at all and there are quite a few recipes from this past year that I would like to make again, but I do plan on continuing to make new recipes, probably as much as 6 days out of the week.  
     So, here's a meal that I made recently... lobster was on sale at Sprouts so I splurged a bit and bought some.  I had no idea how to prepare lobster, especially how to get to the meat under the hard shell, so I used this tutorial on ehow.  I highly recommend it, it's short and sweet and very informative.  And who knew kitchen shears can cut through lobster shells?  I was skeptical but it worked just like the video said it would.  Here's the recipe I used from 

  • 2 whole lobster tails
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • salt to taste
  • ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon - cut into wedges, for garnish

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place lobster tails on a baking sheet. With a sharp knifeI or kitchen shears, carefully cut top side of lobster shells lengthwise. Pull apart shells slightly, and season meat with equal amounts butter, paprika, salt, and white pepper.
  3. Broil lobster tails until lightly browned and lobster meat is opaque, about 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges to serve.  ( I ended up having to broil it for about 8 1/2 minutes) 

     Lobster is always yummy but I need a bit more practice, it wasn't quite restaurant quality and I'd like it to be closer.  I also made Honey Roasted Potatoes which had the perfect amount of sweetness and was quite the hit with my husband.  

  • 1 pound red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat an 11x7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place potatoes in a single layer in prepared dish, and top with onion. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, honey, mustard, salt and pepper; drizzle over potatoes and onion.
  3. Bake in the preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 35 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through the cooking time.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Potato and Bean Enchilada Casserole

     This is a great meatless dish that is quick to prepare.  The original recipe is for enchiladas but I have a confession - I HATE working with corn tortillas.  They always crack and it takes forever to roll individual enchiladas.  So, I layer them instead, it takes about 1/50th the amount of time  (Don't quote me on that quick time calculation).  Anyway, this is a fun casserole and I used queso fresco for the first time.  I approve of the cheese because I don't have to shred it, I can just crumble it in my fingers drop it in.  Also, this is proof that I'm no expert and am still a learner myself - no one has ever taught me how to chop cilantro.  Somehow I got it in my head that you have to pull all the leaves off individually because the stems aren't meant to be eaten (I've never noticed any stems in my cilantro that I've eaten in restaurants or at friends houses... ).  In case you were wondering, this takes a ridiculously long time to pick all the leaves off and get them onto a cutting board rather than sticking to your fingers.  With these enchiladas the impending task of pulling cilantro leaves led me to google how to chop cilantro.  Well, you just chop it.  That's all.  Stems and all.  (But make sure you wash it first!  Cilantro is one of the dirtier herbs and it needs a good swishing around in a bowl of water and maybe a 2nd bowl of water)  So, laugh it up, I've been doing things the hard way this past year of cooking! 

1 pound potatoes, diced
3 tsp. Delicioso Adobo Seasoning (recipe below, or buy some already made)
1 Tbl. ketchup 
2 (10 oz.) cans green enchilada sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped, divided
18 corn tortillas 
1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, drained
1 (8 oz.) package queso fresco 

1 Tbl. lemon-pepper seasoning
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl. onion powder
1 Tbl. dried oregano
1 Tbl. parsley flakes
1 Tbl. achiote powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbl. salt 

Combine the spices in a small glass jar and seal with an airtight lid.  Shake to blend and store in a cool, dry place.  Makes about 1/3 cup. 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, toss diced potatoes together with adobo seasoning (you can use this seasoning for lots of different mexican dishes that you make in the future, it's pretty versatile and adds great flavor) and ketchup.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.  [NOTE: I don't really know how much 1 lb. of potatoes is so I just estimated how much I would need and mine fit in a single layer of a 9x13 pan with a bit of room to spare)

2.  When potatoes are cooked through, remove from oven and in a bowl, mix potatoes with pinto beans, 1/2 of the cheese, 1/2 of the cilantro and about 1/2 c. enchilada sauce. 

3.  Pour some of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, enough to cover the bottom.  Arrange half of the tortillas on top of sauce, overlapping as it fills up.  Spread potato mixture evenly on top of tortillas.  For the top layer, tear remaining tortillas into fourths and arrange on top of potato mixture.  Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top, spreading to cover evenly.  Crumble remaining cheese on top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Garnish with remaining cilantro. 

This comes together really fast with minimal clean up.  It's tasty and a nice change from the typical green chile chicken enchiladas.  Enjoy! 

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

     I love curry.  I especially love curry that allows me to smell it all day as it sits in the slow cooker!  I got this out of a slow cooker recipe book that I'm borrowing from a neighbor.  My husband loved it and licked his bowl clean.  Twice.  

1 Tbl olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth
2-3 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I used Louisiana hot sauce)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas

1.  Heat oil in medium skillet.  Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides  (Just brown the outsides, don't cook all the way through since it will cook in the slow cooker).  Place potatoes and onion in slow cooker.  Place chicken breasts on top.  Combine coconut milk, broth, curry powder (I always end up adding lots more curry powder than a recipe calls for to get a legitimate flavor.  The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tsp. so you can add to taste if you'd like, I used closer to 3 tsp), hot sauce, salt, and pepper in medium bowl.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours. 

2.  About 30 minutes before serving, add peas to slow cooker and stir.  Cover and let cook for 30 minutes.  Serve over hot cooked couscous or rice.