Sunday, December 11, 2011

Apple and Cornbread Stuffed Pork Loin

I wanted to branch out a little this week, and hadn't had my fill of stuffing over Thanksgiving. So after combing through several recipes, this one sounded best to me. I thought the ingredients were simple, and the steps did not look too intense. It turned out to be relatively easy, with an impressive appearance at the end!

You'll need:
Olive oil
1 chopped onion
Chopped celery
Black pepper
Diced apples (pick your favorite, I used Gala)
1 1/2 c boxed cornbread stuffing
1 1/3 c apple cider
1 large egg
1 boneless pork loin
More apples, if you wish
Corn starch
Chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 450
2. The recipe calls to heat cooking oil, but I prefer to cook onion in olive oil. Heat olive oil and add onion, celery, and pepper, then cook for around 10 minutes (or until your onions are see-through)
3. Add the apples to your mixture and cook about a minute more
4. Take the mixture out of the pot, and let it cool for a few minutes. Next, add the stuffing mix, 1/3 c of apple cider, the egg, and whatever spices you choose (I used Italian seasoning).

5. Butterfly the pork (Ok, I bought the bone-in loin, so that was a whole other battle...I started by cutting the bone out, then I started at the thickest side of the pork and cut almost all the way in half...Next, I opened it out, like a book, and did the same thing from the center, outward)
You can read the directions in the recipe link, or watch this video for further instruction
6. Next, place Saran Wrap over the pork, and pound it out so that it's thinner and easier to roll when you're ready.
7. Season the pork with some garlic salt; spread the stuffing mixture over the pork.

8. Roll the pork like a jelly roll, and secure it with kitchen twine, about every inch or two, to ensure it doesn't come apart
9. Spray your broiler pan (see my makeshift one, below) with cooking spray
10. Place the rolled pork on the pan, and bake for 20 minutes (or so, watch it!!), then, without removing the pork, lower the oven to 325.
11. Bake for about 1 hr or 1 hr and 15 minutes depending on how much your pork weighs
12. When the pork is almost done, heat a pot and add 1 c apple cider or apple juice, 1 can of chicken broth, and the cornstarch- heat until it boils, then let it cook until it reduces to about half of what you started with- this makes a great complimentary sauce.

I had some leftover stuffing, so I put it in the oven with the pork for the last few minutes, and served it on the side. The recipe also called to cook the pork over some sliced apples- if you have a functional broiler pan and more apples than I did, then go ahead and place them at the bottom of the pork (and let me know how it turns out!).
I sliced the pork into 1 1/2" (or so) pieces, and served with sauce, and a side of baked sweet potatoes, and it made a great, healthy weeknight meal.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whole Wheat, Three-Cheese Lasagna

I was bored today, and it was really dreary outside, so I decided to throw together a lasagna. It was easy because I could assemble it, then refrigerate it until we were about an hour away from being ready for dinner (great for guests because of this, too).
If you want, you can use this recipe (I've done it before and it's fabulous), but for mine...

You'll need:
1 1/2 packages whole wheat lasagna noodles (uncooked)
15 oz 1/2 fat ricotta
2 eggs
1 bunch of parsley
Italian seasoning/oregano
1 bag of mozzarella
1 package chicken or turkey sausage
1 medium onion (chopped)
chopped garlic
1 jar tomato sauce

I started by putting into the food processor: ricotta cheese, parsley, basil (about 4-5 leaves), oregano, italian seasoning, and 2 eggs.

My family recipe calls to make your own sauce, but I just wasn't up for it today, so I bought some in a jar.

I sauteed the chopped onion in some olive oil until it was translucent, then added the chicken sausage, garlic, and some more Italian seasoning.

Next, I added the jar of tomato sauce, and a little bit of water to stretch it a little further. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors soak in.

Next, I started layering. I put enough sauce on the bottom to cover the pan, then placed (UNCOOKED) lasagna noodles across in a layer...I know what you're thinking, just trust me, it works.
Then I put the ricotta mixture, added a little goat cheese and mozzarella, and continued with the sauce.

Rinse and repeat.
I topped it off with a little more goat cheese, and some basil leaves. Then I put it into the oven at 425, covered with foil for 45 minutes.
I uncovered it and baked another 15 minutes (until the top was bubbling).
Let it sit for around 10-15 minutes, and it's a great meal with TONS of leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Salads

I've been asked to bring an appetizer and some dessert to our Thanksgiving festivities this year, and in going to the grocery, I've begun buying all of the different types of squash that are on sale.
This week I made two different salads, both with fall flavors, and will likely repeat one to bring for the holidays.

For the first salad, I used:
Raw Spinach
1 Sliced Honeycrisp Apple
Feta Cheese
Dressing made from lemon juice and olive oil

Since I made this one for lunch, I added some rotisserie chicken to it, but all of the flavors felt like fall. The celery added some extra crunch, and the spinach was just the right bold flavor to add. Adding some arugula and subtracting the chicken could make this an impressive, colorful side for the holidays.

My next salad stemmed from buying a Acorn Squash and trying to be inventive with it.
For this salad I used:
1 Acorn Squash (peeled)
Brown Sugar
Agave Nectar
Sage Leaves
Canned Beets (use the fresh kind if you have the time)

Since I was making this one as a meal, I added some roasted tofu.

I peeled and sliced the acorn squash, then put it on a baking sheet. I drizzled some Agave nectar, and a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the top of the squash. Next, I added the fresh sage leaves and stuck it in the oven at 350 for around 35-40 minutes, until it had softened. (I also put my tofu in with it since I didn't want to dirty another pan).

Once finished, I chopped the squash into cubes, and put it on top of a bed of lettuce with my tofu, beets, feta, craisins, and some snap pea crisps for a little crunch.
If I choose to recreate this one, I'll roast the beets with the squash, and omit the tofu and snap pea crisps, as well as the feta. It turned into a few too many ingredients, but isn't it all trial and error??

Happy cooking, I hope you all enjoy this time with your families!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta and Chicken Sausage

I stumbled upon a recipe on Real Simple's website for Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage that looked really easy with only a few ingredients. But, of course, I didn't have what they wanted, so I substituted what was in my fridge and pantry.
You'll need:
1 package orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe (stems cut off)
1 packaged 1/2 fat ricotta cheese
Italian seasoning and any spices or herbs you like
1 package chicken or turkey sausage

I started by boiling the pasta to al dente, and set it aside in the strainer, saving 1-2 cups of the pasta water.

Next, I put the broccoli rabe, ricotta cheese, and spices into the food processor with the leftover cup of pasta water.
I removed the casing from the chicken sausage, sliced it, and cooked it in my non-stick skillet until it was warmed throughout (I bought the pre-cooked kind).
Next, I put the pasta back into the pot, added the ricotta/broccoli rabe mixture, and mixed in the chicken sausage.
Mike had to add some Cayenne pepper, I think red pepper flakes would have also done the trick. I added a little more of the pasta water to lessen the thickness of the sauce, but this was an overall great dish. The leftovers for lunch the next day were even better!
*You could always add some frozen peas, or extra kale to it to increase the vegetables, just save a little more pasta water and add a few more spices to keep the sauce thin enough for the pasta to absorb.

Dry-Fried Tofu and Vegetables

I received an email from Women's Health with a few healthy fall recipes and found this one for Dry-Fried Tofu with Pumpkin Curry. Well, I didn't have any pumpkin, nor did I have some of the other vegetables it called for, so I improvised.
For my version, you'll need:
1 package extra firm tofu
canola oil
1/2 red onion (chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded and chopped)
1 package frozen butternut squash (substituted for pumpkin)
frozen edamame (as much as you like)
1 c light coconut milk
1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp red curry paste
2 tsp Splenda brown sugar
4 tsp fish sauce

I started out by steaming a big bunch of kale.

While that was boiling, I put a little bit of cooking spray in my non-stick skillet and let that heat up. I dried the tofu (just put it on a paper towel for a few minutes), chopped it up, and salt and peppered both sides. Then I added it to the pan and let it cook for a few minutes per side.

Once the kale had boiled down, I added the butternut squash and edamame and let that steam a little longer (feel free to add whatever vegetables you have on hand).

Next, I sauteed the onion, jalapeno, garlic, and red curry paste with some more canola oil.

Finally, I just added everything to my wok, and added the coconut milk, fish sauce, and chicken broth. I let that simmer until it thickened (about 5 minutes) and served over brown rice. It turned out to be very flavorful, and extra healthy. This was definitely a recipe I'd choose to do again, since so many of the ingredients can be substituted.
I topped it with some slivered almonds for extra crunch, and the red Sriracha sauce for a little extra spice!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food & Wine's Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos

As you're well aware, we try to have taco night once per week, so I wanted to spice it up a little this week. I hunted through Food & Wine's website for healthy recipes and found this one as the answer to an otherwise usual taco dinner. I was mostly interested by the different combinations of flavor, and the ease of the recipe.

You'll need:
1 Turkey breast (I found one on sale and de-skinned/boned it myself); you can use turkey thighs if you prefer dark meat
Olive oil
Minced garlic
Oregano (it calls for fresh, I used dried)
1 Jalapeno pepper (stemmed, seeded, and sliced)
1 tomato (if you like it, I skipped it)
Tabasco (if you like it spicy)
Ground cinnamon (if you have a cinnamon stick, congratulations, I didn't)
1 12-oz bottle of a dark (preferably Mexican) beer- I used Bohemia
1 c of water
Your favorite tortillas/taco toppings

I started by putting S&P all over the turkey, and heating some olive oil in the bottom of my Dutch oven.
I added the turkey breast pieces and cooked about 6-8 minutes per side (until they browned).

I took the turkey out and added a little more olive oil, chopped onion, garlic, dried oregano, and jalapeno. I cooked that for a little while (maybe 5 minutes) and added a little water (to account for no tomato juices), ground cinnamon and Tabasco. I cooked that for about 4 minutes over medium.

Next I added the turkey, the bottle of beer, and the water to the pan. I boiled all of that together, and moved it to my simmer burner, covered it, and let it simmer for about an hour. I also turned the turkey once during.

Next, I took out the turkey, (here's where you remove your fancy cinnamon stick and fresh oregano if you had that...) and boiled all the sauce until it reduced to about 1/2 to 1/4 c (this took me around 10 minutes). While I did this, Mike shred the turkey meat.
Then, I put the reduced sauce into the mini food processor and pulsed it a few times, just to get it a little smoother.

We combined the turkey meat and sauce, stirred it up, and served!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


This was a very non-inspirational cooking week for me, I tried my best to empty out my refrigerator and not go to the grocery unless there was a dire need. So I searched the Spark People website for a healthy, easy recipe and found this one for some low calorie burritos.

You'll need:
Ground beef (I used 90/10 ground sirloin)
Red bell pepper (chopped)- recipe calls for 1/2, I used 1 whole
1/2 onion chopped
Jalapeno pepper (if you have it, I didn't...)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1 can of Rotel (spicy or medium)
Your favorite tortillas

Literally, this is so easy it feels like I didn't even cook.
Brown the meat, add the chopped vegetables. (The recipe calls for adding 1 cup of water, I didn't, because there was enough water from the vegetables)
I added some Rotel for a little extra kick.

Cook on medium heat until your vegetables are soft, then serve into your pre-warmed tortillas.
I had some leftover veggies in the fridge, so I made a little salsa with Rotel, corn, white beans, and chopped red onion. I added a little lemon juice, agave syrup, and white vinegar (since I was out of lettuce, this counted as my salad).

Top your burrito with whatever you prefer. I've used Fage greek yogurt with a little lemon juice as a stand-in for sour cream, also some Mexican cheese or salsa!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

You'll need:
10 Jumbo Shrimp (peeled with tails on)
Tomato paste
Whole grain pasta
Edamame or green peas
Red pepper flakes
1-2 Lemons

I went to our neighborhood grocery and couldn't pass up these jumbo shrimp. Having no idea what to do with them, I came home and discovered we had lemons, garlic, pasta, and edamame.
I boiled the pasta and reserved about 1c of the water. I added some cooked edamame to the pasta and set that aside.

Next, I put some salt and pepper on the shrimp (both sides), and sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil, only until they turned pink (about 90 seconds).

I removed the shrimp from the pan, set them aside, and sauteed a mixture of garlic, tomato paste, lemon zest, juice from 1 lemon, Tabasco, and red pepper flakes in the remaining olive oil. Then, I added the leftover cup of water from the pasta.

I let that come to a boil, then simmer for around 5-6 minutes.

I usually find that I season the protein instead of the pasta, and my pasta then falls short. So this time, I decided to pour the sauce onto the pasta/edamame mixture I'd made, and simply place the shrimp on top. This worked out great, I was able to dress it up with about 5-6 shrimp each, and the pasta had a spicy kick to it, while the shrimp retained their flavor. I sprinkled a little parmesan on top, and it was a perfect use-what-you-have, easy recipe! (I was also able to use the leftover pasta, sans shrimp, as lunch the next day by adding some sauteed tofu- making it a totally different meal.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ultra Healthy Turkey Meatloaf

You'll need:
1 package of ground turkey
1 red bell pepper
1 medium onion (yellow)
1 medium onion (red)
Worcestershire (~2 tbsp)
Ketchup (or tomato paste- whatever you have)
Dry mustard (if you have it)
1 Egg
Quinoa (1/4 - 1/2 c)
Chiles in Adobo Sauce (if you like it spicy)
Splenda Brown Sugar

This was a week where I had no energy for deciding on specific meals for every night of the week, so I decided to go to the grocery and grab staples... Chicken, ground meat, ground turkey, and thinly sliced pork chops. This particular weeknight, I decided to treat Mike to meatloaf, but didn't have enough bread in the house to make homemade bread crumbs for my normal recipe. So I turned to this one, which substituted quinoa.
I got several, very large, red bell peppers on sale, so I decided to add some extra veggies to the recipe.
I started by sauteing chopped onion in a non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Then I added a chopped bell pepper, and some chopped garlic (you decide how much you want to use)...
Once the vegetables were soft, I let them cool for a bit, then mixed them with the ground turkey, egg, S&P, Worcestershire, ketchup, cooked quinoa, and Tabasco.
I decided to add a couple of chiles in adobo sauce (chopped from the food processor) because I had them left over in the fridge.
After mixing all the ingredients together (I've learned not to mess with it too much or it will fall apart... trust me), I sauteed a red onion that I'd chopped into rings. Just heat up some olive oil, let it saute for a few minutes, then add about 1/4 c of water, and let it heat away.

I formed the loaf on a baking sheet covered in foil, and then mixed up a little ketchup, brown sugar, and dry mustard to make a coating.
Once the red onion slices were cooled, I layered them on top of the meatloaf.

I cooked it at 350 degrees for around 5o minutes, then let it sit for about 15 minutes. It turned out with just the right amount of spice! I served it with fingerling potatoes and some sauteed kale, and it was a great treat of comfort food for an otherwise drab Monday.

**One blunder I have to share was the time that I decided to add Flax Seed to my meatloaf... I figured it was a great idea to add some extra nutritious value to our meal, so I just poured it in... However, for anyone who has ever consumed flax seed, you know it sort of expands in your stomach. We were able to eat about 3 bites a piece, and that was it. So if you're going to add it, make sure you measure!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sauteed Pork with Granny Smith Apples

We were having a couple of friends over for dinner, so I decided (again) to make a dish that wouldn't keep me from my company. Lo and behold, the easiest dish to serve! I chose Real Simple's recipe for Pork with Sauteed Granny Smith Apples because it always turns out delicious, and it's not labor intensive.

You'll need:
Flour (I used wheat) 2 tbsp
Ground Cumin (1 tsp)
Pork Cutlets (however many you're serving, I usually do around 2/person)
Canola oil
Butter (1 tbsp)
Granny Smith Apples
Low-sodium Chicken Broth (1/2 - 3/4 c)
White Wine Vinegar
White Wine
Shallots ???
Cornstarch (~1-2 tbsp)

I started by rubbing the pork cutlets with S&P, flour and cumin on both sides.

Next, I heated the canola oil (however much you want to use) in the pan, sliced the apples in half, sprinkled them with S&P,and put them face down for around 3-5 minutes.

Once the apples were browned, I took them out and put them on my display plate. Then I added the pork, with a little more Canola Oil, and browned it on both sides (around 4 minutes each side).

I removed the pork, put it in a casserole dish with tented foil, and stuck it into the oven at a low 200, just to keep it warm.
Next, I added the white wine to deglaze the pan; then, white wine vinegar, some shallots (because I had them), and cornstarch to thicken up the sauce. I let that simmer for around 5 minutes, then poured it into a serving dish to put onto the table!

I served the pork with the apples, a side of asparagus, and some mashed sweet potatoes. It was a great dish, requiring very little effort from me, and a lot of payoff!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Spicy Shredded Pork

If you haven't yet discovered The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, you should, and soon. She is a city girl, turned ranch-wife who comes up with amazing comfort food recipes, and outlines how to make them so that anyone can follow the steps.
This particular week, I decided to make her Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork, but with some slightly healthier twists.
You'll need:
1 onion chopped into wedges
1 Pork Shoulder (it's called "Boston Butt" at the store... very appetizing, but I promise it's worth it) - I used a 3.5 lb one
S&P/Garlic Salt
1 Can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper
Splenda Brown Sugar
Minced Garlic

Literally, this dish took me 5 minutes to prepare before I could let it sit in the oven all day. It also made my house smell amazing.
I started by preheating the oven to a low 300 degrees, then rubbed S&P and some garlic salt on the pork, and sliced some slots in the meat to stuff some of the minced garlic.

Next, I cut the onion into wedges and placed it at the bottom of my Dutch Oven.
I put the seasoned pork on top, and poured about 3/4 of the Diet Dr. Pepper over it, and added the entire can (with sauce) of the Chipotle pepppers. They are VERY spicy, so be cautious if that's not your preference. You could probably substitute Green Chiles instead.

Next, I placed my covered Dutch Oven in the oven at 300 and let it go for about 2 hours. I flipped it, let it cook another 2 hours, flipped, and another 2 hours (that's 6 hours total for you Math whizzes).

You know it's done when you can pull out the bone with no resistance. Unfortunately, Marley is allergic to meat protein, so she couldn't enjoy the actual rawhide that came out of this cooking venture :(
I took the meat out of the sauce, and used 2 forks to "pull the pork", also able at this time to separate out the fatty pieces.

Inspired by Vizard's Pork and Beans dish, I added a can of rinsed/drained Pinto beans to the sauce only; then I refrigerated both separately until the next day. When I took out the sauce in the morning, I was able to scrape the fat off the top since it had hardened.
When I was ready to serve it that night, I put the meat and sauce into a casserole dish, covered it, and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes.
I served this with some leftover sweet potatoes, and had a very happy husband!