Friday, December 2, 2011

Oven Braised Beef Short Ribs

I know some of you are going to think this recipe is “too hard” but I promise it’s easy!  I also guarantee that this recipe is full of major flavor and will make anyone’s eyes close with delight in sheer adoration.  Some of you may be laughing, but this is probably one of the best things I’ve made in a while.  Please note that this dish has a pretty extensive cooking time (mostly in the oven) but is not recommended when you’re pressed for time.  Short ribs are a meat that need time for slow cooking otherwise they can be very tough.  Serve with a nice robust red wine, and this dish will fill you with warmth on those cold winter evenings!

Servings: 3 (just double recipe if you’re entertaining)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:  3 hours

*2.5 pounds of beef short ribs on the bone
(Should be 3 long short ribs, I got mine at Whole Foods)

*3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
*2 small yellow onions, chopped
*2 carrots, chopped
*1 celery stalk, chopped
*3 Tablespoons flour
*1 Tablespoon tomato paste

*1/2 bottle of red wine, I used Cabernet
*5 sprigs of fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
*4 sprigs of fresh thyme
*1 sprig of fresh rosemary
*1 dried bay leaf
*1/2 a head of garlic, cut in half horizontally with peel on and use bottom piece
*2 Cups beef stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper.  Then heat the vegetable oil over medium high in a dutch oven or large soup/pasta pot.  Depending on how big your pot is, brown the short ribs in batches until they are brown on all sides.  About 5 minutes or so per batch.  Once short ribs are browned, transfer to a plate.

In the same oil, add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until soft and brown.  About 5 minutes.  (You may need to add a little more oil so just add a little at a time if needed)  Add the flour and tomato paste, and stir until deep red which takes about 2 minutes.

Add in the wine and the short ribs back into the pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a medium low so the liquid is simmering.  Simmer for about 25 minutes until the liquid is reduced by about a 1/3.

Add all of the herbs with the cut garlic head into the pot.  Stir in the beef stock and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and transfer to the oven.

Walk away for TWO HOURS.  After two hours, check and see if short ribs are done.  Easy way to tell…the meat FALLS off the bone!

Transfer the short ribs to a plate.  Take the liquid/herbs left in the pot and strain over a bowl.  This is your gravy.  Some fat may rise to the top (clear looking) and just spoon it off the top.  Season gravy with salt and pepper if needed.

I made mashed potatoes and spooned into a shallow bowl.  Place the short ribs next to potatoes and then pour gravy on top so it swims around everything.

Enjoy the deliciousness!!!!   

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Many apologies to everyone again as I have not been able to keep up with the blog!  I have been traveling the past couple of months and haven't had a chance to cook.  Now that I'm home, I've been on a huge cooking kick and recipes will be posted!

I tried this recipe out this past week on a work night and it was amazing how easy it was.  Anyone can do this, and it tasted even better the next day.  It brings me into the spirit of fall and warms up your insides.  Hope everyone likes it as much as I do!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

*(2) 2lb Butternut Squash, halfed lengthwise and seeded
*Vegetable Oil
*1/2 Cup of olive oil
*10 fresh sage leaves
*1 white onion, thinly sliced
*4 Cups chicken stock, divided
*1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
*1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with the vegetable oil.  Take the halves of squash and place facing up.  Poke flesh with a fork about 5 times in each half.  This helps squash cook evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes until soft, walk away and go watch House Hunters on HGTV :-)

About 10 minutes before the squash is done, heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large pot until it's hot and almost smoking.  Throw in the sage leaves and fry until crispy.  About 1 minute.  Take the sage leaves out and saute the onions in the same oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

Once squash is cooked, use a spoon to scoop out flesh from the skins.  Put in the pot with the onions and then add about 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  Then in batches puree soup in a food processor blender until smooth and put back in pot.  Season with nutmeg, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper is optional, but I think it really helped bring the flavors out with a little kick of heat.  Stir until heated through on medium heat.  Add additional stock for desired consistency, I used the full extra half cup.

Ladle into bowls, top with crispy sage and enjoy!  Make sure to watch your tongue because it is very hot!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stuffed Artichokes

This is such an easy, tasty appetizer or dinner for one person that is for the most part pretty healthy.  I used to make these all the time about 5 years ago and then realized a few weeks ago I hadn't made them in years!  I've had friends in the past that would steam the artichokes and them dip them in melted butter which seems a bit greasy to me now.

There's no technique to my recipe at all and very hard to mess up. (only if you're not paying attention)

Okie dokie artichokies...let's get started!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

*2 Large artichokes (Trader Joe's sells them cheap when in stock)
*1 1/2 Cups grated romano cheese (has to be this kind, others melt away into water)
*1/2 Cup finely chopped red onion
*1/2 Cup minced garlic
*Salt & Pepper
*Olive Oil
*Water (I'll explain below)

First off, you need to trim and clean the artichokes.  Most artichokes come with little prickles on the end of each leaf.  Cut them all off with scissors.  The artichokes I get at TJ's don't have prickles so it saves some time.

Next, open up the artichoke by spreading the leaves apart.  You need to stretch it out to make room for all the goodness.  All the ingredients above is split into two.  So take half of the garlic, onion, and cheese for 1 artichoke.  Start off with the garlic and stuff down to the bottom of the leaf.  Then do a round with the onion, and end with stuffing the cheese until you can't get anything else in.

Get a large pot and fill with about 1.5 inches of water.  Put the artichokes in the center.  Season with salt and pepper on top.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top of that (about 2 Tablespoons total) and you're done!  Cover and turn burner on to about medium high.  Cook for 1 hour.  WARNING:  You have to check the pot about every 15 minutes or so because the water will boil away.  Make sure the bottom of the pot always has water in it or your artichokes with burn.

Remove from pot and enjoy!  (Send me a message if you need tips on how to eat :-)

HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE (for my health nut friends)
Steam the artichokes without all the stuffings.  Just the artichoke, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Cook for an hour just like the above.

Low Fat Dip (thank you Ariel!)
*1 Cup low fat greek yogurt
*1/3 Cup light mayo
*2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1 Tablespoon, minced garlic
(taste as you go along, you may find you want more garlic or lemon juice)


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Simple Basil Pesto Pasta

First off, I want to apologize for being "absent" the last month.  I've started a pretty demanding job and it's harder for me to post!  Regardless, I'm back in the game and will try my best to post as much as often.

Even though I'm working long hours I still make the time to cook.  This recipe is super quick, delicious, and easy to make on a week night when you're flat out exhausted!  Tons of flavor, and again one of those recipes that reheats nicely the next day.  Pair this with some cheap Trader Joe's white wine (Sav Blanc Picton Bay is nice, $6.99) and you will start to unwind immediately!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

*1/4 Cup toasted pine nuts
*2 Cups packed of fresh basil, stems removed
*2 Garlic cloves, peeled
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon pepper
*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
*2/3 Cup Olive Oil
*3/4 Box of Dry Pasta (I used Farfalle & Penne, what I had in my cabinet)
*1 Cup grape tomatoes (optional)

Put pot of water on stove for the pasta so it can begin to heat up.

Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add pine nuts immediately and toast until browned tossing the entire time.  About 2 minutes.  BE CAREFUL, pine nuts toast quickly so do not walk away!

Once water begins to boil, sprinkle water with a large pinch of salt and add pasta and cook about 8-10 minutes until al dente.  While pasta is cooking, take out food processor or blender.  Add fresh basil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Put the lid on and remove the attachment on top so you can stream in olive oil.  Start processor and slowly stream in olive oil until mixture forms a runny paste.  Hint: If pesto is really runny add more basil, if it's not nice and smooth add a little more olive oil.

Once pasta is done, strain and put back in the pot.  Add a little of olive oil on the bottom of pot so pasta doesn't stick to the dry hot surface.  Add pesto on top and coat pasta completely.

Serve on individual plates and add raw grape tomatoes on top!  YUM!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pizza Night! Arugula Mushroom Parmesan Pizza

I wasn't joking when I said I use arugula on a weekly basis!  This is a recipe that I put together with the rest of the ingredients in my fridge on a Friday night in when Marcus was out of town.

One thing I will not take credit for in this recipe is the dough.  I'm not a natural baker so I buy pre-made raw pizza dough that you can get at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods for about $1.99!  You can get plain, wheat, and I believe spinach.  I call them "dough balls".  So if you want to keep it healthier you have different options.  Pair it with a glass of nice Sauvignon Blanc (I recommend Hanna or Merry Edwards) and you're good to go!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

*3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
*1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 small carton white button mushrooms, sliced
*Salt & Pepper
*1 "dough ball"
*1/2 cup flour
*Garlic powder
*2 large handfuls of arugula
*1 cup grated fresh parmesan

First off, take your dough ball out of the fridge before you do anything.  It needs to sit for about 15 minutes before you can roll it out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste (about 1 teaspoon of each I typically use).  Cook for about 5 minutes until just soft.

Spread flour on a flat surface and cover your dough ball with flour.  Start kneading the dough ball into a circle.  Take a rolling pin (or wine bottle if you don't have one :-) and spread the dough.  Try to roll it out as thin as you can, the thicker it is the higher it will rise and the longer it will take to bake.  I try to get it to at least an inch.  Don't worry about a perfect circle, mine never is.  Put dough on a sheet pan or pizza pan.

Brush the edges with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic and spread around pizza.  Put in oven and cook for 15 minutes until crust is browned. Depending on your oven it might take a little longer.

Take out of oven and add the two handfuls of arugula on top.  Sprinkle the pizza with parmesan and you're done!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Couscous Stuffed Roasted Tomatoes

I'm sorry that I haven't posted a blog in a couple of weeks!  I've been reminded by a lot of you, and thanks for being loyal readers!

Even though I haven't been blogging, I have some great new recipes including this stuffed tomato.  This literally came together with what I had in my fridge and was one of the most flavorful things I've ever created.  To make things better it was very easy!  I served this along side my baked sea bass recipe as well if you're looking to have some sort of protein too.  Or a nice mixed salad if you're looking for something lighter.  Without further ado, here we go!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes

*2 Tablespoons olive oil
*1/2 yellow onion, chopped
*1 carton baby bella mushrooms, chopped (or about 2 large handfuls)
*2 garlic cloves, chopped
*1 cup cooked couscous (cook according to package)
*1 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*2 large tomatoes
*2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
*1/2 cup italian breadcrumbs
*Grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Also, cook couscous at the same time according to package.  Typically for 1 cup it requires 1 1/4 cup of boiling water and to cook for about 10 minutes with lid on until done.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add mushrooms and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Lower heat to medium low.

Slice the top off of each tomato.  Scoop out the insides with a spoon so it leaves you with a little bowl.  Think of it like scraping out a pumpkin but gentler so you don't break the sides.

Once couscous is done cooking, add it into the skillet with the mushrooms and onions etc.  Then add balsamic vinegar and mix it in so everything is coated.  Taste it.  If you think it needs more balsamic, go ahead and add it.  Always taste your food as you go!

Fill the tomatoes with the mixture and put on a baking sheet.  (I line my sheet with foil for a faster clean up)  Mix the breadcrumbs with some grated parmesan and add it on top of tomato.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes and you're done!  Tasty tomatoes!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Fra Diavolo" aka Spicy Tomato Pasta with Scrimps!

This recipe is for my sister Kristi.  She'll be the first to admit that she's a cook in training but loves making her shrimp with pasta.  This recipe is easy and SUPER flavorful tricking whoever you're serving to think they are in a restaurant.  No Barilla in a bag at my house!

I'm sure everyone is also thinking I spelled "shrimp" incorrectly in the title, but I do actually call them "scrimps" when cooking.  Anyone who knows me well is aware that I change a lot of names of things to make it fun and different!  Everyone used to make fun of me until they started using the names too.  So let's get on with the cooking of the SCRIMPS! :-)

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

*1 lb large shrimp, (I buy them peeled, de-veined, with tails on)
*1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
*4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
*1 small onion, sliced (I used white)
*(1) 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
*1 cup dry white wine (ie Pinot Grigio)
*3 garlic cloves, chopped
*1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
*Fresh basil, chopped (garnish)
*1 box of linguine (dry pasta is fine for this)

In small bowl, toss shrimp, 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes.  Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add shrimp and cook for about 2-3 minutes until cooked through.  They will turn a pretty pink color and that's when you know they're done.  Remove from skillet and put in bowl to the side.

Put pot of water on stove on high for pasta.

Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and onion into the same skillet you used for shrimp and cook for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through.  Lower heat to medium low and add tomatoes, white wine, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and oregano and let simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce is thick.  (While sauce is thickening cook linguine until al dente)  Then add shrimp back into tomato mixture and cook for 1 more minute.  I keep the tails on because it looks prettier but you can get shrimp without tails if you prefer.  Strain linguine, and put directly into skillet and toss with everything else.

Garnish with fresh chopped basil and enjoy your scrimps!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Easy Oven Baked Sea Bass

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a ton of experience with fish.  As a kid, I used to pinch my nose because anything seafood used to smell "fishy" to me.  So the only thing my mom could get us to eat were deep fried fish sticks.  I don't think I really started eating seafood until I was in college and then eventually I tried everything and realized what I was missing out on!

The reason I have been hesitant about cooking fish is because I have lived in cities where you're not allowed to have a grill so you're either sautéing it or baking it in the oven.  Both ways tend to smell up your house and that's one thing I can't stand.  My friend Joanna gave me this recipe and I believe she got it from good ole' Martha Stewart.  I made a couple of tweaks but I completely agree with her that this is one of the best fish recipes I've tried.  The trick is to wrap the fish in parchment paper and then wrap it in foil.  NO SMELL.  So don't be afraid to try this recipe, I guarantee your confidence with fish will be restored!

2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

*(2) 6-8 oz fresh sea bass filets (you can use any firm fish like salmon, halibut, etc)
*Salt & Pepper
*(4) thin wheel lemon slices
*1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
*(4) fresh thyme sprigs
*Splash of dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
*Parchment Paper
*Aluminum Foil
*Lemon Butter sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Go to the grocer and get (2) fresh fish filets.  It is really important to have FRESH fish.  I typically go to Whole Foods because their fish always has great quality.  Yes, it's a bit pricier but it's worth it.  If you don't have a Whole Foods, just ask your fish counter when they got the fish in and smell it.  If it's smells really fishy, it's not fresh.

Roll out some aluminum foil the length of a sheet pan.  Then roll out parchment paper on top.  I know parchment paper is not something everyone typically has in their kitchen.  But it's a good investment.  I bought some at Williams Sonoma 2 years ago and I still have some left.  I also use it to bake cookies, etc.

On top of parchment paper place the fish filets.  Season with salt and pepper.  Then place 2 thyme sprigs length wise on each filet.  Followed by the 2 slices of lemon and red onion slices on each.  Splash a little of the Pinot Grigio enough just to wet both the filets.

Next wrap the fish filets up in the parchment paper like a present.  Then wrap the aluminum foil securely around the packet making sure there's no holes.  Put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  When the fish is done in the oven, open the package slightly with a fork and see if the fish easily "flakes".  It should be tender and easily break off with a fork.

Place the filets on individual plates and you're done!  I added lemon butter sauce on top but it tastes great without it as well.  The recipe is below in my "Chicken Piccata" posting.  Just omit the capers.  Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sinful Dark Chocolate/Coffee BACON Cupcakes

I don't even know where to start with this recipe.  I'm sure a lot of you are questioning this whole combination, but I along with my entire team at work literally fell off our chairs when we took the first bite.  The taste of dark chocolate with a hint of coffee and then the surprise of the salty bacon at the end.  Not to mention one of the most moist cupcakes I've ever made before.  After taking a bite, your eyes literally automatically close and the savory sensation just makes your taste buds dance!

This truly is the perfect cupcake.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

*(10) slices of bacon (try to get thick cut)
*(2) cups flour
*3/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweet., I use Hershey's)
*(2) cups white sugar
*(2) teaspoons baking soda (make sure it's fresh!)
*(1) teaspoon baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt (sea salt if you have it)
*(2) eggs
*(1) cup cold brewed coffee (I used regular Starbucks)
*(1) cup buttermilk
*1/2 cup vegetable oil
*Dark chocolate frosting (I used Duncan Hines, sorry I don't do frosting)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy.  Let dry on paper towels.  Then put bacon pieces in food processor and pulse until they are small bits.  If you don't have a food processor, chop bits the best you can with a knife.

In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients.  Flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Then add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, and vegetable oil.  Mix lightly for 1 minute.  You don't want to beat the hecht out of the batter, just get it mixed.  Fold in about 2/3 of the bacons bits.  The rest are to sprinkle the tops when done.

Fill individual cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.  My oven is really hot (gas oven) so if your oven bakes slower you'll probably need 25 minutes.  When done, let them cool down.

Now you might think I'm crazy for the next step.  Leave the cupcakes overnight (covered).  I tried one right out of the oven and didn't really like it.  The next day the flavors had time to marinate and they were SO much more moist.

Frost cupcakes the next day and sprinkle with bacon bits.  Then prepare to surrender yourself to an absolutely heavenly experience!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Throwback Taco Salad

Some of the people I know will see this recipe and laugh because this dish was pretty much the only thing I could “cook” back in the day.  I used eat this almost every week during college and I still enjoy it here and there to bring back old memories.  This recipe is quick, easy and when stored properly can be even better the next day at lunch.  No fancy tricks, just a tasty salad that is cheap and appeals to all appetites.  Not to mention, who doesn’t like taco salad??

6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes (includes cooling of beef after browned)

*(1) Head of iceburg lettuce, cleaned and chopped (or any other lettuce)
*(2) lbs of ground beef
*Taco Seasoning (you can make your own, but just buy packet)
*(2) Tomatoes, seeded and diced (cut tomato half and use spoon to scoop seeds out)
*(1) Jalapeno (optional) seeded and diced
*(1) small bunch of scallions, sliced horizontally
*(1) cup of shredded cheddar cheese
*Italian Dressing (I use the Good Seasonings packet and make my own)
*Nacho Cheese Doritos, smashed

Start off by browning your ground beef over medium high heat until cooked through, takes about 10 minutes.  Drain the fat.  Add taco seasoning per packet directions and mix.  It normally calls for about ½ cup of water.  Transfer taco meat to a bowl and throw it in the freezer for 10 minutes while you chop everything.  You can use hot meat on your salad but note that it will wilt the lettuce and the texture isn’t too ideal.  I like to cool it down just a little bit so it’s still warm but not piping hot.

Get a large bowl.  Chop lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeno, and scallions and put in bowl.  Add cheese on the top.  Toss. 

Spoon salad into individual portions.  Then place the beef on top of the salad and add your desired amount of dressing.  I don’t add the italian dressing into the big bowl so I can separate it out for the next day and avoid soggy salad.  Take the Doritos bag and squish it together to break up the Dorito pieces, and add to the top of salad like croutons.  Add however much you like!  Toss again.

And that's my college throwback taco salad!  Now, where’s my margarita??

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Melt in Your Mouth-Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

I figured it was time to put in a recipe that required your crock pot.  I love my crock pot and relish in the fact that you can throw a bunch of ingredients in the pot, walk away and not have to worry about starting a kitchen fire!

This is the first time I've actually made pulled pork and I was surprised how easy it was.  This recipe makes a TON of pork.  Probably a good 10 servings.  I'm also going to put a "next morning" recipe under this one as well so you can continue to enjoy it's fatty, porky goodness!  I put my pulled pork on regular hamburger buns (my boyfriend insists in the south it HAS to be white, and I agree).  I then served it with corn muffins (recipe coming soon!), baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli.  This is a hearty meal that will leave everyone with a smile.  Just be prepared, because a food coma will probably make you fall asleep within 20 minutes of this meal!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5-10 hours (this tastes great at 5 hours, but if you're going to work you can leave it up to 10)

Dash of Vegetable Oil
(1) 4lb pork shoulder roast
(1) cup BBQ sauce (choose your favorite, I used KC Masterpiece orig.)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup light brown sugar (not packed, just lightly filled)
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 large onion, chopped (I used yellow)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (take side if your knife and smush it into cutting board)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & Pepper

Set crock pot to high for cook time of 5 hours, or to low of cook time of 10 hours.

Put a dash of vegetable oil in the bottom of the crock pot, enough to lightly cover the bottom.  Take your pork roast and salt and pepper both sides.  Always season your meat, salt and pepper really adds flavor.  Put in the cooker.

Add all the wet ingredients.  BBQ sauce, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, worcestershire sauce.  Mix together in pot with a spoon the best you can.  Then add dry ingredients.  Brown sugar, chili powder, garlic, onion, thyme, garlic powder.  Mix in the best you can, spoon liquid over your roast.

Put lid on your crock pot and walk away!!

After your desired cooking time, pull the pork shoulder out of pot.  Put on cutting board and use forks to shred pork, it should literally just fall off.  When you get closer to the center it won't really shred any more and just slice the rest up with a knife.  Put pork back in pot and stir and let sit for 10 more minutes.

It should look like this:

Serve on buns and let your taste buds just die and go to heaven!  If you have a lot of leftovers, put some aside for the next morning and you can freeze the rest for up to 3 months.

NEXT MORNING - Breakfast Pork Burritos

2 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

(2) Flour burrito tortillas (wheat or spinach is great too)
(3) eggs
Splash of milk
1 cup of pork (just eye ball it, use how much you would like)
1/2 teaspoon season salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chunky salsa

Beat 3 eggs, and add splash of milk.  Add season salt & pepper and mix.  Set aside.

Heat up your pork in microwave or a pot.  I have to use a pot, we don't have a microwave.  I know,  crazy San Francisco!

Heat skillet to medium high and spray with cooking spray.  Add egg mixture.  Start moving mixture around with a spoon.  After about 30 seconds add chunky salsa.  Mix everything together and finish cooking eggs, about 1-2 minutes. 

Heat flour tortillas in microwave, or I use a clean skillet and warm on each side.  TIP: Do not use cold tortillas, they will crack!  You want them warm so they roll better.

Lay the warm tortilla down and spoon pork mixture and egg mixture on top.  Roll up and enjoy!  If you're going to work, wrap it in foil and it will still be warm when you get to your desk!  (Also can be reheated in your office microwave)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Infamous Arugula Pasta

Posted by popular demand, I've decided it's time to share my all time favorite pasta dish.  My boyfriend will roll his eyes because I literally used to make this every week!  You're going to find out very quickly that I LOVE arugula.  I first discovered it in an Italian restaurant in DC about 3 years ago and it was listed as "rucola".  I'll never forget it, because it took me a good two months to figure out what it was!  For those of you that are unfamiliar with arugula, it is a green lettuce leaf that looks a little bit like a baby holly leaf and has a sensational peppery taste.  I love it so much I could just sit there and eat it raw!  So needless to say this will not be the first arugula recipe you see on my blog.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

2 Servings (plus a little extra for 1 for lunch)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

1/2 large onion, chopped (whatever type you like best or is on sale)
1 small crate button mushrooms, sliced (you can use any type, but these are cheapest and work great)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large handfuls baby arugula (found in salad area in plastic containers)
1 handful sliced grape tomatoes
1/2 box of pasta (I use fresh linguine when it's on sale, or otherwise a dry Barilla farfalle, penne, etc)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Grated parmesan
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Cooked sliced chicken breast (optional)

First off get your pot of water on the stove for the pasta so it can come to a boil while you're chopping vegetables.

In a large skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Chop your onion, mushrooms (sliced), and garlic and add it to the skillet.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.  Make sure your pan isn't too hot, you don't want to burn the garlic.  Cook for about 8 minutes until onions and mushrooms are soft.  Once cooked, lower heat to medium low.

Salt your boiling water so you can season your pasta (this should be in the middle of cooking vegetables).  It's a myth that putting oil in your water helps the pasta not stick.  Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.

Once pasta is done, strain and put directly into skillet with the vegetables.  DO NOT RINSE PASTA WITH WATER.  This will wash all of the starch out of the pasta and you will lose all the flavor, etc.  Toss pasta with onions, etc and add more olive oil if you need a little more.  Next, throw in the 2 large handfuls of raw arugula and toss with the hot mixture.  It should cook a little bit just from the heat of the pasta. 

Serve on a plate and sprinkle with parmesan.  Add the raw sliced grape tomatoes on top. (I don't have the tomatoes in the picture because they were out at the store, but I typically use them).  Next, I always sprinkle a little red pepper flakes on top for a kick but that's up to you.  Then add the sliced chicken breast.  You don't have to have the chicken breast, I normally don't but my boyfriend was complaining of "needing" protein!  So it's up to you, it tastes great without it too.

And there you go!  My infamous arugula pasta.  This is the best meal for a weeknight because it's so quick and easy and reheats really well for the next day at lunch.  Bon appetit!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cornbread & Apple Stuffed Pork Loin

This is for all my snowed in friends and family on the east coast!  I love this recipe because pork tenderloin is relatively cheap and when cooked correctly has great flavor and moisture.  I typically buy the tenderloin in the vacuum sealed bag that can be found in the meat area.  Normally there are two full tenderloins in the pack, so you can freeze one and use it another time.  Don't be afraid to freeze things.  I do it all the time; just make sure you have the right ziplocs to prevent freezer burn.  In the picture to the left, I actually made both tenderloins so this recipe is for 6 servings.  But the two of us can eat this for lunch the next day, or another dinner.  You can just cut this recipe in half if using one tenderloin.  I know the below looks complicated but think about it simply.  All of the ingredients are reasonably priced and you should have some of this in your kitchen.  There's only a few key things you really need.  WARNING: This is a Sunday dinner!  Don't attempt to make this during the week otherwise you'll be eating at 11pm at night, which has happened to me before so don't make my same mistake!

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour & 45 minutes

(2) 2 lb pork tenderloins
Kitchen twine
3 granny smith apples (2.5 peeled and sliced, 1/2 peeled and diced)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 peeled and diced granny smith apple
1 1/2 cups dried corn bread stuffing mix (any brand is fine)
1/3 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 egg, beaten

Rub: (mix all these together)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
(1) 14oz. can of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray or olive oil.  Saute the celery, onion and pepper until tender stirring occasionally.  About 5 minutes.  Add the diced apple and saute for another minute.  Place the mixture in a large bowl and let cool for a couple of minutes.  Then add cornbread stuffing mix, apple juice, sage, and egg.  Toss and set aside.

Take the pork tenderloin and slice lengthwise, cutting to the other side but not through.  Open up the butterflied portions like a book and flip over.  There should be a thicker side, so repeat by cutting the larger side and cutting to but not through the other side.  This is kind of hard so you can also cover the original butterflied piece with saran wrap and hit the meat with a tenderizer or a hammer until about 3/4 inch thick.  Lightly salt both sides.

Spread the stuffing mixture over the entire tenderloin leaving about 1/2 inch margin on the outside.  Roll up like a jelly roll starting from the long side and secure with kitchen twine every 2 inches or as needed.  Then spread the rub over the entire tenderloin.

Spray a pan (can be a broiler pan or a 9x13 glass pan) with cooking spray and then layer the sliced apples on the bottom.  Place the pork over the bed of apples.

Bake for 20 minutes at the preheated 450 degrees.  Then reduce the oven to 325 degrees (DON'T remove the pork or open door) and bake for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Depending on your oven it may cook faster so also when your thermometer reads 155 degrees. (But let's be honest, after almost an hour and a half of cooking it should be done!)  Remove the pork from the pan, cover with foil and let sit for 10  minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the juice, corn starch, and broth in a small pan for the sauce.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir frequently with a whisk.

Slice the pork tenderloin and pour sauce over the meat and serve.  Enjoy your hearty dish for the winter and stay warm out there!  It's 70 here in California so I think I'll go and sit outside, visitors welcome! :-)    

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Better Chicken Picatta

This is one of my favorite weeknight dinners to make.  Typically when I order this in a restaurant I get this greasy sauce soaked chicken dish.  This recipe is really fresh and the flavor pops your taste buds alive!  My boyfriend is somewhat a picky eater and he loves this dish.  I typically serve it with a side of pasta or mashed potatoes, but you can serve it with veggies if you want to keep it lower calorie.  Enjoy!

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 15 minutes

*2 boneless chicken breasts pounded 1/2" thin
*1 cup flour mixed with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper
*1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use italian)
*1 large egg beaten with a splash of water
*Olive Oil
*3 Tablespoons butter (unsalted)
*Juice of 2 lemons, reserve the lemon halves
*1/2 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
*Chopped fresh parsley
*1 Tablespoon of capers

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Pound both chicken breasts until they are about 1/2" thick.  You can also buy pre-pounded chicken at the grocery store but I think sometimes it's a little too thin.

Set up a little assembly line.  The bowl of the flour mixture first, the bowl of the egg water mixture, and then the bowl of breadcrumbs.  In the background start heating 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Next take one of the chicken breasts and dredge it in the flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, and finally coat the chicken with the bread crumbs.  USE YOUR HANDS, it's a lot easier.  Once both breasts are finished put them in the pan with the olive oil.  Brown them on both sides about 3 minutes each side until there is a nice crust.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and and put the chicken breasts on the sheet and into the oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

Take the sauce pan you just browned the chicken breasts in and wipe it out with a paper towel.  Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium heat then add the lemon juice.  Then throw in the lemon halves face down.  Add the white wine and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Turn up the heat so you boil down the mixture and it's reduced in half (only a couple of minutes).  Add the capers.  Then add the remaining butter and let it melt in.  Discard the lemon halves.

Remove the chicken breasts from the oven and place on a plate.  Spoon the desired amount of sauce over each chicken breast and add some chopped parsley on top.  Voila!  Bon Appetit!