Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tis the Season

Hello! Now that we're in full-swing holiday party mode, I want to know, what are your favorite holiday entertaining dishes? Appetizers? Desserts? I'll be posting some soon, but would love some feedback on what you love, or what you want to see!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pork Stew

What do you do when you buy an 8 pound pork butt for (delicious) pulled pork, but you can only fit 5 pounds in your crock pot? Why, you save 3 pounds and make pork stew another day! This recipe was SO simple since I chopped all the veggies the night before. Threw it in the crock pot Monday morning and came home to a delicious Monday night meal!

Pork Stew

3-4 pounds pork butt
1 onion, chopped into large pieces
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
3 cups mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 8-10 hours. Remove pork to a large platter, shred with two forks, then put it back in the crock pot with juices. I served over white rice, although it'd be great with pasta, crusty bread, or nothing at all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pineapple Turkey Burgers

I love reading my friend and coworker Emily's blog, Cooking Inside the Lines. We both share a passion for cookbooks and food magazines, but she actually takes the time and diligence to follow recipes and rate them. Thankfully, we have similar food tastes, so she does test runs of all the recipes I want to try. Lately she's been on a pineapple jam kick, which I thought would be the perfect topping for one of my favorites, turkey burgers! This one is a bit decadent and not for the weak-hearted :)

Pineapple Turkey Burgers

2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
1 tablespoon basalmic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces goat cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 poblano pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon basalmic vinegar
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
1/2 cup pineapple jam
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat a large grill pan or skillet on medium heat. Combine turkey, onion, pepper, vinegar, lemon, parsley and salt and pepper in a bowl. Form into 6 even-sized patties. Divide goat cheese into 6 portions and roll into balls. Place one ball in the middle of each patty and pull meat around it so that the cheese is hidden in the middle. Grill turkey burgers about 10 minutes on each side, or until the inside is no longer pink.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion and peppers on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add basalmic vinegar and cook another 3 minutes. Toast hamburger buns and spread pineapple jam on each side. Top with a burger patty and basalmic glazed vegetables. Finally, add some crumbled bacon. Then listen to all the yummy noises made at your table :)

I served these with Guy Fieri's Sofrito Mashed Potatoes- love them!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lemony Shrimp Pasta

Apron's baaack! Sorry dear readers for the long blogging hiatus. Frankly, I was feeling less than inspired lately in the kitchen, and mostly following recipes. Well, I'm back and feeling more creative than ever, so be on the lookout for more tasty recipes!

Warming our tushes by the fire!

Friday was Christine's birthday, and there's nothing like a birthday to celebrate to get me in the mood to cook. We celebrated with a gentle roommate dinner, some spiked hot chocolate, a hot fire and some Muppets videos. A great night!

Lemony Shrimp Pasta

2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
24 ounces spaghetti
1 bunch kale
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 - 1/2 cup dry white wine, room temperature
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Italian parsley, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil, and drizzle with oil. Bake in oven 20-30 minutes, until blistering. Remove from heat and keep wrapped in foil.

While tomatoes cook, heat two large pots of water to boiling. Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente and set aside. Cut kale into pieces and boil about 5 minutes, also removing and keeping warm.

For the shrimp, heat a large skillet on medium high heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes. Cook in skillet 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm. Reduce heat to medium, melt additional 2 tablespoons butter and cook shallots about two minutes. Add lemon juice, zest and wine to skillet and stir, scraping up any brown bits, simmering about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch, if needed, to thicken. Mix in shrimp, tomatoes and kale and serve over cooked spaghetti. Garnish with parsley if desired. I served with crusty bread to sop up the delicious lemony wine juice.

Apple and Pecan Salad

1 head lettuce
1 apple, halved, cored and sliced
1/3 cup pecan halves
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl with apple slices and pecan halves. For the dressing, combined orange zest and juice in a bowl and stream in olive oil while whisking. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with salad.

The birthday girl enjoying her meal!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

I accumulated a few acorn squashes during the end of October, and I decided that today they'd met their match. I've never actually prepared acorn squash before, so after some poking around online, I found a few recipes that inspired the concoction below. It was a great mix of flavors that you don't usually find on my table- the roommates loved it!

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red onion

5 cloves garlic

2 cups couscous

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup parmesan, shredded

Half acorn squash and remove seeds. Place in a baking dish face down and cook in a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and scoop out flesh and place in a large bowl, keeping shell in tact.

While squash is cooking, heat a large skillet on medium heat and cook beef until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside in the bowl with the squash. Warm oil in the same skillet and cook onions and garlic about 5 minutes. Cook couscous to directions and add to bowl. Stir in pecans, basil, cilantro, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper.

Add mixture into squash shells and top with parmesan cheese. Bake another 5 to 10 minutes. then serve.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 pounds sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt to taste

Place in inch of water in a large saucepan and place a steamer basket in it; bring water to a simmer. Peel potatoes and dice into 1 inch pieces. Steam about 20 minutes, then drain. Add potatoes back to warm pot and add in remaining ingredients and mash to desired smoothness. Enjoy!

I served with a grape salad that included about 4 cups red seedless grapes, 1 ounce crumbled feta and 4-5 torn basil leaves.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Steak and Portobello Risotto

In case you haven't noticed, I don't prepare steak very often. Don't get me wrong, I like it, I just don't crave it as often as others. Luke was heading out of town, and it was a Saturday night, so it seemed like the perfect night to prepare a special, slow cooked meal. This takes a little time, but it's well worth it.

Steak and Portobello Risotto

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large portobello mushroom cap, cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound sirloin steak
2 cups arborito rice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced shallot
1/2 cup dry white wine, warmed
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup shredded parmesan

Heat a skillet on medium heat and warm 1 tablespoon oil. Add zucchini and mushroom to skillet and saute about 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a cast iron skillet and spray with cooking spray. Rub down steak with salt and pepper, and cook in skillet about 5 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness is reached. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a large, heavy saucepan on medium low heat and warm 2 tablespoons oil. Add rice, garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until until absorbed by rice, then start adding the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Once 1/2 cup has been absorbed, add another, until risotto is creamy. This should take about 20-30 minutes, and note that you may not use all of the broth. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper and stir in parmesan. Stir in vegetables, then top with steak. Enjoy!

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

I hardly ever use pepperoni (even when making pizza), but every now and then I just get the biggest hankering for it. Although I love pizza, pasta always tops my list, so I decided to create a pasta using traditional pepperoni pizza toppings for a fun spin. With whole wheat pasta and subbing some shredded parmesan for gobs of mozzarella, this is a healthy(ish) swap!

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

1 pound whole wheat large pasta shells

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup pepperoni, roughly chopped
1 cup sliced olives
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons dried basil
Parmesan, shredded

Place a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium heat and warm oil. Saute garlic and onion for 3 minutes, then add bell peppers and cook another 5. Stir in marinara sauce and let simmer about 10 minutes. Add in pepperoni, sliced olives, salt and pepper and basil and cook 2 minutes. Top with desired amount of parmesan (I used about 1 cup). Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chicken and Grape Couscous

I love those Thursday night meals that come together with a flash of inspiration, and this one was no different. We recently helped Zoes Kitchen open their Austin location a few weeks ago for work, and I got some of their famed "Spice of Life"- a secret mix of Mediterranean spices. Since it's secret, I'm not sure what exactly is in it, but I'd recommend subbing with salt, pepper, garlic, basil and oregano if you can't get your hands on some. I used that as my muse for Thursday night's dinner and was not disappointed :)

Chicken and Grape Couscous
2 cups whole wheat couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups grapes, halved
1 cup olives, halved
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Zoes Spice of Life
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook couscous to package instructions. Set aside, keep warm. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat and warm olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and cook until done, about 8 minutes, turning occasionally. Add to a large bowl with cous cous and toss with grapes, olives and lemon juice. Season with Spice of Life and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in feta cheese. Enjoy!

"Potato Salad"

1 pound potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
3 tablespoons oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Zoes Spice of Life
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounces fresh romaine
1 ounce parmesan, grated

Preheat oven for 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil and season generously with salt and pepper and Spice of Life. Bake about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet on medium heat and warm 2 tablespoons oil. Add onions and saute 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and add to a bowl. Toss with romaine and parmesan, and potatoes when slightly cooled. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Balanced Weeknight Meal

Some nights inspiration just strikes. After my success with with brussel sprouts, I decided to do a take 2 and see if I actually liked them (and not just the bacon!) I saw this recipe for Nutty Warm Brussel Sprouts Salad in Cooking Light, and did my own (a little less healthy) spin. This meal fell together nicely and represented lots of important nutrients. The brussel sprouts tasted almost sweet! A great weeknight meal.

Nutty Brussel Sprouts
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 elephant garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 pound brussel sprouts
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded Asiago

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or just until golden, stirring constantly. Add breadcrumbs; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Transfer garlic mixture to a small bowl.

Separate leaves from Brussels sprouts; quarter cores. Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add leaves and cores to pan; cook 8 minutes or just until leaves wilt and cores are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; toss with breadcrumb mixture, salt, and pepper. Top with walnuts and cheese.

Cranberry Rice
2 cups brown rice

1 tablespoon butter
Salt to taste
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Prepare rice according to package instructions. Stir in butter and salt to taste, and toss with cranberries. If you have addition walnuts from the brussel sprouts, try those too!

Maple Dijon Pork
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch thick slices
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Season pork with salt and pepper on both sides. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in skillet, and cook pork, about 7 minutes on each side, until done. Remove to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in skillet and whisk in maple syrup and dijon, bring to a simmer. Whisk in butter, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Add pork back to skillet and toss in sauce. Serve.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Pining" for Greek Salad

This was the first week in a long time where I didn't go to the grocery store on Sunday (two nights in a row of Austin Restaurant Week will do that to you!) Faced with a last minute shopping trip on a Wednesday after work, I wanted to use up some items I knew I had- half a butternut squash, a can of chick peas and pita bread. The resulting salad had a lot of different flavors and textures, my nod to a Greek salad. Everyone went for seconds!

"Pining" for Greek Salad

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup pine nuts
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
4 pitas, warmed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced squash with 1/2 tablespoon oil and roast in the oven 30-40 minutes. While squash cooks, heat a medium-sized non-stick skillet on medium heat and toast chickpeas, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add chickpeas to a large bowl. In the same skillet, heat on low heat and toast the pine nuts, 4-5 minutes, constantly stirring. Add to the salad bowl along with spinach, shredded chicken, feta, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper to drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once squash is done add to bowl and toss. Serve with warmed pita bread.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sweet Butternut Squash Orzo Salad

This past weekend was rainy and dismal in Austin and perfectly divine! The weather got me in the mood for fall (well, that and getting my October cooking magazines in the mail!) I served the orzo with the Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce from the October issue of Bon Appetit. Such a great pairing!

Sweet Butternut Squash Orzo Salad

2 cups orzo
1 2-lb butter nut squash, diced and roasted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh sage, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo to package instructions. Toss with remaining ingredients. Tastes great the next day too, so make extra.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hatch Chili Meatballs and Pesto

I love the excitement that hatch chili season creates. If you factor in food bloggers to the situation, excitement increases ten fold. The bloggers threw a hatch chili-themed potluck last month which I was so excited for. The first thing that came to my head was meatballs, so I just went with it.

My roommates were kind enough to be my taste testers. Good thing! The original recipe used sweet Italian sausage instead of hot, and there was less spice. It was a bit bland, so I kicked it up for the bloggers. When it's not hatch season, try this recipe with an assortment of peppers for a slightly different flavor.

Hatch Chili Meatballs and Pesto

5 hatch chilis, stemmed, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 pound lean ground sirloin
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

4 hatch chilis, roasted, stemmed and partially seeded
1 red bell pepper, roasted, stemmed and seeded
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons almonds
3 tablespoons pecan pieces
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/3 cup Manchego cheese, shredded
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

24 ounces spaghetti
Additional shredded Manchego cheese

For the meatballs, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (through sirloin) thoroughly with your hands. Mix in all other ingredients until combined. Form into 1 inch balls and place on greased baking sheet. You should get 3-4 dozen. Bake for about 30 minutes.

While meatballs are cooking, make pesto. In a food processor, add peppers and garlic; pulse. Add nuts and pulse again. Add in cilantro, lime juice and cheese; pulse. Season and pulse once again. With processor running, stream in olive oil until you reach your desired consistency. Serve as a topping to cooked spaghetti, meatballs and with additional Manchego cheese as needed.

On a recent trip home I picked up one of my childhood favorite books- Strega Nona. Long story short, Strega Nona has this awesome pasta pot that she can make as much pasta as she wants. She goes out of town, and silly Anthony tries to use it and ends up flooding the entire village with pasta! Thankfully we didn't have that problem at dinner, but my roommates did enjoy story hour :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Your Dreams Brussel Sprouts

Ok, I have an embarrassing food confession. I dream about food - a lot. A few weeks ago I had the most vivid dream about hosting a dinner party where I served a delicious brussel sprouts dish. Mind you I've never actually cooked brussel sprouts. Well, the dream stuck with me, so I decided to recreate my okra masterpiece to see if my dream sprouts held up. It was delicious and simple and made me realize that I actually DO like brussel sprouts!

In Your Dreams Brussel Sprouts

4 pieces bacon
1 package fresh brussel sprouts (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat and cook bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and reserve drippings. When cook, crumble.

While bacon is cooking, remove stems from okra and cut in half if large. Add diced shallots and brussel sprouts to bacon drippings in cast iron skillet and saute 10-12 minutes, until sprouts begin to brown and is no longer crunchy. Stir in vinegar, crumbled bacon and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

I served with a simple pretzel honey crusted chicken and homemade mashed potatoes. For chicken, I bought chicken thighs, coated them in honey then dredged in crushed salted pretzels. Bake at 350 about 30 minutes or until chicken is 180 degrees (170 if using chicken breast).

Finished it off with a tasty sauvignon blanc :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mushroom Risotto

Do you ever have those nights where you are just dying for an excuse to spend a long time in the kitchen? Ok, maybe you're not all crazy like me, but having an excuse to sit there stirring while drinking a glass of wine is pretty relaxing too! I love the creamy comfort of a risotto, and using some summer vegetables I had along with some crisp Sauvingon Blanc seemed like the perfect reason to make one. Bon Appetit!

Mushroom Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup diced shallots
3 cups arborito rice
1/2 cup dry white wine, warm
5 cups chicken broth, warm
2 large portabello caps, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large heirloom tomato, diced
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat a large pot on medium heat and warm 1 tablespoon oil. Saute shallots 2 minutes, then add rice. Stir together so that oil and shallots thoroughly coat rice and let toast until rice begins to glisten, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the warmed wine (warning, if the wine is cold, it'll shock the rice and the risotto won't turn out right). Keep stirring until rice absorbs wine, then begin adding chicken broth. Add broth about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before you add more. You should stir almost constantly throughout the process, which can take around 30 minutes. Keep adding broth until the rice is not absorbing it as well, the mixture should be very creamy at this point.

In the meantime, heat oil in a large skillet. Saute mushrooms until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in zucchini and saute about 3 minutes. Stir in diced tomato and simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and finish off with balsamic vinegar.

Add mushroom mixture to risotto. Stir in parmesan and goat cheese and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Best Salad You'll Ever Have

If you haven't purchased the September issue of Bon Appetit, stop what you're doing now and RUN to the magazine stand. I'm absolutely obsessed with this issue, filled with bacon, figs and goat cheese, and have made probably 6 recipes (and actually following them too!) already.

My absolute favorite has to be the Warm Escarole Salad with Goat Cheese, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Bacon, which I actually made twice this week. A sort of spin on cobb salad, this salad is SUCH a treat. If you can't find escarole, substitute any leafy green of your liking. For the exact recipe, check the link above. My version includes more bacon than what Bon App called for :) Because of that, I reduced the amount of oil added to the dressing since there were additional bacon drippings.

Warm Escarole Salad with Goat Cheese, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Bacon

2 heads of escarole, torn into large bite-sized pieces (about 8 cups)

5 bacon slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 5.5-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Divide escarole among 6 plates. Cook bacon in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain; reserve skillet with bacon drippings. Finely chop bacon; set aside.

Whisk olive oil and vinegar in small bowl to blend. Heat bacon drippings in skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add olive oil mixture and whisk just until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over escarole. Sprinkle with eggs, goat cheese, and bacon.

I served the salad as a side to the Pineapple-Glazed Pork with Chiles and Lime- also delicious! Another recipe that I followed, two in one night- crazy!

Pineapple-Glazed Pork with Chiles and Lime

1 cup pineapple juice, divided
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped seeded red jalapeño chiles
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 3/4-pound pork tenderloins
Chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 500°F. Bring 3/4 cup pineapple juice and sugar to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover; boil until syrup is deep brown, checking frequently to prevent burning, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately swirl in remaining 1/4 cup pineapple juice, chiles, and allspice. When bubbling stops, whisk in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 cup glaze into small bowl and reserve.

Line baking sheet with foil; place rack in center of sheet. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper; place on rack. Brush with glaze from saucepan. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, brushing occasionally with glaze from saucepan, about 15 minutes. Slice pork. Drizzle with reserved glaze and sprinkle with cilantro.

Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

Apron is back! my apologies for being MIA, the past few weeks have been filled with work, travel, tennis, fun and of course, cooking! This was a meal that I whipped up after a night of tennis in no time. It's simple, but the flavors really pop.

Orange Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops, 1 inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup shallots, diced
1/2 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Warm olive oil in pan, then place pork chops in skillet, cooking 4 to 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Heat butter in skillet and saute shallots about 3 minutes. Add orange juice, mustard and salt and pepper to taste to deglaze plan. Place pork chops back in pan for another minute, then serve with sauce

I served this with a simple side salad dressed with some of the marinade from my Fresh Fig and Brie Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. I tossed the figs with spring greens, the marinade and pistachios. Yum!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Benedict Inspired Eggs

I love making brunch for my roommates, and since I had half a wheel of brie sitting around waiting to be used, I thought I'd do my own spin on eggs benedict. I found that the creaminess of the brie made hollandaise sauce unnecessary.

Benedict Inspired Eggs

4 slices bacon

4 eggs

4 slices brie cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 whole wheat English muffins
2 ounces fresh spinach
1 roma tomato, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon as desired (I did mine in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes- prevents snipers from snacking away all the bacon!) Bring a medium sized saucepan filled with 3 inches water to a boil and sprinkle in some salt. Poach eggs, about 3 minutes, and delicately remove with a slotted spoon. Layer on top of a lightly toasted English muffin half, then place a slice of brie on top. Add bacon, spinach and tomato, then season with salt and pepper. I served this with a side of rosemary roasted potatoes.

Fresh Fig and Brie Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I made my trip to the farmer's market this weekend in search of fresh figs, and I was not disappointed. I love fresh figs, but somehow had never cooked with them myself. These plump delights were the perfect inspiration and appear twice in this meal.

Fresh Fig and Brie Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

12 figs
2 cups red wine
1/4 cup fig jam
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 ounces brie cheese (1/2 of a small wheel of brie)
2 pounds pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper to taste

Place about 12 figs in a medium sized bowl and cover with red wine. Marinade about one hour. Half figs lengthwise and set aside,. Use marinade and stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/4 cup fig jam and microwave for 30 seconds.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice about 4 ounces of brie cheese into strips. Butterfly pork and place brie and fig slices down the length. Next tie pork together with kitchen twine to secure and place in a greased baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon marinade over the pork. Cook about one hour, until the pork measures 150 degrees with a meat thermometer. Let cool 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Fig and Caramelized Onion Salad

1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 ounces fresh spinach
5 figs, halved and marinaded in red wine
Red wine fig marinade (reserved from pork tenderloin recipe above)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Toss onion in sugar, and then cook in 1 tablespoon oil, about 6 minutes. Add to a medium bowl with spinach and fig halves. Then toss in 1/4 cup marinade and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pecan Pork Chop Salad

With just a few simple ingredients, this simple salad will knock your socks off. Looking for an easier approach? Skip breading the pork chops, and just grill them. Then toss the pecans in the salad.

Pecan Pork Chop Salad

Canola oil (1 inch high in pan)
4 1-inch thick pork chops
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pecans, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces spinach
2 mangos, peeled, pitted and diced

For dressing:
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and warm oil until it maintains 350 degrees (if you place the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, bubbles should rise up). Dredge the pork chops in flour, then dip both sides in the beaten egg. Finally, coat both sides with the crushed pecans mixed with salt and pepper. Place in skillet and cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until crust is golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool 5 to 10 minutes.

In the meantime, toss together spinach and mango. Once pork has cooled, slice into bite-sized pieces and add to salad.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, then drizzle over salad.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Harry Potter Snacks, Part 3

Thanks to Addie Broyles for the story in today's Austin American-Statesman on Harry Potter treats! See the recipes I shared below:

Unforgettable Pensieve Dip

11/4 cup hard cider
4 cups smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Emmentaler cheese, shredded
11/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Sausage (for dipping)
Apple slices (for dipping)
Rye bread, chopped into pieces (for dipping)

Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and warm hard cider until simmering. Toss shredded cheese with cornstarch, then add a handful at a time to the simmering cider, stirring as you go, until fully incorporated and smooth. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and remove from heat. Add to a warm fondue pot and serve with sausage slices, apple slices and bread pieces for an unforgettable snack.

Pumpkin Juice

5 cups apple juice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir all ingredients until thoroughly combined and serve chilled for a refreshing drink. For an extra kick, add 1/2 cup spiced rum to create "Rumkin Juice."

Cockroach Clusters

2 cups walnut (or pecan) halves
4 ounces chocolate bark
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 ounces peanut butter, melted (optional)
2 ounces caramel, melted (optional)

Spread out nuts on wax paper. Place chocolate bark and dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute. Stir, then heat another minute, stopping every 20 seconds to stir. Drizzle over nuts and place in refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes. If desired, first drizzle nuts with peanut butter or caramel, then chocolate, for an added dimension of flavor.

Harry Potter Snacks, Part 2

We are on the eve of the premier of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and I cannot wait! It's been a magical 5 weeks of viewing our favorite HP movies and enjoying some treats from the movies, along with a few of our own classics.

Ron's wands were a fun invention for a Harry Potter party we had a few years ago. Since he breaks his wand in the Chamber of Secrets, it's a quite fitting use of broken pretzel rods! And for the butterbeer, there are several interpretations, both hot and cold, alcoholic and not, that you can find online. We loved this simple recipe, and it wasn't sickeningly sweet like I feared. The baked brie isn't HP-related per se, but it seemed like something the Hogwarts students might enjoy. Especially with the Harry Potter logo that Christine so masterfully added to it. These recipes are so simple, a first year could do them!

Ron's Wands

1 bag pretzel rods (both whole and broken is fine)
6 ounces chocolate bark

Lay out wax paper and prepare your pretzel rods. Place chocolate bark in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for one minute. Stir, then continue heating, stopping to stir every 20 seconds, until smooth. I recommend doing this in a tall glass, so when you dip the pretzel rods you can cover as much of the pretzel as possible. Lay on wax paper and add sprinkles. Let set about 20 minutes.

6 pack cream soda cans, chilled
1 cup butterscotch snapps, chilled

Combine both ingredients and serve in chilled mugs. Fit for a Hogwarts feast! Sorry, no photo :(

Baked Brie

1 package puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel brie cheese
1/4 cup fig jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry and place brie cheese wheel in the center. Spread fig jam over the cheese and then tightly wrap the puff pastry dough around it, trimming the excess. You can then press a logo of your choice on the excess and press on top, if desired. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. I served with wheat crackers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vegetarian Mediterranean Panini

You know me, I love a good sandwich! I also tend to get in a very comfortable produce rut, so I decided to switch things up, while still making one of my favorites. What did I throw into the mix? A big, beautiful portobello mushroom. Mushrooms are such a nice meaty food without the heaviness that some of my go-to proteins lend to an otherwise light meal. Since I tend to go pretty heavy-handed with my sandwich toppings, the portobello mushroom was the perfect addition.

Vegetarian Mediterranean Panini

1 large portobello mushroom cap, stemmed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, sliced
2 roasted red bell peppers
2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
8 large sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf ciabatta
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Heat a grill pan on medium heat. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides of mushroom and sprinkle with rosemary. Grill about 6 minutes on each side until grill marks are formed. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, then slice and set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and warm other tablespoon oil. Saute garlic and onion 2 minutes, then add bell pepper, artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes and saute 3-5 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

Reheat grill pan or panini grill. Cut ciabatta in half to form a top and bottom, then slice into 5 pieces. Pile mushroom slices, vegetable mixture and a few crumbles of goat cheese on each bottom half, then place top on the sandwich. place sandwiches on grill pan and place a heavy skillet on top (I used my cast iron) and let it cook 4-5 minutes, then flip and let it cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Enjoy!

On the side:

Blackberry Spinach Salad

5 ounces baby spinach leaves
3 ounces fresh blackberries
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 ounce crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and drizzle over salad.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza

You know how I love experimenting with fun new pizza toppings, and with fresh summer peaches flooding the market I couldn't help but adding them in to the mix! The sweetness of the peach is countered by the saltiness of the prosciutto, and the honey goat cheese offers a mildly sweet creaminess that really balances out the flavors.

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza

1 refrigerated pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
2 peaches, skinned and sliced
1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped
2 ounces honey goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and spread olive oil over it in a thin layer. Next evenly sprinkle mozzarella cheese over tough, then top with peaches and prosciutto. Sprinkle the goat cheese crumbles on top and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chilled Thai Corn Soup

I don't often make soups, and when I do it's typically a variation of chicken noodle. So when my roommate requested soup, I decided to switch things up! At a recent trip to the farmer's market, a chef from Parkside was sampling a chilled corn soup, but the recipe had so much heavy cream, I decided to try my hand at making one that was slightly more healthy. Enjoy!

Chilled Thai Corn Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
6 ears corn, husks discarded and kernels removed
1 red bell pepper, roasted, halved seeded and roughly chopped
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot and warm olive oil. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add corn kernels. Cook about 5 minutes, then stir in red pepper and cook additional 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and water and simmer 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup, then stir in cilantro, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.

I served with toasted caprese sandwiches, featuring ciabatta bread, fresh mozzarella, fresh sliced tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Harry Potter Snacks, Part 1

Somehow I've managed to keep my love for Harry Potter pretty quiet on the blogosphere, but with HP and the Half Blood Prince coming out this summer, it's time for me to reveal my nerdiness as well. My house is hosting weekly Harry Potter viewing parties, complete with fun wizard snacks, each Tuesday night leading up to the 6th movie premiere on July 15th. No matter how many times I read the books or see the movies, I love them equally every time.

My roommate Christine and I spent a good deal of time brainstorming and finding recipes from fellow bloggers, which I will be sharing in the coming weeks. For fellow fans, I hope you appreciate it! Even if you're not, these recipes are pretty tasty on their own :)

Chocolate Frogs

Thanks to Christine's dedication, she ordered a frog mold online. We then simply melted chocolate bark and filled each frog, adding walnuts and cashews to them for an added crunch. What a hit!

Cauldron Cakes

These spice cakes were simple and light!

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, butter,cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla in large mixing bowl on whip for 2 minutes. Mix other solid ingredients and milk in gradually in the large mixing bowl. Fill muffin tins about half way and bake 25 minutes.

Pumpkin Juice

We washed it all down with a fresh glass of Pumpkin Juice, which my friend Greg coined
"Rumkin" Juice by adding a healthy dose of rum. Booze or not, this beverage was surprisingly refreshing!

5 cups apple juice
1 cup pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine all in a large pitcher and stir well. Serve on ice. Makes about 6 cups.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

My friend Ivette and I got to talking about how much we loved zucchini the other day, and it got me thinking about how i haven't made stuffed zucchini in forever! I love making this because there are a million ways to do it, all of which turn out delicious. We've been grilling outdoors a lot lately, putting me in a fiesta mood, so I gave mine a southwestern flair :)

Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Scoop out the pulp of each zucchini half, leaving the zucchini shelf in tact, and dice. Heat a skillet on medium heat and warm oil. Saute garlic and red onion about 3 minutes, then add in diced zucchini pulp and saute another 3 minutes. Place in a large bowl and stir in tomato, rice, cilantro cheese and seasonings. Place filling into each zucchini shell and place on a baking sheet.Top with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, covered. Remove cover and broil for 2 minutes if crumbs are not yet golden brown. Enjoy!