Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Prior to this recipe, I had never made anything/had anything with pork tenderloin. Shocking, right? So I was a little leary going into this since all I could think about was how finicky pork-chops are. Cook too little and it's not safe to eat, cook too much and it's gets dry and tough.

But I figured since the hubby was looking for something other than chicken, we would give this a go. I've had this recipe for a couple months begging to be made, but I really hadn't been in the mood, since the seasonings are geared more towards "cold" weather.

Well, if you've been up in the northeast area as of late, you know that fall has definitely arrived. So I thought it was just the right time to bring this out. If I had any hesitations before about using this pork, they definitely disappeared. This turned out so nice and juicy, not to mention flavorful.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
From: Cooking Light, March 2009

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 9 ingredients; rub over pork. Let stand 20 minutes. Heat oil in a medium ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink), turning after 7 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Serves: 4

Oh, did I mention the fact that this comes together really fast and easy? Because it does. Just the icing on the cake. :)

Note: If you don't have a ovenproof skillet, I don't really see a problem with transfering this to a deep baking pan after browning the pork (just put it in the oven to bring it up to temperature first).

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 191Calories from fat 57
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.4g10%
Saturated Fat 1.7g9%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 83mg28%
Sodium 504mg21%
Total Carbs 2.1g1%
Sugars 1.3g
Protein 29.9g
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 1%Iron 9%

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Manchego-Jalapeño Beer Bread

Beer bread attempt #2: Fail. Okay, I shouldn't say complete failure. The inside of the loaf was actually pretty moist and tasty. But it's the though chewy outside that always gets me.

This was actually a different version of a beer bread from this recipe I tried a couple months ago. And I had the exact same problems this go-around as last time: the hard crust and very little beer taste that actually came through (we didn't use the beer they recommended, same as last time -- we used Modelo instead of Dos Equis).

Thus, I am back on the hunt for a new beer bread recipe -- this one is officially retired.

Manchego-Jalapeño Beer Bread
From: Cooking Light, November 2008

Click here for the recipe

Monday, September 21, 2009

Potato-Bacon Torte

Ever had one of those meals that might not have been the best.thing.you.ever.ate, but after a couple days you found yourself craving it again? This was definitely one of those meals. Don't get me wrong now, it's not like this wasn't good to begin with, because it was.

It's that warm comfort type food with an extra kick from the bacon (I used peppered bacon, of course). And yes, we are slowly but surely sliding back into our comfort food mode, and that can only mean one thing.... it's fall! I'm so excited! As much as I am totally smitten with summer, I still think fall tops my list of favorite seasons.

Fall is just the season for being busy outside and enjoying the weather. There's all kinds of festivals (lots of wine festivals and oktoberfests!) and it's apple season! All of which give way to Halloween which rolls us right into the Holiday Season. And best of all you're not outside sweating and burning to death, nor are you too hurried going from point A to point B lest you freeze on the way. It's the perfect season. :)

2 pie crusts (use your own or Pilllsbury Ready-Made Crust)
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp (more never hurts!)
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg yolk, whisked with a splash of water

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator. Line the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan with one of the crusts.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice into half moons. Working in circles, arrange the potato slices in the pie crust to cover the bottom. Season with salt and pepper, and crumble one piece of the bacon over the potatoes. Repeat the layers three more times. The pan should be nearly full. Top with the shredded cheese.

Whisk the dried thyme into the cream and slowly pour the cream around and over the entire pie, allowing it to seep down between the potato slices.

With the remaining pie crust, cover the pie with the dough and crimp the edges closed. Brush the top and edges of the crust with egg wash. Make a few slits in the center of the top crust, for the steam to escape, and put the pie pan on a baking sheet.

Bake the torte until the crust is browned and crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust edges get too brown, cover them with some strips of aluminum foil. Remove the pie from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serves: 8

So I have to admit. I cheated on this one. The original recipe actually calls for you to make your own pie crust... but I just really didn't feel like taking the time. I figured my taste buds could handle the ready-made stuff (and they did). The actual recipe also calls for Gruyere cheese -- although why you are using Gruyere cheese for a $10 meal is beyond me. So I followed what Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker did and substituted Swiss instead. And it worked fine. Obviously, because this guy is on our menu again for this week. :)

This dish not only reheats really well, but it also works well to make in sections -- if you're like me and have class that falls right over dinner-making time. I basically assembled the entire torte and pie crusts without adding the egg wash, covered it in saran wrap and stuck it in the fridge. Thus, all my good ol' hubby had to do was pull it out of the fridge, let it come to room temp while the oven was preheating, add the egg wash, and then pop it in the oven to cook while I was on my way home. Yay for having dinner at a reasonable time! (Do you really think it went that smoothly? Not so much, but I can always hope.)

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 429Calories from fat 241
% Daily Value
Total Fat 26.8g41%
Saturated Fat 8.9g45%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 59mg20%
Sodium 1171mg49%
Total Carbs 36.0g12%
Dietary Fiber 2.3g9%
Sugars 0.9g
Protein 11.2g
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 11%
Calcium 5%Iron 13%

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Better Than Brownies Cookies

Stop what you are doing right now. Whatever it is. And go make these. Seriously. They are so nice and chocolately, but not over-the-top sweet. Simply decadent.

Now go. Skidaddle. Run to the grocery if you must. No side trips. They are really that good.

Better Than Brownies Cookies
Adapted from: Welcome To My Pantry
Via: Brown Eyed Baker

2 2/3 cups (about 16 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet, bittersweet chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper of a silicone baking mat.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.

In the meantime, stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine well. Slowly add the dry ingredients, folding them into the batter. Once all of the flour is incorporated, stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop 1½ tablespoons of dough (a medium cookie scoop’s worth) onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are firm on the outside. Like brownies, do not overbake! Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Did you go make them? If you're still hesitant, I promise you will not regret it! I brought these into work and one of my favorite nurses, who isn't the biggest fan of sweets, even loved them and ate an entire cookie (which is a big deal for her). I actually brought these in two days since they were such a big hit.

The first time I made them I totally forgot to put in the chocolate chips, which actually didn't matter -- I think they were better than they would have been with chocolate chips. The second time I added some Reese's peanut butter chips and they were awesome. Well, but then again, can you really go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter? I didn't think so.

I did splurge on these and go with Ghiradelli chocolate, and since the chocolate flavor is so prominent in these, I think it was a wise idea. I would probably steer away from using Baker's or some other cheap chocolate (unless that's all you can find). And definitely go with bittersweet. It keeps the cookies from being just way too overpowering-sweet.

Mmmmm delicious.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 227Calories from fat 98
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.9g17%
Saturated Fat 7.0g35%
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 39mg2%
Total Carbs 30.3g10%
Dietary Fiber 1.4g5%
Sugars 26.1g
Protein 3.3g
Vitamin A 3%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4%Iron 4%

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mmmm Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs -- quite possibly one of Adam's favorite foods (I mean, the kid does it every birthday). So I totally wasn't surprised when he requested it for dinner one night. I mean honestly, when he likes it so much, how can you say no?

We discovered this recipe online a while ago, but Adam believes he now has it perfected. And I must admit, it's not often that I will eat just a straight chunk of meat, but I definitely found myself slowly eating away a meatball as it sat on the baking sheet while we were waiting for the marinara to finish. Mmm delicious.

Our Favorite Meatballs
Adapted from: Online Source

4 slices of Italian bread
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound hamburger

Preheat oven to 325.

Chop bread in a food processor until it forms breadcrumbs.

Mix all ingredients except for hamburger in a large mixing bowl. Add hamburger and mix everything thoroughly with your hands.

Form hamburger mixture into approximately 1-1 1/2" balls and place on a baking sheet. Tent aluminum foil and cover baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Serves: 8 (3 meatballs per serving)

Like I said, these are super delicious. At first we tried pan-frying the meatballs, but either they were too big, or the heat was too high -- we just couldn't get the middle cooked properly. So we tried baking them, and they turned out pretty good. The final attempt we covered them with aluminum foil and they turned out so nice a juicy!

Definitely an excellent addition to a classic dish.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 160Calories from fat 66
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.3g11%
Saturated Fat 3.2g16%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Cholesterol 96mg32%
Sodium 178mg7%
Total Carbs 3.3g1%
Protein 19.2g
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 8%Iron 12%

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Speaking of interesting named dishes... here's another one. I have seen these wandering around for a while, but every recipe I had run across called specifically for risotto. So it was put on the back burner -- until I saw this pop up on my google reader from Brown Eyed Baker.

I took a chance and used regular white rice, as the recipe just calls for "rice". Unfortunately these babies totally tried to fall apart on me when I was trying to make them into a ball -- something I think using risotto would definitely help with.

Adapted from: Always on Sunday by Marcia Russotto
via: Brown Eyed Baker

2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.

Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.

Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Makes: 16

Hmmm. I had my hopes up so much for these because they sounded SO good. I'm not sure what I did, but mine turned out a bit crunchy (even though the rice wasn't prior to baking them) especially on the bottom, and not really full of flavor like I was anticipating.

I for sure want to give these another try, but using my "go-to" risotto instead of regular white rice. I definitely think that will help boost the flavor and help the balls stick together.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 150Calories from fat 37
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4.1g6%
Saturated Fat 1.4g7%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 27mg9%
Sodium 145mg6%
Total Carbs 22.7g8%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g2%
Protein 5.0g
Vitamin A 1%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 7%Iron 8%

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bacon Burgers

I apologize for the lack of posts as of late. I found out last Monday that I was accepted into a master's program at Pitt with class THAT day. Ever since then things have been a little crazy around here, not to mention I squeezed a nice trip in to San Diego to see my college friends in there, too. Needless to say, not too awful much new stuff was made during a two week stretch or so. Never fear though, I am behind in my posting as always, and I have a couple new things this week so we should be in good shape. :)

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got the comment from the hubby regarding how much chicken we eat at home. Not that it's a bad thing, but he is a guy after all, and is interested in seeing more red meat. Or pork. Or something other than chicken.

Thus, we have some delicious burgers I saw over on Rookie Cookie. I have to admit. I suck at making burgers. It's typically ground beef shaped into a patty and then slapped with a slice of cheese when it's almost done cooking. So I figured it would probably be a good idea to expand my hamburger making repertoire. Definitely did.not.regret that choice. I did cut the recipe in half, but I have the full one posted below.

Bacon Burgers
From: Rookie Cookie

3 thick slices bacon, diced (I of course used my ever-favorite peppered bacon)
4 lbs ground beef, at room temperature (preferably 80/2o)
1 egg, lightly beaten
A few pinches kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper
2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8 slices swiss cheese
8 hamburger buns

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the bacon. Cook until soft, but not crisp. Remove pan from heat and allow bacon to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, Montreal, cayenne and Worcestershire. Using a rubber scraper, pour the bacon onto the ground beef, being sure to scrape all of the bacon grease on as well. Using your hands, mix all ingredients together just until combined. Do not overmix the meat.

Heat the grill to medium high heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the ground beef into 8 even patties. Set each patty on the parchment. Instead of stacking the patties, add another piece of parchment on top of the first layer and then put the patties on top.

Grill the hamburgers on each side for 3-4 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns topped with swiss cheese and condiments of your choice.

Yields 8 hamburger patties.

Like I said, I did cut the recipe in half, although I still used 3-4 pieces of bacon (I mean, how can you go wrong with that?) and I still used 1 egg (a little hard to split that up). And since our grill made the unfortunate trip into the apartment complex's storage unit (not our choice), we used the George Foreman grill for these and they actually turned out really good.

As for the taste, let's just say I'm not usually a huge burger fan -- give me one and I'm usually done. I'll go back for some salad or chips or something. Yeah... definitely took down two of these guys they were so good!

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 764Calories from fat 265
% Daily Value
Total Fat 29.5g45%
Saturated Fat 12.7g64%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 263mg88%
Sodium 1059mg44%
Total Carbs 31.9g11%
Dietary Fiber 1.3g5%
Sugars 4.5g
Protein 86.8g
Vitamin A 6%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 33%Iron 56%


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