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Friday, August 31, 2012

Just when you think there is no other way to cook pork tenderloin...

I have to say pork tenderloin is one of my favorite things to cook, because it cooks very quickly,  it goes with any seasoning you want to use, and everyone always loves it!  I have stuffed and rolled it, sliced it into medallions, and have seared it as a roast.  Every time, it comes out delicious!  

So, tonight I decided to put a little spin on things.  I cut the tenderloins up as medallions and cooked them.  But, instead of serving them like that, I sliced each medallion into strips and folded them into the veggies and this amazing sauce.  Without question, this was yet another winning combination!  I hope I have wet your pallet so you will read on!

I started by preparing the pork tenderloins for slicing.  The only thing you have to do is remove the shiny white tendon-like strip that is on a tenderloin.  It is really small, only about an inch wide and about 2-3 inches long...

Once that is done, you slice them about 1 inch thick.   Use your fingers and press them to about 1/2" thick.  Put them out on some wax paper to rest for a minute.  While they are resting, quickly get the carrots and broccoli ready.


I wanted the flour to adhere on to the pork, so I mixed some olive oil and the "Ras el Hanout" seasoning I bought in Cincinnati.  If you check back through my blogs, you should see the pouch with the list of ingredients on the sticker (It's the one with turmeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, lavender, paprika, pepper, etc..)  Feel free to just use a combo of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and paprika as a substitute!


I dip my fingers into the oil mixture and rub on the pork.  Then dip the pork into a mixture of flour, Salt and Pepper, and mustard powder.

Pour some olive oil in your pan and start browning the more than 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan and place on paper towels.  

Now on to the vegetables.  I cut up small carrots into strips and broccoli into bite-size pieces and threw them in. I sprinkled about about tablespoon of soy sauce in, and about 2 tablespoons of minced ginger. I needed some kind of fruit jelly because I wanted the sauce to be sticky and sweet, and this time, I had some red pepper jelly on hand, so I put in about 5 tablespoons (about 1/2 of the jar).  Really delicious flavor...   I added 2 garlic cloves that I had pressed, and then dumped in about 1/3 cup of chicken broth and 2 cups of mango salsa. Normally I would say any salsa would do, but this time, I really want you to use the mango salsa because of its sweetness and flavor.  Mix everything up and let simmer for about 10 minutes .


So look at this pan.....The carrots and broccoli are only slightly cooked so that they are still a little bit crunchy.  The flavor of the pork because of the spice I rubbed on them was really yummy and really tender.  I wanted the sauce to be a little thicker, so I added a little bit more of the jelly....good call on my part!  The last thing to add is the cut up pork.  Once that is stirred in, the coating of flour will  help to thicken the sauce as well.  If you like it spicy, now is the time to put in some crushed red pepper.


We are so close to being done here!  I threw together some jasmine rice, which only takes about 10 minutes to cook.  Use chicken broth instead of water, and add a couple of tablespoons of butter.  When the rice is just about done, turn off the stove and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Done.


Just before I serve the pork, I sprinkle fresh cut scallions and sesame seeds on top.  This dinner had serious flavor, and I chalk a lot of it up to the seasoning on the pork, the red pepper jelly, and the peach mango salsa.  Ginger is fast becoming a favorite flavor of mine and I keep finding more ways to cook with it.  The scallions at the end was a nice fresh light onion flavor.

This really was an easy meal.  The most time-consuming part was preparing the tenderloin to slice, and cooking it.  After that, it was a breeze!   If you are wondering how long this took me to make from start to finish, I'd say a little less than an hour and a half.....and that's because I didn't get distracted!  Sometimes, some one will come in and start talking to me, in which case it could take quite a bit longer!  But, no one was in a hurry, so an 8:00 dinner was perfect.  Friends of ours stopped by and after sampling some, agreed with the rest of my family that it was truly delicious.  Hope you enjoy it as much as they did.

Monday, August 27, 2012

If this doesn't show you how I cook, I don't know what will!!!

I got home from work and a couple of stops on the way, at around 8:00.  I was hungry, but not starved.  My daughter agreed she wasn't all that hungry, but she would have a little of whatever I made.  I walked over to the refrigerator to see what I had to work with......

Leftover jasmine rice with almonds
a zucchini that was almost on it's last legs
Half a bag of cooked shrimp
Corn on the cob
half of a vidalia onion

Sounds like slim pickins', right?  No.  This has to be one of my favorite ways to cook!  I have to make something out of nothing.  I see my version of fried rice..... so here goes.

I begin by dumping the leftover rice into my favorite big skillet, along with a drizzle of olive oil.  As that is heating, I beat one egg and drizzle it into the hot rice.  After the egg had cooked, I cut up the zucchini and add that. 

 In a smaller pan, saute the chopped vidalia onion and the corn that I cut off of the cob.  Into the rice it goes.


So, I look in the pan and I see the rice, onion, corn, zucchini, and the almonds.  The only ingredient missing is the protein.  I was originally thinking about adding some cut up deli sliced ham I had on hand, but once I saw the shrimp in the fridge,  that was it!  I cut the tails off and cut them into pieces.  In they went.

Now comes the challenging (fun) part.... the flavors.  The Jasmine rice has a delightful sweetness to it, which is great, but I needed something to make a statement.  Garlic?  no.  Crushed red pepper? no.  Then it hit me.  Soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Who knew?  A drizzle of the oil, a bunch of shakes of the soy sauce, stir it all up, and taste.  I needed to add a bit more soy sauce, but in the end, it was delicious!


So, here's the best part of all.  I spooned some into a bowl, added some cut up scallions, and a spoonful of French's French Fried Onions (for the crunch).


Here's what my daughter (the one who really didn't want to eat much) said:

"It was a perfect combination of crunchy and Asian-y flavor, and the shrimp was a wonderful addition to the flavorful sauce.  I would say I was slapped in the face with flavor, in a good way!"  Can you tell she watches The Food Channel?  She ended up eating 2 bowlfuls...

I really love to create a meal without any recipe, measurements, or fore thought.  It's almost like The Cooking Channel show "Chopped" where they are given a basket of ingredients and have to come up with a dish to "wow" the judges.  I think I wowed my daughter tonight, and I hope I have wowed you too!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What do you make for dinner when you have no idea what you feel like?

Tonight was one of those nights when I just couldn't figure out what I felt like eating!  Well, actually, I felt like a really good, juicy burger, but just didn't have the main ingredient, ground beef!  After skimming countless recipes on the web, I finally decided that when in doubt, always go with pasta, so I looked to see what I had to work with.  I found spinach, broccoli, shrimp, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.  There you go!  Done.  So come with me....

First off, I cook the pasta.  This pasta I have is so cool!  I bought it in Shaw's Market.  It's called Trottole and the brand name is Culinary Circle.  I love the shape...  After it is cooked, I melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan with a little olive oil.  When it is hot, I add 2 cloves of minced garlic.  After about 2 minutes, I add the broccoli.  Only cook it for about 10 minutes.  You want it to turn a bright green.

Now, add in the chopped spinach and quickly sautee for about 2 minutes.  combine the cooked pasta to the pan.


I add quite a bit of grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and some crushed red pepper.  In addition, add about a cup of sour cream.  After tasting it, I found I still needed to add additional salt and a little more cheese

The dish tasted good, but it didn't taste great!  I decided to sprinkle Tarragon and lemon pepper into the mix.  I also opened a can of artichoke hearts, cut them up, and threw them in.  What put this dinner over the top, was adding shrimp!  Don't you think shrimp makes everything taste better?

So, there you have it.  Cook the pasta, sautee some fresh garlic with broccoli and spinach; mix with pasta, season, add Parmesan cheese, sour cream, add cooked shrimp and cut up artichoke hearts and stir....For this dish, I also squirted in alittle creamy ceasar dressing.  For the last 5 minutes, You need to keep tasting, just to make sure you didn't miss a beat!

Well, 5 a.m. comes around awfully early, so I am going to sign off.  I really hope you try this delicious dinner....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A HUGE package of chicken wings that disappear before your eyes!

My daughter, Jillian, has a couple of favorite meals I make, one of them being chicken wings.  That girl can put away some serious quantities of chicken wings in one sitting!  So..... I always buy the huge package of wings from Costco.  You would think it would be more than enough to feed 6-8 people, right?  Well, think again!  I had four people tonight for dinner.  I think there were maybe 36 wings in the package.  I cut the tips off and also split the wing from the drumette.   There is only a small container of wings left!  Unbelievable.  But they did come out amazing, which is why I want to share them with you.

Start by preparing the wings.  Wash, cut off the tips, and cut the remaining wing in half.  Put them all in a zip lock bag and make the marinade:

1 cup soy sauce
1 tbs grated or minced fresh ginger
2 tbs chopped fresh or dried cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 of a lemon, juiced
ground black pepper
2 tbs olive oil

Whisk all of this together, and pour into the bag of wings.  Refrigerate for about an hour or so.

While that is marinading, I make a delicious batch of Jasmine rice.  I follow the package directions, but I use chicken broth instead of water.  I also add a few dried onion flakes and some extra butter to the broth.  This rice cooks a lot quicker than traditional long grain rice, so after about 15 minutes, check it and give it a stir.  I usually shut off the heat and let it sit, covered, for the last 5-10 minutes.

I now add about a 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, a little needed salt and pepper, and a little extra butter.  One last taste...... delicious!  Pop the cover on and head out to grill the wings.

I try to cook the wings over a medium-high grill.  I want them to become golden, not charred.  I also turn them often.  I think they were on the grill for about 30 minutes total.  I will finish them in the oven, so don't worry if they are not completely cooked.

When they are brown enough, I take them off the grill and put them in a roasting pan and drizzle with honey.  Make sure you use enough honey.  As they finish in the oven, the honey turns into a glaze which is what makes these wings so incredible!  Stir them every once in a while for the time they are in...which is about 15 minutes.

The only thing left is my salad.  Basically, I use romaine lettuce, shredded and grated Romano cheese, croutons, fresh ground black pepper, and dressing.  Today I was out of croutons....darn!  now what?  Well, I had some foccacia bread left over from Not Your Average Joe's, and I thought... all I have to do is cut them up, spray a little oil on them, a sprinkle of garlic powder, pepper, and Parmesan cheese, and lightly toast them in the oven.  I have to tell was the perfect solution!

Dinner was served by 8:00!  I think I got distracted a little bit along the way, but that's alright.  Everything came out perfectly...the flavor of the chicken was awesome, the jasmine rice had that little bit of sweetness paired with the almonds and butter, and the "special" croutons made the salad!  

This really was an easy dinner that comes highly recommended by all those who devoured it... they even did the dishes!  Nice.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another steak entry? Absolutely...this has to be the tastiest marinade

Tuesday nights are my nights to catch up with my sister.  I let Not Your Average Joe's in Needham cook for me.  So far, they haven't let me down.  But it means I don't have anything to cook for you.  What I do have is an incredible marinade to share with you.  I think I found it somewhere on line a long time ago.   It makes steak taste so unbelievable.  I usually double this recipe so that the meat can really soak in it.

Here are the ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs and 2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs and 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1/2 onion, thinly sliced (I love sweet Vidalia onions)
1 clove of garlic, minced

 I put everything in a bowl and wisk together.  Then add the onions and pour over your steak.

I would think this would be great for marinading pork tenderloin and ribs, as well.  Don't be affraid to experiment.... if the marindade is delicious, it will make anything you soak in it delicious...

Back to cooking tomorrow night!