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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Yet another way to stuff a pork tenderloin...

First off, Happy Halloween!  Hope you all had a fun night tonight.  

Sorry for the last few quiet days....It's between the hurricane, work, and a few dinners out, and I have had too many days off.  I looked over some of my recent posts, to see what I have been cooking lately!  I decided to make one of my easy stand-bys, but with a unique, different stuffing.

I had a baked sweet potato in my fridge for some reason, so I started by dicing it up and adding about 1/2 cup of craisins, about 1/4 cup of walnuts and the remnants of a bag of shredded cheddar cheese to begin with.  Now I needed some seasonings and something to hold it all together.  The seasonings were a no-brainer!  The Baharat know, the one that has cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, etc.  You can just add whatever combo of these spices you have  Just the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves will make this yummy.

 Now I sprinkle in a bunch of parsley, and some salt and pepper.  That's all you really need, except for the "glue."  I decide to make a very moist cup of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing.  Once it is made according to package directions  (to which I have added parsley and a little dried chopped onion,  (accept that I add more liquid to make it extra moist), I add that to the sweet potato mixture.  Don't forget to taste from time to time.   I also added a couple of handfuls of French's Fried Onions....yum!

Now, we're talkin' stuffing!  Ready to stuff the tenderloins.

I take the white tendon off of the outside, then I slice the tenderloin about 3/4 of the way through, so that it will lie flat.  I use my meat mallet to make it thin enough to roll.

Place the stuffing down the middle of the flattened tenderloin, roll in half and tie....I sprinkle the outside with onion powder and garlic powder, salt and pepper, and coat with Pam.  Then it's into a fry pan to brown on all sides.

The only thing left is to cook it in a 400 degree oven until the internal temperature is about 165 degrees.  I drizzled the tops with this yummy zesty honey mustard, and cooked it for about 30 minutes. Take it out a little before so that it wouldn't overcook..

The only thing left is to roast the brussel sprouts, something that is a favorite in this house. This time, besides the salt, pepper and olive oil, I add a little curry powder and onion powder.

Add a couple of pads of butter and pure heaven!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleau with a twist! Read on...

So here you have a traditional, yummy-looking chicken cordon bleau, right? Maybe not....  

I was trying to find some new and different way to prepare boneless chicken breast, and must have spent a good 30 minutes looking through one recipe after another.  Nothing was jumping out at me, so I started to think about what I might have in my fridge that I could use.  I had sliced rosemary ham and Swiss cheese, as well as some leftover spaghetti squash and that asparagus and ham risotto......  And then it hit me.

I defrosted 5 boneless chicken breasts and flattened them.  Sprinkle a little onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Next, lay a piece of Swiss cheese on top of each breast.

Once that is done, lay on a piece of rosemary ham. If you don't have that type of ham, use whatever you have.

Here comes the crazy idea I had....

I had a box of leftover asparagus and rosemare ham risotto that I was saving to have for lunch.  Unfortunately, or fortunately for that matter, I get a delicious lunch every day at work, so I no longer have to bring something in to eat.  So I thought, why not add the risotto to the chicken?

The only thing left to add is a sprinkle Parmesan cheese.  Then the fun part.....rolling them up.  Believe it or not, it really wasn't that hard.   Once they were rolled up, I just placed them in a foil-lined pan.  Spray the tops with some Pam.



Then press on a mixture of 1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs, about 8-10 crushed Ritz crackers, about a 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and about 3 tbs of  melted butter.                                      


This was such an easy dinner to prepare.  I think it took longer to defrost the chicken, than it did to put it all together!  I popped it into the oven and in about 30 minutes at 325, it was done.

So delicious....and a great way to use up my risotto!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ready for some hearty lentil soup? This one's a keeper...

I don't know about you, but on a chilly fall night, I just get in the mood for some hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup.  Well, tonight is one of those nights, and I really think you are going to love this recipe.  The best part is, you basically put everything in your favorite soup pot and let it cook for at least 3 hours, or until the meat is really tender.  It will take some time, so this is not one you are going to whip up when you get home from work!

I start out with a ham hock.  If you can't find them at the store, you can use a ham bone.  I find that if I go to the guy in the meat department and tell him I need some kind of ham bone for soup, they can usually find something for me...  Worst-case scenario?  Buy some ham and add it towards the end of the cooking time so you can get the most flavor possible.  

This is the ugly ham hock!

Next I take four sweet italian sausages, remove the casings, and break up as I add them in.
Chop up 1 Vidalia onion, about 3 ribs of celery, 2 large carrots, and 2 cloves of garlic, and add them to your pot.  At this point, I will pour in 2 16-oz cans of stewed tomatoes, crushed, as well as a large can of diced tomatoes.  You will add one bag of rinsed lentils to the soup during the last hour of cooking.

Now for the seasoning.... a couple of bay leaves, 1 tbs of fresh thyme. (maybe 1/2 a tsp if using dried), 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, 1/2 a cup of parsley, 2 tbs of cider vinegar, and 10 cups of water.

Bring this to a full boil, then back it down to a simmer for about 3 hours, or until the meat is really tender and falling off the bone.  If you are using ham as opposed to a bone, add it in at this point.  Otherwise, remove the bone, and return all of the meat to the soup.  Don't forget to add the lentils.  They need about 40 minutes or so to cook.  The last ingredient I will add is the fresh spinach, how ever much you would like.

Now for the best part?  Taste it.... You will need to add salt and pepper at this point.  Make sure you taste the seasoning.  You might even want to add a little more thyme if need be.  There is just something about the flavors of the ham and sausage that really make this soup so delicious.  If you don't like your soup too thick, pour in some chicken broth.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A comfort dinner....Roasted Chicken and spaghetti squash?

For some reason, every once in a while, I just need to make something plain and simple, that just tastes delicious and satisfies whatever craving I have just to have a yummy meal.... so for me, it's a roasted chicken.  I sprinkle on the following spices:  onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, ground black pepper, herbs de Provence, and paprika.  I coat the entire surface of the chicken, and then spray with a vegetable oil spray, so that the herbs don't fall off.

I start cooking this in my convection oven, breast-side down.  After about 45 minutes, I take the pan out and flip over the chicken, breast side up.  I will cook the remainder 15 minutes this way.  When the timer goes off, I notice the thermometer hasn't popped, so I turn the regular oven on to 325 and leave the chicken in until the popper pops.

So here comes the funky part of this meal... spaghetti squash.  I cut the squash in half and scraped the seeds out.  I put each half face down in a pan with a little water and bake.  I  roast my spaghetti squash at 325 for about 30 minutes.  When the timer goes off, I remove them from the oven, flip them over and let them cool for a bit.    I will then flake the "spaghetti-like" threads of squash into a pan. 

 It is so cool how much this squash looks like pasta!  In the blender, I put a can's worth of artichoke hearts (reserve the liquid from the can), 2 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper,  and about a tablespoon of parsley.  Blend everything.  I added the entire can of liquid from the artichoke hearts as well as a little olive oil, so that the sauce wouldn't be too thick. 

 Done.  Now to put everything together.  I take the spaghetti squash, and mix in the sauce, along with a can of sliced mushrooms and about a cup of sliced cherry tomatoes.  Add a little more shredded Parmesan cheese and take a taste...

Yum!  This along with the roasted chicken?  Amazing.....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steak tips and asparagus risotto.....

If you are wondering why I got so quiet, I was away for parents weekend at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs and I let someone else do the cooking.  I actually was pretty happy with the dinners I had on Friday and Saturday.  But, I have to tell you, I really did miss cooking and couldn't wait to get home Sunday night.  I thought about what I was going to make for dinner all the way home as I drove from Saratoga Springs, NY to Boston. I knew I would eventually have to go to the grocery store, but I was hoping I had enough ingredients to make it work.  When I got home, I defrosted the steak tips and cut them up.  Once that was done, I sprinkled sea salt on them to let them sit for a couple of hours to do their magic...

In the meantime, I decided to get the risotto going, so I drizzled some olive oil in the pan, added a tablespoon of butter and one cup of risotto, along with a sprinkle of dried chopped onion.

After a few minutes, I begin to add the chicken broth, one cup at a time.  I stir for a while after each addition.  Once all four cups of chicken broth are absorbed into the risotto, I turn off the heat and add the chopped up Rosemary ham., probably a half-cup worth.  I also added a few sprinkles of rosemary and garlic-infused sea salt (you can always add a little garlic powder and crushed rosemary, along with sea salt instead).  In a separate fry pan, I go once around with olive oil and add cut up asparagus...  Sprinkle in some citrus salt and pepper blend and cook for about 10 minutes...  Once it is done, I add that into the risotto, along with a couple of handfuls of Parmesan cheese.

Now it's time to rinse off the steak tips and season for grilling. Make sure you dry them off before sprinkling on garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and grated black pepper.  That's it. 

I grill for about 10-15 minutes on each side.  I do the tong test.... I pick up each steak tip.  As long as it doesn't feel too squishy, I take it off the fire.  They will finish cooking in the serving dish, as they begin to cool down.  In a separate pan, I make the "frosting" to go on top.  It's a red wine demi-glaze, which really makes this dinner!  

In a small pan, I add a little olive oil and 1 shallot, chopped.  Once it is translucent, I add 1/2 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup of beef stock.  At this point, you should simmer it until it is reduced by half.  Next add 1 tbs of butter and about 1 tsp of crushed rosemary.  I wanted the sauce to be a little thicker, so I got a small sauce pan and put in 1 tbs of butter to melt.  Once melted, I add 1 tbs of flour, to create a roux.  When blended, I add a portion of it to the red wine mixture.  As you stir, you will find it thickens pretty quickly.  I needed to add a little chicken broth to keep it from getting too thick.

I have to tell you that the sauce was what made the steak delicious. Salting it before cooking makes it really tender and flavorful.

So I hope my friends Wayne and Ellen out in Michigan will give this one a try.  I know how much they love to grill, and I hope they love this as much as we did!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lasagna Cupcakes... Can't wait to share this one!

How cute is this? was delicious!  I would never post anything until I had a chance to taste it.    This was so much fun to make and came out amazing.  I really want you to try this one!

I found a recipe on line that was called Lasagna Cupcakes, but it used weird ingredients like won ton wrappers and sun dried tomatoes, so I decided to make it my own..... what a surprise!

I take the skin off six sweet Italian sausage and break them up as I cook them.  When they are done, I put them in a bowl and add some Barilla Olive Oil & Garlic sauce, pine nuts, and shredded Parmesan cheese.  Put to the side for later....

So, in my head, I am imagining a nest of fettuccine, maybe split into layers, with the ricotta, sauce, know, a real lasagna, but only in a big muffin cup!  So I figure, what have I got to loose?  I boil some water and cook up six little clusters of fettuccine.  They cooked in 5 minutes... I put them on some wax paper to cool.

In yet another bowl, I put half a container of ricotta cheese.  I tear up a couple of handfuls of arugula, throw that in, and cut up about one handful of fresh basil leaves, and stir that in.  Last is a little salt and pepper and about a cup of Parmesan cheese.  Mix this all up and keep to the side as well.

So now you have your cooked pasta, your cheese, and your meat sauce.... so I'd say you are ready to make some cupcakes!

I get a jar of my favorite sauce, Barilla Olive Oil & Garlic, and after spraying each cup with Pam, I pour a tiny bit of sauce in.

Next I add part of each fettuccine "nest into each muffin cup.  I then put a little shredded cheese.

Now I add some meat sauce, followed by the ricotta mixture...   I repeat these layers once more, ending with the meat sauce on top of the ricotta.  I sprinkle the last bit of shredded cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  When they are done, take them out and take a rubber spatula and run around the edges of each cup.  Because I sprayed them with Pam, they really don't stick.

So there you have it.  The variations on this are endless!  You could make a white sauce and use chopped shrimp and scallops instead of sausage, along with some different spices if you wanted to! I really hope you try to experiment.  


All I could think of when I took these out of the pan was what a great appetizer these would make at a restaurant!!!

Please don't ever hesitate to send me a comment if you don't understand something or if you ever have any questions....  

Have a great night!