Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fabulous Flavors in One Dish

For twenty years I've fixed pork tenderloin the same way: marinate in teriyaki sauce and grill on the barbecue. (Or is it barbecue on the grill?) I don't know why I never tried other ways, but once I started blogging I've gotten "adventurous." This has got to be the best so far. Don said, "You outdid yourself on this one. We've got to have this again!"

Spicy Pork Tenderloin with Ginger-Maple Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons bottled ground fresh ginger
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub pork with spice mixture. Heat a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; add pork. Cook 6 minutes; brown on all sides. Place skillet in oven; for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

While pork bakes, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add ginger, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in broth and syrup, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring broth mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup (about 10 minutes). Cut pork into 1/4-inch-thick slices; serve with sauce.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Chicken Parmesan without the Breading and the Fat

This recipe came to me from Sweetnicks, but was originally from Giada De Laurentis (on the Food Network). Again, like some previous dishes I've tried from other people, this one drew my attention because of Cate's fabulous photo. Don and I really liked this version - and it's one that I will definitely make again for several reasons: 1) It's quick and easy, 2) It's low carb (no breading), 3) It's low fat (no frying), and 4) it just tastes fantastic. I used plain old Ragu - which was in my fridge only because I'd had a coupon and already used half the jar on some meatball subs. I'm sure many different marinaras would be fine for this.

Chicken Parmesan
from Giada De Laurentis

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 chicken cutlets (about 3 ounces each)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup marinara sauce
¼ cup shredded mozzrella cheese
8 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 500˚. In a small bowl, stir the oil and herbs to blend. Brush both sides of the cutlets with the herb oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy ovenproof skillet over a high flame. Add the cutlets and cook just until brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat. Spoon the marinara sauce over and around the cutlets. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella over each cutlet, then sprinkle 2 teaspoons of Parmesan over each. Dot the tops with the butter pieces and bake until the cheese melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serves 4

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spicy Dinner, Cool Dessert

Here I go again, borrowing another recipe. This time it's from Joe of Culinary in the Country. Back in 2005 he posted about Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Whole Wheat Noodles from Cooking Light. I saw it a few months ago, and made it for diner tonight. I made a mistake, though - the original recipe called for chili-garlic paste. I didn't have any, but I did have some sambal olek (chili paste) and thought I'd use that plus some garlic to take its place. I only used two teaspoons, but boy, was that dish spicy! It was edible, and Don absolutely loved it, but it took a long time for my tongue and mouth to quit burning! Next time- I'll either go buy the chili-garlic paste or I'll use a lot less sambal olek.

Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Whole Wheat Spaghetti
from Joe of Culinary in the Country

8 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
4 green onions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
12 ounces boneless center-cut loin pork chops, cut into 1/4" strips
1 ¾ cups broccoli florets
2 cups sliced mushrooms
⅓ cup teriyaki sauce
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta - keep warm.

Thinly slice the top green part of the onions and set aside. Finely chop the white portions and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Stir in the finely chopped white portion of the green onions, bell pepper, pork, broccoli and mushrooms - sauté until the pork is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid, teriyaki sauce and chili garlic sauce. Add pasta and teriyaki sauce mixture to skillet - toss well to coat. Stir in sliced green onion tops to serve. Makes 4 servings.
Note: I didn't mix the pasta and veggie-pork mixture together. I put the pasta on the plates and topped it with the veggie-pork mixture.

I think this would be good with the addition of some sliced water chestnuts. As it was, we really loved it. Thanks again, Joe!


Right now you can get some good deals on fresh fruit (at least you can here in southern California) - especially at the 99 cent store where they have trays of blueberries. Any time you see blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries on sale, stock up! All you need to do is put the loose fresh fruit on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. When it's frozen solid, put it in zip-top freezer bags and keep in the freezer. It thaws beautifully. Currently I have blueberries and blackberries in the freezer.

I picked up some strawberries yesterday - the first ones of the season - and decided to make a fruit salad. Don's been away on a fishing trip to the Owens River north of Bishop, and I knew that he'd want some fresh fruit when he came back. I threw this together this afternoon, and we had it for "dessert" after our spicy main dish.

Sangria Fruit Salad

1 banana, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick
1 large apple, chopped
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (you need to use the sweetened - it sweetens the sangria)
3/4 cup sangria

Note: you can also add other fruits - grapes, mandarin oranges, kiwi, for example.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill. Makes 4 servings.

Yet Another "Borrowed" Recipe

I have just found a new chicken recipe that I can use when we're camping in our trailer. This is a simple, mix-up-the-ingredients and pop-it-in-the-oven recipe from Cate of Sweetnicks. (And while it looks like we eat a lot of chicken, it's just that all the other meals between Ed's and Cate's recipes were things I didn't want to post about.) This one smelled so good while it was cooking, and we loved the flavor of the garlic, the sage, the mustard, the cheese, and the chicken.

Lemon Parmigianno Chicken
from Cate of Sweetnicks

Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup dry vermouth (or any sort of wine)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 small chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
3 tablespoons freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together the lemon juice, vermouth, mustard, butter, sage and garlic. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish. Pour the lemon mixture over all. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, salt and pepper. Bake until done, about 45 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices.

Ed Tep's Thai Barbecue Chicken

I love reading other people's blogs, and then trying out some of their recipes. Before I started blogging, my only sources of new recipes were either magazines or cookbooks - both of which I needed to spend money on. But blog-reading is free, and borrowing others' recipes is fun. I enjoy Ed's blog, Is it EDible? He cooked this chicken recipe back in September of 2006, and it took me almost a year and a half to finally cook it for myself. The main reason I was drawn to it was because of the picture. It just looked good. The ingredients are always in my pantry, so it's a good meal to fix on the spur of the moment - no special shopping trip. We really liked this - the taste is wonderful, and it's a super way to fix chicken thighs.

Thai Barbecue Chicken
from Ed of Is It Edible?

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teapspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
8 chicken thighs, skin-on
In a large ziploc bag, combine all the ingredients except the chicken thighs. Seal and shake until well mixed.
Add in the chicken thighs. Seal bag, and shake until chicken is well-coated. Allow chicken to marinate for 15 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large foil-lined baking pan, place the chicken skin-side down in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn chicken thighs over. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Flip chicken thighs over again so they are skin-side up. Broil the chicken (out 5 inches from the broiler) for 8-10 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

He Would Have Been 55 Today

Today would have been my brother Barry's 55th birthday. Lung cancer took him 2 years ago.

Wasn't he a beautiful young man?

Happy Birthday, Barry!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Using Real Maple Syrup

Why haven't I tried it before? Maybe it's the price; maybe it's the sugar- but I finally bought some real maple syrup a few weeks ago, and have been experimenting. I was inspired by this month's Cooking Light, and tonight we tried one of the recipes from the magazine. This dish, though, doesn't really need a recipe - but it's by far the tastiest glaze I've EVER had on pork chops.

Maple-Soy Pork Chops
adapted from Cooking Light

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on pork chops (I used boneless). In a small bowl, mix equal parts of soy sauce and maple syrup - about 2 tablespoons each if you're serving 2 people-and 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. In a skillet, brown pork chops in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to low. Add soy sauce-maple syrup mixture and simmer until mixture thickens into a glaze, turning chops to coat.


Work notes: I sat in on 4 more layoff meetings today. Guaranteed to bring anyone down.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Need for Comfort Food

All of us know how it is - we get stressed, and we turn to comfort food to help ease the stress. Last year, for a long time, I wrote about the long negotiations crisis we were going through at work. Now we're going through something just as critical, just as stressful, yet even worse for a few of my members. Due to the budget crisis California is going through, partly due to the housing market, and partly due to our totally ignorant and inept governor, our district decided to cut some of its budget by laying off teachers. On Friday, I sat with 5 of my members as they received the notice of layoff - with 6 more to do tomorrow and 6 on Friday. This is heartbreaking. Things are already tough enough in this state, and these people now have to worry about whether or not they'll be able to feed their families.

I think I'm looking forward to the end of Schwarzeneggar's term as governor almost as much as I'm looking forward to the end of GWB's reign of ineptitude as president. I hate paying taxes as much as the next person, but for crying out loud. How do you think you got that paved highway? The teachers in your school? The police who protect your community? I will gladly pay more taxes to have California become a nice place to live again.

For those of you who don't live in California, we're now number 47 out of 50 in pupil spending. And THIS was supposed to be the governor's "Year of Education." Hah!

On to the good stuff:

This morning I made one of Don's favorite breakfasts - German Pancakes. They're so easy - and so delightfully yummy!

German Pancakes

1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
your choice of jams (I like raspberry; Don likes boysenberry)

Preheat oven to 425˚. In an ovenproof 10" skillet or pie plate, melt the butter. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until fluffy. Gradually add flour and continue to beat on medium. Slowly add milk and salt. Pour into skillet or pie plate, and put in oven. Cook 13-16 minutes until puffed and golden. (It should look like the one above). Serve immediately, topped with powdered sugar, almonds, and jam. (Below)

Dinner was burgers. Instead of making the usual beef hamburgers, though, I used a recipe from Cooking Light that offered a great change from beef. We were able to cook these on the grill since we used the vegetable grill pan - looks like a square skillet/basket with holes in it.

Turkey Burgers with Curry-Lime Mayo
from Cooking Light
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
(the recipe calls for your choice of jams - I don't think one of the red or purple ones would have been good, but I'm sure apricot would be just as good as the orange.)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
hamburger buns

Combine turkey and bread crumbs; moisten with marmalade. Form three patties; grill in skillet or grill pan until well done. Combine mayonnaise, curry powder, and lime juice; spread on toasted hamburger buns. Serve burgers with lettuce. Makes 3.

Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Skewers)

These were in Cooking Light, and since I love beef skewers of any kind, I thought I'd give these a try. It's the middle of winter here, and when I made these last week we still had 4 feet of snow on the ground. I used my Cuisinart griddle to cook them and was pleased with how they turned out. When I make them again, however, I'm going to cook them on an outdoor grill, and add onions and bell peppers to the skewers.

Anticuchos (Peruvian Beef Skewers)
From Cooking Light

1 ½ lbs. boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground aji amarillo or hot paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Fiery rub:
1 teaspoon ground aji amarillo or hot paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
To prepare the beef, combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill 3 hours.
To prepare fiery rub, combine 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, turmeric, and parsley.

Prepare grill.

Remove beef from bowl, discarding marinade. Thread beef onto each of 6 (10-inch) skewers. Press fiery rub onto beef. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, turning once.