Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mashed Pinto Beans with Manchego Cheese

Keeping on the spanish/mexican theme we had going on a few weeks ago, I needed to find a couple new side dishes. This recipe caught my eye because I LOVE refried beans, but have never had them at home. I think the hubby thought I was crazy as I was preparing these beans, but I was very satisfied with the outcome.

However, I did not care for the bacon, and would leave that out next time. Maybe my bacon wasn't crispy enough, but I just did not really like the addition, so my changes are reflected below. Also, I have not acquired a potato masher yet, so my beans were not mashed as much as I would have liked, so hopefully I'll have one by the next time I make these beans.

Mashed Pinto Beans with Manchego Cheese
Source: adapted slightly from elly says opa

1/2 medium onion or one shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
2-3 Tbsp. shredded or grated manchego cheese
sliced scallions
1 tsp olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet; add the onion/shallot and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, and then the chicken broth, cumin, beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a light boil and continue to simmer for 10 minutes (or for as long as you want, if you want to time it with your main dish).

Use a potato masher to press down on the beans, and mash to your desired consistency (adding more broth if necessary).

Once plated, top with the manchego cheese and sliced scallions

Monday, March 29, 2010

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin

Now that it is grilling season, I strongly urge all of you to make this meal ASAP. Pork tenderloins can grill up in about 15 minutes and you can essentially flavor the meat any way you want. This was actually our first time having pork tenderloins, as we usually stick to the larger pork loin roasts, and I was incredibly turned off in the past by those packaged, already flavored pork tenderloins you can buy (seriously, the one time we had one of these I was totally grossed out.) However, I am now a fan of good quality pork tenderloins and can't wait to try more ways of preparing them.

Back to the recipe at hand; this pork is like a flavor explosion in every bite. Honestly, with every bite you get the faint sweetness from the brown sugar, a hint of garlic and cumin, and then a burst of heat from the cayenne pepper and hot sauce. And my favorite part, the hint of cinnamon lurking around the corner of each bite. I actually almost could not make this because the hubby explained to me that he does not like cinnamon unless it's on his toast. Seriously, how can you not be intrigued and in love with cinnamon? So we compromised by adding cayenne pepper.

Every bite of the pork tasted a little different, depending on where the glaze ended up during the grilling process. The glaze carmelizes and creates a nice crust on the outside, so don't mistake this for burnt meat! I think we'll be having this again soon! The original recipe roasts the tenderloin so I adapted it for the grill.

Island Spice Pork Tenderloin
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Pennies on a Platter


For the spice rub:
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

2 pork tenderloins (about 2-2½ lbs. total)

For the glaze:
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tsp. Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce

Combine the salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork to blend. Pat the mixture over the pork tenderloins. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 4-8 hours, or as long as you want.

Prepare a medium-hot grill. Remove meat from refrigerator and let rest 15 minutes to take the chill off. Combine brown sugar, garlic and hot sauce.

Grill the pork for 12 minutes, turning a quarter turn every 3 minutes. Top tenderloin with 1/3 brown sugar glaze. Continue to cook pork, turning every minute or so, topping twice more with glaze. Cook pork until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin measures 145 degrees or the meat is slightly pink at the center. Let the pork rest 5 minutes before slicing.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Manchego Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper-Pepita Sauce

I'm always on the look-out for ingredients I've never had/used before, and this recipe really hit the jackpot. Pepitas? Basically pumpkin seeds, but something I've never cooked with. Manchego? A salty, slightly tangy cheese that opened a new door in my cheese-lover's heart. Roasted red peppers? Sure I've had a jar hanging out on the shelf for-ev-er, but I have to admit I'm not sold on these yet.

I figured I would love the pork chop aspect of this meal, because honestly, anything stuffed with cheese has to be pretty good. And I was not disappointed with that part. The sauce, however, did not sit well with me. I do think that was my own fault because I think I used too much balsamic vinegar, and I ended up scraping all the sauce off my pork. I think it could be a good sauce, and the hubby seemed to enjoy it, but not quite up my alley yet.

Another plus to this meal is how fast and easy it all comes together. Served with mashed pinto beans, it was an all-around new tasting experience for us!

Manchego Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Red Pepper-Pepita Sauce
Source: elly says opa

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 pork chops
thinly sliced manchego cheese
2 Tbsp. pepitas
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

Using a paring or utility knife, slice pockets into your pork chops, or nearly butterfly them. Stuff the chops with thin slices of manchego (about 1/2 oz. for each chop). Season the pork chops with kosher salt and fresh pepper.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet or saute pan over medium heat and then add 2 tsp. of the oil. Once hot, add the pork chops and brown on each side, about 1-2 minutes (don’t cook them through). Move the pan to the oven and allow the pork chops to finish cooking (8-15 minutes, depending on thickness and whether chops are boned).

Meanwhile, make the roasted red pepper sauce. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the pepitas. Toss a couple of times and let them heat until fragrant and they start to turn golden brown. Combine the pepitas, roasted red peppers, vinegar, remaining 1 tsp. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Serve the red pepper sauce over the pork chops.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pork Carnitas

Growing up, tacos made a regular appearance on our dinner table. Tacos are also one of my dad's most requested dinners, if I'm not mistaken. I know you should never mess with a good thing, and nothing can really compare to a regular taco, but sometimes it's nice to try something new. That's where these carnitas come in (along with a 6lb pork shoulder hanging out in the freezer that I just had to buy because it was on sale.)
These were actually really good! I have a little food crush on cinnamon, and I love that you can taste a hint of it in this pork. This pork is really juicy and full of flavor, and it makes A LOT. We served ours on corn tortillas with pepperjack cheese, jalepenos and tomatoes. This would also make a great filling for enchiladas, so our leftovers are hanging out in the freezer until it's enchilada time.

Pork Carnitas
Source: Homemade by Holman, adapted from

1 pork shoulder roast, 6-8 pounds
2 T chili powder
2 T ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T coarsely ground salt
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup chicken stock

Put pork roast into a large crock pot, cutting into smaller pieces if necessary to make it fit. Mix spices in a small bowl and pat on top and sides of meat. Pour cider and stock around the sides of the roast, making sure to not wash off spices.

Cook on low for approximately 10 hours. The fat will easily pull off the top of the meat with a fork or spoon. Use 2 forks to shred the meat and remove the bone. Skim off some of the excess liquid, leaving about 1/2 - 1 cup in the crock pot and turn to warm until ready to serve. If you prefer you can also remove the roast before shredding the meat and add back into the crock pot.

Serve on tortillas with whatever toppings you want.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

I have been on a huge cauliflower kick lately, and it's actually kind of disappointing that I went without veggies for so long because I was positive I did not like them. I'm glad I got over that! And holy moly, this soup is good. I actually cannot believe I had forgotten how delicious cauliflower soup could be. And I know that winter is now officially over, but that shouldn't mean that soup season is over as well. This soup is light enough that it can be enjoyed all year long, and it's actually pretty healthy (you can make it even lighter by not adding the cheese, but I am a firm believer that cheese makes almost anything better.)

Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Branny Boils Over, inspired by The Pioneer Woman

1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
1 1/2 heads of cauliflower, chopped into florets
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat in large dutch oven or stockpot. Add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, just to sweat, not brown them. Add minced garlic, saute until fragrant. Add celery and carrots, continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Stir in salt, basil and cauliflower florets; cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring soup to a simmer. Slightly warm milk in microwave and whisk in flour; add to soup. Simmer 15-20 minutes.

Using an immersion or standard blender, puree a small amount of soup (you can skip this step if you like your soup chunkier, but I wanted to thicken it up a little bit more.) Add parsley, cheddar cheese and sour cream; heat until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread (see below); Enjoy!

Toasted Ciabatta
Slice a loaf of ciabatta bread, drizzle slices with olive oil. Toast in broiler until crispy. Peel a garlic clove and lightly rub over toasted ciabatta slices. Serve with soup.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers

Victory for turkey burgers everywhere!! I am so happy to have finally found a turkey burger that has tons of flavor, holds it shape relatively well, and actually tastes good enough to mask the fact that it is turkey and not beef! These burgers are constructed unlike any I have made before, and I believe it is part of the reason for the ultimate flavor. These are also a bit spicy, so they made the hubby happy. And topped with guacamole.....amazing.

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers

Source: Homemade By Holman, adapted from Good Things Catered
Makes 4 burgers

1 lb ground turkey breast
4 T soy sauce
4 T red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger

4 hamburger buns
Red Onion

In a shallow bowl, mix together soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. On a plate, mix together all spices. Divide meat into 4 equal portions and form into patties, making them slightly thinner in the middle. Roll patties in spice mixture until coated on all sides. Dip patties into soy sauce mixture and transfer to a plate or rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate about 1 hour.

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Cook about 5 minutes on first side until browned. Don't try to flip to early or they will have a tendency to stick. Cook on remaining side about 5 minutes more until cooked through. Toast buns under the broiler for a couple minutes until golden brown. Top burgers with a tablespoon of guacamole and a couple slices of red onion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Orange Bread

No picture= use your imagination to envision how delicious this bread is. Such a nice twist from the traditional banana bread, and the flavor of oranges is so refreshing. I made this into 3 mini loaves so I could give away some of them, but they would also make terrific muffins. I can't wait to make these again!

Orange Bread
Source: Simply Recipes


1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp orange zest (or more for more intense orange flavor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped (I omitted)

Optional Glaze
1 teaspoon lemon juice*
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar)

*If you happen to have Seville oranges, or sour oranges, use this juice instead of the lemon juice.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan. To make it easier to remove the loaf from the pan, you may want to lay down a wide strip of parchment paper, along the length of the bottom of the loaf pan, and up the narrow sides. Butter this as well.

2. Beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes on high in an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until completely incorporated after each addition. Beat in the orange zest.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4. Add the yogurt and dry ingredients by thirds, starting with the yogurt, alternating the additions. Beat only until just incorporated. Mix in the golden raisins.
5. Immediately pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place in middle rack of 350°F oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes*, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Cool on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove the loaf from the pan and cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.

7. While loaf is cooling, prepare optional glaze if using. Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, and powdered sugar until smooth and there are no lumps. Place loaf on a serving plate. Use a toothpick or skinny skewer to poke holes in the top of the loaf and drizzle the glaze over the loaf.
*If you are using a 5x9 loaf pan, the loaf will be done earlier. Check at 40 minutes. You can use this recipe for muffins, in which case the cooking time should be 20-25 minutes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rice and Beans

I don't really have much to say about this recipe other than-it was tasty! I have this idea/urge to see if I can cut back on our meat intake, even if it means one meal a week. Although this has chicken sausage it in, I would have been just as happy without it. I would also like to think this is relatively healthy, as long as you watch the portions of rice.
Rice and Beans
Source: Adapted slightly from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Serves 4

8 ounces cooked sausage, such as kielbasa (I used chicken sausage)
1 medium onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, minced (I used a red pepper instead)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
4 servings cooked rice (follow directions on whatever rice you used, mine was 2 cups uncooked rice=4 servings

In a 3- or 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, cook the sausage until it begins to brown and fat begins to render. Add the onions and celery/pepper/whatever and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and spice(s) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and the flavors have blended, about 30- 45 minutes (or as long as you want actually.) Serve over rice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

Sometimes making dinner is the last thing I want to when I get home from work or my internship, and somedays I don't get home until close to 8. On those days it's usually a fend for yourself type of dinner, or the hubby makes macaroni and cheese and hotdogs:) However, I really think I need to utilize my slowcooker more, but I kind of have anxiety about leaving it on all day with no one home. But I think I can work through that anxiety knowing that dinner will be ready for us when we get home.

The day I made this salsa chicken, I came home that evening to find the hubby standing at the counter eating. His first words to me were, "I can't stop eating these, I've had three already!" Those that know Andy well will understand that if he makes a comment without being asked, the food must be really good. And then I tried it, and I almost said the same thing he did. But with only 3 weight watchers points per serving, I felt okay about devouring my dinner.

We served this taco-style in tortillas, but it would also be delicious as nachos, enchiladas or over rice. This was a bit spicy, but I used hot salsa and a jalepeno, so you can adapt it to your own tastes.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Source: Chews Wisely

4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breast (1.5-2 lbs)
1 cup salsa (hot or medium)
1 package taco seasoning (I used the lower sodium packet)
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 small onion, chopped
1 small can green chilies, undrained ( I subbed one jalepeno)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

Use medium to large sized crock pot. Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Add frozen chicken. In a separate bowl, mix together salsa (I often use one 15 oz. jar which is more than 1 cup), taco seasoning and cream of chicken soup. Add to crock pot, mix in with chicken and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high about 4 hours.

When chicken is done, turn off crock pot, remove cover and let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, chop the onion. After allowing it to cool for a bit, take two forks and shred the chicken. Mix in the onion, green chilies, sour cream and heat on low about 30 minutes.

Serve on tortillas, as a taco salad, or over tortilla chips or rice.

Makes at least 12 servings.

Nutritional Information:

129 calories
2.7 grams of fat (1.2 saturated)
.9 grams dietary fiber
3 weight watchers points

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Who doesn't love girl scout cookie season?! What I don't love though, is how expensive they are these days. Of course we'll continue to buy a few boxes when we can to support the cause, but it's also fun to make your own, and know that you can have them any time of the year. Sadly, we didn't buy any do-si-dos this year so I don't have anything to compare these cookies to, but if my memory serves me right, they are pretty darn close to the real thing. The cookie is very light and crunchy, and the smooth filling really ties the whole thing together. These are very far from being figure-friendly, so I tried to give away as much as I could, but they are a fun treat to hand out.

This recipe is kind of time consuming from start to finish because to be authentic, the cookies must be small and you have to make a lot of cookies in order to get roughly 48 sandwiches. However, because they are so thin, the cookies take very little time to cool so you can start filling as you go.
Morgan wanted a treat too! I really wasn't teasing her, she just came running when she smelled food, but I left her have a little piece just because she's so cute.

Homemade Do-si-dos a.k.a. Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Source: Adapted from Baking Bites

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or regular)

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 - 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, taste as you add

Preheat oven to 350F.

Start with the cookies. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Beat in the sugars until fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed, mix in the flour, followed by the oats (if you don’t have quick-cooking, pulse whole rolled oats in the food processor to chop them up a bit).

On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop teaspoonfuls of batter (roughly 3/4-in. sized balls), leaving about 2 inches between each to allow for spread.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, making small holes in 1/2 of the cookies (for the tops of the sandwiches) before they set up. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies have cooled, make the filling.

In a large bowl, cream together smooth peanut butter, butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth. Pour filling into pastry bag or quart size ziplock bag. Cut corner of bag and squeeze 1 tbsp. of filling into center of cookie and sandwich with the remaining halves. If you chose to make yours with GS-lookalike holes in some of the cookies, use these as the tops of the sandwiches.

Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 48 sandwich cookies.

Note: Use unsalted butter with this recipe, as different brands of peanut butter can vary hugely in salt content and it’s possible you’ll end up with a too-salty cookie with the salted butter, salted peanut butter and added salt. If you must use salted butter and are using brand of peanut butter that seems a bit salty, you can always reduce or eliminate the added salt. Personally, I like the salty sweet combination with peanut butter, but it’s only fair for me to give a little warning just in case!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pistachio Crusted Tilapia

I like my fish crunchy. However, I like to stay away from the greasy, fried stuff. Sure, a greasy filet-o-fish from McDonalds hits the spot every now and then, and how can you resist them after the catchy tune that comes around every Lenten season?? But I've realized I can get a crunchy fish without the full-out breading/frying aspect....enter pistachios!

This recipe is so stinking simple, and it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I thought this had really good flavor from the dijon, but the pistachio mixture was a bit dry and lacking in spices. Next time I will add some salt and pepper to the coating, as well as one more tablespoon of olive oil to add a bit more moisture. The recipe below reflects my changes.

Pistachio Crusted Tilapia
Source: Adapted from You've Got Supper


1/2 cup(s) pistachio(s)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 tilapia fillet(s)
4 tsp Dijon mustard

1. Chop 1/2 cup pistachios in a small food processor into medium - fine pieces. Place in bowl.  Add 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to bowl of pistachios. Add parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in 3 tbsp olive oil and mix with fork.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

3. Brush 1 tsp of dijon on each tilapia fillet. Pat breadcrumb mixture onto each fillet until it is covered with a thick coating. Place on baking sheet.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork