Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pork Loin Roast with Apricot Glaze

Last time Chris went to pick up pork from our awesome local farm, The Blue Jingler Farm, he asked if they ever had tenderloins or roasts, as we usually just got the standard pork chops, sausage, and ground pork.  He bought a bone-in loin roast of approximately 3lbs.  Jack asked for Chris' email address and said he would send us a recipe that they often use and really enjoy.  It was a crockpot recipe and we set this up for a great Sunday night dinner.

We loved this - we couldn't stop saying how good it was!  The sweetness of the apricot combined with the mustard was wonderful.  The pork was delicious and just falling off the bone.
Thanks Jack & Cheryl for this great recipe!!

3-5 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast or pork loin (We used the pork loin)
16 oz of Apricot Jam 15.75 oz.
¼ - 1 cup of chicken broth, depending on the size of the roast.  (We used a cup.)
2-3 tablespoons of Dijon-style mustard (We used 3 tbsp - Chris loves mustard!)
1 large onion, chopped

Trim the fat from the roast. (Chris prepared this and did not trim the fat!!  We just separated it once cooked.)
If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3 ½ to 6-quart slow cooker. Place meat in cooker.
Combine preserves, broth, mustard, and onion; pour over meat.
As you can see, we used the big crockpot; I would use the smaller one next time so the meat is more engulfed in the sauce; but this came out great regardless!

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10-12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5-6.  This time we cooked it for 6 hours on high.

Transfer the meat to a serving platter and cut. Skim fat from the sauce, if need be.
Spoon some of the sauce over the meat.

We served with brown rice as recommended and broccoli.  We will most definitely be making this again; so so good!

Sweet Corn Bake

My friend and I prepared this recipe to serve with the Taco Stuffed Shells.  We followed this recipe from exactly, it was great.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina (a mexican corn flower, found in the ethnic section of the grocery store)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the Mexican corn flour and water and beat until well mixed.  Set aside.
Using a food processor, process thawed corn, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture.
In a separate large bowl, mix cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder. Add to corn flour mixture and stir to combine.
Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan.
Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil.
Place pan into a 9x13 inch baking dish that is filled a third of the way with water.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven F for 50 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Enjoy as a sweet compliment to a spicy meal!

Taco Stuffed Shells

When I found this recipe I was so excited to make this twist on the traditional shells!  When my husband saw it, he insisted that I make it this weekend :)  I made a double batch because we had friends over for dinner, but I will write it up as a single batch.  I adapted from this recipe on  I eliminated the cream cheese and added more veggies.  They came out great!

1lb ground beef
Taco seasoning (I make my own, as described HERE)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 chopped bell pepper
1/2 chopped onion
1 box large pasta shells
1 jar salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup reduced fat mexican cheese (shredded)

Cook the ground beef and drain off fat.
Add the chopped pepper & onion to one side of the pan to cook.  I offset the pan on the burner so the peppers & onions are getting most of the heat.

Mix the vegetables & beef together and add seasoning.  Add the diced tomatoes.

Allow the mixture to cool so it can be handled.
Cook shells according to package instructions.
Stuff the shells.  Top with taco sauce and cheese and bake at 350 deg F for approximately 30 minutes.
Serve with the mexican corn cake recipe provided above!  The sweet of the corncake works great with these spicy shells!

As I said in the beginning of the post, I made a double batch.  After preparing one batch, there was a little less than 1/2 of the beef mixture left.  I decided to make bean and beef shells for the second half, so I mixed in a can of refried beans to the remaining mixture.  They came out great also!

Grilled Sirloin Steak

Not too much in the way of directions for an amazing recipe here...just wanted to show how awesome the grassfed beef we get is!  We took advantage of a warm spell we had and uncovered the grill for this quick, delicious dinner.

The meat comes frozen and thaws best if you put it into the fridge the day before you plan to use it, rather than trying to speed up the thawing process by leaving it out.
Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour before grilling.

Make sure that hungry dog does not eat steak.

Season steak.  We really like Simply Organic's Chophouse Seasoning

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Grill each side approximately 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak.

Slice & serve!  Leftovers make great steak sandwiches for lunch, or beef for use in beef barley soup!

Asian Chicken Stir Fry

We love asian foods & flavors.  This is going to be hard for me to blog because we just add sauces to taste, but I will do my best!


1 package of asian stir-fry noodles
1 package of chicken breast, approximately 1 lb.
1/2 head chopped broccoli
2 peeled, chopped carrots
1/2 yellow onion
1 bag of frozen asian veggie mix (or more fresh if you have it!)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
~2 tbsp of asian Five-Spice Seasoning
Sesame oil for stir-frying
Kikkoman Thai Style Chili Sauce (this is so good)
Hoisin Sauce
Low Sodium Soy Sauce
House of Tsang "Hunan Smokehut Spicy Grill Sauce (this is also great stuff)

Cut up chicken breast into small (bite size or 2-bite size) pieces.
Heat up some sesame oil and vegatable oil (1/2 and 1/2) in a large skillet or wok.
Add garlic & chicken, stirring frequently to cook.  Sprinkle with the 5-Spice Seasoning.
When chicken is about 1/2 way cooked, add the onion.
Once onion has cooked for a couple minutes, add the fresh chopped vegatables.  Add a bit of soy sauce (about 5 shakes).
Cook noodles according to package instructions.  I prefer boiling to soaking since it's quicker.
Once the chicken is cooked through and the fresh veggies are softened a bit, add the frozen vegatables to the mix.
::This is the part that is at your discretion.  The Smokehut sauce and Thai Chili Sauce are the spicier ones, so if you want it to be more mild, add more of the regular Hoisin than these::
I add about 2 large tablespoons of each of the Smokehut sauce and Thai Chili Sauce, and about 1 tbsp of the Hoisin.  Add the noodles into the mix, and serve!  The noodles will soak up the sauces so serve quickly after mixing or you will just have to keep adding sauce as it will dry out!

Enjoy!  I like to serve this with a big salad; use a rice wine vinegar & oil to make it a bit asian as well :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Semi-Homemade Pizza

Another quick & easy dinner, for which you can use whatever meat/ veggies you have!

You will need:
Pillsbury pizza crust (the thin crust is really good!)
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese  (we were out of shredded mozz, so we shredded up a few string cheeses!)
Whatever toppings you like:  I love green pepper & onion, Chris prefers onion & pepperoni

Bake according to package instructions.
Serve with a big salad.  Yumm!!

Italian Herb Bread

I served this bread with the stuffed shells (and a salad).  I didn't take a picture, but you know what bread looks like.  It came out great.  My breadmaker takes 3.5 hours from start to finish, so I timed it to be coming out at perfect timing, we ate a lot - it was delish!

This recipe is from the Oster recipe book that came with the machine.  This is for a 2lb loaf, made in a breadmaker.

1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour (I only had 2 cups bread flour and supplemented with regular, it was fine)
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried parsley (I was generous w/all the herbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp active dry yeast

Put wet ingredients then dry.  Form well for yeast, avoiding contact with wet ingredients.  Use the "french" setting, and medium crust.  Press start.  Enjoy in 3.5 hrs!

Spinach & Mushroom Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells were my favorite dinner as a kid, and it was what I always requested for my birthday dinner from my mom.  Come to find, it was Chris' childhood bday special request as well!  Therefore I can't believe that in the 2+ years we have lived here, I had not made them yet.  The time has come :)

I wanted to make them a little different; the plain ricotta & mozz shells are too boring for me these days!  I also like to get the nutrition of extra veggies in there.  I found this recipe on Allrecipes and made some changes but did not stray too far.  We eliminated the ground turkey because one of our dinner guests is a vegetarian.  These shells were a big hit!  They were really delicious, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

You will need:
1 box of jumbo shells
1 large jar pasta sauce.  I like :

(We used the larger, "Family Size" jar)
8 oz organic mushrooms, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (**This is important, get fresh!!)
1 and 1/2 - 15 oz containers of Ricotta cheese
1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.  *Try to time it that they are not sitting waiting to be stuffed long, they can get stuck together and therefore get hard to work with.  Keeping cold water slowly running on them in the strainer helps.
In a large heavy skillet saute mushrooms, garlic and onions. 
Season with salt and pepper. 
Remove from heat, and stir in spinach, parsley, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese.

Stuff the cooked shells with the mixture, and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. 

Cover with tomato sauce, and sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

Bruschetta Toasts

This is a quick & easy appetizer that we recently made for dinner guests (the stuffed shells above were the entree).  It is definitely better with homemade bruschetta, but we will have to wait for summer for that!

You need:
1/2 lb fresh, storemade bruschetta
1 package of Panetini toasts (NY Style brand, garlic Parmesan flavor were good!)
Parmesan cheese for topping them off

Simple.  Put the toasts on a baking sheet, top with bruschetta and then cheese.  Bake at 350 for ~10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Pesto Chicken

This is a quick & easy weeknight recipe.

1 pkg chicken breasts
flour for coating chicken
salt & pepper
vegetable oil for sautee-ing
1 jar prepared pesto (we used Bellino and it was very good.  We have tried Classico and it is not so good)

Rinse and then slice the chicken breasts in half if they are not already thin sliced.
Sprinkle chx with salt and pepper
Dredge the chicken in flour
(Boil water for pasta if you are serving with pasta)

Preheat the oven around 300 degrees.
Heat a bit of oil in a skillet.  Place the chicken breasts in the skillet, cook until browned and flip.
Cook until browned on the second side, and place in an oven-safe dish.
Spread some of the prepared pesto sauce on the chicken.
Place that chx in the oven, and add more oil to skillet if necessary, and cook the other half.
Once all the chx is done, spread w/pesto and put in the oven for ~5-10 minutes.
Serve with pasta, also coated in pesto sauce.

This was good, but I can't wait to have fresh homemade pesto from my garden!

Our Salad

Since we have "our salad" with dinner every night, I thought I might as well show you how we do it.
Start w/fresh organic veggies.  I like to mix spring greens with some iceberg and/or some romaine.  There are no measurements for the dressing because a) we don't measure and b) it totally depends on the size of the salad!  Our alternative to this recipe is with Lawry's Seasoned Salt in place of the kosher and red wine vinegar in place of the balsamic.

Shredded carrot

Dried Basil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (regular or white)
EV Olive Oil

Add basil, salt, pepper, and sugar first.  Drizzle with balsamic then EVOO.  Be careful not to put too much balsamic or it will be *very* tangy!

The whole time I was preparing the salad, I had a strange feeling that I was being watched...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Southwestern Quinoa Stew with Squash, Black Beans, and Corn

A coworker brought in this soup one day and I had to get the recipe, it was so delicious!
This is from the cookbook "Whole Grains for Busy People" by Lorna Sass.  This version includes some small changes I made.

I only had 1/2 cup of quinoa, so I pretty much halved the recipe and it was almost too spicy for me because I used the whole can of chipotle in adobo without reading that she calls for 1 tablespoon!!  .Haha.  It is still really good, I just have to mix in a  little sour cream to cool it down.  It's fine for Chris, though!

olive or vegetable oil
1/2 minced onion
2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa (found in the health food aisle)
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo (Goya)
1 bag (10 oz) frozen diced butternut squash (recipe called for mashed winter squash but we preferred diced)
1 can drained & rinsed baked beans
1 can corn or 1 bag frozen corn
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
dried cilantro to taste (fresh would be better, but I didn't have any)

In large pot, heat a bit of oil.  Stir in onion and garlic and cook for a few seconds.
Add broth and ~2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil uncovered and add the quinoa.  Simmer for ~10 minutes.
Stir in the chipotle in adobo (this is where I added the whole can instead of 1 tbsp!!)  The recipe said to mash the chipotles, but I left them whole for cooking and removed them when we were ready to eat the soup (too scared to eat them!).  Add the squash.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the beans and reduce heat to medium.
Continue cooking until there is no solid white dot of starch at the center of the quinoa.
Stir in the corn, pepper, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer a few more minutes, and serve.


We love chili.  I made it this morning and put it in the crockpot for consumption while watching football later in the day :)  This recipe is for a double  batch.

2 lbs ground grassfed beef
2 cans kidney beans
2 large cans/boxes diced tomatoes
2 diced bell peppers
1 chopped onion
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Brown the beef.

Combine the seasonings

Put all ingredients in the crockpot and add some water as needed.  Set crockpot for 6-8 hours on low (or 3-4 on high).  Enjoy!

I recommend serving with these tostadas- so delish!  You can find them in the mexican food aisle:

Wasabi and Panko-Crusted Pork with Gingered Soy Sauce

We get our pork chops & eggs from a farmer right down the road from us. Bone-in pork chops are one of Chris' favorite foods, so I'm always searching for a new way to make them to break away from the ol' shake n bake! We also love asian foods, and I found this recipe on Cooking Light that looked like an interesting one to try!

You will need:

Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 bone-in pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
Peanut oil
Salt (I always use Kosher salt)
Ground fresh or dried ginger -The recipe called for fresh but I used dried and it was fine.
1 cup chicken broth - The recipe called for 1/3 cup but we always like extra sauce!
~1/3 c tablespoons dry sherry (I don't measure, just pour!)
~2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons wasabi paste - I would use more next time; it wasn't that spicy.
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Place panko in a shallow dish. Whip egg white in a small bowl. Sprinkle salt and pepper on pork, then dip pork in egg white and cover in panko. Start your rice if you are serving rice w/this.

Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with over medium heat; add pork. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan. Start your vegetable.

Whisk the broth, sherry, soy sauce, and wasabi in a small bowl, stirring well. (I used 2 tbsp of wasabi this time, it was not very spicy at all. I would use 3 next be generous w/the wasabi if you like!) Add broth mixture to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add ginger to the mixture; simmer a few minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in green onions. Spoon sauce over pork.

I suggest serving with sugar snap peas and white rice-

Greek Soup

Last week my husband made his mom's famous Greek Soup (Avgolmono soup).  It is a very simple but hearty soup consisting of chicken, rice, lemon, and egg.  It's delicious!  And of course I love when he cooks :)

Greek Soup
  • One whole free range chicken (~ 4 lbs)
  • 3/4 cup white rice
  • the juice of one lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • s & p
Rinse chicken and put in large pot with enough water to completely cover it.  He leaves the giblets in and I pretend I don't see them, but they do add a lot to the flavor.  Boil chicken until the meat is falling off the bone; approximately 2 hours.
Remove chicken from pot, add rice and cook.  Let chicken cool enough to handle, then cut it up into smaller chunks.
Break eggs and put whites in medium bowl, set yolks aside.  Whip egg whites until they are frothy.  Then mix yolks in and add the juice of one lemon.
Once rice is cooked, turn the stove off and let the broth cool.  Pour some of the broth slowly into the egg mixture while mixing (you don't want the eggs to scramble!).  Once the bowl is full, add the egg/broth mixture to the pot w/the rest of the broth.  Add chopped chicken to soup, reheat and eat!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

(NJ) Cheesesteak Sandwiches

We purchased a box (45lbs) of local, grassfed beef from a local farmer via a friend about a month ago.  As we were making our way through our stash of ground beef, strip steaks, and roasts, we came upon packages of chipped beef on New Years Day and decided to make cheesesteaks.

The ingredients of this recipe are simple:  good quality meat, sliced super thin.  Onions, peppers, mushrooms...whatever you have and whatever you want.  We only had onions for this preparation but it would be great with peppers & mushies.

The directions are even simpler:  brown the meat on medium/low heat with a little s&p.  As it cooks, push it onto the thinly sliced onions, leaving 1/2 of your pan for red meat in need of cooking to go.  Once it is all cooked, spread around to make sure the onions are well browned & add cheese.  I use cheese sparingly because the meat tastes so good, and to avoid unnecessary calories!

Serve on large fresh roll, add ketchup!  Champagne optional ;)  Happy New Year!

Homemade bread! Traditional White Bread

My mom got me a wonderful present for Christmas - a breadmaker!  It's the Oster 2lb Expressbake Breadmaker.  Once I was able to get my butt to the store to pick up some yeast and bread flour, I got to work!

It is amazing how easy it really is.  You put in the wet ingredients, put in the dry ingredients, make a little hole in the flour for the yeast to sit in, and press start!  I chose to begin at the beginning with the traditional white loaf, recipe provided in the Oster Users Guide provided with the machine.

You will need:  
1 3/8 cups water
2 tbsp soft butter
4 cups bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dry milk
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one packet)

Measure and add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the bread pan.
Use your finger to form a well (hole) in the flour where you will pour the yeast. Yeast must NEVER come into contact with a liquid when you are adding ingredients. Measure the yeast and carefully pour it into the well.
Snap the baking pan into the breadmaker and close the lid.
Press "Select" button to choose the Basic setting.
Press the "Crust Color" button to choose light, medium or dark crust.  For this one I chose Medium.
Press the "Start/Stop" button.

Finished product:

M&M Biscotti

I love biscotti with my coffee in the morning (or afternoon...or after dinner...), so when I saw this Christmas-esque biscotti recipe on Lovestoeat's blog, I had to make it!  These could be made year-round with regular colored M&Ms.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup finely crushed M&Ms (tip:  don't try the food processor.  It doesn't work!  Just put them in a ziploc and smash them)
14 ounces fine quality white chocolate, melted
**save some extra crushed M&Ms to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar. 

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined – stir in crushed candy.
Evenly divide dough into 4 pieces on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a round log shape.
Place logs 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. 
Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
Cut each log diagonally into biscotti-size slices with sharp serrated knife. (The original recipe indicated to discard the ends if you want.  We saved the ends for ourselves and gave away the good ones on a Christmas Cookie platter). 
Arrange pieces standing up on the baking sheet.
Bake until cookies are light golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Place onto cool rack and cool completely.
Once cooled, dip half of each biscotti into melted chocolate – shake off excess.  Remember to melt chocolate slowly so it does not burn (Speaking from experience.  Had to make a last minute run out for more chocolate chips).  Immediately roll in additional crushed M&Ms and set on a plate until the chocolate has set.