Sunday, November 6, 2011

Curry Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is over and the "Great Pumpkin" was still sitting on my counter. We never carved the big vegetable, so it just sat there being festive - and taking up precious space. This morning I had the urge to stab Mr. Pumpkin and steal his tasty seeds for some snacking. I called upon Mira to do the deed - it was her pumpkin after all, and she is being trained to wield a knife in her culinary arts program. And so at last the end came for the pumpkin, but the seeds are still being munched happily.

Curry Pumpkin Seeds
1 pumpkin
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Cayenne pepper (if desired)

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut open the pumpkin and remove all of the seeds into a colander. Rinse seeds and remove all stringy pumpkin stuff and discard. For each half cup of seeds you have put two cups of water in a pot with one tablespoon of salt. (My pumpkin had about 2 cups of seeds.) Simmer in salted water for about 10 minutes. Drain seeds in a colander and place in a bowl. Drizzle seeds with olive oil until all seeds are lightly coated, and then toss with curry powder. (I used two teaspoons of curry powder for my two cups of seeds. Bake in a single layer on a sheet pan in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until seeds are lightly toasted. Allow to cool and then toss with additional salt or curry powder to taste. You can also toss a pinch of cayenne pepper in to add some heat. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Bratwurst Stew

Somehow I seem to accumulate bratwurst. Family members always give me their leftover packages from picnics. Now I know I have a strong German family history, but I had never actually eaten a bratwurst until I made this stew. I had to do something with them before they turned into freezer-burned mystery sausages, and it being Octoberfest time of year, I thought I would cook them somehow.

After much searching I found a reasonable recipe from Better Homes and Gardens called Loaded Bratwurst Stew. I am sure most everyone has found a recipe that looks good, but something is wrong with it. Either you don't have an ingredient, or something is on your dietary no-eat list, or you don't see the value of buying an ingredient that you will have no use for after using only a small amount. This recipe is adapted from the BHG recipe, but lots of changes have been made based upon what I can eat and what I had in the pantry. It tastes even better the second day. The moral of this recipe - mess around with what you find and you might create something delicious!

October Bratwurst Stew
2 14.5-ounce cans of fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds uncooked regular bratwurst
1 softball sized savoy cabbage, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup uncooked hulless barley (or use pearled)
1/4 cup roasted sweet red peppers (drained from a jar that is vinegar based), chopped
1 heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
Shredded Swiss cheese

Place the barley, chopped red peppers and cabbage in a slow cooker. Combine broth, mustard, vinegar and seasonings and pour over top. In a skillet, cook bratwurst until cooked through and a nice brown color. Remove from skillet. Slice bratwurst into small 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place over top of cabbage in slow cooker. Drain all but a teaspoon of grease from the skillet and brown onions until a nice golden brown. Remove onions and any crispy bits from skillet and place on top of brats in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 3-5 hours. Mix well and serve with shredded Swiss cheese on top.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pork Souvlaki

The end of summer is an incredibly busy time for me - with vacation, preparing kids for school, hauling them to the dorm and other activities I barely have time to cook. The temptation to make something easy is strong. But now that the frenzy is dying down I took the time to enjoy some pork souvlaki. Marinated meat on a stick gets me all the time! And if you use lean tenderloin and a good extra virgin olive oil this is a very healthy dinner.

Pork Souvlaki
2 pounds pork tenderlon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Trim tenderloin of any membranes and cut into 2 inch chunks. Marinate for at least 3 hours in the remaining ingredients in the refrigerator. Soak bamboo stick for at least an hour before putting on meat. Grill until done, but do not overcook. Serve with whole grain pita, tzatziki or fat free yogurt with sliced cucumbers, onions and fresh tomatoes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cuban Steak

This is one of our favorites on the grill - juicy sirloin steak marinated and sliced and served medium rare. This steak is perfect for topping a fresh green salad.

Cuban Steak
2 pounds beef sirloin steak
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup steak seasoning (Montreal or Mrs Dash)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine juices, seasonings, garlic and oil and let steak marinate in a sturdy plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours. You can let it sit overnight too if you wish, but the longer the steak sits, the tangier it becomes. For a gentle flavor I always use six hours. Drain steak from marinade, pat dry and grill to your perfect doneness.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Caramel Fruit Dip

This is a recipe that I have had for a while, found somewhere by my mother. It is easy to take to a party or picnic and everyone loves it so much that I couldn't resist posting it for everyone was asking for the recipe. I believe my Mom got the recipe from a Watkins distributor. To make this delicious dip, you will need to find one too, or you can purchase it online from Watkins.

Caramel Fruit Dip
1 8-ounce package of Neufchâtel or cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Watkins Caramel extract
2 tablespoons skim milk

Combine all ingredients and blend well. Serve chilled with assorted fruit and make sure that you have plenty because it goes FAST!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

NYC Halal Chicken

Back in May, my daughter Mira and I took a day long trip to New York City to enjoy some shopping and of course, eating. Typically I make a point of eating something local wherever I go - doesn't have to be fancy, just something that I can't get at home. On prior trips, the Sabrett hot dog food cart was where I had lunch. I had figured it would be much the same this time. But on this trip there seemed to be an explosion of food carts catering to New York's Muslim population, all proudly displaying a halal sign. I couldn't resist and ordered the chicken. I figure that when immigrant people come to the US, we the lucky inhabitants get to eat more yummy food. And truly it was delicious. I realize that "halal" is a way of cooking as opposed to an actual recipe, so my Halal Chicken is named in honor of the food cart vendors who cook up this delicious food.

NYC Halal Chicken
2 pounds skinless boneless chicken
1/2 cup fat free Greek (strained) yogurt
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Combine garlic, seasonings, juice and yogurt and mix well. Add raw chicken (I used breasts), cut into pieces and marinate overnight. Grill on a flat top grill or saute in a skillet until golden and cooked through. Serve over rice pilaf, lettuce and fresh tomatoes. Drizzle with white sauce (recipe below) or your favorite tzatziki- or riata-style sauce. You can also serve with the white sauce on a bun. Yum-o-licious!

NYC Halal Chicken White Sauce
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.

Mira poses by a food cart in New York City.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mixed Chicken Sausage Grill

On Friday nights, I am tired from a long week of work and am ready for some relaxing. This is a quick and easy meal cooked outdoors on a hot afternoon. My local meat market has tons of cool chicken sausages, and these are two of our family favorites. You can mix it up with your own favorite lean chicken sausage or other sausage, vegetables and seasonings.
Chipotle Honey Chicken Sausage with Fiesta Lime Mrs. Dash seasoning

Mixed Chicken Sausage Grill
2 pounds chicken sausage
2 medium onions, sliced
4 small baby zucchini, sliced
2 cups of grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon of your favorite salt-free seasoning mixture
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (if desired)

Grill sausages in a hot grill until done. Slice and set aside. In a grill wok, drizzle zucchini and onion slices with canola oil and saute over hot coals. Add sausage slices and continue to cook until vegetables are tender. Add grape tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes just start to burst. Serve alone or over whole grain pasta.
Apple Maple Chicken Sausage with Penzey's Sunny Paris Seasoning

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chicken Farro Salad

The warm weather has finally arrived. To celebrate I tossed up this chicken salad with farro. It keeps good in the refrigerator and is best eaten just warm or cold, which is perfect for this time of year. It's also great to pack in my lunch. This chicken is marinated and the salad is tossed in my Greek dressing, but you could also use your favorite bottled dressing in place of mine.

Chicken Farro Salad
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 1/3 cup Greek salad dressing
1 cup semipearled farro
1/4 cup moist dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
zest of one lemon

Marinate the chicken in 1 cup of Greek dressing for at least two hours. Grill chicken and cut into bit size pieces. Chop dried tomatoes and mix in bowl with almonds, garlic, pepper, seasonings, lemon zest and chicken. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring two cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil and add farro. Cover and turn down to low to simmer for about 20 minutes. Farro should be chewy when done. Drain excess water if any, and toss into chicken mixture. Add 1/3 cup Greek dressing and chopped Romaine lettuce. Serve warm. Garnish with feta cheese.

Greek Dressing
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Turkish oregano

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake thoroughly. Allow the dressing to sit at least a day before using.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Curry Fried Rice

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks, Chinese Rice and Noodles from the Wei-Chuan cooking school in Taiwan. I have made it a bit lighter, and switched out some ingredients for a yummy bowl of rice. This recipe makes one large bowl of rice as a meal, or can serve two smaller side portions.

Curry Fried Rice
3/4 cup cooked leftover cold long grain brown rice
6 ounces lean ground pork
1 cup diced onion
1 small diced carrot
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Splenda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Saute pork in a non-stick skillet and drain when cooked through. Wipe away all but a tiny bit of oil and saute onions and carrots until just barely tender. Return meat to pan and mix. Add rice and heat through, adding curry powder, salt and Splenda. Mix and serve. You can also add additional vegetables depending on what you have on hand.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Light Barbecue Sauce

I was born in the wrong part of the country. Around here, good barbecue is hard to find. But down south - that's where the good stuff is abundant. Nothing beats the pulled pork at Jack's Bar-B-Que in Nashville, TN. As I sit here eating the sandwich below I am wearing my Jack's T-shirt from the memorable visit I took with my family in 2008. The smoke clung to the brick walls and the Tennessee Original sauce was exquisite.

And then there is Nanny's in Petersburg VA. This was a favorite pork stop on our road trip in 2010, with a vinegar based sauce. I can't even come close to these places, so no point in trying. But I did decide to create my own pulled pork - something that was delicious and light on fat and sugar and tickles the memory of those sweet 'cue joints.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Light Barbecue Sauce
2 pounds of pork shoulder, trimmed of fat (also called pork butt)
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, no salt added
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (hickory)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 packet Splenda

Cook trimmed pork roast in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours. Be sure that you are using pork shoulder or butt, as this is the cut that loves to sit for hours in slow low heat. A loin roast will only get tough and dry. Pork shoulder will become meltingly tender after long cooking. While cooking, combine remaining ingredients for the sauce and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry. The sauce can keep for up to a week if you wish to make it in advance. When pork is done and fork tender, remove from pot and drain all liquid. Return pork to the pot and shred with two forks. Pour on sauce and allow to warm in the slow cooker. Serve alone or on buns. Yum!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Sausage and Pasta

With warmer weather coming I am anxious to get some fresh veggies and lighter dishes on the table. This is a perfect warm weather pasta dish that is both easy and good for you.

Chicken Sausage and Pasta
1 - 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian chicken sausage
8 ounces hot cooked whole wheat rotini pasta
1 large sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes with no added salt, drained
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
fresh ground black pepper to taste
grated Parmagiano Reggiano (optional)

Boil or grill sausage until done and slice into disks. Set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, saute onion in olive oil until just transluscent. Add garlic, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, seasonings and Sriracha, stirring to mix together. Add baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Pour over the pasta and toss together. Add fresh ground black pepper to taste and garnish with Parmegiano.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos

The sky has been so blue this week, breaking through a huge rainy spell, that I got the feeling for something a bit summery. I couldn't help it - so much snow and rain begin to wear you down. So I thought some tacos would fix the winter funk. And steak tacos are extra yummy.

Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos
1 skirt steak - about 1.5 pounds
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder, divided
Whole wheat tortillas
Low fat sour cream
Fresh broccoli slaw
Red onions
Shredded lettuce
Low fat shredded cheese
Karen's Salsa with Fresh Cilantro or Salsa Verde

Remove membrane from skirt steak. Marinate overnight in bag with juice, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, half of the cumin and ancho chili powder. Heat stovetop grill until it's nice and hot. Cut steak into manageable sizes and sear quickly for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove steak and let it rest. Sprinkle the remaining cumin and ancho powder on the meat. Slice thinly against the grain and serve on tortilla with your favorite taco fixings.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Braised Pork Shank

Recently I discovered a local treasure - Henry's Meat Market. After years of trying to cajole and coax the grocery store meat people to get me various cuts of meat, I can now sit back and relax. These people know their meat, and didn't mind getting me some fresh pork shanks to play with. I am happily no longer stuck with "the most popular selections". So before the warm weather hits and I get off my braising kick, I decided to try pork shanks. They aren't expensive, but take some low and slow cooking in liquid. The result is fantastic.

Braised Pork Shanks
3 pork shanks (sliced into 2 inch slices)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced into chunks
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups pork broth (or chicken)
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large heavy pot, heat oil and brown shanks - two or three at a time on all sides. Remove from heat. Saute carrots, onions and celery until softened and just beginning to caramelize. Add wine to pot and deglaze all the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Add broth and seasonings. Cover pot and place in oven for about three to three and one half hours. When shanks are fork tender, remove from pot and strain broth into a container for chilling. Return shanks and veggies to the pot and return to oven with the heat turned off. The residual heat of the oven will continue to cook the pork gently. Chill broth until you can remove the fat from the surface. (If you don't mind the extra fat, you can skip all of this and just thicken the broth and return it to the pot). If not, take the chilled de-fatted broth and reheat, adding the cornstarch and water mixture until just thick. Add the broth back into the pot and season to taste with salt or pepper. Serve shanks over veggies and drizzled with broth with a side of rice or barley grits.  This is a dish you would allow time for the meat to slowly cook, so be sure to start in the late morning on a weekend. Once it's in the oven it's a matter of letting the slow heat tenderize the meat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chinese Barbeque Pork

Char Siu
...or rather "Char Siu Done Light"
I have wandered around on this edible journey to a place where I didn't think I would find myself. I look at the many old recipes I have, and try to fit them into what I am now. I am different than when I started, both physically and mentally. Before I found a recipe and cooked it as it was. Now, I study it and try to transform it to fit what many have called a really strict set of rules. No matter, I say. If you won't be alive to eat in 10 years why bother eating now? And call me stubborn, I refuse to give in. And I refuse to give in to bad tasting food. If this is how I must eat to live, then by zinkies I am eating delicious stuff! 

Char Siu
1 1.5 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

Combine sauces, honey and seasoning in a large resealable bag. Place tenderloin in and marinate for twenty four hours. The next day, preheat your oven to 450 F. Drain tenderloin and roast the tenderloin in the oven until it reaches a temperature of 150 F. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Slice and enjoy.

Traditionally, Char Siu is made with lovely spare ribs or pork belly with lots of sweet glaze. It is brushed with maltose to make it shine. My Char Siu is marinated in a sweet sauce, but most of it drains off before we cook it. The flavor penetrates the meat, but there is no sticky glaze encrusted layer of fat like the original. And if you don't overcook the tenderloin it is sweet and tender. And I have added the red food coloring because we also eat with our eyes, and any Chinese buffet addict like me would want that extra visual cue to complete the experience!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spinach Frittata

This recipe is a new one that I have just started cooking on our "meatless mondays". What I like best about it is that I can make it ahead and pack a piece for lunch at work. Gently rewarmed in the microwave it is just as good as fresh out of the oven and very healthy.

Spinach Frittata
1 16-ounce carton of egg substitute (or 8 beaten eggs)
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 10-ounce box of frozen spinach
1 ounce shredded low-fat mozzarella
1/2 ounce shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 ounce shredded romano cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper (about 10 grinds)

Preheat broiler and move rack to top of oven. Defrost spinach in the microwave until just warmed. Drain and squeeze out liquid and put spinach into a mixing bowl. Add egg substitute, cheese, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and mix well. In a medium sized oven safe non-stick skillet (10.5 inches) saute onion in olive oil until just translucent. Shake skillet to move all onion to the bottom of the pan and reduce heat to medium. Pour in egg mixture and cook over medium heat until bottom is crusty golden, and the edges of the frittata are beginning to set. Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil on the top and place pan under the broiler until the top is golden. If the frittata is solid, it is done and ready to slice. If it is still moving when gently shaken, turn off oven and move shelf to middle. Allow pan to sit in the warm oven for a few minutes until set. Slide out of pan and slice with a pizza cutter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Slow Roasted Beef with Pineapple Orange Sauce

This delicious recipe has been floating around my family for many years. It makes an appearance when large groups gather - graduation parties, christenings, or birthdays. It is delicious hot or cold, on it's own or in a bun. The secret is to slowly roast the beef to medium-rare, and then drizzle with the sauce.

Slow Roasted Beef with Pineapple Orange Sauce
1 beef eye of the round roast, approx 4 lbs.
4 teaspoons kosher salt (for the beef) plus 1/2 teaspoon (for the sauce
1 medium thinly sliced onion
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon canola oil
2/3 cup frozen pineapple-orange juice concentrate
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Rub the beef with 4 teaspoons of kosher salt and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Let meat sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The next day, remove beef, allow to come to room temperature and wipe off all salt and dry with paper towel. Preheat oven to 225 F. Sear beef in a cast iron skillet with a few drops of oil until it is nicely browned all around the roast.  Insert a meat thermometer in the end through the center of the beef and slowly roast. While beef is cooking, saute onions in canola oil until translucent. Add salt, cornstarch and brown sugar and mix well. Add water, ketchup and juice concentrate and heat until thick and bubbly. When the meat approaches 90 F, drizzle with a ladle of sauce. When the beef reaches 115 F, turn off the oven (be sure to keep the oven door closed!) and allow it to reach an internal temperature of 130 F (medium-rare). Remove beef from the oven, let sit for 15 minutes and slice. Serve with the remaining sauce.

This large roast will serve a large group as part of a buffet. Eye of the round is lean, so there is not much shrinkage. The sweet fruity sauce and low cooking temperature makes this great for summer parties.  If you really must have your meat more well done, you can cook it initially to a temperature of 125 F, then turn the oven off and let the roast reach 140 F. This will give you a roast cooked medium. Anything more well done and you should probably choose a different cut of beef. Eye of the round will become very tough if cooked past medium, and is truly at it's best when medium-rare.

Orange-Pineapple Appetizer Meatballs on Foodista

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Farinata with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

For the past nine months I have been working on a complete overhaul of my eating habits. The result of these changes has been dramatic. While I miss many of the things I used to eat, I have learned some new recipes to replace them. Pizza was one thing I had pretty much given up on. I had been able to create a simulated pizza on a whole wheat pita, but it just didn't taste the same. I accidentally bumped into a recipe for chickpea flour pizza by Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipe inspired me to create my own pizza below.

Farinata with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella
1 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and sliced
low fat mozzarella, shredded
fresh grated parmesan
fresh basil, chopped
red onions, sliced thinly
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper

Combine flour and water and mix well. Put in a covered container and let sit in refrigerator at least one hour and up to 24 hours. I had best results when I made the batter a day in advance. When ready to prepare pizzas, add salt and stir batter again as it may have settled while sitting. Preheat broiler and place on oven rack to the top and one in the middle. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the lower shelf. A baking sheet will work too. Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in an oven safe non-stick skillet (a 10.5 inch non-stick skillet will make three 8 inch pizzas). When pan is hot, pour 1/3 of the batter in the bottom of the skillet to about pancake thickness and cook until edges turn golden brown. Use a toothpick to pierce any bubbles that form. When the edges begin to brown, place your choice of toppings on the pizza making sure that you keep them light. You don't want to overload toppings on the farinata as it will get soggy. Give the pizza a few quick lashings of olive oil and a grind of pepper and place skillet under the broiler until the top is golden. Gently remove pizza to pizza stone on lower shelf to crisp up for a few minutes. Serve and enjoy!

In Farinata on Foodista

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Smothered Pork Tenderloin

This is one of my favorite roast pork dishes. The tenderloin is lean and juicy and together with the veggies it is very healthy and satisfying. There is an art to cooking pork - some cuts need to be cooked in dry heat quickly, others are best low and slow or smoked. This is quick and easy and delicious - just be careful not to overcook!

Smothered Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin - 1-1/2 to 2 lbs
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 large fennel bulb, sliced thin
2 tart apples, unpeeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pinches dried thyme
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a non-stick skillet, heat canola oil and saute onions and fennel on stove until golden and tender. Reduce heat and add apples and chicken broth, cooking for about five minutes until apples begin to soften. Mix in thyme and salt and place on the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Grind pepper over pork and place uncovered on top of veggies. Be sure to use a meat thermometer stuck straight in the center of the tenderloin. Cook until meat reaches internal temperature of 150 F. This could take anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on the weight of your tenderloin. When done, remove dish from the oven and cover top of tenderloin snugly with foil, allowing the bottom uncovered to let the juices mingle with the veggies. Let sit until pork reaches 155 to 160. Remove pork and slice. Add balsamic vinegar to veggies and mix. Serve pork on top of veggies and garnish with leftover fennel fronds.

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloin With Apple Compote on Foodista

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Every time my girls and I go to the Strip District in Pittsburgh, we stop at Labad's Middle Eastern Grocery. Here we find all sorts of yummy ingredients. For my daughter Zoë, this is the place to stock up on grape leaves. You can also find some somewhat-fresh stuffed grape leaves at our local grocery, but I have been wanting to give my Grandma Harvey's recipe a try. Actually, she had two recipes - one with rice and one without. One of her recipes is only a list of ingredients, and the other has some instructions. So I mushed them together a bit and made this from the combination of both.

1 jar of grape leaves, rinsed
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
juice of two lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Remove grape leaves from jar and rinse. Place them in a pot of boiling water for one minute, and then remove and put in cold water. When they have cooled, drain the water. Combine meat with carrots, rice, tomato paste, and seasonings. When ready to roll, place one teaspoon of the meat mixture on the back of one grape leaf and roll tightly. When the meat is gone and all leaves are rolled, place the remaining whole and broken leaves at the bottom of a heavy pot. Layer the stuffed grape leaves in snugly in the pot, making two or three layers as needed. Place a heatproof dish on top of the leaves to hold them down and then pour water in the pot to just cover the dish. Bake in the oven at 350 F for one hour. When cooled, drizzle leaves with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve warm or cold.

Greek Dolma on Foodista

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sweet Heat Garlic Wings

Game time is here, and I threw all caution aside to create something perfect for the Super Bowl. Tomorrow it's back to healthy eating and Meatless Monday, but today I will be watching and munching, cheering on the team. Enjoy!

Sweet Heat Garlic Wings
4 lbs chicken wings
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Bake wings on a flat baking pan at 450 F until golden, flipping once. (You can also deep fry the wings for extra crunch). While baking, melt butter in a small saucepan. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Then add remaining ingredients. When wings are done (about 20 minutes each side), toss gently in wing sauce. Season with fresh ground black pepper.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

(Sulu Köfte)
Anybody who lives in Western Pennsylvania and regions close all have one thing on mind right now. STEELERS! Everyone is gathering their Super Bowl recipes and preparing to make an extravaganza of football munchies. Last weekend was the playoff game and I too was thinking about savory munchies. So in the tailgating spirit, with a bit of my international cravings, I found an easy Turkish recipe for meatballs in tomato sauce. No grape jelly and chili sauce meatballs in a Crock Pot this year - I am keeping things healthy and delicious.

Turkish Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1/2 pound lean ground beef (90/10)
1/4 cup fine bulgur
1/4 cup long grain rice
2 small onions, one grated & one sliced thinly
2 cups beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (Halaby pepper)
2 cloves garlic, minced
dried parsley
gresh ground black pepper

Combine meat, grated onion, bulgur, rice, egg, mint, Aleppo pepper and garlic in a bowl. Season with a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of salt and set aside. In a heavy pot, saute sliced onion in olive oil and when transluscent, add broth, tomato paste, tomates and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. On a large dish, spread flour. Form small meatballs and roll into flour, making sure all meatballs are covered with flour. Drop meatballs into boiling tomato broth and stir slowly. Turn down heat to a simmer and cook meatballs for about 30 minutes until sauce is thick and meatballs are cooked. Garnish with parsley. After the meatballs are cooked through you can pop the meatballs and sauce in a Crock Pot and serve with the rest of your football nosh.

Izmir Kofte on Foodista

Sunday, January 23, 2011

White Portabella Pizza

Each weekend I try to explore a new recipe. I gather up information, tweak the ingredients to fit my healthy eating plan, seek the ingredients I can substitute or add and come up with something yummy. My experiments are all happily devoured. But each week I get the same comment from the man of the house. "How about something with mushrooms?" Gah! I can no longer escape this request! You see, mushrooms look scary to me. I don't eat them. I adore the mold that gives us stinky cheese and the yeast that makes bread and wine, but mushrooms are...fungus. And fungus is creepy. Sadly this is one reason I could never be a chef. I don't eat fungus and I don't eat critters who swim. Neither shrimp nor 'shroom will I consume. But he tells me these are scrumptious. Tell me if you agree, because I haven't tried one!

White Portabella Pizza
2 large portabella mushrooms
1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small skillet, saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Remove from heat. Place portabellas top side down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with garlic oil, mound on 1/4 cup cheese over each and sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley. Heat until bubbly and melted, abut 5-7 minutes. Serve to your favorite fungus fan.

Portabella Appetizer on Foodista

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ethiopian Beef Tibs

This recipe is inspired by one I saw on the Cooking Channel show Foodography, a show that explores the history and variations of different foods. I was immediately planning my strategy of the making of Tibs. Ethiopian ingredients are not something one finds in their local rural grocery store. And being on a budget I swapped the Injera bread for a whole grain tortilla. It was a huge stretch but unavoidable. Then I moved on to the Berbere spice. Even my overstocked spice supply was inadequate. Thanks to Amazon, Berbere was mine in two days for under $10. On to cooking!

After cooking I dug into the warm beefy tibs. Spicy delicious yum! I tossed the tortilla in the end, it was too heavy and floury. Brown rice worked beautifully instead. Maybe some day I will get me to a place to try the real dish, but for now I am feeling the sweet heat and loving it.

Ethiopian Beef Tibs
2 lbs lean sirloin roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and cut into large chunks
jalapeño peppers, seeds and pith removed, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons berbere
1/2 teaspoon salt

Quickly saute beef until just brown in a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Be sure not to overcook, let the meat be cooked medium. Remove beef and drain. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and saute the onions until barely translucent. Add the berbere and saute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, salt and beef and cook for a few minutes until the spices are blended in. Toss in the diced jalapeño and serve. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spicy Beef Chili

My mother used to make chili often, but I have no idea what her recipe was. It's all lost now, and that is a sad thing. But back then when she was alive and I was young her chili didn't impress me at all. It had big scary looking beans in a rather smooth meat sauce and a flavor that was not exactly memorable. Now I crave something spicy and beefy and chili is the obvious choice. Since I don't have my mom's recipe to tinker with, I made my own. The beans are too valuable nutritionally to take away, so I did some fancy footwork to make them less obtrusive.

Spicy Beef Chili
2 pounds Ground beef
1 medium Onion chopped
3 cloves Garlic minced
1 can (4 oz) Mild green chiles diced
1 can (28 oz) Crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) Tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
3 tablespoons mixed ground chiles:
    2 teaspoons Ground Ancho pepper;
    2 teaspoons Ground Anaheim pepper;
    2 teaspoons Ground Chipotle pepper

    1/4 teaspoon Ground Cayenne pepper;
    3 tablespoons your favorite chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 can (16 oz) Pinto beans drained
Rinse and drain pinto beans and pulse once or twice in a food processor to break them up. Set beans aside. Saute onion in canola oil until just golden. Add minced garlic and continue to saute for one minute and remove from pot. Brown ground beef in pot and drain fat. Combine all ingredients back into pot and allow to heat for an hour. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and bread, or Cincinnati-style with cheese and onions over spaghetti. You can also serve it on brown rice. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Beef Chili on Foodista

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

(Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası)
My daughter Mira and I are exploring many new meatless dishes for our "Meatless Monday" adventures. I have been trying to approach the day with more creativity than the usual weekday - to honor our new way of eating here at home. We have been keeping company with whole grain, lean meat and healthy fats simply because our low budget food choices were taking a toll on us all. At this point, the extra expense is paying for our long term health. The beauty of Turkish food is that it already uses these healthy ingredients, and is delicious. This soup is lick-the-bowl good and healthy too. What more can you ask for on a cold winter evening?

Turkish Red Lentil Soup
2 onions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup red lentils, washed and picked over
1 carrot, grated
1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
1/2 cup whole grain coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
32 ounces vegetarian broth
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper mixed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
Dried mint to garnish

In a heavy pot, saute onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until golden. Add paprika, cumin, lentils and bulgur and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add tomato paste, water and broth and simmer for about 30-45 minutes until thick and lentils are soft. Using an immersion blender, puree to a creamy consistency, letting the bulgur wheat provide a bit of texture. Add lemon juice, salt and drizzle some cayenne oil on the top with a sprinkle of dried mint.

Red Lentil Soup With Harissa Paste And Smoked Hot Paprika on Foodista