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Archive for October, 2011

Happy Reformation Day everyone!  Today is the day Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church almost 500 years ago.  This certainly changed so much in the existing Christian religion which at the time was mostly encompassed by the Catholic church.  Most of our lives have actually been affected by this act of Martin Luther so many years ago, both directly and indirectly, even by the very pioneers who came to this country seeking religious freedom- where they could worship God without being told “how” by their government.  Read more on the reformation here

Yesterday was a great day for our family.  We went to church, of course, then Jeremy got a call from the hospital so he could deliver a few babies, and he ended up delivering 2!  Then he found out his team, the San Fransisco 49ers won the game last night (which is huge, because in previous years they have done terribly!).  My parents and grandparents and sister came over last night bringing Lucas his new train table that he got for his birthday, so he was extremely excited.  And I offered to make everyone dinner.  Needless to say, but my husband was in heaven.  We had a great dinner and celebrated the birth of two new babies in the world by opening up a 2003 Marquez de Arianzo Spanish Rioja.

This dinner is extremely easy, so I wanted to post it especially for any of you out there who maybe somewhat afraid of a roast, or a slightly more or a “nicer” Sunday dinner.  This dinner will blow your guests socks off, without making you a slave to the kitchen!  So the menu was: Roasted Tuscan-style Pork Tenderloin with Basil & Parsley Potatoes and a Spinach, Apple, and Pecan Salad with an apple-cider vinaigrette.

Tuscan-Style Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients
2.5 lb whole pork tenderloin
5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp chilli pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup white wine
 
(all of ingredients I had readily available, but you can substitute your favorite herbs if you’d like)
 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Adjust your racks so there are two centered in the middle of the oven.

  Place tenderloin on a 9×13 baking dish.  It may fall apart into two different parts, but that’s ok. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small separate bowl mix ingredients 2-12 together (from garlic to apple-cider vinegar).  It will be a sort of wet paste. 

dry ingredients and garlic

 
Take your wet “rub” and rub it all over your pork, be generous, and use all of it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we are going to use kitchen twine (or any good solid twine will work) and tie the two separate pieces of your loin that have fallen apart (if you have this issue) back together.  I usually use two longer pieces that I wrap around twice and tie off.  Then I repeat this on the other half of the pork.  You want it to simply look like the pork looked before you took it out of the package. 

Basil, Parsley & Olive Oil Potatoes
2 28oz bags of celebration potatoes (small yellow, red, and purple potatoes)
1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup of fresh chopped flat-leaf italian parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil first, then add all the other ingredients and toss again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place in another 9×13 baking dish.  Leave in oven the length of time of pork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before putting everything in the oven, I threw some baby carrots around the sides of the pork, as a veggie to have, and you don’t even have to season them, since they will pick up the flavors of the pork.  

Place the potatoes on the bottom rack of the oven, and the pork on the rack above it.  In about 20 minutes take your tenderloin out of the oven, and drizzle and moisten it with your wine and apple cider (you can use only cider if you prefer), then cover the pork with alumium foil.  Place back in the oven for another 30-40 minutes, or until your cooking thermometer reads 145°F.  This will achieve a slightly pink and juicy pork.  I hate dry pork, but if you like no pink in it, then you may want to cook it to 155-160°, which used to be the standard.  Just remember that the ends will usually be slightly more cooked than the middle.  This is how you appease a big family with varying preferences 🙂 

Let your roast stand, covered, for 5 minutes before carving.  To carve, transfer roast to a cutting board, remove the cooking twine, and with a sharp knife cut slices of pork about 1/2-3/4 ” thick.  Once all of it is sliced, place back into your pan filled with juices and carrots.  Serve family style with potatoes, and salad. 

 

 

 

 

 

I won’t include the complete recipe for the salad today.  But I will tell you what I did.  I used baby spinach, sliced apples, toasted pecan pieces, feta cheese and craisins.  My dressing was a homemade apple-cider vinaigrette that I heated up with a handful of craisins to rehydrate. Once nice and warm, and the craisins plump, I tossed the salad with it and served it.  You can use a store-bought dressing and do the same with this, or, you can wait and I will eventually post the vinaigrette recipe 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said before- I may have spent a maximum time of 20 minutes in the kitchen total with this.  The rest of the time I got to hang out with family.  I hope you’ll give this a try.  This one definitley got rave reviews, and of course, is in keeping with the “autumn theme” :). This serves about 8 hungry people!  Enjoy!

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These last few weeks have been busy as I have been preparing to make all kinds of food for a bazaar at my church.  I have been wanting to sell a few items I feel I make especially good, like homemade granola, a few preserves, pumpkin butter, and salsa.  I have been researching canning lately and was extremely excited to take a class at my local Williams & Sonoma.  Now feeling prepared, I just finished making my first batch of jarred pickles!  These, I expect, will be far better than the store ones with a million preservatives.  And you know I added my own gourmet touches to them :). 

Anyway, back on track.  This morning for breakfast I knew I wanted to use up a bag of different breads that we had from our barbecue last week.  We had portuguese and french-style rolls that had slightly hardened, but I knew would be good for something.  Does anyone else have that issue?  You buy good bread at your local bakery and two days later it’s hard?!  Well, you don’t have to throw it away!  Save it, or freeze it if you think it could go bad, and then when you are ready, this is the recipe for you!  My dad has always made our family a savory french toast.  Goodness, I love this french toast for breakfast.  But this will not be the exact recipe,  it is a derivative of it, because I cubed the bread more like for a bread pudding.  And I used the ingredients I had on hand.  I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it right out of the oven…amazing!  You can make this recipe the night before and leave it in your fridge until the morning, then throw it in the oven- or you can make it the morning of, like me. 

Savory Ham & Cheese Bread Pudding

Ingredients
4-5 cups of cubed day-old (or week-old) bread  (or enough to fill 2/3’s of a 8×11 pan)
8 large eggs
1 cup of heavy cream or milk (i only used cream because I had just run out of milk!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
6 slices of ham
1 ½ cups of shredded cheese (I used a combination of fontina and sharp cheddar)
1 tbsp fresh chopped italian flat leaf parsley
 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°

Cube your bread and place in an 8×11″ rectangular dish.  Next, beat your eight eggs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 

 Add your cream or milk and 1/2 cup of water and whisk together. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly pour your egg mixture over your bread, allowing every bread to be soaked in egg mixture.  Then with your hand or a fork, press bread down slightly, so that the cubes on top also absorb the egg mixture.  Do this again in about five minutes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, dice your ham, and shred your cheese.  Then use almost all of it, reserving just a few tablespoons for later, and lightly mix it in with the bread cubes.  Then press down again on the mixture to soak up some more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle the top with the remaining ham and then cheese, and finally the chopped parsley.  Put into the oven for 40 minutes, or until it is golden, puffy, and springs back when touched. 

Goes into oven at 350

Comes out smelling of fontina and freshly baked bread...

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Arroz con Salchicha

Good Morning friends!  Last night was a busy one, so today’s post will be something I consider really easy.  A latin-inspired dish of Rice and Sausage or Arroz con Salchicha.  At this point you may be asking yourself why I use sausage so much.  Answer:  we had a big family barbecue and my dad tends to buy too much food and then insist I take it home with me to freeze.  Of course I almost always say yes to free food.  In this case they weren’t just plain ordinary sausages, they were specialty Brazilian spicy chicken sausages, so I was happy to take on this burden ;). 

A little on this dish.  My husband is very familiar with this style of dish, because I have made it so many times.  When I was in the Air Force, there were days I came home too tired to supervise various pots and pans and worry about timing my vegetables and risotto perfectly with my roast in the oven.  No, there were days one pot was enough to handle.  So this is exactly that.  A one-pot dish that you can eventually let boil,  lower to a simmer, and go sip a glass of wine or iced tea while it finishes up.  Or in my case, entertain my 2-year-old so he doesn’t find the need to hide my camera just so he can watch me as I desperately try to find it again.  Ahh..life.  Because this is such a relaxed dish, know that you can substitute pretty much anything to suit your liking or what you have on hand.  Your protein can be swapped with chicken or eliminated all-together, your beans can be whichever are your favorite, and you can use any seasonal vegetables (or frozen ones) you have on hand.  This usually makes for a lot of leftovers, which I especially loved when I was in the service, since I could take it to work with me.  This is a very rustic and homey meal.

Ingredients:
2-3 italian style sausage (chicken, pork, etc)
2 cups of brown rice (or white)
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
Half of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of frozen garden peas
1 can of black beans (or red or kidney) undrained
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 packet of sazon goya w/ azafran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
half of a lime
 

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, at medium-high heat.  Add sliced sausage to the pot and stir with a wooden spoon.  When you see the sausages has started to render (or release some of its natural fat), add the diced onion and garlic and allow to soften, approximately 5 minutes. 

Add the rice and packet of Sazon Goya and stir, allowing the rice to toast a little.  About 1 minute. 

Next add the tomato paste, pumpkin puree, oregano, and salt and pepper, and stir well.  Now add the beef broth,water, frozen peas, and can of beans, stir again and allow everything to mix well.  At this point I put the lid on my pot leaving it open just ajar.  I leave it on high heat because I want the liquids to boil faster and cook my rice quicker.  Once the rice boils I leave it that way for a good 5-10 minutes, checking it to see if the water has reduced down to the level of the rice. 

Once the water is at the level of the rice, I lower the heat to low, stir in my chopped cilantro, and allow it to finish cooking.  This will take about 30 more minutes, or once the water is completely absorbed and your rice is plump and done (tasting it is the best way to tell!) 

When the rice is done I fluff it with a fork or the same wooden spoon I have been using all along (usually the latter option) and take it off the heat. 

I like to squeeze about half a lime into the rice and stir it before serving, this elevates it a bit and gives it a cleaner and fresher taste.  Results: a very unpretentious, but satisfying, good bowl of rice!  And all your food groups in one bowl- buen provecho!

 

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This morning after a nice run in beautiful weather I decided to make Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes for my son and me. These pancakes are really great, they are very moist and you may not even want syrup! On a side-note, I thought I lost my camera (this tends to be a trend in my house with a 2-year-old) so I wasn’t able to take many pictures. I did find it after some picking up, however, so I’m extremely happy, as buying cameras tends to get expensive 🙂 You can adjust the ingredients in this recipe to fit your lifestyle. I was thinking of my vegan friends while making this and thought this was the perfect breakfast, I would just replace the buttermilk with almond milk, use an egg substitute and vegetable oil for the butter. I actually used 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour this time, and only 1/2 a cup of unbleached all-purpose flour. They are slightly more dense, but not too noticeable at all. I loved it and my son did as well. So here it is…

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
6 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 2/3 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs – lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon melted butter

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and the spices in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, pumpkin, eggs and melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Dollop the batter in 1/4 cup amounts onto a well-greased skillet or large frying pan set to medium heat. Cook until tops bubble and turn and cook other side – about 2 minutes per side.

It makes about 20 pancakes and each is approximately 100 calories.  I freeze mine into 2 pancake servings to have during the week.  You can add chocolate chips to yours for an indulgent treat!

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Hello after a long weekend!  Tonight was my uncle’s last night with us before returning to Spain.  So of course, we had to have a big dinner to wish him a bon voyage.  But my mom was too tired to cook, and my grandmother had her chemotherapy today and wasn’t feeling up to it, so… Super-Pamela to the rescue!  Haha.. no, I offered mostly because it’s nice to cook when grandma will watch Lucas for me, so I can “just cook”.  I love it, it really is like a therapy to me.  So for tonight, in keeping with our fall theme, we have a Rigatoni with Squash and Prawns.  Well, it’s more like Rigatoni with Squash and Shrimp, since we had regular jumbo shrimp on hand.  This is a recipe I cannot take credit for; it was created by a chef I really love for healthful Italian cuisine, Giada de Laurentiis.  Here is the recipe with a few adjustments:

Rigatoni with Squash and Shrimp

Ingredients:
 
3 tbsp olive oil, plus 3 tbsp
1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 pound rigatoni
1 pound large or jumbo shrimp
3/4 to 1 cup 2% or whole milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


Directions

Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very soft, another 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree. *You can actually add some of your milk at this point, rather than all of it later, if you need some liquid to better puree your squash.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes.

In a large pot over low heat combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash mixture, and 3/4 cup milk. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk if the sauce needs to be moistened.

Add the cooked shrimp, basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.   Top with a little extra parmesan and basil.

Results:  An incredibly healthy and delicious dish!  The sauce is so creamy, and you actually feel like you’re eating something bad for you, but it’s not!  The combination of the sweet butternut squash with the bite of the pepper in the sauce as well as in the shrimp, along with the saltiness of the parmesan cheese is just delightful!  I doubled my recipe to feed my family of seven plus a toddler.  I got great reviews! 

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busyness…

My whole house smells like pumpkin spice muffins right now, there are caramel apples on my counter, and homemade salsa and canellini bean dip in my fridge; it’s going to be a busy weekend and I’m preparing for it!  Today was my son Lucas’s 2nd birthday, and tomorrow we will host a few toddler-friends at the park with their parents, and we are so excited.  So because of all this anticipation, I won’t be blogging until Sunday or Monday.  But I will have a few good recipes to post, so I hope you’ll come back soon!  Until then have a great weekend!

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We try to eat pretty balanced meals, for the most part.  When my husband first began medical school a few years ago, he would come home excited to tell me what he learned about that day.  Of course not everything.  I’d let him know when I started to get overwhelmed.  But my favorite part was when he was taking nutrition courses.  It was my favorite part because as the homemaker and cook of the home, I take responsibility for keeping our family fit and healthy…and of course happy with the occasional dessert…ok, sometimes more regular than occasional ;).  Anyway, they studied in school that the most healthy lifestyle and diet comes from the people that live on the coasts along the Mediterranean Sea.  I had to do my research and find out what it was!  And even though there is so much to know, I boiled it down to this: lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, less, but still plenty of complex and whole grain carbohydrates, plenty of fish, poultry, and occasional red meat, and saturated fats.  Instead of butter, mediterraneans use mostly olive oil- for everything, cooking, dipping their bread in, vinagrettes.. even in lotions and soaps (which I love by the way).  They also tend to eat their meals slower, enjoy a glass of wine once a day, and linger at the table even after the food is gone and continue with conversation.  So our family follows a mediterranean diet about 90% of the time, although it’s more of a lifestyle, and I try to stay with this because it is what has worked best for our family. 

So on to tonight’s dinner!  Spinach, butternut squash, turkey sausage and rigatoni pasta.. I created this with (of course) pleasant thoughts of fall and the desire to fill my home with more of these aromas.. lol.  Serves 4-6 people, and usually you’ll have leftovers, although in my case my son had 3 helpings, my husband had 2 huge portions, and my mother-in-law stopped by, plus me… so only a little left for lunch 🙂

Ingredients
3 italian turkey sausages, without casings
1 lb (or approx. 4 cups) of diced butternut squash
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 large handfuls of baby spinach (approx. 3 cups loosely packed)
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of flat-leaf italian parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb rigatoni (or another ridged pasta)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
salt & pepper to taste
 
Directions

Fill a large pot with water and set to boil.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet and add  your turkey sausage with the casing removed.  Use a flat edge or wooden spoon to break apart.  Season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and chili flakes . 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the meantime dice your butternut squash into about 1/2″ cubes, dice your bell pepper, and mince your garlic.

*Tip for cutting your pepper-slice off both ends, then down side to open up pepper. Run your knife around seeds and veins, and you will have one whole piece to cut more easily.

 

 

 

 

 

When sausage is done browning, remove and put into a separate plate (leave any oils behind from the sausage in skillet) and add the butternut squash, stirring to evenly cook.  Make sure to, again, salt and pepper to taste, and add thyme. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then add the diced bell pepper, and minced garlic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point you are going to let your vegetables soften.  In the meantime salt your boiling water, and add your rigatoni to it.  Cook pasta to al dente, which is italian for to the tooth; translation: we don’t want soggy pasta, there should be a slight bite to it when it is cooked right.  I usually cook it for a minute under when the box says it’s “al dente” because by then it’s usually over done.  Doubts?  Try the pasta as it cooks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a little of that pasta water out with a liquid measuring cup, and add enough of it to your vegetables to wet them, about 1/4 cup, and stir.  When you can pierce your squash with a fork, your veggies should be ready.  Again, try them to see- if you are trying right along as you cook- you will not have any surprises at the end when you serve your meal.  Magically this is how you ensure and control good tasting food!  Add your turkey sausage back into the skillet and reduce the heat. 

By this time your pasta should be done.  Reserve 1 cup of starch pasta water before draining!  Drain your pasta.  Add rigatoni and baby spinach to skillet and slowly mix it in as spinach begins to wilt and reduce in volume.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, add your parmesan cheese, and as much of the starch water as you need to moisten up the pasta dish.  I almost used my entire cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also add your freshly chopped parsley and mix everything well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve in a deep dish or bowl and top with a little shaved parmesan and leftover parsley.  Perfecto!

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