Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Besides BBQ and bacon, I haven't really experimented with neither the eating or cooking of pork.  Two random occurrences made me decide to make this pork loin.  First, last Monday I had pork tenderloin at the Cooks Market.  I always eat chicken, but for some reason that night I decided to try the pork.  It was really good!  I immediately went home and found a few recipes that I wanted to try.  Then, Wednesday my friend Kayla and I were talking about Pinterest and she mentioned this recipe to me.  She had tried it and said it was wonderful!  I took those two events as a sign.  And here we are...

The case: Adapted from CC Marriage Factory
  • 2 (1 pound) boneless pork tenderloins (If using 1 (2 lb) loin half the rub)
  • 2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 garlic cloves minced
  1. Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
  2. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan.  Heat on medium high until mixture starts to bubble.  Lower to a simmer and stir until thickened. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.
The ruling:
Hands down one of my favorite recipes that I've ever made.  I think pork loin is going to be my new best friend.  This stuff was ridiculously yummy!  I loved the spicy/sweet/tangy flavor and it went perfectly with the pork!  Thanks Kayla! 
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

I've been making these mashed potatoes since we got married.  They are my absolute favorite- and I've tried a lot of mashed potato recipes.  I can't believe I'm just not posting the recipe.  This recipe comes from Ina Garten.  I've never tried one of her recipes that I didn't like.  In fact, she just might be my culinary hero.  

The case:
  • 3 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled
  • Kosher salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add enough salt so the water tastes quite salty. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done. 
  3. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc/blade over a glass bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth to force the potatoes through the disc. 
  4. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, slowly whisk in enough of the hot milk/butter mixture to make the potatoes very creamy. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the sour cream and pepper and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

I know a lot of you have probably seen the Hellman's commercial for this Parmesan chicken.   I figured it had to be worth trying if the whole commercial was centered around it and it is featured on their homepage.

The case:
  • 1/2 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1-1/4 lbs.)
  • 4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise with cheese in medium bowl. Arrange chicken on baking sheet. Evenly top with mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. 
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

The ruling:
This is some of the most moist baked chicken I've ever had.  I like how the mayo mixture and breadcrumbs are only on the top.  That way you aren't left with soggy wanna be crumbs on the bottom.  I used mayonnaise with olive oil and fresh, finely shred Parmesan cheese.  I can see this being a regular kid friendly meal in the future.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken) and Simple Basmati Rice

We've only had Indian food once at a wedding, but both Michael and I really like it.  We've been wanting to try it again ever since, but let's just say we're fresh out of Indian restaurants in our small town!  So, I figured I'd try to make it at home!  The rice recipe is from Aarti Sequeira, Food Network Star winner (love that show) and the second is a popular recipe from All Recipes.

The case:
Simple Basmati Rice from Aarti Sequeira
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water 
  • Large pinch salt
  1. This is the most important part: Wash the rice! Place the rice in a large bowl and fill with fresh, room temperature water. Swirl your hand through the water and the rice; the water will go cloudy. That's all the starch that we're trying to remove in order to have individual grains of rice. Once you've swirled your hand around for a minute or so, pour off the water, taking care not to lose any rice. Repeat this washing process until the water runs clear. Usually, this takes 3 or 4 changes of water.
  2. Fill up the bowl 1 more time and let the rice soak for 30 minutes. 
  3. At the end of 30 minutes, drain the rice. Fill a medium saucepan with 1 3/4 cups water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. 
  4. Add the rice, stir, and wait until the water comes back to a full boil. When it does, turn the heat down as low as it can go, and then cover. Cook for 15 minutes. 
  5. At the end of 15 minutes, cut the heat. Let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; you should see that every grain of rice has grown a little longer and is separate from its brothers and sisters. 
Chicken Makhani Adapted from All Recipes
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup tomato puree (used diced tomatoes pureed in the food processor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teasponnspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/3 cup pureed low salt cashews
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato puree, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in heavy cream and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat, and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.  Add cashews.
  3. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

The ruling:
This is different but in a good way. Michael said it was one of the most flavorful dishes he's ever had.  The more we ate, the more we liked it! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

This recipe has been 2 years in the making.  Let me start off by saying, in general I don't even like tomato soup.  Campbell's tomato soup does absolutely nothing for me.  Panera is just about the only place I'll eat tomato soup, and it isn't from lack of trying it other places.  The bare bones of this recipe came from Gina and Pat Neely on Food Network.  I've added a few final touches to make it perfect.  For an extra special touch, I add precooked cheese tortellini at the end!

The case:
  • 4 pounds, tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar   
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Pinch sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (freshly grated works best)
  • 3 tablespoons chiffonade fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange tomatoes, flesh side up, on 2 wire racks set on sheet trays. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, making sure they are well covered. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. 

Roast in the middle rack of the oven until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. 
Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion for 2 minutes, add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes, and then mix in tomato paste for a few more minutes. 

Add chicken stock and cayenne. Add heavy cream and heat over low heat. Bring up to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel skins off tomatoes.  Add the roasted tomatoes and basil to the pan. 


Puree with an immersion blender. (Or put 1/2 at a time in a regular blender) 

At this point, I didn't feel like mine looked quite tomatoy, which means red enough.  So I added a can of diced tomatoes and pureed a bit more.

Add Parmesan and cream cheese.  Stir until well blended and cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish generously with homemade croutons. 

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Garlic Breadsticks (FROM SCRATCH)

    Trying this yeast thing again.  It's from Our Best Bites, and since I've loved most of the recipes I've tried from there, I figured I'd give it a try.  The description claims it's a great starter baking recipe.  

    The case:
    Recipe from

    • 1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. yeast
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3-4 1/2 c. flour
    1. In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.
    2. Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.
    3. Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
    4. Remove from bowl and place on a lightly-floured surface. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll into a rectangle and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.
    5. Roll out each piece of dough into a snake and then drape over your forefinger and twist the dough. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining 11 pieces of dough. Try to space them evenly, but it's okay if they're close; pulling apart hot bread is one of life's greatest pleasures!
    6. Cover pan and allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes. When there's about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425. When done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks (just put a ziploc bag on your hand, grab some softened butter, and have at it) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning or the powdery Parmesan cheese in a can and garlic salt. Or you could sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.
    Garlic Seasonings
    Recipe from
    • 1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese 
    • 2 tsp. Kosher salt 
    • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder 
    • 2 tsp. oregano 
    • 2 tsp. basil 
    • 2 tsp. marjoram 
    • 2 tsp. parsley

    1. Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake.  Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter's melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

    The ruling:
    I can't believe I made homemade bread and it actually turned out well!  This bread was good, but I'm not too big of a fan of the garlic seasoning.  I can't wait to use this dough for pizza. 

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Angel Sugar Cookies

    I'm determined to try all the recipes I want to try in Pioneer Woman's cookbook before her new cookbook comes out.  If you've read any other of my baking posts, you know one thing I hate to do is bake.  I don't have the patience to measure out everything perfectly, especially when I take the time and then my food is a disaster.  These things don't happen with cooking.  When you cook, you simply adjust flavor.  

    The case:
    Angel Sugar Cookies from Pioneer Woman

    • 2 whole Large Eggs
    • 1 cup Canola Oil
    • 2 sticks Butter, Softened
    • 1 cup Sugar, Plus Extra For Sprinkling
    • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 4 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons, All-purpose Flour
    • 1 teaspoon Salt
    • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1 teaspoon Cream Of Tartar
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together eggs, oil, butter, sugars, and vanilla. 
    3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate dough one hour. 
    4. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 
    5. Smear a dab of butter all over the bottom of a glass, then dip the glass in granulated sugar. Use the glass to flatten each ball of dough, dipping again into the sugar each time. Repeat until all are flattened. 
    6. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until cookies are just barely turning brown. Don’t overbrown! 
    7. Allow to cool before eating. Cookies are ultra crumbly! 

    Angel Sugar Cookies Printable

    The ruling:
    These are some of the lightest, crispiest cookies I've ever had period.  I love how thin they are, yet still chewy!  I'm going to try to add icing tomorrow.  What could be better?

    Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs

    The best thing about chicken legs are that they are cheap!  And easy to eat.  Ryder is almost a year old and I'm thinking more and more about quick dishes that he would enjoy eating one day.  I remember loving chicken legs as a child. I'm hoping these will be a yummy, healthier alternative to the classic fried version. 

    The case:
    Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs (Adapted from Pioneer Woman)

    • 12 whole Chicken Legs
    • 1 stick of Butter
    • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic power
    • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/3 cup Lemon Juice
    1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Pour in lemon juice (fresh or bottled). Add your seasonings.
    2. Rinse and pat your chicken legs dry. With metal tongs, transfer them one by one into the butter mixture and place on a baking sheet with a wired cooling rack. Once all of the chicken legs are coated and on the baking rack, take a pastry brush and give them one last coating of the butter mixture. Sprinkle them with some more of your seasonings. 
    3. Place them into a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. If they need a bit more color, turn on the broiler for a couple minutes and watch them closely. Remove them when they are nice and golden brown. 

    Roasted Chicken Legs Printable Version
      The ruling:
      Mission accomplished! These were perfect- quick, easy, kid friendly!  I was afraid they might be too spicy but they really weren't!  Next time I'm going to experiment with lemon pepper seasoning.