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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pork Fried Rice

I found this recipe a few months back in Cooking Light.  It was always in the back of my mind when menu planning, but never quite made it on the list.  I'm not quite sure what eventually moved it to the top of the list, but I wish I hadn't waited so long!  This was a great recipe, and is easy for a weeknight with a bit of planning ahead.  I made the rice the night before and kept it in the fridge until it was time to prep dinner.  If you can get that step done ahead of time, then this makes a quick meal.  I also love that it uses only half a pound of pork for 4 servings.  It's just enough to have small pieces sprinkled throughout but not enough to take over the dish.  It also helps stretch your budget since meat/protein is often the most costly part of the meal.  

This recipe does have a rather long list of ingredients, but most are found in many asian dishes.  Once you have mirin, seasme oil, and soy sauce they will last you ahwile and you will find many other dishes to use them in.  The other stuff is fairly inexpensive -- green onions, ginger, carrots, bean sprouts.  I made just one modification -- leaving out the celery since I don't like it.  But other than that its pretty straight-forward and pretty delicious!  Make sure to have everything prepped before you start cooking, once you begin cooking it moves pretty fast from start to finish.

Pork Fried Rice
barely adapted from Cooking Light, January 2011
serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
kosher salt
1/2 pound boneless pork loin chop, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped green onion bottoms
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 cups cooked, chilled long-grain brown rice
1 large egg
3 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup canned diced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped green onion tops

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, swirling to coat.  Sprinkle the pork with a healthy pinch of kosher salt.  Add seasoned pork to pan and cook, stirring frequently until browned all over, about 4 minutes.  Remove pork from pan into a medium bowl.
  • Add carrot to pan, cook for 2 minutes.  Stir frequently and when lightly browned add them to the bowl with the pork.  
  • Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and saute onion bottons, garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.  Add rice and stir, coating rice with oil.  Flatten into an even layer and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until starting to brown on the edges.  
  • Using a spoon, move the rice to the edges of the pan, leaving an empty spot in the center.  Pour the scrambled egg into the cleared spot and cook, stirring constantly.  
  • After cooking the egg to a soft scramble (about 30 seconds), return the pork and carrot mixture to the pan, mixing everything together.  Add in mirin and cook a minute or so, until it is absorbed.
  • Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in water chestnuts and bean sprouts.  Portion into bowls and top with green onion tops. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Red Onion and Squash Pasta

This recipe is perfect for the approaching fall season.  Last week we got the first hard squashes in our CSA box and I know there will be more to come.  I didn't really have butternut squash until last year when we started getting them from our farm.  I was missing out.  In this recipe it's the star and it's delicious.  It turns into a creamy, delicious consistency and makes for a healthy meal.  I used whole wheat pasta, which played well with the nutty flavor of the squash.  This also is a good recipe for freezing.  It made a ton of pasta (I doubled the recipe) and we divided it up into individual portions and froze for quick lunches later on.  It reheated really well and tasted just as delicious!  The only change I made was to use parmesan cheese instead of fontina since we always have parmesan on hand.  We had everything for this meal on hand actually, which makes it a handy recipe to have in your back pocket for busy weeks. 

Roasted Red Onion and Squash Pasta
serves 4

2 medium red onions, cut into 6 wedges each, layers separated
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 pound short ridged pasta, I used penne
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a baking sheet toss onions, squash, sage and oil until all the vegetables are well coated.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer.  Roast until tender and turning brown, about 20 minutes.  Stir vegetables halfway though.
  • While veggies roast, put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, salt water and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions.  Save 1/2 cup of pasta water.  When pasta is cooked, drain and place in a large bowl.  When veggies are done, add them to the pasta and stir to combine.  Add the 1/2 cup of pasta water as needed to create a sauce that coats pasta.  Top with cheese and enjoy! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spice Rubbed Pork with Quinoa

This is another Food Network Magazine recipe.  I love their weeknight meals section, and I love it even more since they started including the nutrition information along with the recipes.  That makes it really easy to plan the rest of your day, or to find ways to cut down on the calories/fat, as I did with Wednesday's Barcelona Burgers recipe.  This recipe was pretty good as is -- around 500 calories, which is right on target for a typical weeknight meal.  Plus, it's built on lean protein and quinoa is generally considered a whole grain (yes I know it's technically a seed, but for nutrition purposes it is classified as a whole grain).  Add an extra veggie as a side and you're all set! 

I loved the spice mix on the pork chop, because as we determined previously, I love smoked paprika.  I really liked the quinoa too; we hadn't had it before and this was a great preparation.  We even repeated the side dish with other meals since it's super easy and fairly quick as well.  The key to quinoa is to rinse it really really well.  It can have an outer coating that will turn bitter when cooked.  I adapted it only slightly -- changing up the called for pork tenderloins with pork chops and the frozen corn with canned.  The only other change I made is to cook my quinoa as directed on the package, not as listed in the recipe.  I have made these changes in this rendition of the recipe.  

Spice Rubbed Pork with Quinoa
adapted from Food Network Magazine
serves 4

kosher salt
1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cumin
4 pork chops, center cut and boneless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can (15 oz) canned corn, drained
2 scallions, thinly sliced
salsa verde, for serving (optional)

  • Put a medium pot with 2 cups of water, a few good pinches of salt and the 1 cup quinoa over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and keep it at a simmer until water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl mix smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin and 2 teaspoons salt.  Once combined, use as a rub on the pork chops.  Coat all sides of the pork chops with the spice rub.  
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil, heat until shimmering.  Place the pork chops in the heated oil coated skillet.  Let sear on the first side, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms.  Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes on the opposite side. 
  • Once quinoa is cooked, turn off heat and add corn and scallions.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve one pork chop per person with quinoa.  Top pork chop with salse verde, if desired. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Barcelona Burger

I found this recipe in an issue of Food Network Magazine.  I kept it in the back of my mind because of the use of manchego cheese.  We like spanish cheeses and enjoy manchego often, but I was waiting for a time when we had some leftover to use for these burgers.  It took while to have some leftover manchego.  These burgers were a great weeknight grilling meal.  The flavors were very spanish -- roasted red pepper, sherry vinegar, olives and smoked paprika complemented the manchego very well.  It was a great way to put a twist on a typical burger.  I served it with oven fries that I also put smoked paprika on to highlight that spice in the burger.  I chose to serve it on homemade burger buns, but did use an olive roll in the sauce.  I halved the olive oil to save some calories and doubled the smoked paprika because, well, I love smoked paprika.

Barcelona Burger
slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine
serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 olive roll
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup sliced almond
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
kosher salt
1 pound ground beef
2 shallots, finely grated
4 slices manchego cheese
lettuce leaves
4 burger rolls


  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  While it heats, tear the olive roll into one inch pieces.  Add to the skillet along with the garlic.  Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Add almonds and cook about 3 additional minutes. 
  • Transfer bread chunks, garlic and almonds to a food processor.  Add roasted red pepper, vinegar, the remaining tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pulse until a chunky sauce forms.  
  • Gently mix the ground beef, shallots, remaining teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt until combined.  Form into 4 patties.
  • Cook the patties, either in a large skillet over medium-high heat or on the grill, about 4-5 minutes per side.  During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time add cheese to the top of the burgers to melt. 
  • Toast the rolls, if desired, and spread the roasted red pepper sauce on both the tops and bottoms of rolls, about 2 tablespoons per roll.  Serve the burgers on the rolls with lettuce. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pretzel Rolls: Secret Recipe Club

As soon as I had sent Zach a link to my Secret Recipe Club blog assignment for this month, Patricia's ButterYum, I almost immediately got back a response that consisted solely of a link to the the recipe for these Pretzel Rolls.  And I can't say it was a bad choice!  These pretzel rolls immediately reminded me of the kind we get at our favorite grocery store, Wegmans.  They baked up deep golden brown and delicious.  They are great just out of the oven and taste just like a pretzel.  The remaining rolls would be great heated briefly in the oven, or a toaster oven, for just a few minutes until they get nice and crusty again on the outside and steamy and hot on the inside. 

Pretzel Rolls
from ButterYum

2 3/4 cup bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast (one packet)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg white, beaten
coarse salt

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread flour, yeast, kosher salt, sugar and water.  Use dough hook on low speed, mixing until dough ball forms.  Then move speed to medium-low and knead for one minute.  Coat a large bowl with oil and transfer dough to prepared bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
  • Punch dough down and transfer on to floured work surface.  Cut into 16 equal pieces.  Work pieces into a circle with one smooth, tight, uniform 'skin' of dough.  Place on to parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, leaving space between rolls (I did two sets of 8 rolls on two half-sheet pans).  Let rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  • During the last ten minutes of the second rise, First preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then bring the 8 cups water, baking soad and sugar to a boil in a large pot.  When the shaped rolls have doubled in size, boil them for 30 seconds per side.  We fit 3-4 of the small sized rolls in the large pot at once.  
  • Remove from water, drain and place back on sheet pans. Brush with the beaten egg white and top with coarse salt.  Once salted you can use kitchen scissors to cut an X shape in the top of each roll.  This will help steam escape and keeps the round shape. 
  • Bake the rolls at 375 for 25 minutes, until a deep golden brown.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before eating. 

Check out what everyone else made for Group B of the Secret Recipe Club!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tilapia with Bacon Tomato Butter

As soon as I had the first bite of this dish in my mouth I thought "Bacon tomato butter -- where have you been all my life??!!??"  It is seriously, seriously good stuff.  The best part (well, besides the bacon since bacon in any dish would clearly be the best part) is that it is made with cherry or grape tomatoes which means it will be easy to make year-round.  I tend to avoid regular full-size tomatoes when they aren't in season since the quality declines so much, but cherry and grape tomatoes are generally good all year round.  They are at their best in late summer, like any tomato, but I think they don't suffer as much over the winter months.  I know many localvore, seasonal eaters would disagree and consider eating any tomatoes in the dead of winter to be non-foodie behavior, but I'm okay with that.  

I found this recipe in an issue of Cooking Light and I really don't know why I waited so long to make it.  Big mistake, huge, big mistake.  I made only one major change, using tilapia instead of mahimahi.  I think mahimahi would be great in this dish, we just had tilapia in the freezer so that's what I used.   I think it would be equally good over grilled or pan-cooked chicken as well.  Really, I mean, let's be honest -- there isn't much that I wouldn't eat bacon tomato butter on.  I also added more bacon than was called for in the original recipe, partly to use up what I had on hand, and partly because when is more bacon ever a bad thing??  I contemplated using the leftover bacon tomato mixture as a filling to a grilled cheese, but there wasn't any leftover.  Maybe next time I'll show some restraint and save some but I'm not making any promises.  ;-)

Tilapia with Bacon Tomato Butter
slightly adapted from Cooking Light, August 2010

2 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tilapia filets
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons butter

  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow baking dish.  Add fish.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Remove fish and pat dry with paper towels. 
  • Heat grill.  Season fish with the 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt.  Place fish on grill, cook until done, flipping once, about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
  • While the fish is grilling, heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add bacon to pan.  Cook 5 minutes or until almost crisp.  Add garlic and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add paprika and cook for 30 seconds, continuously stirring.  Add tomatoes and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in butter.
  • Serve fish fillets on plate, topping with bacon tomato butter, about 2 tablespoons on each fillet. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Squash, Chicken and Rice Casserole

I know, it's another zucchini recipe when the prime zucchini time has probably passed for most people.  They might be hanging out at many local farmer's markets though, so I wanted to get this up for those end of the season stragglers.  It calls for one yellow summer squash and one zucchini, but you could use two of either one, depending on your local supply.  This recipe makes a great side dish, or can be a main dish with a nice side salad.  It's a quick and easy way (even quicker if you use a to use up a decent amount of squash at once, and would make a great potluck dish or something to take to a sick/recovering friend or family member.  It's cheesy and creamy and comforting.  Yum.

Summer Squash, Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth (about 1 can)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash (about 8 ounces), halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
2 cups cooked long-grain rice (I used brown)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil to the pan, swirling to coat.  
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place chicken in the pan.  Cook, turning once, about 6 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add chopped onion to skillet, using a touch more oil if necessary and reducing the heat to medium.  Cook until softened and turning golden, 5-7 minutes. 
  • Add broth to pan and increase heat to medium-heat, bringing broth to a simmer.  Simmer until reduced by half.  
  • While the broth is simmering, shred the chicken and place in a large bowl.  When the broth is reduced add the broth and onions to the bowl with the chicken. 
  • Return pan to heat and melt butter.  Add zucchini and yellow squash to pan, sauteing until softened and just starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add squash to bowl with chicken.  Also add rice and rosemary to the bowl.  Stir to combine.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat stir flour.  As you stir the flour, slowly pour in milk, making sure to stir or whisk until smooth.  Bring to a boil.  Cook one minute, until thickened.  
  • Remove from heat and add in 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Stir until smooth and add in 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper.  Add milk mixture to the large bowl of the chicken mixture.  
  • Transfer chicken mixture to the prepared 8x8 baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place in the oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  
  • Remove from oven and turn on broiler.  Broil casserole until golden, about 5 minutes. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zuchinni Parmesan Loaf

I know this recipe might be a bit late for prime zucchini season, but I'm hoping people will give it a try with the end of the season zucchinis rolling in.  I had saved this recipe from a magazine years ago.  I remembered it while trying to think of something different to do with our growing pile of green squashes.  I opted for this since it is a savory bread and not the usual cinnamon spiced zucchini bread -- not that I dislike those breads, cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, but week after week of typical zucchini bread can wear on even the biggest cinnamon lover.  It has the nutty, salty parmesan flavor and would be a great side to many dinner dishes and even a savory breakfast addition, say, toasted and slathered with butter along side scrambled eggs with cheese.

Zucchini Parmesan Loaf
Serves 8

2 cups flour
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 pound (about 1 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated

  • Preheat oven to 375 and spray a loaf pan (9x5) with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl combine flour, cheese, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  
  • In a medium bowl combine olive oil, milk and eggs.  Beat with a whisk.  
  • Add grated zucchini to flour mixture, stir to combine.  Then add liquid ingredients to the flour/zucchini mixture.  Stir until just moistened.
  • Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes.  It's ready when a toothpick comes out clean.  
  • Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.