Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin

Pork is such a great choice for a weeknight meal. It is easy and quick to cook and there are endless ways to prepare it. All you need is to cook up a nice pork tenderloin, add some vegetables to the side and you have a delicious and easy weeknight dinner. This honey butter glaze is sweet and keeps the pork juicy and flavorful.

Recipe yields 4-5 servings

1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine your spices. Using your hands, rub the spice onto your meat and set aside to let it soak in.

In a large pot (I used my Dutch oven because it needs to be able to go from stove top to oven) melt your butter and honey.

Once melted, add your meat to the pot to brown on all sides. You are looking to get a nice browned, glaze on all sides of your meat.

Once browned, pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The insides should no longer be pink when it is ready to eat.

Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it. Slice it thin and arrange on a serving platter. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Skirt Steak Fajitas

I am such a fan of Mexican food. I love a good fajita or taco. Making your own fajitas is simple and it is easy to control the heat. If you like these fajitas, I am sure you will also enjoy my Chicken Fajitas.

Recipe yields 6 servings

2 1/2 lbs skirt steak
3-4 bell peppers (I used a mixture of different colors)
1 large yellow onoin
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
3 tsp chili powder
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp cornstarch

Flour tortillas and toppings, for serving

Slice your steak into bite sized pieces against the grain. (This helps it to fall apart more easily when you are eating it in a tortilla.) Slice your onions and bell peppers.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, chili powder, salt, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix it all together to combine.

Place all of your steak in one large ziploc bag and all of your vegetables in a second large ziploc bag. In each bag, add 1 1/2 tbsp of oil, 1/4 cup of water and half of your spice mixture. Close the bags and shake! Make sure everything is covered with the spices. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes is up, heat a drop of olive oil in two large skillet. Empty the contents of each of the bags into their own skillet. Cook the steak about 10 minutes or until your desired temperature.

Cook the peppers and onions until soft and tender.

Once the steak is finished, add the pieces into the skillet with the peppers and onions and toss to combine.

Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Simple Shrimp & Rice Bowl

Looking for the perfect weeknight meal that comes together in less than 30 minutes? Well it couldn't get much easier than this. This shrimp and rice bowl makes the perfect dish for any busy night, especially now during Lent, this is a filling dish perfect for any Friday night.

Recipe yields 4 servings

1 1/2 lbs large cleaned shrimp, tails off
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cups marinara sauce (I cheated and bought canned sauce - a sweet sauce like Vincent's goes really well with this dish)

In a medium sauce pan, bring rice, oil and 2 cups of water to a boil.

Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until most of the water is gone. Fluff up with a fork.

Remove from pot and move to a serving bowl. Set aside and reserve.

While the rice is cooking, bring a second pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes. Shrimp will go from grayish in color to white and pink when they are ready.

Drain shrimp and add to the bowl with the rice.

Top the rice with the shrimp and then coat with marinara sauce. Stir well to evenly distribute sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

This is one of my favorite oatmeal cookie recipes. In a short time, the cookies become slightly crispy on the outside but remain perfectly soft on the inside. In today's version I added in some chocolate chunks, but you can add in raisins, butterscotch chips or any other of your favorite add-ins. You are going to love this cookie for its texture and flexibility. It is a staple that can be transformed into so many different varieties.

Recipe yields 24 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chunks

In the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugars until soft and smooth.

Add in your egg and vanilla extract and mix well until fully combined.

Mix in the baking soda, flour and oats. Adding a little bit to the bowl at a time.

Add in your chocolate chunks and incorporate into the mixture with a spoon. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to stiffen up the dough and help your cookies to rise better. While the dough is in the fridge, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Using a small cookie scoop, place balls of dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. The middles will be very soft, so be careful during the transfer so that they do not break apart. As the cookies cool, they will become slightly crispy on the outside. Once cooled, serve and enjoy! If your like me and can't wait, enjoy right away!

(Photo display above credited to Carmine DeVito)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sweet Potato String Fries

French fries are a guilty pleasure, but they no longer have to be. Swapping in sweet potatoes and replacing the deep fryer with your oven can make these a 'healthy' side dish for any meal. The key to this is using a mandolin so that all the fries are similar in size and cook evenly. If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a knife, but try your best to get that precision.

Recipe yields 4 servings

2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes clean in the sink. Using a mandolin, slice the potatoes into a fine julienne.

Toss the potatoes in a bowl with your olive oil and sea salt.

Generously spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the potatoes on the pan in a single layer. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, remove and flip, then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on paper towels to remove any excess grease from the cooking spray.

Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Peanut Butter and Nutella Swirl Blondies

My love for the happy marriage of peanut butter and chocolate is no secret. Nor is my love for Nutella. With that in mind, this sweet treat sure can make my head spin. The blondie is chewy with a crunch from the peanuts, the Nutella is delicious and the marshmallows are sticky. It is every thing one could hope for. You are going to love this treat because of all its flavors combined into one little square.

Recipe yields 16 blondies

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter (you choose - creamy or crunchy)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Nutella Swirl:
1 1/2 oz chocolate with hazelnuts
1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Nutella

2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line an 8" baking pan with a sheet of non-stick foil and allow some foil to hang over the sides. In a medium bowl, beat the sugars and butter until soft and fluffy.

Add the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla and continue to mix until well combined. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get every last drop into the batter.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. You know the rule - no overmixing!

Transfer the batter into your baking pan and set aside.

In a double broiler (or the microwave) melt the butter and chocolate for the Nutella swirl. Add the Nutella and stir to combine.

Drop spoonfuls of Nutella mixture on top of the blondie batter in the baking pan. Using a sharp knife, drag it through the mixture to create a swirl effect. (Hint: do not over swirl or you will begin to mix the Nutella into the batter and lose your swirl effect).

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until you can cleanly remove a toothpick/cake tester.

Immediately sprinkle the top of the blondies with mini marshmallows once it is out of the oven. Return to oven on 325 degrees for 3 minutes to allow the marshmallows to melt.

Place your blondies on a rack to cool for 20 minutes and then in the refrigerator for an additional 15 minutes. You really want to make sure those marshmallows have hardened up or you will have a mess on your hands in a few steps. While blondies are cooling, melt chocolate chips in a double broiler and stir in the salt. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the hardened marshmallows. Use an off-set spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer.

Refrigerate the  blondies for at least 1 hour to allow the chocolate to harden. Once the chocolate is set, you can remove the blondies from the pan and cut them. Note: Be sure not to cut them until the chocolate is firm and set! Serve & enjoy!