November 15, 2010

Pork Medallion Medley

Frequently, I have found myself saying after a meal, "Honey, do you think I should blog about this?" Of course Honey always replies with, "Of course, it was delicious!" (He's so smart.) This time, however, I decided to write while I'm cooking. This is how much faith I have in what I'm making tonight. It has a little something for the vegetarian and carnivore in us all.

What you'll need:
  • 1 pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 8 pieces (about 3/4 - pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens 
  • 2 ripe red pears, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese  (about 2 oz)
1. Sprinkle pork medallions with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. 
2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Place pork gently in pan; cook for 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until pork is done. (160 degrees for medium)
4. Remove pork from pan and keep warm. 
5. To make dressing, combine remaining salt and pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, shallot, vinegar, and honey. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
6. Toss greens, cherries, hazelnuts, pears, and goat cheese gently with dressing.
7. Divide greens evenly into 4 portions. Top each with two pork medallions and serve. 

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps: 
  • I am a fan of more than salt and pepper when seasoning pork. (Or anything for that matter, let's not kid ourselves.) For this recipe I used a Napa Valley Poultry Seasoning my parents brought back from well... Napa to season the medallions. I realize not everyone is spoiled at the ripe old age of 27 and receives presents from Napa Valley, so I checked to see what exactly was in this to share. I kid you not the first ingredient: spices. Whoa, thank you for being so specific. Regardless, this is where I must suggest you find a spice you like for every meat and use it as your fail safe when it is recommended that salt and pepper are enough on their own. 
  • I can't even pretend that I didn't use more than 1 teaspoon of oil in my pan. I used enough to ensure that once hot, every part of the bottom of my pan had a nice oil rinse. This does not mean I fried my medallions! In order to get the golden brown crust I was looking for I needed to make sure they each got a little of the good stuff.
  • I did not use an entire scallion in the salad dressing. I actually used very little that was minced practically to mush. I'm not one to eat raw onion flavored anything so the small amount I did use was perfect for me.If you like raw onion flavor, then by all means shallot it up!
  • As I last minute shopped for this meal, I used apples rather than pears because clearly finding a ripe pear at the store isn't feasible. I felt apples were just as delicious but I'm rather biased seeing as though I made the meal.
I have to say this salad dressing is the perfect pairing for almost any salad. It's tangy, sweet, and light all at once. It's perfect in combination with this salad and I would highly recommend it for any brunch type setting. Actually this salad in itself would be a perfect brunch salad with the pork omitted! (Oh look, two ideas in one entry! You are welcome!) There are only 364 calories per serving, (or 8 Weight Watchers points for those who love that bandwagon,) it's the perfect easy and light meal!

Happy Medallion Munching!

October 17, 2010

September 27, 2010

Falling Into Basil

Now that fall is here (and I've officially introduced Bruce to the world-wide-web,) I'm trying to figure out what to do with what remains of him as the weather begins to change. Today we can start with basil, because, well... that's how I'm feeling and as we have previously established I have ADD.

Our basil plant is still quite large and has plenty of crisp, green, and basilicious leaves left for harvesting. Here is a recipe I adapted from that I found to be delicious. Now, there were a few reviews that stated the recipe was to "planty" and/or "herby," so disclaimer:  I would like to note that if you don't like basil, don't make this dish,  dumb assidiot, silly person. Clearly with 3 cups of basil, it's the star ingredient... and yes, it is an herb.

What you'll need:
  • 1 9oz package of fresh fettuccine 
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup half and half 
  • 3 tablespoons of roasted pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. (Omit salt and oil if possible.)
2. Combine additional ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3. Combine fettuccine and sauce. Heat over low flame on stove top if necessary.

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps:
  • I used fat free half and half. It didn't make a bit of a difference to me! The sauce was still creamy and delicious.
  • Because I used fat free half and half I added a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil to the sauce mixture for additional flavor. 
Without any alterations this recipe has 3 servings each weighing in at 374 calories each.  Weight Watchers Points - 8. 

Happy fall ya'll!

Neglect Blog Much?

So clearly, although I have good intentions, I have been neglecting my writing for quite a few days weeks. This is not intentional, so to those of you who check in loyally (or are just bored at work) I apologize. I love food and I truly love writing! (And not just because the writing involves food... although...) Time has gotten away from me over the past few weeks and we've had a lot going on over here. I'm sure several of these apology posts will follow in the future, however, this is just apology #1 - so let's move forward. Forgive and forget? Great, thank you.

Foodie Love!

September 13, 2010

Not Your Average Latte

Fall is coming, in fact it is just around the corner. I truly can hardly wait for all of the fun that comes with using my oven again regularly! While I'm certain I'll talk plenty about the deliciousness that is fall food, today's post has to be dedicated entirely to the sin that is purchasing a $5.00 cup of coffee; specifically the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  

I call it it a sin because I drink a rather ridiculous amount of black coffee, no cream, no sugar. For me to spend such a large amount of money on one single cup of coffee is absolutely ridiculous. If  I weren't to make my own each day I would break the bank trying to support another addiction habit. With all of that being said there is something so incredibly fall-like about the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Clearly it's not just a latte! It's slightly milky, with clear hints of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg with just enough warm coffee flavor for you to remember what you are actually enjoying. The first sip cast me into a tailgating, UGG boot, and stuffed pepper frenzy. (Yikes, okay Sybil.) All I wanted to do in that moment was see my breath and inhale the smell of campfires and crunchy leaves. I realize that it's still summer, however with that slight taste of Halloween lingering in the back of my mouth and mind I can hardly wait for the next opportunity to throw my money away at the individual in the green apron and beg like I really want to for my next Pumpkin Spice Latte. Thank you Starbucks.

Happy Sipping!

September 10, 2010

September 7, 2010

Cheater Chicken Cordon Bleu (Just for Two!)

What you'll need:
  • 2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (10-12 oz total)
  • 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper (fresh if you have it)
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp Swiss cheese (shredded)
  • 1 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese 
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs 
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp chopped deli ham (1/2 oz) 
1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. In one bowl combine Swiss cheese and cream cheese
3. In another bowl combine 1/8 tsp of pepper, breadcrumbs, parsley, and 1 tsp of olive oil
4. Coat chicken with 1/8 tsp of salt and remaining 1/8 tsp of pepper 
5. Heat remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned on both sides, (about 2 minutes per side.) Remove from heat.
6. Move chicken to center of the pan, spread with cheese mixture, top with ham, and finally top with the breadcrumb mixture.
7. Bake chicken until the center is no longer pink and a digital thermometer reads 165° (5-7 minutes)

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps:
  • When using frozen chicken breasts dethaw them properly for the best results. I put mine in a plastic Ziplock bag and left them in the fridge in some chicken broth for several hours until they were tender.  Using a microwave tends to dry out meat and particularly chicken in my experience. Give it time to mellow on its own! I promise it will be worth it. 
  • I used panko instead of whole wheat breadcrumbs as I didn't have any. (Oops.) It didn't make a bit of difference to me. Don't be afraid to make your own breadcrumbs either - that's part of the fun, just more time consuming. 
  • I left out the extra-virgin olive oil in the breadcrumb mixture, I completely forgot. Just to make it a little more healthy. It didn't make one bit of a difference.
  • When shredding your own Swiss cheese, put it in the freezer for awhile beforehand. Swiss is a soft cheese and this little trick makes it much easier and less likely to break.
  • I do not have a nonstick skillet that is oven capable. I simply sprayed a baking pan with some nonstick spray and transferred the chicken after the browning was complete.
  • As in many cases, I found the cooking time to be really off with this recipe. It always depends on chicken thickness,  proper oven temperature, etc. The best and only advice I can give is: Use a digital thermometer often. For best results don't cook the chicken much over 165° If you are following the thermometer directions, there is just no reason to dry out your chicken by overcooking it! If you find the top of the chicken browning too quickly in the oven, cover it with foil until the inside temperature reaches it's destination. Also, the photo above was taken after the browning but before the baking, everything will much more golden when complete.
I always struggle with finding recipes for two people that are healthy as well as delicious. This is definitely one. With just 280 calories per serving it's hard to go wrong. (Otherwise known as getting super-huge.) Not to mention, it's quick and easy to make. Good luck, and happy cooking! 

September 6, 2010

For Love of JalapeƱos

    Stuffed with cheese. Wrapped in bacon.

Grilled to perfection.

September 2, 2010

Mini Caprese Skewers

My sister-in-law served this fabulous snack at a party she was hosting and it has quickly become one of my favorite  easy to make appetizers! (It also just so happens to be one of my favorite photos of something I've actually made.) 

What you'll need... 
  • cherry tomatoes 
  • mozzarella balls 
  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • toothpicks 
Directions: Wash the tomatoes and basil leaves. Once the basil is dry, cut the leaves length-wise (around 1 cm.)  Insert a toothpick through the end of a cherry tomato -  thread the basil - then insert the toothpick through a mozzarella ball.  Once you have filled all of the toothpicks, drizzle them with olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

September 1, 2010

Who in the hell is Bruce?

In our first summer as a married and co-habitating couple my husband and I decided to build a garden. We certainly are making an effort at this whole domestic thing if nothing else. Bruce The Garden is approximately 16 feet x 2 feet, so he's not very large but certainly large enough for two people. (And of course one chocolate lab mix who enjoys munching on "salads" when he's left alone outside.) For those of you who chose social work or related fields, much like myself, due to math skills that resemble a fifth grader's, essentially it's very long, and not very wide -- it's just right. Thank you Goldilocks.

When I began to plant sometime at the beginning of May or thereabouts, I realized that I didn't read any of the seed packages prior to actually starting to physically plant the garden, why would I do that? I truly thought this whole garden concept was going to be a disappointment right way, as the recommendation on every package was to begin by planting the seeds indoors until they began to sprout. Crap. So in order to "compensate" for this mishap I decide to dig the holes as recommended and dump the vast majority of each package in. For those of you experienced gardeners, you are probably thinking, "Well wow, didn't you have vegetables on top of one and other?" Yep, sure did.

Surprisingly even with my ADD distracting me from reading directions and causing me to dump several seeds in one hole, (yes let's blame the ADD,) our garden turned out no worse off than expected. Our tomato plants, (Side note: at the time of purchase I assumed that the "Goliath" variety simply meant "big tomato,") turned out to be taller than my hips producing enough tomatoes for three large batches of pasta sauce from scratch, and contributed to many snacks and sandwiches for much of the summer. Our cucumbers which were the first to bloom, took over and we had approximately 20 during their "time to shine." We haven't tried any of our sweet peppers yet. Apparently when you plant vegetables from seed in May the chances of them blooming at the average time are slim to none. We are still working towards successful onions as well as carrots, so far we don't have much hope for the carrots but fingers crossed we'll see before the first frost. There has been a huge success with the hot peppers. While unfortunately they are stacked on top of one and other, they have truly thrived and we even discovered an additional variety last week. What type you ask? We have no idea, but we are going to add them to salsa to find out! We have a pumpkin plant that is truly taking over our backyard at this point, however, a photo of that will come later. At the end of the garden we have a small section for herbs. The basil and cilantro turned out fabulously. The parsley will serve as a topping for a chicken dish I'm experimenting with next week and that is probably all it will be good for as it has remained small however, I've come to terms with that.

Chives... now chives are a different topic. I planted them from seed, (of course) and when the didn't bloom with the rest of the herbs, I dumped more seeds in the area, why not?  A small amount began to grow and I really couldn't resist picking a few for baked potatoes one evening. They smelled delicious, however, didn't feel or look quite like the chives my parents grow at their house. Regardless, we ate them. A few weeks later, I went to pick another batch. They were taller and more thick at this point so when I brought them in the kitchen and washed them I noticed something... these weren't chives, but grass that had sprouted along with two very small chives! Epic fail. I fed myself and my husband grass on potatoes and almost did it twice. I suppose now when he tells everyone I feed him rabbit food he won't be lying. I'm clearly no gardeness, (hey it's my blog I can make up words,) however am learning as I go and can't wait to share more details about little Bruce soon!

August 27, 2010

Tasteful and Simple?

So last night I attended my first ever Tastefully Simple party. For those of you not familiar with the concept, essentially it's food and drink mixes that require very few additional ingredients and very little work. The party concept is so guests are able to try some of the items prior to purchasing them. For someone like me who tends to reinvent the wheel each time I plan a menu, I will admit I was a bit skeptical. How can something that takes very little work be good? Well, I will be the first to admit, I was wrong! (I also believe this is another step in the twelve step program I considered following for two minutes. Maybe I'm not done after all!) Everything I tried was delicious!

There were dip mixes such as the fiesta dip and warm spinach artichoke dip that appeared very easy to make and definitely worthy of serving to a group of people. I'm a food snob and I was truly surprised and impressed. I would not recommended any of these items if you were say, on a diet. Most of them are made with mayonnaise and/or sour cream. For those of you who could care less or who care a little but like food more, dig in!  I will also say, I've never been one to campaign on the behalf of drink mixes either, I tend to find them not strong enough for someone who likes to drink too sweet for my taste. Wrong again! The watermelon margarita was outstanding! All that is required is water,  tequila, and a freezer, (oh and of course the mix.)

So the rumor is true, I suppose the wheel doesn't always need to be reinvented and it is possible for food to be delicious and easy to make. Although I highly doubt I will apply this theory to all cooking and party planning I'm glad to know it's out there.

To find out more about Tastefully Simple, please visit their website.

August 26, 2010

Twelve Steps

From what I'm told, any individual trying to overcome an addiction should follow a twelve step program.  The first step in any successful rehabilitation is admitting you have a problem, right? So, here I am and here it is: Hello, my name is Kayte, I have a problem, I'm addicted to food. There, I said it. It wasn't so hard now that I really think about it. I'M ADDICTED TO FOOD. Wow, that feels great! Unfortunately for the size of my waist, and the size of my wallet, that is the end of my participation in the twelve step program. (How very Lindsay Lohan of me, I know.)

You see, here's the thing... I love to cook, I love to eat, and to top it all off, I love to take photos of food. (Hence, Confessions of a Photograzer.) I apologize greatly if you've stumbled upon this blog hoping to gaze at fabulous mind-blowing food photography.  I am no photographer - I'm an eater. I'm still learning how to cook, and bake, and take photos, however, eating... eating I know how to do and need no help with that, thankyouverymuch. At breakfast I'm thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner. At lunch I'm planning a menu for a tailgate that is two months away. Frankly, my food obsession gets in the way of my own life. But between you, me, and the internet... I kind of like it.

I'm now taking my obsession one step further and writing about one of the things I love most in this world. I'm not sure what path I'm going to follow... will I just talk about what I eat? (If that's the case I may be forced change the title to, True Confession: How I gained 300 pounds blogging about food.)  I plan to share some photos and to hopefully share some of my cooking experiences, that much I know...  What about recipes? Gardening? God forbid, what if I decide to diet, how on earth can one blog about diet food? (Bleck!) All that aside - I hope you enjoy taking this food-journey with me.

I'm Kayte. It's been very nice meeting you and I hope we eat meet again soon. (Who needs a twelve step program anyway?)