Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Grapefruit and Sugar Rubbed Pork Tenderloin



A marinade of grapefruit, brown sugar, and spices create a delicious caramelization on this roasted pork tenderloin! Take advantage of peak season grapefruit this winter!

Are you a grapefruit fan? I like grapefruit in things, but not necessarily on it's own. My mom would often eat it sprinkled with some salt! Grapefruit actually pairs best with something a bit salty and savory as it brings out the subtle sweetness it contains. Which makes it a perfect accompaniment to meat!

Even if you don't love grapefruit (my husband doesn't), I think you'll still love the caramelization and flavor this marinade has. It does not have a heavy grapefruit flavor (though the accompanying sauce certainly does, the pork is still delicious without it).


Grapefruit & Sugar-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
2 grapefruit, 1 pink or red and 1 white
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1.5 lb) pork tenderloin
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450.

First, zest and supreme the grapefruit. Add the zest, grapefruit segments, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, fennel, cayenne, garlic and a pinch of salt to a food processor. Puree until very smooth and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pork, toss to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Place a wire rack over a foil lined baking sheet. Transfer the pork to the rack and pour the remaining marinade in a small saucepan. Bake the pork until slightly caramelized on the outside and measuring 140 degrees, 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the reserved marinade to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil gently, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 12-15 minutes. 

Let the pork rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with glaze. 

Source: adapted from Saveur

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Loaded Baked Potato Soup



All the flavors of a loaded baked potato - in soup form! This creamy, thick soup is warm, hearty, and weeknight easy!

Anyone else loving that we've been forced to stay home a few days? Charlotte got mostly ice but enough to shut things down for the weekend. However, by next weekend it'll be nearly flip flop weather again so we certainly can't complain! Unfortunately, our neighbors to the north may be digging out a bit longer than that.

Winter weather has been a roller coaster so far this season so anytime I see low temps in the forecast, I don't waste a chance to make a cold day meal. You know those things you only want when it's frigid outside? Soups, stews, casseroles, etc. We had this soup recently and I couldn't wait to share it!

This soup is quickly done on the stove top with very little prep work so it's weeknight easy. It's very thick - you will question yourself at first but stay with me, the potatoes really thicken it up. So much that you may want to add more broth or milk to thin it some. I liked it super thick but Jason thinned his out a bit.

Don't be tempted to mix the bacon into the soup - nobody likes limp bacon. Save the crumbles to serve on each bowl so it holds the crispiness.


Loaded Baked Potato Soup
8 slices bacon
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3.5 cups milk, plus more if needed
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 green onions, thinly sliced (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
1.5 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus additional for garnish, if desired)
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste

On a foil lined baking sheet, spread out the slices of bacon. Place in the (cold) oven, turn the oven temp to 400, and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the pan, allow to cool a few minutes, then crumble and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute, or until light brown. Slowly whisk in the milk, about 1 cup at a time. Continue whisking until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the diced potatoes and green onions. Stir frequently as it comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring often to avoid sticking, until the potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Stir in the cheese, sour cream, and a decent amount of salt and pepper (to taste). Add more milk (or even chicken broth) to thin out, if needed.

Serve each bowl topped with a healthy serving of reserved chopped bacon and garnishes, if desired.

Serves 4. 

Source: adapted from Center Cut Cook

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Homemade SpaghettiOs



This homemade version of my childhood favorite canned pasta with meatballs is 100x better than the kind found in the pantry!

This is my second time attempting homemade SpaghettiOs. I admittedly loved the canned stuff as a kid/poor college student but just couldn't buy it anymore. I desperately wanted a relatively easy way to fill my SpaghettiOs void! The first time flopped; my meatballs fell apart, my sauce was thin, and I was incredibly frustrated by the end.

Couple years later, I found the courage to try it again thanks to everyone's favorite America's Test Kitchen. Is there anything they can't do?

This time was a huge success! I desperately wanted to hoard the entire pot for myself but finally relented and let my husband enjoy it, too. It was relatively easy - took only 1 pot and about 45 minutes, much of which is hand's off. The use of an immersion blender shaves tons of time and hassle - you should definitely invest in one (they are around $15 and take up very little space!).

You could make your own pesto... but in this recipe, it's hardly worth the effort. Save the homemade version for dishes that let it shine!


Homemade SpaghettiOs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3.5 cups chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 ounces meatloaf mix (50% lean ground beef & 50% ground pork)
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup panko
salt and pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) ditalini

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix together the ground meat, pesto, panko, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pinch off heaping teaspoons of meat mixture and roll into small, 3/4-inch meatballs (there should be around 32 total).

Remove the pot from heat and puree the soup using your immersion blender. Once the soup is smooth, move the pot back to the burner and bring it back to a simmer. Stir in the pasta and carefully add the meatballs. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and the meatballs are cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Be careful when stirring to avoid breaking apart the meatballs.

Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed, and carefully ladle into bowls.

Source: adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Friday, January 8, 2016

(Easy!) Chicken Cordon Bleu



The easiest way to enjoy homemade chicken cordon bleu - without canned soups! Chicken, ham, Swiss cheese, and breadcrumbs are layered, baked, and topped with a sinful Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce.

With nearly 600 recipes shared - and many more attempted, failed, and not shared - it seems like I've tried my hand at making most "standard" meals. Just recently, I found myself making not one but two different dishes that are fairly mainstream but never made at home! The first of those was chicken cordon bleu.

We were recently at a church dinner and on the menu was chicken cordon bleu. I rarely order it out but knew I liked it,... however, I completely underestimated my husband's reaction. I'm quite confident that he licked his plate (and maybe mine?) while everyone was listening to the speaker upfront. It was a huge hit! I made a mental note that if I hadn't made it before, I must soon! Later that night, I combed the archives of the blog and realized I had never made it!

The church chef had put some work into his version and it was absolutely delicious. But he's a trained chef with a staff... and I'm tired, hungry, and lazy. Thankfully, this easy version is just as delicious as the more complicated version - and my husband was in heaven!

If you've never had chicken cordon bleu, you're in for a treat. You're just layering thin chicken breasts cutlets, deli ham, and Swiss cheese in a baking dish. Top it with some breadcrumbs and bake. Right before it's done, whip up a super easy Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce to spoon smother it in.

Y'all, it's so good.


Chicken Cordon Bleu
For the Cordon Bleu:
3 large, thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (to make 6 total thin chicken breast cutlets)
12 slices deli ham
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese

For the Parmesan-Dijon Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter. Set aside.

Place the cut chicken breasts in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. On top of each piece of chicken, layer 2 slices of ham followed by slices of the Swiss cheese. Try to make sure as much of the chicken is covered in cheese or ham. Sprinkle the prepared bread crumbs over the chicken pieces.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked, the cheese is bubbling, and the bread crumbs are golden brown.

When the chicken is almost done, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk while quickly whisking. Whisk in the bouillon granules, salt, and continue whisking over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Once the sauce has bubbled and thickened, remove from heat and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted.

Serve each chicken cordon bleu portion with warm sauce.

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cheesy Sausage Tortellini



30 minutes, one pan, and super tasty! You're just 7 ingredients away from a new family favorite.

I adore quick and easy weeknight meals, but not if it's at the expense of flavor! After a long day of work, I rarely want to walk in the door and make an elaborate dinner - and I'm assuming you're the same, too! With very little hands on time needed, this dish is perfect for long days. Bonus: it was a huge hit! My husband, especially, loved it.

You simply brown sliced sausage, saute it in garlic for extra flavor, and then let it simmer with tomato sauce, cream, broth, and store bought tortellini. Once the pasta is cooked through, it's ready to serve!

It's creamy, cheesy, and smoky - what more do you need?


Cheesy Sausage Tortellini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
9 ounce package refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini (no need to thaw)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sliced sausage (being careful to not overlap) and cook until well browned, about 3-4 minutes a side. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, heavy cream, and tortellini. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender and cooked through. 

Serve hot.

Slightly adapted from Kevin and Amanda

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Crockpot Tuscan Chicken Stew



A healthy, hearty, and super easy stew that's bursting with flavor! Pull out the crockpot and let it do all the work for dinner tonight!

We have been enjoying gorgeous warm, spring-like days here in Charlotte. Just this weekend, we've seen the temps drop enough to require sleeves outside. I'm not sure the cooler temps are here to stay but it has given me a chance to make some warmer "winter" dishes. Nobody wants stew on a nearly 80 degree day!

But when the temp drops? You want something warm and comforting for dinner. And if it's waiting on you at home, that's even better! I actually rarely use my crockpot - I complain each time that the flavors just aren't as bright - but this dish really is stuffed with flavor. Feel free to up the veggies or throw in additional ones you have on hand, too!


Crockpot Tuscan Chicken Stew
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of visible fat
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
12 baby potatoes
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons white wine

30 minutes before serving:
1/4 cup water
2.5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons dried Italian seasonings
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt, to taste

Place chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, canned tomatoes and their juices, potatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, and white wine in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. 

After cooking 6 hours, carefully remove the chicken with tongs to a cutting board. Dice the chicken into bite size pieces and place back in the crockpot along with the Italian seasonings and balsamic vinegar. In a small bow, whisk together the water and cornstarch until there are no lumps. Add to the crockpot, stir well, place the lid back on, and let cook another 30 minutes.

Taste and add salt, if needed. Serve with bread.

Source: adapted from Sweet Peas and Saffron


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