Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Shredded Brussels Sprouts

A quick and healthy meal! Tender pork is topped with a homemade mushroom sauce and served alongside flavorful Brussels sprouts. Main dish + side dish can all be done in around 30 minutes!

I've been working to include more pork in our meal plan - we always gravitate straight to chicken! While I don't love all pork, I adore pork tenderloin. It's always so lean, flavorful, and tender. The fact that I can cook it so quickly doesn't hurt either! Quick weeknight meals are my jam. :)

In this recipe, your pork roasts while the sprouts cook; while the pork rests, you whip up a super fast mushroom sauce that is perfect drizzled over the pork. Start to finish, you can do it in 30 minutes once the oven preheats.

You could toss a carb on your menu to round it out but we found it to be just perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Pork Tenderloin with Shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1.5 pounds)
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 9-ounce bags shredded Brussels sprouts (see note)
1.5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Zest of 1/2 lemon, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450. Mix the cumin, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork tenderloin with olive oil then coat with the seasoning mix. Place in a large, ovenproof skillet (such as castiron) and place in the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes, flip the meat and scatter the mushrooms around the pork, and continue roasting until the pork is browned and a thermometer reads 145 degrees F (about 10 more minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts, 1 cup chicken broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until the sprouts are wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dill and lemon zest; cover and keep warm.

Once the pork is done, transfer it to a cutting board. Place the skillet with the mushrooms over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil then add the heavy cream. Return to a boil then immediately remove from the heat.

Slice the pork and top it with the  mushroom sauce. Serve alongside the Brussels sprouts.

Note: if you can't find shredded Brussels sprouts, look for a blend instead that may also include shredded broccoli, kale, etc.

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

German Chocolate Cake

The best recipe for a scratch-made German chocolate cake that you'll ever make! The boxed stuff can't even compare - this version is rich, moist, and incredibly decadent.

Six months ago, my dad came to visit us and I wanted to surprise him with his favorite dessert. I am not a baker but I really wanted to attempt a scratch-made version. So, I went in search of a German Chocolate Cake I thought I could handle. Handle is probably an overstatement; like I said, I am not a baker. However, I worked on this cake over the span of 2 days and while there may have been tears shed, I was so darn proud of how it turned out.

Thankfully it not only looked pretty, it tasted fantastic. I'm not even a huge German Chocolate Cake fan and this was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted. It's incredibly rich, super moist thanks to the run syrup, and so decadent.

To say he loved it would be the understatement of the century! He was only here for 4 days but did his best to finish it off (it's a BIG cake!). I took one for the team and helped him out :)

Don't look too closely at my frosting technique - I don't own an icing spatula and ended up using a butcher knife! Not as pretty but still tasty :)

German Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups sweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine both chocolates and the water in a microwave safe mixing bowl and microwave, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Use very short bursts so you don't burn the chocolate. Set aside and let come to room temp.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they form soft droopy peaks. Slowly add in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed to fully incorporate.

In another large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites; once combined, add the remaining egg whites until just combined.

Divide the batter into the 2 prepared pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make the rum syrup:
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Set aside.

Next, make the filling:
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Place the butter, pecans, and coconut in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 

Heat the cream mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly (and scraping the bottom) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon. An instant read thermometer should read 170 degrees.  

Immediately pour the hot custard over the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools; however, if your coconut was not packed tight, you may need to stir in additional coconut to help thicken it up even more.

To make the icing:
Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Transfer to the fridge until firm enough to decorate. I made my icing the night before and it was firm enough the next day. 
To assemble the cake: 
Cut the two cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate, cut side up. Liberally brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, using the syrup to liberally brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.
Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Maryland Crab Cakes

A simply delicious authentic crab cake recipe! Thanks to light seasonings and just enough filler to hold things together, the flavor of the sweet crab shines through. This is an easy weeknight meal!

Last summer, I hosted a kids cooking camp that focused on a different region of the country each day. When we focused on the north east, I knew crab cakes had to be on the menu. Thankfully, they are so simple to make that the kids easily mastered the recipe. They loved these crab cakes!

I love crab cakes but often find that when I order them in a restaurant, they are stuffed full of fillers and you can hardly taste the crab. Not so with this recipe! There is just enough filler to hold it together, and just enough seasoning added to enhance the crab meat, and the rest is all crab.

We served these on their own but you could make crab cake sliders, place one on an arugula salad, or even make crab cake eggs Benedict (my favorite!).

Chilling the mixture before shaping is a must - don't miss this step or your cakes will fall apart.

Maryland Crab Cakes
1 lb jumbo lump or backfin lump crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized
1 large egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs from soft white sandwich bread (just pulse in food processor)
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Lemon wedges for serving
Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for shells. Place in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Scrape the mixture over the crab and mix gently until well combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not overmix.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parsley over the mixture, and mix them in thoroughly but gently - it should be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Once well chilled, shape the crab mixture into 8 cakes about 1 inch thick. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add the cakes to the pan. Cook until dark golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the cakes.

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking

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