Thursday, September 25, 2008

There's Nothing Wrong With a Little Dessert for Dinner

Let's give it up for Amy Quinn ladies and gentlemen.  Her and her uncanny knack for finding the very best recipes on  I love Amy beause everytime I visit her home, she has prepared a full on, Delsa-inspired meal.  I just love that Amy.

All right now, this particular dinner is a little sweet, but when my friend tried to make the pork with a different side dish, she was met with the disappointed eyes of her husband asking, "What about the coconut rice?"  So trust me, make the pork and the rice.  


Peppered Pear Salad

Salad Ingredients
1 large head of Romaine Lettuce
1 to 2 medium sized pears
1/2 cup candied peppered almonds

Candied and Peppered Almond Ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 T coarse pepper

Almond Instructions
Put sugar into saucepan on high (watch closely).  When sugar just starts to melt, add almonds and pepper.  Stir until almonds toast (pan will smoke, but you must continue to mix and turn the nuts).  Remove from heat when completely toasted and spread out in glass dish to cool.  (Do not oil dish).

Dressing Ingredients and Instructions
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup blue cheese
5 T balsamic vinegar

Brown Sugar Pork Loin

The glaze baby.  The glaze.  When the pork is done cooking, save the glaze and then poor it all over everything.  Everything.  If I keep repeating everything, will it make you do what I say? 

Rub Ingredients:
2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/2 lb. total)
2 TB olive oil

Glaze ingredients:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 TB finely chopped garlic
1 TB tabasco

Prepare pork:
Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.  Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat util just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total.  Leave pork in skillet.

Make glaze and roast pork:
Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat on top of each tenderloin.  Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140, about 25 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes.  (Temp will rise to about 155 while standing).

Coconut Rice

It looks like regular rice, it sounds like regular rice, but it sure doesn't taste like regular rice.

1 c jasmine rice
2 c coconut milk
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c milk

First rinse the jasmine rice with cold water until your water is clear and not white.  Put the rinsed rice in a medium pan and combine with sugar, milk, coconut milk.  Bring to a boil and then down to low.  Cover and cook for about 25-35 minutes.  Stir rice and milk every 5-10 minutes.  Rice is done when milk is absorbed and rice is tender.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Serve warm.   

Summer Vegetable Gratin

This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated.  I won't lie, it's a little time intensive, but it's good and you can always make it the day before.  

6 T olive oil
1 lb. zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 lb. yellow summer squash, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 t table salt
1 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3 cups)
3/4 t ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 T minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush 13-by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

Toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl.  Let stand until zucchini and squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes.  Arrange slices on triple layer paper towels.  firmly press each slice to remove as muc liquid as possible. 

Place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes.  Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Set onions aside. 

Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in small bowl.  In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half of oil mixture, then arrange in greased baking dish.  Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash.  Slightly overlap tomato slices in single layer on top of onions.  Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes.  Bake until egetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds.  (You should have about 1 cup crumbs.)  Combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallots in medium bowl.  Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degreees.  Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes.  Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.  

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dinner To Go

If I know you, and you have had a baby or been sick, chances are good I have brought you this meal. It's easy to make, easy to transfer, and I know you will tell me how wonderful I am after you eat it. No stop, really.

One friend, who shall remain nameless, called me an confessed that after sneaking a bite of the salad, she couldn't stop herself and ate the whole thing before her husband got home. Ha! Made my day. As for the enchiladas, I am going to come right out and say it is my favorite recipe of all time. That's right, you heard me. My favorite of all. Here's the menu.

Stacked Enchiladas

My college roommates may have a feel a wave of nostalgia when they see this picture. Mostly because it was the only thing I knew how to make. So on the rare occasion that I made dinner, this was the masterpiece they got to partake of (if I didn't hog it all to myself that is - I know it's a lot of sour cream, don't judge me).

This just in:  Apparently Ann Arbor's own Kathy Diehl is responsible for tthe blessing of these enchiladas in my life, so a shout out to the RS prez.  

6 Corn tortillas
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 (10 oz) can of red enchilada sauce (I use Old El Paso medium)
2 cups cooked chicken pieces
1 cup sour cream
1/4 c chopped green onions
1 tsp. cumin

Combine sour cream and cumin. Add chicken and green onions and set aside. Dip 1 tortilla into enchilada sauce - don't drain excess. Place tortilla in round casserole dish. Top with 1/6 of the chicken mixture, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cheese. Repeat layers. Before adding last cheese, pour any remaining enchilada sauce over all. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Fiesta Salad

I serve this salad as a main dish or a side dish. It's a perfect accompaniment to mexican food when you don't want heavy rice and beans.

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded
1/4 coup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 coup olive oil
1/2 coup fresh cilantro

In a blender, puree the jalapenos with vinegar, garlic and salt. Continue processing and slowly add oil, blending until emulsified. Add cilantro and blend until finely chopped.

Salad Ingredients
Romaine lettuce
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels (can use frozen)
1/2 coup chopped green pepper
1 coup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ripe avocado, sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Before the Summer Ends

I wanted to get this menu out there before the summer ends and while tomatoes and peaches are so stinkin' delicious.  And I should say, the chicken marinade just may change your life forever.  

Tomato and Yellow Pepper Salad

I always eat this salad with crusty bread so I can pile the veggies on and then sop up the dressing when I'm done.  

1/3 c tarragon vinegar
3 T olive or vegetable oil
2 T chopped fresh or 2 t dried oregano leaves
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t ground mustard
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large yellow bell peppers, sliced into thin rings
3 large tomatoes (1 1/2 lbs), sliced
Spinach leaves
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/3 cup)

Mix vinegar, oil, oregano, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic.  Place bell peppers and tomatoes in nonmetal container.  Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour to blend flavors.  Line serving platter with spinach.  Drain vegetables; place on spinach.  Sprinkle with cheese.

California Chicken Marinade

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup water

Marinate chicken strips all day.  Broil for 10 minutes or so, depending on how thick you cut the strips.  This also works great on chicken breasts on the grill.  

Cheesy Potatoes

I suppose my tastes should be more refined than this, but that won't stop me from posting the best cheesy potato casserole I know. I'm just keepin' it real baby.

6 medium potatoes (You can cook frozen hash browns and use them instead - the kind that serves 11)
1/4 c butter + 2 T melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 t salt
1/2 c chopped onion (you can saute these before putting in casserole so they are cooked better, this is where you also cook the hash browns, but only until soft, not crisp)
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c crushed corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake potatoes for one hour or until they are fork tender. Cool. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix together corn flakes and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside. Once cool, peal and then grate potatoes.

Heat butter and stir into sour cream, salt, onion and cheese. Add soup and stir into potatoes. Place in prepared casserole dish. Top with corn flake mixure, if desired. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Peach Pound Cake

My sister Shauri introduced us to this delectable delight.  I'll tell you what, it takes a good dessert for me to recommend it when there is no chocolate involved.  But here it is:

1 c plus 2 T butter
2 1/4 c sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 c chopped fresh peaches

Preheat oven at 325 degrees.  Grease a tube pan with the 2 T of butter.  Sprinkle pan with 1/4 c sugar.  
Cream remaining butter; gradually add remaining sugar, beating well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix well.
Combine 2 3/4 c flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating until well-blended.
Dredge peaches with remaining 1/4 c flour.  Fold peaches into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. (I used 2 loaf pans)
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and warm butterscotch sauce.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Out of Town Guests

This is a perfect breakfast to serve to your out of town guests because you can make everything the day before.  So you spend more time hanging out with friends than slaving away in the kitchen.  Though I will say, if you have the time, there's nothing wrong with a little piping hot cornbread.

My mom insists that she's not that great of a cook, she's just collected excellent recipes over time.  Well, that first part is a lie, but the second part is true.  She has some sa - weeeeet recipes, and this is one of them.  

She has made Make Ahead Breakfast for years and I'm pretty sure she has no idea where it came from (feel free to correct me mom).  Ever since I can remember we've eaten it every holiday morning.  I probably make it so much my kids won't consider it a special holiday meal, but how can I resist?  

Make Ahead Breakfast

The beauty of this recipe is that like the name suggests, you make it the day before, so if you stay up late catching up with your guests, you won't have to worry about waking up at the crack of dawn to get breakfast ready for everyone the next morning.  

1 dozen eggs
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t salt
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 T butter
12 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
1 cup (4 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Beat eggs.  Stir in milk, salt and pepper.  Melt butter in skillet.  Add egg mixture.  Cook, stirring until eggs are set, but still moist.  Remove from heat and cool.  Stir in sour cream.  Spread evenly into buttered shallow baking dish (2 qt, 12x7).  Top with cheese and bacon.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  Preheat oven to 300.  Uncover eggs.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and cheese has melted. 


Okay, corncake really.  Look, I'm not saying it's authentic, I'm just saying it's good.  Real real good.  This recipe comes from my mom's bff, Susan. 

1 yellow cake mix
2 boxes jiffy corn bread mix (small boxes)
2 cups water
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 9x13 pan and set aside.  Combine ingredients and beat with a mixer.  Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes.   

Cinnamon Honey Butter

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks: Barefoot Contessa Parties

1/4 lb unsalted butter at room temperature
3 T good honey
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t kosher salt

Combine the butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Serve at room temperature.