Thursday, December 4, 2014

Savoring the Season: Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples

The pleasure of simple, warm comfort foods this time of year is irresistible. With cooler weather comes new cravings.  Cravings for heartier and more substantial dishes (think homemade mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, creamy soups, chicken pot pie and meat loaf).  We might crave comforting classic dishes but we don't like piling on the pounds that can stick around long after the winter thaw.

This easy to prepare pork tenderloin is a one pot wonder.  The dish highlights the flavors of fall with warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander.  Add the sweetness of fresh apples, followed by a savory addition of shallots and thyme, and you have a feeling of satisfaction and comfort without guilt.

If you are thinking about cooking up some healthier options this holiday season consider adding this one to your recipe file.


Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples
Serves 4
Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light



Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 pieces
Cooking Spray
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled Braeburn or Gala apple
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider or unprocessed apple juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Directions:
1.  Heat a large heavy skillet  over medium high heat.  Combine first 5 ingredients; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over pork.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.  Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

2.  Melt butter in pan; swirl to coat.  Add apple slices, shallots, salt; saute 4 minutes or until apple starts to brown.  Add apple cider or juice to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until apple is crisp tender.  Stir in thyme leaves.  Serve apple mixture with the pork.

Enjoy!


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and Reflections on Turning Fifty

They tell me that 50 is the new fabulous…..Do I believe them?  Maybe.   I know that I am closer to death than I am to birth.  A reminder that life has a finite span.  This thought both sobers me and liberates me.  Makes me stop and think often of what's important, what's not.

I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted to eat, HELL NO, not anymore.  DITTO on eating after 9:00 p.m.   Love jalapeno poppers, ate six of them recently, had a burn for six days.

This new decade has given me the freedom to make new choices and the courage to do them.  I prefer the "complex" to the "complicated"  complex is so much more interesting.  I am a bit more daring, more adventorous and more loving.  I believe now I have experience and wisdom to share….Whoa, when did I arrive there (laugh).  I am hopeful that I will take my new decade to continue to explore and discover the world around me with a focus on making a difference.

So, my first fifty-year old blog post is going to start with ridding myself of the frozen overripe bananas in my freezer.  I am in a vicious cycle.   I buy them, they sit to long on my counter, and I throw them in a ziploc bag in my freezer, and before I know it, I am being over run with mystery date bananas.  A experienced fifty year old might simply unload her freezer full of bananas into the waste can and be done-but, I am a young fifty year old still exploring her options.

The recipe calls for using a 12-count muffin pan.  Hey, I am fifty and I used a 6-count mini-bundt pan.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12
Recipe from Epicurious



Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unslated butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line twelve 1/3 cup muffin cups with muffin liner.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk in medium bowl.  Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended (do not over mix).  Stir in chocolate chips.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake muffins until tops are pale golden and tester inserted into center comes out with some melted chocolate attached but no crumbs, about 25-30 minutes.  Transfer muffins to rack and cool.

Enjoy!


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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies

I would have probably raised my eyebrow had it been mentioned that black beans would be a healthy alternative ingredient to flour in brownies. It would have been difficult to imagine.  Obviously I am behind in the baking times…Not anymore. I am a believer. With the rise in sensitivity to gluten it has become known that bean flour or in this case A Can of BEANS is a good alternative to white flour for cakes, muffins and BROWNIES!

The jackpot has been won with this one bowl, one pan delight.  I love to bake when I don't have to think too hard, and when dessert has an opportunity to be enjoyed as a guilt-free pleasure.


Dark Chocolate Black Bean Brownies
Serves 10
Recipe from Rebecca Andexler

Ingredients
1 can (15-ounces) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 piece of parchment paper
Butter, softened for greasing pan

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Line 8"X 8"X 2" baking pan with parchment paper and grease with butter

3.  Combine Black Beans, chocolate chips, flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, butter and vanilla extract in bowl of food processor.

4.  Secure food processor lid and blend until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.

5.  Spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan, using rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl.  If desire, sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over top.

6.  Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of brownie comes out clean.

7.  Remove pan from oven and allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Enjoy!
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Easy Lemon Cookies

One bowl,  five ingredients,  a roll in confectioners sugar, what is not to love. 


Easy Lemon Cookies
Makes 15-18 
Recipe from allrecipes.com 


Ingredients:
1 box (16-18 ounces) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup confectioners sugar

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2.  Pour cake mix into a large bowl.  Add eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended.  Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners sugar.  Roll them around until they are lightly covered.  Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3.  Bake for 6-9 minutes in the preheated oven.  The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.

Enjoy!



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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

Early autumn still means that peppers including poblanos are still abundant in overgrown summer gardens that are being prepared for the transition to the fall garden here in north Florida. This means as the fall bell rings there is time to still enjoy peppers in hearty soups and stews.

The mildly spicy Mexican poblano pepper is the highlight in this easy to prepare chowder.  The key to the flavor in this soup is roasting the poblano pepper which requires minimal skill and always delivers impressive results. This goodness is then simmered in a vegetable broth with milk creating a hearty base.  The addition of garlic, onion, celery, potatoes and corn with a pinch of cayenne make it all come to come together in a one pot wonder.

This roasted poblano corn chowder can also be made in large batches to serve up to a crowd or to freeze to enjoy throughout season.



Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder
Makes 12 (1 cup servings)
Recipe Adapted from Emily Bites


Ingredients:
3 poblano peppers
1 red bell pepper, halved
3  Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4+ 1 Tablespoon flour
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 lbs. potatoes, diced
1 (16-ounces) package of frozen corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Brush the outsides of the poblano and red peppers with the olive oil and set them on the baking sheet.  Place in oven to roast for approximately 30 minutes until the skin on the peppers is charred and peels off easily.   Peel the skins off peppers, and slice them open to discard the seeds.  Chop the peppers into small pieces and set aside.

2.  In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, celery and sauté for approximately 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in flour to coat the vegetables. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Turn the heat to high and slowly whisk in the vegetable broth, stirring constantly.  Add the milk and stir to combine.  Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the poblanos, red pepper, potatoes, and corn.  Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  Add the cayenne, salt and pepper and stir.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Best Ever Banana Nut Bread

I lured you in with my title  "Best Ever" Banana Nut Bread.  The truth is this banana bread is damn good.  All these years and what seems like a thousand recipes later, I finally stumbled on a recipe that is going to become part of my permanent file.

There is this vague recollection in the forest of my mind that banana cake was made for my birthday in my very early years. It must have stuck because I have a fondness for things banana, except for bananas foster.  There is something about setting bananas on fire, and having your bananas served up warm, wet and gooey. Sorry, I digress.

Let me end by saying if you have overripe bananas hanging around on your kitchen counter or bagged up by the dozen in the freezer, then this post serves as your inspiration to get making Banana Bread!



Banana Nut Bread
Makes on 9x5-inch Loaf
Recipe from Food and Wine


Ingredients:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (3-ounces)
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 medium overripe bananas, mashed (1-1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Spread the walnuts in a pie pan and toast in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant; let cool.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In another bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and oil and beat at high speed until light-colored and creamy.  Add the mashed bananas and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Stir in dry ingredients until throughly blended.  Fold in the nuts.

3.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is springy and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the loaf pan cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.  Wrap the bread in plastic and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Enjoy!
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


In case you are in the mood for chocolate chip cookies……And you don't have a personal recipe to call your own.



Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 18 cookies
Recipe from All Recipes


Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup insalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2.  Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.  Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.  Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.  Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto prepared cookie sheets.  Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

4.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly toasted.  Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!
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