Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cooking Light Weekend

I did two recipes this weekend and they both turned out great. The first was Peanut Butter Cup Blondies and this turned out to be amazing. I have always had good luck with the baking recipes I do from this magazine. This one didn't disappoint. It was simple and quick and very worth the time. I'd definitely do it again.

The next recipe was Chicken with Pepperoni-Marinara Sauce and I was very excited to try this one. Most pepperoni is made with a mixture of pork and beef, unless you use the turkey kind, which I don't care for. Since I don't eat red meat it has left pepperoni out of my diet for about three years now and I sure missed it. Until I discovered Applegate Farms pepperoni which is all pork. This stuff is soooo good. Since the recipe doesn't specify what size of pepperoni slices to use and I only had about 6 slices of mine, but it was the larger size, I just used the rest of that and called it all good. I think it had plenty of pepperoni deliciousness too. Make sure you use a really big pan to cook the chicken. I didn't and ended up having to do it in two shifts. This made a fun play on spaghetti sauce that I'd definitely make again as well. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pork Chops Marsala

I thought I'd write out my tried and true recipe for Pork Chops Marsala. I don't measure anything, so it's a bit imprecise. Start out with the pork chops that you plan to use. Bone-in, boneless, your choice. Salt and pepper the pork chops and brown them on all sides in olive oil. When browned, remove them to a plate and cover with foil. In the pan, add some thinly sliced yellow onion and sliced cremini mushrooms, adding more oil if the pan is too dry. When the juices start to come out of them, add some crushed garlic. When it's all cooked down, remove the pan from the heat and add Marasla wine, between 1/2-2/3 of a cup, I'd say. Let the alcohol burn off and reduce to at least half, then add chicken stock up to about halfway up the pan. Season with salt and pepper, mix everything together and then add the pork chops back to the pan. Cover and cook, over medium heat to braise the chops until they are cooked to your liking. I like mine still slightly pink in the center. When they're done remove from the pan again (use a different plate!) and thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry over boiling heat until as thick as you like it. Season to taste again and serve with the pork chops.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fish Saturday

In an attempt to improve my health, I am trying to eat more fish. The weekend seems to allow me the most time to work on it. I recently bought a fish spatula, specially designed to turn delicate fish. This was my first time using it and boy did it work great! I cooked the fish on my grill pan and it turned and flipped just fine.

This recipe was awesome, and super easy. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. honey, salt and pepper and you boil it for a while until it's reduced by about half. Just be careful not to inhale the vapors or you might choke. When it's done, take it off the heat and add a dollop of butter to finish the sauce, and more salt and pepper to taste. The grill pan works really well, just use a little olive oil to rub over the fish, salt and pepper, then put it, skin-side-up on the pan. I put a saucepan lid over this and let it cook for a while before attempting to turn it over. The spatula really makes a difference. After a while I took off the fish skin and let it grill on both sides. Instead of spooning the sauce over afterwards, I brushed it on during the grilling to help it cook into the fish better and this was a great decision. I also poured some over afterwards.

I did this with asparagus I put on the grill with the fish. I just did olive oil, salt, and pepper. It was delish. I also did a steamed red potato, simple, but nummy. This is a winner, folks. I will be doing it again.

Cooking Light Night

Monday's recipe was Sweet Potato Chile Mac and I thought it was pretty good. I bought sweet potatoes on accident for the meatball soup I made previously and found this recipe to use them up. It also called for some of the chipotle chiles in adobo that I had frozen after using them in the soup. I also had the Monterey Jack cheese from the soup recipe as well. 

I roasted the potatoes on Sunday, and peeled and mashed them, but didn't make the recipe till Monday. The potatoes reheated really well in the microwave and helped save me time while making the meal. I was surprised at how easily it mixed with the other ingredients to form the base of the cheese sauce instead of a traditional bechamel sauce. I liked that the other ingredients helped temper the sweetness of the potatoes, something I am still trying to adjust my palate to.

It wasn't terribly cheesy, so if more cheese doesn't scare you, I would recommend adding more. Also some salt. I needed to add salt. I had never eaten actual chorizo before, only soyrizo, and it turned out it wasn't that different. I wasn't a huge fan of it. The texture was strange and I ended up picking most of it off. I think maybe next time I'd just leave it off and use this as a side dish or perhaps try Italian sausage even though it would alter the flavor.

I cut it into the six servings it called for, and froze the leftovers for another time. I'm really glad to have found another use for sweet potatoes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cooking Light Night

Tortilla Meatball Soup

I tried this out the other day and really liked it. It definitely was time-consuming, but it made a lot of leftovers for me to freeze, so I forgive it. The recipe called for ground sirloin, but since I don't eat beef I used ground chicken, which I think made it even less fat than what the original numbers are. Also, I used Egg Beaters instead of the egg for the meatballs, which cut out all the cholesterol from that as well as more fat and calories.

I would recommend you start this in the afternoon rather than at dinnertime to make this or you'll be eating very late. Also, after you open the can of chipotle chiles in adobo and only use one of them, you may be asking yourself, what the heck will I do with the rest of it? Try out this handy tip: Take a baking sheet and cover it in a sheet of parchment paper. Line up the chiles so they aren't touching each other and then spoon some of the sauce over each one. They will look like weird mounds, but that's not important. From here, place the baking sheet in the freezer for a couple hours until they are frozen. They will peel off the parchment paper and you can put them in a freezer bag or container and put them back in the freezer. You can take one out each time you need one for a recipe and not have to buy a new can each time or waste the can. This is definitely a good idea, imo.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cooking Light Night

This past week's recipe was: Spanish Pork with Apple-Citrus Salsa

I was going to make it all in one night but I ran out of time and made the salsa and rub the first night and then cooked the rest the next night. I wasn't sure sure about the apple salsa, I usually don't cook with hot peppers, but it was really quite delish. I have a lot leftover and plan to use some in a quesadilla. The pork was really good, very easy to cook. I modified the recipe a bit to use my grill pan just to get the grill marks on all sides and finished it in the oven. I actually weighed my portion so I got just a smidge over 3 oz, the listed serving size. And I was surprised that I was quite filled between that, the salsa, and the whole grain Spanish rice I made to go with it that I didn't want to eat more meat, which is usually my downfall.

I would definitely make this again. It was pretty easy and looked and tasted really fancy. Also, I learned that I really like the flavor of lime juice in salsa. Good to know...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cooking Light Roundup

I've been sick with the flu since last Friday so I haven't exactly been cooking a lot. But I had a whole pork roast thawing prior to getting sick so I had to use it or lose it. I cut it in half and did a traditional roast pork meal for the first half. It's easy, I like it, I was sick, so I went with it. But for the second half, I made this: Soy and Cola-Braised Pork Shoulder

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but I modified it for the slow-cooker. I think it worked really well this way. The night before I made the sauce, adding the sesame oil to it instead of using that to brown the meat. I never brown meat when using the slow cooker because it takes too much time and I have never really noticed a big difference in flavor and texture when I do. I threw it all in the slow cooker and came home to dinner made. I bought some ciabatta rolls to serve it in, pulled the pork with forks, and strained the sauce into a pan to let it reduce further. It was really easy and really delicious. I chose to spend more money on an organic cola that used cane sugar instead of corn syrup and thought it turned out great. There wasn't any Chinese 5-Spice powder in the mix but it ended up tasting like it was there anyway. I would definitely make this one again.