Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Fancy Mac & Cheese

I played with Ree's Fancy Mac and Cheese recipe to add a little bit of green and a carb-less noodle option.  This was important to me for a couple of reasons:
  1. This recipe already has five cheeses... there had to be some health considerations somewhere
  2. Green is important- embrace it and hide it in cheese
  3. As we all stave off diabetes or try to control it, a Pasta Zero option is a good idea
Step One:  Shop
The ingredients needed for this recipe are:
  • 1 package of sliced turkey bacon
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 2 broccoli florets
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 packages of shiritaki Pasta Zero
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere, grated
  • 4 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2.5 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick of butter
Step Two:  Grate Cheese
I'm impatient so grating cheese is clearly the hardest part of this recipe to me.  Meanwhile, I had my broccoli steaming in a pot, my sliced mushrooms and diced onions sauteeing and my bacon sizzling on the George Foreman Grill.  Luckily, the shiritaki Pasta Zero comes in a liquid so this won't need boiling.  I would recommend rinsing it well and then tossing with a lemon or lime's worth of juice before using in any recipe.
Step Three:  Sauce It Up
In a medium sauce pan, I melted 4 tablespoons of butter, whisked in 1/4 cup flour and continued whisk when adding the 2.5 cups of cream.  I added approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper each.  I used a little less than 1/3 cup of this heated sauce into my beaten eggs to temper them to the heat and then added them slowly to the sauce.
Step Four:  Then Add Cheese
This was the time to get excited because I mixed all the grated cheeses (EXCEPT the Blue Cheese) and added them to the sauce pan.  I stirred constantly until there was a nice melted sauce. 
Step Five:  Mix Pasta Zero, Broccoli and Cheese Sauce
I used the melted cheese sauce to pour over the steamed broccoli and Pasta Zero.  I mixed this gently so as not to mush the broccoli or make a knot of the pasta.
Step Six:  Layer
Now it was time to layer the ingredients into a buttered cooking dish.  Start by layering (in order):  half the onions, half the pasta/broccoli mix, half the mushrooms, half the blue cheese and half the bacon.  Then repeat this layering process a second time.
Step Seven:  Bake

I baked this dish at 425 deg F for 25 minutes.  Use a bigger baking dish than me... mine ranneth over.

Step Eight:  Enjoy
This was a delicious recipe.  Would it have been tastier without the broccoli and fake pasta?  Yes, of course it would, BUT this way, we got the cheese and didn't have to feel nearly as guilty about it. 
423 cal/ 8 g carbs/ 37 g fat/ 14 g protein per serving
  1. Be sure to use a larger baking dish than I did.  Mine bubbled over in the oven.
  2. In the future, I'll cut the Pasta Zero before adding to a dish.  It was slightly stretchy.  I've heard gluten free pasta is a spoungier texture, but it takes forever to wind it around a fork.
  3. The mushrooms and the onions really add the flavor to this dish.  They compliment the cheeses quite nicely.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Pineapple Black Bean Quesadillas

Ree's Barbecue Chicken and Pineapple Quesdillas were the inspiration/original goal of this recipe.  Since I avoid high fructose corn syrup, I bought an 'All Natural' barbecue sauce... It smelled fine, looked fine, but after grilling the chicken with it, it was not fine.  I chucked the chicken in the trash... this pained me because I don't like to be wasteful, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat it.  Luckily, I had a can of black beans in the pantry, and those quickly became the heroes of this recipe.
Step One:  Choose a Ripe Pineapple
Pluck a pineapple leaf to check for ripeness.
To select a ripe pineapple, choose the fruit whose top leaves pull out easily.  This trick has always worked for me.  Besides a pineapple, you will also need the following:
  • 12 small tortillas
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1.5 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream for serving
  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
Step Two:  Peel Ripe Pineapple
Slice off the outside peel.

I slice the bottom from the pineapple first; this gives me a flat surface to sit the fruit.  Next, I rotated the fruit slicing down each side and removing the outer peel.  Finally, I'll slice off the top of the pineapple.

Step Three:  Chop Ripe Pineapple
Cut around the core

The pineapple has a core so I then slice the fruit from around the core.  Those fruit wedges can then be chopped into smaller pieces.  I sliced mine to quarter inch slices and grilled them.  It's likely easier to grill the wedges prior to slicing them smaller.

Step Four:  Assemble Quesadillas
Lots of pineapple is key!

After grilling the pineapple, I assembled the quesadillas on my George Foreman grill.  I layered black beans, pineapple, jalapeno and cheese before placing the top tortilla.  I let each grill until the cheese was melted (~6 minutes).

Step Five:  Store
Store in aluminum foil...
I stored these in aluminum foil in the freezer.  The re-heating process was a little too long for my general impatience.  I had to defrost 4 minutes and then heat 2 minutes.  I served them with sour cream.  Enjoy!
395 cal/ 46 g carbs/ 17 g fat/ 14 g protein per quesadilla and 4 tbsp sour cream
  1. I used corn tortillas, but these crumble too easily.  Perhaps the flour tortillas would be a better choice?
  2. Always taste your individual ingredients prior to combining them.  I would have been sorely disappointed if I had used the chicken I disliked. 
  3. If you haven't had grilled pineapple before, you are in for a treat!  It's delicious.
  4. I stored these for a week in the freezer, but I'm afraid I tasted a little freezer burn by day 4 so be careful.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Sweet Lime Pickles

Ree's Sweet Lime Pickles are unavailable online BUT I've revised her recipe to a low sugar and easy canning option.  All you need is five pounds of cucumbers, 10 pint jars and a big pot.  You might also want to muster up some "Want To," too because it's a two day adventure.

Step One:  Slice and Soak
Pickling Lime = Crispy Pickles!

Purchase 5 pounds of pickling cucumbers (or make friends with someone with an ample garden).  Select the cucumbers that are firm and mid-size.  Don't get the large ones (not so tasty) and if they still have fuzzy pricklies, they're too small/unripe.  Rinse these and slice them.  Place the slices in a large pot along with one package of Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime (easily found at WalMart along with all the canning supplies).  Mix the pickling lime with 8 cups of water and pour over the cucumber slices.  Stir.  Put a lid on the pot and refrigerate overnight.

Step Two:  Soak Some More ... and then Boil
Pickles in the making

On the following day, remove the cucumber and rinse them thoroughly.  Wash this pot if you'll be using it to prep the canning mix.  Add the rinsed cucumber into the freshly cleaned pot along with 8 cups of white distilled vinegar, 4 cups of sugar (you can add more but I like 'tangy' pickles), 2 tablespoons of pickling spice (found on the canning aisle), 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and 0.5 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Heat briefly (do not boil; 10 minutes at medium-high heat).  Remove from heat, cover with a lid and refrigerate for 4 hours.  Finally, bring the pickles to a boil for 45 minutes (occasionally stirring). 

 Step Three:  Can  ...(yes, you can)

I don't use a canner.  I do, however, place my jars in the dishwasher first so they'll be nice and clean/hot before adding my boiling mix of pickles.  Lightly boil the "lids," too.  Remove the pint jar from the dishwasher, insert funnel, fill with pickle slices (try to fit as many as possible), and then pour in the pickling liquid to cover the pickle slices.  Wipe off the jar mouth thoroughly, dry a lid from the boiling lids pot, place the lid on the jar mouth and tighten a ring over the lid.  Sit in a low traffic area and do not disturb for 24 hours.  If successful, you'll be hearing little sealing "pops" all evening. 

53 cal/ 13 g carbs/ 0 g fat/ 0 g protein per 5 slices

  1. These are the best pickles I've ever had (homemade).  I'll always be partial to the Dill Pickles from the grocery store BUT these are the best homemade I've had. 
  2. I hesitated when I first saw this recipe because I always think of the Andy Griffith Show - Pickle Story.  If you haven't seen it, take the 25 minutes and laugh.  Basically, Aunt Bee thinks she can pickle cucumbers successfully, but their taste is lovingly described as like "kerosene". 
  3. Be adventurous- try pickling!  :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: 'Pork' Tortilla Soup

I took a few liberties with Ree's Chicken Tortilla Soup and turned it into my Pork Chop Tortilla Soup.  I hope you don't mind... It's just as tasty if not more so... because after all, it has leftover pork chops and the original pork chop drippings/broth. 

Step One:  Clean Out the Fridge
Ingredients... I know- I cheated by using canned black beans.

I used the following ingredients:
  • 5 leftover pork chops, cooked and cubed
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (with juice)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 16 oz. can black beans
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 6 small corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1.5-2 cups pork chop broth (use a chicken broth if you don't have this)
  • Sea salt and Chef's black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 cups water

 Step Two: Combine Ingredients in Pot
Cooking up some flavorful yummy

This is a VERY flavorful soup AND very filling for a lunch.  This is also SUPER easy to prep.  I originally prepped my pork chops in a Dutch oven with 3 cups water (1 hour at 350 deg F, bake).  This will give you the pork chops and the broth for the soup.  Season the pork chops as your palate dictates.  Dice these chops and add to your soup pot along with the broth.  Next, add you diced vegetables and seasoning.  Dilute this mix with water right up to the ingredient surface.  Finally, add your tortilla strips and stir.  Cook this on medium high heat for ~40 minutes.
279 cal/ 22 g carbs/ 6 g fat/ 32 g protein per 2 cup serving

  1. I stored this soup for one week.  Re-heating at lunch for two minutes (microwave).  Yes, it maintained its yumminess throughout the week.
  2. Be forewarned that the tortilla strips will dissolve slightly and 'cloud' the soup.  No worries, though, still tasty.  If this bothers you, however, just add the strips before microwaving to reheat.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Corn Casserole

Ree's Corn Casserole with Peppers is a fresh way to enjoy an abundance of summer corn.  I served this alongside a salad, and it was scrumptious.  I also felt less guilt about this dish since I did serve it with salad. 

Step One:  Trip to the Farmer's Market
A colorful trip to the Farmer's Market.

I used the following ingredients:
  • 9 ears of corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeno's, diced (guage heat before adding)
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • Sea salt and Chef's black pepper to taste 

Step Two:  Cut Corn Off the Cob
Cutting the Corn

I bought my corn half shucked so I slightly cheated on the work to prep this dish.  Remember my trick of roasting the corn first so that it shucks easier.  (Work smart, not hard!)  I got my biggest mixing bowl to cut the corn off the cob because sometimes it goes everywhere, and 9 ears is going to need a large bowl.  I used a sharp 8 inch knife and this was a quick easy way to tackle this task.

Step Three:  Add Colorful Peppers
A rainbow of delicious.

I washed, seeded and diced the peppers.  You are forewarned that jalapeno's are hot- don't scratch your nose (burn baby burn) and try not to inhale deeply (sneezy) while working with these.  Try to pawn this job off if you can...  Then combine this beautiful, colorful bounty in the bowl with the corn.  I then added the cream, salt and pepper.  Stir.  

Step Four:  Bake & Enjoy
Baked Corn Casserole

I poured my mixed vegetables into a buttered baking dish and baked this casserole at 375 deg F for 30 minutes (or until you get the nice brown crust on top).  I called 1.5 cups a serving (especially since I was using it as my main course). 

314 cal/ 22 g carbs/ 18 g fat/ 5 g protein per serving

** Notes**
  1. I stored this for a week in the refrigerator and just microwaved 2 minutes prior to serving. 
  2. I was pleased with this dish; it was a fast fix at night and included plenty of veggies.  I did, however, drop the ball on protein for this one... I know.  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Ree's Strawberry Shortcake Cake is a hands-down must, BUT make sure there is plenty of company coming or your experience may turn into one of those potato chip commercials where you just can't stop eating.  I've found this to be my case whenever I make cream cheese icing from scratch, and this recipe is no different.  So keep those old plastic containers (i.e.-cool whip, butter, etc.) handy because your waistline will need you to send the leftovers home with your guests. 
Step One:  Golden Yellow Butter Cake Mix
Cutting corners with Cake Mix from Pillsbury

 Preheat your oven to 350 deg F (or as directed by the cake mix box).  Follow the directions on the cake mix box for baking two 9 inch round cakes.  I used half the batter for the first layer and the remaining half for the second layer.  Be sure to use enough non-stick spray on the cake pan so you'll retrieve these layers whole and not in broken pieces.   Ree uses a from-scratch cake batter here, but cake mix boxes are worth their $0.99 on clearance to me...

 Step Two:  Ice Cake Layer #1
Mouth-watering begins at this step...
Now, the cream cheese icing on the other hand- that needs to be made from scratch.  Luckily, my friend Caroline was helping me with the prep work so I wasn't as tempted to dive into the icing bowl and lap it up.  It still crossed my mind though.  In a glass bowl, I microwaved one 8 oz. package of cream cheese and 1/2 stick of unsalted butter to softness.  I placed this in a larger bowl with 1.5 lbs powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix this to smoothness with a beater.  Spread half of this delicious mixture onto the first layer of cake.

 Step Three: Ice Cake Layer #2
The temptation mounts...

Spread the remaining half of the icing on the top layer, and completely cover the cake. Finally, it is okay to lap the icing reminants in the prep bowl... but you may to share!    

 Step Four:  Cut and Serve
Dinner table etiquette is hard to follow when this is sitting in front of you.

The fresh strawberries I had picked up for this occassion didn't look so good by the time Thursday rolled around (because sadly, they are now out of season in Georgia) so I pulled out a quart of frozen strawberries that I had put up in June and thawed them.  I placed a bowl of the strawberries and a quart of ice cream on the table with the cake so that guests would have options. 

Step Five:  Enjoy...
The beginnings of a Nobel Peace Prize...
I hope you have a sweet tooth because this dessert plate will rock your palate!  Many combinations of this final dish are possible with equal success:  alternate any fruit, skip the ice cream or just combine icing and fruit... they'll all have you begging for more. 

The following nutritional information will not be for the faint of heart...  Just remember to workout that day or cut smaller slices...

893 cal/ 138 g carbs/ 36 g fat/ 7 g protein  per 1/8 of the cake

1153 cal/ 170 g carbs/ 50 g fat/ 11 g protein per 1/8 of the cake + 1 cup ice cream

  1. I baked the cake layers on a Tuesday night after work and refrigerated them in tupperware until Thursday night when company was coming.  (I had a concert on Wednesday night and didn't want to stretch myself too thin on Thursday night soooo two days in advance it was). 
  2. Chilling the cake helps with spreading the cream cheese evenly.
  3. I tried reducing the amount of powdered sugar BUT the icing was too runny that way.  I did, however, reduce the original 2 sticks of butter to 1/2 a stick.  (So your arteries will thank me even if your pancreas won't). 
  4. The original recipe called for adding the strawberries to each layer of cake and then topping with icing.  Caroline had a brilliant idea to add the icing first since the moist berries might make the cake soggy (especially if you were going to store leftovers).  Also, there are some guests who will prefer no strawberries because the cream cheese icing and cake alone will knock their socks off.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Mango Margaritas + Dinner

Ree's Mango Margarita was a nice treat on an August evening after work with the girls.  It's tasty with and without the Patron so if you'd prefer a regular smoothie, it's definitely an option.  Eventually, a dinner for five evolved... this included pork chops, fried apples, biscuits and fig preserves.  ...because if company is worth inviting, they should be worth cooking for :)   

Step One:  Assemble Ingredients and Containers
Tropical Smoothie/Margarita assembly area.
I used the following ingredients:
  • 2 limes
    • 1 tablespoon zest for rim
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar in the Raw, brown - for rim
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, white - for rim
  • 1.5 cups Silver Patron
  • 1.5 cups Triple Sec
  • 2 20 oz jars of Tropical Fruit (my grocery store didn't have the mango so I improvised)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Step Two:  Use a sturdy blender... Smoothies are a beast
In the blender... if only they weren't so noisy...
I've gone through quite a few blenders primarily because I don't like anything that leaks or takes too long to get the job done.  I used to buy the plastic pitcher blenders- big mistake, only mess with glass ones folks.  The fruit, Patron, Triple Sec, Tropical fruit (drained, save the juice), juice from the limes and granulated sugar were added to the blender and topped off with ice cubes.  The smoothie setting blended this concoction quite nicely. 

 Step Three:  Set the scene
Aesthetics improve appetites. Period.
To prep the glasses, dip the tops in the collected Tropical Fruit juice and then swirl in a mixture of the rim ingredients (Sugar in the Raw, Granulated Sugar and Lime zest).  This will give a nice frosted appearance and an extra little sweet sensation to take the edge off the lime in the smoothie.

 Step Four:  Try your hand at biscuits
Attempting homemade biscuits (from scratch... that's where it got me).
I am going to go ahead and say:  I have made fluffy biscuits before.  That said, I may have gotten a little too cocky.  I thought I'd just whip some up from scratch using the recipe on the back of a flour bag... wrong.  So now, I am on a search for the perfect biscuits from scratch!  If you have a favorite biscuit recipe and wouldn't mind sharing, please do!  (Yes, I know biscuits are available in the frozen aisle and via mixes, but I want to start with flour and come up with something delisch). 

So I'm not going to share this recipe because I don't think it warrants repetition.  The biscuits were too crunchy for the generally accepted biscuit.

 Step Five:  Let the stove do all the work 
Fried apples and biscuits are a savory combo.
To accompany the biscuits and pork chops, I cut up 3 granny smith apples and let them simmer over low heat for ~20 minutes in about 2 tablespoons of butter.  I prefer the apples to still have a slight crunch.  I sprinkled them with ligh brown sugar to cut any bitterness and a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon for the taste buds.

 Step Six:  Easy pork chops in your Dutch oven
Dutch oven pork chops
When I got off work, I placed 9 pork chops in my Dutch oven with 2 cups of water and cooked in the oven at 350 deg F for 1 hour.  The pork chops were very moist and the resultant broth is excellent for making soups later in the week.  I seasoned the pork chops with Kroger brand general meat tenderizer (0.5 tablespoon), 1 teaspoon chef's black pepper, 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon oregano.  I put the seasonings in a gallon size ziploc bag and worked the seasonings into the chops before adding them to the Dutch oven. 

 Step Seven:  Just add butter and preserves
Southern yum factor = 10/10

All in all, I was quite pleased with this meal despite my pebble biscuits ;).  I think the girls enjoyed it, too. 

98 cal/16 g carbs/ 0 g fat/ 1 g carbs in 1.5 cups of margarita

408 cal/ 29 g carbs/ 22 g fat/ 23 g carbs for 1 pork chop, 0.5 cup apples, and 1 buttered biscuit with fig preserves

  1. If you've got company coming and you aren't sure of a biscuit recipe, just buy them.  Better safe than sorry. 
  2. The smoothie mix will store nicely in a gallon zip lock bag in the freezer if you have leftovers or want to keep a mix on hand for a long period of time.
  3. Dutch ovens are fantastic!  If you don't have one, put it on your bucket kitchen list.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

Yummm, breakfast!  Whether it's a jolt start from Starbucks or a more savory (...albeit higher calorie) start of biscuits and gravy, we can all agree breakfast is your first impression of the day.  Luckily, most of us can control how that start is going to go.  Below is a waffle version of Ree's Lemon Blueberry Pancakes that is sure to give you a tasty start (just make sure you don't walk around with blueberry purple lips afterwards... guilty ;).   

Step One:  Assemble Ingredients
Sometimes I go the easiest route- Bisquick (Heart Smart of course ;)
I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1.5 cups Bisquick
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk (this may vary as it's used to thin the batter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (or more to suit your palate) blueberries
  • Pam olive oil spray to coat waffle griddle
  • butter to serve (and syrup if you like)
Step Two:  Mix and Sizzle
George Foreman waffle setup.
I combined the egg, bisquick, buttermilk, lemon, vanilla, honey and sea salt in a large bowl and mixed thoroughly.  I then added the blueberries and scooped 2/3 cup of batter into each waffle square griddle.  These cook fairly quickly so don't wonder too far or yours will be extra crunchy. 

Step Three:  Enjoy!
I like protein of the morning so I paired my lemon blueberry waffles with turkey sausage.  The recipe made 7 waffles (fairly large ones at that). 

139 cal/ 25 g carbs/ 3 g fat/ 5 g protein per waffle

209 cal/ 25 g carbs/ 7 g fat/ 13 g protein per waffle + sausage link

  1. I wrapped these in aluminum foil and stored them in the freezer.  Each morning, I would pop one in the toaster oven and it would be an easy on-the-go breakfast.  (I just stored the turkey sausage in the fridge and lightly microwaved it ~45 seconds).
  2. These are a little more firm than your classic pancake so prepare to your own palate preference.
  3. I think this recipe would also be really good as a banana, coconut mix... especially with warm syrup... yum!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

An Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin is a hardy dinner treat especially when you include the root vegetables like celery root, turnips, ginger and carrots.  Top it all off with some cornbread and fig preserves, and you have a complete home-cooked meal.  **I set the smoke alarm off four times with this dish**

Step One:  Gather ingredients.

Root vegetables, tenderloin and cornmeal.
I used the following ingredients:
  • 1 whole celery root, peeled and diced
  • 1 whole parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 whole turnip, peeled and diced
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Skim milk to thin cornmeal batter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup fig preserves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Step Two:  Prep Oven at 425 deg F
Pre-heat oven at 425 deg F.  When cooking at this temperature, there is a good chance you will set off the smoke alarms.  Toss vegetables with a pinch of sea salt, black pepper and sugar; and tablespoon of olive oil.  (The sugar will keep vegetables like turnips from having a bitter taste.)  Let these bake 15-20 minutes until slightly browned.  Keep the fan on to help prevent smoke alarms.  After removing the pan of baked vegetables, place a seasoned cast iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter.  (To this pan, add the cornmeal batter consisting of the cornmeal, flour, egg and skim milk, and bake 45 minutes.)

Step Three:  Keep a George Foreman Grill on Standby
Once again, the George Foreman to the rescue.
The seasoned pork tenderloin should have baked in 15 minutes, but I didn't find this to be the case.  It was still pink and runny inside so I took it out of the oven (smoking of course) and placed it on the George Foreman grill for 6 minutes.

Step Four:  Spread Sweet and Sour Sauce
Kinda like sweet and sour pork tenderloin.
I mixed the fig preserves and apple cider vinegar into a sauce and spread it onto the pork tenderloin while it was still hot. 

Step Five:  Final Serving Dish
Sliced and served over veggies.
I sliced the pork tenderloin and served it over the baked/roasted vegetables.

Step Six:  Momma's Cornbread
Mini-cornbread skillet.

Ree's recipe originally called for fried cornmeal cakes, but my palate prefers non-greasy cornbread.  This skillet size cuts nicely into 6 slices.

184 cal/ 18 g carbs/ 3 g fat/ 20 g protein per 3 1" servings

340 cal/ 38 g carbs/ 10 g fat/ 23 g protein plus cornbread

  1. While the pork tenderloin stores well (for a week), I would recommend serving it immediately.
  2. The cornbread stores well in the refrigerator and re-heats well.  (followed of course with butter and preserves or honey or molasses... ;)
  3.  BEWARE- SMOKE ALARMS happen with this recipe! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Southeast Meets Western Frontier: Fig-Prosciutto Pizza

Ree's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza is a delicious lunch idea.  It's a nice balance of salty and sweet with greens to boot (...and did I mention there is cheese, too?).   

An inviting Saturday afternoon view.

Step One:  Shop
Yummy starting materials
I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 fig preserves (that I posted Monday)
  • 12 oz fresh mozarella, sliced
  • 8 oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz organic greens
Step Two:  Prep Pizza Dough
The lil dough ball before it rose.
Start with the pizza dough prep.  I let a teaspoon of "rapid rise" yeast sit in the warm water for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, I added the flour, salt and olive oil to my magic food processor pulsing on low.  Finally, I added the yeast water and "processed" until I had this nice little dough ball.  I placed this ball in a lightly oiled glass bowl and covered for one hour to let rise.

Step Three:  Flatten Dough, Top and Bake
Pizza on the George Foreman grill.
I spread the risen dough on a lightly oil George Foreman grill bottom.  To that I spread the fig preserves I had prepared and evenly spaced the fresh mozarella cheese.  I let this cook until the dough was done (~20 minutes).  I was impatient during this part.  I tried closing the grill top, but that resulted in a disasterous overflow of cheese... so word to the wise...

Step Four:  Cut Pizza
The yummy pizza product.
The pizza will pick up nicely out of the George Foreman grill, and I cut it into six squares.  (I'll admit it- I like ample lunch portions...)

Step Five:  Top with Greens
Everything looks healthier when you decorate with greens.

Don't forget the greens; evidently they're important. ;) 

360 cal/ 28 g carbs/ 18 g fat/ 20 g protein per serving  (Makes 6 servings).

  1. After cooling, I placed each square in aluminum foil, topped with greens and refrigerated/stored 6 days.  I took the greens off before re-heating at lunch (1 minute was a good re-heat microwave time for me). 
  2. I paired this with a ruby red grapefruit and 8 oz of organic 1% milk.
  3. Other than fruit pizza, this was the first pizza I had made from scratch by myself AND the only one I've ever attempted on a George Foreman grill.  TWO THUMBS UP!  :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fresh Fig Preserves

It's fresh fig time in Georgia!  They average $5/quart (so buy a tree; it's more frugal).  I had never had figs until I moved to Georgia, and I'm very happy to say they are delicious!  If you haven't tried them, add the experience to your bucket list.  I had always avoided them because they reminded me of the dates that killed the Capuchin monkey in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Naturally, I boil mine because a sweet warm fig is divine, but this time, I decided to give preserves a try.    

Step One:  Ingredients
Equal parts sugar and fruit are always the safe bet... I don't play it safe in the kitchen.

My fig preserve ingredients:

  • 1 quart figs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white grape juice
  • 1 sure-jell box
  • 1 quart canning jar (or 2 pints canning jars), canning lids and canning rings

Step Two:  Combine in Pot
Bring figs, juice, sugar and sure-jell to a boil.

I rinsed the figs and capped them (if they still have stems).  I placed the figs in the pot, poured in the grape juice, sugar and brought to a boil.  I mashed the figs (you could also put these in a food processor prior to boiling).  Once boiling, I added the sure-jell.  I let this mixture boil rapidly ~5-10 min.

Step Three:  Can
A little less than a quart.  (I may have sampled some...)

I poured the boiling preserves in an already-hot canning jar, wiped off the mouth and placed a freshly boiled and dried lid on top.  I tightened a ring over the lid and set the jar aside to seal.

Step Four:  Enjoy!
A little kick to the morning toast.

I love these preserves on buttered toast.  I call a serving a tablespoon.  Clearly, I spread more than one tablespoon on my toast, but I think it is yummier that way.  ;)

63 cal/ 16 g carbs/ 0 g fat/ 0 g protein per tablespoon