Friday, April 23, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

I've never had Shepherd's Pie before. Wes had it at the cafeteria in college and was not too excited when I told him I was making this. I guess the cafeteria just threw all the leftovers together and topped it with mashed potatoes. I don't blame him for having a jaded few of this dish.

Luckily Rachael Ray's version of this dish changed his mind to what it's really supposed to be like. It shouldn't be a surprise that I watch A LOT of Food Network. And of the shows that make Shepherd's Pie, they all say it's a good way for kids to eat their veggies because of the other elements in the dish. That's not why I made this dish, but if you have/will have kids at home (I don't think anyone who reads my blog has kids who won't eat their veggies), let me know if trick works. ;)

Shepherd's Pie

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tb sour cream or softened cream cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth
Salt & pepper
1 Tb. olive oil
1 3/4 lb. ground beef or ground lamb
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped - Of course I left this out, but used some onion powder to fill in the onion flavor.
2 Tb . butter
2 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock or broth
2 tsp. Worcestershire
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 Tb. chopped fresh parsley leaves

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream and add to potatoes. Mash until smooth.

While potatoes boil, cook meat over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Drain fat from pan. Add chopped carrot and onion to the pan. Cook veggies with meat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.

In another small skillet over medium heat, cook butter and flour together for about 2 minutes. Don't let this mixture burn. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy for about 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and veggies. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a casserole dish with meat and veggie mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until potatoes are evenly browned, about 6 minutes. I think mine took maybe closer to 8 or 10 minutes to brown. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Not the prettiest picture, but you can see what the inside looks like.

I didn't really make the potato topping according to the recipe. I made mashed potatoes how we like them. A little bit of milk, butter, garlic powder, salt and powder. I'm sure the recipe's version of the mashed potatoes is really rich and creamy. Do it the recipe's way or do it your way. Whatever you like. Ooh, garlic mashed potatoes would up the ante on this meal! Definitely be sure to salt and pepper the meat AND potatoes liberally. The first time I made this dish, I don't think I did enough and it tasted a little bland.

This is a nice comfort food dish. It's not too hard to make, although there is a lot going on at once: browning the meat, cooking the veggies, making the sauce, making the potatoes. It may help to have an extra set of hands. Of course you can always make the mashed potatoes first since they're going to get warmed up in the oven anyway. You could probably make this dish ahead of time and cook later in the day. I'm not sure about freezing and then cooking. But let me know if that does work!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sesame Orange Shrimp

Are you tired of me blogging about chicken yet? I promise I cook other things other than poultry. Here's an example: Sesame Orange Shrimp! Like the Chinese take-out version of this dish? This is an easy and probably much more healthy version. Pair it with simple rice and veggies or try doing a fried rice. That was Wes's idea. I would've just served plain rice. Bo-oring.

Sesame Orange Shrimp

2 large egg whites
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sesame seeds
salt & pepper
1 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, deveined and peeled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
2 Tb. soy sauce
1 Tb. sugar
4 scallions

Whisk together egg whites, corn starch, sesame seeds, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper in a bowl. Add shrimp to bowl and toss to coat. I might even cut the egg whites down a little as the batter got to be a bit egg-y. Of course, I only used about 1 pound of shrimp. So maybe if I used more, it wouldn't have been as noticeable.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in nonstick pan over medium high heat. Cook shrimp until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Add more oil if necessary to finish cooking the shrimp.

Wipe skillet with paper towel and add orange juice, soy sauce, and sugar. Boil over high heat until syrupy and reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 to 5 minutes. Return shrimp to skillet, add scallions and cook until heated through.

Wondering where the scallions are? I left them off since Wes doesn't like onions.

I love the crunchiness of the fried shrimp. And yes, of course, you don't have to batter and fry the shrimp. You can just cook the shrimp as is for a healthier take. Although the bonus to the batter is the sesame seeds. Toasted sesame seeds have this great nutty flavor. I didn't add as much as the recipe called for, so I didn't taste it as much. But don't be afraid to be liberal with the sesame seeds. The sauce is like a sweet and sour type of sauce. It's sweet and a bit tangy and yummy. If you like more of actual sauce, try doubling those ingredients. Otherwise, the amount of sauce is just enough to give the shrimp some coating.

Wes did a great job of pan frying the rice. He good one or two eggs and scrambled them a bit in a pan. Then took the cooked rice and added it to the eggs. He seasoned it with some soy sauce and a few other spices (probably garlic powder, salt and pepper). He added some cooked carrot slices to it also. I roasted some broccoli florets tossed in olive oil in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I sprinkled some soy sauce and lemon juice over the broccoli.

It was a great Chinese take-out meal made at home. I really like roasting broccoli. It gives it a different dimension and rustic feeling to a vegetable I've usually eaten steamed or in a casserole. You could probably use this sauce with any other meat like chicken or beef if you're not a seafood person.

Do take-out at home with this meal! Enjoy!

Gorgonzola Pesto Cheese Chicken

When I moved out on my own after college, I asked my mom for a few recipes. The chicken cordon bleu was one, and she sent me an email full of other chicken recipes. I only tried this one because of my love affair with pesto. I was not disappointed. This chicken dish is packed full of bold flavors from the pesto and bleu cheese. It's pretty simple, but can be impressive to guests. If you like bleu cheese and pesto, you'll love this chicken dish. I halve the recipe, because 8 pieces of chicken is A LOT for just Wes and me.

Gorgonzola (or bleu cheese) Pesto Cheese Chicken

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2 oz. cream cheese
2 oz. Gorgonzola or bleu cheese, softened
salt & pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 Tb olive oil

Pound chicken to 1/4" thickness. Season with salt & pepper.

Mash together cream cheese, pesto and Gorgonzola. Give this a little try and adjust the flavors to your liking. Divide cheese mixture among the chicken. Fold chicken in half to enclose filling and squeeze edges to seal.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Dip chicken bundle in egg and then dredge in breadcrumbs to coat well. Pour oil into a jelly roll pan and place in oven for 3 to 4 minutes until oil is hot. Do not allow oil to smoke.

After oil is heated, place chicken on the pan and bake for 8 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

See the wonderful pesto in the cheese? Yummy.

So it can be a little messy when making. The chicken doesn't always fold neatly over the cheese mixture. It's not exactly the healthiest meal either... especially when I made mashed potatoes with whipping cream and bleu cheese like I did above. But it's all so good and rich. I really enjoy the tanginess of the bleu cheese, which goes well with the zestiness of the pesto. The best part about this meal? The cheese that oozes out of the chicken and onto the baking pan that gets all crispy. Mmmm.... Don't judge until you try it!

The bread crumbs give the chicken a nice crunch to the dish, which plays off well to the creaminess of the cheese. Of course, you don't have to bread the chicken - it'll be just as good without it. If you don't bread it, season both sides of the chicken breast with salt & pepper.

Give it a try! You won't be disappointed. Unless you don't like pesto... or bleu cheese.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicken Strips with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar Over Linguine

Not much needs to be changed on this dish full of bold flavors. Enjoy!

Chicken Strips with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar Over Linguine

2 Tb. oil oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips - about 3 breasts
1/4 cup slivered sun-dried tomatoes - I used some that were packed in oil
4 Tb. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 lb. egg linguine
2 Tb. butter
Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until just tender, about 4 minutes.

Add chicken and cook until chicken is done, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes to warm. Stir in vinegar and mustard. Continue cooking until chicken is tender and cooked through, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain well and toss with butter.

Turn out onto a serving platter and top with chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Can you see the nice sauce on the chicken in the third picture? Mmmm!

This is a wonderful flavored dish. I love the balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes together. A bit tangy and a bit sweet together. This chicken has great flavor. The only thing missing is that the noodles are lacking a bit of sauce. You could toss the noodles with a little bit of balsamic vinegar as well so that the vinegar carries through the whole dish, but don't over-do it as balsamic vinegar is a very strong ingredient. A light pesto sauce would be a nice addition. But give the dish a try as is and see what you think. I might have added even more sun-dried tomatoes just because I love them.

This makes a lot and we've had leftovers for a few days. Of course, you can always scale back the recipe, but as is, it serves about 4 people.

Very yummy! Happy cooking!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chicken, Broccoli, Ricotta Pizza

I'm a fan of making homemade pizzas. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than eating fancy wood-fired pizza and you can get more creative with your toppings.

Chicken, Broccoli, Ricotta Pizza

1 pizza dough - I use Pillsbury refrigerated thin crust pizza dough
2 Tsp. olive oil
2 Tb. grated Parmesan Cheese
1/3 pound broccoli, about 1 head
1 Tb. olive oil
3 cloves cracked garlic
1/2 pound chicken breasts or chicken tenders (approximately 2 chicken breasts)
Salt & Pepper
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
10 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained & sliced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
12 - 15 leaves of fresh basil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Pour some vegetable oil on a paper napkin and wipe the baking sheet with the oil. Sprinkle baking sheet with corn meal. This gives a nice rustic crunch to the bottom of your pizza and also helps it to not stick to the sheet. Roll out or stretch pizza dough. Try pre-baking the crust at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over crust and spread it to the edge of the dough. Sprinkle crust with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Steam broccoli florets, discarding stalks. Drain and set on cutting bored. Chop into smaller pieces if not small enough already.

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add oil, cracked garlic and chicken. Season with salt & pepper. Cook chicken until cooked through. Remove chicken and garlic, chop into small pieces.

Dot crust with broccoli florets, chicken and garlic. Spread ricotta cheese over chicken and broccoli. Make sure large clumps are spread out evenly. Add just a little bit of salt over the ricotta. Add sliced sun-dried tomatoes on top of ricotta cheese. Add a thin layer of mozzarella.

Place pizza in middle of the oven and lower heat to 450 degrees. Bake for 12 minutes until cheese is golden brown and crust is brown and crisp. Remove pizza and let sit for 5 minutes. Tear fresh basil on top of pizza. Cut and serve.

It's definitely a colorful pizza!

The middle part of the pizza dough was still a bit doughy. That's why I suggest baking the dough a little beforehand, so that it gets cooked a little more thoroughly. I love Pillsbury pizza doughs for homemade pizzas - especially the thin crust one. The dough ends up being nice and crunchy and a little sweet. The regular crust may give you more of a fluffy, chewy crust. You could make your own pizza dough or see if your grocery store has pre-made doughs (I've never seen them before).

This is definitely one of the healthier pizzas I've made (sausage and pesto is one of the un-healthiest, but SO good!). Since the ricotta is part skim, it lacks a little bit in flavor, so that's why I suggest adding a bit of salt on top of it. I might try roasting the broccoli instead of steaming it next time to give it even more depth of flavor. Even using one of those roast chickens from the grocery store would add a little more oomph - and save you from having to cook the chicken yourself. I really like how the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes adds a nice punch into this pizza. I would probably add even more next time and maybe even some red pepper flake to give it a bit of heat.

Overall, it was a good pizza. Definitely some improvements to be made and tried for next time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Who doesn't love lettuce wraps from Chinese restaurants? This is an easy version, though the ingredients are a little intimating. I don't really use hoisin sauce or oyster sauce for anything else other than this dish. I served this with potstickers (yes, homemade) as a main dish, but it would be good as an appetizer too. This can be, and usually is a messy dish.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

8 small Boston lettuce leaves - I use Bibb lettuce because that's what's at the grocery store
2 Tb. hoisin sauce
2 - 3 chicken breasts, chilled
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp. dry white wine
1/3 cup canned water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped fine - I omit these because I don't like water chestnuts
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg white, beaten lightly

For sauce:
4 tsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

2 Tb. vegetable oil
1 small garlic clove, minced

In a food processor, pulse chicken until chopped fine. In a small cup, stir together cornstarch, wine, salt and egg. Add chopped chicken, bell pepper and chestnuts. Marinate for 5 minutes.

To make sauce: Stir together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved.

In a large saucepan with salted boiling water, simmer chicken mixture slowly. Stir constantly to break up lumps. Cook chicken until it is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Drain chicken mixture in a sieve.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat vegetable oil over moderately high heat. Do not let oil smoke. Cook garlic until softened. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sauce and cook, stirring until mixture is coated, about 2 minutes.

Add hoisin sauce to lettuce leaves and spread over lettuce and add chicken. Wrap leaves loosely around filling to eat.

I love the hoisin sauce with this. Hoisin is like a Chinese barbecue sauce. It has a nice sweet, kind of tangy, flavor to it. I will admit that oyster sauce does not smell the greatest and probably doesn't even taste that great on its own, but mixed with the sugar and sesame oil, it gives the chicken a deep flavor. It's actually fairly subtle on the chicken itself once added.

This is a pretty easy and healthy meal. The most intimidating part of this recipe may be chopping the chicken in a food processor. But that's not hard - just different. A deterrent, maybe the hoisin and oyster sauces. These keep well for a while, so if you like this dish, you'll have all the ingredients on hand for next time. I hope you'll give it a try!

Happy cooking!

Cilantro Pesto

I like cilantro. I like pesto. What a great combination these two things would make! I was pretty optimistic about this dish. Unfortunately my expectations weren't met. This pesto is pretty strong. It has a much stronger flavor than your typical basil pesto. (Note the small amount of sauce on the pasta. With basil pesto, I like to drown my food in it.) It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't say it was my favorite sauce to make. Luckily the scallops made a nice, sweet paring. There was a nice underlying butter and olive oil flavor to the noodles and scallops, which helped make the cilantro not so overwhelming. Careful with any additional salt as it can get pretty salty quickly.

I don't know that I would make this again. But if you're daring enough to try this recipe, tell me what you thought of it!
And definitely check your teeth in the mirror after dinner. No one likes walking around with green things in between their teeth.

Cilantro Pesto

2 cups cilantro leaves (1 bunch)
1 Tb. lime juice (~1/2 lime)
5 Tb. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Is This Thing In My House?!

Just because it's been a while since there's been a Jake post:

I don't remember why my mom had a donkey pinata, but needless to say Jake wasn't too fond of this thing in the house. But you know, I'd be a little freaked out too if an weird, purple animal thing I'd never seen before was towering above me.

I love this dog.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This dish is a classic comfort food to me. This recipe actually came from my mom. Unfortunately it's not an family recipe since I think she got it from some magazine or cooking class. But nonetheless, it's a classic Lou tradition. I don't alter this recipe much, if at all, so don't worry if you don't see any italics.

Chicken Cordon Bleu, aka Swiss Chicken and Ham Roll-Ups

4 boneless chicken breast halves
2 TB chopped parsley - can used dried parsley if you want
4 thin slices of cooked ham - I use sliced deli ham
4 slices of Swiss cheese
3 TB mayonnaise
2 tsp. water
6 TB bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
Dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken between sheets of waked paper (I use plastic wrap) and pound until about 1/4" thick. Sprinkle one side of each breast with a little salt, pepper and parsley. Top with slice of ham and slice of cheese. Roll up jelly roll style and fasten with toothpicks to keep the roll together.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and water. In another bowl, mix bread crumbs, salt, paprika, and pepper. Dip chicken in mayonnaise mixture then in crumbs. Bake in shallow baking pan for 20 minutes. I line the baking pan with a silpat or other non-stick mat so the chicken comes off easier.

This one didn't get rolled all the way, but you get the idea of what it should look like.

This dish has great flavor. I love the Swiss cheese in this dish. It's probably the reason why I make this - for the melted cheese. The chicken is nice and juicy thanks to the pounding it takes. It's a classic and easy dish to prepare. The most intimidating part of this meal may be the pounding of the chicken and rolling up. If you pound the chicken thin enough, it will be easy to roll the chicken up with the ham and Swiss. Watch out for toothpicks when eating this dish. You could pull them out before serving, but if you pull it out too quickly right after pulling it out of the oven, it could unroll. Either let the eater pull out the toothpicks themselves or let the chicken sit for at least 5 minutes before pulling them out.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Date Night

I was afraid Date Night, starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey, was going to end up being a mish mash of The Office and 30 Rock writing. We saw the trailer a ton of times and I wondered if it was going to be one of those movies where all the funny parts are in the trailer. I am happy to say that all the funny parts are not in the trailer.

This movie was very entertaining. Steve Carell and Tina Fey may not be as convincing as a married couple named Phil and Claire Foster, but they are the right actors for those roles. As a married couple with two kids, they take regular date nights, like a lot of couples with kids do. But their date night is the same old thing and nothing very exciting. However, one spontaneous date night turns into mistaken identity which the trailers lead into. A lot of silly antics and clever uses of resources lead them to find the reason why the people they are mistaken for are being targeted.

There are a lot of other well known actors in this movie. James Franco and Mila Kunis play the couple who are the ones the Fosters are mistaken for - the Tripplehorns. They are nothing but over the top. Which is fitting for their roles. Phil Foster and James Franco's character exchange a very childish name calling battle, which is actually kind of funny. William Fitchner is very kooky in his role as the District Attorney. I really enjoyed him in this role and thought it very funny to see him in this when I most picture him as the banker from The Dark Knight bravely saying, "Oh, the criminals in this town used to believe in things..." A Taraji P. Henson plays the detective investigating the Foster's crazy story. She did a great job and I really liked her. Then there's Mark Wahlberg who we all see in the trailers with his shirt off. And that becomes a long running joke in the movie. I have to say the exchange between Claire and Mark Wahlberg's character got to be a bit cheesy. But that was the only cheesy part in this whole movie.

There were a lot of funny parts to this movie that didn't rely on farting or punching someone in the stomach humor *cough* Will Farrell movies *cough*. There was the awkward humor that Steve Carell does so well in The Office. But Tina Fey took a nice turn in her role. We didn't see a bit of the awkward, geeky Liz Lemon at all, which was refreshing. The movie was funny, but I also wonder how much funnier it got to be since we saw it in a crowded theatre.

After the movie, Wes made a comment asking how much more we appreciate and understand this movie after being married. I think the underlying story of this movie definitely is understood better by movie goers who are married and even more so by movie goers who have kids. The parents barely find time for each other, are tired when they get home, and have just generally lost that spark that was first there. There are a lot of issues that I think a lot of couples can relate to. The nice thing about this movie is that the Fosters work through it all and in the end, know that they would pick each other all over again.

This movie is definitely worth seeing. If not at the theatre, go rent it and watch it with a bunch of friends. If you enjoy Steve Carell in The Office and like Tina Fey, you won't be disappointed in this movie. At the end, through the credits, they show bloopers and out takes, which I always love watching. So I'm sure once this movie comes out on DVD, the blooper reel will be even better. Oh and something fun to keep an eye out on, when the Fosters are in Times Square, see how many tourists you can see in the background watching them film the scene or taking pictures. How cool would that have been to see them filming? Go take a date night and see Date Night. Corny line? Yep.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Best Cupcake Ever

I'm a sweets person. I could probably eat sugar any day and any time. So when I got to work this morning I saw a delectable plate of frosted cupcakes sitting in the kitchen. Now, I have more self-control than to eat a huge cupcake with a ton of frosting at 7:30 in the morning. But seeing that there were only 12 on the plate, I snagged one to save for lunch. There were a good variety, but I was eying the ones that had German Chocolate frosting on them. I hustled back to my desk so no one saw me walking with a cupcake at 7:30 in the morning. Luckily no one's really at work that early.

I have to tell you, it took a ton of self-control not to eat that cupcake before lunch. I would get wafts of the sweet coconut frosting and my mouth started to salivate. If I had been hungry before lunch, there was a good chance that cupcake would've been gone by 10:30. But like my mom taught me, I ate my lunch (or most of it anyway) and then dove into this chocolate concoction sitting on my desk.

This is the kind of cupcake I had - not the exact one. Mine had a ton more frosting on it!
Picture courtesy of Boulder Baked.

It was amazing. The cupcake was moist and chocolaty and the frosting was so sweet with the caramel coconut and pecans. Possibly one one of the best pieces of German chocolate anything I'd ever had. This wasn't a dinky little cupcake either. This was at least the size of my fist and loaded with wonderful icing. It wasn't a pretty sight as I devoured that thing - crumbs falling on the desk, icing all over my fingers. Good thing there wasn't more sitting around because I probably would've gotten another to save for tomorrow.

So where did this amazing cupcake come from? It's called Boulder Baked. The Senior Director at work also owns his own bakery. I hear his cookies are amazing as well. Wes and I will be taking a little day trip so that I can have another cupcake in the near future. But maybe we'll go for a hike first so I can earn those extra calories back. Or, if you come visit, maybe we'll make a special trip so you can experience it first hand.

That's how good this was, I had to blog about it!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Soy Glazed Pork with Rice and Asian Veggies

Soy Glazed Pork with Rice and Asian Veggies
Disclaimer: This is not my recipe. My notes are in italics.

1 1/2 cups of rice
8 oz. snow peas, trim off each ends
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers (ribs & seeds removed), thinly sliced - I used one red and one yellow since I bought that tri-color bell pepper pack
1 bunch of scallions, ends trimmed and cut into 3" lengths - I omitted these.
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Salt & pepper
1 pork tenderloin ( 1 - 1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 cup of honey

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat broiler and set rack 4" from heat.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss snow peas, carrots, bell peppers and scallions with oil and 2 Tb. of soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Trim pork of silver skin and fat. Place on top of veggies and salt and pepper. Spread about 1 Tb. of honey over the pork. I didn't measure the honey, I just drizzled enough over the top to make sure it was well covered. Broil until pork and veggies begin to char, 6-8 minutes. I cooked it 8 minutes each time. Toss vegetables and turn pork. Drizzle with another 1 Tb. of honey. Cook another 6-8 minutes.

Toss vegetables again and continue to broil another 6-8 minutes until a meat thermometer, inserted in thickest part of pork, reads 145 degrees and vegetables are charred in spots. Remove from broiler. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining 2 Tb. of soy sauce and 2 Tb. of honey. Thinly slice pork and serve with vegetables, rice and sauce.

I thought this dish might end up too salty with all the soy sauce. But the honey nicely balances it out with some sweetness. I really like the pork with the honey on it. It's not too sweet, but it definitely has a nice flavor to it. If you like it sweeter, add more honey! The veggies did end up a little bit soggy and the only vegetable that really got charred was the snow peas. I might even suggest only using 1 Tb. of oil with the soy sauce on the veggies. I was also afraid the vegetables might end up salty too, but the honey from the pork actually mixes in well with the vegetables while cooking.

This is a healthy meal that's easy to make. It took maybe 40 minutes total from prep to plate. And pork tenderloin is one of the healthiest cuts of meats out there. In the package, you usually get two tenderloins. So you could double the meat or put the other tenderloin in a freezer zip lock and save for later. If you save for later, I would suggest trimming the silver skin and fat off now so that it's ready to go for next time. (I meant to do that but forgot by time I already stuck it in the freezer.) But one tenderloin is usually good for Wes and me with a little bit of leftovers.

The meat really isn't that pink, it's the sauce that makes it look a little pinker than it really is.

The most intimidating part of this recipe maybe cooking the pork tenderloin if you've never cooked with it before. But this is a good introduction to it since there's not a lot that you have to do to the meat. Just trim it and stick it on the baking sheet.

Great and easy meal for a busy week. Happy cooking!

Clash of the Titans

It seems that Sam Worthington can only do blockbuster movies now. First Avatar and now Clash of the Titans. Wes and I opted not to see it in 3D since the movie was originally made in 2D. It seemed that only when 3D was such a hit with Worthington's other movie, that someone decided to convert the movie into 3D. I don't think the 3D version would've added anything to the movie going experience. I could see a couple of scenes where 3D would've been cool, but other than that I think this movie is perfectly fine going to see in regular old 2D.

If you're a fan of Greek mythology, then you'll definitely enjoy this movie. I can't be positive how accurate all the mythology in the movie is, but it does touch on a lot of it. From the creation of the titans who berthed the gods who berthed man to the story of Io and Medusa, they pack a lot of backstory into this movie. The movie centers around Persius, who is half man, half god. He is "the chosen one" to free man from the gods. I definitely saw a lot of Christian parallels throughout the movie. So, I could see a lot of Christians using this movie as potential symbolism for God's love, etc.

The movie was definitely action packed and it moved along at a quick pace. There was maybe a touch of romance in the movie, but I'm glad they didn't expound on it too much. It would've been cheesy to say the lease. There was a lot of fighting and killing of things - definitely an action movie. You won't be bored watching this movie. The acting was good: Liam Neeson as Zeus was powerful and commanding ("Release the Cragen!" tagline that Wes and I can't stop quoting), Ralph Finnes was dark and hateful as Hades and Worthington played Persius as the main character seeking vengeance on the gods for the death of his human family. I do wish they played more of the other gods into the movie. The only other god to have a speaking role other than Zeus and Hades was Apollo. And that was one line. They mention the other gods, but it would've been more interesting to hear more speak and interact in the story.

Not an Oscar worthy movie, but it was definitely entertaining and probably worth seeing in the theatres. I don't know if 3D would add anything to it, but if you're going to rent the movie, you won't miss out on the 3D version like Alice in Wonderland. This is a movie that if you're wanting to go to the movies, go see this. Otherwise, definitely go rent it when it comes out on video.

Though I do have one question: The titans were no where a part of the movie. So why is the movie called "Clash of the Titans"? Shouldn't it be "Clash of the Gods and Man"? Guess the original title sounds better, but someone help explain this to me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I got this recipe off the Food Network from Rachael Ray. It's a yummy and spicy rendition of chicken tortilla soup. It's also pretty healthy if you leave out the bacon and depending on how much toppings you add. I'd definitely make it again! My notes are in italics.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 cups of chicken stock
1 pound of chicken tenders - I used two chicken breasts and cut the breasts up.
1 bay leaf
1 TB olive oil
4 slices of bacon chopped - I omitted to keep it a little healthier.
1 onion finely chopped - I used onion powder since Wes doesn't like the texture of real onions.
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped + 2 Tb sauce
1 - 28 oz. can crushed fire roasted tomatoes - I used a can of whole tomatoes and chopped them.
Salt to taste

Bring broth to a simmer and add chicken, poach 6 to 7 minutes with bay leaf.

While chicken poaches, heat oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon if using and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain off excess fat, leaving 2 to 3 Tb in pan. Add onions and garlic to the skillet and cook 5 minutes. I skipped cooking the bacon and added the onion powder and garlic to the olive oil. Stir in chipotles and tomatoes.

Remove chicken from stock, dice and then add to soup. I shredded the chicken. Pass stock through a strainer to get out the bay leaf and chicken fat. Add broth to soup.

Ladle soup into a bowl. Top with either crushed tortilla chips (I used corn tortilla chips) or make your own tortilla strips. (Brush tortillas with melted butter or vegetable oil. Cut into strips & salt. Place on a sheet pan and into the broiler for a few minutes until lightly golden brown.) Top with crushed tortillas and cheese of choice (I used cheddar). Add a dollop of sour cream and even add some cilantro if you wish.

This was a spicy tortilla soup due to the chipotles. I recommend scrapping the seeds out and/or finely chop the chipotles so no one gets too much heat in one bite. I also added about 3/4 cup of frozen corn to the soup. It would've been good with a can of black beans too. I do like the sweetness from the whole tomatoes. I'm not sure what the flavor would've been like if you used the suggested fire roasted tomatoes. Let me know how it turns out if you do use it! The sour cream definitely adds a nice creaminess to the soup and cools down the heat if the soup is too spicy. But overall, it was delicious and something I'd definitely make again.

The most difficult part of this recipe may be poaching the chicken, which really isn't that hard. And chipotles aren't something that is used in every day cooking. Definitely put the rest of the chipotles in a Tupperware and keep in the fridge. They'll hold for quite a while. I'll try to post more recipes that use chipotles so that the rest don't go to waste.

Happy cooking!