Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Carrot Soup with Toasted Almonds

This carrot soup is surprisingly comforting. You'd think with the carrots and the apple cider that it would be super sweet, but the thyme, curry, and chicken stock balance it out very nicely. I've made this soup so often in the past month! Everyone who has tasted it has loved it. Enjoy! Original recipe from

1 cup shallots, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/4 t ground ginger
3/4 t curry powder
1 t thyme, chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 small potato
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and diced
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
1 1/4 cup water (add more or less to get desired consistency)
3/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted


Cook shallots, bay leaf, ginger, curry powder, and thyme in butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and pale golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Add potato to shallot mixture along with carrots, broth, cider, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender until smooth, transferring as blended to a large bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to saucepan to reheat if necessary. Serve soup sprinkled with almonds.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled pork is ridiculously easy to make if you have a slow-cooker and it is so tasty. All you need is a slow cooker, a 2-lb cut of pork shoulder (you don't even have to cut this meat up), root beer, and your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Tubbs BBQ sauce -yum!).
In the morning, add the meat to the slow cooker and add enough root beer to cover the pork. Turn the cooker on low, and let cook for 7-8 hours.
Once you get home, simply add the BBQ sauce and place the pork in a bun! If there is a lot of root beer left in the slow cooker, you might want to take the pork out of the slow-cooker and add the BBQ sauce separately. We added some raw red onions and some carrots to complete our meal! This is great for having people over- it will feed many. Enjoy!

Pork Tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted carrots

Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin is one of the easiest (and cheapest) meats to cook! To prepare the pork, we rubbed various herbs on the tenderloin (we used rosemary, thyme, and oregano) along with garlic and olive oil. Then, place in a preheated oven (350F) and cook for about 30 minutes. We have a kitchen thermometer with a probe that let's us know when the meat is ready (I highly recommend) - here is a link: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Probe. Once the meat has reached the proper temperature, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes. This pork would be great with a wine sauce or a mustard sauce to accompany it.

Roasted Carrots
I LOVE carrots. And I particularly love carrots that still have the greens attached to them. I don't know why, they just seem to taste better to me. Roasted carrots are very simple to make and they look really nice on the plate. We peeled our carrots - this is unnecessary if you thoroughly scrub the dirt off before seasoning. It's just a matter of preference. From there, add a healthy amount of salt and pepper (Kosher salt is the best) and olive oil. Place these babies in the oven with the pork and roast them until they are soft. We noticed that our carrots were still a little crunchy after roasting (hey, maybe you like crunchy carrots) so I think the next time we cook these carrots we might boil them for 10 minutes before roasting them in the oven.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Marsala wine
2-3 sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup marsala wine

1. Cut up the sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Boil until soft, about 20 minutes. Strain the sweet potatoes.
2. In a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and the potatoes. Mix well.
That's it! You're done!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spanish Paprika Coated Pork Tenderloin

I bought a tenderloin the other day (one of my favorite cuts of pork) so I was looking around for a recipe for it. I found out that tenderloin is the cut of pork with the least amount of fat! Almost as low as a skinless chicken breast! Imagine my delight that I actually like something low in fat. Anyhow, here is the original link of the recipe from


4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, cooled, and coarsely ground in a food processor
4 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
2 1/2 teaspoons (smoked paprika), divided
2 tablespoons Madeira (I did not have this and used dry vermouth in its place)
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins


1. Toast the almonds at about 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, until browned. Process in the food processor until powdery. Trader Joes has almond meal that you can buy - I might do this next time to make things a little simpler. 
2. Preheat oven to 425F. In the meantime, take out your broiling pan. Line the bottom pan with aluminum foil and spray your top (slotted) pan with non-stick coating. This is optional but it does a really nice job of keeping the panko/almond crust dry and crunchy (and its easier for clean-up). 

3. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté garlic until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Stir in panko, almonds, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a large plate. 
4.Stir together Madeira, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Pat pork dry and rub all over with mixture. Pat three fourths of crumbs all over pork, pressing gently to adhere, then sprinkle tops with remaining crumbs. 
5. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally 2 inches into meat registers 145 to 150°F, about 20 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes to see if crumbs are getting too dark; if they are, tent loosely with foil.) Transfer pork to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

As you can tell from the photo - I also added some potatoes. I sliced them into round disks, brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled on a garlic powder blend. I placed them next to the tenderloin on the pan and just roasted them alongside. It turned out great. Next time I might try putting them on the lower pan where they can soak up some of those juices from the pork.

Nick's Grilled Cheese

If you know me well, you know that I love grilled cheese sandwiches. It's been a staple in my diet my whole life! So when Nick came up with a fancier version of the standard grilled cheese, I swooned. This is what he did.

Sourdough bread (I use sourdough wheat bread from Trader Joes)
4-5 slices of cheddar cheese
Julienned sundried tomatoes, to taste
4 or 5 button mushrooms
1 tsp of rosemary
1 small shallot
1 clove of garlic
*optional- add in a couple slices of fresh tomato, but be aware! This makes your sandwich a bit juicy..

1. Spread butter on one side of each piece of bread.
2. In a small frying pan, saute the shallots, rosemary, garlic and mushrooms together until cooked through (I like to brown them).
3. In a cast iron pan, place one of the bread slices in the pan, butter side down. Add on top of the bread your cheese slices and the mushroom/shallot mix and place your sundried tomatoes on the bread. Top with the other slice of bread, butter side up.
4. Cook the sandwich on each side until the cheese melts and the bread has been browned. I use a cover on my pan to help the cheese melt. I get impatient because I want to eat my sandwich right away, but it's best to use a lower heat setting so that the bread doesn't burn.
5. This sandwich can be messy! Messy and delicious...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

I often eat yogurt with lunch or in the afternoon because it keeps me full for a pretty long time, and I love the taste of it. I recently spoke to one of my co-workers about making yogurt at home and she assured me it was rather simple (afterall, I work with bacteria every day) and can save money. So I attempted it at home! Here is how you do it.

-thermometer (a candy thermometer will work here... it just needs to measure up to 180 degrees F)
- milk (of any kind- whole, 1%, soy, etc) - about 3 cups
- Dannon plain yogurt (This is a one-time investment)
- container for finished product
- milk powder to help with consistency


I have tried doing this two ways - I will explain both and tell you the benefits of each.

1. Heat the milk until the temperature reaches at least 180 degrees F. At this temperature, the milk is frothing a little. Make sure you stir it frequently, otherwise you end up with gross clumps.
2. Let the milk cool to 110 degrees F. If you add the plain yogurt before it reaches this temperature you will kill the beneficial bacteria and the yogurt will just be milk.
3. Once the milk has cooled, add 3 Tablespoons or up to 1/4 cup of the plain yogurt. Everyone insists here that you use plain yogurt (I'm not sure why, but I went with it. I might try doing a flavored one just to see what happens). Stir this in the milk and then add the powdered milk. This is an optional step. The reason I decided to add powdered milk is because homemade yogurt has a more liquid consistency and the powdered milk adds thickness. I added about 3 Tablespoons of powdered milk to my yogurt, you can add more or less.
4. Cover the pan and let sit 3-12 hours in a warm place. I preheat the oven to about 200 degrees F and then turn off the oven and place the pan in there. You could place it in a microwave with the door slightly ajar. This step is just to culture the bacteria in the milk. The longer you leave it sitting, the more tart/tangy and thick the yogurt is. The first time I tried this I let it sit for 3 hours. I recommend leaving it for longer (such as overnight).
5. Once the yogurt is done sitting, add in whatever flavors you like. I love vanilla yogurt so I add about a tablespoon of vanilla extract and a little bit of sugar.
6. Then place it in your clean container and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours before you eat. the fridge will help the yogurt thicken up a little.

I've been told that it is a good idea to sterilize whatever utensils you use (including the container) by boiling it in water for 10 minutes so that you don't contaminate your lactic acid bacteria with other (different tasting) bacteria. I've also been told that you don't need to do this so its up to you! I don't think it's too much of a problem to just use clean materials rather than sterilizing but that's more my style :)

Make sure you don't devour all the yogurt because you'll need some of it for the next batch of yogurt! This is why it is cheaper to make your own- once you have everything started all you need to buy is milk!

Have fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spiced Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

Made this meal last night - holy crap! I've never tasted couscous like this before, it was delicious and pretty healthy as well. Enjoy!

1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted almond slivers
pinch of saffron (optional - this is an expensive spice!)
1/2 onion, sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons Moroccan spice mix (La Kama, see below)
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 red bell pepper
1-2 zucchinis
1 carrot
(the veggies can be varied for different flavors, eggplant would also be delicious)

1. Set oven to broil or 500 degrees F.

2. Boil together the chicken stock, raisins, saffron, and white wine. Once the liquid is boiling, add in the couscous. Turn off the heat, stir the couscous, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

3. While waiting, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small pan and add in the onion. Add in 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for spice and the 2 teaspoons of La Kama spice mix. Saute the onion until slightly crispy.

4. Cut the vegetables in slices that are all about the same size (this ensures that the veggies are cooked evenly). Place them on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Salt to taste.

5. Place the veggies in the oven about 6-8 inches from the top. Keep an eye on the veggies so that they don't burn. We broiled ours for about 10-15 minutes. They should be lightly browned (this adds great flavor to the dish). 

6. Once the veggies and couscous are ready, mix the remaining ingredients (onions, almonds, veggies, cinnamon) together and enjoy!

La Kama Spice Mix:

This is a great spice mix to have on hand. I like to add it to vegetables and meat! Yummm

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons black peppercorns (ground)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground turmeric (I was out of turmeric so I used yellow curry powder instead)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice