Orange is the New Pork

orange-mustard glazed pork chops

citrus chops

I feel like a broken record, but:

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Feel free to remind me that it’s only 36 days until spring. With a snowstorm practically every week and temperatures barely out of the teens most days (that’s Fahrenheit, all my international friends), winter is not one of my favorite things right now.

But something that’s always one of my favorites is pork. That other white meat is just as tasty and versatile as the original white meat. And thanks to some unexpected citrus flavors, this dish offers a welcome reminder of the sunshine to come. In you know, just 35.5 days.

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
½ cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons of orange marmalade
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon of canola oil
4 bone-in pork loin chops
2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons of lime juice

Heat your oven to 425.º

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, marmalade and mustard. Heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until slightly syrupy.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Lightly season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and then cook for 5 minutes on one side until browned. Flip the pork chops and add the rosemary and onion to the skillet. Pour the juice mixture over the chops and then bake for 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140.º

Remove the pork chops, onions and rosemary from the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the lime juice, and let cook for about 4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the pork chops back to the skillet to coat with the sauce. Then plate, top with some cooked onions, drizzle with extra sauce, and eat.


Let’s Get the Meatball Rolling

shortcut sausage meatballs

hot and fresh out tha kitchen

Happy New Year, people! So far, it seems that 2014 is only about one thing: the cold.

Seriously, there’s something called a polar vortex screwing up all the weather across the US. The South is cold, the Northeast is freezing, the Midwest is like the Arctic. So, when it’s this cold out, I can think of only one thing to really warm me up: some hot – and fast – comfort food.

But first, let’s talk about meatballs.

I know. Everyone has their favorite meatball recipe. Grandma Whatever used to make them with so-and-so ingredient, and that means they’re the best meatballs on the planet. Sure, sure. We’re all entitled to our favorite meatball recipe. But sometimes you don’t have the time to let your meatballs slow-cook away all day in a pot of sauce. Sometimes you just want to stuff your face with meatballs before your nose falls off from frostbite. True story.

So when that happens to you, put Grandma Whatever’s recipe away, and whip up these bad boys instead. And in no time you’ll be enjoying heavenly little sausage meatballs, cooked (quickly) in a flavorful sauce.

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs
1 lb of Italian sausage (I used hot)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ bunch of scallions, diced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Your favorite pasta (I used spaghetti)
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Start by removing the sausage from the casings. Place into a medium bowl and gently mix together. Roll cherry tomato-sized meatballs and place on piece of wax paper.

shortcut sausage meatballs

hey fellas

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until they’re brown on all sides. Add the scallions and oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next add the crushed tomatoes, ½ can of water and the bay leaves, and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens and the meatballs are cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Then drain.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.) Plate the pasta, top with a few meatballs and spoonfuls of sauce, garnish with some grated Parmesan, and eat.


A Taste of Turkey Day

Sage & Cayenne Rubbed Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

thank-full

You know what I’m thankful for? It’s a short list, but a significant one.

My friends. My family. My cat.
Good TV. Bad horror movies.
Chocolate chip cookies and multigrain Scoops.
Beach days and carefree nights.
And, meals like this one.

I know everyone has their own Thanksgiving traditions, filled with comforting side dishes, weird classics (canned cranberries anyone?) and favorite desserts. And that’s what’s so great about this holiday. That no matter what’s on your plate, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Plus, it’s the one day of the year that you get to openly stuff your face without any judgement.

Also don’t think for a minute that you have to make a giant 23 lb turkey to enjoy the splendors of Thanksgiving. By all means, go for the big bird if you’re feeding an army of hungry family and friends. But if it’s just a handful of folks, go for a turkey breast. You’ll get all of the goodness with less fuss. A simple rub like this puts a different spin on your typical turkey day feast.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sage & Cayenne Rubbed Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy
1 3.5 to 4 lb bone-in turkey breast
1 1/2 teaspoon of sage
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
Salt & pepper

Rinse the turkey breast with water and then lightly pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, combine the sage, cayenne, salt, cumin and paprika. Gently rub the spices all over the turkey breast and let stand for 1 hour at room temperature. (Or, if you have the time: Place in the fridge uncovered overnight. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before roasting.)

Heat your oven to 350º.

Place the turkey breast skin-side up in a roasting pan with a wire rack. Add the broth to the pan plus 1 cup of water. Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155º to 160º degrees. Occasionally baste the turkey with pan juices to keep it moist. When fully cooked, transfer to a platter or cutting board and let stand 20 minutes before carving.

While the turkey breast is resting, make the gravy. Pour the pan juices through a strainer and discard any solids. In a small skillet, heat the butter over low heat. When melted and bubbling, stir in the flour and let cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of the reserved pan juices, and continue cooking over low heat until the gravy thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Carve the turkey breast into large slices, top with pan gravy, and eat.


Easy as Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pie with crumbly topping

a pie for me, a pie for you

Well, well, well. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it folks? Over a month if my calendar is correct.

Sidebar: Is anyone else in shock that it’s already November? 2013 has flown by. And yet, still no hover boards or flying cars. Sigh.

Luckily, I can take comfort in one of the most comforting dishes ever created – chicken pot pie. While I’m a fan of flaky pie crust surrounding a warm, saucy mixture of chicken and vegetables, I’m not a fan of making flaky pie crusts. That’s something this aspiring baker needs to work on. It would help if I actually liked fruit pies (which I don’t), but that’s a story for a different day.

But even without a pie crust, you can get the same comforting meal on your plate. Much like a crisp, this version of chicken pot pie has a crumbly topping, which takes almost no time at all to make and even has a little kick of cayenne pepper to keep things interesting. This recipe might seem like it has a lot of steps (it kinda does), but you’re basically using the same pot over and over again. Makes for easy clean up, right? And it’s also simple enough that you can enjoy this comforting meal on a weeknight. Because sometimes (many times) you need comforting on a Monday to get you through the week.

Chicken Pot Pie with Crumble Topping
For the filling:
1 ½ to 2 lbs of boneless chicken breasts
3 cups of chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
8 oz of mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
4 tablespoons (½ stick) of butter
½ cup of flour
1 cup of milk
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup of frozen peas
Olive oil

For the topping:
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons of butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled
½ cup of grated Parmesan
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream

Bring the chicken breasts and chicken broth to a simmer in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until chicken is done, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a large bowl. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl and reserve. Don’t rinse Dutch oven.

Heat your oven to 450º.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add butter cubes, and using fingers, rub butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in the Parmesan, and then mix in the cream until combined. Crumble mixture onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light browned and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. While veggies are cooking, cut chicken breasts into small cubes. Add cooked veggies to the same bowl as the chicken.

Heat another tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until juices are released, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and tomato paste, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has evaporated, mushrooms are well browned and a dark fond begins to form on the surface of the pan, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

Heat the butter in the Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to loosen the browned bits and then cook until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Then mix in the chicken, cooked veggies and peas.

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking dish (or several individual pie dishes) and top with an even layer of the crumbled topping. Bake until bubbling and topping is browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and then eat.


Rollin’ With My Zucchinis

zucchini rollatini, plate

ready to roll

You probably don’t think prosciutto can come from Serbia. At least I didn’t before a few weeks ago. But silly me, it does. And my friend Boris (who’s Serbian) was nice enough to bring me back some from his recent trip home. He promised it would be different from the Italian stuff: meatier, smokier, not as dry. Which, come to think of it, is a lot like Boris.

Of course you don’t need Serbian prosciutto for this dish, but it would be a great touch. Just be careful slicing your zucchini so that it’s not too thin. Then it might be too delicate to roll after sautéing. And while Serbian prosciutto isn’t a must-have, please don’t use some boring jarred tomato sauce. Making your own is so, so much better.

Zucchini Rollatini
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/8-inch thick lengthwise
6 to 8 slices of prosciutto
8 oz of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 bunch of basil leaves
1 ½ to 2 cups of tomato sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Toothpicks
8×8 baking dish, or similar

Heat your oven to 425º.

Season the zucchini slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini in batches and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Let cool enough to handle.

Top each zucchini slice with a piece of prosciutto cut to fit, a slice (or two) of mozzarella cut to fit and 1 basil leaf. Carefully roll each stack into a pinwheel and secure with a toothpick. Place the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and then place each rollatini side by side in the dish. (You can remove the toothpicks at this point, or wait until after baking.)

zucchini rollatini, dish

bake & roll

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling. Plate and then eat.


Shreddin’ It

shredded chipotle beef tacos

where’s the beef? in a taco

I’ve been really busy the last handful of weekends. So busy, that I haven’t had time to enjoy a lazy Sunday at home. And as most of you probably know by now, that means loafing on the couch, and making something great for supper. Taking advantage of a cool-ish late summer day, I decided to cook some meat. I wanted one of those Sundays where the house smelled of simmering beef, with that gentle bubbling sound coming from the stove, and the feeling that in a just few hours your belly would be full and happy. That’s not asking a lot, now is it?

What I love about this recipe is that it puts a Mexican spin on a traditional pot roast. Onions, tomatoes and chipotle peppers gave the beef so much flavor. And after nearly 3 hours of cooking, it was so fork-tender, it shredded beautifully. So beautifully that the only way to really enjoy it was in a taco, so I could gaze upon it’s lovely texture while stuffing it into my mouth. Now doesn’t that paint a pretty picture?

The slaw is pretty rockin’ too. The lime juice gives it a zesty bite, and went really well with the jalapeño-lime refried beans. For another twist, you could fry a tortilla, spread a layer of beans, then stack it with beef and slaw, turning it into a tasty tostada.

Shredded Chipotle Beef Tacos with Creamy Lime Slaw
For the tacos:
3 lb boneless beef chuck roast
1 large onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
3 to 4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
½ bunch of cilantro
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Flour tortillas
A few slices of fresh avocado, for garnish

For the slaw:
1 cup of shredded white cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons of sour cream
2 tablespoons of lime juice
Garlic salt
Pepper

Drizzle the beef with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven on medium-high heat. When hot, sear the beef until browned on all sides. Add the onion and garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, spices and cilantro plus 2 cups of water (the beef should be completely covered). Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 ½ to 3 hours until fork tender.

While the beef cooks, mix the cabbage, carrot, sour cream and lime juice in a medium bowl. Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper. Cover and let chill for at least 1 hour.

Remove the beef from the pot and shred using two forks. Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl, reserving 1 cup of liquid; discard the rest. Add the shredded beef and liquid to a skillet, along with the red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.

To make the tacos, heat the tortillas and then add a layer of shredded beef, top with some slaw and garnish with a few pieces of avocado. Then eat.


Shrimp on the Cob

shrimp, chorizo & corn salad

let’s get corny

So, remember a few weeks ago when I said I wasn’t giving corn any love? I feel bad about that. I’m not saying my guilt lead me to search for a summery recipe that included corn, but I’m not saying that didn’t happen either. But what I am saying is that the combination of shrimp, chorizo and corn is quite wonderful. Sriracha, that glorious hot sauce from the other side of the globe, really kicks this salad up a few notches. And the fact that the whole thing is ready in 4 minutes makes it perfect for a lazy summer night when you don’t feel like cooking but still want something tasty for supper.

Shrimp, Chorizo & Corn Salad
3/4 lb of large shrimp, peeled
1 ½ links of chorizo, sliced
2 cups of corn
1/3 cup of green onions, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
24 grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup of chopped basil, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons of lemon zest
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine the shrimp, chorizo, corn, green onions, Sriracha, garlic and ½ teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and basil and toss to combine.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the shrimp mixture to the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through. Off the heat, stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and season to taste with pepper. Garnish with additional green onions and basil and serve.