Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall Wines Under $12

Come Fall some people crave Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but not me. When the evenings turn chilly all I really want is a decent wine that won't break my grocery budget and a warm blanket on the couch. To celebrate the first day of Fall here are my picks: 

Resso 2013 Garnacha Blanca , Spain

Bright and crisp with hints of apple and peach

Mcmanis 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon , California

Bold and Jammy, perfect for sipping on a cozy evening

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Get It Together Woman: Easy Pork Tenderlion

Tenderloin Medallions

" GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN!" That has been my mantra of late. September is a busy time of year in my house, and while much of it can be fun; with all the craziness also follows the disorganization (I think they are in cahoots together). After one particularly long day where I woke up and realized there was no coffee left in the cupboard and my kids had eaten pizza in some form or other for the last 3 days, I thought enough was enough. I needed to take an extra 5 minutes and try to plan ahead, in the name of sanity and full bellies. Fake it till you make it right?

In the name of planning ahead, in the morning (yes, the morning) before you leave the house, take a gallon size ziplock bag and put in:

2 Pork tenderloins about 1 pound each (total of 2 pounds)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
A few dashes garlic powder
1 stem fresh rosemary, chopped

Shake up all the ingredients and let those babies marinate.

When you are ready to make dinner, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put pork tenderloins, along with marinade, into a 9x11 baking dish. Make little slits along the pork tenderloin and stuff in half a garlic clove. I usually put 5-6 per tenderloin. Season the pork with pepper. Bake pork for 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so. After 45 minutes, cover the dish with aluminum foil and let pork rest about 10 minutes before slicing. I like to serve this pork with mashed potatoes and braised cabbage. My favorite recipe for braised cabbage can be found Here.

Pork Tenderloin isn't exactly, photogenic, but you get the idea....

If you live near a Trader Joes, pick up a box of these, it just might help you looked prepared in a pinch!
I'm really liking this easy mix of late, if you live near a Trader Joe's pick a box up, it just might make you look well prepared in a pinch!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Before Roasting

Fall is my absolute favorite season. The first sign around here of Fall's approaching arrival are when the first rains come, and the evenings get a touch more chilly, forcing you to break out that extra blanket for the bed. Or, if you are anything like me, it might also be the first time you have had a desire to turn on your hot oven in a few months! Although I love the anticipation of Fall and what it brings, I often feel reluctant to let Summer go. I find myself hoping for one last day to squeeze in by the pool, one last late night BBQ with friends, one last adventure to put the brakes on life for a day. Anything really that will slow time down, just a little. Change can be hard.

I had a bunch of beautiful Brandywine heirloom tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter and I just couldn't eat them fast enough, no matter how hard I tried. Rather then sit and watch them die a slow death, I decided to slow roast them in my oven. A simple idea really, but one that will let me have a taste of summer just a little while longer.

 7-8 tomatoes, garden variety, you can use any type you want, although you may have to adjust cooking time.
7 garlic cloves
Fresh Thyme sprigs
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Slice tomatoes and lay on baking sheet. Scatter garlic cloves between tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (not too much salt, these will reduce). Drizzle with a healthy dose of olive oil. Roast tomatoes, turning every so often if you like about 3.5-4hrs.

I love to toss these tomatoes in big bowl of pasta, but they are also excellent served with cheese and crackers or on a sandwich, preferably one with bacon!

My favorite gluten free pasta- you really can't even tell the difference!
Let's hope this gal will survive my brown thumb and the Fall!

After 3.5 hours

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Red, Red, Red Wine

Our house has been a little topsy turvy lately. For the last two weeks we have been eating our dinners on top of a sheet in the dining room. I really can't complain about this, dinners have been a little more fun with the picnic atmosphere, and I am sure my five year old appreciates not hearing "sit down on your chair," every night. We have been eating on the floor because I decided to refinish the dining table, which took A LOT longer than I expected....(Why does Pinterest make everything look so easy??) We are also redoing our living room floor, so all the living room items need to be moved to the dining room, and on top of all that I was layed up with a stiff neck! (Coincidence?) Needless to say as soon as my neck feels better and (I can drink out of a glass properly) I'll be wanting a big glass of wine! Where I will be drinking that wine I'm not quite sure yet, but I'll figure something out!

Here are two newly discovered (at least by me) delicious red wines under $15. They are nice enough to serve to dinner guests, but low priced enough to drink by themselves in whatever corner of your home that you can find to escape from the chaos!

I enjoy all J Lohr and Bogle wines, but my current favorite picks from these winemakers are:

Bogle, 2010 Essential Red

J LOHR Estates 2010 Southridge Syrah

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

The first time I was served shrimp with their head still attached was on the Southeastern Coast of Spain. Imagine the shock I had while I awaited my grilled prawn cocktail, only to be served a glass with big shrimp eyes staring straight back at me. I was even more horrified as diners around me began to just snap the heads off their shrimp and suck the brains out. Unknown to me, shrimp brains are considered a delicacy in Spain and to be served a grilled shrimp without the head is kind of like getting served lobster without the tail, or crab without the legs. I had never seen such a thing in all my life, and quickly made a mental note not to order prawns the rest of the trip. Less than a week later, I inadvertently ate crab brains at an upscale waterfront restaurant in Barcelona. I thought it was some sort of cold crab soup served in a crab shell. I was afraid I would come across as unsophisticated  if I inquired about what exactly I was eating, because I had ordered the fresh shellfish platter and didn't think it came with soup, but the menu was in Spanish,  so I just ate my "soup" without any questions. I thought the "soup" was tasty, if a little salty, but overall I enjoyed it. Only afterwards, upon hearing what my "soup" actually was, did I become grossed out. It was one of those culinary moments that I'll never forget, when all of the sudden, my (small) world of food was opened up to different flavors and cooking techniques, and to possibility. The next time I was served shrimp with heads on, I didnt so much as bat an eye before snapping the head off and eating the tail. A few more times, and I was joyfully sucking the brains out, because that was the best, tastiest part.  I didn't realize how good they were, that food could even be prepared in these different ways,  before that dining experience.

In my opinion, travel can be the best teacher, whether it be through a trip across the globe or just to a little taqueria across town. For me, dining and food adventures have given me courage to try new things, and clarity about what I do and do not like, not only with food, but in life.  I hope that there never comes a day where I am without these new culinary moments opening me up to new tastes, experiences, and adventures.

My friend Becky recommended Acadia Bistro in Northeast Portland to me about a year ago. It is a wonderful neighborhood restaurant with a lot of charm, friendly staff, and most importantly delicious Southern food with Northwest influences. My absolute favorite thing on their menu is the New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp. The sauce is so very good that you will be licking your fingers, but I suggest using a loaf of crusty sourdough bread to soak up every last drop!

In a craving for this dish one night, I was lucky to run across this recipe by Acadia's Chef Adam Higgs on the Culinate Website, so now I can make this at home, when I can't get there for dinner.  I know head on shrimp isn't for everyone, so you can substitute for headless large shrimp. However, if you can source them, I recommend using  shrimp with heads still on though, the heads add a lot of flavor to the dish, even if you aren't inclined to suck their brains out......Locally I buy mine at Uwajimaya in Beaverton. Recently I made these for Fat Tuesday. Having never been to New Orleans myself, I like to feel like a little bit of me has journeyed there by cooking up these shrimp!

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning 
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced or pressed garlic (1-2 cloves)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 small lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Kosher salt

In a small bowl, combine the pepper, Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, and garlic to form a thick paste. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet (not nonstick) over medium high heat. Add the oil and shrimp, sprinkle the shrimp with salt, and then stir in the spice paste. Add the white wine and lemon wedges. Cook until the shrimp are pink and the wine is reduced, about five minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the butter. Keep stirring until the butter is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Remove from the heat immediately. Do not let the sauce boil, or the sauce will break. Serve with Sourdough bread or rice! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jalapeño Popper Dip

It's that time of the year again- Super Bowl time! The one day a year where sports enthusiasts and people that don't know the difference between a football and a futbol gather together to watch the game, halftime show and eat lots of delicious food! This year I'm even more excited for the Super Bowl because the Niners are finally back in it!! I can't wait to see Harbaugh vs Harbaugh, Kaepernick vs Flacco and to eat this dip. This dip makes me happy, maybe a little too happy because I absolutely can not stop eating it! You should make some too!

Jalapeño Popper Dip
Yield: 2 cups
Serve with your favorite beer and tortilla chips! I love Juanita's chips from Hood River!

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Best Foods/Hellmans)
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
1/4 cup grated Pepperjack
5 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
4 jalapeños, roasted, skins & seeds removed, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder

To roast jalapeños, place on a baking tray and broil about 5 minutes each side until skin is dark and brown. Remove from oven and place in a brown paper bag and close. After 10 minutes, remove jalapeños and the skins should come right off. De-stem and seed jalapeños.

Mix jalapeños with all other ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Spread dip into a baking dish. I like to use a small rectangular 5x7 Pyrex dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until top is brown and bubbly. Serve immediately!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brunch Eggs with Green Chilies

I don't believe in diets, or fads, or deprivation. I believe in eating healthy, fresh, food as much as possible, making the right choices, not keeping junk food in my pantry and in portion control. However, I love food. I mean, I really, really, love it. So we eat burgers, pepperoni pizza, jalapeño popper dip, I cook with butter, and I have even been known to (gasp) buy my kids a happy meal from that big evil restaurant that starts with an "M". I do realize there is an obesity epidemic in this country, but there is also a laziness problem as well. My family and I are not overweight, we keep health issues like cholesterol under control, we exercise, and  we make responsible choices when it comes to food. That being said, I don't want to be told what to eat or how to eat. If your diet works for you, and you love it, great, but please quit acting like it's your religion and freaking out about every little thing.

If  you see me at the store with a loaf of wheat bread, tomatoes, bacon, chocolate ice cream, and a gallon of milk- please do not ask me any of the following questions: 1. "Are you buying/is it organic?" 2. "Do I know where that pig came from?" 3. " Does the ice cream contain corn syrup?" 4. "Do I know how bad grains are for me, my digestion, etc?" and 5. " Do I know how much sugar milk has and then reference some soy/nut/goat substitute" The basic answer to all of these questions is: I may or may not know, but it is really none of your business, so quit talking to me about my diet. I am going home to make the best meal ever, BLTS with chocolate shakes and I'm sorry that you'll never enjoy it." ( I would never really say something like that to someone but I want to, oh man, I want to.) Maybe because I live in Portlandia these questions/conversations are more abundant in my everyday life, maybe it's just my pet peeve of late, but I'm tired of it.  I am not saying that I am not concerned about where my food comes from, what goes into my body or whether or not my kids are eating nutritionally, I am simply saying enough is enough.

 Lately I've been reading a lot of blogs, restaurant reviews, etc that either apologize for the unhealthiness of a recipe or downgrade a restaurant not based on taste or service, but on the caloric content of their menu. For example, a local burger place has a few bad reviews because " while the burgers are delicious, our family could not make this a weekly dining option because of the high calories, so three stars." SERIOUSLY? Why did you take your family to a place called Killer Burger and then order a quarter pound cheeseburger with bacon and onion rings?!

Why am I telling you about/ranting about this you may ask? I am talking about this because I don't want to have to include a warning label with every recipe that I post. Caution: high fat content, high calories,  MAY MAKE YOU FAT!! That kind of thing just takes away the joy out of cooking for me. Would you want to go have a beer and have the bartender serve it to you with a note that read: " Full of carbs. Empty Calories. Have more than two and you may get a headache." Would you enjoy your beer after that? You are smart people. I have faith that you can figure out when to substitute for lower fat, when to only have one slice, etc. So from now on I am not going to say any of these things, besides what the serving size should be. Let Freedom Ring!

My mom made this recipe for Christmas breakfast in a casserole dish. She got the recipe from a co-worker, but there are similar versions all over the internet. I cut this recipe in half and baked it in a 9 inch quiche pan. If you choose to double it, just use a square 9x13 inch baking dish!

Brunch Eggs with Green Chilies
Serves 5-6 

 5 eggs
 1/4 cup flour 
1 cup cottage cheese
 1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
 1 4 oz can diced New Mexican green chilies (like Ortega, Trader Joes) 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in baking dish in oven. In a large bowl, beat eggs until "lemony" (all mixed together a lemon yellow color). Add flour, baking powder, salt, shredded cheeses, cottage cheese and chilies. Mix together and pour into baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Enjoy!