Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fig and Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Loin

Yes I fully understand when I admit to this you may classify me as crazy, but...when I first saw a recipe similar to this I had dreams about it.  :-)  Unfortunately it took a while before it had a place on our dinner table because the recipe I originally saw was pretty much pork loin stuffed with figs and butter.  Sounds amazing on the taste buds, not so much on the rest of the body.  After much consideration I decided to keep the figs and the pork, and scratch the rest of the recipe.  Below is the combination that I came up with for the stuffing, substituting creme fraiche for butter (half the fat and calories!!), and adding some other delicious ingredients that play well with the figs and pork.


7 sun dried tomatoes
7 figs, I used dried because I couldn't find fresh, would definitely recommend fresh if available
10-12 sage leaves
1/3 cup Creme Fraiche
1 1/2 oz prosciutto, roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 oz goat cheese, optional
Pinch of paprika, salt, and pepper
1 large pork loin (3 - 4lb)
1/2 Tbs Paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste


This is really a simple recipe and feeds a crowd, which makes it a great option for entertaining, or makes a ton of leftovers for a busy week.

Generously rub paprika, salt, and pepper all over the pork loin and let sit while you prepare stuffing.

Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees.

Add all the stuffing ingredients to a food processor and process until a thick paste is formed.

Make a cut down the middle of the pork loin, getting as close as you can to either end, but not cutting all the way through.

Fill with the stuffing, and use kitchen twine tie up the pork loin.  Place the pork loin in a roasting pan coated with a bit of oil or cooking spray.

Cook pork loin for 70-80 minutes or until temperature reads 145-degrees.  The time will vary depending on the size of your pork loin.

Remove from oven, cover with foil, let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Slice and serve!!!  Be sure to spread the stuffing over the pork loin slice before eating.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Broiled Salmon

This recipe changed my take on seafood.  It came from one of my roommates in college.  There once was a time where I thought shrimp was the only seafood I would eat.  I got home from the Library one night, the one with the books not beer, just as she was pulling this out of the oven.  It smelled great, and as she offered me some, I only took a small bite thinking I didn't like salmon.  I loved it!  I asked her how hard it was and she assured me it was very easy.  I've made this multiple times through the years, modifying it here and know, reducing the butter and sugar, and upping the alcohol, and have loved it every time.

This year, Raymond and I both had late nights on Valentines Day.  I ended up having to work later than I originally expected, and he was coaching.  I got home just in time to mix up the marinade, go for a quick run, shower, and then take 10 minutes to cook this and make a root vegetable whip as Raymond called to tell me he was on his way home.  I pulled it out right before Raymond walked through the door and happy Valentine's to us!


1 lb salmon, cut for servings
3 Tbs butter, melted
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs bourbon
1 Tbs worchestire sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper


Cut your salmon into desired portions if it is not already done.  Usually I will cut mine into 4, but since I knew it would be late when we ate I cut this into 5 servings.

Place all ingredients in bag and add salmon.  Let sit for 20 minutes or more if you have time.

Place salmon on broiling pan.

If you throw some asparagus with some salt and pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice on the pan with the salmon, it will all be done at the same time.  Salmon and asparagus are both considered super foods, but when you them together something magical happens.  Basically the folate from the asparagus works well with vitamin B12 found in salmon, making the whole meal a super combination!

Broil the salmon for 5-6 minutes, depending on the sizes of your salmon pieces.

Turn the oven on 400 and finish cooking the inside of the salmon for about 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy with the one you love!

Amanda's Tips:
I would err to the side of under cooking the salmon vs. cooking for longer than you would think.  It is okay for the salmon to be a bit undercooked, which is always better than dried out salmon. Raw salmon is a super-healthy food.  It is what is used for sushi.  To enjoy your salmon raw it is good practice to freeze the fish first. This kills any unwanted organisms and makes the fish totally safe for raw consumption.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Broth

As I mentioned before, the great thing about cooking your own chicken is that you can also make homemade chicken broth very easily.  After you have cooked your chicken in the crock pot, please save the bones, the juices in the crock pot, and any skin you didn't use.  This, my friends, is what you will use to make homemade chicken broth.  It's as simple as throwing everything into the crock pot and turning it on.  In 8 hours you will have a delicious homemade chicken broth perfect for soups!


Chicken Bones
Juices from cooking the chicken
Any leftover Chicken Skin
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs dried Parsley, or 2 Tbs fresh
1 Tbs dried Thyme, or 4-5 sprigs fresh
5 cups water


Add all ingredients into the crock pot, adding more water if necessary to cover everything.  Set on low and cook for 8 hours or cook for 4 hours on high.  I typically make the chicken during the day, and then make the broth overnight.

After 8 hours, your house will smell like a Boston Market and you will have homemade chicken broth with NO PRESERVATIVES OR INGREDIENTS YOU CAN'T PRONOUNCE!! :-D 

Strain the broth into a container, and place in the fridge to chill. 

When the broth has completely cooled the fat will have risen to the top and hardened enough to easily skim off. 

After skimming the fat off, I usually pour my broth into yogurt/cheese containers or bags to keep in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Enjoy making wonderful soups with homemade broth!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gnocchi with Olives

So after the 4th consecutive week of 65+ hours of work and a Saturday where I had to miss a good friends baby shower to work, I treated myself to a date Saturday night...with myself.  Raymond had a poker night for one of his friends birthday's so I did what I would think any wife would do...assume he would win and go shoe shopping!!  :-D  Then I treated myself to a nice long bath, some delicious French cheese, plenty of wine, chick flicks that I wouldn't subject Raymond to, though he may argue that I've subjected him to worse, and one amazing dinner.

Almost a year ago, right after we got engaged, we went to Houston so I could run a half marathon.  One of my cousin's, whom I get to see way too little of, picked us up and took us to dinner at this really good tiny Italian restaurant.  I had a hard time deciding what to get, so Raymond ordered me both entrees.  One day, I'm sure, I won't get everything I want.  :-)  One of my entrees was definitely the wrong choice...but the other one was fantastic!  I immediately made both the guys try some, even though Raymond doesn't like olives, and I have been dreaming about making it ever since.

I took a few short-cuts, used canned tomatoes and packaged gnocchi, which made this a super easy meal with very little hands-on time.  I know it's only February, but this will most likely be one of my favorite meals of the year! 

1 shallot, diced
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
4 oz capocolla or pancetta, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup green olives, cut in half
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs Italian Seasoning
1 package Gnocchi
1 1/2 tbs olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt, +/- to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, +/- to taste


Saute shallots, red pepper, and capocolla in 1/2 tbs olive oil for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add tomatoes.  I used one can of regular diced tomatoes, and one can of fire roasted diced tomatoes which I feel also really boosted the flavor, though I would not think it absolutely necessary to use if you don't have any.  Simmer for 10 minutes, slightly mashing tomatoes. 

Add olives, Italian seasonings, and red pepper flakes and simmer for another 30 minutes. 

Add salt and pepper. 

Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat.  Add gnocchi and let cook for about 5 minutes without touching, then flip and continue to cook until gnocchi has browned on all sides.

Add gnocchi to the tomato mixture and stir until coated. 

Dish out and sprinkle with Parmesan. 

This pairs wonderfully with a light red wine, a crisp white wine, or even a champagne.  :-)

Amanda's Tips:
You can easily leave out the capocolla or pancetta to make this a vegitarian dish.  You may just want to add a bit more salt.