Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pork Tostadas


Yesterday I posted about a spice-encrusted pork tenderloin that could be doubled in order to make a round-two recipe. Well, here it is…pork tostadas. This was such a fun dinner to make and since most of the cooking was done the night before, it’s almost like having a night off in the kitchen! This is another meal that I had never tried before. It is quite similar to a taco, but what stood out was the flavor from the pork. The spice rub gives the meat the Mexican inspired flavor, added in with some of my favorite toppings and it was a fun, effortless meal! I decided not to post a guacamole recipe. I still haven’t found the perfect recipe yet, so if you have a favorite, use it in this dish!

Pork Tostadas

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3 tablespoons corn oil

6 (5 inch) corn tortillas

2 (10 oz) cans black beans

1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes

Pork Tenderloin, warmed and shredded

Salsa (homemade or canned)


Sour Cream

Garnish: fresh cilantro

In a large nonstick skillet, heat corn oil over medium-high heat. Cook tortillas on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels.

In a small saucepan, add drained beans and canned tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until all liquid has evaporated. Use a potato masher to mash beans.

To assemble tostadas, layer beans, salsa, guacamole, shredded pork, and sour cream on each tortilla. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Source adapted from: Cooking with Paula Deen, January/February 2009

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spice-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin



There are so many different spice rubs out there for pork tenderloins. They all carry many different flavors when mixed together, making them each unique at the same time. This particular spice rub carries more Mexican inspired flavors. Once again the pork itself was juicy and tender, taking on the distinct flavors of the spice rub. What intrigued me most about this particular recipe was the ability to use one of the tenderloins for dinner the first night and save the second tenderloin for a round two recipe the next night.  So what was the round two recipe?!? Come back tomorrow and I will tell you all about it!

Spice-Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

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1 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoons ground coriander

1 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoons Mexican oregano ( I used regular)

1 tablespoons garlic salt

1 tablespoons cracked black pepper

2 (1.5 lb) pork tenderloins, trimmed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine spices. Coat tenderloins evenly with spice mixture.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook 1 tenderloin for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove tenderloin, and place on prepared pan. Repeat with olive oil and tenderloin.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers at 155 degrees.

Slice one pork tenderloin to serve. Save the second pork tenderloin to use for recipe #2 (to be continued).

Source adapted from: Cooking with Paula Deen, January/February 2009

Monday, February 22, 2010

No-Knead Bread - Sandwich Style



So a couple of weeks ago I posted about finally making the no-knead bread. Afterword, I was anxious to make it again, but this time I wanted to make it in a loaf shape so that we could use it during the week for sandwiches. I used a tutorial taken from The Kitchn which provided great pictures of each step needed to shape the bread into a loaf form.  If you are considering making the bread, I highly recommend referencing their pictures to guide you through. Once again, this was a no fail way to make bread. Next time I believe I will try using whole wheat flour!


No-Knead Loaf Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle flour over the top of the dough and knead the dough just two or three times until flour is incorporated and the dough is no longer sticky.

Shape the dough into a sandwich loaf using these guidelines.

Place dough into a greased bread pan and let rise until it’s just starting to crest over the rim of the pan. Turn on the oven to 450 degrees to pre-heat about 20 minutes before baking.

Just before baking, rub a little flour onto the surface of the loaf and cut a slash with a serrated knife. This will help to prevent cracking as the loaf rises in the oven.

Bake the loaf for about 30 to 35 minutes, turning once halfway through. The loaf should be a golden-red with a few toasted brown spots. Shake out of the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

Source Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery and

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars


This is a classic dessert for me, mainly because it is so easy to make. I made these a lot during my high school and college years. Minimal ingredients, even store bought ingredients if you desire, and the prep could not be any easier. At one point when I was dating my now husband, he actually asked me to stop making this dessert….not because he didn’t like it, but because he couldn’t stop eating it. According to him, I was making him fat. So my feelings were hurt for the next 4 years, but then I flipped through my recipes and saw it sitting there, knowing how good the bars were, I couldn’t resist. I really do love this recipe and missed it too! I only let Michael have two of the bars out of fear that he would ban them from the house once more….I don’t know that I could handle that kind of rejection again!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

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18 oz chocolate chip cookie dough (homemade or store bought)

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, press half of cookie dough in the bottom of a greased 8 inch square baking pan. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and egg until smooth. Spread over crust. Crumble remaining dough over top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Refrigerate any left overs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orange Banana Smoothie


My husband has been on a smoothie kick for the past 4 or 5 months. We aren’t talking fruity deliciousness like what you would get from Jamba Juice, we’re talking green smoothies. I find it very admirable that he has decided to have more healthy things in his diet, but I just can’t quite get over the green. In my attempt to find compromise, I have started having a fruit smoothie each morning for breakfast. I might eventually stick some leafy greens in one day, but for now this smoothie is really good and is still pretty healthy. I generally switch off between vanilla and strawberry yogurt. Each one has a little different taste, but both are really good.

Orange-Banana Smoothie

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1 cup orange juice

1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt (or any flavor desired)

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ripe banana, sliced

6 to 8 cubes of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Source adapted from:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup


During my college days, Panera Bread was an establishment I frequented often. Between their cinnamon crunch bagels and homemade soups in a bread bowl I was a happy school girl. Their broccoli-cheddar soup was one of my favorites so when I got my Food Network magazine last month I was floored to see their version of this soup. I have to admit I haven’t had their soup in a while so it was tough to make a comparison, but the soup was still really good. The only thing that threw me off was the tiny bit of nutmeg thrown in. It was probably just because I knew it was in the soup so the flavor was more apparent, but I don’t know that I would add it in next time. I highly recommend serving the soup in a bread bowl, it makes the experience so much better!!

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups half-and-half

3 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 7-inch sourdough bread boules (round loaves)

4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)

1 large carrot, diced

2 1/2 cups (about 8 oz) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook , uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the bread bowls. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the top of each loaf, leaving a 1 inch border all around. Remove the bread top, then hollow out the middle with a fork or your fingers, leaving a thick bread shell.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you’ll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot.

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into the bread bowls and garnish with cheese.

Source: The Food Network magazine, January/February 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sausage and Grits Casserole


Given all the events that have transpired in the past week I have been in the mood for some major comfort food. This is my favorite breakfast casserole which I normally only get to eat once a year. This casserole also happens to be a Scales Christmas tradition, only made on Christmas morning by the Mama Scales. Usually Michael and I switch off Thanksgiving and Christmas between our two families, so we were in Oklahoma this past Christmas and missed out. I did however convince my MIL to make a halved portion for us once we got back! This is such a creamy, cheesy, delicious casserole. Sausage and grits are a great combination and mixed with all the other ingredients the casserole becomes a creamy, hearty breakfast that I could feast on all day long!

Country Grits and Sausage Casserole

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2 pounds mild ground pork sausage

4 cups water

1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits, uncooked

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

4 large eggs, lightly beaten


Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs

Brown sausage in a large skillet, stirring until it crumbles. Drain well, and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add cheese, milk, thyme and garlic powder, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in sausage and eggs.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish; sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden and heated. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

To Make Ahead: Prepare grits mixture as directed above, but do not bake. Cover and chill overnight. Remove from refrigerator; let stand, covered 30 minutes. Uncover and bake as directed.

Source: Christmas with Southern Living 1999, Oxmoor House, January 1999

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sweet Memories

Today is a little different for me. Instead of posting about recipes I wanted to share some sweet memories of a man I loved dearly, my grandfather, known to me as Papa. I am actually here again in Oklahoma with my family. Over last weekend my Papa went to be with the Lord. Today will be the funeral and my last goodbye. I am filled with so much emotion; I just pray I can make it through today. Here is a picture of my Papa and me taken around Thanksgiving of 2008.


Growing up I spent several weekends with my grandparents and every Sunday afternoon I would come home with them from church. Papa would make pancakes with bugs (also known as raisins) and also introduced me to my love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He was probably the only grandparent that would laugh after just discovering that I had just ran his precious golf cart into a pole and destroyed it. He had so much love for each of his grandkids and I will dearly miss his kind words and simple I love you’s. I take comfort in knowing that he is in a better place and so proud to have called him my Papa.

Thank you for letting me share a few personal memories. Many blessings to each of you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Garlic and Chicken Stuffed Shells


Every now and then I get in a pasta mood where I can’t get enough of it. My favorite dish that I always seem to order while dining out is manicotti. I love the cheesy filled shell, loaded with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan. Stuffed shells is not too far off from manicotti so I knew I would enjoy this recipe.  After having it bookmarked to try for almost a year, I finally got around to making it. The recipe calls for breadcrumbs to be incorporated into the filling and I wasn’t sure what it would add to the dish, but it worked really well and added the flavor you would normally get from adding Italian  seasonings. This dish definitely took care of my pasta craving and it even made enough that I was able to freeze some for later! 

Garlic and Chicken Stuffed Shells

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1 box uncooked jumbo pasta shells (about 50 to 55 shells)

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

30 oz part skim ricotta cheese

1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

6 large basil leaves, torn

1/3 cup half and half

28 oz pasta sauce

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta shells according to package directions and drain. Separate onto a cutting board or cookie sheet to prevent from sticking together. Add ingredients garlic through half and half to a bowl and mix until just combined. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

Spoon enough sauce into baking dish to cover the bottom. Fill the cooked shells with the ricotta mixture and place open side up in a prepared baking dish. Spoon as much of the remaining sauce over shells as desired. Bake covered with foil for 15 to 20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

If freezing extra shells, to cook from the freezer, thaw in refrigerator overnight and bake as directed above.

Source: Annie’s Eats, adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Allrecipes

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tybee Island Thai Red Beans and Rice


The name of the dish is quite a mouthful, but it is so flavorful you will feel like you are dining in some place tropical! This dish was submitted in a contest thru the Paula Deen magazine and won for the Recipe Roundup category. Part of the contest was to include a few brand name products in the recipe, so the roasted almonds and pecan topper is more for just taste and texture, I would not go so far as to say that it is a requirement for the dish. My favorite part of the meal was the rice. Sure the chicken and shrimp had great flavors, but the rice cooked in the coconut milk was so delicious, I could have ate the whole bowl!

Tybee Island Thai Red Beans and Rice

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16oz chicken broth

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 cup red onion

14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups uncooked white rice

16 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 pound medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce

1/2 cup B. Lloyd's roasted almond and pecan salad toppers, if desired

Garnish: Fresh lime wedges, fresh cilantro

In a large Dutch oven, combine chicken broth, water, and kosher salt over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add chicken and onion; reduce heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.

Add coconut milk to broth mixture, bring to a boil. Stir in rice and beans, and reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Slice cooked chicken into thin strips.

In a large skillet, melt better over medium-high heat until foamy. Add garlic and shrimp; cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and firm. Add chili sauce, chicken, and nuts; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens. Serve over coconut rice.

Garnish with lime and cilantro, if desired.

Source adapted from: Cooking with Paula Deen, November/December 2009

Friday, February 5, 2010

Apple and Pear Crisp


Typically I prefer sweet desserts over the savory, but every now and then I try to keep the savory dessert lovers in the family happy. I found this recipe on a whim last week; I had been wanting to make something with pears and this sounded too good not to try. The recipe calls for the zest and juice of an orange, which I thought was an interesting combination, but it actually worked really well together. I have yet to make a recipe from Ina Garten that I didn't like and this recipe was no different. On cold winter days, this dessert helps warm the soul and satisfies any sweet tooth.

Apple and Pear Crisp

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2 pounds ripe Bosc pears (about 4 pears)

2 pounds firm Macoun apples (about 6 apples)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Vanilla Ice Cream, for topping

For the Topping:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and add the zest, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pout into a 9 x 12 x 2 inch baking dish.

For the Topping:

Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle
attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering completely.

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Source: Garten

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Twice Baked Potato


I have another confession to make…. up until last week, I had never made a twice baked potato. I’m also pretty sure I’ve only eaten a frozen one sent from Omaha Steaks. For a girl that loves her baked potatoes, that’s a little sad. This is a super fun way to eat a potato. With a normal baked potato, I always have trouble making sure all my toppings are mixed in just right, with this process you have the complete confidence everything is mixed together and each bite is perfect. The best part is, the toppings are completely up to you and your preference. 

Twice-Baked Potato

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3 baking potatoes

Olive oil, or if you are adventurous like me, bacon grease!

4 oz bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons chives or green onions, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes well and pat dry. Pour olive oil (or bacon grease) until the outside of the potato is covered. Individually wrap each potato in foil.  Bake for about 1 hour or until fork tender.

Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, scoop out the interior of the potato and place in bowl. Mix the potato flesh with butter, mashing  a bit with a fork or spoon. Stir in cheese, sour cream, cooked bacon, chives, and salt and pepper.

With a spoon, arrange the potato mixture in the  skins, pressing a bit to compact. Top with more bacon and chives, if desired.

Place potatoes back in oven until heated through.

Source adapted from: A Veggie Venture, originally adapted from Emeril Lagasse, on Food & Wine

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Steak with Garlic Butter


I thought I would share with you  one of my favorite ways to eat a steak. It takes a nice filet in order to capture the best flavors of the meat, at the same time if you have a nice filet, no marinade or seasonings are needed. A simple salt cure process which helps to age the beef is all you need, the flavors will shine on their own.


While the grill is preheating, season the steaks with kosher salt, sprinkling on all sides. Leave the salt on the steaks for around 15 to 20 minutes. Run steaks under cold water to rinse off the salt. Pat steaks until they are completely dry.

Grill until desired doneness.

While the steaks are grilling I like to whip up some garlic butter to serve on top of the  steaks.

Take a couple tablespoons butter and around a 1/2  teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of minced garlic (or use an amount you are comfortable with). Mix together. Serve on top of steaks while they are still warm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No-Knead Bread


You could say I’m a little behind on this trend. While the rest of the world experienced this easy no knead bread, I was still trying my best to make more complicated bread recipes…and failing miserably. I haven’t quite given up on conquering yeast, but it was so nice to have at least one bread recipe that was a success. I must say, making bread is no short task. It definitely takes some planning in order to have time for each step. I started this loaf on a Saturday evening and baked it Sunday afternoon. It was definitely worth the wait, and I’m excited to try different versions of this no knead recipe! For those that might not be familiar with this ingenious recipe created by Jim Lahey, it is a super simple way to make artisan breads and easy enough that anyone can recreate. There are so many U-tube videos out there of this recipe too, so if you want a demo they are easy to find.

No-Knead Bread

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3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (such as cast iron) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is brown. Cool on a rack.

Source: Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery