Sage-and-Pecan Pork Tenderloin Cutlets

24 Sep

YUMMM!! This is one of my favorite pork recipes to make! The first time I ever made this dish, it turned out perfectly! This time though, not so much. I had the heat up too high for as thick of pieces of pork as I was using (because I used cuts instead of a tenderloin), and I forgot to reduce the vinegar enough, etc etc. But that’s what I like about cooking (as opposed to baking) –  you can mess a few things up, and it can still turn out delicious, as this did! And I mean, hey, everyone has their off days!

Sage and Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cutlets w/Blackberry-Reduction Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  • Garnish: fresh blackberries

Directions:

1. Bring vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 6 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in blackberry preserves, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in salt.

This is the step that I most fumbled in, and resulted in the greatest change in the overall flavor. I boiled and then cooked the vinegar for six minutes, however, I forgot the whole “reduced by half” part. It most definitely was not reduced by half when I added everything else. I tried to add more preserves to compensate, but I couldn’t seem to add enough, and so there was a slightly stronger vinegar smell and taste to the sauce than there ever should have been. For me, this was not a terrible problem, but for my husband who hates vinegar, it was. He still enjoyed the dish, but after having to eat it for a few days, he was more than pleased to see it gone. The first time I made this, I reduced the vinegar by half, if not more, and the sauce was very fruity (yet still dry), as it should have been. Better to over-reduce than to not reduce enough in the case of this recipe, I’d say!

2. Remove silver skin from pork tenderloin, leaving a thin layer of fat covering meat. Cut pork into 8 slices. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and flatten to a 1/4-inch thickness, using a rolling pin or flat side of a meat mallet.

Again, I would stress the importance of that thinness, especially if you are like me: paranoid of under-cooking your meat. With pork being as dangerous as it is when undercooked, I tend to prefer it a little overdone, if I have to. Generally I manage to get it just right, but this time, my cuts weren’t thin enough (and I too lazy to flatten them), so the coating definitely browned way before the meat was anywhere near done, even though I had the heat down pretty low.

3. Stir together breadcrumbs, pecans, and sage in a shallow bowl.

4. Dredge pork in breadcrumb mixture, dip in beaten eggs, and dredge again in breadcrumb mixture.

5. Cook 4 pork slices in 2 tsp. hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 8 minutes or until done, turning every 2 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining pork and oil. Serve pork over fresh spinach, if desired. Drizzle with vinegar mixture; garnish, if desired.

Despite my mishaps, it managed to turn out alright. Though the coating was quite brown (as you can probably see in the picture), I managed to salvage it by turning the heat down even lower, and cooking them for what seemed like forever, managing to avoid any burned taste. So I guess, overall, a bit of a more complicated recipe that, when completed accordingly, is absolutely fabulous!

Oh, and I suggest serving this oover a bread of fresh spinach. It is a fabulous compliment, as the sauce ends up doubling as a dressing!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 452
  • Fat: 22.4g
  • Saturated fat: 3.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 11.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g
  • Protein: 29.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 33.6g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Cholesterol: 171mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Sodium: 516mg
  • Calcium: 68mg

BUY /ALL/ THE THINGS!

23 Sep

THIS is my new baby. Yes. I can’t believe it either. I FINALLY own a Kitchenaid mixer!! And I cannot even wait to abuse it!

Up until now, all of the baking I’ve ever done has been with a hand mixer. While it has sure made for some rock hard arm muscles (allowing me, of course, to guiltless-ly eat extra of whatever dessert I’ve made), I gladly welcome the chance to be a little more lazy 😉

I have a feeling this will have been the best purchase of my life.

P.S. – Promise those other recipe posts will be up soon! n_____n

Pumpkin Krispies!

19 Sep

These are another magnificent treat that, after snacking on them for a whole week and not sharing with anyone at my husband’s office because I loved them THAT MUCH, I took to share with our Ultimate team. As much as I WANTED to eat the rest of them myself, I had to resist that urge more strongly than I ever had any urge thus far in my relatively short life, and let me tell you, it was very difficult. I’ve already established my adoration for fall flavored pumpkin treats, and pairing that with the ever simple Rice Krispie Treat was just ingenious; obviously I was in love from the very first nibble.

My health is very important to me, and I indulged in way too many treats last week. Yes, I made the truffles, the brownies, and these all in the same week :X not particularly wise, but eh… I was bored? which I found to be such a shame, because I didn’t get to eat as many of them as I WISH I had. I don’t like wasting, especially when ingrediants are expensive, as the white chocolate was for the truffles. Therefore, I cut out one treat with my pumpkin shaped cookie cutter and topped it with the remaining bit of white chocolate and orange sprinkels. Orange sprinkles obviously because it was near impossible to even tell that was a pumpkin and not just a circle, ESPECIALLY after I put the chocolate on it. Yeah… didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
(from Cookies and Cups – She has fabulous pictures!)

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 (10.5) oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Directions:

1. Spray 9×9 pan with non-stick spray.

2. Over med-low heat melt your butter.

3. Once your butter is melted, continue to cook until butter starts to brown (it will turn a golden brown color and develop a nutty aroma). Be careful not to burn (once the butter begins to brown it can burn quickly). Stir up any brown bits.

4. Add the marshmallows and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until marshmallows are melted.

5. Remove from heat and stir in rice krispies.

6. When mixed spread the krispie mixture in your prepared pan. Spray a sheet of wax paper or parchment with non-stick spray and gently press the krispies down evenly. Let cool for 30 minutes and then cut into squares.

These taste divine. The amount of pumpkin spice called for is perfect – not overwhelming at all, adds just enough hint of pumpkin and spiciness to make this simple treat far more gourmet than I’ve tasted it done yet. The spice compliments the softness of the delicate marshmallows so well. You get all the taste benefits of heavier pumpkin pie in a more light and airy package that you feel completely guiltless for eating squares and squares of! And right there, you can now see my dilemma! I actually bought enough supplies to make 2 sets of Rice Krispie Treats, these and a set of cake batter flavored ones. I am still undecided if the cake batter ones will be getting made… There is a massive desire in me to just made another batch of these!! I still can’t believe Rice Krispie doens’t actually sell these come fall time… I feel like they would surely make a fortune if they did…

After this past week being so full of baking, I’ve fallen behind on my cooking recipes! So expect to me to catch up on those as I take a small break from baking. Time to focus on the healthier things again! Aside from the mock Chick-fil-A nuggets I made the other night… but those will have their own post!

Brownies~

19 Sep

So… yeah. Brownies are probably one thing that will not be featured here terribly often. I regrettably don’t like them much at all, nor have I ever really. The only brownies I EVER truly loved were the ones my mom made growing up. They came straight out of a box, but I had never had one I liked better. And even though I’ve eaten a fair share of box-baked brownies, none ever seem to be the ones my mom bought. I can’t ever remember which ones she gets specifically, though she’s told me countless times, and any time I try to find them in the stores, I fail. They were equal parts of chunky chocolate pieces that balanced what I tend to feel is the much drier rest of the brownie. And that’s generally what turns me off from brownies – I find them ALL to be uncomfortably dry, and they make my mouth feel kind of weird… Thus, I don’t make them that often.

But I DO make them sometimes, because everyone else loves brownies, and does not seem to find the same problems in them that I do; my tongue must just be broken in that respect. In middle/early high school I never particularly cared for chocolate. In fact, only recently (within the last few years) have I began craving it on occasion. I’ve been long overdue for some brownies, and taking into consideration my husband’s love for chocolate, I found some that I wanted to make him to celebrate our first month of being married! Heck I mean, if you can last one month, you can make it all the rest, right?!? At least I think you can, especially with ample baked goods! ;D “Cookies and Cream” is my ultimate number one flavor for any dessert ever, period – there is absolutely NO taste I cherish more. I try to bake anything and everything I can that combines that flavor, particularly through use of Oreos. And so yet again I find myself baking delicious Oreos inside another delightful treat: a gooey hot-fudge brownie!

Cookies and Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies
(from Kevin and Amanda)

What you need:

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • eggs & oil (as called for by the brownie mix)
  • 1 heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream
  • 1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled or room temp)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray

2. Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do not add the water.

3. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to combine.

4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish. Layer with Oreos.

5. Top off with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the back of the box.

As far as brownies go for me, I enjoyed them (mostly due to the FANTASTIC addition of the Cookies and Cream ice cream, MY FAVORITE!!!). These brownies were SUPER MOIST. I baked them for about 40 minutes. The ones along the edge of the pan were a little hard on the sides, which was a bit surprising considering the extreme moistness of the centers and bottoms. As the original author of this recipe states, the Oreos in the center stay nice, soft, and gooey – perfect!

To save husband all the trouble and calories that come with consuming all of these, I took the remainder to our first Ultimate game of the fall season! They were a huge hit with everyone on the team who go to try one!

Truffles!

14 Sep

Apologies for the late update! It was a very busy and eventful weekend, to say the least, but I am back! AND I am also fairly new to making truffles. It is an art that had intimidated me quite a bit, up until recently; they just always SEEMED difficult to make, an assumption based largely in the fact that I associate truffles as having very creamy, non-solid centers. I am slowly realizing that this is not the case, and there are many truffle recipes that contain more solid centers (which, for me, is much less scary to try and work with)! Making that cake last week reminded me of something I had long forgotten (as it’s been a while since I’ve made any cakes): I. LOVE. CAKE BATTER. More than any taste in the world. The flavors, and the whole experience of licking the spatula clean, really took me back to my childhood when my sister and I would help my mom bake cakes, and how DELICIOUS it was to eat the leftover batter. Yummmm. I got nostalgic, to the say the least, and went on a search for some cake batter recipes!

I found two recipes for cake batter truffles. The first one I made was alright. I didn’t like them much – I thought they were too dry and struggled to get them moist enough, and the taste seemed… off – but they were a HUGE hit at my husband’s work regardless (even the higher-ups kept searching him out to have more)! Unpleased with those, I then tried a second recipe, which worked out MUCH better.

These truffles are perfectly moist and taste exactly like the delicious cake batter most people love and adore consuming (without all the raw eggs and oils)! They are AMAZING. And I feel like the possibility of combinations between cake flavors and chocolate shells are so numerous, I could spend weeks making variations of these. For now, though, I started with my own personal favorite flavor combination: Yellow Cake with Vanilla frosting! But I guess white chocolate is close enough?

Cake Batter Truffles
(as adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

What you need:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 16 ounces of white chocolate (I used 4 4oz bars of Ghirardelli White Baking Chocolate)
  • Sprinkles!!!

1. Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency. Mix in your desired amount of sprinkles by hand. Roll dough into no bigger than one inch balls (because they grow in size when you dip them in the chocolate) and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet.

2. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

3. While dough balls are chilling, melt the white chocolate per the directions on the packaging. I prefer the microwave method. Break up all the squares of chocolate and put them in a larger microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1.h minutes on 50% power. Stir. If chocolate is still not all melted, continue to heat in 30 second intervals until chocolate melts, stirring in between. Only heat until it is to the point where all of the chocolate will melt via stirring it. If it is too hot, let it cool before you dip the truffles in it so that the temperature difference is not so huge between the chilled balls and the chocolate. Using a fork, dip truffles into chocolate and shake of excess by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.

4. Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 30-40 truffles.

I know the directions call for tapping the excess, but I’ve come to find I enjoy my truffles with a slightly messed look to them, rather than perfectly coated and round. I’ve also still yet to have success at using any object other than my own fingers when it comes to dipping the truffles, so really, just do what’s best for you. These are DELICIOUS and take almost no time at all. Try them out!

Per suggestion of many strangers who have enjoyed these treats, I am considering selling them on Etsy as wedding favors or treats! Wish me luck!!

Pumpkin Bumpkin

6 Sep

In celebration of Labor Day weekend and Fall and our good friend Matt’s hosting of a board game night (Arkham Horror!), I decided to make a delicious treat to bring for everyone! I’ve had this one open in a tab for freaking ever, and have just been WAITING for the perfect opportunity to make it (and, plus, now that this is out of the way, I can finally start working slowly through all the amazing new concoctions I’ve found through Pinterest…).

These are AMAZING. SO delicious, even with what seems like a massive change to recipe that I had to make. I searched online to see if Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Pie Mix were interchangeable in recipes. Among some largely mixed reactions, I felt people were leaning towards “NO WAY NO DON’T DO IT DON’T EVER SUBSTITUTE MIX FOR PUREE.” I scoured the supermarkets but I couldn’t find any Pumpkin puree in the stores here just yet; I was lucky enough to find even the Pumpkin pie mix at one (and only one) Safeway near me. Therefore, I used 1 cup of canned Pumpkin Pie mix in place of the puree the recipe calls for, and added just a dash of the pumpkin pie spice (since canned pumpkin pie mix is already spiced). I also just felt like these needed some frosting, so I made my own Cinnamon Vanilla frosting to drizzle on top! It compliments these SO well! They are the perfect fall treat!!

Here is my VERY own:

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Blondie Cake
(Adapted from Sing for your Supper)

What you need:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Caramel Sauce
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, divided
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup canned Pumpkin Pie Mix (whereas the original recipe calls for Pumpkin Puree)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Butter a 9×9-inch baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.  Stir together and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

3. Pour half of the batter in the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle the caramel in an even layer and sprinkle with the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt (feel free to leave the salt out if you’re not a fan of salted caramel). Carefully drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the caramel and smooth out as best you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

4. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes around 9 squares. Taste, and see if you want to add the icing or not.

What you need for the icing (original recipe from here):

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used 1 unsalted + 2 salted sticks, because that was all I had! Still worked.)
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Directions:

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

I was on a time crunch when it came to making the icing, so I did not sift the powdered sugar or even add it in the exact increments prescribed by the recipe. I PROBABLY didn’t aerate it as much as it said to because of that, and therefore, while it was still fluffy, it probably wasn’t as fluffy as the recipe intended it to be. To that, my husband only had this gem to say: “Who cares about sifting it, it’s sugar, just get that shit in there!!!” He thought the icing tasted AMAZING.

I also ended up having to use 2 sticks of salted butter (rather than unsalted, which is what the recipe called for), but it was still AMAZING. This icing was the PERFECT compliment to the pumpkin flavor, as the amount of cinnamon present adds a subtle but nice kick of extra spice – just the right amount!

I could see this recipe being too sweet for some, though, if you are sensitive to too much sugar (which I think is mostly fault of the icing), but everyone who had this cake said that it was phenomenal, so I think it worked out well! My first big baking experiment: great success! And Arkham Horror was a super fun board game to boot! Highly recommend playing it, especially with a good group of hilarious friends!

Chicken Cutlets with Fontina and Fresh Blueberry Sauce

2 Sep

Apologies for the slacking! I was working on my resume and applied to a few jobs this week, so I’e been focusing on that and not my cooking! NO EXCUSES THOUGH! XD So, I managed to make this dish the other day. My camera battery was dead (poor planning!) and thus, I have no pictures of my own. However, like the picture above (from a basic Google images search), this dish is beautiful. The blueberry sauce has a gorgeous dark violet hue to it that compliments the glossy melted Fontina cheese by painting the chicken in their wonderful, vibrant colors. My final product looked very similar to the image above, but imagine more gooey white cheese melted and sliding down over the edges of the chicken.

Blueberries are my absolute favorite thing to eat, period. I could eat them all day long. I have adored in the past the fruit + meat combination in regards to pork dishes. My favorite dishes I’ve ever made involved pork and some sort of berry (assorted, cheeries, blackberries, etc.), the sweetness and juiciness of the fruit just compliment pork SO well. Perhaps it was because of my extreme love of the taste fruit brings to pork, or my love for pork in general (no matter how ‘dangerous’ or unhealthy it may be), but I definitely had some reservations about pairing fruit with Chicken. It’s so rarely done that I was unsure about it. BUT, I am extremely curious in nature, so I HAD to try it! And I was not disappointed. It was not my husband’s favorite thing by any means, nor mine either, but it was still a pleasing dish.

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided (1 teaspoon / 2 teaspoons)
  • ¾ lb. chicken cutlets (about four cutlets) –  I suggest slicing them on the thinner side
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ cup (2 oz.) shredded Fontina cheese
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (but I love them so I threw in extra!)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. IIIIII, on the otherhand, used the entire Tablespoon of butter at this step! Because I forgot to divide it!! So I’ve split it up for you here already. It still worked out though, and I don’t think it really mattered (aside from adding extra calories)! Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done.

2. Remove chicken to a serving platter; sprinkle with cheese. Keep warm.

3. Combine apple juice, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add apple juice mixture to pan; simmer 1 minute. Add blueberries and thyme; simmer 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons butter. Spoon blueberry sauce over chicken. Serve!

One more note: for the butter, I use Smart Balance Organic. It looks like this:

It is THE best butter you will ever eat, hands down, period. IF you can find it, I swear… try it. It will change your life. I have no idea what it is about this butter, but it just has this certain taste to it that is way more delicious than the original or light Smart Balance, and definitely superior to any other butter or spread I’ve ever had. I do not eat it for that fact it’s organic and vegan (non-dairy – though those are both pluses, I supposed), I eat it for the taste alone. I don’t even remember how I came to buy it in the first place, but I started eating it when I lived in Austin, in 2008. I bought it all the time, until one day when it just DISAPPEARED from every single grocery store shelf in the greater Austin area. I could not find it ANYWHERE, try as I might. I moved back to Houston for a few months, where I still couldn’t find this butter; it seemed to have just disappeared from Texas altogether, with no trace. BUT when I moved here to Seattle, I found STORES OF IT at QFC. I almost had a heartattack I was so thrilled. I freaked out in the middle of the aisle, and David was like, “OH MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG?!?” I had to compose myself before I alerted him of my monumental find. Because, as I said, this butter changed my life; I ate it, and suddenly bread, cookies, anything – you name it – was never the same without it. I always became so depressed with every single trip to the store where I could not find it. And so I suggest you try it, too!

Nutrition (for the meal, not the butter!):
Calories: 199
Fat: 8.2g
Protein: 23.4g
Carbs: 7.2g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 5.2g
Cholesteral: 73mg
Iron: 0.8mg
Sodium: 491mg
Calcium: 89mg

Need S’more Fall Recipes!

2 Sep

It’s FALL, my FAVORITE time of the year!! I adore the holiday season, the festive orange and brown hues, the pumpkins, the scents – heck, everything! I cannot get enough of this time of year, really. And I swear, I spend all year exercising so hard and staving off every pound possible in celebration of this fabulous quarter of the year, because this is the season that really packs on the pounds. The only thing I love more than decorating for the holidays, is baking for the holiday. And, thanks to Pinterest, not only has my womanly biological clock been severely ticking regarding the domestic sphere of life, but I’ve found a million AMAZING fall-flavored recipes, and I intend on trying to make as many of them as I possibly can.

I started with this one, because it was easy and I had everything on hand. And by easy, I mean smaller scale than the baking I did last week, which is difficult since I don’t have a kitchen aid mixer and although I work them out often, my arms still tire very easily having to handmix it all myself. SOMEDAY SOON THIS WILL CHANGE (once the budget recovers from wedding expenditures ;~;) Also, again, I fail and did not have my camera battery charged. Therefore, the following delectable picture (and recipe) are not mine, and come from the blog I originally found them in, here.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of S’more Bar recipes, but this one really stood out to me. It just LOOKS amazing, in all it’s warm, gooey, melting glory. The one thing I never really cared much about involving S’more’s is the Graham Cracker. While I do enjoy the cinnamon-y taste, I just… don’t really like them all that much. This recipe, instead, incorporates graham cracker crumbs into the dough, so you get the best of both worlds (for me, at least): the delicious flavor of the graham crackers, but the soft texture of a typical cookie (perhaps even softer than cookies, more like a brownie). SO delicious! And so, without further wait:

S’mores Cookie Bars
(from Lovin’ in the Oven)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  • An exactly 8 x 8 square cooking pan

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

3. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).

4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 bars.

I think my pan was slightly bigger than 8×8, so I had a little bit of trouble working that half of the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, but eventually I made it work! Spreading that marshmallow cream out is the trickiest thing ever, and if anyone has any tips on working with that stuff, I am all ears. I ended up using almost the entire 13oz container, I think, Just to save myself the trouble (and, to be honest, the more marshmallow, the better)! I baked them for 30 minutes, and that was just enough time.

They’ve kept well uncovered for the past few days, and I’ve reheated them slightly each time we eat them. Husband took the rest of them to work today to get them OUT of our faces! So hopefully everyone there is enjoying them =) Now please excuse me while I go scarf down the very last one left! ;D

B-E-A-UTIFUL Bulgogi~

29 Aug

Last night saw the cooking of the second great batch of Bulgogi (that my husband demanded I make again because he loved it THAT much)! And, again, it did not disappoint!

The Bulgogi recipe I used came from this website (she has a bunch of delicious traditional Korean recipes compiled there). Bulgogi is a sweet, staple meat dish of South Korea. Typically, restaurants in Korea consist of tables that have open-flame grills built into them. Customers then cook their own meat (pre-marinated) at the table themselves! I am lucky (or, perhaps, unlucky?) enough to live within walking distance of traditional Korean style restaurant here in Seattle called Shilla. I will probably write a review of Shilla in another post, but for now I must sing it’s praises – the food is PHENOMENAL. It’s actually a Korean-Japanese restaurant, so they have a both types of cuisine, and it is quite entertaining to cook your own food right at the table over a warm open flame (especially in this chilly and rainy city)! But back to my main point… though Bulgogi is typically grilled, this recipe is cooked in a pan over the stove-stop, making it so easy to enjoy this delicious dish any time!

Aside from the marinating time for the beef (it must marinate for at least half a day), all in all, I’d say total preparation and completeion of this meal sit somewhere in the 30 minute range, at most. It takes almost no time to slice the onion and carrot, or to mix the ingredients for the sauce. Slicing the beef into super thin strips could take the longest time of all the steps, unless you can find thin-cut steaks at the grocery store, as I did. I bought about 1 pound (about equivalent to the 3 cups the recipe calls for) of already very thinly cut beef steaks, which I then only had to cut into small strips, saving time. Because the meat is sliced so thin, it cooks very quickly, and is done in no time!

Now, on to the recipe (again, from here, where she also has a great video for making it, if you want to watch it)! What you need:

  • 3 Cups (about 1 lb) of Beef (Sirloin, or any cut)
  • 1 Onion
  • ½ a Carrot (as you can see, I used baby carrots, because I had them. I chopped up about 10 of them)
  • 6 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Asian Pear Juice (which I found very easily at the local asian market)
  • 3 Tbsp water (I substituted water in place of the cooking wine her recipe calls for)
  • 3 Tbs Green Onion
  • 1½ Tbsp Garlic
  • 1 Pinch Ginger Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil

As I’ve said, start with all your slicing. Slice the onion, 1/2 of the carrot (into long, thin strips), and the meat (again, into thin slices). Simple! Set aside in a large bowl or container. Slice the green onions as well, but put those aside to mix in with the sauce.

(Also, that’s my beautiful new knife!!! Thanks Ravi!! :D)

Then, just combine the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Asian pear juice, water, ginger powder, pepper, garlic, green onion, and sesame seeds in a bowl, stirring well to mix.

Pour the sauce mixture over your meat, onion, and carrot (which should be set aside together in that large bowl you put them in). Get your hands dirty and mix it together well! Then cover with either saran wrap, or a lid (if your container has one – mine did), and toss in the fridge for at least 12 hours (both times I’ve made this, I marinated it for an entire day).

After marination is complete, take the meat out, toss it in a large skillet, and cook until the meat is done. I poured some, but not all, of the marinade over the beef while it was cooking, and it worked out well that way.

All that’s left to do is enjoy!

For the side dishes, I made:

Eggplant (가지 – Gaji) Bokkeum (볶음), which is basically eggplant and onion fried together in a skillet with garlic and soy sauce, and Soybean Sprout (콩나물 – Kongnamul) Muchim (무침):

Regarding the soybean dish, instead of Soybean sprouts, I used Mung Bean Sprouts (숙주나물 – Sukjunamul), because that was all my grocery store had. Fun fact: although mung beans are more widely available in Asia than soybeans, soybeans are more popular! But anyway… as I’ve never made this dish before and it’s been a while since I’ve had any, I cannot compare the taste of the soybeans against that of the mung beans, but the mung beans did taste delicious and thus, I believe them to be an adequate substitute. Both recipes made for very quick and delicious sides, and they complimented the Bulgogi nicely. All 3 recipes result in tastes that are the same (namely, the sesame flavors from the oil and seeds), but very different, at the same time. It is subtle enough to tell they all share something, but different enough for the dishes to each bring something diverse to the plate (literally!). The sweetness of the meat is complimented nicely by the saltiness of the eggplant, while the sprout dish adds a refreshingly neutral, earthy flavor that balances the salty eggplant dish.

All in all, it was a FANTASTIC meal, and I definitely suggest you all try it out!

Primavera Pasta in Fall!

27 Aug

So earlier today, I began marinating more Bulgogi, which I will cook and post tomorrow! I was using the same small, dull, expensive-in-cost-though-cheap-in-make knife I purchased 2 months  ago when we first moved to Seattle, as I always do, to dangerously chop the onion and carrot (what can I say, I must like to live on the edge… #cheappuns, #cheaperthanthedullknife). All of our stuff was in storage, and we had little money to spare on a nice knife, and the Safeway across the street was convenient, so I searched there for a knife, never looking back. However, I cannot lie, with each use grows in me a fear that manifests as a vivid image in my mind: the knife slipping and going straight through my left hand. It is terrifying, and strikes predominantly when I’m cutting onions (perhaps also sparked by the fact I can’t ever see through the immense tears that swell in them). But I digress…

So, I’m slicing away per usual, when in walks our good friend, Ravi. He and my husband have been working on a super secret Windows phone game, so he came over to work on that. BUT, he had in tow with him the wedding present he got for us! WHICH JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE…… guess… A NEW KNIFE SET!! My face immediately lit up, and I found myself suddenly indebted to him, Needless to say, I tore into eagerly, and finished my carrot chopping and beef slicing with my brand new chef’s knife. It was glorious, and effortless. Long gone are the days of pain in my hand, and fear in my heart, and I could not be happier! So, thank you again, Ravi! ;D

Tomorrow you will get to enjoy the fruits of this labor, but the recipe I made for the three of us for dinner tonight actually involved no need of the knives at all. It is probably the simplest recipe I’ve ever made, as it has few ingredients (all of which are ready straight from the store), but we enjoyed it nonetheless: Tortellini Primavera w/Pesto Sauce (I have a relentless headache all day long refusing to subside, so I needed something easy to whip up).

(Also, please, you must bear with me and my currently amateur photography. I JUST received this camera as my wedding gift from my husband, so I am still trying to get the hang of it <3)

What you need:

  • 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetables
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • YIELDS: 4 (1 1/4 cup) servings

To begin, bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the tortellini and frozen vegetables, cooking 5-7 minutes, or until both pasta and vegetables are tender. When done, drain in a strainer. Also, a note on the frozen vegetables: my grocery store was limited in their selection of broccoli-oriented stir-fry mixes, which I failed to pay detailed attention to. I bought one that I came to find had water chestnuts in it. While I tend to ADORE water chestnuts in my oriental dishes, I do not so much enjoy them in my pasta dishes. This may just be my own personal preference, but if you feel you, too, may also not enjoy that, then try to find a stir-fry mix without them.

While the pasta cooks, combine the sour cream, pesto, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Generally, my husband and I really do not enjoy sour cream, so I was slightly apprehensive about making this dish. But I do love my pesto, so I decided to go for it. The pesto and sour cream surprisingly compliment each other well by toning the other down a bit, as I feel both have pretty strong flavors on opposite spectrums. A smooth, soft, and creamy pesto tasted better than I had imagined!

After the pasta is drained, transfer it into a large bowl. Pour the pesto mixture over the pasta, and stir well to coat everything. Serve, sprinkling each serving with pepper and Parmesan cheese! Additionally, while the recipe calls for 1/8 t. pepper, I ignored that and just sprinkled as much as I felt was right. Super quick, super easy, straightforward dinner in minutes!

Nutrition:

  • Calories: 331
  • Calories from fat: 33%
  • Fat: 12.2g
  • Saturated fat: 4.5g
  • Protein: 18.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 38.1g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 32mg
  • Sodium: 659mg

I served with slices of Texas Toast (again, easy – just throw them from the freezer to the oven for 5 minutes @ 425 degrees). For the Texas Toast (Pepperidge Farm) Nutrition (per slice):

  • Calories: 150
  • Fat: 7g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Carbohydrate: 18g
  • Sodium: 190mg