Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grilled Rubbed Pork

I like to experiment with different "treatments" for meat on the grill, but this is one I come back to again and again. It's subtle, but gives the meat a delicious kick. And it takes all of 45 seconds to prepare, which leaves more time for reading in the back yard!

This recipe is for two pork tenderloins - I usually only make one at a time, so I just cut the rub ingredients in half. If you like, you could also make more ahead of time and keep the rub in an airtight container. But, since it only takes 45 seconds to prepare, you could just make it fresh each time, too. (Okay, that was a circuitous paragraph.)

In a small bowl (I actually use a ramekin), combine the brown sugar and spices.

Stir these up so they are all mixed together. Place your tenderloin(s) on a plate or in a cake pan or cookie sheet (your preference!) and rub the spice mixture all over it/them, top, bottom and sides.

Cover and refrigerate the meat for up to 3 hours.

Grill the pork over indirect medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. With pork, you want the internal temperature to reach 160 degrees.

Let the meat stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Need side dishes? Try roasted vegetables , almond wild rice and cranberry salad with this pork.

For more great ideas, visit Mouthwatering Mondays, Recipe Swap, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table and the Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Grilled Rubbed Pork

2 pork tenderloins (1 pound each)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place pork in a 9x13 dish. Combine the brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano and pepper and stir well to mix. Rub over pork, covering all sides. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

Grill over indirect heat for 15-20 minutes until pork reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, turning occasionally. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serves 6.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Pasta

My friend Michelle gave me this recipe and I'm glad she did! It's a great way to use zucchini and squash, and smoked sausage is a nice change of pace from beef. This recipe freezes well, so you could make the sauce ahead and freeze it in a ziptop bag for a quick meal later. Or you could make a double batch, and freeze half (I'm all about options).

This is a recipe you can use when you need to put food on the table quickly: the sauce doesn't take any longer than cooking the pasta. It's also one that can be changed based on what you have that's seasonal or from the garden. I use zucchini and summer squash, but you can also use or add carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, whatever you have and your family prefers.

Put on a pot of water to boil, then add your favorite pasta. I usually use spaghetti for this, but gemelli or penne or something else would work just fine.

For the sauce, first cut up the smoked sausage (I used keilbasa cause that's what I had!) I cut it crosswise into slices, and then cut each slice into quarters. Saute the sausage just til it starts to brown. (This is really an optional step, but I prefer the texture of this after it's been browned. If you don't care, just add the meat into the sauce when you add the tomatoes.)

Remove the sausage from the pan, and add a bit of olive oil. Saute the squash and onions until tender.

Add the tomatoes and sausage to the pan and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors combine. (I puree my tomatoes first cause I don't like chunks! You can just pour them in straight from the can.)

Drain the pasta. Serve the sauce over the pasta, and top with parmesan cheese.

There are more great ideas for squash at the In Season Recipe Swap.

Get more recipe inspiration at Friday Feasts, Food on Fridays, Family Recipe Friday, and Foodie Fridays, Ingredient Spotlight.

Summer Pasta

1 pound spaghetti or your favorite pasta
1 pound smoked sausage or polska keilbasa, sliced and diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise and then crosswise
2 small summer squash, sliced lengthwise and then crosswise
1 small onion, chopped
1 28-oz can seasoned diced tomatoes (I used olive oil and garlic)
parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta; cook til al dente. Meanwhile, saute sausage in a large skillet until just starting to brown. Remove from skillet. Add olive oil to the skillet and saute the vegetables over medium heat until tender. Add the tomatoes and sausage to the vegetables. Lightly simmer for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Drain pasta. Serve sauce over pasta and top with parmesan cheese. Serves 8.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Peanut Butter-Banana Cream Pie

This is one of my favorite desserts! It's great in the summer because it's frozen, but I make it year round. This recipe was originally from Cooking Light, but I've made a few modifications.

If you don't have all the "light" ingredients called for in this recipe, feel free to use the "full fat" counterparts - I've never used reduced-fat peanut butter because I never have any! Even with the light ingredients, this pie is surprisingly rich and filling. I recommend 10 slices for this pie, which makes it a great option for when you have company. Since it uses 1/2 a block of cream cheese, it's also easy just to double and make two pies, helping you to feed a crowd!

First, to make the crust, crush the vanilla wafers. You can use a food processor, a mini chopper, or just a rolling pin, whatever you like best and is convenient.

To the crushed cookies, add the brown sugar and melted butter.

Press the crumbs onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9 or 10 inch pie plate.

Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, then cool completely. (Note: if you have friends or family with gluten or carb issues, this pie is equally good without the crust! Just layer the bananas in the bottom of the pie plate, they serve the purpose of a crust!)

While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Using a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Then fold in the whipped topping.

Next, slice the bananas and arrange them in the bottom of the crust. Spread the filling over the bananas.

Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

I usually use a table knife to cut through the syrup and the filling to make a little design on top. (Emphasis on little, artistic I am not!)

Cover the pie with cling wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours. Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes prior to serving.

Get more great ideas at What's Cooking Wednesday and I am Blissfully Domestic, This Week's Cravings.

Peanut Butter-Banana Cream Pie

1 cup vanilla wafers (about 20)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese (or regular)
1/2 cup reduced fat peanut butter (or regular)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 8 oz. container whipped topping, thawed
1 1/2 cups sliced bananas (about 2)
3 Tbsp. chocolate sundae syrup

Preheat oven to 350. Crush cookies into fine crumbs and combine with brown sugar and melted butter. Stir well to combine. Press crumbs onto bottom and up sides of a 9 or 10 inch pie plate coated with non stick cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes; cool completely.

For filling, combine brown sugar, cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat with mixer until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Arrange bananas in the bottom of the pie crust; spread peanut butter filling over bananas. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

Cover and freeze 8 hours; let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before esrving. Serves 8-10.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs

This is one of my favorite things to make in the summer. I love the taste of freshly-grilled vegetables. This is a great way to stretch meat (if you need to) and a great way to get all your recommended servings of veggies in for the day!

This "recipe" will not have precise measurements. You can change the ingredients, too, using the vegetables you like or that you have on hand. In this instance, I made 7 skewers (and they're relatively "tall") using 1 chicken breast, 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash, half a red pepper, a small onion and some fresh mushrooms. Sometimes I like to be very precise and so I'll have 14 pieces of zucchini (2 for each skewer) exactly, other times I just wing it.

First, cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. The trick with kebabs is trying to get all the pieces to be relatively uniform, so they cook evenly on the grill. Marinate the chicken breast in Italian salad dressing for a few hours, in the fridge.

If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 1/2 hour before threading them. While they're soaking, you can chop up the vegetables.

I just love how beautiful that color combination is!

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl, and then drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Then, thread the meat and vegetables on the skewer in whatever order you like.

Stack them all up on the plate and get ready to grill!

Grill over medium heat until chicken is done and vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes, turning frequently.

Get more ideas at Mouthwatering Mondays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs

Chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
Fresh vegetables:
Zucchini, summer squash, onion, mushrooms, pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
Italian dressing
Olive oil
salt and pepper

In covered bowl, or ziptop bag, marinate chicken in Italian dressing for several hours or overnight. Soak wooden skewers in water for 1/2 hour. Combine vegetables in large bowl and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Salt and pepper to taste; stir to mix well.

Thread chicken and vegetables alternately on skewers. Grill over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently, until chicken tests done and vegetables are tender.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Frosty Coffee Pie

This pie was a finalist in the 2009 Great American Pie Show. After making this and tasting this, I'm not quite sure WHY it didn't win first place. But now I have more pies to try! I guess I better get going on learning to make my own pie crust or I'll be keeping Pillsbury in business!

This pie has a chocolate crust. You can buy one pre-made. Or make your own. I make my own using one row of Oreos (about 18) and 1 Tbsp. melted butter. Pat the crust into a 9 inch pie pan, and then drizzle with hot fudge sauce. Mmm, don't you love this pie already?

In a mixing bowl, beat together the ice cream, pudding mix, coffee and milk until blended. (A good way to soften the ice cream is by thawing it in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour.) If you don't like coffee ice cream, just use chocolate!

Pour this mixture into the chocolate crust.

Freeze this for about 1/2 hour. (The original recipe didn't call for this step, but I think it would be difficult to spread the topping onto this layer if it's not partially frozen.)

Next, combine the whipped topping and the marshmallow creme. Mr. or Ms. Inventor of the Marshmallow Creme, I salute you! What a great invention. I must immediately find more recipes calling for marshmallow creme!

Spread this divine mixture over the frozen chocolate layer.

Sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips. Those things are so cute! If you don't have minis, DO NOT purchase them for this recipe, since you only need a handful. You could grate some semi-sweet chocolate on top, or make curls, or use chopped regular chips. There are lots of options!

Freeze until firm. I froze this for several hours before covering it with cling wrap.

Now, off to plan for more pies!

There are more summer dessert ideas at the Ultimate Recipe Swap. And lots more inspiration can be found at Tasty Thursday, Food on Fridays, Favorite Ingredient Fridays, Chocolate Fridays and Foodie Fridays.

Frosty Coffee Pie

1/4 cup hot fudge sundae topping, warmed
1 9-inch chocolate crust
3 cups coffee ice cream, softened
1 5.9 oz. package instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup cold milk
1 3/4 cups whipped topping
1 cup marshmallow creme
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Spread ice cream topping over crust. In a large bowl, beat the ice cream, pudding mix, coffee and milk until blended. Pour into crust. Freeze for at least 1/2 hour to allow coffee layer to firm up.

In another bowl, combine the whipped topping and marshmallow creme; spread over top. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Return to the freezer for several hours to firm up before covering with foil or cling wrap. Serves 8.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oriental Coleslaw

This is a popular salad that goes by many different names: Ramen Cabbage Salad, Chinese Coleslaw, etc. It doesn't matter what you call it. It matters that you make it. Just this week I entered this family-favorite salad in our staff cook-out contest. And I won!!! I was so excited to win. And today, one of the judges told me he rated this salad a "6" - on a 5 point scale! It's that good.

This salad is simple to put together, and travels well in its separate parts.

First, crush the Ramen noodles. I do this without opening the package, and just use the heel of my hand.

Next, toast the almonds in a bit of butter on the stovetop. You can also toast almonds in the microwave, or in the oven. I prefer the stovetop.

If you like, you can also add the crushed ramen noodles to the almonds, to toast them also. This is not necessary, but I did it this time, pulling out all my tricks to try to win the cookout contest!

While the ramen and almond mixture cools, assemble the salad and the dressing. And try not to eat all the ramen noodles and almonds. Slice the green onions, and combine them with the coleslaw in a salad bowl.

Dole makes a nice coleslaw mix, and my grocery store also makes it and sells it in packages, already shredded (as pictured above). If you like, you can make your own coleslaw mix from "scratch" using cabbage and carrots.

Finally, for the dressing, combine the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and 1/2 of the seasoning packet from a package of Oriental flavored Ramen noodles.

Whisk well to combine and until sugar is dissolved. The salad needs to be dressed immediately before serving. If you're not serving this right away, you can transfer the dressing to the jar to easily transport it.

If you're serving immediately, toss the salad with the dressing and then stir in the almonds and noodles. If you're taking it somewhere, take the salad, noodles/almonds, and dressing in separate containers and then assemble the salad right before serving it.

I hope you can also win a contest with this salad! (Or maybe just the high praises of your friends and family.)

Need more cabbage ideas? Check out the In Season Recipe Swap.

There are more recipes at Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table, What's Cooking Wednesday , Blissfully Domestic, Family Recipe Friday and Friday Feasts. Don't forget to check out the Eat More Fruits and Veggies Challenge, too and the 4th of July edition of Tasty Thursday.

Oriental Coleslaw

1 - 16oz package coleslaw, or equivalent homemade
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 package Oriental flavor Ramen noodles, broken up, toasted (optional)

1/2 cup canola oil
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 packet of seasoning from Ramen noodles

Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk well to dissolve sugar. In a large salad bowl, combine the coleslaw, green onions, almonds, and ramen noodles. Drizzle dressing over and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beef Enchiladas

After having such good luck with the chicken enchiladas, I decided to try another version using beef. I had made this sauce before, so I knew it was really good, and the rest I just made up as I went along. And it worked!

Start by combining the tomato sauce and the spices. This sauce has a bit of a kick, so use less cayenne if you need to.

Then, add the beef broth.

Bring this to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. It will smell delicious! In the meantime, chop up the onion, and shred the beef (if you need to!). I shredded up some leftover pot roast, and it worked really well.

When the sauce is done, add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of it to the meat and onion, just to moisten the meat a bit.

Next, prepare the tortillas. I do these one at a time, with my new method, which is to just heat them up in a dry skillet over medium heat. They need about 30 seconds on each side to begin to "cook." You'll be able to smell a distinct corn smell. This cooking enables you to fold the tortilla without breaking it.

I don't even bother with a spatula - I just turn them over with my fingers. The edges will curl up a little and you can grab it and flip it, or grab it and throw it onto the plate. It will be hot! But it will be ok to touch it for just a second or two. (I tried to take a picture of me tossing the cooked tortillas around the kitchen but it was just a blurry mess!)

If you'd rather not do this, you can divide the tortillas into two stacks, wrap in foil, and put in your preheated oven for about 10 minutes to soften. Or you can layer a few on a plate, and microwave for 20 seconds. If using a dry skillet bothers you, you can use the water method, or fry the tortillas in a bit of oil.

Spoon some of the beef mixture down the center of the tortilla, then bring the sides together to roll up.

Place seam side down in a greased 9x13 pan or casserole dish, and repeat until all the beef or tortillas are used up. Then pour the sauce over the top.

Finally, sprinkle the cheese over all the enchiladas, and bake til bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 20-25 minutes.

Get more ideas at Simply Delicious Sunday , Recipe Swap Monday, Your Life, Your Blog and Mouthwatering Mondays.

Beef Enchiladas

2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
12 corn tortillas
2 – 3 cups shredded beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 – 2 cups Mexican cheese

In a medium saucepan, combine tomato sauce, broth, cumin and cayenne. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine onion and beef and stir to mix well. When sauce is done, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of sauce to the meat to moisten it.

Warm tortillas in the microwave, on a skillet, or wrapped in foil in the oven. Fill each tortilla with the beef mixture, and place seam side down in a greased casserole dish or 9x13 pan. Cover with remaining sauce and sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Banana Muffins

This is an "old" family recipe, and I make it so often that I have the recipe completely memorized. This is a great way to use up bananas that are getting too ripe, or the 16 that you find in the freezer graveyard. (I'm not kidding, that's how many were in my freezer.) I almost always make a double batch of these (remember all the bananas I find in my freezer?) and the finished muffins freeze really well. They go great with stews and casseroles, and disappear quickly from the communal table in the office kitchen!

First, cream together the butter and sugar. You can use applesauce or yogurt in place of some of the butter, if you wish. I generally use 1/2 butter, 1/2 applesauce. Then add the eggs and vanilla.

Beat well until the eggs are all combined with the butter and sugar. Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until combined. (You can use 1/2 whole wheat flour if you prefer.)

Add the bananas. If you are using bananas that haven't been frozen, mash them with a fork first. If you're using frozen bananas, I find it easiest to just snip off the top with my kitchen shears, and the thawed fruit will pour right out.

Mix until the bananas are completely incorporated into the batter. Line muffin cups with papers, or else grease muffin cups, and fill about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For more great "family" recipes, visit Family Recipe Friday.

Banana Muffins

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 bananas, mashed, or thawed if frozen

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Gradually add flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add bananas and mix until well incorporated.

Line 12 muffin cups with papers, or grease well. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Makes one dozen.
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