Pork Loin with Apples and Onions

I’m cooking out of the freezer and fridge as my house is about to be fumigated for termites, so in searching around the crisper drawers, I found several slightly bruised Granny Smith apples and medium onion. Instead of sweet applesauce to go with a pork loin I found, I decided to do an apple and onion accompaniment.

Slicing the onions thin allows them to become sweetly caramelized in a fairly short cooking time. They are a perfect way to tone down the sour apples without adding sugar. Michelle thought a sprinkle of pepper would be a good taste and I think she’s right, so I added pepper to the to taste seasonings.

Pork Loin with Apple and Onions

1 – 3 lb pork loin
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Granny Smith apples, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Make a marinade by mixing together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, lime juice, Creole seasoning and rosemary. Put loin in zip top bag and pour marinade over pork. Seal and marinate for at least an hour and as long as 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Discard marinade. Brown all side of pork in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Place pork in roasting pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until meat thermometer registers 140 degrees F.

Deglaze the skillet with with 1 cup of water. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the apples to the pan and cook over medium heat until apples soften and onions are golden and all the water has steamed away. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook until apples are fork tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove loin from oven when done and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Spoon apple and onion mixture over top.

 

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Cheesy Chicken Calzone

I had been watching soccer all day Sunday (and don’t get me started on FIFA scheduling men’s final games on the day of the Women’s World Cup Final – here’s an article on why it is insulting. Here is another.) so I needed something I could eat in front of the TV. I decided a  calzone (basically a pocket pizza) was the way to go.

The entire dough recipe will make 4 good sized calzones. I divided the dough in half so I could have one calzone to eat, one for dinner later in the week and made pretzels with the rest.

I started on Saturday with an easy pizza dough in my new-to-me bread maker:

Basic Pizza Dough


3/4 cup tepid water
1/4 cup whole milk
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Place all the ingredients in order in the bread machine on the dough setting. When the machine is done with its cycle, divide dough in half and place one part in a well oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Use the other half, after an hour’s rest, for pizza or pretzels or wrap it well and put in the freezer for another meal.

I had a chicken breast thawed that I decided to use instead of more traditional sausage and pepperoni. After a quick browning of the chicken, I made a basic marinara sauce in the same skillet. I let the meat and sauce simmer together and then added to it cottage cheese (I was out of ricotta), mozzarella and Parmesan to make it very cheesy. All together, it resulted in a delicious meal that will stick to your ribs.

I used tomato sauce instead of tomatoes as I wanted to reduce the liquid in the dish.

Cheesy Chicken Calzone


1/2 recipe of pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 Parmesan cheese, grated
2 large eggs, divided

Remove the dough from the fridge and allow to rest and relax in a warm place for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sauté the onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic. Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces. Lightly salt chicken. Add chicken to skillet and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato sauce. Add basil, oregano, remaining salt and pepper, and bring to boil over medium-high. Add in red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a fork to pull apart any large pieces of chicken. Stir to coat with sauce.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and 1 egg. Mix in the cooled chicken mixture and stir to combine.

Divide dough into two pieces. Roll each piece out into about an 8 inch circle. Don’t make them too thin or it could blowout during baking. Set the rounds on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Place about a cup of filling on each round.

Lightly beat the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the egg wash on the border of the dough, fold over in half and press the edges together with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and score the tops with a knife to allow steam to escape.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Baked calzones can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen calzones in the refrigerator before reheating in a microwave. If you want the crust crispy again, get it mostly warm in the microwave and finish warming it up in a toaster oven.

Rosemary Root Beer Ham

I bought a large ham recently for making sandwiches. Starting with good ham is a great way to get better results. I went for a local favorite Chisesi New Orleans ham.

I was out of root beer so I used some Zatarains root beer concentrate for the glaze. I used 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of water to make a cup of root beer.

For the ground rosemary, I took 2 tablespoons of whole, dried rosemary leaves and gave them a long whirr in my spice grinder. I used two teaspoons in the recipe and put the extra in an airtight jar for another use

The ham had a delicious crust and smokey interior. I can’t wait for more sandwiches!

Rosemary Root Beer Ham

1 ham (I used a 9 lb Chisesi New Orleans Smoked Ham )
1 cup root beer
1/2 cup cane syrup (I prefer Steen’s Cane Syrup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
2 teaspoons ground rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whisk together the syrup, root beer, brown sugar, and mustard. Sprinkle in the rosemary, cloves and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Lay the ham in a baking dish and cut a lines in the skin all around the ham. Pour the syrup mixture over the ham.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours. Remove foil and begin basting for at least another hour or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees F.

Great with the rolls (recipe here), too!

Cheesy Meatloaf

I love meatloaf – it is cheap, easy and any leftovers makes awesome sandwiches for the next several days. I’ve done meatloaf before (here and here) but this one uses lots of cheddar cheese to make the finished meatloaf even better.

I served it with a bacon, broccoli, cheese stuffed Vidalia onion but that recipe needs a lot more tweaking before I will post it.

Cheesy Meatloaf

3/4 cup milk
2-3 slices stale bread (at least 1 1/2 cups worth when torn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Make a panade by soaking the torn pieces of bread in the milk for ten minutes.

Sauté onion in a tablespoon of butter until softened, at least 5 minutes.

Combine panade, sautéed onions and all the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands. Form into one large loaf or two smaller loaves and bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes (or until it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees). Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

Creole Chicken and Rice

I recently did a Latin American chicken and rice dish (see recipe here) and now I’m going to do a Louisiana Creole version. This one has the Louisiana holy trinity of onion, green bell pepper and celery with a different set of seasonings and long grain rice instead of the short grain of the arroz con pollo.

It had the right amount of heat from the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for my palate but you can always put a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who need more.

I make my own Creole seasoning (see recipe here) as I can more closely monitor the salt content.

Chicken cut off the bone and stirred into the rice for serving

This is a very tasty and comforting meal in a pot. My taste testers, Charlotte and Thomas, both enjoyed seconds and we all were members of the clean plate club.

Creole Chicken and Rice

Marinade:

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Chicken and Rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or 4 skinless breasts with rib bones
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 cup long-grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl or zip top bag. Add chicken and turn to coat. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown chicken about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to plate and lower heat to medium low. Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Place in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning and stir.

Add rice and stir to toast for 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, give it a stir, and bring to a simmer. Nestle chicken on top of the rice (pour in any of the juices that are left on the plate as well). Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice and chicken is done. During this time, cut the chicken off the bones and stir it into the rice for the final moments of cooking.

Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

My sister, Kathy, and her husband, Wayne, go to the Elberta Sausage Festival every spring and fall. Luckily for me, they pick up some delicious German sausage for me when they go.

While I typically poach the sausages in beer and finish them on the grill, this time I’m going with a recipe modified from the kitchen of my favorite Two Fat Ladies. Sausage and beer were made for each other and when you put in potatoes and cheese, you’ve nearly reached heaven.

I’m using German sausages here but you can use spicy Chorizo or Italian sausage or even Kielbasa. I took the sausage out of the casing as it can get too chewy. Just be gentle when browning it so it stays in large chunks.

Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

2 lbs good quality sausages, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle beer
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
6 medium potatoes, quartered
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a heavy Dutch oven, brown the sausages. Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside. Heat up the oil and then add the onions and a little salt and sauté for about ten minutes or they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the beer and tomatoes with their juices. Season with pepper. Add in the potatoes. Return the sausages to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil and drop the heat to keep it on a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour. You are looking for the potatoes to be fork tender. Uncover and add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring well between each addition to mix and melt. Cook for about 10 additional minutes for all the flavors to come together.

Serve this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the juices.

Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

I’ve been wanting a fairly simple recipe for boneless, skinless turkey breasts so I can slice them for lunch meat. I wandered through my cookbooks and the interwebs and came up with a hybrid.

My local grocery store had a sale on bone-in turkey breasts for President’s Day, so I bought one, removed the bones (which I used to make stock) and was just left with the breasts to play with. You can add additional herbs – rosemary would be a nice touch but I wanted to keep things plain. I also didn’t want to brine so I used a dry rub of salt.

The turkey came out moist and delicious. The smoke added a subtle flavor and the turkey sandwiches were excellent. Of course, the added avocado helped there!

Thanks to Michelle and Stacey for being my taste testers.

Butter Grilled Turkey Breasts

5-7 lb turkey breasts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, softened

1 deep grill pan

Remove bones and skin. Sprinkle with salt and cover in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. Reserve bones to make stock.

Prepare grill for indirect cooking. Soak hickory or other wood chips for smoke flavor. Remove turkey from the fridge and discard wrapping. Slather with softened butter and set in the grill pan. Place any remaining butter on top of the breasts.

Put the grill pan on the grill on the side away from the coals with the thickest part of the turkey breasts closest to the fire. Cover the grill with the vent over the meat so the smoke swirls around the turkey before escaping.

Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting occasionally with the butter and meat juices. Turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees F. There is very little carryover as there are no bones, so you want it to hit that temp before removing. You can place it on the grill grates over the coals for a final touch if you want grill marks on it but that isn’t essential.

Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.