Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pork Tenderloin with Apples

Pork Tenderloin with Apples

I found the original recipe for this on a Facebook video and thought that it looked interesting. You can watch it HERE . I liked the look of the dish but my slow cooker is OLD -- Really Old -- and won't accommodate a long piece of meat like a pork tenderloin. As well since we are now officially empty nesters as of August, 2 pieces of the roast even though on the smaller size, means a lot of leftovers! My husband has gotten better over the years about eating leftovers -- he used to hate them and turn up his nose at them, no matter what they were -- but asking him to eat something 3 or 4 times in one week is simply too much! Using only one pork tenderloin, a little over a pound in weight, made 3 generous portions. So dinner for 2 and lunch for one. Perfect!

The hasselback way of cooking something is all over the internet -- everything from apples, to potatoes to this pork recipe. It did indeed infuse the meat with a wonderful flavor throughout and was easy to do. All you really need is a nice, sharp knife. I added extra vegetables to the recipe, specifically onions, because I don't really think you should cook much of anything without onions or garlic or BOTH. I also changed the glaze a little bit, to better reflect what we like. I felt like the whole teaspoon of cinnamon called for in the original was just going to be too much. We thought 1/2 tsp. was just enough.  I loved the apple in the recipe and the glaze was DELISH! Served alongside braised cabbage and you simply can't beat the combo! Try this on a cool evening, it's a wonderful addition to my recipe rotation!

Pork Tenderloin with Apples
Serves 3 - 4
1 tsp. olive oil
1 pound + pork tenderloin
1/2 large apple, cored and sliced into 1/2" thick pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
16 baby carrots, washed or 1 large carrot, cut into 16 thick pieces
16 baby or "new" potatoes, washed

For the glaze:
3 T. soy sauce
1 T. honey
2 T. aged balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tsp. dijon mustard or 1 tsp. plain yellow mustard + 1 T. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of black pepper
pinch of Kosher salt
Whisk all glaze ingredients together and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush a dutch oven or heavy baking dish with a lid, with olive oil. Toss in the onion, potatoes and carrots to make a bed for the pork. With a sharp knife, slice diagonally almost though the pork at 1" intervals, making sure to leave the roast whole -- don't cut all the way through. Put an apple slice into each cut, and place the roast onto the prepared bed of vegetables, like this:
Pork tenderloin, stuffed with apples, on a bed of root vegetables

Pour the glaze evenly over the meat and vegetables. Your dish should look something like this:

Pork tenderloin, glazed.
Cover the pan and bake at 325 degrees for 90 minutes. While the roast is cooking, prepare your side dishes. We loved this with cabbage and onions, sauteed with a little butter and olive oil. Roasted butternut squash would be a good compliment, as well, and you could roast it in the oven for the last 30 minutes of cooking the roast.

The finished dish is lovely, perfect for your fall dinner table:

Can you tell how much my husband LOVED this dinner? Hearty appetite, born from smelling the goodness all afternoon! 

I know you are going to enjoy this as much as we did! Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Chicken Parm with Zoodles

Chicken Parmesan with Zoodles
Have you tried zoodles yet? Zoodles are "noodles" made from zucchini. Since they are made totally from a vegetable, there are no carbs and virtually no calories, so are totally diet friendly. I've been using them in combination with Dreamfields pasta to cut calories and still enjoy a full portion size of "pasta". I received a spiralizer from my son and his fiancee' for my birthday in September and that's made this process oh, so easy! Mine is super easy to use and it came from Amazon and looks like this:

Find it HERE
This is easy to assemble and to clean -- it's top rack dishwasher safe. So far I've done zucchini and cucumbers, but I am sure there are more veggie noodles in my future.

The most recent occasion to use this little gem was to make a lightened up version of Chicken Parmesan. I found the recipe on the Cooking Light website, but as I always do, I changed it up just a little bit, to make it all my own. This recipe is a little trouble to make, but nothing you wouldn't want to tackle on a lazy Sunday afternoon when you feel like puttering a little in the kitchen. The key part to the calorie cutting is that the chicken is not fried, it is baked on a rack in the oven with a crispy Panko bread crumb crust. The trick of mixing the parmesan cheese with yogurt makes it creamy with out extra fat. So, next time you want some classic Italian comfort food, without the frying and pesky calories, try my Chicken Parm with Zoodles. (PS if you are following Weight Watchers, this comes in at 9 points.)

Chicken Parmesan with Zoodles
serves 4

1 T. plus 1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, divided use
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 large can Cento San Marzano whole tomatoes (1 lb. 12 oz.)
1/3 c. dry white wine (I used Kendall Jackson Chardonnay)
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 T. non-fat Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets, lightly pounded to an even thickness
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
cooking spray
3 medium to large zucchini
2 oz. fresh, water packed mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
3 oz. Dreamfields Spaghetti

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Saute' that for a few minutes, until it begins to soften. and add in all but 1 tsp. of the minced garlic. Cook for a few more minutes --- don't let the garlic start to brown-- and then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a spoon or your hands as they go into the pot. Pour in the wine, salt and pepper and turn the heat up until the mixture begins to boil. Turn the pot down to simmer and let the sauce cook, uncovered about 30 minutes, allowing the liquid  to reduce and thicken. Turn off the heat, and add the fresh basil. Stir it into the hot sauce. Cover the pot to keep it warm.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a cooking rack over a cookie sheet and spray it with cooking spray. Pound the cutlets with the smooth side of a meat mallet (or something else heavy and smooth, like a rolling pin) between 2 sheets of parchment paper so that they are of a uniform thickness, about 1/2"thick. In one small bowl, mix together the yogurt and the parmesan cheese. In a pie plate, mix together the garlic powder and the Panko breadcrumbs. Spread one side of each chicken breast with about a spoonful of the yogurt mixture and place the coated side down into the breadcrumbs. While they are sitting in the pie plate, spread the other side of the cutlets with the rest of the yogurt mixture and carefully turn them over, to coat the other side with the Panko mixture. Place them on the prepared oven rack, like this:

Bake cutlets in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and proceed with the recipe. While the cutlets are cooking is a good time to make your zoodles. Follow the directions on your spiralizer or peel the zucchini thinly with a vegetable slicer. Place the zoodles on a double thickness of paper towels to draw the moisture out of the zucchini. Meantime, also bring a pot of water to a boil and get ready to cook the spaghetti noodles.

After the cutlets have baked, put about 1 T. of the warm sauce  you made earlier carefully on top of each cutlet, spreading it almost to the edges. You don't want to put on so much that it drips over the edges and spills all over the bottom of the pan. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the package directions.

Top each cutlet with 1/2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese. Oven ready, your dish should look like this:

Preheat your oven to broil and position a rack close to the element as suggested by your manufacturer's instructions. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the remaining 1 tsp. of olive oil and garlic. Cook a minute or two and add the zucchini noodles to the skillet. Stir them around, coating them with the oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to them. When they begin to wilt, cover the pan and turn off the heat.
Zucchini Noodles in a non-stick skillet
 Drain the spaghetti in a colander, do not rinse with water! Place the chicken cutlets under the broiler and broil until the mozzarella is melted but not browned, about 5 minutes in my oven. Mix the spaghetti with the zucchini noodles in the skillet and divide among four plates. Top each mound of pasta with  a bit more of the red sauce and one cutlet. 

Enjoy with a glass of nice, dry chianti and pretend you are in Italy. Say things like Pronto and Buon Appetito! Have fun! Mangia!