StrictlyDelicious Coq Au Vin

20140309-104755.jpgThe last few Fiesta Fridays I’ve attended I’ve been pretty selfish. My additions to the party have been dishes made just for one, which makes me not a very considerate attendee at all! Although I will most likely bring dishes for one to the party again in the future, my contribution today is made to share. So all of those who enjoy decadent chicken with thick cut bacon, fragrant herbs, and white wine, pull up a chair!

I knew I wanted to make a chicken with white wine sauce for the party, but was less than thrilled with all of the Coq Au Vin recipes I found online. I decided to combine what I liked from the recipes I found, add touches of my process making Beef Bourguignon, and figure out what else it needed as I went along. It’s a great way to cook, and the result was delicious! Continue reading

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Seared Sea Scallops with Coconut, Browned Butter, Butternut Squash Purée

20140208-195335.jpgHappy belated Valentine’s Day!! ❤

Words cannot describe my excitement, when, after an entire life believing I was allergic to all seafood, I found that I can in fact legally eat scallops, clams, and tuna. A random trio to be sure… But legal seafood nonetheless! As excited as I was, it took me months to get up the courage to put my body to the test. Scallops were the first I tried. How strange and exciting and forbidden to have the seafood flavor in my mouth, but experience no allergic reaction! The first scallops I tried were seared with crispy edges on the outside and tender and buttery on the inside. I ate them out at restaurants three times, and I was absolutely hooked.

When I began to think of my addition to Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog party (yes, I know I’m a little late with this post) I knew that it was time to try my hand at making scallops at home. Not only were they healthy and delicious, but a very romantic meal 🙂 I knew my creation had to have scallops seared with crispy edges and paired with something smooth and slightly sweet. I started with the idea of butternut squash, and made this creation up as I went. Continue reading

Homemade Applesauce (no sugar added)

20140120-140146.jpgOn my trip to the farmer’s market this weekend, I saw a stand with baskets and baskets of gorgeous apples. As I work to eat healthier snacks, I knew that making my homemade applesauce again would give me an easy, healthy, packable snack option. And the best thing about farmer’s markets is that you can talk with the vendors about the practices behind their produce. I was thrilled to find that this seller’s apples are low spray, so much so that I didn’t react to the slice of apple she gave me to taste! Because I react to some spray or pesticide used on apples, I haven’t tasted a fresh apple in about 8 years! (I’ve never had a problem when they’re cooked.) It was truly a glorious moment! Anyway, I’m getting off track! I was able to collect quite a few of those pretty beauties and take them home for some delicious, nutritious applesauce.

It’s important to remember when you’re selecting apples for your applesauce- don’t just get the ones you like to snack on. When I could eat fresh apples, I loved the sweet-tartness of Pink Lady apples. However, when I make applesauce, I want it to be sweeter, and found Pink Lady applesauce wanted sugar. In order to make this as healthy and naturally delicious as possible, select naturally sweeter apples like Fuji or Gala. No added sweetener necessary!

You can peel your apples if you prefer an even, smooth applesauce, or leave the peel on for easier prep, added nutrients, and a little texture. Enjoy this applesauce with yogurt, granola, as a healthy substitute for butter in baking, or packed in small Tupperware bowls for breakfast or snacks throughout the week!

Homemade Applesauce

  • Servings: about 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 c. cubed apples (I used a mixture of Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large pot, add your chopped apples, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the apples have come to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

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When the apples are soft, add the cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir to coat evenly and let the apples cool a bit before blending.

In two batches, add the apple mixture to your blender and blend until you have reached the desired consistency. Add water if desired to reach the thickness that you prefer.

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Serve and enjoy, or store for later deliciousness! Keep in mind, applesauce freezes really well!

How do you like to enjoy applesauce?

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How to Cook Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an inexpensive, delicious, vitamin-filled winter vegetable, best enjoyed roasted (as many other winter veggies). However, this vegetable may seem a bit intimidating to tackle if it is bought whole. But this should never keep you from enjoying its goodness!

Below are step-by-step instructions with pictures to peel, cut, and roast butternut squash. Soon to come, a recipe featuring roasted butternut squash!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel your butternut squash with a peeler or paring knife. Cut off the top and bottom and cut the whole squash in half.

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      2. With a metal spoon, scrape out the stringy insides and seeds in the bulb part of the squash.

butternut coll      3. Place the flat side of the squash down on your cutting board and cut slices or “rings” about 3/4″ across. Then cut your slices into square chunks.

Note: I only used half the squash to make about 5 servings. If you are making it for a large group, use the whole squash. Otherwise, lightly spray a baking sheet, lay the squash cubes in a single layer on it, and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.

20140107-221024.jpg     4. In a large bowl, add the butternut squash cubes, 1 1/2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1-2 tbl. brown sugar. Add any additional seasonings you like (fresh thyme, paprika, cinnamon, and sage are all great to try with butternut squash. Not necessarily all at once though!) and stir to coat. Spread in an even layer on a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-221032.jpg     5. Roast at 425 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Enjoy as a delicious side, and stay tuned for butternut squash featured in curry!butternut r

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola & a Balsamic Reduction

20140107-183652.jpgLike almost every kid, I detested Brussels sprouts growing up. They were like baby heads of steamed cabbage that seemed to turn to mush as soon as I put them in my mouth. Gross! But working for a restaurant in college I discovered that Brussels sprouts actually can be delicious!

The key is to cut them up into smaller pieces and roast them. Cutting them up exposes the layers of leaves inside so they can get brown and crunchy and absolutely delicious. Even if you’ve never liked Brussels sprouts before, I urge you to give these a try! The marriage of balsamic vinegar and creamy Gorgonzola with these is surprisingly perfect.

How do you like to make Brussels sprouts?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola & a Balsamic Reduction

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 lb. of Brussels sprouts
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tbl. Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the bottoms off of your Brussels sprouts and peel off the outer 2-3 leaves. Chop each one into quarters. (Smaller ones can be cut just in half.) Rinse them gently and dry thoroughly.

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In a bowl, mix the chopped Brussels sprouts, olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper until evenly coated. Spread evenly over a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-183618.jpgPlace in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until as deliciously browned as you want them. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly. To serve, place in a bowl, drizzle with balsamic reduction (directions below), and sprinkle on the Gorgonzola cheese.

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Balsamic Reduction

On medium heat, boil 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar until it is reduced to 1/4 of the original amount, about 1 tablespoon.

Enjoy!

Beer & Thyme Roasted Pork Tenderloin

pk4I don’t know about you, but when I’m thinking what I want for dinner, sometimes I don’t want steak OR chicken (being allergic to seafood, my meat choices are pretty limited). Sometimes I just want pork- the savory, tender meat that is right in between the two. And, although I love pork ribs, I usually don’t have two and a half hours to wait for dinner to cook after a long day at work! When I want a pork dinner that cooks super fast, is delicious, and tastes like I put a ton of work into it, pork tenderloin is my game.

This time I decided to try something new, and marinated my tenderloin ahead of time in a dark, flavorful beer. While it didn’t give the meat a marked beer flavor, it certainly gave it a new, unique, delicious taste that I loved and made the meat meltingly tender. I paired my pork tenderloin with sautéed green beans and homemade sweet potato gnocchi for a hearty, quick meal that satisfied both my belly and my taste buds.

Beer & Thyme Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin, between 1.5-2 lbs.
1 can Abita Turbodog beer (or other dark beer, but Abita beer is corn-free)
8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. and 1 1.2 tsp sea salt, divided

Eight to ten hours before cooking, place the pork tenderloin in a plastic ziplock bag. Pour the bottle of beer over the tenderloin. Add 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 tsp. sea salt, and the ground pepper. Seal the bag, shake, and place it in the refrigerator to marinate until cooking time.

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When you are ready to begin dinner, take the pork out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Remove the tenderloin from the beer marinade with as little liquid as possible. Place the meat on a metal baking pan covered in foil. Season the meat with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and massage the salt into the meat. Pull the leaves off of the remaining 4-5 sprigs of thyme and sprinkle them over the meat. If desired, drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the meat. Let the tenderloin come to room temperature while the oven preheats.

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When the oven is heated, place the baking dish in the oven and roast the pork for 20 minutes. While you are waiting for it to cook, cook your side dishes. When the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest in the baking pan for 15 minutes.

Then slice, serve, and enjoy!

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How do you like to cook pork tenderloin?

Hedonist Hot Chocolate

20140104-123045.jpgToday is one of those cozy winter mornings. I love winter mornings where it’s sunny enough to look gorgeous outside, but cold enough for me to stay wrapped up on the couch in a fuzzy blanket. This morning I decided to make Poached Eggs and Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast, and curl up after with a nice mug of hot chocolate and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix. What better way to spend a Saturday morning?!

Before you attempt this I’ve got to tell you: to me, the only right hot chocolate is rich hot chocolate. I don’t want a cup of warmed up chocolate milk; I want a creamy, decadent drink that makes me giggle with satisfaction into my mug. I want to feel like the contents of my cup contain everything that is good and holy about warm winter drinks. That is the kind of hot chocolate that this is.

If you don’t drink all the hot chocolate this recipe makes, you can still make the full recipe (or more) and store it in the refrigerator for a week. Warm each serving slowly when you want more during the week.

How do you like to spend cozy winter mornings?

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. cream
1 c. milk
1/4 c. Domino sugar
1/2 tsp. homemade vanilla
1/8 c. Soy Free Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1/4 c. cocoa
sprinkle of cinnamon

Over medium-low heat, heat the milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved and the milk is steaming, remove the pan from heat and add the cocoa, chocolate chips, and cinnamon.

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Stir until thoroughly combined, strain, and serve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you like and enjoy!

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*I am not being compensated in any way for my endorsement of Soy Free Sales chocolate products. I was so excited (after a LONG search) to find chocolate chips that are both corn-free and soy-free! They also have soy-free, corn-free white chocolate chips! Anyone who needs to avoid soy and corn and loves chocolate should know about this glorious find.

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