Pork Tenderloin Medallions with a Shallot Balsamic Reduction

I learned two things while making this recipe.

#1 – Balsamic vinegar makes everything better.

#2 – It is incredibly difficult to photograph black foods in low lighting.  *insert childish temper tantrum here*

Baby steps….  baby steps.

This sweet and savory supper was courtesy of a Cooking Light recipe I had filed away in my big black book.  I went to the book in search of a new pork dish to make for dinner.  Truth be told, I wasn’t super excited about making pork, but the thought of pork covered in a sweet thickened balsamic glaze changed those feelings pretty darn quick.

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin (7 of 7)

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Salted Caramel Brownies

Let me get you a napkin for that bit of drool you’ve got trailing down from your lower lip…

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These lovely salted caramel brownies are courtesy of a recipe I tagged a few months back in Cooking Light.  I’ve been dying to make them but I had no good reason to… and honestly I was trying to avoid having an entire batch of delicious brownies sitting on my kitchen counter BEGGING me to eat them.  Seriously. I have control when it comes to a lot of things in life.  Chocolate is not one of those things.

Then Jess posted a call-to-action on her blog Stylish, Stealthy & Healthy to join this little thing called the Blogger Sweet Swap.

Eureka!  This was the perfect excuse to make the brownies!!  Just think of the Sweet Swap as an arranged penpal relationship… with benefits.  Sweet benefits.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Combine the following in a big ole bowl:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Then combine these guys in a little bowl:

  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the wets into the dries and stir to combine the thickest brownie batter you’ve ever laid eyes on.

The recipe calls for baking these guys in a 9 inch square metal pan coated with cooking spray for 19 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  I baked mine in an 8 inch glass dish for 20 minutes, then 5 more minutes, then 5 MORE minutes.. then got impatient and took them out.  Seriously, every time I bake brownies the darn toothpick NEVER comes out clean.  Anyone else have this issue??

After the brownies cool completely, it’s time to make the caramel deliciousness.  Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small pot, then whisk in:

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp evaporated fat-free milk

Cook for two minutes, then remove from heat and whisk in:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Spread the yum sauce over the brownies:

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Once everything cooled off completely I decided to extract the brownies from the pan….

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Oh dear…

It looks like a Brownie Massacre.

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Then I cut the hunks o’ brownie into tiny little brownie babies.  Why did I think brownies would be a good idea again??

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Next up is the chocolately drizzle. The following go into a microwave safe bowl:

  • 2 tbsp evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds or until melted, stirring after 20 seconds. I scraped the chocolate into a ziplock baggie, snipped the corner off with scissors, and drizzled it over the brownie squares.

Disaster.

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Then I sprinkled the tops with a bit o’ sea salt, picked the prettiest 12 of the bunch, and tucked them neatly into metal tray:

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They kind of look like the photo… kind of.

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So Molly @ Hungry Hungry Runner, I PROMISE these were edible and pretty and neatly packed when I shipped them.  Whatever happens after this point is on the hands of the USPS.

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I bet you’re wondering what I did with all those leftover brownies, huh?  All I can say is these brownies are seriously delicious.  More like fudge than brownies (probably due to my  aforementioned brownie baking incompetencies).  ABSOLUTELY delicious and seriously sweet.  I stuck a few in the freezer for this weekend too 🙂
 

Ingredients List (makes ~20 brownies)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tbsp evaporated fat-free milk, divided
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp coarse sea salt

Curious to see how they arrived??? Check out Molly’s post for her recap!

Curious to see what sweets I got?

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Then click here for the pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe!!

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Recipe: Jambalaya {bad things happen when I don’t eat}

Somehow in the past few months I seemed to have forgotten my passion for cooking.  Let’s take a moment to ponder how the heck this is even possible.  Somewhere between leaving a job of over four years, attempting to sell a house, subsequently becoming a landlord, selling off and donating an insane amount of my possessions, a crazy condo hunt, leaving my family and home state of 26 years, a HORRIBLE moving experience, starting a new job, and immersing myself in the culinary delights of a new city I forgot how much fun and just how darn rewarding a home cooked meal can be.

Blasphemy!

Through these past few whirlwind months I’ve been a little *ahem* emotional.  Ok, not just emotional.  Let’s also throw in irrational, brash, and downright scary at times.  This Saturday I actually cried over burnt pizza.  I CRIED, PEOPLE.  And then I sat on the living room floor with my knees clenched up to my chest and just stared off into nothingness as my body seethed in furry searching for some sort of carbohydrate to peak my bottomed out blood sugar.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again:  bad things happen when I don’t eat.

While I was in the midst of nuclear shutdown, the BF came over, sat down beside me, and put his arm around his little sugar feigning zombie.  And we sat.  And then he did what any good man would do:  he didn’t talk, didn’t ask questions, he just got up from the floor sauntered over to the kitchen and made me a snack.

I know, right?

Why can’t I see things so simply?  Is it really just a man thing?  Are women really just crazy complex, overanalyzing, (often) emotional basket cases?  Whatever the case may be (lord knows I don’t have the answers) the BF does a pretty darn good job of reeling me back from Mary’s Land of Anxious Gloom by trying to insert some of the simple things into my life.  Sunday morning he convinced me to simply sit on the porch and drink mimosas, and Sunday night we simply made jambalaya for dinner.

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This was simply stick to your ribs delicious, guys.  I’m serious.  It gave the jambalaya we had in New Orleans a run for the money!

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Jambalaya

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Jambalaya.

  • 2 links hot chicken or turkey sausage (cooked and sliced)
  • 1 cup white onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1.5 cups uncooked long grain brown rice
  • 3 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp paprika (smoked, if you have it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepepr
  • 16oz cooked chicken breast (cubed)
  • 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions (undrained)
  • 4oz shrimp (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup green onions (thinly sliced)

Note:  I recommend Uncle Ben’s Fast & Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice and Harris Teeter hot chicken sausage or Jennie-O Turkey Sausage.

Step 1:  Coat a large pot with cooking spray then heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Step 2:  Stir in uncooked rice and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and all the spices and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Step 3:  Add chicken and tomatoes, half of the green onions, and shrimp. Stir, then cover and cook 8 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Step 4:  Remove from heat, sprinkle with remaining green onions, and eat your face off.

Stats on 1 serving: 344 calories, 45g carbs, 6g fat, 33g protein, 4g fiber

 

Looking for a Jambalaya-for-one recipe?  Check out this post.

Looking for a crazy, borderline incoherent, slightly volatile woman?  Catch me on a day when I miss my midmorning snack.

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Chicken Larb

Reasons why you should never judge a recipe by its cover.. err title:

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Chicken Larb!

Say whaaaaa?  What the crap is “larb”?  Google tells me “larb” is a type of meat salad.  Good to know, Google.  Good to know.

Had I known this fun fact, I might not have hesitated to clip the recipe for “Chicken Larb” out of one of my issues of Cooking Light.  But lucky for my belly, I looked past the gag-reflex-prompting title and filed this puppy away in my big black book.

I tweaked the recipe slightly and scaled it down to one delicious serving.  First up, toss the following in a food processor:

  • 4 ounces chicken breast
  • 2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • sprinkle of black pepper

Give it a quick buzz in the food processor, and you’ll end up with this crazy orange colored ground chicken:

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I’m still amazed that I can make my own ground meat at home.  It’s the little things, I guess!

Saute the chicken in a pan coated with nonstick spray over medium heat.  I occasionally added a tbsp of water to the pan to help moisten things up.

Meanwhile, combine the following:

  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • The juice of 1/4 of a lime

Thing of beauty:

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Once the chicken is cooked through, combine the chicken with the cucumber mixture and then spoon onto romaine lettuce leaves, and juice a quarter lime over top:

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Looks crazy good, am I right?  I had a big serving of roasted broccoli on the side:

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This was super tasty and SUPER healthful.  I decided mid-meal to grab a tablespoon or so of fat-free plan Greek Yogurt to dollop on top.  It really was the icing on the larb 😉

This was my first time using red curry paste, and the paste along with the cilantro really made for a tasty combo.

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There’s a recipe on the back of the paste bottle for Red Curry Shrimp.  I need to try that STAT!

Roasted broccoli Smile

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A delicious dinner enjoyed on my newly assembled patio furniture:

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It’s nice to have a little helper.  Or a 6’4” helper… either way Smile

Stats on the Chicken Larb + 1.5 cups broccolee broccolye brocco-lee-hee:  221 calories, 19g carbs, 1g fat, 27g protein, 4g fiber

I can’t believe how outrageously low cal yet still tasty that meal was – next time I may beef it up with some beans or avocado.

Soooooo did you catch the broccoli reference?!?!  PLEASE take 4 minutes and watch this.  You won’t regret it.  And as an added bonus you will now know the song I sing to myself every time I chop up broccoli Laughing out loud

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My big black book

I’d like to call it my little black book, but truth be told it’s quite a large black book:

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Embarrassed smile

Before we get into that… I have a question for you guys: Type A or Type B?

Type A:  Ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied…. time-conscious, tightly-wound… Geeze Wikipedia, you sure make it sound like a good thing.

Type B:  generally patient, relaxed, easy-going, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency.

Looking at my coffee table, you might guess that I’m a straight up type B:

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What is all this CRAP??

Yes, you might think I was a type B by the amount of disarray and apparent disdain for order….

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That is until you realized what I was doing with all this nonsense.

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Feast yo eyes.

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I may have painstakingly gone through every single copy of Cooking Light, Clean Eating, and Eating Well magazine I’ve accumulated over the past two years (a mere 30-some issues)….. 

I MAY have clipped out every single recipe that sounded the teensiest bit tasty…..

And I MAY have filed them away… by category.

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Jealoussssss???? Open-mouthed smile 

What about you guys?  Type A or Type B?

Oh, and lest we not forget TGIF! Party smile

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Mini Cheesy Meatloaves

Helloooooo cheesy meaty goodness!

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Continuing on with my Cooking Light recipe rampage, the other night I cooked up some of the Cheesy Meat Loaf Minis featured in a recent issue of the magazine.

Super simple to throw together, and really really friggin tasty.

First up, I measured out all my ingredients like the oober organized little cook that I am (see the list at the bottom of the post).

Here are the goods:

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I decided to go with New York style white cheddar cheese.  I can’t say that I’ve ever tried that type of cheese before, but holy cow (no pun intended) is it delicious!

Cheeeesseeeeeee 🙂

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Next up I sautéed the onion and garlic…  The recipe called for 1/2 cup onion and 2 cloves garlic.  Of course we all know that means you are actually supposed to use 1 whole cup of onion and no less than 3 cloves garlic.

Naturally.

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The recipe also called for toasting of the breadcrumbs… Just be careful not to burn them!  (AKA I burnt my first.. and second batch… dangit!)

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Once the onions were nice and soft and the bread crumbs were toasty, I tossed all the goodies into a bowl along with 11 ounces of 90% ground sirloin.

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Why do I always feel the need to include pics of the raw meat on my blog?

Good question…

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This batch made 3 mini meatloaves, one of which I had for dinner along with some steamed broccoli with lemon juice:

 

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This picture makes me start salivating uncontrollably….

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Apparently, my body has been secretly feigning for a little red meat in its life!

 

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Mmmmmgghhhhhhhhhh……

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Meat.

Stats on 1 mini cheesy meatloafy:  350 calories, 19g carbs, 17g fat (red meat, folks), 29g protein, 1g fiber

Mini Cheesy Meatloaves Ingredients List (serves 3)

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 11 ounces 90/10 ground sirloin
  • 1.5 ounces New York style white cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ketchup, divided (2 tbsp mixed in, and 2 tbsp for basting the tops)
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 3/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
Instructions:  Mix all ingredients (except 2 tbsp ketchup) in a large bowl.  Divide into 3 equal sized loaves.  Place on cookie sheet coated with cooking spray.  Baste tops of the loaves with remaining 2tbsp ketchup.  Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Speaking of droolworthy, I went to El Jalapenos in Barberton for dinner this evening and got a seriously amazing chicken fajita salad.  I literally did not stop to drink, speak, or breathe from the moment it hit the table.  Check out the insanely huge burrito my friend Allison got:

Insanity!!!

Can’t believe the weekend is here!  Woot!

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Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

This time of year, my absolute favorite thing to make for my work-week lunches is soup.  I’m sure you all can relate to the need to feed your belly warm comforting foods once winter weather rolls in.  Unfortunately, the last few soups I’ve tried haven’t been very exciting.  I made a chicken taco soup and came to the realization that corn just needs to stay on the cob and keep the heck out of my soup bowl.  I also made chicken pot pie soup.  I love chicken pot pie… but the best part of the pot pie is the flaky crust and by turning the pot pie into a pot pieless soup I had effectively cooked up a big batch of blah.

So, I’ve been searching high and low for a new soup to try and finally came across a promising recipe for White Bean Soup with Kale and Chorizo in the November 2010 issue of Cooking Light.  It sounded pretty darn delicious to me, and even though I’d never tried Kale I figured I’d give it a shot.

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I’ve never had chorizo either (though I’m sure I’d love it), and I happened to have some leftover Honeysuckle Hot Italian Turkey sausage I wanted to use up…  So the starting point for my soup was two of these links:

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I used a knife to remove the casings on the sausage, then tossed them into a soup pot that I’d heated up over a medium high flame and sprayed down with some cooking spray. 

I let the sausage do it’s thang for a bit, stirring occasionally.  No need to worry about the hard brown bits on the bottom of the pan – these will turn into little nuggets of flavor in just a bit:

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Once the sausage was no longer pink, I added four large cloves of minced garlic along with my beloved onion:

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I seasoned this mixture up with some S&P.

I would have been more than happy (elated, actually) to have eaten this simple combo for dinner… 

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I’d be lying if I said I didn’t grab a spoon and savor a few bites of the sausage onion goodness straight out of the pot.  Heaven!

Once the onions were nice and soft, I added about 1 cup of fat-free low sodium chicken broth to the pan and used a wooden spoon to sort of “massage” the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. 

Work it….. Wooorkkkkk ittttttt.  Winking smile 

Then I tossed in the rest of the stock in a box (approx 3 more cups), 2 cans drained and rinsed cannellini beans, and another 1/2 tsp black pepper:

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I let the soup jive on the stove for a bit, while I got to tackling the kale monster in my sink:

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I’ve never had kale before.  For those of you who haven’t had it—it’s kind of like broccoli and spinach had a baby…  A really large overgrown baby who was a little rough around the edges.  You follow? Smile

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Luckily, my years of dedicated Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals watching had trained me how to handle this kale monster. 

  • Fill the sink up with water, drop in the kale, give it a good swish and let all the gritty bits drain to the bottom. 
  • Dry the kale. 
  • THEN, hold the kale stem in one hand and slide the leaves of the kale through the fingers of your other hand (to rip the kale leaves off the tough stems). 
  • Give it a rough chop.

Once the kale was ready, I dropped about 6 cups into the soup:

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I gave it a good stir and let the hot soup wilt down the kale:

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One nice thing about kale is it doesn’t get super mooshy and limp in soup like spinach does (not that I don’t love spinach in soup – the kale just adds some welcomed texture to the pot).

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Once the kale was worked in, I popped a lid on the pot and let it simmer away for 15 minutes or so while I cleaned up the kitchen.

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And dinner was served my friends!

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I topped my soup off with 1 teaspoon of shredded parmesan cheese:

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This pot of soup made 5 good-size servings, which was plenty for me because I wanted to have some ciabatta for dunking! 

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If you wanted your bowl to overfloweth with soup – well, then I’d say the pot serves 4. 

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Regardless of how many people the pot is serving, this pot SERVES it up.  DELICIOUS, EASY, AND HEALTHY!  That’s the trifecta in my book!

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Now the only test remaining is how well this soup freezes… stayed tuned on that!

Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup Ingredients List:

  • 2 links Honeysuckle Turkey Sausage, casings removed
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (1 box) Swansons fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups Kale, chopped
  • Black pepper!
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Stats on 1/5 of the pot o’ soup:  236 Calories, 38g carbs, 4g fat, 20g protein, 10g fiber

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Chicken and Barley Salad

School is back in session – which means it is officially the end of summer in my book.  In honor of this self-declared change in seasons, I decided to make one last summer salad for dinner Monday night. 

The January 2010 issue of Cooking Light featured a recipe for Greek Chicken and Barley salad which was my inspiration and starting point to my dinner. 

First up, I seasoned a few chicken breasts with McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning and tossed them on to the George Foreman grill.  I only used 4 ounces of chicken in this recipe, but grill once eat thrice I always say. 

When the chicken was done grilling, I roughly shred four ounces of it:

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Meanwhile I brought 1 cup of Nature’s Basket Free Range Chicken Broth (fat-free and low sodium) to a boil, then tossed in 1/2 cup Quaker’s Quick Barley and cooked according to the package instructions. 

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Next I got to choppin the veggies.  For this salad I used:

  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded
  • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup of reduced fat Atheno’s feta cheese

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In a small bowl, I mixed together a yummy dressing for the salad:

  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp each salt, black pepper, ground thyme
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil

Once the chicken and barley were cooled off, I added them to my veggies and feta, added the dressing, and tossed to combine. 

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I put the salad in the fridge to let the flavors merry while I cleaned up the inevitable disaster I created in my kitchen.

Dinner time!

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This salad was light and the veggies were so crisp.  I really REALLY like the dressing, and I had forgotten how yummy barley is.  I will miss you summer salads… but I won’t lie.  I’m looking forward to some dinner SOUPS!!

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Chicken & Barley Salad Ingredient List (makes two servings):

  • 4 ounces grilled chicken
  • 1 cup Nature’s Basket Free Range Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup Quaker’s Quick Barley
  • 1 roma tomato
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded (or 1 seedless cucumeber)
  • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup Athenos reduced fat feta
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp each salt, black pepper, ground thyme
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil

Myfitnesspal stats on one serving:  309 calories, 37g carbs, 5g fat, 26g protein, 6g fiber

 

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Couscous Garbanzo Bean Salad

I found a recipe for Couscous Garbanzo Bean Salad in the July 2010 issue of Cooking Light, and while I was making last night’s Southwestern Tabbouleh, I realized many of the ingredients were the same in the two recipes.  So, I was SUPER PRODUCTIVE and mixed up two servings of tonight’s dinner ahead of time.  Boo. Ya. 🙂  I was also pretty amped to use some of the Rice Select Tri-Color couscous I picked up last week (and used in my Chicken Couscous Salad).

I put the following into a bowl, then covered with a lid to steam:

  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/16 tsp cinnamon

 Meanwhile, I mixed up the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Dash sugar

Then, combined the following into a bowl:

  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/16 paprika
  • 1/2 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans/whathaveyou 😉
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat feta ounces feta
  • S&P & red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red onion

I combined the couscous and dressing with the other ingredients, then left in the fridge to overnight.

I was really craving roasted veggies, so I decided to only have 1/2 a serving of the couscous salad (a quarter of the recipe above) with a hodge podge of veggies that I tossed with 1 tsp olive oil and S&P and roasted in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I realized tonight that I’m really not a big fan of fresh mint 🙁

 

With every bite of couscous I thought to myself, man this would be really tasty if it weren’t for the mint… I ended up throwing some Frank’s Red Hot on there for good measure 🙂

The roasted veggies were so delicious:

If you’re a fan of mint, give this recipe a shot.  Otherwise, sub in cilantro or basil or go for the Chicken Couscous Salad instead!

Stats on 1 serving of couscous garbanzo bean salad:  317 calories, 50g carbs, 4g fat, 14g protein, 5g fiber

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