Pork, Sauerkraut, & Kielbasa

Image

I think my pork and sauerkraut recipe is the bombdiggity!! While most of the ingredients are fairly typical in a lot of recipes you will find, I take a few extra steps that I think add some additional depth, color (I don’t think the paleness of pork and sauerkraut is very appealing), flavor, and well, just takes it up a freaking notch!

RECIPE: PORK, SAUERKRAUT, & KIELBASA

Ingredients:

3 lbs. Boneless Pork Loin

Pepper, Garlic Powder, and Dried Thyme for seasoning

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 lb. Kielbasa, cut into 2 inch pieces

1/2 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth

2 lbs. Sauerkraut with juices

1 Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

1 Bottle Regular or Light beer (I used Miller Light)

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire

Directions:

1.Sprinkle pork loin with garlic powder, pepper, and thyme.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Place 4-5 pieces of the kielbasa in skillet until browned (3-4 minutes). Remove and set aside with remaining kielbasa.

4. Place pork loin in the same skillet and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

5. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth to pan to deglaze and scrape up all the brown bits. Turn off heat and reserve deglazed liquid.

6. Place half of sauerkraut and onions in bottom of crockpot. Stir in the bottle of beer, 2 T of brown sugar, and 1 T Worcestershire.

7. Arrange kielbasa pieces around edges of crockpot and place pork loin in the center. Top with remaining sauerkraut and onions. Pour deglazed juices over the top. Cook approximately 6 hours on high or 8-9 hours on low or until pork is fall apart tender. Salt to taste.

Best if served over a heaping mound of mashed potatoes. Oh yeah.

Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup (with grilled cheese croutons)

I love the freshness of this soup. It’s so rewarding and so much better for you than canned soup. The pureed garbanzo beans add a nice creaminess to the soup so that the heavy whipping cream isn’t necessary if you are looking to save calories. I, of course, add a little heavy cream. Surprise surprise. *smile*

RECIPE: Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, (cherry & roma mix)

1 head garlic

1-2 tablespoon extra-light olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 celery stick, diced

1 carrot, diced

¼ cup white wine (optional)

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon sugar

2-3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable stock)

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (optional)

Grilled cheese sandwich – cut into 1 inch cubes (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400˚.

2. Slice off the top of the garlic head so that the cloves are exposed. Brush generously with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place whole cherry tomatoes and sliced tomatoes on a baking tray covered with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place both the garlic and the tomatoes in the oven. Bake tomatoes for 25-30 minutes until soft (remove from oven) and 30-40 minutes for the garlic.

3. Once garlic is done, remove from oven, let cool and then squeeze cloves out. You should have 5-6 decent size cloves of garlic. Note: you can skip this step and use 3 cloves of minced garlic and sauté with onions, celery, and carrots in the step below.

4. Once tomatoes and garlic are done (or almost done,)  heat 1 T olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook 10-15 minutes until onions are translucent and carrots/celery are soft. Add in ¼ cup white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes. (note: you can just skip this step if not adding the white wine) . Stir in herbs, garbanzo beans, sugar, tomatoes, and roasted garlic and 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Once soup has simmered, remove from stove-top and use a hand held blender or regular blender to puree soup until smooth. If your soup is too thick, return to stove top and add more broth until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add in desired amount of cream at this point if you would like.

6. Ladle soup into bowls and place a handful of grilled cheese cubes on top.

Image

Three Ingredient Shells & Cheese

I made these cheesy shells last night with grilled ribeye steaks and asparagus. Oooh so easy, so creamy, so dreamy. There is no need to ever buy boxed shells and cheese again.

RECIPE: THREE INGREDIENT SHELLS & CHEESE

Approximately 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

2 cups pasta shells

1 cup cheddar cheese (Vermont sharp cheddar or white cheddar cheese are my favorites)

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and pasta to a  simmer (not boil) over medium heat. Cook approximately 20 minutes, stirring often and making sure that the milk doesn’t boil. Once the pasta is al dente, remove from heat and add the cheese. Stir until melted. If you like it a little creamier, you can add more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Homemade Coney Sauce

Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a messy, drip down-your-arm cheese-laden coney dog. Coney dogs, along with swirl ice cream cones, conjure up memories of childhood summers for me. This is an easy recipe you can make at home and well, I think it makes it a little healthier for you than the canned versions you buy in the stores.

In order to get the fine hamburger texture that you find in most restaurants and canned sauces, you can either chop the hamburger real fine with a spatula or fork as your browning it. Or you can do what I did, which was to use a handheld immersion blender once I added the tomato sauce and remaining ingredients and just lightly blended it until the meat was the texture I wanted. Another option is the trick they use in some coney island restaurants to make the sauce smooth: put the ground beef in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for several hours. When you brown it, the excess water will cook off and you’ll have a much finer texture.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE CONEY SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (I used organic beef)

1/2 onion chopped

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon worcestershire

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (can add more if desired)

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Direction

1. Place the ground beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until beef is browned and break up the meat with a fork or spatula until fine. Note: you can drain a little if there is a lot of fat but I used a 90% lean beef and didn’t drain it as there was little fat.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, water, and remaining ingredients. Then simmer on low for 30 minutes or longer. The longer you simmer it, the better it tastes.

Well hello beautiful….

Easy Homemade Grilled Pizza

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for grilled pizza with a homemade sauce and crust. I must say that grilling is my favorite way to make pizza…just something about those heavenly char marks. Oh baby baby.

My first attempt at grilling pizza was with my sisters and well, let’s just say we were laughing our butts off because it was just such a beautiful disaster and it was either laugh…or cry. We chose to laugh because that’s how we roll. So here are a few helpful tips and suggestions before I get to the recipe:

1) Do not try to make one huge pizza on the grill. Split the dough up and make 4 smaller pizzas. They will be so much easier to handle and flip. Also, it allows you to personalize the pizzas for taste preferences.

2) Make sure you brush both sides of the pizza very well with oil. Otherwise, it will stick like hell to the grill. I then like to stack them separately with a layer of parchment paper between each of them…that way I can just use the parchment paper to flip them easily onto the grill.

3) Have all your toppings ready to go and next to the grill because these babies grill up fast and if you don’t, they will burn. We do not want that. I like to carry all my ingredients out on a large cookie sheet to make it easier.

4) I like to buy a block of mozzarella and shred it myself as I feel it melts much better than the pre-shredded stuff but that’s up to you. Note: the pizza pictured below is a veggie pizza I made with this sauce and crust recipe. I  topped with cherry tomatoes and some sauteed some onions, green peppers, red peppers, baby portobello mushrooms, and jalapenos. You can obviously top with your favorites….pepperoni, bacon, sausage, ham, veggies, banana peppers, black olives…the options are endless.

5) I really love King Arthur’s “White Whole Wheat Flour”. It’s a milder, lighter colored whole wheat and is obviously nutritionally better for you than regular flour and your family will never guess it’s whole wheat once you jazz it all up.

6) I also like to dust the crust with corn meal. It’s not a necessary step but just thought I’d mention it in case you want to do it too. Note: you will want to make sure the side that is bottom-down on the parchment paper is the corn meal dusted side. The side that you first flip onto the grill will end up being the top of the pizza because you will end up flipping the crust over once on the grill and topping it.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE GRILLED PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:

Toppings and cheese of choice

For the sauce:

1 cup crushed tomatoes

6 oz tomato paste

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

For the crust:

1 envelope Fleishmann’s Pizza Yeast

1-3/4 to 2 cups flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour)

1-1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

2/3 cup very warm water

3 tablespoons oil (I use extra light olive oil)

Directions:

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

2.  Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved pizza yeast, sugar, and the seasonings in a large bowl. Add water and oil. Mix until well blended. Then gradually add in remaining 3/4 cup flour until a soft dough ball is formed. Knead dough for a few more minutes until smooth and elastic.

3. At this point, I would go ahead and pre-heat the grill to medium high. Then separate dough into 4 pieces and spread each piece out on a piece of parchment paper, brush both sides with olive oil. Note: don’t worry about the pizza crust being perfectly round. The important thing is just make sure it’s evenly spread out. I happen to like the funny shapes….it gives it the ol’ rustic feel.

4. You will then want to flip the crusts onto the grill using the parchment paper. Once the bottom is browned (2-3 minutes), flip the pizza over. Then….GO….hurry, hurry, hurry…. add the sauce, cheese, and toppings and then close the lid for about a minute to melt the cheese and waaahlah…you have delicious, yummy, rustic grilled pizza! You did it! Note: if you find the bottom is too browned  after applying the toppings, you can always remove the pizzas and broil them in the oven to get the cheese melted until you master the timing.

20 Minute Donut Holes From Scratch

Who doesn’t love a fresh homemade donut hole?  My mom made these all the time when I was a little girl. They are super easy and yes, I timed it, the entire batch can be ready in just 20 minutes. Simple and scrumptious. A perfect way to start the weekend and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee.

RECIPE: 20 Minute Donut Holes From Scratch

Yields about 30 donut holes

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar, for coating
Directions:
1. Preheat oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick fry-pan (keeping an eye on it as it is heating).
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, buttermilk, sugar and melted butter.  Stir in dry ingredients with a fork and mix just until combined (don’t overwork it).
3. Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, measure out 1/2 tablespoonful dough (note: they will expand when frying) and using your hands gently roll into a ball (again you don’t want to overwork it, just gently roll keeping them fluffy).  Gently place dough ball into oil and fry until golden brown on bottom then flip and cook reverse side until golden brown.
4. Carefully remove with metal tongs or a fork and drain onto a paper towel lined plate.  Roll in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. Repeat this process with remaining dough. Best served fresh and warm.
Ahhhhh….

Perfect Oven-Baked Spicy Garlic Fries

I am in love with these fries and in love with Cooks Illustrated for their never ending awesome cooking tips. This recipe was adapted from their January 2004 Ultimate Oven Fries. They recommend two steps that really make a difference: one is to soak the fries in hot tap water for 10 minutes to help remove some of the starch. The second is to cover the fries with foil during the first 5 minutes of cook time so they can steam. The result is perfect, delicious french fries without the hassle of hot frying oil.

The seasonings below are my preferred mix but this can easily be adapted to your taste. You can simply just season with sea salt and pepper or a little garlic powder or rosemary. Also, I don’t bother with peeling the potatoes…I cook ’em up with the skins on.

RECIPE: Perfect Oven-Baked Spicy Garlic Fries

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated Jan. 2004 Ultimate Oven Fries Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 potatoes (russet or yukon gold), washed and cut lengthwise into even-sized slices (I prefer about 1/4″)
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
Seasoning:
  • 1/4 teasooon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Directions:
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; heat oven to 475 degrees. Place potatoes in large bowl and cover with hot tap water; soak 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat 18 by 12-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet  with 4 tablespoons oil; set aside.

2. Drain potatoes. Spread potatoes out on triple layer of paper towels and thoroughly pat dry with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out now-empty bowl; return potatoes to bowl and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and seasoning mix. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet; cover tightly with foil and bake 5 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottoms of potatoes are spotty golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using metal spatula and tongs, scrape to loosen potatoes from pan, then flip each wedge, keeping potatoes in single layer. Continue baking until fries are golden and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating pan as needed if fries are browning unevenly.
3. Remove from oven. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Image