#52NewEats :: Week 19 :: French Onion Zoodle Bake

French Onion Zoodle Bake

This dish popped my zoodle cherry. I have been wanting to try zoodles for a while now, but I hadn’t quite found the right recipe until I found this one. I love alfredo sauce too much to cover zoodles with it. I might try a Bolognese sauce on zoodles, but for this month, we need to go meatless because it’s Vegetarian May!

I actually really, REALLY enjoyed this dish. Between my husband and I, we just about finished the whole thing ourselves. I might make a batch and a half next time! The fontina cheese on top makes it so scrumptious. The flavor in this dish was very good and spot-on with a French onion soup. I found myself wanting something crunchy on top – so I think the next time I make this, I will add some of those French’s fried onion strings. 

We liked this dish so much that it is on the menu for Vegetarian May, but I will be subbing out the beef stock for either vegetable stock or mushroom stock (which I have seen at Whole Foods). I hate mushrooms, but I am thinking the stock will give this dish the beefy flavor it needs to fulfill that French onion craving. I will also top with fried onions of some kind for a little crunch. 

You can find the original recipe //here//.

French Onion Zoodle Bake
Serves 2-3 hungry folks as an entree; 4 as a side

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups zucchini noodles
1 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a skillet preheated to medium heat, melt butter. Place onion into skillet and cook for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Add beef broth and cook until onions are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally to keep the onions from burning.

3. Next, spray an 5 X 8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl combine zucchini noodles and French onion mixture. Pour the French onion zoodle mixture into the dish and garnish top with fontina cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If the cheese does not brown in the oven, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Also, there is a probability that liquid from the zucchini will appear. If so, just drain it off carefully with a spoon before serving. Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I have a yummy Mexican recipe for you!!

A little while ago I made a batch of slow-cooked BBQ chicken for my husband’s work lunches.  And it turned out I’d made just a bit too much.  Like he wasn’t going to eat it all before it went bad.  So I decided to use some of it to make some recipes I’d been kicking around in my head for a while – the first of which was BBQ chicken quesadillas.

I had a really good BBQ chicken quesadilla once at a restaurant downtown.  It was chock full of BBQ chicken and melty cheese and peppers and onions.  That’s kind of what I was going for, but mine are much thinner, because I have an inability to make big fat quesadillas and not have them fall apart when flipping.  I need one of those quesadilla grill baskets or something!  But whatever.  These were plenty good!

I used my favorite //pickled red onions// in this recipe along with some store-bought pickled jalapenos and the flavor was spot-on, exactly what I was looking for.  Little bit of sweet, little bit of heat.  I used pepper Jack cheese too, and a fresh sprinkling of cilantro both inside and on top of the quesadillas.  They were so good!

When Vegetarian May is over I may just make these again!!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 large flour tortillas (burrito or enchilada size)
1-2 cups shredded BBQ chicken (see Notes)
2+ cups shredded pepper Jack cheese (or mix 1 cup shredded pepper Jack + 1 cup shredded cheddar)
Pickled red onions, drained and dabbed dry
Pickled jalapenos, diced
Minced cilantro
Sour cream, if desired

Directions
1. Heat a griddle over medium heat. Spray one side of one flour tortilla lightly with cooking spray, and place sprayed side down on the griddle. Repeat with one more flour tortilla.

2. Top each tortilla with about a 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Then layer on 1/2 cup or so of shredded BBQ chicken on each tortilla, then pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, and minced cilantro. Top with remaining 1/2 cup or so of shredded cheese on each tortilla. (I say “or so” a lot because these can be as big or as small as you want. Do it to your preference!)

3. Spray one side of each of the remaining flour tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Place each tortilla sprayed side up on top of each quesadilla that you’ve built.

4. As the cheese melts on the bottom tortilla, use a spatula to peek underneath to make sure the tortilla is not burning. When the tortilla is nicely browned, carefully flip the quesadilla over, and cook until browned on the other side. This can take several minutes, depending on the heat of your stovetop or griddle. Just keep an eye on it, and if it’s not moving fast enough for you, raise heat to medium-high, but then you REALLY have to keep an eye on it.

5. When finished, cut each tortilla into fourths or sixths, and sprinkle with more minced cilantro if desired. Serve with sour cream and enjoy!

Notes
To make shredded BBQ chicken: Place 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into a slow cooker and cover with a 12oz bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. When done, shred the chicken right in the slow cooker, then serve. Or, remove to differently tightly-sealed containers for leftovers and other purposes.

#52NewEats :: Week 18 :: Black Bean and Green Chile Enchiladas

Black Bean and Green Chile Enchiladas

So here’s some news for ya – my husband and I are going VEGETARIAN for the entire month of May.  😱  *gasp*  😱  Yes!  We are!

Aaron adopted a project I did a few years ago, where instead of trying to abide by a few new year’s resolutions for an entire year, I tried to abide by a single one for an entire month – a different one every month – in the hopes of changing some bad habits and adopting a healthier lifestyle.  So far this year he has given up added salt (which was a MAJOR feat for him – as long as I’ve known him, he has salted EVERYTHING even before tasting it!), given up soda, attempted to do yoga or ROMWOD every day, and given up sugar.  I joined in with him during his yoga month and I definitely noticed a difference in how I felt!  Then we gave up sugar together – the month of Easter / Cadbury Crème Eggs – not quite sure what I was thinking there.  And this month we have decided to go vegetarian together.

In preparation for that I thought I’d try some vegetarian recipes so we had some new menu items to try this month.  This was the first one we tried and it was so good!  I’ll admit – it is hard to go wrong with enchiladas with me.  I love enchiladas.  The only thing that can really screw them up is the sauce (and I have made some questionable homemade enchilada sauces in my time).  But these were great and the BEST part about these?!  It gave me an excuse to make my daughter a cheese enchilada (there’s no way I’m getting black beans or green chilies in her at this time in her life), and she actually kinda sorta liked it!  She thought the sauce was too spicy (it was) but she liked it enough to ask me to make it again for her, but with a milder sauce.  WINNING.

So I did love these enchiladas but next time I would probably swap out manchego cheese for the topping with something a little more melty, like Monterey jack.  Or I could top with crumbled cotija cheese, another favorite.  She also mentions in her blog that she wasn’t a fan of the corn tortillas – I only had corn tortillas, but next time I would also make these with flour. This recipe is already on the Vegetarian Month menu for another round later this month!  Two thumbs up on this recipe – give it a try!  You can find the original recipe //here//.

Black Bean and Green Chile Enchiladas

Ingredients
12 small corn or flour tortillas* (she recommends flour and I would echo this)
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 28-ounce can red enchilada sauce, such as Las Palmas (I got two 15oz cans and only ended up using one)
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese + more for topping (or sub another Mexican cheese, such as Cojita or Pepper Jack)
1/4 cup light sour cream or greek yogurt
Topping Options: Diced green onion, cilantro, grilled fajita veggies, avocado, salsa, sour cream, lime wedges, etc.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position a baking rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Combine black beans, green chilies, sour cream and manchego cheese in a mixing bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Set aside.

3. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce to lightly coat the bottom of a 9×13 dish.

4. Transfer one tortilla at a time to the baking dish, scoop in 2 Tbsp of the black bean filling and roll up. Place seam side down and continue until the pan is filled – should be about 10-12 enchiladas.
Top enchiladas with a bit more enchilada sauce down the middle.

5. Top with a bit more cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

6. Serve with toppings such as avocado, guacamole, salsa, fajita veggies, sour cream, green onion, cilantro or lettuce.

#52NewEats :: Week 17 :: Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Crockpot Sausage Peppers and Onions

Who doesn’t like sausage, peppers, and onions?  It’s one of my favorite Italian dishes.  I was recently at a work teambuilding event and they had a catered lunch for us.  I have been following an 80/20 grain-free rule over the past couple of months and all I could eat at this catered lunch was sausage, peppers, and onions!  Everything else was grain- or pasta-based!  So I just filled up a plate with some sausages and the peppers and onions and ate with a knife and fork (instead of on a roll) and it was actually VERY delicious.  Everything appeared to have been simmered in a tasty tomato-based broth or sauce.  There were chunks of tomato in it, and it was seasoned very well with all your typical Italian flavorings.

It kicked off the wheels in my head and off I went to Pinterest looking for a similar dish, thinking maybe I could find something that could cook in the slow cooker all day and be ready for us when we got home.  And that’s exactly what I found in this recipe!  It’s exactly what I wanted.  I ate it that night without a roll, but I did top it with some provolone cheese and stick it under the broiler to melt for a bit (as pictured above).  It was just as satisfying as if I’d eaten it on a roll!

We used a mix of mild Italian sausages and hot Italian sausages, and found that we preferred the hot sausages.  Why?  Even though we browned the sausage links in a pan before slow cooking them, they still softened up enough that they didn’t have much of a ‘bite’ to them when you bit into them.  We found we didn’t miss that ‘bite’ as much with the hot Italian sausages, because the spice made up for it.  But it’s also something that maybe could be fixed by letting them brown a little longer in the pan before slow cooking them.

Either way, I was really happy with this recipe and will definitely make it again!!  You can find the original recipe //here//.

Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 Tbsp oil
2 lbs sweet and/or hot Italian sausage links
2 bell peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Hoagie buns
Provolone cheese slices

Directions
1. Add oil to a large skillet over high heat. Brown the sausages well on all sides. Remove the sausages to the slow cooker. Add the bell peppers and onions to the same skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, getting them a little bit brown as well. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic to the veggie mixture for the last minute.

2. Add all remaining ingredients, except hoagie buns and provolone cheese, to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 5 hours.

3. When you are ready to serve, toast your hoagie buns on both sides, then add the cheese to the inside of the buns and place back in the oven to broil until the cheese is melted. Add the Italian Sausage & peppers & onions to each hoagie roll. Serve with some of the tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

#52NewEats :: Week 15 :: Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

It should come as no surprise to any of you that I’ve been a huge fan of Grilled Cheese Social since the day I found her many years ago.  She is known for coming up with some of the most epic grilled cheese combinations.  I actually haven’t tried too many of her recipes, because they can feature some wild ingredients I’m not a fan of, or cheeses I just can’t find without taking a hike to Reading Terminal Market (which is harder now that I live so far out of the city).  BUT, I recently saw her recipe for Million Dollar Mac and Cheese on Facebook, and it shot straight to the top of my To Do list!

This recipe features several easily-attainable cheeses, and duh, burrata?!  In mac and cheese?!  I never would have thought.  I mean burrata kind of christens everything it touches with its lusciousness, so why not mac and cheese?!

I really loved this mac and cheese, and so did everyone I made it for.  Check out that cheese pull though.  👆👆👆  Who can’t get behind that?!

This recipe was such a hit that I’ll be making it for more of my family at Easter tomorrow.  It will probably be one of the only things I eat bc ew ham.

You should make this recipe too.  You should also go follow GCS on all the social media sites.  She is always posting delectable food pictures on Instagram, and she has recently started doing live videos on Facebook.  She’s adorable, and she makes hella slutty food.  What’s not to like?

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I wouldn’t change a damn thing!  Those toasted herb breadcrumbs are ABSOLUTELY worth the minimal extra effort of chopping the herbs – they completely made this dish!  In fact – I might even double that part of the recipe for tomorrow!

Million Dollar Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
For the mac and cheese:
1 lb rotini or fusilli
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp shallots, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup gruyere, shredded
1 cup muenster, shredded
1/2 cup burrata (about 1 large ball or two small ones)
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 tsp hot sauce
salt

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp sage, chopped
1/2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme leaves, stem removed
1/3 cup panko

Directions
For the mac and cheese:
1. Prepare pasta according to the directions and strain once it’s al dente.

2. In a large pot, add butter, chopped shallots, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the shallots start to soften. Right before they begin to caramelize, add flour and whisk constantly until a roux forms. After a few minutes, the roux will start to darken and the taste of the flour will have cooked out. At this point, add heavy cream and whisk. Let the heavy cream cook for 5-10 minutes or until it begins to reduce and thicken. Add the muenster and whisk in a figure 8 motion. Then add the gruyere and keep stirring with the whisk until all the cheese has melted. Cut the burrata in half and add to the cheese sauce. Stir until melted and combined. Last, add the hot sauce and the ricotta. Salt to taste and remove from heat.

3. Turn your broiler to high. Meanwhile, add the pasta to a serving bowl and mix in the cheese sauce, little by little until the desired creaminess is reached. Top the dish with grated cheddar and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese has crisped up and is golden orange.

For the toasted herb breadcrumbs:
Melt butter in a small pan over medium-high heat and add chopped sage, thyme and rosemary. Cook for a few minutes until the herbs have softened and the smell is irresistible. Add in the panko and continuously stir until it is golden brown and toasty. Keep an eye on this, I almost burned mine! Sprinkle toasted herb bread crumbs over broiled mac n cheese and serve!

#52NewEats :: Week 12 :: Paleo Bearnaise Sauce

Paleo Bearnaise Sauce

A few years ago, before it became ridiculously popular and was still relatively unheard of, I went strictly Paleo for more than a month (no grains, no sugar, no dairy, no legumes) and saw some serious results in the way I looked and felt.  Paleo was really hard for me to maintain though, because I don’t really like enough of a variety of proteins and vegetables to keep it interesting.  So since then, I have dabbled off and on with the Paleo diet – sometimes I will go strict for a month to clean up my diet; sometimes I will be Paleo during the week and eat whatever I want on the weekends.  And sometimes I just go off the rails completely and turn into a pasta-eating fiend.

What can I say, ya girl loves carbs.

But then, with the rise of Crossfit in popularity, I feel like I also saw an equivalent rise in the popularity of the Paleo diet.  I mean, back when I went Paleo a few years ago, I could barely find any Paleo recipes on Pinterest.  It seemed like the same 20 recipes over and over.  I had to get creative with menu planning.  Now – gosh.  Go search ‘Paleo Recipes’ on Pinterest and be wowed.  They have recipes for Paleo sandwich bread now, Paleo fudge, Paleo brownies, Paleo hamburger rolls, Paleo this and Paleo that… it’s a lot easier to be Paleo now than it was when I did it!

I even found a cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen (whom I trust on all things food) called //Paleo Perfected//.  You know I had to buy it!  Well imagine my delight when I paged through to find a recipe for Paleo Bearnaise sauce…. 😍

Bearnaise sauce is only the greatest sauce of all time.  I put it on steak, I dip French fries in it, I ladle it all over baked potatoes.  I use it indiscriminately on anything and everything.

(Shh.  I have even been known to dip pretzels in it.)

But anyway, I saw this recipe and had to try it.  Homemade Bearnaise sauces are not easy to make – there is much tempering of yolks and hot melted butter and whisking and such.  But this was a blender recipe, so I figured I’d give it a go.

I happened to think this sauce turned out very good.  It was pretty vinegar-y, but I modified it a little bit.  I kept some of the shallots in the sauce, while the recipe asks you to discard them.  Also, I like a tangier, more vinegar-y Bearnaise.  My husband wasn’t a huge fan, but I loved it.

(For the record, we both thought the homemade //blender Bearnaise// by Ina Garten he’d made for Valentine’s Day was much better and more traditional-tasting – but that was not Paleo.  😉)

Anyway, I hope you make this and enjoy it!  This one is staying in my recipe rotation fo’ sho’!

Paleo Bearnaise Sauce
From America’s Test Kitchen’s book, Paleo Perfected

Ingredients
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 shallot, sliced thin
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
10 tablespoons ghee, melted and still hot

Directions
1. Bring vinegar, tarragon sprigs, and shallots to a simmer in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until vinegar is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 5-7 minutes. Discard tarragon sprigs. If you like shallots in your Bearnaise sauce, leave a few in the skillet and discard the rest; otherwise, discard altogether. (I chose to keep a few, it was delicious.)

2. Process egg yolks, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and vinegar mixture in blender until frothy, about 10 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in hot melted ghee until fully emulsified, about 1 1/2 minutes. Adjust sauce consistency with hot water as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Pour into a gravy boat or a bowl. Stir in finely chopped fresh tarragon, season with salt and pepper, and serve with a big, juicy filet mignon.

#52NewEats :: Week 11 :: Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Gravy

Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Gravy

I’m not sure if you’ve paid much attention or not, but, I love Mexican food.  LOVE.  Mexican food.  Nachos are my absolute favorite food ever, but, enchiladas come in as a close second.

I typically prefer chicken enchiladas, but these beef enchiladas caught my eye some time ago, mostly because of the enchilada sauce recipe.  Most enchilada sauce recipes I’ve seen use Ancho or Guajillo chilies, and this was the first I’d seen using Pasilla and Chipotle chilies.  I’ve been on a hunt to recreate my favorite Mexican restaurant’s enchilada sauce, and this combination sounded unique enough that I thought I’d give it a shot.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed!  I thought these enchiladas were pretty damn tasty!  I would make them again, for sure.  The only thing I would change is I would stir more enchilada sauce into the beef mixture prior to stuffing them.  I like the innards of an enchilada to be somewhat saucy.  Also, I forgot to add cheese to the inside, and I would definitely do that too.

I always struggle with corn tortillas, and in fact I was half expecting them to fall apart once I scooped them out of the dish to serve them, but they held together very well.  I heated them up according to package directions (not recipe directions) prior to rolling.  Maybe that was the trick.  😊

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I am actually so excited to have found this blog, because so many of the recipes look amazing!  I shall go troll now and pin like a fiend!

Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Gravy
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
For the pasilla-chipotle chili gravy:
1 or 2 dried chipotle chiles (depending on how hot you want it), seeds and stems removed
4 dried pasilla chiles, seeds and stems removed
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the enchiladas:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced and divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of lard or vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

Directions
1. In a dry skillet heated on high, toast the pasilla and chipotle chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Fill the skillet with enough water to cover chiles. Leave the heat on until water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Once hydrated, discard the soaking water and rinse the chiles. Place in a blender.

2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, in heat up the vegetable oil and while occasionally stirring cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Place cooked onion and garlic into the blender, along with the cumin, oregano, and the broth. Blend until smooth.

3. In a pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil on low heat, whisking in the flour until well incorporated. Pour in the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as needed.

4. Meanwhile, in a skillet on medium heat (I use the same one that I used for the onions and garlic) add the ground beef, half of the diced onions and garlic. While stirring occasionally, cook the meat until browned, about 10 minutes. (If you like, you can drain the extra fat once the meet is browned.) Stir in the cumin and cook for 2 more minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust seasonings. Stir into the meat 1/4 cup of the chili gravy.

5. To make the enchiladas, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish. Heat tortillas according to package directions, and keep warm in a towel as needed. Lay each tortilla on a plate or clean cooking surface and add about 2 tablespoons of beef and some of the cheese. Roll the tortilla and place in greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining grated cheese and diced onions. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.

#52NewEats :: Week 7 :: Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy

Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy

Ohhhh, this pork loin recipe!  Folks, I was quite pleased with this recipe.  I definitely recommend it!  I wouldn’t make this on a weeknight, but it’s a great recipe for Sunday dinner.  😊  The gravy is very flavorful, the pork turned out oh so tender, and served with my //balsamic potatoes//, it made for a nice, hearty meal!

You can find the original recipe //here//.  Her picture is much, much prettier than mine.  Which is fine.  I’m still waiting for longer daylight hours so I’m not eating my dinners at 2pm during the weekend.  Or maybe I could just bite the bullet and build myself a lightbox.  Ugh, who has the time.  I’m werkin’ on it, I swears!

So I am going to skip over all the lovey-dovey recipe admiration stuff – just make it.  And, go to her blog and check out her other recipes, because her photography is beautiful, her blog is beautiful, the fonts, the headings, just, ugh.  #bloggoals

Here are my thoughts!

🍴  I used about a 2.5lb pork loin roast for this recipe.  It was all I could find at Whole Foods that day.  It worked out very well, but it was done cooking in about an hour, a half hour quicker than the recipe suggests.  This could be due to several factors – one being, I think my gas burners run relatively hot, so I can never truly get down to a “low” simmer; and low-medium heat tends to be a rapid simmer.  So my loin was rapidly simmering away for about an hour – BUT – I kept a meat thermometer in it and removed it as soon as it came up to 150 degrees F, and it was PERFECT.

🍴  My gravy did not thicken up very quickly – also I was pretty impatient to eat, so I did end up using the 2tb cornstarch / 2tb water slurry to help it along.  This did make my gravy VERY thick though, enough so that I added a little cream back to it to think it out some.  But it gave the gravy a delicious, thick, creamy (my fav combo) consistency, though next time I may start with only 1tb cornstarch / 1tb water to thicken.

🍴  Lastly, my garlic cloves burned and I ended up having to remove them 😞 Like I said, could be because my burners run hot, or could be that maybe they’d be better off being added later on in the cooking process, rather than during searing.  It’s something I might handle a bit differently next time around.

Pork Loin with Wine and Herb Gravy
Serves 6

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, smashed, skins removed
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
2 lb pork loin roast
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (plus a bit more to deglaze the pan if necessary)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic, rosemary, and sage, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the pork loin tot eh pan, carefully placing it on top of the herbs. Saute the pork for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove it to a plate. Add wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook until the smell of the alcohol as disappeared, about 1-2 minutes.

2. Lower the heat under the pan to medium-low heat. Return the pork to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the pork loin. Partially cover with a lid and cook for about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, flipping the pork and scraping the bottom of the pan every 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, making sure there continues to be some liquid in the pan. Add 1/4 cup of warm water if necessary.

3. When the pork is cooked through (150 degrees F on your meat thermometer), remove the pork to a plate to rest. Meanwhile, increase the heat under the liquid in the pan to medium. If your pan has little liquid left, deglaze with a splash of white wine. Stir well to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and the cream. Whisk to combine well. Allow everything to warm through, then, mix cornstarch with water in a small bowl, stirring briskly to combine. Add to the gravy in the pan and voila, thickened gravy! Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.

4. At this point I placed the pork back in the pan to warm it back through. I lowered the heat to medium-low, and just turned the pork in the pan a few more times. Then I removed it, sliced it, and covered it with the delicious gravy.

#365Recipes :: Chicken and Waffles Benedict

Chicken and Waffles Benedict

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I joined a Facebook group for food bloggers.  The owner of that group is running a project called #365Recipes, which is somewhat similar to my #52NewEats and #12NewTreats projects.  It’s just another way to spark my creativity and get me in the kitchen!!

The ingredient for today was ‘waffles’, so I thought it would be a good time to retry my Chicken and Waffles Benedict recipe.  I had tried this over a year ago, but wasn’t 100% sold because the waffle was too sweet.  I know that traditional chicken and waffles is served with maple syrup, but I’m not sold on that either…

So like, I’m a Recovering Picky Eater.  Growing up I was incredibly picky – there was even a point in my life where I didn’t like pizza.  (Whaaaaa?)  I mean, I also remember a time where I didn’t know how you turned a brick of cheese into shredded cheese.  (Can’t you only get shredded cheese in bags?)  I truly have my husband’s mother to thank for introducing me to new things when we started dating.  SO.  With that said – even though I have grown up and REALLY come a long, long way, there are some ‘ew’ reactions that still linger on…  I could never eat fruit on salad, I really don’t understand eating fruit with meat (applesauce and pork chops? BARF!), which all sort of comes down to me not understanding the mix between sweet and savory.  My tongue just says it’s a no go.

So yeah, the first time I made Chicken and Waffles Benedict, everything was okay but the waffle still tasted like a breakfast waffle to me.  I was getting hung up on that.  I couldn’t move forward from it.  So I set out to figure out how to make a savory waffle – which I immediately searched on Pinterest and found many ideas, but none that I thought would really jive with fried chicken and a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

Cue the #365Recipes project many months later.  I’m at Whole Foods, doing my weekly shopping trip, hoping for some inspiration on how to make a waffle savory.  I knew I was making this recipe the very next day so the pressure was on.  As I made my way through the produce section I noticed a table with some ridiculous-smelling smoked English cheddar on display.  And, POOF!  That’s IT!  Smoked cheddar!  And what… what else?  Something green.  CHIVES!

And so my smoked cheddar and chives waffle was born!

I was so excited about it that when I got home I told Aaron about it right away.  And he promptly made a stinky face.  He’s a stinker.

But guess what.  Those waffles smelled so good when they were cooking.  And then when they were done I tried one and it tasted amazing.  And then we built the whole dish together and the whole thing – together – amazing.  I swear there’s something to this ‘smoke’ thing.  Last week I told you about how liquid smoke changed my life with sloppy joes and now this week it’s smoked cheddar.  Maybe we need a smoker?

I don’t think Aaron would mind…

Chicken and Waffles Benedict
Serves 4

Ingredients
Waffles:
Enough waffle mix to make 4 4×4-inch Belgian waffles (I use //this waffle maker//)
1/4 cup smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Fried Chicken:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 chicken cutlets

4 poached eggs
Prepared hollandaise sauce (I like //this brand// or //this brand//)
Chopped chives for garnish, if desired
Smoked paprika for garnish, if desired

Directions
1. Make your waffles: Grate the smoked cheddar on a Microplane grater, or on the finest holes available on your box grater. Prepare waffle mix according to package directions, then stir in the smoked cheddar and chives. (Note: My waffle mix, for four waffles, uses 1 cup of mix plus wet ingredients. You may be able to figure out how to scale up or down from there, depending on your waffle mix.) When combined, pour into a preheated waffle maker. Close the lid and cook to desired doneness. Cook time will depend on your individual waffle maker. When waffles are finished, remove from the waffle maker, and keep warm, depending on your pace with the other ingredients.

2. Bread and fry your chicken: Preheat the oil in your fryer to 375 (DISCLAIMER: This is the temperature we use. Different fryers may recommend different temperatures for frying chicken. Check your manual, or check online if necessary). Combine the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl, and set aside. Combine the flour, garlic salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and poultry seasoning in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Seal the bag shut then squish the flour around to mix all the dry ingredients evenly. Working with one chicken cutlet at a time, add one cutlet to the flour mixture, seal the bag, and shake to coat. Remove the chicken cutlet, then dip in the buttermilk mixture. Return the chicken cutlet to the flour mixture, seal the bag, and shake to coat for a second time. Remove the chicken cutlet right to the fry basket. Keep the basket elevated while you do the next chicken cutlet. When ready, lower the fry basket into the preheated oil and deep fry until it reaches a deep golden brown. (Actual fry time will vary widely depending on many factors, including the temperature of your oil and the size of your fryer. Instead of giving you a time frame, I would encourage you to keep an eye on your chicken and look for that yummy golden brown color, and go by the manufacturer’s instructions.) Remove the chicken when done to a paper towel-lined plate to cool for a minute and dry. Keep warm.

3. Prepare hollandaise sauce according to package directions and keep warm.

4. Poach your eggs: Fill a 12-inch skillet with water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, or to a heat that leaves the water at barely a simmer. Sprinkle some salt into the water so the eggs don’t stick. When the water is at a steady barely-simmer, crack one egg into a small bowl, taking care not to break the yolks. Gently tip the bowl into the simmering water, allowing some of the water to seep into the bowl, and slip the egg out of the bowl and into the water. Repeat with another egg on the other side of the skillet. Simmer the eggs for 3-4 minutes, or until the egg whites are set. With a slotted spoon, scoop one egg at a time out of the water and pat dry with paper towels.

5. Assemble! Place each waffle on a plate. Top each waffle with a fried chicken cutlet. As you bring poached eggs out of the water and pat them dry, gently place on top of each fried chicken cutlet. Then generously douse with hollandaise sauce, and top with chopped chives and smoked paprika, if desired.