The Dark Horse

Well, well, well Cooking Light look who just took the coveted (shhhh…in my head it is coveted) winner of the cover recipe smackdown away from my favorite grilled cheese/short rib goodness. The Maple-Mustard Pork Chops with Winter Squash Puree, created by none either than the lovely Ellie Krieger, was so excellent the only thing left on the plate were our finger smears and pork chop bones.

After a conversation with Lex about this “situation” we both felt that this recipe won due to a few things:

  1. While decadence is always a good thing, this recipe felt decadent without adding a lot to our bums unlike a grilled cheese sandwich. It was full of delicious flavors and good for you goodness like butternut squash. I could eat that sauce on almost anything. Two low-fat points for pork.
  2. The grilled cheese was easy to prepare but if you think about it, it’s also a sandwich and that can be a lot of work – for some – to make a sandwich. Point deduction grilled cheese.
  3. This came together in a New York minute and utilized many pantry staples, except frozen butternut squash which I found at Whole Foods Market. Point addition.
  4. This dish just plain rocked, so there. Point for pork.
  5. That sauce, oh dear that sauce! I think we’ve confirmed plenty of times here I’m a sucker for sauces. Five points for sauce.

I would like to clarify that I do not hold tight to these standards when judging all cover recipes, but when it came down to a game time decision the comments mentioned above helped the pork chop dish beat the grilled cheese by thismuch. Don’t get me wrong little lambs that grilled cheese will live on in my heart like Leonardo DiCaprio does but you’ve got to give the pork chops recipe a try. Heck make both and let us know if we are dead wrong!

I could not find the recipe online (come on people!) so you can find it below.

Maple-Mustard Pork Chops with Winter Squash Puree
Cooking Light, March 2010
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Sprinkle both sides of pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through, but with a slight blush in the center. Remove from pan; keep warm.
3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling pan to coat. Add shallots; saute 3 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add broth; bring to boil, and cook 1 minute. Stir in mustard, syrup, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Return pork to pan. Cook pork 1 minute on each side or until thoroughly heated (be careful not to overcook pork). Serve pork with sauce. Garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.
Quick Winter Squash Puree
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (12-ounce) package frozen cooked butternut squash
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon orange rind
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Place broth and squash in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Add butter and remaining ingredients*; stir until well combined.
* We added a smidge of heavy cream to give this a little more body. :)

Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro from Food & Wine

Continuing on with the Battle of the Cover Recipes, I’ve tried the insanely delicious short rib/grilled cheese goodness that graced the cover of Bon Appetit and now it’s on to the Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro recipe on the cover of the new Food & Wine.mThis was a really fast and simple recipe to make plus I’m a sucker for shrimp. I have to say though that Alex liked this WAY better than I did. I felt it was OK but nothing to write home about. The flavors were fine and I did enjoy the crispy shallots and garlic on top.  One thing to note, I’m not the biggest fan of cooking Asian-inspired cuisines at home (I’m weird, I know) so maybe that’s why I’m so blah to the blah about it. Alex loves cooking Asian-food and is a big fan in general so if you are anything like her then I would definitely give this one a shot and not listen to me one bit!  The Grilled Cheese is still winning in my book and we are testing Cooking Light’s new cover recipe tonight and watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, how fun huh? Stay tuned lambs!

Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos from Food & Wine

So it was a gorgeous day in Austin and Lex and me enjoyed the beautiful 80 degree weather for most of the day, but got back this afternoon and banged out not two, not three but four delicious recipes all from Food & Wine magazine.Warm Winter-Vegetable Salad and Zucchini-and-Watercress Soup. After tasting both we were quite impressed but a full review is to come later lambies.

For dinner, we made these – what I thought were – awesome Beer-Braised Turkey Tacos with Mango-Tomato Salsa. The turkey for the tacos was pretty simple and we knew this would be delicious once we opened the lid with the simmering turkey and aromatics and got quite hungry. The salsa was a basic dump and pour (as it usually is) but Lex hates chunky salsa so we decided to dump it all in the food processor and give her a whirl until it was nice and pureed. I really liked these tacos with the salsa but if you are not a big fan of cinnamon (like Lex is) then it might be a little too overpowering for some. I loved them however so I say go for it!

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese…No, Like Really

 So this week I came down with what we will call “the death” or an upper respiratory infection that hit my like a ton of bricks Monday morning and kept me down until Thursday morning. But dear readers, what deliciousness did we have planned for Tuesday and staying true to my menu plan we still made? That’s right this tasty looking beaut from Bon Appétit. Behold the ultimate grilled cheese lambs…

Yes, this Grilled Cheese and Short Rib Sandwiches with Pickled Caramelized Onions recipe from Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles (side note – if you are in LA stop what you are doing right now and go to Joan’s – well unless you are reading this blog!) was THAT good even with a lack o’tastebuds, a 102 fever and a slew of medications keeping me quite light-headed.
I was still semi-functional on Monday and managed to make the short ribs which were really, really easy. We let them cool and chilled in the fridge until Tuesday. Poor Alex not only had to deal with a sickly Emily but then completed the rest of the meal including the caramelized onions and assembly of sandwiches which she said was easy, peasy. To go with the sandwiches Alex also made an Orange, Fennel, Avocado and Arugula Salad with Orange Vinaigrette which was her own creation and was amazing (maybe she will give me the recipe -wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Since I didn’t do this recipe from stem to stern I can’t attest to its ease of assembly or that everything flowed perfectly, but I can tell you that it was a glorious, cheesy, beefy, awesome sandwich that shined down from the heavens during my bout of sickly ugliness. I’m going to have to test these one more time just to make sure I was not hallucinating – something tells me I wasn’t.

Chili-Guacamole Burgers

One of the hardest parts of my job is having to thumb through endless recipes in magazines…poor, poor me. I received the America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Suppers winter 2010 edition and the March/February 2010 issue of Cook’s Country sometime ago and after review, decided to make these Chili-Guacamole Cheeseburgers from America’s Test Kitchen and Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges from Cook’s Country.

I’ve never tested recipes from either of these so you can imagine my delight when Alex and I took a bite of the burger, looked at each other and then took another BIG bite. Yummy! What I loved most was that it was so easy, breezy to put together and the roasted sweet potatoes were done before I got home…man it’s good to have a Chef in the house!
These were SPICY but fortunately we both love heat so we didn’t mind at all and the guacamole, cheese and onions were the perfect additions. Two things we would have added to the burger, that honestly wouldn’t have added much time in prep, are some fresh diced tomatoes and a dollop (ugh I hate that word, don’t judge me) to the guacamole to cut through the spice a little bit and add a bit more freshness with the tomatoes.Overall though we really liked these. Here are both of the recipes for you to try yourself – who loves you?

Chili-Guacamole Burgers
1 1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef, broken into pieces
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
4 slices deli pepper Jack Cheese
1 ripe avocado, pitted, skinned, and chopped
2 teaspoons of lime juice
4 hamburger buns
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings

1. Place beef, chili powder, chipotle, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl and gently mix until combined. Pat meat mixture into four 3/4-inch patties.

2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add patties and cook until well-browned, 3 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer burgers to plate, top with cheese, and tent with foil.

3. Using fork, mash avocado in small bowl. Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Arrange burgers on buns. Top with guacamole and onion slices. Serve.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Bake Potatoes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 325 degrees. Cut each potato in half crosswise, then cut each half into 6 to 8 wedges. Arrange wedges on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and bake until just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and increase heat to 475 degrees. Wipe off baking sheet and return to oven. Cool potatoes on wire rack 10 minutes.

2. Brown Potatoes: Gently toss potatoes with oil, sugar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Remove baking sheet from oven. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on hot sheet and roast, flipping once, until deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Bonus! We did this and loved it!
Caribbean-Spiced Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

Prepare Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges adding 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 3/4 dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to potatoes as they are tossed in Step 2.