24 February 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork Stir Fry

This month's Food Network Magazine contains 11,375 different stir fry recipes. They have five simple steps for each recipe (i.e. pick your protein, marinate, prep veggies, choose a sauce, and stir-fry) hence the many different varieties. I chose to make Sweet and Sour Pork with carrots, snow peas, onions, and 3 types of peppers, but the choices for veggies are endless. You could add broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, celery, cabbage, etc. Same goes for the protein--chicken, shrimp, beef, tofu. For my version...

You will need:

1 pork tenderloin
1T oil
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 yellow pepper
handful of snow peas
handful of baby carrots
2T oil
2tsp minced garlic
1tsp ginger

For the Sauce:

3/4 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
2tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup ketchup (I used low sugar)
2 packets (or 2tsp) soy sauce
3T rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp sesame oil

The pork tenderloin has to be cooked a bit before adding to the stir fry. Heat 1T of oil in a frying pan and sear the pork over medium high heat until brown on each side, about 5 minutes. (The pork spatters quite a bit while browning. My poor magazine is covered in oil and pork juice.) Then cook the pork for 20 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees until the internal temp of the pork is 145 degrees. It will still be a tiny bit pink inside, but that's fine because you'll be cooking it further in the stir fry. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes at least before slicing.

While the pork is baking, prepare your veggies. Slice the peppers and onion into strips. (I only used half of each pepper because they were really large. Usually peppers are smaller. But I saved the other halves for a veggie tray the next day.)

I like to cut the baby carrots in half and then half again.

In a small saucepan or bowl whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch until thoroughly combined. Then mix in the rest of your sauce ingredients. If you don't have rice vinegar you can substitute apple cider or even white vinegar, but rice is best. There really isn't a substitute for the sesame oil. It's not expensive and definitely worth having a bottle if you like to make homemade Chinese food. Set aside the sauce.

Add the 2T oil, garlic, and ginger to a saucepan. I just wiped out the same pan I used for the pork. (See the scratch marks on my favorite green pan? They were made by a metal utensil, but not by me. :( I was so upset when I saw the scratches.)

Heat to high and then add all the veggies. Stir-fry them all until crisp-tender.

Then add your sliced pork and pour the sauce on top of it all. Stir until the sauce thickens and the veggies are tender (but not soft). If you find that the sauce becomes too thick you can add a bit more chicken broth, but I didn't have that problem. Everything worked out perfectly.

Serve over some brown rice.

So much better than take-out! And better for you, too. The sauce is perfect. Not too sweet, not too sour. I like this version a million times more than the super thick, super sweet stuff we get from our local Chinese food place. Toss some sesame seeds on top before serving to fancy it up if you like. :)


Sweet and Sour Pork

See Sweet and Sour Pork on Key Ingredient.

18 February 2010


My favorite morning snack is greek yogurt. Sometimes I add my sugar-free blackberry jam but lately I've been eating it with blueberries and my homemade granola. This recipe is not the store-bought conventionally sweet stuff--it has just a hint of sweetness so that you can really taste the oats, walnuts, and cinnamon. It uses honey instead of sugar and no oil at all, so it is also low-fat. I got the original recipe from answerfitness.com

You will need:

3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with foil.

Add the honey, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, and cinnamon to a small saucepan and heat on medium low until the honey has dissolved. No need to bring to a boil or anything. It won't take long, 2 minutes at most.

Add the dry ingredients (oats, wheat germ, flaxseed meal, and walnuts) to a large bowl and give them a toss. Flaxseed meal can be found in any supermarket (even Wally Mart). It's a great addition to homemade bread! I keep a box in the freezer.

Now pour the honey mixture on top of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Spread the granola onto an ungreased foil-lined jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15.

Allow the granola to cool on the pan. I store my granola in a vacuum seal bag, but any large Ziploc bag will do, just make sure to squeeze out all the air.

After it cools, you can add raisins, mini chocolate chips, M&M's, or any dried fruit. I leave it plain, but you could sure get creative with this recipe!

I toss a handful onto my greek yogurt with blueberries. In one snack you get whole grains, dairy (calcium and protein), nuts, and fruit.



See Granola on Key Ingredient.

16 February 2010

Raisin Bran Muffins

Two cereals we have always had in the house are Cheerios and Raisin Bran. (Occasionally some Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops will sneak into the mix for a weekend treat.) Since we are never without them, I like to think of creative ways to use them. I toss Cheerios into my granola bars or GORP all the time. And I make muffins with the Raisin Bran. They are healthy (tons of fiber and very little fat), filling, and super tasty. My non-bread-eater, Tink, had 6 one morning for breakfast. 6! A true testament to how yummy these Raisin Bran Muffins are.

You will need:

1 1/4 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups Raisin Bran
1 cup milk (skim is great)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2T oil

Preheat your oven to 380 degrees. You'll be increasing to 400 after putting the muffins in the oven. An Alton Brown trick that I love! He says that the burst of increased temperature gives the makes the muffins puff up and gives you a better muffin top. No more flat muffins! Line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers liners or grease heavily.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cereal. Toss.

Add the milk and let sit for 3 minutes.

Stir in the egg, applesauce, sugar, and oil. Stir until just moistened.

I use a 1/3 measuring cup and it seems to fill each muffin perfectly. I get exactly 12 with no leftover batter.

I always, always, always, put a cookie sheet under my muffin tin. It keeps the muffins from burning on the bottom and provides a more even heat. Place the muffins into the oven and crank the heat to 400 degrees. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

These muffins come out moist, not too heavy, and absolutely delicious. The cinnamon adds a nice subtle flavor that balances nicely with the bran and raisins.

You don't even need butter on these muffins, but ooooo they're good with it! :)

Wrap them in foil and put them in a freezer bag and they'll keep in the freezer for a month. Thaw them overnight and in the morning give them a quick zap in the microwave (20 seconds on 50% power) and you have breakfast to go.


Raisin Bran Muffins

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11 February 2010

Sugar Cookies

This sugar cookie recipe is my favorite because it is perfect for cut-outs. I use it for every holiday. Sugar cookies can be pretty bland and that's why they are usually covered in icing, but I am not a fan of icing on cookies (and scrape it off whenever I find it) so the cookies have to taste good. These are amazing. Very flavorful and just the right balance of soft and chewy with crisp edges. But my very favorite quality of these cookies is that you can get away with using 100% whole wheat and they still taste sinful. Of course, if you want to use 100% all-purpose flour, that's awesome, too. :)

You will need:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I use Smart Balance sticks, of course)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In your mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until it lightens in color. About one minute.

Add egg, vanilla, and food coloring if you want. I used a rose color and hit it with about 4 drops.

Add half the flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda. Mix and then add the rest of the flour. (My dough was a pretty dusty rose color but I wanted it a bit darker, so I hit the dough with a few more drops of color.)

(If you don't want to cut the dough into shapes then roll the dough into 1-inch balls, roll in sugar, place on your greased baking sheet, and flatten slightly.)

For cut-outs, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. I cut my dough into hearts, X's and O's for Valentine's Day. Tink asked if we could play tic-tac-toe. :)

Place cookies on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Since I don't add icing I pressed a little bit of colored sugar into each cookie. Bake for 14 minutes. They will still be a little soft in the middle when they come out.

A delicious holiday treat!! If you use whole wheat then you should probably eat twice as many cookies so that you make your daily whole grain allowance. :)


Sugar Cookies

See Sugar Cookies on Key Ingredient.

09 February 2010

Blackberry Pork Loin

We have pork loins for dinner pretty often. They are cheap (less than $8 and there is usually a $1 off coupon in Sunday's paper), easy, and super tasty. You can buy them in different flavors, but I buy the unflavored or original. And I always rinse it before adding my own seasonings. This flavor combination might sound a little strange, but trust me--it is amazing! Bubba and the girls said it was my best pork loin ever. Not a single scrap was left. I found the recipe on smuckers.com but changed it up a bit.

You will need:

1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam
3T BBQ sauce
1tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Put the blackberry jam in a bowl and zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You could skip this step, but I've found that the jam is easier to mix up if its not super cold from the fridge. Then add the BBQ sauce and seasoned salt...

and whisk together.

Place the washed pork loin in a Ziploc bag and pour the sauce over the top. Marinate for at least an hour. I usually prepare the pork loin in the morning, so it marinates for about 6 hours.

An hour before you are ready to eat preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 inch baking dish with foil. Pour the pork and sauce into the dish and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the pork reaches 160 degrees.

Let it sit for 15 minutes and then slice.

When plating, pour a little bit of sauce over each serving.

Absolutely delicious!! I served it with green peas and vegetable pasta with Parmesan. This pork is succulent and flavorful that it would be the perfect dish to impress company. Everyone will think you slaved away!


Blackberry Pork Loin

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05 February 2010

Super Bowl XLIV

I apologize for not posting step-by-step directions to this recipe, but I only make it on Super Bowl Sunday and didn't want to post it after the big game. This recipe is the perfect side dish at a party or for just pigging out at home, but it is definitely not a recipe you want to make more than once a year because it will take you at least a month to get your diet back under control. :) Just kidding. But it is super indulgent. Charlie Gibson's Enchilada Casserole. We call it Doritos Casserole and it is soooo good. I've been making it every year since 2002.

Casserole Ingredients:
1 large 13-ounce package Doritos (save 2 cups for casserole topping)
2 tbsp. onion, grated
1 10-ounce can chili with beans
10- to 15-ounce enchilada sauce
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Topping Ingredients:

2 cups Doritos
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1¼ cups sour cream


1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Crumble 6 cups Doritos with your hands into a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the onion, the chili, the enchilada sauce, tomato sauce and 1½ cups of cheddar cheese to the crumbled Doritos. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Place mixture into an 8½ x 11-inch oven proof casserole dish.

4. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven. Spread the sour cream over the top of the casserole with a large spoon or rubber spatula. Top with remaining 2 cups Doritos. Then sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese.

6. Bake for another five minutes and serve.

Doritos, cheese, sour cream, chili...what's not to love? Give it a try and ENJOY!

02 February 2010

Acorn Squash

Acorn squash, or as my beloved in-laws in WA state say it "squarsh," contains beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium, and manganese. A little powerhouse! It is a fruit because its seeds are inside--and yep, that means cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, and zucchinis are also fruits. (Strawberries are in their own class, not technically fruits, the little dickens.) But when you are a kid a squash might as well be a vegetable and, therefore, inherently repulsive. So this is how I get my monkeys to eat their squarsh. :)

You will need:

1 acorn squash for every two people
I used 2 squash for the four of us so...
4T butter (Smart Balance!!)
4T brown sugar (light or dark)
Kosher salt
2 cups water
aluminum foil lined 9x13in baking dish

Preheat your oven to 400.

Wash your squash with soap and hot water, even if you found organic, and dry them fully. Then cut them in half from the stem down. Be careful--they can be slippery.

Use a spoon to remove the guts, just like you would with a cantaloupe.

Reserve the guts to feed to your chickens...or not.

Place the halves in your pan cut-side up.

Use a fork to score the insides of each squash...

then smear 1T of butter on each half.

Now drop 1T of brown sugar into each half, no need to spread it around. (In the picture, the bottom left-hand squash has Splenda brown sugar in it and that's why it is darker.) Then sprinkle with Kosher salt--just a pinch per half.

The last step is to carefully add 2 cups of water to your pan. Don't get any water inside your squash.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

You will want to serve these right away. I put them in a bowl and the use a fork to scrape down the sides...

until all the flesh is removed from the skins and is mixed up with the delicious butter and brown sugar.

They are so flavorful--almost as good as a dessert! In fact, I always save mine to eat last because I am one of those people who needs a bit of sweet after a meal. And, no offense to the Biggest Loser, but sugar-free gum just doesn't cut it. :)


my recipe card:

Acorn Squash

See Acorn Squash on Key Ingredient.