April 30, 2015

Bourbon and Apricot Pork Tenderloin and Quinoa Salad with Spring Mix

I've been seeing and hearing a lot of things lately about the Kentucky Derby. I may not know this year's horses, jockeys, or any specifics, but... you say Derby... I say bourbon. 

This Bourbon and Apricot Pork Tenderloin would make a wonderful main dish for a Kentucky Derby party, your next grill night... or whenever you feel like having pork! If you cook the marinade after you're done bathing your meat, it makes a delicious sauce- perfect if you're pairing your tenderloin with mashed potatoes and (grilled) vegetables. I chose a lighter side this time, so I cooked and saved my marinade/sauce for another time. 

Quinoa tossed with a few fresh veggies and a simple vinaigrette, and served over a bed of mixed greens made a delicious and spring-light side. 

Overall, this meal is definitely a winner!! (We were even inspired to experiment with some bourbon cocktails for the upcoming race!)

Bourbon and Apricot Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
1 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Place pork tenderloin in gallon-sized ziploc bag. In separate bowl, mix together all marinade ingredients. Pour marinade over tenderloin in bag, seal bag and gently mix/massage to cover. Place in refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours; 30 minutes before cooking, take tenderloin out of refrigerator, and let sit in marinade at room temperature. 
Set oven to 350 degrees, and heat oven-proof skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin coconut oil to pan (or canola/vegetable oil) to lightly coat bottom of pan. Place tenderloin in pan, and brown on all sides (about 3-4 minutes each side). Once browned, transfer pan to oven, and bake about 10-12 minutes until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes. (This will allow all the juices to redistribute, and continue cooking the meat.) Slice and serve. 
If you choose to cook the marinade, while tenderloin is in oven, pour marinade into small saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce and allow to simmer until meat is sliced and ready to eat. Drizzle sauce over meat, and serve. 

Quinoa Salad with Spring Mix

3 cups cooked and cooled Quinoa
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced carrot
2 cups English Cucumber, diced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good (flavored) balsamic (I used cucumber-melon)
pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
a few handfuls of spring mix, to serve

Toss veggies and quinoa together. In separate bowl, whisk together balsamic and olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour desire amount of vinaigrette over quinoa and stir to combine. (You will likely have leftovers.) To serve: place handful of Spring Mix on plate, and top with quinoa salad. 


Notes on these recipes: If you have the good weather, and the desire, you can absolutely grill this tenderloin! I did have some extra quinoa salad, which made for an awesome lunch the next day. I used Cucumber-Melon "Gourmet Balsamic" found at a local oil/vinegar shoppe. Any high-quality balsamic or perhaps a balsamic syrup would work well!

April 28, 2015

Simple Apple Tart

I am a big dessert person. Sometimes, I think that if I could survive on pastries, cookies, cakes, and ice cream- I totally would. Most of the time, however, a little something sweet to end my meal/day with is perfect.

Although I could hardly say no to a brownie sundae, or chocolate cake (I think I'll be baking later!), it is nice to enjoy a simple and light sweet treat. This Simple Apple Tart is just that. Very easy to make and centered around delicious apples, this tart is satisfying, light, and (relatively) healthy.

...did I mention that it's beautiful?!?

Simple Apple Tart
Serves 8

1 pre-made pie crust
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2lb Golden Delicious apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup apricot preserves
2 tbsp hot water

Preheat your oven to 425. Open crust, and roll out to be about 1/8 in thick, and almost as big as your pan. (You want it to be thin, but not transparent.) Move crust to baking sheet. Mix cinnamon and sugar together; sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of sugar mixture over crust. Arrange sliced apples in lines, alternating the direction of the slice until all apples are used; leaving about 1/4-1/2 inch rim all around. (You may have some extra to munch on.) Fold up edges of crust to create a border. Sprinkle the tart with remaining sugar mixture. Bake 30 minutes, until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. During last minute or so of baking, combine apricot preserves with hot water, stir to combine and thin slightly. Upon removing tart from oven, brush preserves evenly over tart. Allow to cool slightly- and set- before cutting/serving.
May also be eaten at room temperature, or cool- depending on your preference.


April 25, 2015

Chive, Swiss and Sauteed Asparagus Quiche

It's the weekend!!

I enjoy having a special breakfast/brunch on weekend mornings... There's something wonderful about waking up, and being able to take your time making something delicious to start off a couple of days of fun and relaxation- or full of weekend getting things done.

This quiche is somewhat of a departure from my typical weekend breakfast of fancied up pancakes, and when paired with some fresh fruit, and a hot cup of coffee it makes a great main dish for breakfast or brunch.

Using a store-bought pie crust makes it relatively quick to put together (c'mon it's nice to sleep in a little), so that making breakfast doesn't turn into an all-day ordeal, and you can get to the fun part. The half and half makes the eggs nice and velvety, and the chives provide a light onion flavor that really lets the fresh asparagus stand out.

Chive, Swiss and Sauteed Asparagus Quiche
Serves 6

1 store-bought pie crust, (I use Pillsbury)
1 tbsp butter
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1/4in pieces
4 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 bunch chives, minced
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Place oven rack in lowest position, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in large skillet over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add asparagus, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is tender, about 7 minutes. Remove asparagus from pan, and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, milk, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, chives, and nutmeg. Place pie crust into pie plate and set plate onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese into bottom of crust, top evenly with asparagus mixture. Gently pour egg mixture overtop, and place into the oven to bake for 50-60 minutes- until the quiche is just set. Rotate pan halfway through cooking, and cover crust with aluminum foil if browning too quickly. Let quiche stand 15 minutes before serving.


Notes on this recipe: One of the wonderful things about quiche is its versatility! If you don't care for asparagus, feel free to replace it with broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, a mix of onions/peppers, or anything else you can think of. For a meatier version, try breakfast sausage/peppers/onions; ham/swiss; bacon/swiss (Quiche Lorraine); ham/onions/peppers/cheese... your only limitation is your imagination. (Use fully-cooked meats.)