Friday, April 30, 2010

M.T.C.T. (Music To Cook To)

Today's edition of M.T.C.T. is a bit different. 

A) Because I've got a whole plethora of wonderful songs for you lovely people to get workin' in the kitchen to, and B) Because this beautiful music is coming from a good friend of mine:

Lauren has been working away on an upcoming album for the past little while, and posting beautiful music on her youtube account for all to enjoy in the meantime. I would enjoy this music even if she wasn't my friend. And that, folks, says alot. 

Her music is soulful, bluesy, folky and catchy (and her voice is heavenly) - everything that makes for perfect M.T.C.T.

Help her out in achieving everything she's ever dreamed of by voting for her in an up-coming competition she's entered that is a part of the Lilith Fair tour which will be happening across North America this summer! Lilith Fair is a tour consisting of all female singers and songwriters, and if Lauren wins she'll get a chance to sing alongside Sarah McLachlan, the tours co-founder and main stage headliner! I think she has a huge chance of winning this opportunity! Check back on the Lilith Fair website for updates on when the contest begins!



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Cilantro Broth

More recipes! This one is a good one. I made this a couple nights ago after reading about something similar in Bon Appetite! while waiting for my brother at the orthodontist's office...

We had a gigantic package of mussels waiting to be eaten in the fridge, and it's smart to eat mussels sooner than later! Therefore, we had a midweek seafood feast this week! Here's the recipe!

Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Cilantro Broth

about 2 pounds live mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
2 bottles of clam juice
3-4 tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped 
2-3 tablespoons cayenne pepper, fresh or powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onion

Bring to a boil in a large stock pot over high heat: the clam juice, chopped tomatoes, cayenne pepper, tomato paste and lime juice.
Lower heat, pop on a lid and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
Bring to a high boil again and add in your cleaned mussels.
Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the top of the mussels, put the lid back on, and let steam until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes.
Add in the chopped cilantro and green onion and toss into your mussels!
Serve immediately with fresh crusty bread to sop up the broth!

This simple recipe was so flavorful, fresh tasting and delicious! It really satisfied my seafood craving (which I get often), and I helped myself to multiple servings...



Pomegranate Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Butternut Squash Ravioli

Hey everyone! I've had a bunch of great recipes and photos tucked away for a little while, just waiting to get posted! So here some finally are. These ones come from Saturday night, when I got together with some old friends, Lauren and Lindsay, and we cooked up a completely home-made and decadent meal while sipping on some red wine and catching up (and laughing harder than I have in a long, long time). It was so fun! I love cooking with friends.

Lauren came up with some great recipes for us to try: Pomegranate Glazed Pork Tenderloin and homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli!

We started off making dinner by throwing together some fresh pasta dough to roll through our old pasta roller which I had lugged over to Lauren's house (it's so legit that everything is even written in Italian)!

Fresh Pasta Dough

2 cups flour
2 large eggs

On a clean table top, or in a bowl, mix together the eggs and flour until a nice bread-consistency dough forms.
You may need to add more of either ingredient to make your dough kneadable.
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

After we had a nice pasta dough ready to be rolled out, we needed to start cooking our squash for the filling of the ravioli. When we went to the grocery store they unfortunately didn't have any butternut squash so we opted for acorn squash...but I think the recipe would have been much better with the butternut, so definitely use that over acorn if you can! We used 2 acorn squash for the recipe, but one would have done! One butternut squash would be a perfect amount.

Cooking Your Squash

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut your squash in half, and using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds.
Place your squash cut side down onto a cookie sheet, and fill the bottom of the cookie sheet with 1/4 inch of water.
Place in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until tender.

Once the squash came out of the oven, we started on the pork tenderloin! This recipe was so easy, and really delicious, it was definitely the winning recipe of the night!

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Tenderloin

approx. 1 pound pork tenderloin
3/4 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a saucepan combine 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice with half of the sugar and cook until reduced to about half.
Pour over the pork and season with a pinch of salt and a bit of freshly ground pepper.
Pop in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, turning the tenderloin half way through.
While the pork is in the oven, combine the remaining pomegranate juice and sugar, and reduce it in the same sauce pan, making sure to reduce it until thick and sticky (watch it closely as it could burn very quickly)!
When the pork is a nice medium done, pull from the oven and drizzle with the extra pomegranate reduction!

This pork was actually incredible! It turned out so juicy and tender, and really flavorful! I will definitely be making this again.

While Lauren was working away on the pork, I was working on the filling for the ravioli, and Lindsay had stolen the camera for the night...and was working on things like this...

Anyways, the squash had come out of the oven and were cooling off to be mixed into a delectable filling for ravioli, the pork tenderloin was waiting to be cooked up, and it was finally time to run the pasta dough through the roller! This was quite an ordeal, but fun!

We rolled out enough fresh pasta to feed an army... And if you don't have a pasta roller you could always just roll out your dough with a rolling pin! With the gigantic sheets of pasta waiting to be cut into adorable little ravioli, it was time to make the filling and pop the pork into the oven.

Squash Filling for Ravioli

1-2 cooked butternut (or acorn) squash, seeded and skin removed
3-4 tablespoons goat cheese
1/2 a medium sized onion, chopped finely
a handful of fresh sage, chopped finely
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
salt and pepper

Mash your squash in a bowl and add the goat cheese.
Finely chop your onion and sage, and melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the onion and cook until tender, then throw in the sage and continue to cook for about a minute.
Add the butter mix to the bowl with the squash and season with salt a pepper.

To cut the ravioli I just used a plain old round cookie cutter to create an army of little ravioli ready to be plopped into boiling hot water!

I had a cup of water beside me while making the ravioli and sealed these beauties up with a little water run around the edges of both sides of the pasta, simple as that.

When you're finished making your ravioli, boil and salt a large pot of water and toss them in! Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta, so your babies are done almost as soon as they float to the top of the pot.

To top off our beautiful ravioli, we made a simple hazelnut butter. To do this all we did was chop up some hazelnuts and toss them into golden, melted butter!

I also topped off the pasta with a bit more goat cheese...I am a goat cheese addict.

Here are our plates of pretty pasta!

The pork was done at the perfect time, and came out gorgeous!


Dinner turned out so great and was so fun to make with the girls. Nothing beats home-made pasta. It's so simple, and makes such a difference to your dishes! I hope this inspires you to get together with some old friends and try something new!



Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Lovely Prime Rib Dinner

Hello everyone! I've got another good recipe for you all! This one includes a perfectly juicy, tender prime rib roast, cooked slowly over an afternoon, roasted asparagus with a lemon butter, and tasty mashed potatoes with gravy. Mmm!

I'd never "slow cooked" a roast before, but after trying it, I will never crank the oven up to 350-400 ever again for a beef roast!

I started off this dinner by seasoning the bejesus out of the roast with plain old salt and pepper in preparation for a good ol' sear in the frying pan. Oh yeah, and always start with meat that has been out of the fridge for a little while and is room temperature!

Heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large frying pan until it is almost smoking, then throw in your roast and sear it up until nicely browned on all sides.

If you've got a nice roast with the bones in, place it bone side down in the roasting pan you've got out. The bones act as a roasting rack! Also, the fattiest side is usually opposite of the bones, so during the cooking the fat will drip down over the entire roast making it delectably juicy.

Heat your oven to just 200 degrees F, and season your roast how you like it. I used an army of fresh rosemary, which i pounded with the back of my knife to release the flavour and then finely chopped, and loads of fresh garlic (and even more salt and pepper).

It smelt soo good already before it had even entered the oven!

Then, roast away! Put the lid on your roasting pan, pop it in the oven, and forget about it! For a couple of hours, at least... I put mine in at 2:30 in the afternoon and it was a perfect medium rare at about 6:30 just in time for dinner. It came out beautiful!

For the asparagus I put them in the oven for about 30 minutes at the low 200 temperature, and they were a bit crunchy, but I like them like that for some reason. I topped them with butter I had melted on the stove top combined with the juice of half a lemon. Yum!

To make the gravy I combined the drippings from the roast with flour and water on a hot stovetop, and then added in the bits of roasted garlic that had escaped from the sides and top of the roast. This little touch was soo delicious!

And there you are! The perfect directions for a perfect roast. Enjoy!



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mariel's Noms Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

A recipe! Finally! This one came together kind of on a whim but turned out delicious, so definitely try it for yourself and enjoy!

I was seriously craving the tastes of the south two nights ago for dinner, and all we had in the fridge that was defrosted was chicken, so I thought...pulled chicken instead of pork? Why not! I did a quick search for a recipe (as always), and found one that looked fairly simple and quick, as the dinner hour was quickly approaching by the time this decision was made. 

However, as soon as I started on the recipe I had found, I realized that what I was about to make would be in no way similar to the recipe, as we were out of practically every ingredient on the list! 
That's when the improvisin' came in, and luckily turned out great!

Start off your pulled chicken with a little spice paste to slather your chicken in before a quick sear:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon louisiana hot sauce
a good grind of fresh black pepper
sea salt

Stir everything together until it forms a paste, and then rub it into about 4-5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot and sear the chicken breasts until browned but not cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Next, finely dice:

1/2 bell pepper
1 small onion

Add these to the pot and cook until tender.
Then add the chicken back to the pot. 
Next add:

1 cup of clamato juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon louisiana hot sauce

Bring the chicken in the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, pop the lid on and let the chicken simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the liquid and turn the heat off.
On a plate, pull the chicken apart with two forks and then return it to the liquid.

Bring everything back to a boil and add:

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Let the liquid reduce, and your pulled chicken is done!

Serve your pulled chicken on buttered, soft buns.

I was so surprised at how delicious this was! It tastes authentic and moist and melt-in-your-mouth good! There were so many changes I made that it was nothing like the original recipe, so here you go: Mariel's Noms Pulled Chicken Sandwiches! Yum.



Oh yeah, I almost forgot...

In the meantime, ogle these photos of adorable sewn food from (a once up and running)

I love fake food, especially of the sewn and knitted variety. 




Hello everyone! I'm still alive and eating, I swear. I've just felt so busy lately, and embarrassingly have not really cooked anything until as of late. But I cooked two really good things for dinner the past two nights, and will tell you about them very shortly!
It's almost summer!