Zucchini Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

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  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 dried red chili

Turn on the oven broiler. Cut a dozen grape tomatoes in half, sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and some kosher salt. Stick them under the broiler and let them cook until they are browned.

Meanwhile, put a little olive oil in a pan and toss a dried chili pepper in the oil and let the pepper heat and flavor the oil. You will smell the chili in the air. You can remove the pepper and the zucchini will be flavored by the oil without getting too spicy.

While the oil is heating, go ahead and spiralize two zucchinis. If you don’t have a spiralizer, just slice them as thin as possible. Spiraling is fun, though. Toss the zucchini in the oil, squeeze the juice of the lemon on the zucchini. Add some salt and pepper.

(If you are using an inexpensive hand-held spiralizer, do not cut off the zucchini stem since you cannot process the entire length of the zucchini. Instead, leave it on so you waste less of the vegetable.)

To serve it, put the zucchini on the plate, add the tomatoes on top, then sprinkle the feta on top, add some salt and pepper. Makes one dinner serving or two side dishes.

Oatmeal Scones with Dried Cranberries and Pecans

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These are incredibly easy scones that take less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Most recipes start with preheat and your oven is heated up long before your recipe is mixed. Not with this, even starting to preheat before you mix one thing, you might have to wait to get to 425.

In a large bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Combine the following wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour them into the dry. You can make a little well in the dry ingredients to pour the wet in as that makes it just a bit easier to mix.

  • 1 egg, beaten until frothy
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup of melted butter

Note: This recipe is so forgiving it does not care whether you melt the butter and add it with the milk and egg or if you mix cold butter into the dry mixture by hand until it is crumbly. You can choose. Either method has the same result. It is just slightly easier and faster to melt the butter in the microwave for 45 seconds or so.

Mix the ingredients so all the dry is incorporated. It will be a wet, sticky dough.

Put parchment paper on cookie sheet.

If you are ambitious, you can flour a board and roll it out into two circles about 1/2 thick and cut each circle into 4 pie-size wedges. I think it is just easier to roll out eight balls of dough and press them into 1/2 thick little rounds. Separate them so they are not touching.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until risen and browned.

You can serve warm with some butter, jam or cream cheese, but I like them plain with nothing else, warm or cold.

Makes 8 scones.

Pork Tenderloin with Italian Beans

This pork tenderloin was amazing. I was all set to rub some Earl Grey tea on it before baking, but then I wondered what would happen if I used ground coffee instead. I did some research on coffee rubs and they varied quite a bit, but most of them had a few ingredients consistent from recipe to recipe. For my first coffee rub, I decided to keep it simple and stick with those core ingredients.

  • 2 TBSP of coffee beans. I put them in my Magic Bullet and let it go until they were ground fine. Then I added
  • 2 TBSP of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper

I gave that a couple whirls to mix them up and then spread the rub out on a long piece of cling film. I laid the tenderloin over the rub and rolled it around and rubbed the pieces into the meat. Then I formed it into a snug roll and wrapped it up tight in the cling film and set it in the fridge overnight.

To roast it, I put a cast iron skillet in the oven at 450° Fahrenheit and let the pan heat up in the oven. I removed it from the oven when it reached 450° and put a tbsp of olive oil in the pan and spread it around. I unwrapped the tenderloin and laid it in the pan, I turned the heat down to 400° and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, I turned it over and let it cook 1o more minutes. I checked the doneness with a thermometer, looking for 140°. Then I removed it from the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.

It’s an amazing flavor. It actually tastes like a rich sweet bourbon was poured over it.

Makes 8 servings.

Italian Beans.

This was just a quick veggie dish I tossed together. I put 2 cups of frozen Italian beans in a sauce pan with 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of cannellini beans. I added some salt and pepper and one close of garlic (squashed and minced). I heated until done and shaved a bit of Asiago cheese on top.

Makes 4 servings.

Green Bean Sandwich

Green Bean Sandwich

Last month, my best friend and I stopped at Meat Cheese Bread for lunch and we each ordered a sandwich and then shared half of our sandwiches with each other. She had a pulled pork sandwich and I ordered a green bean sandwich, mainly out of curiosity. I mean, it sounded good, but I still wondered how green beans would fare as the star in a sandwich.

Extremely well. As good as her pulled pork sandwich was, it was still just a pulled pork sandwich. On the other hand, the green bean sandwich was a revelation. My budget does not run to dining out more than a few times a year, so if I wanted to have this delicious sandwich again, I would have to learn to make it myself.

Make Ahead

Bacon Jam

The first thing was learning to make bacon jam or relish. I read a dozen or more recipes, decided that I was not going to splurge on bourbon or maple syrup in order to save on sandwiches and came up with my own recipe without those ingredients. It may not be an exact replica, but it is delicious and it works. I could possibly add a bit more vinegar and be a little closer to the Meat Cheese Bread bacon relish since their version is not quite so thick. I am not too worried, though, because this sandwich turned out amazing and everything I hoped it would be.

Aioli

I also made up some aioli in advance. I cheated and made it with mayonnaise. I peeled 6 cloves of garlic and smashed them with the side of a knife. I sprinkled salt on them and let them rest for five minutes, coming back to mince them into small pieces. I stirred the garlic into 1 cup of mayonnaise and added the the juice of half of a fresh lemon squeezed. I mixed it all together, added 2 tsps of olive oil and stirred it in and put it away in a plastic container with a good lid. It will keep just as well as plain mayonnaise and will be a good spread of sandwiches or tasty added to some potatoes.

There were no ciabatta rolls when I went to the grocery store, so I bought some large hard rolls instead. This sandwich requires a roll with substance, one that will hold up and not get soggy when the egg yolk runs into it. The rolls I used are WinCo’s specialty and very affordable at 19 cents each.

Finally read to make sandwiches, I started by button a pot of water on the stove to boil, I filled it quite deeply with water because it needed to cover the eggs when I boiled them. While the water was heating up, I turned the broiler on the oven.

I snapped the vine end off 12 green beans and sliced a roll in half. I placed the halves of the roll on the top rack in the oven facing up toward the broiler coils.

One thing I thought I could improve on was the texture of the green beans. I thought they were just a bit too crisp and not quite done. I wanted crisp and crunchy but I wanted the flavor to taste done, not raw. To do that, I decided to blanch the green beans first. To save on pots and pans and time, I blanched them in the water for the soft-boiled eggs.

I dropped the green beans in the boiling water and counted out 60 seconds. I could have watched the clock, but 60 seconds is just long enough to get distracted and overcook the green beans. I didn’t want them cooked, just heated through so they lost their rawness. I pulled them out with tongs and set them aside and put 2 eggs in the boiling water, checking the clock. They needed to boil exactly five minutes for a perfect soft boil.

While they were boiling, I removed the now perfectly toasted buns from the oven and put them on a plate. I spread some aioli and bacon jam on one side and shaved off a few slices of parmesan.

After five minutes, I removed the pot of water from the burner and poured out the water, running cold water in the pot to cool the eggs so I could peel them. Meanwhile, I did not turn off the burner, instead I turned my stovetop fan up on high and used my electric coils to “grill” the green beans. I placed them directly on the coils and used my tongs to turn them and remove them  once they had a nice char. This worked very well and the beans were nice and crispy but not the least bit raw.

I placed them on the other half of the roll, laying down a bed of green beans. Then I peeled and sliced the soft-boiled eggs. They were perfect which meant the yolks were a bit runny which meant it was messy but that’s okay. I don’t know how you neatly slice soft-boiled eggs.  Using the side of the knife, I picked them off the cutting board and placed them on top of the green beans. I put a few shavings of parmesan on top and added just a bit of salt and pepper to the eggs.

They are photographed open, but I put the two halves together and pushed down just a bit. The yolk kind of held everything together and the flavors blended perfectly. There was the sweet and savory vinegary bacon jam, the creamy garlicky aioli, the fresh crispy green beans and the creamy, lush soft-boiled eggs with just a hint of the nutty parmesan all with a good, solid bread to absorb everything and hold it all together.

It was not identical to the restaurant sandwich, but the minor differences made it even better.

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

  • 1.5 pounds of bacon ends and pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of cold-brew coffee (strong coffee)
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Weigh out 1.5 pounds of bacon ends and pieces. You can use regular bacon, but it is more expensive. Cut into 1 inch chunks. Cook on low-medium (3 out of 10) heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon crisped. Remove the bacon and strain off the grease. I put it in a colander inside a bowl to rest while everything else cooked. Remove half the bacon grease from the frying pan.

In the remaining bacon grease, add yellow onions and cook until translucent. Then add brown sugar and cook for about 5 minutes until they onions get sticky.

Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg and the coffee and cook for a five minutes before adding the molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring while it heats up to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium and add the bacon, stir while cooking for about 35-40 minutes, so the bacon absorbs the flavors from the liquid and the moisture cooks away. Add the vinegar at the end. Then add salt and pepper to taste. I just added some pepper as the bacon provided plenty of saltiness.

Roast Pork with Cabbage Slaw Sandwich

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I love sandwiches, but don’t buy bread that often. However, I got a few loaves of Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed bread and having been trying it out. It is a sweet, moist bread filled with all sorts of seeds as you can see in the picture. Being on the sweet side makes it tricky, because you want to counter that sweetness. i have found the perfect sandwich to make with it though, using a sweet/sour cabbage slaw that has a tart brightness that balances perfectly.

I made a nice big batch of cabbage slaw, enough for a few lunches and several sandwiches. I cut up a small head of green cabbage in thin strips, leaving out the core. As I cut the cabbage, I lightly salted it and let it rest to release some of the liquid. About an hour later, I poured off the liquid and squeezed the cabbage. I diced one small red onion and added it to the cabbage. Then I made a dressing of 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar and 2 TBSP of sugar. I adde some salt and pepper, stirred it up and poured it on the slaw. Then I sprinkled a teaspoon of celery seed on top, put a lid on it and gave it a good shake. Pro-tip: make sure that lid is nice and secure because even the slightest gap will send some of that vinegar heading directly for your eye. After it’s mixed up. Let it rest for a couple hours so the cabbage soaks up that sweet and sour vinegary yumminess.

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I had roasted an pork roast coated in Earl Grey tea the day before and cut a few slices off the roast for the salad. I  took two slices of bread, spread some mayo on it, added a nice layer of cabbage slaw, a couple slices of the roast pork and topped with with the other slice of bread. Wow! The aromatic flavor of the pork and the sweet and sour slaw are a great combination, which I already knew. On the bread, though, it was really a revelation in how balancing flavors can enhance them. That bread was good before, but now it was excellent when it had that slaw as a foil to balance its sweetness.

Figgy Yogurt with Apple Slices

Fig Yogurt

I had three fresh figs that were at their outer limit. I knew I would have to remove most of the skins to be able to use them, so I decided to try making a fig yogurt. This is too easy for words and so delicious.

I scooped the flesh out of three very ripe fresh figs and put it in a small bowl. I added 1/2 cup of nonfat plain yogurt and stirred them together. Then I added the smallest dash of balsamic vinegar and stirred. It was delicious, but I was hungry and wanted to make a larger snack, so I peeled and sliced up a Pink Lady apple and put the slices in a bowl with the yogurt. It made a great dip/sauce for the apples.

I have always though blueberry yogurt was the ultimate yogurt flavor, but it might just be knocked down a peg by this fig yogurt. It was sweet and tart and that bit of vinegar really just brought out the fig flavor without adding vinegar tang, It was delicious and something I hope to make again and again.

Made one serving.

Grilled Egg Salad and Cream Cheese

Grilled Egg Salad with Cream Cheese

I love a grilled sandwich, especially on rye bread. Rye bread has such a rich, nutty taste and grilling only enhances that unique rye flavor. I buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread the butter as thinly as possible. I laid the two pieces of bread on a medium high griddle and toasted them on one side. While it the first side was toasting, I buttered the other side of the slices. I flipped them over when the first side was crisped and then grilled the other so they were both nice and crispy. I could have toasted the bread, but it would not have the same nutty flavor that gets brought out by grilling buttered bread.

Grilled egg salad

To make this sandwich filling, I chopped and mixed up 1 TBSP each of yellow onions, celery, red pepper, cucumber, 1/2 tsp of mustard, salt, pepper and just enough cream cheese to hold them together in a spread (about 1.5 TBSPs. This made a thick, creamy spread. I also sliced up two hard-boiled eggs. When the bread was grilled, I laid it on a plate, spread the cream cheese and veggies on one slice and laid some romaine and sliced hard boiled eggs on the other with a dash of salt and pepper.

To make good hard boiled eggs, put them in a cooking pot with about 1 inch of water over them. Bring them to a boil and remove from the heat, putting a lid on top to hold in the steam. Let them rest 6 to 11 minutes depending on how much you want them done. I like mine well done.

The crunchy bread and crispy celery with the creamy sauce, tender cucumber and eggs all mixed together in a wonderful blend of flavors and textures. Makes one serving.

 

Watermelon, Figs and Feta

Watermelon, Figs and Feta

There are no real measurements for this simple salad. Cut some watermelon into one inch chunks and wash and quarter some fresh figs. Toss them in a bowl, sprinkle a bit of salt. Add a tablespoon or two of feta depending on your preferences and drizzle a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar on it. You end up with a pretty and delicious salad. The feta adds just the right amount of tartness and creaminess. The balsamic vinegar cuts the sweetness. You can’t really taste the salt, but you can taste how it brings out the flavor of the fruit.

Makes one serving.

Sweet & Sour Cabbage Slaw with Roast Pork, Dried Apricots and Sesame Seeds

Cabbage, Roast Pork & Apricot Slaw

This is insanely delicious. When I was thinking about this salad, trying to decide what to add, I knew I want to balance sweet and sour. Pork really likes sweet and fruit and cabbage is the kindest, most generous salad ingredient there is. It will work with just about anything. It is the universal donor of the vegetable kingdom.

For this salad, i started with left over Earl Grey Roast Pork. I love this for salad because it adds a rich aromatic flavor – adding a depth to salads that regular roast pork does not have. However, I think a good roast with a flavorful dry rub like for barbecue would work, too.

  • 1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz of roast pork, thinly slice
  • 1/4 cup of yellow onions, diced
  • 8 dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP of sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan on medium heat.
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP of sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Mix together all the ingredients except vinegar and sugar, mix then separately and then add them to the salad. Add salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and let rest in the fridge for half an hour before serving.

This has a bright tangy sweet and sour flavor, rich and bright. This made two servings.