Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pork Hash Stuffed Peppers

Have you ever seen the nutritional content in Hash? Cornbeef Hash for example has over 990 mg of salt...wowza! Well a couple of days ago through a challenge that Crock-Pot Ladies put up (Whip-it up Wednesdays) I decided to take a look at what was in my fridge and whip something up! I would have actually posted it on their website Wednesday, but it took me this long to type up the recipe!! It is called utter laziness. Well, at the time, I did not have corn-beef, but I did have pork. I decided to make a play on corn-beef hash and make a pork hash and stuff it in some peppers we had. It turned out fantastic. To cut back on the sodium levels, Penzeys has the awesome salt free flavor blends and I used a couple of those for flavor as well as a few spices for kick. If I do say so myself, the hash turned out fantastic and we have now set out on a mission to make true corn-beef hash! This hash would have been great the next day with eggs!

Hope you enjoy!

1 pork tenderloin, diced into about ½ inch to 1 inch pieces
5 – 6 small red and yellow peppers, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 bunch of kale, chopped well
2 potatoes, diced into corn size pieces
1 tbsp Penzeys Arizona spice
1 tbsp Penzeys Mural of Flavor spice
1 tbsp Penzeys Chipotle pepper
1 tbsp Penzeys Chili powder
½ cup barbeque sauce, any flavor
½ cup white wine
4 large red peppers
Shredded cheddar cheese
In a large skillet, sauté the onions and red pepper until tender. Add the potatoes and cook until potatoes are just tender.  Add the cubed pork (the best way to make sure the cubes are small enough, is to dice while the pork is still slightly frozen) and all of the spices. Sauté the mixture for about 7 – 10 minutes. Deglaze with the wine, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the barbeque sauce. Add the kale and mix in until wilted. Remove from heat. You can either pre grill the red peppers or par-boil the red peppers, just to get them a bit soft. The hubs chose to pre grill them.

Remove the tops and de-seed them. In a casserole dish, put in a layer of the hash (this is used as support for the peppers). Arrange the peppers in the center of the hash. Fill the peppers with the hash just to the top. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese, I didn’t have cheddar cheese, so I used the next best thing…parmesan! Preheat your oven to 375 and let cook for 30 minutes.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Roasted Garlic

Being of the Italian descent, one of my most favorite alliums to cook with is garlic. It is a close relative to the onion, shallot, leek, chives just to name a few. I don't think I can cook a dish without including garlic, some form, whether it is a whole clove, minced, sliced, chopped...I am guessing you get the picture. Every so often, when the grocery stores cooperate, the hubs and I will stock up on a few bulbs and actually roast the garlic. There are a few ways to roast these little babies, the three most common being the grill, oven and crock-pot, but ultimately what you get is a savory little morsel that melts over a piece of crusty bread like butter....*sigh*....just thinking about it now makes my mouth water. Where we are located, I don't have the pleasure of getting too many different kinds, just your normal bulb of white garlic, and recently (within the last couple of years) elephant garlic and black garlic. For those of you who are not familiar with black garlic, they actually spend time fermenting the garlic and what you end up with is just pure heaven. But I digress.

Yesterday we went to The Wedge, which is a local Co-op in Uptown Mpls.  I found these absolutely beautiful bulbs of garlic. When you are roasting garlic, you want to make sure you get fairly large bulbs, otherwise you will have small cloves, and trying to get them out of their encasing could be more trouble than it is worth. You also end up with garlic infused extra virgin olive oil that you can use for your cooking which gives your cooking just that little hint of something wonderful!

3 bulbs of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I use my small crock-pot for this, only because I just decided to purchase 5 bulbs for my endeavor. I could have done more, but ultimately you don't want to keep the garlic in the refrigerator for too long once you have made these. Slice the tops off of the bulbs, not too deep, but just enough to expose the garlic cloves.

In your crock-pot, you have two choices, you can either place the garlic bulbs face down, so the cloves are submerged in the extra virgin olive oil, or you can place them face up, but every so often you will need to baste them with the olive oil. I chose to place my face down in the olive oil. Pour in enough olive oil to cover the bulbs about half way up. Do not submerge them. Set the crock-pot to medium-low until the oil just starts to simmer, then turn it down to low. Let cook for about 5 hours. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Roasted Shrimp with Grape Tomatoes and Garlic

Tonight was a quick meal but was unbelievably yummy. We had some shrimp in the freezer and some grape tomatoes that needed to be used up so I thought I would do something a bit different. I wasn't quite in the mood for pasta so we decided to use quinoa (we were out of rice) as our side and cooked up some asparagus. This was such an easy meal and there wasn't much to the preparation. The flavors in this are simple and bright and with a dash of lemon are mm mm good! I hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as we did!

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 container of NatureSweet grape tomatoes (Cherubs)
7 - 10 cloves of garlic
2 red cippolini onions, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh oregano
sea salt

In a bowl mix together mix together the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet (with a lip) in an even layer. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst. While they are cooking, In the same bowl, toss the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper. In the center of the pan, with a spatula, push the tomato mixture out to the sides (as shown in the picture). Being careful not to burn yourself, lay the shrimp out, being careful not to lay one on top of the other, and cook for about 5 - 8 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and curl up. When you push on them, there should be no give.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Creamed Carrot Soup

This may sound weird to you all, but it ends up being like squash soup. We were poking around our refrigerator and found some carrots that we had bought (3 bags) that were a looking a bit sad. I had to figure out what to do with them, and decided to make some soup. The soup was so easy to do, it just took a bit to cook and make the carrots quite soft and then you take a hand wand (mixer) to puree. Voila, carrot soup. The flavors were mild and excellent, and reminded you of fall.

3 bags of carrots, diced
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 - 6 cups homemade chicken stock
1 pint heavy whipping cream
6 oz mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp nutmeg
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp sage
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper

In a large pot, add the shallots and garlic to heated canola oil. Saute till tender. Add the carrots and cook until the carrots are soft.

Add the chicken stock and all spices. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. With a hand wand, puree until well blended. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and the heavy whipping cream.