Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions, Black Beans, Sweet Potato Toast & Avocado Cream

I once again found inspiration for this dish from the Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I wanted to combine ingredients that were unusual but had a good balance of flavors, and paired nicely together. So this dish has a little bit of everything, sweet, sour and salty. My husband Dan and foodie-son Lucas said I could add it to my Top Five! It was a proud moment!

Hopefully, this list of ingredients is not too daunting. ūüėČ

Avocado Cream:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (no stems)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup Creme Fraiche

Sweet potato toast:

  • 1 large sweet potato (sliced with cheese slicer)
  • olive oil
  • salt

Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 pork tenderloin (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Black Beans:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 can of organic Black Beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt to taste

Caramelized Onions:

  • 2 onions sliced in rings
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First, you want to bake the sweet potato toast. Cover sweet potato slices in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven on a baking sheet and cook until slightly browned approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the pork loin, melt butter in an iron skillet (oven safe) on medium high heat, add salt and pepper to the loin roast, and sear the pork on all sides. Once it is nicely browned, place the pork into the oven, next to potatoes and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees¬†(for medium rare). You can then caramelize the onions, in a skillet with butter, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and sweet. Next, in a saucepan, add the butter, once melted add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat. Make sure not to brown the garlic. Add in the beans with the liquid and cook down the beans for 15 minutes. Next, you can make the avocado cream. Place the avocados into a food processor, or blender and add the oil, lime, salt and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Remove from food processor and fold in the Cr√©me Fra√ģche.

Now you are ready for assembly. Place 2 spoonfuls of Avocado Creme on each plate in a long smear. Add to pieces of Sweet Potato toast, then the beans, followed by the pork and caramelized onions, and finally sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Lamb Sandwich with Whipped Ricotta Mint Dressing

My son was bored with the typical “Ham and Cheese” sandwich, so I stepped it up a bit. I used our leftover lamb tenderloin fillet, which was cooked medium rare and had a¬†silky smooth texture, to make his sandwich. I combined some whipped ricotta cheese with salt, olive oil and chopped mint as the dressing, and added a few caramelized¬†red onions for a little-added sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of toasted sourdough bread
  • 6 slices of lamb tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup whipped ricotta
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1/3 cup caramelized onions
  • salt to taste
  • a drizzle of olive oil

Directions: Mix the ricotta with the chopped mint, add a dash of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread ricotta dressing onto the toast. Add the cooked lamb tenderloin and caramelized onions. Drizzle a little more oil on top of the sandwich. Serve with love!

Endive with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Pears

I was slacking off in the kitchen for a while, and I can tell my husband was really looking for something new in our culinary lives, so I whipped up his favorite type of greens (or rather yellow ;-). Endives! I personally think they are a little bitter, so I added some balsamic reduction, a little sweetness to balance it. In addition, the stinky gorgonzola “paired” really well with the sweet pears. And for a little crunch, I added in the chopped walnuts. This is a super easy and simple appetizer to make, as long as you’ve made the balsamic reduction ahead of time. (Click here for that recipe). Enjoy!

Zan's recipe for Endives with Gorgonzola, pear and walnut

This only took a couple of minutes to throw together. Using the Endive as the serving utensil, you can scoop up the ingredients for a single bite, without the double-dipping.

Ingredients: (for 2 servings)

  • 1 head of endives (10-12 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp gorgonzola
  • 1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup chopped¬†walnuts
  • 1 bosc pear (cubed)
  • a drizzle of balsamic reduction

Mix all above ingredients in a bowl, except for the endives. Place the endive leaves on a plate, and add the mixture into the center, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Whipped Ricotta Flatbread with Zucchini and Tomatoes

As you can tell, it’s been a while since I posted to my blog, but I am happy to say I am back… And, I’m super excited to share some of my new recipes this summer. It’s been a busy summer… In my previous life, I spent a lot of time as a graphic designer, creating logos and brand identity for local businesses, friends, and family. In addition, I recently starting creating websites in WordPress, helping some friends, and small businesses launch their web based brand. It’s definitely been fun, but also frustrating at times. I didn’t realize that I had to learn some CSS coding in order to get the visual effects that I wanted.

Zan's recipe Flatbread whipped RicottaAnyway, here is a fun appetizer I created using some (store bought) pizza dough, ricotta, and some veggies. It’s not too heavy and you can make a little extra whipped ricotta as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Ricotta

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 8 small cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

For the Flatbread

  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • flour for dusting surface and pizza spatula
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sliced zucchini (with cheese slicer)
  • 5 Roma¬†tomatoes (sliced same thickness as zucchini)
  • 8 leaves of basil (sliced into strips)

Directions for Whipped Ricotta:

Place ricotta, rosemary, roasted garlic, salt, and goat cheese crumbles into the blender, blend on low speed, and slowly add in the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency.

Directions for Flatbread:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or grill. (I normally cook pizza on a pizza stone.) Roll out the pizza dough on a smooth floured surface, stretching on the edge of a counter then tossing in the air, as my husband normally does, (getting flour all over the place) until the pizza dough is evenly thinned out. You can¬†leave the edges thicker (similar to regular pizza), which can be used for dipping into the sauce. Place 1/2 – 1 cup of whipped ricotta onto the center and spread to within one inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Place onto the pizza stone and cook until the edges brown, and the center is cooked – approximately 5-10 minutes. Remove flatbread and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve the extra whipped ricotta on the side. Slice into 3″ pieces and serve. Enjoy!!! Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care‚Äôs mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life‚Äôs day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Seared Tuna with Wasabi Cr√®me Fra√ģche and Ginger Soy reduction

seared Tuna with Creme fraische
I cherish every minute I get to spend with my 17-year-old son, especially in the kitchen. He is so brutally honest when it comes to critiquing my food that it has made me a better cook. (He actually could be an amazing professional food critic). I have to credit him with this creation, I was just the executor!¬†Searing the tuna took about 6 minutes, but the prep for the sauces was a little more labor intensive. Be sure to let the fish sit out at room temperature for about an hour, as you will only be searing the outside of the fish, inside will remain rare, and you don’t want the inside of the fish to be cold.

Ingredients for Soy Reduction:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2¬†tbsp sugar
  • 4¬†tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp¬†chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger

Ingredients for Wasabi Cr√®me Fra√ģche:

  • 1 cup¬†Cr√®me Fra√ģche
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tsp wasabi paste (use less if you do not want it too spicy)
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for Tuna:

  • 2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of pureed ginger
  • 4 – 6 oz pieces of Tuna
  • salt

Directions for Soy Reduction:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, medium heat, cook down until sauce reduces it becomes thick and syrupy. Prior to pouring, strain through a sieve to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger. Pour over seared tuna.

Directions for¬†Cr√®me Fra√ģche:

Stir the Cr√®me Fra√ģche together with the sour cream and salt. Add in the wasabi, one teaspoon at a time, until you’ve reached your desired potency. Spoon onto each plate. Place tuna on top of the wasabi cream.

Directions for Tuna:

Using an iron skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and ginger on medium heat. Saute until garlic is cooked, but not browned. Remove garlic and ginger with a slotted spoon, leaving any remaining oil in the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the tuna, searing each side. Once you all sides are browned, remove the fish and place onto the wasabi cream, then drizzle the soy reduction, and garnish with cooked garlic and ginger. Serves 4 people. Paired nicely with sushi rice.

Fried Trout with Brown Sage Butter and Capers

Fried Trout

This is probably not the lightest dish! But the infamous “they” said that fish has a high water content and when you fry it in oil, the fish itself does not absorb the oil, so if you put that delicious crispy skin aside, you can actually still have a healthy meal. ;-). Trout is a great local fish that we find often at the markets in Colorado. The trout is brought in fresh, and you can sure taste the difference!
This was another inspiration¬†from my favorite guide – “The Flavor Bible“, pairing the fresh trout with butter, sage, capers and lemon. It’s actually super fast and easy to cook!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic canola oil
  • 3 whole trout
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 6¬†tbsp butter
  • 20 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 3 tbsp of capers
  • rock salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • lemon as needed

Directions:

Sprinkle rock salt on the inside and outside of the fish. In a large deep skillet, add the oil to medium-high heat. Pat the capers dry and add to the oil.  Once the capers pop, you can remove them with a sieve and place onto a paper towel to drain some of the oil. Dredge the fish in the flour, then place the fish into the oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan add the butter to medium high heat. Once hot and bubbling, add in the sage leaves. Cook until sage becomes crispy and the butter turns brown. Make sure not to burn the butter. Remove the fish and place onto a platter. Pour the sage butter onto fish and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. This served 5 hungry adults. Also served with the side dish of Haricot Vert (with Almonds and Parmesan).

Haricots Vert (French Green Beans), Almonds and Parmesan

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Haricot Vert are a thinner and smaller version of the standard American green beans. I cooked these last night as a side dish to my fried trout with brown sage butter (I’ll post that recipe tomorrow). The flavor combinations came from the “affinities” listed in my go-to “Flavor Bible“, pretty much my inspiration for a majority of these recipes. For a Paleo version, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups of haricot vert
  • salt for water
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Boil 5 cups of salted water in a medium sized saucepan. Add in haricot vert and blanch them for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, add in the garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the haricot vert, stir frequently. After 5 minutes add in the almonds and saute until beans are tender.  Remove from heat, and sprinkle the beans with parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Channa Dal (Dahl)

Channa Dal

It’s finally winter, and I really wanted to something that was hearty, healthy and warm. It’s been years since I’ve made this Ayurvedic dal (Dahl), but it has always been one of my favorite dishes. I learned this recipe over 18 years ago when my husband and I visited the Deepak Chopra Center in La Jolla, Ca. We stayed there for a week and attended spiritual classes, yoga classes, daily massage treatments, and Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even had a chance to meet Deepak in person! A truly “life-changing” experience! The recipe we made at the Center was a mung Dal, but I could only find Chana Dal at my local grocer. Channa Dal is a small relative of the chickpea and has a yellowish color. Its flavor is slightly sweet. If you can’t find channa dal use yellow mung dal, or yellow split peas. In preparing Dal, it is important to soften it well and cook it long enough so that it takes on a creamy consistency. ( I ended up soaking mine for 2 hours, then cooking for 2 more hours).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry Chana Dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup¬†chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp pureed ginger
  • 2 tsp of mustard seed
  • 2 tsp of coriander
  • 1 tsp of¬†turmeric
  • 1 tsp of¬†cumin
  • salt to taste
  • a sprinkle of asafoetida (helps with digestion) – get online or Indian Market
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Wash Chana Dal; drain. Soak in water for 2 hours. Cook Chana dal in water in a medium-sized saucepan covered over medium heat until soft, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the dal! In a small frying pan heat the ghee and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add in the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add it all of the spices, and stir so the onions are covered. Then add the spice-onion mixture to the chana dal pot and stir. Add salt and asafoetida. Cook for additional 10 minutes. The texture of the dal should be creamy. Serve with a garnish of cilantro. If not concerned about paleo, you can serve with garlic Naan or basmati rice.

Here are some other great resources for Ayurvedic Meals:

“The Ayurvedic Cookbook” – by Amadea¬†Morningstar

“Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living” –¬†by¬†Thomas Yarema,¬†Daniel Rhoda and¬†Johnny Brannigan

“The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: A Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well” –¬†by¬†Kate O’Donnell and¬†Cara Brostrom

Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew (Paleo)

paleo moroccan chicken and vegetable stew

After a traditional Thanksgiving weekend,¬†I decided to make some aromatic, and spicy ethnic food. I pulled out a “somewhat Paleo” recipe book, written by Dr. Mark Hyman called “The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook“, based on his book “The Blood Sugar Solution“. It’s basically a healthy cookbook with a lot of Paleo recipes. This dish called out to me with all of the aromatic spices, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander. I made some slight modifications and spiced it up a bit. Warning: It did take a while to prep, approximately 40 minutes as I like to chop the ingredient a bit smaller than Dr. Hyman recommended, but was well worth it. I did not include the recommended eggplant, as my husband “claims” that he is allergic to it. (What REALLY happened: when he was in college, after a dinner of eggplant parmesan, and tad too much to drink, he threw up, and now claims it was the eggplant he was allergic to). Ha! Anyway, you can always add one chopped eggplant to this dish. Oh, and this dish is also called “Tagine”. Also, if you want to go vegan, substitute the chicken for firm tofu and reduce cooking time by 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp pureed ginger (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (powder)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (use 1/4 tsp for less heat)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces and trimmed of fat (if going vegan use firm Tofu)
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch half circles
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth is going vegan)
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup sliced green olives
  • chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

In a dutch oven or heavy stock pot (I used a cast iron dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and saute gently until the onions begin to caramelize, 10-15 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and all of the dried spices. Saute the spices and onions about 2 minutes. Salt the chicken (or tofu) with the remaining salt, and add to the pot. Turn heat up to medium, and saute for 3 minutes, until all of the chicken (or tofu) is well coated with spices. Add the cauliflower and mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes. Then Add the bell peppers and zucchini, and saute until they soften about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or vegetable) stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer the stew gently, stirring occasionally, until all of the vegetables are tender and the liquid is thickened and reduce, approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in olives. Plate and serve with cilantro garnish. Serves 4

paleo moroccan chicken stew