Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Thawed a whole package of kielbasa from Costco so that I could slice some up for a little get together with two friends. Needless to say, I di not use the whole package. What to do, Pinterest? Voila…luckily I had some wonderful Granny Smith apples in the crisper. Alas, no apple butter, but I did have some mango chutney to use in its place. The dish was awesome and easy. Oh yeah…this was not turkey kielbasa…LOL

Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Ingredients

  • 14-16 ounces low-fat turkey kielbasa sausage OR pork
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large Fuji apples, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, optional
  • 1/2 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter OR chutney
  • 2 tablespoons Musselman’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the butter or oil. (If using a good nonstick skillet, no butter is needed.) Slice the onion and apples. Then cut the kielbasa into 1/2 inch rounds. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and roughly chop.

Once the skillet is hot, sear the kielbasa pieces for 2-4 minutes, until brown on both sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Next add the onions to the skillet. Sear for 2 minutes to soften, then add the apples and rosemary. Allow the apples and onions the cook until soft and brown, but not mushy. Stir gently as to not smash the apples, about 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper liberally.

Add the sausage back to the skillet, along with the Musselman’s Apple Butter, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer and stir to thicken the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

By now you know me well; I am always searching Pinterest for new recipes to try. In this case, it was to do with pork chops which I had already thawed. This one caught my eye as we both love capers. And no, they are NOT fish! They are berries from a bush. It turned out great or else I would not share it with you. I quickly steamed some cauliflower to accompany the chops. The flavour was really good. You could omit the capers but it really adds to the flavour.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1-inch thick center-cup, bone-in pork loin chops (allow chops to sit at room temp for 30 mins)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200°F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and then generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chops and sear on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.  Flip the chops over and sear the other sides for another 4 to 5 minutes. (The chops should be firm to the touch, but still have a little give).

Transfer the chops to the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

Pour all but about 1 teaspoon of oil from pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds

Add the vinegar and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Mustardy Pork Chops with Roasted Red Cabbage (and Potatoes)

Mustard and pork chops + red cabbage = great dinner! Another Pinterest find which turned out really well. I omitted the starchy potatoes since I did not have any. Not sure it would have turned out any better?

Mustard

Mustardy Pork Chops with Roasted Red Cabbage and Potatoes (optional)

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium potatoes, Yukon Gold, scrubbed clean
  • 1 small head of red cabbage (about 1 pound)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 bone-in pork chops, thick cut (about 1 pound each)
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz. crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh, chopped dill, plus some for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar
  • fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 230 C / 450°F. Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, leaving the skins on. Spread the potatoes in a single layer in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil and toss to coat well. Roast for 20 minutes.
  2. Cut the red cabbage into 2.5 cm / 1-inch slices, remove thick core and discard. Brush with 1 Tbsp. oil and add to the roasting potatoes. Reduce heat to 200 C / 400 F and roast for another 25 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl mix crème fraiche, dill, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and cook each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Place the pork chops on top of the potatoes and red cabbage and coat evenly with the mustardy crème fraiche.
  6. Transfer the baking pan back into the oven and roast until the pork chops are tender, this takes about 8 to 10 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers at least 65 C / 145 F.
  7. Sprinkle with dill, salt and fresh ground black pepper before serving.

Brown Sugar Carnitas

Carnitas, literally meaning “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine that originated in the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours, and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro), diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans (frijoles refritos).

Pork carnitas are traditionally made using the heavily marbled, rich boston butt or picnic ham cuts of pork. The 6–16 lb (3–7 kg) sections are usually cut down to a workable (6–10 lb) size and seasoned heavily before slow braising or deep frying.

The traditional way to cook carnitas is in a copper pot (or any thick-bottomed pot), which disperses the heat evenly in a process similar to confit. Lard is used to cover the dish in proportion to the amount of meat being cooked. Once the lard has melted, pork and flavorings are added (usually salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves). Traditional carnitas are then made by a process of simmering the meat in the lard until tender over a very low heat. Once appropriate tenderness is achieved, the heat is turned up and the outside of the pork begins to crisp. At this stage, the collagen in the meat has broken down sufficiently to allow it to be pulled apart by hand or fork or chopped with a cleaver. (WIKIPEDIA)

Having read that, you are probably thinking TOO MUCH WORK! Indeed, my spouse made carnitas the traditional way, complete with the copper pan we bought in Quiroga when we visited that area of Mexico. It took hours and was incredible BUT….too time consuming and messy!

One of my favorite Mexican TV cooks is Pati Jinich, who has a program on PBS and on YouTube (Pati’s Mexican Table). The following recipe is her version and done on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. It was PERFECT and a lot less onerous.

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Brown Sugar Carnitas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lard, vegetable shortening, or oil (I used oil)
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt, fat on, cut into 3” chunks
  • 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute.

Heat the lard in a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Season the meat with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Once the lard has melted, add the meat, brown on all sides, stirring and flipping as it does, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

In the jar of a blender, pour 1 ½ cups of the milk and add the garlic, onion and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour over the meat and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, drop in the bay leaves, and cover. Cook covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, flipping the chunks of meat a couple times in between.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup milk with the sugar. Pour over the carnitas, stir, and let them continue to cook, uncovered, for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat.

With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and place in a bowl. Shred with a couple forks, add a couple tablespoons of the seasoned fat remaining in the casserole and toss.

This is normally eaten in  tacos with toppings like sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo salsa, etc. As you can see we skipped the tacos/tortillas and simply plated it with some rice and green beans.

Steak Bites with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce

Got the urge to BBQ already and realize that the BBQ is probably dirty from its last use, who knows when in this weather? Treat yourself to this recipe from The Spicy Apron (Pinterest).  While it calls for putting the steak on skewers, I modified it and used my frying pan.  With the blue cheese sauce, it was awesome! Throw a salad or bake a potato and you have a complete easy meal! Photo is from The Spicy Apron, since I forgot to take a photo when I made this.

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Steak Bites with Creamy Blue Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds Sirloin Cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt Can use Seasoned Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Pepper
  • 4 Ounces Cream Cheese Room Temperature
  • 4 Ounces Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Ounces Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 2 green onions Sliced crosswise (green parts)

Instructions

  1. Put 6-8 pieces of the beef on each skewer. Liberally salt and pepper all sides of the meat. Heat grill on high. Place skewers on hot grill and sear on each side, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and cover with foil. OR…
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and place the steak bites in until slightly golden, choosing how well you want them done. Well…definitely NOT!
  3. Combine cream cheese, cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until heated through. Stir well to combine. Remove from heat and add crumbled blue cheese. Drizzle over cooked beef skewers or in a small dish on the side for dipping. Top with sliced green onions.

Larry’s Meatloaf (My spouse)

Some unknown person is always tinkering with my recipes? This time I made that someone (?) write down what he did. It was incredible and very moist! What can I say??? This was supposed our takeout and movie night vicariously with friends, during COVID-19, but we stayed in and he cooked. With these garlicky green beans the meal was awesome.

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LARRY’S MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds of ground beef and pork
  • 3 strips of bacon for topping the meatloaf
  • ¼ cup of tomato pesto for topping the meat loaf
  • 3/4 cup of crushed pork rinds

 

  • ½ medium white onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme

 Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce (I use Weber hickory)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Lightly spray a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan with oil and line with parchment.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp of water to a small fry pan, add in the onion and garlic and caramelize over low heat. When caramelized, add in the herbs. Set aside.
  3. Place the meat in large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Mix the sauce ingredients well and then stir in the caramelized onion mix and the crushed pork rinds.
  5. Pour mixture over the meat and blend well using your fingers.
  6. Put into loaf pan and pat down.
  7. Cut bacon into short pieces and place on top, then add the tomato pesto over the loaf.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F, covering lightly with foil after 45 minutes. Meat thermometer should register 165 degrees F. (about 1 hr. to 1 hr. 15 min).
  9. When meat is done, juices will be clear. Drain any fat and let sit about 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Hoisin Asian Meatballs

The following recipe includes making your meatballs from scratch and I was tempted as none of the stores, including Costco, have been stocking frozen meatballs for several months! Fortunately, my fav grocery store here, Superama, a Walmart subsidiary finally got some in and I bought several packages for the freezer.

So…I skipped the homemade meatballs and just prepared the sauce while heating the meatballs in the oven. It is now a KISS recipe! For those new to my blog…KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid! Hope you will enjoy it served with a great yellow rice.

Hoisin Asian Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1-pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup Panko*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

Hoisin Sauce

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, sesame oil, Panko, ginger, egg, garlic and green onion. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-11/2-inch meatballs, forming about 18-20 meatballs.
  3. Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until all sides are browned and meatballs are cooked through.
  4. To make the hoisin sauce, whisk together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a small bowl.
  5. Serve meatballs immediately with hoisin sauce, garnished with green onion and sesame seeds.

Honey Dijon Pork Roast

Finally got together with our two new friends from Vermont and since I had a lovely pork loin roast in the freezer, some very fresh cauliflower and four sweet potatoes, it was a no-brainer! Bonus – after thawing the roast I didn’t have to marinade it! Start it off with a crisp Caesar salad…actually this meal would be great for Easter...

Honey Dijon Pork Loin Roast

Servings 8 serves

Instructions

  • 3- pound pork loin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Pat dry pork loin with paper towels.
  4. In a small mixing bowl combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly spray pork loin with cooking spray. This will make it easier for the spice mix to stick.
  6. Take the spice mix and rub it all over the pork loin.
  7. Heat olive oil over medium heat and sear the pork loin until browned on all sides; about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  8. Transfer pork loin to previously prepared baking sheet, fat-layer side up; set aside.
  9. In a bowl, combine garlic, honey, soy sauce, mustard and oil; whisk until well combined. If too thick, add a bit more oil or soy sauce.
  10. Brush remaining honey mixture over the pork loin.
  11. Roast for 45 minutes or until internal temperature of the pork loin reaches 145˚F

 

A Little Taste of Brazil!!

One of the most desired cuts of beef in Brazil is called (picanha) . It is also very common in higher end restaurants in Yucatan these days. What is it?

Picanha is a cut of beef called sirloin cap in the United States or the rump cap in the United Kingdom, that is popular in Portugal and Brazil. In the United States, it is little known, but referred to as the rump cover, rump cap, or culotte.

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In a Brazilian restaurant it is often served on large skewers…

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I chose to roast it whole.

There are THREE steps to the recipe, which involves marinating overnight in the refrigerator (see below) with a citrus-herb salt rub.

Simple Roasted Picanha Recipe

Step One – Citrus-Herb Salt Rub

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • Zest of one small lemon, approximately 2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Score the fatty blanket on the picanha by making criss-crossing cuts into the fatty blanket covering one side of the picanha.  Fat behaves differently than meat when cooked.  It loses more liquid and therefore shrinks more.  By scoring the fat, you can prevent the piece from curling and dis-forming while it grills.  

Rub the salt mixture into the cross cuts of the fat. Refrigerate overnight.

Step Two – Preheat oven to 400 degrees, letting the picana come to room temperature.

Prepare the chimichurri sauce by mixing the following ingredients…

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili pepper flakes (less for milder flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons minced oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Step Three – Sear and Roast the picana as follows

Heat a large oven-safe skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Sear the beef until browned on both sides,approximately 2 minutes per side.Transfer the skillet to the oven with the fatty side of the piranha facing up.

Cook the roast for 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 128-130° for medium-rare. Remove the roast from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The temperature will rise 10 degrees while resting!!

Slice against the grain for tender cuts.    

Here is my recent attempt to duplicate that restaurant experience in our oven…in case there is too much snow to fire up the Barbie, mates. Sliced after resting with chimichurri sauce.

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Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Once a year, we seem to be able to find spaghetti squash in Yucatan. This was it! If you have never baked a spaghetti squash it is so simple. When it is done baking you take a large fork and shred it et voila – spaghetti! The simple version is to bake it and the add your favorite spaghetti sauces (commercial or homemade) and lots of Parmesan cheese,

This version is a little more time consuming but well worth it. Take a look –

Spaghetti SquashThe original recipe called for the filling to be baked inside the upturned squash. It was very difficult to shred the squash with the filling in it and thus I adapted the version and filled the shredded squash, mixing the filling into it.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Cut the spaghetti squash in half horizontally and remove the seeds. Put squash cut sides down in a baking dish with a half inch or so of water. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a fork for tenderness.

While it is baking, prepare the stuffing as shown below.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seasoning to suit your taste
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of salsa (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Heat oil in pan.  (I like to use my wok) Throw in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Throw in the onion and continue to sauté until tender.

Add ground beef and brown thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.

Add other seasoning such as Italian as you wish*

Mix in the cheese. Mix in the salsa.

Keep warm until the squash is tender.

Turn the squash over on a plate leaving on the outer shell, shred with a fork being careful not to break the shell.Fill with the ‘stuffing”.

Top with sour cream, more salsa? BBQ sauce?