Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Perfect Pairing for your Bunch: Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade

Recently, on a gorgeous fall day, my family and I took a trip to a local orchard to pick apples. We had so much fun taking a hayride to the back of the property, then hopping off at the destination to start scouting out the apple variety that we wanted to pick.

Well, we got a little caught up in the fun and before we knew it, we had picked and bagged more apples than we could possibly eat.

Now with a stocked pantry overflowing with apples, I thought I’d try to use some of the apples in our meals. The October issue of Cooking Light featured a pork tenderloin recipe with apples and rosemary. Pork and apples are such a perfect fall classic pairing…about as classic as The Brady Bunch.

In fact, every time I see pork and apple paired in a recipe or on a menu, I am reminded of the Brady Bunch episode of Peter Brady doing his best Humphrey Bogart impression saying, “Pork chawpsh and appleshash, isn’t that shwell”.

This Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade is very easy to make and makes a beautiful presentation on a plate- perfect if you are serving guests or just your own “Bunch”.

Apple and Rosemary Pork Roulade (adapted from Cooking Light, Oct. 2012)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tart apples, chopped (Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 (about 1 pound) pork tenderloin (Todd Geisert Farms, Washington, MO)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider (Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in skillet; add apples, onion and garlic, saute 5 minutes. Add vinegar and rosemary, cook 1 min. more. Sprinkle in pepper.
  3. Slice pork lengthwise but not through, then cut each half lenghtwise but not through. Place plastic wrap over pork and pound meat with a mallet until an even thickness.
  4. Spread apple mixture on pork and roll up meat.
  5. Place meat in an oven-proof pan and cook in heated oven for 15 minutes; remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  6. In skillet, heat stock, cider, mustard to boil, cook 2 minutes, serve over pork.

until next time…

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Starting the Day off Right - Trail Mix Muffins

I have a confession to make…I don’t eat breakfast. Somewhat shocking info, given that I have touted breakfast as “the most important meal of the day” throughout my career as a registered dietitian (RD). And let’s be clear, there is no doubt that eating breakfast can help us concentrate, have better overall diets and maintain a healthy weight.

It’s not that I do not like breakfast foods, indeed that is simply not so. I adore French toast, muffins, biscuits and all the other carb-laden offerings just like anyone else. In fact it is not uncommon for us to have breakfast for dinner on occasion. My breakfast skipping stems from not being able to stomach foods in the early morn.  If I eat too early, I become terribly nauseated rather than comfortably full.  And that just takes all the fun out of eating!

To compensate for this missed opportunity to start my day off right, I try to sneak in a nutrition packed on-the-go snack before lunch. These Trail Mix Muffins are perfect! They are not too sweet when made with natural peanut butter, pack a protein punch with added quinoa and offer an antioxidant boost with added dried fruit and dark chocolate bits. (A little gremlin must have eaten my dark chocolate chips, so I improvised by using bits of this Mocha OMG bar from Patric Chocolate.)

These muffins can be made in large batches and stored in the freezer; then grabbed while racing out the door. Or better yet, start your day off the right way by sitting down and enjoying these lovelies with a big glass of milk!

Trail Mix Muffins (adapted from Family Fun Magazine, Oct '12)

  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Terra Bella Farm, Auxvasse, MO)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (the last of my Sappington Farmer's Market stash)
  • 1/4 cup salted butter softened
  • 2 eggs (from Happy Chickens, Warrenton, MO)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, or any dried berries
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Patric Chocolate, Columbia, MO)
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, baking powder, cinnamon until well blended.
  3. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, peanut butter and butter with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth then add quinoa.
  4. Reduce mixer to low and slowly mix in milk.
  5. Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients, then fold in berries and chocolate.
  6. Fill prepared muffin tins with scoops of batter to 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
until next time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Food Day Celebration

Last night wrapped up the last presidential debate and tomorrow marks the 2nd annual Food Day.  You say you’ve never heard of Food Day? Well then, read on!

Food Day is a movement that supports healthy, sustainable and affordable food for all. On October 24th, organized events will take place all over the country encouraging Americans to “Eat Real”. Planned activities include featuring local food items on school lunch menus, while other events will occur at such venues as food banks and college campuses.

Food Day is a celebration of food…real food. Food that is minimally processed, not morphed into an unidentifiable ingredient. Food that grows naturally, not modified or altered in a lab. Food that once lived a happy life, allowed to eat what it wants and given room to roam.

Food Day is a call to action for all of us to really take a closer look at our current food system and realize that real changes need to take place in order to promote health. Change begins with each of us who want better for our own health, the health of our children and the health of our planet. And certainly all of us can agree that the current health status of our country could use some improvement.

Ellen Kanner said it best in a recent article in the Huffington Post: “Ask not what your food can do for you, ask what you can do for your food.”

My hope is each of us will have the opportunity to enjoy this year’s Food Day in some capacity, either by attending a Food Day event or by simply taking a moment to reflect on what more we can do to “Eat Real”.

until next time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken: Sauteed Chicken of the Woods in a Dry Sherry Sauce

When the weather is as pretty as it has been, and the fall colors are at their peak, I can’t help myself…I gotta be outside!! The laundry and dishes might pile up, but I justify the trip outdoors by reminding myself that at least I am getting some exercise…and in the case of a recent hike, a bonus: the main ingredient for dinner.

Really. The makings of that evening's dinner out in the woods.

I came around the bend and there it was…bright orange and quite large! I had only seen this species in a book so I went to the experts to confirm what I was pretty sure of already… I had just discovered what is called “Chicken of the Woods”.

You see, I have been on the hunt for this type of “chicken” for some time now. It shows up at this time of year and is highly sought after by those that know the species.

I was super excited to take this big beauty home and use it in that night’s dinner. I decided to make Sautéed Chicken of the Woods in a Dry Sherry Sauce over a bed of Rice Medley from Trader Joe's (it’s a blend of brown rice, red rice and black barley- yum!!!).

Before you stop reading and say to yourself, “There is NO way I’m gonna go out in the woods and bring home a ‘chicken’ for dinner”, please realize that this recipe would be also taste great with the more familiar chicken of the poultry variety.

The family verdict? You probably guessed it. “It tastes like chicken”

I should probably give a disclaimer on wild mushrooms. Many are poisonous and could cause serious health consequences, even death. If interested in wild edible mushrooms, be sure to confirm edibility with 100% certainty before eating.

Question: Have you ever found and eaten any wild edibles?

Sauteed Chicken of the Woods in a Dry Sherry Sauce

  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1 pound Chicken of the Woods mushroom (or poultry chicken)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary (or tarragon)
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice mushroom (or chicken) into 1/2 inch strips
  2. Cut onion into thin rings
  3. Melt butter in skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes, tossing often. Add sliced onions and cook about 2 minutes more.
  4. Slowly add sherry, cook on low heat for about 3 minutes, then add broth, cook about 10 minutes more.
  5. Slowly stir in cream, cook about 5 minutes more.
  6. Add rosemary; serve over rice.
until next time...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Enjoying the Homestead Harvest with Roasted Eggplant, Bell Pepper, and Sungold Tomato Pizza

“Don’t look for others to change, start by changing yourself. Ask yourself, “What can I do, because change begins with me’” (Jules Dervaes)

These words stuck with me for a while after attending a viewing of Homegrown Revolution. I was so inspired by this 15-minute film about a family doing something that most of us have never dreamed of doing…they transformed every inch of their modest sized yard (including the entire front yard!) into an urban homestead.   The Dervaes’ are self sufficient, living “off the grid”, growing tons (literally tons!) of organic food on their tiny one-tenth acre property. They cook in a solar oven, use biodiesel to run their machinery and utilize all hand-crank gadgets to process their food. They keep bees for honey and chickens for eggs. For pantry staples they don't grow themselves, they barter with others in their area.

Viewing this film really made me think...what more can I do?

While I remain in awe of the Dervaes accomplishments and commitment to living so simply, I celebrate every small triumph in my humble “Suburban Homestead”. 

I tend to my very modest garden plot that I water with collected rainwater and fertilize with composted material from our kitchen scraps.

And with every blossom turned vegetable I think to myself “Hey, I grew that!”

So although I do not cook in a solar or earthen oven, and I do not keep bees or chickens (yet), I will continue to live vicariously through the Dervaes and the many others that are taking a stand and choosing to live more simply and lightly…and I will continue to ponder what I can do, because change begins with me.

Question: What steps have you taken to live lightly?

Roasted Eggplant, Bell Pepper and Sungold Tomato Pizza

  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 2 small bell peppers, halved (any color pepper would work)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Yellow cornmeal, for dusting
  • 1 store bought whole-wheat pizza dough (I like to use Trader Joe's)
  • 3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce (Marina's, Seymore, MO)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (Elixer Farm, Brixey, MO)
  • freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Peel and cut eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 10 minutes to allow eggplant to "sweat". Dry off slices with paper towel.
  2. Roast eggplant and peppers at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, then thinly slice into strips.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle cornmeal onto a pizza baking sheet. Roll out dough and transfer to prepared baking sheet; Bake crust about 8 minutes until crust begins to brown.
  4. Spread marinara sauce on crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with roasted eggplant and peppers, tomatoes, basil and garlic. Lay the Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings on top.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbly.
until next time...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon

I love trying new foods and experimenting with ingredients that are bit more unusual (case in point: tonight's meal was tagliatelle with sauted bearded tooth mushrooms in a white wine cream sauce). I realize many people are less adventurous and would probably prefer to pass on foods they have never seen before.

Celeriac (A.K.A. celery root) is one veggie that many have never witnessed on their plates. Until it is peeled, celeriac is one gnarly looking bulbous root. Once the hairy outer layer is removed, a clean white vegetable is revealed. Celeriac has a crisp crunch if eaten raw but can also be cooked. It has a familiar flavor resembling a cross between mild celery, parsley and a hint of nuttiness.

When I used to work at a health clinic, I would counsel new moms on how to introduce unfamiliar foods to their young kiddos. Besides the suggestion to try the new food multiple times, I often recommended that new foods be introduced along with known foods that the child loves. 

This Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon recipe combines the unfamiliar celeriac with the who-doesn’t-like-it-ingredients: apples, maple syrup and bacon. So even though celeriac might be unfamiliar and unsightly at first glance, go ahead and try it…you may just like it!

Question: what's the most unusual food you have ever eaten?

Roasted Apples and Celeriac with Maple-Bacon (adapted recipe from Sept/Oct 2012 Eating Well Magazine)

1 large celeriac peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
black pepper to taste
2 apples cut into 1 inch cubes (Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
2 slices bacon, chopped (The Farmers' Larder, Washington, MO)
¼ cup pure maple syrup (Morris Maple Leaf Farm, Lake Odessa, MI)
1 tsp. fresh thyme or rosemary, chopped (my backyard)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss celeriac in oil and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add apples, toss and roast about 10 minutes more.
2. Meanwhile cook bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Discard bacon fat from skillet, then add the maple syrup and simmer while gently scraping the bits.
3. Toss the bacon, roasted celeriac, apples, and thyme (or rosemary) in the maple syrup glaze; roast for about 5 minutes more and serve.

until next time...

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