Ina's Meatloaf, Curried Couscous and Roasted Veggies!

I'm hitting this Cookbooker challenge head on!  I decided to start with Ina's turkey meatloaf, curried couscous and roasted carrots and brussels sprouts.  This is really four recipes but I'm going to combine my carrots and brussels sprouts on the same pan, and the "recipe" is identical so we'll call this three.

"Meatloaf, beatloaf, I hate meatloaf!"  Well, maybe if Randy Parker had had this meatloaf he would have liked it.

As with many Ina Garten recipes, the entree is huge in size.  This recipe calls for five, yes 5, pounds of ground turkey breast!  How many people does she feed with this thing?!  She mentions that her husband likes to have leftovers for sandwiches but really?!  I cut it in half.  Many of the other reviewers at Cookbooker.com cut it in a third, there would still be plenty of meatloaf!

You start by sauteing onions in olive oil with a little thyme.  Oh my that smells good!  Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste are added and the mixture is cooled to room temperature before being mixed with the turkey, breadcrumbs, and eggs.




Make a giant loaf and cover it with ketchup.  I'm not generally a fan of meatloaf covered in ketchup, neither is Dave.  That's not what we grew up with.  But I have to say with this recipe it worked.  The meatloaf was amazingly moist for being made with ground turkey breast (very little fat, 1% in fact).  This also makes it a little better for you than traditional meatloaf.


The star of the evening however, was the couscous.  OH MY!  Now this recipe isn't for those of you looking for something with 5 or fewer ingredients.  There are 16 ingredients in this couscous recipe.  But it's worth it!

I used wheat couscous, we like it better than regular.  The making of the couscous is boil water, add butter, add couscous, turn off the heat and wait 5 minutes.  That's it!

To the couscous you add a sauce made of plain yogurt olive oil, white wine vinegar, curry powder, turmeric, salt and pepper.  I have fallen in love with Mountain High yogurt and not just because General Mills owns it.  It really is good yogurt!  I used a yummy vindaloo curry from Penzey's for a good kick.






Next you grate carrots, mince parsley, slice scallions and dice a red onion.  To this mixture you add sliced almonds (I only had slivered in the house so that's what I used) and dried currants.  I did buy dried currants rather than using raisins or Craisins.  I thought I might prefer the Craisins but really the currants worked well.  They were small and you get the sweet without it overpowering your bite of couscous.


Mix all this wonderfulness together and you get a dish Dave couldn't stop eating!  It's delicious!  There is sweet from the currants, hot from the curry and crunchy from the almonds and carrots.  The parsley makes it look really pretty too!


Finally I roasted carrots and brussels sprouts.  I've roasted both of these in the past.  These "recipes" had a little twist.  The carrots were cut in diagonal slices.  I don't know that this made a difference in the flavor but it sure did make them pretty!

Ina roasts her brussels sprouts whole.  I usually cut mine in half, mostly so they will roast faster!  Well, I'm going to have to learn some patience!  These were delicious, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle with great flavor!


It was another yummy dinner and I got four entries into the Cookbooker challenge out of it!

Cookbooker Challenge!

Cookbooker has a new challenge and I think it's one I'm up for!

Together with all the other Cookbooker cooks, we're going to cook our way through the Barefoot Contessa's first cookbook.

Now through the end of October, for every review contributed I will be qualified to win a prize!  Three reviewers will be chosen at random will get a copy of any of Ina's other cookbooks, their choice!

Well, my copy of the book that started it all arrived today!


I've already got quite a list of recipes I want to try.  EVERYTHING we've tried out of the "how easy is that" book we've just loved so we're sure we're going to have some great eats out of this one too!

I've flipped through the book.... crab cakes, vegetable sushi, parmesan croutons (wouldn't they be yummy with Michael Symon's Tomato and Blue Cheese Soup?), curried couscous, pecan shortbread, cranberry harvest muffins and on and on!

The pictures in the book make it all look so wonderful and sprinkled throughout are little tips, tricks including lists of foods that can be "assembled" for a party!

There's even an index of the different bowls and serving dishes in the pictures and from where they were purchased!
I just love Ina Garten!  Can't wait to get started!

Lemony Chicken!

It's fairly rare that I update this blog two days in a row but I just had to share this recipe.  We are wine club members at Kenwood Vineyards and our shipment arrived this week.  With each shipment, Kenwood sends along some great recipes.

Our very favorite of all time is for their bolognese.  It calls for an entire bottle of merlot!  It is the best meat sauce and is a staple in our home.  I make big batches and freeze it.  It's amazing!

With this shipment came a recipe for Lemony Chicken.  It sounded a little like chicken saltimbocca which we love, and sounded really easy, so we decided to try it.


I made the cutlets by cutting the chicken rather than pounding it.  I will admit I consulted Cook's Illustrated on the proper technique.  I will also admit that I skipped the "freeze for 15 minutes" step and wished I hadn't.  I was able to make fairly even cutlets but a little firmer chicken would have been easier.  I've done the freezing step in the past but it was a long day at work and, well, I was hungry!


The chicken is salted and fresh sage is added.  The recipe called for three sage leaves, I like sage, I used more!


The chicken is then wrapped in prosciutto.


The recipe called for sauteing the chicken in olive oil and the sauce was a lemon sauce so I sauted it in a lemon infused EVOO (from The Olive Grove of course).  Are they beautiful or what?  (Yes, I know a little crowded in the pan but remember, I was hungry!)


The final step is to make the lemon sauce.  The chicken is kept warm (I threw it in a warmed oven, well I didn't actually throw it....) and a sauce is made from fresh lemon juice, chicken broth and a little corn starch.  I think next time I make this (and there will be a next time!) I will use my cast iron pan rather than my non-stick so there are more brown bits for the sauce!

I served the chicken with a yummy farro and tomato salad.  And, of course, with a Kenwood Merlot, the suggested pairing for this recipe.


Is it any wonder we love Kenwood?

Grilled Green Tomatoes with Red and Yellow Tomato-Basil Salsa

We went to Farmer's Market this weekend.  I just love Farmer's Market.  I wanted to buy everything!  We settled on some yummy tomatoes for a caprese salad I was making for dinner with friends.

You can't just by two tomatoes at Farmer's Market, it's always a basketful.  What to do with all these beautiful tomatoes with just Dave and I to eat them?


So I started searching for recipes and I found this one on the My Recipes site.  It sounded good and, more importantly, I had all the ingredients in the house.

Here is a LINK to the recipe.  It says it's 6 servings but I think it's more like 8 if you are serving it as a side.

First, the green tomatoes are sliced and allowed to marinate in olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper for 30 minutes.  While that's chilling you make the salsa.  Pretty simple, just dice up the ripe tomatoes, onion, basil, red pepper and jalapeno and add lime juice, salt and pepper.


I left about half of the seeds in the jalapeno because we like a little heat.  It was perfect!  If you don't like heat take them all out, or leave the jalapeno out altogether.  It will still be a great salsa.


After marinating you grill the green tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes on a side then serve them topped with the salsa.  Dave looked a little nervous.  I think this was the first green tomato he's ever had, but we both really liked it!

I served this dish with pork tenderloin and some roasted fingerling potatoes.  Yum!

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

I was lucky enough to spend some time with my sister-in-law last weekend.  She has a secret blackberry patch and she sent me home with a bunch of these little beauties!

On the way home from our mini-vacation I went through all of the cooking magazines I hadn't had time to look through over the past couple of months.  In one issue of BonAppetit, I found a recipe for Blackberry Buttermilk cake that sounded very good.  And, lucky me, I had a whole bunch of fresh blackberries!


Here is a LINK to the recipe.  It was really easy.

The only special equipment you need is a spring-form pan.  This is lined with parchment, buttered and dusted with flour.

The berries are put in the pan, then topped with sugar, then the cake batter which is a mixture of cake flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and buttermilk.




Into the oven it goes.  The recipe says to bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 25 minutes for a 9" pan, an hour for a 10" pan.  It took less than an hour in my oven so keep an eye on it! Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes then invert, remove the parchment, dust with powdered sugar and try to wait for it to cool before digging in!


Yummy!  Next time I'd add more blackberries!



Michael Symon's Pork Souvlaki

If there is anyone out there who has been reading this blog since the beginning, you'll recognize this recipe.  I did "blog" about it but it was a pretty sad attempt!  All I did was post the recipe!

So here's the full deal.  I love this recipe.  LOVE IT!  It came up in conversation this past weekend so I just had to make it.  The marinade is the best Greek marinade for meat I've ever found.  It's great with both pork or chicken.

Here's another LINK to the recipe.  But I'll add the basics below as well.

What's in this yummy marinade?  There are just a few ingredients really, a couple of minced shallots, a couple of minced cloves of garlic, some fresh oregano, a jalapeno pepper (yea, that surprised me too!), the juice of one lemon and some olive oil.  The recipe says to seed the jalapeno before mincing it.  I leave a few seeds in for just a little heat.



Into this yummy mixture you add chunks of pork tenderloin.  The recipe says to marinate 3 hours or overnight.  While you will get good flavor in 3 hours, over night it's just amazing!


While the pork was marinating I made a simple tzatziki (cucumber) sauce.  Michael Symon serves his souvlaki with honeyed apricots.  I've made them, and they are good, but Dave and I prefer the simplicity of cucumber sauce!

The sauce is easy to make and can be made a day in advance.  Simply seed and shred or dice a cucumber.  Put the cucumber and a teaspoon of salt in a glass bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.  This will draw a lot of the water out of the cucumber and enhance the flavor.

Next, place two cups of plain yogurt  in a strainer lined with a paper towel or paper towel and place this over a bowl and then put the whole thing in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  This will draw some of the liquid out of the yogurt.  If you have Greek yogurt on hand you can use that, no straining necessary!


After 15 minutes, squeeze as much liquid out of the cucumber as possible.  Add it to the drained yogurt along with a clove of garlic (minced), 1/8th of a teaspoon of pepper and a 1/4 of a teaspoon of dill.  Mix that up and stick it back into the refrigerator until time to serve it.



When the pork is ready, heat up the grill and place the marinated pieces of pork on skewers.  Be sure to soak them if you are using wooden skewers.  Place them on the hot grill and grill for just a few minutes on each side.

I like to brush both sides of some Greek pita bread with olive oil and grill that too!

Doesn't that look delicious?


I serve the souvlaki with the grilled pita bread, cucumber sauce and a little Greek salad.


And the best part?  There's some left over for tomorrow!

Pork Stuffed with Basil and Feta!

This time I'm not blogging about something I made, I'm blogging about something my sister-in-law made.  Our 15th wedding anniversary was this week.  We decided to take a trip back to the scene of the crime, Bayfield, WI, where we were married.  My brother and his wife live there and they offered to cook dinner one night.  This is something to which I could not say no, especially after she emailed me the menu!
  • Grilled Bacon Wrapped Pork loin stuffed with fresh basil and feta
  • Israeli couscous with fresh onions
  • Garden grilled carrots
  • Heirloom tomato salad
  • Blackberry tart with fresh blackberries picked fresh from her secret patch (which she shares with a fairly cranky bear)
All of the vegetables for this menu came directly from Robyn's amazing garden.  Everything was so fresh and so delicious!


For those of you who know us well, you know that my brother and his wife have the kitchen of my dreams.  Never mind the menu, I was going to get to spend time in that kitchen!






But we're here to talk about the pork so let's get started.  According to Robyn there is no recipe for this dish so what you see below is what you get!




You start with a beautiful cut of pork loin.  You then remove the fat and cut it so that it can be rolled back up.  You can do this yourself, or you can have your hubby do it for you.  Robyn opted for the latter.



Coat the meat liberally with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.




Add fresh basil and feta.




Roll the loin up and hold it all together with bacon!  Pork wrapped in pork, how can you go wrong with that?  Michael Symon would love this!




For the carrot side, Robyn simply placed the carrots in foil, coated them with olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.  Wrapped them up and put them on the grill with the pork.








Robyn has found the best way to evenly cook the loin on the grill is on a cast iron pan.  No worries if you don't have one!  But if you do, preheat it with the grill.





Place the pork on the pre-heated pan and the carrots on indirect heat in the grill.

Now make the couscous!  Start by sauteing onions in a little EVOO.  Once they are soft, add the couscous to the pan.  Robyn used Israeli couscous which is a little bigger than regular couscous.  Saute the couscous just until it begins to pop, then add the chicken stock.  Robyn just eyeballed the amount of couscous and the amount of chicken stock.  If you're not comfortable "eyeballing" your couscous a good rule of thumb is a cup and a half of liquid for every cup of couscous.





The salad was very simple.  Robyn trusted me to assemble it!  I started with fresh lettuce from her garden, sliced Roma and heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil.  To this I added a little salt and pepper, then drizzled some yummy balsamic seasoning and basil infused olive oil.  Delish!




We passed the time with bruschetta and cheese and crackers.  Oh wait, there might have been some wine in there too!

Twenty minutes or so later, the pork was beautifully cooked.   Cooking time will vary based on the size of the loin and your grill.  I'd check it after about 20 minutes to see how it's going.



While the pork rested (it's very important to let your meat rest, otherwise it will dry out!) we enjoyed our salads at Robyn's beautifully set table.








Dinner was amazing!




We had two desserts, an apple pie which Larry was given as payment for some work he did and a beautiful blackberry torte Robyn made.  Both were to die for.  Yes, I had both!






We shared this amazing dinner with Larry and Robyn's friends Ed and Janet.  What a great evening!


 

And I can't forget Sam!  He helped us all finish anything we couldn't quite finish on our own!




But wait!   I know you want the recipe for that torte!  Don't worry!  I'll get it and it will be the subject of its very own blog!


Thank you Larry and Robyn for a great anniversary weekend!  You were so good to us, well, we're thinking we might do this every year!  See what you started?!

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