Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tequila Lime Pork Tenderloin

It's too hot to be heating up the house with a roast or a casserole. Today was a grilling kind of day. Scratch that, this week was a grilling week. Today's grill item- Pork Tenderloin. I was stumped when I pulled it out of the fridge. I've done pork the same way too many times. I didn't want to be boring. So today I made grown up pork, with tequila and lime. So good and so SIMPLE!

Tequila Lime Pork Tenderloin
Pork Tenderloin- (or 2)
Cilantro- 1 bunch chopped
Lime- Juice 1/4 cup (I used key lime, it has a sweeter quality)
Salt and Pepper- To taste
Garlic- 3 cloves minced
Tequila- 1/4 cup
Olive Oil- Drizzle
Directions: Place pork tenderloin in a dish or ziplock bag. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Mince garlic and rub into both sides of the meat. Drizzle with olive oil, tequila, and lime juice. Cover with cilantro. Place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Grill on high rotating so all sides are brown, basting with leftover marinade. Cook until meat is at 140 degrees, or until just slightly pink. Take off heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Breakfast Sandwich

I’ve been making this sandwich—or a version of it—for years. Eating something sweet for breakfast, unless I’m in the mood for it, makes me feel a little sick in the mornings, so this is my typical go-to breakfast.

I’ve always been a sucker for fast-food chain breakfasts, but their high-fat, high-calorie, high-everything-else doesn’t really jive with me. This is my healthy alternative and it’s ridiculously easy to make. Actually, I never even thought about posting it until my husband requested it—he’s on a month-long business trip and wants to be able to make it for himself. This picture was taken pre-heat up and about five seconds before my husband grabbed it to take with him to eat on the road. It may not look awesome, but it tastes great.

Just like my Buffalo Chicken Salad post, consider this more of a how-to guideline for making a breakfast sandwich. I change this up quite often in order to keep it interesting or depending on what I have on hand. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Breakfast Sandwich
by The Tale of Two Kitchens

  • English muffin, sandwich round, bagel (thin) or one piece of bread cut in half
  • 1 egg or ¼ cup egg substitute
  • cooking oil spray
  • meat (2 slices of bacon cut in half, 2 sausage link cut in half, 2 pieces Canadian bacon, etc.)
  • Cheese (1/2 ounce shredded or a slice of cheese)
  • Green chile or jalapeno (optional)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toast bread. While bread toasts, cook or heat up meat. Spray a very small, microwave-safe dish (about the size of the bread you’re using) with oil. Put egg in dish, break yolk, and sprinkle with garlic powder, red pepper flakes (optional), salt, and pepper. Microwave for around 30-45 seconds or until cooked through (timing depends on your microwave voltage).

To assemble: Lay bread toast side up on a paper towel (if taking to-go) or a plate.  Place cheese, meat, and egg on one side of bread. Place chile or other veggies (optional) on other side; top the sandwich. Heat sandwich for about 10-15 seconds, to warm everything evenly. Enjoy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Last week we put our house up on the market, which means that we're trying to keep it as clean as possible. If you've ever been in our shoes, then you know how frazzled I feel about keeping our kitchen clean. I love cooking, but I'm not always the cleanest cook. Actually, I'm a really messy cook, which now presents a problem.

One night, when I didn't know what to make for dinner because I wanted to keep things mess free, my husband reminded me about a meal we love that is ridiculously easy to make. This salad is filling, spicy, tangy, and is a meal even guys will sink their teeth into.

I love it, because it's a healthy alternative to devouring hot wings submerged in ranch dressing. My husband likes to skimp on the ingredients (just chicken, lettuce, cheese, and dressing for him), but I like including whatever veggies we have on hand. Consider the following more of a "how-to" instead of an actual recipe. In other words: tweak as you see fit!

Buffalo Chicken Salad
by The Tale of Two Kitchens

Breaded chicken breast tenderloins
Buffalo wing sauce (Frank's RedHot Buffalo tastes great, but we actually use the store brand)
Blue cheese crumbles (reduced fat tastes just as good!)
Ranch or blue cheese dressing
tomatoes (optional)
green onions (optional)
celery (optional)
avocado (optional)

Cook chicken in oven according to directions, flipping once to get both sides crisp. While chicken is cooking, prep salad bowls with lettuce and other ingredients. When chicken is finished cooking, set aside to cool. In a medium sized bowl, pour about 1/4–1/2 cup (to taste) hot wing sauce (you can always add more!). Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in bowl with hot sauce. Toss to coat; place buffalo chicken on top of lettuce. Add desired amount of salad dressing; enjoy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Johnny Cakes

I took an unexpected hiatus from blogging. And really there isn't much of a reason. My creative juices dried up and I couldn't stand putting boring no heart recipes on here. So I stayed away till it came back. I also knew that Jessica would keep this place filled with wonderful mouth watering dishes. Now her posts have me itching to cook and blog, thanks Jess! Nothing extremely exciting today but I wanna be back in the groove of things. I made these with my niece this weekend and thought I'd share! The molasses gives these "cakes" a fabulous unique sweetness. And with added flax seed and sugar substitute they're not as bad for you as regular pancakes!

Johnny Cakes (Cornmeal Pancakes)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar (I used Truvia sugar substitute- fabulous!)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (iodized)
1-2 tsp flax seed meal (optional)
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 cup + low fat milk (I used skim)
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp butter melted (or butter sub. like Brummel and Brown)

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix together wet ingredients in another bowl. Combine mixtures together. Add more milk as needed to make the batter more smooth and to this consistency you like. I like my batter a bit thinner than most recipes call for. Cook on griddle until edges are lightly brown. Serve with any toppings you'd like!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Strawberry Pineapple Crumble

Yesterday I headed out to a local strawberry patch with my friend Natalie where we each picked several pounds worth of fresh strawberries and then enjoyed delicious strawberry ice cream. This was my first time strawberry picking and I had an absolute blast. Sure, I could have done without the Georgia humidity in April, but I almost all forgot about the heat when I heard the lovely "Pop" that comes from picking the berry off its stem.

Armed with five pounds of ruby-red, sweet strawberries, I had a hard time deciding what to make first. But then I remembered a post I read that morning from Joy the Baker and knew exactly what I'd use my first pound of strawberries for: Strawberry Pineapple Crumble.

If you tilted your head for that combination, you're not alone. I remember thinking, "Huh, interesting." So interesting, in fact, that it just might work really well. I'm here to let you know that it doesn't just work, it's fantastic!

The pineapple's sweet and tart flavor brings out the sweetness from the berries. And the crumble? Well I could probably eat the topping all by itself. All together, this dessert is light enough to eat for breakfast (like I had this morning), and the crunchy topping has a bit of saltiness that pairs perfectly with the filling. Make this. Make it, share it, and enjoy it.

Since I have four pounds of strawberries leftover, what should I make next? I'm thinking at least one pound needs to be devoted to some strawberry ice cream.

Strawberry Pineapple Crumble 
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half/quarters (bite-sized pieces)
1 pound peeled and diced fresh pineapple 
3 tablespoons sugar 
3 teaspoons cornstarch 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
pinch of salt  
2/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes 
1 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

After fruit is diced, place in colander to drain excess liquid. In a small dish, whisk together 3 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, 1/4 cup of flour and pinch of salt. Toss sugar mixture with fruit and place fruit in an 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add cold butter cubes. Use your fingers (or pastry cutter) to break up the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture. Add oats and pecans; toss together until the butter bits are about the size of the oat flakes.

Pour oat mixture over the prepared fruit. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until juices from the fruit bubble up around the sides of the pan. (Depending on how full the dish is, you may want to put a baking sheet underneath in case it bubbles over.)

Remove crumble from oven; allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Crumble is delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream. Crumble can we wrapped and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or wrapped in foil in a low oven.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shredded Tex-Mex Crock-Pot Chicken

Do you ever have days when you just know you won't be in the mood to make dinner? I come across that feeling often, and luckily, the handy crock-pot comes to my rescue.

I've been saving this recipe for awhile and was happy I finally had a chance to make it. For some reason, crock-pot meals only seem perfect for rainy days, but this recipe is great come rain or shine. The chicken is so tender I hardly had to work at shredding it, and the long cooking time produced an amazing taste. I liked putting the meat back in the crock-pot after shredding it so it could soak up more of the flavorful juice.

To be honest, I made this chicken without even thinking about how I would serve it once dinner rolled around. Then I remembered something my mom used to make all time: tostadas. Tostadas remind me of mini Mexican pizzas, and not only are they ridiculously tasty, but they're easy to make and a great, fun alternative to tacos. I highly suggest making your own tostadas (using the same method as tortilla chips)—they're much stronger and have a better flavor and crunch than premade tostadas.

Shredded Tex-Mex Crock-Pot Chicken
adapted from Good Life Eats

1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup tequila 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 limes
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

In a small bowl combine seasonings: cumin, chili powder, coriander, garlic powder paprika, red pepper flakes and garlic cloves; set aside. Heat oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add seasoning mixture and sauté two more minutes. Deglaze the pan with tequila and chicken broth, making sure to scrape up any browned bits. Turn off and set aside.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to crock pot. Squeeze lime on top; add cilantro, jalapeno, and pour onion and seasoning mixture over top.

Cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until cooked through (different crock-pots cook at varying heats) and tender. Remove chicken breasts from the crock pot, let cool for a few minutes, shred and return to crock-pot on "warm" setting until ready to serve.

For tostadas: take a fried or baked corn tortilla and spread a thin layer of refried beans on top. Add chicken and build tostada with desired toppings: lettuce, cheese, onions, tomatoes, avocado, etc. We usually love salsa, but the meat was flavorful enough to not need salsa or even sour cream, but top to taste!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I'm sorry I left you hanging yesterday with promises of the best meatball I ever ate, but I was just so full I couldn't type another word.

The recipe for this particular spaghetti and meatballs is so easy anyone can do it, and even the pickiest eaters will cheer for joy when they take a bite. So why am I so smitten over this spaghetti and meatballs dish?

Because they're actually cupcakes with hazelnut chocolates and strawberry jam!


Several months ago I bought a copy of Hello, Cupcake and vowed to make some of the treats nestled within the pages. Luckily for me, there's a whole chapter on cupcakes that "fool the eye." So did I fool you at all or at least make you do a double take with yesterday's post? Truth be told, I really, really dislike meatballs, but this version is definitely a keeper.

If you'd like to know how to make these, they're ridiculously easy. I'm sure you could take the more challenging road and make everything from scratch, but I'm trying to use up our pantry products as much as possible, and it just so happened that I had boxed cake mix and frosting just sitting there waiting to be used.

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

10 vanilla cupcakes baked in white paper liners (I made a whole batch {two dozen} and only used 10 for the actual pasta platter)
16 ounces vanilla frosting
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 drops yellow food coloring
11 hazelnut chocolates (Ferrero Rocher), unwrapped
3/4 cup strawberry preserves (low-sugar has the best color)
2 tablespoons grated white chocolate (I used coconut for the "cheese")

1. Tint vanilla frosting with cocoa powder and yellow food coloring; spread a thin layer on top of the cupcakes. Arrange cupcakes on a platter so they're touching.

2. Spoon remaining frosting in to a ziplock or pipping bag. Press out the excess air and seal the bag. Snip a 1/8-inch corner from the bag (or use a small icing tip). Pip frosting all over the cupcakes to make "spaghetti," piling it high and allowing some of noodles to hang over the edges.

3. Place hazelnut chocolates and the strawberry preserves in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Spoon some preserves on to of cupcakes. Place one chocolate on each cupcake. Top cupcakes with remaining preserves. Sprinkle with white chocolate (or coconut).