Chili Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin | Instant Pot

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Good morning!  A very busy few weeks updating the new photography website Mary Riley Photography LLC.  I have some work below as well from a workshop I took on posing a baby.  The photos and editing are all mine.  The posing presented by Stephanie Cotta Photography.

 

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Recipe:  I just love pork tenderloin!!!  It is my go to meal for a quick dinner.  The pork goes with any side dish and can handle anything from sweet cinnamon apple to spicy cayenne pepper.  You can bake pork tenderloins in the oven, throw them on a grill, slice them and cook in a skillet, pressure cook them and slow cook them.  The pork tenderloin just rocks.  Plus it is pretty cheap too.  I get four large pork tenderloins at Costco for around $13.  I see them in packages of 2 at our local Dierbergs grocery store for $5 during their $5 meat sale.

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If you don’t eat pork:   This chili powder combination tastes great on many other things as well!  I like it on chicken breast, pork roasts, or anything that needs a little sweet chili kick.

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Chili Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin
 
:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 Tb. grapeseed or olive oil.
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 Tb. chili powder
  • 1 Tb. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or 1-2 tsp. of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (I start out with ½ tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper)
Instructions
  1. For OVEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat a cast iron skillet or oven proof skillet with the oil to medium heat.
  2. Trim the silver skin from the pork tenderloin. You will see a sheet of bluish silvery stuff. Simply trim with a sharp knife. Cut the tenderloins in half for faster cooking or cut into medallions for an even faster cooking time.
  3. Now that the tenderloin is prepped, wash your hands. You just touched raw meat! 🙂
  4. In a small bowl, combine the spices. Rub them all over the pork tenderloin.
  5. Add the pork to the skillet and brown on all sides - about 5 minutes.
  6. Put the skillet into the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Depends on if you cut the pork into a half or medallions. The pork is done once it reaches 140 degrees. It may be slightly pink in the middle even though it has reached that temperature. Clear juices will run through and most of it will be grey.
  7. Serve warm. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. FOR INSTANT POT: Skip the oil. Make sure the silver skin is trimmed. Cut the pork in half. Rub the seasonings onto the pork.
  9. Add ¾ cup water or chicken broth to the instant pot. Place pork on top and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve should be sealed.
  10. Quick release the valve. Remove pork and serve warm.
Notes
I usually double this recipe and we have leftovers the next day for lunch.

 

Let’s Party! — Salad in a Jar Party That Is

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Want a healthy side dish or lunch in the fridge for every single day of the week?  This is a great solution.  And no there is nothing to buy or sell.

My friend Alison hosted this super-fun and uber-productive party and I had to share it with you!  She posted the event on Facebook and each of us responded whether we were going to attend or not.  Those attending were asked to bring two salad toppings (and the jars to put the salads in of course…. you could use ziplock storage, pyrex, tupperware, etc.).  The host provided the lettuce and baby spinach.

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On the day of the party, we had a ton of fun chatting and making our salads.  Look at them all!  Everyone’s toppings were laid out and we dished what ingredients we wanted into our salad jars.  I brought my stuff in a cooler and then simply put the jars back into the empty cooler to keep them cold.

I think this would be fun with smoothies too.  We really like green smoothies here 🙂

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The document below is my compilation of all the Panera Salads that I have tried.  This is my favorite go-to salad place.  I have others… but Panera is everywhere.  So, I listed all of the salads, their ingredients and ingredient shopping lists to take with you!  These can be used for inspiration or to hand out.  It is a LOT of ingredients of course.  But, I figured you can also cross it out if you don’t like the ingredient or don’t need to make that many salads.

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I just eyeball the amounts.  If I like it, I add more.  If I don’t like it, I omit or add less.

 

Here are the Panera salads on the list:

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Power Kale Caesar Salad

Cobb Salad

Thai Salad

BBQ Chicken Salad

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

Asian Sesame Salad

Here is the FREE DOCUMENT for printing and making your own Panera Salads at home ready to go!  Or just make your own to your tastes.  I include some tips on how to layer the salad in the jar in the document as well.  Remember you can add chicken or hard-boiled eggs to any salad to make it a protein/main meal!

Panera- Lovers

{Copycat} Salad Menu & Grocery List

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Power Kale Caesar Salad

Cobb Salad

Thai Salad

BBQ Chicken Salad

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

Asian Sesame Salad

What is included?

  1.  Recipes
  2.  Grocery List broken down by Category
  3.  Grocery Master List

How Do I Use This?

  1.  You can simple use the recipes as they are.
  2.  You could team up with a few friends.  Everyone bring a salad ingredient and make Quart Jar salads.  Everyone takes home 7  salads!
  3.  Divide among friends or yourself a few favorites and trade.  

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Strawberries

Blueberries

Pineapple tidbits

Poppyseed

Chicken

Pecans

Power Kale Caesar Salad

Kale

Romaine Lettuce

Caesar Dressing

Chicken

Fat: Parmesan Cheese

Cobb Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Grape Tomatoes

Bacon

Protein: Chicken and Hard-boiled Egg

Dressing: Herb Vinaigrette

Fat: Avocado

Thai Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Cilantro

Shredded carrots

Red Pepper, small dice

Edamame

Chicken

Thai Chili Vinaigrette

Cashews

BBQ Chicken Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Fire Roasted Corn

Black Beans

BBQ Sauce

Chicken

BBQ Dressing

Fried Onions or Tortilla Chip Strips

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Field Greens

Red onion

Grape Tomatoes

Dried Apples

White Balsamic Apple Vinagrette

Chicken

Pecans

Asian Sesame Salad

Romaine Lettuce

Cilantro

Almonds, sliced

Sesame seeds

Asian Sesame Vinaigrette

Chicken

Wonton Strips

For Quart Jar Salads layer the ingredients as follows (from bottom to top):  

  1.  Salad Dressing
  2.  Hard Vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, peppers, etc.
  3.  Grains, beans or pasta.
  4.  Cheese/protein
  5.  Nuts and seeds
  6.  Lettuce

Master List

Romaine Lettuce

Field Greens

Kale

Strawberries

Blueberries

Pineapple tidbits

Grape Tomatoes

Bacon

Cilantro

Shredded carrots

Red Pepper, small dice

Edamame

Fire Roasted Corn

Black Beans

BBQ Sauce

Red onion

Dried Apples

Cilantro

Almonds, sliced

Sesame seeds

Chicken

Hard Boiled Egg

Pecans

Parmesan Cheese

Avocado

Cashews

Fried Onions

Pecans

Wonton Strips

Dressing: Poppyseed, Caesar, Herb Vinaigrette, Thai Chili Vinaigrette, White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette, Asian Sesame Vinaigrette

Grocery List by Category

Produce:

Romaine Lettuce x7

Kale x1

Field Greens x1

Strawberries

Blueberries

Grape Tomatoes x2

Shredded Carrots

Red Bell Pepper

Cilantro

Red onion

Dried Apples

Avocado

Nuts/Seeds:

Pecans

Cashews

Sliced almonds

Sesame Seeds

Dairy:

Eggs

Parmesan Cheese

Meat:

Chicken

Grocery:

Black Beans

Pineapple tidbits *

Fried Onions * or Tortilla Chip Strips

BBQ Sauce

Wonton Strips *

Frozen:

Fire Roasted Corn *

Edamame *

Dressing: Poppyseed, Caesar, Herb Vinaigrette, Thai Chili Vinaigrette, White Balsamic Apple Vinaigrette, Asian Sesame Vinaigrette

Asian-Style Pork Chops and Broccoli | Instant Pot

Asian Style Pork Chops and Broccoli

Most stir-fry dishes are the same:  chicken or beef.  I like to have another option in my pocket because well… sometimes you get tired of chicken and beef.  Or, pork chops go on sale and you want to do something else to them other than fry them up in apples and rosemary.  Which happens 99% of the time.

This is another recipe from the super cool book The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.  **I include the recipe for pressure cooker AND stove top**

 

Even without a pressure cooker…. this $15 book has 500 recipes on a lot of different flavor profiles like Asian style pork, tomato-chile pork chops and rice, turkey breast with mushroom gravy, turkey breast with prosecco and fennel, etc. etc.    I’m not sure the pressure cooker really saved any time on this dish.  But it was fun to try and the pork chops did not dry out as they sometimes can do when cooked on the stove top.

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Asian-Style Pork Chops and Broccoli
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 and ½ Tb. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 - ½" thick pork chops (bone in or boneless worked for me)
  • 6 medium scallions (or ½ yellow onion in a pinch)
  • 1 tsp. minced or pressed garlic
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tb. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tb. rice vinegar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (frozen works as well, but try thawing first)
Instructions
  1. Pressure Cooker: Hit "brown" or "saute" on the pressure cooker and heat the oil. Brown the pork chops slightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  2. Add the broth, soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook 10 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Bring the pressure back down quickly with the valve/quick release.
  4. Add the broccoli. Put the lid back on and allow the broccoli to cook for about 5 minutes. Closer to 8-10 minutes for frozen.
  5. Serve meat with broccoli and sauce at the bottom of the pot.
  6. For Stove top: Take a large wok or pan and heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat. Brown the pork chops slightly. Add the onion and garlic. Cook 1 minute.
  7. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT broccoli. Stir that around. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium/medium low, simmer and cover for 5 minutes. The pork chops will be done and should be 140 degrees internally.
  8. Add broccoli and put the cover back on the pan. Cook 5 minutes longer.
  9. Optional: serve with soy sauce.
Notes
Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to increase the heat.

If you don't realize the pork chops are finished so quickly, then simply microwave the broccoli and add to the sauce/pork chops. Mine finished so fast that the pot was now on warm instead of hot - not hot enough to cook the broccoli. So, I had to cook the broccoli in the microwave.

As a side, I cooked brown rice in the pressure cooker before the pork chops. 22 minutes on high pressure with 1 cup brown rice and 1 and ⅛ cups water. The rice was kept warm in the oven.

Recipe from The Great Big Pressure Cookbook

 

Hearty Ham and Bean Soup (Christmas Ham Leftovers!)

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I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas!

I still haven’t had a chance to read any fantastic books to talk to you about.  I am also trying to push another project out by 2016.  You may have seen a little change on the home page of this website 😉  That’s part of the surprise.

I’ve also been watching “The Flash” on Netflix.  It is one of the nicer sci-fi shows on Netflix compared to the MA rated “Jessica Jones” and others.  If you can wrap your head around the fact that a scientist built a particle accelerator in the middle of a city of hundreds of thousands of people… then you’ll be all set!  Completely ignore basic safety and physics, and you can watch the show.

The kids were pretty happy this Christmas – The oldest finished putting together this bad boy in like 3 hours.  Oy!


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The youngest was VERY happy with her hotel.  The hotel set was pretty nifty and I had fun helping her with it.  There’s a pool, piano lounge, ice cream bar, elevator, your own car, waterfall, chandelier and rotating doors!

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My sister’s friend’s mom made this cake for us for Christmas – it had chocolate cherry cake inside!

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It was too pretty to eat… but we made the sacrifice and ate it anyway.  🙂

Now that we are done with cake…. let’s move over to a hearty, healthy and very filling soup.  There is a lot of protein in here from the ham, beans and lentils.  The lentils, barley and beans provide a nice amount of fiber.  The carrots and celery give this soup nice flavor and vitamins.

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Recipe:  For Christmas dinner, we had ham among other dishes.  I used my trusty baked ham recipe and had about 2 pounds of leftovers.  Woo hoo!  Also, what to do with that end that doesn’t slice very well….???  Make soup!  I love soup!   It is pretty hard to mess up broth and ham really.  Plus, you can throw in whatever ingredients you want to use up in the fridge or pantry.  For me, I had some leftover quick cooking barley from Trader Joe’s and green lentils.  Feel free to substitute the lentils for barley and vice versa.  Or just omit them.  The soup just won’t be as thick and it is a pretty thick soup anyway.  I figure I would rather give you recipes for a thick soup than thin.  It is sooooo much easier to thin a soup with some added broth or water than to try and make a soup thicker.  Sometimes boiling it too long overcooks the rest of the food.

Remember our new food trick:  add canned beans at the end!  They are already cooked anyway and just need heated.

Feel free to switch and use whatever herbs you have on hand and like.  I used oregano, rosemary and 21 seasoning salute (Trader Joe’s).  But any combination of thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, or the like will work.

I served this soup with a side of beer bread.

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Hearty Ham and Bean Soup (Christmas Ham Leftovers!)
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 Tb. butter
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • ½ cup dry green lentils, rinsed
  • ½ tsp each of dried oregano, basil and rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. white or black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 2 cup cooked chopped ham
  • 2 cans (15 oz) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup quick cooking barley
Instructions
  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook about 5-7 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
  3. Into the pot, add the lentils, dried herbs, pepper, and broth. Turn the heat up to medium high to get the soup the boil. Once at a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low. Keep the soup at a simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the ham, beans and quick cooking barley. Bring the soup up to a boil again. Cover again and simmer over medium low for 10 minutes.
  5. Feel free to add more herbs, salt or pepper to taste. The soup is quite thick and hearty. Thin it out with more chicken broth or water.

 

North African Beef Stew & Book Review

North African Beef Stew-5675 on Whisk Together

 

Book Review:

My latest book review is for Michael Symon’s 5 in 5.  This is the updated version of his 2013 book of the same name.  The premise of the book is that you can make appetizers, main courses or dessert from just 5 main ingredients and cook in 5 minutes!  Yes!  FIVE minutes!  The prep for the food is not included in the 5 minutes yet it is still not a lot of time and can be prepared ahead and stored in the fridge.

5 in 5

This recipe book is 165 dishes that taste delicious with few ingredients.  I love how the main 5 ingredients are highlighted and easy to add to a grocery list.  There are other ingredients in every recipe, however, they are all common pantry staples like olive oil, salt, pepper, etc.

I like that the book is organized by season.  This book takes the produce that is in season and uses them such as Kielsbasa with Apples and Onions in the Fall, Grilled Chicken Thighs with Edamame and Grapefruit in Winter, Grilled Corn with Parmesan and Chives in the Summer, and Asparagus with Sesame and Orange in the Spring.  A holiday section is the last chapter and includes Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Leftover Turkey Frittata.

If you are stuck in a food rut, want to try new things, like cooking from scratch and not the boxes – this book is for you.  Many recipe books that promise short ingredient lists rarely deliver because they include using many cream of something soups or boxes of pre-made ingredients that include preservatives.  Michael Symon’s book is all from scratch recipes full of flavor.  Most of the recipes include a photo as well!

As I mentioned previously, this book will require that you may try new things.  Radicchio, endive, shaved beets, kohlrabi and feta cheese are not every day normal ingredients I would pick up at the grocery store.  I’m not sure many families with small children would use many of the recipes.  Then again, this is a book of fast and easy recipes with a lot of vegetables and fruit pairings and a life saver for those hurrying home from work and need to get dinner on the table quickly.
*I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.*

 

North African Beef Stew-5666 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Speaking of getting out of the recipe rut- I made this North African Beef Stew thinking it would just be okay.  But it was super delicious!  I had everything for it in the pantry and just wanted to make something a little different than the same old same old adding russets, carrots and celery to the beef stew meat with some broth, thyme and tomato paste.

If you don’t care for adding cinnamon to your beef (don’t knock it until you try it!  It’s surprisingly good), then take note of the directions.  Putting your potatoes in foil on top of your beef stew keeps them tender, but not mushy.  It is how we always make our stews or anything with potatoes in the slow cooker now.

North African Beef Stew & Book Review
 
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Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. olive or canola oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or 4 cups for mashed potatoes)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat or boneless chuck eye roast in 1 and ½" pieces
  • 1 and ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and 1" pieces (or use russet if family doesn't like sweet)
Instructions
  1. In a medium microwave safe bowl: add the onion, garlic, spices and oil. Nuke that for 5 minutes on high. Stir every once in a while.
  2. Into a 4-7 qt. slow cooker: put the onion mixture, broth, ½ tsp. salt and meat.
  3. Into a foil packet: add the potatoes. Put the packet on top of your meat.
  4. Cook 9-11 hours on low or 6-8 hours on high.
  5. Option one: Serve potatoes and beef separately.
  6. Option two: Dump the potatoes into the beef slowly and stir.
  7. Option three: Remove a cup or two of the potatoes from the foil packet and mash them with a masher. Add the mashed potatoes and whole potatoes into beef. Heat for about 15 minutes or until everything is warm.
  8. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve warm!
Notes
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen "Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution"

 

White Chicken Chili & Book Review

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This Fall I received a super awesome book that you may want to add to your cookbook collection:  The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh.

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If you want to learn about making chili, this is THE book for you.  Mr. Walsh has included every single chili recipe category in the book along with a narrative of where chili originated.  The stories behind how chili has evolved and the Chili Queens are fun to read.  Chili Queens were businesswomen back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who made and served chili.

Being from St. Louis, I do not have a lot of experience with chilis.  This book goes through each one step by step.  The grocery stores near me – even Walmart – are including dried chili sections that are included in the book.  For example, a homemade chili powder recipe is included using 2 ounces of dried ancho chiles, cumin, oregano and garlic powder.

Every single chili recipe category you can imagine is in this book from lobster chili to goulash, from Cincinnati chili to four-alarm chili, from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Championship Chili to short rib chili, from chili queen chili to chipotle chili, from tofu chili to pork vindaloo.  The St. Louis Slinger recipe is also included!  So for those of us natives who want a copycat recipe or never had one – the South King’s Highway Diner recipe is included in here.  There is a photograph with most of the recipes, so the cook will know what the result should look like.  Side item recipes are also included like fresh corn tortillas, cornbread and chili con queso.

Want to throw a chili party?  The author included a few steps to throw one of those which sounds awfully delicious right now since it is 49 degrees outside.

*I received a complimentary copy of The Chili Cookbook from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

White Chicken Chili on Whisk Together-5472

 

The #1 thing I learned from The Chili Cookbook is never add your canned beans in the beginning.  Many recipe call for the dump and walk away method – adding cans of beans to the slow cooker or large pot of chili.  But…. they are already cooked.  And cooking already cooked items usually doesn’t end well.

Therefore, even if you do not use this recipe – think about when you add your canned goods and if you are cooking something already cooked.  When do you add them?  About 10 minutes prior to serving the food.  This way the beans stay plump and not mushy.

White Chicken Chili on Whisk Together-5468

 

White Chicken Chili
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 Tb. olive oil or butter
  • 1 - 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, ½-1" pieces (or more if want meatier chili)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
  • 1-2 jalapeno chili, chopped (optional; I did not use because of the kids)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika (I like smoked)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or omit if need mild)
  • 30 ounces (2 - 14.5 oz cans or about 4 cups) chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
  • 2 - 15 oz. cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini beans, Great Northern, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (cream cheese) or substitute plain Greek Yogurt (optional, but tasty)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (optional)
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Toppings: cilantro, Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese, tortilla chips, chopped scallions
Instructions
  1. On the stovetop, heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat in a Dutch Oven. Once melted, add chicken and onion to the pot. Continue to saute until cooked through. Remove the chicken mixture and set aside.
  2. Add garlic, chilies and spices. Cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chicken broth and beans. Increase the heat to medium high and bring chili to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the neufchatel cheese in sections and allow to melt. If using Greek yogurt, temper it first by adding a little bit of the hot liquid to the yogurt. Mix and then add to the chili.
  6. Using an immersion blender or blender, take half or all of the chili in the pot and blend until creamy. This step is optional and simply makes the chili smoother and more creamy.
  7. Once you have processed the chili, add the chicken and onion back to the pot. Heat through about 15 minutes.
  8. Squeeze lime juice on top. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper (or black pepper).
  9. Serve with chips, cilantro, cheese and/or scallions.
Notes
Recipe adapted from The Chili Cookbook and Cooking Classy

 

Individual Squash Mac and Cheese

Squash Mac and Cheese-5397 on Whisk Together

 

Oh yes, we have LOTS of spaghetti squash here thanks to Aldi.  The stock up store.  And their 69 cents squash sale!

Unless you want to stock up on: canned green chilies and whole wheat sandwich buns…. then you’re pretty much out of luck at Aldi. 🙂

But back to the squash.  This recipe is based on one of my favorite recipes: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash and Spinach.  On meal prep day, I will roast some items for lunches and include a few spaghetti squash.  I don’t recommend freezing this dish.  Squash just doesn’t usually freeze well and becomes very mushy.

Why I love this recipe:

1.  It’s super fast (once the squash is roasted)
2.  It’s full of flavor
3.  You can add what you want to it
4.  You can make it just for yourself because your kids aren’t being fooled by squash instead of pasta 🙂
5.  Simple ingredients you probably have at home
6.  It’s healthy, nutritious and filling

To pack this in your lunchbox, just layer everything in a sealed microwave safe bowl.  Then, at work you can just pop it into the microwave and stir!  Hot lunch that tastes as good as mac and cheese without all the calories.

How to Roast Spaghetti Squash:
The last post is how to roast all the squash on sale at Aldi.  But here is a refresher for spaghetti squash.

Cut it in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds.  Spray the inside with a little olive oil.  Place cut side DOWN on a rimmed cookie sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil.  Bake 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Or bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Or bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  It is soooo easy!  You can’t mess it up.  Then let it cool a little bit and drag your fork inside to get the “spaghetti”!  I would not recommend freezing the cooked spaghetti squash.

Trick for Scooping Seeds
The trick for scooping seeds out of the squash is… wait for it…. a grapefruit spoon!  Yes we love grapefruit spoons because they are NOT uni-taskers.  Instead, grapefruit spoons are perfect for using their serrated edges to scoop out the fibers and seeds inside your squash.

 

Squash Mac and Cheese-5388 on Whisk Together

Squash Mac and Cheese-5391 on Whisk Together

 

Squash Mac and Cheese-5393 on Whisk Together

Squash Mac and Cheese-5394 on Whisk Together

Individual Squash Mac and Cheese
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup roasted spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tb. milk
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 Tb. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼-1/2 cup baby spinach (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add the spaghetti squash.
  2. Pour in a splash of milk (about a tablespoon).
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder.
  5. Stir in baby spinach.
  6. Microwave covered and on high for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds if cheese needs to melt more. Mac and Cheese is ready once cheese is melted and the squash is hot.
  7. Top with more Parmesan cheese if you like.

 

 

Slow Cooker (or Roasted) Turkey Breast with Gravy

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy-4495 on Whisk Together Label

Book:   I attended MomCon 2015 with some awesome others like Crystal Paine, Margaret Feinberg, Sherry Surrat, Amena Brown and the amazing Bob Goff.  I cannot wait to summarize what awesome stuff I learned this weekend!  For now, I will introduce and review “Thresholds: How to Thrive through Life’s Transitions to Live Fearlessly and Regret Free” by Sherre Hirsch.  The novel fits in perfectly with our theme for the year as well: a Fierce Flourishing, don’t you think?  A threshold is a doorway to another room.  We all go from room to room at times in our lives – transitioning from one part to the next.  Something in our life changes such as moving away to college; or something changes within us like the mom tired of staying at home with the kids and wants to go back to work.  Familiar rooms become comfortable.  But, we cannot grow without being a little uncomfortable.  Sherre Hirsch describes one of the greatest things that holds us back from other “rooms” that might be better – fear.  The next room though is never as bad as you think it might be.

Thresholds

Living regret free also means letting go of “perfect.”  God made the world and called it “very good.”  The bible never called it in Genesis as “perfect.”  But letting go of perfect allows us to communicate honestly with each other.  A room perfect for one person, may not be perfect for us.  The goal in life shouldn’t be to find the perfect room – the perfect husband, perfect house, perfect job, etc.  The goal is to make the decision that is best for us in that moment knowing it might be different or the opposite of what we might think.

The book weaves stories from the bible of Jacob, Moses, and others to support her conclusion.  In addition, she draws upon a plethora of people she has counseled over the years to describe and support her assertions.  Moses argues with God that he can’t do the job.  In Exodus 3-4, Moses doesn’t say “okay.”  He argues in fear of failure.  One woman is paralyze by failure when she commits to never arguing with her husband.  This created a lot of built up resentment and lack of communication.  Many other examples throughout the book relate the ideas — like maybe we should spend more time talking about all the bumps in the road rather than the end journey — to us in a personal way.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy-4501 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  Everybody needs this recipe in their back pocket!!  The turkey is soooo moist and the gravy tastes fabulous.  The scent of rosemary and orange zest together sounds weird, but try it and you’ll love it.  Heaven smells like oranges and rosemary I tell you.

We love turkey here, but sometimes I don’t have time or want a 18 pound bird to cook.  Once in a while, frozen turkey breast will sell for $1.49/pound at the store which is when you want to snag these birds for some great homemade cooking.  Most everyone here eats the white meat anyway so might as well make it!

This is great for dinner, or if you have leftovers – eat them that week or freeze for later in a ziplock bag.

**To make this in a slow cooker, you will need the larger 6 qt. size slow cooker.  If you cannot find a 6-7 lb. turkey breast, then it may not fit.  When testing a 9 lb. breast, it wouldn’t fit into my slow cooker and had to be roasted in the oven.

**Slow cooking will not result in crispy skin on the outside.  But, I don’t eat that part anyway.

 

Slow Cooker (or Roasted) Turkey Breast with Gravy
 
Turkey breast roasted to perfection and made with gravy - Slow Cooker option included
:
Ingredients
  • 3 Tb. butter
  • 1 onion, coarse chop
  • 1 carrot, coarse chop
  • 1 rib of celery, coarse chop
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup white wine (or water)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme (or ½ tsp. dried thyme)
  • 6-7 pound whole bone-in turkey breast (for slow cooker or roasting)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tb fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 4Tb. softened butter
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, add 3 Tb. butter and melt.
  2. Add veggies (onion, carrot, and celery) and cook 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  3. Add flour and cook 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup broth. Stir until heated through and not so lumpy. If cooking in slow cooker, add this all to the slow cooker. If not, keep in the skillet and allow to simmer until it reaches the thickness you like.
  5. Add the rest of the broth, water, wine, thyme and bay leaves to the slow cooker as well, or to the skillet if roasting. For roasting, simply cool and store in the fridge to heat up later when ready to serve.
  6. Mix the 3 garlic cloves, rosemary, orange zest and 4 Tb. of soft butter together in a bowl.
  7. Take the orange butter and rub it under the turkey breast skin. Press it in to distribute.
  8. For slow cooker: Add the turkey breast on top of the gravy. It should be skin/breast side up. Cook on low 5-7 hours. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees. Remove and rest under some foil for 20 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, take the slow cooker drippings/gravy into a pot or skillet. Skim the fat off the top and simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.
  10. For roasting: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prep a roasting pan and V-rack inside. Place the turkey that has been rubbed with butter skin side/breast side up onto the rack. Pour 1 cup water into the roasting pan and pop it all into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to the 325 degrees and cook about 60 minutes. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven. Rest for 20 minutes under a foil tent. While resting, put the gravy back into the original skillet or a pot and heat. Carve turkey and serve with gravy.
Notes
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

 

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza on Whisk Together-2922

Yippee!!  It is 55 degrees outside, and I have been waiting three months to post this recipe.  The recipe is very Fall flavored and making it in the summer is something weird that only I would do.  SO – here is the Fall pizza of the year.  I based it on my favorite lasagna of all time:  Butternut Squash Lasagna.

This is fun to bring to a pot luck or have on hand for something different.  I grow tired of pepperoni on everything personally.  The flavors of the squash, caramelized onions and sage are simply delicious.

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza on Whisk Together-2927

Need a pizza dough recipe?  Here are my favorites:

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Dewey’s Copycat Pizza Dough

I have heard from several of you that the Dewey’s Pizza Dough is your new go-to pizza dough recipe.
Now, I know both doughs require a long rise time, but that is how the pros get that delicious yeast-y flavor.  If you are shorter on time, simply increase the amount of yeast.  Or have some extra time?  Make several batches and freeze them!  But remember – when doubling and tripling yeast dough recipes, the yeast does not need to be doubled as well.

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza on Whisk Together-2923

Pair this with a Harvest Salad and enjoy the brisk temperatures!

Make-ahead:  The butternut squash and onion topping can be roasted 1-2 days ahead of time.  Once that step is done, the pizza just needs put together like a standard pizza.

Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza on Whisk Together-2925

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizza
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 large butternut squash or 2 small/medium size, cut into ½" cubes
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 10 sage leaves (if you don't have sage leaves, add 1 teaspoon of dried sage)
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese (mozzarella is suitable substitute)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 recipe of favorite pizza dough
  • extra sage leaves for decoration
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Do the same with the onion, but keep it separate. Put both on a greased cookie sheet or roasting pan. Roast the onion for about 10-12 minutes and the squash for about 18-20 minutes. You can put these in separate pans or the same. I noticed my onion going brown to almost black after 12 minutes and removed it. The squash is done when you can pierce it easily with a fork.
  2. In a small pot or skillet, heat the butter over medium heat and add the sage leaves once melted. Cook for about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. Roll out your pizza dough onto a piece of parchment or pizza stone or large bar pan, or pizza stone dusted with a little cornmeal.
  4. Brush the sage butter onto the pizza dough. Add the squash and onion mixture. Sprinkle the cheeses on top.
  5. Bake per the directions of the pizza dough. Mine is about 15 minutes on a hot stone at 425 degrees.
  6. Sprinkle whole sage leaves on top. Serve hot.

 

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