Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin


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This make-ahead dish is great for holidays and/or entertaining because it has that A+ presentation. I’m not a huge pork fan, but this one really hits the spot with hints of ginger and orange liquor. The optional mustard sauce just takes it to a whole new level!  It has several steps, but once you are done with making the stuffing part and sear the lil guy, you cover with aluminum foil and then pop him in the oven that evening or even the next day. A note on the pork cut: Tell your butcher that you will be stuffing the loin. I find that it’s easier to not use twine and be tying knots, so I opt for the pocket cut. Since my butcher has longer knives than I do (and a tad bit more precision), I just ask him to do it for me. So the game plan is: make stuffing, stuff, sear, then cook! Who doesn’t love a little bacon?

Ingredients for loin:

  • 4-4.5 lb pork loin, with pocket cut in order to stuff
  • 2 thick slices of bacon or equivalent of 4 ounces, chopped
  • Cointreau liquor, 25 ml
  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 15 dried plums, quartered
  • 3 T non-flavored breadcrumbs
  • ½ t. ground ginger
  • Abundant sea salt
  • Olive oil, as needed

Ingredients for mustard sauce:

  • 3 T mustard (any kind you like: Dijon, French’s, Plochman’s)
  • 3 T heavy cream or creme fraîche
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 3-4 T milk

How-to:

  1. Start by chopping all the goods for the stuffing. Have everything mise en place
  2. In a large skillet, with medium-high heat place a dab of olive oil and the bacon. Wait till browned, scoop from pan, reserve
  3. Quickly, pour Cointreau in pan and scrape bits so they release from the pan
  4. Add onion, green onion, garlic, stir and cook for about 3-4 minutes
  5. Reduce heat slightly, add plums, breadcrumbs, ginger, and a pinch of salt.
  6. Chop bacon strips into cubes and add back into mix; cook for another 2-3 minutes
  7. Cut off heat and remove from eye. Let cool for 15-20 minutes
  8. After cooled, with one hand, maintain the loin upright and with the other hand, begin stuffing the loin using small handfuls
  9. Lay loin straight and salt both sides
  10. Heat up same large skillet on high heat that was used for stuffing; add a bit more olive oil. Sear loin on both sides
  11. Place in oven safe dish and cover with aluminum foil
  12. Refrigerate immediately OR cook in oven with aluminum foil covering for 35-45 minutes on 300 degrees F, then crank up the heat to 400 F, remove the foil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes
  13. Meanwhile, add all sauce ingredients into a heat-proof glass measuring cup, heat 20 seconds in microwave and whisk; adjust as necessary
  14. When done cooking, let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting with a sharp carving knife
  15. Arrange on wooden cutting board with mustard sauce and serving spoon. Serve with rustic potatoes. Enjoy!

Picture step-by-step:

Cook up that bacon

Cook up that bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When its browned, take it out

When its browned, take it out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deglaze pan

Deglaze pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deglaze pan

Scrape pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add onion, green onions, garlic

Add onion, green onions, garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add plums and bacon back in

Add plums, etc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed loin

Stuffed loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooked loin

Cooked loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sliced and ready

Sliced and ready with Mustard Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin

Bacon & Plum Stuffed Pork Loin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo

Served!

 

Tricolor Tart

Nutrient-packed and delicious, this combination really makes my taste buds wake up!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of pie crust (any that you like)
  • 2 packs of frozen spinach
  • 1 pack of light ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups butternut squash puree
  • lemon wedges

How to:

  1. Begin by placing dough on dish
  2. Strain spinach to get all liquid out and spread evenly on bottom of the dough-lined dish and press
  3. Spread ricotta cheese over the spinach
  4. Spread butternut squash puree over ricotta
  5. Cover with pie crust
  6. Seal and pinch sides together; pinch top of tart with fork to allow air to escape
  7. Cook in oven about 350 for 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown
  8. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and a side salad of choice

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Edamame & Cashew Burgers

I never knew about this kind of a veggie burger until I was visiting Johnson & Wales University. A nutrition lab made mini edamame & cashew burgers on buns with slaw. They were delicious. I never did get the recipe, so I recreated it at home. It makes a great lunchbox especially for Spring! It’s even fun for little ones because of the color. You could  do this for St.Patricks day. Or on a Shrek movie night. You can convince the kids that these green burgers are “Shrek” burgers! You know they’ll go for it. It’s simple, check it out, this is all you are going to need:

All your ingredient san pepper

All your ingredient sans pepper

Gourmet lunchbox

Gourmet lunchbox

Yields: 4 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag (10oz) shelled edamame, defrosted
  • 1/3 c  roasted cashews
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 3-4 T light soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c panko crumbs
  • dash of pepper or siracha
  • salt, if desired
  • 1-2 T olive oil

How to:

1. Place cashews in the bowl of the food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, until tiny in size, but not powdery.

2. Next, place defrosted, room temperature edamame in food processor. Also add, green onion, garlic, soy sauce and pepper. Pulse until blended to a paste-like consistency.

3. Add egg to processor. Process for a little longer, until smooth and uniform.

4. Scrape contents from the food processor into a large mixing bowl. Add panko crumbs. Mix well with hands and form 4 burger patties. (Optional: you can coat the burgers with additional panko crumbs, if you would like a crust on your burger)

5. In an cast iron skillet, place 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, and get it very hot. Make sure its a large enough pan so you can comfortably turn over the burgers. Place burgers in hot skillet, cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

Hot skillet! Two left in the pool.

Hot skillet! Two left in the pool

Storing for later!

Storing for later!

Spinach-stuffed Portobellos

Filling. Delicious. Easy. Can it get any better than that? Oh, and its healthy too!

Pop these guys in the oven for an easy dinner tonight!

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What you’ll need:

  • 5 Portobello mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, part skim
  • 1 cup Mozzarella part skim 2% shredded cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 packages of frozen spinach, drained and squeezed
  • dash of salt and pepper

How to:

1) Preheat oven to 375 F and line one cookie tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2) Sautee onion and garlic in frying pan on stove top.

3) Snap cap off of each portobello and using a spoon, gently scrape the underside, or gills, of it out. Discard. Place portobellos on lined cookie sheet.

4) In a large bowl, place spinach, ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, panko crumbs, rice, tomatoes, sautéed onions, garlic and lastly salt and pepper. Stir.

5) Fill each portobello with spinach mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

6) Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until cheese starts to bubble.

Enjoy!

I served the stuffed mushrooms with a tomato & hearts of palm salad.

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Sweet potato soup

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Using local produce is important to me. I can’t buy local all the time, year round, but I make sure that I push for it in the Summer and Fall months. It’s easy in North Carolina to get local apples starting in August and sweet potatoes almost all year long.  I’m not a huge sweet potato fan like the rest of my obsessed family, but with such a demand in the household I had to get creative! This soup takes a little prep time but with some effort, you’ll have a great big pot of soup to serve up and satisfy.

Yields: 6 big bowls

What you’ll need:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, baked and then skinned and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped and steamed
  • 16 oz. low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • salt and pepper, as needed
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, as desired

How to:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Place sweet potatoes directly on the middle rack. Slide a cookie sheet one level below just in case sweet potatoes leak. Bake for about 45 minutes, depending on size of sweet potatoes. Once done, take out of oven and let cool on countertop for 15-20 minutes. Once cool, peel and chop.

Next, over medium-high heat brown onions and leeks in butter and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Once onions are translucent and leeks are soft, add cup of milk.  Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, chicken broth and water. Let simmer again for about 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender on the highest setting (I use a Bamix) blend until soup is a good consistency.  I like it a little chunky, but you may like it more smooth, so blend a little bit longer. It’s your soup, so make it the way you like it! If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could ladle it into a standard blender. But be careful; it’s hot. When done blending, serve in bowls and top with freshly grated aged parmesan cheese.

Pumpkin turkey chili with kale

Want an easy 20 minute dinner? This is it! Loaded with vitamins, protein and fiber, you’re certain that every person will be left satisfied from this hearty meal. Quick. Tasty. Period.
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Yields:4-6 portions

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (6% fat)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • splash of red wine
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 can navy beans, rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
  • large bunch of kale with stems taken off and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can organic pumpkin
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • handful of flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • goat cheese crumbles

How to:

In a large soup pot, brown onion and garlic with olive oil. When soft, add ground turkey. While cooking turkey, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil and bay leaves. Cook until meat is no longer pink and things in the pot are looking on the dry side. This is the moment to add a splash of red wine (I use Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec). This will hydrate everything and if any browned bits stick to the bottom of the pan, make sure you scrape it well so that flavor gets locked in! At this point, add the kale and stir, allowing the heat in the pan to wilt the kale down. After a minute or two, when kale decreases in size, add chicken broth and pumpkin. Incorporate and then add beans. When everything is up to the same temperature, throw in the green onions and parsley. Adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Discard bay leaves. Top each bowl with goat cheese crumbles for that tangy creamy goodness that will melt into your bowl of goodness.

topped with goat cheese!!!!

topped with goat cheese!!!!20131005_181518

Stuffed peppers with tempeh and kamut

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This recipe is worth the time that it takes because it tastes amazing, has an excellent presentation and lasts for leftovers too! Kamut, an “ancient grain” quoted to have originated from Egypt, has  particularly bite to it. It looks like rice but does not taste soft like rice. Another key ingredient to this recipe is tempeh. If you are not familiar with it, this is a great opportunity to get to cook with it. All it is, is fermented soy beans. Sort of like a variation of tofu. If your not feeling it, you can sub out with pulled pork or chicken. I just love how all the stuffing vegetables are green and stand out against the brightly colored pepper. Between the bite of kamut and the nuttiness of the tempeh, this flavor combination is an international explosion!

Yields: 8 stuffed peppers

You’ll need:

  • 2 orange peppers, cut in half
  • 2 red peppers, cut in half
  • 2 cup kamut, cooked
  • 1/2 cup edamame, shelled
  • 1 head baby broccoli florets, steamed
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 package of tempeh, steamed and chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper

How to:

The best way to start making this recipe, is to cook the kamut the day ahead. Keep in mind, it does take about 60-70 minutes to cook through. I cook it in half chicken broth, half water (if vegetarian use vegetable stock). On a greased baking sheet, place pepper halves face down and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes on 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, steam tempeh in a steam basket for about 12 minutes. While you have all that going, in a large bowl, add kamut, edamame, broccoli, green onions, olive oil and lime juice. This is your filling. When tempeh is done (you can marinate it in teriyaki if you have additional time) chop it and add to the mixture. When peppers are done in the oven, flip them over so they are ready to be filled. You can transfer them to serving dish if you would like. Using a medium-sized spoon, evenly distribute in each pepper some of the mixture. They are pretty as a picture and ready to go. Time to eat!

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