Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

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This dish sounds only half as good as it actually tasted.  I really enjoy lean proteins for a main course with lots of fruits/veggies on the side, but sometimes the meat will quickly dry out no matter how much care you take to avoid overcooking.  Lately I have been on a serious bacon kick, even using the grease to cook vegetables…I know, perhaps I will cut back in the new year.  Using the bacon to keep lean meats from drying out is a great way assure a crowd pleasing moist cut of meat.  With the garlic and herb rub it’s unbeatable.  I combined recipes I found online from Fabio Viviani and Giada De Laurentiis to come up with this dish.

The glazed bacon was so fantastic and crispy with the flavorful layer of garlic herbs hiding underneath.  I served this with a simple salad of shaved brussel sprouts, kale, and fennel tossed with a dressing made with fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, and shaved parmesan topped with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  So good with a nice flavor that didn’t get lost next to the bacon and pork.

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Ingredients:

1 2-4 pound boneless Pork Loin (not tenderloin)
5 large cloves of Roasted Garlic
1 Tbsp fresh minced Thyme (center stalk removed)
1 Tbsp fresh minced Rosemary
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 pound of thick cut Bacon
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Directions:

1. Rinse and dry the pork loin, place fatty side up on a broiler pan.  I scored the shiny tendon/fat of the loin, careful not to cut into the meat.

2. Mash together the roasted garlic with the dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano) to make a rub.

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3. Rub the garlic herb mixture over the exposed surface of the pork loin.

4. Lay the bacon slices over the loin, overlapping slightly.  Tuck the ends under the loin to hold in place.  If the bacon slices aren’t long enough they will curl up while cooking, so you may want to tie them down with kitchen twine.

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5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

6. Mix together the vinegar and brown sugar (adjust amounts as needed to make a thin glaze).

7. After the initial 1 hour of cooking, brush the glaze over the bacon.  Return to oven to finish cooking until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees (about 30 minutes depending on the size of your loin).  If you have to add a considerable amount of time to fully cook, you may want to lay foil over the bacon and/or re-glaze to avoid burning.

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8. Remove and let rest for about 20 minutes.  Internal temperature should rise another 15 degrees to reach 160 before serving.  You will need to check the internal temperature of the pork with a thermometer unless you are really confident in your ability to judge cooked pork.

This dish is truly amazing and very easy to make.

Enjoy!

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Skillet Baked Chicken

This recipe is incredibly easy, uses only 1 dish, and a handful of ingredients.  I made this for a quick weeknight dinner but will definitely be making it again for a crowd.  The key to this is good quality bacon, shocking I know.  You want a thick cut applewood smoked bacon if you can find it.  I get our bacon at the Paulina Meat Market usually so the slices are fresh and as thick as I want, but I also like Wright brand from our local grocery store.  This is not for turkey bacon or a thin sliced lean bacon, the smokey fat makes all the difference in giving depth and keeping the chicken moist.

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Ingredients:

3 slices of bacon, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
2 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In an oven safe skillet cook the bacon stirring frequently.  When half-way cooked add the bell pepper and cook about 5 minutes on medium low heat.
3. Push the bacon and peppers to the edge of the skillet and turn heat up to medium.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, place in the center and brown about 5 minutes on each side.
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4. Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking for about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Holiday Champagne Cocktail

2013-11-28 12.08.48The beauty of Champagne is that you can have it at any time of day and it is socially acceptable (or at least it is in my house).  This holiday champagne cocktail is sure to start your Christmas morning off on the right foot.  It’s so good you may want to continue drinking it all day long.  Keep in mind that the sprig of fresh rosemary is a necessity to this beverage, not just for looks, so make sure you have a full sprig for each glass.  You can re-use the same sprig for multiple refills.

Ingredients:

3/4 of a glass of champagne of choice (I prefer a Cava or Brut)
1/4 of a glass of grapefruit juice
1 tsp of Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), more to taste.
1 Sprig of rosemary
Cranberry for garnish

Directions: 

Pour the champagne, grapefruit juice and liqueur into a champagne flute, mix with the sprig of rosemary and garnish with 1-2 cranberries.

 

Snacking Nuts

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends.  I made this snack mix to put out while having a drink before going out to dinner.  I didn’t want everyone to fill up, but there is something nice about having a small snack with your beverage.  This is easy and will last in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks, so you can cover Christmas and New Years with one baking.  This would also make for a nice host/hostess gift with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates.

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I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website, perfect amount of sweet and savory without overbearing the natural nut flavors.

Ingredients:

2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (heaping)
2 Tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (heaping)
salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Toss to combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a large bowl.

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3. Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
4. When you remove them from the oven sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and stir 1-2 more times while cooling.

2013-12-21 14.57.57Enjoy!

One Pot Curry Chicken and Rice

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This is an easy and very flavorful one pot wonder that is great for a last minute dinner party.  I have substituted various vegetables into the mix, so you can use whatever you on hand.  I used boneless and skinless chicken breasts, but you can use any cut of chicken you have on hand.  I imagine this being good and even cheaper using chicken thighs.

Ingredients: 

1 cup of Rice (not instant)
3 tsp oil (canola, olive, or coconut)
4-6 skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), trimmed
2 cups finely chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or 1/2 tsp ginger powder)
2 Tbsp curry powder (red or yellow)
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 cups chicken broth
1-15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed
1-14oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped zucchini (as shown) or frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Heat 1 tsp oil in dutch oven over medium heat, add chicken and cook until browned on all sides ~8 minutes.  Remove and put on plate.

2013-11-07 18.29.543. Reduce heat to low and add more oil, cook onions until golden brown ~15 minutes.  Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, coriander and ground red pepper.  Cood until fragrant ~2minutes.

4. Increase heat to medium high, stir in broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, zucchini and rice.  Season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer.  Nestle chicken into the rice, cover, and cook in oven 20-25 minutes.

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5. Serve with a small wedge of lime if desired.

Enjoy!

Coconut and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

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After Thanksgiving you are likely looking for something to eat that is healthy but perhaps with flavors that are out of the comfort food category.  This dish is full of vegetables and has a spicy flavor that is perfect for this time of year.  Serving on a bed of spaghetti squash cuts back on calories and sneaks in some extra fiber.  I made this dish with coconut milk to keep it dairy free and change the flavor profile even further out of the comfort food zone.  I used chicken, but this would be good with pork or even shrimp.

Ingredients: 

1 Onion, diced
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sriracha (or red pepper paste)
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
3 red peppers, roasted with skins removed
1 jalapeno, roasted
1 15oz can of coconut milk
1 tsp truvia or sugar

Directions:

1. Slice red peppers and jalapeno into flat pieces, spray with olive oil and roast for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees.

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2. While the peppers are roasting heat grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil in large dutch oven, saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add coriander and cayenne, simmer for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Stir in garlic and ginger, continue to heat for 5 minutes.

4. Add can of diced tomatoes including juices and mix well.

5. When the peppers are blackened, remove from oven and place in bowl covered with saran wrap.  Allow to sit in bowl for at least 5-10 minutes before removing skins (sitting in steam will allow skins to slide off easily).

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6. Roughly chop peppers and add to pan.  Add sriracha and truvia or sugar and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

7. While your sauce is simmering start to brown chicken (seasoned lightly with salt and pepper) in heavy skillet for 5 minutes on each side.

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8. Add coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes before pureeing.  I used an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one you will have to transfer to a regular blender to puree in batches.

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9. Nestle browned chicken into sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes to finish cooking.

10. Serve over rice or spaghetti squash as pictured above.

Enjoy!