Category Archives: Kitchen Creations

Every Day Super Foods

As evidenced by past experiments with clean eating, I have an interest in putting more whole foods on my plate. I try to stick to the outside aisles of the grocery store as much as possible, and recently I picked up a Ninja blender so I could have better luck making smoothies. So when I stumbled upon Sue Quinn’s new cookbook, Super Foods Every Day, I was excited to delve into it.

super foodsThe first thing that Sue does is define what a super food is for her purposes. She has developed a listing of powerhouse foods which are high in vitamins, phytochemicals and other nutrients.Its from that extensive list that she builds out 65 recipes that are easy to make and good for you too.

The recipes range from breakfast to baked goods and include a lot of blueberries, kale, and even dark chocolate. We will be trying out a few of these recipes over the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be honest, some of them will require a leap of faith on my part, but as we’ve seen from past experiments, I often use this as an opportunity to expand my palate a little bit more, plus I’m finding more and more that being pushed out of my comfort zone is a great thing.

The book is clean, easy to follow and has excellent photography in it. My only criticism would be the total and complete lack of any nutritional information on any of the recipes. Sure, I can put all the ingredients into My Fitness Pal and go from there, but having them listed would have been a big benefit to the cookbook. For someone looking to incorporate more healthy choices into their diet, this book, which lists for $14.99 is a great option. The book is available next week and can be pre-ordered now.

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

Advertisements

From the Smokehouse: Pomegranate Mustard Smoked Pork Tenderloin

I have never used pomegranate very much in my diet, much less my cooking. I like the flavor, but just have never had the occasion to use it. That changed this weekend when I decided to smoke a pork tenderloin and was looking for a fall flavor profile to go with it.

I came across the recipe on All Recipes and decided that it would make a great Sunday dinner. Outside of just estimating the amounts, I stayed pretty true to the recipe until the cooking method:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Directions

  1. In a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine pomegranate juice, orange juice, mustard, honey, garlic, orange zest, and cayenne pepper. Tighten lid, and shake until everything is mixed well. Pour over pork tenderloin in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag, and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to 3 hours.
  2. Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.   Remove tenderloin from marinade, reserving the marinade. Place meat on a smoking rack.
  3. Pour marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and reduce volume by half. Remove from heat. Place 1/2 of liquid in a cup for basting, and reserve to use as a sauce.
  4. Smoke tenderloin for 120 minutes, basting lightly with reduced marinade until internal temperature is 145 degrees F when measured in the thickest part of the tenderloin. Remove tenderloin from smoker, cover with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve each portion with reserved sauce drizzled over top, and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.

I used cherry smoke in my Bradley and was very, very pleased with how the dish turned out. The pork was perfectly flavored and at only 250 calories for 4 ounces, it is a nice lean meal to enjoy. I used the leftover pork later in the week for sliced pork sandwiches.

Friday Fav: A Great Piece of Meat

The beauty of the growing foodie blogger scene is that there are more and better resources when it comes to raising your game while cooking wild game. Venison is a lean, flavorful meat that screams to receive a better treatment than frying it in butter and garlic. A few weeks ago I opened my email to see the latest post from Laura’s Wild Kitchen, a Rosemary Steak with Fig and Gorgonzola. Just the title of it made my mouth water, and I decided I needed to give it a try.

Last night I pulled out a 12 ounce chunk of venison back strap and decided to put my own spin on the recipe due to circumstances and opportunities. The recipe called for fresh figs, but the King Soopers in Cheyenne didn’t have any, so I went dried. It is also grilling season in Cheyenne, and about 85 degrees outside, so roasting the cut of meat in the oven wasn’t an option. Here is my version of Laura’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 venison backstrap 12 ounces
  • 1/6 cup fresh rosemary (pulled off the stems)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces dried figs (quartered or halved)
  • 1/8 vidalia onion (finely chopped)
  • 1oz gorgonzola (crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let the backstrap come to room temp while you prep everything else. (You can just let it sit out as you chop and prep everything.) Preheat the grill to 450. Combine the figs, onion, cheese, balsamic vinegar and 1/2 T of olive oil and toss to combine. Set aside.

Use a blender or food processor to blend the rosemary until it is finely chopped. Add the remaining 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil to a small bowl and combine with the rosemary. Stir until it forms a bit of a paste. Salt and pepper the backstrap to taste and then cover with the oil and rosemary.

Grill over direct high heat for two minutes on each side. Remove and grill over indirect heat for an additional 3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium rare. If you are cooking it medium or worse, don’t use this recipe, you will ruin it.

rosemary grilled steak with figs and gorgonzolaRemove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the backstrap into 1/2 inch medallions, plate them and then top with the fig and cheese mixture.

This dish would pair well with an Old Vine Zin or a nice brown ale. The earthy flavors of the cheese and fig pair super well with the venison.
There is little doubt in my mind that this is the best venison dish that I’ve ever made. It was nice to use fresh rosemary from the garden and venison I put in my freezer myself. We will definitely use this recipe again in the future.

Here Come the Herbs

Our townhome in Cheyenne has a front flower garden raised planter that for the first two years we were here was basically a fallow weed bed. We tried to plant some flowers there in the past and aside from some volunteer sunflowers it never really grew anything. It frankly looked awful.

This spring, with full knowledge that gardening in Wyoming is a fool’s errand I decided to put a mixture of plants in the ground, in the hopes that we would actually grow some food. When I lived in NY I had amazing raised bed gardens that grew an unbelievable amount of food. I didn’t want to get that deep into it again, but I figured a few things were worth a try.

GardenRight now the garden is rounding in to fantastic shape. I have an unbelievable amount of basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, chives and oregano. The lettuce is growing very well even in the hot, hot midday sun we get in Cheyenne. The zucchini seeds were duds and never germinated, but the winter squash is starting to set fruit as we speak.

NY Strip with Herb ButterWith an abundance of herbs, I needed to get ahead of them and use some for dinner last night. I picked a bunch of basil and made some pesto. I also picked a variety of herbs and made herbed butter which I used on top of a grilled NY Strip. The butter and herbs enhanced the steak in a way only summer can.

20150730_065225This morning I had a bunch of left over herbs and I threw together a fritatta. I over did it on the herbs and I expected them to wilt and cook down like the spinach did. The flavor was good, but it was a little bit leafy. So it goes when experimenting bu just throwing the herbs in. The recipe also called for four eggs, and I’d probably bump that up to 6, especially since it produces 6 servings. I’d also cut back on the amount of fresh herbs I used.

After a couple of years away from gardening, it feels good to be back at it again, and this garden is the perfect size to be working with. I just now have to figure out how to effectively kill the bugs that tend to like to destroy it.

Sunday Smokeday: Smoked Venison Cheese Burgers

Sunday this week was a day of quiet all to myself as Lorrell and Loriana had a girl’s day at the American Girl Store in Denver. I took that opportunity to throw some venison burgers in the smoker and kick back and enjoy the day. I was already going to smoke some Mac and Cheese, so why not? This was my first attempt  at smoking a burger so I did a bit of research on it. The result….

Recipe

1 pound of ground venison (beef, elk or antelope would also work)
1 egg
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP onion powder
Cheese of your choice
Bun/Tortilla

venison burgersBeat the egg until smooth. Add the Worcestershire Sauce, onion and garlic powders and whisk together. Add the ground meat to the mixture and mix thoroughly. Form patties and place on your smoker rack. Smoke at 215 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the smoker and finish on a grill until it reaches your desired doneness. (Note: my grill ran out of gas so I finished these in a cast iron pan on the stove top)

Serve on a bun or in a tortilla with your favorite burger toppings.

smoked venison burgerThis is a very simple way to add some smoke flavor and help keep your favorite wild game burger moist. The smoke flavor really stood out despite only being in the smoker for 30 minutes. It definitely adds to the wild game and is well worth the extra time and effort.