Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let me go ahead & plan your next meal :)

We had our dear friends from Portland over last weekend, and decided to make a nice meal for them. Now, some of you may think, "What's the big deal? It's just an average dinner for company". Well, I have never considered myself a good "cook". I've always enjoyed baking much more than cooking. Partly because I have a major sweet tooth and get to enjoy the fruits of my labor, and partly because it just takes less time for the most part! It's hard for me to stand in the kitchen for 2 hours, making an "elaborate" meal, just to see it eaten up within 5 min. However, I have to say... I have truly been enjoying being in the kitchen more, learning how to make new things, and finding joy in cooking. The reward is when you make something that people continue to talk about well after the meal has already been eaten and days have gone by.

The meal below is probably the best meal my husband and I have ever made together. It was fun, made our house smell delicious, and our friends loved it. All recipes were found on Pinterest. Yep.. LOVE Pinterest for so many reasons, but especially because there are so many amazing foods to try on there! :)

Autumn Chopped Salad

6-8 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 medium pears, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans (I used Almonds)
8 slices thick-cut bacon, crisp-cooked & crumbled
4-6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Poppyseed dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette 

Combine all ingredients, mix with dressing and serve. 

*Note: Combine the dressings before mixing. The Balsamic dressing was the perfect combination with the poppyseed dressing. It made it just slightly less sweet.

Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin

4 tbs butter
2 tbs honey
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat butter and honey over medium heat until melted. Sprinkle pork tenderloin with Cajun seasoning and black pepper. Brown each side for about 5 min. in an overproof pot. We did not have a pot large enough, since we made 3 lbs worth, so we cooked it in a 9x13 glass Pyrex pan. Worked great!

Place the pot in the oven and roast for 7-10 min. Transfer the pork to a plate covered with foil to rest. Add water to the pan and stir over medium heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Slice pork on the diagonal and drizzle the honey butter sauce over top and serve.

*Note: everyone's oven cooks at different speeds. We ended up having to cook ours a bit longer than the recipe calls for. Start with what it calls for and keep an eye on it. If it's not cooked to your liking, put it back in for a few min. and keep checking it. I prefer to have my meat a little less pink, so based on your preference, it may need a little more time.

Hasselback Potatoes 

6 medium-sized potatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbs butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Put the potato on a cutting board, flat side down. Start from one end of the potato, cut almost all the way through, at about 3-4 mm intervals. Arrange the potatoes in a baking tray and insert the garlic in between the slits through the potato. Scatter some butter on top of each potato. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the top of each potato.

Bake for about 40 min. or until the potatoes turn crispy and the flesh is soft (test with a fork. If the fork goes into the potato with very little effort, they are done).

*Tip: Place the potato on a wooden spoon, or plastic cooking spoon. Hold one end while slicing the potato. Your knife will hit the spoon, helping you to not cut all the way through the potato. This helped me a ton!

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. fresh asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed & discarded
4 scallions, root end trimmed
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Place asparagus and scallions on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 25-30 min. until tender. Wrap individual portions of asparagus with scallions to tie into bundles. 

And now for the best part of any meal.... DESSERT! :)

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes 12 very large cookies 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats (I used foil on my baking sheet and it worked fine). In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 min.). Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined. 

Divide the dough into 4 oz. portions (or divide into 12 equal pieces). Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten just slightly into a disc. Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart. Bake 16-20 min. Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 min. then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Or... eat them warm while the chocolate chips are melted like we did! YUM! :) And.. add vanilla ice cream if you want a really delicious dessert! 

Hope you enjoy this meal! It is well worth the time and energy to make! 

1 comment:

  1. This dinner was wonderful! Anyone who makes it won't be disappointed! And the best part of the whole thing was getting to hold little Landon while we were cooked a wonderful meal!