SWASHBUCKLED! (S2E7): FFK Goes Hollywood

This week, Marie and Amanda get the star treatment with the addition of Sound Engineer Jacob! While he introduces us to a higher level of technology, we introduce him to… you guessed it… Simpler Wines! Will our dinner taste better now that we have a bigger microphone? Can a beer-loving Hufflepuff truly appreciate canned wine the way that we do? And what’s all the Happy Dancing for? Be sure to watch to find out!


Ingredients Featured in This Week’s Episode:

We decided that the Pub Cheese tastes kind of like an adult handy-snack. On its own, it is kind of like cheese whiz, but is actually pretty good with honey whole wheat pretzels. Amanda decided to use it in place of ricotta cheese and replaced mozzarella cheese with Mexican cheese. The tomato sauce was more of a chili, and thus was born the southwest take on Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Chili Stacks

Eggplant Chili Stacks

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderately easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup maseca
  • 1 cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 1 lb 96/4 Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Package Soy Chorizo
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 15 oz Can Tomato Sauce
  • Pub Cheese
  • Mexican Cheese
  • Toppings: Guacamole and Sour Cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Peel and slice eggplant. Beat eggs in one bowl. In another, combine maseca and bread crumbs. Get vegetable oil in a large skillet and turn on medium-high. Once oil is hot, drudge each slice of eggplant in eggs, then maseca/breadcrumb mixture, and cook in hot oil until brown on each side. Remove eggplant and place on a paper towel to blot extra oil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook chili mixture by dicing up garlic. Sauté in a separate skillet with a little bit of olive oil. Once onion starts to brown, add soyrizo and ground beef and cook until brown. Add can of tomato sauce and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook and develop flavor for another 10 minutes.
  3. When ready to assemble, layer one piece of eggplant, top with about 1 tbsp pub cheese, 1-2 tbsp of the chili mixture and 1 Tbsp Mexican cheese and repeat 1-2 more times. In the episode, we ended here, but we highly recommend assembling these on a baking sheet and placing in the oven for about 10 minutes, so the cheese gets nice and melty and the whole dish warms through. Top with guacamole and sour cream. We served this on a bed of arugula.


 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes wtih Caramelized Bacon

We used THIS RECIPE for the chocolate cupcakes from AllRecipes. We adapted it slightly with cutting the sugar down to 1 cup (instead of 1 1/2). We used the cacao powder in the cupcakes and then topped it with a chocolate ganache (basically melted 1 cup chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp half and half and 2 Tbsp butter mixed in) and caramelized bacon (bacon baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes with brown sugar and cinnamon on top).

SWASHBUCKLED! (S2E6): Italian-ish

This week, we go deep into Marie’s Italian roots to make something, kind-of, Italian-ish? None of the ingredients that were provided were very Italian-y, but they all were delicious to eat on their own, and in the dish!

Watch this week’s episode here:


Ingredients Featured in This Week’s Episode:


 

This week, we dive deep into Marie’s “non-white girl” roots, and make some vegetarian stuffed peppers and take a fun twist on a traditional caprese salad.

The stuffed peppers are full of fiber from the veggies, whole wheat cous cous and black beans, while being packed with flavor from the jalapeño artichoke dip and fragrant cheeses. We both loved the stuffed peppers and preferred the green ones over the yellow (which was a surprise to us both!)

The caprese salad was a slam dunk…if you removed the chocolate. Cherries with Mozzarella and Basil was a delicious flavor combination. The dark chocolate pretzels made things a little weird, so when you make this at home (which you should!) we recommend just saving the pretzels on the side to eat on their own (a perfect dessert!)

 

Black Bean Cous Cous and Veggie Stuffed Peppers.png

Black Bean, Cous Cous and Veggie Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 3 Bell Peppers
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt & Pepper
  • Cous Cous, cooked according to package directions (1 cup water + 1 Cup Cous Cous + 1 Tbsp butter + Salt)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 Can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup Artichoke and Jalapeño Dip
  • 12 Tbsp Quatro Fromaggio (divided so each bell pepper gets 2 tbsp)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Rinse bell peppers and slice in half. Remove seeds. Rub all sides with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place bell peppers skin side up on a lined baking sheet (parchment paper or foil). Bake for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add diced onion, celery and carrots. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for a few more minutes. Then add mushrooms, butter, salt, pepper and oregano.
  3. Add 1 1/2 cup of the cooked cous-cous mixture (can save the rest to use as a salad topper), can of black beans, and tomato sauce. Let cook down for about 5 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked through. Mix in artichoke & jalapeño dip thoroughly.
  4. Remove roasted bell peppers from the oven. Turn over. Place 1 tbsp of Quattro Fromaggio cheese at the bottom, fill with 1/6 of the filling mixture, then finish with another tbsp of cheese.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.


Cherry Caprese Salad

Cherry Caprese Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 18 Reinier Cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 package mozzarella balls (about 12), halved
  • Large handful of basil (about 20 leaves), Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Fresh Ground Salt and Pepper (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Optional (and not recommended): Chocolate covered Pretzels

Directions

  1. Rinse cherries, pit and halve them, Combine in a bowl with mozzarella balls and basil. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with balsamic glaze on top.
  2. We added the chocolate covered pretzels as the challenge for this dish, but it definitely didn’t do this beautiful and delicious salad any flavors. We made it again without the pretzels and it was so great. But the pretzels were fantastic on their own!


 

 

Head over to our PATREON PAGE to become a patron of Fearless Flying Kitchen and check out outtakes from this week as well as Mr. Critic’s reaction.

SWASHBUCKLED! S2E2: New York! New York! (+ Giveaway!)

We have our first special guest of the season, a Mate from New York City! Plus, he is a vegetarian and expects the food to be #slammin‘. Will Amanda and Marie be able to come together and make some delicious food?

Watch the episode here:


Ingredients featured this week include:

 

First, let’s start off with our GIVEAWAY!

Trader Joe's Mystery Packs

Mystery Pack of Regional Bags

Every Christmas, my mom and I would always buy each other the mystery packs of regional bags that Trader Joe’s sells. You can usually only get the regional bags from that specific area of the country, but the mystery bag packs have three random regional bags. It is always so much fun to get different bags and see what represents other cities.

Little did I know, that all along, my mom was just gaming for the New York City bag, ands always so disappointed when she never got one in the bags. Our friend, and Mate all the way from New York City, brought us some regional bags, making us able to use our last mystery pack for a giveaway!

We will be GIVING AWAY this mystery pack of regional bags as well as some of our favorite non-perishable swag from Trader Joe’s.

To enter the giveaway you need to do the following three steps:

  1. Make sure you are SUBSCRIBED to our channel on YouTube
  2. COMMENT on any BLOG POST on The Fearless Flying Kitchen blog (must be dated 5/21/18 or later).
  3. Subscribe to our NEWSLETTER (CLIKC HERE to do that)

For extra bonus entries:

  1. Find the mystery pack giveaway post on FACEBOOK – like that, share it with your friends, tag your friends, and comment. You get a point for each interaction!  (you must be following Fearless Flying Kitchen on Facebook to count)
  2. Find the mystery pack giveaway post on INSTAGRAM – like that, comment on it, and tag your friends. You get a point for each interaction! (you must be following Fearless Flying Kitchen on instagram to count)
  3. Like and comment on any of the Swashbuckled videos on YouTube and get an extra point for each interaction!

Giveaway will end on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at midnight PST. Winner will be announced on the episode of Swashbuckled on Monday, June 11.


OK, now back to the food!

We had a #slammin’ time in the kitchen with Kris from New York. The only stipulation was that the food had to be vegetarian, and that Marie would be helping. Since the fridge was stocked for only lasagna, that’s what happened. Amanda made a delicious stovetop, easy lasagna. The combination of crème fraîche and ricotta was a little piece of heaven, and should be done with all lasagna from here on out. We also saved a little extra and topped our endives with it…also great. The sauce of Piquillo Pepper and Quinoa Spread with Whole Crushed Tomatoes was also a huge win. Great flavor and texture. You could just use your favorite jar of sauce if you truly want to make it a one pot meal…but this combo is definitely worth washing that second dish.

The only thing that was off was the mochi rice nugget topping. We all decided that just makes a great snack.  But all in all, this was a great, quick, meal that you can get super creative with. It is perfect for busy weeknights when you need a little hands off time (but still need a meal on the table in less than an hour).

Lazy Lasagna

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Zucchini, zoodled
  • 1 Bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Jar Piquillo pepper and Quinoa Spread
  • 1 Large Can (28oz) Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1/2 package Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 package Crème Fraîche
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 5 lasagna noodles
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Mochi Rice Nuggets (Optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚F. Prepare all vegetables (zoodle, slice and dice). Note, if you don’t have a zoodler, you can always just dice zucchini.
  2. In a large skillet (that can go in the oven), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add red bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes, then add zucchini. Cook both for about 5 more minutes, then add mushrooms and cook until they have softened.
  3. Meanwhile, combine Piquillo Pepper and Quinoa Spread with one large can of whole peeled tomatoes. Crush whole peeled tomatoes in your hand as you are adding it to the pot. Heat over medium heat to a simmer. Add salt as needed (try it first, and add if it needs it according to your taste buds).
  4. Spread the cooked vegetables evenly around the large skillet. Top with broken up pieces of lasagna noodles. Cover noodles completely with sauce. Cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  5. While the noodles and sauce cook, combine Ricotta Cheese, Crème Fraîche, parsley and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside.
  6. After 20 minutes, remove cover and stir noodles. If they have softened, then top with Ricotta/Crème Fraîche mixture (little blobs all over). Top with even more mozzarella cheese, and place in the oven to help melt and brown cheese. Can put in the broiler on low for a little while too. Once brown, remove from oven and enjoy! If you can’t put your skillet in the oven, you could just cover with the lid again and let the cheese melt that way. It will get melty but not necessarily start to brown.

Note – In this episode we decimated half a bag of Mochi Rice Nuggets in the vitamix (or food processor, if you have one), and added it to the top of the lasagna along with the mozzarella and broiled it on low. We don’t recommend this step, but instead, just eat the mochi rice nuggets as a separate snack. However, if you did want to recreate what we did, this is it. 


We, yet again, followed a recipe on the back of a product, and the result was #slammin’! There are always great ideas and suggestions on the back of the package. Marie begrudgingly proved that she can be somewhat useful in the kitchen!

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Baked Belgian Endive with Walnuts, Parmesan & Romano Cheese

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Trader Joe’s…Literaly on the back of the endive package

Ingredients

  • 6 Belgian Endives, trimmed & halved lengthwise
  • 1/8 cup Clarified Butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Romano Cheese Blend
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Toss endives with butter, salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer in an 8X8 shallow baking dish.
  2. Cover with foil and bake on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes or until tender. Mix walnuts and cheese together and set aside.
  3. Remove endive from oven and sprinkle evenly with cheese mixture. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is golden.

Hanging out with Kris from New York

Hanging out in the Fearless Flying Kitchen with Kris from New York!

SWASHBUCKLED! (S1E2): Asian-Rhode Island Fusion

We’re back this week! And this time, we bring you an Asian-Rhode Island Fusion dish. SAY WHA?! Yup, we made a stir-fry dish out of coffee syrup, soy sauce and rice vinegar. You’ll have to check out the video to see how it turns out.  In this episode, we make Clueless jokes, play “Hipster Roulette,” drink authentic “Coffee Milk” (and decide it tastes much better with a little whiskey) and spend way too much time crushing giant corn nuts.

Read below for episode breakdown.


Ingredients in this week’s episode:

 

 

 

 

Inca Corn Crusted Pork Medallions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag Giant Peruvian Inca Corn
  • 1.5 lbs Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • Fresh Ground Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Crush Inca Corn and put on a plate. Cut Pork into Medallions, about 3/4 inch in size. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and in yet another bowl, measure almond flour. Heat oil over medium high heat. Dredge pork tenderloin through almond flour, then eggs, then coat with crushed inca corn. Top with a sprinkle of fresh salt and pepper on each side.
  2. Place medallion in hot oil and pan fry on each side for about 3-5 minutes…or until the center reads 145 degrees F. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then serve with Coffee Syrup Stir Fry and Jasmine Brown Rice.

Coffee Syrup Veggie Stir Fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Coffee Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Leek, diced
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 Eggplant, Peeled and Cubed
  • 6 oz Bag Shishito peppers
  • Garnish: Teriyaki Seaweed Snacks

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar and coffee syrup. Set aside.
  2. In a wok or large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add all veggies and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add sauce and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until soft and cooked through, stirring often.
  3. Garnish with teriyaki seaweed and serve alongside jasmine brown rice and Inca Corn Crushed Pork Medallions.

Inca Corn Crusted Pork Tenderloin and Veggie Stir Fry

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade and Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Come on, get appy! No, not an iPhone app, not an appendectomy…an appetizer!

I could eat appetizers all day long. Cheese boards. Baguette. Hummus. Artichoke and spinach dip. Everything just seems to be more decadent and taste better when it is in amuse-bouche form (in fact, quit what you are doing right now, and do a google image search of amuse-bouche. ooooooohhh, aaaaaahhhh). And quite honestly, if I were on Top Chef, this would be my specialty, because I LOVE hors d’oeuvres.

Fun fact about me: I once co-hosted a book club with my best friend just for the appetizers.

Any way, I am sure you can imagine that I try to pass off appetizers as “dinner” from time to time. For some reason, I always feel like it would be transformed into a “meal” if we added a simple salad. Here are some from my repertoire:

Polenta and Artichoke

Left: Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade
Right: Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Ingredients:
  • 2 Artichokes
  • About 2 cups veggie broth (home made or store bought)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Aioli Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp Reserved veggie broth liquid
  • pinch of salt and pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp basil  (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. To prepare the artichoke: rinse them, cut the stem off, trim the top of the leaves (because they can be a little prickly.) Cut each artichoke in half and remove the bitter, flower-y part in the middle, between the leafs, and the “choke.” (This also helps get flavor throughout and cook faster.)
  2. Store Bought is Fine

    Store bought is fine

    Place the artichoke, cut side down in a pot. Add two cloves of garlic, two lemon slices and two bay leafs and cover with veggie broth. You can easily make your own, which will be coming in a future post. However, in the words of my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten, store bought is fine.

  3. Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender. Then remove and serve along side of sauce (but don’t toss the veggie broth just yet! You’ll need that for the sauce)
  4. To make the dipping sauce: combine mayonnaise, mustard, and then a few tablespoons of the veggie broth mixture you just boiled the artichokes in. I think I also added a couple other spices, but I really can’t remember. Maybe some dried basil and oregano? Salt and pepper? I don’t know, but it was delicious. I am sure whatever spice you put in there would be delicious.

Perfectly-Perfect-Artichoke from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade

This is REALLY easy to make and will seem very gourmet. I have done this with home made polenta as well as store bought polenta as well as different varieties of olive tapenade. They are all delicious, and it really just depends on how much time you want to invest into this.

Ingredients:

  • Home-made polenta (like this Rosemary Polenta recipe) or the store bought Organic Polenta
  • Approx 1 Tbsp Olive oil or Butter
  • 3-4 Tomatoes (“on the vine” or Beefsteak varieties are best)
  • 1 container of Olive Tapenade
  • 1 container of creme fresh or sour cream
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat griddle over medium high heat and spray with some cooking spray, butter or a little olive oil. Slice polenta into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place on grill. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, not very long because it is already cooked. Just until heated through and has some delicious looking grill marks. Remove form heat and arrange on dish.
  2. Slice tomatoes into thick slices and grill like you did with the polenta.  Once it gets beautiful grill marks, place on top of each polenta slice. Top with a half Tbsp of Olive Tapenade of your choice (I have used three different Olive Tapenades from Trader Joes, and all are excellent, probably leaning more towards the one found in the refrigeratedsection), a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (or, on that note, Greek Yogurt if you are really trying to make this healthy) and then a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Grilled Polenta and Olive Tapenade from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Tacoladas: Beef and Veggie Pie

Beef-and-Veggie-Taco-Pie

Do you remember math class in school? I do, and I remember two things in particular: One, was that I hated it. Two, was that I would get such a rush every time I found out I had the right answer when I checked the back of the book.

I sometimes get that same feeling when I COMPLETELY create and improvise a recipe from scratch. I am talking, no pinterest-ing, no internet searching. Nothing. And then it actually turns out, and it is delicious. Even better when there are lots of vegetables too! Such a rush.

So, behold my Taco Pie, aka. the source of this rush:

Taco Pie

Taco Pie. Er, Casserole. Er, …nevermind

Ok, that seems a little silly after I look at this picture. I mean, it looks like just any regular casserole, right? (Side note – If anyone can come up with a better name for this, please let me know in the comments below. It does not resemble a pie in any way shape or form, that is just what I keep calling it. And I think the term “casserole” can scare some people off with nightmares of cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise. )

From the bottom to the top, this casserole starts out with a hint of my favorite TJ’s salsa (I use the Trader Joe’s Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, but there are many you can choose from, just pick your favorite), then a layer of corn tortillas, cut into triangles.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Now, many of my friends have gone back and forth over “what is the best corn tortilla found on the shelves of Trader Joe’s.” My personal favorite is the “De Mi Abuela: Wheat and Corn Tortillas” because they are a little bit thicker, and have lots of flavor. Not every one in my house is a fan of that one, so I usually end up getting the “Corn Tortillas” that are gluten-free and have minimal ingredients. They are just your regular, run-of-the-mill tortillas. And that is perfectly acceptable in a dish like this, that has so much flavor and other textures going on.

Trader Joe's Corn Tortillas

Left: De Mi Abuela
Right: Corn Tortillas

The next layer is a mix of 6 different veggies that have been sautéed in a little bit of olive oil. You could probably swap out some of the veggies if you have other favorites. It is kind of a cool way to clean out your fridge if you have just a few randoms laying around. While I had my cutting board out, I actually ended up dicing a lot more veggies than this, and then saving them for the following morning to add to an egg scramble.

Nothing more beautiful than a rainbow of veggies in a skillet

Nothing more beautiful than a rainbow of veggies in a skillet

After that layer, add some more corn tortilla triangles, then the layer of ground beef. I like lean ground beef (96% lean) because it is pretty inexpensive, and is easy to freeze and de-thaw. I also ALWAYS have some hanging out in my kitchen. But if you prefer a different type of protein, you could easily swap the ground beef with turkey, or even shredded chicken (YUM!) Simply brown the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken) in a skillet. It can be the same one you just cooked the veggies in. Then add a can of diced tomatoes and a half packet of taco seasoning. If you like your food on the spicy side, add a little more. If you like it less spicy, add a little less. However, there was enough heat for me and my family with just half a packet.

Put that mixture on top of the corn tortilla triangles, then load the top up with some shredded Mexican cheese and bake in the oven until it is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

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I topped mine with some guacamole, salsa, sour cream and Jalapeño Greek yogurt dip. No, I am not a glutton, just indecisive. I think the Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip won. It is my current favorite.

And the icing on the cake, is the leftovers are even better. I just love when meals get better with age.

Tacoladas: Beef and Veggie Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow squash, diced
  • 1/2 package of mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde (Roasted Tomatillo Salsa)
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into triangle wedges
  • 1 lb 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 package Mexican cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Once warm, add onions and cook for a few minutes, then add bell pepper and cook for another couple minutes. Next, add zucchini and yellow squash, continue to cook for a few minutes. Then add mushrooms and cook for a few motte minutes. Lastly, add the kale.
  3. In a 9×13 glass dish, spread salsa along the bottom of the pan, then spread corn tortillas on top. Put cooked veggies on top. Do another layer of corn tortillas.
  4. In the same large skillet, brown lean grown beef. Once brown, add taco seasoning and tomatoes and cook on low for 8-10 minutes. Once cooked, add to casserole dish. Cover with cheese and bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is starting to bubble and brown. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes before serving.

Suggested Side items – Black beans and a salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Cilantro Dressing

Suggested Drinks – Trader Joe’s Organic Mango Lemonade (with or without tequila)

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Agave-Maple Butter Sweet Potatoes and Zucchini

I have a friend. Let’s just call her Kellie. She has celiac disease, which means she cannot eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). She consequently also has a hard time with dairy, so many of the meals we prepare together have to be both gluten-free and dairy-free. There always seems to be magic in the kitchen when we cook together. I am forced to come up with creative ways to prepare meals I normally make. We always end up with a delicious meal that is simple, lots of vegetables, interesting grains, and lean protein. It also ends up being fairly healthy too (except for that time we added bacon to our cauliflower and leek mashed potatoes…although that was pretty amazing)

photo 1 (8)

I love using pork because it is fairly inexpensive and you can purchase two tenderloins at Trader Joe’s for under $10. It is a perfect option for entertaining because it can feed quite a few people (you can feed probably 6 people with those two tenderloins). For some reason, I always have to pair pork with sweet potatoes, it just makes sense in my head. Lastly, I consulted Kellie for what veggie she would like, and she suggested Romanesco (those little fractal, lime green veggies that seem to be somewhere in between cauliflower and broccoli). My local TJ’s was fresh out of Fresh Romanesco, so we went with zucchini, one of my old stand-bys. Overall, the meal was a success. I tried something new for the baked sweet potatoes (Maple and Cinnamon Butter instead of just butter and brown sugar), which was a really nice treat. The bag of sweet potatoes is another great buy from TJ’s. There were 6 potatoes in there for less than $2, pretty great deal if you ask me!

Now, on to the process:

Pork Tenderloin and Glaze

You can make the glaze ahead of time , which is what I usually do when I make this. Refrigerate until ready to use. When you are ready to cook up the Pork Tenderloins, just give them a rub down with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  You can either combine the sea salt and pepper and oil and then rub it all together, or rub down with oil and then top with salt and pep. Either way, you’ll be fine. I use a large 9X12 pyrex dish for this. Another reason I love this meal is that you don’t have to marinate the meat for a long time prior to cooking. You don’t even need to prepare the glaze ahead of time either. The pork cooks for 10 minutes, and then you pour the glaze on top, so technically, you could prepare the glaze as the pork begins to cook. You’ll be done, start to finish in less than 30 minutes.

roasted zucchini

The zucchini was going to go in the over with the pork, so I prepared it very simply, with drizzles of Olive Oil, and fresh ground sea salt (or kosher salt) and pepper. I just periodically checked on the zucchini and tossed it as needed.

photo 3 (8)

I use to never make baked sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes) before I learned how easy it was in the microwave. Now, it is my go-to side dish. So quick and easy. Just rinse the potatoes well, poke them all over with a fork or knife, and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing, because they will be ridiculously hot.

Cinnamon Maple Butter

The Cinnamon maple butter was an experiment, and it was so incredibly successful, I feel like I need to make this by the vat full and swim in it. Just used 2 Tbsp Butter, 1 Tbsp Maple Agave Syrup (my personal favorite for taste and consistency, not because it is any more healthy than other syrup. They all are equally sugar-y. I am sure any maple syrup would be fine) and a few sprinkles of Cinnamon. Probably about 1/4 tsp. If I was making this in a larger portion, I probably would have used the stand mixer, but since my butter was soft already, it was easy to mix by hand.

Now is the part of my blog post that gets a little bit sad…

I was way too excited to eat this meal to remember to take a picture of the finished product.

But I assure you it looked colorful and beautiful and would make you salivate just by looking at it!

So, there you go. A super easy dinner that is perfect for entertaining on a budget and will be a breeze to prepare, even for a novice chef.

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

2 Pork Tenderloins
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Cup Apricot Preserves or Jam
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp Chicken Broth
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, Chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Coat/rub pork tenderloins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pork in the oven for 10 minutes.

In the mean time, prepare the glaze by combining apricot jam, dijon mustard, chicken broth, garlic and thyme. After the pork is in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and add glaze, then return pork to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145.  Remove, slice into 1/2 inch-1 inch thick slices, and drizzle additional glaze on top.

Microwave Sweet Potatoes with Agave-Maple Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: (super) easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp Agave Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Rinse potatoes well and poke with a fork or knife, about 6 times all over. Cover with a damp paper towel and place on microwave-safe dish.  Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing.

While potatoes are cooking, combine last three ingredients until well mixed. Once potatoes are done cooking and ready to be served, slice down the middle with a knife to expose flesh and top with butter.

Simply Roasted Zucchini

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

Three large zucchini or yellow squash
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch pieces. drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for ~20 minutes, turning as needed.