Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marinated Pork Tenderloin

We attempted our first pork tenderloin a few years ago. We rubbed the tenderloin with dried fennel and other spices and stuffed it with dried apricots and then we cooked it…and cooked it…and cooked it. It took two hours longer than the recipe promised for the pork to be done. We sat down to eat at 11pm and I quickly learned that I hate apricots and fennel. In other words, it was a disaster.

A couple years removed from the apricot-fennel disaster of 2007, we decided to give pork tenderloin another try—with a very different recipe. It was delicious! Pork tenderloin has been redeemed. Apricot and fennel, however, remain on my blech list.

Pork tenderloin (whatever size suits your needs)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1 tsp dry mustard

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

1. Combine all ingredients (except the pork tenderloin) in a medium bowl. Mix well.

2. Place tenderloin and marinade in a zip-top bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

3. Take the tenderloin out of the bag and plop it on a broiling pan. Broil for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once, until the internal temperature reaches 150 to 155ºF. Let pork rest for a few minutes before serving.

4. While the tenderloin is cooking, pour the leftover marinade into a saucepan and boil to reduce.

5. Slice pork into medallions and plate. Top with sauce.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wheat-Free O Bars

If your New Year’s resolution involves eating healthier in 2010, make these now! If you plan on incorporating a small amount of not-exactly-nutritious yumminess into your diet next year, feel free to postpone baking these delectable treats until the mood strikes you.

1 package gluten-free graham-style crackers, crumbled

1 ¼ cup old fashioned oats

1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ sticks butter, chilled and cut into pieces

12 oz. chocolate chips

½ cup whipping cream

14 oz package of caramels, unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, oats, brown sugar and baking soda in a food processor. Blend until everything is crumb-size.

3. Add butter and pulse (use the on/off function) until the crumbs begin to stick together.

4. Press all but 2 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the crumb crust. Set aside.

5. Add whipping cream to a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

6. Add caramels and stir until the caramels are melted and the sauce is smooth.

7. Pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips.

8. Cover the caramel layer with the reserved crumbs.

9. Bake until the edges are golden brown (15-20 minutes).

A Few Notes:

  • These freeze really well. Cut them into squares, wrap in tinfoil and place in a zip-top freezer bag. When you get a hankering for an O bar, just microwave a single bar until it’s gooey.
  • The original recipe (courtesy of a friend’s mom) is not wheat-free. It calls for 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats and 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar. The graham cracker substitution was inspired by my brilliant oat-hating friend Katie, who uses graham cracker crumbs in place of the oats.
  • These aren’t really called “O Bars,” but we try to keep this blog G-rated so make “O” stand for whatever you want…octagon, origami, oligarchy, odd…

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift Idea: Give a Six-Pack!

Attention last minute shoppers in the Portland, Maine area! I’m teaching Core Conditioning at the Sanctuary again this winter. Class meets Monday mornings from 6:30-7:30AM. It’s ass-kicking, energizing and fun AND if you register by January 1, it’s only $100 for the whole 16-week session!

To register, click here and select the $100 payment button.

If you have questions about Core Conditioning or the Sanctuary, email me at

Naughty and Nice

In the spirit of the season, we’re bringing you something naughty and something nice. Both are exceedingly delicious and easy to make.

Let’s start with the Naughty: Lemon Curd. This stuff in sooooooo good. I’ve been eating it with gluten-free “graham style crackers.” This recipe is adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray.

2 cups sugar

Juice from 6 lemons (at least 1 cup)

4 large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup lemon zest (from 3 lemons)

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Add sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs and egg yolks to a medium saucepan. Whisk together.

2. Place saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Lower heat a tad. Let mixture simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 160° on an instant-read thermometer.

4. Transfer to a bowl. Allow the lemon curd to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

And now the Nice: Lemon Tofu. This dish isn’t that “nice”—it contains lemon curd, after all—but compared to the fried lemon chicken recipe that inspired it (also from Everyday with Rachael Ray), it’s super-healthy.

1 cup brown rice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced

Green beans (lots of ‘em)

1 cup lemon curd

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1. Cook brown rice.

2. Combine lemon curd and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet or wok (we use our electric wok), heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add peppers and sauté until tender.

4. Remove peppers from wok and set aside.

5. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to wok and add tofu. Cook, stirring until tofu begins to brown.

6. Meanwhile, steam green beans until they become bright green (2-3 minutes).

7. Add green beans and peppers to the tofu. Stir.

8. Lower heat and add brown rice and lemon sauce. Stir until well-mixed.

9. Serve immediately.

Tofu on Foodista

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Almonds

Here’s an awesome recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. I took Maria’s suggestion and made them while we decorated our tree last weekend. The house smelled amazing and the finished product is delicious alone—and in a salad.

1 egg white

1 tsp cold water

2 cups whole almonds

3 tbsp natural granulated sugar

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 250°.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg white and water together until frothy. Add almonds and stir until all of the almonds are well coated with egg whites.

3. In another medium-ish bowl, mix the sugars, cinnamon and salt. Add the almonds and stir until all of the almonds are coated with the yummy stuff.

4. Spread almonds on an edged baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I used foil and a small piece of the foil glued itself to the baking sheet.)

5. Roast for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

6. Allow to cool, and then store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chicken with Mango-Edamame Salsa

These were supposed to be tacos, but our local store was out of brown rice tortillas. They were still delicious, just less portable. This recipe is adapted (a lot) from Cooking Light.

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp ground red pepper (we’re wimps, feel free to add more)

½ small onion, diced

4 chicken breast cutlets

1 ½ tsp olive oil

1 mango, peeled and diced

½ cup shelled edamame, cooked

2 tomatoes, diced

3 tbsp lime juice

1. Combine garlic powder, paprika and red pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture over chicken breasts.

2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions. Cook, stirring until onions start to brown. Remove from pan.

3. Add chicken to pan and cook, about 4 minutes per side.

4. Combine mango, edamame, tomatoes and lime juice in a large bowl.

5. Serve the chicken with the cooked onions and salsa. If you want to turn them into tacos, just slice the chicken into strips and serve the chicken and salsa in a tortilla.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Penne with Asparagus, Arugula, Walnuts and Apples

Here’s a cozy dish for a snowy winter evening. This is our version of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

1 package penne

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp EVOO

1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed*

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 package (at least 5 cups) arugula, washed and dried

6 ounces feta cheese or blue cheese

2 tbsp cider vinegar

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

*For tips on trimming asparagus, see our recipe for Tofu Mojito.

1. Cook penne until al dente. Drain and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat until it starts to smoke.

3. Add asparagus and cook for about 1 minute (don’t stir!), until the asparagus starts to brown.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high. Add walnuts and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until nuts are toasted and asparagus is tender-crisp.

5. Add arugula and cook until wilted.

6. Add asparagus, walnuts, arugula, cheese, apple, cider vinegar and EVOO to pasta. Toss to combine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No-Knead Spelt Bread

I made bread—and it was so good that I’m making another loaf right now! I’ve made plenty of banana breads and other delicious quick breads, but this was my first attempt at real, crusty bread. I was intimidated because making bread sounds like such a daunting task, but it was insanely easy.

I combined a bunch of different recipes I found online. Most of the no-knead recipes call for some of the baking to be done in a covered dutch oven, BUT since the knob that comes with the lid of the Le Creuset dutch oven apparently melts at high temperatures, I used the one recipe I found for baking the bread in an uncovered dutch oven. (Dear Santa, I would like a stainless steel replacement knob for my dutch oven. Thank you.)

3 cups organic spelt flour

½ tsp regular active yeast

2 tsp (a little less) sea salt

1 to 1 ½ cups water

1. Combine the flour, yeast and sea salt in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk.

2. Add 1 cup of water and mix well. You want the dough to be sticky enough to collect the bits of dough from the sides of the bowl. If needed, add a teeny bit more water, then stir again. Repeat as many times as necessary, but don’t use more than 1 ½ cups of water total. The more water you use, the flatter your loaf will be.

3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place. (In our house, the warmest place is right next to our 20-year-old furnace.)

4. Let dough sit for 18-24 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 350°.

6. Spray sides of dutch oven with oil.

7. Place dough in a sling of parchment paper and place it in the dutch oven.

8. Bake for 50 minutes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grilled Chili-Lemon Tilapia

I think this is the fastest dish we’ve ever made. The whole process (including prep) takes less than 10 minutes. Of course, if you serve it over brown rice like we did, your total cooking time will be a little longer. This recipe is adapted from Women’s Health.

FYI: Tilapia is a freshwater fish native to North Africa, but the tilapia we see in stores is from farms in the U.S., Central America and China. It’s all the same fish, but the fish’s country of origin makes a difference. According to Seafood Watch, tilapia farms in the U.S. are well-managed to reduce pollution. Management of tilapia farms in Central America is deemed moderately effective and management of tilapia farms in China and Taiwan is deemed ineffective. The bottom line: Seafood Watch recommends U.S.-farmed tilapia as a “Best Choice” and Central American-farmed tilapia as a “Good Alternative,” but advises consumers to “Avoid” tilapia farmed in China or Taiwan.

2 tilapia fillets

2 tsp mild chili powder

1 tbsp olive oil

2 lemons, sliced into rounds

1. Preheat grill pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and chili powder. Brush over tilapia. Brush any leftover “sauce” over the lemon slices.

3. Place tilapia and lemon slices in grill pan. Grill for about 2 minutes per side.

4. Serve over brown rice.

Tilapia on Foodista

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

This stuff is AMAZING! We’ve been told that it’s better than peppermint bark from Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma (and we agree).

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Fresh. (Yup, that’s the Hannaford magazine.)

12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup white chocolate chips

6-8 candy canes, smashed (we recommend using a small hammer and placing the candy canes between two sheets of parchment paper)

1. Preheat oven to 250° and line an edged baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Place chopped bittersweet and semisweet chocolate on the baking sheet and soften in oven for 3 minutes.

3. Remove chocolate from oven and use a spatula to smooth the surface and spread the chocolate evenly over the pan. (It doesn’t have to reach the edges.) The chocolate may still be a little bit chunky.

4. Return chocolate to oven and turn the oven off.

5. Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and zap for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave again for 15 seconds. Repeat until white chocolate is melted.

6. Remove the real chocolate from the oven.

7. Use a spoon to plop dollops of melted white chocolate onto the real chocolate, then drag the spoon through the chocolate to make it pretty.

8. Sprinkle candy cane bits on top of chocolate.

9. Let bark sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours.

10. Break into pieces. (The chocolate will peel away from the foil easily.)

*Ideally, we should all be using organic and/or sustainable chocolate for this recipe. To find out why, read Mmmm, Chocolate.