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Grilled Pork Kebabs with ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barret Browning did not pen those words while reflecting on food, but for some reason, her words danced through my head as I ate the Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce. Let me count the reasons why I love this recipe. Made from lean pork tenderloin, these kebabs are lower in fat. In fact, in an article written by Jeff Volek, Ph.D, R.D. for Men’s Health, he states, “Pork really is the other white meat. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast.” In addition, as the complex flavors of the sauce swirled in my mouth, I thought about its versatility and how fabulous it would taste on other grilled meat, particularly salmon, prawns, or chicken. The final reason why I love this kebab recipe focuses on its ease of preparation and its make-ahead convenience. Serve these kebabs with rice pilaf for Valentine’s Day and experience love at first taste.

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce
Gourmet, August 2003

INGREDIENTS
For Barbecue Sauce:
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1½ tablespoons molasses (regular or robust, not blackstrap)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh serrano or other small hot green chile (1 or 2), including seeds
1/2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Pork:
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Special Equipment:
About 30 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

DIRECTIONS
1. To make barbecue sauce: Stir together all sauce ingredients in a 1- to 1½-quart heavy saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes. Transfer sauce to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.

2. Put tenderloin on a cutting board. Starting about 5 inches from narrow end of tenderloin and holding a large sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board, cut a thin slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) from tenderloin, slicing diagonally toward narrow end and cutting through to cutting board. Continue to cut thin slices from tenderloin following same diagonal, starting each consecutive slice closer to wide end. (You will have about 12 slices. Cut any slices more than 2 inches wide in half lengthwise.)

3. Thread 2 skewers, 1 at a time and 1/2 to 1 inch apart, lengthwise through each slice of pork and transfer to a tray lined with plastic wrap.

4. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes.

5. Sprinkle pork slices with salt and brush both sides with barbecue sauce, then grill on oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes total. Discard any leftover sauce.*

6. Cooks’ notes: Barbecue sauce can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Kebabs can be prepared 6 hours before grilling (without salt or sauce) and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, cook kebabs in a hot oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. For even cooking, try to cut pork in uniformly thick slices.

2. The spiciness of the sauce can be adjusted by reducing or increasing the amount of minced chile.

3. *I make double the amount of sauce and pour about half of it into a separate bowl to serve alongside the meat or to slather it on the grilled meat prior to serving. Discard the remaining half that was brushed onto the raw meat.

4. These kebabs make hearty appetizers and taste just as good when served at room temperature.

5. I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on the kebabs and cilantro leaves on the serving plate prior to serving.

ENJOY!

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Mud puddles, computer tantrums, and an irritating left eye – because of these things, my day did not turn out as planned. My gardener found, not one, but five broken irrigation lines in my front yard. As soon as we repaired one and the water pressure returned, another bubbling puddle would form somewhere else. Little did my gardener know that under the soil in this particular flower bed lay a complicated network of irrigation tubing that only my husband, the “Mad Scientist” of irrigation, could create. While I was outside with the gardener, my left eye started to ache. “Aargh,” I moaned. Having an unusual eye condition, I went inside the house to put eye drops in to soothe my cranky eye. Leaving the gardener outside to play in the mud and with one eye shut, I decided to work on a computer project. Alerts and message windows popped up constantly – my computer did not want to cooperate with the printer. “What now?” I asked it. “Can’t we all just get along?”

To make a long story short, my day fell apart and by dinnertime I was in no mood to cook. I remembered this quick and easy recipe for black bean soup and whipped it up in about 15 minutes. Toppings of cilantro, green onions, cheese, and sour cream added fresh flavors to the soup. And a chunk of fresh artisan bread and a hearty green salad rounded out the meal. Although my day fell apart, the evening began with a great dinner.

Instant Black Bean Soup

Recipe from Cooking Light

Ingredients:
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt added black beans, undrained
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2-ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
5 tablespoons minced green onion
2½ tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Directions:
1. Place beans and liquid in a medium saucepan; partially mash beans with a potato masher.
2. Place over high heat; stir in salsa, chili powder, and broth. Bring to a boil.
3. Ladle soup into bowls; top with cheese, sour cream, onions, and cilantro.

Yields 5 servings

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I didn’t have any cans of no-salt-added black beans, so I used regular cans of black beans. Because of this, no added salt was needed.

2. The toppings really add to the flavor of the soup, so don’t omit them. I only had shredded Monterey Jack cheese at home, but it worked out well.

Enjoy!

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Wanting to make a light pasta dish to accompany some freshly grilled fish, I prepared a simple noodle salad with subtle Asian undertones. Unlike the Shrimp and Bean-Thread Salad I posted about a while back, this noodle salad is simpler to make, because it has fewer ingredients. Although, it lacks the complexity of flavors that the Bean-Thread Salad has, it makes up for it with its clean fresh flavors and its ease of preparation. It’s a delicious side dish for grilled seafood or grilled chicken and this recipe makes enough to feed a small crowd.

Asian Noodle Salad

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Asian red chili paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

Salad Ingredients:
16 ounces dried rice noodles
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Directions:
1. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. Fill a kettle full of water and bring it to a boil. If you don’t have a kettle use a large pot to boil water.
3. Open up the package of noodles and place the noodles in a large mixing bowl.
4. Carefully pour the hot water over the noodles until they are completely submerged. After two minutes, very carefully stir the noodles to loosen up the noodle bundle. Stir periodically and make sure all noodles remain submerged.
5. When noodles are limp, taste a few to make sure they are cooked (or softened) enough. The noodles should be firm, but not hard and chewy or soft and mushy. Let soak a few minutes longer if they are not yet ready, checking them every couple of minutes.
6. When the noodles are tender, drain them in a colander and let cold water run over them.
7. After they are well-drained, pour the noodles into a bowl and immediately pour the salad dressing over them. Toss gently with your hands.
8. Add the grated carrots, chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. Toss gently and serve.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. This salad tastes best when eaten fresh. Rice noodles tend to absorb any liquid available and then dry out. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
2. In lieu of steps 2 through 4, you can bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the noodles and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and checking them for the right degree of tenderness.
3. My family likes spicy food, so I either add a bit more chili sauce to the dressing mixture or I sprinkle in some red pepper flakes.
4. To make this a main dish, cooked prawns, grilled salmon, or grilled chicken breast strips can be easily tossed in during the last step.
5. Buy Asian chili paste that has chili flakes floating in it.
6. This recipe makes enough to fill a large mixing bowl.

Enjoy!

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