Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ginger-Soy Grilled Pork Tenderloin


Ever since getting the Thermapen, our grilling has been superb. We recently grilled a pork tenderloin, and this was one of my most favorite pork recipes to date.

The pork tenderloin marinates in a ginger-soy-garlic marinade while you're at work, and then grill it when you get home. It doesn't get any easier than that. The tenderloin came out so moist and well-seasoned, we didn't even need any sauce to accompany it.

Fresh off the grill!

Mom's Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless pork tenderloin (1-1.5#)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (We only use Yamasa or Kikkoman brands)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh ginger

Directions:
1. Trim the pork tenderloin of any excess fat and silver skin.
2. Combine all ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag and marinate for at least 4 hours. (I did it for 8 hours while we were at work.)
3. Set the grill to medium heat. When your grill is ready, place the pork on the grill and cook for approximately 15 minutes, flipping once halfway.

We served with with some Latin Rice, and a simple marinated tomato & onion salad.

Note: If you are using an oven, this can also be cooked at 450 degrees.

Source: I Was Born To Cook

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gadget Rave: Say Goodbye to Dry Chicken... Hello, Thermapen!


Darin is a great helper in the kitchen. He always asks where he can help, washes dishes while things are cooking/baking, and I truly enjoy cooking together. Now that is is summertime, I want to utilize our grill as much as possible, and Darin is always happy to oblige. Although he likes to grill, he (God love him) tends to overcook our meat. Maybe it's because he is colorblind (so it is difficult to see the color differentiation b/w cooked and rare meat)? Maybe it's because he doesn't want us to get sick from undercooked meat? Whatever the reason may be, I am truly grateful he enjoys grilling as much as he does... but it just doesn't do our dinners justice when the chicken turns out dry, or the steak has no flavor since it's well-done.

Do we have a food thermometer? Why, yes- we have 2. One of them is a probe where you just stick it into the meat and wait for the dial to tell me the internal temperature (read: takes too long). We also have one for roasts where you insert the probe into the meat, and the thermometer is outside the oven and you can see the internal meat temperature rising until the desired temperature and the alarm starts going off (read: love it for roasts, but that's it).

I needed something that could give accurate readings in just a mere few seconds. In comes the Thermapen. I had read about the wonders of this thermometer a year back, but with its hefty price tag, I thought I'd rather get some shoes. (Who can pass up new shoes?) Well, the time has come to purchase this gadget- and I ordered it for Darin for his 30th birthday.

The Thermapen is light, and easily fits into the palm of your hand. Just open the probe so it is sticking straight out, insert into meat (or bread, sauces, etc) and get an accurate instant read in 3 seconds.

Just pull the probe out and it's on. Just put the probe back in and it's off. The temperature display is large and easy to read. The splash-proof design makes you feel confident that this gadget will continue to work even if it gets wet.

The first time Darin used this was the first time Darin didn't undercook or overcook the meat. And now that I have it, I can't imagine my life without it. Our grilling has definitely increased this summer, and I love to know we can get perfectly juicy and succulent meat every time. We have used it on chicken, pork tenderloin, and steaks, but it can also be used for sauces and baked goods. The probe on this is so slender so checking the internal temperature for baked goods and breads is much more discreet. It's the best thermometer, hands down.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Fajitas

I apologize for this terrible picture. Believe me when I say this is a great recipe!

There is this tiny restaurant called Acapulco about 20 minutes away that Darin and I like to frequent. In fact, it is the only Mexican restaurant that I like. Normally, if we try a new restaurant, I always just stick to something I know and like- chicken fajitas. Seasoned, grilled chicken with sauteed vegetables- what's not to like (and difficult to mess up)? Well, some Mexican restaurants just can't seem to get it right- the chicken is too dry, the seasoning is lacking, etc. Luckily for Acapulco, I discovered their Acapulco Taco Salad (thanks Naomi), because well, their chicken fajitas are... meh. Not good.

I wanted chicken fajitas tonight, so it wasn't at all surprising that Cook's Illustrated had a successful recipe. I am so glad I tried it! The chicken marinade was outstanding, and it was the winner in this recipe. I could eat the chicken by itself, it was that good. I paired it with some Latin Rice and tomato salad, and it was a delicious meal. Definitely a winner!

Note: This would be a quick weeknight meal option- just make sure to marinate the chicken the night before or while you are at work during the day.
Here is the chicken straight off the grill

Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Fajitas

CI’s note: The chicken and vegetables in these fajitas are only mildly spicy. For more heat, include the jalapeno seeds and ribs when mincing. When you head outside to grill, bring along a clean kitchen towel or a large piece of foil in which to wrap the tortillas and keep them warm as they come off the grill. Although the chicken and vegetables have enough flavor to stand on their own, accompaniments (guacamole, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and lime wedges) can be offered at the table.

My note: An easy way to get the most juice from your citrus is to microwave (yes, really) them for 15 seconds. After warming, roll the citrus against your counter and you can feel the juices rolling around inside. Cut, and juice!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup juice from 2 to 3 limes (I used 2 limes)
  • 4-5 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp brown sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1½ Tbsp minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • table salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds), trimmed of fat, tenderloins removed, pounded to ½-inch thickness
  • 1 large red onion (about 14 ounces), peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds (do not separate rings)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
  • 1 large green bell pepper (about 10 ounces), quartered, stemmed, and seeded
  • 8-12 (6-inch) flour tortillas


Directions:
Make the marinade:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 2-3 Tbsp oil, garlic, Worcestershire, brown sugar, jalapeno, cilantro, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¾ teaspoon pepper.
2. Reserve ¼ cup marinade in a small bowl; set aside. Add another teaspoon salt to the remaining marinade.
3. Place the chicken in the marinade; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Prepare the grill:
4. Brush both sides of the onion rounds and the peppers with the remaining 2 Tbsp oil and season with salt and pepper.
5. For a charcoal grill... Meanwhile, using a large chimney starter, ignite 6 quarts of charcoal briquettes and burn until the coals are fully ignited, about 20 minutes. Empty the coals into the grill, spreading them in a single layer; place an additional 20 unlit coals over the lit coals on one side of grill to create a two-level fire. Position the grill grate over the coals and heat the grate for 5 minutes; scrape clean with a grill brush.
For a gas grill, light all burners and turn to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes; scrape the grill grate clean with a grill brush. Leave one burner on high heat while turning the remaining burner(s) down to medium.

Start grilling!
6. Grill the Chicken- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it smooth side down on the hotter side of the grill; discard the remaining marinade.
7. Grill the Onion & Peppers- Place the onion rounds and peppers (skin side down) on the cooler side of the grill. Cook the chicken until it’s well browned, 4 to 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken and continue grilling until it’s no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers about 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Meanwhile, cook the peppers until spottily charred and crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once or twice as needed; cook the onions until tender and charred on both sides, 10 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 to 4 minutes. (I didn't bother grilling my vegetables- I just sauteed them in a large skillet.)
8. When the chicken and vegetables are done, transfer them to a large plate; tent with foil to keep warm.
9. Warm up the tortillas- Working in 2 or 3 batches, place the tortillas in a single layer on the cooler side of the now-empty grill and cook until warm and lightly browned, about 20 seconds per side (do not grill too long or the tortillas will become brittle). As the tortillas are done, wrap them in a kitchen towel or a large sheet of foil. (I microwaved the tortillas at a time for 10-15 seconds.)
10. Separate the onions into rings and place them in a medium bowl; slice the bell peppers lengthwise into ¼-inch strips and place them in the bowl with the onions. Add 2 Tbsp reserved unused marinade to the vegetables and toss well to combine.
11. Slice the chicken into ¼-inch strips and toss with the remaining 2 Tbsp reserved marinade in another bowl; arrange the chicken and vegetables on a large platter and serve with the warmed tortillas.

Source: Originally from Cook's Illustrated, as seen on The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ina's Orange Banana Smoothie

We had eaten a very late (and quite large) lunch, so by the time dinner rolled around, we just weren’t that hungry. Fast forward to 8pm, and while we were still quite full, we wanted something sweet. Hmmm….

I had bookmarked this smoothie drink and we had all the ingredients, so we busted out our blender and went to town. This smoothie drink definitely foot the bill. It was refreshing, light, healthy, and has no sweetener or sugar. 100% all natural, filling, and dairy-free. Ina's original version uses fresh strawberries- we opted to use frozen strawberries that we just picked up from Trader Joe's and it gave it a nice smoothie (thicker) consistency.

Ina's Orange Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (4 oranges)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (or substitute fresh strawberries with top cut off)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 ripe bananas

Directions:

  1. Combine the orange juice, lime juice, strawberries, and banana in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten
 
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