Tag Archives: pork

Slow-Cooker Honey Soy Pork Roast

30 Apr

(First, as an aside. I still feel weird calling it a slow cooker, not a crock pot. You can take the girl out of New England…)

Anyway.

Today, I have for you all another delicious, easy, slow-cooker recipe for pork. This may be my first official Pinterest post on We Meat Again, as that is where I found this original recipe for Parmesan Honey Pork Roast, pinned by my dear friend Lindsey, who is the working momma of a growing toddler, and therefore, in need of many quick and easy recipes.

Linds, if you haven’t tried this one yet, you should.

The prep time for this is as simple as mixing up the sauce and tossing it all in the crock pot. 15-20 minutes max, and dinner’s served later that night.

I used a pork tenderloin, about one pound, so I cut back the recipe to scale, and it seemed to work fine. Here are my other suggestions for the recipe:

  • The suggested cook time is 6-7 hours. With the same liquid ratio, at seven hours, my one-pound tenderloin was a bit dry. I might try the shorter end of that time, or keep on warm for the last hour or so. Just make sure to check that the meat is cooked through.
  • This may be the first time I suggest a recipe modification, but … I don’t really get the Parmesan cheese in here. I mean, I love parm, but I felt I could taste it too much in the gravy, and next time, would likely just leave it out and let it become a more tangy, Asian-flavored roast.

  • Speaking of gravy, definitely take the time to make the cooking liquid into a gravy and serve it over mashed potatoes. That was probably my favorite part (though this does need to be done 20 minutes or so before the roast is ready, if you opt for homemade mashers).
  • Also speaking of Asian flavors, I used sesame oil instead of olive oil, and thought that worked really well here.

And there you have it. Another Marissa-tested slow cooker recipe for a yummy-smelling house with little effort. Enjoy!

Nibbles: What We Didn’t Eat This Week

3 Feb

Quite a variety of happenings in the world of food this week.

The Good

An illuminating new report out by the cooking & nutrition charity Share Our Strength provides concrete evidence that low-income families do cook at home more often than they eat fast food, and would like to be able to do so even more. I like Marion Nestle’s coverage, as she’s not afraid to nod towards some of the corporate influence the report contains. Good news, nonetheless.

Colorado is considering a state-wide ban on trans-fats in school lunch programs. Colorado is also, interestingly, the least-obese state in the nation (you can’t really say “thinnest” in a country where obesity is over 30% across the board). Coincidence?

In more school lunch reform news, the USDA announced this week its new rules (yes, actual rules here) that will increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables, and eliminate some meat requirements in its school lunch program. As Mark Bittman says, imperfect as the new rules may be, 32 million kids are about to start eating better.

Jane Black has a nice piece in The Washington Post discussing the rise in flexible CSA options. While I think her editorial brushes off the consumer benefits of a regular CSA too dismissively, I’ve loved my past flexible CSAs for the access they provided someone who couldn’t afford a full share.

The Bad

This article isn’t bad so much as slightly annoying. A new study out of the Washington State University purports to help reform the beef industry’s image by claiming cattle ranches are significantly more environmentally-friendly than thirty years ago. File under — yes, and…?

I mentioned one lawsuit Monsanto is currently facing. Here is another! A class-action case that claims the company spread toxic substances all over a town in West Virginia in the course of producing a chemical component of Agent Orange. The toxic substances listed are mainly dioxins, which have been linked to cancer.

and the (very) Ugly

The Humane Society of the United States (which has, in the last few years, done a really impressive job ramping up its advocacy of livestock animals along with homeless pets) released a new undercover video documenting standard pork industry practice for raising pigs.

Graphic images included.

Tom Philpott’s analysis cuts to the core:

The remarkable thing…is how banal it is. What we have here is the everyday reality of pigs’ lives on a factory farm, without regulations flouted or spectacular violence committed. It is abuse routinized and regimented, honed into a profitable business model.

The video even got NYTimes sustainability blogger Andrew Revkin interested. He’s got a response from the Oklahoma Pork Council (which suggests that images were “taken out of context,” leaving me to ask — is there a context in which these practices are acceptable?) and takes the opportunity to wonder if this might continue to make the case for test-tube meat. Not if the omnivores here on We*Meat*Again have anything to say about it, right?

Happy Weekend, All!

 

Pan-Grilled Ginger-Honey Pork Chops

24 Jan

A few weeks ago, I tackled a reader question about how to motivate yourself to cook on a busy schedule. I completely understand the difficulty of doing this, especially this semester. (Turns out, professing is a full-time job, writing a book is a full-life job, and trying to do both of those while training for a 5k, teaching a yoga class and writing a blog is, well, insane.)

So I thought I would stop trying to make all my We*Meat*Again recipe posts super-impressive and showcase instead some recipes that will help with the advice I gave in that post: take your busy schedule into account and save the big cookfests for the weekend. Here’s a recipe I’ve made this week in less than 15 minutes, in all its deliciousness: Pan-grilled ginger-honey pork chops.

My latest issue of Cooking Light (a regular and great source for fast, easy, healthy cooking), included this recipe for pork tenderloin that I modified to use on the pork chops I had (though if you do cook a whole tenderloin, you’ll be making yourself some great leftovers).

It’s as simple as:

  • Mix the sauce
  • Grill the chops
  • Prep your sides

That’s it! The sauce only includes four ingredients, most of which are pretty standard in my house: ginger, honey, lemon juice and soy sauce. Since I didn’t use a grill pan, I used a swirl of sesame oil to coat the pan and add to the Asian flavors.

Once the pork chop was browning, I doused it with sauce, and then used the 3-4 minutes per side to whip up some easy sides. I made a big pile of microwaved carrots, since I (rightly) thought they would go well with the extra sauce, but a small salad, a micro-baked potato, fresh green beeans, or some couscous, orzo or barley would all work and not take more than a few minutes.

There you have it: an easy, fast and totally healthy meal. No skimping on the amount of filling food, or on any of the food groups, almost no prep time in terms of chopping, and plenty of healthy deliciousness.

What are your favorite quick week-night meals? How do you make sure to meet your healthy eating needs on a time crunch? Leave a comment and share your secrets with the rest of us!

Pork Chops with Kale in a Mustard-Apple Cider Reduction

12 Oct

I know I’ve done a few pork recipes lately, but this one was too good and too easy not to share. You may all have noticed I’m on a bit of an autumn kick lately, and this recipe has almost everything a good, quintessential autumn recipe should: pork, dark greens, apple cider.

Yum.

I wanted to do something with my pork chops and the apple cider I had, but was hoping to break out of the pork chops & applesauce mode (mostly because I don’t have any of my mother’s applesauce, which is the only kind I will eat. She will probably send me some right away, after reading this).

A little internet searching later, and I came upon this recipe, which had the added benefit of helping me use up the rest of my kale. I usually prefer kale raw or just par-boiled, even though it’s more bitter, because I rarely enjoy wilted greens, but the use of cider in here really mellowed the kale flavor and made the cooked greens tolerably good.

The recipe was incredibly easy. Though the original blogger grilled his pork chops, I did mine inside in a skillet. But I think grilling outside and making a warm cider reduction inside seems like the perfect way to honor the changing season — hold on to the nice weather while you can (and avoid setting off the smoke alarm) but bundle up inside when you need to.

I love that this sauce sounds and looks so fancy. Being able to say you served a pork chop on a bed of kale with a mustard-apple cider reduction sounds so Top Chef, but the whole process took about fifteen minutes and very little work.

The perfect recipe to celebrate the beginning of those yellow leaves falling… enjoy!

What are your fall favorites? Leave a comment and offer me some suggestions to enjoy, whether as traditional as pumpkin pie or a little more wild!

How to Shop for (and Eat) Whole Foods

22 Sep

A few weeks ago, I asked some of my Facebook friends for thoughts on posts and Laura, who writes the blog Shaped by My Life (a fellow IC writing alum) suggested posting a sample shopping list with an eye towards cooking with whole foods. I thought this was a great idea. So often, people don’t buy whole foods because they aren’t quite sure what to do with them. Also, I really love grocery shopping, and making lists, so this is post will be particular fun for me.

I thought I’d start with my general grocery shopping philosophies for whole foods trips.

First, don’t expect to get everything all in one place. I know it seems inconvenient at first, but the massive corporate chain grocery store that stocks everything does so to the detriment of other features like locality, quality, and health. Cheap products that can sit on shelves for months at a time are highly processed — if you want to begin avoiding corporate foods, processed foods and to prioritize local and organic foods, you’re going to have to go outside the big box. The good news is, you will likely quickly develop a routine that is not inconvenient: produce at the market, bulk grains and legumes at the co-op, meat at the local butcher, all in the same amount of time you’d normally spend weaving your way through the fluorescent aisles.

Second, don’t be scared off by the higher price tag. You will spend more in a single trip on whole foods than you are used to at the grocery store. But again, there’s a silver lining here! A single trip to the co-op will stock you up with more food that will last longer, and needs only to be supplemented with weekly produce additions. When you shop at the grocery store, you’re buying food that is pre-packaged to make a single meal. When you buy whole foods, you’re buying the pieces for lots and lots of meals, instead.

In general, a good method for figuring out what to buy involves thinking of the big categories of whole foods, and choosing the individual parts you like in those categories. This will give you lots of options for mixing and matching ingredients into many different meals. I’ve provided a list of the categories here, with a sample of what I would normally buy in each — but keep in mind that’s limited to my tastes, so the categories should be your guidelines.

Grains

You can buy grains either in bulk (where you fill your own container) or pre-packaged. Some of my favorites are:

  • Israeli & French couscous (Israeli for deconstructed couscous salad, french for Parmesan couscous)
  • Arborio rice (for risotto)
  • Pasta! (I usually get a smaller shape that holds sauce for baked mac n’ cheese and a longer pasta for tossing in lighter sauces)
  • Orzo/wild rice/brown rice (for pilafs, stir fries or beds-of kind of recipes)

Legumes/Nuts/Seeds

This is where a normal person would buy lots of bulk lentils and legumes. But I don’t like those, so I spend most of my energy here on nuts for snacks or meal garnishes and seeds for salad topping.:

  • Cashews!
  • Whole or slivered almonds
  • Sunflower seeds (great on spinach salads)
  • Walnuts (for crusting oven-baked chicken)
  • Pecans (for chicken salad)

Produce

I’m not a fan of canned vegetables, and frozen veggies don’t have as much flavor for me, so I try to buy mostly fresh produce. The few exceptions I make are:

  • Frozen fruit for smoothies (though you can just freeze fresh fruit)
  • Frozen corn and peas
  • Canned refried beans if I’m in the mood for Mexican
  • Dried fruit for salads and granola

For fresh produce I always try to get a mix of:

  • Leafy greens
  • Green stalk veggies, like green beans, asparagus (or again, for normal people, broccoli)
  • Tomatoes and a variety of peppers
  • Carrots and celery
  • Lots of onions (I always get at least one red, white and yellow) and garlic!
  • Portable fruit like apples, oranges and bananas
  • Berries, watermelon or pineapple for chopped up snacks/cooking

And then I toss in a few extras depending on what’s there and what looks good seasonally, like cauliflower, zucchini/summer squash, red cabbage, or alfalfa sprouts. Obviously, the possibilities are endless here, so I suggest you figure out your most used veggies, and pick those up each time, and then supplement that with one or two other veggies each trip. This way, you have variety  but don’t overwhelm yourself and end up throwing lots of produce away as it’s spoiled.

Meats

Meat is a lot like produce for me — I pick up the same few things each time, and then add in a bit for variety. I try to get a mix of meat types so I’m not consuming a ton of red meat, and to work in some seafood. My staples are:

  • Chicken breasts (not a fan of the low meat content of other chicken parts, but wings and thighs are best if you like dark meat)
  • Pork chops and/or tenderloin
  • White fish like tilapia or cod (this is a purely Marissa-picky thing, as it’s the only kind of seafood I really like)
  • Ground beef or lamb and/or some fancy form of these like ground buffalo, lamb shanks or sirloin steaks
  • Meats you can use for deli sandwiches. If you’re lucky, your co-op will sell nitrate-free ham, or sliced chicken and turkey. But if not, it’s really easy to buy and cook a chicken or turkey breast and slice it up yourself!

Dairy

Dairy covers a lot, and those things have variety in them (like cheeses!) so here’s a breakdown of what I buy:

  • Milk and/or soymilk. I usually get regular milk for drinking and cooking, and soymilk for smoothies
  • Butter (which I always get in stick form because it measures easier for baking, but can still be used on toast, etc.)
  • Sour cream for sauces
  • Yogurt (I get a large, vanilla container for smoothies and then smaller individual packages in flavors for midday snacks!)
  • And cheese galore! I try to get one or two hard cheeses that work for both sandwiches and grating, like sharp white cheddar and Gruyere or another Swiss, plus fresh mozzarella for salads, Parmesan for pasta, plus some orange cheddar or something else that will melt into a cheddar sauce well.

Baked Goods

Now, by baked goods, I don’t mean cookies and snacks. I make those myself! I mean things that are made in an oven, mostly forms of bread. I usually keep:

  • Whole grain bread sliced for sandwiches
  • Wheat tortillas (for enchiladas, lunchtime quesadillas and wraps)
  • English muffins or bagels for breakfasts

The only things not considered in these categories are sauces, condiments and drinks. Once I’ve stocked up on the basics, I assess the recipes I know I have in my cart and get the corresponding condiments (mayonnaise for sandwiches, mustard for everything, BBQ sauce for pulled pork, vegetable broth, peanut butter, etc.). I basically don’t buy drinks at the store because I consume pretty much exclusively water and milk, but I know that co-ops often stock really delicious local root beers or soda waters, as well as adult beverage treats.

I’ve also not included the things I have in my pantry on a regular basis that don’t need to be purchased on each trip to the store: baking goods like flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, etc; spices and seasoning, like dried herbs, lemon juice, balsamic and other vinegars; honey, and lots and lots of olive oil. Never run out of olive oil.

I know that changing your shopping habits might seem daunting at first, but I promise you that lists become routine very quickly. And you’ll really enjoy getting to spend time creatively piecing together different pieces to make your own meal.

Cooking with whole foods means more than cooking in a more healthy way — it means learning to think about how foods fit together. I know that can seem overwhelming, especially for people who want cooking to be easy, something they can do at the last minute. Once you get the hang of it, and get used to stocking your house with a variety of whole components, it will be easy! I usually take some meat out of the freezer in the morning, and then decide what to do with it when I get home, depending on what I have, and how hungry I am/how fast I want the cooking to go.

The pride I feel when I can open the fridge and freezer and think: Hmm, I’ve got walnuts, chicken, spring green mix, orzo — hey! I can make that walnut-rosemary crusted chicken on a bed of orzo pilaf with lemon-sprinkled salad greens! is unparalleled. Give it a shot!

Ok — what did I forget? What are your whole food staples, and what are your favorite recipes to go with them? Leave a comment and share with readers, as I know my taste and cooking style are limited!

Smoked Paprika Pork Chops with Corn and Bell Pepper Relish

15 Sep

Last week, I promised you all a celebratory meat post since I’ve found some good sources for sustainable meat here in Kansas. I’m a bit delayed due to this unseasonal sickness, but here it is!

When I sat down to consider my options to post about, I was surprised to discover I haven’t covered this recipe here on the blog yet, as it’s one of my favorites: a healthy, well-rounded meal that places a large emphasis on vegetables, barely takes any time, and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients! I’d picked up a couple of Kansas pork chops at the Salina co-op last weekend, so I ran with this while fresh, summer veggies are still available.

The first step here is to make the relish. As you can see from the recipe, the relish is as simple as chopping fresh bell pepper, red onion, ginger and garlic (or using minced/powdered versions of those spices) and then sauteeing the savories in a little oil. Add your choice of vinegar (the recipe calls for cider, but I’ve only ever used balsamic. I imagine red wine would also work), and you’re finished.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that you can use one pan. Since the relish will just go on top of the chop, what does it matter if a little of the relish flavor or a bit of red onion sticks to it now? And then, only one pan to wash!

Simply sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika over the pork chop, and cook until done. A tip: let the pork chop sit, untouched, in the pan for a full four minutes, flip it and leave for another four minutes. This allows the juices of the meat to seep back into the chop, rather than run off in constant flipping.

Another tip: when using this single-flip method of cooking meat, be prepared for your smoke detector to be set off.

These babies were big, so I opted to just eat a whole pork chop with the corn and bell pepper relish, though I usually prepare two half-chops and sides of mashed potatoes. The relish produces a nice, savory juice that runs off into potatoes well. Give this 20-minute meal a shot, and enjoy how much vegetables make a meat-centered meal taste even better!

Video: The World’s Easiest Recipe!

5 Jul

I know, I know, it’s a tall order. But I promise you, I don’t exagerrate. Check out the video below for the day-long, slow cooker recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Cooking Light, with my tweaks and rule-bending.

First, yes, my slow cooker is on the stove. Not a placement I would normally recommend, but I’m in the process of moving and have packed away my kitchen table, so the stove is the last remaining real estate near an outlet.

I apologize, too, for the poor video quality and the amateur editing, but hopefully the food is good enough and the banter witty enough to look past all that.

Edit: It appears that for some reason, the embedded video might not show up in certain feed readers. So if you check out the post in RSS, you can either click through to the web version of the post to watch the video, or get it directly here.

Check it out — seven minutes of video. That’s all it takes to make this recipe! And that’s with me talking a lot in between.

As you can see, I usually skip the slaw altogether, or, as in this case, serve something like it on the side. I think the sandwiches are too good to mess with on their own. My red cabbage slaw is a pared down, simplified version of Rachael Ray’s.

I think the best part of this recipe is how little time it takes to start. So many slow cooker recipes require work in advance of the slow cooker, such as browning meat or chopping lots of vegetables. But this is as simple as dropping in a roast and adding water. Perfect for hectic mornings, and a task you can easily give over to someone else in your household too, even if they aren’t usually the cook.

But make no mistake — this recipe’s easiness is absolutely no obstacle to deliciousness! This is one of my gold standard recipes, and especially during the school year, when the schedule is busier, one that gets made and enjoyed frequently.

Trust me, when you walk in the front door after a long day at work, you will be so happy to smell the delicious BBQ flavor filling your kitchen. As someone who loves cooking & eating well, but works a busy, and often irregular schedule, I love being able to make a great meal with so little effort.

What’s your go-to super-easy recipe? Share it with all of us as a comment here, post it on my Facebook page, tweet it to me or send me an email! I’d love to compile some reader suggestions for more.

Bourbon & Cauliflower

15 Jun

The bad news is no parsnip post this week. The good news is, I made dinner last night with Jim Beam. And that’s always a good thing.

When I went to the co-op for groceries yesterday, I realized that in my excitement to try parsnips, I had become distracted from actual weather patterns. Though it’s been cool the last few days in Iowa, we are, in fact, in mid-June. Not parsnip weather (they are winter root veggies, but can be harvested into late spring). I was severely disappointed, not least of all because I’d already picked out a recipe to try on them, and an accompanying recipe for grilled pork chops with bourbon-mustard sauce.

No way was I abandoning the bourbon-mustard sauce plan.

Luckily, I am a quick thinker, and what should I discover in the produce section but cauliflower. Another vegetable I’ve never really given a chance, despite hearing wonderful things about how delicious it can be. Into the cart a head of cauliflower went! By the time I got home, I’d planned to find a recipe for mashed cauliflower, thinking it would pair nicely with the pork and extra glaze.

I began by prepping the mashed cauliflower. Having never worked with the vegetable before, I just sort of — sawed off the bottom of the head (the green part) and then pulled off individual florets, trimming down the stem as I needed,  until I had enough to fill a steamer bowl.

Once the cauliflower was started, I set to work on prepping the sauce for the pork. I mean, what sauce isn’t going to be good when it begins like this?

Bourbon + grill pan = girl’s best friend.

Then, I simply snapped the ends off a loose handful of green beans and set them in water to boil. My personal taste for green beans is al dente, so I bring them to a boil in cold, unsalted water, rather than tossing them in an already boiling pot. Seasoned the pork, brush it with sauce and set it in the grill pan.

The trickiest part of the meal was finishing the cauliflower. This part was made more complicated than it need be by the fact that I was using my four year old food processor for the first time ever, and therefore, had to get to know all its moving parts while checking and turning the pork. But processing the cauliflower itself is actually pretty easy — just toss garlic, cauliflower, milk and butter into the bowl and process until smooth.

Beware of ratios here (I’ve said that before on this blog, haven’t I? Now you all know what a bad recipe follower I am) as too much liquid can make the cauliflower over-creamy. Once smooth, I poured the cauliflower puree into the oven for a few minutes, to crust up the top as I’ve heard suggested. I definitely recommend taking the time for this step.

By this time, the pork and green beans were about done and I was ready to dig in! I sliced my pork chop up, since I was using a giant, sirloin cut chop that is just way too much meat for one person (so now I have leftovers).

And boy, did these flavors get along. Grilled pork chops with a bourbon-mustard glaze, mashed cauliflower and fresh, local green beans. YUM.

But I knew I was going to like the pork chop and green beans. The wild card in this meal was mashed cauliflower, a vegetable I honestly cannot remember ever having eaten before, prepared in a new way. I was a little bit of a wuss, mashing them with garlic, butter and milk, creating an analog to my all-time favorite side dish of mashed potatoes, and I’m normally not an advocate of masking an ingredient to convince yourself to eat it, but … this cauliflower was amazing!

Now I’ve got one tried-and-true recipe for cauliflower to return to (and perfect, as I added too much milk and too much garlic), but I also know I like cauliflower, which will make me all the more likely to try it again, to try it in a different recipe, or to even try it raw. Cauliflower demystified, veggie horizons expanded.

And all it took was a little bourbon.

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