Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall Dinner Party: Festive Pork Roast & Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

Last weekend I threw a Fall Dinner party as a birthday celebration for some friends and family.  On the menu was a roasted pork loin, pasta with roasted butternut squash sauce, and bacon-wrapped green beans.  For the starter I served a fancy cheese platter with brie, gouda, Roquefort, and goat cheese rolled in cranberries & cinnamon.  For dessert I made a beautiful pumpkin roll served with butter pecan ice cream.  It sounds like a lot, but it was a fairly easy menu.  The roast was marinated for 24 hours and then just thrown in the oven to roast…easy.  I made the butternut squash sauce the day before, so all I had to do was re-warm it the night of the party and add some pasta water to thin it out a bit.  I blanched the green beans the day before, pre-cooked the bacon slightly, and wrapped them into bundles, so all I had to do was throw them in the oven for 10 minutes while the roast was resting.  I also made the pumpkin roll the day before, let it set in the fridge overnight, and just added a sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving. 

Festive Pork Roast

3/4 C dry red wine (I used a Paso Robles Pinot Noir)
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C ketchup
1/4 C water
2 T grape seed oil (use whatever cooking oil you have)
1 T soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 t curry powder
1/4 t black pepper
4.5-5 lb boneless pork loin roast

In a large sealable plastic bag, placed in a bowl to prevent spillage, add all the ingredients except the pork roast.  Seal the bag and mix everything up by squishing the bag until all the ingredients have combined to make a very fragrant marinade.  Add the pork roast and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.  Turn the bag every once in a while so the whole roast gets marinated well. 

After marinating, remove the roast from the bag reserving the marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and allow to set out at room temperature for about 30 minutes.  Place the meat on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer through the center of the roast.  Roast at 325 degrees for 2 hours 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 150 degrees. 

During the last 30 minutes of roasting, pour the marinade into a saucepot and bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes.  During the last 15 minutes of roasting, baste the pork roast with the marinade frequently. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

3-3.5 lb butternut squash, roasted
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T butter
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 sage leaves, sliced or chopped
1 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 C heavy cream
S&P, to taste

Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepot over medium-high heat.  Add the bell peppers and cook until starting to caramelize.

Add the sage and garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the roasted butternut squash pulp and chicken broth, season with S&P, and mix to combine.  

Add this whole concoction to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return the sauce back to the saucepot and add parmesan cheese and cream, mix well, and taste for seasoning. 

This would be great tossed with hot pasta, but I just served it on the side so that we could add it as a sauce for the pork also and so that the kids could eat plain pasta if they wanted. 

The curry in the marinade of the pork goes so well with the butternut squash…yum!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Menu #69

I'm not able to get to my computer right now, so no pics since I'm doing this post from my tablet.

Tomorrow I'm going to post pics and recipes from my dinner party I threw this past Saturday which, by the way, was fabulous!  I decided on a menu of red wine-marinated pork loin roast, pasta with roasted butternut-pepper sauce and bacon-wrapped green beans.  I had a fancy cheese platter for a starter and a beautiful pumpkin roll for dessert.  It was a great night, although I was moving a little slow the next day.  ;-)

We have a short menu because were leaving on Saturday to Arizona to visit my in-laws for a few days.  From there we head to a cabin in the Grand Canyon for a couple nights!  We'll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws on our way back to California.  This week's menu. . .

Monday:  Grilled Burgers on pretzel buns w/ spring mix, tomato, red onion, & Gouda/baked fries

Tuesday:  Zuppa Tuscana & garlic pretzel buns

Wednesday:  Creamy Tomato Sauce w/ whole-wheat penne/roasted spaghetti squash/salad w/  balsamic vinaigrette

Thursday:  leftovers

Friday:  Breakfast for Dinner to use up everything in fridge...probably frittata or potato-veg hash w/ poached eggs and pumpkin parfaits.

Saturday-Friday:  Visiting in-laws and the Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Menu #68

X-man missed 2 days of school last week because he was sick with an ugly cold and now it’s my turn.  L  I’m in the recovery stage of an ugly cold and I can’t wait to be over this!  His sick-day soup of choice was tomato soup, which was pretty much all he ate last week.  My sick-day soup of choice is chicken noodle with lots of garlic and I definitely feel better after having it.  My mom always made garlicky soups and honey teas for me when I wasn't feeling well and it always made me feel better. . .and still does. 

Garlicky Chicken Noodle Soup

yields:  4 servings w/ leftovers

2 split chicken breasts
6 cups cold water
2 T grape seed oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 handfuls of baby carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 qt chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t poultry seasoning
2 large handfuls of whole-wheat egg noodles

Place the chicken breast in a pot and pour in the 6 cups of water and add a pinch of water.  Allow the water to just come to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.  Poach the chicken for 30 minutes, remove from the water, and allow to cool before cutting into bite-size pieces.  Strain the poaching liquid and set aside for later use. 

In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and celery, season with S&P, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the reserved poaching liquid, chicken stock, bay leaves, garlic powder, and poultry seasoning, and season with S&P.  When it comes to a boil, partially cover the pot with a lid, lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn the heat up to medium and add the noodles to boil about 10 minutes, then add the cubed chicken and cook until warmed through and the noodles are tender. 

Tuesday:  Garlicky Chicken Noodle Soup/salad & breadsticks

Wednesday:  Leftover soup, salad, & breadsticks

Thursday:  Chicken Marsala/garlic & olive oil whole-wheat penne w/ zucchini

Friday:  Coconut-Curry Chicken Thighs w/ peppers/steamed jasmine rice

Saturday:  Fall Dinner Party!  Menu:  TBD
I’m having my BFF over for an early birthday dinner combined with a belated birthday dinner for her hubby.  It’s going to be a fun night filled with yummy food, tasty wine, and great conversation.   I haven’t quite decided on the menu yet though.  I want it to be comforting, Fall festive, and delicious, of course.  My first thought was a pancetta-wrapped pork roast w/ creamy baked polenta and butternut-pepper soup for a starter, but I’m now leaning towards a large pot of Beef Bourguignon over buttered noodles with a cheese, nut, & dried fruit platter for a starter.  I’m thinking something with apples for dessert. . .

Sunday:  Party Leftovers!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

This is a simple pork roast recipe that can easily be adapted to whatever you have on hand.  I used up some leftover vegetables from the week before along with herbs from the garden.  It was supposed to be served with polenta but I didn't have everything I needed for that, so I went with pesto smashed potatoes and parmesan roasted broccoli.  It was a delicious meal!

For the broccoli, I drizzled broccoli florets with olive oil and seasoned with S&P and roasted them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, added shredded parmesan cheese and roasted for another 5 minutes.  For the potatoes, I just made regular mashed potatoes with milk and a little butter and added a couple of large spoonfuls of pesto.

The next day I made little pesto tater tots with the leftover smashed potatoes and they were so tasty!  I used the same recipe for my regular mashed potato cakes omitting the addition of green onions.  I then placed them on parchment paper and baked them in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning them over during the baking process to brown all sides.  I served them with a marinara dipping sauce. . .yum!  I actually don't have a pic of the finished tots because they went so quickly!  :-)

Slow-Cooker Italian Pork Roast

1 handful of parsley leaves
10 basil leaves
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 T minced garlic
1-1/2 t salt
5 grinds of fresh black pepper
2 lb pork sirloin roast
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 C diced tomatoes
1/2 container sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 C reduced-sodium chicken broth

Coarsely chop up all the herbs and set them in a mortar along with the garlic and S&P.  

Use a pestle to grind everything into a paste.  You could easily use a small food processor for this step if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. 

Rub the garlic-herb paste all over the pork roast.  Heat up the oil in a large pan over high heat and sear the roast on all sides, creating an herb crust.

Put the carrots and onions into the slow cooker and add the roast on top.  Add the tomatoes on top of the roast along with the mushrooms and pour the chicken broth around the roast.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Menu #67

Orange Fudge

Wow…last week was crazy!  But we survived and it was actually a lot of fun.  I had Red Ribbon Week, which was a success, and there was all the excitement of Halloween, which was a blast!  I'll post about that yummy orange fudge later this week. 

Xavier the Green Ninja

This was our first year of real trick-or-treating because our old house always had tons of trick-or-treat traffic and X loved handing out candy to everyone.  This year we only have about 10 kids in our cul-de-sac, so everyone trick-or-treats in the community behind us.  Xavier the Green Ninja (he made us call him that all night!) ran into half his class and trick-or-treated with a group of friends the whole night.  He declared it the best Halloween ever!  J

Laddie & Xavier's favorite Halloween decoration!

This week’s menu doesn’t start until Tuesday night because we had our end-of-the-season soccer party last night at a pizza place.  The kids had a blast but X woke up not feeling well this morning and had to stay home sick.  L  I’m making a batch of chicken noodle soup this afternoon for him to have the next couple days.  As for Laddie and I, this is what we’re having this week. . .

Tuesday:  Slow-Cooker ItalianPork Roast/polenta/roasted broccoli
I’m going to post the pork roast recipe later this week.  I’m using up a bunch of leftover stuff from last week, including mushrooms, tomatoes, broth, and crossing my fingers it comes out like I’m envisioning. 

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Crispy Parmesan FishSticks w/ marinara dipping sauce/buttered noodles/garlicky spaghetti squash
Hopefully X-man is feeling better at this point so he can eat one of his favorite meals. 

Friday:  Crispy Beef Tacos w/ all the fixings/cilantro-lime rice/calabacitas

Saturday:  X-man’s classmate’s Birthday Party
We have been invited to a birthday party at one of X’s favorite classmates’ house.  He’s really excited and we get along great with the parents, so this should be a lot of fun. 

Sunday:  San Diego Chargers vs Denver Broncos!

I’m not sure what we’re doing yet, but I do know we are watching this game with Xavier’s soccer coach and her family as well as his soccer assistant coach’s family.  They are hardcore Chargers fans and BDL is a hardcore Broncos fan, so this will be a lot of fun.  We just don’t know if we’re hosting or coach is hosting. . .we’ll probably flip a coin.  ;-)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beef-Barley-Kale Soup

I love soup season!  This is a hearty, delicious soup that’s perfect for a chilly autumn night.  It’s even better the next day for leftovers too.  Xavier loved the soup with exception of the kale.  He doesn't like the texture kale, spinach, or any of the greens take on once they wilt, which I completely understand because I hated that texture as a child also.  He had a bowl of broth with lots of barley and carrots and had raw kale and a breadstick on the side; compromise that everyone can agree happily upon.  ;-) 

Beef-Barley-Kale Soup

2 T grape seed oil
3 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
S&P, to taste
14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
4 C beef broth
4 C chicken broth
2 C water
1 C barley
1 bunch kale, stemmed & chopped

In a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat up the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots and onion and cook until starting to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  

Add the ground beef, season with S&P, and cook until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add the broths and water, season with S&P, and allow to come to a boil.  

Add the barley and cook about 10 minutes.  Add the kale and cook another 10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and serve.