Maple-glazed Pork Roast

I’ve made this recipe several times using both pork tenderloin and pork roast. I think I prefer the pork roast; the meat to glaze ratio is higher so the sweetness of the glaze doesn’t overpower the meatiness of the dish.

If you want to make this with a pork tenderloin use 2 x 1 pound tenderloins and cook them for 15 minutes in the oven before checking the temperature.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork roast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp.ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • pinch each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. While the oven heats up tie the pork roast in 3-5 places with butcher’s twine to make a more uniform “log” out of it. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet and heat it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to smoke. Brown the roast on all sides, starting with the fattiest side, for 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the pork roast to a plate.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Return the skillet to the burner and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Cooks for 30 seconds.
  5. Return the roast to skillet and coat on all sides with the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes. The center of the thickest part of the roast should register 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Rest the pork for 5 minutes in the skillet and then transfer to the cutting board for an additional 10 minute rest.
  7. Slice into 1/4″ slices, streak with some of the remaining glazes and serve.

Notes:
If you spray your measuring cup with a bit of non-stick spray before adding the maple syrup with will pour our much more easily.

Dark Color, Robust Taste Maple Syrup (formerly know as Grade B Maple Syrup) works very well in this recipe.

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Lemon Shrimp with Garlic Rice

Rummaging through the freezer I came across a bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp waiting for inspiration. After looking through a couple of cookbooks and scavenging the Interwebs I came across a recipe similar to the one below. I made a few modifications and, presto, dinner was served.

Lemony Shrimp with Garlic Rice
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can find it)
  • 2 lemons, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and toss to coat with oil. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, return to heat and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. While the rice cooks heat the chicken stock, lemon rings and paprika in a non-stick skillet over low heat until it is simmering; about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and swirl it among the shrimp to create a slightly creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve shrimp over a generous helping of garlicky rice.

Stovetop Spiced Pecans

I wanted a bit of sweet-salty crunch with the salad we made as part of our Christmas Eve dinner this year. After bouncing options off my husband I opted for a quick online search where I found this recipe that sounded promising. A bit of on-the-fly modification produced a tasty result.

Stovetop Spiced Pecans
Servings: 1 cup nuts
Prep time: nada
Total time: less than 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for finishing

Directions:

  1. Place a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the pecans. Toast for about 1 minute, swishing the nuts around the pan frequently. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, allow the sugar to melt and swirl to combine the spices.
  3. Return the nuts to the pan and toss to coat. Allow to cook for another minute until the nuts are well-coated with sugar and spice.
  4. Transfer nuts to a rimmed baking dish lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Spread the nuts out so they don’t touch. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then transfer to a sealable container.

Note:
Let these cool at least a minute or two before tasting; the sugary coating is lavatastic when it first comes out of the skillet.

Spinach and Zucchini Curry

[Spinach and Zucchini Curry]Monday night found me with no dinner plan. There were a couple of aging zucchini in the fridge, still firm but starting to blemish and a purple bell pepper, all from the farm stand near work. I found a package of frozen spinach in the freezer and a vague plan started to form. The result was a curry-like dish.

Spinach and Zucchini Curry
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, mostly thawed (see first direction)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove the brick of spinach from the package, place it on a cutting board and cut it into about 20 cubes. This is easiest if spinach is mostly thawed. Transfer cubed spinach to a clean dish towel, twist towel into a ball and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat with oil. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the onions and peppers have softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked onions/peppers to a bowl, retaining as much oil in the skillet as possible, and set aside.
  3. Return skillet to medium heat. When oil is shimmering add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Shake the pan to redistribute zucchini and cook, undisturbed for another 2 minutes. Transfer zucchini to the bowl with the onions and peppers, again retaining as much oil as possible.
  4. Once again return the skill to medium heat. Add the spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has been released, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic, probably no more than 30 seconds.
  5. Return the onions, peppers and zucchini to the pan and add the curry and paprika. Stir until spices are distributed throughout the skillet then add the tomatoes, yogurt and water. Stir until the yogurt is fully dispersed into the vegetables, creating a sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper; adjust as desired.

Notes:
I nuked the frozen slam of spinach for a minute on full power to knock it from brick to mostly thawed. Your mileage, and microwave, may very.

You may wish to remove the seeds from the zucchini. I do this after quartering by just running the knife along where the seeds meet solid zucchini. Seeds aren’t really a problem on smallish zucchini. When the zucchini get to the large size the seeds can turn to mush in your dish.

We served this with white rice.

Baked “Spanish” Rice

The word Spanish is in quotes in the title because I suspect this dish bears little resemblance to the rice dishes served in Spain. We often serve this when we make some sort of American-Mexican food, such with enchiladas. It also goes well with grilled meat.

Baked “Spanish” Rice
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (long or medium grain)
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Position your oven racks so that a covered dutch oven will fit. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions & peppers along with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice to the pot and stir until coated in oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until just starting to change from white to opaque.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until all of the broth has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.
  6. Uncover and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.

Ground Lamb with Swiss Chard

I am blessed to have access to a Winter Farmer’s Market between January and March. I am further blessed that I can get not only hearty root veggies but fresh, locally grown, greens like kale and salad mix. This recipe is inspired by the ground lamb and Swiss chard I picked up last weekend.

Ground Lamb with Swiss Chard
Servings: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1″x2″ pieces
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • plain white rice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add oil to a non-stick skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Add the ground lamb, breaking up in to smaller chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, breaking the chunks down into smaller pieces as the meat warms up and becomes more manageable.
  2. When the meat is mostly cooked through drain excess oil so that you have about a tablespoon left in the pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Onions should soften but not brown.
  3. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant; about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomato paste and spices. Stir until combined with the meat and cook for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the Swiss chard, sprinkle with salt and cover the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir to combine with the meat and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the chard for doneness. Continue cooking if needed; if ready add the lemon zest/juice and toss together to coat. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
  6. Serve over plain white rice.

Notes:
You don’t really need the oil as ground lamb tends to be a bit fatty however you need something in the non-stick skillet while you preheat it.

Be sure to rinse your Swiss chard well and spin it dry. Since we want to wilt the chard it doesn’t need to be bone dry; a little dampness on the leaves will help them cook faster.

If the skillet seems a little dry when checking the chard half way through cooking add a tablespoon or two of water before slapping the skillet back on the pan. The steam will help the chard cook.

Weeknight Chickpeas

We try to have at least one vegetarian meal each week and when I’m at a loss for what to make I turn to chickpeas. This dish is similar to the Chickpea side dish recipe I posted years back. The flavor profile is different and it makes a filling meal with some rice.

Weeknight Chickpeas
Servings: 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper, halved, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and pressed
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz.can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and peppers. Sprinkle with salt, stir to coat in oil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant. Add the spices, incorporate and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, a big pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Taste; chickpeas should be slightly firm outside and creamy inside. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper as desired. Serve up on a pile of white rice.

Notes:
I prefer to use Goya Reduced-Sodium Chickpeas for this dish.

A half tablespoon of acid, such as cider vinegar, stirred in to the chickpeas at the end of cooking will enhance the flavor of the dish.