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STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH SPINACH AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

pork tenderloin

i should just tell you up front, this isn’t really a recipe.
the other day, i was watching the food network and saw a recipe for stuffed pork chops. yum. so i went to the store to buy a few ingredients and somehow returned with a pork tenderloin instead. so now i had to improvise. i did my best to remember what might have been in a dish i had at a restaurant years ago. i looked through a few recipes on the foodnetwork.com. i consulted the joy of cooking and my friend, justin. and i picked up some goat cheese because my boyfriend has been begging me to try it in a recipe. eventually, this is what we came up with.
i don’t know why i didn’t pay more attention to what i was doing. i suppose i wasn’t sure just how it was going to turn out, so making notes of my recipe to share with the multitude didn’t really occur to me. i should have known it would turn out delicious – i mean, how can you go wrong with stuffing a meat full of delicious things?
so if you are feeling a little adventurous, here is approximately what i did [to the best of my memory].
the filling:
2 cloves garlic
10 oz. spinach
4. oz sun-dried tomatoes
4 oz. goat cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
with a little olive oil, sautee garlic and chopped spinach until nearly cooked through. add sun-dried tomatoes. remove from stove when the spinach is cooked to your liking. in a separate bowl, mix goat cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream together until smooth. add the spinach + sun-dried tomatoes to your creamy mixture.
then you will need a pork tenderloin – i think ours was close to 3 pounds? i really can’t remember. but it was big. so if you are cooking something smaller, you will probably only need about half of the filling.
cut your tenderloin open so it lies flat, rather than as a roll. (i should have taken a picture of how we did it – it’s a little hard to explain. but you guys are smart, so i’m sure you can figure it out). pat the pork dry with a paper towel, then place on a baking sheet. spread the filling across the pork, then roll the tenderloin up like a jelly roll, keeping the mixture enclosed. secure the pork with toothpicks or cotton strings (that is what we used).
brush the top of the pork with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper atop.
bake at 400 degrees, until the internal heat of the pork is 155 degrees (you will need a meat thermometer). i think we baked ours for about an hour. like i said, i should have paid better attention. if you overcook your pork, it will end up being dry and not as delicious. so at about 40 minutes, check your pork with your meat thermometer and keep an eye on it. cooking time will also depend on how much meat is being cooked, so it may vary.
so what do you think? doesn’t it look fabulous!
i love trying new things in the kitchen.
i love it even more when they turn out.
but just remember, no matter what you’re cooking, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out quite like you expected. it is a learning experience. for example, i thought it would be a really good idea to put chopped garlic on top of the pork while it baked. but since we were baking it at such a high temperature, it only took 10 minutes for the garlic to start burning and smoking. so i had to pull it out of the oven, which set off the fire alarm, and scrape off all of the garlic into the sink.
like i said, don’t get discouraged. we’re all learning. [exhibit a].
so go ahead. try something new. be a little daring. maybe even set off the smoke alarm.
and as always, happy cooking!
xoxo.
jana
for more of my favorite recipes, click here.

stuffed pork tenderloin

ROASTED VEGETABLE MEATLOAF WITH A BALSAMIC GLAZE

"food photography"

here’s the thing about meatloaf.

up until about a month ago, i had never had it before. and to be honest, i didn’t think i was missing out. i even remember one day, when i was in junior high, asking my mom why she had never made us meatloaf. she told me that my dad didn’t really like it, so she just never made it. and i thought this made me lucky. because i always felt like kids complained about 2 things: leftovers and meatloaf. and while i didn’t understand the deal with leftovers – those were a luxury at my house – i was grateful that i never had to worry about eating meatloaf.

but ever since i started dating the boy, he has been telling me that i needed to make bobby flay’s meatloaf recipe. (he actually told me this the day after we met). he was actually incredulous when i told him that i had never had meatloaf ever. apparently it is one of his favorite meals.

so 8 months later, i searched bobby flay’s meatloaf on the food network’s website, we bought the ingredients, and i cooked it up. it wasn’t bad for my first meatloaf. but the boy wasn’t completely satisfied. you see, his friend’s mom has made him “bobby flay’s meatloaf” on a few occasions, but he said our meatloaf was only about 70% there. so he e-mailed her and asked her what she did differently. attempt #2 consisted of 1/3 bobby’s recipe, 1/3 her changes, and about 1/3 of what we decided to throw in.

and since i just could not keep this recipe to myself any longer, here it is.

i have to warn you though. you will become obsessed. i think we’ve been making meatloaf about once a week around here. so if you’re not a huge meatloaf fan, try this recipe. it will blow your mind. and if you’re already a meatloaf-lover, try it anyway. it will blow your mind.

ingredients:
1 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 carrots (finely diced or grated)
2 stalks of celery (finely diced)
1/2 medium white onion (finely diced)
1 zucchini (finely diced or grated)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 c. parsley (finely chopped)
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 lb. hot jimmy dean sausage
1 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 c. parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 c. ketchup
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. worchestshire sauce
2 t. hot sauce (chalula)
2 T. BBQ sauce
2 T. steak sauce (A1)

glaze:
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. worchestshire sauce
1 T. BBQ sauce
1 T. steak sauce (A1)
1 t. hot sauce (chalula)

* side note, if you don’t have all of these sauces, don’t worry. just remember that the ketchup and balsamic vinegar are the only 2 that you shouldn’t change.

directions:

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

heat the oil and butter in a large saute pan. add the garlic, carrots, celery, onion, and zucchini. saute vegetables until almost soft, about 5 minutes. salt and pepper vegetables, to taste. set aside to cool.

whisk together the eggs and parsley in a large bowl. add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, sauces, and cooled vegetables. mix until just combined – it’s usually best to do it by hand. [side note: like i said, if you don’t have all of the sauces, don’t worry. the ketchup and balsamic vinegar are the most important. as for the rest of them, just throw in what you have. those were the sauces that we decided to use, to give it a little extra kick, so feel free to leave some of them out or add some of your own].

mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet. whisk together the ingredients for the glaze, and spread it across the entire meatloaf. cook for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. [use a meat thermometer if you have one].

ps. this recipe makes for delicious leftovers. so to those of you that have ever complained about leftovers or meatloaf as children, your mother just didn’t have the right recipe. no offense to your mother, i’m sure she’s a lovely person.

jana's meatloaf

happy meatloafing!

pss. how is my food photography coming along? i’m pretty proud of myself so be nice. but i have to tell you that cooking this meal took over 3 hours from start to finish – posing vegetables can be very time-consuming.

for more food + photography, check out more of my favorite recipes or visit my homepage.

DEAR MOM,

i thought about e-mailing you, but i know you read my blog too, so this works just as well.

remember how you sent me the recipe for your sweet and sour chicken yesterday? well, i made it [don’t worry, it was delicious. but we’ll talk about that later].

anyway, it took me over 2 hours. 2 hours. we didn’t eat dinner until 9 last night. and i realized something. every time i make a recipe of yours for the first time – something you made all the time while i was at home – and i realize it’s kind of hard, and takes forever, and the smoke from burning oil burns my eyes a little, it makes me grow an added respect for you. really. how you made us dinners like that with 7 kids is beyond me.

now that we have that out of the way, i do have an excuse for why it took so long. i also made fried rice, which i had never made before either. it wasn’t too hard, but definitely added time. oh, and it was way good too. i used so much garlic and ginger i almost died – in a good way. in fact, my fingers still smell a little bit like garlic and ginger today.

one last thing. don’t be mad. i made a few changes to your recipe, and i think i liked it better. i used red bell peppers instead of green. and you know how the sauce calls for ketchup? well i forgot to put it in. i didn’t realize until we were already eating. but i didn’t mind the difference. and i added a dash or two of red pepper flakes, to make it just a little spicy. and i added a drop of red food coloring, to make the sauce a little more pink. you know, like it looks in real chinese food restaurants. still, i would have had no idea what i was doing without your recipe as a jumping off point.

i didn’t get to take any pictures – that’s the problem i run into when i cook at night. there’s just no natural light. that, and i’m starving and want to eat.

i think your teriyaki chicken is next on my ‘to cook’ list. want to send me the recipe?

love you.

xoxo.
jana

ps. mom do you mind if i share the recipe on here? i bet people would want it, right people that read my blog? i honestly think when i made it last night that it was better than any sweet and sour i’ve had at a restaurant. i just need to make it again so i can get some pictures before i post it.

CREAMY CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

a recipe, as promised.
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[ps. they look and taste WAY better in real life than what it looks like in this picture. it’s really hard to get good pictures of food when you and 2 grown men are starving].

my mom used to make this for dinner when we were growing up, but for some reason i didn’t like them then, i don’t know why. so my mom stopped making them as much [my sister still blames me]. and because she stopped making them, i never really got to try them as an adult, now that i actually know what good food tastes like.

until, over the summer, i went to visit my boyfriend’s family and his mom made them for sunday dinner. i couldn’t tell her that i didn’t like them, it would be rude and everyone would think i was weird. so i decided i would just eat them as best i could and fake a smile. but you know what? i actually liked them. it was a really exciting day for me.

then last week, i was craving chicken enchiladas like you would not believe. i e-mailed my mom for her recipe, but apparently she doesn’t have one. she just throws stuff in as she goes. so that’s what i did – with the help of my friend justin.

but in case this recipe isn’t already a part of your collection of family favorites, i decided to write out the ingredients + directions so you can be sure to add it to the list. really, you’ll thank me later.

here’s what you’ll need:
12 tortillas
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. container sour cream
2, 10 oz. cans of cream of chicken soup
1 can olives
9 oz. diced green chiles
3 c. grated cheese

first, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
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then, boil your chicken breasts. i had never boiled chicken before this, but it was so easy and they turned out so tender and delicious. boil for 10-15 minutes, until cooked all the way through.
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if you use frozen chicken breasts, like we did, you may have to cook them for closer to 20 minutes. because if they look like this, they’re not done.
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feel free to use already cooked tortillas. but as for me, i love love love the raw tortillas that you have to cook yourself. so while the chicken was boiling, i cooked up 12 tortillas.
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next, you’ll want to mix together the sour cream and the 2 cans of cream of chicken soup.DSC_1307

then, add the green chiles. we used a 2oz. and a 7oz. can, and the spiciness was moderate. feel free to add more or less, depending on how spicy you would like your enchiladas to be. [i might add more next time].

and make sure you get lots of pictures of stirring in green chiles, because it is apparently exciting.
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once this is stirred through, put about a cup of it aside to spread across the top later.

struggle opening a can of olives. or open it easily, it works either way.
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slice the olives, and stir them into the filling mixture.
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then, slice the chicken into bite size pieces, and stir them into the mixture as well.
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now to the last, and most important, part.

cheese.

grate 3 cups of cheese – we used medium cheddar and pepperjack. mmm, pepperjack. only pour 2 of the 3 cups into the filling mixture; you’ll use the remaining cup to spread across the top. stir it up and the filling is done!
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put about this much mixture inside each tortilla.
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fight a little bit over who gets to roll them up.
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[i won. obviously].
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roll up the enchilada.
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and place it in a glass pan.
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once the pan is full, spread the filling across the top – the cream cheese, cream of chicken soup, and green chile mixture you saved earlier. (sorry, we forgot to take a picture of that step).

then, sprinkle atop the cup of cheese you saved. yum.
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put pan into the oven at 375 for 35 minutes.
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my mouth is watering.

our 8×11 glass pan only fit 9 of the tortillas, but our filling made enough to fill 12. so we cooked the extra 3 in a little glass bread-sized pan.

and just fyi, these heat up to make amazing leftovers, and you can even freeze them, unthaw them, and bake them another day if you feel like making more than one batch.

happy cooking!

love. love. love.

valentine_cookie_blog

i had the best intentions for valentine’s day and this blog of mine. i was going to make all sorts of awesome valentine’s cookies and cupcakes and post them here for inspiration…

but then my computer charger broke.

and my mom and sister came into town.

and my cousin got married.

and i got a sick boyfriend.

so i had to settle for a 3 day late picture of a cookie i made last year. maybe i’ll get it right next time. [am i the only one that says that a lot?]

it only took 22 valentine’s days for me to snag a valentine of my own. [really, this was my first february 14th with a valentine]. even being sick and practically immobile he managed to make it wonderful. more details on that later.

i hope you all had a lovely day as well.

what did you do to celebrate?

xoxo.
jana