Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tender to the Bone

Chili Verde with Shredded Pork and Straight Up Deliciousness

Finally (sort of) a day off! In planning my menu for next week, I face my typical challenge of late night-rehearsals and many miles on the road. In this instance, I found myself in need of a hearty one-pot dinner that would provide at least a few days' leftovers.

On days like this chili is a ready answer . . . and with a big ol' pork loin sitting in my freezer- it's the perfect answer. While this recipe may seem a rather time-consuming endeavor, my time "slaving over a hot stove" was pretty minimal. I was, in fact, left with plenty of time to tend to other household chores while the pork loin slowly simmered in onions and salsa verde. Rich, flavorful, and surprisingly simple . . . I think you'll like it!


- 1 3-4 lb. pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 4" chunks, and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 12 oz. jars salsa verde
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 7 oz. can diced green chilis
- 3 15 oz. cans pinto beans
- salt and pepper
- yellow corn chips
- shredded pepper jack cheese

Heat a large dutch oven over medium, add chopped bacon. Cook until bacon begins to brown, but is not yet crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Add chopped onion to pot with rendered bacon fat. Cook over medium until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add pork loin chunks to pot with onions and cook, turning so that each side begins to brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Add jars of salsa, cumin, cardamom, chili powder, and pepper flakes to pork and onions. Bring to simmer then lower heat to the lowest possible setting. Cover and simmer 1 1/2-2 hours until pork is extremely tender and falls apart easily. Stir mixture occasionally to make sure pork isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When pork is completely tender, pull pieces of meat apart with forks. Add green chilis, beans with their juices, and cooked bacon to the mixture. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer chili verde for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve with corn chips and shredded pepper jack cheese.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Best of Both Worlds

Super Mac and Bacon-Cheese Burger

Okay- maybe this isn't the best dish for all those out there who have so recently vowed to "eat healthier" in the new year. Fine. But in my defense . . . there are tomatoes in the recipe. Upon my weekly pre-shopping fridge inventory, I found an abundance of bacon. While the idea of bacon cheese burgers was a tempting dinner prospect, looking ahead at my rehearsal schedule for the week, I knew I would need to make a meal that would yield lots of leftovers. I put this together to bring together two of my favorite meals: mac and cheese and bacon cheese burgers. It seemed a natural fit. I hope you enjoy it.


- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 6 slices bacon, diced
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 Tbsp. butter, plus extra for greasing pan
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 qt. whole milk
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp.
Worcestershire sauce
- 1 lb. sharp orange cheddar cheese, grated
- 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 12 disks
- 1/2 c. plain breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Lightly grease a 13x9" baking dish with butter.

Bring 4 qts. water to a boil over high heat to cook pasta according to package directions.

While water is boiling, heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up with wooden spoon until browned. Season with salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and spoon ground beef into a separate bowl. Return Dutch oven to heat and add chopped bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the bacon is browned, but not yet crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

Return Dutch oven to medium heat and add chopped onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions soften and begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn heat slightly lower and add 4 Tbsp. butter. Let melt over medium-low heat and then add flour. Whisk flour, onions, and butter together for 1 minute. When a thick paste forms begin to add milk, 1 c. at a time, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a simmer and allow to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add half of the grated cheese and mustard to mixture. Simmer over heat until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper and return cooked bacon to cheese mixture.

Meanwhile, boil macaroni according to package directions. When cooked al dente, drain water, and add pasta to cheese mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Spread half of the macaroni and cheese mixture into the bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle cooked ground beef on top of pasta. Spread remaining pasta on top of beef. Then arrange sliced tomatoes on top of macaroni layer. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Then top with an even layer of remaining grated cheese and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until cheese becomes brown and bubbly. Remove from oven. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Eat up! Yum.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Soup Night

Fully-Loaded Baked Potato and Beer Soup with Cheddar and Chive Dippers

A new year is upon us full of new challenges and possibilities, but the weather has yet to change. January in Oregon is typically wet, cold, and grey. Being the frugal girl I am, I'll do anything not to turn on the heat in my apartment even though it's like living in a giant refrigerator. On nights such as these- I am in need of a hearty dinner that will warm me from the inside out. I put this recipe together as a twist on one of my favorite side dishes . . . the noble baked potato. But here, rather than playing second-fiddle to a rib-eye steak , the potato takes center stage.


- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. small, yellow potatoes such as Yukon Gold, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 c. water
- 1 12 oz. bottle of dark ale
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 lb. grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced down the center
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- sour cream and extra chives for garnish

In a large, heavy soup pot heat olive oil over medium. Add diced bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon from pot and place on paper-towel lined plate to drain. Reserve bacon fat in pot. Return to heat and add onion. Cook over medium until onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes, water, and bottle of beer. Raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine half of the grated cheese, mayonnaise, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture evenly among ciabatta bread slices and spread evenly on top. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Turn on broiler. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5-7 minutes. Pay attention so that toasts do not burn. Remove toasts from oven and cover with foil to keep warm.

When potatoes are cooked through, remove soup from heat. Working in batches, blend about half of the soup in a blender (or use your trusty immersion blender) until creamy. Leave some potato chunks in the soup. Return soup in pot to low heat, add cream and remaining shredded cheese. Stir and cook until combined and warmed through. Add diced bacon to soup, season with salt and pepper.

Remove soup from heat. Divide among four bowls. Top with a dollop of sour cream and pinch of chives. Serve each bowl with a cheddar and chive dipper. Enjoy!