Monday, April 22, 2013

Burgundy Pork Tenderloin

Happy Monday, everyone! The sun is out, it looks like Spring is finally here, and I am actually being somewhat productive today. I am sorry this post is a little late in coming, but since today is the first day in about two weeks that I have actually been somewhat productive, at least I'm finally getting to it.

I would like to share a recipe that I made last Tuesday (see - almost a week behind schedule here!) for dinner. I am always trying new recipes, so it is really rare that Mike gets to eat something that we call "Tried and True", but this is one of those. And seriously, folks, I have an old-school, blue, three-ring binder with a label on it that reads "Tried and True". The really really good recipes go in there. You should see this binder. Maybe I will actually take a picture of it one of these days. Some of the recipes have been printed off blog posts or All Recipes (, and most of them are covered in my handwriting with all the changes I have made. And to be honest, most of them are also covered in... well... things like chocolate fingerprints, butter smears, tomato sauce splatters, and other things that I have decided not to examine too closely. In other words, it's a real cookbook.

This recipe is in that cookbook, and I have written all over it, and it is liberally splattered with red wine. Burgundy wine, to be exact. The recipe is Burgundy Pork Tenderloin. It's easy, it's delicious, and it is made with two cups of wine. What's not to love?

So this particular journey begins with a pork tenderloin, a baking dish, and some spices. Not a lot, oddly enough. I know most of the recipes that I share have a long list of spices, but this one has salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Rub spices into the pork loin.
 Then you add a coarsely diced onion to the mix. I used a sweet onion for this because I like the combination of flavors when you add the wine, but yellow onions work well, too.

Yes, that's the wine. Two cups of it. And the really nice part is that there are two cups left over for drinking!
 You pour the wine over the tenderloin and the onions, and then you bake it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

 When you remove it from the oven 45 minutes later, it is burgundy in color. Yeah, I like my food purple!

 Remove the tenderloin from the pan and stir the secret ingredient (a package of brown gravy mix) into the wine and onion mixture. Okay, I realize that you are thinking that brown gravy mix has no business being a secret ingredient, but just trust me on this one.

 Slice the pork and serve with the onions and the wine/gravy sauce over the top. And of course any wine that still remains after the 45 minute cooking period.

We had ours with green beans and mashed red potatoes. Delicious!

I originally got this recipe off of All Recipes (original recipe can be found here), but these are the modifications that I have made:

Burgundy Pork Tenderloin

Makes about 8 servings. Cooks for 45 minutes.


2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups burgundy wine
1-2 (.75 ounce) packet(s) dry brown gravy mix, depending on your taste preferences


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place pork in a 9x13 inch baking dish, and sprinkle meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pat it into the meat so it is well stuck. That way the wine won't wash it off. Top with onion, and pour wine over all. Bake for 45 minutes.
When done baking, remove meat from baking dish, and place on a serving platter (or if you are like me, a plate). Pour gravy mix into baking dish with wine and cooking juices, and stir until thickened. Slice meat, and cover with the gravy and onions.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Coconut Lime Chicken Tacos

I have another easy-to-make, really customizable recipe to share with you. This recipe comes together in under 30 minutes, and faster if you want to try a short-cut. For instance, I poached and shredded a couple of chicken breasts, but you could just as easily pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store and just pull it apart with your fingers, and that would save you probably 15 minutes.

Shredded chicken with coconut milk.
You start with shredded chicken in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk. I used lite, but you could easily use the full-fat version. It will be thicker, so keep an eye on it while you simmer the chicken.

Add lime zest, lime juice, cumin, and a splash of hot sauce.
 I zested a lime, then added the lime juice, the cumin, and some El Tapatio sauce, mixed it all together, and then left it to simmer while I chopped a red onion, an avocado, and shredded some cheese.

When it was done simmering, I added fresh cilantro and a little salt and pepper.

Then I put my onions and avocados in little bowls. Honestly, that was purely for the sake of this picture, since Mike and I would normally just scoop them right up off the cutting board. Look at how this blog is refining me. My Mom would be so proud.

 I used corn tortillas (slightly warmed) for my tacos, but you could also use standard taco shells, flour tortillas, or like Mike did (see the lovely photo below), you could use a spinach flour tortilla.

Coconut Lime Chicken Tacos

Serves 4-6


2 lb of shredded chicken
1 can lite coconut milk
1 tsp cumin
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Splash hot sauce
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Tortillas (your choice)
1 small red onion, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken, coconut milk, cumin, lime zest and juice, and hot sauce. Simmer until heated through and thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat. Stir in the cilantro, then divide the mixture between the tortillas.
Top each serving with diced onion and avocado. Serve immediately.
See? Super-easy, super-fast, and really customizable! I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Garlic Chicken and Orzo

This is one of those super-simple, really yummy, really fast, perfect-for-weeknight-dinners meals, and it is also really healthy, and re-heats wonderfully. I realize this sounds as if maybe I am OVER appreciating this meal, but let's face it... It's also egg-free.  So for right now, it makes me happy. And because I am happy, I thought I would share.

You can also customize this in so many ways. I ate mine as pictured (in it's healthiest form). Mike added sour cream and sriracha sauce to his, as well as extra cheese.

I think you could add different vegetables (fresh peas, maybe some fresh tomatoes or asparagus, onions... lots of options) and different cheeses would also be good. You could probably swap out the protein, too. I used chicken, but shrimp could be really good, too. And adding a little lemon juice at the end might just be perfection. But those are all ideas I have not yet put into execution, so if you try any of them, please let me know how it goes!

Sorry I don't have more photos, but this meal cooks fast, so there's not a lot of opportunity to take good pictures, other than of chicken cooking in a skillet (BORING), or me peeling and mincing garlic (also kind of BORING), so you just get these pictures of the yummy end-product.

Garlic Chicken with Orzo


1 box uncooked orzo pasta (about 16 oz)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-size pieces
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
grated Parmesan cheese for topping


Bring a large pot of chicken broth to boil. (You can use water, but it is much tastier if you add some bouillon to that). Add orzo pasta, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the garlic and red pepper 1 minute, until garlic is golden brown. Stir in chicken, season with salt, pepper, and onion powder and cook about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and juices run clear. Reduce heat to medium, and mix in the parsley and cooked orzo. Place spinach in the skillet. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

This recipe makes about 8 servings, and you can always add more chicken if you want more. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Best. Lasagna. Ever.

Okay, well maybe it isn't the BEST - but it's pretty darn good (which just doesn't sound as great in the title), it fits within my new allergy-induced egg hiatus, and for those of you who pay attention to such things, it is only 9 points for Weight Watchers. Not bad for seriously tasty lasagna!

Come on... doesn't that look awesome? You know you want some.
So I changed a few things from "standard" lasagna to get this version. I was looking for comfort food (since I am still whining about the allergy situation), that was a little more healthy (because allergies are not a good excuse for why my pants suddenly shrunk), but that fit within the confines of my egg-free diet for the next few weeks.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am focusing on eggs for right now. So no eggs, in any form, for the next two weeks or so. Then I will slowly add them back in over a week or so and see what symptoms I get. The results of that experiment will determine whether or not eggs are permanently eighty-sixed from the list of allowed foods. Then we will move on to another identified allergen for me... which will probably be chicken. Ugh. I eat a lot of chicken, you know.

Which brings me back to the lasagna. So I replaced the normal ground beef that you see in meaty lasagna with ground chicken, and I replaced the Italian Pork Sausage with Hot Italian Chicken Sausage.

This is what ground chicken, Hot Italian Chicken Sausage, diced onions and minced garlic look like in my Dutch Oven. Yum, right?
I like to combine my spices before I add them to the sauce. I don't know why... it is just one of those things that I like to do. And then I like to take a picture of them, because for some reason, I think spices are pretty. Yes, I do have a spice problem. Just ask my friends...

Once the meat was well browned, I added the spices and stirred in all the tomato products. Lots of tomato products in this lasagna. But no ketchup. Yuck.

My lasagna sauce after an hour and a half of simmering. It smells even better than it looks!

I know lasagna takes a long time (this recipe takes about 3 hours total), but it is so worth it. And the list of ingredients is pretty long, but most of it is spices or tomato products, so don't let that scare you away.

For this recipe, I made sure to use egg-free noodles. They boiled for about 8-10 minutes. I drained them and immediately rinsed them in cold water so they would not stick together. No one likes sticky lasagna noodles. Then comes the process of layering.

For the ricotta mixture, I would normally mix it with an egg (I know... eggs are in EVERYTHING), but I used a little fat-free sour cream instead, just to get the fat-free ricotta that I used to a spreadable consistency.

I started with a layer of sauce, then a layer of noodles, then ricotta cheese, mozzarella (the skim variety) and parmesan cheeses, more sauce, more noodles, more ricotta, more mozzarella/parmesan, and more sauce. Then I finished it with more cheese!

Be warned, this makes a MONGO pan of lasagna. My 9x13 pan was full. I even put a baking tray under it to catch the drippings because I was pretty sure this was going to drip a bit. It did. I love it when I'm right.

Now THAT'S comfort food.

Best. Lasagna. Ever.


1 lb Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
1 lb Ground Chicken
1 Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) Can of Tomatoes, crushed
12 oz Tomato Paste
15 oz Tomato Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Basil
1/2 tsp Fennel
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Parsley
12 Lasagna Noodles
16 oz Fat-free Ricotta Cheese
1 Tbsp Fat-free Sour Cream
Salt to taste
12 oz Skim Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


In a dutch oven, cook the sausage, ground chicken, onion and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Stir in the seasonings (minus the Parsley). Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, until they are soft, but still al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese with the sour cream and the parsley, and a touch of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a 9x13 pan, spread a couple of ladles of sauce in the bottom and layer half of the noodles (that would be 6 noodles for anyone who failed math) lengthwise in the pan. You will have some overlap. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture and top with a third of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan Cheese. Again, for those who failed math, that would be 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese. Repeat these layers and top with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray to keep the cheese from sticking to it.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. Let cook for about 15 minutes or so before serving to prevent burning the roof of your mouth with ooey-gooey cheese.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Indonesian Chicken, and A Foodie with an Egg Intolerance?

Happy April, everyone! It seems like time is just flying by these days. I do have an excellent recipe to share with you (Indonesian Chicken in the Crockpot), but I would also like to take a few moments to talk allergies. For those of you currently suffering, please grab a kleenex and read on. For those that are fortunate enough to have avoided the affliction of allergies, please feel free to skip to the bottom with the pictures of food. You will find the recipe there!

Growing up in the country, my sister and I both discovered we had allergies: hay fever, to be specific. Grass and tree pollens galore. I also have a shellfish allergy (thanks for those genes, Dad), and my cat makes me sneeze and my eyes itch, but I never really gave allergies much thought. They were just THERE. As was my heart burn. You gotta love acid reflux. And everyone always has very helpful suggestions: 'drink more water', 'make sure you chew slowly', 'better cut back on the coffee' (yeah right), 'guess that means no more wine for you ' (AS IF!!!)... but nothing ever helped, and so I just sort of ignored that, too. Left it under the "Just One of Those Things" category.

Just had to share these - they make me sneeze, but they are quite beautiful!

Lately, though, over the past decade, we have started losing family members to cancer. My grandfather on my mom's side was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, as was my dad's sister. We are fortunate enough to still have my Aunt with us, and when I talked to her and my father about her illness, something a little scary (at least to me) came to light. It is fairly common on my father's side of the family to choke when eating. This has been happening to me for the past couple of years. If I eat anything dry (like chicken or bread), or things that naturally clump together (like rice or oatmeal), I find that I choke on them. I chew VERY carefully, I swallow slowly, and I drink plenty of liquid while I eat, but I still choke.

So discovering that this is a family trait, as is esophageal cancer, and that my choking has been increasing in frequency lately, I got just scared enough to go to the doctor. She was very nice, but she looked at me like I was nuts when I explained to her why I was there. So she referred me to a GI specialist. Who also thought I was nuts. But she decided she wanted to do take a look, so I went in for an endoscopy. This is a really interesting procedure, if you haven't had one done... essentially you sleep through it. But the doctor takes pictures of your esophagus to show you later, and that's pretty cool.

My esophagus has developed eosiniphilic esophagitis, which causes the dysphagea.  Lots of fancy words, I know. Essentially, I have white blood cells that have formed rings in my esophagus. Those rings are where the food is getting caught, causing the choking. So the next big question was why were these rings forming? The most common reasons (and none of these are actually all that common!) are bacterial or fungal infection, precancerous issues, or allergies. After the biopsies came back, it has been determined that mine are allergies. So I was sent to an allergist to determine the next steps.

He did testing. Turns out, I am allergic to EVERYTHING. Yup. Everything. Thanks, parentals, for those genes. And the things I am not allergic to, I exhibit an "intolerance to"... nice, huh? So the known environmental causes include cats, grasses, tree pollen, dust mites and molds. For food: eggs, chicken, tomatoes, garlic, onions, broccoli (weird, I know), spinach, lemon... the list goes on. Odd thing, though... what I am not allergic to: wheat, hops, cheese (as long as it is lactose free)... so I guess I will drink lots of beer and eat lots of grilled cheese sandwiches!

The reason I am sharing all this with you, though, is because you will probably notice a change in the recipes I am sharing. I am attempting a food experiment over the next few months to determine which of the foods on the never-ending list of items to which I exhibit an allergy or intolerance actually causes me physical symptoms. I am hoping that by determining that, I can prevent the rings in my esophagus from returning using natural means. Currently I am treating them with a steroid, antihistamine, and antacid. Once the rings are gone, I need to keep them from coming back.

I am also doing a lot of research on my condition, food allergies in general, and the current focus that I have is on eggs. So please, bear with me in my crazy journey. I am a foodie who is allergic to food. I really need to get that sorted out. In a hurry. I would really appreciate any comments, links to good informational sites, stories you can share of people who are going through what I am, etc. The more information I can get my hands on, the more real-life situations I can review, the better equipped I will be to deal with this latest challenge.

With that said, on to bigger and better things! Like Indonesian Chicken that I made in my crockpot. Because I love my crockpot.
Seriously tasty spice mixture!
 A little ginger, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon and coriander... with some lime zest for extra awesome-ness.

You take that super yummy spice mixture and rub it into the chicken. I used chicken breasts, but you could easily sub in thighs if you want.

I added spinach and green beans, because that's how I roll. And boy am I glad I did! Extra veggies in a dish always help. Carrots would be very good in here. Probably some butternut squash, too.

After 5-6 hours in the crockpot on low, you serve this deliciousness over white or brown rice, or rice noodles would be good, too!

 Indonesian Chicken


  • ~ 1 lb of chicken, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 15oz can light coconut milk
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • ~5 oz fresh spinach
  • 2 cans green beans
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish desired


  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, garlic and lime zest. Rub over chicken thoroughly and use it all. If you have any of this spice mixture left, add it into the crock pot with the coconut milk in the later step.
  2. Place chicken in a crock pot, and cover with onions and added veggies.
  3. Pour in coconut milk, lime juice, remaining salt. The coconut milk often separates, so mix in well.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.