Monday, July 21, 2014

Pork Loin Chili...

Disclaimer:  This is quite possibly one of the best pork dishes I have ever made in my life.  EVER!

Chili topped with a bit of cotija cheese
I know it's summer and that chili is definitely not a summer dish, but I have been craving something a little more meat and potatoes in nature rather than the typical sandwiches and salads that I eat a lot of during the summer.  Seriously, I am definitely an omnivore leaning towards carnivore.  If I don't have a good helping of meat at least once every couple of days I get to craving it really badly.  That's what happened today.

A quick look in the freezer and I found a small pork loin and some chicken thighs.  Just as a back-story, when I get home from the grocery store with a full 2-3 pound pork loin I divide it down into 3 parts and then freeze it.  I do this because as a single person I can't eat that much pork loin all at once.  So, today I pulled out that small pork loin (it weighed 10 ounces) and let it defrost.  I looked online for some inspiration and found this recipe on Food Network.  I looked over the ingredients and knew I had just about everything and the reviews were really good, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I did modify my ingredients though to make up for what I had.  Here's what I did:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces pork loin
Kosher salt
Ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
3/4 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup prepared black coffee
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup corn
2 heaping tablespoons cornmeal (to thicken)

Pour 4 tablespoons of the oil into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot and place over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Season the pork with a dash of salt and pepper and brown it in batches, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Set aside the browned pork.

Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the pot. Season the veggies with the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and cilantro. Sweat the vegetable mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the pork back to the pot along with the tomatoes, honey, coffee, and sherry.  Stir well, bring up to a simmer and then lower the heat to the lowest setting.

Let simmer 2 to 3 hours, until the pork is juicy and buttery soft. Add corn during last 2 minutes of cooking.  Serve directly from the stovetop over rice (I used yellow rice) and top with favorite toppings such as cotija cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapenos, and/or shredded cheddar.

 Topped with cotija cheese and a side of yellow rice

Coconut Cake with Chocolate Chunks

 Oh my...what a delicious cake!  I've been craving a Mounds candy bar lately as well as cake.  So I thought I should combine the two together!  A quick search of the internet and I found this recipe from Epicurious and got ready to bake.  I deleted the orange zest because I really wanted more of the Mounds experience, but I've left the recipe in it's entirety here so you can make that choice for yourself.

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars (do not exceed 61% cacao), broken into 1/2-inch irregular pieces, divided (I used Hershey chocolate bars)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Coconut Drizzle:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and sea salt into medium bowl. Stir in unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.
Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, tenting with sheet of foil if coconut atop cake is browning too quickly, 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

Coconut Drizzle
Whisk powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend well, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.
Carefully run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Invert cake onto platter, then carefully invert again onto another platter, coconut side up. Using small spoon, drizzle powdered sugar mixture decoratively over cake. Cool cake completely on platter. DO AHEAD Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover cake and let stand at room temperature.

This cake was absolutely delicious!  It is really light in texture but has a lot of flavor.  I highly recommend it!!  I'll be making this again.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands!

I've booked my vacation for next year!  I'm going to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands!!  I'm very excited about this trip because these two places are on my bucket list.  I will be leaving next July for this lovely 2 week vacation.  The other cool thing about this trip is that I have never been in the southern hemisphere.  I'm putting a counter on my page here so that I can keep track of how many days until I leave.

There are so many things that I want to get before I go....a travel guide, some of those traveling packs for my suitcase, a better set of luggage, some new active clothes, a waterproof camera, and a few other little things that I think will make my trip much easier and more fun.

So excited!