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Meat Ravioli filling

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 ounce prosciutto, finely chopped
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. In a skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the ground meat, onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring to break up lumps, until the meat is cooked and the onion is tender, 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook over moderately high heat until evaporated, 4 minutes.
  2. Scrape the mixture into a food processor and pulse until the meat is finely chopped. Scrape the ravioli filling into a bowl and let cool. Stir in the Parmigiano, prosciutto and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the beaten egg.

Ravioli can be prepared over two days. Mix the filling on day one, store it in the fridge overnight, then make the dough and assemble the ravioli the next day. Freeze for up to a month

Based on this recipe from foodandwine.com.

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Perfect Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is from food.com.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Determine the EXACT weight of roast from the meat wrapper or scale. Weight will determine how long to cook the roast.
  2. Bring tenderloin to room temp.
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season meat as desired (dry herbs, garlic/onion powders, etc).  Place seasoned meat in an uncovered roasting pan on a shelf in the bottom 1/3 of your oven.
  4. Bake EXACTLY 5 1/2 minutes PER POUND. Turn oven off and DO NOT open the oven door.
  5. If you have a in-oven thermometer like this: Polder digital thermometer , then set the alarm for 140 degrees. Remove meat from oven when the alarm goes off.
  6. Otherwise, let the tenderloin remain in the oven for 45 min to 1 hour.
  7. Remove pork from oven, lightly cover with foil, and let rest 5-10 minutes to redistribute internal juices. Roast should be done, very slightly pink in the center, and very moist.
  8. After resting 10 minutes, the roast should reach a safe 145-150 degrees.

After preparing a pork loin this way, I realized I’ve been eating over-cooked pork my whole life. The result is an incredibly juicy and pink pork loin.

A few years ago, the USDA changed it’s recommendation for the safe internal temperature of pork from 160F to 145F.  This is a monumental difference!

I grew up thinking that pink pork is dangerous and was pretty shocked the first time I saw the pink center of a properly prepared pork loin. I actually put the meat back in the oven because I was cooking for people I knew would be uncomfortable eating it.

Embrace the pink! It’s much more delicious!

**Variation: To make Roasted Veggies along with the tenderloin, peel carrots and potatoes, and cut into about 1-inch cubes.   Season as desired and drizzle with a little oil.  Add vegetables to pan around (but NOT touching) pork tenderloin.  Cook tenderloin as instructed above.  The roasted potatoes and carrots should be done when the roast is done.  You may need to adjust the size of the potatoes and carrots depending upon the weight of your tenderloin and how long you cook it.

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For some reason, cooking good rice has always been very challenging for me.  It took me years to learn how to make decent white rice– rice that is cooked completely/not too watery or sticky/not burned.   It seems like it should be easy enough to follow the directions, but directions aren’t consistent with rice/water ratios and there are many different types of rice.  Also, I usually buy bulk rice and do not have the packaging to refer to for directions.

Brown rice is even trickier.  I had not succeeded in cooking perfectly fluffy brown rice until I discovered this recipe, which is ripped off from another blog who ripped it off from the Saveur website.  The main idea is to boil and drain the rice like pasta, then steam it in the pot with the remaining moisture.  This achieves a nice fluffy texture and maintains the integrity of the rice grains.

The Recipe

  • Brown rice
  • Water – use at least six cups of water for every one cup of rice*
  • Salt – to taste

1. Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.

2. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt.

*The Saveur recipe recipe calls for 12 cups water per cup of rice, but I’ve found that 6 cups water is sufficient (4 cups is not enough).

This is what is great about this approach:

  • You can use any amount of rice.  My problem with following rice recipes is that they’re all for 1 cup of rice and the water/rice proportions don’t scale in a logical way.  Asian friends have told me “you just put in water up to the first knuckle of your pinky finger when placed over the rice.” Yeah, right.  Do you mean an Asian girl pinky finger or a Cody Nancy Ramsey pinky finger?  This here recipe allows you to cook 1/2 cup rice or 5 cups rice.
  • The pot is WAY easier to clean because you’re not boiling the rice until the water is gone.  Big perk.
  • No boiling over because you cook the rice with lid off.   One of the things I hate more than ironing is wiping down the stove top.  Stab stab.

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I’ve been loving spaghetti squash lately and wanted to share my favorite recipe.  It’s called “Melinda’s Spaghetti Squash with Avocado and Parmesan.”

If you are unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, it’s weirdly similar in texture and sort-of in taste to spaghetti, except it’s squash.  It’s a bit of a miracle.

Here is what it look like in the grocery store:

It’s usually around 6 or 7 lbs (heavy!) and costs around $10.  I tend to get 4 meals out of one.

Here is what it looks like this after it’s been cut open when you scrape the insides out:

And HERE is what  it looks like when you prepare it a’la Melinda:

What I love about Melinda’s recipe is the freshness of the flavor combo.  She includes avocado, lemon, fresh basil, Parmesan, black pepper and olive oil.  It’s divine, you should try it.

A cumbersome aspect of preparing spaghetti squash (any type of squash, really), is that it is difficult to cut in half with a kitchen knife.  I’ve found that putting it in the microwave for a couple minutes before cutting softens it quite a bit and that helps a great deal while cutting.

Another recipe I like, which is simpler and a little less exciting is from http://www.chowhound.com: Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmigiano-Reggiano.  It’s prepared with Parmesan, garlic, shallots and olive oil.

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Update on Mission #1: to find a multitude of diverse recipes for make-ahead lunches.

Photo and recipe from www.thekitchn.com

Ok, I’m really psyched about this one and I’m eagerly awaiting a review from Babycakes after lunch today.  Quinoa tabbouleh!  What a great idea to swap out the couscous that is traditionally used in tabbouleh for quinoa.  Quinoa is a whole grain and very high in protein, while couscous is a form of pasta made from semolina.  You can get whole grain couscous, but quinoa is still higher in protein and has a lower Glycemic Index (which matters to people who are concerned about diabetes or high blood sugar).

Here’s my review based on the aforementioned requirements:

1. Tasty and healthy:  Score 9. Tabbouleh is good– fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice and feta– nom nom.  The fresh mint in particular is delightful and like I said before, quinoa is a very healthy grain.

2. Cost-effective: Score  10. I spent less than $10 on ingredients and this should provide about 5 lunches.  <$2 a lunch is pretty sweet.

3. Time-intensity: Score 6. The only time intensive step was preparing the parsley.  It called for a whole bunch of both parsley and mint, which I minced in the Cuisinart, but I had to pluck the leaves off of an entire bunch of parsley.  Preparing fresh herbs seems to always take me an inordinate amount of time and I’m sure I’m too anal about removing the stems completely.  So, I’m going to try to lighten up and speed up the herb prep steps in the future.  When I think about making this dish again, prepping parsley is going to be the biggest drawback.

4. Easy clean-up: Score 9. I used 1 pot for cooking the quinoa, a bowl for mixing the ingredients and lots of prep bowls.  Not bad!

Total score of 34/40.

Now to wait for Mr. Piggy’s feedback…


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To find a multitude of diverse recipes for make-ahead lunches.

Requirements– the meals must be:

1. Tasty and healthy

2. Cost-effective

3. Not time intensive

4. Easy clean-up

I have a list of recipes to try from chowhound.com and thekitchn.com (thanks, Alger).  My hopefully doable goal is to try one recipe a week and post my evaluation according to the requirements above.

Last night I made Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese:

photo from thekitchn.com

1. Tasty and healthy: Score: 8 (out of 10).  Very tasty and uber healthy– recipe called for spelt and Israeli couscous, lots of almonds and crispy asparagus, juice from 2 lemons, not much salt.  It’s a delish vegetarian recipe.

2. Cost-effective: Score: 5. Ingredients cost about $20 and this should make 6 lunches, so it’s about $3.50/meal.  That’s not bad.

3. Time-intensity: Score: 3. I triple-tasked cooking the spelt, couscous and toasting the almonds, and even though there were not so many veggies to chop, it took about an hour of active time.

4. Ease of clean-up: Score: 2. This recipe required 2 saucepans, 1 frying pan, 1 big bowl, 2 cutting boards and all my prep bowls.  Blech!

Total score of 18/40. I call that a fail.  Too bad.

I am intrigued with these grains, however, so I’m excited to try other nutty hippy recipes.  Woo!

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