Sunday, March 20, 2011

Perfect Saturday Night

Last night in Sugar Land the weather was perfect! Slight breeze, no mosquitos, 70's..... perfect. The kids played in the courtyard after their bath while Grant and I cooked dinner together. This is one of my favorite things to do, because I love cooking... and I love spending time with Grant when it doesn't involve baseball or hunting. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I had bought on sale this week and some fresh okra. I thought we might try grilling the pork, and for the okra, fried with tomatoes! It sounds weird but I was having lunch with a co-worker from Louisiana, and we started talking okra. smothered, fried, boiled....yummm! I did not have all the yummy ingredients she smothers her okra with so I tried it this way and it turned out amazing! Ava staked her claim in the remaining few bites left on the plate :)

Grilled Garlic Lime Pork:
I started with just your basic packaged pork tenderloin.

There are usually 2 in each pkg. I did a quick read on how to prep them since it is not a meat I usually cook with. Most info said to remove all fat. This was an incredibly tedious process, so I trimmed one and not the other.

(They tasted exactly the same as finished products, so I would save yourself the time) I made a quick marinade:
in a food processor combine- 8 cloves of fresh peeled garlic, juice and zest of 1 lime, 3T salt, 1/4 of a bunch of fresh parsley (b/c that's all I had... cilantro would work the same) and 5-6T of olive oil.

You can get creative if you have other flavors you want to use, I LOVE garlic and lime on the grill!
I put the marinade in a bowl with the pork and let it hang out until the grill was ready.

Grant grilled it for 15-20 minutes over direct medium heat. (not a crazy big fire)
It was sooooo GOOD! The pork held the lime and garlic flavors really well! A definete do again :)

Fried Okra and Tomatoes:
I started by cutting my okra into bite sized pieces, discarding the stem end and rinsing in a colander

(this helps the breading stay on) then I diced 10 yellow grape tomatoes in half (I think they are called sunburst tomatoes)
Make a dry batter in a large freezer bag using 1 cup cornmeal, 1/4c flour, 4T salt.
Put the cut tomatoes and wet okra chunks into the bag and shake.

Heat oil (anything but olive, it will burn on med high heat) to medium high heat. It's a seven on my cooktop. You will know the oil is ready if you drop a little corn meal in and it sizzles:) You need quite a bit of oil, because the cornmeal will absorb it.

Fry tomato and okra mixture in batches (you don't want to overfill the skillet or it takes forever) about 5-8 minutes each batch, just until the okra's crust turns golden and the tomatoes burst. Drain on a plate covered in towels and salt if needed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shrimp Boil

With Lent last week I couldn't help thinking about all my Baton Rouge friends and all the delicious Louisiana cooking I miss so much. I am not a cajun cook, however, boiled shrimp I can make:) Ava loves peeling and eating shrimp. So this is one of her favorite meals!

Shrimp Boil:
Start by filling a LARGE pot half full of water. Add 1 crab or shrimp boil seasoning packet. (2 if you want it spicy) I use the New Orleans brand, it's sold by the seafood counter.

Add 1 lemon cut into fourths, fresh or frozen corn on the cob, and potatoes dices into fourths if you want them. Bring all these items to a boil and continue to boil for about 15 min or until your potatoes get soft. Add 2lbs of raw, thawed peel on shrimp. (I buy mine in the freezer section of HEB) Turn heat off after 1 minute, and let shrimp sit for 20 minutes.

This will cook your shrimp. Then just drain and serve!

I usually serve mine with macaroni and asparagus.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Italian Pot Roast with Spicy Tomato Gravy

My cousin made a pot roast for our family last year and topped it with this amazing sauce. No one loves a good sauce better than me! So I was dreaming about it as I walked around Whole Foods and decided I would give it a go.

Pot Roast:
I always start with a bone in chuck or shoulder roast. I just think they tend to turn out more tender and juicy than other cuts. So this time I used a bone in shoulder. I tossed it into my crock-pot with 1/4c water. (I prefer to fix a roast on the stove in a cast iron skillet, but sometimes us working moms have to improvise:) You can use ckn broth or beef broth if you like instead of water... it just ensures it won't burn before all the fat melts off the meat. Ummmm.

I topped the roast with 3T kosher salt, 2T herbs de provence, (italian seasoning will work too) and a little fresh ground black pepper. I cut 5 tomatoes (full sized) in half and threw those in on top of the roast.

Pop the lid on, turn it low, and it should be ready in about 8 hrs.... or whenever you get home from work.

Spicy Tomato Gravy:
Once your roast is ready and it's almost time for dinner, break out the food processor and fish out all the tomatoes and 2 laddles full of pan juice. Blend into a puree' then add 1T of your favorite vinegar or a splash of red wine, 1 entire pod of fresh garlic (peeled), 1T kosher salt, 1t of red pepper flakes(if you want a little more kick) and 1/2 a bunch of parsley (I used flat leaf) Puree' again till everything is gravy consistency.

Top you roast beef with gravy and enjoy!

Parmasean Mashed Potatoes:
Start by washing 6 red potatoes and dicing into fourths. Boil about 10 minutes until peels are losening and potatoes are soft with a fork. Drain and return to the pan. Add 3T butter, 1/4c grated parmasean cheese, 1/8-1/4c heavy cream (depending on how creamy you want them) and salt and pepper to taste. Smash with a fork.