Peaches & Pork

There’s nothing I love more than unexpected combinations when cooking. The more comfortable I become experimenting with flavors, the more enjoyable the outcome. I happened to come across this recipe from Cooking Light when searching for a new, summery dish to try. The sweet & savory compilation is most certainly one to add to the list of regulars!

Ingredients:

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2-4 boneless pork loin chops

4 thinly sliced shallots (sliced red onion will also suffice)

2 tsp. dried rosemary (the original recipe calls for chopped fresh thyme)

2 peaches, wedged

1/2 cup dry white wine (I use pinot grigio)

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Salt & pepper

Directions:

Salt & pepper the pork chops. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook the pork chops. Depending on the thickness, they’ll need about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chops and put them in a warmed oven while you prepare the sauce.

Leave the oil from the meat in the skillet. Add in the peaches, shallots, and rosemary. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in wine, broth, and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes or until reduced by half. Add in the butter to thicken.

Prepare plates with the pork chops and pour the peaches and sauce over the meat.

I did not prepare a side because the flavors are so strong on their own. A starter salad would be complimentary.

Enjoy!

Peaches & Pork

Peaches & Pork

Farmers Market Pasta

Pasta has a reputation for being a heavy, carb-overloading, cheat-meal. But, it doesn’t have to be! This light, refreshing dish breaks through the confines of pasta barriers. It will leave you satisfied, but not overly stuffed!

 

Ingredients:

Pasta Puttana‘s Fiery Red Chile handcut tagliatelle (Spinach pasta is a tasty substitute. Just add crushed red pepper flakes or chili pepper paste to get the kick!)

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Freshly cut arugula

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Chiffonade your fresh arugula

Follow the package directions to boil the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks quickly!

Strain pasta.

In a small prep bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper.

In a serving bowl, gently combine the pasta, arugula, and dressing.

 

Farmers Market Pasta

Farmers Market Pasta

 

Not-So-Typical Pizza

RPM Date Night!

RPM Date Night!

I recently checked another item off my Chicago bucket list and dined at Bill (my not-so-secret crush) Rancic’s RPM Italian. The food was incredible and they were more than accommodating when it came to my soy-free restrictions. The only disappointment of the evening came when I heard Bill & Guiliana had been in several times throughout the NHL playoffs and I had just missed them. Darn it. 

Since our visit, friends have asked if RPM lives up to its hype. ABSOLUTELY. For me, eating out is about the food. RPM’s food was to die for. We ordered wood-roasted octopus, morel mushrooms served on hand-cut tagliatelle, short-rib pappardelle, a wood-oven pizza special, and dessert (of course). Needless to say, I left stuffed! Over the next few days, I found myself daydreaming about how full of taste each dish was. Not one item we tried could be described as bland or average.

I decided to try my hand at recreating something with such profound and original taste. Let’s be honest, I’m not cooking octopus and I cannot afford fresh morel mushrooms. I’ve tried short-ribs before and they were a complete failure; I almost lost a tooth. So, pizza it was! I couldn’t tell you what cheese or toppings RPM used. My version is not meant to replicate theirs (I would insult them terribly), but rather to experiment with new flavors. Here it goes…

 

Ingredients:

Fresh whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s offers a soy-free version. If gluten free – Better Bread Company offers a fresh option)

Pesto (Trader Joe’s now carries a soy-free pesto!)

Trader Joe’s freshly shaved parmesan, romano, & asiago cheese (If you’re lactose intolerant and can use Lactaid pills, I suggest this option. If not, a less flavorful rice cheese will suffice)

Cheese

Cheese

Fresh arugula

Fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Oyster mushrooms (Best from a farmers market- sometimes they offer mushroom medleys which will also work)

Crushed red pepper

 

Directions:

Follow the directions specific to your crust for rolling & baking. Regardless of the crust, I always sprinkle my stone with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Once the crust is rolled out, paste it with a layer of pesto. Evenly distribute your cheese.

Wash & dry your greens. Tear the basil and arugula into smaller pieces. Layer them on top of the cheese.

Halve your tomatoes and layer them on with the mushrooms.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake.

Pre-baked pizza

Pre-baked pizza

Baked pizza

Baked pizza

 

A Twist on Fruit (in) Salad

A fruit salad is a typical side dish at summer get-togethers. It’s also naturally soy-free! However, I happen to loath cantaloupe, honeydew, and most-things-melon. As luck would have it, they are the cheapest of the fruits. Therefore, melon is typically the alpha fruit of the American fruit salad.

Can’t afford a fruit salad sans melon? My remedy: the fruit (in) salad. It’s delicious, cheaper, and still fruity!

 

Ingredients:

Greens (I’m partial to arugula, but anything will do)

Fresh blueberries and strawberries (your local farmers market is a great place to get fresh, organic berries at a reasonable price)

Dried cherries (dried cranberries are generally more affordable and I can hardly tell the difference once they’re mixed in)

(optional) Sliced almonds

(optional) Blue cheese

Italian dressing (Good Seasons’ Zesty Italian packet with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and water)

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Wash the berries and greens.

Slice the strawberries.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate if you’re saving it for later.

Add the dressing when you’re ready to serve! Dressing tip: less is more. With the juice from the strawberries, it can get soggy quickly.

 

Fruit (in) Salad

Fruit (in) Salad

Summer Pasta Salad

Need a side dish to bring to a summer BBQ? This is an easy staple that every cook-out needs to be complete. Warning: you may want to consider doubling the recipe if you’d like to come home with leftovers. It will be a hit!

Ingredients:

Rainbow colored pasta

1 package of pepperonis

1 small carton of cherry tomatoes

2 to 3 bell peppers, vary in colors

1 red onion

frozen peas

frozen chopped brocoli

salad supreme (spice aisle)

Italian dressing (SOY-FREE: Good Seasons’ Zesty Italian packet mixed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and water)

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil the pasta. Strain it and run under ice cold water until the pasta is cooled.

Chop all veggies (bite-size). Toss them into a large bowl with the pasta.

Add the salad supreme spice, dressing, and salt & pepper until you like the taste. While my patience is terrible, it’s best to refrigerate it over night and add additional flavorings in the morning if needed.

Welcome, summer!

Welcome, summer!

Perfect Starter Salad

When I was growing up, my mom served a side salad with EVERY dinner. I wish I were motivated to do the same, but I find myself so turned off by the cutting of the vegetables, the mixing of the dressing, etc. It just seems like more work than it’s worth.

However, I have since discovered the easiest and tastiest way to go about it!

Ingredients:

Pre-washed arugula and baby spinach blend

Cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Tear up the spinach and arugula. The kick of the arugula makes up for the lack of veggies.

Halve the cherry tomatoes

Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and the olive oil.

Add some salt & pepper and mix.

Breezy Side Salad!

Breezy Side Salad!

Saturday Morning Pancakes

It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, let’s make it a good one!

This pancake recipe is adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/. It’s completely fool-proof and quick- perfect for you non-morning people. These pancakes will be ready faster than you can brew your pot of coffee.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

1 1/4 cup Lactaid milk

1 egg

3 tbsp. melted Earth Balance natural buttery spread, soy-free (found at Whole Foods)

(optional) 1 cup fresh blueberries

(optional) 100% pure maple syrup (no added flavorings)

(optional) a pinch of powdered sugar

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Throw an oven-safe dish into it- a sheet of aluminum foil will also suffice. This is where you can keep the finished pancakes warm until the entire batch is ready.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix milk, egg and melted butter.

Slowly pour the liquid bowl contents into the dry ingredients while stirring. Mix until smooth.

Heat a dab of butter in frying pan. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan. Push a few blueberries into the top. (I prefer this to adding them to the mixture in the bowl- better distribution).

When the pancake bubbles start to pop, it’s ready to be flipped.

Once you’ve finished your whole batch, sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar and dig in!

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast is served!
Breakfast is served!