Wish Upon A Dish

October 21, 2016

Marco Polo Chinese Wedding Bowl ♥ Plant Protein Power Bowls #thereciperedux October challenge

When I worked for Xerox in 1975, I was sent to their technical training facility in Virginia for 6 weeks.
It was one of the most modern facilities of it's time and it offered everything. Room and board included a full buffet all day and night up to 10pm.

Even though the facility was state of the art, the food, while better than that at a state college, was still cafeteria-style and it was there that I became a Vegetarian. Eventually I added fish but for 4 years I survived on vegetables. That was after the hippy health food era but way before Vegan.

In my quest for eating healthier, I knew my goal was a reduction from 25% to 10% dairy and an increase from 33% to 50% vegetarian. I probably will never visit 100% Vegetarian again, I have been trying to gradually introduce more Vegan options into our meals.

The perfect opportunity to finally "play" with tofu came this month when #TheRecipeRedux October challenge was to create a plant protein power bowl and not use one already posted.
I got the idea to take a favorite soup recipe (Italian Wedding Soup) and repurpose those ingredients for this challenge.

In place of the pasta I cooked Korean sweet potato noodles (also plant-based). No chicken broth here. I used a vegetarian broth to thin out two packages of miso broth with kombu and mushrooms.

Keeping in the spirit of the Italian version, the meatballs are made using firm tofu. I subbed out the with watercress (a more POWER green) and switched to mung beans for the white beans.
I was apprehensive makes tofu meatballs but except for making them way too large, they tasted meaty and something I know The Nudge will even like.


The only thing in this bowl that isn't vegetarian is the egg. Not your thing, just omit and in doing so takes nothing away from the dish.

I was not a fan of the mung beans. By the time they were tender they split and shed their skins. I think next time I will simply open a can of beans and go back to using the mung beans to bulk up my rice.

All in all I was happy with the result but I made the meatballs with garlic and onion salts thinking they might be too bland and after poaching them in the miso broth, they absorbed too much salt. A easy adjustment to make.
That being said let's get cooking......

While baking the meatballs, I put the stock and miso broth to a simmer.
I poached, in this order.....
1. the tofu meatballs
2. the mung beans
3. the sweet potato noodles
4. the carrots and watercress
5. the poached egg

Tofu Meatballs
makes 11-12 1" meatballs
* 1/2 pound firm tofu, drained, blotted and mashed
* 1/4 cup oat or chickpea flour
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
* 1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid amino's or 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon onion salt
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1 garlic clove
* 1/2 small shallot
* 1 big handful watercress

Roll 1" balls and bake on parchment paper at 425° for 25 minutes. Cool.

Protein Bowl
makes 2 dinner-sized bowls

* 2 packets of miso soup with kombu and mushrooms
* 1 box vegetable broth
* 1 cup julienned carrots
* 1/2 cup dried mung beans
* 1 salad package watercress
* 2 ounces Korean sweet potato, glass or soba noodles 
* remaining watercress
* sesame seeds for garnish
* 2 eggs, poached (optional)

Place half the noodles, the beans, the carrots & watercress and the tofu meatballs in a large soup bowl. Ladle enough broth to come up to but not over, the vegetables in the bowl.
Place the egg in the middle and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

October 17, 2016

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin ♥ A much needed update

This is one of my most posted recipes over the years starting in 2010, when I was a virgin to blogging.

Back then, like most, newbies started their blog for the same reason we all did. To have a digital recipe book of our favorites. Only difference was I was updating and posting on foods that I needed to eat in order to live. You see, I was on the teeter-totter to full blown Diabetes.
I refused to take medication, food was what I knew and what was killing me could also be my savior.

I have come a long way since then. The diabetes disappeared, my sugar is under 90 and am off all those requisite meds you take when you are obese. Cholesterol, blood pressure and asthma.

One thing I do know is there is no cure for diabetes, and although I am healthy now, I can not continue the eating habits I had before I got normal.

Medical science has come a long way. Now the world knows about Celiac's disease, the benefits of eating vegan (not just because of political & personal preferences), the Glycemic Index, what sodium levels should be, the definition of additional sugars and everyone can just about understand nutrition labels.

It's a good time to be in control of our health.

What does all that have to do with this dish? Well, besides the fact that it's delicious, doable in 30 minutes, it also remains a good dish for gluten intolerance, pre-diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and it's lean and low in calories.

It sorely needed an update.
I don't know about you but if you have never cooked a pork tenderloin, you need to make this your first attempt. It's so fool-proof, I made my first tenderloin for a dinner party and it has remained my go-to for years. Got so, I can make this without reference to a written recipe.
Have I ever tried this recipe with poultry or seafood? Not yet. I am afraid that without the benefit of a pork product to flavor the sauce, it wouldn't be as user friendly.

The title is a little bit misleading. Not a typical Jamaican dish like Jerk, it does have the warm spices associated with that iconic dish except they are mixed into a marinara sauce.
Trust me, it is totally people friendly. Kids will ask for seconds.
It reheats well so a good take-in lunch for work and if you make the two tenderloins in a package, the second one freezes beautifully.

I always serve mine with long grain & wild rice (for the sauce) but roasted potatoes would work well and even mashies would do.

Let's get cooking.....

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin
makes 4 servings
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/2 pounds
* salt & pepper
* 1 cup basic marinara sauce, homemade or favorite jarred
* 2 tablespoons lite brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, cumin and coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 2 small bay leaves
* 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
* 2 pats of unsalted butter
* Salt & pepper to taste

Heat an oven-proof skillet and your oven to 375°.
When the skillet is hot all the oil, season the pork with salt & pepper and brown the meat on all four sides, about 3 minutes each side.
Mix the brown sugar, all the spices and the pepper with the marinara sauce. Add the bay leaves.
When the pork is browned, pour the sauce over, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, place the pork on a platter and cover with foil.
Turn the heat back under the skillet, add the vermouth to the sauce, and simmer for three minutes. Remove the bay leaves and swirl in the butter. Taste for salt & pepper.

To serve: Slice the pork and pour the sauce over the slices.

If you try this with other proteins, drop me a line and let me know how it went.

October 7, 2016

Italian Pork & Vegetable Grilled Cheese with *NEW* Sabra Sandwich Spreads

Sabra #Sponsored "Take your sandwich from good to great with Sabra Spreads"  Recipe Contest

"I received free samples of Sabra Spreads mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time."

A few weeks ago I was in the Sabra section of my market, looking for hummus, when I spotted these spreads on the shelf.


OMG, was it??? Really??? Oh, yes. This was genius on their part. You see, I have been using Sabra hummus, not just as a dip but as a base for sauces, dressings and spreads. Life in the kitchen just got easier.
Is is possible to be that excited about a new product?

It is when that product is tasty, fresh, have great flavors and in a convenient squeeze bottle.
Best of all, they have 75% less fat than mayo.
For the longest time I have been trying to create a sandwich that is from our sister state, Pennsylvania, and is so well loved it has given the Philly Cheesesteak a run for their money.

I am talking about the pork, rapini, cheese and french fry sandwich that hails from Pittsburgh.
Containing all my favorite Italian ingredients, I adapted my version based on ingredients I could find in my neck of the woods and, ease of preparation.

Now I get to share my inspiration with you.

Let's break it all down.

The reason why this sandwich is a favorite in our house is because it contains all the necessary flavors that will make your mouth happy.
Salty, sweet, bitter and sour.
I made a spread using two of the new Sabra Sandwich Spreads (Garlic Herb & Honey Mustard) for the inside and the third (Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper) acts as the "grill crunch" on the outside.
The only addition was a tablespoon of both olive oil and an additional one of honey.

Buy a good loaf of Tuscan or Sourdough bread and cut off two identical slices, at least 1" in width.
(For more ideas see my Cook's Tips at the end of this post.)

Mix equal parts of the Sabra Honey Mustard & Sabra Garlic & Herb spreads. I made 1/2 cup for each sandwich. Depending on how bitter the rapini is to your tongue, you may want to add an additional teaspoon of honey per sandwich.

I used hot capicola today, but have made this with spicy Italian-style pork, chicken or turkey sausage. Using your local Deli can be a great time saver.

On top of the meat, I added a generous amount of shredded Fontina cheese (option #2: provolone) and cooked broccoli di rabe (aka; rapini).
While rapini is a bitter green, it plays well off the fatty meat and to tame it a bit for the kids, my Mom flavored the simmering water with a tablespoon of both salt and sugar per gallon. Cook for 5 minutes, then immediately drain in cold water and then strain.
Once dry, chop into 1"pieces.
To save even more time, deli cooked rapini can be easily found in most Italian deli's and local supermarkets.

Find a good quality sweet potato chip (or make your own) and press them into the rapini so they crack in all the right places and settle down in the crevices. This component adds not only a sweetness, it also adds texture with the crunch.
The original uses French fries but I am a sweet potato addict and the chips are a much healthier option.
Got to love a sweet with crunch.

Another generous layer of cheese.....to which I add the top slice of bread that has been slathered with the same mixture of Sabra Sandwich Spread as the bottom.
Make sure you spread edge to edge on that piece of bread.

Now for the final but best part....
Mix 1/4 cup of the Sabra Black Pepper & Sea Salt with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spread on the outer sides of each slice of bread, just as you would do with butter.

Heat a griddle pan, a panini pan or a cast iron skillet until is it hot. Place the sandwich on the pan and cover with another pan, weighted down with a few cans of tomatoes.

Really, all you need to do is what you would do with a basic grilled cheese that is 4x fatter.
Grill until the edges are browned. Flip and repeat.

Can be kept warm in the oven while you make the 2nd, 3rd or 4th sandwich.

Italian Pork & Vegetable Sandwich
makes 4 sandwiches

1 loaf Tuscan or Sourdough Bread, sliced into 1" slices
1 pound hot capicolla
8 ounces grated Fontina cheese
1 bunch Broccoli di Rabe, cooked
2-3 cups sweet potato chips

1/2 cup each Sabra Garlic/Herb & Honey/Mustard Sandwich Spreads (total 1 cup)
1 cup Sea salt & Cracked Black Pepper Sandwich Spread
1 tablespoon honey, optional
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mix Garlic/Herb & Honey/Mustard spreads in a bowl. Taste and add honey if desired. Makes 1 cup.
2. Mix Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper with olive oil.  

Cook's tips: In some deli's, cooked rapini is available for purchase. Rapini not available, sub in cooked radicchio, collard greens or kale. Sweet potato chips not available, use sweet potato tots but I much prefer the crunch of the chips. Sweet potato not your thing, just use baked regular potato chips.
You want to be the bell of the football tailgating party?!?.... slice the bread horizontally (a ciabatta or focaccia works really well) and make one large sandwich on the BBQ grill and slice that like you would a 6 ft sub.