Now that I’m a mom I look forward to Mother’s day. This year the boys and my husband went all out to make sure I was taken care of on the special day. It began with a leisurely stroll on our local greenway. I enjoyed the pitch perfect weather and my boys (with the exception of Alex) enjoyed the fact that the cicadas have pretty much taken claim over the entire city. It’s a once every thirteen year phenomenon and we’re smack in the middle of it. Nick, being all boy, found joy in grabbing them by the wings and letting them go to fly away once again. Drew just chased them up and down the walking bridge laughing the entire time. Only Alex had no desire to jump into the bug fray. In fact, I think he was a little “bugged out” by the time we finished the adventure. That’s my boy.
We followed up the walk with a stop at the local yogurt shop and an afternoon nap for me. That’s right a nap. I don’t think I’ve had one of those since I was three years old and it.felt.great. When I got back up and joined the land of the living, this is what I came down to witness:
My husband, who hasn’t set foot in the kitchen more than twice in our married lives to cook a full on meal, was doing just that. I tell ya, I could get used to this. It’s too bad Mother’s day is only once a year.
It’s back to normal life today and back to the dinner grind. If you’d like to get your husband cooking, this meal is a great segway into the kitchen. It involves the grill (the manly aspect of the meal) and a simple yet flavorful salsa that seriously makes the dish (the almighty segway).
To whip up the marinade, you’ll grab up a gallon sized ziplock and add in some balsamic, olive oil, cumin, coriander, lime juice, garlic, and salt. Add in your pork, close er up, and let it rest in the fridge for a couple hours.
When you’re ready to cook up a delicious grill inspired dinner, heat it up and get that gorgeous loin cooking. And I do mean gorgeous.
Once it’s cooked through and the temperature registers 145 degrees in the thickest part of the loin, remove and cover it with foil for about 5 minutes.
Now’s the time to put together that gorgeous salsa. I’m seeing some mango, strawberries, mint, cilantro, avocado along a few other surprises in that bowl. Trust me, they all belong there.
Mix it together, slice up that tantalizing loin, and drop a heaping spoonful (or three) of that gorgeous salsa over the top. A feast fit for a kitchen loving husband. I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s day!
Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry Mango Salsa
Total Time: 2 hour 30 min
For the Marinade:
1-2 Pound Pork Tenderloin
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Coriander
1 Lime, Juiced
1/2 tsp Salt
For the Salsa:
2 Cups Strawberries, Chopped
5-10 Mint Leaves, Chopped
2 Tbsp Cilantro, Chopped
1 Small Avocado, Chopped
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Yellow Pepper, Chopped (about 1/3 of the pepper)
1/2 Mango, Chopped
1/2 Lime, Juiced
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Honey
Mix together all the marinade ingredients with the exception of the pork loin in a gallon sized ziploc bag.
Add the pork to the bag, seal and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When you're ready to cook up the pork, fire up the grill on medium-high heat (around 425 degrees).
Place the pork loin on the grill and cook for about 10-15 minutes, flipping once. The pork will be done when the temperature in the thickest part of the loin reaches 145 degrees.
Remove the loin from the grill and cover with aluminum foil. Let sit for 5 minutes.
While the loin is sitting, grab up the ingredients for your salsa, drop them into a bowl and toss them up.
Slice up the finished pork and serve the strawberry mango salsa over the top.
Family Friendly Fridays: Chicken Fajitas
Having resided in Dallas, Texas for six years before moving to North Carolina, I can most definitely appreciate great TexMex fare. With so many enticing options to grab a pleasing plate of authentic grub right at your fingertips, it’s hard to know where to go first. I definitely have my favorites: Mi Cocina (Margarita anyone?), Via Real (their chicken Monterey is UNREAL) and Blue Mesa Grill ( Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. Enough said.) to name a few. But if a sizzling fresh plate of fajitas is what you crave, then Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth is your place. Best darn fajitas I’ve every put my mouth to. Period. Let me break it down and show what I mean. The dinner menu is a total of three items. Chicken Fajitas, beef fajitas, and a family sized dinner with enchiladas, tacos, and cheese nachos. That’s it. You better believe they do ’em right.
Missing these beauties the way I do, I had to try and recreate my own “go-to” fajita platter. Joe T’s is a pretty big commute these days and we’re not planning to move back anytime soon. I’m sure my version doesn’t do the original justice, but it still fills that ever present craving I always seem to have for a pepper and onion loaded, guacamole topped, cheese and salsa filled, flippin’ delicious chicken fajita. Oh, and remember that salsa verde we whipped up a couple days ago? Throw a spoonful or two on these beauties and watch them sing.
Irish Soda Bread
Would you believe me if I told you that I had never partook in a slice of Irish Soda Bread until I cooked up this recipe? I tell ya, this is what I love about food blogging. It forces you to get out of your rut, off your behind, and into your kitchen. It causes you to read Food and Wine, watch The Food Network and browse through your Citipass coupon book for recipe ideas while waiting for your child to finish up a class (Oh yes, guilty as charged. I can tell you with complete confidence that at least a handful of recipes I’ve shared on this blog have been inspired by my child’s annual school fundraiser). And you thought it was all about the coupons.
But back to the topic at hand. Irish soda bread. Why I haven’t cooked up a loaf of this bread sooner is beyond me. It’s quick to make; think no waiting for the yeast to rise. It”s easy enough for even an amateur bread maker to put together; it’s about as simple as mixing together the ingredients, forming it into a ball, and baking it. And the final result is a moist, flavorful bread that tastes like you spent the entire afternoon pouring your heart and soul into it. What’s not to love?
Traditional Irish soda bread consists of four main ingredients; Flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. That’s all there is to it. Most recipes these days fancy it up a bit with fruit, sugar, and the like. This version is no different. I added a little honey for sweetness and some caraway seeds just because. Do we really have to save this recipe for St. Patrick’s day? Because I could easily see this bread becoming a staple in our house.
Let’s get baking.
Mahi Mahi + Salad Fixings+ Homemade Asian Dressing
Put it all together and you have One. Killer. Salad. I have to say, this was some tasty fine dinner. The inspiration for this meal actually came after a last minute decision to head to Le Peep for breakfast after church last Sunday. Going out to breakfast isn’t in our normal routine, but for some reason I was just feeling the need to partake of somebody’s cooking other than my own. And believe me, when the mommy’s got an urge for breakfast, it darn well needs to be honored in this house.
So after consuming more than a few breakfast delights and pretty much rolling ourselves out of the restaurant, my husband proclaimed that a light dinner needed to be in our future in order to counteract the pig out that so shamelessly occurred just a few minutes earlier. Hence, this delicious salad was born.
I know it’s going to sound silly, but my favorite part about this salad is the mandarin oranges. There’s just something about those little orange slices of heaven that get me every time. I could eat them straight out of the can. Ok, who am I kidding, I DO eat them straight out of the can. It’s so bad that I’ll hide them from my kids and eat them when they’re at school just so I don’t have to share. Yes, my name is Julie and I have a mandarin orange problem.
Ok, first up, the dressing. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Dressing:
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Tbsp of Fresh Ginger
1 Green Onion, Chopped
1/2 Lime, Juiced
3 Tbsp of Honey
1/2 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup of Soy Sauce
/4 Cup of Rice Vinegar
This dressing is so easy peasy, it make me wonder why I don’t make homemade dressing more often. You basically just take everything from the list above, throw it in a blender/processor and hit start. Bango, homemade Asian dressing.
Now, take about a half of a cup of your dressing and throw it in a gallon sized ziploc bag along with your mahi mahi. Close ‘er up, throw it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least an hour if not longer. Be sure to refrigerate your remaining dressing as well. You’ll need that again later on to slather on your finished salad; yum!
Once dinner time is upon you, grab your marinated fish and throw it on the grill until cooked through and then set to the side to keep warm.
Now you can really put anything you’d like in your salad so it is by no means a requirement to have what we used in ours (although, I might disagree with that statement when it comes to the mandarin oranges). Here’s what we threw into our salad:
For the Salad:
1 Bag of Spinach
1 Bunch of Romaine
1 Handful of Carrots, Chopped
1/2 Pint of Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
1 Handful of Sliced Mushrooms
1 Can of Mandarin Oranges, Drained and Rinsed
1 Small Cucumber, Sliced (or in our case, 1/4 of a really LARGE cucumber)
2/3 Cup of Crumbled Blue Cheese
Throw all your salad fixings in a bowl and voila! Isn’t that beautiful?
To plate your dinner, grab the a plate of salad, toss in a little (or a lot depending on your tastes) dressing and throw a mahi mahi fillet on top. And that’s all there is to it! Grab your wine, grab your salad and enjoy every. last. bite. of your creation. I know we did!
My First Award, My First Award!! Oh and some Killer Whole Wheat Honey Rolls on the Side.
What an amazing surprise to come home to this afternoon! A fellow foodie blogger and long distance soul sister, Alex at Ma What’s for Dinner, (we both have three boys and love to cook and eat; what more to life is there really) left me my very first award!
I’m thrilled and need to shout it from the rooftops! It’s funny how when someone does something nice like this (thank you so much Alex!), you suddenly feel like blogging is just that much more worth while. I mean, people are actually reading and appreciating what I write. How cool is that?
Ok, now that I am glowing from my recognition, it’s time to make some killer honey whole wheat rolls. These rolls were the final piece of my tarragon lemon chicken,alfredo with a side of dinner, and asparagus Sunday dinner and they were delicious!
11/2 Cups of Warm Water
1 Pkg of Active Yeast
1 Tbsp of White Sugar
1 Tbsp of Honey
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tsp of Salt
2 Cups of Bread Flour
2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour
First off, you’ll want to put the warm water in a bowl and add your yeast, honey, and sugar. Stir it well to combine and then let it rest for a couple minutes. Make sure your water is warm but not hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Ideally, the temperature should be between 105 and 115 degrees, or just slightly warm to your touch.
After the yeast mixture has had a few minutes to rest, add in your salt and 1 cup of each of the white and whole wheat flour. Combine the flour well and then continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, kneading as you go. Add flour until your dough is elastic and no longer sticky. You may or may not need the entire two cups. Knead your dough for a good 5-7 minutes and then set it aside to rise. Here’s what your dough should look like.
For rising I usually put a small swirl of olive oil in my bowl, throw my ball of dough in to cover the bottom and then turn the dough over so the other side gets a cover of oil as well. This way your dough won’t stick when you go to pull it out after it’s risen. Now cover your dough with a kitchen towel and let the yeast do it’s thing.
I’ve written this before, but a tip I read once that I use all the time for bread rising is to turn your oven on to 170 degrees for 1 minute and then turn it off. This should just put a touch of warmth into your oven for rising. Be sure that you can still fully put your hand on the side of the oven. If you can’t it’s too warm and you need to leave the door open for a minute before placing your dough in.
Once your dough has had a chance to rise; I usually let it sit for 50 minutes to an hour, bring it out and punch it back down, kneading the dough out for a couple minutes. Now, separate the dough into individual balls; about 3-4 tbsp worth of dough a piece, and place them in your greased muffin tin. For making good balls, I roll the dough around in a circular motion on a lightly floured counter with my hands to get a basic ball shape and then I pull all the edges of the dough to the bottom and cinch it, almost like I’m trying to pull the dough around a super ball. This gives you a nice smooth roll top.
When all your balls are made, cover your rolls with the kitchen towel once again and let them rise in your oven. This time for about 30-40 minutes. And here are my rolls after rising but before being cooked. Aren’t they looking pretty?
Time to cook ’em up! Place the rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake them for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top. And that’s that. Now your whole house should smell like fresh bread, your family should be running to the kitchen begging for a warm whole wheat honey roll and you can sit back and relish in the fact that you brought all of this happiness into your home!
Whole Wheat Honey Rolls
Total Time: 2 hour 30 min
11/2 Cups Warm Water
1 Pkg Active Yeast
1 Tbsp White Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
2 Cups Bread Flour
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
Pour the warm water into a bowl and add your yeast, honey, and sugar. Stir it well to combine and then let it rest for a couple minutes.
Add in the salt and 1 cup each of the white and whole wheat flour.
Combine the flour well and then continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, kneading as you go. Add flour until your dough is elastic and no longer sticky. You may or may not need the entire two cups. Knead your dough for a good 5-7 minutes and then set it aside to rise.
Once your dough has had a chance to rise punch it back down, kneading the dough out for a couple minutes.
Separate the dough into individual balls; about 3-4 tbsp worth of dough a piece, and place them in your greased muffin tin.
Cover your rolls with the kitchen towel once again and let them rise in your oven. This time for about 30-40 minutes.
Place the rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees and bake them for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.