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Monday, April 23, 2012

Herb Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Honeycrisp Sauce

I don't know if you know this about me, but I really enjoy cooking. There is something so unbelievably satisfying about putting out a delicious home cooked meal. Even if it's only me that's around to enjoy it, it's this great feeling of accomplishment every time something comes out the way I imagined it. On my best days I would describe it as almost zen-like. Of course there are the bad days too...pie on the floor, over salted sauce that would have otherwise been amazing, dry chicken. We can't always win right? But today, with this dish, totally winning. 

 Herb Rubbed Pork & Honeycrisp Sauce:  (Serves 2-3, 4 might be pushing it if you plan on seconds)

1 lb. pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
 1 bottle of  Crispin's Honeycrisp Cider 
 8 oz. chicken stock
 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
 3 small cinnamon sticks
 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
 1 bay leaf
 9 whole allspice
 1 pod star anise
 1 Tbsp. salted butter

 1) Start with the pork. Mix herbs, spices, and garlic together until blended
 2) Rub 1 Tbsp. olive oil all over the pork loin. Pat and rub the spice mixture onto the pork.
    Wrap with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (This is a great make
    ahead for a later dinner party)
3) When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375. Heat a large oven-proof skillet (or if you don't
    have one like me, use a regular skillet and preheat a roasting pan in the oven) with 1 Tbsp. oil
    and sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned. Transfer the pork to the oven and cook about
    20 minutes or until the internal temperature registers at 140-145.
4) Rest the pork on a cutting board and lightly tent with tinfoil 5-10 minutes before cutting & serving.
5) Make your sauce before the pork is finished, I'd put it on the stove right before you start searing
    it. Combine all of the ingredients together in a medium saucepan and cook on high until boiling.
    Reduce to a simmer and cook 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to 2 c. liquid.
6) Strain the sauce over a fine mesh sieve and return to the pot. Cook again over medium-low heat
    until the sauce is reduced to 3/4 -1 c., about 15 more minutes. Whisk in the butter and serve
    immediately with the pork. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.






This dish came out so wonderfully. I served it with a celery root and yukon gold potato mash and quick sautéed honey carrots. To die. I was nice enough to feed Chris this night and he exclaimed that it was the best thing he had eaten in a really long time, home or elsewhere. That made me pleased, maybe even pleased enough to feed him again in the near future, but only so long as he promises to help with the dishes... I've always been a dreamer! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rhubarb & Pear Margaritas

Our little spring teaser here has really got me going nuts. All I want to do is dig in my yard, bask in the sun, and drink a bunch of margaritas. Is that really too much to ask?! Patience, yes patience, that thing that always seems to be evading me. Well in an effort to grasp at some of that thing called "patience," and to tide me over until the warm weather arrives, I pacified myself with some Rhubarb and Pear Cider Margaritas that I whipped up at a friend's house. It didn't fix my broken little heart, but it sure helped. 

Rhubarb & Pear Cider Margaritas: (per pitcher, 6-8 drinks or 42oz.)

2 bottles Fox Barrel Pacific Pear Cider
6 oz. Tequila blanco
2 c. Rhubarb, sliced into 1/2" pieces
4 Limes
1/4 c. Orange juice
2/3 c. Sugar
1 c. Water
Coarse Salt to rim the glasses

1) To make the rhubarb simple syrup, bring to a boil in a small saucepan; rhubarb, sugar, and water.
     Stir as you go and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook 10-15 minutes of until the rhubarb has lost
     all of its color.
2) Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve and set aside to cool.
3) In a large pitcher; zest two of the limes, and add the juice from all 4 limes. Then add: tequila, pear  
    cider, orange juice, and 6 oz. of the rhubarb syrup.
4) To rim the glasses; fill a plate with coarse salt, run a lime slice around the top of the glass and
    press it into the salt.
5) Serve margaritas in glasses filled with ice and garnish with a lime wheel.
*Note: The simple syrup will make more than needed, but it keeps perfectly fine sealed in the fridge for up to two weeks. Making the syrup ahead of time and preparing the un-iced pitchers prior too, can make this a great fun, easy, and impressive party drink. 
Now there is nothing stopping you from grabbing the day by its nether regions and saying "hey!" "I'm going to enjoy myself here and there's nothing you can do to stop me." Tell em'. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stanley's Cider Brunch

On a great coincidence, Stanley's Northeast Bar Room (Mpls, MN) held a Fox Barrel cider brunch on the most beautiful of days. Best part, I didn't have to work and got to attend this lovely brunch!
Stanley's gives Crispin and Fox Barrel a lot of love, they are always on board to host new limited cider releases and do fun stuff like this brunch.
The brunch, held in their upstairs party room, was a great success! It's so fun to see how other people incorporate and pair all these ciders with different foods. My favorite thing by far was the Smoked Pork Chop with Mulled Cider Cream Sauce, mmm! But that's not to say the other items were not as equally delicious, check it out:
Our first course was a Mixed Fruit Caprese Salad: Fresh blackberry, pear, tomato, basil, and mint, joined with a blackberry balsamic reduction and fresh buffalo mozzarella. 
Super light, refreshing, and flavorful. Great way to start a meal, paired perfectly with Fox Barrel's Blackberry Pear Cider. 

Empty glasses patiently waiting to be filled with cider...

Sun-filled dining room
Second course was a Fruit Stuffed Crepe: Fresh rhubarb and strawberry mixed with goat cheese, rolled into a crepe, and topped with Rhubarb and Elderberry maple syrup and citrus whipped cream. 
So decadent and delicious without being overly sweet or heavy; the maple syrup was great! 
Paired with one of my favorites, Fox Barrel's Rhubarb and Elderberry Pear Cider, hallelujah. 
Before I mangled it, lovely
Jamie and Chris enjoying their crepes 
Third course and my personal favorite: Smoked Pork Chop topped with a poached egg, Mulled Cider sautéed apples and cream sauce. Paired with a warm mug of Fox Barrel's Mulled Cider. 
Pork, egg, and apple. I'm sorry, but what more could you need. The chops were cooked wonderfully and the spices from the mulled cider really brought in the right amount of 'appley' flavor. 

Alex watching Chris do his dutiful and always gracious cider speech 

Final course: Apricot Panna Cotta with a Citrus Ginger Honey and paired with Fox Barrel's Apricot Pear Cider
As if I needed dessert after this generously portioned brunch, I couldn't stop myself from eating the whole thing. I'm still not sure how I fit it in, but it was too good to let go to waste! 

As if the brunch weren't enough wonderful for the day, we also got to take a bottle of the coveted Stagger Lee home with us, yes! 


Monday, April 9, 2012

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers

Now I'm no vegetarian, but I can absolutely say that good food is good food, meat or not. On my never-ending quest to create delicious and healthy options for everyday feasting, I stumbled upon a recipe for veggie burgers that looked, well, really good. I made a few tweaks, whipped it up and was very pleased with the results! The texture came out great, they were super flavorful and the healthy factor was through the roof. 
But the thing that really made this whole experience great for me was having my good friend Garrett over to be a guest photographer to this post. Garrett's a super talent and an upright individual, you can find out more about him and his excellent photography skills here: http://www.garrettborn.com/ 

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger: (Makes 6-8 patties)

1 can black beans, drained
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks 
1/2 c. Crispin Original Cider, reduced to 1/4 c. 
 1 Egg
 1 Tbsp. dijon or stone ground mustard 
 Juice from one lime 
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped cilantro 
1/4 cup + wheat flour
 2 c. Panko crumbs 
3-4 Tbsp. canola oil for frying
Burger buns 
Toppings: Heirloom tomato, red onion, avocado


*Gluten Free? Substitue the flour for gf ap flour, breadcrumbs for smashed up corn chex cereal, 
  and buns for your fav gf brand or serve on top of greens for an even healthier meal! 



1) Begin by reducing your cider over low heat, 10-15 minutes and also by boiling your sweet potato
    until tender. You could also bake it in the oven to achieve a richer flavor, but I'm impatient, so 
    that's that.

2) Whisk together the cumin, cayenne, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. 
3) Combine sweet potato, beans, reduced cider, mustard, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl.
    Using a potato masher, pastry cutter or some other mashing device, mash all together until 
    Well incorporated. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. 
4) Take your egg, lightly beat, and stir into the mixture. Add the flour little by little until the 
    mash is able to hold its form in a patty. 
5) Flour your hands for easy handling and form mixture into 6-8 patties. 
6) Spreading the breadcrumbs onto a plate, lightly press each patty into the crumbs to coat well on 
    all sides. Set aside. 
7) Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat, add 1 Tbsp. oil at a time (you'll have to 
    work in batches), cook each patty until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned on each side, 
    about 8-10 min. total. 
8) Lightly salt your tomato slices and avocado and allow to sit for 5 min. before topping your 
    burger. Assemble toppings as desired! 








patty cake, patty cake 

Nit Wit wanted to help, it was a nice gesture but...





Looking back on all of these delicious food pictures is making me really hungry! These burgers were definitely delicious and are well worth a try. Because the recipe is so basic, it's really easy to make it your own and mess around with the spices and toppings, you could even add some delicious cheese if you're feeling crazy! 
Thanks again to Garrett Born for the amazing pictures!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cranberry Quinoa Cookies (gluten free option too!)


Cookies. Tasty treats that far too often leave you with feelings of guilt.  Well guess what, it's a new day and this is a new cookie. I packed this thing with nuts, oats, high protein quinoa, and cranberries. Just for you, so when you reach for that third or fourth cookie you can take it with confidence, no regrets! 

Cranberry Quinoa Cookies (makes 24 cookies):

1 1/2 c. Whole Wheat Flour or All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Powdered ginger
1/2 c. Unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 c. Sugar
1/4 c. Dark brown sugar
1/4 c. Honey
 2   Large eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond or Coconut Extract
1/2 c. Quinoa
 1 c.  Crispin Original Cider
 1 c. Oats (certified gluten free if using that option)
 1 c. Dried cranberries
1/2 c. Slivered almonds

1) Begin by cooking your quinoa and allowing it to cool. Add the 1/2 c. quinoa with the cup of cider
    in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 12-15 
    minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. 
2) Preheat your oven to 375 and line two cooking sheets with parchment. 
3) Whisk together the flour, salt, ginger, baking soda and powder. 
4) In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), 
    beat the butter, sugars, and honey together on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, about 
    3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and the extracts and beat about two minutes more.
5) Slowly beat in the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Then using a spoon or a spatula,
    fold in the almonds, cranberries, oats, and Crispin quinoa. 
6) Spoon the batter by 2 Tbsp. onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving and inch in between each
    cookie. Bake the cookies until golden brown about 15 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire cooling 
    rack. 

Quick trick for fast cooling: Spread it out thinly over a large surface like a cutting board or sheet pan








These cookies turned out great, I made mine gluten free and the texture was phenomenal. You'd never even know that they were good for you! Make them for yourself to keep on hand whenever you have a treat craving and you don't feel like hating yourself immediately afterward. You'll thank you, promise.