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Monday, March 9, 2015

Recipe Review from 3/2/15

Meal reviews are going to be a bit mixed up until Cooking Light posts the March recipes.  I have four recipes waiting to be posted from the March issue - all of them noteworthy!   I did just post last weeks review (san's full recipes) so pop back and take a look. 

The Meal Plan:
Sun (L) leftover gumbo  (S) Slow cooked pork with polenta
Mon (Yoga)  leftover pork
Tues - leftover pork with Gnocchi
Wed (AM Yoga/Ben vet) tuna spagetti
Thurs (Yoga) leftover pork
Fri - pasty
Sat - in town for lunch; poached cod for supper

Lunches - Slow Cooked Tuscan White Bean Soup, crackers, luna bars, yogurt, fruit

Italian Braised Pork with Polenta (Ckng Lght Jan/Feb 2015) gluten free
This is very quick to pull together and tastes great.  Though, I just realized we completely forgot to add the vinegar and the Worchester sauce!  Whoops!  No matter, it still tasted great.  The meat was so incredibly tender it just shredded with a touch of the tongs.  My polenta was not instant, so I prepared according to package directions.  Was out of milk, so I just used water and added a tbsp of butter for flavor along with the parmesan.  The Husband and I both agreed serving this dish over polenta was a nice change. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1 1/2-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)  (we used 2 lbs of boneless country pork ribs, in 1 lb hunks)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
photo from
2 cups vertically sliced onion
1 cup sliced yellow bell pepper
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water  
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup instant polenta
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Transfer pork to a slow cooker. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 1/2 hours. Add vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; turn off heat. Shred pork with 2 forks.

2. Combine 2 cups water and milk in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add polenta, stirring with a whisk. Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve pork over polenta in shallow bowls.

Slow Cooked Tuscan White Bean Soup (Ckng Lght Mar, 2015)  gluten free
A couple of alterations to this recipe:  I actually made little meatballs and lightly sauted them before adding to the soup.  I used some mild Italian sausage (I think that's what it was, I didn't label my ziploc bag very well), mixed with some pre-cooked brown rice and seasonings.  Formed into meatballs and a quick saute before adding to the rest of the soup.

I've also gotten into the habit of pre-cooking beans before adding to the slow cooker.  I start the dish as written, but omit the beans.  Those I cover in 2" of bottled water (a must if you have hard water), bring to a boil on the stove, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 2+ hours.  Drain and add to slow cooker.  Works like a charm!  I don't end up with crunchy beans.

6 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
photo from
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
5 garlic cloves, chopped
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
12 ounces dried Great Northern beans
3 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound hot Italian sausage links, casings removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup) 
1. Place first 8 ingredients in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Discard thyme and bay leaf.

2. Stir kale, tomato paste, and salt into bean mixture. Shape sausage into 32 meatballs; arrange on top of bean mixture. Cover and cook on HIGH 30 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Stir in juice. Divide soup among 8 bowls; top with cheese.

Tuna Spaghetti - Husband's discovery
We've been trying to increase the Omega3's in our diet, and one of the best ways to do that is through fish.   The husband found this a while back: add tuna to spaghetti sauce instead of ground meat.  I fully admit, I was a bit dubious.  He chose canned tuna (water packed) and I had him saute the tuna to boil off some of the extra fishy-liquid.  Then add to sauce, simmer, and serve.  Second time round I added some calmata olives for a little extra tang.

Since we had this twice, I would call this a success.  I do think using vacuum packed tuna instead of canned would be better.  You would avoid the canned liquid and could add directly to the sauce as it's simmering.

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