Friday, January 20, 2012

January 20, 2012

Back to real was nice to take a quick break from the normal routine with a ski trip out east! Even though the winter had been "iffy" at best leading up to the trip, we had an amazing time! Snow arrived before we did and continued whole time we were there, and because of the lack of snow there were very few people on the slopes! It was a great time, and well worth skipping the blog for a week because out the trip.

This week I have three recipes to share. Pork quesadillas, soft breadsticks, and peanut butter and Nutella cookies. I wouldn't advise serving them all as part of one meal, but they were all voted keepers.

The pork quesadilla was a nice change of pace for our family. I often have pork tenderloin in the freezer, and typically use it in the same 3 or 4 preparations. But I saw a recipe for pork and onion flautas, and was ready to give it a try. When I went to make them, the recipe didn't offer actual amounts of any of the seasonings, so I had to wing it. Instead of flautas, I decided on quesadillas and they were a big hit with everyone, from Ryan to Liam. Even Hannah, who doesn't like melted cheese, loved them. And Owen, who doesn't care for onions, had seconds. I think the deep caramelization of the onions altered the flavor enough for him so that he could enjoy the dinner.

I had book club this week and wanted to share a dessert. Given the limited time I had between returning from the trip and a few appointments the first full day we got home, I just went to my stack of dessert recipes and made the first cookie recipe I came across. Thankfully they turned out pretty well. You'll likely have all the ingredients on hand to make the peanut butter cookies, and you could stop there and just leave them classic. But, if you like Nutella then go the extra step and swirl some in; you won't be disappointed.

And breadsticks? Well...who doesn't like breadsticks? I will admit that these tasted very much like baking powder biscuits. This shouldn't have come as a surprise since the recipe was basically a baking powder biscuit that you form into breadsticks. But the recipe was very easy, and I love sesame seeds, so it was a nice change of pace from the usual dinner accompaniment.

For this coming week I already have my eye on a few recipes that might take me back to the slopes...well, at least to the waffles on the slopes! And as a bonus, my research shows this this form of waffle (Liege Waffles) uses yeast so the recipe can do double duty! I swear, I am going to get over my fear of yeast this year!!!

Be well and happy cooking!

New Recipes
Pork Tenderloin and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas
Soft Breadsticks
Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies

Soft Breadsticks

* 1 1/4 cup AP flour, plus more for dusting the board
* 2 tsp sugar
* 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2/3 cup milk
* 2 tbsp butter, melted
* 2 tsp sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425 F
2. In a small bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Gradually add in the milk and stir to form a soft dough.
3. If the dough seems too wet, slowly incorporate some additional flour, one tablespoon at a time. Don't let the dough become too stiff.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Kneed gently for about 30 seconds.
5. Roll the dough into a rectangle, and cut into 12 breadsticks.
6. Place the breadsticks into the butter and turn to coat. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
7. Sprinkle the breadhsticks with sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

We used sesame seeds, though you could also sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, or whatever other flavoring you'd like. These were a very quick and easy breadstick to make, and everyone enjoyed them. They are similar in taste to biscuits, but in the breadstick form they added a bit of fun to the dinner!

Peanut Butter & Nutella Swirl Cookies

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* Approx. 1/4 cup Nutella

1. Combine butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
2. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Drizzle Nutella on top of the dough then swirl it through the dough with a butter knife.
3. Chill dough 15 minutes in the refrigerator. While the batter chills, preheat oven to 350° F.
4. Roll into balls by hand. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Using a fork, press down the balls to flatten slightly.
5. Bake until edges are very lightly browned, about 7 to 9 minutes.
6. Allow to rest 1 minutes on cookie sheet and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Pork Tenderloin and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
* 1 pork tenderloin, diced
* salt and pepper
* Olive oil
* 1/2 tsp chili powder
* 1/2 tsp paprika
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp cumin
* 1/4 tsp oregano
* 1/4 tsp coriander
* 8 oz shredded cheddar jack cheese
* 6-8 flour tortillas

1. Combine the seasonings in a small bowl. Season the pork with the salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil (about 1 tsp) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 12-15 minutes, until they are caramelized and tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Heat another bit of olive oil (maybe 2-3 teaspoons) in the skillet now over medium high heat. Add the pork and and begin to cook it for about 2 minutes, moving it around in the skillet. Add the seasonings to the pan and mix with the pork. Continue to cook the pork until cooked through, probably about 5-7 minutes based on how large you cut the pork. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set aside.
4. Quickly wash out the skillet (to remove the seasoning) and then use either cooking spray or a tiny bit of additional olive oil to coat the pan. Place a tortilla in the pan, then top with shredded cheese, some of the onions, and some pork. Let the cheese begin to melt and the tortilla crisp a bit, then add a second tortilla. Carefully flip the quesadilla and let the second tortilla crisp. You should get a nice golden color on the the tortillas.
5. Remove the quesadilla from the pan, place on a cutting board, and cut into fourths with a pizza cutter or knife.
6. Repeat with additional tortillas.
7. Serve with salsa or guacamole or sour cream! Enjoy!