Mango Jalapeño Pork Tenderloin

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Summertime = grill time. Just about every night we can step out into our backyard and if our grill isn’t fired up, we can smell another one somewhere in the neighborhood. The smells of summer!

We like to keep our grilling recipes pretty simple.  Case in point, this tenderloin is an easy,  but extremely flavorful option for summer nights.  Will sous vides the tenderloin as it marinates in a Mango Jalapeño jelly and then bastes again before grilling.  Simple, yet delicious!

What’s your favorite thing to grill during the summer?


Mango Jalapeño Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lb pork tenderloin
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Mango Jalapeño jelly

Take a few paper towels and blot the tenderloin to remove any excess moisture.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Cover the tenderloin with the Mango Jalapeño jelly.  Place in a vacuum-seal or air-tight storage back to sous vide.

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A couple notes here:

First, pork (as well as chicken) is great with any “sweet heat” baste – a fruit base with anywhere from mild to spicy pepper kick.  Here, we are using Turtlefly Fields’s Mango Jalapeño jelly as the baste.  Turtlefly Fields* also makes a Pineapple Habanero, Raspberry Jalapeño and plain Jalapeño that would also be very nice on the pork.

Secondly, in this recipe we are using the sous vide method to cook the tenderloin before grilling.  Alternately, you could grill the tenderloin with just the salt and pepper seasoning, then baste the jelly on the tenderloin as it reaches an internal temperature of 150°.  Adding the jelly earlier will cause the sugar to burn, leaving a not-as-nice bitter taste to the baste.

*(Disclaimer:  Turtlefly Fields is owned and operated by myself and my sister, Laura)

We set the temperature on our sous vide to 150 and let it do it’s thing for a couple hours. If you haven’t tried sous vide… look in to it!  Sous vide is French for “under vacuum” and is the process of cooking food to a precise temperature in a water bath.  This method allows you to cook food to the exact level of doneness you select and keeps meats extremely juicy and moist.  We have the Anova Precision Cooker and have fallen in love with this method!

Remove the tenderloin from the sous vide bag and glaze again with the jelly.

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Grill on the hot side of the grill with direct heat to sear all sides of the tenderloin.

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Remove the tenderloin and let it rest a couple minutes. Slice the tenderloin on a bias.  If desired, thin a small about of the jelly with a touch of water and brush over the tenderloin slices for one last hit of flavor.  The glaze also makes for a nice presentation 🙂

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Serve it up!

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Full Recipe

Mango Jalapeño Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lb pork tenderloin
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Mango Jalapeño jelly

Blot the tenderloin with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the tenderloin with the Mango Jalapeño jelly and seal in a plastic bag.

Sous vide to 150°.

Remove tenderloin from the bag and cover again with jelly.

Grill over direct heat to sear all sides.

Remove tenderloin from the grill and let it rest a couple of minutes.

Cut on a bias and baste with a thinned mix of jelly, if desired.

 

Crawfish Etouffee… but really, Swamp Fries

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Will and I love a good road trip.  It’s one of the best things ever to get in the car and go exploring for the day or pack up for a quick weekend getaway to a more familiar location.  We will make a run to the Hill Country for a boot fitting, aim a little more South to find a new Texas winery, find restaurants or farmer’s markets in Houston, load up Silver Sadie Wonderdog for an overnight beach trip, or head to dozens of other places just a drive away.

One of our favorite roadtrip getaways is in Lake Charles.  Say what you like, but I am a sucker for a good penny slot machine or some video roulette.  Craps and Blackjack tend to call Will’s name. Depending on the weather, our favorite place to stay offers a lazy river to float during the day and a lovely wine and tapas bar with live piano music to wind down in at night.  All that said… it’s never a trip to Lake Charles without a visit into town to Steamboat Bill’s.  The pistolettes are perfect.  The gumbo is amazing.  The winner though?  The Swamp Fries. Cheese fries smothered in shrimp etouffee.

Will may have been just a touch hesitant the first time we ordered them.  Etouffee goes on rice, right?!?  Y’all.  We get these every stinkin’ time now.  The etouffee is so tasty and pairs so well with a crispy, hot cheese fry.  We’ve since made them at home with our own version of a crawfish etouffee and every time they take me right back to Lake Charles.

Did you just hear that slot machine ding???


Crawfish Etouffee – Swamp Fries

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • Salt, pepper
  • Cajun seasoning – such as Salt-free Tony Chachere’s
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2-3 drops Tabasco (more, to taste)
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4-6 cups seafood/chicken stock
  • 1 lb crawfish tails, peeled and deveined
  • 2 bay leaves
  • french fries, shredded cheese, sour cream and green onion for serving

Etouffee is a fairly simple recipe that takes just a little bit of time to bring on big flavors. It’s great post-crawfish boil to use up some leftover tails but you can easily sub in small shrimp instead.

To start, season the diced veggies with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning.  In cajun cooking, these three veggies are known as “the Cajun trinity”.   This combo of veggies is essentially the base for most cajun dishes and more often than not, added to roux as the beginnings of gumbos, soups, stews and jambalayas.  Typically, the bell pepper is the traditional green bell pepper – we often use red, yellow and orange peppers though for their variety in sweetness and color.

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Melt the butter in a skillet until it browns and begins to smell nutty.  You’ll see the fats in the butter starting to foam around the edges as well.  Add the seasoned veggies and saute until they begin to soften.  Add Tabasco, worcestershire and garlic to the skillet and saute another couple of minutes.

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Add the flour to the veggies and cook until it is light brown in color.  Whisk in the stock slowly and carefully to avoid creating lumps in your roux.  Add the crawfish tails and bay leaves.

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Simmer 20-30 minutes, until the etouffee has reached your desired thickness.  Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves when you are done simmering!

You can go traditional and serve with rice…

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…or you can go SWAMP FRIES!  Plate your french fries and top with shredded cheese.  Pour the etouffee over the fries and top with sour cream and diced green onions.

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There you have it – one ticket to Steamboat Bill’s Lake Charles.  Enjoy the ride and let me know how your penny slots pay off 😉


Full Recipe

Crawfish Etouffee

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • Salt, pepper
  • Cajun seasoning – such as Salt-free Tony Chachere’s
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2-3 drops Tabasco (more, to taste)
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4-6 cups seafood/chicken stock
  • 1 lb crawfish tails, peeled and deveined
  • 2 bay leaves

Season chopped veggies with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning.

Melt butter in skillet and brown until it smells nutty.

Add chopped veggies, saute until beginning to soften.

Add tabasco, Worcestershire and garlic to veggies, saute another couple of minutes.

Add flour to the veggies and cook until it is light brown in color.

Whisk in stock carefully to avoid lumps.

Add crawfish tails and bay leaves.

Simmer 20-30 minutes, until it has reached your desired thickness.

      *Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves.

Serve over rice or french fries.

Polenta-Crusted Fish and Cilantro Risotto

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Summer- summer- summertime!  Yeah!

Does everyone just pause and take a breath when summertime hits?  Being in the world of education, I can tell you I do!  Even though I work throughout the summer, once the break hits for students and teachers everything just mellows out a bit.  Days are longer so there isn’t a rush to run those errands post-work and before heading home.  Fridays off mean that I can join those summer revelers a little bit and still have a weekend.  Road trips come a little easier.  It’s hot out… but it’s supposed to be, amiright?

Summer dinners also lighten up.  Crockpots are put away and grills are brought to the forefront.  Heavy stick-to-your-ribs dinners make way for salads, kabobs and, as we have here, fish.  I love fish. I love my fisherman husband and his knowledge of how to catch and prepare fish.  Fried, baked, grilled, sashimi, sushi, ceviche… we could go all Forest Gump here in the multitude of ways we can cook fish but today we going to focus on a winning style we found on our Honeymoon.

Just about five years ago (this Friday!) Will and I said our “I dos” and then headed out for a week of fun and sun in Costa Rica.  It was such a memorable, exciting trip filled with many, many great meals.  One of my absolute favorites came from a meal provided after an excursion.  Several places offer a breakfast before or lunch after their scheduled activities so we weren’t surprised that the zipline adventure we chose provided lunch at the end.  We made our way out to MidWorld Costa Rica and had an absolute blast on our zipline courses.  If you ever travel to the Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica, do yourself a favor and look them up.  They have several fun options including ziplines and four-wheeler routes, are so professional and friendly, offer the longest double-cabled line in Central America (the Superman) that give amazing views of the landscape and, as a major bonus, have great food!  The lunch we were provided was so good – we even had to get a little information about it from the chef before leaving MidWorld.  We feasted on fish, plantains and the typical gallo pinto found accompanying most meals in Costa Rica.

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The fish is what really got me.  (Obviously, as I had to remind myself to put the fork down and snap a quick pic of it!)  It was so simple but had the perfect, light fry to it that makes for a great summer meal.  When we asked the chef she simply said “polenta, salt and pepper”.  Without the heavy breading of a flour-based coating the fish was left to shine and truly made for a meal that I remember often.

We’ve made this polenta-crusted fish now several times.  Here, we forgo the gallo pinto (which is soooo good we will have to devote a whole other post to) and sub in Cilantro Risotto, another summertime fave of mine.  Polenta-crusted fish always satisfies – both in taste and in memories recalled.


Polenta-Crusted Fish and Cilantro Risotto

For the fish:

  • fish fillets – grouper, snapper, tilefish, etc
  • s&p
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T of water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ¼ – ½ cup veggie or frying oil

For the Jalapeño Cream Sauce:

  • 3-4 jalapeños, roasted, seeded and sliced
  • ½-1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (fresh or roasted)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼-½ cup cream
  • Salt & pepper

For the Cilantro Risotto:

  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T onion, finely diced
  • 5 small cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 ½ cup arborio rice*
  • 1 cup white wine (pour it, then let it sit on the counter as you start prepping)
  • ¼ tsp salt & pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

For the purposes of cooking this meal all together, we will start with the Jalapeño Cream Sauce so it can chill in the fridge and allow the flavors to all meld together.  Then we’ll move on to the risotto and then quickly wrap up with cooking the fish.

A quick note regarding risotto:  it is a labor of love.  Risotto-making really is a simple process – start with onions, toast your grains, slowly add warm liquid and let it absorb in and develop the starch as you stir.  You are somewhat shackled to the stove as you stir but the results lend itself to a silky, creamy rice dish that looks so impressive as it pours out on a plate.  You can easily swap out the flavors but the process remains the same – toast, slowly add warm liquid, stir until absorbed, add more liquid, repeat.  Try it out – you’ll impress yourself and your dinner guests!

Alright – let’s cook.

Start with the Jalapeño Cream Sauce:  you’ll need 3-4 roasted jalapeños to start with.  Simply place your jalapeños on the grill or beneath a broiler until the skin starts to blister and blacken.  When they are all blistered up, put them in a bowl and cover them with saran wrap or a towel for a few minutes so that they steam and the skin loosens from the meat a bit.  After a few minutes, you should be able to slide the charred skin off of the pepper “meat”.  Then, simply slice them open to remove and discard the seeds.

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Place the jalapeños, cilantro and garlic in a food process and pulse until you have a smooth consistency.  You may add a little olive oil as you puree, if needed, to keep the consistency smooth.  Blend in the sour cream and lime juice. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to your taste.  Place the sauce in  the fridge for later use.

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Now, start the risotto.

In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the chicken stock.  If you are going for a vegetarian risotto, sub in veggie stock here.  Two things about the stock:  First, please do not use water as a replacement.  This is your chance to sneak some great flavor into the rice. Use a low-sodium stock so that you can control the salt added in to the dish as you cook.  Second, make sure you warm up with stock.  If you were to add in a cold/cool stock to the rice as you cook, you are dropping the temperature of the dish, bringing it back up, dropping the temp down, etc.  Keep your liquid warm for a consistent cooking temperature that will keep your risotto rocking until the end.

Heat a large skillet with edges (you’ll be stirring quite a bit and want those sides to help you keep in all contained) over medium-high heat.  Add the butter, onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent.

Add the arborio rice and saute, stirring until the rice is slightly toasted.

*Why arborio rice? Arboria is a short-grained rice full of starch. It’s a short, fat, oval-shape rather than the longer, rod-shape of traditional rice.  As you cook and stir, the release of the starch is what gives risotto its signature creaminess.  You won’t get quite the same effect with a traditional white rice.

When toasted, add the white wine to the pan and stir until most of the wine has been absorbed.

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Notice my setup here with the risotto pan and the stock pot?  Keep the stock close, you’re gonna need it!

Add about a cup, or a good ladle-full, of warm stock to the risotto.  Stir constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed.  For this first ladle-full, you want to stir constantly and it will absorb somewhat quickly.  Keep stirring until you can pull the rice back and the liquid doesn’t instantly fill the track in, as pictured below.

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Add another 1/2- to 3/4- ladle-full to the skillet stir until the liquid absorbs into the rice. As you add liquid, you will be able to back off on the stirring a bit as it won’t absorb as quickly.  But don’t wander off – keep an eye on the skillet so that it never completely absorbs all the liquid. You don’t want the rice to sit on the hot skillet and form a crust along the bottom.  Keep it moist and moving so that the starch of the rice creates a creamy, silky texture as it cooks.  When you pull back the risotto with the spoon and can see that track along the pan, it’s time for more stock.

You will repeat this process until the rice is al dente, or to your desired texture.  This usually take about an hour or so, depending on heat levels and the texture you want to achieve.  I like my risotto to be just a little past al dente – still leaving a bit of a bite to the rice.

When it looks like you are reaching the end of risotto-stirring, grab the Jalapeño Cream Sauce from the fridge and place it in a small pot over low heat.  Whisk it up with the cream until you have your desired temperature and consistency. Check your seasoning again and set it aside for topping later.

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Now, prep your fish fillets so that they are ready to cook:

Make sure your fish fillets are cleaned and bone-free.  Here, we had a nice grouper Will cleaned up and portioned out for dinner but we have also used tilefish and snapper in this preparation.  Any flaky, firm white fish is perfect for polenta-crusting.  Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper.  Grab two shallow bowls – one for the polenta seasons with salt and pepper, the other to whisk in the egg and water for a light egg wash.

Lightly dredge the fish fillets in the egg wash, then the seasoned polenta.  You want just a light covering on the fish, not a thick crust at all.  Set this aside on a plate until you are ready to pan fry the fillets.

Back to the risotto:

When the rice has reached your desired texture and consistency, remove it from the heat. Add the parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Check the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Fold in the chopped cilantro and serve the risotto warm!

Finally… let’s finish the fish.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cover the bottom of the skillet with a light coat of oil, just so the oil is about 1/4-inch thick across the bottom.

Pan fry the fillets in the skillet, about 3-4 minutes on each side, just until they are golden brown.

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Top the fillets with the Jalapeño Cream Sauce and serve with Cilantro Risotto!

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*As you can see here, the scallops looked so good in the fish market we just had to grab a couple to serve as well!  A couple tips for cooking scallops:  First, pat them dry with a paper towel before seasoning and placing in the pan.  If they are wet, the scallops will steam rather than sear.  Second, sear them for just about 90 seconds on each side with a little butter in a screaming hot pan.  You want a crust, but you don’t want to cook them all the way through so that they become tough or chewy.

We hope you enjoy this recipe!  It’s a favorite in our house that always brings back some good memories of Honeymoonin’ in Costa Rica.  What are some of your food-related travel memories?


Full Recipes

Polenta-Crusted Fish

  • Fillet fish – grouper, snapper, tilefish
  • s&p
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T of water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ¼ – ½ cup veggie or frying oil

Make sure fish fillets are cleaned and bone-free, lightly season with salt and pepper.

Season the polenta with salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.

Whisk together the egg and water in a shallow bowl.

Lightly dredge the fillets in the egg wash.

Lightly dredge the fillets in the seasoned polenta – this is a light covering, not a thick crust.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Cover the bottom of the skillet with a light coat of oil, just about ¼-inch thick.

Pan fry the fillets in the skillet, about 3-4 minutes per side, just until golden brown.

Jalapeño Cream Sauce

  • 3-4 jalapeños, roasted, seeded and sliced
  • ½-1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼-½ cup cream
  • Salt & pepper

Puree the jalapeños, cilantro and garlic in a food processor until smooth.  

Add a little EVOO as you puree, if needed, for a smoother consistency.

Blend in the sour cream and lime juice.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.

Before serving, place sauce in a small pan over medium-low heat.

Whisk in cream as it warms to desired consistency, checking for seasoning.

Cilantro Risotto

  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T onion, finely diced
  • 5 small cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 ½ cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ¼ tsp salt & pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the chicken stock.

In a large skillet, add butter, onions and garlic.

Saute over medium heat until onions are translucent.

Add rice and saute, stirring until rice is slightly toasted.

Add the white wine and cook until the wine is absorbed.

Add 1 cup of chicken stock stir constantly until liquid is absorbed.

Keep adding chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time stirring constantly until all chicken stock has been used and absorbed into the rice.

Once rice is al dente and to desired texture, remove from the heat and add parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.

Stir until well combined.

Fold in cilantro and serve warm.

Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

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Life gets busy, y’all.

As you can tell from my lack of posts, this is a busy time of the year for us. This is the time when we all need a stash of quick dinnertime recipes to get us through, am I right?  This fried rice totally fits the bill.  It’s a quick pull-together option that is pretty customizable and perfect for leftover rice.  Like, the drier/stickier the rice, the better in this case. I’m pretty bad about making way too much rice as a side dish so it is not uncommon to see this dish as a follow-up throughout the week in our house.  You can also make it more of a centerpiece dish by adding these easy potstickers on the side.  What’s so easy about them?  We skip the attempt at making the dumpling dough and reach for the premade wonton wrappers instead.

So how can you change these two recipes up?  Both call for ground pork – you can use the Asian Sausage as we did, or sub in ground/shredded chicken, ground beef, thinly sliced pork chops or leave out the meat completely for a vegetarian option.  You can use the potsticker filling in egg rolls, or scoop it into a bowl with fried wonton strips for an even faster “deconstructed” egg roll dish.  Pick and choose the veggie options for both the fried rice and filling to whatever you have currently available in your fridge.

So let me hear you – what are your go-to dinners for when life gets busy?


Fried Rice and Easy Potstickers

For the Fried Rice:

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

For the Potstickers:

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

For the Dipping Sauce:

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Start by mixing up the dipping sauce so that it has time to sit and develop.  That’s all it takes – mix all the ingredients together and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour.  This sauce is great with dumplings, potstickers, egg rolls, etc.

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The most time consuming piece of this recipe is prepping the veggies.  I do highly recommend spending some time chopping and prepping the veggies before you start cooking as it all comes together pretty quickly once you start cooking. For the rice, I cut all the veggies other than the bell pepper into a small dice for even cooking.  I like to leave the bell pepper in a good-sized strip so that they don’t completely wilt away when cooking, especially if you are using the small thinner-skinned sweet bell peppers like we typically do.  For the potstickers, you want to julienne the veggies in to thin strips. This cut helps for a couple of reasons.  First, the thin strips cook quickly and second, they are pretty uniform inside the potstickers. You can see the difference here between the veggies for the rice on the left and the veggies for the potstickers on the right.

I also shred the cabbage pretty thinly and sprinkle a little salt on it as it sits so that some of the water inside the cabbage starts to draw out a bit before adding it to the saute pan.

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Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high. Add olive oil to the pan and begin to saute the full pound of ground pork. As stated above, we used the Asian Sausage recipe for this dish.  If you are using a plain ground pork, ground beef or chicken, season the meat with a little ginger, coriander, garlic, salt and pepper. Once the pork is browned, remove half of the meat and set it aside for the fried rice.

If keeping your dinner vegetarian, you would start here 🙂

To the pork left in the pan, add the julienned celery and carrots, scallion and garlic.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Saute the mix until the veggies are just starting to become tender.

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Add the shredded cabbage, excess water drained/dabbed off, and toss the mixture until the cabbage is wilted.  Remove from the heat.

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Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray or sheet of parchment paper. Place one heaping teaspoon of the filling on the wrapper just off-center.  Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together. Set the potsticker aside and repeat the process for the desired amount of potstickers.  (The remaining filling freezes very well if you do not use it all here)

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As you can see, we tried a few different shapes and sealing/pinching techniques on the potstickers.  Will liked using a biscuit cutter which gave the rounded, scalloped edges.  Mine were freeformed and definitely less precise!

Place the nonstick skillet back over medium high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil. *Nonstick is KEY here!* Place the potstickers in a single layer over the bottom of the skillet and cook for just about one minute, until the bottoms are starting to turn golden.  Pour some water in the pan until just the bottoms of the dumplings are covered and place a lid over the skillet.  This action will steam the potstickers to heat up the filling and cook the dough through.  Cook until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until the bottoms of the potstickers are golden brown, another 1-2 minutes.

While the potstickers are steaming, prepare the fried rice.

Heat another nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Scramble the eggs, then set them aside and wipe out the skillet.

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Add the reserved 1/2 pound of cooked pork. Add a little olive oil, if necessary, then add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic, and cabbage (if using).  Saute until the veggies are softened.

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Add the rice to the skillet.  This is where your actions will change a little depending on how dry or sticky your rice is.  Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce over the rice and begin to “fry” it in the pan.  The rice should stick and brown up a little. If the rice is fairly wet and sticky, you may be pretty good here.  If the rice is cold or drier, add a little chicken stock, just a couple tablespoons at a time, to loosen it up a little so that it will cook and brown in the pan.  You want the rice to take in a little of the liquid but not become too wet and mushy as you cook.  Taste it and check for consistency and seasoning.  Continue to fry the rice in the pan until you have reached your desired texture.

Stir in the scrambled egg at the very end so that you don’t break it up too much – I like to leave pretty decent sized chunks of egg in the rice.  Remove the rice from the heat.

Sprinkle the fried rice with the reserved green portion of scallion and serve with additional soy sauce, if desired.  Drizzle the dipping sauce over a few of the potstickers and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Looks pretty impressive for a quick weeknight dinner, don’t you think? 😉


Full Recipe

Fried Rice

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ pound ground pork -or- Asian sausage
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced – reserve half of the sliced green tops
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ – 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (great for leftover rice)
  • Chicken stock
  • Soy sauce

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Scramble the eggs.

Set aside and wipe out the skillet.

Add oil to the skillet, saute pork until browned. (Season with garlic, ginger, coriander, salt and pepper)

Add the celery, carrots, whites and half of the greens of the scallion, bell pepper, garlic and cabbage, if using.

Saute until veggies are softened.

Add rice to the skillet.

Top with 1-2 T soy sauce and “fry” in pan.

If the rice is dry, add a little chicken stock.  Continue to “fry” until you have reached your desired texture – taste and adjust seasonings.

Stir in scrambled egg.

Remove from heat, top with reserved scallions.

Easy Potstickers

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 2 stalks celery, julienned
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup thinly shredded cabbage
  • Wonton wrappers

Saute the pork in a skillet until cooked through.

Add the celery, carrots, scallion and garlic, season with salt and pepper.

Saute until veggies are starting to become tender.

Add cabbage and toss until wilted.

Remove from heat.

Lay one wonton wrapper on a tray.

Place one heaping teaspoon on the wrapper just off-center.

Using room temperature water, wet two edges of the wonton wrapper.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and press the edges together.

Set aside and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cover the bottom with oil.

Cook for about 1 minutes, until bottom of dumplings are golden.

Pour some water in the pan until the bottoms of the dumplings are covered.

Place a lid over the skillet and steam the dumplings until most of the water has vaporized, about 7 minutes.

Remove the lid, cook until the bottoms are golden brown.

Dipping Sauce

  • 6 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 thinly chopped scallion
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch ginger, finely minced
  • 8 T soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (2-3 drops)
  • 1 T chili garlic paste

Mix all ingredients together.

Let sit at room temp 1 hour.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

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Will and I may disagree a little on this one. He heard “zucchini” and immediately said “NO”.  But for a muffin with some squash in it, these are pretty dang tasty.

Back in Weslaco, Texas my mom made these little gems often.  I believe the recipe came from a friend in town and my sister and I love them.  In fact, when Laura made the seven-and-a-half hour move to Baylor University these muffins became part of care packages sent her way.  I remember packing them up and more than once making sure the precious cargo got in the hands of a loving, die-hard Baylor couple from the church that would be making the trek up north.  When I went to Baylor a few years later you best be sure plans were made to send me some as well.

Zucchini Nut Muffins have everything right about them – they are just a little sweet, always moist, have a crunch from the nuts and they freeze well.  One batch makes 24 muffins so they are great grab-and-go breakfast options or make an easy brunch offering.

Let’s go back to our college days for just a few minutes: What’s in your care package?  You can fill mine with Zucchini Nut Muffins any day.


Zucchini Nut Muffins

-This recipe makes 24 muffins-
  • 2 c shredded, unpeeled zucchini*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c corn oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 400.  Grease two muffin tins or line the cups with baking liners.

*When you shred the zucchini be sure to leave the peel on.  Just wash the produce, chop the stem off and then use a grater to shred it up.  To get 2 cups of shredded zucchini you will need roughly one large or 2-3 small veggies.  Be sure you concentrate just as hard as I am 😉

In a large bowl, combine the shredded zucchini, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Why use corn oil?  Corn oil has a slightly higher smoke point than other oils and is essentially flavorless, both which make it nice for baking. If you don’t have corn oil on hand, reach for the vegetable oil for the same end results.

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Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

Add in the nuts and stir until moistened.

It’s completely up to you which nut you use but the most common choices are pecans and walnuts.  More often than not, I’ll go with pecan.  If you have halves on hand, chop them up a bit.  I like to leave some large pieces for texture throughout the muffins so I don’t worry about keeping the sizes of the pieces too even.

Fill the muffin cups about two-thirds full.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Let the muffins sit for a couple minutes in the pan, then move them to a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, the muffins freeze and reheat very nicely.

What do you think?  Does the squash-in-a-muffin scare you off or are you intrigued?  Mix up a batch and let me know how you like them!


Full Recipe

Zucchini Nut Muffins

  • 2 c shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 1 large, 2-3 small veggies)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c corn oil
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)

Preheat oven to 400.

Grease muffin tins or line with baking liners.

Combine zucchini, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until moistened.

Fill muffin cups ⅔ full.

Bake 18 minutes.

Let cool on rack.

Yields: 24

Crawfish Cornbread

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Crawfish boils are one of the best things about springtime. Typically they involve warmer weather, piles of peel-and-eat mudbugs, various veggies that have soaked up all the good spice, dirty rice, lots of napkins, drinks and good friends.  Minus the warm weather, we had all that this past weekend.

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Towards the end of the night, I start hoping for leftovers.  That’s because something tasty comes the day after a boil… Crawfish Cornbread.  This recipe comes from a family friend of Will’s and it has now become a post-boil tradition in our little home. It’s easy to make and makes a potentially forgotten and leftover mudbug shine as a new dinner option.

Fun fact:  Will also won the Friday Night Feast event at a local cookoff with this recipe.  It’s award-winning cornbread!

Do you love a good crawfish boil?  What’s your go-to for leftovers?


Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, or using a mixer, combine the cornbread mix, melted butter and eggs.

Stir in the creamed corn.  Add the baking soda, Cajun spice*, salt, pepper and shredded cheese.

*For Cajun spice, we tend to use something along the lines of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  If you are into making your own blends, I like to follow the recipes for Emeril Lagasse’s seasonings.

At this point, I usually take the bowl off the mixer stand and do the rest by hand. Stir in the chopped veggies and the crawfish tails.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Easy, right?!

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Full Recipe

Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Mix all ingredients and pour into a prepared baking dish.

Bake at 375 for about 45-50 minutes.

Blackberry Buttermilk Pie

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It’s officially Spring!  Which means it’s officially time for blackberries.  They have been harder to find lately (thanks again Harvey and winter ice days) but Will and I love to find a good berry spot, pick a bucket-full and then find tasty ways to use them.  Many of mine go towards jelly-making and Will tends to choose cobblers for his stash.  However, this time we wanted something different from the usual and this pie completely satisfied.

This recipe stemmed from two key factors – we had a small amount of blackberries to use and some buttermilk leftover from another cooking venture.  The results were delicious! It looks a lot more complicated that it really is and I love the homemade crust here to play into the rustic, homey look of the pie.  This pie is so tasty warm from the oven as well as ice cold the next day.  I think we came up with a keeper!

So… anyone have any berry patches that need picking???


Blackberry Buttermilk Pie

For the pie crust (this recipe makes 2 pie crusts):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 6 oz blackberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • ½ c butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Rinse and dry the blackberries. Place the berries in a large bowl and cover with ¼ cup sugar. Toss them up a little then press and mash the blackberries with a fork or small masher so they begin to release the juices.  You are macerating the berries to  bring out their full sweetness.  You can also add a shot of liquor here in the macerating process – rum or whiskey would probably be nice here – I won’t tell if you add it in!

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Let the berries sit, stirring and mashing them occasionally, until the berries are to your desired consistency and sweetness.  This will take typically 45 minutes up to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

It’s time to mix up the pie dough!  You can absolutely slide in a premade refrigerated crust here, this is just an opportunity to be a little fancy in our pie-making with a simple homemade pie crust.  The only big trick is to use ice-cold butter when you are mixing up the dough.  The “pebbles” of butter then melt when baking and make for a flaky pie crust. This recipe makes two pie crusts – freeze one, or bake two pies!

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.  I like using the food processor here, it works the flour and butter together nicely without softening the butter.

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Gradually pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.

Move the dough to a large bowl.  Lightly beat one egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture. Add in the cold water and vinegar. Mix the mixture together until it’s just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl.  Again, you want to keep the butter cold so work it at little as possible so that the heat from your hands doesn’t melt the butter.

To freeze half the pie dough, place one half of the dough in a large plastic bag (do not seal it) and slightly flatten the dough with a rolling pin. This makes it much easier to thaw and roll out the crust later.  After flattening, seal the bag tightly and freeze.

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To bake one pie crust, place half the dough on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center, outward.

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Place in a lightly-sprayed pie pan and pinch or crimp the edges.  I kinda like a rustic-looking pie crust.  That may be that I lack the patience to perfectly roll out, trim and crimp the edges but I heartily accept that about me.  So, you do you on the crust here 🙂

Lightly cover the dough with foil so the edges don’t burn while baking. Press the foil gently down into the pan and fill with pie weights, or dried beans. This holds the pie crust down a bit as it bakes so that it doesn’t form air pockets that bubble up then shrink back down as baking.

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Bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove pie weights, or dried beans, and the foil from the pie crust.  Let the crust sit while you mix up the filling. (Save those beans – they will still make a great pot!)

Decrease oven temperature to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1 ½ cups sugar until the mix is a pale yellow color. Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour, ground nutmeg and salt until smooth.

Pour the macerated blackberries into the cooked pie crust.

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Pour the buttermilk filling on top of the blackberries.  Some of the berries or juice may mix or float up to the top a little and that’s okay!  It’s nice to see a few berries at the top after it bakes.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be a little jiggly, but it should hold it’s crust on top as you transfer it out of the oven.  Let the pie cool on the counter for a few minutes before serving to set up all the way.

This pie is delicious warm from the oven with whipped cream or ice cream.  It’s equally lovely the next day cold from the fridge.  So basically, this pie is a win-win!

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Full Recipe

Blackberry  Buttermilk Pie

For the pie crust (this recipe makes 2 pie crusts):

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 6 oz blackberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ c sugar
  • ½ c butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Place blackberries in a large bowl and cover with ¼ cup sugar.

Press and mash the blackberries with a fork or small masher so they begin to release the juices.

Let sit, stirring and mashing now and then, until berries are to desired consistency and sweetness, 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 400.

Make the pie crust:

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor.

Gradually pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles tiny pebbles.

Move the dough to a large bowl.

Lightly beat one egg with a fork, and then add it to the mixture.

Next, add in the cold water and vinegar.

Mix the mixture together until it’s just combined, and then remove half the dough from the bowl.

To freeze half the dough:

Place one half of the dough in a large plastic bag (do not seal) and slightly flatten with a rolling pin. This makes it much easier to roll out the crust later.

After flattening, seal the bag tightly.

To bake half the dough:

Place half the dough on a lightly floured surface.

With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center, outward.

Place in a lightly-sprayed pie pan and pinch the edges.

Cover the dough with foil.

Fill with pie weights, or dried beans,and bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes. 

Remove crust from the oven and remove pie weights, or dried beans, and the foil from the crust.

Decrease oven temperature to 350.

Make the filling:

In a large bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1 ½ cups sugar until a light yellow color.

Whisk in the butter, buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour, ground nutmeg and salt until smooth.

Pour macerated blackberries into cooked pie crust.

Pour buttermilk filling on top of blackberries.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Center will still be a little jiggly, let cool on counter for a few minutes before serving.