I had gotten a great deal on pork loin roasts at one of those bulk stores, not the kind with membership. In order to get such an amazing price, you had to buy the entire roast, about 3 feet long. So when I got home from the store, I cut it into 1 lb. roasts, bagged them and tossed them in the freezer.
So here I am, I had thawed one of the pork roasts for dinner and had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. Anything I thought of I didn’t have something else I would need like spinach, mushrooms, dried fruit, and so on. Finally the light bulb goes off, at 4 o’clock, much later than I usually start especially when taking notes and photographs.
I decided to double butterfly cut the pork so I could form a stuffed log of pork that would cut into pinwheels, which always look great for presentation. The double butterfly cut turns any cylindrical piece of meat into a flat square or rectangle, while it may seem intimidating it really isn’t that hard to do but you will need a good quality sharp knife. To double butterfly you basically cut the roast lengthwise in the middle but don’t cut all the way through. Then you take the top portion and cut it from the opposite side, again not going all the way through and repeat for the bottom portion. The best way to visualize it is to think of a “W”, that first cut being the middle ^ of the letter and the top and bottom cuts being the V part of letter. That’s the easiest way for me to remember the direction without ending up with some thin cut pork scraps. After the cuts and the meat is laid flat, I cover with a piece of plastic wrap and use a pounder just to flatten out any uneven parts, usually the joints.
The filling for my pork, I decided on my southern cornbread dressing that I always make at Thanksgiving. It starts with healthy cornbread that is cooled and crumbled. To that I add a dozen woven wheat crackers, they do sell them in a variety of flavors, I used plain but if you feel adventurous, go for it! Then I add sea salt, cracked pepper, rubbed sage and dried thyme. Diced onion and chopped walnuts get added to the mixture then an egg for a binding agent and some chicken stock to moisten. It all gets mixed until all well combined.
On the work surface, place some kitchen twine, about an inch apart and for this particular roast I only needed three, you want to lay these strings under the flattened pork, make sure you cut them long enough to wrap around once the pork is filled. I usually go overboard by about a foot because I’ve cut them too short before and they are easier to tie with longer ends and you can trim them. Add the cornbread mixture on top, about an inch thick and using your hands, press down to the edges evenly. To roll, you will start at at the short end and roll it onto itself and keep rolling to the end. Pull the strings taught and tie into a knot, trimming any excess twine.
Place the roast, seam side down, in a roasting pan big enough to fit that has been treated with nonstick cooking spray. I know that this picture looks as if I have a lot of oil in it but actually I had rinsed it with water first and didn’t dry it then added the spray. I had a hungry son that was pestering me, “How long before dinner?”
The stuffed roast, is vented with aluminum foil, to retain moisture, and placed in a preheated oven and baked for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into middle of roast registers 165 degrees. The aluminum foil can be removed the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking to get a crustier outside if you prefer.
Allow the roast to rest 5 to 10 minutes, carefully cut strings and remove them from roast then slice into six equal pinwheels.
While the pork is roasting I make the sauce. Originally I was going to do a peach bourbon sauce but the bag of frozen peaches I had in the freezer was actually mangos so I went with apples, which work great with sage, pork and thyme. I core and thinly slice the apples, it is best to use an apple like a Golden Delicious since it is softer and doesn’t require a long cooking time to soften. I add to it a tablespoon of grass fed cow butter and saute until the apples slightly brown. I add chicken stock, a little agave nectar for sweetness and bourbon. If you prefer not to have bourbon, you can just add more chicken stock. The sauce simmers about 15 to 20 minutes until apples are soft. I increase the heat to boil and add a cornstarch slurry to thicken.
The sliced pinwheels are placed on serving platter or plate and the sauce with apples is spooned over the top and served.
- 1 lb. pork loin roast, preferably white meat and trimmed of fat
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal plus additional for dusting
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
- nonstick cooking spray
- Prepared cornbread
- 12 woven wheat crackers
- 1 tsp. rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced (any apple but Granny Smith)
- 1 tablespoon grass fed cow butter
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1-1/2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- nonstick cooking spray
- cooking twine
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray 8" x 8" baking pan with nonstick spray then dust with cornmeal, set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients for the cornbread, whisk in buttermilk and mix well.
- Pour batter into prepared pan then place in preheated oven.
- Cook cornbread for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Crumble cooked and cooled cornbread into large bowl.
- Add a dozen woven wheat crackers, such as a Triscuit, crumble into cornbread mixture.
- Add sage, sea salt, thyme, pepper, onions and walnuts, mix into crumbled cornbread mixture.
- Add egg and chicken broth and mix until well combined and moist.
- Preheat oven 350 degrees.
- Place pork loin roast on work surface.
- Using a sharp knife cut the roast lengthwise in the middle but don’t cut all the way through, leave a little over an inch in tact.
- Keep roast together, don't open it up.
- Make another cut, mid way above your first cut but in the opposite direction so that the hinges holding the pork together are at opposite ends.
- Now repeat the step above but on the bottom, again opposite of the cut in the middle. This will be in a W pattern so it will unfold and open up.
- Open up the cut roast and cover with plastic wrap, use a pounder and flatten out any uneven parts and flatten out the seams (hinges).
- Cut cooking twine long enough to wrap around roast, keep in mind it will be larger when stuffed. You will need enough so that you have it tied about every inch.
- Place twine on work surface, lay open roast on twine, lengthwise or long side, then set aside.
- *If any of the above is confusing, please look above on this recipe post for additional description and photos.
- Place cornbread mixture evenly over pork, about an inch thick and spread to all the edges. You may have leftover stuffing which you can put in a ramekin and bake for a dressing on the side or to use for another recipe.
- Begin rolling up pork with filling beginning with the short end, this will be a stout roast rather than long and skinny. Keep rolling until you reach the end.
- Pull up twine and and tie securely, trimming any excess twine.
- Treat roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray and place roast in pan, seam side down.
- Vent with aluminum foil and place in oven. Roast for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 165 degrees or higher.
- Allow roast to rest 5 to 10 minutes then slice into 6 equal pinwheels.
- Place on serving platter or serving plates and spoon sauce and apples over top.
- While the pork is roasting you can make the sauce.
- Add apple slices and butter to medium skillet over medium heat, cook until apples slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, pepper, agave and bourbon, reduce to simmer and allow to cook 15 minutes or until apples are soft.
- Increase heat to high.
- In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water.
- Once sauce reaches a boil, add the cornstarch and water slurry and whisk rapidly. Continue cooking and whisking until sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat.
- Total cooking time does not include sauce, since sauce is being cooked while pork is roasting.
Chicken & Biscuit Hand Pies with White Gravy
Growing up both my mama and grammy made a lot of recipes that they found on the side of soup cans and boxes. Many were quick and easy fixes, others inexpensive meals and some became family favorites.
One of the recipes that really stood out to me was one my mama would make with refrigerator rolls that was filled with chicken and bran cereal. Considering that was probably around 40 years ago, I am not sure where she came across the recipe. So I tried to recreate it from memory.
To start, I knew I needed it make it healthier than store bought refrigerator rolls so I opted to make my whole wheat biscuits and roll them thin and cut them a little larger than regular biscuits.
The filling has shredded chicken that I boiled in chicken broth for nearly 2 hours over a high simmer until it was falling apart. I shred the chicken and add diced onions, bran cereal which adds extra fiber, chopped walnuts and seasonings including sage and thyme.
I take the biscuit rounds and moisten the edges with water then add the filling and fold over the biscuit and seal the edges. They then go onto a greased baking sheet and into the oven.
While the hand pies are baking, I make the white gravy by first forming a roux with some canola oil and whole wheat flour. I slowly whisk in milk, chicken bouillon for some added flavor and fresh cracked black peppercorns. I continue to whisk the gravy until it thickens.
Once the hand pies are removed from the oven and slightly cooled, I place them on a serving platter and spoon the white gravy over the top and garnish with some additional bran cereal, walnuts and fresh parsley.
These can be made larger if you would prefer, like a calzone and served for dinner. In the smaller size they can still be served as a meal and make a great appetizer which you can serve the gravy on the side. They would also be great at brunch as well.
- 1-1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
- 1/2 cup bran cereal
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1-1/2 cups self rising flour
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons grass fed cow butter
- 1-1/3 cups lowfat buttermilk
- nonstick cooking spray
- extra flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp. chicken bouillon (powdered or base)
- 1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup water
- additional bran cereal, walnuts and parsley for garnish.
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients for the filling, set aside.
- In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients, you can do this by hand or can do in standing mixer with paddle attachment.
- Gradually add buttermilk a 1/3 of a cup at a time and work into dry ingredients, still using the paddle attachment to standing mixer at low speed or manually with your hands.
- Keep mixing until dough forms a ball and it is not sticky to the touch, add extra whole wheat flour a tablespoon at a time if needed.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to just over 1/4" thick.
- Using a large biscuit cutter or glass about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and cut 10 biscuits.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Lay biscuit rounds on work surface.
- Using fingers and spread water onto edges of biscuit.
- Spoon chicken mixture onto one half of the biscuit, stretch and pull other half of biscuit over filling and press edges to seal.
- Place hand pie onto baking sheet treated with cooking spray.
- Repeat until all biscuits are stuffed.
- Spray tops of biscuits with cooking spray.
- Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes until golden brown.
- While the hand pies are baking make the gravy.
- Combine oil and flour in skillet over medium heat to form a roux.
- Gradually whisk in milk.
- Add chicken bouillon and cracked black pepper, continue to whisk continuously until thickened. Once thickened, remove from heat.
- Spoon gravy over hand pies, garnish with some additional bran cereal, chopped walnuts and parsley if desired.
- If serving as an appetizer you can alternatively serve the gravy on the side for dipping.
- For making shredded chicken, one large boneless and skinless chicken bread low boiled for over an hour on the stove, cooled can be shredded with your hands or two forks. It is important to cook it low and slow to make it super tender to shred.
I have never been a big fan of casseroles. I guess because most of the ones I had were blah, tasteless and quite frankly, looked disgusting. Many that I had encountered should have been labeled, “Casserole Surprise” or “Leftover Surprise”. They had everything but the kitchen sink.
This casserole is one that my mama use to make when I was growing up, it had some basic, simple ingredients so I spiced it up with some different ingredients and spices and also chose to use a leaner meat and add some extra protein with beans.
Aside from the great flavor in this casserole, it is prepped and cooked all in the same pan. If you don’t have an ovenproof pan, you can transfer to a casserole dish to bake. It starts with ground turkey that I brown and crumble. You could substitute any ground meat that you have on hand. To that, onion and garlic are added. Spices are added like chili powder, cumin and oregano. Once the ground turkey mixture is fragrant from the aromatics and spices, I add in diced tomatoes and chilies. You can substitute canned petite diced tomatoes for fresh, you can also used canned diced green chilies. Another option would be 2 cans of diced tomatoes and chilies all in one can, such as Rotel. Corn, black beans, cilantro, cornmeal with baking powder are all added and mixed well. This mixture is patted down flat and then goes into the oven to bake. While the turkey is cooked through, this step allows the cornmeal to absorb the liquids and expand and become more like the texture of steamed masa throughout the casserole.
The casserole comes out of the oven and shredded cheese is added to the top. I prefer a pepper Jack cheese but if you want a milder flavor, Jack can be substituted. The casserole is returned to the hot oven, to allow the cheese to melt.
To serve, simply spoon out onto serving plates and dig in.
You can serve with additional toppings like sliced jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole or salsa.
This casserole can be made ahead of time, covered and placed into the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
- 1 lb. ground turkey, 93% lean
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced with juices
- 1/2 cup green chilies, diced
- 1-1/2 cups whole kernel corn
- 1-1/2 cups black beans
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal mixed with 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup jack or pepper Jack cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large oven proof pot or dutch oven, add ground beef and brown over medium-high heat, breaking into pieces as it cooks.
- Add onion and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic, stir and cook one minute.
- Add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper, stir well.
- Add tomatoes and their juices, green chilies, corn, black beans and cilantro, mix well.
- Mix in the cornmeal that has been mixed with baking powder to the pot, stir well that everything is thoroughly mixed. Pat down top with back of spoon to make level.
- Place in preheated oven and bake 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven, turn off oven.
- Sprinkle top with cheese, place casserole back in oven and allow cheese to melt, 2 or so minutes.
- Remove and serve by spooning onto serving plates.
Thai Crispy Chicken & Onion Noodles
I came across a photo on Pinterest of this incredible looking dish, it was call Crack Slurp Noodles, It didn’t have fried chicken, instead it was fried chicken skin. That didn’t appeal to me at all but all the other ingredients sounded great, so I changed it up a bit.
I slice up onions and chicken very thin so once they are dredged and fried, they are nice and crispy. I opted for cornstarch instead of typical flour for dredging because it fries up nicely and has a nice golden color to it and it doesn’t require me to do a dredge in flour, then one in eggs then back to flour again to get the coating to stick. Cornstarch sticks to anything wet and isn’t prone to falling off. It is also a lot lighter in texture and flavor.
As you can see, once the onions and chicken are prepared they nearly double in size. Keep in mind that started out as just one single boneless, skinless chicken breast. Continue reading “Thai Crispy Chicken & Onion Noodles”
Sweet & Sour Meatloaf
Meatloaf is known as a comfort food, it is satisfying, inexpensive and easy to make and the possibilities are endless.
Meatloaf can be cooked in a loaf pan, as the name suggests or can be formed into a loaf and cooked on a baking sheet. Alternatively, meatloaf can be cooked in muffin tins, which is handy when you are short on time as it cuts the cook time in half. You can also form it into meatballs and serve them as an appetizer or a main dish served on top of pasta, vegetables or rice. Another option is to form it into patties, like hamburgers, and serve it on a bun or in a salad. Leftover meatloaf slices are often served warm or cold as a sandwich.
I came up with this recipe because I had some leftover bell pepper and canned pineapple from use in other recipes and it instantly screamed to me, sweet and sour. Continue reading “Sweet & Sour Meatloaf”
I think Swedish meatballs are probably the most popular recipe from Scandinavia, made in millions of kitchens across the globe all with their own unique varying ingredients which makes each one a little different yet at the same time, still the same.
I like to deviate from the norm and add a new and different nuance to a recipe. For this recipe I opted for ground turkey, rather than beef, pork or veal but you can certainly use any type of ground meat you want for this recipe. I add to the ground turkey a number of aromatics, egg and also some milk soaked bread and oatmeal. Oatmeal is very heart healthy and it also stretches your meat further, like a filler but a healthy one that is high in antioxidants, soluble fiber and helps lower cholesterol. Continue reading “Swedish Meatballs”
Honey-Thyme Chicken Tenders
If you are a frequent visitor to this site, you have probably discovered that I tend to primarily use chicken tenders or thin cut chicken breasts that are also known as scaloppine cut which in Italian means small scallop, thin cut of meat. The reason I choose to use these particular cuts the most is because it is the easiest way for me to monitor my portion sizes as I try to keep poultry, meat and fish at around 4 ounces per serving. Usually 2 chicken tenders or one thin cut chicken breast equates to 4 ounces.
This recipe yields a very savory, juicy and tender chicken. The sauce is light with a hint of tart from the lemon and sweet from the honey. It pairs well with any sort of side dish; salad, rice, pasta, vegetables, potatoes, and so on. Continue reading “Honey-Thyme Chicken Tenders”
Biscuits & Gravies
Yes, you read that right . . . gravies! Plural, because we are going to do two different gravies.
The first gravy is a staple in the South, sausage gravy. Here in the South sausage gravy is a standard in most households. It is served not only at breakfast time but lunch and supper too. Sausage gravy is great on mashed potatoes, fried chicken, chicken fried steak and of course, biscuits. If you are like me, I can eat sausage gravy on its own.
Sausage gravy starts out with, you guessed it, sausage! You want a good quality breakfast sausage, like the ones that come in the big roll that you slice into patties. The problem with most of the pork sausage at the grocery store is that they are high in fat. Ah, so you think the logical substitute, turkey sausage but the problem with most turkey sausage is they are lacking the fat that you will need to make the gravy. Another problem is that many manufacturers of turkey sausage sell them precooked and you need it raw. What do you do? Simple, make your own. I know it sounds too complicated but it is really no more complicated than browning ground beef with seasoning. Continue reading “Biscuits & Gravies”
Olive Oil, Walnut & Garlic Spaghetti
When you want something to fix that is easy, this is a good go-to dish that is wholesome whole grain and packed with flavor that is also low in saturated fat. It makes a great side or main dish and the best part, most of us have all the ingredients in our pantry so no special trip to the market.
I start off with whole wheat or whole grain spaghetti, you can certainly substitute any type of pasta you want for this recipe; bow tie, elbow, fettuccine, etc. will all work fine. The pasta is cooked to al dente, which is firm to the bite but not hard. Al dente in Italian means “to the tooth”. Continue reading “Olive Oil, Walnut & Garlic Spaghetti”
Steak ~ Three Ways
I know that cutting back on red meat is healthy for you, I try to keep it for once a week and when I choose steaks I choose a leaner cut of meat and a thin cut. These are thin cut New York strip steaks trimmed of fat, each one is 3 to 4 ounces.
Normally when I pan sear steaks I do it with a combination of stove top followed by the oven but since these are so thin, they are easy to do just on the stove top.
First thing I do is rub olive oil on both sides of the steak followed with generous amount of sea salt and ground black pepper.
I heat my grill pan over medium-high heat and once it is hot put the steaks on. They should sizzle as soon as you put them on the grill. I cook each one about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side then remove the pan from the heat and they continue to cook, especially in cast iron.
In my family, no one likes the same toppings on their steaks, we all have different preferences. Continue reading “Steak ~ Three Ways”