Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pork loin with cranberry relish and mixed grain salad

Hi everyone, I'm the wife and today is a report on a dinner that we put together for my folks.

My parents started by splitting one of the pork loin steaks and each taking one half. By the end of the dinner, they had worked on the other one too so that it was almost finished as well.

If the cranberry relish recipe was doubled, there would be enough to season an entire package of the pork loin steaks.

Out of one package of pork loin chops, four were set aside for dinner and the other six were packaged in twos and put in the freezer for later use. These pork loin steaks were cut at approx. 1".

Pork Loin

Season the loin steaks with salt and pepper and roast at 325 degrees until just past pink. Watch the meat, don't let a timer do the thinking. Do not overcook. While the meat is still a little pink put the cranberry relish on the pork and finish cooking. Let sit a minute and sprinkle on a handful of silvered almonds before serving.

Cranberry Relish

2 cups Kirkland apple, peach, and passion fruit juice blend
1 cup Ocean Spray Craisins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
zest of one lemon

Simmer the juice, the Craisins and the ginger on low until most of the juice is reduced. Add the lemon zest at the end.

This cranberry relish would also be good on ham, chicken, or ice cream.

With the pork, a salad was served. This grain blend has not only quinoa, but also amaranth, brown rice and wild rice for a satisfying and nutty flavor.

Heritage Grain Blend Salad

1 Cup Nature's Earthly Choice Heritage Grain Blend
3 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
approx 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 thinly sliced red onion (pole to pole)
1/2 each thinly sliced red and green bell pepper
Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the grain with the water until the liquid is absorbed and the grain is tender. When the mixture is done cooking and still warm add the lemon juice and olive oil. Combine with the veggies and season to taste.

If it were still summer, a large handful of fresh herbs would have made it into the dish as well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guest Post-Cranberry Cobbler Crunch

Hi, I'm Chris Louie, and I blog over at The Simple Skillet When Mike asked me to do a guest post about my Cranberry Cobbler Crunch, well, I was honored! I love his ideas, and I love Costco (other than the crazy parking and long lines) and shop their regularly, although I rarely purchase any of the prepared foods. I buy the produce, fish, meat, and other whole foods, and of course some of their wines.... then come home and cook from my own recipes. However, once in awhile I do like to try some of their specials.

Getting back to the Cranberry Cobbler Crunch, well it really isn’t your typical cobbler, and not your typical cranberry dessert. It is more like a pudding cake, and the crystallized sugar on top adds a nice crunch and takes the tartness away from the dried cranberries. I make this dessert often (well, probably more often than I should). I also make Individual Berry Cobblers that are just as easy, and cook in half the time because they are made in little souffle cups. You could do that with the Cranberry Cobbler Crunch as well, and just bake for 30 minutes in the 3 inch souffle cups.
This is a perfect dessert for a cold winter night, served warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s also good for breakfast/brunch (I know)…but it is! It’s not too sweet, and goes great with a cup of coffee or tea. It is easy to make, but takes an hour to bake. You can serve it warm out of the oven, but it is just as good the next day, just warm it a little in the microwave oven. The top keeps it’s slight crunch from the Turbinado sugar. When you're done having your second piece, you may want to check out our low calorie meal plans with recipes and shopping lists!

Serves: 8 (but in our house we usually get about 6 slices out of it)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
1 1/4 cups cranberries, dried
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, large
1 cup milk, I use 2% fat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour, all purpose
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw
Preparation: Place cranberries in a small microwave safe bowl. Cover with water and cook in microwave for 1 minute and set aside to soften. Lightly butter and sugar a 9 inch pie or cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Add sugar to butter and whisk together. Add milk, egg, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk together. Add flour and baking powder and whisk together. Pour batter into prepared pie pan.
Drain cranberries in a colander, shaking it around to make sure the water is fully drained.

Arrange softened cranberries over top of batter. Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Place baking dish in oven. Bake for approximately 1 hour until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

I sprinkle a little more sugar on top (optional, but really good) when I remove it from the oven.

Best served warm, and you can reheat individual pieces in the microwave later.
Nutrition: Per Serving About: 350 calories, 13 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g protein, 58 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 140 mg sodium

We post free weekly meal plans, recipes and shopping lists for family meals, low calorie meals, low carb meals, vegetarian meals and kid friendly meals. Stop on by and check it out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Guest Post Nutella Chocolate Mousse Tart

When Mike emailed me to do a guest post I was immediately excited by his invitation. Then to find out it's about my favorite single addiction, Nutella !!  I was in a hurry to get started on posting my latest creation! Nutella is nature's perfect food it's great on everything.

Nutella  was invented by Pietro Ferrero in Italy in the 1940s, and was originally called pasta gianduja. Hope your a big fan like me! Here is my latest entry and thanks Mike for your invitation... Nutella Chocolate Mousse Tart

Nutella Chocolate Mousse
3/4 cup Nutella
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar

In a double boiler or oven proof bowl, over simmering water, melt the Nutella and butter, stir to combine. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and continue beating until smooth and glossy.
 Gently fold in 1/4 of the egg whites to the Nutella mixture using a spatula, then add the remaining whites and combine completely. Spoon into cooled pie crust and cool in the refrigerator 4 hours.

Chocolate Butter Crust :

Makes  1 large tart shell in pan with removable bottom
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt in the bowl mix together with electric heavy duty mixer. Add butter, mixture will resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add yolks, cream, and vanilla; process until mixture comes together, keep adding cream if too dry, a little at a time.

Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk with the palm of your hand. Wrap well, refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to use, up to 2 days.

Line the bottom of a removable tart pan with pistachio nuts. Unwrap dough, roll the dough out about 1/2 thick on the clear wrap, lift still on the wrap and place on over the nuts, to line the tart pan. With plastic wrap push still over the top, press sides in to make sure all dough is in the fluted edges to the top. Remove plastic wrap. Prick the dough with a fork on the bottom and bake on 350 until tart is done around 25 minutes. I make sure the toothpick is clean in the center before removing from the oven. Cool around 5 minutes, loosen edges if they look stuck with a knife and gently move from the fluted edges then flip onto on board to cool.
Then line a cookie sheet with wax paper and flip it right side up.  Fill  when cooled with mousse, add a  toasted meringue- or whipped cream topping and chopped hazelnuts.


3 egg whites from large or jumbo eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
In a chilled clean bowl, beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add the cream of tartar, then gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. But don't walk away and overbeat as I did! It will not be smooth and get dry as you see in the picture...don't even answer the phone! That's what happened to me and this is the result too stiff of peaks formed!
Pile on to the top of your pie and seal edges to crust. (Sprinkles with nuts after its sealed and starts to brown or they will sink in.) Bake at 400°F  until lightly browned. Watch this closely as it will brown quickly in different ovens.

The bowl must be cold I put my bowl and beater in the refrigerator first! The bowl must be immaculately clean!

Sugar fills an important role in meringue. It stabilizes the beaten egg white foam which enables it to sit longer and hold its shape. Sugar pulls the water from the eggs and allows it to set better. When using sugar, your meringue can run the risk of getting a gritty texture so I only use superfine sugar when making meringue because it dissolves faster than table sugar. Use meringue within 5 minutes after beating as they will deflate quickly.

The challenge in making perfect meringue is neither to under or over beat the eggs. Under beating introduces too little air, and the whites will rise inadequately. If over beaten the mixture will separate. Seal your pie to the edges before baking. Its also better to make just before you serve as refrigerating will cause it to seperate from the edges and get runny.

Try some of my other Nutella Favorites:

Nutella Ganache Milano Cookies
Nutella Rocher Hot Chocolate
Thanks For Reading ! Claudia From What's Cookin Italian Cuisine

New Feature-Guests Posts On Costco Cuisine

I am trying out something new: I am going to have guest posters that have recipes that I think fit well with the philosophy of this blog.

Let me know what your think after they start posting.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy this new feature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quick and Easy Spinach Quiche-Ideal For Holiday Brunch Or Breakfast

For Sunday brunch with the family, my mother in law generally makes scrambled eggs. However, sometimes she likes to kick it up a notch by making a quiche.  This one used eggs, mozzarella and bacon bits, all from Costco. She adds a little milk and some frozen spinach (thawed and drained) plus some seasoning and she is good to go.

Easy, quick, tasty and affordable.  That is a wonderful set of qualifications for any dish.  And buying a number of the ingredients from Costco really makes it simple to grab stuff from your pantry and fridge and have it put together in minutes.

I highly recommend something like this for a holiday brunch or breakfast.  It really satisfies people but it keeps your time in the kitchen to a minimum so you can enjoy family time together.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amylu Chicken Sausage With Apple, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad

We are fond of those Amylu Apple and Smoked Gouda Chicken sausages.  We had one last pack of them in the freezer and so I pulled them out and cooked them on the Griddler and we had our meat course. For a side dish I made the following: Apple, Cranberry and Quinoa Salad. Here is the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled, (we buy our quinoa from Costco)
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup Craisins (dried cranberries) from Costco
  • 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt dip

My idea was to use tart fruits like the Craisins and the apple to make the salad more suitable as a side dish than as a desert. My wife and I both agreed that it worked okay, not brilliantly, but okay as a side dish and that I should make it again.

We also both agreed that adding walnuts would be a good idea. To sum up, it was a good side dish that took very little work and time, it was very healthy and it well with something less "heavy" like the chicken sausage.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Les Plats du Chef All Natural Spanakopita-Great Tasting, Fun And On Sale

We love the assortment of both basic items like rice and more distinctive foods like the spanakopita that Costco carries. While I was doing other chores, my wife threw half a package in the oven for refreshments for my Toastmasters meeting.

The spanakopita went over great, it was all gone by the time the meeting was over.  It is tasty, easy to eat and fun.

The holidays and their associated parties are coming up, so we will definitely buy some more of this.  The coupon has no limit, so we will get some and store it in the freezer. At $3.50 off per package and no limit, this is truly a great opportunity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Must Go" Cheese and Pasta

In my wife's family, they have a term for things that are in the fridge and have to be used up before they go bad. They call them "Must Goes". Here is my wife's take on a pasta dish using some "must goes" from our fridge

A while back we had one last piece of that wonderful fresh mozzarella  from Costco.  We also had some ricotta and some Parm Reg cheese. The mozzarella was still good but near the end of its life, so my lovely wife threw all those cheeses together with some fresh and canned tomato and just a little bit of spice to liven it up. While not the best thing we have ever eaten, it was pretty darn good for something she just threw together in minutes.
Fresh Belgioioso Mozzarella from Costco is a great cheese at an awesome price and we will continue to enjoy it on a regular basis.

New Coupons Started 11/11

Here is a link to the coupons courtesy of our friends at Addicted To Costco.

We will be buying spanakopita and the pita chips. And we will definitely max out the coupons for Nutella and the Potstickers.

Some great deals this month, so check them out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Costco Take And Bake Pizza Review-Great Pizza, Great Price

Sorry I am behind on blog entries, I thought I was back in the groove but then my mom spent a day and a half in the hospital. She is fine, but it messed up my schedule for a while.

Until the November 7, Costco has their Take & Bake pepperoni pizza on sale for $3 off, which brings the price to 6.99 in my local store. It is a huge pizza, practically the size of a hubcap on a Hummer.  And it comes almost totally covered with pepperoni.

Sure, it is big, but it is also a good pizza, comparable to the major chains like Papa Johns.  As you can see, it has lots of pepperoni. But it doesn't end there, it also has a flavorful sauce with a well made crust. Even at regular price, it is a good value. On sale, it is just simply a bargain.  The first one we had we served with the same type of salad we made with the Craisins that are on sale.

For the second one we bought, we topped it with fresh tomato from the farmer's market and Kirkland Signature Artichoke Hearts from Costco. That was fun pizza. It had a variety of textures from the different toppings and the tomato and artichoke hearts added nicely to the flavor profile.

You still have a couple of days to buy them on sale, and even at full price, they are a good deal.