Smoked Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash

Only two weeks to go in this long pregnancy journey.  One of the side effects I didn’t see coming was not really being into food very much…at least not new, interesting, untested food!  Most of what poor Frank has been eating over the last nine months have been the same comfort foods over and over again…hence, not much new blog material.

However, in celebration of reaching 37 weeks, I branched out last night and tried a new recipe that sounded good (for once) that I found in March’s Clean Eating magazine.  If you haven’t heard of this magazine, check it out.  A lot of the recipes are vegetarian, which doesn’t fly for Frank, but every now and then I find something we both really like.  This recipe was definitely one of them and when the veggies are fresh this summer, I bet it’s even better.  Definitely a do-over and super-easy.  Was ready in under 30 minutes (the magazine claims it only take 15 minutes, but I had to chop everything first).

 Paprika Pork Tenderloin with Succotash (adapted from Clean Eating, March 2011)

  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and sliced into about 12 medallions
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of white corn niblets
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

In a mixing bowl, use a whisk to blend together the rub for the pork tender (olive oil, paprika, cumin, S&P) and then toss the meat with the rub, coating well.  Seat bowl aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil to medium heat.  Saute the red pepper and onion for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.  Add corn and lima beans, sauteing another 3 minutes or until heated through.  Pour mixture into another mixing bowl, toss with healthy dash of S&P to taste and cilantro (optional) and set aside, keeping warm.

Wipe out pan and heat last tsp of olive oil to medium heat.  Add pork medallions and cook about 3 minutes on both sides or until done.

To serve, spoon succotash onto plate and then place 2-3 pork medallions on top.  Can also spoon a little of the pan juices over the pork if desired.  Serve with a side salad and crunchy roll. 

Will be PERFECT for summer!

Grilled Zucchini Spears with Fresh Mint

It’s been a slow few weeks for the blog.  We’ve been on vacation and in all honesty, making a lot of the same dinners that are already on here.  Life has been hectic, to say the least, but that is no excuse to not cook, especially this time of year.  I love this time of year, with the all the beautiful Alabama produce.  We’ve been enjoying fresh corn, okra and tomatoes and here, zucchini.

These are super-simple and make a great, healthy, cheap and fast side-dish.  Can’t beat that!

  • Several zucchini, washed with both ends trimmed
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • S&P
  • fresh mint leaves, torn

Preheat grill to 350.  Wash zucchini and trim both ends off.  Slice zucchini lengthwise into spears.  Place on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over the veggies, coating well.  Shake a healthy amount of salt and pepper onto the veggies and grill for 10 minutes or so, until tender.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves.  Serve with pan-fried chicken (find that recipe here) and a fresh salad or slaw.

Creamed Spinach

I love spinach.  Spinach of all kinds — fresh spinach for salads and sandwhiches, sauteed spinach (maybe with some garlic and cherry tomatoes) spinach dips and my favorite, creamed spinach.

Maybe it’s my dual love of cream cheese as well, but creamed spinach is one of my favorite things.  It’s kind of a luxury item, though, due to the butter and cream cheese, but you can tone it down with reduced fat cream cheese and substituting some of the butter with olive oil.  Still, I’m not going to lie, it’s an indulgence.  But so creamy and good.  Try it next time you’re grilling out; goes great with a juicy steak!

Creamed Spinach

  • 2 packages of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 block of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • splash lemon juice
  • salt (reglar and seasoned salt)
  • grated parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt the cream cheese and butter together until softened and smooth.  Meanwhile, thaw the spinach in the microwave and drain it well.  Put the spinach in a baking dish and salt it.  Pour the cream cheese mixture over the spinach and stir together with a spatula, coating the spinach well.  Add a splash of lemon juice (maybe 2 teaspoons) and seasoned salt to the spinach and stir again.  Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese (optional).  Cover the dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

before baking

Black Bean Dip

If you are looking for a healthy, delicious offering to bring to your Memorial Day BBQ, this is the perfect recipe. My husband asks for it all the time and while it’s originally designed as an appetizer, the leftovers work great as a side dish for lunches, too. 

It’s super-healthy, colorful and makes plenty for a large crowd. And the best part — it’s so easy, you just dump a bunch of cans together and go! Happy Memorial Day!

Black Bean Dip

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans shoepeg corn (the shoepeg part is important)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • as much chopped cilantro as you like ( I use about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil

In a strainer over the sink, drain the corn, beans and peas, rinsing well to remove any of the canning residue and sodium.  Dump into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the tomatoes, Rotel, onion, cilantro, cumin and mix well.

Then, stir in the lime juice and vegetable oil, mixing well.  This is best when covered with plastic wrap and chilled overnight; however, you can serve immediately.  But only with Tostitos and a cold Corona.  🙂

Don’t Crowd the Mushrooms!

If you have seen Julie and Julia or ever attempted coq au vin, you know there is an art to browning mushrooms.  But once mastered, the pay-off is huge.  Juicy, browned mushrooms can add so much flavor to a stew, cassoulet or just as a side by itself with a steak or hamburger.  They are simple to prepare, you just need to follow these few tips below.  Be prepared to seriously impress your dinner guests with a sophisticated, fancy-looking, uber-French dish.

Sauteed mushrooms

  • any type of preferred mushrooms (these are whole white mushrooms)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • heavy skillet

The first thing to do is get the butter very hot over medium heat.  You know when butter is hot enough when it has stopped sizzling and bubbling up and is frothy, but resting.  Then, add the mushrooms.  Make sure they are washed, but dried very well.  The second key thing is to NOT CROWD THEM.  Give them space, even if this means having to cook several batches to complete your dish. 

Mushrooms will quickly absorb the fat, but as they cook, they will release the butter or oil back out and you’ll see the shiny fat on the surface.  So resist the urge to add more butter or oil; there is plenty there and the mushrooms will release it back as they continue to cook. 

If you crowd them, all you do is steam them and not fry or brown them; they release their juices and don’t brown up.  Allowing them space in the pan reduces this steam effect.  Also resist the urge to stir them a bunch or turn them several times.  Just turn them every so often to get them equally brown on all sides, but let them do their thing in the pan.

They really only need about 5-7 minutes total.  Remove from heat as soon as they are ready and season with just a bit of S&P.

Roasted Asparagus

 Frank actually hates asparagus, but I love them and have avoided them through 4 years of marriage.  But last night, to spice up a dull Monday and just be overtly rebellious in general, I decided to risk it all and cook asparagus with our grilled pork chops and lake rice.

I know you’re all thinking, what a terrible wife, I make him eat vegetables, but I did.  I admit it.  And guess what?  He really liked them…enough to where he said I could even make them again!  I love nothing more than victory, especially when I’m right.  Enjoy these simple, healthy, colorful veggies with just about any kind of entree or main dish.  They are just starting to peak, too…asparagus is at its best in the Spring.

Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bushel of asparagus (look for brightly colored, tightly packed at the tips)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 400.  Take the asparagus, wash and break them off at the ends.  BEGINNERS TIP:  asparagus will naturally break at a certain point near the bottom, if you slightly bend it to snap off the bottom.  It’s kinda fun.

Place the asparagus on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet and drizzle the olive oil over them, rolling them around to coat them well.  Salt them to taste and then roast at 400 for about 10 minutes.  Don’t leave them in too long or they will char and shrivel up (not good). 

Right before serving, squeeze a half of a fresh lemon over them and serve immediately.

Okra with Corn and Tomatoes

Admittedly, this is not the time of year to be making this dish.  There is actually snow on the ground in Birmingham and I’m posting about fresh veggies.  But this was great, just making do with what Publix had to offer right now, so I can only imagine how fresh and flavorful it will be this summer with produce straight from our farmers’ market.  This takes no time and is a healthy, colorful side dish for grilled chicken or burgers. 

Okra with Corn and Tomatoes

  • 1 lb okra, sliced lengthwise
  • 3-4 ears of corn, kernals sliced off into a bowl
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half or left whole
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat or olive oil (spring for the bacon fat)
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • S&P to taste

In a large bowl, soak the okra in the cold water and lemon juice for 30 minutes. BEGINNERS TIP:  Soaking the okra in water and lemon juice helps cut down on the slime associated with okra that some people don’t like.   In a large heavy skillet, heat the bacon fat or oil and saute the onion and garlic about 5 minutes or until tender.  Add okra, cooking another 5 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in corn and tomatoes, seasoning with S&P to taste and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Add a little water if the veggies start to stick.  Cover and reduce heat to low, letting simmer for another 5 minutes.