Ring in the Chinese New Year with Pork Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes

This year Chinese New Year is celebrated from Jan 31- Feb 6, and I have a delicious feast for you celebrate the year of the horse; pork dumplings, scallion pancakes, and roasted spicy broccoli.

I would like to note this might not be a traditional Chinese New Year dinner, but these are a few of my favorite asian-inspired dishes to make and they are all super easy.

To kick things off, and the star of the show really, we’re going to make pork dumplings. This is a recipe my sister taught me a few years ago, which she learned from one of her students while she was teaching in China. You won’t believe how easy and inexpensive they are to make. Try them once and you might just find yourself making them in large batches and tossing them into soups or cooking them up for quick appetizers.

There are lots of recipes out there that show you how to make won ton wrappers or dumpling dough from scratch. I encourage you to try them, but for this recipe I’m going to be using store bought won ton wrappers. I love these things, they are great for making ravioli or even just toasting them in the oven to make a delicious chip.

Pork Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 inches (or so) of ground, fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 package won ton wrappers
  • Olive or Canola oil (for frying)

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the ground pork, ginger, garlic, scallions, salt, and pepper.

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Next, working with only a few wont ton wrappers at a time (leave the rest in the package so they don’t dry out as you work), use your finger tip or a brush to wet the perimeter of the won ton wrapper. Deposit a small dollop of the meat mixture in the center of the won ton wrapper (slightly less than 1 teaspoon).

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Fold one corner of the won ton wrapper to the opposite corner forming a triangle, and sealing the pork inside the wrapper, Being careful not to tear the dough, press all of the air bubbles out and seal the remaining edges.

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Place finished dumplings on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

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If you are saving these for later I recommend freezing them on the tray first then transferring them to a zip lock bag after they are frozen.

This mixture should use all the won ton wrappers in 1 package (give or take 1-2 wrappers).

To cook these tasty dumplings there are a few different methods, they can easily be added to any soup by boiling them in the broth for a few minutes. However, my favorite way to cook them is by browning them slightly and then finishing them with steam. Here’s how: start by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and easily coats the bottom of the pan place 5-6 dumplings on the pan.

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Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

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Very carefully add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan. Allow the dumplings to cook in the steam for 4-5 minutes. All water should be dissolved. Remove the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Finish cooking the dumplings for 3 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the pan and repeat the process until the desired amount of dumplings have been cooked.

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Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together.

Scallion Pancakes

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Recipe originally from About.com*

*A Note on this recipe: Yes, this is technically a Korean pancake recipe not a Chinese pancake recipe, but it’s super easy and it’s my dinner so I’ll make what I want!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of scallions or green onions, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Olive or Canola oil for frying

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except oil and allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil on a medium-sized frying pan. Once the oil is heated and easily coats the bottom of the pan pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom of the pan entirely.

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Cook the batter until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Gently flip the pancake over and fry the bottom of the pancake for about 2 minutes. The bottom should be browned and lovely.

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Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter.

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Roasted Chili-Garlic Broccoli

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Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)*
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

*This ingredient can easily be substituted with dried chili pepper flakes if desired.

Directions:

Place baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients except garlic in a mixing bowl so that all the broccoli is evenly coated. When the oven is up to temperature carefully remove the baking sheet and spray with a non stick cooking spray. Place the broccoli onto the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes; remove from oven. Add the garlic to pan and stir. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until broccoli is lightly browned.

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Pork Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 inches (or so) of ground, fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 package won ton wrappers
  • olive or canola oil (for frying)

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the ground pork, ginger, garlic, scallions, salt, and pepper.

Next, working with only a few wont ton wrappers at a time (leave the rest in the package so they don’t dry out as you work), use your fingertip or a brush to wet the perimeter of the won ton wrapper. Deposit a small dollop of the meat mixture in the center of the won ton wrapper (slightly less than 1 teaspoon).

Fold one corner of the won ton wrapper to the opposite corner forming a triangle, and sealing the pork inside the wrapper, Being careful not to tear the dough, press all of the air bubbles out and seal the remaining edges.

Place finished dumplings on a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking (If you are saving these for later I recommend freezing them on the tray first then transferring them to a zip lock bag after they are frozen).

To cook the dumplings; start by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and easily coats the bottom of the pan place 5-6 dumplings on the pan. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Very carefully add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan. Allow the dumplings to cook in the steam for 4-5 minutes. All water should be dissolved. Remove the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Finish cooking the dumplings for 3 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the pan and repeat the process until the desired amount of dumplings have been cooked.

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Pork Dumpling Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Hot Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together.

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Scallion Pancakes

Recipe originally from About.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bunch of scallions or green onions, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • olive or canola oil for frying

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except oil and allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil on a medium-sized frying pan. Once the oil is heated and easily coats the bottom of the pan pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom of the pan entirely.

Cook the batter until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Gently flip the pancake over and fry the bottom of the pancake for about 2 minutes. The bottom should be browned and lovely.

Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter.

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Roasted Chili-Garlic Broccoli

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)*
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced

*This ingredient can easily be substituted with dried chili pepper flakes if desired.

Directions:

Place baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients except garlic in a mixing bowl so that all the broccoli is evenly coated.

When the oven is up to temperature carefully remove the baking sheet and spray with a non stick cooking spray. Place the broccoli onto the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes; remove from oven. Add the garlic to pan and stir. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until broccoli is lightly browned.

Roasted Mushrooms and Buttermilk Biscuits

Alright people, Thanksgiving is less than a week away and it is time to get your game faces on!

We all know the main players at the Thanksgiving table; a big ol’ roasted turkey, mouth-watering mashed potatoes, and stuffing, stuffing stuffing. This year, for the very first time, I am hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner! I am so excited and I am looking for ways to make our table really special with some non-conventional side dishes.

Here are two potential side dishes that I’ve tried out already that get my seal of approval.

Side Dish # 1: Roasted Mushrooms

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These make the cut because I absolutely love the earthiness that roasted mushrooms bring to the table and they complement turkey and gravy oh, so well. These are easy to make and will certainly impress your guests (or your hosts if you have offered to bring a dish).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cooled bacon fat (Optional, but this really takes these mushrooms to the next level)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly coat at 9×9 pan or small roasting pan with cooking spray or butter. Next, clean the mushrooms with a damp, clean towel. Toss the cleaned mushrooms with the olive oil, bacon fat, salt, and pepper and place in prepared pan. Roast for 25 minutes , stirring the mushrooms gently after 12 minutes.

Allow the mushrooms to cool slightly after roasting and top with fresh parsley before serving.

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Pretty easy, right? Don’t let that fool you, this side dish tastes amazing and can easily become a favorite, and definitely has a place at my Thanksgiving table this year.

Side Dish #2: Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

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Growing up, I was more likely to see hearty Italian rolls or a slew of mini muffins to accompany my Thanksgiving meal. Over the years, however, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the buttermilk biscuit and I thought it might make a nice and unique (in my experience) addition to the Thanksgiving table.  This recipe is also very simple. (Noticing a theme? Roasting a turkey can be tricky enough, the rest of the dishes should be easy to make!)

Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click to view the original recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes, plus 1/2 tbsp melted
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions or a handful of chives, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Rearrange oven placing  the racks towards the bottom of the stove, then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your hands), cut the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is well combined and has a coarse texture.

Next, add the buttermilk, cheese, and chives and mix until combined, and a unified dough is formed (I like to use my hands to mix together but a spoon works just fine).

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Place the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter or the top of a water glass.

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Cut the biscuits close together. Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough out to 1 inch to cut the remainder of the biscuits. Arrange the biscuits on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing the biscuits 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

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These can be made in advance and stored in air-tight containers. This recipe makes just shy of 2 dozen biscuits.

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If you enjoyed this article, stay tuned; I’ve got one more post coming up to help you get in the mood for Thanksgiving. I’ll be posting it Monday morning and it will include one more side dish suggestion along with a round up of some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from around the web. If you don’t want to miss this and other upcoming posts join my other reckless readers and subscribe to receive new posts by email.

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Roasted Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cooled bacon fat (Optional, but this really takes these mushrooms to the next level)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly coat at 9×9 pan or small roasting pan with cooking spray or butter. Next, clean the mushrooms with a damp, clean towel.

Toss the cleaned mushrooms with the olive oil, bacon fat, salt, and pepper and place in prepared pan. Roast for 25 minutes , stirring the mushrooms gently after 12 minutes.

Allow the mushrooms to cool slightly after roasting and top with fresh parsley before serving.

 

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Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click to view the original recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes, plus 1/2 tbsp melted
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions or a handful of chives, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Rearrange oven placing  the racks towards the bottom of the stove, then preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your hands), cut the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is well combined and has a coarse texture.

Next, add the buttermilk, cheese, and chives and mix until combined, and a unified dough is formed (I like to use my hands to mix together but a spoon works just fine). Do not over mix (over mixing = tough biscuits).

Place the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter or the top of a water glass.

Cut the biscuits close together. Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough out to 1 inch to cut the remainder of the biscuits. Arrange the biscuits on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing the biscuits 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

These can be made in advance and stored in air-tight containers. This recipe makes just shy of 2 dozen biscuits.

 

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

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Well hello! How is everyone holding up in the summer heat so far? Today I am sharing with you one of my new favorite ways to cook pork. For those of you who don’t know, roasting a pork loin is actually my favorite main to make for dinner. And I know no one wants to turn on the oven in this heat, but I’m telling you, this one is worth it! AND, I promise to post some cold dishes soon.

Also, before we dive into this yummy recipe, I wanted to let y’all know I have an Instagram account now and I try to post to it several times a week with different things I’m cooking and some of the delightful treats I make at work. Check it out!  AND, if you love reading my blog, do me a solid and subscribe to it, so you never miss a post. You’ll receive an email every time I post a new article.

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 1/2 c frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 Gala apples
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat an oven proof skillet or pan to medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 tsp of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Coat the pork with salt and pepper and add to hot pan. Brown the sides of the pork for 4 minutes, turning so that all sides are browned.

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Just look at that lovely browned pork; brown food is good food!

After browning the pork put the pork in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. The thickest part of the pork should be 145 degrees.  The pork can also be tested for doneness by making  a small cut in the middle of the pork loin and checking that the juices run clear rather than cloudy.

While the pork is cooking, prep the apples and onions to make a delicious sauce. First let’s talk about these guys; pearl onions.

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So here’s the thing; if you can find a bag of frozen pearl onions, you should use those opposed to unfrozen ones that need to be peeled, because as it turns out these are actually a huge nuisance to peel. SO, if you cannot find frozen pearl onions, I recommend slicing up a yellow onion instead.

Ok, back to our sauce; first either pat dry the frozen pearl onions or chop up a yellow onion so that you have 1 1/2 cups of onions. Next slice up 2 Gala apples. For this recipe I like thin slices so that they cook up quickly.

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Next dissolve the flour into the chicken broth.

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When the pork is done, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a plate.

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Using the same pan that the pork was cooked in, saute the onions and apples over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until the onions are browned and the apples are cooked.  Next add the broth and fresh thyme to the pan and bring to a boil   scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the broth is reduced to 1/4 c (about one minute).

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Stir in vinegar and butter and remove from heat.  Finally, cut the pork loin into slices and serve with the apple and onion sauce.

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Serve with a glass of chilled white wine and a green veggie side and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal. Enjoy!


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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 1/2 c frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 Gala apples
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat an oven-proof skillet to medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 tsp of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Coat the pork with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan. Brown the sides of the pork for 4 minutes, turning so that all sides are browned.

After browning the pork put the pork in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. The thickest part of the pork should be 145 degrees. The pork can also be tested for doneness by making  a small cut in the middle of the pork loin and checking that the juices run clear rather than cloudy.

While the pork is cooking; thinly slice the apples. Next pour the chicken broth into a liquid measuring cup and dissolve the flour in the broth using a whisk or fork, set aside

When the pork is done, remove it from the pan and let it rest on a plate.

Using the same pan that the pork was cooked in, saute the onions and apples over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until the onions are browned and the apples are cooked.  Next add the broth and fresh thyme to the pan and bring to a boil scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the broth is reduced to 1/4 c (about one minute).

Stir in vinegar and butter and remove from heat. Finally, cut the pork loin into slices and serve with the apple and onion sauce.

 

DIY Christmas Gifts Ideas: Part II

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Welcome to Part II of my DIY Christmas gift series. This is where I test out DIY Christmas gift ideas I would like to give this year and decide if the results are worthy of becoming Christmas presents.

In part I of this series I wrote about these simple and delicious cheddar cheese crackers. Check out the recipe here.

This week I’m going to test out a recipe I saw in the December issue of Cooking Light. I’m usually a big fan of this cooking magazine and I have to say this month’s issue is full of really great recipes. The recipe I’m going to show you is Intense Fruit Gelees (pronounced jellies). They are easy, delicious, and so very pretty!

Before I jump into this, a huge thanks to my mom and my sister, who not only helped me with making the gelees, but also agreed to be hand models for the post. Who knew, it was easier to take action shots when the one taking the pictures isn’t doing the action?

Intense Fruit Gelees

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine (click here to view the original recipe)

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Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup fruit concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 (3-ounce) package liquid fruit pectin (such as Certo)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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*A note on the fruit concentrate; Cooking Light suggested flavors such as tangerine, lemon, and pomegranate. They also recommended ordering some the puree or concentrate from www.perfectpuree.com. I used  grape juice concentrate and I think they turned out fabulous, and very rich in flavor. I am looking forward to experimenting with more flavors.

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After the ingredients have been gathered and the flavor of the gelee has been selected it’s time to prep the pan. Grab a loaf pan and line it with plastic wrap. Spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray.

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Next combine 1 1/4 cup sugar with the fruit concentrate, applesauce, and corn syrup in a large saucepan.

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Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer the temperature you’re looking for is 224 degrees F).

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After cooking the mixture for 10 minutes add the liquid pectin, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute stirring often.

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Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the lemon juice.

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Give it a stir.

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Then pour it into the prepared loaf pan.

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Tertius wants to know what’s going on up there and if he can have some.

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Let the mixture cool and then cover and let it sit overnight in room temperature. In the morning you have a delicious, gelatinous, fruity treat. Does that sound unappetizing? I promise these taste amazing, or as my sister put it; “It’s like a mini grape pie in my mouth.”

Now that the mixture is solidified, let’s cut them up!

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First, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on the top of the gelee.

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Next, tip your loaf pan upside down, the gelee will flop right out. Get rid of the plastic wrap. Then start slicing up the gelee. My sister recommends starting in the middle, then cutting in the middle of that half, followed by cutting down the middle of the two sections and so forth. Can ya’ dig it?

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They look pretty already!

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Next put the remaining sugar in a small bowl and slice the columns of gelees into cubes and toss into the sugar to evenly coat them. I suggest keeping the cubes on the small side, these are sweet, rich candies.

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The verdict: these rock! They are absolutely scrumptious and I will definitely be giving out little boxes of these as gifts this year.

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If you enjoyed reading this post be sure to subscribe to Reckless in the Kitchen and never miss a delicious post!

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Intense Fruit Gelees

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup fruit concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 (3-ounce) package liquid fruit pectin (such as Certo)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray with cooking spray. Next, combine 1 1/4 cup sugar with the fruit concentrate, apple sauce, and corn syrup in a large saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer the temperature you’re looking for is 224 degrees F).

After cooking the mixture for 10 minutes add the liquid pectin, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute stirring often. Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Give it a stir. Then pour it into the prepared loaf pan.

Let the mixture cool and then cover and let it sit overnight at room temperature.

To de-mold and cut up; first, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on the top of the gelee. Put the remaining sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Next, tip your loaf pan upside down, the gelee will flop right out. Get rid of the plastic wrap. Then start slicing up the gelee into cubes. I suggest keeping the cubes on the small side, these are sweet, rich candies.

Toss the gelee cubes into the sugar to evenly coat them.

 

April’s Recipe Box

Here is my monthly round-up of what’s been cooking in my kitchen.

From Real Simple Magazine:

From Cooking Light Magazine:

  • Pork tenderloin with mango salsa, loved the mango salsa with the pork.
  • BBQ chicken and blue cheese pizza, the combination sounded a little odd when I first read the recipe, but this pizza was fantastic! Also easy to make.
  • Tandoori Chicken Thighs, this was a flavor adventure for Joe, he’s not really a fan of Indian food so this was a bit of an experiment. I’m proud to report that this recipe went over very well and we both liked it a lot.

This month on my blog:

In addition to these new recipes I also revisited a few favorites that I already tried this year;