Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our DELICIOUS dinner!

I know I said that I'd update the blog again tomorrow, but I was so excited about how well dinner turned out tonight that I had to just do a quick update tonight!
The Menu
Garlic Bread
Stuffed Pork Loin
Potato Tart
Green Beans
I had already planned to do a stuffed pork loin for lunches for the week, but since Curt was coming home early, I decided to make it as part of our dinner and we'd have the leftovers as lunch.
One thing that I'm trying to get better at is using the ingredients I have in the house before they go bad. I usually have extra ingredients left over after making the recipes and consequently will have 1 odd potato or a few slices of cheese that will go bad.... so I've been determined to concoct some tasty recipes from them. It was this determination that helped me come up with the potato tart! But first things first:

Stuffed Pork Loin
Again, I don't really have a recipe for this per se. I intended to make stuffed pork chops, but the Asian grocery store didn't have any... they did have a very pretty looking pork loin. So I decided to cut it up and stuff it and then bake the whole thing. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures while I was assembling most of it!)
1 pork loin
1 bag baby spinach
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 small onion, minced
5 slices of smoked gouda
6 slices of bacon
In a large skillet, I cooked 3 slices of bacon, then removed, drained and crumbled them, placing them in a separate bowl. Keeping the bacon fat in the pan, I added the minced onions, garlic, and mushrooms and sauteed until all were tender. Once they were almost completely cooked, I added the bag of baby spinach and sauteed it until it was all wilted. I then added the mixture to the crumbled bacon and set aside.
For the pork loin, I cut it in sort of a spiral, so that it opened up flat. I then pounded it a bit with a meat tenderizer (well I would have used a meat tenderizer if I had one... instead, I used a rolling pin). Once it was flattened a little bit, I seasoned it with some salt and pepper, then I layered the gouda cheese, then spread the spinach mixture on top. Then I rolled the whole pork loin up, jelly roll style. I made sure the pork loin was rolled very tightly and wrapped it tightly in saran wrap to keep its form. I then put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
Once it was chilled a bit, I pulled it back out and unwrapped it, leaving the seam of the pork loin facing down. I draped the last 3 slices of bacon over the top of the pork loin as well. I wanted the fat from the bacon to sort of keep the pork moist since it has a tendency to dry out. In a large skillet, I added a little bit of olive oil and turned the heat on high. I wanted to sear the bottom seam so that it wouldn't fall apart in the oven. I placed the pork loin in the hot oil for 5 minutes and didn't move it. Once it was seared, I moved it to an oven safe dish and baked it at 350. I don't remember how long I baked it, I just kept checking on it to see if it was cooked all the way through.
It was really yummy! I love the way that gouda melts and leaves its smokey flavor on the whole pork loin.

Garlic Bread

I had bought a loaf of french bread for our church group dinner last night, but unfortunately forgot it in my car. By the time I realized it, the loaf of bread had started to dry out a bit, so I sliced up half of it to make some garlic bread and then sliced the rest and left it in a bowl to dry out. I'll make bread crumbs out of it tomorrow (again with the not wanting to waste extra food).
  • 4 tbs butter, at room temp
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • crusty French bread

Because the oven was already at 350, I decided to roast the garlic cloves a bit to bring out the flavors. I just stuck the 2 cloves in the oven on a cookie sheet and let them roast until they were soft, about 10 minutes. Once they were nice and soft, I removed the cloves from the "paper" and put them in a small bowl. After they had cooled a little bit, I added the butter and Italian seasonings and mixed with a fork until well combined. Then I just spread the mixture on both sides of the slices of bread and put on a cookie sheet and baked for 4 minutes per side (or until golden brown).

Potato Tart
I got the idea for this when I was watching "the next food network star" Yes... it's a favorite show of mine and it's addicting! Anyway, one of the contestants, Melissa (who is my pick to win), made a potato tart. I had a little bit of extra pie crust and 1 extra potato from the pot pies, and a few slices of bacon and gouda from the pork loin. I thought this would be the PERFECT way to use the random extras that I had... Granted, I had no idea how to make a potato tart, but I made it up and absolutely LOVED it!
  • 1 baking potato
  • 1 refrigerator pie crust
  • 4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 8 slices of gouda
I pricked the potato with a fork and stuck it in the microwave for 5 minutes to give it a preliminary cook through. While it was cooking, I rolled out the pie crust and placed it in a pie pan that somehow found its way to my kitchen. I then layered a few slices of the gouda on the bottom. Once the potato was finished in the microwave, I sliced it into thin slices (to make sure it was all completely cooked). I layered about half of the potato on top of the cheese and then added half of the bacon pieces. I then repeated the layer by adding more gouda

, potato and bacon and topped with the leftover gouda.

In a separate bowl, I whisked together the egg, flour, milk, salt and pepper until it was light and well combined. I then poured the mixture over the potato/cheese/bacon mixture and added the tart to the pretty well stocked oven. Since the potatoes were almost cooked before baking, it only took about 20 minutes to finish up. The result was delicious! It was definitely one of my favorite creations ever! You all should definitely try it sometime! I'm sure you can add other yummy recipe extras too like broccoli, mushrooms, onions, etc...

Oh yeah... the green beans... nothing fancy there! I just steamed them in my steamer and tossed with a little bit of olive oil and garlic salt! (I can't make EVERYTHING gourmet) haha

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