Sometimes cleaning the fridge can lead to delicious things…

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

This fall I went a little overboard with apples. I just kept accumulating them — I bought bags from the farmer’s markets, a box from a co-worker for a school fundraiser and random ones on sale at the grocery store. Around November, I couldn’t even look at apples anymore and just avoided glancing at the full-to-the-brim fruit drawer in my refrigerator.

Finally a few weeks ago I decided to revisit those apples and use them up, one way or another. While they had lost some of their “crisp,” they were still great for other applications. I grated a few into some batches of hot cereal and was surprised at how tasty the outcome was – sweet, slightly tart and perfect with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup.

Thursday night I got the opportunity to use up a few more.

I was totally at a loss at what to make for dinner. I hadn’t had a chance to go to the store but rooting around in my fridge I came up with a pork tenderloin, some brussels sprouts, half a head of cauliflower and (of course) a handful of apples. After adding an onion and some home-dried thyme to the mix, my findings suddenly seemed like a cohesive dish rather than just a hodge-podge of ingredients.

I  actually think it was the thyme that tipped the scales in my favor. Normally I steer away from anything too sweet for dinner since my husband prefers things as savory as possible. I wasn’t sure if he’d liked the roasted apples, but I hoped the thyme and the onion would balance out the sugar. And hey, if he didn’t like it, more for me, right?

I roasted the cauliflower, onions and apples all separately. While they were cooking away, I shaved the brussles sprouts continuing to check the items in the oven. The apples were done first:

Apples, peeled, quartered and toss in some butter. Roasted until soft, deglaze  pan with apple brandy. Yum!

Apples, peeled, quartered and tossed in some butter with a sprinkling of salt. Roast until soft but not mushy, deglaze pan with apple brandy. Yum!

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Things I learned from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

Banana, Almond and Spinach Smoothie = YUM!

I’m officially done with the Food Lover’s Cleanse. It was two weeks of post-holiday diet detox and it did my body good. And hey, I even learned a few things about myself:

1. I really do like quinoa. Sometimes I forget how much I like it so I never buy it. But then I eat it and remember it’s delicious. I now have a five-pound bag of red quinoa in my cupboard.

2. That my cravings for Mexican food actually rivaled my cravings for Italian food. As a lifelong pasta addict, this totally surprised me. My first post-cleanse meal involved tacos, a tamale and queso fundido. And soooo many tortillas. And a few margaritas. It was fabulous.

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

Smoked Brisket Tamale at La Taq

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Time and Tsai’s Asian-Style Sloppy Joe Sliders

Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders

Ming Tsai’s Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders

Usually when I see a recipe in a magazine it can take me a while to get around to actually making it. I am routinely pulling things out of my recipe binder that are dated back as far as 2003. But some things just sound so good that I immediately head out to the store to buy the ingredients.

Such was the case with this dish, Ming Tsai’s Asian-Style Sloppy Joe Sliders, which were featured in the January issue of Food & Wine. I saw hoisin sauce, lime juice and ground pork and I was sold.

Apparently, Tsai’s mother used to make these for him when he was growing up and all of the kids at school would trade their lunches just to get one. I can totally buy this story because these beat the pants of any PB&J out there!

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Homemade Marshmallows & the Making of a Mug Topper

Mega MarshmallowI love marshmallows. Not so much on their own but I grew up eating a lot of s’mores and drinking a ton of hot cocoa, so every winter I start to crave their sticky, sugary sweetness. As an adult, I really appreciate a toasty mug of hot chocolate, spiked generously with Rumple Minze, topped with melty marshmallows. Last year, when this blog was just a baby, I decided to try making my own marshmallows with (shockingly) great success.

I was so impressed with myself that this year I thought I’d take it one step further.

Inspiration hit when I discovered these giant two-pound marshmallows online. (As an aside: I love Plush Puffs, their flavors are fun and — big bonus! — they actually taste good too. Not at all rubbery, just soft squishy marshmallow goodness.) Then, on the same site, I saw another item the company offers — mug toppers. They are slices of marshmallow that perfectly fit a cup of cocoa. Seriously brilliant!

I became a bit obsessed…

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A Cooling Heat: Ginger Ice w. Pineapple and Condensed Milk

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Ginger Shaved Ice with Sweet & Spicy Pineapple

I am behind. Way behind. We are moving into the first week of December with the speed of a freight train, and here I am still working on my Thanksgiving posts. Oh well, sign of a busy life, right?

That’s what I tell myself anyways.

So here’s a tidbit to tide things over. Since our Thanksgiving theme veered toward Asian cuisine, I wanted to make something complementary for dessert. I dug through my recipe binder and came up with this recipe for Ginger Shaved Ice, which was developed by Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule and Revel restaurants in Seattle. I ate (and loved) some of their food at Seattle’s Cochon 555 a few years back so I figured this would be a winner.

And it was! A spicy, icy winner at that.

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In the Belly of the Beast: Maple Pork Belly w. Corn Waffles

Pork Belly PromisesOh pork belly. After years of being on the upswing of trendy foods, it amazes me how many people still don’t know what pork belly is. In my job as a meat distributor, I work mainly with chefs who are well-versed in their cuts of meat. However we often get calls from “general public” people (our term for those unassociated with the industry) who want to buy pork belly because they need it for a recipe, but have no idea what it is and are often worried that it’s some bizarre unusual piece of meat.

I then get to explain to them that they’ve most likely been eating pork belly for years — in its cured and smoked form, bacon. Usually they are shocked, which I always find a little funny. But it makes me happy to know more and more people who are not chefs are getting to appreciate this delicious and decadent cut of pork.

My point here is that pork belly = glorious, happy goodness.

Which is why for Thanksgiving this year my husband and I said screw the turkey, let’s cook a pork belly. We actually did a whole “Momofuku” spread with steamed buns, pickled vegetables and roasted pork belly (don’t worry, a full post is in the works!). It was an amazing meal, but considering it was a monstrous 12-pound piece of pork, we still had lots of leftovers.

Which means I had an opportunity to make this dish for dinner last week:

Pork Belly Perfection!

Pork Belly Perfection: Corn and Cheddar Waffles with Maple-Glazed Pork Belly.

It was absolutely, positively as fantastic as it looks! I promise you. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to make it yourself.

Did I just hear you say “challenge accepted”?

Okay then, follow my lead:

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