Balsamic Apples and Roast Pork with Speckled Mustard

Balsamic Apples and Roast Pork with Speckled Mustard

“If we are what we eat, then I only want the best.” Ratatouille

When my husband and I started dating, we woke up every morning at 4:30am to squeeze in an early morning weight lifting session at the gym. On the weekends, we climbed mountains, ran marathons and biked until our cheeks were too sore to sit.

At one point, our living room furniture was replaced with Pilates balls and an exercise bike.

6 years and two kids later,  our running routine involves barefoot games of Sharks and Minnows and our weightlifting regimen has been replaced with tickling tournaments and kitchen dancing with two thirty pound toddlers.  We push a mammoth double stroller up steep hills while singing lullabies as the sun sets on the suburban sidewalks.

And although many things have changed over the years, 2 things will always be the same.

1. We will always love each other.

2. We will always eat great food together.

Happy Anniversary Steve, I love you and I will always make your favorite dinner for you…

Balsamic Apples and Roast Pork with Speckled  Mustard

So it’s like a grown up fancy-pants version of hot dogs slathered in mustard with a side of applesauce. Except it’s really not that fancy. It’s pretty simple, with only a few ingredients, most of which may be hanging out in your pantry.

Start roasting the pork in the afternoon while you go outback and rake leaves into colossal piles or stay at home in your jammies and build forts out of couch cushions and warm blankets and watch each others hair stand on end with static… or whatever else you do on lazy Sunday afternoons.

The Newlywed Version (adapted from Men’s Health)

1 Tablespoon olive oil or butter

2 Boneless Pork chops

2 apples, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

1  Tablespoon bourbon or whiskey

Side of good quality grainy, country style Dijon Mustard

Sauté garlic in olive oil until softened, add the pork chops and cook on medium-high heat for 6-10 minutes. As it cooks, whisk together the vinegar, whiskey, and a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the mixture to the pan, filling in the spaces between the pork chops. Turn the pork chops over and stir the apples, cook for another 6-10 minutes until done.  Serve with mustard and a side salad.

The Family Version:

Pork Loin Roast, 2-3 pounds

4-5 apples, chopped

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

5 Tablespoon whiskey or bourbon

Preheat oven to 375. Place pork loin in a roasting pan and add about an inch of water. Salt and pepper the roast generously. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 2 hours (or more, depending on the size of the roast). Whisk together the whiskey, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl.

When the pork has cooked for 2 hours, remove from oven and pour 3-4 tablespoons of the vinegar mixture over the pork. Cook another 30 minutes uncovered, or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees with a 3-5 minutes resting time. Toss the remaining vinegar mixture with the chopped apples in a skillet and saute until tender.

Slice pork and serve with Balsamic apples and a generous portion of speckled grainy mustard.

This pairs really well with a salad made up of fresh Asian pears or apple slices and toasted walnuts all tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils are so pretty they should be sprinkled on cupcakes in the fall.

They remind me of the candies that look like little droplets of colorful hard sugar, all perfectly lined up in rows on white strips of paper.

  1. Button candy…maybe?

But these bright orange buttons taste much better when mingled with likes of carrots, garlic and onions for a distinctively warm and earthy soup. And it cooks in less than 30 minutes.

I first learned of red lentils from a kind Turkish neighbor who told me how to make red lentil soup. No recipe or measurements, just using whatever is left over in the fridge and mixing it in a pot with lentils. That’s my kinda cookin.

Did I mention it cooks in less than 30 minutes?

 

 Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils have a very natural and mild flavor profile, so finishing the soup with herbs, lemon and/or a dollop of yogurt really livens up these lentils.

What you will need:

1.5 cups of red lentils, washed and picked over

6 cups of stock

1 large onion

1 potato, washed and diced into 1” cubes

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 carrots

Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onions become translucent. Add the carrots and potato and saute for another few minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the lentils. Salt and pepper to taste. Finish with any combination of herbs, yogurt, sour cream, and lemon.

Simmer for 20 minutes.

Use an immersion blender or blender to puree the soup until smooth.

There will be Kale… And White Bean Hummus

White Bean Hummus and Kale Crostini

I am convinced kale is the best vegetable on earth.

And not just on a nutritional standpoint.

It’s the vegetable that never gives up.  All the other vegetable plants come and go, but kale just keeps on keepin’ on. Other veggies might give up through heavy storms, cold spells and gangs of toddlers with large rocks.

But not kale.

There will be kale.

SO for the days that you feel like giving up.

For the days that just never seem to end. Like when your car gets towed. Or you burn dinner for the third time in a row. Or your kid drops your neighbor’s mail down a sewer grate. Or all of the above happens in the same week.

There will be kale.

Because it never gives up.

Just like you.

White Bean Hummus & Sauteed Kale Crostini

This can be served as an appetizer or paired with a salad for a perfectly light vegetarian lunch. The tahini is left out here, and the lemon and garlic are amped up a bit. And if its that kind of day, don’t be too shy to pair it with a glass of something crisp, white and Italian.

Crostini:

Baguette, cut in 1-2 inch slices and gently toasted

(Optional: flavor the crostini with a drizzle of olive oil, or rub a cut tomato or garlic clove on the toasted slices to add some extra flavor)

White bean hummus:

3 cups cooked white beans

2-3 cloves of chopped garlic, to taste

1-2 lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil, as needed

In a food processor or blender, puree the white beans, garlic and lemon. While the food processor is running, stream in some olive oil until you get a nice, smooth consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sautéed Garlic Kale

1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup of  stock, white wine or water

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet and add the garlic. After about a minute, add the kale and cook on medium heat. Add the liquid and cook until the greens become wilted and bright green. About 5-8 minutes.

Layer the hummus on the crostini and top with kale.