Sunday, June 30

Grilled Maple Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin


Pork tenderloin is a nice cut if meat if your looking to do something a little fancier on a weeknight. Traditional roasted a tenderloin can be grilled to perfection easily. The key to a great grilled tenderloin is low heat and a solid marinade time.  

Serves 4-6
Full time 5 1/2 hours (includes 5 hours marinade time)

You will need:

For Marinade 
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 lb. pork tenderloin 

Let us begin:

In a zip top bag combine all the marinade ingredients and squish around to fully incorporate.


Add the tenderloin into the bag, press out excess air and message meat with marinade.

Your going to want to let this marinade at least 4-5 hours to create the best possible flavor. You can always do what I do marinade while at work, with this marinade there isn't "too much" marinading possible.

When your ready to cook, heat your grill to a nice medium low heat.

Spray or oil rack to prevent sticking, I use weber's grill spray.

Carefully remove pork from marinade. Discard remaining marinade.

Place pork on grill, rotating every 6-7 minutes to create even grill cooking.

The pork will take roughly 25-30 minutes to grill, making sure to stay on lower heat to prevent the sugar in the marinade from burning.

Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Friday, June 28

Grilled Petite Potatoes with Dill


Grilling potatoes is easy, fun, and perfect for the summer heat. By tenting the potatoes into aluminum foil you can ensure a nice even cook which is flavorful and enjoyable. You can do this with any potato but I find petite and fingerling work best.

Full time 35-60 minutes (based in grill)
Serves 4-6

You will need:

1 lb. petite potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried dill
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Start by getting your grill heated to a nice medium heat.

While this heats up we can prepare the potatoes.

Lay out two pieces of aluminum foil roughly 18" long. You are going to lay one over the other to create a + shape.

Clean your potatoes and dry them completely.

Cut them in half, if using fingerling cut them in 3-4 pieces. Pile them in the center of your aluminum foil +.

Top evenly with 2 tbsp olive oil, onion powder, dill, 1 tsp salt, and pepper.

Now for folding the perfect pack. Grab the bottom sheet of tin foil and wrap it up and over the potatoes.

Wrap the top sheet over this to create an nice double seal.

Roll the last 1/2"-1" of foil to create a little hand holder.

Shake pack to evenly distribute potatoes and seasoning.

Place on heated grill.

Cook 30-40 minutes, occasionally shaking pack to prevent bottom potatoes from burning and even cooking.

Remove from grill and carefully open, watching for steam. Check to make sure potatoes are easily pierced by a fork. If not reseal and grill in 5 minute increments.

Once cooked, set aside for a moment.

In your serving bowl place remaining olive oil and salt.

Pour potatoes into bowl and toss.

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26

Texas Style Barbecue Sauce

Barbeque sauce is one of the easiest things to make. You can easily make homemade sauce in the same amount of time it would take you to open a bottle and heat it up. And because barbeque sauce can take on soapy forms, your possibilities are endless. Here is a great basic Texas style sauce. It has a nice tang which is finished off by a nice back heat. Sure to bring and meat to zesty life!

Makes approx 1 1/2 cups sauce
Full time 20 minutes

You will need:

1/2 cup ketchup 
2 tbsp dried minced onions
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp worchestire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
1/4 tsp sage


Let us begin:

In a small sauce pot combine minced onions, minced garlic, butter, chili powder, sage, salt, and pepper. Turn heat on to medium high.


Cook until butter is melted and onions are well coated. Approx 3 minutes.

Add in remaining ingredients.

Stir well to combine. Bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Approximately 3-4 minutes.


Now, just  simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until your ready to use, your ready to use it and your done!
See how easy that was, now you can try to create your own sauce or choose a new regional style to try, enjoy!

Monday, June 24

Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

Pound cake in the morning is one of the best things. Warm, sweet, and soft-my family loves it. This is one of the best ways to make a moist and easy pound cakes.

Full time 1 1/2 hours 
Makes 1 8" loaf

You will need:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

Let us begin:

Preheat your oven to 375.

In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar until nice and fluffy.

Add in eggs, sour cream, lemon extract, and baking soda. Mix until well blended.

Add in the flour, stir until smooth in texture.

Lightly grease and flour a 4 1/4" x 8" loaf pan.

Pour batter into loaf pan and tsp down lightly.

Bake in oven for 45-60 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Turn out onto serving board, allow to cool 15-20 minutes before serving-enjoy!

Sunday, June 23

Jalapeño Steak and Mushroom


Full of flavor, easy to do, and really wows a crowd. The nice balance of sweet and heat brings this dish to life and is sure to become a family favorite!

Serves 2-4
Full time 30 minutes

You will need:

2-3 jalapeño peppers
2-2.5 lb London broil
1 pint slice white mushrooms
1 shallot, slice thin
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Start by preparing your jalapeño peppers.
First cut of the stem end.

Now slice in half, remember the heat is in the oils and seeds so try not to touch your face when doing this, wear gloves if you feel worried about contact.

Gently remove seeds and membrane.

Slice. Done!!! not to bad right!

Preheat oven to 350. 

Get a heavy bottom pan or cast iron pan heating over medium high heat, add in olive oil and lime juice.

Once heated add in your mushrooms, jalapeños, and shallots. Stir well to coat evenly with oil juice mixture.

Allow to cook 5-8 minutes or until mushroom have browned nicely.

Season both sides of your London broil with salt and pepper.

Push vegetables in pan to sides to make a space for London broil.

Add in the London broil.

Sear for 3-5 minutes and then flip over.

Sear additional 3-5 minutes and then move some of the vegetables on top of it.

Move pan to oven and finish cooking meat to desired temperature. 5-8 minutes if you like a medium center.

Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing, reminder to slice on the bias to get the best pieces. Serve topped with pan veggies and juices for a great one dish meal-enjoy!

Friday, June 21

Q & A with the wandering Chef!

Hello! 

How is everyone today? I have been writing my blog for just under two and a half years. In this time I have been asked a wide array of questions, most of which I answer in a timely fashion. But I have begun to notice a common theme and a general set of question I get asked very regularly. 

So I thought, as a special note to everyone, I would share the answers to many of my frequently asked questions. I hope you enjoy reading about me and the blog.

Sincerely-
The wandering chef


Question: Why the wandering chef?
Good question, it refers to my cooking style and how I learned to cook. When I was in high school I traveled as an exchange student to 14 different countries. This opened my eyes up to  experimenting with food, cooking styles, and ingredients. I was given a open view of different cultures, their food, and what they considered comfort everyday food. This created my recipe knowledge which combines a wandering array of styles.

Actually, I did not even come up with the name. My other half did. He inspired me to start a blog. I was talking about writing a cook book. He said it was the perfect way to try different writing styles and create a base of readers. He came up with the name after I talked about how diverse I wanted to be. He said it would encompass my cooking style and the readers trek through them.

Question: Do you honestly cook like this all the time?
Yup, seriously. We very rarely eat out, I would say twice a month max. That includes getting take out. We eat home cooked dinners every night and at least once a week I bake something fun for breakfast. 

Now, do not get mislead. We cook every night but, not huge fancy meals filled with multi-course dishes. Most nights are simple dinners main, veggie, starch or bread, salad and that's it. Usually, once or twice a week I will go over the top. Food crazy nights, we eat too much, love it and then eat just salad the next night.

Roughly once a month I get really inspired and will go way over board, bake or cook like crazy and then spend a few days living off of it.

Question: How do you have so much time to cook and bake?
Okay, truth-I do not. I actually probably cook or bake far less than it seams. I work a full time job so I actually do not have large amounts of time to devote to cooking and baking. Dinner usually takes thirty minutes to an hour, some nights less. I usually have a weekday off, that tends to be my cooking/baking cleaning day.

In all honesty I tend to list out what I want to cook/bake for the day and create a time table. It includes when things need to be started, rise times, when things can go in oven. This way I can do other things at the same time.

Question: Does your family enjoy your cooking and baking experiments?
Most of the time I tend to stick to what I know will be a success with taste buds. I usually taste anything I have questions about and sometimes they go horribly wrong. Sometimes they do not even make it to the table, it is very rare but, sometimes I won't even serve the outcome.

I actually like the reviews and feedback. Having three other sets of taste buds really helps with fine tuning the outcome. I am always amazing when something unexpected makes it to the "family favorites" box. To this day I am still in awe of how much Baked Cheddar Chicken can be eaten in a single meal.

Although, to be honest I think my work place loves the baking experiments more, who does not love walking into baked goods in the break room?

Question: Homemade verse store bought, how often do you substitute one for the other?
If I can make it and it is cost effective we use it. Barbecue sauce, frosting, cake batter, sour cream, ricotta cheese, and doughnuts tend to be what I make mostly. I also make mixes ahead of time cookies, brownies, Bisquick, doing those and keeping them stored helps out a lot.

Things like condensed milk, evaporated milk, sliced bread, bagels and English muffins are easy but not always time friendly. So I will usually use store bought. If my recipe calls for "store bought or homemade" chances are I am using homemade. 

Question: How often do you grocery shop? How much do you spend?
Usually, once a month I do the "big shop", which will load up our pantry shelves, freezer, and refrigerator. I tend to only buy proteins once a month. I freeze most of them, buying the big packs and breaking it down really saves on money and time. Having a vacuum sealer really helps. It took a while but, once I figured out the family "most often consumed" I came up with the list, which very rarely changes. Once a week I will grab milk, bread, cereal, produce. Nothing major.

As for cost, well that can range. Figure family of four and include everything from groceries to laundry detergent to toilet paper, probably $800-$900 a month. Rough estimate off the top if my head. I bookmark $40 a month for fun or interesting ingredients. Everything else is done from the everyday ingredients you can find in any grocery store.

Question: Is there anything you cannot cook?
Microwave popcorn. Let's just say if microwave popcorn was on Facebook we would not be friends. I do not like it, it does not like me. We are not going to ever be happily ever after together. Once a year I usually give it a try, once ever three or four years I am successful. But nope cannot do it. 

I know microwave popcorn has a button, listen for the slow down, but nope I am all set with it.

What was the worst kitchen incident you had?
Well, it was not actually a kitchen disaster. It was a grill disaster, I actually set the whole grill on fire.

Oh, and I mean on fire! Flames shooting everywhere thought the house was going to go up. Still not sure what I did, to this day the other half makes fun if it and so do I.

Question: Where do your plates come from?
Pier 1 Imports. Most of my plates, glasses, serve, and bake ware come from Pier 1. Why? 

Two reasons-First, I love their style, color, seasonal look, and you can always find something new. Second, I work there. I have been shopping there since I was in collage and now I work there, love it! I raid the clearance section every few months for great platters, serving plates, bowls, ect.

Question: Cast Iron, why do you use it so often? Is it better than regular pans?
I love cast iron. Seriously, just love it. I like the ease of use, cleaning, stove top or oven, grill or camp fire. I just love it. Dutch ovens are my close second favorite, but if you can invest in cast iron, do it.

Are they better then regular pans? Not sure, I really prefer them. I have a nice set if sauté pans that were bought at a fancy chef store so those ate pretty nice, but I really just like cast iron.

Question: Shallots verse onions, why do you use them when you do?
I tend to use shallots a lot. I prefer the sweet and subtle flavor when eating them whole. Most dishes which call for onions can be substituted, but I really only do this if they will be eaten whole. Dishes which need a base or the robust onion flavor should really be cooked with onions instead.

I also love using dried minced onions, I find they are a great thing to have in a pantry. They add texture and tang when you want just a little something extra.

Question: Dried verse fresh herbs, when and how do you choose which to use?
Most of the time I would love to use fresh, I say most. I really tend to use dried only because that is what I have on hand. Some recipes absolutely need fresh but, most times dried can be used. I have a small variety of fresh on hand most days and will use them accordingly. 

Also, drying your own herbs allows you to have a nice fresh bold flavor in the convenience of dried herbs.

Question: Do you have a garden? Do you grow your own herbs?
Yes and yes. I have a small family vegetable garden I plant every year. Filled with the basics tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squashes, and hot pepper.

I have an indoor herb garden which has basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, rosemary, and mint. I also grow self-sustaining green onions and lettuce inside by my windows. Do not forget my aloe plant though, my other half's favorite thing.


Question: Sifting, why do you not sift?
I hate sifting, it is boring, tedious, bothers my hand, and...I just hate it. Do I sift, nope, very rarely have I come across a recipe where I thought sifting was an absolute. So if I have told you to sift-trust me do it. If not nope I do not sift, do not plan on ever really making part of my process either. 

I have never once been told anything was to dense or firm, no one has ever said "hey this flour does not seam sifted for your cupcakes", never saw the difference. Yes, air and flour changes volume, but hey have not had a problem yet.

Question: Trends in food, I notice you tend to post recipes in groups, are you following food trends?
Nope. I do not follow food trends, clothes trends, shoe trends, or any trends for that matter. If I have talked about something trendy, it's because I was asked. My recipes get published in groups because, that it how they were cooked. As I have mentioned in the past I tend to have one day a week that I will write all the recipes for the blog. 

Sometimes I will be writing weeks ahead. Cooking so many dishes the same day means I try to stick to a theme for a meal or a general set of ingredients. That is why you will find a come trend in them. I try to mix them up when posting, but it does not always work that way.

Question: Who takes the photos for the recipes?
Me. I take them as I go. iPhones are handy for that, I used to use and iTouch. But when I upgrade phones I started using that. I also write and post everything right from my phone. Isn't technology great somedays? It really helps when I am due to post but, not at home!

If you have a question you want answered email me: maybe you will see your question added here!

Eclecticchava@yahoo.com



Wednesday, June 19

Cilantro Lime Sour Cream Dip


Here is a super easy, fun, tasty summer dip. It goes great with tortillas, jalapeño poppers, fajitas, and so much more!

Full time: 15 minutes (although I recommend at least 30-45 minutes refugerator time to let flavors blend)
Makes 1 cup dip (but easily doubles)

You will need:

3 green onions, diced fine
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Let us begin:

Place all ingredients except lime juice in mixing bowl.

Stir well to full incorporate.

Add in lime juice.

Stir until even in texture.

Transfer to serving bowl and enjoy!

Monday, June 17

Avocado Corn Salad


Light and refreshing, Avocado Corn salad is one of my favorite summer seasonal salads to eat. Serve on the side at picnics, BBQs, cookouts, or top with your favorite protein and serve over a shallow bed of green for a great dinner. Either way, it is fun, festive, easy, quick, and tasty!

Full time 15 minutes
Serves 6-8

You will need:

1 large can sweet whole kernel corn, drained and washed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1 pepper, diced
1 cucumber, cut in half length wise and sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, cut off leaves to use 
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp salt or to taste
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder

Let us begin:

Place drained, washed corn in large mixing bowl.

Add in all diced vegetables, do not include avocado. Stir to combine.

Add in avocado, gently stir to combine.

Add in lime juice, olive oil, seasoning, gently stir to combine. Make sure to well coat everything evenly.

Add in cilantro and give a quick gently stir.

And your done! It takes longer to dice then to make, serve and enjoy!