Well Dined

18Dec/140

Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Looking for yet another side to go with your Bacon Bourbon Sweet Potatoes?  Check out this pork loin glazed with Dijon mustard, apple butter, and cider and roasted over veggies and sage.  It's moist, tender, savory, sweet, and easy to make - plus it's pretty healthy!

I came up with this dish because I needed a protein to go with leftover sweet potatoes, and because I wanted to try out the recipe for the apple butter glaze.  We are members of the Frog's Leap wine club, and they sent us a little jar of apple butter along with our last shipment of wine.  They also included a recipe for a savory glaze using the apple butter, Dijon mustard, apple cider, shallot, and garlic - it sounded great!

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Start by placing a few carrots and an onion in a roasting pan, top with a few sprigs of sage, then pour in a little bit of apple cider (to keep the meat from drying out).  Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, and set it on the vegetables and roast it on high heat for 15 minutes.

Well Dined | Apple Butter Glazed Pork Loin

Then take it out, spread the glaze over the top, and return it to the oven at a lower temp for 45 minutes.  And that's it!  Rest and slice and you're ready to serve.  This is a great dish for fall with flavors that pair with lots of seasonal side dishes.  Enjoy!

15Dec/140

Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Well Dined | Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Following on the heels of last week's post on whipped sweet potatoes with all the best things (bourbon, bacon, brown butter, sage), I am keeping my promise to share a complimentary chicken recipe.  This sticky glazed chicken with bourbon, maple, and thyme is easy, delicious, and perfect with the sweet potatoes.

Well Dined | Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken

Simply sear bone-in chicken breasts in a large skillet (I used a dutch oven), then add a mixture of chicken stock, maple syrup, and bourbon along with some thyme sprigs.  Allow to cook down until the mixture is syrupy and the chicken is fully cooked.  That's it - done!  It's really so easy.  The sticky glaze is super yummy and the bones keep the chicken from drying out.  You could easily substitute bone-in pork chops, as well.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Chicken
adapted from Food Network
serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
4 (6-oz) bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
4 sprigs thyme

Place a large heavy-bottom or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil.  Season the chicken liberally all over with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken to the pan breast-side down and sear until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

While the chicken in searing, in a small dish whisk together the stock, syrup, and bourbon.  Add the bourbon mixture to the skillet along with the thyme sprigs and continue cooking, turning the chicken occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a thick syrupy consistency, 8 to 10 minutes.  (If the sauce reduces to a syrupy consistency before the chicken has cooked through, add a few splashes of stock to the skillet and continue cooking.)

To serve, remove and discard the thyme sprigs.  Spoon the sticky sauce over the chicken and enjoy warm.

One Year Ago - Smoked Salmon Pizzette
Two Years Ago - Stained Glass Jello
Three Years Ago - Snickerdoodle Surprise Cookies

12Dec/140

Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

Well Dined | Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

I know this photo is not great - it gets too dark for photos at 5 now, and I'm not profesh enough to make dinner in the middle of the day or make multiples of a dish for photo purposes, sorry!  But did you read that title description?  DID YOU?  Bourbon. Bacon. Sweet Potatoes. Brown Butter. Sage.  Need I say more to convince you to try this?

I haven't actually cooked with Bourbon a whole lot before, and now I am loving it.  It lends such rich, smoky, and sweet flavors to a dish - which go perfectly with bacon, by the way.  I mean, duh!  And the nutty brown butter and crispy, buttery fried sage?  Just awesome.  And super healthy sweet potatoes make up for all that fat and booze, right? Maybe? Just a little?  Plus - since sweet potatoes are more fibrous than starchy, you can whip them into fluffy perfection without worrying about them becoming gummy like regular potatoes.

Well Dined | Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage

This would make a perfect Thanksgiving side, and if I were a better blogger I would have told you about them BEFORE the holiday.  But they also go really well with pork or chicken, and I have a recipe coming up for each that would be perfect, so I promise to make it up to you.

Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage
adapted from How Sweet Eats
serves 8

4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
15-20 sage leaves
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp bourbon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add the potato chunks to a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the chopped bacon.  Cook the bacon until it is crispy and all of the fat has been cooked out.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain.  To the same skillet, add the butter to the bacon fat and heat it over medium heat.  When it has melted and starts to foam, add the sage leaves.  Cook until crispy - 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.  By this time, the butter should have browned (it will smell nutty) - remove from heat and reserve.

Drain the potatoes thoroughly and add them back to the pot.  Mash them with a fork or potato masher, then use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip them.  Once whipped, add in the milk, the bourbon, and the brown butter bacon fat mixture.  Whip the potatoes again until everything is combined.  Taste the potatoes and add the salt and pepper, seasoning more or less if desired.

Spread the potatoes into a dish and top them with the crispy bacon.  Crumble the sage on top.

Alternatively (if you are not serving immediately), you can bake them for 25 to 30 minutes at 325 deg F, then remove them from the oven and crumble the sage over top.  If you are doing this method, it is best to only cook the bacon 3/4 of the way and let it finish crisping in the oven.

One Year Ago - Smoked Salmon Pizzette
Two Years Ago - Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Three Years Ago - Snickerdoodle Surprise Cookies

1Dec/140

Thanksgiving 2014

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

You know, I tried to be good and blog about Thanksgiving stuff before the holiday so that it might actually be useful to somebody.  I even made a few dishes in advance, but I didn't post about them in time.  Oh well!  Prepare for a lot of Thanksgiving type posts!

Anyway, we don't have any family where we live so we normally travel for Thanksgiving.  But this year we decided to switch it up and travel for Christmas, so we were on our own for Turkey Day.  We had originally planned to stay at the Inn at Little Washington (!!!), but Jasper got sick and we had to cancel.  So then I had to figure out what to make at the last minute for 2 people - initiate panic mode.  But I got my menu together on Monday, went to the grocery store on Tuesday (which was surprisingly not that crazy), and prepped on Wednesday.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

I tried to cut it down to just the basics - turkey (breast only), stuffing (half recipe), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (bought), and rolls (bought).  It was still way too much food for 2 people so there are lots of leftover sandwiches in my future.

Well Dined | Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 Turkey Breast

First up, the star - turkey.  There was no way I was going to roast a whole turkey for 2 people, so I bought a whole breast on the bone.  I definitely could have gone with a half breast, but now we have lots of sandwich meat!  And guys, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am SO GOOD at turkey.  Brined, air dried, stuffed with sage butter, rubbed with avocado oil, and started at a high temp - this baby was PERFECT.  It was juicy and tender with crispy skin and super crazy flavorful.  Love it.  It's also really easy to carve - you just cut along the breast bone until the meat is released, then turn it on its side and slice.

20Nov/140

Atelier Crenn – San Francisco

While we were in San Francisco visiting family, Jasper and I wanted to have a nice date night to ourselves to try one of the many Michelin rated restaurants.  We choose Atelier Crenn, a 2-star restaurant with a seasonal and locally sourced menu written in the form of a poem.  Yes, it is a little bit silly and pretentious to present your menu as a poem, but chef/owner Dominique Crenn seems to have some reasons for doing it.  Crenn hails from Versailles, France, where her father had a painting workshop (called an "atelier").  She considers her restaurant to be her own artist's studio (hence the name), with the plate as a blank canvas, and the ingredients as the paint.  So perhaps we can consider it to be more artsy than pretentious.  And it did provide a fun game to try and figure out what would be in the next course based on the poem.

From the website: "Poetic Culinaria: Atelier Crenn, a painting. An empty white canvas. With tools... a brush, paint and a vision, creativity is given its breath. Here, from this place, the artist can suggest emotion. A lasting moment from childhood... little drawers of heartbeats."

Crenn seems to be inspired by her childhood and her father, whose paintings decorate the restaurant.  Playfulness and nature are the overriding themes of the menu we received, which I have copied below:

Summer has come and is full of sweet surprises
Under the midnight glow, I can taste the sweetness of the sea,
hear mellow serenades of colors licorice and orange
I touch the earth and play
Where the broad ocean leans against the Spanish land,
I remember an oceanic feeling
Here, the earth proffers its juicy, vermilion gifts
and above, the half moon floats, silky and smoky
In its cool, milky light,
the forest still radiant with possibility
Nature rejoice! chasing childhood memories
Feeling the black sand under my toes, I dreamed of
these creatures' languid movements
Walking deep in the woods, as the earth might have something to spare
bird song, see the water rippling from their visit
a token of the summer
Summer has come, the sea beckons
sweetness, bounty, thanks

13Nov/141

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

Melissa and I are back at it!  This time it is with a super delicious, and seasonally appropriate, roasted vegetable pot pie that is super comforting and filling.  I think even meat eaters will love it - seriously!  If you think about it, there isn't that much chicken in a regular pot pie, and it is in tiny cubes that sort of blend in with everything else.  So who's gonna miss it?  Not me!  Especially not when you top it with a killer rosemary and black pepper crust.  I'm not kidding, you guys, this crust is awesome.  I want to use it for all kinds of savory tart type things.  This recipe is labor intensive, so give yourself time.  Or make it with a buddy!

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pies

So, first step - make the dough for the crust.  This involves flour, butter, buttermilk, egg yolks, and (most importantly) rosemary and black pepper.  Crack that black pepper yourself, you want the flavor and the unevenly sized bits.  The crust is what makes this dish special, so don't skip it!

Well Dined | Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pot Pie

Next, cut up those veggies!  So, so many veggies.  We made a lot of editorial choices with this recipe - eliminate pumpkin (who needs it when there is also butternut squash?), boost the brussels, etc...  Afterwards we realized (per Melissa's husband) that replacing the carrots with parsnips would have added a nice pepperiness to balance the sweetness of the squash.  Good idea, Dave!

6Nov/140

San Francisco

Well Dined

You guys, I have been in such a writing funk since I have gotten back from vacation.  I don't know what is going on!  But I do want to tell you about the restaurants we visited while we were in San Francisco, and I will try to post more frequently from now on.  Kailey, my sister-in-law (who we were visiting), is a chef in SF (here; that's her at 0:35 and 1:35), so we let her take us on a culinary tour of her favorite spots.  But I determined on our first day that I was just going to enjoy the vacation and not worry about taking photos.  So I don't have any food photos to show you, sorry!

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

Before we get to food, I should mention that we stayed at the Hotel Drisco and really enjoyed it.  We had a corner room on the top floor and the views were amazing - we could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and most of the city.  All the windows really helped because, like many older buildings in the city, Drisco has no air conditioning.  Opening all the windows made for a lovely cross-breeze, though it was too noisy to leave them open at night.  The hotel includes a continental breakfast, and I am not talking about just cereal and muffins.  They have all kinds of pastries with homemade jams, spreads, and toppings.  Also fresh juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit salad, hot oatmeal, smoothies, salami and cheese, hard boiled eggs, and antipasto style veggies.  In addition to various coffee blends, they will also make espresso drinks to order.  It is a very nice perk.  They also have a wine tasting every evening with cheese and salami, coffee all day, free wifi, free bikes, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

2Oct/140

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

Well Dined | Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

If you've been wondering where I've been for the past 2 weeks, the answer is - vacation!  I will be writing about that for sure, but before I get to it I want to talk about this pasta that I made before we left.  My friend Melissa (you know her by now) was also going out of town, a little before we were, and gifted me several of her home-grown bell peppers and tomatoes.  I wanted to use them to do a take on sausage and peppers in pasta form because I'm, well, me.

Well Dined | Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

So I browned some sliced sausage, and then threw in an onion, the peppers, and the tomatoes to saute.  Then I tossed in cooked whole wheat penne along with pasta water, a splash of cream, and some Parmesan to make a sauce.  And finally, I topped it with some fresh basil and parsley.  Fast, easy, and hearty.  Thanks Melissa!

12Sep/140

Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

I have been really busy and traveling a lot lately, I haven't really been cooking much.  When I do, it is usually a quick throw together of some type of pasta, vegetable, and protein.  This particular version consisted of tri-color cheese tortellini, heirloom tomato, yellow zucchini, spinach, turkey meatballs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs.

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

While the water for the pasta was boiling, I sliced the zucchini and chopped the tomato and an onion.  I sauteed the onion and zucchini in some goat butter, then added the spinach and let it wilt.  I added the cooked tortellini on top with a little pit of pasta water (which helped with the wilting), then threw in the fresh tomatoes and took it off the heat.

Well Dined | Tortellini with Vegetables and Meatballs

Lastly I added some frozen turkey meatballs that I had heated in the microwave (I know, I know - I was in a hurry okay?), some crumbled goat cheese, and some fresh basil and parsley.  This was super easy and came together in less than 30 minutes.  Plus there was enough other stuff going on to distract my husband from the vegetables - score!

8Sep/141

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

When I first bought my bundt cake pan from Williams Sonoma, I kept the recipe from the back of the box - a big square of cardboard hanging around in my cabinets for years.  I was rearranging my bakeware the other day and decided it was finally time to try the recipe, if only so that I could get rid of that piece of cardboard.

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

But holy moly, you guys, this thing was awesome!  It is crazy rich and moist and dense and intensely chocolaty - even my cake obsessed husband could only eat a little slice at a time.  This is definitely a cake for sharing with friends, trust me, you cannot handle this cake alone.

Well Dined | Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Part of what makes this cake so awesome is that it has multiple kinds of chocolate in it, the first being bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate.  I choose Ghirardelli because it seemed fancy to me and I was feeling fancy.  You will combine the baking chocolate with cocoa powder for double the chocolaty awesomeness and melt with hot water.