We have the opportunity on the daily to make a positive impact on the world around us.
Whether one goes through their day searching for good deeds to be done,
or simply takes advantage of random opportunities to spread love,
every action (or inaction) has a resounding impact.
The question is: Is your impact today going to be positive, negative, or indifferent?
I have been told that one person can't make a difference.
I affectionately call these people "dummies"...
Those who actively try to hold the rest of us down,
those who would rather watch you drown than help you soar, those who can't grasp the power of positivity to create change.
Whether it's a great recipe found, or an uplifting story to share, you can be sure to find it here.
Let's start a Positivity Revolution, and drown out the dumb!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Last Pork Roast

I could eat chicken every night! I love how easy it is to manipulate, how wonderfully moist it is, how it can soak up other flavors easily, or serve as a simple protein when there's another special flavor to feature in a dish.
Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this low-fat choice (boo), so I have been searching for an easy dinnertime meal that will stand up to chicken. Pork is another low-fat meat that should be a terrific substitute for my go-to chicken. Supposedly, it is simple to make a delicious meal out of this ingredient, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what I'm doing wrong! Every time I attempt to use this ingredient, my end product is too dry and chewy.
I told my boyfriend we were officially finished with pork, but when our local grocer had pork loin on a BOGO special, I decided to give this seeming nemesis of mine one last chance: one last meal to either turn me and my boyfriend into lifelong fans or to be dismissed from my kitchen forever.
I looked up countless pork loin recipes, and finally decided to combine snippets from Giada's show I had been watching while on the treadmill (running while watching cooking shows is my number-one favorite activity!) and this recipe from epicurious.com. Fingers crossed, I followed the website's instructions for ingredients, but after rubbing my pork loin down with the garlic and spices, I let it sit in a marinade made of EVOO, red wine (Cabernet), Worcestershire, and a bit of chicken broth for about 3 hours, turning to coat every hour.
As I don't have a roasting rack, I used rolled-up aluminum foil to set the roast above a lined pan,and roasted for 30 minutes at 400 degrees before turning it over and roasting another 30 minutes or so, until the suggested internal temp of 155F.
This was by far the best pork loin I have made! It had a very flavorful, herby taste, and the crust was beautiful and savory. Yet, even though I took the extra time to marinate the pork and cook it slowly, it still tasted slightly dry, and it was enough to turn us both off of pork forever. I feel like maybe I'm missing some trick of the trade, and that pork is not my nemesis; it is simply a misunderstood ingredient that could produce wonderful meals if properly coaxed.

It was a splendid last stand for this dish, but for our household, it was just not enough to continue to try to improve...for now...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mushroom&Turkey Meatballs

If there's anything I love, it's mushrooms, and I try to find a way to incorporate these little fungi nuggets into as many recipes as I can. I also love red meat, and mushrooms have this magical quality to transform the taste and texture of a poultry dish into something decidedly more "red-meaty". So, I decided to try Turkey Meatballs and add mushrooms! I loosely followed this recipe, and I've noted the changes I made below...
There are many meatballs hidden under that red sauce!
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Dash salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 box farfalle pasta (my boyfriend's favorite)

    Cook pasta to al dente and set aside.
    (I was lucky enough to have some homemade pasta sauce on hand, otherwise this recipe includes a homemade sauce recipe, too.)
    Preheat the broiler, and spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Place mushrooms, onions, parmesan cheese, and garlic into food processor and pulse until everything's tiny. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, dried spices, egg, bread crumbs, and salt and pepper. Add the now-minced ingredients from the food processor to the turkey mixture and combine.

    Form into 2 1/2 -inch balls and place on a baking sheet. (I ended up making about 12 meatballs, and forming the rest of the mix into 3 turkey burgers that we froze for later use!) Broil for 10 minutes, or until browned and almost entirely cooked through.
    Heat your pasta sauce in a medium saucepan and add the meatballs, so they may absorb some of the sauce. Combine with your cooked pasta and heat through.
    Sprinkle some parsley and parmesan cheese atop each serving, and enjoy!

    This was such a welcome alternative to red meat, and the bonus turkey burgers that were left over were just as amazing (especially topped with cheddar, lettuce, and tomato). What kind of healthy switch-ups do you like to use instead of red meat?


    Saturday, March 2, 2013

    First-Try Roast Chicken

    While I was on a spur-of-the-moment shopping trip the other day, I found BOGO whole chickens and decided that I would try oven-roasting a chicken. I am pretty good at roasting a turkey, so I figured I would try a near-identical recipe and it would probably turn out...

    My best turkey by far was this past Thanksgiving, when my best girlfriends and I slathered the bird with butter, and stuffed the cavity with oranges, red onion, and bay leaves. It turned out super moist and flavorful, and will be hard to beat this coming year, when I'm sure I'll want to experiment with a new recipe.

    I was inspired to cook the moment I woke up this morning, and so I washed, dried, and de-gibletized my chicken, and got together all my ingredients.
    I sprinkled my bird with black pepper, dried thyme, and ample amounts of salt on both sides. I added a small pad of butter into either end of the cavity, and then stuffed my garlic, lemon and orange wedges, and red onion into both ends (it turns out I could only fit about half of what I had chopped up inside, whoops). Since it was so early in the day, I set the prepped chicken on a tray and put it in my fridge until about 3pm.
    Without a roasting tray, I raised my chicken by rolling three pieces of aluminum foil and sitting the bird on top.

    After consulting a few different recipes online, I decided to set my oven to 375 degrees for a nice, slow roast since I wasn't going to be in a rush. I took the chicken out of the fridge and let it sit and come to room temperature while the oven was preheating, and I added white wine to the bottom of my pan. The chicken cooked for about 90 minutes, until the temperature showed 170 degrees at both the thigh and breast. (The "done" temperature recommendations seems to range between 160 and 190 degrees, so I tried to hit kinda in the middle.)

    I've heard that a roast chicken can last all day out, and putting it back in the fridge would just dry it out and destroy all my hard work. I had a couple hours yet before dinner, so I made a crusty french bread loaf to accompany our meal (See my post "Finally! Perfect French Bread"). I also tossed some peeled potatoes in EVOO and Italian spices, and set them aside for roasting later.

    When we were ready to eat, I placed my roasting potatoes and my chicken in the oven and cooked at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes, just to crisp up the skin of my chicken. The result? Incredibly moist, flavorful chicken that will definitely be going into our "repeat" queue.

    Finally! Perfect French Bread

    I. Love. Bread.

    As many times as I've heard about the evil of carbs and tried to stay away, I simply can't. My love of bread and pasta will never die, and since finding this perfect, easy french bread recipe, I will probably end up gaining a few pounds (bring it on).
    I have been trying over the past couple months to find a foolproof bread recipe, because how defeating is it when you spend all that time kneading and rolling and rising dough, to have it turn out flat, overly dense, or dry?

    I scoured the internet to find not only an easy recipe, but one that was fast, and found it on Gourmet Mom On-The-Go, a site that I'm sure will become one of my faves. I cut the recipe in half, and turned out with a beautiful loaf that is going to be my new go-to recipe. I made this as a side for a roast chicken, and my boyfriend and I started tearing into it before I could even get a picture snapped of this gorgeous loaf! It was firm but squishy, dense but moist, and it rose better than any other french bread I've tried to make in the past. The only change I made to the recipe was I added dried rosemary, dried thyme, and dried sage to the loaf while it was rolled out in a square. This gave it a slight Italian flavor without overpowering it.

    Simply wonderful, and I can't wait to make it again! If you have a favorite bread or muffin recipe, please send it my way so I can keep this bake-a-palooza going strong!