Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Asian Pork & Pasta Salad

This is one of the best recipes I've picked up from my local Penzeys Spices. It has such a delicious marinade and is so fresh, I always end up making it often during the summer!

Here's the quote from the card: "Light and bright, fresh from the garden and the grill. Leftover grilled pork works great if you have it, just chop and toss with the marinade and proceed from there." We've also just marinated pork chops before, grilled them up and served them alongside the pasta salad as well... Enjoy!

Asian Pork and Pasta Salad
1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin
1 lb. pasta, your choice (we use farfalle)
1 lb. snap pea pods (we use edamame pods)
1 large leek
1 C sliced cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil (for stir-frying)

1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp. aleppo (or white) pepper
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 C reserved marinade
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise--enough to lightly thicken
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together marinade ingredients. Remove 1/2 cup, cover and refrigerate for dressing later. Cut pork into bite-sized pieces. Clean and chop the leek and the peas. Place pork in one bowl and the peas in another. Divide the leeks, half in each bowl. Pour all but 2 Tbsp of the marinade over the pork, toss well, cover and refrigerate. Toss the peas with the remaining marinade, cover and refrigerate both bowls for at least 15 minutes to develop flavor. Whisk mayo and sesame seeds with reserved marinade for dressing, and set aside. Clean and slice cherry tomatoes, set aside.

Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add pasta, cook according to directions on box, drain briefly, toss with fresh cilantro, cover and set aside. While pasta is cooking, heat sesame oil in a large skillet. When hot, add half of the pork. Cook until rich brown in color and cooked through. (The sugar in the marinade may cause the pork to blacken, so keep an eye on the pan and turn the heat down if necessary). Add the second half of the pork and cook. Discard the marinade that the pork was in. Once the pork is done, quickly stir-fry the peas, tossing in a bit of the marinade in the bowl. 2 minutes should do it...

Toss the peas and the pork with the pasta, add dressing and toss until coated. (You may not need all of the dressing). Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, a little more cilantro (if you love it like I do), and a sprinkle of extra toasted sesame seeds as desired.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Give me s'more(s bars)!

Happy Fourth of July! 

My friend Beth gave me an awesome recipe for s'mores bars last week so I could make it for Jeremy's family over the weekend, and they were a real hit. This is the perfect solution to your summer hankering for s'mores without having to go camping :) Or without having the mess in your microwave--have you ever blown up a marshmallow in your microwave trying to make homemade s'mores??? Not a pretty sight. Not that I would personally know...

So here are the goods, adapted from a recipe (and photo) you can find HERE. That recipe makes an 8x8, but I tweaked it for a 9x13 and the results are below. I just thought a 9x13 would be more handy for taking to a picnic or summer get-together... Let us know what you think!

Give Me S'mores Bars
1 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (abt 2 pkgs of crackers)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 king-size Hershey bars
2 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff (NOT melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at low speed until combined; it will have a similar consistency to that of cookie dough.

Divide the dough in half and press half into an even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 pan (I didn't even use half of the dough--I didn't want it to be too thick, so I only used enough to be about 1/4-inch thick.) Layer chocolate bars on top of pressed dough to cover completely; you might have to break it up to fit in just right, but don't double up on the layer--just trust me on this, it will be too much. Spread marshmallow fluff (my first time using the stuff) on top of the chocolate bars, spreading it evenly--again, don't be tempted by the idea that more is better, just use 2 1/2 cups :) And just FYI, you don't want to use regular marshmallows because they will harden up as they cool, and that defeats the purpose of this ooey-gooey deliciousness...

For the top layer of graham cracker crust, take the remaining dough and flatten it into pancakes; lay on top of the marshmallow fluff until covered. Again, keep these relatively thin or it will disrupt the delicate ratio of graham/chocolate/marshmallowey goodness :) I ended up with quite a bit of leftover dough, so don't be surprised if you do, too. I also left a few areas of marshmallow fluff uncovered by the dough, and as it cooked the marshmallow kind of rose through the dough and got toasted. OH SO GOOD!!! So my suggestion? Leave a few spots open... I think it looks prettier too when all is said and done.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting or it will be a gooey nightmare :)