Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce

Grilled Pork Roast with Port/Vidalia/Fig Sauce
Serves 4

Recipe for the sauce:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thinly, then quartered
1 tablespoon flour (any type)
1 cup port wine
4 figs, stems removed and halved

  1. Preheat a non-stick skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Add the coconut oil. (You can use any type of oil, but caramelized onions made with coconut oil creates a delicious flavor combination.)
  3. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion, and turn heat down to medium. Season the onions with a bit of black pepper. 
  4. Let the onions slowly caramelize. This will take 20-25 minutes. Don’t rush it. Cooking them fast will fry them crispy. The idea here is to make them convert their sugars into caramel and break down all the cell stucture. They will end up incredibly fragrant and soft.
  5. When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle the flour over them and stir to combine.
  6. Increase the heat to medium-high.
  7. Slowly pour the port into the onions, whisking constantly.
  8. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, lay the figs in the sauce and let them get warm. 
  9. Serve over sliced pork.
Fig season is relatively short. Enjoy them while you can find them.

Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons sauce and 2 fig halves.:
Calories:        133
Fat:                3.7g
Sat fat:           3.1g
Chol:                0g
Sodium:     4.5mg
Carbs:         14.9g
Fiber:            2.1g
Protein:         0.9g

Tips for roasting a pork half loin on a grill:
When cooking a pork half loin on the grill, I like to season it with something good, like Penzey’s Bavarian Style seasoning.

I also do not place the roast directly on the grate, but I also do not use a pan. I want the heat to directly roast the meat, without it sticking to the grill. My solution is to take a handful of herbs from my garden (usually a few rosemary branches and make some basil boughs) and place those on the grill, and then the roast on top. The herbs will mostly burn (eventually) but they will infuse the meat with their gentle flavors.

You may be wondering what is sticking out of the top of the roast. That is my secret weapon for grilling food that is fully cooked, but still moist. That is a Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer/Timer. You set the desired tempurature of doneness (145F for pork roasts), and then you can let it go. It has an alarm that sounds when the temp is reached.

When your roast hits 145F, remove it from the grill, tent it with some aluminum foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.

That knife you see is a very nice knife, an 8 inch chef’s knife, that I bought at IKEA. You can get a similar knife from Amazon. The patterns in the blade is called Damascus steel, and is made be repeated heating in forge, hammering flat, folding over and then repeating if many times. There are master knifemakers who still make them in that method, each knife taking more than a day to craft. Those knives sell for $200-400 per INCH of blade! I paid less than $50 for mine, and the knife that I show you in the Amazon link is $111.00. A Damascus blade tends to keep it’s edge longer, and I just love mine.

My dream is to own one of those handmade works of kitchen cutlery art. It will happen!

Note: the links to Amazon are an affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one something, I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

Cornbread (and Homemade BBQ Sauce)

Cornbread and Homemade BBQ Sauce (served with grilled chicken thighs and grilled carrots)
Make sure you read to the bottom and answer the simple question.

Serve 9

1 cup whole kernel corn (either canned, frozen–but thawed before using–or fresh cooked on the cob)
1 egg
3/4 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons oil (I used olive)
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons Splenda (or you can use sugar or another low-cal sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare a 9″ square baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add corn, egg, milk and olive oil to a food processor (or blender). Process until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together all remaining dry ingredients. (Using a wire whisk works best because as it blends the ingredients evenly it also incorporates air into the mix, which will lighten the batter a bit.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry. Stir just until evenly mixed. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. The batter will be stiff. With your pixing spoon, spread it into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven). Test with a toothpick in several different spots. When it comes out clean, it is done.
  8. Cut into 9 even pieces. Serve warn or chilled.
Nutritional data
Calories:        169
Fat:               6.2g
Sat fat:          4.3g
Chol:           23.9g
Sodium:  114.5mg
Carbs:      25.4mg
Fiber:           2.6g
Protein:        4.6g
By replacing a large amount of the oil normally used in cornbread with actual corn, it increases the fiber content and drastically drops the fat levels (and therefore the calorie count.) The end result is even more flavorful than usual, as well as very moist with a good crust.
You can serve it with butter. If you want this for breakfast, top it with warm apple sauce, maple syrup or any nice fruit compote.
BBQ sauce
Serve 4 (2 tablespoons per serving)
This is a sweet and tart BBQ sauce, similar to something like KC Masterpiece or Sweet Baby Ray’s, but don’t expect it to taste the same. It won’t. But I think this is the best recipe I have ever come up with.
Using the apple jelly helps it get thick faster.
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) beer (avoid a very hoppy beer for this.)
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon apple jelly (optional, but I used it)
  1. In a non-stick skillet, add all ingredients over med-high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Stay with this. You want it to boil off liquid but not burn. You will need to stir continuously.
  3. Boil off about 1/4 of the volume. It will get thick, but pourable (when warm.) This will take about 5 minutes.
  4. The larger the skillet the faster this will happen (more surface area to boil off the water.)

Nutritional data
Calories:         69
Fat:                0g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:           0mg
Sodium:     11mg
Carbs:       15.7g
Fiber:          0.4g
Protein:       0.4g

Question for today:
What is your preferred non-internet based source of recipes (magazine, specific cookbook or specific TV show.) 

Somali Bizbaz Sauce

I found this recipe while listening to a podcast of American Public Radio’s The Splendid Table, and made a few minor changes to suit my personal tastes. This is based on a common Somali condiment.  It is creamy with a sharp garlic bite and some nice heat to back it up. Excellent as a spread on meat. (Be prepared to need breath freshener!)

Somali Bizbaz Sauce
Serves 12 (1 tablespoon portion)

1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup (tightly packed) fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 – 1 jalapeno chile (depending on how spicy you want this)

1. Combine all in a food processor. Process until well mixed. The cilantro will be coarsely chopped.

That’s it. How simple is that?  Serve on fish, chicken, vegetables, pork, eggs–just about anything!

Nutritional data (per tablespoon):
Calories:        9
Fat:                0g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:         5mg
Carbs:         0.9g
Fiber:             0g
Protein:       1.3g

You can make this spicier by using more jalapeno or different chiles, such as a serrano or habanero.
This is how I used it last night, on grilled salmon, zucchini-potato pancakes and fresh pomegranate.

BBQ Sauce, Pan Fried Chicken Thighs and Two Side Dishes

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, topped with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and sides of Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

8 chicken thighs (or 16 ounces chicken breast)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
Barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming.)

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Season the chicken.
  2. Saute onions and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. In the same skillet, add the seasoned chicken. Cook on one side until it begins to brown (6-8 minutes.)
  4. Turn chicken. Layer onions over each thigh and spread the barbecue sauce evenly over each.
  5. Cook until the thighs are done (6-8 minutes.)

Nutritional data, including the sauce:
                    For 2 thighs                For 4 ounce chicken breast
Calories:         409                            157
Fat:               22.7g                           3.6g
Sat fat:            6.7g                           0.7g
Chol:             200mg                          65mg
Sodium:         191mg                        189mg
Carbs:            8.3g                            6.2g
Fiber:             1.2g                            0.9g
Protein:        42.9g                          23.7g

Barbecue Sauce (sweet style)
Makes about 1/2 cup
In a sauce pan, combine and heat to boiling:
4 ounces dark beer
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I used brown sugar/Splenda)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced onion
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced garlic

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until thick.
Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons:
Calories:            35
Fat:                     0g
Sat fat:                0g
Chol:                  0mg
Sodium:           8.8mg
Carbs:             6.3g
Fiber:              0.5g
Protein:           0.4g

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

3 heads broccoli, florets cut off into bite sized chunks
1 onions, but into 1/4 inch slices and then quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pepper (and salt, if desired) to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a 9/13 baking pan.
  3. Bake 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  4. Top with cheese. Put pan back in the oven until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:         94
Fat:                7.2g
Sat fat:           2.2g
Chol:             7.4mg
Sodium:          65mg
Carbs:           5.4g
Fiber:            1.8g
Protein:         3.6g

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheese

  1. Place potatoes in small kettle, boil until the potatoes are soft. (Check with a fork. When the fork slide into the potato easily, they are done.
  2. Drain water off. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes coarsely.
  3. Add yogurt.
  4. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
  5. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon of cheese.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         148
Fat:                 2.5g
Sat fat:            1.5g
Chol:              7.4mg
Sodium:           66mg
Carbs:           24.9g
Fiber:              2.6g
Protein:           6.6g

Easy Guacamole

Easy Guacamole
Makes about 2 cups

2 ripe avocados
The juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced onion (or 1 teaspoon dried minced onion)
Cumin and black pepper to taste

  1. Avocados are ripe when the stem end is soft when gently pressed with your thumb.
  2. Slice avocados with a sharp knife. Use the knife to pop out the seed. Use a spoon to scoop the meat out of the shell.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Mash together. Cover in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within 1-2 days. Air will cause it to turn brown, but that does not change the nutritional values (just the color.)

Nutritional data (for approximately 4 tablespoon):
Calories:        57
Fat:              5.2g
Sat fat:         0.7g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:       2.7mg
Carbs:          2.9g
Fiber:           2.3g
Protein:        0.7g

Chicken Thighs with Chimmichurri Sauce

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chimichurri Sauce and Grilled Vegetables
Serve 4
8 Chicken thighs, boneless/skinless (each are about 3 ounces)
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Bouquet Garni)

1.  Place chicken thighs on a platter.  Rub oil over both sides.  Sprinkle with seasoning.
2.  Preheat grill for 5 minutes on high.
3.  Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
4.  Remove and cover to keep warm.

Nutritional Data (6 ounces of chicken thighs):
Calories:         310
Fat:                  31g
Sat fat:               4g
Chol:              140mg
Sodium:          170mg
Carbs:                0g
Fiber:                 0g
Protein:            38g

Chimichurri Sauce
10 garlic cloves (this is delicious but a bit pungent)
1 bunch parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Process garlic in food processor until chopped.  Add remaining ingredients.  Process for 1 minute or until finely minced. It will not be smooth.

This is a very tart sauce. If you don’t like it this sour, add sugar (or sweetener) to taste.

Nutritional Data (1/4 cup serving):
Calories:         104
Fat:                    8g
Sat fat:            1.1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          38mg
Carbs:            7.7g
Fiber:             3.8g
Protein:          1.6g

Grilled Vegetables
1 head cauliflower, cut into moderate size chunks
1 head broccoli, cut into similar sized chunks
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 ounces mushrooms, whole, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Spices (I used Penzey’s Sunny Paris.)

1.  Place cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, and cook on high for 3-4 minutes. The goal is to get the cauliflower hot and start to cook, but not cook it completely.
2.  When the cauliflower is out of the microwave, add all other veggies, and top with the remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat and set aside.
3.  Preheat your grill, and if you have one, a grill vegetable basket.  (Mine is similar to this.)
4.  Pour veggies into the basket.  Occasionally toss them around to ensure more even cooking.  You want some browning of the veggies for the best flavor. 

Nutritional data will vary depending on the vegetables used.