Braised Pork with Apple, Carrot, and Onion

Spicy, tomato-y, and yummy. I made this dish with a pork tenderloin that had been in the freezer too long, but it would also be great with pork chops. I served the meat and sauce over spaghetti squash with a side of broccoli florets.

This dish is also very easy to make but not quick to cook, because it requires braising—a cooking method that requires low heat and long, moist bakes. Out of curiosity, I googled “braise” to learn why this method makes meat so tender.

According to The Reluctant Gourmet, the braising “process breaks down the tough connective tissue in meat to collagen. Through time, the moisture and heat build and the collagen dissolves into gelatin. Heat also contracts and coils the muscle fibers. Over time, these fibers expel moisture and the meat becomes dry. Given even more time, these fibers relax and absorb the melted fat and melted gelatin.”

The result is that the meat, no matter how cheap the cut, becomes tender, moist, and tasty.

Now, theoretically, the meat should be seared in oil before the baking, but I confess to skipping this part because of the oil. Does it make a difference? I haven’t a clue. Maybe someone out there has an answer?

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Broccoli Slaw Salad with Chicken, Apple, and Pickle

Looking for a quick, easy-to-make, low-cal lunch?  When we were in Tucson (where we vacationed for a month), I discovered that Safeway carried broccoli slaw which we also have in Canada and which I’ve been using as the basis for a lunch salad.  This salad is as healthy as all get out, covers all the food groups except grains, and has a great, crunchy texture.

I’ll add a photo when I’m a little more settled.  (The photo is now added.  In this version, I didn’t have any chicken or turkey so I threw in a hard-boiled egg instead.  It’s okay, but I prefer the meats.) When we got home from Arizona three days ago, I discovered that my computer wasn’t working and that my hard drive was fried.    I’m sure you can envision the ensuing rigamarole.   In the meantime, get out the broccoli slaw… Continue reading

Ever-Forgivin’ Apple Upside-Down Cake

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Is there anything better than cooking with apple and cinnamon?  (Okay, maybe chocolate.)  This cake definitely falls in the comfort food category, particularly if served warm.   Softened, slightly crunchy apples, lightly spiced, are covered with a lighter-than-expected pudding cake.  Yum.

I’ve called this cake, “Ever-Forgivin,” because when I was adapting it, I made all kinds of mistakes such as forgetting to add the salt until the end, etc.  Still, it turned out just right.

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Apple side up!

Apple side up!

Cooking tip: 

The original recipe required only ¼ cup of milk.  I found that this was insufficient for rice flour and ended up adding 1 entire cup!  I suggest adding milk in ¼ amounts until you have a thick batter that can be poured.

Flavour tip: The cake layer doesn’t have an artificial sugar aftertaste, but the apples do.  If you can handle small amounts of sugar, add 1 tbsp. of sugar to the cinnamon.  This amount of sugar spread over 8 servings isn’t going to affect a diet or alter the Weight Watcher point count.

Makes 8 servings

 Ingredients

 Apple layer

  • 3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (3-4 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. artificial sugar or real sugar (see note above)
  • ½ tbsp. cinnamon

Cake layer

  • ⅔ cup rice flour
  • ⅓ cup artificial sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. xanthum gum
  • 1 tbsp. shortening (butter or margarine), cold
  • 1 cup soy milk, unsweetened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Cooking spray

 Directions:

For the apple layer: 

  • Mix artificial or real sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Add apples to cinnamon mixture and toss so that the fruit is coated.
  • Put this bowl aside until you’re ready to bake.

For the cake layer:

  1. Mix flour, artificial sugar, baking powder, xanthum gum, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cut shortening into the dry ingredients with a fork, pastry blender, or a food processor until it forms small pebbles in the flour.  (If you’ve never done this before, watch the first 1.5 minutes of the video below.)
  3. Add beaten egg and mix.
  4. Add milk in ¼ cup amounts. (See note above.)
  5. Mix well until the batter is smooth.

Combining the two layers:

  1. Spray 8” x 8” pan with cooking spray.
  2. Put apples into the pan. (If you’re artistic, you can arrange them.)
  3. Pour batter over the apples and spread to coat.  
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until knife comes our smooth.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn over onto a plate. 

For Weight Watchers: Each of the 8 servings is worth 2 points in both the Points  plan and the PointsPlus plan.

 (Adapted from http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=22701)