Farro Pilaf with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro is one of my favorite fall/winter grains to cook with, and in my opinion it is vastly underused. It’s hearty, nutty, toothsome, and is packed with fiber and iron, and boasts a good serving of protein as well. Way better than rice, as far as I’m concerned! And because it’s so hearty, it’s the perfect grain to stand up to robust cold-weather flavors and textures. Nuts, meats, gourds, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens… oh and let’s not forget cheese. Mmm.

Awhile back, I had some leftover pork ragu from my tasty Pork and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta recipe, and I obviously wasn’t going to let it go to waste. Wanting to mix it up from my polenta, I grabbed a bag of quick-cooking farro and got to work. The ragu, made from Smithfield Slow Roasted Golden Rotisserie Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin, was so flavorful thanks to the pre-marinated pork and worked beautifully with my farro. All I had to do was toss the ragu with the warm grain and some roasted butternut squash, wilt in some kale and shaved parmesan, and dinner was served! And if you don’t have leftover ragu? It was so easy to make it in the crock pot, just set it in the morning and it will be ready for this recipe by the time you’re ready to prep dinner.

Looking for a quick yet deeeelicious meal to get you through the holiday hustle and bustle? This simple farro pilaf has you covered, my friend.

Farro with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

Farro Pilaf with Pork Ragu and Butternut Squash

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Pork Tenderloin over Risotto

Roasted Pork Loin over Pumpkin Risotto

Pork Tenderloin over Risotto
Tis the season to impress your friends with your culinary prowess at a holiday dinner party. Enter… Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork! I kid you not, I made the BEST meal the other night and all my guests raved about it, but it was secretly was easier than it looked, thanks to this pork tenderloin.

I’d been craving risotto (which is truly way easier to make from scratch than it sounds, don’t be scared!) but I wanted some protein to round out the meal. This bacon-encrusted pork tenderloin was the perfect companion to the slightly sweet, rich risotto – and because it was preseasoned all I had to do was put the tenderloin in the oven, then take it out and slice it when it was done, throw it on top of the homemade risotto, and enjoy my masterpiece. Talk about elevated comfort food at its finest!

The other star of the show? That gorgeous purple cauliflower, which added such a beautiful pop of color alongside the pink pork, green beans, and orange risotto. But if you can’t find rainbow cauliflower at your local grocery store, of course regular ol’ white cauliflower will taste just as good.

Roasted Pork Loin over Pumpkin Risotto

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Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

Dijon and Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

It’s time to start thinking about those holiday meal main dishes. You know, the pièce de résistance that makes your guests ooh and ahh and wonder how you pulled it all off. Usually these centerpieces involve some kind of delicious meat, and this recipe from our peeps at the Texas Beef Council is no different.

What is different about this recipe, though, its simplicity. Still very beautiful and impressive, but without that miles-long list of ingredients that lots of holiday recipes mandate. As long as you have a nice piece of beef roast rubbed with a couple easy seasonings, the festive sauce falls into place, then ta-da! Dinner is served. A little bit savory and a little bit sweet, this roast sounds like the perfect thing to bring to your holiday table.

Dijon & Herb Rubbed Beef Roast with Cranberry Sauce

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Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

Pork and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

I think we can all agree that November = prime fall comfort food time. It’s also starting to turn into prime busy time with holiday prep, days that are shorter and darker (ugh), and trying to wrap up all sorts of projects before the end of the year. You know what this means: it’s slow cooker time. Aw yeah!

Slow cookers make everything easy, but Smithfield is taking fall cooking simplicity to the next level with their marinated pork. You seriously don’t have to do anything besides cook it, and you have a flavorful main dish ready for anything you want to pair with it! I made this tasty ragu with a marinated fresh pork tenderloin, so it’s a bit leaner than some other cuts of pork, but still packed with protein… it’s still so tender and it’s a great slightly lighter option in these pre-Thanksgiving days.

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

This recipe is simple comfort food at its finest, and you’re not going to feel weighed down by the cooking process or the dish itself. Score!

Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

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scarecrows-lean-cocktail

Cocktail O’ Clock: The Scarecrow’s Lean

scarecrows-lean-cocktail

Thanksgiving is a time for cooking, sure, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s also a time for… drinking. While a bottle of cheap wine always does the trick, sometimes you want something a little fancier to wow the family and friends. This cocktail from The Honeymoon in Houston is the perfect mix of sweet, savory, and just elegant enough to impress your crowds of holiday guests. Bottoms up!

 

The Scarecrow’s Lean

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BlogHer Food Austin 2016

Top 10 Lessons from BlogHer Food 2016

BlogHer Food Austin 2016

I was invited to attend the BlogHerFood16 conference this year, as it happened to be in Austin… and I’m so glad I did! There were many, very obvious reasons why the event appealed to me – networking with awesome food bloggers from around the country, delicious meals and samples from sponsors, tons of hot tips on social media strategy and photography, and possibly most importantly… inspiration!

So many keynotes, demonstrations, and sessions I went to were chalk full of insights from some of the food blogging community’s top bloggers, plus celebrity chefs, experienced content creators, authors, and more. Every person who spoke imparted wonderful nuggets of wisdom, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites here! Some of these pointers are things I’ve never thought about before, and others reinforced my confidence in writing and beliefs in creativity and staying true to yourself. Gotta love it!

Just look at this room packed with amazing female writers… and look at these pumpkin spice latte cheesecake cupcakes:

BlogherFood16

Blogher cupcakes

 

SO! Here are the top ten pieces of advice I loved the most from my two days at BlogHerFood16:

 

  1. Almost anyone can become your new audience. You can connect with a reader as a person, even if they’re not particularly obsessed with food. Speak from the heart and tell a story, good content is good content and people will respond to it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment with narrative format!
  3. Share your weirdness! Write about offbeat trends, novelty items, experimenting with new flavors, original experiences that many people haven’t tried.
  4. We’re all unique and we all have our own history. You don’t have to struggle to be “creative” to come up with a crazy idea from nothing. Use yourself and your own experiences and build upon them to make something new.
  5. To find inspiration, start thinking more creatively about STUFF. Follow more stuff that isn’t food, drinks, restaurants. Get outside your own world.
  6. There is plenty of room on the internet for niche expertise and advice. Once you stake your claim as a blogger and put it out there online for everyone to see (“I know everything about chocolate cupcakes!”), it pushes you harder. Take advantage of external and internal pressure to make your writing great.
  7. Everything you say should be true, but you don’t need to say EVERYthing that’s true. aka: don’t write something purely to offend, shock, hurt, or annoy. Even if it’s truly how you feel.
  8. Blogging and content creating is a practice. Some days you might have to “fake it til you make it” and start writing even if you don’t feel like it. You never know what that rough draft can turn into.
  9. And, something we all probably know by now, but important to keep in mind if you want to make money off this ol’ food blogging thing: bloggers who have highest reach and most appeal to outside businesses treat their blog like a full time job. And it’s okay if you just want to keep writing or blogging as a hobby! But if you want to make serious money or get serious recognition, you need to take it as seriously as any other job.
  10. That being said: approach your food blogging authentically, not just with a goal of getting a ton of traffic. Find your true voice and share your story to connect with the audience who says “I like this person and their story speaks to me.” They’re out there!

 

Interested in more? Check out the “News” section of the BlogHer conference site for recaps and links to specific tips and tools. BlogHerFood17 is going to take place in sunny Orlando, Florida… so if you’re interested in immersing yourself in a weekend of inspiration, tips, advice, awesome networking opportunities, and lots & lots of FOOD… mark your calendars now.

bbq oven beef brisket

Texas BBQ Beef Brisket… In the Oven!

bbq oven beef brisket

 

October is a very important month. And I’m not just talking about the month of Halloween, the month of scary movies, or the month when it’s socially acceptable to cook/eat any and all things pumpkin related. No, October is also Texas Wine Month.

And yes, Texas does make wine! Even if you don’t live in Texas or in a place where Texas wines are readily available, as far as I’m concerned, you can still enjoy your favorite glass (or bottle?) of vino with special pleasure this month; any excuse, right?!

The Texas Beef Council shared one of their favorite brisket recipes with us, along with some Texas wine pairings to go with it. This brisket is ultra easy because it can be made in your oven. So no worries if you don’t own a smoker! This is a perfect recipe for your next gameday, just pop that sucker in the oven first thing in the morning, and by the midday football matches you’ll have more delicious, tender red meat than you can shake a stick at. And since the recipe is from the official council that represents all things Texas and beef, you know the recipe is legit.

Curious about what the Texas Beef Council recommends serving with your beautiful brisket? They say…

·         Brennan Vineyards 2014 Texas Tempranillo

·         Duchman Family Winery 2012 Montepulciano

·         Spicewood Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Claret

Hey – I’ve done some wine tasting at Duchman and their reds are generally very good, so I’m in full favor of this list. Don’t have Texas wines where you live? I’m thinking your favorite Tempranillo, Montepulciano, or Cabernet will do the trick! Don’t like wine? First of all, what’s wrong with you, and second of all, you can cheers with a beer, I won’t be offended. (Well, maybe a little bit. Wine is the best.)

 

Oven Texas BBQ Beef Brisket

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