Ok - I admit it - I don't prepare everything from scratch. Despite making homemade barbecue rubs, conquering Limoncello, and a killer homemade French Silk Pie, sometimes perfection comes in a bottle or package. On nights when I don't have the time or energy, I turn to these pre-prepped items to make a meal. Last night was one such event. Tough day at work, change in travel plans, and a planned phone call around 8 pm with my mom meant that I had to get dinner on the table around 7 pm after coming home about 5:45.
One of my shortcut items, and something I use even when I don't need to cut corners on time, are Grill Mates marinades. (I receive no compensation from McCormick for this endorsement). Our absolute favorite is the Southwest marinade, but for whatever reason, my Target store has chosen to no longer carry that one (are you listening Target???) So, depressed but not yet desperate (I still have 2 in my pantry), I discovered a new Chipotle Pepper Marinade and thought I would Bobby Flay-up a recipe and give it a try.
Luckily, I had a pork tenderloin already defrosted and in the fridge, fresh corn on the cob, and a Spanish Rice mix in the pantry. Dinner! I followed the directions to marinade the pork in the Grill Mates, then baked at 425 degrees for 20 minutes (this was a 1-lb pork tenderloin). Because sugar is in the marinade, I recommend baking on tin foil on a cookie sheet. The low sides of the cookie sheet allow for the tenderloin to cook all around and the tin foil makes for easy cleanup. After the tenderloin comes out of the oven, you can use the tin foil to create a tent around the meat as it rests.
Spanish rice still continues to challenge me. For a quick and easy alternative to homemade, I picked up a boxed mix from Goya. It turned out well and fit my uncomplicated dinner plan. Perhaps my one criticism is that it was pretty salty versus what I can cook myself.
For the corn, I got creative. I used the recipe for boiled corn on the cob (in a prior blog post), BUT I augmented the flavor by turning it into Chili-Lime corn!!! So simple and tasty!
2 ears of corn, shucked and halved
2 Tbsp lime juice
Chile salt (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
Add corn to kettle and add water to submerge. Add in the salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Boil corn for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Add butter and lime juice to kettle, cover kettle, and shake corn to melt butter and distribute over corn. Remove corn from kettle and sprinkle with chile salt to taste. Serves 2.
Heck, I should have tried sprinking the Grill Mates on the corn! :)
1 Tbsp chile powder
3 Tbsp kosher salt
Mix and store in airtight container.
Yummy! While the recipe is mine, it was inspired by the flavor profiles outlined in Diana Kennedy's "The Art of Mexican Cooking." This is a lengthy cookbook that chronicles many styles of authentic Mexican (not Tex-Mex) cooking. Chili powder and lime are commonly paired. (If I were Alton Brown, the ULTIMATE Food Geek, I'd give you the science behind that). What I do know is that lime juice hits the same taste buds as salt does, so you can use less salt when you add lime (or lemon). Try that trick if you're watching the sodium.
Welcome to my world!
I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.