Cooking plain everyday foods makes supper fast and easy. Adding a few special flavors or ingredients to those everyday foods makes them special. It takes no more time to add a little extra flavor and panache to foods than it does to cook them without.
Here's a rather boring meal of roast pork, carrots, fruit, salad and bread. You can tell I was disgusted with doing dishes since I served it all on one plate. ha! Plain, simple everyday foods, but you can make it special any number of ways.
Take the pork roast.... Instead of butt or shoulder roast or pork chops, try a boneless pork tenderloin. I always marinate pork tenderloin depending on my mood. I tossed this tenderloin in a zip lock bag with some lemon juice, a little peanut oil, minced garlic and some chipotle sauce. Chipotle sauce is a sauce made of roasted habanero peppers. It is smoky and rich and hot. Whenever you marinate pork chicken, beef, etc., you need something acid to permeate the meat. The acid makes the meat tender and allows the flavors to get inside. Lemon juice and pepper sauce are acidic. The oil makes the sauce cling and helps perfectly brown the meat when you cook it. Peanut oil, canola oil or olive oil are my oils of choice for marinating. You will probably find it helpful to whisk together your marinade before you pour it over the meat in a Ziploc. I often add cracked peppercorns but I never add salt to marinade. You can always add salt after cooking but you cannot remove salt while cooking. Play it safe with the salt. I like to marinate meat for at least 12 hours or overnight. It makes meats extremely tender if you can remember to start marinating the morning or even the night before.
For the carrots, I julienne'd them because I didn't want anything else that was round on the plate. Mixing textures, shapes and colors makes for a more interesting presentation and it's just as easy to chop lengthwise instead of across.
I steamed the carrots by dropping them into boiling water for no more than 2 minutes. Carrots should have a little crunch. Then, I immediately drained and removed them to a bowl into which I had finely grated some fresh ginger, about a teaspoon or a little more, and a couple of small pats of butter. I always keep fresh ginger root in the freezer. I use it a lot and it is easier to grate when frozen. It lasts a long time this way, too. So, to the carrots in the bowl with the ginger and butter, add about a teaspoon of honey and gently stir. I like to slap a pot top (pan lid) on top of my serving bowls to keep them warm. Easy and delicious, it only takes a couple of minutes to make honeyed ginger carrots.
Pork dishes go well with fruit. Stay away from the applesauce unless you have babies or invalids in the house. Instead, toss a couple of slabs of fresh (or even canned) pineapple onto the grill the last couple of minutes you are grilling the pork. I sometimes brush the pineapple with melted butter or a flavored sauce but for this dinner, I just grilled the pineapple plain, The pineapples this year are so sweet they hardly need anything additional anyway.
For salad, always use the darkest greens your market has to offer. The darker the green, the more vitamins and nutritional value. Besides, they look better and are much more tasty than that gawd-awful cardboard, iceberg lettuce.
So, you have the spicy pork and the sweet honey ginger carrots on the pineapple -- you surely don't want to use Ranch salad dressing or some creamy bottled crapola on your tender greens. For this meal, I used a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice to dress the greens or if you must, some bottled Italian dressing will work nicely, too.
If you are eating bread, buy good bread. Always use real butter not margarine. I sprinkled the bread for this dinner with a little freshly crushed rosemary and dried thyme. Rosemary is the perfect compliment to pork and after all, if you are going to waste calories and carbs on bread, it should be really delish!
Remember, no matter what you cook for dinner, adding a few herbs or spices will make it tastier and planning the plate will make it look more appetizing. And yes, I prep plates at my house. Doesn't matter if it is just the two of us or a whole crowd, I serve restaurant style unless it is a buffet. It's just easier.