Tuesday, August 27, 2013

apple cider pork tenderloin

Five more days and we are officially out of our house.  It looks like a small tornado has been through it, but I can sort of, kind of, see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Having survived the last 72 hours, I am thankful for two things:  

1. my hard-working, never-complaining husband
2. and my crock pot.  

How would a girl ever do without either?

I have made this recipe twice in the last ten days.  Served with a side of green beans and corn pudding, it is such an appetite-pleaser, mark my words.  And there is so much you can do with the leftovers (on the off chance you even have any), it's worth doing.  Especially during the busier seasons of life.  

I'm pretty doggone sure that's the season we're in right now.

I'm so eager to get cooking and experimenting again once we're settled.  Saturday evening I began packing up my kitchen and lamenting the indefinite amount of time I'll be without some of those things that seem indispensable.  Storage is going to be tight in our temporary place, so I'm really having to be strategic about the kitchen, in particular.  Without a doubt, the Keurig, Kitchenaid stand mixer, and my Ninja is going with me.  Oh, and I can't forget a large stock pot, skillet, and - of course - the crock pot.  Well, and I have to toss in the ice cream maker that, now that I think about it, should have been #3 on my list above.  Sigh...  Decisions, decisions.  Ah, well... five more days to decide on all of that.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying me some Apple Cider Pork Tenderloin and calling it a day.  Come on and join me!

Apple Cider Pork Tenderloin
makes six servings
  • 3 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cored and sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup apple juice (maybe more)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
~ Sprinkle loin lightly with salt and let sit at least 10-15 minutes.
~ Place onions and apples on bottom of crock pot. 
~ Place loin on top of onions and apples.
~ In mixing bowl, stir together sugar, soy sauce, apple juice, garlic, cranberries and black 
    pepper, to taste.  Pour over loin.
~ Cook on low 7-9 hours.  Remove from crock and wrap loosely in foil.
~ Pour juices into saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened.  Serve over meat.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Well, the house has all but sold, and to be quite honest... I'm getting a little sad.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm excited too.  We've dubbed the next week and a few days (plus however long it takes to find a new house) "The Green Family Adventure, 2013."  We have to be out by next Friday, but we don't have a final place to go.  Only a pool house of a good friend.  

I know.  Poor us. 

Seriously... we are truly blessed to have a place to lay our heads and take the time to pray and search for exactly where God wants us.  

I do love my kitchen, though.  The really cool thing about buying an old house like we did this one ten years ago, is coming in and making it just the way you like it.  I'm soaking up each moment I have left here, because it works beautifully for me.  Honestly, after finding out last Friday night the contract was going to go through, and knowing we had to be out in exactly two weeks without a single box packed, I really didn't dream I'd take a moment to cook a thing.  But by Sunday night I was needing to smell something cozy and comforting cooking.  And I knew the boys would enjoy the same.  

These Snickerdoodles hit the spot and filled the house with the warmest aroma.  No joke, friends.  It's like there's a hug in every one.  The cream of tartar gives a slight tang, and the shortening (I know... forgive me) provides a wonderfully tender crumb.   They puff up perfectly, too.  

I appreciate your patience with my less-than-frequent posts until we get out and back in to a place.  I'm already making my list of kitchen musts that have to stay with me in our temporary holding spot.  I'm looking forward to sharing some crockpot features, too, as I try to ease up on the time spent preparing due to the unusually busy start-of-school/football/and-now-we're-moving-on-top-of-it schedule.

So, here's to a stack of "Snickers" and a glass of milk.  Comfort doesn't come any better!

one year ago: friday night pizzapeanut butter bacon butterscotch cookies

makes 36 cookies
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in eggs.

~ In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt.  Stir into wet 
    mixture until fully incorporated.

~ Mix together remaining 2 tbsp. sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.

~ Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

~ Place on ungreased pan, two inches apart, and cook for 8-10 or until edges are set and
    cookies are slightly golden. 

~ Remove and cool on wire racks.

Recipe from All Recipes, Easy Everyday Favorites.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

artichoke-tortellini salad

If you want fast and convenient, filling and healthy... a lunch or dinner option, you will love this!  In fact, I'd give anything to have a bowl of it in the fridge at this very moment.  There's nothing like coming in late in the evening to an easy dinner.  And a side salad with a glass of tea makes this a perfect come-home-late-and-still-love-dinner dinner.  

I will ask for your patience over the next weeks as I post less frequently.  If all goes well, our house that went up for sale just last week already has a contract with the intent for us to be out by the month's end.  I have a feeling any spare moments - which are few and far between these days - will be spent packing.  I have so many posts I desperately want to write, but I have to keep my priorities in check.  This is like therapy for me, so it's going to be tough.  I'll do my best to get as many up as possible!  Until next time, happy cooking!

Artichoke-Tortellini Salad
makes six servings

  • 9-oz package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 1 cup broccoli flowerets
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. pimento, chopped
  • 6-oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • sliced black olives to taste
  • fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
~ Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cool water.

~ Combine tortellini and remaining ingredients, except tomatoes and cheese, in a large 

~ Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours to blend flavors.  

~ When ready to serve, add tomatoes and toss lightly.  Garnish with cheese, if desired.

Recipe from Gooseberry Patch, Big Book of Holiday Cooking

Thursday, August 8, 2013

mediterranean layer dip

A few weeks ago I held my first give-away, and in that readers had the opportunity to answer my question, "What would you like to see more of on the blog?"  One requested a couple of appetizer ideas.  That inspired me to be thinking along those lines as I planned out menus and shopping trips.  I've already posted a few (one of my absolute favorites being Popie's JalapeƱo Poppers), but I'm making it a priority to share more. 

When I think of starters, I think of larger groups.  And when I think of larger groups, I think of larger groups that gather at our place.  And when I think of that, I think, casual and ease.  I definitely think short on prep and long on flavor, and a chip of some sort in a dip of another comes to mind immediately.

Hence my newest love, Mediterranean Layer Dip.  

Talk about a perfect way to share the abundance of tomatoes and cukes you (or a super-fabulous neighbor) probably have in the garden!  Oh, and it's pretty.  It's fresh.  It's healthy.  It's EASY!  

Have I convinced you yet?

If you and yours are hummus fans, this one rocks (in my book).  Collect all the ingredients. Layer them.  Boom.  You're automatically a master host/hostess.

Or you could sit alone with your bag of Stacy's Pita Chips and call it a meal of one (not that I've done that or anything).

You get the picture, right?  Make the dip.

One year ago: wild blackberry sour cream coffee cakesimple guacamole

Mediterranean Layer Dip
makes 10-12 servings
  • 2 8-ounce containers original or garlic hummus
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 3 tbsp. minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup large pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher/Sea Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 3-4 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • pita chips for serving
~ Spread hummus evenly, covering the bottom of serving dish (pie plate works well).

~ In a medium bowl, mix together tomato, cucumber, onion, and olives.  Season with  
    salt and pepper to taste.

~ Spread evenly over hummus and top with feta cheese.  Garnish with parsley.

~ Drizzle generously with olive oil and serve with chips.

Recipe from Aldi.

Monday, August 5, 2013

creamy chocolate gelato

Creamy.  Dark.  Chocolate.  

Need I say more?  

Probably not, but I love a good story, and I love to tell them even more.

Every time I hear the word chocolate, I can't help but think back to my Daniel's potty training days.  And trust me here.  This isn't e-w-w-w at all.

Daniel was an extremely picky eater as a toddler.  A sufferer of "silent reflux" from the time he was born, he built up a great aversion to food, because... well... it just hurt to eat.  So, being the first-time mom I was, wanting nothing more than to fill up my child, I resorted to whatever I could get in him.  Carbs, carbs, and more carbs became his diet in his toddler days.  John and I tried desperately to break him of the cravings and found ourselves, many times, having to hide our own "sneakings" of different foods - especially all things sweet.  

One night the family was down in the den, and while Daniel was not looking I quickly tiptoed up to the kitchen and slid my fork under the foil covering my just-made chocolate cake, hoping to grab a couple of bites without getting caught.  No sooner than I got the second fork-full in my mouth, here comes Daniel, "Mommy, I gotta go potty.  Mommy..."  We had been working so hard trying to perfect this, I ran behind him hoping for the best, as I choked down the cake.  

He boosted himself onto the pot, I squatted down next to him, and tried to talk him through being patient.  We sang a song.  We giggled.  We read a book.  And then he slowly got closer to my face, those precious brown eyes sweetly looking at me... I thought an, "I love you, Mommy," or a butterfly kiss, which we were known to do, was following.  But, no.  Instead I got a...


"Mommy.  Is that chocolate?"  

Rats.  Caught red-handed.  But, oh my goodness, was it worth it.  I laughed so hard, I fell over. And our family has laughed tons since, recounting that moment over and over.  

If you like a rich chocolate, you will love this recipe.  It's not a traditional chocolate ice cream at all.  It's different.  It's good.  Really good.  And... as a plus to those who might care to know, it's a non-dairy option.  

By the way, now that I've tried this original version, I'm throwing around some mix-in ideas. I'm thinking a little toasted coconut and toasted sliced almonds might make a great frozen Almond Joy-like treat.  Love those things, by the way!!

So, here's to Daniel's chocolate story.  Funnily, he's not even a chocolate fan to speak of.  But Luke and I don't mind.  It just leaves more for us!

Creamy Chocolate Gelato
makes one quart
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably natural
  • about 3 1/2 cups original almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
~ Put cocoa in medium bowl and whisk in enough milk (about 2/3 cup) to make a smooth 
    paste.  Stir in vanilla.

~ Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan.  Gradually whisk in remaining milk.
    Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or spatula, until 
    mixture begins to barely simmer around edges.

~ Stirring constantly and scraping the sides and corners of the pan to prevent scorching, let 
    the mixture simmer for 2 1/2 to 3/ minutes to fully cook the cornstarch.  

~ Scrape the hot mixture into the bowl with the cocoa mixture.  Whisk until well blended.  
    Let cool, undisturbed, about 45 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 

~ Pour the gelato mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker.  Freeze according to 
    manufacturer's directions.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Eating Well, January/February 2011   

Thursday, August 1, 2013

grilled bbq chicken pizza

I can't tell you how excited I am about this post.  I feel like I'm "one of the boys" now!

Daniel and John can't get enough of barbecue pizza.  Once in a while, we'll hit Cici's on a busy Saturday, and with a plethora of great pizza options before us, I can never wrap my head around why the guys find it necessary to put in a special order for barbecue.  BBQ on PIZZA?!?!  How dare they.

Then I made my own.  And grilled it.

My. Goodness.

I don't know how else to describe this other than extremely delicious.  In fact, it was so good that I'm a little worried it's not possible for it to be that good again.  After eating a couple of pieces the first night, I was shocked at how well I liked it.  Truth be told, I had only given the recipe a whirl for the boys to enjoy.  Not me.  Now I'm chomping at the bits to do it again.  The leftovers, by the way, are to die for.

I do believe grilling it is what puts this one over the top.  If you think about it, the grill always pairs nicely with anything barbecued, so it makes sense.

You have to hear me when I say, this needs to be on your weekend lineup.  Imagine it.  A gorgeous Saturday.  Odd jobs around the house have been completed.  Sun is setting.  Spots around the patio are set.  And this.  A tasty pie of chewy, yeasty crust.  Hickory smoked sauce. Peppery, melted cheese.  And a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.  

Order's up!

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza
makes one large pie
  • 1 serving pizza dough
  • cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup favorite BBQ sauce
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 8 slices pepper jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • dash of salt
  • olive oil
  • fresh cilantro
~ Heat grill to medium and oil grates, positioning coals/heating to one side of grill.
~ Prepare pizza dough according to these directions through "let rest 10 minutes".
~ Sprinkle pizza pan with cornmeal (or cut piece of parchment to fit pan) and place dough 
    on top, pressing dough to edges of pan.
~ Lightly oil the surface of the pie and flip, oil-side down, onto grill.
~ Cook about 1-2 minutes (or until bubbling), checking underside to ensure no burning.
~ While cooking, lightly oil the top.
~ Flip over and spread sauce over surface, leaving a one-inch edge.
~ Top with chicken, onion, pepper jack cheese and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
~ Close lid and let cook until cheese is fully melted, checking frequently to ensure no 
    burning.  If you find the crust is finished but cheese is not yet melted, pull the 
    pizza to the side with no heat.
~ Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.