Pork Tenderloin

Traditionally on Christmas Eve, Tim and I stay home and I’ll cook a nice meal of roasted pork tenderloin, potatoes and steamed broccoli (Tim’s favorite veggie).  This year we made other plans on Christmas Eve, but I still wanted to prepare our traditional meal.  So, I did just that 2 days after Christmas this year.

To accompany the pork tenderloin this time, I served baked sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon or brown sugar, broccoli salad with dried cranberries instead of raisins, dinner rolls (leftover from Christmas), and homemade applesauce.  It was a delicious meal!  The pork was very moist and just a little spicy.

If you wish, you can certainly adapt the spices to suit your taste.  And this doesn’t have to be a special occasion meal either.  You could put the rub on the pork in the morning before work, place it in the fridge, and throw it in the oven when you get home.  You’ll have a meal ready in about 30 minutes.  Pretty nice for a weeknight!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper – leave it out if you don’t like heat

3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of thick and grainy spicy mustard

1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar

approximately 1.5 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat

Directions

Mix the oil, mustard, sugar and seasonings together to form a paste {will be a little thin}.  Rub or brush it over the pork on all sides.  Place the pork in a shallow baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the tenderloin uncovered in the oven for anywhere from 25-40 minutes or until done.  Let rest about 10 minutes, then cut into 1″ slices.

This would easily serve 4, but leftovers are great too.  I’ll probably cut up the pork and use it in pork fried rice tomorrow or the next day.

Enjoy!

Coconut Cream Pie

I have no idea why I made a coconut cream pie for Christmas a few years ago, but I have made one every year since then.  It’s not very “Christmas-y”, but some traditions are just a little weird!

Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients

1 box (5.1 or 5.25 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix

1.5 cups cold milk

1 cup shredded coconut, toasted and divided

1 large carton of whipped topping, divided

1 pie crust {I use a regular pastry dough, but you could use graham cracker if you like.}

Directions

Prepare and bake one pie crust shell.  Set aside to totally cool.

Lightly toast the coconut in a dry skillet and then set aside to cool completely.

Once shell and coconut are cooled, mix the pudding mix with the milk and beat for 2 or 3 minutes or until thick.

To the pudding, fold in 1/2 of the cool whip and 3/4 of the coconut.  Then spread it into the pastry shell.

Spread the rest of the cool whip over the pudding and sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pastry Dough

I know I have linked to my favorite pie dough recipe numerous times, but I thought I would go ahead and make a separate post for it too since I love it so much.  It is the perfect balance of tender and flaky.  It works wonderfully in sweet dessert pies as well as savory pot pies.

Just do me a favor, and don’t even think about substituting butter instead of shortening.  www.Idonotwanttohearhowbadcriscoisforme.com

DSC01490

Pie Crust Dough

{Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman}

Ingredients
  • 1 cup {one stick} butter flavored Crisco
  • 1/2 cup regular white Crisco
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • up to 5 Tablespoons cold water {depends on weather/humidity in air}
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Preparation Instructions

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter or fork, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add up to 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated but not over mixed.  {If it seems gummy, you probably added too much water.  Just add a little more flour.}

Separate the dough into 2 equal balls/disks of dough and wrap each one in plastic wrap, then place each one into a large Ziploc bag.  Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. {If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.}

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes {or in the fridge overnight}. On a well-floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. {Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.} If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling and adding more flour until it’s the size you need.  {I usually add a lot of flour during this process, so don’t hold back.}

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. {Or loosely roll onto the rolling pin and unroll over pan.} Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Continue as necessary for the pie you are preparing.

If blind baking an empty pie crust {for a cream pie}, place pieces of parchment paper over the crust, fill with dry beans or rice, and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Pasta with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Sauce

This was a pretty quick weeknight meal that I threw together as I went along.  Very tasty!  Leftovers were great too.

Pasta with sausage and spicy tomato sauce

serves 4 or 5

Ingredients

1/2 to 3/4 pound mini bow tie pasta

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 orange bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained

1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce

salt and pepper

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flake or to taste

1 tsp. Italian seasoning + extra dried basil or to taste

Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

Boil water and cook pasta as directed.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the oil.  Once skillet is hot, add the onion, pepper and garlic and saute a minute or two.  Then add the sausage and saute another minute or until onions are soft and sausage begins to brown.  Then add the diced tomatoes, sauce, and seasonings.  Bring to a simmer.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.  Serve with parmesan cheese on top.

Chinese Take Out Fake Out

I had Chinese food take out for the first time when I was in college and I have loved it ever since!  Unfortunately, two things prevent me from ordering it very often now.  For one, Tim isn’t crazy about it  and two, we don’t eat at restaurants or carry out hardly at all.  But, my craving does get satisfied at home when I make this meal.  I found the recipe back in March and have made it at least half a dozen times since then.  After making it a few times, I decided to adapt it a little bit.  My changes are in italics.

Chinese Take Out Fake Out – Sweet and Sour Chicken
{ As seen on:  Amber’s Delectable Delights}

-Makes 4 servings –

Chicken Ingredients
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Directions
Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and pour over chicken.

Sauce Ingredients

¾ cup sugar {I like to use brown sugar or 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar}

4 tablespoons ketchup

½ cup vinegar {I like to use seasoned or plain rice vinegar}

1 tablespoon soy sauce

cayenne or red pepper flake to taste – optional

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Directions
Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn/stir chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stove top. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced – about 6-8 minutes.

Serve with rice and stir-fried veggies.

Menu 12-20-09

Meals:

Carbonara

BBQ meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pierogi Skillet

Roasted pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes and a veggie

Christmas!!

Other stuff I want to make/bake:

I still need to make peanut brittle for gifts!

Here’s a picture of our Christmas tree.  🙂

Merry Christmas!

Russian Tea Cookies

These have been a family favorite for a really long time.  When my sister and I were younger and still lived at home, we would take a day or two and bake up all of our Christmas cookies and candies with our mom.  Well, my dad – who would normally make himself scarce while we carried on in the kitchen – would suddenly appear when these cookies started coming out of the oven.  And he would continue to pace back and forth through the kitchen quite often for the rest of the day while these cookies sat out.  He probably ate close to an entire batch in one day!  They are still a favorite of his today.

I would strongly recommend making at least 2 batches of these.  They disappear quickly.  They are just so darn easy to pop in your mouth!  Just don’t inhale as you pop them in your mouth – nobody likes a coughing fit from the dry powdered sugar coating your throat.   You’ve been warned and you’re welcome.

Russian Tea Cookies {aka: Powdered Sugar Balls}

{Source:  my mom given to her by my grandma}

Ingredients

1 cup of butter {soft, but still cool}

1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling

2 or 2-1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cups chopped nuts {I usually use walnuts, but pecans are fine}

Directions

Mix everything together by hand, starting with just 2 cups of flour.  You can add the additional 1/4 cup if you need it.  Once mixed, roll {squeeze} into 1″ balls.  Will be crumbly.  Place on cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 5-6 minutes or until bottoms are just lightly golden brown.

While still slightly warm, roll in powdered sugar {about 1/2 cup}.

NOTE: 

These sound pretty easy, but the dough is a little finicky.  The dough will seem REALLY crumbly, but just keep rolling and squeezing them into shapes that resemble balls.  Mine are never perfect. 

Also, if your butter is too warm to start with – it may make the balls puddle in the oven.  What I have done to prevent this is place the cookie sheets of balls in the fridge for just a minute or two before they go into the oven.  It just firms them up enough to hold together and not melt. 

One other thing that helps is being careful to evenly distribute the butter through the dough – you don’t want any large pieces of butter because it will just melt in the oven and ruin the shape of the cookies.  It should just look mealy overall.

Orange Cranberry Biscotti

I tried this new biscotti recipe this year because I wanted to add some orange flavor to my Christmas cookie repertoire.  They turned out amazing and smell wonderful!  I think they are tied with my previous favorite biscotti.  One of my co-workers told me it was the best biscotti she has ever had!

Orange Cranberry Biscotti

{Source:  adapted from allrecipes.com}

Yields about 14 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur {I substituted 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange extract}
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon {I omitted}
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries {I didn’t chop them.}
  • 3/4 cup toasted and chopped almonds {I used sliced almonds and didn’t toast them.}

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in the orange zest and orange liqueur {or extracts}. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, stir into the creamed butter mixture, then stir in the almonds and dried cranberries.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and 10 inches long. Set the rolls lengthwise on a baking sheet at least 3 inches apart, and flatten slightly.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm to the touch and slightly brown on the top.
  5. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice each log crosswise, at a diagonal, into 1/2 inch wide slices. Lay them cut side down on the baking sheet and return to the oven for ten minutes, turn them over and bake for 10 more minutes. Cool on wire racks, store in an airtight container. These keep for about a month.
  6. Can dip or drizzle with chocolate if you want.

Apricot Bars

These little bars are heavenly!  I made them a really long time ago, but I’m thinking I should make them again after I’m done with all of my holiday baking.

Apricot Bars

{source:  Pioneer Woman}

Ingredients
  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1-½ cup Oats
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1-¾ stick Butter, Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 jar (10-12 Ounce) Apricot Preserves
Preparation Instructions

Mix together all ingredients except apricot preserves. Press one half of the mixture into a small rectangular baking pan that has been buttered.

Spread with a 10-12 ounce jar of apricot preserves.  Sprinkle second half of mixture over the top and pat lightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until light brown. Let cool completely, then cut into squares.

Oreo Truffles

These could be a very popular treat for parties all throughout the year, but I only seem to remember to make them around the holidays!  I always manage to make a mess when making them, but it is worth it!

OREO TRUFFLES

{source:  Kraft}

Ingredients

1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed using a food processor, divided

1 package {8 oz.} cream cheese, softened

2 packages {8 oz. each} Semi-Sweet Baker’s Chocolate, melted {I only used 1 and a half packages and it was just enough.}

Directions

Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls. {I definitely had less than 42 balls, but I made them pretty large.  I would guess I had around 30-35?   I placed each ball on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerated for a few minutes to firm them up before dipping.}

Dip or drop balls in bowl of melted chocolate, roll to coat, lift with 2 forks allowing the excess chocolate to drain off, place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Variation – Sprinkle truffles with colored sugar or sprinkles in addition to or in place of the cookie crumbs.

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