Sunday, April 21, 2013

Balsamic Tenderloin "Fancy" Dinner

Okay, so I know I haven't posted in a while. I have lots of reasons, but the biggest being that I haven't been cooking much and If I have, it's been weekend meals that don't fit the Working Mommy lifestyle. I've also had some epic failures, but more to come on that later.

So getting down to it. this is a dinner I made for my parents after they had driven back from my sister's house in Georgia. It is EASY, easy, easy - but to look at it on a plate makes one think you spent a lot more time on it.

The basis of this recipe for the tenderloin came from Rachel Ray's show, but I don't use a recipe when I cook it, so I can't say this is exactly how she would do it.

You'll need...
For the tenderloin:
1-2 Pork tenderloin (I made two so we would have leftovers)
8 (or so) cloves garlic whole
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil

For the Spinach:
5-10oz Fresh Baby Spinach (depending on how much you like spinach)
1-2 Teaspoons crushed garlic (from the jar works)

1 pkg Near East Couscous, Garlic flavor

Before work: put poke holes with a steak knife in a staggered pattern down the length of the tenderloin. Push a whole clove of garlic in each slice. Put in a zip loc bag and add a few shakes of balsamic and a few more shakes of olive oil and shake it all around to get the meat fully covered. Stick in the fridge until you get home

Once you are home from work: Preheat the oven to 350* put the tenderloin on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 min (cook for 20-30 min per pound). Pour a glass of wine.

When the meat is about 5 min from being done, get the water boiling for the couscous and prepare as instructed.

Once the meat is done, set it aside to rest and get out a 12 " skillet. Give a turn or two of olive oil, add crushed garlic and heat over med-high heat. Add spinach and stir until spinach is wilted, but still a little crunchy.

Slice the tenderloin and serve with the whole cloves of garlic inside - they are roasted, sweet and good for you, too!  Everything should still be warm to put on the plate and you look like a hero. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Herb Crusted Tenderloin

Daddy Rating: 5

From time to time at my grocery store pork tenderloin is buy-one-get-one. It something I usually have in my freezer. I came across this Paula Deen (Love her!) recipe on the Food Network website and it turned out great. I put the meat ingredients together before work, cooked it when I got home and served it with some freezer green beans. We actually ate dinner right off the cutting board after my daughter went to bed...some days are just like that.

Dinner's Ready!
You'll need:
1-1.5 lb Pork Tenderloin
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
.5 Teaspoon salt
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1 Teaspoon dried rosemary

If you line the cooking sheet with foil, you actually have NO dishes to clean up!

Mix oil, salt, garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Place defrosted tenderloin on a foil lined cooking sheet, massage herb mixture onto the top half of the tenderloin, cover with saran and go to work.

Get this ready in the morning and go to work!
When you get home, reheat the oven and cook tenderloin according to directions on the package (I did it at 425* for 25 min for 1.5lbs). Serve with the veggie of your choice - ENJOY!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Clean Pantry Pasta Bake

Daddy Rating: 4

My hubs was hungry and I wasn't fast enough to take a was that good!
 I have a small kitchen....tiny, really. I have no idea how the woman who cooked in it before me fed SEVEN children there. I have no pantry space so I usually wind up keeping crackers in the 'fridge just because there is more room. So, last week I went through the pantry to make room for more groceries. Going through the food I realized I may have the ingredients for something yummy - so I tried it...and it worked. Below ingredients are just suggestions, go through your pantry and you may find a different yummy twist - think of it as a challenge. Or as we call it in my house "Adventures in Eating"

I used:
1 Package bow tie pasta
1 Jar pasta sauce
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 Jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1lb Italian sausage,
1/2 an onion, chopped
1.5 cups Italian shredded cheese
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil

Boil water for the pasta. In another pan, cook the sausage. Once sausage is mostly cooked add onion and garlic (add a little olive oil, too, if the pan is dry) and cook until translucent. Add tomatoes and break apart with a spoon, then add basil, roasted red peppers, pasta sauce, capers and let simmer.

While the sauce is filling the house with great smells, cook the pasta and drain. Combine pasta, sauce and a little cheese in the pasta pot, put into a glass baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.

I covered this with saran wrap in the 'fridge and cooked it a few nights later. Heat oven to 350* and cook for 25 min or so until warmed through. ENJOY!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Toasted Ravioli

I went to school at the University of Missouri - in Missouri, they have this thing called "Toasted Ravioli" which it turns out isn't "toasted" at all, but rather is deep fried. What's not to like!? A bit messy to make, but if your little one is anything like mine, she will love anything that you can dip-dip.

You'll need:
- Frozen ravioli (meat or cheese - use whatever you have left over from making the Ravioli Lasagna)
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 eggs
- Bread Crumbs (either use Italian flavored or add Italian seasoning)
- Jar of marinara sauce
- Veggie oil
- Parm cheese

Set up your assembly line; Beat eggs in a shallow dish with milk, put bread crumbs in another shallow dish, and then at the end put a plate with paper towels or something else for the ravioli to cool/drain.

Heat a few inches of oil in a deep sauce pan or dutch oven on high until oil is hot. Dip frozen ravioli in egg mixture, cover with breadcrumbs and plop in oil for approx 3 min. Remove from oil and drain. Sprinkle ravioli with parm and serve with heated marinara sauce. ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Soo Yummy Thai Pasta & Chicken

Yummier than it looks!
Perfect weeknight dinner even if there is homework to do - Less than 30 min to make, one pot and flavor to boot. I tried and tried to get a good picture of this one, but you're going to have to take my word for it, it's fantastic. Many birthdays ago my mom put together a bunch of her favorite recipes in a book for me - this recipe card has "EASY & YUMMY" written on it, she's right!
You'll need:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 lb linguine
Roasted chicken, torn, as much or as little as you like
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice (or the juice of 1 lime)
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Bring water to a boil for pasta, cook, drain, set pasta aside in a colander. In the same pot you made the pasta, mix together, broth, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili flakes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir pasta in with broth mixture. Add chicken, lime juice. Put on plates/bowls and sprinkle cilantro and peanuts on top. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"What Can I Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner?"

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, wonderful smells and Food Network has the best shows on. I just learned that more than 42 million Americans eat Thanksgiving Dinner at someone else’s house. THAT means the question comes up, “Well, what can I bring?” Here are some great easy recipes that will for sure be memorable and if you don’t have time to cook anything…just bring a bottle of wine.

“Can you bring an appetizer?”
Sure! This is an easy standard recipe that my mom showed me years ago. To me this just tastes like Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus it looks so festive.

You’ll need:
- 1 jar Cranberry Chutney
- Wedge of Brie
- Crackers

Here in the mid-west we have access to this awesome concoction called Wisconsin Wilderness Cranberry Chutney . When I lived in other areas, I could get some yummy cranberry creation at the deli of a gourmet grocery store. Just don’t use plain ol’ cranberries, find it with a little rum or citrus, it will give a nice zing (and if you’re at a complete loss, I will ship you some Cranberry Chutney just email me

Spoon the cranberry goodness over a wedge of brie cheese. Once you arrive at the host home, heat until melty either in the oven or a microwave. Serve with crackers and watch everyone ruin their appetite for dinner.

“Can you bring a veggie?”
Sure! How about some green beans and since it’s a holiday, let’s add a little bacon to the mix. My mother-in-law made this and I think she got the recipe from Paula Deen (shocker).

You’ll Need:
- Green beans
- 1 lb bacon (I used pepper’d bacon and it was delish)
Preheat oven to 375*. Trim and wash the green beans and blanch in a pot of boiling water. Only blanch them for about a minute, you will want them to still be very crisp because they will keep cooking in the oven.

Wrap a bundle of green beans with a piece of bacon and put on a rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Cook for about 20-25 min, until the bacon is done. This is a favorite with the men around the table.

“Can you bring some rolls?”
Sure! This is one a great easy recipe for Salt & Pepper Rolls from Martha Stewart that you can even make a day or two ahead of time and heat up before dinner.
(Please excuse my gross pan!)
You’ll need:
- 1-2lbs of pre-made pizza dough, thawed (the above picture is one 1lb and it made 16 little rolls)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil per pound of dough
- Coarse ground salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350*. Cut the dough into equal size pieces using a knife. Learn from my mistake! Don’t just try to pull it apart into equal sizes – cut the dough in half; half again, etc, etc. until you have 16 equal pieces per pound of dough you are using. It will turn out much nicer in the end.

Form each piece in to a tight ball. Pour 2 tablespoons oil (4 if using 2lbs of dough) into bottom of baking pan, turn each dough ball to cover with oil and arrange in rows. Cover dish with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place for an hour until dough doubles in size.

Season with salt and pepper. Use a lot more than you think you’d need, getting in between the rolls if possible. Bake for 35 minutes. Brush hot rolls with remaining olive oil.

“Can you bring a pie?”
Sure! Most likely they will already have a pumpkin pie, so let’s switch it up a little and make my Dad’s favorite: Pecan pie.

You’ll need:
- 1 package pre-made pie crust (I use Pillsbury in the red box)
- 4 eggs beaten (save a little to brush on the crust)
- ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1.5 cups light corn syrup (like Karo)
- 2.5 cups whole pecan halves

Preheat oven to 450*. Line a pie dish with raw crust, prick with a fork. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, salt, corn syrup and stir together. Stir in pecans and pour into a pie pan.

Bake for 10 min, then lower temperature to 350* and bake for 25 minutes or until center is set.

Get creative with the crust! I used a cap from the pantry to make little circles around the edge of the pie for a cute scalloped look. Cute kid option: do a hand turkey out of the other half of the crust and put in the middle of the pie.

Have a great, safe Thanksgiving Holiday. I have so much to be thankful for, I’m sure you do, too! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's all trial and error....and error

As working Mommies (or Daddies) I know we always wish we could do more for our babies. It's the same for the SAHMs and SAHDs - They work hard and with a lot less recognition - there are no raises, no congrats after presentations and sometimes they get the comments from other moms on school projects "Well, you can help with this [huge project] because you don't work, right?" It's hard for all of us.

So we look for any little triumph we can. For me that is meals, when baby girl actually EATs what I make, my husband gets up for seconds or looks at me after a meal with a smile saying "I married the right woman" - I feel triumph, satisfaction. I made my family happy.

But please know that I only post my triumphs on this blog. I am faaaaar from perfect. You'll notice a large gap in the posts- It was a hot summer, we don't have air and I just made the basics. I could have taken a picture in me with my PJ bottoms on, cooking Annies Bunny pasta over the burner on the outside grill at 5am.

I have a beautiful vodka cream sauce that I scalded on the stove because I was trying to get Wonder Pets to play again. So many times I planned to be home early from work so I could make a great meal, only to have a bonfire at the last minute and plead with my husband on the way home that white rice with lunch meat turkey really is a meal.

If you read my family blog you will know how I believe that we are all doing "the best we can". That's all we can do. So when you read my posts, understand I had to clear away stacks of mail and mess to take the picture on a clean counter or table. I'd always love to hear about how any of you tried a recipe or if you even made it better/easier somehow.