Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Honey Soy Pork Tenderloin

This is a pork tenderloin. I had never cooked one until today. In fact, I don't think I had ever seen one until I bought this at Trader Joe's a couple days ago. And really, it doesn't look very great.
But it was!!! And it was so easy. The husband and I practically tripped over each other trying to get seconds. So here's what I did.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Unwrap the pork tenderloin and place it in a roasting pan. When roasting, you always want to place the roast with the fattest side up, so all the juice and flavors from the fat layer permeate the rest of the meat. Salt and pepper the top of the tenderloin. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes.
While the tenderloin is cooking its first 20 minutes, whip up a little sauce. I used 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp honey, and 1/2 to 1 tsp Grey Poupon Country Dijon mustard.

After the first 20 minutes, brush the sauce on the tenderloin and return to the oven. It will take another 15-30 minutes to fully cook, depending on the weight of your meat. Keep brushing the sauce on periodically when you check the meat until the sauce is gone and/or the meat is fully cooked.

Remove from oven and slice!
I actually made this this afternoon since I had a prior engagement this evening (more on that later), and it was excellent when it came out of the oven and just as good reheated this evening.
Oh, and my pork really wasn't pink just looks it for some reason in this picture. It was, in fact, very moist and juicy and full of flavor.
**Just to pat myself on the back a little bit - those Trail Mix Muffins I made a few days ago won this week's Paula Deen Get Cookin' challenge! Wo-hoo! Go here to check out Paula Deen's site, her weekly contests, and of course my muffins :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome Back, Old Friend

So I realize that most of this blog has to do with baking and cooking. However, I wanted to let you know that I am now committed to getting myself back in shape. While I don't feel like I need to "lose weight", I do feel like I need to get healthier. As you all know, I quit drinking or consuming all caffeine (except for the little bit contained in chocolate of course). Turns out, the caffeine had been masking a very large iron deficiency, by fooling me into thinking I had energy. Once all the caffeine was gone, it was very evident I had NO energy what-so-ever. After some blood tests and doctors visits, it was revealed that my iron level that should be between 50-100 was 7. And on top of that, I also am lacking in vitamin D and have too low cholesterol. I know, who has these problems? Well, me apparently.

So, after a couple weeks on iron supplements, vitamin D supplements, and fish oil (for the too-low cholesterol), my energy level feels as though it is (very slowly) returning.

My husband has been (not so) subtly telling me I should exercise. And after swallowing my pride (and my anger that Hmpf. How dare he tell me I need to work out!!? Is he calling me fat?!!), I realized that although my energy level is not what it should be yet, and I usually feel like napping instead of moving, exercise could possibly help that, and at the very least it can't hurt.

So, I went back to my old favorite. My tried and true kick-your-butt, get in shape power yoga dvds. And thank God for Baron Baptiste. If you haven't heard of him, or haven't done his workouts, you are totally missing out. I was in the best shape of my life when I did 30-45 minutes of his yoga a day. And so I say, welcome back, old friend!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Honduran Tres Leches Cake

I don't know if this cake is actually Honduran, but the first time I tasted it I lived in Honduras, so it will always be connected in my mind. I had no idea what to expect when I first tried this cake, and was so surprised. It's so different from any other cake I've had, and SO good. Tres leches in Spanish means "three milks", and this cake is definitely full of three milks.

Tres Leches Cake
1 yellow cake mix cake, prepared as directed on box (I used a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 c whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
Maraschino cherries

Prepare the cake mix as directed (usually with water, oil, and eggs), and bake in a 9x13 pan. Remove from oven, and immediately prick holes in the cake using a toothpick or wooden skewer about every half inch.
Combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk in a pitcher, large measuring cup, or anything that is easy to pour out of. Stir it well. Pour the three milks over the cake very slowly, a little at a time, evenly distributing it over the cake. If poured slow enough, the cake will absorb all of the milk.
Cool the cake at room temperature 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Whip the cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks and frost the cake. Decorate with maraschino cherries. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
So good!

I have only made this cake once before, and this was the first time my kids got to have any. they gobbled it up and asked for seconds...they loved it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trail Mix Muffins

I changed up my favorite blueberry muffin recipe tonight and made some "Trail Mix Muffins." Except they're not really trail mix-ey. I always think of trail mix as having peanuts and fake m&ms, and I really really don't like trail mix. But, I couldn't come up with a better name, so Trail Mix Muffins it is. I bought some walnut pieces and dried cranberry and pomegrantes the other day, and I thought they would make excellent muffins together. And they do!!
Trail Mix Muffins

1/2 c butter or margarine
1 1/4 c white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c buttermilk *
nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or whatever else you like in Trail Mix
2 Tbsp Turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Spray muffin tin with Pam or other nonstick baking spray (or use paper liners). In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir just until mixed. Fold in nuts/fruits/other items. Fill muffin cups almost to the tops, and sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar on top. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

* I don't ever have buttermilk and never remember to buy it, so I make my own. To make one cup buttermilk, pour 1 Tbsp white vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup and fill the rest of the way with regular milk (whole milk preferably).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Buckeyes

As any Ohioan knows, buckeyes are poisonous. But, these ones aren't and they taste incredible! They're a fancy little peanut butter cup that's easy and fun to make, pretty to look at, and yummy!

Peanut Butter Buckeyes
21 oz creamy peanut butter
18 oz powdered sugar
1/3 c melted butter
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 Tbsp shortening
Mix together peanut butter and melted butter, then mix in the powdered sugar. Refrigerate until firm. Roll refrigerated peanut butter into balls 1/2 - 1 inch in diameter. Return to refrigerator until set up and firm. The colder they are, the easier they are to work with (approx. 2-3 hours at least). Melt chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Insert a toothpick into balls and dip into chocolate, covering the balls so they look like a buckeye. Put the chocolate covered peanut butter balls on waxed paper and refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened and set.

These candies look super cute in a little candy dish or crystal bowl,
or wrapped up to give as gifts!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strawberry Banana Mini Tarts with Fresh Whipped Cream

You may remember the raspberry mini tarts I made a while ago. I changed it up and did strawberry-banana this time, and they were awesome! I used 40 of the mini phyllo cups (sold in the freezer section). Thaw them (it only takes 10-15 minutes or so), put a small layer of cream cheese on the bottom, and then a small piece of banana and a small piece of strawberry.

Next you will top with the glace, which will keep the banana from turning brown by keeping it from the air.
To make homemade whipped cream, I used a stand mixer, but you can use a handheld mixer or even a whisk. Beat on medium the heavy whipping cream (either pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized works fine). When soft peaks start to form, add in 2 Tbsp powdered sugar for every cup of cream you are whipping. Continue beating on medium speed until heavy peaks form. It looks like this.
I then used a mini-size ice cream scooper to place a scoop of the whipped cream on top of the glace and garnished with another slice of strawberry.
Here's the glace recipe:
Mashed strawberries to make 1 cup
1/2 banana mashed
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup water
Mix the corn starch and sugar in a saucepan. Slowly mix in the mashed fruit and water. Heat, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Boil and stir for one minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
If you have extra whipped cream and don't want to waste it, you can freeze it! Put spoonfuls on waxed paper and place them in the freezer for about an hour until they are frozen. Remove them from the waxed paper and put them into a Ziploc bag. They are good for about 2 weeks, and are great to put on ice cream, in hot chocolate, or on whatever else you want some whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Favorites - Zucchini Bread

Oh fall baking, how I love you! Today I made one of my favorites from when I was a kid, zucchini bread. I changed up the recipe a little, and the only thing that would have made it even better is if I had had some walnuts to add to the bread, but it was still awesome.
Zucchini Bread
2 c sugar
1 c olive oil
3 eggs
3 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c shredded zucchini
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 c chopped walnuts (if desired)
Mix all ingredients in the order listed. Bake in two floured and greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
Quick breads make great gifts, too!

Zucchini and other squashes are freezable. I have bags of measured shredded zucchini and squash in Ziploc bags in my freezer right now. It makes for a quick way to enjoy a favorite bread or other treat when zucchini is not in season.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Honey Parmesan Chicken Poppers

I changed up a recipe that I love tonight, just to try something new, and loved it even more! I made honey parmesan chicken poppers, and they were excellent, and a great kid-friendly dinner.

Honey Parmesan Chicken Poppers
1 lb chicken, cubed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c plain bread crumbs
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 - 1 tsp minced garlic

First heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the bread crumbs in the oil until lightly browned. Remove to a medium bowl and mix with the parmesan cheese. Add the second Tbsp oil to the skillet, heat, and add the chicken, honey, and garlic. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
Mix the chicken into the bowl with the bread crumbs and parmesan.
Perfect as a healthy chicken nugget to serve your kids!
(The original recipe calls for dijon mustard instead of the honey, which is amazing, but my kids won't eat it that way. Try out both and let me know what you think!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Super Easy Goat Cheese Honey Bruschetta

It may not sound like it all goes together, but I assure you it tastes awesome. And it is SO EASY!

Goat Cheese Honey Bruschetta
Bruschetta or French bread (I used untoasted French bread)
Chavrie basil and garlic goat cheese
Roma tomatoes, sliced and diced
Fresh basil

Spread the goat cheese on the bruschetta (or bread). Top with sliced and diced tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, and drizzle with honey. Serve chilled. SO good!!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yes, I know it's only October 2nd. And Halloween isn't until October 31st. But in our house, Halloween is a whole month. I absolutely love it. I love this whole season, as a matter of fact. My oldest girl's birthday is in mid-September, and from planning her party through the end of the year, I so enjoy the baking and the colors and the smells and the sounds and the seasons and the holidays. So today, I started cookie season in our house with some Halloween cut-outs. The recipe I use has been passed down from my grandma to my mom to me. And it's the best. So sshhh. I'll share it with you.

Cut-Out Cookies
3/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Cream shortening and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into sugar mixture.
Chill at least 1 hour.
Roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time, cut, and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake until set but not brown (6-8 minutes) at 375 degrees.

I figured I'd start with witches hats, pumpkins, and houses. I just bought some new Halloween cookie cutters (skull, gravestone, and cat) and can't wait to use them, so I'll be making some more cookies soon.
Let the cookies cool completely, and then frost and decorate.
I usually use a basic confectioner's sugar icing on these, but this time I used chocolate frosting for the hats and orange fondant for the pumpkins (haven't done the houses yet).
So, happy Halloween-Season, and welcome to Fall Baking!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fifty Dollar Food Week - Dinner #3

Today was the husband's birthday, so I dug through the freezer to see what I could come up with. I pulled out some short ribs yesterday to let them thaw and began developing a recipe to use with what I had on hand. I decided to call it Beef Short Ribs di Chianti, and it turned out to be really good!
So here are the ribs. I actually used two packages this size, as there isn't a whole lot of meat once you cut off the fat and bone.
First thing to do was sprinkle the ribs with salt and pepper and sear them on all sides quickly in about 2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat. Take them out of the pot and put them in a bowl. Then they look like this.
Cut up some onion and carrot.
Mix the onion and carrot into the oil and drippings in the pot where you seared the ribs. Cook and stir frequently for about 8 minutes, until the veggies start to get soft. Add garlic, flour (2 Tbsp), basil, and thyme, and stir for one minute. Stir in 2 cups of Chianti red wine and two cups of beef broth; stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a can of diced tomatoes with the juice and a bay leaf.
Pour the sauce over the ribs in a 9x13 pan (all my sauce didn't fit in the pan - just make sure the ribs are covered). Cover the pan with foil tightly and put it in an oven at 325 degrees for about 2 hours. Turn heat up to 350 and cook for another 15 minutes or so.
I also made some more of the same soft boiled potatoes with butter, salt, garlic powder, basil, and thme, and these noodles courtesy of Pasta Roni, which are a huge hit in our house every time I make them.
It was all VERY good...I highly recommend this rib recipe!