Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Apple Cider Sauce

First things first, this blog will be changing soon, sort of right now. My New Year’s resolution is no different from a million others this year. I am going to lose weight. The only thing is I can’t give up food (leaping for joy) so from now on I will be sharing recipe with the nutritional information as well. There will be few healthy recipes mixed in with a few not so healthy recipes.

Now I know at first sight this does not at all seem like a figure friendly recipe and if you leave now you’ll never know that is only has 383 calories per serving. Now I did serve this along with mashed potatoes (1/2 cup) (could have done better with brown rice) and green beans (2 cups) making my entire meal 569 calories per serving. For me that wasn’t a problem, I simply made sure I had the calories left to eat it. That being said, this is the best 383 calorie thing you will ever put in your mouth!

The gravy/sauce is amazingly flavorful thanks to the combination of apple cider and mustard. I could go on forever, it is so freakin’ good. I’ve never been happier to be on a diet.

Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Apple Cider Sauce
recipe from Family Circle, Nov. 2011, pg. 83

1 ½ lbs. pork tenderloin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Season the pork with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown pork on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Place skillet in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature registers 145 degrees F. Carefully remove from oven (handle will be hot), place meat on a serving platter and cover.

Stir flour into 1 cup of the broth until flour is dissolved; add to skillet. Add apple cider and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper; add mustard and simmer 1 minute. Add parsley.

Thinly slice pork and serve with sauce.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 383
Fat: 21.6
Saturated Fat: 9
Cholesterol: 119
Sodium: 762
Total Carbohydrates: 9.3
Fiber: 0.3
Sugar: 4.8
Protein: 35.5
Vitamin A: 6%
Vitamin C: 19%
Calcium: 4%
Iron: 11%

No joke? Everyone who comes to my house for dinner for the next year will be eating this for supper. I am in love with this recipe.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas...

Well, it's finally here. The season of all seasons, the crème de la crème, Christmas.

My hope for you this year is that you take time out from all the baking and cooking. The shopping and wrapping and tree trimming and just be for a moment. Enjoy your families, your life. Just pause. Sip some wassail, hot chocolate or eggnog. Maybe cozy up and watch a Christmas movie while snuggled under a blanket.

Be still and reflect on what this season is about, the birth of Jesus. Go to church and worship Him.

Yes, it finally Christmas. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Take care this holiday season.

Merry Christmas from my little family to yours,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu

Ah, my crock pot. I have a love affair with my crock pot. It might seem weird to use a crock pot during the winter, I mean an oven would warm the house. Not to mention that an oven would produce far superior depth of flavor right? Wrong. The crock pot can be and is a wonderful tool spring, summer, fall and winter. It can caramelize with the best of them.

When I first came across this recipe I wasn’t sure that Baby Cakes would be interested in trying it but (once every two weeks I sit down and pull out all the recipes I ripped out of magazines and pick 3 or 4 of them to make the following two weeks and) this was handpicked by the hubs.

Now, how would I score this recipe? On a score of 1 to 10 I would give it a big fat 10, Baby Cakes gives it a 9.5. With all the holiday cooking this recipe has been an easy way to feed my little family.

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
recipe adapted from

1 can whole tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup baby carrots, cleaned
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
12 ounces pappardelle or other wide noodle
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

In a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, garlic, carrots, onion, chicken stock, oregano, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Add the pork to the slow cooker and cook, covered, until the pork is cooked through and easily pulls apart, 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the pasta according to package directions. Using a fork, break the meat into smaller pieces, then stir it into its cooking liquid; fold in the parsley. Serve the pork over the pasta and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Make it ahead: Freeze the ragu for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a large saucepan, covered, over medium heat, about 10 minutes (if it starts to dry out, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water or chicken broth).

I love it. Truly. It is wonderful. I know it doesn't look like much but this is one of those don't judge a book by it's cover recipes.

We froze half and ate the other. It will make a flavorful simple post holiday meal.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5-Flavor Pound Cake

I have made this recipe several times this past month but for some reason I have not shared the recipe with y’all yet. I don’t know what I am thinking. I blame it on the busy holiday season.

There aren’t words for how wonderful this cake is, dense, creamy, and I am in love with the combination of flavors. When I came across this recipe I noted that the post said “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like this cake” and so far, after sharing it with many, I find that to be true. In fact everyone comments on how good it is. Who knew a simple pound cake would be the key to cooking adoration? I do now!

For Christmas this year I am making these for gifts for mine and Baby Cakes’ co-workers and bosses; easy, affordable gifts. I’m also making large bundt cakes to take to all the Christmas’ we have to attend this year. It doesn’t get easier than that. Okay, well maybe it does but for a Martha like me it doesn't.

5-Flavor Pound Cake
recipe lightly adapted from Sweet Pea

2 sticks butter
1/2 c vegetable shortening
3 c sugar
5 eggs, well beaten
3 c flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 c milk
1 teaspoon each coconut, butter, lemon, vanilla, and almond extract

Combine butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the well beaten eggs.

Combine the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternating with milk.

Stir in flavors.

Spoon into a well-greased bundt or loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Soak with glaze and let cool.

5-Flavor Glaze

1 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 teaspoon each above stated extract

Combine ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is melted. Pour over cake after removing from oven.

I can’t think of any way to make this better. Earlier this year I used raspberry extract in lieu of the coconut because I felt it was springier but for winter coconut just seems a more appropriate depth of flavor. I have also seen the recipe with rum extract instead of almond but I am an almond girl. Maybe use them all, a 7-flavor pound cake? Yum.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

White Bean, Sausage and Spinach Soup

I am sick, really, really sick. My husband’s lucky to be fed kind of sick. This soup works out for both of us. It’s easy to make, feeds him and warms me. Not to mention it is really good for you with all the veggies.

Please forgive the short sick post.

White Bean, Sausage and Spinach Soup
recipe from All You Magazine, Nov. 2011

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can corn kernals, drained
4 cups baby spinach
Salt and pepper

In a pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 1 Tbsp. of fat from pot. Add carrots, onion, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes.

Return sausage to pot and add chicken broth, water, corn and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

I must have paused and told Baby Cakes 'this is really good soup' a dozen times throughout the meal. It is hot and flavorful. Love it.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Eggnog Gingerbread Trifle

Okay you guys, get ready to wipe the drool off your chin! This trifle is amazing. Perhaps I am a bit biased as I love L.O.V.E. love eggnog. If you don’t you could use just a homemade vanilla custard or in lieu of gingerbread you could substitute spice cake. I can’t say enough about this rich, creamy, flavorful dessert. It is amazing. Heaven in a dish, you know, if gingerbread and eggnog were heaven. Grin.

I am always on the lookout for that next dessert, the one that will make everyone at the table hush and say yum. As you might know once a month my best friends and I get together and play poker, what I say is poker is actually hollywood rummy, but at these poker games each one of us has a different responsibility when it comes to eats. I am exclusively dessert although 2 years ago at this time Maggie took over the dessert and made a Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake which you might remember. As good as it was/is it doesn’t touch this baby.

One of my girlies doesn't care for gingerbread and another for eggnog but they both ate some. Some of the girls had seconds. I left with an empty dish.

This one is a keeper.

Eggnog Gingerbread Trifle
recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 (14.5 ounce) package gingerbread cake mix
3 cups eggnog
1 (5.1 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
gingersnap cookie crumbs (optional)

Prepare gingerbread cake mix and bake according to package directions (any size pan). Cool completely.

Place the pudding mix in a large bowl. Pour in the eggnog and whisk for about 2 minutes. Refrigerate pudding until the gingerbread cake is cool and you are ready to assemble the trifle.

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in sugar and vanilla until peaks form.

Crumble 1/2 of the gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl or a large glass bowl. Spread 1/2 of the eggnog pudding over the gingerbread, and then spread 1/2 of the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Repeat the layers with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream.

Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle cookie crumbs before serving.

Makes around 10 cups of dessert so make sure your trifle bowl can hold that much.

Side note: you could make multiple layers as the directions above say but I only made one layer of each because I didn't want to tote my stemmed trifle dish. Also, I only used half of the gingerbread when I assembled as the entire thing would have been too much.

This trifle is so good that I am taking it to all of the families Christmas parties.

Eggnog Dreams and Gingerbread Spices,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mexican Style Turkey Corn Chowder

How has the fall season been here for over two months and I have not shared even one chowder, soup or chili recipe? I have lost my mind.

Ah leftover turkey. My normal go-to for leftover turkey or chicken as of late has been the Creamy Chicken Casserole Bake I shared awhile back. I made two after Thanksgiving and we have just polished off the last of it, one for now and one frozen for later, I am recently all about frozen meals I make myself. I haven’t really been looking for a leftover turkey recipe because we so enjoy the above casserole but then I came across this. I intentionally bought a turkey breast just to make this chowder.

I just know that Baby Cakes is crazy about this one! He ate 3 bowls. Of course it helps that he works outside in the cold all day so a hot bowl of slightly spicy chowder warms him to the bone. I too am crazy over this chowder. It has incredible flavor and the creaminess; I could eat it every day that’s for sure.

Mexican Style Turkey Corn Chowder
recipe slightly adapted from

1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or turkey stock or broth
1 can green chilies, drained
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups shredded turkey
1 can corn, drained
3 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the chilies.

In a bowl, whisk together milk, heavy cream, flour, salt, chili powder, cilantro and cumin. Increase heat to high and whisk cream mixture into the soup. Stir until thick and bubbly, about five minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add turkey, corn, and cheese; stir until cheese is melted and soup is hot, 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve along with some crusty bread or croutons.

I really can’t stress enough how delicious this chowder is. It does have a tiny bit of heat but if I can handle it everyone can handle it, I just stir in a bit of sour cream and that cuts it down a tiny bit. It’s right up there with Clam Chowder (my favorite) and warms just as well as giant bowl of chili (Baby Cakes’ favorite). Make it, you won’t be sorry.


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