Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mangos and Cranberries

Pork Tenderloin continues to be one of my favorite choices for a variety of menus. I like to grill it and add interesting sides, put it in my slow cooker, or roast.  For this dish, I rubbed the tenderloins with a spice blend combining black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, and basil. Make your own blend if you wish but I used Penzey’s 33rd and Galena rub for chicken and pork. I layered on slices of mango from a jar I got at Costco and added some dried cranberries. This works well with several combinations of fruit – peaches, apricots, and pineapple all work well. The result is a colorful and delicious entree.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango and Cranberries

2 pork tenderloins

1 Tablespoon Penzey’s 33rd and Galena Spice Rub

2 -3 cups sliced mango

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle tenderloins on all sides with spice and rub it in.  Place meat in Pyrex baking dish and surround with mangos. Spead cranberries over all. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature tests 145 degrees.. Remove meat to serving platter, leaving fruit in dish. Then dust fruit with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, and return with sauce to oven for an additional 10-15  minutes or until it begins to caramelize. Remove from oven and spoon fruit and sauce over pork.

Brown Butter Pecan Rice

This rice has become a favorite side dish for our family.  Especially this time of year, pecans star in many dishes.  Many of the ones we use in our kitchen are locally raised. I am glad I found this recipe that was included with a Recipe.com issue for a chicken dish. I served it with roasted pork tenderloin. If you have little ones at your table who prefer their rice plain, save some for them before adding your rice to the butter and pecans.

Brown Butter Pecan Rice

1 cup Basmati rice, cooked

2 Tablespoons  butter (I use unsalted)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon salt

While rice is cooking, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes, or until butter is brown and fragrant.  Add chopped pecans and toast for 1 minute. When rice is ready, add to skillet with salt and stir to combine.  Serve as a side for roasted pork or chicken.

 

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

 

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Flatbreads are one of my new comfort foods!  There are endless variations, most are quick and simple to prepare, and I have not made one I did not like yet. The combination of flavors from caramelized onions, brie, and tart apples pared with a layer of herbed goodness from sprigs of our garden rosemary is wonderful. We enjoyed this flatbread for a light evening meal, along with extra apple slices. Try different apples – we like Granny Smith, but also favor Honeycrisp and Smitten. The sweet, crisp crunch adds perfectly to creamy cheese and onions.

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Flatbread with Rosemary

1 ball of premade pizza dough from the freezer shelf of your supermarket (or Naan, if you prefer)

1 apple of your choice, cut into thin slices (I used Honeycrisp)

1/2  cup cubed Brie cheese 

caramelized onions (see recipe below)

chopped fresh rosemary (Save a sprig for garnish)

Balsamic Caramelized Onions:

1 large sweet onion

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a skillet over low/medium heat.Slice the onions and add them to the skillet. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.Turn the heat down to low, and cook the onions until they are soft, beginning to brown, and there is no liquid in the pan, about 15-20 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to add them to flatbread.

If using frozen pizza dough, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Set out on counter to come to room temperature before handling. When ready to assemble flatbread, pat dough out to a long oval on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Spread caramelized onions over, then scatter slices of apple and cubes of Brie. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary and a few Malton salt flakes if you wish.

These flatbreads can also be grilled on the BBQ. Just set them right on the grill , and bake them the same way you would in the oven. Remove when crust browns and cheese is melty. They cook fast and can burn easily, so be ready with spatula and plate to lift them off.

French Lentil Salad with Feta, Cranberries, and Pecans

I have added this to my favorite lentil dishes. I recently bought French green lentils that had a recipe on the back of the package. I altered the list of ingredients to exchange pecans for the requested walnuts. We have access to wonderful local pecans, fresh at this time of year, so I enjoy using them in many dishes. We enjoy this with crackers or crusty bread for a light lunch.

French Lentil Salad with Cranberries, Feta, and Pecans

1 cup green lentils, picked through and rinsed well

2 cups water

1/4 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped or left in halves

For Dressing:

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijo mustard

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Put lentils and water in a heavy saucepan, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Do not overcook. Drain and return to pot to cool. While lentils are cooling, whisk dressing ingredients together. Slowly drizzle over lentils, add salt and pepper, and toss with diced onion. Top with cranberries, feta, and pecans.  Serve as is in a small bowl, or on a plate of torn greens.

 

 

 

 

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Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Caramelized Onions

This is full of flavor, and uses an interesting mix of ingredients, including cinnamon.  I adapted  my version of a recipe, which appeared online in New York Times Cooking. It caught my attention because it is Greek, uses cauliflower and Kalamata olives, and was a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken.  The original recipe uses whole chicken thighs and drumsticks, but our family prefers boned chicken in stews.

Greek Chicken Stew with Cauliflower and Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

 4 garlic cloves,minced

3-4 cups rough chopped rotisserie chicken

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme (I use Penzey’s French Thyme)

1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cored, broken into florets, and sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled           

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep, heavy lidded skillet or casserole and brown the chicken pieces. Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil to the pan, and turn the heat down to medium. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and let the onion cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it is lightly browned and very soft.

Add the garlic and stir together for a minute or two more, then add the tomatoes and their juice,  cinnamon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is reduced slightly. Return the chicken pieces to the pot.  If necessary, add enough water to barely cover the chicken. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add cauliflower and kalamata olives and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Sprinkle Parsley and Feta cheese on top. Serve over rice.

French Muffin Doughnuts

Long before my cookbook collection grew, and even longer before internet and Google,I clipped recipes from the newspaper and taped them to note cards to save. This recipe is taped to a  bright pink card;the newsprint is yellowed. Our young family members loved these tender little bites as much as Joe and I did.  Fun to make and fun to eat!  They did not last long once out of the oven and rolled in cinnamon and sugar! There are a variety of recipes online with a variety of names – Muffin Doughnuts, French Puffs, Doughnut Muffins.

French Muffin Doughnuts

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

Melted butter, 1/3 cup plus more for sugaring.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg to mixing bowl. Combine milk, egg, 1/3 cup melted butter and vanillla.  Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture, stirring only until all ingredients are moistened. Fill cups of greased 24 count mini muffin pan half to 1/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes, until turning golden brown. Remove from pan, immediately brush with melted butter, and roll in mixture of remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

I have delayed a new food posting as I thought about how my meal planning has changed recently. In late August, a storm approached the Texas Gulf Coast that would turn life upside down for millions of people. Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented rainfall and aftermath flooding left our home and neighborhood mostly dry, with only some minor inconveniences like needing to boil water, rebelling septic systems, brief power outage, and nearby roads, businesses, even a hospital shut down. As we watched rising water very close to us, another storm hit, one of much less magnitude but yet still impacting my life and that of my family.  Even as we gathered supplies and learned more about the Category 4 Hurricane that was spinning nearer, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 renal disease. The time spent being confined to the house during the storm was spent in a number of ways but one of them needed to be planning for the diet restrictions I would now have. I need to be on a low salt diet, and began to research new tools and recipes, trying out a few new things.  One of the biggest things I have learned is that although I can and will add new recipes to my collection of favorites, and can use vinegars, lime and lemon juice, and some available salt substitutes, I need to look at old recipes in a new way and adjust the amount of salt. I am also trying to use more of the list of fruit and vegetables that are the best ones for me to eat.  Here is a good example.
When I got married in 1963, my mother gave me a new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. As years went on I added many cookbooks to my collection, but I still go back to this one as I remember some of the first recipes I tried as a new wife, many of which became favorites. Cabbage is one of the top 15 in my preferred fruit and vegetable list. I use it often in salads, cabbage rolls, and soups, but this is the prettiest and tastiest cabbage dish  you will ever add to your table.  It is particularly nice served with pork tenderloin or pork chops.

Pennsylvania Red Cabbage and Apples

1 strip bacon, cooked until crisp, lifted to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. (The original version called for 2 Tablespoons bacon drippings. In those years, we always saved bacon drippings for later use!

1 Tablespoon olive oil

6 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cups chopped unpared apple

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash salt substitute

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)

Heat drippings and oil in iron skillet; add remaining ingredients. Stir and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook 15 minutes of longer if you want the cabbage to be more tender. Makes 6 servings.

 

 

Summer Squash Casserole

Whether you get your summer squash from your own garden, the farmers market, or you local grocery store, there is always plenty, and plenty of recipes for ways to use it. When I was growing up, my favorite way to eat it was fried.  Mother sliced yellow squash, put it in a bowl with a handful of cornmeal and some chopped onions to coat and fried it, usually in bacon grease. We also had it boiled down to limpness, also flavored with a little bacon fat. For me in those years, squash was yellow and crookneck. Now we grow it and find it many places and many varieties – yellow crookneck, zucchini (straight and ball), calabacita, white pattypan -ranging from dark green to bright yellow, long to stubby, smooth to lumpy to ridged.  Although they vary a little in texture and flavor, they all have thin skins and most adapt to being steamed, fried, grilled or stuffed.  But a classic dish, one that is a favorite for church potlucks, is squash casserole. There are hundreds of recipes. My favorite of all that I have tried has the fewest ingredients and is simplest to make.

I am a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series books and even have her cookbook, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, which has recipes along with stories to link with characters in the books. The recipe I adapted to make my Summer Squash casserole comes from one called Puny’s Squash Casserole, named for the feisty, hardworking house helper who cooks for the series’ principal character, Father Tim Kavanaugh. It is the kind of recipe you look for when you need to keep it simple!  I have used zucchini and calabacita squash in the dish with equal success.

Summer Squash Casserole

6-8 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup crushed potato chips or corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Steam squash and onions until tender. Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine eggs to cheese, salt and pepper, then add to squash mixture.  Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then add topping of crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Marengo

More than any of the cream sauces or pastries or souffles, I love to cook French dishes with fish or chicken and hearty tomato sauces that include garlic and olive oil and olives. I like to think my French great grandmother’s bloodline has something to do with this – she and her family sailed from the south of France (Marseilles) when they immigrated to the southern United States so perhaps that region is where they came from, although I have no way of knowing. If so, my love for Provencal cooking comes honestly. My favorites to eat and to cook have many common ingredients – Bouillabaise, Cacciatore, and Chicken Provencal. This dish, called Chicken Marengo has an interesting legend about its origin. Chicken Marengo is not Italian, as the name implies, but very French as the story goes, it was hastily invented by the cook who accompanied Napoleon when he went to battle. Following the narrow victory at the battle of Marengo in Italy in 1800, Napoleon is said to have been famished and directed a meal to be prepared right away. His cook gathered what local ingredients he could come up with, making this dish with its chicken, tomatoes, herbs, and olives. Tradition includes the addition of a fried egg and some crawfish on top but I chose to omit those!

Chicken Marengo

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Salt and pepper for chicken
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup green olives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat , then sauté chicken, smooth sides down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over and sauté 1 minute more. Scatter mushrooms around chicken and cook, until chicken is just cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken to a plate, then add shallots, garlic, and thyme to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and water and simmer until mushrooms are tender and sauce is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
  3. Return chicken to skillet, add olives, and simmer, spooning sauce over until chicken is heated through   Serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Brisket

SlowCookerBrisket

Since we live a short distance from one of the best BBQ restaurants in the state, I don’t often cook brisket at home these days. But we had a small one in the freezer I wanted to use and I thought it was too hot to heat up the oven in the kitchen, even hotter to cook it outside on the grill or in the smoker.  I remembered a recipe and a story I could adapt to the crockpot, loaded it with the few ingredients necessary, set the slow cooker on low and went about a busy day.  The results favorably compared with other methods, and nobody got hot cooking!

The recipe could not be simpler.  The story brings back fond memories.  In 1973, Joe worked with a young man whose name was Steve Greenwell. He and his wife Sondra had not been married long, had no children, and were fond of ours. They came to stay with Sean and Jeremy on the Sunday afternoon 44 years ago that Ben was born.  Sondra was learning to cook.  She told me she bought a brisket and asked  the butcher how to cook it.  He told her to heat her oven on low, put the brisket in a pan, and pour over 1 bottle of liquid smoke, 1 bottle of barbecue sauce, and enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for hours. Here is the story in recipe form.  I did not have a crockpot all those years ago and if you do not, you can always use the oven.

Barbecue Brisket

2-3 pound beef brisket

1 bottle barbecue sauce (any kind)

1 bottle Liquid Smoke (optional – omit if you prefer)

2 bottles of water (rinse out the barbecue sauce bottle), enough to cover meat

Add all ingredients to slow cooker set on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours.

Lift out brisket to slice.  Pour sauce into pitcher or bowl to pass when served.