Recipe | Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloin

Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloin

It’s not easy to make a nice Valentine’s Day dinner mid-week, when there is work, school, and activities. But I was determined to do it yesterday. I’ve been looking through old recipes lately and I knew exactly what I wanted to try: balsamic roast pork tenderloins. This is a recipe I made often when Drew and I were first married. I’m not sure why it’s been so long since I prepared it, but I’m happy to say it will be back in the meal rotation.

The recipe is simple (SO simple), and my kids all loved it, too. Laura especially loved the bits of roasted garlic that flavor the pork.

Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins

Balsamic roast pork

2  pounds pork tenderloins (1 package with 2 tenderloins)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cracked
Kosher salt salt and black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Trim silver skin or connective tissue off tenderloins with a very sharp thin knife.

Place tender loins on a nonstick, rimmed cookie sheet. Coat tenderloins in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat. Drizzle tenderloins with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat. Cut small slits into meat and disperse chunks of cracked garlic cloves into meat. Combine salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub meat with blend. Roast in hot oven 20 minutes.

Let meat rest, transfer to a carving board, slice and serve.

I served this with baked sweet potatoes and lemon-Parmesan roasted broccoli. This dish would be great to prepare for company because you get a fantastic result with very little effort! Enjoy!

Recipe | Babci’s Golumpki

GOLUMPKI

Lately I’ve been seeing a recipe for golumpki casserole floating around the Internet. I was interested in making it, and even had it on my menu. But I decided to make actual golumpkis instead. Truthfully, they’re not hard to do. And even though I was not at the top of my cabbage-rolling game when I make these on Monday, they still held together and tasted delicious (which is obviously the most important part).

After I’d put together a pan of the golumpkis, I still had some of the meat-rice mixture left over, but only teeny tiny little cabbage leaves that were way too small. So in a square Pyrex, I just layered the ingredients — tomato sauce, cabbage, meat-rice, repeat. Call it a lazy girl’s golumpki 😉

Now, this recipe is one that stands out from my childhood. When I was a kid, I’d eat everything except the cabbage, and I’d put a little bit of ketchup on top. Nowadays, I love to eat the cabbage, but you know what? I still put a little ketchup on top too. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! OK, ready to get going on this Polish classic? Since this is a  family recipe without precise measurements, I did the best I could to explain. Just leave a comment if something doesn’t make sense! Luckily, we took photos when my parents and I made them back in November, so hopefully those help as well.

Babci’s Golumpkis

1 lb. meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal)
1-1.5 c. cooked rice
1 small onion, diced
tomato sauce 
large head of Savoy cabbage
salt & pepper to taste

 

  • Partially core the cabbage. In a stockpot, boil the head of cabbage in salted water for 10-15 minutes until the cabbage has softened. Do not overcook it. Cabbage leaves that are overcooked will break and will not hold the filling. Drain the cabbage and cool. Carefully separate the leaves without tearing and set aside.
  • To make the filling, cook the meatloaf mix and onion together in a large frying pan until the meat is browned. Drain fat from cooked meat. Add cooked rice and about a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. 
  • Cover the bottom of a Pyrex baking dish with tomato sauce. Not too much, just so there’s a thin layer
  • With a paring knife, cut down the thick “vein” at the bottom of the cabbage leaf to make it easier to roll. Add aprox. 2 Tbsps. of the filling to a cabbage leaf. To make this easier, you can use a soup ladle to help.

Golumpki preparation

Golumpki preparation

  • Begin to roll up the golumpki, then fold over the side and finish rolling. Place each roll with the seam side down in your baking dish. The rolls should be arranged close together.

Golumpki preparation

  • Pour a little more tomato sauce over the top of all the golumpkis. Cover the top with cabbage leaves.

Golumpki preparation

  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 1 hr. Enjoy!

Golumpki preparation

Grocery Day

Grocery Haul

I was trying to think of a blog post for today and, really, all I’ve done is grocery shopping. So I guess that’s what I’ll write about! I have long enjoyed “grocery haul” posts (going way back to the days when Crystal at Money Saving Mom would post what she bought using her $35/week budget). I have done a post like this once or twice, but certainly not in the last couple of years. 

Maybe it’s because I love food and frugality, or maybe I’m just nosy but I really do enjoy seeing what people buy and how they are able to save! I don’t think this is something I’ll do all the time, but maybe on occasion. Of course, if anyone is really interested let me know and I can post grocery hauls a little more regularly.

So first… how I shop. I am not a one store kind of girl. There are some things I always get at one place, some things at another, and then I will hop from store to store for the sales. All these stores are located on the same strip of road, so over the years I have charted my course and if I’m not taking my time I can get it all done in a morning. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

First stop… Dollar Tree
Grocery haul

I needed lightbulbs and detangler and also picked up some tortillas, spices, and Awesome cleanser. I also got a few other misc. items not pictured here.
Total: 9.48

Sam’s Club
Grocery haul

I went in just for peanut butter and bananas, but I was really excited to find this cilantro jalapeno hummus! I really enjoy the Panera sandwich that uses this flavor hummus and I’ve never seen it in a store anywhere. I hope the flavor is close. I also purchased this Italiano dip because it sounded really good and sometimes items at Sam’s come and go. Thinking I may save this for a party.
Total: 22.24

Walmart
Grocery haul

I was happy that they still have those 1.98 wire baskets. I wanted a few for our bathrooms to hold extra TP. The rose gold was very coppery so I just went with gold. These baskets are really sturdy and I think the price is a bargain! I also scored on beef. One package will be made into burgers for the freezer and I’ll make some beef jerky with the extra-lean stuff. The whisk was a random purchase because it was 50 cents and my wisk is on its last legs. Rugalach was on the day-old bakery counter, so I snatched that up. Then Go-Gurts for Laura’s school lunches, cottage cheese, onions, and red cabbage.
Total: 35.90

ShopRite
Grocery haulShopRite had our favorite American cheese on sale this week, so that was the main reason I stopped in. Also got some turkey for wraps for lunches, and ground turkey which I’ll divide up for the freezer. We prefer to use ground turkey for tacos, but we also like turkey burgers and in the next week or so I’ll use it for copycat P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, which we haven’t had in forever.
Total: 19.26

Aldi
Grocery haul

Aldi is where I purchase most of our staples. You can’t beat their prices on most items and with only a few exceptions, they’re just as good if not better than the name brands. I bought a giant tub of spring mix (we go through this like crazy), tri-colored peppers, zucchini, carrots, avocado (such a deal this week at 69-cents! I’ll enjoy them while I can), gala apples (my favorite – I eat one a day!), Parmesan cheese, fresh mozzarella, spinach wraps, bagels, fries, half-and-half, eggs, cream cheese, juice boxes, pretzels, unsalted peanuts (they were out last time so I bought two today).
Total: 36.91

And finally, Tops
Grocery haul

I had to pick up our prescriptions and because Wednesdays tend to be crazy, I decided to get fried chicken for dinner just to make things easy. That and a salad and leftover potato salad or chips will be a supper that no one can argue with! I also grabbed my yogurts because they are on sale (have you tried the Dannon whole milk yogurt? SO good!), and these deli soups were BOGO. 
Total: 17.63

So my grand total for groceries today was: $141.42. Considering we are a family of 5, with one teenage boy and one tween boy, I don’t think that’s horrible. Some of this will last us much longer than a week. And there are always incidentals during the week that get picked up (for example, Drew grabbed milk yesterday on his way home, and this doesn’t take into account the ham and bread I’d purchased earlier in the week for school lunches). But obviously, it’s the bulk of my weekly shopping. Living in New York, prices are definitely higher here than in other parts of the country, and we really don’t go out to eat often so everything is made at home. I don’t have a grocery budget per se, so during the month of February I’m really going to track my spending in this area to make sure I’m not going crazy!

Review | Art of Tea

Art of Tea

I love drinking tea all year long, but it is especially comforting at this time of year. There’s nothing like the way a mug of tea warms your hands as the delicious scent fills the air. I was recently offered the chance to sample a few of the offerings from Art of Tea, a tea importer and wholesaler based in Los Angeles.

Art of Tea

Art of Tea sells a huge variety of teas and tea-related goods. They even have a monthly subscription box! (Talk about the perfect gift for a tea lover.) Their website even has a Tea Wizard to help you decide what flavors you might enjoy. It’s definitely fun to play with and in fact, one of the samples the folks at Art of Tea sent me was on my recommended list (White Coconut Crème).

Let’s start there.

White Coconut Crème
Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Safflower, Organic Cornflower, Organic Coconut, Natural and Artificial Flavors

The first thing that struck me when I looked at the tea was the amount of coconut flakes. I couldn’t get a photo that accurately showed how nice they were: big, thick flakes of yummy coconut. They definitely don’t skimp on the ingredients! The flavor was nice and light. I added a bit of sweetener to my cup to bring out the flavors a little more. It was a great mid-afternoon treat.

White Winter Chai

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic White Tea, Organic Black Peppercorns, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Fennel, Organic Cloves, Organic Cardamom, Star Anise, Natural Flavors 

The White Winter Chai is available only during the fall and winter, and that makes sense to me because that seems to be the time to drink this warm, spicy blend. I enjoy a chai latte instead of coffee sometimes, and this tea was just delicious! The white tea makes for a more gentle beverage and the star anise flavor really came out, which I happened to love.

 

French Lemon Ginger

Art of Tea

Ingredients: Organic Rooibos, Organic Honeybush, Organic Lemongrass, Organic Ginger, Organic Lemon Verbena

Typically I don’t choose lemon teas, but I was intrigued by the addition of ginger to this blend. The other day I wasn’t feeling well and had a sore throat so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally try this tea. The smell of the tea leaves was wonderful and made me excited for them to finish steeping.

Art of Tea

The scent of lemon and ginger was as soothing as the tea itself. I added a few spoonfuls of the lemon-ginger honey I make every year to get us through cold season. All of the flavors worked so well together and I loved that I could really taste the lemon. I think that’s why I’ve tended to stay away from other lemon teas — even when I’ve added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, the flavor I wanted just wasn’t there. Not the case here! The ginger added a nice kick.

Art of Tea

I was really impressed with these samples and browsing through Art of Tea’s online catalog, I see so many other flavors I want to try, like Butterscotch, Cran Marnier, and London. If you want to treat yourself, or are looking for a last-minute gift for a tea lover, I recommend checking them out!

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

thanksgivingdinnerCan you believe that Thanksgiving is in just two days? Time just flies this time of year. Normally, I consider Thanksgiving my favorite holiday but due to the nature of this year I’m not quite as into it as I usually am. Nevertheless, I’m doing my best to make it a good holiday.

As usual, we will be hosting at our house. I don’t find the cooking to be a chore, and honestly we really like not having to drive anywhere on Thanksgiving. (Plus, I can have an extra glass of wine — ha!) Drew’s mom and aunt will be coming up, but that’s all so it will just be seven people.

My Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much from year to year. I keep it pretty traditional, though I’ll try a new recipe or two sometimes. Usually one of the appetizers or desserts will be something new.

Here’s my list…

Cheese ball and crackers
Devilled eggs

Roast Turkey with sausage-cranberry stuffing
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Roasted sweet potatoes
Asparagus (it happens to be on sale this week and Drew requested it)
Cornbread with cranberry honey butter (new recipe)
Tossed salad
Corn
Cranberry sauce

Sugar-free blueberry pie
Pecan pie or sugared pecan topped cheesecake

For wines I have a riesling, a vino verde, and a petit syrah. I also found a non-alcoholic black currant cordial that I thought might be nice either mixed with seltzer or kicked up with vodka. So we will try that, too! 

A couple weeks ago I made a 9-lb. chicken, so this 12.5-lb. turkey won’t be too far off! Of course, I will also have my Crock Pot ready with onions, celery, and carrots to make an overnight turkey stock. I look forward to the soup as much as the roast bird! And of course I also love a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving night. I always like to have it on white bread with American cheese and lots of mayo. It’s one of those things from my childhood that still just makes me feel all happy and at home!

Today I also started a cranberry fluff, which we will be taking to the “feast” in my daughter’s class tomorrow. If it comes out good I’ll be sure to write about it.

What about you? Are you hosting Thanksgiving or travelling somewhere? Anything new and exciting on your menu or do you also keep things fairly simple and traditional?

Recipe | Savory Tomato Pie

savory tomato pie

Those who have stuck with my blog for a long time may remember that for a while I attempted to keep my recipes in a separate blog I called “Sugar & Spice.” I just never really kept it up, finding it preferable to keep them here instead. Several months ago I finally decided to delete it from my domain, so of course I downloaded all the content. I’ve been going through all the recipes on there, and realized that many of them I have not made in years! One of those recipes is for Tomato Pie.

Well, Jake made his Confirmation on Friday and with family and friends coming to celebrate I wanted to make a meal that would be tasty, but didn’t need to be hot (the Mass was at 5:30 and I knew we wouldn’t be home until close to 7, at which point everyone would be starving). I settled on a menu that couple be prepared ahead of time: London Broil, green bean and feta salad, pasta salad, and I decided to make this tomato pie after remembering that I made pretty much the same meal for his Baptism!

I made three of these pies for 12 people (8 slices per pie), and only 2 slices were leftover! Yes, it was a huge hit and everyone was asking me for the recipe. The best part? It’s very easy, especially if you cheat on the pie crusts like I do. This would be awesome late in the summer when your tomato plants are going crazy – it’s the perfect side dish and you can change up the herbs however you want. 

Savory Tomato Pie

savory tomato pie

1 frozen pie crust, thawed
2 large tomatoes cut into 1/4″ slices
Kosher salt for sprinkling
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2-3 slices deli Swiss cheese
2-3 slices deli Provolone cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Additional salt and pepper to taste.
Freshly-grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Spread the tomato slices evenly on a cookie sheet covered with paper towels or a clean dish towel and sprinkle liberally with salt. Allow the salted tomatoes to set for about 20 min. Meanwhile, bake empty pie crust according to package directions, and remove from oven. 

Turn the oven temperature up to 400 degrees. Spread the mustard over the bottom of the baked pie crust (add more if you need to). Layer the Swiss slices on top of the mustard, than layer the Provolone on top of the Swiss. Layer the tomatoes on top and bake until the pie crust is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft. (Approx. 35-40 min.)

In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil. When you remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle thhis mixture over the top and carefully spread it out using either a pastry brush or the back of a spoon. Top with just a little bit of freshly-grated Romano (my preferance) or Parmesan cheese.

Allow the pie to cool, and serve barely warm or at room temperature.

One pie would be enough for 4-5 people, but just to be safe I’d make two pies because you’re going to want an extra slice or two (plus, the freezer pie crusts always comes 2/pack, so it just makes sense, right?).

{Recipe} Hearty Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

Hearty Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

The holidays are over, but maybe you still have some leftover ham? Or maybe you’re just craving a stick-to-your-ribs soup on a chilly winter day. There’s nothing like a hearty bowl of split pea soup. Over the years, I’ve tried several different recipes, but none of them seemed like “the one.” They were too smoky, or too salty, or just had the wrong flavor.

Desperate to satisfy a craving, I gave one more recipe a shot, adapting it a little bit, and I finally came up with a winner. When your husband exclaims, “This soup is awesome!” and your 6-year-old asks to take to school for lunch the next day, well… you know it’s got to be pretty good.

Hearty Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

1 1/4 cup of dried split peas, picked over and rinsed
4 cups water
2 chicken boullion cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1/2 – 1 lb. of ham, diced
1 bay leaf

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Check on the soup about halfway through. Add more liquid if necessary. Prior to serving, use a potato masher to mash ingredients slightly and thicken the soup.

Hearty Crock Pot Split Pea Soup

This recipe can easily be doubled, and next time I may have to do that. Top the soup with oyster cracker or croutons, or serve with a buttered roll.