Monday, May 27, 2013

Grilled or Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Tomato Salsa

Summertime always puts me in mind of grilling outdoors! Chicken, beef, pork and seafood all do well on the grill, and when accompanied by seasonal grilled vegetables, or fruits, it makes for a great dinner any day of the week. Recently I had a small pork tenderloin I wanted to prepare, but also wanted something different than the other recipes we have. Although one of my favorites is my Savory Lemon-Herb Pork Roast, since I had just made some fresh Tomato Salsa, I immediately thought "oh, that would be so good with some pork," and so this recipe was "born!"  Even better, you can make it "year round" by roasting, instead of grilling, if preferred.

1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 pork tenderloin
1/2-3/4  cup Tomato Salsa (make your own, or use your favorite)

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl.  Dry pork tenderloin with a paper towel, and rub the seasoning mix all over the pork.  Place pork in a zip-loc bag and let it rest in your refrigerator several hours (I like to do this part in the morning, and serve for dinner that night).  Remove pork from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking. Place roast in shallow pan and pour 1/2-3/4 cup salsa over roast.

Grilling:  Pre-heat grill to medium-high (350-400);  Place pork in shallow pan, sprayed with cooking spray, and pour 1/2-3/4 cup salsa over roast. Grill with lid closed 20-25 minutes or until a meat themometer inserted in thickest portion registers 145. Let roast stand 10 minutes before serving.

Roasting: Preheat oven to 350.  Place pork in shallow pan, sprayed with cooking spray, and pour 1/2-3/4 cup salsa over roast.  Roast 20-25 minutes until a meat themometer inserted in thickest portion registers 145. Let roast stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve sliced roast with salsa over rice; serve with additional salsa if desired.  Add some fresh veggies, or a side salad, and you have dinner!

See USDA Safe Cooking Chart for pork here: USDA Safe Cooking Chart

Friday, May 24, 2013

Potato Salad


Everyone has a "favorite" of this fun summer-time side dish!  I've had all kinds, from mustard, to buffalo, to German, to made with baked potatoes and dill pickles and so many more.  While I enjoy them all, I always find myself coming back to this slightly mustardy, slightly sweet, pickle relish potato salad.

14 red or Yukon Gold potatoes (small to medium), roughly peeled and diced (do not use Russet)
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish (make your own)
1 cup (approx) mayonnaise (I do not use salad dressing such as Miracle Whip)
2-3 hard boiled eggs, chopped (reserve one to slice and add to top of salad)
2 tsp. sea salt (adjust to taste)
2-3 tsp. course-ground black pepper (adjust to taste)
Paprika to dust over top
Parsley leaves to dust over top


Bring peeled, diced potatoes to a boil in a large stock pot; cook approx. 5 minutes or until just tender (you don't want mashed potatoes).

Immediately drain and rinse several times in cold water to stop the cooking process; drain and put into large mixing bowl.

Add next 7 ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined; adjusting amounts of relish, mayo and mustard to suit your taste. You want it to be creamy, but not too soupy.

Adjust seasonings and place potato salad in a large, covered storage container; Top with sliced hard boiled egg and dust top with paprika and parsley leaves if desired. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Servings: Approx. 8-10 medium to large-sized servings


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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Corn Bread Dressing from this Northern Chick

Roast Chicken rubbed with Fein Tasting Foods "Everything Rub," Corn
 Bread Dressing, and Roasted Radishes with Sugar Snap Snow Peas.

Being a "Northern" kind of gal, we always have Sausage & Bread Stuffing and not Corn Bread Dressing at Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean we don't like it ... it just means at Thanksgiving it has to be Sausage & Bread Stuffing.  Everyone has their favorite, right?  However, tonight I made Southern Corn Bread Dressing to go with a Whole Roasted Chicken.  Oh I know just about everyone has a recipe, but this is what I did ... it is easy and YUMMMO!!!


1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the corn bread in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into cubes and cool.

2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbls. butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chicken stock (make your own)
2-3 tsp. poultry seasoning or dried sage (I used dried sage from our Kitchen Garden)
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Drippings from roast poultry

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat; add celery and onions and saute' until onions are translucent. Remove from heat. Crumble cooled corn bread into a large mixing bowl.  Add all other remaining ingredients and stir until combined.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Bake in 350 oven 30 minutes. About 20 minutes into baking, top with some drippings from the roast poultry, stir and continue baking another 10 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with any kind of poultry, and a little gravy ... delicious!


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Homemade Tomato Salsa for Canning


When I think fresh tomatoes, I always find myself thinking of salsa! Spicy, tangy and delicious served beside grilled chicken or beef, as a dip with tortilla chips, on top of tacos and more. 

In fact I think just about everyone is a Salsa connoisseur, having at least one Salsa they particularly enjoy. This simple tomato salsa is easy to do with garden-fresh veggies from your local farm or farmer's market.

This salsa involves cooking the tomatoes, onions and peppers down, then blending them in a blender or food processor, and adding some reserved diced tomatoes, onions and jalapeno peppers just before you ladle it into the canning jars. The end result is more of a smooth, thick restaurant-style salsa with a few chunks of tomato, onion and jalapeno peppers.


5 lbs of tomatoes (reserve 2 tomatoes, chopped)
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and stems removed, chopped; divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion; divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. dried oregano or cilantro (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1-2 tsp sugar (to taste)
1 - 6-oz. can tomato paste (adds body)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add whole tomatoes and blanch a few minutes or until skins begin to split; immediately plunge tomatoes into ice water to prevent them from cooking more (optional - you can cook them with the skins if desired since they will be processed in a blender).

Peel (optional) and dice tomatoes; place in a large pot reserving 2 tomatoes chopped to put in a colander to drain.

Reserve 1 jalapeno chopped and place in colander with 2 tomatoes above to drain.

Reserve 1/2 cup onion diced and place in colander with tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.

Place remaining jalapeno pepper slices and chopped onion in large pot with diced tomatoes; add spices and lemon juice.

Cook over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and process in a blender. Return to large pot and stir in tomato paste. Bring back to a simmer and stir in reserved tomatoes, onions and jalapeno peppers.

Ladle hot salsa in to canning jars (regular pint or wide-mouth pint), cover with seals and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Cooks note - When you get ready to use the salsa, if it is too hot or spicy for your taste, simply add one can of diced tomatoes, which will make it more mild.

Yield:  5-6 pint jars

Please Note:   The only change you can safely make in this salsa recipe is to change the amount of spices and herbs. Do not alter the proportions of vegetables to acid and tomatoes because it might make the salsa unsafe.  Since tomatoes are a borderline acid / low acid fruit - adding lemon juice helps processing according to the specified times (determined by the USDA) in the boiling water bath.
  • Do not substitute vinegar for lemon juice; lemon juice is more acidic.
  • Do not reduce the amount of lemon juice or tomatoes.
  • Do not add extra peppers, onion, or garlic. You can reduce the amount of peppers, onion, or garlic.
  • You can substitute one type of pepper for another. For example bell peppers, yellow peppers, banana peppers, chili peppers may all be substituted 1 for 1.
  • The key is not increasing the amount of low acid ingredients in relation to the amount of high acid ingredients


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Perfectly Grilled London Broil


From Wikipedia ... London broil is a North American beef dish made by broiling or grilling marinated flank steak, then cutting it across the grain into thin strips. The origin of the name is obscure; ironically, the dish is unknown in the English city of London. Many American butchers label a cut of meat "London broil." This is confusing as the term does not refer to a specific cut of meat, but a method of preparation and cookery. The cut of meat traditionally used is flank steak, but in recent years butchers have labeled top round roast as London Broil.

Since the London Broil does originate from a tougher cut of beef, it must be marinated to help break down those tough fibers, therefore making it more succulent and tender. We really like London Broil grilled. It goes equally well with summer side dishes such as potato or pasta salad, but also delicious with cream cheese mashed potatoes and grilled or steamed veggies.

1 - 2-3 lb. top round roast (or flank steak)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tbls. prepared mustard
2 tbls. minced garlic
1/2 tbls. course-ground pepper

Combine all ingredients, except beef, in a bowl, whisking to blend. 

Pierce beef at 1" intervals with the tines of a fork.  Place beef in a large zip-loc bag and  pour in marinade.  Seal bag and lay flat in the refrigerator, evenly distributing the marinade over the beef.  Chill at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours, turning bag occasionally.  This will insure the beef is equally marinated.  Before grilling let it sit out for 30 minutes on your kitchen counter-top to bring to room temperature. This insures more even cooking.

On your grill, over high heat, sear London Broil 2-3 minutes per side, reduce heat to medium-off-medium on a 3-burner grill and continue to cook approx. 6 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 125-130 (medium rare).

Be careful to not overcook as the meat will continue to cook some while resting. 

Allow London Broil to rest for 10 minutes after cooking to allow juices to redistribute.

London broil should be sliced across the grain to break muscle fibers and lessen tough texture.

*Note - marinade can be made up to one week in advance and stored in your refrigerator.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Farm Trip Day to Willard Farms and Middle Sparrow Ranch

    Let me start by saying "I love my local farms/farmer's!"  They are all unique, quirky in their own way, wonderful, full-of-life, hopes & dreams people who are simply trying to provide the best they can for you and me!  They want to give you a great product, and work tirelessly to insure you, the consumer, receive the best.  They are NOT "Big Farms" or into "Big Farm" business, but rather people just like you and me ... working to make a living while enjoying immensely what they do.
A few of us get together from time to time to visit some of our local farms, and there are so many to choose from here in South Carolina.  We've already had a "farm to table" lunch at Old McCaskill Farm and a tour at Sunny Cedars Farm (pastured pork) with my friend Russell Singleton.
 Today we had lunch at Willard Farms to check out the strawberries and their famous "Original Willard Burger," a 1/3 lb. burger cooked your way (voted one of the "Top 5 Burgers" in SC), with a side of hand-cut fries ... yes, I did say hand-cut fries.  All of this was prefaced by an overview of their farming practices by Jay Willard.  
 After lunch, we headed northeast for a tour at Middle Sparrow Ranch to see/meet Alice and taste her wonderful raw milk cheeses (oh ya, they are GOOD)! 
It takes a special person to be a farmer, and I have great respect for them all. I will proudly support them as much as I can ... I mean, after-all, it's a win-win; they can farm, I can enjoy their products ... cook up more delicious food ... real food ... Yep!  I'm happy with that!

 Welcome to Willard Farms ...
Strawberries from Willard Farms

Jay Willard explains his farming practices to us in the
comfort of the Market/Restaurant at Willard Farms

Mushroom Garden

Loads of Willard Farms products to choose from
And here is the FAMOUS, "Voted One of The
Top 5 Burgers in SC" ... 1/3 lb. Original Willard Burger
complete with home-cut French Fries!  In a word ... YUMMM!
And, yes ... I ate it all!
Many thanks to Jay and his parents for their hospitality


Next stop ... Middle Sparrow Ranch

Welcome to Middle Sparrow Ranch!  Raising grass-fed
Jersey cows for their Raw Milk and Raw Milk Artisan Cheeses
So cute!
Alice had a platter of her cheeses ready for us to sample!


Alice explaining the cheese making process!  The large vat
in the rear of the picture holds 130 GALLONS of milk!  WOW!

Cheese, cheese and more cheese! 
Cheddar, Monterey Jack and  Farmer's

Coming soon ... Gouda

Yummm!  Soooooo good!

I'm ready for the next Farm Trip Adventure ... coming soon ...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Northern Italian Meat Stuffed Shells


My family loves all kinds of Italian food, from spaghetti to lasagna, but we were never a fan of cheese stuffed shells, so I didn't make them until I discovered these meat stuffed shells.  Wonderful flavor, easy to do, makes a nice Sunday dinner.  Serve with some hard rolls and a side salad for a complete meal.

1 1/2  lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced                           
1 clove garlic, chopped (or use 1-2 tsp. jarred, minced garlic)                           
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 
4 ounces 5 or 6 cheese Italian cheese blend, shredded                          
1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or dried parsley flakes)
1 egg, beaten
2 - 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 box jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup dry red wine (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil water for pasta with a little salt and oil added

Meanwhile in a large skillet brown ground beef with onion and garlic; drain and cool

Cook pasta in water approx. 9 minutes or until easy to handle but not completely cooked through (this makes them easier to stuff and they won't tear apart so easily)

While pasta is cooking, combine meat, mozzarella cheese, Italian cheese blend cheese, bread crumbs, egg and parsley; season with salt and pepper

Spray a 13 x 9 - inch pan with cooking spray and cover bottom with about 1/3 of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the  petite diced tomatoes

Stuff cooked, drained shells (I got about 22-24 shells stuffed from the box) with the meat mixture and place in rows in pan on top of sauce.

Pour remaining sauce and diced tomatoes evenly over top of shells. Splash the 1/3 cup red wine evenly over all; sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and more 5 or 6 cheese Italian blend cheese.

Cover and bake in  350 oven one (1) hour, uncover and continue to bake 10 more minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.  

Let sit 5 minutes before serving.


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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spicy Cajun Beans


I really like almost all kinds of beans and typically make Ham Stock for 15-Bean and Ham Soup or Ham and Veggie Soup. I've also made Creole Beans, and Boston Baked Beans or Homestyle Barbecue Baked Beans, but this was a first for me making Spicy Cajun Beans.

I had a bag of dried 15 beans with Cajun seasoning sitting in the pantry, so I was contemplating what to do with them, when I came up with this recipe. Super easy, using common pantry staples, some sliced Polish Sausages and you have a meal. Add a side of corn bread and you have dinner.


1-20 oz. bag 15-Bean Soup Mix with Cajun Seasoning ( I used Hurst's)
3 quarts water
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1-14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup mild salsa
32 oz. chicken stock (make your own)
1-2 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tsp. course-ground black pepper
2-4 tsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 links skinless Polish Sausage, cut into bite-size pieces (may omit if desired)

Add beans and 3 quarts warm water to a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer one (1) hour or until beans are tender; drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. 

In stock pot, add 1 tbls. oil and heat over medium heat; toss in celery and onion and saute' until onion is translucent.  Add diced tomatoes, salsa, chicken stock and spices; return drained beans to pot and simmer until heated through. 

Immediately add four (4) skinless Polish Sausages, cut into bite-size pieces.  Continue to cook 10 more minutes, or until heated through. Serve with corn bread, if desired.

*Note - you could also used Smoked Sausage or Keilbasa, if desired


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Beer-Battered Fried Shrimp

Oh I just love seafood, all kinds of seafood; lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, swordfish, snow crab legs, blue crab, and more!  I especially love fried clams, but not being in the north (my personal opinion is the best fried clams are from Maine), we have to settle for other kinds of seafood. Here in South Carolina, we are very fortunate to have an abundance of fresh seafood, especially shrimp.  I love to buy them fresh from my favorite source, then we eat some right then, and freeze some for use another time ... shrimp scampi, steamed shrimp for peel 'n eat Shrimp (my grandsons favorite), shrimp cevichi, shrimp creole, smoked sausage and shrimp over pasta,  shrimp cocktail and more.  This recipe for Beer-Battered Fried Shrimp has taken a few years to perfect, but I think it's there now and we all love it.

2 cups self-rising flour
1-2 tsp. garlic powder (or more to taste)
1-2 tsp. course-ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1-2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or make your own)
1 - 12 oz. bottle or can beer (any kind)
1-2 lbs. large shrimp

Mix flour and next 3 ingredients together; reserve about 1/2 cup flour mixture and set aside.  Meanwhile whisk in beer to the remaining flour mixture and let batter sit 30 minutes or so (it will get a little bubbly).  Whisk batter again, just slightly right before using. Dredge shrimp, a few at a time, in reserved flour mixture and dip shrimp in batter, allowing excess to drip off; immediately place in hot oil (350-375 degrees - do not overcrowd fryer) and fry several minutes or until batter is puffy and shrimp are cooked through (approx. 3 minutes).  Keep shrimp warm in 200 degree oven while frying the remaining shrimp.  Serve immediately with you favorite sauce. 

Notes - This batter is very light and delicate so it doesn't overpower the shrimp at all.

Cocktail sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1-2 tsp. horseradish
1 tsp. lemon juice

Tartar sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbls. pickle relish
1-2 tbls. minced onion (optional)
dash or 2 of Worcestershire sauce

Remoulade Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 tablespooon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
teaspoon horseradish
1 dash paprika