Double Apple Bundle

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Have I mentioned yet I'm the self-proclaimed President of my Book Club? Oh how I love to curl up with a good book, I could read for hours and Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but I actually do! When I'm bored I cook or read, then I have to hit the gym because I've cooked everything I've read and eaten everything I've cooked! (LOL!)

My Book Club meets once a month and when it's your turn to host you also get to pick the book. Last month I chose "Redeeming Love" By Francene Rivers. Don't worry, I will not give you a short synopsis of the book because obviously this is a food blog but I will tell you it's a great book with many wonderful messages. Check it out.

I made a few things for book club but the only one I'll blog about is the Double Apple Bundle. It's a cinch to make and it's very pretty. It will be great for the fall and even better for apple-pie lovers. When I say this, I'm saying it with a smile on my face: do you know what a pain it is to make an apple pie from scratch? Talk about making something with LOVE! That's why I cheat and make this Double Apple Bundle because it tastes like an apple pie,it's adorable and super easy. However, I can't wait to spend a little time in the kitchen this fall and make an ooey-gooey-cinnamony-doughy-apply-pie-Y. When I do, I promise pics and a post. For now, here's an easy dessert anyone will enjoy. It's delish!

Double Apple Bundle

2 IGA Piecrusts
3 Cups Golden Delicious Apples, sliced (Granny Smith are good too!)
Cinnamon and or Pumpkin Pie Spice to taste

1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Stick Butter
2 Cups Water

1. Peel and chop apples. 3 cups is about 3 apples, depending on how large. You can always eyeball it and eat the leftover chunks.
2. Grease a large baking pan, 8 X 8 works great. Unroll the pie crusts. Spread them out and divide apples among the pie crusts.
3. Sprinkle with spice.
4. Jelly-roll the crusts and seal the ends. Flip the pie crusts over so the smooth surface is facing up. Take a knife and slice the bundles a few times on top so they can breathe when baked.
5. Combine everything in for the sauce in a sauce pan, bring to a slight boil then pour over apple bundles.
6. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Serve with ice cream or by itself. Mangia! Mangia!
PS This is also good right out of the fridge for breakfast!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I want to get this blog post up before my favorite time of the year starts. Ahhh,Fall. Pretty soon pumpkins, gourds and bright colored leaves will adorn each tabletop. I can't wait. I hope you can use these helpful tips as you begin to plan Fall, Christmas and Thanksgiving parties and dinners.

Name cards on a dining table can actually be casual and creative. I never even thought about using them until this week. We had company and I wanted to create a festive atmosphere that matched the food I made. The idea came from a wonderful website and magazine in which I shall soon be subscribing. Style at Home. Heard of it? It's great! I only want to link you to truly inspiring websites with the hopes that I've given you enough good tips (and good laughs) that you'll come back to my blog for more. Without further ado, let's discuss name card/place card holders.

For dinner with guests who may not know each other or for a fun conversation starter, get creative with placement ideas. I used letter brads for scrapbooking and poked holes into limes to make names. Here's mine: How cute is that? Sorry for the poor quality picture, but you know I take these with my Iphone. Maybe some day I'll get a good camera.

You could use pears, apples, pumpkins, squash ... the list is endless depending on what you're serving.

Since it's still summer, my cherries took center stage in my food. So, I used limes and cherries to decorate too. Take a look at the vase filler I got at Target for 4.99. Fake Cherries and apples give the clear glass globe a red hue and an old lime candle I had stuck in my cabinet was the perfect pairing to create a lime/cherry theme. Take a look at place mats and chargers ... they're also inexpensive at 1.99 a piece!

Now, I'm not saying these are the cutest ideas in the world, but it sure helped me in a pinch. I searched all over for cute place card holders and was glad to have found these ideas. If you're a wine drinker, wouldn't it be fun to slit open a cork and stick a piece of paper in between with a name on it? Genius. Not my idea, just sharing the love.

XXOO Mangia! Mangia!

Cherry Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and then some

Cherry and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Disclaimer: This meal did NOT come without a few phone calls to Mom and Dad for emergency help. And, I still have all 10 fingers, but only by the wrinkle on my thuckle. Note: According to Urban Dictionary your thuckle is your thumb knuckle. But I can sincerely say it was a success and the best news about it, I'll share my mistakes and what I learned so your meal can be even better than mine! I'll walk you through it.

Picky Pants and I had 2 other couples over for dinner and while I'm normally a buffet-type-hostess, this was not THAT kind of dinner. It wasn't fancy-schmancy by any means but, yes, I did do place cards!! Have you read that post yet? Boy were they CUTE!! Okay! Food now, puh-leeze!

The Menu:
Cherry and Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Summer Salad (with cherries, of course)
Asparagus with Toasted Pine Nuts
Homemade Flat Bread
Pasta Salad

The Occasion:
Picky Pants and I are switching churches.
In any small Bible-Belt-Sort-Of-A-Town, your Pastor and his Wife come to dinner if you invite them. Well, this 'ol girl from the suburbs of 'the ATL' never expected the Pastor of a 6,000 some member church to come to our house for dinner! Well, he did! So did his wife and two other great friends. We are so blessed. For the record, this dinner meant more than just entertaining and showing off my culinary skills, or lack of ... but, for the sake of this food blog, we'll stick to the point at hand which is, of course, food, babies, food!

Always looking for a chance to try a new recipe, I knew exactly which one I'd make for this group of people. (Insert taunting voice of my mother "I told you to never try new recipes on people.") I have ear marked several recipes from Oh-You-Guessed-It: Fine Cooking Magazine to try the next time we have company, so I jumped at the chance to make this succulent Cherry Stuffed Pork Tenderloin while it's still summer! It's not my recipe, so I can rave all I want about it, I only followed the directions.. thanks Fine Cooking for the awesome tenderloin!

A couple of notes about this recipe before I get all business-like and cut-copy-and-paste the recipe from the website. ;)
1. If you're ever making a stuffed chicken breast or pork tenderloin, get a meat mallet. Yes, you can certainly use a frying pan, but trust me, it will make life easier.
2. You must, must, must use kitchen twine at one-inch intervals. Your 'stuff' will fall out if not, so take it from me, do it!
3. This recipe looks complicated because there's a lot of ingredients. Don't skimp! FYI 6 TBSP of freshly squeezed orange juice is about all you're going to get out of just one orange and then you zest the top layer for a kick in the cherry mixture. It's worth squeezing it yourself and not leaving out the zesty goodness of the orange.
4. Use a cheese grater to zest your orange. Keep your knuckles away from the sharp edges though ... yes, that's why I'm walking around with not one ... not two ... but three Band-aids around my right thuckle.
5. Butterflying any piece of meat is kind of like being good at basketball. The more you do it, the better you get. Start with chicken breast and work your way up to a tenderloin. Here's a helpful hint though: Holding the knife horizontal to the cutting board, slit the tenderloin lengthwise. Don't cut all the way through to the other side, but just far enough that you can open it like a book. Another helpful hint: yours won't look like the pictures either ... mine didn't but the end result was still beautiful. ;)
6. I did my own version of gravy. I followed the recipe until the end and I used the drippings from the cooked tenderloin to flavor it up. Ehh, a little fattening, but wonderful.
Happy Cooking!

Serves 6

Cherry and Onion stuffed pork tenderloin

2 lb (or larger) Pork Tenderloin

3 TBS Oilive OIl
1 1/2 Medium onions, thinly sliced
6 TBS freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 Cups fresh sweet cherries (about 8 oz)
Kosher Salt and Pepper
1/8 TSP ground cloves (you can totally omit these and won't miss 'em)
1/2 Cup dry white wine (you can just use more chicken broth if you want)
1 C lower-salt chicken broth (one can will be enough if you use broth instead od win)
1 TSP fresh rosemary (I wish I had used fresh Rosemary, the dried stuff didn't get as soft in the gravy as I would have liked)
2 TBS. Cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Kitchen Twine
Meat Mallett

1. Heat 1 TBS olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and light golden, 10 - 15 minutes. Add the orange juice, vinegar, sugar and orange zest, reduce the heat to low, cover and continue to cook until the onions are very soft, 15-20 minutes more. Uncover and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more. Add the cherries and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temp.

2. Heat the oven to 425. Meanwhile, butterfly the pork by slitting each tenderloin lengthwise just far enough that it opens like a book to make a flat piece. Place the pork between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper and pound gently with a meat mallett to flatten it to a 3/8-inch thickness. In a small bowl, mix 1 TBS of olive oil and ground cloves and 1/4 TSP black pepper.

Rub the mixture on both sides of the pork and season generously with salt.

3. Divide and spread the cherry mixture evenly over the tenderloins and roll them back to their original shape. Tie them with kitchen twine at 1 inch intervals.

4. Heat the remaining 1 TBS olive oil in same skillet as before over medium high heat. Brown the pork on all sides until golden, 5-6 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a tenderloin reads 145, 10 - 12 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil.
5. Set the skillet over medium high heat, add the wine and deglaze the pan by scraping up the cooked bits with a wooden spoon. Add chicken broth and rosemary, bring to a boil and reduce by half 2-3 mintes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the butter once piece at a time, letting each melt before adding the next. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

**When you take the pork out of the oven, there's juice in the bottom, pour it into your gravy mix, stir and let it sit.

Remove the strings from the pork and slice it into 3/4 inch thick slices. Drizzle sauce over and serve warm.

Asparagus Vinaigrette
2 Pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed
3 TBS Olive Oil
2 TBS Lemon Jice
2 TSP Dijon mustard
1/2 TSP pepper
1/4 TSP Salt
4 TBSO Toasted Breadcrumbs (pine nuts work too)
6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Did you know using a potato peeler on the ends of asparagus once trimmed makes them more tender? Marinate the asparagus in this vinaigrette until ready to cook Pour contents of entire bowl into sauté pan. When done, sprinkle toasted pine nuts and cherry halves on top of asparagus. Beautiful!

Summer Salad (Inspired by Griff's Deli in Bowling Green, KY)

Adjust to your taste and how many you're serving
Green Leaf Lettuce
Feta Cheese
Chopped Cherries
Balsalmic Vinaigrette from store

Flat Bread
How many times can I serve this? Yup, you guessed it. I made the flat bread a few weeks ago, froze it and re-baked it to serve when I have company. It tasted just the same as it did fresh out of the oven. Certainly worth the time spent in the kitchen when I know I'm going to have fresh bread for guests without having to make it that day! Check out my post on it.

Enjoy, Mangia! Mangia!

Tank's Steak Sandwiches

We invited friends over last week for dinner (I know, I'm late getting a blog post up, what's wrong with me?) and lucky for me, they cooked! What a treat! Don't get me wrong, you know how much I love to entertain, but with my trip to Spain on the horizon and other parties to plan, I was glad to let someone else do the cooking!

Meet Tank.

Need I say more? You know I never use real names when blogging about other people (Have you met Picky Pants?) so, I'm glad this cook already came with a pre-determined nick-name: We love Tank and his wonderful cooking. His wife volunteered his famous Steak Sandwiches and Even-More-Famous-Guacamole last week for dinner. OMG I'm drooling just by typing the words. All I can say is: try them. Tonight! As you'll see from the list of ingredients, there's not much to it! Great news, right? Well, there may not be many ingredients to grab at the store, but the specialty comes in how you prepare these juicy sandwiches. No worries, all explained below.

Tank's Steak Sandwiches
Serves 4 (adjust proportions if needed, of course)
1 lb. flat iron steak
2-3 red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers (we used all colors)
6-8 Yukon Gold potatoes, 2 potatoes a person (cut into "fingers")
Hoagie Rolls
Provolone Cheese
Salt Pepper
Canola Oil

Mix together a bit of Canola Oil, Salt and Pepper and rub all over steak, front and back. Grill on medium to high heat about 5 minutes each side or to preferred temperature. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes. When slicing, go against the grain with a very sharp knife and slice it so thin it's almost shaved. The thin strips of meat on your sandwich are what creates the perfect texture. You don't want a hunk of meat you have to chew for 10 minutes before swallowing! Eww! See how thin and pretty Tank's steak looks?

While you're grilling, (or in my case while Tank was grilling) I sliced up the peppers and onions after he roasted them on the grill for a few minutes. Cover your peppers in oil and set them on the grill for a few minutes each side, until almost blackened and a bit soft. Peel the outer layer and begin slicing.

* Or, if you want to sauté them in a pan, slice and sauté in Olive Oil until tender. Keep warm and set aside.

Slice Potatoes into large chunky "fingers." Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and grill. Juicy Potato fries, baby, yum!

Brush Olive Oil over Hoagie's, open faced and broil for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Place Provolone on hot bread, steak, peppers and take a big, juicy bite. Mangia! Mangia! So good!

Too bad I had already stuffed myself with Tank's Guac I only had 1/2 of his wonderful steak sandwich!! I'm telling you, best Guac I've ever had. Try it.

Tank's Guac, in his own words:
Serves: a Hell of a lot

8 Ripe avocados
1/2 C Cilantro
2 Jalapeño Peppers, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 Chopped Medium red onion
Drizzle of olive oil
Teaspoon ground Cumin
Salt and course pepper

1. Slice avocado lengthwise and around the pit. Spoon around the edges to get a clean half of the avocado out of its' shell. Discard the pit. Mash the avocado into chunky bits in a bowl. Mix in ingredients. Taste. Savor. Adjust where needed.

Have a great week, Mangia! Mangia!

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