My Inner "Fat Kid" is Happy….

Lately, I have been experimenting with pork. 
We all know I made a pretty wicked Pulled Pork, but that’s just one way of cooking it & I need to branch out. 
Growing up, my mom made pork tenderloin on a pretty regular basis. None of my friend’s moms did, just mine. To this day, a simple pork tenderloin reminds me of home. It makes me think of my mom running around taking care of all 5 of us kids, saying “Dinner is on the stove. Help yourself”. Meanwhile, she was helping one of us with homework, scrubbing out lunch boxes, and/or starting yet another load of laundry. She never sat down, and still doesn’t! 
Last weekend, I saw a pork tenderloin at the grocery store, got all nostalgic, & bought it on impulse. I had no idea how to cook it. I just knew that I wanted to. So… I did!
After church, I threw a little of this and a little of that into my trusty crock-pot, said a little prayer, & hoped for the best. Let me tell you what, by 4:30pm the aroma was so mouthwatering that my neighbors were jealous & the “fat kid” inside of me was doing a happy dance! 
By 6:00pm, the heavens started singing & dinner was served.

In honor of “Crock-tober”, I am linking this recipe to the My Baking Addiction recipe swap. Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by West Bend.


Crock-Pot Marinated Pork Tenderloin & Kabocha Squash
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a Pork Tenderloin (I bought mine already split)
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 Tblsp Thyme
  • 1 Tblsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tblsp Parsley
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1/2 a Kabocha Squash, sliced into 3/4″ thick slices
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tblsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
  • 1.5 Tblsp House Blend from North Market Spices
  • 1/4 cup Water

 Directions:

  1. Place the pork in a shallow dish & sprinkle with thyme, rosemary, parsley, salt, & pepper.
  2. Evenly rub spices into the pork tenderloin.
  3. Drizzle with wine, cover, & refrigerate. Allow to marinate at least 1 hour, or over night.
  4. Place Kabocha squash in your crock-pot. 
  5. Drizzle squash with olive oil & Bragg’s & sprinkle with North Market House Seasoning.
  6. Toss squash to coat evenly.
  7. Place marinated pork tenderloin on top of the squash.
  8. Pour water around the pork.
  9. Cover & cook on low for 5-6 hours.
  10. Serve with a side of your favorite BBQ Sauce, if desired.
Questions:
  1. What food or foods reminds you of your mom or dad?
  2. If you could use only 1 condiment for the rest of your life what would it be?
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The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich….

Sometimes, “happiness” is a perfect sandwich. 
I’m not really a “sandwich person”… anymore….
Before Celiacs, I had a sandwich for lunch every. single. day. In elementary school, it was Salami & Mustard. In middle school & high school, it was Turkey & Mustard. In college, it was a hot, pressed sandwich of Turkey & Swiss. 
It’s funny how things change, isn’t it? Now, I only crave sandwiches when I’m in desperate need of comfort food, only hot, & only served with soup for dipping. The Grilled Cheese is the perfect vehicle for dipping. Thanks to Udi’s & Daiya, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich is, once again, an option for dinner. Hooray!!!

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat a skillet over medium, to medium-high heat. (depending on preferred done-ness)
  2. Spread a thin layer of Earth Balance on one side of each slice of Udi’s Bread.
  3. Taking one slice of bread, on the un-buttered side, layer the mixed greens, chopped basil, sliced cherry tomatoes, & Daiya vegan cheese.
  4. Top with the remaining slice of bread, butter side up.
  5. Place the sandwich in the preheated pan & lightly press down with a spatula. Cook until browned (or burned if you prefer), & carefully flip.
  6. Press sandwich together with the spatula & cook to desired doneness.
Question:
  1. What makes your perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Are you a purist, or do you get creative?
  2. Did you eat sandwiches every day as child? What is the combo you are most embarrassed about? (For me, it’s definitely the Salami & Mustard!)

A Date Night with Myself….

GF Guy has hit the road again. (sad face) It was a fantastic 2 weeks though. We explored the town & its many restaurants, took in a play & a ballet, & even had time for a walk in the park! I can’t wait until he comes out again, hopefully for good.
Last night, I arrived home from a long week in Pennsylvania to…. a kitchen!!!!!!
YESSssss!!!!!!!!!
This is how I decompress. I walk in, toss my suitcase/bag in the bedroom, put away groceries, & immediately start cooking. I don’t even take off my high heels! (Which, in my opinion, every girl should wear. They make you feel so powerful!)
Even when I’m cooking for one, I will make what I want to make and freeze the leftovers. Just because it’s only me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t cook a grand meal! Last night, I was in the mood for some sort of vegetable soup. As usual, when I make soup, there was no initial recipe. It came together on its own accord and turned into the best soup I have ever made!!!!! Seriously… I was quite proud of myself! 
I think it was the Kabocha Squash that put this soup over the top. It infused the broth with a light sweetness that mellowed out the acidity of the tomatoes. Kabocha Squash makes everything better! 
I made myself a GF/DF Grilled Cheese sandwich to go alongside the soup with Udi’s Multi-grain Bread & Daiya Cheddar Cheese. It got nice and “charred”, just like I like my grilled cheese! YUM! 
Admittedly, I’m a dipper. How about you? 
To dip, or not to dip? That is the question!
The Very Best Vegan Vegetable Soup
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • drizzle Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1-2 Carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 of a Kabocha Squash skin on, chopped
  • 2 Zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cloves, Garlic
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp No-Salt Added Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground Thyme
  • 1-2 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup White Wine
  • 1 (15 oz) can No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Tblsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 (15 oz) can Organic Kidney Beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 quart Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 2 cups Organic Salad Greens (mix of spinach, etc….)
  • 2 Tblsp fresh Basil, finely chopped
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot of medium-high heat.
  2. Add chopped onion, celery, carrots, and kabocha squash. Cook 5-7 minutes until soft.
  3. Add zucchini & cook about 3 minutes more.
  4. Add garlic & cook about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  5. Add poultry seasoning, thyme, parsley, salt, & pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. De-glaze the pan with wine & add bay leaf. Allow alcohol to cook off for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, & broth. Bring to a low boil. Cover, reduce heat & allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes, add the greens, basil, & adjust seasonings. 
  9. Recover and simmer until greens are wilted.
Questions:
  1. How do you decompress after a long week?
  2. Do you rock the high heels, or are you more of a sensible shoe wearer?

Tastes Like Christmas….

The weather in Denver dropped, literally, over night! We went to bed with a balmy 70 degrees & awoke to temperatures in the low 30s accented by rain. While that may dissuade some native Floridians, it made me excited for 2 reasons:

  1. I had a new pair of galoshes that desperately needed to make their debut.
  2. Cold weather inspires me to cook! 
GF Guy & I bundled up in lots of layers with plans to use a Groupon for a late brunch at The Local 
before stopping by Whole Foods for dinner supplies. Even Dickens got in on the action! He has been modeling his “Mr. Rodgers” sweater like nobody’s business! Actually, he seems the most bothered by the cold weather. Going outside is the last thing on his agenda. As soon as we begin walking back toward the apartment, he begins tugging on the leash. I tend to unleash him in the stairwell where he bolts for the door like a bat out of hell, in a mad dash for the warmth of his bed! Such a sissy!
Brunch was a yummy spread of Egg Sandwiches on Udi’s GF Multigrain Bread. The Local uses as many local ingredients as possible, hence the name. Our eggs were local, the bread was local, the coffee was local…. You get the idea.
Then, it was off to Whole Foods. GF Guy requested Shepherd’s Pie. Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb. We made ours with ground buffalo instead. This recipe seriously tastes like Christmas! GF Guy 3/4 of the 9×13 pan, if that gives you any idea how yummy this is!

Shepherd’s Pie
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, skins left on & cut into quarters
  • 2 Tblsp Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk, warm
  • Black Pepper & Sea Salt, to taste
  • 1 lb Ground Buffalo
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 Yellow Squash, chopped
  • 1-2 Carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen Peas, thawed
  • 2 Tblsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • dash Curry Powder
  • splash Red Wine

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (or 350 for those of you who aren’t 1 mile above sea level!)
  2. Place potatoes in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil until tender.
  3. Place potatoes in a heated bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until smooth-ish.
  4. Add tofutti, almond milk, salt, & pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook buffalo until no longer pink. Drain 7 set aside.
  6. In the same skillet, saute onion & garlic until soft.
  7. Add remaining vegetables & saute 5 minutes until soft.
  8. Return cooked ground buffalo to the pan & add all remaining ingredients.
  9. Bring to a slight boil & simmer until liquid reduces slightly.
  10. Place buffalo mixture in a 9×13 casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes.
  11. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, until bubbly & heated through.
  12. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!