Garlic Balsamic Crusted Pork Tenderloin

As summer officially winds down to a close, I’m trying to get as much time in on the grill as we can. Not that you can’t find me outside grilling in the middle of a hurricane, or a snowstorm (especially now that I have an awesome covered back deck!) – but there’s just something about the smell of the grill with a cocktail in hand on a summer evening.

I know you guys have got to be tired of seeing pork tenderloin recipes here, but I just can’t get enough of them. They’re a wonderful canvas to add all kinds of different flavors to, they’re healthy, and they cook relatively quickly – all strong points when it comes to our summertime menu.

This one incorporates the sweet, rich flavor of balsamic vinegar and plenty of pungent garlic. Using a good balsamic is key – you want one that is slightly thicker and has some body (I really like Il Villaggio’s brand for the price – you can find it online here, but I usually pick it up when I visit a higher-end grocery store). The pork is marinaded for an hour or so, or more if you have time – then thrown on the grill to cook and soak up even more delicious flavor.

I served with a side of our favorite garlic rice pilaf and steamed broccoli for a dinner that everyone in the family enjoyed. Also, leftovers were absolutely delicious when sliced thin and put on a sandwich the next day. Perfect summertime eating!

Source: adapted from Kitchen Confidante

Tropical Lemon Curd Bars

There is just something about lemon flavored desserts. I don’t know whether it’s their bright yellow hue, or their tart flavor that makes you pucker – but they’ve always been a favorite of mine. My great aunt always made a really good lemon bar, and these definitely reminded me of them. But with wonderful tropical flavor from the addition of toasted coconut on top instead of powdered sugar.

A basic bar dough is pressed into the bottom of the pan, then it’s filled with a rich fresh lemon curd and topped with a combination of almonds and coconut. The almonds give it wonderful crunch that was great next to the softness of the lemon filling.

I happened to have some of the larger dried coconut shreds, so I used those and they really held up well here. I’d suggest looking for those if you can find them. I’m usually able to find them in natural food stores, or if you’re feeling ambitious – make your own!

Source: adapted from Taste of Home via Oh Sweet Basil

Wild Rice Pilaf

We love rice as a side dish. Whether it be Spanish rice or cilantro-lime rice with our Mexican dishes, or plain white or brown rice with our Chinese dishes and stir-fries, it’s always been a favorite around here. I’d picked up a few bags of wild rice the last time I was at Trader Joe’s a few months ago. I use it all the time in soups, but wanted to try my hand at a homemade wild rice pilaf. For too long I’ve relied on old Uncle Ben when I wanted that as a side dish, and it was high time we remedied that situation.

So, I took the recipe for Garlic Rice Pilaf that we’ve loved so long in our kitchen and modified it a bit. A quick saute of a bit of garlic, onions, carrots, and celery – then the rice is added for a quick toasting before adding chicken stock. Then it’s all poured into a baking dish to finish cooking in the oven. A quick fluffing with fork when it comes out of the oven, and you have a great side dish that goes with just about anything.

On a side note, we’ve pretty much completed the move. We weren’t even without internet for a whole day! I’ve just been lazy about posting. It was Pony Penning, and a bunch of family and old friends were in town – so we’ve just been having fun with them and adjusting to being back on the island. I really love the new house, and had an easier time than I thought I would leaving the old one. Now just to get it on the market and sold! Going to get Andrew registered for 1st grade this week, the excitement just never ends around here. Where is this summer running off to, guys?

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats

Slow Cooker Chicken Cheesesteaks

Alot has been going on around here lately. A newborn baby, obviously. But also, a new house. We’ve been busy packing up our lives here for the past month, and we’re headed “down the county” for settlement this morning.

We’re taking the family back to where we started, Chincoteague Island. It’s a great house (that’s not cut up all funny as many old Eastern Shore homes are), with plenty of room for this growing family. A huge kitchen with three times the cabinet and counter space I currently have here. It was Jon’s best friend’s house growing up, in fact – Jon even drove a few nails into it when Ron (said best friend’s father) was building it. So, needless to say – we’re already feeling an emotional attachment to the place before we even move in.

Naturally, I also have many emotional attachments to this house. I brought all my babies home to this house, Christmases, Halloweens, first days of school, birthday parties, and neighborhood cookouts. I pretty much learned to cook (for real reals) in this house. Jon taught himself how to brew in this house. So many great memories here! I’ll miss our neighbors, fireflies (they don’t have fireflies on Chincoteague Island – the amount of salt in the air, maybe?) my lush backyard teeming with flowers from bulbs that were planted 50 years before we moved here, my fig trees, and my kitchen that we revamped. But, we’ll have a new version of those things in our new home, except the fireflies – and I’m excited about that.

house

Needless to say, dinner preparation has kind of fallen by the wayside the past couple weeks with everything getting packed up and whatnot. That’s where a slow cooker can come in handy! Now, I know most folks don’t associate a slow cooker with the summer months. But, it’s very versatile for preparing delicious meals year-round. And, it won’t heat up the house the way an oven does!

This takes just a few minutes to throw together, and the results at dinnertime are absolutely delicious. I seasoned chicken breasts (next time I’ll try boneless thighs in the mix as well) and seared them off, then sauteed some peppers and onions. Threw it all in the slow cooker with a bit of chicken broth and let it cook all day. At dinner time, I just shredded the chicken and threw it on some sub rolls, added some provelone cheese and toasted them in the oven for a few minutes.

They were delicious, satisfying, and super duper easy. The leftover filling was k-i-l-l-e-r in a quesadilla the next day for lunch. I know we’ll be making this one again very soon!

I know I’ve been slack on posts lately, but just bear with me. The slackage will probably continue through next week, until we get internet arranged in the new house, and my studio set up. Until then, later Pocomoke – it’s been real! Thanks for giving me such a great spot to call home and raise this little family of ours for 7 years!

Source: Adapted from Food Family & Finds via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe