Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Mustard SauceA couple of weeks ago I ventured to Annapolis for the day to go to a book signing with Giada De Laurentiis. I met one of my oldest girlfriends up there, and we waiting in line together at Williams-Sonoma for a couple hours. We chatted about the past, and how we’ve transitioned into the future with our families of two little boys. It was a great morning, topped off by meeting Giada – who was just as gorgeous and sweet in person as she is on television.

We of course flipped through the book while we were waiting, which is all healthy recipes – along with lots of health and beauty tips, and there were many recipes I bookmarked to try. The first one I got around to testing out in my kitchen was this delicious pork tenderloin with a honey-mustard sauce. We are big fans of pork tenderloin in this house. It’s a protein that’s lean and healthy, but still juicy with tons of flavor. Then to top it of with a delicious pan sauce? It’s just the icing on the cake!

It’s also pretty quick-cooking, making for an easy weeknight meal. The tenderloin is seared off in the pan, to get a gorgeous brown crust on the outside – then finished off in the oven. A quick pan sauce is made by using the browned bits in the bottom of the pan – along with a spot of wine , Dijon mustard, honey, and fresh herbs. I served with some roasted red potatoes and fresh green beans, and everyone really enjoyed it.

I also picked up a signed copy to share with one lucky reader! Just leave a comment below telling me what is your favorite recipe from the lovely Giada De Laurentiis that you’ve made in your kitchen? Giveaway will run from today, until next Friday at 11:59 PM. 

Congrats to entry #17, Tracey! She loves Giada’s turkey and artichoke stuffed shells. I’m going to have to try that recipe myself. I hope you enjoy this new cookbook as much as I have been!

Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce
It’s officially summertime here on the Eastern Shore, and our grill is almost always fired up. We do a lot of the classic stuff – steaks, burgers, dogs, chicken. But once in a while, I like to go all out and smoke a pork butt on the grill for hours on end. I don’t have a fancy smoker or anything, I just throw some soaked wood chips onto the grates of my gas grill. The smoke infuses the pork with delicious flavor, and it ends up falling off the bone and melting in your mouth. And for barbecue of that caliber, you need some awesome sauce to go along with it.

My strawberry-chipotle barbecue sauce is a favorite, takes less than 2 minutes (literally) to bring together and is absolutely delicious. But, I wanted something different. I’d never made a vinegar based sauce before. The weekend before we’d gone to our local homebrew shop, and stopped at a notorious local barbecue joint on the way for lunch. I’d debated the red sauce or the vinegar sauce…went for the red, then was craving Carolina style ‘cue all week long. So, that’s what I went with…

It turned out absolutely delicious. The sweet mustardy tang paired with the smoky saltiness of the pork was out of this world good. All the flavors mingled and married so well. I can’t wait to try it on grilled chicken or pork chops next!

If you’re looking for something a little different or special for your 4th cookouts, a homemade barbecue sauce is just the ticket. I hope that everyone has a safe & happy Fourth of July!

I love gravy. I mean, who doesn’t? Let me just go ahead and put this out there – this gravy is the gravy to end all gravies. I was always a fan of white wine in pan gravy, but the use of hard cider just takes it to a whole new level. I first turned to it out of desperation. We were out of wine, but had some bottles of hard cider that we’d bottled the year before. It’s nice and dry, and is very similar to a white wine in flavor to begin with – but much more complex.

It was so good that I’ve been making it ever since – all year long. It’s equally good on chicken, and I’m looking forward to trying it with pork sometime in the near future. We enjoyed leftovers on hot open-faced turkey sandwiches the next night after making the turkey, and it was all I could do not to lick the plate clean.

Don’t let all those delicious drippings in the bottom of your roasting pan go to waste this year – turn it into a delicious gravy.

Roasted Turkey. Those two simple words instill so much fear and worry into home cooks, all over this  country, this time of year. I remember being intimidated – I mean, 20 pounds can be a lot of bird! But, you really shouldn’t be. Since I started brining my turkey, there hasn’t been a dry bird in the house for years.

Another key component for a good turkey is a nice variety of aromatics stuffed into the cavity. You can use what you have around – but, I’ve settled on oranges, onions, and rosemary. It infuses the meat subtly with those wonderful flavors. And, the juices drip down into the roasting pan infusing the gravy with the flavors as well. I didn’t list it in the recipe, but I love this seasoning mix from Penzey’s. The dried orange peel and coriander really shine through, and I love using it on my turkey.

Then there’s the cheesecloth thing. It’s mainly to keep the breast from browning too much, but it keeps the skin constantly soaked in delicious basting juices – which I don’t think hurts, either. Martha’s original recipe called for white wine, but a couple years ago all I had on hand was some home brewed hard cider so I subbed that. And wowza, talk about awesome. Tomorrow I’m posting my recipe for hard cider gravy, made from pan drippings. So, be sure to check back – you don’t want to miss that one!