Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze (I SWEAR!)

I believe I have mentioned that I am a sucker for Balsamic reductions, glazes, dressings, etc.  This recipe was one of my first attempts at a balsamic glaze and I love it, love it, love it!  It’s a fairly easy meal since the bulk of the work is done in the slow cooker.  I paired it with skillet rosemary potatoes and the boys were very happy with the results, as was I.  I usually double the glaze recipe because we like to pour it over our pork servings and smother our plates in it as well.

I’m sitting here ready to continue telling you how much I love this recipe, but suddenly the featured image is distracting me.  On one hand, I want to run and heat up the little bit I have left and eat it for lunch immediately because it was so yummy.  On the other hand, when I look away, out of the corner of my eye the picture looks a little scary.  Almost like…that is to say…I mean, I have 4 dogs and it’s generally time to run, not walk, to the vet when…Ok, trust me, the tenderloin tastes good.  Moving on.

Nope, I can’t.  The old 1974 Weight Watchers recipe cards keep coming to mind, Rosy Perfection in particular.  Why did I choose this as the featured image?  I can’t change it now since that would be cowardly.  Right?  I mean, half of the post is trying to decide if all of you might see vague images of…No!  This is my favorite tenderloin recipe.  It’s not just good, it’s fan-freaking-tastic!  Fran Tarkington amazing and the picture stays!

So, yeah.  Try to find one giant tenderloin, rather than two little guys, which will shrivel and look like…

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Glaze

Prep Time: 15-20 min          Cook Time: about 6.5 hours (mostly, slow cooker)           Serves: 4-6
  • 3 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 – 1 & 1/2 TBSP garlic powder or paste
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or other
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
The glaze
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  1. Lay your dry tenderloin(s) out on a clean, dry surface (wax paper is a great idea) and sprinkle the side facing up with half of the garlic, salt, sage and pepper.  Rub the spice into the meat, flip the loin over and repeat.
  2. Place 1/2 cup water in the bottom of your slow cooker, then place the tenderloins into it.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours (if you haven’t tried slow cooker liners, you need to).Balsamic Tenderloin7
  3. When the 6 hours is almost up, in a small saucepan, mix the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup of water until dissolved.  Add the remaining glaze ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently, cooking until thick and whisking often, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.
    1. DO NOT LEAVE THE SCENE.  Just saying, bubbly glaze in your stove is a bit of a drag. Do not run to the lavatory, water the garden or start chopping broccoli, while singing the song, with your back to the glaze.
  4. Preheat your broiler to high and line a broiler tray with foil or use a disposable tray.  Remove the pork from the slow cooker, pat dry (without burning off your finger prints) and place into the broiler pan.  Brush with the glaze and broil for 2-3 minutes until it starts to bubble.  Remove and flip, brushing with glaze again, then return to broiler.  Repeat until you have a nice, caramelized crust.
  5. Take a photo before applying extra glaze, then pour that saucy goodness over everything!   Garnish with cilantro, if desired.


Super(man) Smörgåsbord

Well, I am just about recovered from my two weeks playing hostess.  Meaning, I am trying to remember how to do things like drive a car, cook and clean, since my company let me do none of these things.  To get back into the groove, last night I had the BEST recipe to prepare for you all and was ready to blow your socks off!  Sadly, I realized at 4 pm, that the recipe started off in a 6 hour slow cooker.  So, be ready, because tomorrow is when I will actually blow your socks off.

What are we to do in a situation like this; when the oven quits or we just simply blow it?  Quick Hamburger or Tuna Helper?  Grilled cheese sandwiches?  No.  The last minute meal of choice around here is the Super Smörgåsbord.  Bringing family, young and old, running into the dining room with joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces for many years, this is the ultimate way to clean out your fridge.  I mean, the ultimate way to satisfy any palate.

Super(man) Smörgåsbord

  • Whatever you want
  1. Shake off the initial panic from the broken oven, meat you forgot to defrost, lack of ingredients, etc. and take a deep breath.
  2. Open the cheese, meat and vegetable drawers and pull out armloads of your favorite things; cheese, pepperoni, celery, those tomatoes living on borrowed time, etc. and pile it onto plates.
  3. You can also throw together last month’s quick and easy last minute pizza crust and create an assortment of pizzas.
  4. Serve with crackers and milk, juice or wine in fancy glasses to remind people it’s about being a free spirit and not about lack of preparation or panic.

Note: don’t serve the children wine in the fancy glasses.








These ARE the Crawfish Po Boys You’re Looking For

Good morning, everybody!  It’s another beautiful spring day in Louisiana and, although I know the humidity is creeping up and the temperatures will soon rival the surface of the sun, I am loving every minute of it.

We have more company staying with us, our friend Frank from Wisconsin, so we are men about town, so to speak, and today we head back into the Atchafalaya Basin.  Before we go, I have to share the delicious magic we made with leftover crawfish tails last night.

Jamie boiled another amazing batch on Saturday and somehow we managed to polish off almost an entire sack (about 40 lbs) between 3 adults and 2 children.  I admit that the 4 trays I managed to put away may have had something to do with this.  Anyway, we had a few left, so we peeled the tails and saved the meat for po boys.  I am so glad we did!

My man has mad boiling skills, people!

You can use shrimp, fish, alligator (my boys’ favorite) or almost any other meat for po boys, but I’ll give directions for crawfish or shrimp.  Sadly, the grocery store was out of the larger po boy buns, so we went with hot dog buns, but no complaints from the masses over here.  We used the leftover dip from out crawfish boil (see “dipping sauce”), but you can also use mayo, miracle whip, ketchup, mustard, etc.  Get creative.


Crawfish or Shrimp Po Boys

Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb cleaned crawfish tail meat or shrimp
  • 1 & 1/2-2 cups flour
  • 2-4 TBSP Tony Chachere’s (or other) Creole Seasoning (you can also use a combination of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, etc. if you don’t have Creole seasoning)
  • 1-2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 TBSP prepared yellow mustard
  • Large Po Boy, Hoagie or hot dog buns
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • Lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, dipping sauce, etc., for dressing
  1. In an electric skillet, or a regular skillet with a thermometer, heat the peanut oil to 350°.
  2. In a bowl, beat the egg with the 1 TBSP prepared mustard.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and Creole seasoning, or other spices.
  3. Dry and then coat each crawfish tail or shrimp in the egg mixture, and then dredge with the flour mixture.
  4. Fry the coated meat in the peanut oil for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown, taking care not to over cook.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with additional Tony’s or salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Serve on a bun with desired condiments, lettuce and tomato.
I admit it, I’m a condiment junkie. 

Busy Day Beignets

Well, folks, our second round of company is here and we have hit the Louisiana night life for the first time in a long time.  This blogger is moving a little more slowly than normal thanks to the Parks Cracklin Cookoff and my cousin’s (ok, my step cousin’s husband’s) band, Nick-L-Beer.

Frank, our friend from Wisconsin had never tried beignets, but I am not quite up to rolling my own dough today, so to the fridge I went.  This is so simple and easy, but so delicious.  They taste better than many real beignets I’ve had and I’m sure you’ll love them.  It’s a great way to get the flavor and a fraction of the work.

I used to only use the smaller refrigerator tube biscuits, but I found out today that the big boys are the way to go.

Busy Day Beignets

Prep time: 10 seconds                    Cook Time: About 4 minutes                    Serves: 4
  • 1 tube refrigerated biscuits
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • About 2 cups powdered sugar for dusting
  1. Heat the oil to 350° and separate the biscuits, slightly flattening in your palms.  Drop flattened biscuits into oil and fry approximately 2 minutes per side, until golden.
  2. Remove to a paper towel to drain and dust with powdered sugar on both sides.  Enjoy.

Beignets 2


Brat Sliders, a Home Run

The depression over the departure of our wonderful company still isn’t fading, but we press on.  At least we still have some of the fantastic food they left us to keep the memories fresh…and someone’s dirty boxer shorts.

Anyway, last night the boys and I realized, with horror, that we only had 4 of Chad’s amazing Sheboygan bratwurst left.  As it registered that some of us would only be able to eat 1, while some lucky person would have 2, a stare-down ensued, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the climactic final moments of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  I had to think fast lest shots start firing.

See, our company also smoked a ham and we had intended to use the 48 slider buns we purchased to civilly eat said ham.  Sadly, the ham was also so delicious that something of a feeding frenzy erupted.  Buns and manners forgotten, we tore into the ham and that was that.

As I stared at my children, wondering how to end the standoff, I spotted the slider buns on the counter behind Daniel and inspiration struck.  What follows is a way to stretch those precious Chad brats, or an easy and delicious meal to end a long day.  The Good and Bad were quite satisfied and cleaned their plates with grins and ketchup on their faces.

The best part?  I have leftovers!

Brat Sliders

Prep & cook time: 5-10 minutes           Serves: 3-6
  • 4 large, or 6 small brats, cooked and cut into quarter rounds or bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2-4 TBSP butter, or olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dill, fresh or dried
  • 12+ slider buns
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  1. In a 10-12 inch skillet, saute the onion in the butter or oil on medium high until clear, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the brats and dill and heat until warm, about 2 minutes.  Add small bits of butter or oil, as needed, to keep moist.
  3. Add the sauerkraut and heat until warm, stirring to prevent sticking.
  4. Sprinkle with mozzarella and serve on slider buns topped with ketchup, mustard, etc.


They Call Me Tater Salad.

As I mentioned in Thursday’s post, you can’t do gumbo without potato salad, so I aim to keep my promise and share this tasty side.  This is a recipe I picked up from my cousin, Lore, and ran with.  I’ve never had anything as good as hers, but we’re getting closer.

I know the pickle juice sounds strange, but you can substitute with 1 TBSP of white vinegar, if needed. Potato Salad 3 We “import” the best pickles from Wisconsin and I use every drop of the jar I can.  Actually, our friend Frank brings them down by the case whenever he visits.  God bless him!

I love this potato salad warm, but it’s also wonderful chilled.  This is another recipe I’ve never tried to write down, so play with it as needed.  Just remember that the egg mixture will be greatly toned down when mixed with the potatoes, so don’t be scared of bold flavor.

I am constantly adding to and playing with this recipe.  Luckily, potato salad is very forgiving, so have yourself a little fun.

Potato Salad

  • 8 Medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
  • 6-7 medium/large eggs, just hard boiled
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
  • 1 & 1/2 TBSP prepared mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp or more Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 1 & 1/2 TBSP dill pickle juice
  • dash of dill
  • a few drops of vinegar
  • 1/2-1 dill pickle, minced
  1. Boil the potatoes until just soft, 12-15 minutes, drain and set aside, keep warm.
  2. Cut your hard boiled eggs in half and place the yolks in a medium mixing bowl,
    Potato Salad 5
    Yolk mixture

    setting the whites aside.  Add the Miracle whip or mayo, mustard, salt, black pepper, Tony’s, pickle juice, dill and vinegar to the yolks and beat with an electric mixer until creamy.  Season to taste, if needed and add the minced dill pickle.

  3. Dice or mince the egg whites, putting half in with the potatoes and half into a bowl for later garnish.
  4. With a wooden spoon or soft spatula, mix half of the whites and the yolk mixture with the potatoes and stir to coat all potatoes evenly.  Top with extra whites, chopped green onion, yellow onion, chives, paprika, etc.

Potato Salad 6


Gumbo 101-Bo…or something like that

My Louisiana family may have to unfollow me or unfriend me on Facebook after this one, mostly just because that’s the only title I could come up with.  Everyone who’s tried it, loves my gumbo, but it’s a little different than the traditional.  Mine is a tad thicker, closer to stew, and I cook it longer.  It’s not because I don’t love traditional gumbo, but I have never been able to pull off the right, thin final product.  Gumbo, like chili, is one of those meals that tastes even better the second day.  I have found that cooking it a little longer, you give it that second day flavor.  Over the years my guys and I have really fallen in love with this recipe and even prefer it.


Wanting to share this comfort food with you, last night I did something that I have never even considered doing; I wrote down my gumbo recipe.  It was a huge challenge, and you who also shoot from the hip know, that never making things the same way twice causes a little stress when asked for the recipe.  I think I came up with something and I have to say that it was pretty darn good and right on target.  This isn’t a difficult recipe, but it does require a little work and diligence.  Oh, and it’s mandatory to serve this with fresh made potato salad.  Recipe tomorrow.

A couple of notes: I always thought I hated okra until I stumbled on a way to bake it with salsa, Rotel and Tony’s.  It’s perfect in a gumbo.  Canned okra and tomato variations are available in most grocery stores if you want to it, but it is not necessary in this recipe.

Additionally, we love gumbo file (pronounced FEE-LAY).  This is simply dried and ground sassafras leaves sprinkled over the gumbo during or after cooking.  So delicious, but also not mandatory.

Finally, though most people will use the fancy smoked sausage, I am partial to the skinless.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the good stuff, but I also love the softer texture and the way the skinless sausage soaks in the flavor.  Any smoked sausage will do however.

Let me know what you guys think!


Prep Time: 15 minutes          Cook Time: 1.5-2 hours          Serves: a small army
  • 1 & 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (vegetable oil is the traditional oil)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 lbs smoked sausage, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 + quarts water
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 TBSP Tony Chachere or other creole seasoning
  • Cooked white rice
  • Okra
  • 1-3 tsp Gumbo file, additional for table use
  • A bottle of wine, easily accessible during the first 30 minutes
  • An assistant to help stir
  1. In a large black pot (Dutch over) or stock pot, heat the oil and flour on medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook and stir for 25-30 minutes, until the roux is the color of coffee with a touch of cream in it (have back up standing by to relieve your sore arm and have your meat and veggies prepped.  Pour a glass of wine).  DO NOT leave the roux unattended as it burns very quickly.  Hence, the constant stirring.
  2. When the roux is ready, add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic.  Stir for 1-2 minutes. Gumbo
  3. Add the 2 quarts of water, garlic salt, black pepper and creole seasoning and bring to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes (Top off your wine and wipe your brow).
  4. Add the cubed chicken and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for 20 minutes (Top off your wine).
  5. Add the cut sausage, file and okra and continue cooking on medium low, stirring occasionally, for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the flavors blend and the vegetables are totally softened (Top off your wine).
  6. Add water as needed to prevent over-thickening.

Serve over cooked rice with extra file and a side of potato salad.  Or serve your potato salad in the same bowl as it often done in Louisiana (Top off your wine and collapse into a chair, letting the applause wash over you).













Shlemiel, Frittata, Awesome Breakfast, Incorporated!

We’re gonna’ do it!

Give us any egg, we’ll break it,

Read a recipe, we’ll bake it,

Our culinary dreams come true,

Learnin’ the hard way!..

Sorry, couldn’t help myself and words that rhyme with frittata are hard to come by.  I’ll be singing this all day.

Happy Hump day, my friends!  I realized today that, with Jamie on the road, I have a frittatasurplus supply of eggs and it was time to have a little fun.  I also have a ton of broccoli for some reason, so I decided to go Italian and make frittata.  Delicious!  My kids, including Daniel, the broccoli hater, were actually fighting over the last piece.  It was a sight to behold.

Anyway, it’s very easy and I finished it on the stove top, so no messing with the broiler.  Like a regular omelet, this is a great way to clean out the veggie drawer in your fridge.  The best part is that you don’t have to fold it!


Basic Frittata

Serves: 4-ish (or 1 piece for me and the rest for my 2 boys)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped broccoli, or other shredded/diced veggies (frozen veggies work too)
  • 4-6 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced or diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian blend or other shredded cheese (I went part Parmesan and part mozzarella)
  1. In a 10 inch skillet, heat the oil and saute the garlic, onion and broccoli, or other veggies, on medium high heat, until crisp-tender, 5 minutes or less.  When done, spread them evenly across the bottom of the skillet.  Sprinkle the olives over the veggies in the skillet.
  2. Beat the eggs well, adding salt and pepper (and of course Tony’s for us) to taste, then pour slowly over the veggies in your skillet.
  3. Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs and reduce heat to medium low.  Loosely cover your skillet and as your eggs thicken, periodically remove the lid and gently lift the edges of the eggs with a spatula, allowing the liquid to run underneath.
  4. Cook until eggs are set, minding they don’t burn, for 7-10 minutes.

    frittata 3
    It’s even pretty upside down.

Traditionally, you would finish in a broiler, but it’s much easier and still delicious to simply cover the skillet loosely.  Fewer dishes make for a happy parent.








“Luke, I am Nacho Pizza”

So, what does the average person do with a terrible cookie icing utensil that has never worked properly?  Throw it away, of course!  What does a nerd mom do with said cookie icer?  Make Darth Vader magic for her kids by filling it with sour cream and decorating a celebratory pizza.

Let me give you a little backstory: for the last several months my oldest son has been dealing with the worst kind of bully.  This kid has called him the foulest sort of names, shoved and hit him, called his sexuality into question before others, called him fat (he’s not), told him that his bio parents only gave him up for adoption because he’s ugly (most certainly not true) and told him he was going to be returned because of said ugliness.  As a parent, this is the worst thing to watch your child suffer through, but he’s at that age where I can no longer rush in to fix it for him.  While I did email a teacher and tell him to secretly keep an eye on the situation and said the same to a couple of other teachers, I didn’t want my son also branded a tattle tale.

My young man is stoic, almost to a fault, however, and greatly downplayed the ongoing situation, so I didn’t know the extent of what was still happening.  His bully was slick and never got caught.  I say “was” because yesterday my young man finally had enough and took care of business, laying this kid out and going from the shy, quiet kid to the school hero in an instant.

We don’t condone violence in our home and never encourage our kids to fight, but we do tell them that, without any other options, you defend yourself. And that’s just what he did.  I couldn’t be prouder, and to celebrate his act of heroism, my fancy-schmancy nacho pizza became all his.

And that is how my normally eye and taste bud pleasing nacho pizza became a little less pretty, but a whole lot cooler.

You can do this several different ways, but I went all from scratch last night.  I made the giant corn tortilla and the meat, but you can substitute store bought tortillas and a taco seasoning packet with your ground beef in a pinch.  I’ll use the store bought corn tortillas here, but will post the homemade tortilla recipe shortly.
This one is so delicious!

Loaded Nacho Pizza

Oven: 450°

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to your heat preference)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • corn tortillas, enough to cover the bottom of a pizza pan
  • 1/4-1/2 cup prepared nacho cheese
  • 1-2 cups shredded taco blend or other cheeses
  • Lettuce, tomato, olives, sour cream, etc. for garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the onion, jalapeno and garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the ground beef.  Brown the gr. beef, then drain.  Add the salsa, chili powder, cumin and cayenne.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, then add the black beans.  Reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally until the beans are warm, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Grease a 16 in round pizza pan or an 11 X 17 inch cookie sheet and line with tortillas.  Bake in a 450° oven for 5-7 minutes, until tortillas are warm and slightly browning, turning over if necessary.
  3. Remove the tortilla pan from the oven and spread the nacho cheese all over the tortillas, as you would with regular pizza sauce.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the pizza and then sprinkle the meat and bean mixture over the cheese (you may only want to use 1/2-1/3 of the meat mixture and save the rest for tomorrow night’s awesome burritos or nachos).
  4. Bake in your 450° oven for 6-8 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from oven and top with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc.
  6. Serve with forks and enjoy! Nacho Pizza.jpg







First Day of Spring Rolls

I think it’s time to pull out the big guns.  Today we’re talking spring rolls.  This is another one of those recipes that is cause for celebration around these parts.  Normally, I can make 50 of these and they won’t last more than 24 hours, but I was a good girl this time.  I made 25 and froze the remaining mix for later use.  The disappointment eventually faded since I pacified the gang with apple chips, which are sadly gone now as well.

Like all of my recipes, I play with this one a lot.  I will add extra soy and fish sauce to give a little more flavor to the filling.  I would recommend using about half of an 8 ounce package of rice sticks, but sometimes I will put a little extra into the mix to stretch it.

We like the traditional method of rolling the cooked spring rolls into a leaf of lettuce topped with cooked rice sticks, shredded carrot and cucumber.  This offers a wonderful variety of texture and refreshing crunch, but you don’t have to do this as they stand alone just fine.


Spring Rolls

  • 1 lb ground pork, cooked
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, chopped and cooked
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms, diced, no stems
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce + extra
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 8 oz pack Cellophane noodles or rice sticks, cooked
  • 1 egg, white and yolk separated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 pack 8 inch spring roll wrappers (make sure they are the kind used to fry, not for raw spring rolls)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Fish sauce
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Shredded carrot
  • Julienned cucumber
  1. Blanch cabbage and place in an ice bath.  Drain and then squeeze out water.  In a large bowl mix cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and gr. onions.
  2. Mix the chopped, cooked shrimp, cooked pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce, rice vinegar, about half of the rice sticks and egg white well.  Add to the vegetable mix (I usually mix it all together in one bowl, but these were my original directions, so I leave it to you.  Less dirty dishes make me happy). 20160318_173714-1.jpg
  3. Brush egg yolk on three corners of a wrapper, then add 2 TBSP of filling in the center, diagonally.  Place a wet towel over any wrapper or spring roll not in use to keep moist and prevent breaking during the frying process.
  4. Deep fry in peanut oil at 350° for 4-5 minutes, flipping half way, until golden brown.
  5. Serve wrapped in lettuce with the extra noodles, cucumber and carrots, or alone.  Dip in oriental chili or soy sauce.

Scroll down for directions and a short video on how to fold spring rolls.