Friday, October 30, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard BBQ Sauce

Ben has yet again amazed us with his culinary skills, particularly in the pork tenderloin category. Like I said in my pumpkin carving post, October is a busy month for my family. Not only are there tons of birthdays in October, but some of them even fall on the same day! For example, my uncle and I share a birthday, as well as my mom and my sister (it's just crazy!). Ok, on to the real reason I am typing this post: THE FOOD. This meal was prepared for my mom's and sister's birthdays. We had Brussels sprouts (I literally would not try Brussels sprouts until I was 23...sad I know, but I love them!), rosemary potatoes, and pork tenderloin. yummy!

As always with the glazes and sauces Ben makes, the mustard BBQ sauce was a mixture of various things - honey, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce (he never really knows how much of each he uses, but it always works out). To make the sauce, put 1/3 cup of brown sugar in a sauce pan on medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar, little bit of honey, and a few dashes of Worcestershire cause, stir until dissolved (if you need to add more wet ingredients, that's fine). Add a cup of mustard to the mixture and stir. If you're not a big mustard person, I would say it's safe not to use tons of it and it would still taste good.

Ben marinaded the tenderloins in mustard for a couple of hours, but you can marinade it over night if you wish. He grilled the pork for 30 minutes total. After initially cooking the tenderloin all the way around, he started applying the BBQ sauce with a brush at 2-3 minute increments.

I chopped 3/4 a package of bacon, put it in a skillet, and cooked it for a few minutes, then removed the bacon and added the Brussels sprouts to the grease. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste, then slightly steam the sprouts at the end by placing a lid on the skillet for several minutes (remember to stir occasionally). About half way through cooking the Brussels sprouts, I added the bacon and let it finish cooking.

If you have any questions about this meal or anything else on the blog, e-mail me at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

To celebrate Halloween, I made some pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing and goodness gracious these cookies are addicting!

I found the recipe on This website has the recipe for the cookies and icing on one page - so convenient. The recipe calls for canola oil instead of butter, because it is a "healthy" fat, not saturated fat (so that means I can eat twice as many, right?). Plus the oil gives the cookies a soft, moist texture.

I doubled the icing recipe, because I was worried about not having enough, which was good because I only had a little left over. However, I will say that a little bit of this icing goes a long way so be cautious about the amount you use. The recipe made about 20 cookies - perfect for a party. Oh and as always, I put more cinnamon than it calls for (you gotta love cinnamon)!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Carving!

I love love love to carve pumpkins. October is always a really busy month for my family because we have 6 birthdays! This year, however, October seemed to be especially busy. I normally like to carve pumpkins at the beginning of October, but this year Ben and I didn't get around to carving until October 21! (gasp!)

I let Ben scoop out all of the insides. I usually don't mind doing that, but I wasn't up for getting my hands dirty this year. On a side note - I am noticing now that he has slight googly-eyes. oops! haha.

We always like to think of our own pumpkin designs. I think it's more fun to have a one-of-a-kind jack-0-lantern. So we knew we wanted a mean-looking-but-not-too-scary pumpkin face. I sketched it out and started drawing.

Here are the two pumpkins we did last year.

I think our pumpkins are simple and classic. Your basic jack-o-lantern. No fancy knives or scrapers to be found here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Icing Cupcakes

Little Rock's 16th annual Race for the Cure was this past weekend. Did you know Little Rock's RFTC is 4th largest in THE WORLD? Can you believe it? I can't. Over 45,000 people participated in the race this Saturday! It was so much fun!

So going with the pink theme, I made chocolate cupcakes with peppermint patties and pink buttercream icing. I am not the best at icing cupcakes, so I did a little research before starting this time. I found that most people (bloggers) use Wilton's 1M tip and after using it this weekend, I would have to agree. I will admit that my technique probably needs a little practice, but the icing tip is quite amazing.

Here's the recipe for the icing:
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar (10x sifted)
1 tablespoons Wilton Meringue powder
1 dashes salt
1 1/2 cups white crisco
2 teaspoons Wilton no-color butter flavor
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
4 tablespoons water

Cream shortening, add butter flavor and vanilla and mix well. Add Meringue powder, sugar, and salt and gradually add water.

I put a peppermint patty in each cupcake before I baked them. The peppermint patty completely melted and dissolved, adding a slight mint flavor in the cake! Yummy!

Here's a great "How To" tutorial about icing cupcakes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peanut-Broccoli Stir-Fry Dinner

I have been wanting to try this stir-fry meal from Southern Living's one-dish dinners and when trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner last night I remembered this dish.

I won't say it was the easiest, fastest meal to prepare, but it also wasn't the hardest. What was the most difficult was having to manage multiple things at one time. For example, the brown rice was cooking while the chicken was cooking and then I needed to wash and cut the vegetables and make the sauce. It's just a lot going on all at once, but it came together nicely.

The recipe calls for vegetable broth and this proved to be troublesome because Kroger does not carry vegetable broth (or if they do it was hidden). Luckily there is a Fresh Market close by that carries it. The recipe only calls for broccoli and carrots, but snow peas are delicious so we added those. With stir-fry, you can pretty much add any vegetables you like, the more the better. The recipe also used tofu, but we like chicken, so that is what we used.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Homemade Apple Pie

This is the first homemade pie I have ever made! And I must admit that the anticipation was worse than actually making it. I was so scared I was going to mess up or that it would taste bad. I'm the kind of person that usually takes a pie out of a box and pops it in the oven. Never again! I'm a changed person!

Whenever I embarked on this pie adventure I did not know what I was getting myself into. The dough was definitely the hardest part. Not so much making the dough, but actually putting it in the bottom of the pie dish. As you can see in the below picture, part of the dough tore and I had to patch it with more dough. Totally fine, though, because no one could tell since it was on the bottom!
I used Alton Brown's recipe for the dough. However, his recipe gets too complicated so I stopped following it after leaving the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. After that I just rolled the dough out (using lots of flour) and carefully placed it in the pie dish. Whenever it comes to Alton Brown I am a firm believer that there is no reason for all of those other shenanigans when I can accomplish the same thing in less steps and time.

I used Grandma Ople's Apple Pie recipe for the filling (she's not my Grandma, but she sure knows how to make an apple pie!). The only thing I did differently with this recipe is that I did not pour the sugar and butter mixture over the lattice. I poured it directly on the apples and then covered it. Before I go any further, I wanted to mention the cinnamon. I would only put cinnamon on the apples and in the mixture if you would like. Do not put it on the lattice, because it will appear burned after it bakes (I learned this the hard way from the cinnamon sugar pretzels.)

I know what you're thinking..."a lattice? really? on your first pie?" Believe me, I was scared too. But luckily I found this great video on that does step by step instructions on how to make a lattice. Plus after having such a hard time putting the pie crust in the bottom I was actually looking forward to trying something else for the top.

Yes yes, there are some places where I messed up (particularly on the lattice) but I'm already thinking of the next type of pie I should make. Any suggestions? Leave me a comment!

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Birthday Cake

For my 24th birthday one of my best friends, Katie, made my birthday cake! This cake was beautiful! It is completely homemade - the cake, the icing, everything. The cake was four layers of chocolate with chocolate icing and a pint of Guinness in the cake!

We spent the weekend at my family's mountain house on Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas. As you can see, one of the activities was shooting clay pigeons. So much fun! Ben did a good job of planning activities! That's me shooting and probably missing the clay, however I will say that I hit my fair share.

This birthday was so much fun! I can't wait until my 25th birthday, dun dun dun! Mid-twenties!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pumpkin Dip with Ginger Snaps

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I Love Fall!

I know we've all had pumpkin dip with ginger snaps during the Fall months! Yummy! The recipe is so simple and perfect for this time of year that I could not pass it up. I found it by googling "fall appetizers", and let me tell you, there are tons of delicious dishes out there just waiting to be made!

This season I've been seeing a lot of hollowed-out pumpkins being used as bowls and I think that is too cute! Unfortunately, the pumpkins I had were too large, so I would have had to make like 5 pounds of dip (no thank you) so I settled for a regular bowl.

I love this recipe because it requires so few ingredients:
16 oz. of cream cheese
16 oz. powdered sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp. nutmeg
4 tsp. cinnamon (adding more cinnamon is ok!)
serve with ginger snaps (round cookies or sticks)

Beat cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir in nutmeg, pumpkin puree, and cinnamon and Volia! So easy!