Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin

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I made this recipe from Southern Living (April 2008) tonight and it was SO yummy. Not exactly South Beach-y, but it was Hubby’s first night home from a business trip that required staying at a hotel with abysmal food, so I wanted to make him something nice. I sauteed some zucchini in a little butter and Baby Bam to go alongside.

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That’s my Mom’s Salad Dressing there. Yummy. Big hit with Girl.

We love our usual pork tenderloin recipe so much, that I was hesitant to even try another one. Seriously, I just thought that it wouldn’t even be possible for another recipe to come close, but this was really good! It must be the delicate simplicity of the seasoning blend and baking/broiling procedure BACON that makes it so good! I know that I’m a little late to the party, but I have just recently “discovered” McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning. I know that’s a little like saying that I just “discovered” you can buy butter now, instead of churning it yourself, but, hey…I had never heard of it or used it before. I bought the lower salt variety (you can always add more salt) and it’s really tasty. Honestly, I think if I had NOT used the low-salt variety in this recipe, it would have been too salty. It was perfect, as is. I did use more bacon than the recipe called for (about 10 slices) because 3 slices wasn’t enough for the bacon to wrap all the way around (I separate the 2 tenderloins and bacon-wrapped and baked them individually). This will definitely be a “keeper” recipe. It was really simple (3 ingredients!) to assemble and easy to cook, though it does splatter a bit of bacon grease in your oven, so be prepared to do a little clean-up afterwards.

The tenderloin was so pretty, all trussed up with the bacon. It looked like a dragon roll.

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Tenderloin, wrapped with bacon before baking/broiling.

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Tenderloin, after baking. This smelled great while it was cooking. The kids thought I was making “breakfast for dinner”.

For dessert, I decided to spoil the kids a bit, too. We recently made the (3.5 hour) drive from Houston back to Austin (after our Alaska trip) and stopped in La Grange to pick up some “Dublin Dr. Pepper“.

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If you’re not familiar, the Dublin bottling plant is one of the VERY few remaining in the country that still uses the “old” Dr. Pepper formula, without high-fructose corn syrup. They use pure cane sugar. In fact, the label has the little “Imperial Sugar” logo on it (made in Sugarland, Texas, where much of my family either lives or has lived, thankyouverymuch). Comparing “regular” Dr. Pepper to an old-fashioned “Dublin” Dr. Pepper is like comparing T-bone to tofu. The cane sugar sodas are just more subtle, not as overpoweringly sweet and just SO much more delicious. They are also only available in a limited distribution zone surrounding the bottling plant. Alas, they are not available in Austin, so whenever we make a pilgrimage toward Houston, we always have to stop and get some. Well, Girl has been asking for a “Dublin” float for dessert for quite some time, so tonight I made a batch of Mexican Vanilla ice cream and obliged. Those were a really big hit, too.

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Overall, a good meal and a good night. Very nice to have Hubby back at home. This first week of school (one more day to go!) has been a little hectic and we’re all tired and a bit cranky. We are all looking forward to an extended weekend this week.

Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread Mini Loaves

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I made these using this recipe from Cooking Light magazine (June 2008). I made a half-batch and cooked them in my mini loaf pan. If made this way, you’ll need to bake the mini loaves for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I didn’t try these because this sort of thing is absolutely verboten on the South Beach diet, but I put them in Boy and Girl’s lunchboxes for a snack and they were a big hit.

Speaking of lunchboxes, here are some great lunch-packing ideas for you moms in the crowd:

Epicurious lunchbox recipes

Laptop Lunchbox Website
(I LOVE LOVE LOVE these cute little lunchboxes, but they’re really only good for elementary schoolers; once a kid gets to middle school, these cutie-pie lunchkits are a sure-fire “Kick my ass” invitation. That’s OK – when your kids reach that age, you can use these cute lunch kits for yourself!)

About.com lunch ideas

a few more from about.com

Cute ideas (mostly for younger kids) from familyfun.com (Disney)

Egg in a Nest

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A tutorial on a classic, kid-friendly breakfast.

You’ll need:
a griddle or large skillet
butter or margarine
(as much as I DETEST margarine, it’s actually better for this,
because you don’t have to worry about it over-browning, like you would with butter)
one and egg and one piece of bread for each person you’re feeding
(we used wonderful wheat bread from Weikel’s Shell station bakery in LaGrange)
a large cookie cutter (small enough to fit into your slice of bread)
large spatula

Use the cookie cutter to cut a shape out of each piece of bread. If you don’t have a cookie cutter the right size, you can use a drinking glass. Save the cut-out shapes.
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Generously butter the griddle. Heat it to medium-ish.
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Place the bread slices and reserved cut-out shapes on the griddle (or in the skillet – use what ya got!).
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Turn ’em over the get the other side cookin’. Add more butter margarine, if you need to. Turn the cut-out shapes over, too. Keep a close eye on them, because they will cook quickly and may need to be removed from the griddle.
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Gently crack an egg into each bread-hole “nest”.
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Dot each egg with a tiny bit of nasty, yellow, oily stuff margarine.
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Sprinkle each egg with salt and, if desired, pepper.
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Keep watching the little cut-out shapes!
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Lower the heat, if necessary, to keep the eggs from overcooking. If you like your eggs cooked into submission firm, like Boy and Girl do, turn the toast/eggs over. If you like your eggs still a bit runny, watch them carefully and remove ’em from the heat shortly after the whites of the eggs are opaque.
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Serve ’em up with some fruit, topped with the little cut-out shapes, if the cook doesn’t eat them first if desired.
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Life is GOOD…

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succulent Black Mission figs, fragrant toasted pecans and creamy Maytag blue cheese

The kids are off at school; I have a bit of time to myself during the day on a regular basis now. Hubby is even out of town on a business trip, so my schedule is completely my own. I took advantage of this rare opportunity to create a snack/brunch (it really should be a dessert) for myself that NO ONE else in my family will eat, but I LOVE, but rarely get to indulge. Seriously, no one will touch this but me (Hubby hates figs, Girl hates almost all nuts and Boy hates “stinky cheese”). I am absolutely loving life right now. I’m reading the third of Ruth Reichl’s books (Garlic and Sapphires) while nibbling on this tasty treat and watching the hummingbirds play out of the corner of my eye. The only thing that would make it perfect would be a diminutive glass of port, but it is 10:00 am and even I would find that a little too indulgent.

My Mother’s Salad Dressing

This was my very favorite salad dressing when I was a kid. I haven’t made it in ages, so I don’t have a photo, but it’s really yummy and is a perfect dressing to use when you have kids around and want to encourage them to eat their greens! I’ll be making a batch for Boy and Girl soon.

Mom’s Salad Dressing
(sort of a sweet, Catalina-ish dressing)

1 cup oil, your choice
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup vinegar (your choice)
(maybe start out with apple cider for kids and then work your way up to balsamic)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
dash of onion and/or garlic powder
(you may prefer to use some – maybe 2 Tbsp – finely chopped, fresh shallot instead)
sprinkle (1/2 tsp?) of your favorite dried herb, optional
optional: a dash of celery seed and/or prepared mustard


Penzey’s Sunny Paris seasoning
is also great in this dressing (omit the onion, garlic, shallots, and herbs)

Whisk together all ingredients, EXCEPTING THE OIL, into a medium-sized bowl. Slowly pour the oil into the mixture, whisking constantly to blend and incorporate.

UPDATE:
Here’s a photo!
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Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Salad

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I have combined 2 different recipes together (South Beach Chicken Pistachio Salad and Pistachio-Crusted Chicken from Epicurious) to make a dish that, I think, takes the best from each. I made this for Hubby and I for lunch on a day when the kiddos were both elsewhere and we both liked it a lot.

Here’s my version:

Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Salad

Serves 2 LARGE portions or 4 smaller ones
(perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, finely ground (in the food processor)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
about 3 Tbsp olive oil

generous amount of your choice of salad greens and ingredients
(we used romaine hearts, red onion, yellow bell pepper, radish, grape tomatoes, carrot and cucumber)

salad dressing of your choice
(we like Cilantro Ranch)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut each chicken breast into 2 equal-sized portions. Pound gently with a mallet to flatten each of the four pieces to a uniform thickness. Sprinkle each piece of gently lightly with salt and pepper. Brush each piece with a light layer of mustard, turning to coat each side. Sprinkle (turning to get both sides) with the fresh thyme. Pour the ground pistachoes into a shallow plate. Dredge each mustard-coated chicken piece through the nuts, turning and patting to lightly coat. Set the chicken aside on a plate.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, shallow skillet. Carefully add the chicken to the skillet and cook until the nuts are golden-toasted, turning to cook both sides. When nuts are cooked (but before they start to burn), remove the chicken pieces from the skillet and place them in a baking dish (or a broiler rack), being careful to not dislodge any of the nut coating. Bake the chicken for about 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer (inserted into the thickest portion) registers 160 degrees.

Set the chicken aside to cool slightly while you pile the salad greens onto the serving plates. You may either slice the chicken into medallions and place it on top of the salad, or you may leave the chicken breasts whole and serve them to the side of the salad – your choice. Top with dressing!

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If you aren’t doing “South Beach” and would like to serve this over rice or pasta (instead of salad), you could add some finely chopped onion or shallots (and maybe a tiny bit of minced ginger?) to the saute pan (after removing the chicken) and cook them until they’re softened and then deglaze the pan with a little white wine and/or chicken stock to make a savory sauce to pour over the chicken (you could still serve a salad on the side).

When I made this dish in the photo shown below, I made it a little differently and used one whole breast for each portion. The breasts were too thick for the mustard-nut-thyme flavor to get all the way to the middle of the chicken and we’ve realized that one whole chicken breast is just too much for us to eat at one sitting.