Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving, a few days early...

So, as you all know, last week I was privileged to attend a Taste of Home Fall Cooking Show. (See the recap here. By the way... whenever you see "TOH" that means Taste of Home. Just so ya know.)

Ever since, I have been inspired to kick my game up a notch in the kitchen. Lately, I have begun to rely on the same quick easy meals. (Grilled cheese & tomato soup, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Tacos...)

Also, my Business Man and I had a rare weekend in the Bean Town with not much planned. So why not devote my whole Sunday afternoon to cooking a scrumptious meal?

We decided that we'd have our own mini-Thanksgiving. Minus the turkey. (Neither of us is the biggest fan of turkey. It always seems to be dry or tough.)

On the Menu:
     Spinach Salad with Cranberries & Feta
     Pear-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (from the TOH cooking show)
     Green Bean Casserole with a Twist (a TOH recipe)
     Cranberry Sauce
     Golden Honey Pan Rolls (another TOH recipe)

And for dessert, you will have to wait until the end of the post... sneaky sneaky!

The table all set! We used our beautiful handmade placemats that we received as a wedding gift. (Thanks Renee!)

We started with a spinach salad. Just some baby spinach, mixed with a little red onion, dried cranberries, and feta cheese. With a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Nothing too fancy here.

Fresh and green, a refreshing start to a heavy meal.

Next up, the star of the show. Well, the intended star of the show. The Pear-Stuffed Pork Loin. (I think the rolls ended up stealing the limelight in the end.)

This recipe was a little complicated, but oh so delicious. Imagine soft pears and dried apricots, mixed with a honey-garlic glaze, all stuffed into a pork tenderloin and rolled up and sliced cinnamon-roll style. There was not even a need for gravy or anything of the sort!

We realized we did not have a meat thermometer, just as the pork was supposed to come out of the oven. After quickly trying to improvise, we also realized a candy thermometer does not work well for finding the internal temperature of meat. Oh well, neither of us has gotten sick yet! (Recipe at end of post.)

And a side dish: Green Bean Casserole, miniature-sized. I figured that we would have enough leftovers with all the other stuff, so might as well create fewer leftovers with this one. And, this recipe adds cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheese to the traditional favorite. Why wouldn't it be good? And it was. Especially since I about tripled the amount of fried onions on top. And then proceeded to scrape most of them off into my serving. 

Ever so cutely displayed in our cute little mini-casserole dish. Love this!

And the star of the show........................ Golden Honey Pan Rolls!

These were soooooo sooooooo good. The picture does not do it justice. The recipe called for the use of a bread machine, which I do not have. After a couple minutes of googling, I figured out a way to make it work without. And they turned out so well! Almost like Texas Roadhouse Rolls. My only regret is 'glazing' only half the batch. I had never glazed rolls pre-bake, so I was a little unsure.

Also, the recipe said it made 24 rolls, and I definitely only got 15. But, no big deal here. We just like bigger rolls?
These were definitely the #1 selection of the menu, considering it has only been 24 hours since the meal and there are only two rolls left.
And here is the final presentation on the plate. And yes, that is canned jellied cranberry sauce. My mom would get it about once a year growing up, and we would have it about a week before Thanksgiving. It brings me back to my childhood years. I believe I saw my Business Man poking it with fork, watching and jiggle, and asking "What is that??"

And then, after our food babies digested for a bit, we had DESSERT! The Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie

[Side note: I adore the Pioneer Woman. I got hooked on her website a few years ago, and she has since published a cookbook. Go buy it. Every recipe that I have ever tried of hers is delicious.] 

I had never made a pecan pie before, and I can't even really remember eating one. This was superb. With a little scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, it totally hit the spot.

Good thing my Business Man took the rest to work! (After he informed me that he had a slice for breakfast. Men...)
And that's that! Our first Mini-Thanksgiving! And, the beginning of many posts dedicated to holiday cooking and baking. Mua ha ha...

Pear-Stuffed Pork Loin

  • 1 boneless whole pork loin roast, 3-4 lbs.
  • ½ cup chopped peeled ripe pears
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • tbsp. parsley
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Glaze
    • 1 cup finely chopped peeled ripe pear
    • ½ cup finely chopped onion
    • ¼ cup honey
    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tbsp. chili sauce
    •  tsp. cayenne pepper

Cut a lengthwise slit down the center of the roast to within 1/2-inch of bottom. Open roast so it lies flat, and cover with plastic wrap. Flatten to 3/4-inch thickness.

Remove plastic wrap. In a small bowl, combine ripe pears, dried apricots, pecans, parsley, honey, garlic, and cayenne pepper; spread over roast to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up from a long side; tie with kitchen string at 2-inch intervals. Place in a shallow roasting pan lined with heavy-duty foil.

Combine the glaze ingredients; spoon over roast. Bake, uncovered, at 350*F for 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min or until a meat thermometer reads 160*F. Baste occasionally with pan drippings. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.


ambernpayne said...


I look forward to getting to know you more! :) You totally need to teach me how to cook - dang, girl! :D

Happy Thanksgiving!!


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