Garlic and Herb Grilled Pork Tenderloin

A couple of friends came to visit yesterday, and I was able to fire up the grill for the first time in our new house.  (More on the move to come, once the place is fully unpacked and isn’t such a disaster area)

Garlic and Herb Grilled Pork Tenderloin | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe was adapted from one found on Tide & Thyme.

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ~2 lbs pork tenderloin

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the pork.  Rub the marinade all over the pork tenderloin.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 4 hours, until ready to grill.

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire on your charcoal grill or preheat your gas grill to medium-high. Grill for 15-20 minutes, turning so all sides get browned, or until a meat thermometer reads at least 155 degrees F.

Transfer the meat to a serving platter, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Then slice into that bad boy and eat!


Creamy Baked Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

Let me just start this off by saying that after taking his first bite, Sean stopped and said “Baby, this is ballin’.”  So… yeah.  I’d say we have a winner here.

Oh, yeah.  And sorry I’m not sorry that this contains pumpkin ;).

Creamy Baked Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe is adapted from Leave a Happy Plate.

You’ll need:

  • 1 box short cut pasta (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and sliced thinly into half moons
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 lb ground sausage
  • 1/2 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus a little more for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, minus 1 minute.  Drain and set the cooked pasta aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large oven-safe skillet/pan/dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned, crumbling as you go.  Remove the sausage from the pan and allow it to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the olive oil to the pan.  When the oil is nice and hot, add the sliced onions and fennel seeds.  Sauté the onions until they are softened.

While the onions are cooking, combine the yogurt, pumpkin, heavy cream, chili powder, and cheese in a mixing bowl.

Mix the pasta, onions, and sausage in the pan.  Pour the yogurt/pumpkin mixture over the top and stir until everything is nicely coated.

Top with some more parmesan cheese, and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Crock Pot Brown and Maple Sugar Pork Tenderloin

Everyone loves a good crock pot recipe, amirite?  Here’s another easy, tasty one that will make your life easier on days when you just really don’t feel like/have the time to cook.Crock Pot Brown and Maple Sugar Pork Tenderloin | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe came from Your Homebased Mom.

You’ll need:

  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin (I used one that was like 4 lbs, and this amount of sauce was fine)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs real maple syrup
  • 4 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tbs cold water

Put the pork in a slow cooker.  Salt and pepper the meat.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, maple syrup, mustard, honey, brown sugar, vinegar, and thyme.  Mix well.  Pour over the pork, turning to coat.

Cook on low 7-9 hours or high 3-4 hours.

Once it’s done, remove the pork from the crock pot and cover with foil.  Put the juices in a small sauce pan and simmer 8-10 minutes.  Combine the cornstarch and water.  Add this to the simmering juices and whisk, cooking for a minute or so longer.

Pour the thickened juices over the pork.  Shred a bit and enjoy!

Grammy’s Ham Barbecue Sandwiches

My husband and I, along with a group of friends, recently spent a long weekend at a cabin in West Virginia.  We had such a good time that we’re already talking about staying there again next year.  Our time was spent catching up with one another, walking around in the woods, feeding some nearly-tame deer, and doing a lot of eating and drinking (of course).  I made these sandwiches for the group for lunch one day.  I just wanted to share a few pictures from the trip with you, too.  It was really beautiful there.





They came right up to our cabin!  We even had the doe eating out of our hands a few times.

So, this may not be news to some of you, and I didn’t initially realize this but apparently ham barbecue sandwiches are a regional thing!  It first occurred to me when a friend from South Carolina had no idea what I was talking about when I offered her one.  If you aren’t from the Western PA/Ohio/etc. area, and have never heard of them, please give ham barbecues a try!  They’re great at a picnic.

I got this recipe from my Grammy, who will often make these for family gatherings, especially in the summertime.

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 bottle ketchup
  • 1 bottle’s worth of water*
  • Chipped ham**, as much as desired
  • Sandwich buns

Sautee the onion in the butter until the onions are translucent.  Add the brown sugar and vinegar and saute for 3 more minutes.

Add the ketchup and water.  Stir to combine.  Heat through, 5-10 minutes.  Add the chipped ham.

I typically put the ham and sauce into a slow cooker and keep it warm that way.   It’s particularly convenient if you’re feeding a crowd, or if you’re serving them at a cookout/picnic.

To serve, add as much ham and sauce to a sandwich bun as you’d like.  Enjoy!

*You can always stretch the sauce by thinning it with more water

**For those of you outside of Western PA, just ask for ham that is sliced or shaved very thinly.

Sausage & Kale Mock Lasagna Casserole

So yeah, I suck.  I’m averaging only slightly more than 1 recipe per week in the month of February.  Sorry guys.  I’m in a bit of a rut.

I found this recipe on Kalyn’s Kitchen.  Since I’m on a bit of a kale kick lately, I thought it would be a good way to use up a good portion of the gigantic bag that we picked up at the grocery store.  It’s definitely a winner.

You’ll need:

2 medium-sized bunches of kale (I used ~3/4 of a big bag that I bought at the grocery store)
1 tsp salt (for water to cook kale)
2 tsp olive oil
19.5 oz. tube of Italian sausage
1 jar tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground fennel
parmesan cheese, shredded
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9×12 inch casserole dish (or a pan of comparable size) with cooking spray.  

Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  If necessary, trim the stems from the kale and cut into ribbons.  When the water begins boiling, add the kale and lower the heat.  Boil for 5-6 minutes.  The kale will turn a beautiful bright green.  Drain the kale into a colander and let it sit there and continue to drain while you deal with the rest of the ingredients.  You might want to squeeze it between some paper towels before using to squeeze out some of the remaining water.

While the kale cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook and crumble the sausage until it is browned and totally cooked through.  Then add the pasta sauce, dried basil, and ground fennel.  Let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, or until it reduces a bit.

In the casserole dish, layer half of the kale and sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top.  Then add half of he pasta/sausage, and 1 cup of mozzarella.

I did it out of order, but you know… it all works out in the end.

Repeat with another layer of kale, sauce, and cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20.  The casserole will be bubbling by this point.

Let the casserole sit for about 5 minutes after baking before digging in.
This was excellent.  Before we were even finished eating, Sean asked if I would make it again sometime.  I plan on doing so this week.  It’s a relatively guilt free way to get your lasagna fix.  I’d highly recommend it!  Enjoy!


Spicy Pulled Pork

I’ve been pretty absent lately.  I’ve probably said this before, and I know I’ll say it again: things are really ramping up at school.  My workload is inversely proportional to my level of activity on my blog.  Sorry!  Hopefully this amazing recipe will help to make up for my lack of activity.  I won’t beat around the bush now, though.  Let’s get to the noms!

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, by Ree Drummond.

You’ll need:

1 5-7 lb pork shoulder
1 onion, quartered
1 tbs chili powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tbs salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs white wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

Begin by preheating your oven to 300 degrees F.  Combine all of the ingredients (minus the pork) in a food processor.  Pulse until everything is totally combined.  

Pour that mixture over the pork.  Rub it into the meat, making sure that you get into all of the nooks and crannies.  Place the pork in a roasting pan or Dutch oven.  Add 2 cups of water.  Next time I’ll try adding some beer, too.  I figure that could only improve the flavor.  Cover and roast for 6-7 hours.  Turn the meat over once every hour.

After the 6-7 hours, test to see if the meat is fork tender.  I’d also recommend breaking out your meat thermometer and making sure it has come up to 160 degrees F.  I’m pretty sure there’s no way it wouldn’t have by this point.  .

Leave the meat uncovered, and turn the heat up to 425 degrees F, roasting at this temperature for about 20 minutes.  Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Shred the meat (you can use two forks for this).  If you’ve moved the meat to a serving platter or other vessel, make sure to pour the pan juices down over the top of the meat.

This pulled pork is so. freaking. good.  I don’t know what else to say about it.  The rub/marinade imparts so much flavor to the pork.  It’s spicy (not hot spicy, but very flavorful) a little sweet, and oh so tender.
We turned it into quesadillas… and then into sandwiches… and then just ate it on its own.  It’s amazing in all of those variations.  It would be good as taco filling, too!  Let your imagination run wild.

This is definitely something that needs to be done on a weekend, or a day when you can work from home, since it requires turning every hour.  But don’t let that stop you.  The results are so worth it.  Enjoy!!

Crock Pot Kielbasa, Pork, and Sauerkraut

I am not entirely sure of this recipe’s origins.  I got it from my mom, who makes it every New Year’s Day.  I do the same now, but also make it at other times of the year.  It’s particularly good when the weather is at least a little chilly, since it’s pretty hearty.  Don’t let the weather limit you, though!  One year Sean requested that we have it for Easter dinner when we were spending the holiday here in Maryland alone.  This makes a lot of food and is really intended to be eaten with a group.  It also freezes pretty well, too!  So don’t feel obligated to only eat it when you have an army to feed 😉

You’ll need:

2 lbs kielbasa, cut into large pieces
1 small pork roast (1 – 1 1/2 lbs)
2 large cans sauerkraut, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbs caraway seeds, or to taste
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded

This first part is optional.  I just like to give my pork roast a little head start before putting it in the crock pot.  It cuts down on the overall cooking time (which believe me, you’ll be happy about later when you smell the awesomeness emanating from your crock pot).  Plus, I’m a little paranoid about underdone meat.  Don’t ask why; I don’t really have a good reason.  Heat a large skillet with a little vegetable oil on medium high.  Sear the pork on all sides.  I then like to cut the roast up into a few big pieces.  Set the pork aside for a second.

Alternately, if you’re not a crazy trichinosis-fearing person like me, you can just cut your pork into a few big hunks and bury it in the other ingredients once you get them in the crock pot.

Combine the cream of celery soup, brown sugar, and sauerkraut in a crock pot (I used the 6 qt. insert).  Stir in the onion, caraway seeds, and kielbasa.  Nestle your pork down in the mixture, too.

Cover and cook on low for ~6 hours.  You can always jack it up to high for the first hour or so to speed things up if you’re impatient like me.  Either way, check that pork with a thermometer before serving!  It should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.  It will likely be falling apart after 6 hours, which is exactly what you want to see.  

Right before serving, stir in the 1 cup of jack cheese until it melts.  Dig on in!  I like to eat the kielbasa and pork, along with a little sauerkraut on a nice crusty bun, and then serve some mashed potatoes (no gravy, please) on the side.  Make sure to mix some sauerkraut into those potatoes, while you’re at it.  You won’t regret it.

We had some guests in town a couple of weeks ago, and I made this for them.  It was a nice choice because I didn’t have to spend a long time in the kitchen.  I just threw everything together after I put my breakfast casserole (recipe to come soon!) in the oven, and voila!  We had a delicious late lunch.  
This is awesome.  It makes me a very happy Pollock.  When I said earlier that it’s intended to be eaten with a group… that’s not a hard and fast rule.  Sometimes I make it for just Sean and myself, and then we have a buttload of leftovers.  It’s great reheated, too.  Please give this a try!  You will not regret it.