A’Tempting’ Tuesday: Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Balsamic Pork

I love to make dinner for my family. I hate trying to come up with new options of something to prepare, especially on work nights.

I am constantly scouring the internet and my cookbooks looking for recipes that offer me several things:

1. Ease
2. Affordability
3. Ingredients I most likely already have in my kitchen.

This recipe for Balsamic Pork Tenderloin met all my conditions. What I like most about this is that it’s made in the slow cooker. This doesn’t make me lazy…just smart! My husband and son walk in the door hungry in the evenings. This allows me to get a meal on the table almost before they can ask “what’s for dinner?” I also love walking through the garage to get into the house and smelling dinner already underway.

I found this recipe on another blog, and I’m so sorry, I did not save the link. I will hunt for it and if found, will update this post. So, let it be said I cannot take full responsibility for the yumminess of this dish. I borrowed it. The recipe is below. As always, any changes, tweaks or added ingredients will be marked in bold.

  • 1 2-3 pound boneless pork tenderloin (I buy these two at a time from Sam’s Club, so almost always have one in the freezer)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I think I probably added a tad more. My method of measuring, unless baking, is often by sight. We also like spicy.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Instructions
Place pork tenderloin into slow cooker. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over pork and set the timer for your slow cooker. (4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low)

Once the pork tenderloin has cooked, remove from slow cooker with tongs into a serving dish. Break apart lightly with two forks and then ladle about ¼ – ½ cup of gravy over pork tenderloin. (See Cook’s Note below.)

Store remaining gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.

Cook’s Notes

  • My slow cooker does not have a timer. As I’m never home in four hours, I cooked this on low. It cooked for slightly more than eight hours.
    As soon as I arrived home, I removed the pork from the gravy and set aside. I increased the setting to high and added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in cold water to the gravy. I let this simmer to thicken while I prepared the side dishes and waited for everyone to get home. This could easily be reduced on the stove top, but I was being lazy. When I was ready to serve, I spooned a small amount over the platter of pork.
  • This recipe, although quite good, was a little acidic or “twangy” tasting to me and needed a little sweetening. As my husband is diabetic, adding sugar or increasing the honey is not the best option. I think I would maybe decrease the amount of vinegar and Worcestershire just a tiny bit. Not enough to miss it, but just enough to cut the twang. Using a better quality balsamic than what I had in the pantry that day might help, as would adding just a pat of real butter to “soften” the sauce. (Yep, I’m southern. I like to cook with butter).
  • I made this a two-slow cooker meal by making baked potatoes in another slow cooker. I discovered this little helpful hint from a friend a few years ago and love it. Just wash and pierce several potatoes. Place them in a slow on low and cook all day. This works best for larger potatoes. All I had this day was some smaller ones and they overcooked slightly. Larger potatoes come out perfectly.
  • To complete the meal, I served steamed green beans.

All in all, I really enjoyed this recipe and my family seemed to as well.  It will definitely make a return to my table.  I might even try cooking the potatoes in with the pork.  I hope you enjoy.

Until next time…

NEXT WEEK: Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Peppermint Butter Cream

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Dear Diet Coke … Our Romance is Over!

I am a Diet Coke addict. I chain drink. I have quit them multiple times only to fall of the wagon a few weeks — and oftentimes a few short days — later. I have no willpower.

I am not a coffee drinker and I don’t smoke, so Diet Coke is my pick-me-up every morning. The soft drink is also sometimes (who am I kidding? … is always) my afternoon lifeline. It wakes me up and gives me that burst of energy to get through the 2 p.m. doldrums. And if I am going to have a terribly fattening, no-good-for-you snack, Diet Coke negates that. Right?

I know. I know. They are so not good for me, but I am fueled by Diet Coke. I have read about all the side effects and my common sense tells me that quitting is a good thing. It is just so hard. As I said, I have unsuccessfully quit before. But, even off them for a few days I could see a difference in how I felt.

I made a mental note to myself last week that perhaps this Monday morning would be my last day to enjoy a DC. My romance must end. With great anticipation, I headed to the garage fridge to get my final one. I was fully planning to enjoy our last few moments together, down to the last sweet, fizzy drop.

I very sleepily stumbled through the garage, squinting as the fridge light harshly greeted me. What?!?!?!?!?!? There was the empty Diet Coke box, but none of the familiar red and white cans. What’s a girl to do? It’s Monday. Repeat: MONDAY. It’s cold and rainy, and I’m sleepy. I had to be at work before 7 AM!! Insert whiney voice here.

So now that I’ve recovered from the shock of no Diet Coke and the realization that someone in my family DRANK THE LAST ONE, maybe I can look at this as good thing. I was forced to quit!! I am saddened to end my long-lasting relationship with my carbonated friend, but I know I will feel better in the long run.

Maybe this can be another thing I can mark off the list for my Cooking, Crafting and Chaos journey.

If the withdrawals don’t kill me, until next time y’all ….

(anyone want to bring me Starbucks???)

Crafting Memories ….

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Hi y’all. It’s finally Friday!

I don’t have a new “crafty” something I’d like to share this week. I have been very busy getting ready for a get together at my house. But, I do have a “craft memory” to share. I guess for me, crafting is quite often about creating memories through various projects and scrapbooking.

But, I have been organizing myself and getting ready for the transition between Fall decorations and Christmas decor. I remembered a project from last year that I absolutely love and plan to expand on this year. Well, I guess this project started about 14 years ago. Now, you say, “she is the queen of unfinished craft projects.” Not quite, but close.

When my daughter was about 5, I decided we needed a Western themed Christmas tree. (I have several themed trees now). Western-themed Christmas stuff, at least in Texas can be expensive! It’s not too bad when you are only adding a piece or two, but we were starting from scratch. So, it was DIY for us. We started by recreating some rope garland I had seen in a department store. I don’t remember the exact cost, but it was something like $40 for a 6- or 8-foot piece. Pfftttt! We made it with an old red bandana and $5 worth of rope from the hardware store. It turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself. We are still using that “garland” today.

However, you can’t fill an entire Christmas tree with rope, so we also made ornaments out of dough. Using cookie cutters, we made boots, stars and Texas shapes. My daughter helped me make them. Those are some of my most favorite ornaments I have ever had because of the memories we made. Unfortunately, over the years, the dough ornaments have fallen apart. I think I only have one or two of those left. I have been able to amass quite a collection of holiday stars, cowboy Santa’s and more since then. Even though that tree is full to the brim now, I still enjoy shopping the after Christmas sales every now and then for new finds or picking up new items while on adventures with my family.

Whew! That was a lot of jabber to get to the point of this. Sorry. Last year, I wanted to add something larger to the tree, and do it within a budget. I’ve already talked about my Silhouette Cameo and this is just another example of a project I was able to do.

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I made these stars from red, green and Kraft scrapbooking cardstock. I made them in several sizes, using one 99-cent cut file purchased from the online Silhouette store. I don’t remember quite how many I made, but there are quite a few. In all, I spent less than $10 including paper I’m sure I bought on sale. Cutting them out was a cinch, however gluing all the green and red insets onto the star was a little time consuming. Some of them I ran through the sticker machine and sped the process up a little. You could also totally do them without the insets and the project would take literally minutes.

This year, I am making a few smaller stars to add to the garland on my mantle. It should cost me nothing, as I already have the cut file and some of the paper left from last year. Yay for no-cost projects that make a big impact!!

TOOLBOX TALK: I’ve talked more than once about my Silhouette Cameo and how much I love it. This is not a new machine, but it is a good one. The biggest plus, you don’t have the added cost of buying cartridges of files to cut.

There are so many files out there you can cut and you can pick just what you need, rather than buying a whole collection only to use one or two items from it. There are a multitude of websites that offer low-cost and even free files. I get most of mine from the Silhouette subscription program. Subscriptions start at $9.95 a month, but for that $9.95, you get $25 worth of files. Most files are 99 cents. They also offer a clearance section each week with files for 50 cents, and every Tuesday they offer one FREE file. LOVE it! I’m addicted. I’m amazed at all the scrapbook embellishments I’ve used and crafts I’ve done using their files. I just use the search function to find something specific to match what I’m working on. There are thousands of files and fonts you can choose from. Check it out if you have a chance:

Silhouette Online Store

Keep in mind, you can also cut the fonts you already have on your computer and convert any clip art or shape you have to an SVG (cut) file. I use an online converter, but if you are computer savvy there are other ways to do it as well, I just like the ease of the online converter I found.

With Silhouette software, you are also able to create your own art, alter or resize files you already own. It is so easy.

The only drawback I see (and it is small) to this electronic cutter is that is not super portable. You do have to hook it to a computer with the Silhouette Software on it. This computer “houses” all your cut files.

Until next time ….

A’Tempting’ Tuesday: S’More Cake

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I love, love to bake. It relaxes me. I love the mess. I love searching for the perfect recipe and ingredient, and working to create something that is as pretty as it tastes. I bake from scratch 99 percent of the time and rarely use boxed mixes. I’m not always on a mission for a timesaver when it comes to my baking, like I am with our nightly meals. So, I admit I was a little apprehensive when I first saw this recipe. First, it’s made in the microwave — yes, I said microwave — and secondly, it uses a cake mix.

I thought “what the heck,” it uses minimal ingredients and will take very little time. I tried it and was pleasantly surprised.

Two words: YUMMY and EASY!

This is what I have to say about this Pampered Chef recipe. I’ve made it a several times now and while nothing can beat a traditional S’more made sitting around a camp fire, this is a close second when you want a good “comfort” dessert and don’t have the time to prepare it. It is baked in the microwave and finished off under the broiler, and all in the same pan!

It is made in Pampered Chef’s Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan, so it went straight from the microwave, to the broiler, to the table all in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s the recipe:

S’More Cake

3 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz), broken into squares
1 small package (9 oz.) devil’s food cake or 1 2/3 cup from a regular size package
1 egg
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
1 bag (10 oz.) regular-size marshmallows or 4 cups mini marshmallows
3 whole graham crackers, coarsely crushed.

Directions:
Place oven rack in middle of oven; preheat broiler.
Microwave chocolate on high for 30-60 seconds or until mostly melted. Stir until smooth; set aside. (I used Pampered Chef’s Prep Bowl).
Combine cake mix, egg and sour cream (I used the Classic Batter Bowl); mix until blended. Pour Batter into the Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan.
Microwave, covered, on high for 4-5 minutes or until center of cake is firm and springs back when pressed.
Remove pan from microwave; arrange marshmallows in an even layer over cake. Broil 30-60 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown.
Remove from broiler; sprinkle with crushed whole graham crackers (I used Pampered Chef’s Manual Food Processor to crush them) and drizzle with chocolate.

Yield: Serves 12

Cook’s Notes:

  •  This is best served immediately. It’s such a quick recipe, it’s very easily made right when you need it.  If you need to “bake” the cake in advance, save broiling the marshmallows and drizzling with chocolate until you are ready to serve.
  • The first time I made this, I jumped ahead without reading carefully.  I drizzled the chocolate before I placed it in the broiler.  The chocolate did not broil well.  This is just par for my life.  I’m always in a hurry.

Toolbox Talk:

I want to mention two of the Pampered Chef products I used when preparing this cake — not because I sell them, but because I really LOVE these items and use them all the time.

  • First is the Rockcrok™ 2.5-qt. Everyday Pan. I really do love this pan.  It is the only pan in my kitchen I can use in the microwave, on the stovetop, in the oven or under the broiler.  I have used it in all those ways.  It’s also attractive enough to serve from.  It is perfect for one dish meals (which makes it perfect for me because my husband will eat anything that is mixed together all in one pan).
  • Next is the Manual Food Processor. It is no secret that I love kitchen gadgets.  What I don’t love is bulky gadgets that are hard to store and have a ton of pieces.  The Manual Food Processor is no gadget — it’s a tool.  I literally use it every day. It is so much easier than climbing to the top shelf to pull out the food processor or standing for what seems like hours to chop something.  I use it for everything — from tasks such as crushing the graham crackers in this recipe to chopping onion.  I have even made salsa in it!  It’s compact and only has three pieces that all store together.  LOVE it!

Hope you enjoy.  Until next time….

Next week’s A’Tempt’:  Balsamic glazed pork tenderloin.

Who has time for all that?

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I am a list maker. I am busy. I have a million things I need to do and two million more I WANT to do. And sometimes, quite honestly, I am a disorganized, hot mess stressed over the lack of enough hours in a day. I need structure.

I don’t know if it’s my current schedule, my age or what, but I can’t seem to keep it all straight anymore. I need a place to keep my lists, my schedule and all my thoughts in one place.  I need a gathering spot where home and work can mingle. I need a clearinghouse of sorts for all those little notes and Post-its I leave laying everywhere. As much as I want to be a gadget geek, keeping all my notes and schedules on my iPhone or iPad just isn’t working for me.  I want to see, feel and touch paper. I need something I can doodle in, write lists in and stick my “sticky” notes to.

A few years ago I worked for a company that for all purposes was paperless. In turn, the powers-that-be expected their employees to be paperless. Post its weren’t allowed. Written calendars were banned and I was tasked with teaching everyone how to make Microsoft Outlook work for them. I retired my planner and got with the plan. So, I do know “how” to do it.  I just don’t want to.  Even though I was out of the habit of having a written calendar and had hopped on the paperless band wagon, I was never fully converted.  I was still writing notes on paper in shame and hiding them (often losing them) where the couldn’t be seen.  I know.  Sad.

So, about a month ago I decided to go back to a written planner. Oh how I’ve missed it. Being a little bit OCD or ADD or whatever “d” I am, I have been researching to find a format that works best for me. It has been a few years, so I want to make sure I’m using the latest, greatest and most organized system.

I’ve been Googling and watching numerous YouTube videos on what other people or doing. It’s crazy! I have found literally hundreds of videos of women and men giving “tours” of their multiple planners. What?? A tour?? Multiple planners?? I just need a calendar folks.

I guess I am behind the times, but I had never heard of a Filofax until now (I have always used the generic Day Timer or Day Runner).  I am now well schooled.  I have found folks that use multiple planners. They decorate. They make custom pages.  They have totes they carry around with them filled with “supplies” for their planners.  They search the internet for the perfect leather planner in just the right shade of purple or pink to add to their collection of planners. Really??  More power to you if you have that much time and energy, but doesn’t it defeat the purpose?   I use my planner to keep myself organized and focused, and to save time.  I’m not sure I really have time for all of that. Again, more power to you if you do this. I am not knocking what you do. It looks fun, and for a crafter, probably a little satisfying.  I want to be you when I grow up.  But for now, I really need something simple.

You can see above what a typical week on my planner looks like.  And believe me, this is quite an improvement over my Post-it “system” of leaving notes everywhere.

I have only one word.  Messy.  It does works better for me than my iPhone calendar, but I still need a better system.

Any thoughts out there on a format that doesn’t require Washi tape, stickers, 42 different colors of pens, decorative paper clips and a tote full of supplies?

Until next time….

I am a hoarder!

Hi y’all. It’s Finally Friday!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Shelly. I am a hoarder.

I admit it. I am a hoarder of craft supplies. I love trips to craft stores and scrapbook shops. I shop online. And, I am always on the lookout for a good bargain. Very rarely do I buy anything that is not on sale or that I do not have a coupon for. This is great; however, I have managed to amass quite a selection of supplies — mostly paper crafting.

There is a downside. Problem A — finding time to use all the supplies I purchase and collect. I am making a concerted effort to make time for projects and will share some of those as I go. Problem B — finding room to store all these supplies in an organized manner that makes using my “stash” easy and convenient. Quite often, problem A feeds into problem B creating a never-ending cycle.

When I have a project I need or want to do, I often just go buy more supplies as it’s easier than rummaging around in my girl cave looking for what I need. Thus, I have a spare “bedroom” (that no longer has a bed) overstuffed with an endless supply of paper, ribbon, crafting tools, embellishments and sadly, lots of unfinished projects.

As I am beginning my Cooking, Crafting and Chaos journey, one of my challenges for myself is to craft with what I have — not only do projects, but be very diligent in using the products I have, only buying something when absolutely necessary.

As I typed the last part of  the previous sentence I chuckled a little. I know, and those who know me know there will be trips to the craft store. There will be new styles and newfound bargains, and there will be that new product every now and then that “I just have to have.” I must be realistic.  I will make new purchases but I plan to keep myself in check and continue to use up my hoard.

My first project in this journey came out of necessity.  When I took the Halloween décor off my front door a couple of weeks ago, I had nothing to replace it with.  I had a tired wreath that looked absolutely awful.  I’m not sure what I put on my door last year, but I’m sure it wasn’t this.  I decided to make a wreath, and thought this might be the perfect time to repurpose the old one by joining it with some supplies I already had.

I did have a wooden door hanging and one roll of mesh ribbon that I purchased this season for half off at Hobby Lobby.  I used the hanging and a portion of the ribbon on my wreath.  In all, I think I spent about $6 creating this.

With glue gun in hand,  this is what I started with:

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I pulled the decorations off the old wreath.  I re-used the grapevine wreath and a couple of the floral picks.  I added some burlap ribbon I already had to the mix.

The bottom portion of the hanging looked a little blank, so I used some vinyl left over from another project to create a stencil using my Silhouette Cameo.  I also used Martha Stewart orange craft paint and some felt fall leaves left over from a Halloween costume.

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My door looks much better.  I know this was a simple project.  I am sure you’ve seen much better wreaths.  I have.  But,  I took the first step in a challenge I made to myself — to use what I had and to share my progress here.

Toolbox Talk: I cut the stencil using my Silhouette Cameo.  The Silhouette is one of my very, very favorite craft room tools.  The possibilities are endless with this electronic cutting tool.  I’ve helped my children make school projects.  I’ve scrapbooked.  I’ve created original art.  I’ve created stencils to use in etched glass projects.  I’ve used it to make patterns when adding rhinestones to clothing.  You will hear me talk about this machine quite often and I hope to eventually do some tutorials using it.

Look for some more favorite things and craft  projects on Fridays in the weeks to come.

Until next time….

A’Tempting’ Tuesday – Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball

It’s A’Tempting’ Tuesday!

I am always trying out new recipes and searching for something new to make, so each Tuesday I will share a new recipe. I will share the good, the bad and the ugly, being honest about my successes and failures (there are many of those).

I love to make desserts and bake, so it’s fitting I share a dessert today. (I also sometimes need quick and easy and this recipe fits that bill too.) This is the time of the year we are constantly invited to get-togethers, so I use these opportunities to try new recipes and share a few old favorites. It works out well for me. I get to “feed” my joy of making desserts and baking. I don’t do it often unless I have somewhere to take my efforts, as hubby is a diabetic (a diabetic with a sweet tooth so I try not to have too many temptations around the house) and I really don’t need the calories.

Today, I am sharing a recipe that was new to me. I prepared this Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball for a little get-together with several friends I had not seen in a while. It was a hit, so I know I will definitely prepare this one again! In fact, I’ve already promised my daughter one when she is home from school in a couple of weeks.  Red Velvet cupcakes are her fave, so I know she will like this.

I also acquired a new dip recipe that night that I will share with you soon. It was quite yummy. It was a great night of good food, friends and wine.

I found this recipe on a Facebook page – $5-10 Meals – Cheap Eats. This site fills another need – CHEAP – and I have found several good recipes here.  Check it out.

I will tell you, I often “tweak” recipes and am not known for always following a recipe to the tee, so I will make note of any changes I’ve made. Added ingredients will be marked in bold.

Sorry about the quality of this picture.

Sorry about the quality of this picture.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ball
Makes about 16 servings

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups red velvet cake mix, dry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla (I used pure vanilla)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I am sure I used more as I didn’t measure these)
Assorted cookies (I used vanilla wafers)

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and butter until smooth.
Add in the red velvet cake mix, brown sugar and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined.
Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Put the chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap.
Roll in the chocolate chips.
Place on a serving plate and serve with cookies.

Cook’s Notes:

  • I added the vanilla because this recipe made me think of an icebox cheesecake recipe my mom always loved. That recipe used vanilla. I love vanilla paired with cream cheese, so I thought it would be a good addition here. I was right. In turn, I added a couple of extra tablespoons of powdered sugar to make up for the added liquid of the vanilla.
  • To aid in the shaping of the “ball,” I place the wrapped mixture in a small bowl with a very rounded bottom.
  • Here’s where I failed slightly.  It was a busy week and I was running behind as usual.  I didn’t allow enough chilling time for the mixture.  It was a little soft and hard to “roll” in the chocolate chips.  I wound up just patting them onto the surface of the ball.  Despite it’s softness, it still tasted great and everyone loved it.  Next time, I will make sure I allow at least two hours or more for chilling.

All and all, this will definitely be a dish I repeat in the future.  It was super easy, inexpensive and tasty.  As a bonus, I already had all the ingredients in my pantry.

If you try it out, I hope you enjoy.

Until next time ….

NEXT WEEK:  A Pampered Chef favorite.