The Jen Hatmaker Sandwich



I follow the blogger/writer Jen Hatmaker and love her. The other day she posted this sandwich she makes on “grocery store” days – you know, the days when you go grocery shopping and then come home and don’t feel like touching food to cook for dinner because you are done. with. food. (I get it). Her description of this sandwich was so easy and yummy that I had to try it! Everyone in the family loved it!

The Jen Hatmaker Sandwich

1 loaf ciabatta bread
Marinara Sauce
Mozarella Cheese, sliced

Slice the ciabatta bread in half. Spread the pesto, then layer with meat and cheese. Next layer the veggies and top with spoonfuls of marinara sauce. Place in a baking dish and cook at 350 for 15 minutes. Enjoy with a side bowl of marinara for dipping.

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin


This is a great recipe because the prep is FAST! I was searching for something to do with pork tenderloin while my children melted down around me. Voila! Less than five minutes of work, pop it in the oven, and then leave the house for an hour. Come home to delicious dinner.

I layered sliced onions and apples on the bottom of my pan and cooked the roast on top. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to marinate.


2 tablespoons steak seasoning rub
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs boneless pork loin roast


Dissove seasoning in balsamic vinegar, then stir in olive oil. Place pork into a reseable plastic bag and pour marinade overtop. Let marinate 2 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pork into a glass baking dish with marinade. Bake in oven until pork reaches 145 degrees, about 1 hour. Let roast sit 10 minutes before slicing.


How To Stir Fry


Just yesterday, I was talking to my sister about how I am not one to make a “quick and easy stir fry”. She lives in Shanghai, so I thought she’d have some good ideas for me. She did – and so I put them together with the help of my handy dandy favorite cookbook, and made a simple guide to the stir fry world. I like that you can play around with whatever veggies and meats you have on hand. Perfect for cleaning out the fridge night.

Chop meat in small cubes – use pork, chicken – or thin slices of beef

Marinate while you chop veggies. You can look up a fancy marinade or just dose with a tsp of fish sauce and a tsp of soy sauce. Add a hearty pinch of salt and pepper.  We like to use Tamari soy sauce because it’s GMO free!

Chop and separate your veggies. Use anything. Carrots, Bell Peppers, Squash, Cabbage, Kale, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Onions … separate the harder veggies from the soft.

Mix together a “sauce”. This is a forgiving science. Some good choices are equal parts soy sauce, fish sauce with a dash of chicken broth, water, plum sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch …. even ketchup! I typically leave out the sugar and cornstarch and my sauce ends up just fine.

Finely mince some garlic and/or ginger.

Putting It All Together:

Make sure everything above is prepped and ready to go.

If you have a wok, you are awesome. Pull it out and heat that baby up on a medium high heat. If you are like me and have no wok, use a large nonstick pan. If you are skilled in cooking on stainless steel, give it a go.

Here is the trick to stir frying – use a small amount of oil and a high heat. This will sear and cook your food without the veggies getting soft.

Add a scant about of oil – 1 tsp. Most cookbooks call for peanut oil. I used olive oil – or I think coconut would be good too.

Put half of your meat in the pan and cook until browned. If it’s not done all the way, that is OK, it will go back in the pan later. Take it out, put it in a bowl or plate, and add the other half. If you pieces are small this process should only take a few minutes.

In the empty pan, add a bit more oil. Put in the harder veggies and start cooking. Add the softer veggies once the harder ones have softened a bit.

Make a hole in the center of the pan. Put a scant bit of oil, and add the garlic and ginger. Let it cook in the center, mashing it with the back of spoon, until it is fragrant and starting to brown. Then mix into the veggies.

Now add back in the meat, and dump in your sauce. Stir and cook until the sauce gets warm and thickens.

Add some fresh herbs if you like – and perhaps some nuts!

Serve over rice, quinoa, or noodles.



The “Figgy Piggy” Remake


I immediately had to try this when I saw Jessie post it on Bites.
Growing up, in Capitola, we would always go to Pizza My Heart by the
beach. One of their award winning pizzas is the “Figgy Piggy” – a
delicious combo of figs, feta, and bacon. Today, Pizza My Heart has
taken off and is all over the bay area, including one I can
practically see from my kitchen window. This recipe is similar to the
Figgy Piggy and I would almost say, more yummy! The fig spread is
sweet and compliments the bitter argula. At the end, I tossed on some
feta and fresh sage, mimicking the Pizza My Heart creation. Thanks
Bites for posting about this!

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Fig Spread Or Jam
Kosher Salt To Taste
12 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced Thin
6 ounces, weight Thinly Sliced Prosciutto (Jessie suggests crisping
your proscuitto first before this step and I agree, much better
1 bunch Washed And Rinsed Arugula
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Shaved Parmesan

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Roll out the pizza dough as thinly as possible. Place on a large baking sheet.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Spread fig spread (or jam) all over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle
lightly with salt.
Lay sliced of mozzarella all over the surface. Sprinkle lightly with
salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until
crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.
Remove from oven and immediately lay prosciutto over hot pizza. Just
before serving, sprinkle on arugula and Parmesan shavings.
Cut into wedges or squares and serve immediately!

Updated: Pork Stir Fry with Oven Brown Rice

*Update 5/17/13 – I reworked this recipe a bit!  And I like it even better now.  Note:  I added pak choy  to the broccoli, which gave it an extra veggie Asian flavor.  Also, I eliminated the black bean paste because it has a lot of ingredients that we are trying to get out of our diets.  We didn’t miss it at all.  Instead of traditional soy sauce, I used an organic non GMO version.  I also sauteed the pork in a combo of coconut oil and sesame oil.  Yum!

One of my favorite coupon deals was nabbing a year of Sunset Magazine for $5.  I’ve had a blast seaching through the pages, finding yummy and healthy meals to experiment with … this pork stir fry was a great find!  I like finding ways of snazzing up a simple pork tenderloin.  Plus, it is EASY!  I promise, no more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Pork Stir Fry
Sunset Magazine, Jan. 2011

Heat 2 tbsp oil in pan.  Saute cubed pork (one tenderloin) with minced garlic and ginger (i did about 2 tbsp ginger and 3 cloves garlic).

Add broccoli florets (one head), chopped purple cabbage (1/2 head), soy sauce (about 1/4 cup) and black bean paste (about 2 tbsp).  Serve over rice.

As you can tell, this recipe lacks exact measurements, which drove me crazy because I’m a by-the-book cook.  I just added in the soy sauce and black bean paste until the flavor matched what I was hoping.

I highly recommend serving it with THIS easy brown rice recipe:

Oven Baked Brown Rice:

2 1/3 cup water
2 tsp butter (or oil)
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place rice in a baking dish, or a corningware.
Boil the water and butter (or oil).
As soon as the water boils, add salt.
Immediately pour boiling water mixture over rice in dish.
If corningware, top with glass top and put in oven.  If baking dish, top with two layers of foil, put in oven.
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove, fluffy with a fork, cover with a clean dish towel for 5 minutes.  Remove towel, fluff again with fork.  Serve.

Pork Medallions with Port and Cherries


I love this recipe because once you buy port, it keeps forever (well,
almost forever).  And so do dried cherries.  So as long as you have a
frozen pork tenderloin on hand,  you can just whip this up without
needing to head to the store!  In a pinch, you can use dried rosemary
as well.  It doesn't yeild a lot of sauce, so think about doubling the
liquids if you want more.  And I do really mean you can whip it up.
It's super easy – even though the word port makes it sound fancy.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions

from the New Best Recipes Cookbook

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pork tenderloin, cut in 1 inch pieces and pounded to 3/4 inch with
the flat side of a chef's knife
2 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over both sides of the pork slices.  Heat
the oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet until shimmering.  Working
in batches of no more than six slices to avoid overcrowding, sear the
medallions without moving them until browned on one side, about 80
seconds (the oil should sizzle but not smoke).  Turn the medallions
with tongs to avoid scraping off the sear; sear until the meat is
mostly opaque at the sides, firm to the touch, and well browned, about
80 seconds.  Transfer the pork to a plate; continue with one of the
pan sauce (recipe follows)

Port, Dried Cherries, and Rosemary:

1 recipe sauteed pork medallions (above)
1/3 cup port
1/2 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup chicken broth
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

1. Prepare pork as direction and transfer it to a plate.

2.  Set the now-empty skillet used to cook the pork over medium-high
heat and add the port and cherries.  Cook. scraping the pan bottom
with a wooden spatula to loosen the browned bits, until the liquid
reduces to about 2 tbsp, 2-3 minutes.  Increase the heat to high and
add the broth, rosemary, and any accumulated pork juices from the
plate.  Cook until the liquid reaches the consistency of maple syrup,
about 2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium and return the pork to the pan, turning
the meat to coat.  Simmer to heat the pork through, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer the pork to a serving
plate and spoon the sauce over the meat.  Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Andouille Sausage


Here are my reasons for loving this recipe:

1.  I'm a sucker for any dish that requires tossing things in a crockpot. 

2.  Henry ate two bowls!

3.  It was super tasty!

Thanks to Bites ( for this recipe.  PS.  This is not my photo, I took this one from the internet.  Split pea is hard to capture in an appetizing way …

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup with Andouille Sausage

(i did not have celery, so i used potato instead)

1 pound green split peas
10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound diced andouille sausage
1 1/2 cups diced carrot
1 cup diced shallot
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and black pepper before serving.



Andrew requested this last night.  Great rainy day meal!  Thanks for the recipe, trisha!

Hearty Loggers Chili

(makes huge pot: for two dinners) 

2 lb. lean ground beef

1 lb. kielbasa sausage

1 T. olive oil

1 c. yellow onion

1 c. green pepper

1 c. yellow, orange or red pepper

5 cloves of garlic (pressed or minced)

1 16 oz. can kidney beans

3 cans chili beans

2 cans black beans

3 cans tomato sauce

2 bay leaves sliced

1 t. salt

2 t. chili powder

2 t. oregano

½ t. white pepper

½ t. black pepper

½ t. cayenne pepper 

(Secret ingredient is 1 bottle of a good Pale Ale Beer like Mirror Pond)  

Saute ground beef in large skillet. Drain and set aside. Cut sausage into ½ slices, then cut each slice in half. In the same pan, sauté sausage until lightly browned. Set aside with ground beef. In the same pan, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil over medium heat until soft but not brown. Add garlic and sauté two more minutes, then add the beef and sausage back into the pan.  

In a large pot, add the remaining ingredients, stirring on low heat and add the meat and peppers from your skillet into the large pot. Simmer all the ingredients together all afternoon, stirring often.  

Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar if desired.

Five Spice Pork Tenderloin


Mmmm!  Great autumn pork recipe!  This isn't my picture, but it really does look like this when you put it all together. 

Five Spice Pork Tenderloin with Pumpkin Half-Moons and Red Grapes

from a Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash

The tantalizing flavor of Chinese five-spice powder-with its licorice overtone-gilds pork in a soy-and-sesame-based glare with a marvelous aroma and taste. Crescents of roasted pumpkin or squash and wine-steeped grapes complete a sweet, savory, and very picturesque platter.

Soy-Sesame Marinade:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 pork tenderloin (about 11/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pounds sugar pumpkin or winter squash such as butternut, kabocha, buttercup, or Hubbard, peeled, seeded, and cut into half-moons about 3/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) red seedless grapes
1/4 cup dry sherry

To make the marinade, in a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, five-spice powder, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.

Place the pork tenderloin in a baking dish or lock-top plastic bag. Pour the marinade over. Cover or seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, turning several times.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Position one rack in the middle of the oven and a second rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Add the pumpkin and toss to coat. Place-on the prepared sheet and place on the lower rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan (reserve the marinade). Place in the oven on the middle rack and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, 15 to 20 minutes, basting occasionally with the remaining marinade. Continue roasting the pumpkin until tender when pierced with a knife, 40 to 45 minutes total.

Transfer the meat to a carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the grapes and heat for about 1 minute. Pour in the sherry and cook until the liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons. Carve the pork and transfer to a platter. Surround with the pumpkin and grapes, and serve.

Mustard Rubbed Pork with Blackberry Mustard Sauce


Looking for a non-dessert option for all those extra yummy blackberries from this season?!?  Try out this great recipe!  Andrew whipped this up this interesting and delicious dish last night.  We served it with oven baked frites – just baked sliced potatoes and drizzled the sauce over both. 

Mustard Rubbed Pork with Blackberry Mustard Sauce
Martha Stewart, The Original Classics


3 tablespoons whole brown or yellow mustard seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, toasted
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 pint blackberries (about 5 ounces)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, for garnish


1.  Place seeds and peppercorns in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle), finely grind until chopped, but not powdery.  Transfer to a small bowl; stir in thyme, dry mustard, ginger, 1 tsp salt, and sugar.  Set aside.

2.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, with rack in the upper third.  Meanwhile, rub the pork with 1 tbsp Dijon mustard.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp of the spice mixture; pat with your hands to make it stick, and place the pork in the roasting pan.  Cook until the pork is 150 degrees on meet thermometer, about 25 minutes.  Transfer pork to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.  Don't clean the pan.

3.  Place roasting pan on stove over med high heat.  Stir in wine; scrape pan to loosen any browned bits on the bottom.  Stir in broth; cook stirring occasionally, until reduced by half; 5-7 minutes.  Whisk flour with 1/4 cup water in a bowl; whisk into simmering stock.  Whisk in remaining mustard; cook until mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes more.  Stir in berries, cook until softened, about 2 minutes.  Slice pork, transfer to a serving platter.  Serve with the blackberry mustard sauce and fresh thyme.