Tag Archives: company dinner

Quick pork tenderloin with seasoned rub


Pork tenderloin is one of my go-to meals when I want something simple to prepare. It’s also one of my go-to meals for special occasions, because it’s delicious and elegant.

(I first posted this recipe more than two years ago, but it’s worth a re-post because it’s so simple and so successful.)

Originally, I was just going to salt and pepper it and rub it with a little olive oil, but I always have to remind myself approximately how long it takes to cook a tenderloin, and when I googled for that I ran across this recipe from Ellie Krieger on Food Network for Pork Tenderloin with Seasoned Rub.

Now, doing a lot of thinking (i.e., measuring and multiple steps) is what I was trying to avoid, but since this recipe uses one teaspoon of all the spices, that speeds things up a little bit. Also, I like that there’s no sugar in the rub. Yay for low carb! (And Paleo, and Whole30!)

I also nixed the fresh garlic, because this would have added time to peel, chop, and fry. And with all those flavors in the spice mix, I really didn’t miss it one bit.

Also, I don’t trust any meat recipe that calls for a specific number of minutes. The secret to perfectly done meat of any kind is knowing what temperature it needs and hitting that. (I highly recommend using a digital meat thermometer like this one.)

And lastly, she didn’t specifiy how much salt to use. I took a guess and missed the mark, so I’ve remedied that here.

So here is my simplified version of Ellie’s recipe…



1 t. garlic powder
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander (you could omit if you don’t have this)
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/8 t. table salt (Use up to twice as much if you like things salty.)
1 to 1.25 pounds pork tenderloin
olive oil for coating pans

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In separate bowl mix the seasonings: garlic powder through salt. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Sprinkle the rub over the tenderloin with a dry hand; cover the entire tenderloin. If you have some  seasonings left, continue to sprinkle it until it’s all gone. Then pat the pork all over so the seasoning adheres well to the tenderloin. (If you have other dinner prep to do, you could also let this sit at room temp for up to 15 minutes. That will add to the flavor and tenderness.)

TIME-SAVING NOTE: If you want to cut the prep time down further, you could skip the searing step, cooking it in the oven for the entire time. This is what I usually do. Jump right to the paragraph with the asterisk.*

Heat a nonstick skillet, over medium-plus-one-notch heat. Generously dribble olive oil in the pan and give it a minute to heat up. Then place the tenderloin in the pan; let it sit for three minutes and check the color on the underside. If it’s nicely brown, rotate and do the next side the same. If not, let it sit for another minute and check again.

Repeat until all sides are nicely browned. We’re just looking to sear the outside; not cook it through. (That happens in the oven.) This may be two or three sides, depending on the shape of your cut.

* Grease the bottom of a 9×13″ (or so) baking pan with olive oil and place the tenderloin in it. Place the pan in the oven.

Approximate oven time will be 15 – 25 minutes. But don’t go solely by the clock; use a quick-read thermometer to check the interior temp at 15 minutes, and then as needed till it reaches 143-145 F.

When the thermometer reads about 143-145 F, pull the pork from the oven. Please note: Most sources will tell you it’s not safe to eat at this temp, but the temp will continue to rise as the meat sits. If you wait till the recommended 160 F to pull it, you will have dry, chewy pork. (Note the photo above is not of this recipe, and is probably pinker than it will be at 160 F.)

Once removed from the oven, let the pork rest in the pan — thermometer still inserted — until the temp reaches 158-160 F. This will be approximately five minutes.

Cut in slices 1/2″ to 1″ thick. Do not slice until just before serving. This is best served right when it hits that 159-164 F mark, so if possible, time the rest of your meal around this.

Here is Food Network’s nutrition info:
Per Serving:
Calories: 209;
Total Fat: 9 grams;
Saturated Fat: 2 grams;
Protein: 30 grams;
Total carbohydrates: 2 grams;
Sugar: 0 grams
Fiber: 1 grams;
Cholesterol: 92 milligrams;
Sodium: 221 milligrams


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Herb-crusted salmon and pumpkin soup

paleo dinner: herbed salmon + pumpkin soup
paleo dinner: herbed salmon + pumpkin soup
I try to serve salmon at least once a week — gotta get those omega-3’s! I love that it cooks quickly, and there are so many ways to top it, encrust it, or otherwise embellish it. I’ve found, though, that it’s not as satisfying as red meat. We usually find ourselves hungry a couple hours later.
When I started making bone broth several month ago, I found that it is super satisfying. My theory is that it sticks with you because it’s providing a lot of minerals, gelatin, and other good, healing things your body is craving. So my strategy now is to always serve a bone broth-based soup on the nights I serve salmon.
A few nights ago, I made my herb-crusted salmon along with cream of pumpkin soup, using homemade chicken bone broth. My husband said, “I like this soup. It’s comforting, kinda like coffee.” (He is sorely missing his coffee with cream and sugar in the morning!)
Cream of pumpkin soup is easy to make Whole30 compliant by making it dairy-free: just swap out the cream for full-fat coconut milk. This recipe from AllRecipes is the one I use (minus the croutons): Cream of Pumpkin Soup.
This dinner is easy enough for a weeknight (especially if you make the pumpkin soup the night before, up until adding the cream), but special enough for a Fall or Winter dinner party, I think.
This pairing will go in our regular Whole30 rotation! I’m working toward publishing a four-week meal plan. Hopefully coming soon!


Coconut Shrimp on Spinach Mango Salad

My husband’s favorite Paleo/Whole30 dinner:
This Coconut Shrimp recipe from Paleo Leap…
Paleo/whole30 dinner: coconut shrimp on mango spinach salad

…on top of this Asian Spinach Salad recipe from Love and Olive Oil (with some mangos added)…

Paleo/whole30 dinner: mango spinach salad
…got us this deeelicious dinner tonight!
Paleo/whole30 dinner: coconut shrimp on mango spinach salad
I made the shrimp without any changes, and added mango to the salad. (Any eagle-eyed readers might also notice sunflower seeds in the bowl, but I think they were unnecessary.) Taste- and texture-wise, the avocado got lost in the mix, I think, but it adds a nice color to the visual experience. And, of course, some healthy fats!
Tasting the dressing as the recipe calls it, I was worried it would be too sour, so I added some fresh-squeezed orange juice and a bit of date paste, but once I tasted it mixed into the whole salad, with the sweetness of the mangoes and oranges, I’m not sure that was necessary.
The contrast between the delicately crunchy shrimp and the smooth mangoes, between the tart dressing and the sweet fruit — mmmwah!

This is Whole30 compliant! If I weren’t avoiding processed foods, I’d be tempted to buy ready-breaded coconut shrimp to speed the process. It wasn’t hard; just kinda time consuming. Might go a little quicker if you had a two-person assembly team.

Timetable for roasting vegetables

roasted vegetables
I have previously posted this in recipe form, but since I work out a detailed timing schedule for all of my cooking on Thanksgiving and keep it in a file on my computer,* I thought I’d share my schedule for making a large batch of roasted vegetables for a crowd.

This schedule assumes you’ll be serving the meal at about 12:30. Adjust as needed.

Roasted vegetables cooking schedule

earlier** – chop carrots, onions, peppers and zucchini
10:30 – preheat oven to 400 F; cut potatoes
10:50 – put carrots and potatoes in oven; snap the asparagus
11:10 – turn carrots and potatoes
11:35 – take carrots and potatoes out; put onions and peppers in
11:45 – turn onions and peppers
11:55 – take onions & peppers out; put zucchini in
12:05 – add asparagus to zucchini; toss; put back in
12:15 – take veg’s out of oven

The full recipe.

Make-ahead tip: The vegetables can be roasted and kept at room temperature up to 2 hours in advance or refrigerated up to 1 day in advance. Reheat from room temperature at 350° F to 400° F. Do they taste as amazing as roasted veggies fresh out of the oven? Not quite, but still delicious!

*This makes me sound super organized in the kitchen. Ha! The REASON I spell all this out carefully and keep record of it is because, while I can (and do) get by with winging-it in the kitchen for daily cooking, holidays and parties require more organizing than I can do in my head. And I find that the less info I try to store in my head, the less wigged-out I get trying to stay on top of it all!

**For all the veggies except the potatoes, you can chop them earlier that morning, or do them the day before and store in the fridge, grouped according to what goes into the oven together.

Bread pudding: the ultimate Christmas dessert!

photo by The Shiksa in the Kitchen

So, I’m fixing dinner, Christmas Eve night, and my husband says, “What are we having for dessert?” Oh my gosh — dessert?! How on earth did I forget dessert? (I’ll tell you how: I was thinking of the waffles and cinnamon rolls we were going to be having for brunch the next day!)

Then my brilliant husband goes on to say, “How about bread pudding?”

Now, if you’re  not a bread pudding fan, let me tell you — neither was I, until a couple years ago when we ordered lemon bread pudding at Carrabba’s. I love anything lemon, but I’m telling you, this was heaven on a plate! Warm, sweet but with a little lemon tang, and custard-y… yum!

So a more traditional bread pudding — simply flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and for those who like them, raisins — seems like the perfect Christmas dessert.

And it was!

It’s quick and easy to throw together, and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand. We used this bread pudding recipe from All Recipes, and topped it with the Kahlua cream sauce recipe from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. (A plain vanilla cream sauce would be good, too. Orange or maple might be nice for a breakfast/brunch version.)

With these slight changes:
– Used a demi-loaf of French bread; fresh, not day-old.
– Used a 9×9″ pan (rather than 8×8″)
– Used brown sugar, not white.
– Left out the raisins.
– Added a little fresh-grated nutmeg with the cinnamon.
– Skipped the melted butter, but drizzled a little heavy cream over it (after pouring on the egg mixture, but before baking’ I didn’t measure, but probably about 3 Tablespoons.)
– Sprinkled some pecans on top. (Next time I’ll use more and mix ’em in.)
– Baked for 35 minutes.

Mmmm… Imagine the warm, sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, with a texture I can only describe as a tender, custardy cake. If this isn’t Christmas on a plate, I don’t know what is! But it would be just as good at any autumn or winter dinner — or brunch!

I might just make it again for New Year’s Eve!

Recipe review: Pork paillards with sour cream sauce

photo from marthastewart.com

So, to use up the other half of the tenderloin I used the other night to make herb roasted pork tenderloin, I was again looking for something quick but tasty. I remembered a Martha Stewart recipe I’d torn from a magazine and tucked away months ago, and tracked it down on the web. Here it is: Pork paillards with sour cream paprika sauce.

A paillard (pronounced “pie-YARD”) is simply a cut of boneless meat that that been pounded thin. They’re easy to make — the pounding can be very therapeutic if you’ve had a stressful day! And because they’re thin and of even thickness, they cook quickly and evenly. Here’s a step-by-step explanation, also from Martha.

I made this recipe exactly as written, with the exception of swapping out ancho chili powder for the paprika, in about half the quantity. And since we avoid white flour, I served it with brown rice rather than egg noodles, with a side of green beans and pine nuts.

It was a big hit with both the hubs and me. I’ll definitely be making this one again!


Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin


(Plus a recipe for Emergency Herbs de Provence)

It was one of those days when 4:30 was here before I knew it, and I didn’t have dinner planned. I have no good excuse. Not even a lousy one.

What to do? Same as usual, when “the usual” doesn’t sound good… Hit a recipe website I trust and search for “quick.” After a couple other stand-by’s (All Recipes, Simply Recipes), I landed on Pioneer Woman and came up with her Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves. Which sounds and look very elegant, but is super, super simple, and comes together in 30 minutes or less.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce
photo by Pioneer Woman

Basically, you salt and pepper a pork tenderloin, then coat it generously in Herbs de Provence before roasting. Top it off with a simple fruit-preserves-based sauce.

Not having any Herbs de Provence on hand, I googled for a recipe. I came up with several, but ended up using (as a starting point) this one by Emeril. (Yeah, we’re on a first-name basis.)

Herbs de Provence often contains lavender, but I didn’t have any on hand.  :/

Why this one? Well, because all the herbs have the same proportion, and I like simple! From what I understand, Herbs de Provence has some standard ingredients that are almost always in the mix, but the mix has evolved over time and also, every cook has his or her own variation. Which is great, because there were several ingredients I didn’t have on hand. So here’s my variation:

Recipe: (Emergency) Herbs de Provence

for one 1.35 lb. tenderloin; multiply as needed

1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. dried ground sage

PW’s original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of H.d.P. That’s half a cup – yikes! She was cooking up two whole tenderloins; I was just fixing one tenderloin, slightly over one pound. So I just used all of the above mix, and I still thought it was plenty potently ‘picy!

A note on cooking pork… Rather than cooking by time, use a meat thermometer. Pull the roast from the oven when the temp hits 140-145 F. Then tent lightly with foil and let rest at room temp, till the internal temp hits about 160. Slice and serve. Mmm… perfectly tender and juicy!

For the sauce, PW recommends fig, peach, plum, or whatever preserves you wish. I used blackberry. It adds a lovely sweetness that mellows the pungent herb crust. Perfect for a quick dinner for just me and the hubs — but impressive and foolproof enough to serve special guests!

Recipe roundup: Mother’s Day menu ideas

Here’s a little gift for you: instead of wandering all over the internet for the perfect Mother’s Day menu ideas, here are four different options for you, each with its own theme. Almost all of these recipes can be made ahead, so you can enjoy the day without last-minute panic. And all (except the shortbread) are low carb. You get enough guilt from Mom; you don’t need any from your food! 😉

Note: Most of these entrees are Paleo, or nearly so. None of the desserts are, but most can get closer with small tweaks.

Light lunch, light flavors

Want to treat mom to just a little something, perhaps before you head out to tour a local garden — or mall? Serve this easy, make-ahead orange-cranberry chicken salad on lettuce leaves or in soft pita pockets…

…with this elegant, lightly-sweet and super tender almond poppyseed shortbread.

Neither of these dishes will weigh you down, but they will both delight Mom with their flavors!

Classic ladies’ lunch, done low carb (or paleo)

What could be more classic than quiche? If Mom is doing South Beach or some other low-carb diet, you’ll be happy to know that a crustless spinach quiche (here’s a Paleo version) can be just as delicious as one with the traditional but high-carb pastry crust. I added a little Canadian bacon to the original recipe.

Mother's Day menu ideas: quiche and fresh berries

Serve a fruit salad on the side. Here, I’ve just drizzled fresh strawberries and blueberries with some sweetened cream. (To make it Paleo, use coconut milk and skip the Splenda.) One cup of heavy cream or half-and-half (or coconut milk), one packet of Splenda, 1/2 t. of vanilla extract. That will be enough for about six servings, and possibly some leftovers. So simple, but elegant and delish!

Oh, and about the quiche… be sure not to overcook it. You want it only just done, or maybe slightly underdone, in the center when you take it out. It will continue to cook a bit as it cools, and you want a creamy, custardy texture, not one like over-done scrambled eggs. A thin knife inserted in the center should come out looking pretty clean.

Finish things off with a vintage-y lemon icebox pie, updated by serving it in a cute little Mason jar! Just use my no-bake lime cheesecake recipe, use lemon instead of lime, freeze them a day or so ahead, and set them out on the counter 45 minutes before serving time.

(Note: I hope to update and Paleo-ize this recipe soon, but for now, you would need to sub out the dairy and Splenda, or skip dessert. Or just go with a little splurge!)

Mother’s Day with a Mexican twist

For something different, serve up my easy but elegant ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema (which is Paleo if you omit the yogurt from the crema)…

a make-ahead Tex Mex salad

and no-bake lime cheesecake mini-desserts. Add a wee bit of triple-sec (if you’re not philosophically opposed), and call it margarita pie.

Elegant and — dare I say? — impressive

If your mom is the fine china and real silverware type — or you just want to treat her so — here’s a sure-fire trio. For the main dish, quick pork tenderloin with seasoned rub.

For a side dish, green beans with pine nuts — which, trust me, is so much more than the sum of its parts, and as delicious as it is simple.

If you’re not low-carbing it, some good bread would round things out nicely, then finish with a flourish by serving individual mini tiramisu cups.

And if mama ain’t happy after one of these, well then, mama ain’t gonna ever be happy at all!