Maple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin

It’s been awhile since I’ve used my crockpot and today I dusted it off to put it to good use. Today’s crockpot contents is Maple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin. This was extremely easy to prepare and the best part is that crockpot cooking allows me to focus on other things rather than being in the kitchen the whole time.

Maple & Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin
recipe adapted from

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
salt and pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard or country-style
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
(I used Champagne Orange vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, crumbled
(I also added 1 tablespoon of Maple Sugar Seasoning)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Wash and trim the pork and pat dry; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine garlic, mustard, honey, brown sugar, vinegar, and thyme; pour over the pork. Turn pork to coat thoroughly. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, or on HIGH for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours.

Remove pork to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm. Pour the juices into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until reduced by about one-third. Combine the cornstarch and cold water; whisk into the reduced juices and cook for 1 minute longer. Serve pork sliced with the thickened juices.

I paired this pork tenderloin with mashed sage sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Cocktail Meatballs

Cocktail Meatballs
original Joelen recipe

3 lbs frozen (or homemade) meatballs
1 cup grape jelly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 bottle prepared BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours and switch to warm when serving.

‘Mac It Up

Macaroni shouldn’t always be associated with cheese. In fact, in our house, it’s given fair treatment as other pastas we cook with. Tonight, I made my meaty macaroni that’s chock full of vegetables, italian sausage, ground beef and parmesan cheese. In fact, I used my previously made bolognese sauce (which I made & froze) and added some additional vegetables (green pepper, mushrooms, chopped basil & 1 plum tomato) to help “wake it up.”
Here’s my recipe for Meaty Macaroni, where my bolognese sauce takes center stage:

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup baby carrots, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 large tomato
1 can diced tomato
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 lb ground beef
1 lb italian sausage, casings removed
spices: garlic/onion powder, salt, pepper, italian seasoning, oregano, sugar

In a pan, saute garlic and onion.
Add & brown the beef & sausage.
Add browned meats to crockpot.
Add remaining ingredients to crockpot.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Use sauce in lasagnas or your fave pasta dish. Tonight I tossed it with cooked macaroni and added grated parmesan cheese for a filling meal.

Springtime Roast

As I was watching Food Network this morning, Tyler Florence inspired me to make a pot roast. Rather than a traditional recipe, I concocted one using some random items in my pantry. As a result, our dinner was a springtime pot roast. It involves using vidalia onion dressing for sweetness and vegetable soup mix for additional light flavor.

Pot roast is a braised beef dish usually with a chuck steak, blade steak or a 7-bone pot roast. Pot roast is typically made by browning a roast-sized piece of beef then slow-cooking in an acidulated liquid in a covered dish.

Because inexpensive cuts of meat are commonly used, the meat becomes very tender after braising. As with all braises, the slow cooking tenderizes the tough meat, while the liquid exchanges its flavor with that of the beef. The result of a good pot roast should be tender, succulent meat and a rich liquid that lends itself to gravy. Pot roast is often served with carrots and/or potatoes simmered in the cooking liquid.
Here is my recipe for Springtime Pot Roast:

2 lb chuck steak – thick cut
black pepper to season
1 1/2 cup baby carrots
2-3 medium yukon gold potatoes, quartered
1 onion, roughly chopped
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 cup vidalia onion dressing
1 packet dry vegetable soup mix
2 cups water

Season steak with black pepper and brown in pan (optional).
In the bottom of crockpot, layer carrots, potatoes and onions.
Place seasoned or browned steak on top of vegetables.
Top with garlic.
In separate bowl, combine soup mix, dressing and water.
Pour mixture over steak.
Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.

I served my pot roast over couscous cooked
in chicken broth and chopped parsley.

Pulling & Stretching

Cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving. In fact, I used a jar of whole cranberry relish to make pulled pork tonight. With the leftover mac & cheese I still had from the other day, I stretched the remaining cheesy goodness to make fried mac & cheese nuggets.
The cranberry is one of only a handful of fruits native to North America. As documented by the Pilgrims, cranberries were found in abundance in Massachusetts in 1620 and rumor has it that they may have been served at the first Thanksgiving dinner, although we have no way of knowing for sure. Written recipes using cranberries date back to the 1700s and the first recorded cranberry crop in history dates back to 1816 in Dennis, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Cranberries soon cemented their place in New England life by serving as a vital source of vitamin C for whalers and a valuable natural resource to residents.
Tonight, cranberry sauce and a touch of maple syrup sweetened my pork ribs in the crockpot, which was then shredded and served in a toasted bun. Here is my recipe for Cranberry Maple Shredded Pork:

2lbs country pork ribs
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups whole cranberry sauce
1/2 cup french salad dressing
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 onion, sliced

Season pork ribs with salt & pepper.
Place ribs in crockpot; top with onions.
Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.

I served this on a toasted bun, ceasar salad and
fried mac & cheese nuggets.

Here is my recipe for fried mac & cheese nuggets – a great way to use up leftover mac & cheese:

Prepared mac & cheese, chilled
Egg scrambled
Panko Japanese Breadcrumbs
Cooking oil

Heat pan with oil.
Cut chilled mac & cheese in cubes.
Dredge cubes in flour to coat.
Dip cubes in egg wash.
Roll cubes in panko.
Fry up until golden brown.
Drain and let it cool.