Dinners

Recipe—Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Queso Stuffed Chiles

There are some recipes that are summer staples, this recipe is one of those in our household. Zesty citrus grilled pork tenderloin medallions paired with cheesy grilled stuffed peppers. Looks and sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

One of the reasons we primarily make this in the summer is because that is when peppers are in season, and you can usually find pretty large ones at the store. The bigger the better when it comes to this recipe! That way you can pack them full of all the cheesy goodness. 

I absolutely love pork tenderloins. They are so lean and are actually a really great grilling meat. With this recipe, the meat is so flavorful and juicy, and takes on really great citrusy and smoky flavor as it plumps up on the grill. 

There are so many things to love about this recipe. It is relatively easy, looks amazing, tastes amazing, and all the components of this dish are cooked outside, so you don’t have to deal with a hot oven during warm summer nights. What’s not to love?

TENDERLOIN INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 c fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 lb. pork tenderloin

STUFFED PEPPER INGREDIENTS

3/4 c queso fresco, crumbled
3/4 c jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c cilantro leaves, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
4 anaheim or hatch chile peppers, sliced open lengthwise, seeds removed

GARNISH

1 lime, cut into wedges
additional chopped cilantro

STEPS

  • Combine the apple cider vinegar, oregano, orange juice, olive oil, and garlic in a large resealable bag. 
  • Add the tenderloin to the bag and marinade in the fridge for 2–12 hours.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the queso, jack cheese, cilantro, and diced tomato. 
  • Spoon the cheese mixture into each pepper half.
  • Preheat the grill to 400º.
  • Add the pork tenderloin to the grill and cook for 10–12 minutes. 
  • Flip the tenderloin and cook for another 10–12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145º.
  • Remove the pork from the grill and allow it to rest.
  • While the tenderloin in resting, add the stuffed chiles to the grill and cook for 10–12 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted. 
  • Slice the pork and serve with the grilled chiles and sliced lime and garnish with additional fresh chopped cilantro.

If you like this recipe, then I highly recommend you check out my recipes for The Most Awesome Pork Tenderloin Ever or Pork Tenderloin Sammies with Red Cabbage Coleslaw and Sriracha.

Sweet Treats

Recipe—Old Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream

The other day as we were driving into our subdivision, we spotted a little pop-up fruit stand with the most vibrant red strawberries on the side of the road. They were so fresh and ripe that you could smell the sweet strawberry aroma from over 10 feet away. It literally just drew me in. 

It was the first really warm weekend of the year so making some homemade strawberry ice cream just seemed obvious. Fresh churned old fashioned strawberry ice cream is just an iconic summer treat and the key is ripe fresh strawberries. The kind that you can only find in the warmer months and that are a deep red throughout.

Now the trick to getting a really good creamy strawberry ice cream, is to make it with an egg/custard base. Strawberries have so much juice in them that your ice cream can take on an icy texture if you just use milk and cream. So, this recipe may be a bit more work than others, but it is so worth it. The final product will be so creamy and decadent. Absolutely worth it!

So as the weather really starts to warm up as summer creeps in, and you start seeing your market and fruit stands flooded with ripe strawberries, make sure to keep this recipe in mind. It is the perfect dessert to make this summer.

Note: This recipe requires that you make a custard egg mixture over the stove that needs to be completely chilled before being placed in the ice cream maker. The steps below guide you to put the custard in the fridge for 4–5 hours. However, if you don’t have the time, you can place the bowl of warm custard in a second large bowl filled with ice water and stir frequently. This will allow your mixture to cool within 30–40 minutes. Just make sure to keep it well stocked with ice.

INGREDIENTS
4 large egg yolks
3/4 c sugar, divided
1/4 c  brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 c heavy cream
1 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 c strawberries, sliced 
1 tbsp lemon juice 

STEPS

  • In large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, brown sugar, and salt until it is nice and smooth and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan combine the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla and heat over medium heat until it begins to simmer. 
  • Remove the pot from heat and VERY slowly add the egg mixture to the pot while whisking the entire time. (By slowly mixing in the egg mixture and whisking continuously you are tempering the eggs but not cooking them.) 
  • Return the saucepan with the creamy egg mixture to the stove and heat through over medium heat.
  • Stir the mixture frequently until it just starts the slightly thicken. You do not want to overdo it or the eggs will begin to cook/scramble.
  • Once the custard mixture is done, transfer it to a large metal or glass bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a lid, and place it in the fridge for 4­–5 hours until it is well chilled. 
  • When you are ready to start making the ice cream, combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl.
  • Using a metal masher, break up the strawberries until they are really saturated in their juices.
  • Add the mashed strawberries to the custard mixture, stirring to combine.
  • Pour the final ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and churn according to your device’s directions. 
  • Transfer the finished ice cream to an airtight container and store in the freezer. 
  • If you like this recipe, make sure to also check out my recipe for Blackberry Ice Cream, another favorite in our house. 
Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Cauliflower Tabbouleh

To me, spring means transitioning those hearty comfort foods to lighter more refreshing dishes. Gotta start getting this body bikini ready! Just kidding, this mom bod hasn’t rocked a bikini in over 11 years. A good ol’ tankini is more my style. LOL In reality, I just crave lighter foods as the weather warms up, and the produce section of the grocery store transitions with the season. Everything just seems more vibrant and robust.

This cauliflower tabbouleh is perfect for warmer weather as it requires no cooking, so you can leave that hot stove off. The flavors in this dish are so refreshing as it is PACKED with herbs! You have lemon zest, mint, garlic, and red pepper. Freaking delish!

This dish is one of those that actually gets better as it sits. I like to make it the day before I plan on eating it so the cauliflower bits really take on all those yummy flavors. It is one of those perfect dishes to make on Sunday to have for lunches throughout the week. You know I am all about that meal prep! (Just beware, you may have some garlic breath so pack some gum too.)

While traditional tabbouleh is made from bulgar wheat, I actually use a bag of riced cauliflower in this recipe making it keto friendly and low calorie. It goes fantastic with some grilled Greek chicken and tzatziki!

INGREDIENTS
10 oz bag frozen riced cauliflower, thawed
cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup small tomatoes, cut in half
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, chopped 
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. (Yes, it really is that easy.)
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Classic Whoopie Pies

There is something so fun about whoopie pies. That creamy marshmallow filling sandwiched between two fluffy chocolate cakes. Yes, please! 

The other day I saw an article about the history of whoopie pies and it is too cute not to share. According to legend, Amish wives would take leftover cake batter and make the tiny cakes. Husbands and kids would then find the little “pies” in their lunch boxes the next day and would exclaim “Whoopee!” Cute right? That would probably be my reaction if I found one of these in my lunch too.

They may seem complicated but actually are super easy to make. You basically make cookies out of cake batter and just bake them for a few minutes, let them cool, and then fill them with gooey goodness. Oh, and then add a glass of milk or a good stout. 

Notes: 

  • This recipe makes about 10–12 assembled pies. 
  • You can put the marshmallow filling between the cakes just by scooping it on, or I like to use a piping bag with a large tip to get really smooth edges. You can have fun using decorative piping tips too. 
  • Store uneaten whoopie pies in an airtight container in the fridge for best results. Then allow them to come to room temperature for about 10–15 minutes. This will allow the cake to soften back up. My husband and son actually like to keep them in the freezer and they eat them frozen so they are like a super indulgent ice cream sandwich. 

CAKE INGREDIENTS
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 c whole milk
2 tsp vanilla

MARSHMALLOW FILLING INGREDIENTS
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c marshmallow creme/fluff

STEPS

  • Preheat the oven to 400º. 
  • Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Stir together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. 
  • In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the vegetable oil, sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla extract until well integrated.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat until just combined. 
  • Scoop large equal sized spoonfuls of batter onto the lined baking sheet keeping them a couple of inches apart.
  • Bake the “cakes” for about 6–7 minutes. Make sure they are puffed up and looked cook through but don’t overcook them.
  • Using a spatula, immediately transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
  • Prepare the marshmallow filling by beating together all the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until nice and smooth. Gradually add the marshmallow creme until it is mixed in. (If the frosting doesn’t seem thick enough, add in a bit more powdered sugar a little at a time. You want it to be about the consistency of frosting.)
  • Take one of the cakes, turn it upside down, and put a nice sized dollop of the marshmallow filling in the center of the underside of the cake. (If your filling is squishing out from the weight of the cake on top, you can place the filling in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The butter chilling will help to thicken it up.)
  • Place a matching cake flat side down on top of the filling and push it down to spread the filling evenly from edge to edge. I like my filling to be about 1/2” thick.
  • Repeat until all the pies are complete!

If you like this recipe, check out my recipe for Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies which are made with a cream cheese marshmallow filling. 

Soups

Recipe—20 Minute Sausage, Spinach, & White Bean Soup

20 Minute Sausage, Spinach, & White Bean Soup

Hello cold weather! It is finally starting to feel like winter out here in California. Just this week we finally have some back to back days of rain and some serious wind going on and I freaking love it! It’s the kind of weather that just makes you want to wrap yourself in a heavy blanket and eat hearty bowls of soup all day long. This soup recipe is awesome because there is so much good flavor and it is really filling, and best of all, it is one of those meals that you can have on the table in 20 minutes. You do not have to be a well-versed chef to make this. You are basically just adding ingredients to a pot and letting your stove do the rest of the work. Sounds like the perfect lazy rainy-day meal to me!

Note: If you have a busy week ahead, chop the onion, carrots, and celery over the weekend and store in a container or a zip loc bag so they are ready to go!

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 c chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
3 c baby spinach

STEPS

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add the sausage to the pot and cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook for another 3–4 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add the broth, beans, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 8–10 minutes.
  • Add the baby spinach to the pot and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted.
  • Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Brunch

Recipe—French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

Christmas morning can sometimes be a bit chaotic with hustle and bustle of gift giving, cleaning up of all the shreds of paper and ribbon, and then sometimes the mad dash to clean the house before relatives arrive for round two of Christmas. At least that’s how it is in our home. However, on Christmas morning I always want to sit down and have a nice breakfast with my crew, I just don’t always have the time to make a big Christmas worthy breakfast. However, I do have the time to throw a casserole in the oven. So here you have French Toast Casserole to save the morning!

Several years back I posted a recipe for Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot! It’s amazing if you haven’t given it a try. What I love about french toast casserole is you can prep the dish the day before, throw it in the oven in the morning, and boom! Just like that you have a hot and delicious breakfast with almost no work. This recipe has all that delicious cinnamon goodness baked into a sweet bread pudding with a crispy streusel topping. It is so tasty!

So if you are looking for a quick and easy breakfast that you can make in advance, then this is the recipe for you.

French Toast Casserole

INGREDIENTS
12 slices sourdough bread (or a sourdough loaf), cut into 1” cubes
10 eggs
2 c milk
1/2 c heavy cream
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 c sugar
1 c brown sugar, divided
1/2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c cold butter, cut into small pieces

STEPS

  • Cut the loaf of sourdough into cubes and distribute them in a greased 9” x 13” pan.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and vanilla.
  • Whisk in a 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and all the granulated sugar to the egg mixture
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread.
  • Using your fingers or the back of a spatula gently press all of the bread pieces down into the egg mixture.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place in the fridge 8 hours or overnight.
  • For the streusel topping, in a medium bowl, mix together the other 1/2 cup of brown sugar, flour, cinnamon.
  • Add the cut-up butter to the topping mix and using a large fork or pastry cutter mix it all together until it is a nice crumbly consistency.
  • Store the streusel in a Ziploc bag in the fridge until ready to bake.
  • When ready to bake, remove the casserole dish and streusel from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Sprinkle the streusel topping over the french toast.
  • Cover the dish back up with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is a nice golden brown and the egg mixture is set, about an additional 15–20.
  • Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Cut and serve with a pat of butter and some warm syrup.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Craisin White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (AKA Santa’s Favorite)

Craisin White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the traditions that go along with it. Gingerbread house building, baking, listening to Christmas music, hanging the stockings, you catch my drift. There is just so much magic in the month leading up to Christmas. Well, ever since my son with 10 months old we have taken him for annual photos with Santa. They are all framed and sit in chronological order (have a mentioned I have OCD tendencies before? LOL) along the entertainment center leading up to Christmas.

Santa

This year he is 10 years old and he still wanted to go take a pick with Santa. With COVID I didn’t think we could make that happen but sure enough, we found a place that was doing physically distanced photos by appointment only. Yay! Anyways, ever since my son could talk he would make sure to ask Santa what kind of cookies he wanted us to leave out for Christmas, it never fails, he ALWAYS says oatmeal. Now one thing I will fess up to is that I despise raisins! I cannot eat them! Even as an adult I will pick them out of trail mix. I refuse to contaminate a good oatmeal cookie with raisins! However, I do love me some craisins. So, ever since that first time Santa said he wanted oatmeal cookies, this recipe made it into the baking rotation. These are delicious, buttery, and just the right amount of chewy and sweet. To me, these cookies are the cookie of Christmas and I guarantee you they are Santa approved!

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c + 6 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c oats uncooked
1 c craisins
11 oz white chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture.
  • Gradually start to fold in the flour ingredients into the butter mixture.
  • Add oats, craisins, white chocolate chips and mix well.
  • Drop dough by the spoonful onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until light golden brown.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cutting board or cooling rack.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Glazed Lemon Cookies

We are on Day 4 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Glazed Lemon Cookies

We have the cutest little lemon bush in our back yard and it holds a special place in my heart as it was a housewarming gift from some of our friends when we built our house 6 years ago. Every year come December, it never fails, the lemons are ready for picking. For that reason, these glazed lemon cookies have become a staple in our holiday cookie rotation. They are so soft and light and I just love the zestiness the fresh lemon brings to them. While I love making these around the holidays they are also perfect for spring or summer.

Note: I recommend placing some paper towels or wax paper under the cooling rack before taking the cookies out of the oven. When you do the glazing you will get some drippage and the paper towels or wax paper will help to catch that excess sticky goodness that make cleanup so much easier.  

COOKIE INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 c flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, softened
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
zest from 2 lemons
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS
1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla to the butter mixture and continue to beat until evenly incorporated.
  • Gradually add in the dry ingredients until combined.
  • Form small balls with the dough and place at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8–10 minutes or until they just start to get a light golden color on the bottom.
  • Allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Once the cookies have completely cooled, whisk together the powdered sugar and fresh lemon juice to make the glaze. (You want to be able to drizzle the glaze so add a tad bit more lemon juice or water if needed to thin it, or more powdered sugar if you need it thicker.)
  • Transfer the glaze to a transfer to a piping bag with a very small opening or a Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziplock bag, you will want to cut a small tip off one corner.)
  • Drizzle the glaze back and forth over the cookies.
  • Allow the cookies to rest for at least an hour so the glaze has time to set.
  • Enjoy!
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Cherry Chip Shortbread Cookies

We are on Day 3 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Cherry Chip Shortbread Cookies

If you have been following me for a while now, you know fruit and chocolate are kind of my thing. Bananas and chocolate, strawberries and chocolate, cherries and chocolate… you catch my drift. Add in the melt in your mouth buttery flavor of a shortbread cookie, and you have one of the best tasting cookies ever! Not only do they taste amazing but they are also so pretty! I love the pops of red that the cherries add.

If I will give you any advice about this recipe, it is to double the recipe. One batch for you, and one batch for sharing. They really are that good!

INGREDIENTS
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c maraschino cherries, chopped and patted dry
1 c chocolate chips

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt.
  • Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until it is all combined.
  • Gently fold in the cherries and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  • Lay out a long strip of plastic wrap and form the dough into a log in the middle of it. I try and make my log about 2” in diameter.
  • Wrap the log up in the saran wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Once the log has firmed up, remove it from the saran wrap and cut it into approximately 1/3” slices.
  • Place the slices about 1” apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for about 10–12 minutes or until they just start to turn golden around the edges.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

We are on Day 2 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

This is probably my most requested holiday cookies and definitely one of my faves. If this cookie is in my house, I will eat it. All self control goes out the window. This is a little more advanced than some of my other cookie recipes just because of the number of steps, but they are so worth it! The primary cookie part is not overly sweet, it has a delicious buttery roasted pecan flavor and where the real sweetness comes in is that creamy white chocolate caramel center. These cookies are a total show stopper. They look so pretty and are perfect for the holiday season!

Note: For this recipe I recommend you put the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of the cookies using a piping bag or Ziploc. I usually just use a quart size Ziploc and cut the corner of the bag off once I have the sauce in it. I find this to be easiest for me and then I can just toss the sticky bag when I am done. However, you can also use a spoon to fill the cookies with the sauce if that is easier for you. The sauce will be very hot on your hands when it comes off the stove which is why I let mine sit to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to the bag. The sauce will harden up as it cools.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c pecans, chopped
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c caramel sauce (the kind you would put on ice cream sundaes)
1 1/2 c white chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Stir together the chopped pecans and 1/4 cup of the butter.
  • Spread the nut and butter mixture evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the pecans for 10–15 minutes making sure to stir them around half way through.
  • Remove the roasted pecans from the oven and allow them to cool.
  • While the pecans are cooling, using an electric mixer, beat together the remaining 1 cup of butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until nice and smooth.
  • Mix together the flour and roasted butter pecans.
  • Gradually add the flour and pecan mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until well combined.
  • Roll the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and place about 2” apart on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes and remove from oven.
  • Using your thumb, or something of a similar size (I use the end of a cocktail muddler but the back of a teaspoon would work too) make a deep indentation into the center of the cookie.
  • Place the cookies back into the oven to continue baking for another 6­–8 minutes.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat the caramel sauce over medium low heat.
  • Gradually add the white chocolate chips while stirring with a small whisk or fork allowing them to fully melt. Make sure you do not burn the sauce!
  • Once the chips are fully melted and your sauce is a nice smooth consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Allow the sauce to cool for 5-8 minutes and transfer to a piping bag or Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziplock bag, you will want to cut a small tip off one corner.)
  • Pipe the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of each cookie making sure not to overfill them.
  • Allow the cookies to rest for an hour so that the filling will fully set.