Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

So it's pretty rare around here to go with a recipe exactly how it's printed. We almost always tweak it a little bit (starting with doubling the garlic in any and everything). But on Father's Day, since I was attempting to do it all on my own without help from The Chef, I picked a recipe that looked simple and delicious. Oh, my. I had no idea. My kitchen smelled amazing, and the finished product was so tasty! I wish I'd taken a picture of it coming out of the oven, all crisp and herb-ified on top. Yum. So next time you need an EASY but delicious recipe for company or Sunday dinner, try this one out!

Herb Crusted Pork Loin (courtesy of Paula Deen)


1   (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
4   cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.
Roast the pork for 30 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional hour. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.

*The only change The Chef recommended was to pull the pork out at 145 degrees rather than 155.

This pork made some kickin' sandwiches the next day, too!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Sweet and Sour Sauce

1/2 c. water
2/3 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 squirts ketchup
1 8-oz. can pineapple tidbits (including juice)
3 T. cornstarch

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together all ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

You can add any type of bell peppers to this sauce, making it even more delicious! We love to throw it in the crockpot with chicken breasts or meatballs and let it cook for a few hours, then serve with rice.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Tools for the Toolbox: Social Scripts

I'm always hesitant to post parenting stuff because I don't want it to seem like I think I'm World's Best Mom. I have issues with my kids, we all do. And I definitely have moments where I feel like I've failed as a parent. However, after working as a preschool teacher of a couple hundred 3-and-4-year olds, and now having my own as well, there are definitely some helpful tips I've learned along the way.

First off, teaching your kids "social scripts." We've all heard this exchange.... "Mom, I want that Polly Pocket and she won't give it to me!" What do we do? Option A, head in and figure out the nitty-gritty details of exactly whose turn it is with the odd miniature plastic doll, or Option B, tell the kids to solve their own problems.

I tend to lean naturally toward Option B. I feel that allowing your kids the opportunity to solve their own problems gives them the skills to interact with others, share, compromise, and experience unfairness. However, I think that oftentimes as moms, we don't teach them how we want them to solve a problem.

In my experience, you have to lay the groundwork. Teach them how you want them to solve problems, and exactly what to say. In our house, it might go something like this:
Audrey: "Mom, Jessica has the Mermaid Barbie and won't give me a turn!"
Mom: "Okay. It looks like you both want to play with the Mermaid Barbie. Audrey, first ask Jessica how many more minutes she wants to play with it."
Audrey: "Jessica, how many more minutes do you want to play with it?"
Jessica: "All day!"
Mom: "Jessica, you need to share, and you need to pick a number that's less than 10 minutes. Tell Audrey how many more minutes you want to play with the Mermaid Barbie."
Jessica: "Three."
Mom: "Okay, Audrey. In three minutes, Jessica is going to give you a turn with Mermaid Barbie."

The expectation for sharing in our house is that if you want a toy someone else has, you first tell them you'd like to play with it. Then, you ask them when they'll be done. The other child has to pick a number that's under 10 minutes. In some cases, we actually get out the timer. Most of the time, this interaction solves the problem and the kids just share after a while.

We also need to teach them to say things like, "I don't like it when you talk to me in that voice. It hurts my feelings." And, "I feel like you're bragging about having more Barbies than me. It makes me feel bad."

At first this takes a lot of coaching. But after a while, your help lessens, and you can just use promptings and reminders.

By teaching your kids the "social scripts" that you expect them to use, you will help them interact with their peers, and lessen the amount of time you have to spend refereeing fights around the house. Just don't be surprised when your daughter asks you how many more minutes you need the computer before she can have a turn at Playhouse Disney.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy Tomato Soup

Last night my mom and I were hanging out and suddenly realized it was 6:00 and we hadn't even started thinking about dinner. She had a great idea for tomato soup, I found a recipe online, tweaked a few things, and voila! Dinner on the table in no time!
1 T. vegetable oil
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced (this is a lot of garlic, because we enjoy it, but feel free to cut back here)
2 28-oz. cans diced or crushed tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. black pepper
3-4 drops hot sauce

1. Heat oil in a large pot, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.
2. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Use immersion blender to blend to desired consistency (optional).

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's for Dinner?

I keep a list on Excel on my computer of the dinners my family eats regularly. When we're planning our weekly menu, we open the spreadsheet and glance through it to get ideas! Ultimately I want to put the ingredients into a spreadsheet with Produce, Pantry Staples, Dairy, and Protein, so that I could cut and paste to easily make a weekly grocery list. However, I haven't done that. :)

Here's what's on our list. What would you add? What are your menu staples?

Baked Potato Soup
Beef Stew
Beef Stroganoff
Beef with Broccoli
Breakfast for Dinner
Bruschetta Chicken
Cheesy Ham Soup
Chicken and Biscuits
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Chicken Crescents
Chicken Nuggets, homemade
Chicken Pesto
Chicken Strips
Chicken Washington
Corndogs, homemade
French Dip Sandwiches
Macaroni and Cheese
Meatball Sandwiches
Meatloaf Burgers
Navajo Tacos
Pasta Primavera
Pasta Salad
Pigs in Blankets
Pizza Rolls
Porcupine Meatballs
Pork w/salsa verde
Potstickers (Lemon Ginger)
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Roast Chicken
Shepherd's Pie
Sloppy Joes
Spicy Honey Chicken
Steak Salad
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Sweet and Spicy Chicken
Taco Salad
Taco Soup
Teriyaki Chicken
Tomato Soup
Tortilla Soup
Veggie Chowder

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fun Planting Activity!

We saw this activity in Family Fun magazine. Both the girls and the boys in our family loved it!

You take some seeds and plant them in baseball card sheet holders. Then attach them to your windows or sliding doors with little suction cups.
Water daily and watch them grow! The kids loved being able to see the seeds grow roots and spout!

Now we have these sunflowers and peas in the garden!

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