Improvising

Lately little miss Emily has been all about apple EVERYTHING.  Apple sauce, apple juice, apple slices, and even pineapple because it has the word “apple” in it.  She eats enough apple I’m pretty sure her skin is slowly turning into an apple peel.

So I found this recipe for Pork with Buttered Apples and thought it seemed pretty perfect.  I’ve had a pork tenderloin sitting in my freezer for a few weeks and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it anyhow.

I did have to substitute a “buttery spread” for the butter for Emily, and that part was fine…no big deal.  Where this recipe went terribly wrong for me was the pork.

The recipe says I should “cook the pork, turning occasionally” until browned, and then to cover and simmer on low heat until cooked through–15 to 20 minutes.  That is exactly what I did, but after 20 minutes was the pork cooked through?

No.  Nooooooope.

In fact, it was still raw and dark pink inside, registering a temp of just barely 100 degrees.  By then the apples were done and the rice I’d made as a side was done, and I could tell the pork was far from being edible.  Meanwhile, my hangry toddler wandered back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, shouting, “Eat?  Eat?  Eat?  Eat?”

Clearly I needed a plan B.  I had purchased a turkey kielbasa that I was going to use in a pasta dish, but last night’s dinner needed it even more.  I was a little worried that turkey and apples wouldn’t make the best pairing, but it was either give it a shot or have rice and apples for dinner.  I sliced the kielbasa and tossed it in the pan with the buttery remnants from the apples while I let the rice cool.  Once the kielbasa was browned, I added the apples back in and called it a done deal.

The verdict:  Turkey kielbasa and apples actually taste great together, and my husband and toddler both thought it was fantastic.  CRISIS AVERTED.

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So where did I go wrong with the pork tenderloin?  I honestly don’t know.  My hunch is that I was supposed to slice it prior to cooking, but the recipe doesn’t give that instruction so I’d hate to make that assumption.  All I know is that next time, I’m not cooking it on the stovetop.  That sucker took almost an hour to cook all the way through.

At least not all of my kitchen ventures this week have been failures.  I made some seriously wicked chocolate chocolate chip muffins for Emily’s baked milk challenge.  My modifications:

  • I subbed a flax egg for the real egg
  • I added four tablespoons of powdered milk to the wet ingredients to make the milk-per-muffin measurement meet Emily’s needs
  • I omitted the nuts (choking hazard)

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I could LIVE off of these muffins, they are so delicious!  I think Emily enjoyed them, too.  😉

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Pinterest-free week, day one: Taco salad

I will never learn to cook as long as I keep using Pinterest.

This is my prediction, at least.  I’ve been thinking long and hard about my use of Pinterest for recipes.  Almost all of the cooking I’ve documented so far on this blog has resulted from recipes I found on Pinterest.  And nothing against the people whose recipes are circulated on the website, but I’m truly starting to believe they are detrimental to novice cooks.  They’re not designed for people who don’t know what they’re doing.  They offer no method of coaching a brainless cook through the tasks they might not understand.  Therefore, I am dubbing this week “Pinterest-free week.”  This week, the majority of what I’ve planned to cook comes straight out of my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.  I chose this book because it is, without a doubt, written for people who haven’t mastered the ropes of cooking.

I started off Pinterest-free week with a simple recipe for taco salad.  I’ve been feeling bad about the flavorless food I’ve put on the table this week, so I chose something easy to make and hard to screw up.  There truly aren’t many good, hearty meals that are simpler to prepare; nevertheless, I’ve never before made a taco salad, so it was still new to me.  I started with browning some ground pork.  Easy peasy; I could do it with my eyes closed!

Then I added kidney beans, taco sauce, and corn.  No sweat!

While that simmered, I chopped some veggies–lettuce, tomatoes, and green onion–and set out some tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese. I opted to go with a “build your own salad” setup because my fiance and I differ on our salad preferences.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, dinner was done!  It was delicious as all get out.

I’m feeling really good about my Pinterest-free week.  My inner chef can only stay in hiding for so long…