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Archive for June, 2012

Since I am severely allergic to poultry and C is not a big seafood lover, I like to search for new ways to cook beef or pork.  I found this recipe, of course, on Pinterest.  (Yes, I am addicted, but at least I am making the things I pin. That makes it all right, doesn’t it?  Doesn’t it???)  This recipe is from Allrecipes.com and I have used that site so many times. 

This tenderloin turned out so tender and juicy with just a hint of sweetness from the apple juice.  Yum!  Even the leftovers were delicious.

2 tsp. Tuscan Sunset seasoning from Penzey’s Spices

1 teaspoon pepper

1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin roast

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

1 large apple – peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed

1/2 teaspoon salt

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Rub the seasoning and pepper all over the tenderloin. 

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In a Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the meat on all sides in the oil then remove and keep warm.

In the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add the apple, apple juice concentrate and salt, then bring to a boil. Return meat to the pan. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F for 55-75 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F, basting occasionally with juices.Remove to a serving platter and keep warm.

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It is Friday so it’s time for another edition of Book Beginnings over at Rose City Reader.  Today I am bringing you the first few lines of “Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling.  This book is the sixth book out of a series of seven, and I have to tell you that I am a little sad to be this close to the end but I CAN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!!!  The tone is so different from the others that sometimes it is hard to take it all in.  In the first five books, Harry was battling the evil “You-Know-Who”, but there was an equal amount of Hogwarts competition going on as well.  This book is where the fat hits the fire so to speak, and you can just feel the battle coming.

"It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.  He was waiting for a call from the President of a far distant country, and between wondering when the wretched man would telephone, and trying to suppress unpleasant memories of what had been a very long, tiring, and difficult week, there was not much space in his head for anything else."

This man is the Prime Minister of England for the non-magical population so when he gets a visit in the next few paragraphs from the leader of the magical populace, he is in for a very big surprise!  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Views from the Ohio River…

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Good Monday morning, everyone!  We are starting the last week of June and July is right around the corner.  You can tell summertime is here and in full swing because it has been HOT and DRY!!!  Please join me and say a little (or big) prayer for some rain here in South Central Kentucky.  I don’t know if we are officially in the drought zone yet, but we have got to be close.  Our yard has dried up and my four rain barrels are almost empty for the first time in the three years that I have had them.  I am trying to conserve by only watering every other day, but I am still literally scraping the bottom of the barrels.  I really don’t want to use “city” water on them because of all of the chlorine, but I may have to.

I will say, even though we are dry, the little water I am putting on my garden beds is making a big difference.  The cucumbers are producing like crazy, the pepper and tomato plants are loaded down, and there are several baby watermelons out there along with plenty of blooms for more to come.  Yay!  I can’t wait to harvest my first watermelon.

Since it is the end of the month, it is time to clean out the freezer before grocery shopping.  You will see that I am repeating the deep dish pizza casserole from last week.  I was cleaning out my kitchen junk drawer and found three Cracker Barrel gift cards.  I thought that there just must be a few dollars left on each one or that they were empty, but I had better check before I threw them away.  There was $55 still left on the three of them so we had Cracker Barrel the night I was going to fix the pizza casserole.  Yum!  We love Cracker Barrel!

Deep dish pizza casserole with salad

Tacos with fruit salad

Grilled pork chops with oven baked fries

Sausage bake with salad

Pizza night

Grilled hamburgers with fries

Homemade nutter butter cookies (new)

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C & I were invited to a Super Bowl party back in February so I went looking for a new dip recipe to try.  Of course, I found this on Pinterest from the blog My Kitchen Addiction.  This is the link to the original recipe.  I tweaked it a little to suit my taste and the ingredients I had and it turned out great.  There were no leftovers at all to bring back so I know it was a success.

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 white onion, diced

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

8 ounces light cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup light ranch dressing

2 tbsp. taco seasoning

4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded 

Tortilla chips

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a pie pan (or rectangle baking pan) with nonstick spray.  The pan I used is about 6×8”.  In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef, onion and minced garlic until the beef is cooked through.

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In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add the beef mixture and half of the shredded cheese.  Stir to combine.  Pour that mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

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June fourteenth is a very special day for C & I because it is our wedding anniversary.  This year was our 11th year of marital harmony (most of the time), so we decided to take a mini-vacation to celebrate.  We knew we wanted to go see an Imax movie and, at first, thought about Nashville since it is only a couple of hours from us, but then I found out there is an Imax theater in Newport, Kentucky along with an aquarium and other fun things.

All of these attractions are located in one complex called Newport On The Levee and it was well worth the three hour drive (each way) for us.  The location was a cinch to find off of I-75 because, when you reach the Newport area, there are signs telling you what exit to take for the Newport Aquarium and then other signs on the city streets that take you right to it.  We were there on Thursday so the parking at Newport Intermediate School was only $2 for the whole day.  What a bargain!  Our original plan was to visit the aquarium and ride the Duck on Thursday, then see the Imax matinee on Friday.  Since everything was right there together, we were able to do all three things on Thursday. 

Today’s photos will be of the aquarium.  This is the third big aquarium we have been to and it was just as good as Gatlinburg’s and better than the one at Virginia Beach.  We also were able to buy a combo ticket for the aquarium and Duck tour that gave us a pretty good discount.  I have mentioned that Duck tour twice now, haven’t I?  Wonder what that is?  Hmmm?

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Pretty fish!

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Ms. Octopus was not happy!  One of the other visitors took a photo using a flash (against the rules) and the octopus went crazy in her tank.

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Mighty Mike the alligator.  He blinked and the aquarium guide said that was the most movement he had made all day.

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A pretty Lorikeet

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The jellyfish are always one of my favorite marine animals to watch.  It is so relaxing to watch them swim around.

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C was keeping a close eye on that shark.  Can’t you just hear the Jaws theme song in your head?

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This isn’t all…come back for the next edition for our incredibly fun and entertaining Duck ride!

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Fun in Newport, KY…

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Good morning, everyone!  I took last week off from menu planning since C & I were officially on vacation.  I ended up cooking more than I thought I would, but it was actually fun to do.  We stayed home most of the time so I could just cook when I wanted to without having to worry about having been worn out from working all day.  It was NICE!  At the end of the week, we went to Newport, Kentucky to celebrate our 11th anniversary.  If you have never been to the complex, Newport On The Levee and you live nearby, you definitely need to go.  Check back this Thursday and I will have lots more details and photos.

Back to this week’s menu…it is still a little off-kilter.  I am taking an extra few days off from work to catch up on a little housecleaning so I will probably be cooking those days and we have a wedding to attend on Saturday night so that will probably be supper out.  The other days will just have to work themselves out! 🙂

Deep Dish Pizza Casserole

Tacos

Cheesy steak sandwiches with oven baked fries (2 nights)

Grilled pork loin with grilled potato slices (new)

Please join me at I’m An Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

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Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I LOVE chocolate and I think caramel is pretty tasty, too.  My MIL subscribes to a magazine called “Midwest Living”, which is a lot like Southern Living just about the Midwest.  This awesome looking cake was featured in one of these books and I knew I had to make it as soon as possible. 

I think I have found my new favorite cake recipe because this is one of the best things that I have ever put in my mouth.  I am not a coffee fan.  Love the smell, hate the taste, so I have never been brave enough to try a chocolate cake recipe with brewed coffee as an ingredient.  Coffee is included in this cake and now I know why so many recipes to include it.  There wasn’t a strong coffee flavor, and the cake was so moist from it.  This would make an awesome birthday cake or even a groom’s cake.  It is that good!

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)

2/3 cup cooking oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + a little extra for dusting the pans

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Frosting (see recipe)

1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

3/4 cup purchased caramel ice cream topping

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare three 9” cake pans by spraying with non-stick spray and dusting with extra cocoa powder.  Then line them with wax paper circle.  In a small bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and cooking oil.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, beating with an electric mixer until combined. Gradually beat in hot coffee. Pour batter into prepared pans; spread evenly. Layers will appear thin.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for about 10 minutes in the pans then turn the cake layers out of the pans to cool completely.

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Chocolate Frosting

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk

6 tablespoons butter

12 ounce package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate pieces

1 – 2 teaspoons freshly brewed hot coffee

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and milk. Add butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add semisweet chocolate pieces. Using a wire whisk, mix until smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy, stir in coffee.

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Now here comes the fun part…

Place 1 cake layer, top-side down, onto a serving plate. Using an icing spatula or wide knife, frost the top of this layer with one-third of the frosting, pushing it out slightly from edges to make ripple or petal effect. Arrange one-third of the pecans on top and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the ice cream topping. Top with the second layer, top-side down. Repeat with frosting, pecans and caramel topping. Top with the third layer, right side up. Repeat with remaining frosting, pecans and caramel topping.  Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

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Just look at all that decadence.  Mmmmm…wish I had a piece right now.

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Welcome to this Friday’s edition of Book Beginnings here at Picture Perfect Cooking.  Join me and other avid readers/bloggers over at Rose City Reader for this awesome link party that highlights the books we are or have been reading recently. 

Today I am bringing you the first lines of a young adult book named "The Mortal Instruments Books 1: City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare.  A few short months ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead reading young adult fiction because I thought I was too old for the drama and angst of this genre.  I am here to tell you that I was so so wrong.  Not all of YA fiction is my cup of tea, but I have really enjoyed a few series such as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.  Here is the first paragraph of City Of Bones:

" "You’ve got to be kidding me," the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest.  He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his shaved head.  "You can’t bring that thing in here." "

Now I will admit that these first words are not the most inspiring, but the book is pretty good.  The writing style is a little more simple than HP or Hunger Games, but so far it has been enjoyable.  Enjoyable enough that I will more than likely read the rest of the series when time permits

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