Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Yay!!!! Halloween is over!!!! I mean…erhmmm, I’m so sad for those of you who enjoy Halloween and have to wait another LONGGGGGGG year for it to arrive again *grins*. I, on the other hand, am 816% ready to have it gone and to move on to Fall comfort foods and cozy cool evenings, crispy leaves under my feet as the puppy drags me at a run across the yard in a vain attempt to catch the cats on her 2 inch tall legs. I crave spiced cider (preferably spiked. I have a husband, kids, cats and a dog. Don’t judge), beef stew, driving home in the afternoon, getting to our driveway and smiling as I smell the scent of a fire going in the wood stove, and flannel sheets.

One meat I tend to use more often in the Fall and Winter is pork. I love pork, but something about it just seems too heavy for eating often in the Spring and Summer. I think part of it is that I grew up before they started breeding leaner pork and I still think of pork as heavy and fatty, even though that’s not the case most of the time anymore.  Apples are in season this time of year too and they play soooo nicely together. I like to think God planned all of those things, because, really, could you imagine using a Spring veggie like asparagus or a fruit like strawberries with pork? Nope. Those go with other meat dishes, but not so much with pork. Pork works better with Fall and Winter foods. Like apples. And onions. And apple cider. Can we say “yummy”, class?

This dish isn’t anything new. I’m not inventing the wheel here. It’s just one of my takes on the ubiquitous pork and apples. But it’s totally delicious, extremely easy, and doesn’t take hours. Did I mention that it’s delicious? Moist, fork tender pork tenderloin, spiced and browned, then finished in a bath of apple cider and surrounded with sauteed apples and onions. So good; so comforting.

You know the drill… 🙂

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
  • 3 apples (use your favorites. I used a mix from what we got at the orchard a few weeks back), cored and cut into wedges (leave the peel. It adds color, flavor and fiber)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
  • 2 1 to 1.5 lb pork tenderloins (tenderloins, NOT loins)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (the spice measurements for all the spices I’m giving are approximate for this recipe. You may like a bit more or less of one or another)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Smokehouse Maple seasoning (easily found in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • salt to taste (but be careful; there is salt in the seasoning blend)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in an oven safe large non stick pan (I used my largest cast iron skillet). Add in the sliced onions and apples; sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook over low heat until they are softened and barely fork tender, stirring occasionally. When done, remove from the pan and set aside for now.
  3. Add the oil to the same pan and heat until just below the smoking point. Carefully add in the pork tenderloins. Brown on one side, then carefully flip over. Sprinkle half the seasonings evenly over both pieces of meat. Brown the next side, then repeat with the remainder of the seasoning.
  4. Mix the raisins in with the apples and onions, then spoon the mixture alongside and over the meat. Carefully pour the apple cider in the pan along the sides. If you can’t fit it all, that’s ok. Just use what you can.
  5. Carefully slide the pan into the hot oven, being careful not slosh all over yourself (don’t ask me why I felt the need to add that warning, please and thank you).
  6. Cook at 425 for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck into the middle of the loins comes out at between 135 to 140 degrees (it will come up to 145 in the few minutes you let it rest after taking it from the oven; start checking at about 12 minutes just to be safe; nothing worse than overcooked pork).
  7. Let rest for about ten minutes to firm up and come to temp, then thinly slice the meat and serve with the apples and onions spooned over it. This is delicious with noodles or rice, with the fruits and pan juices served on top of the side dish also.
Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

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Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

One of the many things I look forward to every Fall is all the different varieties of squash. I am a self proclaimed squash whore. Don’t judge me. It’s a sickness, a sickness I say! I don’t recall us ever having squash when I was a kid (though back then, I highly doubt there were many to choose from ANYWAY; probably acorn and that was about it.), it was something I got pulled into trying about a decade ago. How? The sheer prettiness of the vegetable. Acorn squash with their shades of green and orange, Butternut, but especially my two favorites, Delicatas and Sweet Dumpling Squash. Those two are just so pretty to look at that you can’t help but want to eat them. I love them best with just butter and salt (we totally won’t talk about how much butter I use), but Winter squashes are also so darn good used in recipes.

I also have a thing for stuffing. It’s one of the dishes on Thanksgiving that I pig out on. So I decided to mesh two of my favorites into one. I’d seen stuffed squash before, but I had no interest in one with feta and llama toes or one with calcified dinosaur eggs and balsamic covered hickory nuts. I wanted something a bit more traditional but with a twist. So I went back to the fruit I have already called underappreciated; the pear. They are so delicious this time of year but they get ignored in favor of apples and pumpkins!  We need to start a Facebook page for pear lovers! #pearloversunite Or…erhmmm, something like that.

So I stuffed a big meaty sweet dumpling squash with a buttery, crispy mix of sage sausage, chopped pears, dried cranberries and roasted/salted pepitas. Those, with some cubed French bread (use whatever bread makes you happy) and seasonings (including cinnamon, which added a wonderful Fall note to the filling) made this into a fantastic light meal. It makes a lot of filling, enough for two large squash (4 people), so if you don’t need that much, feel free to freeze the rest in a air tight container or just make the rest in ramekins. I did that because my husband, weirdo that he is, doesn’t care for squash. He loved the stuffing, however.

You know the drill… 🙂  This recipe is so open to variations, so play around with it to make it yours

Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Pears And Cranberries

  • 2 Winter squash, cut in half and seeds discarded (I used Sweet Dumpling. You do you. This would be good in a Delicata, an Acorn, you name it.)
  • 1 lb roll breakfast sausage (I used sage. If you like spicy, sub in a hot sausage)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped pears (cored, but don’t sweat it about the peel)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted and salted pepitas
  • 8 to 10 ounces cubed bread (use your favorite; I used French, but you could use Ciabatta if you want more texture, a sourdough would work well, or even the bagged cubes)
  • 1 14 oz can good quality chicken broth (you may not use it all; depends on how wet you like your stuffing)
  • 1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. After scooping the seeds out of the squash, cut a small slice off the bottom side of each half. This simply enables it to sit upright in the pan without toppling over. Lightly butter or oil all over, inside and out, of each squash half
  2. Using a large pan, break up the sausage and cook until well browned. Scoop out the sausage and set aside. Without draining the fat, add in the onions and celery and cook over low heat until softened. Add the sausage back in and stir well.
  3. Add in the pears, cranberries and pepitas along with the butter and half of the chicken broth and stir just until the butter melts.
  4. Toss in the bread; stir well.  Add in the sage, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and give it a taste for seasoning. Add more broth if you want it moister. Add a touch more sage if it needs it, more salt, what have you.
  5. Spoon the stuffing into the squash, packing it down firmly. As I mentioned in the post, if you aren’t using it all in squash, you can either freeze the extra in a tightly covered container or bake the extra in greased ramekins.
  6. Bake at 350 until a fork easily pierces the side of each squash half. If the stuffing is getting too brown for your tastes (I like it nice and crispy, myself), cover the squash with foil.
  7. When done, feel free to shove a pat of butter down in the middle of the stuffing. I won’t judge.
  8. Serve; enjoy. I love to scoop a little of the squash into every bite of stuffing; others like to mix it all together. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, it will be delicious!

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

I, like so many people, have always had a fascination with the Amish lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle because, while I have read a good amount about their religion and respect 9and even agree) with a lot of it, it seems to be more than JUST a religion, but a lifestyle also. Especially in this day and age where so many of the Amish are forced by necessity to interact in the modern world, yet still choose to stay true to a life that forbids many of the things we all take for granted. There was a time in my life when I seriously considered trying to find a way to gain entrance into their world, but I came to realize that while I’m far less “modern” than many I know, I’m still probably too “of the world” to survive happily living as they do.

That said, I do, however, love what is considered the typical form of Amish cooking. Is what we do out here that is called Amish 100% accurate? I’ll probably never know. But it’s easy to find some foods that claim to be of the Amish spirit, at the very least. Add that into that category. Homey and comforting, using home canned goods (preferably) like my Spiced Apple Butter, generally made to feed a lot of people, and delicious. This recipe covers all those bases 😀 I adapted an old Amish apple butter bar recipe I had and this is what I ended up with.

These bars are utterly delicious. You have a streusel style crust covered with a rich cheesecake style later, then topped with large dollops of apple butter and more streusel. You go from sweet and creamy to crunchy and nutty to tart and fruity in each bite of these. They are perfect for the family and after school snacks, perfect for a potluck or church dinner and great for a family dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You know the drill… 😀

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, (10 minutes, 350 oven)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks ( 1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups apple butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and butter the foil or spray it with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix in the butter, combining until it is a crumbly mass and no dry flour mixture remains.
  3. Set aside 1and 1/2 cups of the streusel and then press the rest of the streusel firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the crust is just a light golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, make your filling- in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and blend just until combined. Beat in the eggs just until well combined. Sprinkle the flour/cinnamon mix over the top and stir that into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. When the crust is ready, pour the cream cheese batter over the top of the crust and smooth. Evenly dollop the apple butter over the cream cheese filling, then use a spoon or butter knife to gently swirl it into the filling. Sprinkle the reserved streusel over the top.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely. You can cut if then, but I found it slices better if chilled. Either way, cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated for storage.

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake



Growing up in Chicago, places like apple orchards weren’t exactly on the list of weekend getaways. When my dad lived in one of those old hotels in Hyde Park, this one called The Saranac, he used to take me to The Museum Of Science And Industry or maybe The Field Museum when I visited him. On rare occasions during the Summer, we might head out to the Indiana State Dunes and spend the day getting sunburned…I mean, playing in the lake. Nahhh, I mean getting sunburned. Nobody worried about sunscreen back then. By all rights, none of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s should have any skin left. I remember a sunburn I got when I was 17 that left me the color of a Coke can and blistered. My dad wanted me to go to the ER, but I refused.

But I digress. Imagine that. Me. Going off on tangents.  As I was saying, there were no orchards in the middle of Chicago. Since living in KY (half my life now, actually), and raising my kids here, it has never failed to make me a bit jealous when my kids would go on field trips to apple orchards or “pick your own pumpkin” spots. It was always just so…. southern to me. In a wonderful way, mind you. So when the idea to go to an orchard with the boys popped into my head, I ran with it. The one we went to is so cool. The apples were fairly well picked over this late in September, but we still got some. But there was also a huge play area that Joshie and Jordan loved, a cafe that we hope to eat at next time and tons of homey apple and “countryish” products at a store there. I hate that it took me until I was this ancient to discover orchards!

So what did I make with what apples we got? Not a darn thing. We didn’t get enough to spare for anything but out of hand eating. It was just coincidental that I had made this cake Saturday.

This is one awesome coffee cake, if I do say so myself *preens a little* It’s a tamer version of a crumb coffee cake. I stuffed this with apples, cranberries and cinnamon chips, as well as a crumbly mixture on top and in the middle. This is ultra moist due to the apples with a lovely flavor due to, well, all the varied ingredients. This is such a perfect Autumn cake. Typical of many coffee cakes, this is even better in the days following baking it, as opposed to fresh from the oven. The flavors need time to meld and then it is spectacular. The recipe was very loosely based off of one I got from a yahoo groups newsletter over a decade ago. Anyone else remember those groups fondly!?

This is a tiny bit more involved than “throw and dump”, but nothing you can’t handle. Trust me.

You know the drill….

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake

  • Filling/Topping-
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted, finely chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Cake-
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of either fresh apple cider or (preferably, if you have it) boiled cider**
  • 2 1/4 cups of peeled and chopped apples (about 4 small apples)
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked for 20 minutes in 3 tablespoons hot water, then drained
  • 1 bag Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips (you COULD make this optional, because I know these can be hard to find, but please try to find them!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a tube pan. Alternately, spray it with a flour/oil baking spray such as Bakers Joys Or Wiltons (which is my favorite) Set aside
  2. Make your filling- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nuts. Add in the melted butter and mix until it is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Set aside.
  3. For the cake, in a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. beat on low speed with a hand mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl down and add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and apple cider/boiled cider in a measuring cup.
  6. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the bowl with the butter, starting and ending with the flour (1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of the flour,  remaining buttermilk, remaining flour), beating on low speed JUST until combined after each addition.
  7. Gently fold in the apples, cranberries and cinnamon chips.
  8. Spoon half the batter into the prepared tube pan. Evenly top with half the crumb mixture, then the other half of the cake batter. Then top with the last half of the crumb mixture. Gently pat it down to help it adhere to the top.
  9. Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, no loose liquidy batter. Let it cool in on a rack in the pan for about ten minutes, then carefully run a butter knife along the sides of the pan and around the center hole. Do this a couple of times just to make sure it’s completely loosened.
  10. Carefully (use pot holders and/or a towel. This is till gonna be hot) invert the pan over your (protected) hand (works even better if you can use two hands and someone else does the inverting and shaking. Don’t ask me how I know this. Ahem.) and carefully shake the cake out. Invert it immediately back onto the rack to finish cooling.
  11. Let cool until completely cool before slicing, about two hours. Like I said above, this is even better the next day.

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**If you want to make your own quickie version of boiled cider (boiled cider has a much more intense apple flavor than regular cider, so is worth the trouble.), take 1 cup of fresh cider and pour it into a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat a bit and continue boiling until the cider has reduced down to about 1/4 cup. Let it cool before using.

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Spice Apple Coffee Cake