Friday, February 22, 2013

Cocoa-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

    Earlier this month, I hosted a Chocolate themed dinner club with my girlfriends.  The original plan was to make homemade chocolate croissants, but I was pressed for time that weekend and decided to stick with an old fave: pork tenderloin.  I read through dozens of cocoa-crusted recipes and finally found this one on The Daily Meal. I always like an excuse to try a new tenderloin recipe.

      I know I have talked about pork tenderloin before, but it is a nice meat that doesn't take much work and usually has wonderful results.  I was even excited to use a new meat thermometer I got for Christmas.   The recipe used a cocoa rub and a cherry sauce, so I prepped both of those the night before dinner club.  Then the morning of, I was ready to rock! Let's get cooking...
Trim up your tenderloins and lay out on baking sheet for a good rubdown
Heavily sprinkle on spice rub and cover whole tenderloin. You should be smelling of cinnamon now.
They look so innocent and unknowing.
Do a quick sear on both sides, careful not to burn the cocoa.  As you can see, I might need a new, larger frying pan.  Then place back on baking sheet and pop in oven.
This is the best shot I could get out of the oven, and although its nice and brown on the outside it was the perfect temperature and light pink on the inside. 
Once your sauce base is ready, stir in cherries and serve over pork! 
Here's what you'll need:

Cocoa-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil 
Two 2-pound boneless pork tenderloins
Cherry Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
8 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ cup red wine
¼ cup dried cherries
2 cup veal or beef stock
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt

Cooking instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Place tenderloins on a sheet pan and coat well with rub. Let sit for 2 hours.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Once hot, place the pork in the pan and sear all sides until brown, being careful not to burn the cocoa. Remove pork from skillet and place in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.

For the sauce:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add shallot, garlic and thyme and sauté for about one minute.  Deglaze with red wine. Reduce red wine by half and add stock. Reduce by half again and add sugar and salt to taste.  Strain and set aside.  When ready to serve, heat and add cherries.

         As seen earlier at my Chocolate dinner club, serve up with some greens & veggies and enjoy!


Chocolate Dinner Club

Chocolate. Who doesn't love chocolate?  

         Every month, 11 friends and I get together for dinner club.  The host will choose a theme for the month and everyone brings a dish to share. It was my turn this month! I wanted to do something cute with Valentine's Day but didn't want to over do it with hearts or red & pink foods. So as I was browsing quotes about love, I stumbled upon this one.  Funny that I have always loved Charles M. Schulz, the Peanuts creator. His comics carry such good memories for me. He always blended sweet lessons with humor so well, very fitting that he would blend love and chocolate and set the perfect scene for my dinner club. 

      The only requirement was to to include a chocolate ingredient because...
     "All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." 

The lineup included:

Chocolate martinis
Mini Chocolate Machaca Breakfast Burritos
Fruit with Creamy Chocolate Dip

Salad & Veggies
Mixed Greens with Warm Cacao Nib Crusted Goat Cheese
Cocoa Spiced Roasted Vegetables

Main Dishes
Beef Paleo Chili
Cocoa Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce
Pinto-Bean Mole Chili (Epicurious)
Fudge Mint Brownies 
Chocolate Chip Pancakes & Strawberries

 Here are a few of the girls enjoying lunch!

January was Prohibition theme: a hidden alcohol ingredient and March the dishes must be made with local grown food. I can't wait to see what other themes come up throughout the year.  
Food makes for such great conversation and the company doesn't hurt either!

See the recipe for Cocoa Crusted Pork Tenderloin here.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Birthday Blessings

A birthday can make us think about, reflect on and appreciate many things. 

Today as I celebrate my 31st birthday, I am overwhelmed with thoughts about how blessed I am. 
My year of 30 was not what I expected, weird and surprising tough times but a lot of high times too.  I could not have gotten here today without the support of my amazing friends and family, so this year..instead of wishes for myself, I have some wishes for those who have been there for me & by my side.  I am so excited to see what this year has in store for me, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am truly lucky to be here living this wonderful life today.

A few fun highlights of my 30th year of life:

A fabulous 30th birthday bash in a swanky speakeasy
Sharing cocktails poolside with my best bud
 Watching my elementary school best friends become beautiful mothers 
and spending time with their baby boys!
Sailing for the first time
 Running through a ridiculous amount of colored paint
 Rappelling into a cave
 Becoming a triathlete
Seeing my goddaughter turn 1!

See...when you stop and think about, there are so many little things that can make a moment great. 

Since we are talking about great moments, these are the moments I look forward to in my 31st year. Seriously, how lucky am I?

Upcoming special moments:
* Traveling to Italy with my best friend
* Opening myself up to more risks & life
* Welcoming new babies into this world
* Reading many more books
* Continuing to blog about Love, Luck & Purpose

So cheers to this upcoming year! I wish all of you the blessings I have been bestowed and hoping to a fabulous year ahead!  


Monday, February 18, 2013

Puff 'n' Stuff Cookies

As a Valentine treat for someone sweet, I made up some new cookies. Easy & extremely delicious!

I took the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and added in a few fun items!
A cookie stuffed with so much goodness... I decided to name them Puff 'n' Stuff Cookies... yummo! 

Puff 'n' Stuff Cookies:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening or softened butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (My secret is 3 teaspoons!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • Sprinkles
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and marshmallows.
Scoop tablespoons of dough and roll into 1-1/2 balls.
Dip balls into a small bowl of sprinkles.  
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
Enjoy and Share!