Cajun Pork Loin with Vegetables!

This "Cajun Pork Loin with Vegetables" is a wonderful meal that is just perfect for cooler weather.  It is hearty and the leftovers are even better the next day! The pork turns out so tender and tasty!  I cooked this in my cast iron Dutch oven, because it conducts heat so well and just makes any cut of meat fork tender.  I will also give slow cooker directions for this at the end, because it will work in your slow cooker also.   Here is what you will need:
4-5 pound boneless pork loin
1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chacheres Creole seasoning)
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups beef broth
4 cups water
4-5 potatoes, peeled and quartered or halved if they are small
1 bag of baby carrots
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and quartered
1 red or green bell pepper, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut in one inch pieces
additional seasoned salt and pepper for the veggies to taste
Pat the roast dry with a paper towel.  In a bowl, mix the Cajun seasoning with the next 4 spices to make a rub.  Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of the pork loin.  Really pat it on there.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven that is ovenproof.    Brown the pork loin on both sides.  I like to get it really brown over pretty high heat.   Add the beef broth and the water, cover and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and add the veggies around and on top of the pork loin.  Sprinkle the vegetables with seasoned salt and pepper to taste.  If you need to add more water, do so now.  The vegetables shouldn't be covered in water, but the water should be up to the bottom of them. Some cookware loses liquid more than others in the oven.   Cover and place back in the oven for 1 more hour.
I don't like to cook the vegetables in with the meat for the whole 2 hours, because I think it overcooks them and breaks them down in the oven, especially in this cast iron Dutch oven.
To plate this, remove the pork loin to a cutting board and allow it to rest about 5 minutes.  After it rests, slice it in thin slices and lay them on a large platter.  Place the vegetables all around the meat, then drizzle some of the juices over all.  If you want thicken the remaining juices with a little cornstarch for a thicker gravy, you can.  We just spoon it, as is, over the meat and vegetables.  It is so moist and so full of great flavor. 
***For the slow cooker,  season and brown the pork loin in a skillet the same way, then place in the slow cooker, with the vegetables on each side of the meat.  You will need a large slow cooker.  Use the beef broth and 2 cups of water.  Set on low for 8-10 hours.

Mama's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake!

 If you are a lover of chocolate and peanut butter combinations, this cake is definitely for you!  It is amazing and I am not exaggerating!   This is one of my mother's creations and she did good on this one!   It's not that difficult to make either.   The frosting is just a simple chocolate, peanut butter cream cheese frosting...need I say more here?  I didn't think so!
 Here is what you will need for this cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Sprite (or any clear lemon lime soda)
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 eggs
6 oz. peanut butter chips, divided
6 oz. milk chocolate chips divided
1 (8 oz. ) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 of the peanut butter chips, melted
1/3 of the milk chocolate chips, melted
4 cup powdered sugar
2 oz. milk chocolate bar for chocolate curls to garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add in buttermilk, Sprite, oil and eggs.  Mixing after each addition just until combined. 
Melt 2/3 of the peanut butter chips and the milk chocolate chips together and stir.  You can just put them in a bowl in the microwave for a minute or two to do this.  Set the remaining, solid chips aside.
Mix 1/2 of the melted chips into the cake batter.   Set the other 1/2 aside for the frosting. 
Line two 9" cake pans with parchment or wax paper rounds and spray them liberally with nonstick baking spray.   Do not skip this step, because this cake can stick.  
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.  Sprinkle the remaining chips you did not melt evenly over each layer.    Place on the center rack in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  
Remove and allow to stand for about 10 minutes before turning out of the pans.  Place on a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, salt, vanilla and the remaining melted chocolate and peanut butter chips together.  You will probably have to place the chips mixture back in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it again before using.  Beat in the powdered sugar until it's smooth and fluffy. 
Stack on a cake plate and frost!  Make chocolate curls to garnish the top if desired!
Slice and eat, because this one won't last long!

Chicken Philly Hoagie!

This "Chicken Philly Hoagie" puts a little different spin on a Philly cheesesteak that is usually made with beef.  This is so yummy.   You won't believe how good it is.  It's also a huge sandwich. I could only eat a half of one at one time.  I save the other half and it was still good reheated for lunch the next day.   This is another perfect football food recipe.  For a large group, you could use longer French bread loaves and make bigger sandwiches cut in several pieces for easier handling.   Here is what you will need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked and sliced thin
4 hoagie or sub rolls
4 oz. cream cheese softened to room temperature
1 Tbs. dry Ranch dressing mix
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 large sweet onion, sliced and separated in rings
8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp
8 slices Swiss or Provolone cheese

I seasoned my chicken breasts with some Montreal chicken seasoning, seasoned salt and pepper.  Then I put a little pat of butter on each one and just baked them in the oven until done.  Let them cool a bit before slicing thin across the grain.  You can also use grilled chicken breasts or cook them stovetop. Leftover chicken breasts are great for this or if you want to go the easy route use a rotisserie chicken.
Mix the cream cheese with the dry ranch dressing mix until well combined.  Split the rolls and spread the cream cheese on the bottom of each one.
Pile the chicken slices up on the cream cheese layer.
Lay two slices of bacon on each sandwich.
Stack the bell pepper and onion rings on the bacon.  I leave mine raw, because I like the crunch, but you could saute them in a little butter if you want it more traditional.
Place two slices of the cheese on each sandwich.  When it melts it sort of seals the deal and keeps everything in place.
Place the top on it and you might want to secure it with a couple of toothpicks.
Wrap each sandwich tight in foil and place in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
When you remove from the foil, you will have a  ooey gooey cheesy wonderful sandwich!  These are amazing! 


Cider Glazed Pork Chops!

These "Cider Glazed Pork Chops" are another of my Aunt Ann's recipes, so you know they are good!  They just say Fall to me!   This recipe comes together so quick and easy and it's special enough for company!   The whole family will love it!   Here is what you will need:
5-6 center cut pork chops (bone-in or boneless, doesn't matter)
salt and black pepper
2 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. butter
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup apple cider ( can use apple juice)
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Dijon or spicy brown mustard
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of cayenne ( optional)
Melt butter in oil in a heavy pan that has a lid.  Sprinkle chops with salt and black pepper.  Brown them well on each side.  
While the chops are browning, mix all of the other ingredients in a bowl for the glaze.   When the chops are brown, pour the glaze overall.   Turn the chops over in the glaze to coat.  Cover with the lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes on low or until the chops are tender and the glaze has thickened. 
These are great served with Fried Apples!

Sweet Potato Cake!

This is undoubtedly one of the best cakes you will ever make or eat!  Ok, I realize this might be subjective and just my opinion, but as you have probably noticed we make and therefore have to eat a lot of cake.  Therefore, I do consider myself a bit of an expert on what is a good  The recipe for this cake is a very old family recipe that has been handed down through the decades.  It was always one of my mother's favorite cakes through the years and was usually brought to family reunions and special dinners and such.
This is such a moist and delicious tasting cake and it just gets better as it sits and soaks in that yummy icing.  You do not have to be a sweet potato eater to like this cake either.  My husband hates sweet potatoes and he loves this cake.
So have I enticed you enough to try this?  I hope so!  This is the perfect cake for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but why wait until then?  Make one now and give it a test run!   This is what you will need and my only advice is to follow the directions exactly for the best results:
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated (reserve the whites)
4 Tbs. boiling water
2  1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1  1/2 cups grated raw sweet potatoes that have been peeled
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1  1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl mix the oil and sugar with an electric mixer unit smooth.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. 
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.   Add the boiling water and mix. Add the flour mixture to the oil and egg mixture and mix. Add in the vanilla.  Fold in the grated sweet potatoes.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff and form peaks.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until blended.
Prepare three 9" cake pans by lining the bottoms with parchment paper or wax paper and spraying them well with nonstick baking spray.  The type that contains flour works best for this.  Take my advice and do not skip this step!  This cake is very moist and can stick or the layers can break if you do not line your pans.  Divide the batter evenly among the pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  A pick inserted in the center should come out clean. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool before turning onto a cake plate.
Prepare frosting when the cakes have cooled by combining the evaporated milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook for about 12 minutes, stirring constantly or until the mixture has thickened. 
Remove from heat and add coconut.  Beat until cool and thick and spreading consistency. 
Stack cake layers on a cake plate and frost between layers, top and sides.   Garnish the top with the nuts.   This frosting sort of runs down the sides of the cake and you can spread it around the sides.  The consistency will be similar to the frosting you use on a German Chocolate cake.
 It's a beautiful thing! Sorry, but I just love this cake! 

Copycat Alice Springs Chicken!

One of my favorite things to order at Outback Steakhouse, is the Alice Springs Chicken, so I decided to recreate it at home.  I sort of put my own little spin on it and it turned out great!  Except for the marinade time, it's also fairly quick and easy to do!  Here is what you will need:

1 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup honey
1/2 cup mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon or lime
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 slices bacon
2 tbs. vegetable or canola oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
seasoned salt
black pepper
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheddar blend cheese

In a mixing bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard, honey, mayonnaise, lime or lemon juice, and garlic powder.   This is going to be both a marinade and a dipping sauce for the chicken.   Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour half of the marinade over the chicken.  Seal and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  I wouldn't go more than 2 though because the texture of the chicken can change due to the acid in the limes or lemons. 

Fry the bacon until crisp in an ovenproof skillet that has a lid.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate.  Add the oil to the bacon drippings.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and throw that marinade away.  Place the chicken in the pan and sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper however much you prefer.   Brown the chicken on both side.  It takes about 4-5 minutes per side.
While the chicken is browning, saute the mushrooms in 2 Tbs. butter.  When they are just soft sprinkle with the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and a little salt and black pepper.  Turn off the heat so they don't over cook. They will be warmed back up in the oven anyway.
Pour half of the remaining unused marinate in a bowl and brush it liberally on both sides of the browned chicken.  Cover with the lid and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  If you don't have an ovenproof skillet with a lid, transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil. 
Crisscross 2 strips of the bacon on top of each chicken breast.  Divide the mushrooms between each serving and pile on top of the bacon.  If you don't like mushrooms, leave them off.
Divide the cheese between each serving and pile it up on top.  Place back in the oven, uncovered, for about 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice a melted!  Watch it though, because if it melts too much it will run off the chicken.
This is the finished product and my oh my is it delicious!  The chicken is for tender and so tasty!
Serve with the rest of the honey mustard sauce for dipping!  Writing this post is making me

Double Bacon Cheeseburger Soup!

 This is "Double Bacon Cheeseburger Soup" and it is as delicious as the name indicates it might be!  If you have a family that is hard to fill up with just soup alone, this one might be the answer.  It's hardy and with some good bread and maybe a salad or fruit, it's a meal!  This really stretches a pound of ground beef also.   I like it because you can have it on the table in less than an hour and if you are lucky enough to have leftovers, it is just as good the next day!     Here is what you will need to make this soup:
12 slices bacon cut in 1" pieces
1 lb. ground chuck  (can use ground beef)
1 medium sweet onion diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced or cut in matchsticks
1/2 cup celery, sliced thin
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. spicy brown or Dijon mustard
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth (can use 4 cups water with 2 Knorr chicken bullion cubes)
4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2  tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed (can use cheddar cheese)
3 cups half and half cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
1 cup sliced green onions for garnish
Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove to a plate.  The bacon will be used to sprinkle on each serving before serving. 
Drain all of the bacon drippings except about 1 Tbs.  Saute the ground chuck, carrots, celery, an onion until the beef is browned and cooked through and the vegetables are tender.   If there is a  lot of excess grease, drain.    Add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard to the beef mixture. 
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven,  melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two.  It will form a paste or light roux.  
Whisk in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil whisking to make sure it's smooth and no lumps form.  Add the potatoes and all of the seasonings.   Cover and cook on low until the potatoes are fork tender.  This take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Stir halfway through to be sure they aren't sticking.   When the potatoes are tender, add the Velveeta and the ground beef mixture and stir.  Cover and leave on low heat for about 10 minutes or just until the cheese has melted.  Stir in the half and half cream, cover and heat through for about 5 or 10 more minutes.   Give it one last stir and it's ready to serve!

Garnish each serving with bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and green onions! 

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili!

When that first chill gets in the air here in southern Kentucky, I start to think about things like this "White Chicken Chili"!   I usually make this on the stove top, but this is a great recipe to just throw in the slow cooker and forget it until time to eat also.  The great thing is that you probably already have the ingredients on hand.  Here is what you will need for this:

4 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 cans white beans (navy or great northern)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
 2 tsp. cumin 
 1 tsp. oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes (if you use another brand of the small square ones use about 6)***
5-6 cups water (depending how thick you like it)
1/4 cup chopped jalapenos (can substitute a small can of mild green chilies if you don't like too much heat)
dash of hot sauce to taste (I use Tabasco, but this is optional)
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups shredded Monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese
green onions, chopped
Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheeses
jalapeno pepper rings
***you can substitute 6 cups of chicken broth for the water and bullion cubes if desired
Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, except the cream cheese and Monterrey Jack or pepper jack cheeses.   Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 5 to 6 hours. 
The last hour add the cream cheese, cubed and the 2 cups Monterrey Jack or pepper jack cheese.  Stir about halfway through just to blend as it melts.  
Serve with the garnishes of your choice!  This is great with tortilla chips or Frito Scoops!

Funeral Sandwiches!

These yummy little bundles of goodness got their unusual name, because in the South, when someone dies you can guarantee that some sweet person will show up either at the funeral home or at the families house with  a warm pan of these little sandwiches.  Actually, the first time I had them, years ago was at the funeral home.   Of course, these are also great to serve for parties and other events.  They disappear fast!   Here is what you will need:

12 Kings Hawaiian Dinner rolls (could substitute another good dinner roll)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
12 slices thinly sliced deli ham (Black Forest or Honey Ham is best)
12 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. poppy seeds

Cut the rolls in half with a serrated knife.  Spread each half with mayonnaise.  Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss cheese on each roll and cover with the other half.  Place in a 9"x13" baking dish. 

In a bowl, combine the butter, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and poppy seeds.  Pour over the tops of the sandwiches.  Cover the dish with foil.  Allow to sit and soak up the sauce on the counter for about 15 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place the baking dish on the center rack and bake for 15 minutes.

Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes or until lightly browned.  The cheese will be melted and ooey gooey and they are yummy!  Double the recipe if you are making for a larger party or crowd!

Chocolate Silk Ice Box Pie!

"Chocolate Silk Ice Box Pie" just sounds rich and delicious, doesn't it?  I love chocolate anything and chocolate pie is a favorite, so this was right up my alley definitely!  It's just the right amount of chocolate and sweetness.  Here is what you need:
2  1/2 cups half and half cream, divided
1  1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. butter
dash of salt
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 prepared chocolate cookie crumb crust
whipped cream
In a heavy saucepan combine 2 cups of the half and half cream, sugar, cocoa powder, dash of salt, and butter.   Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
In a separate bowl, stir the cornstarch into the cold water until it's dissolved and smooth.  Stir in the other half cup of half and half.    Whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla until blended.
Gradually whisk this cornstarch mixture into the saucepan.   Cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly or until it's thickened and smooth.   Add the marshmallows and stir until melted and smooth. 

Pour mixture into the pie shell and place a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the surface of the pie.  It should be touching the filling.  This prevents it from forming a tough skin on top.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours.
Slice and garnish with whipped cream and a cherry or chocolate curls!  It's delicious!

Grilled Honey Lime Chicken Tenders!

You won't believe how easy and delicious these "Grilled Honey Lime Chicken Tenders" are!  They are very similar to the Grilled Chicken Tenders on Cracker Barrel's menu, but I think these are even better!   This is one the whole family will love also!  These aren't actually 'grilled' as on the grill, but results give you sort of grilled effect.  Here is what you will need:
12 chicken tenderloins or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in 3 strips each
1 cup prepared Italian dressing (I used Olive Garden, use whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup honey
juice of one lime
1 Tbs. minced garlic
seasoned salt
black pepper
If you are using the chicken breasts instead of the chicken tenderloins, cut each breast lengthwise in three even strips.  If they are really thick in the center, you might want to place between plastic wrap and flatten them out a little with a meat mallet.  This will make them more even like the tenderloins are. 
In a bowl, combine the Italian dressing, honey, lime juice and garlic.  Place the chicken in a gallon size Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over all.  Seal the bag and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour...2 is even better.  I don't like to leave it longer than 2 hours or the acid in the lime can start to change the texture of the chicken too much.

 In a large skillet over medium high heat, pour the chicken and all of the marinade in the pan. After they are in the pan, sprinkle each tenderloin with a little seasoned salt and black pepper.  Make sure your pan is big enough so you don't crowd them too tight.  This seems like a lot of liquid, but be patient it will reduce down.  Cook these on medium heat, uncovered.  Turn them every 7-10 minutes.
This is after about 20 minutes.  See how the liquid is reducing and they are starting to get some good color on them!
This is after about 35 minutes.  They need about another 10 minutes for a total of around 45 minutes. When all of the liquid has caramelized turn each one over really good in the glaze to coat and remove to a serving platter.
This is how they will look!  They are so full of flavor and delicious!
Serve them up and wait for the compliments!