My Mother’s Day weekend: recipe for pork tenderloin with apricot glaze, roasted potatoes and carrots + a trip to a local Texas winery

Mother's Day Meal

I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend at home with my mother. I wanted to do something special for her so I decided to make her favorite meal of pork and potatoes. Luckily I had Richard to help add his special touch to the recipes. The recipes made a lot of food, and it was a good thing we made a lot because a lot of the family ended up coming over, along with a few neighbors. I really think all the pieces of this meal went together perfectly, the apricot glaze went along well with the fruity salad, which were complemented by the savory potatoes. This is a meal I would definitely make again.

Also, what made the weekend so special was my visit to the Messina Hoff winery in Bryan. My mom went to a Mother’s Day lunch with my Mimi and aunt, along with a group of their friends, so Richard and I decided to explore the winery. I had always passed the sign on my way in from Dallas, but never could have imagined this little gem that was tucked way back there! Richard and I had talked about taking a tour of the Texas wineries near Fredericksburg, but thought this was a good introduction. We bought four of their wines because I had to get a bottle of white for my mom, and a spicy Zinfandel for my aunt since she just got a new grill. The red wine will go perfectly with some red meats she will cook up on there this summer. Richard also really enjoyed their Primitivo Zinfandel and bought a bottle of that. We tried three of their whites and six of their reds. I have to bring my mom back there some time!

Here are the recipes for the meal we made:

Pork tenderloin brine


  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (we used red wine that had been open for a while and was no longer drinkable
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary

Instructions: Prepare the brine for the pork tenderloin by combining all of the above ingredients into a bowl with the pork, cover, and let sit overnight.

Pork tenderloin Pork tenderloin with bread crumbs and whole mustard seed


  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (can make your own by toasting bread that has been out for a while and crumbling up into fine bread crumbs)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper


Coat pork tenderloins in more of the whole grain mustard then coat in bread crumb mixture with the remaining ingredients above (the mustard helps keep the bread crumbs on it).

Apricot glaze (for the pork) Apricot glaze


  • 4 apricots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • juice of two limes

Instructions: Cook apricots in oil, then add a bit of white wine and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the lime juice and serve as a topping for the pork tenderloin.

Spring salad with grapes, melon, beets and candied pecans Grape beet and melon salad with candied pecans


  • one package of spring mix lettuce
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • 1 cup watermelon, diced
  • 1 cup cooked beets, diced
  • 1 cup candied pecans

Instructions: To prepare the candied pecans, mix the following ingredients so the pecans are well coated.

  • 1/4 cup butter (or 2 oz) at room temperature so it’s soft enough to blend with ingredients
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • honey
  • 2 cups pecans

Then bake in oven at 400 degrees until caramelized brown, or about 20 minutes, so they look like this:Candied pecans

For the beets, bring a pot of water to a boil, add the beets and reduce to low and let simmer for 45 minutes or until beets are fully cooked. Let them cool off before peeling and chopping for the salad. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl with the raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Salad dressing


  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Instructions: Blend the ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree, then serve over the salad.

Carrots Roasted carrots


  • 3 pounds carrots, peeled
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Toss carrots with garlic, paprika, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to the baking pan, cover tightly with foil, and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover the roast an additional 20 minutes longer or until carrots are tender.

Potatoes Roasted potatoes with thyme and rosemary


  • 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Instructions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (250 degrees C). Grease a pan and turn the stove on medium-high heat. Pan fry the potatoes to sear the edges, and cooke for about a minute. You may have to do this in batches. Place potatoes in a large roasting pan and toss with more oil, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary until evenly coated. Spread out potatoes in a single layer. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Here are some more photos of the flowers I got for my mom, and the Messina Hoff winery. Flowers Mother's Day Messina Hoff Wine Tasting Richard Messina Hoff Messina Hoff Vineyards Us at Messina Hoff Messina Hoff Zinfandel


Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

I love roasted vegetables. It is the perfect, easy side to any main dish. I had a couple of pork chops in the freezer and needed something to go along.

You can really use your preferred medley, but this is what I used:

  • 3 potatoes (can be your favorite, red or russet, etc.) cubed into inch thick pieces
  • 2 squash or zucchini, rinsed and cut into inch thick pieces
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 lb green beans, canned or fresh (cut off the ends, then cut the beans into bite size pieces)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or 3 tsp fresh if you have it

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and roast for 45- 50 minutes. And that’s IT!!

Holiday recipes + donation to Feeding America

Oh, how I love the holiday season! I have been blasting Christmas music (sorry neighbors), decorating and holiday shopping since before Thanksgiving. Now that we’re well into December I’m sure there is a lot on everyone’s mind, especially the thought of what you’re going to cook when the family gets together! I thought I would help you along with your planning by providing you with some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Starting with an appetizer, here’s a full menu idea (recipes below):

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Marmalade-glazed ham
  • Goat cheese potato gratin
  • Cheesy grits souffle
  • Peanut brittle
  • Pecan-pumpkin pie

Another great tip is to make as much as you can ahead of time. And plan, plan, plan! Read your recipes a couple of days in advance to see how long each dish takes so your recipes can all come out at the same time and still be warm when you are ready to serve! Some parts can even be made the day before, or even the week before if you can freeze and store until you are ready to finish baking or cooking. You can also assign different activities to different people. I have also included a sample time-table below.

As an added bonus, the company I work for, GolinHarris, just launched their holiday site, Every time someone submits a recipe, they will donate to Feeding America. So share your favorite recipes – it’s for a great cause!

Stuffed mushrooms


  •  1 lb cremini mushrooms (small, bite sized mushrooms that are good for stuffing)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Remove the stems from the mushrooms by gently turning the stems and pulling them out. Chop the stems up and save for the next step. Chop the green onions and bell pepper. Melt the butter on the stove over medium heat in a 12 inch skillet.

Add the chopped mushroom stems, bell pepper, and onions to the skillet and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

If you want to make ahead of time, you can stop after this step and pick up with the next when you are ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use remaining butter to grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. Place mushrooms, open side up, in the pan. Fill each mushroom with the mixture. Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Total time: 30 minutes

Marmalade-glazed ham


  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 cooked, spiral-sliced, smoked bone-in half ham

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together marmalade, sugar, vinegar, mustard, garlic, and rosemary. Place ham in a 9×13 inch roasting pan. Brush the mixture all over the ham. Place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted horizontally in the bottom portion of the ham (not touching the bone) reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to a platter and garnish with herbs and fruit if you like!

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Goat cheese potato gratin

goat cheese potatoes

  • 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 heaping cup soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Chives or green onions, chopped, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease an 11×7 inch baking dish.

Slice the potatoes very thinly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, garlic, goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish overlapping them slightly. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes, then repeat the layers two more times with the remaining potatoes and cream.

Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and the potatoes are cooked through. Allow to stand at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chives or green onions and serve.

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cheesy grits souffle


  • 6.5 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking dish.

In a saucepan, bring water, margarine, salt, and 1 1/2 cup of milk to a boil. Whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk well, then stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1 cup milk, and the Cheddar cheese. Whisk in 3 egg yolks; discard the remaining yolks. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat all 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add one-third of the whites to the grits mixture and stir until blended. Fold in remaining egg whites, stir gently, then transfer to a souffle dish. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until puffed and golden brown on top.

Total time: 1 hour

Peanut brittle

peanut brittle

  • 1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 pinch salt (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Grease a baking sheet, and set aside. In a glass bowl, combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook in microwave for 6 to 7 minutes on High (700 W); mixture should be bubbly and peanuts browned. Stir in butter and vanilla; cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Quickly stir in baking soda, just until mixture is foamy. Pour immediately onto greased baking sheet. Let cool 15 minutes, or until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.

Total time: 30 minutes

Pecan-pumpkin pie


  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 2/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 prepared deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°.

In small bowl, combine one egg, pumpkin, 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Spread in pie crust.

In medium bowl, beat remaining two eggs slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 2/3 cup sugar, the butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack.

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Time table

Day before:

  • Make peanut brittle
  • Make pecan-pumpkin pie
  • Prepare the filling for the stuff mushrooms and store in the fridge over night

Day of:

  • 10:00 am Before guests arrive, set the table, set out wine glasses, etc.
  • 12:00 pm Assemble the stuffed mushroom, bake, then serve for guests
  • 12:30 pm Mise and place – Prepare the glaze for the ham
  • 12:40 pm Mise and place – Prepare the ingredients for the goat cheese potato gratin
  • 1:15 Put the ham in the oven to cook
  • 1:15 Put the potatoes in the oven to cook
  • 1:20 pm Mise and place – Prepare the ingredients for the cheesy grits souffle
  • 1:40 pm Put the souffles in the oven to bake
  • 2:30 pm Remove the ham from the oven and let rest
  • 2:30 pm Remove the potatoes from the oven
  • 2:30 Remove the souffles from the oven
  • 2:35 Serve!

I would love to hear about your favorite recipes – share them here and also on!

Five cheese potato gratin


Yesterday I talked about the meal I made for my mother’s birthday. I couldn’t tease you with the scalloped potatoes I made and not give the recipe, so here it is! FIVE cheeses?! Yes, you heard that right. I happened to have five different types of cheeses in my fridge, but you can mix and match as much as you want. That’s the beauty of scalloped potatoes. And I’m a huge fan of loading mine up with goat cheese.

  • 2-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/3 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmsean cheese cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup softened goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups reduced-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat an 11- by 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Thinly slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the cheeses.

In another medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of milk and the flour until well combined. Whisk in the remaining milk and the nutmeg.

Layer half of the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Pour half of the milk mixture over the potatoes. Season with half of the salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture and half of the green onions over the potatoes.

Layer the remaining potatoes over the cheese, and pour the rest of the milk mixture evenly over the potatoes. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil, sprinkle the rest of the cheese mixture over the potatoes, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and the let the gratin rest for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with the remaining green onions and serve.

Carrot and potato soup (and recipe for jalapeno, honey and cilantro roasted acorn squash)

Roomie recently found Urban Acres, which offers co-op style produce that is local and organic. Each week we pick up a new box of food… it’s like a surprise when we get to see what’s in it! Buying our food this way has really made us get creative in the kitchen. This week’s selection included potatoes, carrots, and fresh cilantro (my favorite!).

I started looking at recipes that included the ingredients we had. I came home one day to tell Megan about this recipe that I found that used all sorts of different ingredients with the acorn squash. As I was describing it, she got so excited and said she had found the exact same recipe! How funny that we both found the same one. I guess it was meant to be.

  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of smoked paprika, curry powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the potatoes and carrots into smaller pieces and roast for about 50 minutes.

Put one tablespoon of canola oil in a pan and fry the onion. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, roasted carrots, potatoes, and spices.

Puree with hand mixer and serve.

Get the recipe for the acorn squash on my room mate’s blog!

Almond crusted tilapia with zucchini boats

Nothing makes me happier than being home sweet home and having my mom request my tilapia! This is quite a feat since my mom was never a fish person – until she had MY tilapia. Ok, ok. She may have been warmed up to it by a few other dishes, but I like to think that I converted her. I normally make her my spicy baked tilapia, but I was in the mood to try something new. I love how the almonds give the fish an extra crunch. And the Dijon…mmmmmmm! When served with the zucchini boats, this is a perfect, light meal.

For the tilapia:

  • 1/2 cup salted almonds
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plain or seasoned
  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • parmesan cheese

For the zucchini boats:

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 onion
  • Parmesan cheese
  • pepper

Since the tilapia cooks quickly, I recommend starting with the zucchini.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse the zucchini. Slice them in half length-ways, trimming the ends. Spoon out the guts, leaving about 1/2 an inch in, until you end up with boat like shells.

Now give the zucchini pulp a good chop, also chop a small onion and 1/2 a tomato while you’re at it.  Sautee the onions in one tbsp oil and cook until brown.

Now add 1/2 tsp salt, 1 heaping tbsp Dijon, a good pinch of pepper, the zucchini pulp, the tomato and crushed red pepper.

Lightly butter a baking dish or line with non-stick foil and put the zucchini boats in. Grab a spoon and fill the shells with the mix. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.

Put them in the preheated oven and cook them about 20 minutes.

While the zucchini boats are in the oven, cook the tilapia.

Place the almonds and breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground into a crumb-like mixture. Place the crumb mixture on a plate or in a shallow bowl.

Heat oil and butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat.

Spread each tilapia filet with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard on both sides. Press the tilapia into the crumbs to get it coated on both sides.

Place the fish into the frying pan and cook for several minutes on each side, until the outside is browned and the fish is fully cooked. I usually just check the middle of the fish for doneness – pieces will flake off easily when it’s done.

When ready to serve, sprinkle Parmesan on the top and serve with the zucchini boats.

BBQ glazed salmon on a bed of spinach and orzo

I’m on a health push again. My coworker got me signed up on My Fitness Pal and I have started logging everything I consume. Even if you don’t care about calorie counting, it just helps knowing what you put into your body. I personally like to cook and eat what tastes good and stay clear of fast food and over eating while maintaining a challenging exorcise schedule. But with summer coming, I figured it couldn’t hurt to focus on my bikini body! Thus, the sudden interest in fish, especially salmon. Salmon is so good for you and is a good introduction if you’re not a fish person.

  • Juice freshly squeezed from one orange
  • Juice freshly squeezed from one lemon
  • 4 skinless, boneless salmon fillets, about 16 ounces total
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix together orange juice and lemon juice. Place salmon in a Ziploc bag and pour the juices over the salmon. Turn salmon to coat well on all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Combine all spices in a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish with canola oil. Remove salmon from Ziploc bag, discarding marinade.

Pat dry with paper towels. Rub spice mix all over salmon. Transfer fish to baking dish.

Bake until done, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 8 ounces of orzo pasta, simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

While the orzo is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

I also served with a side of asparagus by heating a separate pan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cooked the asparagus for about 8 minutes, lightly seasoning with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper.