Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin

This has become a repeat recipe because it’s so easy and flavorful. It takes barely any time at all except for the oven-roasting. And I keep all the rub spices in my pantry, so I only have to purchase the actual pork. Here’s what to do!

1. Buy a pork loin. I usually get between 2.5 – 5 lb ones and plan to use the leftovers in another meal. Take said pork loin home!

2. Trim pork loin of fat, if you’d like to. Sometimes it’s unnecessary because there’s not too much, but other times I’ve cut off lots.

For example.

For example.

2. Get out a little mixing bowl and a whisk. Combine the following ingredients (I suggest measuring with a tablespoon) and whisk to combine:
1.5 part Garlic Powder
1 part Salt (Kosher is best but regular table salt is fine)
1/2 part Black Pepper (freshly ground is great for rubs)
1.5 parts Paprika
2 parts Cocoa Powder
1 parts Basil
1 parts Thyme
*Red Pepper Flakes (just a dash or two)
*1 part Coffee grounds
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*I have done the rub with and without these spices. Red pepper flakes obviously add a bit more spice and heat; the coffee grounds add a neutralizing kind of smoky flavor. (I know that’s a bad description, but you just have to try it and trust me!)

3. Using your raw meats cutting board, shake or sprinkle some of that spice mixture onto the pork loin, and use either your hands or a pastry brush to rub it into the meat.
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4. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil (for easy clean-up). Cook in a preheated 350º oven for about 1 hour for every 2 lbs. (For my 2.5 lb loin, I baked it at 375º for 1 hour.) Now I never use an internal thermometer… I just use my tongs to ‘feel’ how done it is. You want to check the middle-most part of the loin. It should be firm, but still ‘bounce back’ a little. The more you cook this way, the more you’ll understand the ‘feel’ you’re looking for.
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Before cooking...

Before cooking…

And after!

And after!

5. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes, more like 10 if you have a 5 pounder. Slice that bad boy up and serve with applesauce! Great for dipping and especially when you have kids, because it counteracts the spice in the rub.

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The general recommendation for home cooks when making pork is that there should be no pink. But really, that’s not true – having some pink is not only okay but desirable. If it’s white all the way through, it will be dry and chewy.

Hope you and your family enjoy as much as we do!
Have leftovers? Use them up in this comforting, delicious, Double Pork Chili second meal.

Spice-rubbed Pork Loin

Spice-rubbed Pork Loin

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Honey Garlic Pork Loin (First Meal)

If you aren’t aware, I plan my meals based on the grocery sales each week. Sometimes that means stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a new cut of meat or cooking it a different way. Lots of times it involves Google, and lately, Pinterest! So when pork roast went on sale last week, I picked one up after searching and coming up with this recipe: Honey Garlic & Onion Pork Loin. The author actually is a Word Press user: http://myworldasamom.wordpress.com/

I followed the recipe except that I didn’t have dried dill so I omitted that ingredient.
I love that the glaze is sweet but the seasonings add a nice herbal flavor to it.

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So enjoy trying out this recipe and use the leftovers as a Second Meal in my “Minezole Soup”!!

Quick Tip: “Multiple Meal” opportunities

One of the things I’ve learned to do to save myself time and money is to re-purpose a grocery item for more than one meal. I almost always buy family packs of meat and break it into 2-3 dinners. Most times I’ll even take leftovers from those dinners and make an entirely different meal. I suppose if I had a motto in the kitchen, it would be, “Use what you have”. And along with that, “Save everything!” (until it goes bad of course) You never know what could come in handy!

So when I am meal planning and grocery shopping for the week, I always ask myself if I can re-purpose either the leftovers, or the other half of the protein that I don’t use. Actually, more often than not I do plan my meals with leftovers in mind. That’s what I call a “First Meal”: one in which you purposefully make more than enough, with a plan to use the leftovers for another meal – whether that be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a side.

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Best BBQ Pork in Crock Pot

For the first few years of my marriage I didn’t really use my crock pot. I felt like it was more work than help, as I still had to prep everything, but I had to do it EARLIER instead of having all day. My husband and I didn’t really eat enough by ourselves at that time, so we always had leftovers (and I hadn’t figured out how to repurpose them yet). Yes I viewed this as a problem. I guess I wasn’t too good at cooking, so if it already didn’t taste great, who wants the leftover version of something you had to suffer through the first time? Ha. Plus that big crock pot insert was so ANNOYING to clean. Sigh.

This meal is the one that got me interested in the crock pot again. It is SO UNBELIEVABLY EASY that I promise, even if you think you’re the worst cook, you can’t really mess it up. So here is the “First Meal”: BBQ pork ribs in the crock pot.

All you need are: a crock pot, a package of country style pork ribs (bone in or boneless, either will do), a bottle of BBQ sauce, and some water. Yep. That’s it.
I always buy the family pack of these, because they are generally cheaper and that way I can freeze half of it for next time.

Side note: Have you seen these Ziploc Perfect Portions? I love them, because they make it quicker to defrost frozen meats, plus it prevents the mess (you put them on like a glove, grab your meat, and pull the plastic over the meat to form a bag. Fold it and you’re done!) It’s great if you have a smaller family and want to portion out 2-3 chicken breasts at a time, or even if you have a larger family but want to separate the meat to decrease defrost time. Plus then you can keep everything in a large gallon bag and take out only the number you need instead of potentially wasting extra food you won’t use.
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So. All you do is put the pork in the crock pot…
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squeeze the bottle of BBQ sauce on top…
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And add water to the top of the meat.
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Then cook on low for 8 hours. That’s it!
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I love this because…
1. It’s so easy. No prep required.
2. My kids love it.
3. My husband loves it.
4. I love it. The pork is so tender!
5. The Second Meal opportunities!!!
6. It smells so good all day.

Stay tuned for Second Meal ideas!

Aside

What’s to come! First and Second Meals

Stay tuned for recipes of what I like to call “First meal” and “Second Meal”. This is using one product in two different meals, or repurposing the leftovers of the FIRST meal to make a SECOND meal.

Here’s a sample of my meal plan from last week:
Thursday: Mahi Mahi with coconut rice and mango salsa
Friday: Cheat (work) day – frozen pizza and sides
Saturday: BBQ pork ribs
Sunday: Twice-cooked pork tacos

So here’s what you can expect to see!
1. Ground sausage – Used in potato skillet (2 uses) and pasta – Plus alternate uses for the sausage
2. Country Style Pork Ribs – first in crock pot, then as tacos – Plus additional ideas
3. Repurposing the salsa from the Mahi Mahi meal

Stay tuned!

Crock Pot Italian Chicken

One thing about my dinners: if I want to be successful I have to plan ahead (and by successful I mean have anything on the dinner table within a reasonable hour).

Knowing that we would spend Halloween afternoon visiting all the grandparents and great-grandparents, I knew a crock pot meal was the way to go. I found this recipe from “the Girl who ate Everything” and decided it was perfect.  I already had the cream of chicken soup, a staple at our house, and the Italian seasoning packet- another staple- so I picked up a family size, sale-price package of chicken thighs, and an 8 ounce tub of cream cheese, at the store this week. I wish I would have had the foresight to pick up a bag of frozen peas, because I think they would be great in this recipe, & I didn’t really have anything planned for a vegetable. (In my house the general rule for dinner is a protein, a starch, and a veg, probably because I grew up eating balanced meals this way.)

So, after a morning at bible study and picking Aubrey, our Kindergartener, up from school, I started this in the Crock pot about noon, knowing we usually eat at 5. I did use thighs instead of breasts, so I left the bone in but I did take the skin off. The recipe calls for 4 breasts, but seeing as thighs are smaller than breasts I put the whole family size package in. Plus I love having leftovers! (Helloooo easy lunch!)

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Another general guideline for my cooking is to use up what I have before opening something new. So instead of using 2 cans of soup, I used up the rest of this chicken broth I’ve been trying to get rid of before it expires. Plus I didn’t want the sauce TOO thick. I put it in after the chicken thighs.

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Next I added the soup, then the seasonings packet. Then I realized I should have done it the other way around to directly season the chicken.

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I’ll probably try that next time, but it came out great this way. Last I added the cream cheese. I mixed it around as much as possible. You can probably tell from the picture that I skipped the “softened” part. Oops!
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I set it to low for 5 hours and sat down with my hubby for a little while before the bewitching hour(s) began!

Here’s a few pics of our kiddos!

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Camille was so excited to be a cupcake!

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Brendan showing his “Spidey” muscles

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Aubrey’s costume almost makes Poppop’s clarinet look like a rifle!!

By the time we got home it was after 6. It looked like this (Yikes!)…

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So I stirred it up and broke up the tender chicken with a serving spoon (much better):

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I threw a pot of salted hot water on the stove and greeted a few trick or treaters. I always keep several boxes of different types of pasta on hand. I buy them when they’re $1 or less and try to pair those sales with coupons. The only thing is, I never measure my dry pasta and I almost always use about 3/4 of a box at a time which leaves me with only a 1/4 next time (not enough for a meal for 5!). So sometimes my hungry family gets 2 kinds of pasta at once. Tonight was rotini and mini ziti:
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I recently discovered that everything tastes much better with freshly grated parmesan. So of course I added some!

I’ll definitely be making this again, probably adding peas at the very end for texture and more nutrition. Also… we LOVE egg noodles at our house. And this was SCREAMING egg noodles 😉

Here’s the link to the original recipe: http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2009/07/crockpot-italian-chicken.html

Check out this ‘second meal’ using the leftovers: Creamy Chicken Soup