Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Delicious fall-style dinner

The other day I was inspired to make a nice dinner that would be perfect for a fall night. I know its not fall yet, but its my favorite season, and I wanted something reminiscent of it.  I was inspired by a recipe I found on for Apple Butter Pork Loin.

I did make some changes to the recipe, but it turned out super delicious. So did the roasted acorn squash stuffed with apple and onion couscous.  I'm listing the adjustments I made below. There are probably some more adjustments I'd make to the couscous recipe, but I will list what I did, and then list the adjustments I'll probably make next time.

Apple butter glazed fall dinner

Apple butter glazed pork tenderloin
First I used a pork tenderloin instead of a pork loin. The main difference this made was a shorter cooking time since its a smaller cut of meat.  Also I marinated the pork for 4 hours in a plastic bag with about 2 cups of apple juice with a bit of apple cider vinegar and about a 1/2 tsp of each, sage, rosemary, and salt. When I removed the tenderloin, I sprinkled it all over with salt and sage and rosemary and gave it a good rub before putting it in the oven to begin cooking.  Follow the cooking instructions as given in the original recipe, except for modifying the cooking times for the size of meat being used.

Apple butter glaze
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
I also adjusted the apple butter glaze.  I used about 1/2 -3/4 tsp of cinnamon and ground cloves.  I also added about 1/2 tsp of sage.

Roasted acorn squash stuffed with apple and onion couscous
*Note, I made the entire box of couscous which is way more than needed, but great for having leftovers.
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 box of Near East Plain couscous
  • 2 cups of apple juice
  • 2 apples
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil, salt, onion powder
- Cut the squash in half, and clean out the seeds.
- Spray a small cookie sheet, or roasting pan with some nonstick spray, and place the squash "flesh down" on the sheet/pan.  Bake for 30 min at 350-375.
- After 30 min, take out the squash, and brush it with the apple butter glaze.  Place back in the oven, but this time "flesh up" for another 30 min at 350-375.
- While the squash is cooking, peel and cut 2 apples and 1 onion into small pieces.
- Put 2 cups of apple juice on to boil.
- Saute the onions in about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a little salt and onion powder, to taste, adding the apples halfway through until soft.
- Pour an entire box of Near East plain couscous in the boiling apple juice. Stir in the apple and onions. Cover and remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Fluff with fork.
- When the squash are finished, fill their cavities with about 2/3 to 3/4 a cup of the couscous. Put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes if desired.
- Drizzle some of the pan drippings from the roasted pork on top of the couscous and serve.

What I'd do different
- I'd brush the acorn squash with some olive oil or butter before beginning to cook just to help keep it moist.
- I forgot to add some oil or butter to the "water", in this case apple juice as it was boiling.  I'd make sure to add it next time so that the couscous wasn't as sticky while eating.
- I'd use 1 cup of apple juice and 1 cup of chicken stock instead of 2 cups of apple juice, for cooking the couscous. Especially if not serving with the pork, and not being able to use the pork/apple butter drippings/juices.
- I'd probably adjust the apple/onion ratio to 1:1

And that's it. It didn't really take that long at all, and the thing I liked best was having enough time between things to prep the next step. I'm normally super bad at getting a meal all together at the same time, so this was perfect for slow pokes in the kitchen like myself.  :D

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plans for the rest of the year

Things have been a bit busy lately. I'm glad I was able to get a few things finished and up in my shop before things got hectic with work.  Now that our big conference is over, I'll be making things and posting more regularly.

I'm planning what I'll be working on for the remainder of the year.  It seems a bit early to be thinking about the end of the year, but I know from experience that time sneaks up and whizzes by way faster than you think.  I recently found out that there is going to be an Artomatic even held in Frederick, MD. It wasn't on the main Artomatic site, and instead has its own site. I've been wanting to do an Artomatic event for a while now, so I was considering participating in this one.

But I've decided not to this time.  I've got a lot of projects on the "to do" list. I'm in a few craft swaps, and I've got a few craft fairs coming up. Not to mention holiday items and more plushies.  I've sold my two ready-to-ship Sharkoplushies, and already have a customer who bought a made-to-order one. Plus there is another show I want to do coming up soon as well.  So timing wise, its just not right.  Hopefully, I'll be less busy and more prepared next time an Artomatic show comes around.

I also am considering sending some of my work, like my ornaments for Art Star to look at and decide if they might like to sell them in their shop and on their website.

Besides all the art and craft things I have planned, I'm looking at teaching myself more about designing websites in WordPress.  I need to learn more about WordPress for work anyway, and I'd really like to learn how to design sites in WP.  I've hand-coded sites, and do web editing for my job, so I'm already familiar with HTML and CSS.  I'd like to get used to using XHTML coding, as well as learning a little PHP, at least enough so to be able to create customized websites and templates through WP's system. I look forward to making a Suzannah Ashley website, and my wedding website.