Tenderloin for every occasion and a universal mix of nuts

For the winter holidays or any other day, pork tenderloin with a thorough rub of brown sugar and spices is always a winner. Karen Schneider / About the Fortune Teller

The holidays are upon us with all the joy, extra activities and delectable culinary delights. Although some of us will exhaust ourselves trying to top what we did last year, let’s be easy on ourselves, shall we? You can still whip up some wonderful meals and treats for the season without blowing your energy or budget.

Best of all, here are a few more recipes to add to your kitchen repertoire to make again and again. This roast pork tenderloin will be equally welcome by your family and/or guests on Christmas, New Year’s Day or a regular weeknight. With minimal preparation (no baking required) and a short time in the oven, you’ll have a juicy feast ahead of you. All you have to do is add toppings. (I like mashed potatoes, bright, lightly steamed vegetables, and cranberry sauce or homemade applesauce.)

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in Candice Harbor Village. She can be reached at [email protected].

For a snack, we have candied walnuts (pecans and almonds can also be used) pierced with Christmas spices. I was recently gifted a box of these delicious nuts and I can’t leave them alone. Of course I had to get the recipe from the donor who got it from a friend of hers. I love that I still know people who write cooking instructions on cute recipe cards.

You can change the recipe by using different spices. The main thing is to watch them as they bake in the oven. You want them nice and dry to stay crispy. Just don’t burn them, it will be very sad.

These gems make a great food gift as they are great on their own or, for example, can be mixed with salted nuts or popcorn. They can also elevate ice cream and oatmeal or decorate a cake or cheesecake. Add them to your charcuterie board or use them to flavor roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, squash, green beans and carrots.

So make a big batch – you won’t break the bank. They’ll keep in a tin or glass jar for a few days, or you’ll keep them in the freezer for up to two months for those times when you want to add an unexpected side dish to your meal, or you just have a few bites and want to give them back a big handful of crunchy goodness. They are a bit addictive so you better be careful and don’t forget to leave some for Santa.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Roasted pork tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup butter, diced

Chopped parsley for garnish if desired

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with an oven rack in the middle position.

Prepare the tenderloin by trimming off excess fat and silver skin (the tough part that can cover part of each tenderloin). Dry the fillets with paper towels.

Combine brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix together. Coat the fillets all over with the spice rub.

Place the pork tenderloins in a 9-by-13-inch (or similar size) baking dish and place the pats of butter on top.

Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until pork reaches 145 degrees. (It’s always best to use a meat thermometer.) Let the fillets rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into medallions to keep them juicy.

Pour pan juices over pork and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if using.

Yield: 6 servings

Sugar and spices walnuts

4 cups granulated or organic cane sugar

2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons of nutmeg

2 teaspoons of ground cloves

4 tablespoons of salt

4 beaten egg whites (1/2 cup total)

12 cups shelled walnut halves and/or large pieces

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss the walnuts with the beaten egg whites to coat evenly. Sprinkle with spice/salt combination and gently toss again to coat evenly.

Spread coated walnuts in a single, even layer on two large, parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15-20 minutes.

Yield: 12 cups

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