Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Dinner

I just thought I'd share a few recipes I used over the past weekend when we had friends over for dinner. Two are new and one is an oldie, but a goodie!


I tried the Smoked Paprika Pork Tenderloin recipe that was in October's Southern Living magazine. I highly recommend it! Using the grill made things much easier than doing this in a crockpot or the oven, which is why I selected the recipe in the first place.

My adjustments to the recipe are:
I used garlic powder in the rub instead of a crushed garlic clove.
I added wood chips to smoke things up in the grill.
I skipped tying the tenderloin up with string and it was fine. I don't think you cook it long enough to encounter an issue of the meat starting to fall away (and it's not on the bone to begin with...maybe these people just like tying things with string?).
I also didn't make the BBQ sauce. I had some sauce from 12 Bones (in Asheville, NC) so I used that. I'm pretty sure any brown sugar based BBQ sauce you have or buy will be fine.

Tying things with string for no reason....making your own BBQ sauce...really people? I don't have time for that.

I also thought I'd share my sweet potato casserole recipe, since friends often ask for it. The problem with those requests is that I don't really use a recipe. I mean, I think I did in the beginning, but now I just sort of make it up as I go along. Here is the closest thing to a real recipe with measurements I could find.

Here is my Amy-style recipe:
1. Wash and cut into half about 6-8 sweet potatoes (you want enough mashed sweet potatoes to fill about half of your casserole dish) you get about 4-6 cups of mashed sweet potatoes. If you cook too many, then you have some left to make sweet potato brownies!
2. Cook them in boiling water for about 20 minutes or so, until they're soft and the skin is loose but not coming off in the water
3. Drain them and let them cool, then remove skins and mash them
4. Whisk together two eggs. Add some vanilla. Some sugar if you want. You can add some milk too. Then start mixing in the sweet potatoes. I usually add some cinnamon and maybe some nutmeg.
5. Grease a casserole dish. Spread out the sweet potato mixture evenly.
6. In a separate bowl mix together about 2 cups of chopped pecans (you want to cover the entire top of the sweet potatoes in the casserole dish so you'll need this much), a cup of brown sugar, about 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour, some cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger (maybe a teaspoon of each depending on how "spicy" you want it). Then melt a stick of butter and pour it into the nut mixture until it's fully incorporated. Spread the nut mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in the casserole dish.
7. Place in oven at 350 and cook for about 30 minutes. Until the edges are starting to brown. Just check it occasionally. You don't want the pecans to burn.

If you want to add the marshmallow on top, and I do this sometimes, I just buy the plain mini marshmallows (I do want to try spreading a layer of marshmallow fluff on top one time!). Sprinkle the marshmallows on top of the cooked casserole and put it back in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes. You really have to keep a close eye on the casserole under the broiler because the marshmallows burn quickly and you want them just lightly browned on top.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest last week and thought I'd give it a try, but I'm not making marshmallow fluff or my own graham crackers. So I bought a jar of marshmallow fluff and a box of graham crackers. They now sell graham crackers in boxes with four sleeves instead of two and the graham crackers are already broken into squares, instead of rectangles. This was a HUGE break-through (thank you square graham cracker inventor) when it came to making these things a snap. You don't have to worry about breaking the graham crackers yourself, which will for sure end up in a mess and a bunch of broken-in-the-wrong-way graham crackers.

So, I just laid 8 crackers out on a cookie sheet. Spread marshmallow fluff on one side. Put another cracker on top and lightly pressed it together. I put those in the freezer for an hour or so. Then I came back, melted my semi-sweet chocolate chips (I did it in the microwave which works just fine, but you have to heat it carefully only a few seconds at a time and then open the door and stir the chips...then do that over and over again until the chocolate chips are fully melted and the chocolate is smooth) in a tall glass container (a pyrex measuring cup). I wanted something tall so the chocolate would be deep enough to dip the graham crackers straight down into and back out. Then I dipped them, and put them back on the cookie sheet (lined with parchment) for about an hour. After that I removed them and put them in a plastic air-tight container in the fridge. Unfortunately, I don't think the store bought graham crackers will last two weeks in the fridge like the original recipe suggests. I made them the night before and used them the next day and they were fine, but by the second day the graham crackers were starting to get soft, so I'd just suggest making them the night before or the day that you need them. They were really good!

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