I learned to cook at my mother's knee. A farm wife who cooked a big noon meal for the field hands Monday through Saturday during the growing season, she enlisted me to help her at an early age. By the time I was ten years old I was able to make a farm breakfast on my own.
Over the years the amount of cooking I have done has ebbed and flowed. My late husband became a gourmet cook later in life and took over most of the meal preparation in our home. We entertained a fair amount; I helped with appetizers, salads, side dishes and occasional desserts, and he prepared the entrees. As a widow and empty nester, I relied on fresh salads, veggies and lots of chicken breasts. I enjoyed eating out with friends, too.
These days I cook simple meals that I can whip up quickly, using fresh, wholesome ingredients. Dennis and I try to eat as healthy as possible, and we like to have dinner early; usually around 5:00 PM. Since I normally start thinking about what to make for dinner around 3:30 or 4:00, complicated cooking is out of the question. The dinner I made Monday night is a perfect example of a delicious meal I can prepare and have on the table in 1 - 1 1/2 hours, start to finish.
Lemon Garlic Pork Tenderloin, Scalloped Potatoes,
Cucumber Salad and Grape Tomatoes
Looks good, doesn't it? This is a meal that could take hours to prepare without the shortcuts I take. I'm going to show you how I do it.
I start with a Hormel Pork Center Cut Loin Filet. This one is already marinated in lemon and garlic, so it's seasoned and ready to cook. I buy these on sale at Safeway, and let me tell you they are wonderful. Take the loin out of the package, put it in a pan and roast per directions until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Anywhere from 40 - 60 minutes. My oven cooks it perfectly in 1 hour.
The Scalloped Potatoes take more time to prepare, but not a lot of time. Maybe 15 or 20 minutes tops. Here's my simple recipe, the way mom made them.
(Adjust the amount of potatoes and other ingredients according to how many servings you want.)
Slice peeled potatoes thin, about 1/8".
Chop desired amount of sweet onion.
Place a layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom of a casserole and top with chopped onions.
Salt and pepper.
Sprinkle lightly with flour.
Repeat layers to the top of the casserole dish.
Pour milk over the potatoes to about 2/3 up the dish. I use 2% milk to cut down on fat.
Put a few pats of butter on top, or Smart Balance if you like.
I put the tenderloin and the potatoes in the oven to bake at the same time. Like I said, 1 hour seems to work fine for the pork. The potatoes cook in about the same time.
While the pork and potatoes are cooking I make the cucumber salad.
I don't know any families with a European heritage that don't like cucumber salad. We always had lots of it at our German/Belgian house. But making it was a laborious process. I used to slice the cukes, salt them, let them weep, make a vinegar and sugar marinade, combine everything. So time consuming. No more, though. Now I make this salad with three simple ingredients: Peeled and sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced sweet onions, and seasoned rice vinegar. That's it. Using this rice vinegar has changed my cucumber-loving life.
And there you have it. An easy to prepare dinner; healthy and yummy. A meal I'd happily serve guests.
I received no compensation from Hormel to feature the pork tenderloin. I just happen to really like this product and wanted to share my joyful experience in preparing this meal.
I'm sharing at these lovely parties:
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings
Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House
You're Gonna Love it Tuesday at Kathe with an EWow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Share Your Cup Thursday at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage