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Spinach and Apricot-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Like a gift waiting to be unwrapped, a pork tenderloin rests on my cutting board. Anticipation builds as I wonder whether the spinach and apricot stuffing held in place during the rolling process. I start slicing and by the second slice, green spirals appear. Adding a touch of sweet apricot glaze makes the spirals glisten. Visually appealing and made with wholesome ingredients, this pork tenderloin is the perfect entrée for the holidays.

Spinach and Apricot-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Recipe created by Sunny Anderson

INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup chopped Vidalia onion
2 Tbsp. chopped dried apricots
¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 (5-ounce) bag of baby spinach, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped walnuts (1 ounce)
½ cup apricot preserves (5 ounces)
¼ cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1¼ pounds pork tenderloin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, apricots, and pumpkin pie spice and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.

5. Stir in walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Scrape filling into a bowl and set aside to cool.

6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine preserves with stock and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove glaze from heat and stir in parsley.

7. Butterfly pork: Place tenderloin on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, run blade along length of tenderloin parallel to board. As you cut, open meat until you have a flat piece. Using a meat pounder, pound tenderloin to ½” thickness. Season with ⅛ tsp. each salt and pepper and spread filling over meat. Roll tenderloin into original shape. Using kitchen twine, tie pork at 2″ intervals. Season pork with ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.

8. Using the same ovenproof skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil until shimmering. Add rolled pork and cook over medium-high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes.

9. Transfer pan to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 145° in the thickest section, about 15 minutes. Loosely cover pork with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Remove strings and cut pork into 1″-thick slices. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with glaze.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I felt the tenderloin needed more flavor, so the second time I tested the recipe, I used season salt in place of regular salt.

2. Next time for variety, I will omit the walnuts and add mushrooms and roasted red peppers to the spinach.

Enjoy!

December 12, 2014 Edition With a pretty red bow tied around its neck, a ukelele sits under my Christmas tree waiting for nimble fingers to strum it and voices to sing along with it. My husband rarely asks for anything for Christmas, but this year he wants a ukelele. He wants to be able to sing songs to our new granddaughter. On Christmas morning, wrapping paper and ribbons will be strewn all over and there will be food aplenty. More memorably, though, music, love, and laughter will fill the air.

#1 – Sing Along!
Sing Along “Singing is not about being a star or knowing how to do it well. It’s about enjoying the gift of our voices and sharing them with others,” says Tania De Jong, an Australian singer and global speaker. In her article, 10 Reasons to Make Singing Your Happiness Drug and her TEDx Talk, she presents compelling reasons why singing is good for our brains and for our happiness. She also adds, “And it’s free, because we all have a voice!”

#2 – Christmas Decorating Ideas
Stylish and Easy DIY Holiday Home Decor ideascor Candle holders made from wine glasses and snow made from salt are just two of the clever ideas found in 23 Stylish and Easy DIY Home Decor Ideas. Just more examples of creative people letting their voices be heard.

#3 – Creatively Wired
Chicken Wire Art Chicken wire is not your average art medium, but some creative people around the world use it to make incredible three-dimensional artwork. Click the link to check out amazing examples of chicken wire sculptures.

#4 – Life Lessons From Children’s Books
Life Lessons from Children's Books Don’t underestimate what kids can learn from reading children’s books, or adults for that matter. Some phrases from favorite children’s book characters continue to teach us life lessons. Interesting Life Lessons, Adults Can Learn From Children’s Books contains a nice collection of quotes to revisit.

#5 – Be Part of the Choir
“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists. Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

Christmastime Chai

Christmastime Chai The cookbook introduction to this recipe states, “In India, chai is a traditional tea that blends exotic spices and black tea with boiled milk and water to create a beverage refreshing to body, mind and spirit.” Who could ask for anything more? Take a few minutes from your “holidaze” and make a fresh pot of chai. Sit down and relax while enjoying its spicy and soothing magic.

Christmastime Chai
Christmastime Treats by Sara Perry

INGREDIENTS
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long, broken
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled and sliced
8 whole cloves
10 whole peppercorns
3 strips fresh tangerine peel, 1/4 inch wide, 3 inches long
1 piece vanilla bean, 1-inch long
1 tablespoon loose black tea leaves such as Darjeeling
1½ tablespoons sugar or to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, water, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, peppercorns, tangerine peel, and vanilla bean.

2. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the tea and simmer 10 minutes longer.

4. Strain into a pitcher or teapot and stir in the sugar. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Even on low heat, my covered pot of chai wanted to boil instead of simmer. I took the lid off and placed it slightly ajar to keep the temperature lower.

2. Why make your own chai instead of going out to buy it? Your kitchen will smell wonderful while the chai is cooking!

Enjoy!

December 5, 2014 Edition While Charlotte sleeps peacefully in my arms, her tiny hand holds onto the drawstring of my sweatshirt. With this sweet little gesture, she might as well be holding onto my heartstrings. Heartstrings connect all of us together. Throughout the year and particularly during this holiday season, reach out to others and those less fortunate. Connecting heartstrings multiplies everyone’s joy.

#1 – Pieces of Wisdom
11 Pieces of Wisdom Certain to touch your heart are these 11 Pieces of Wisdom. With the accompanying back stories, this collection of quotes and sayings shows how people were inspired to alter their paths and change their lives.

#2 – It’s a Wrap
Creative Gift Wrapping Ideas
With 24 Cute And Incredibly Useful Gift Wrap DIYs you’re sure to find an idea that touches your creative side. Ideas range from printing your own fabric to making ribbons out of balloons.

#3 – What If The Lights Went Out?
What If the Lights Went Out? As I drove through the dark streets of my neighborhood after a sudden power failure, I wondered what major cities would look like without lights. Serendipitously, I came across this series of photographs of What Cities Would Look Like If We Turned Off The Lights. French photographer Thierry Cohen attempts to remind people “of the starry universe that surrounds them, even if they can’t always see it.” Referring to a typical city resident, he says, “To show him stars is to help him dream again.”

#4 – Tile Game
Tile Game Sometimes when I have a hard time falling asleep, I play computer games. When my eyes are tired, I become sleepy. Here’s a tile game that I just discovered. The deceptively easy goal is to move letters around in a grid until you get a letter K. Duplicate letters in proximity to each other can be combined to advance you to the next letter, but beware of the grid slowly filling up. Piece of cake? Not so. It takes a fair amount of strategy.

#5 – Give and Receive
“What comes from the heart, touches the heart.”
Don Sibet

Now go and spread joy!

Cauliflower With Parsley and Lemon “Who wants more cauliflower?” After asking the question, do you note silence at your dinner table or an enthusiastic chorus of “Me! Me! Me!”? This nutrient-packed vegetable often gets a bum rap for being bland. Not so, in this case. This recipe takes multiple steps to pack in as much flavor as possible. After being marinated in an aromatic mixture of coconut milk, coriander seeds, and red pepper flakes, the cauliflower is then baked and broiled to achieve a roasted flavor. A drizzle of mustard vinaigrette and a sprinkle of fresh herb gremolata puts the finishing touches on a vegetable dish that will have people asking for more.

Broiled Cauliflower Steaks with Parsley and Lemon
Recipe courtesy of Alex Guarnaschelli, FOOD NETWORK

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower:
2 large heads cauliflower (2 to 2 ½ pounds each)
Kosher salt
Two 13 ½-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Gremolata:
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 medium cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS
1. For the cauliflower: Place the first head of cauliflower upright (stem-side down) on a flat surface. Using a large knife and imagining that you are creating two large steaks from each head of cauliflower, trim a little off each end so that when you split the cauliflower in half, each half will lie flat. Cut the cauliflower in half. You should yield two “steaks,” each weighing about 14 to 15 ounces. Repeat with the other cauliflower.

2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a pot large enough to hold the cauliflower steaks. Add salt until the water tastes like mild seawater. (How will you know? Take a little water with a spoon and taste a drop of it.) Layer a baking sheet with a kitchen towel. Add the cauliflower steaks to the boiling water and cook until they are slightly tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 6 to 8 minutes. Use a large slotted spoon or spatula to carefully transfer the steaks to the baking sheet to drain.

3. In a container large enough to fit the cauliflower snugly, whisk the coconut milk together with the coriander, red pepper flakes and a generous pinch of salt. Submerge the steaks in the coconut milk marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

4. For the vinaigrette: Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard and vinegar in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

5. For the gremolata: Combine the parsley, lemon zest and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

6. Finish the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Remove the cauliflower steaks from the coconut milk marinade and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt. Place in the oven and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Heat the broiler and place the cauliflower under the broiler for a few minutes, until the top chars. Transfer the steaks to a serving platter (or individual plates) and drizzle liberally with all of the vinaigrette. Top with all of the gremolata. Add a pinch more salt if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES:
1. Instead of cutting the cauliflowers into steaks, I cut them into large florets instead. I thought this would be more attractive and feed more people.

2. Don’t overcook the florets in step 2. Because I cut the cauliflowers into florets instead of steaks, I boiled them for only 5 minutes. To better preserve the cauliflower’s nutrients, I will try steaming the florets the next time.

3. Place florets with stems up in a 9 x 13-inch pan to marinate, spooning marinade over them to coat all nooks and crannies. After one hour, I flipped them over so they were stem down and spooned the marinade in the pan over them. I let them marinate this way for another hour.

4. The gremolata adds an amazing fresh flavor to this dish, so don’t even think of not using it.

Enjoy!

November 28, 2014 Edition The demolished turkey platter sits pitifully on the table. People, who once engaged in lively conversation, sit in food comas with their pants unbuttoned. The Thanksgiving feast is a thing of the past. But wait! One more course has yet to be served. Out from the kitchen comes the pièce de résistance, a sterling silver platter carrying an assortment of wishbones. Go ahead and take one. Surely, after a day of giving thanks, there must be one more wish you’d like to make.

#1 – Wish For A Greener Lifestyle
If you wish for a greener planet, you need to consider the amount of trash you dispose of on a daily basis. Inspiration for changing to a greener lifestyle and ideas on ways to reduce your trash output can be found at Zero Waste Home.

#2 -Storytelling
Pixar's 22 Rules to Phenominal Storytelling Oh, the tales I will spin for my granddaughter Charlotte. Since all children love to be told bedtime stories, I look forward to the time when Charlotte is old enough to snuggle up to me and say, “Grandma, please tell me a story.”  I’ll smile and recite a little story of my own creation, written especially for her. If you would like to do the same for your children or grandchildren, Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling will give your storytelling ability a boost.

#3 – Holiday Garlands
24 Christmas Garland Tutorials Crank up the holiday music and let the decorating begin! Check out these 24 Christmas Garland Tutorials and before you know it, you’ll be singing, crafting, and wishing you had more areas in your home to decorate.

#4 – Baking Substitutions
Do you ever wish your local grocery store were just a little closer? The holiday baking season can be stressful, particularly if you are all set to prepare something and discover you are missing an ingredient. Before you dash out to the market, check out this infographic featured on Fine Dining Lovers or check out this link to Baking and Cooking Ingredient Substitution Chart from What’s Cooking America. A Guide to Cooking and Baking Substitutions

#5 – Wish
“We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”
Louisa May Alcott

Now go and spread joy!

 

With Gratitude

Fall Fruit Thanksgiving is but a day, but the practice of giving thanks should be lifelong. Life is fickle and can change instantaneously, so there is no time like the present to show gratitude to those whom you care about the most. Tell them what they mean to you. Tell them that they matter to you. Tell them how they make a difference in your life. Being grateful re-centers and puts life into perspective. That being said, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who take the time to read What About This? You encourage me to become a better person as I work to improve my blogging skills, as I discover new items to share with you, and as I find more ways to spread joy. Thank you for all you have given to me.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Now go and spread joy!

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