Saturday, October 23, 2010

Special Fall Dinner

A special fall meal, including some of my favorite flavors of the season, is Pork Tenderloin and Sweet Potato Apple Scallop.  The recipes each have a different history of how they came to our kitchen. 

The Pork: When I was pregnant with Lucy (my youngest child), a few of my son’s school-mates’ mothers offered to bring meals to us when our baby arrived.  We were so thankful and thrilled to have meals brought. (I think providing meals is one of the most wonderful ways to love someone when they have a new child, or are going through any transition or tough time, really.  If you are not already in the practice of doing this I strongly consider you start today!)
One of our favorites was a meal that centered around 2 large pork tenderloins that were marinated and brought to us hot off the grill.  The meat was so flavorful and tender.  My guys went wild and I loved how well seasoned it was.  We quickly asked for the recipe.  Lissa, the giver of the meal, passed it along and we are thankful. It is a simple marinade and then the meat is grilled.  It is a winner every time.  I have cut the butter quantity from the original version and don’t notice a difference (except for less guilt).  The trickiest part of this recipe is guessing which piece of meat to buy (since it is usually bought shrink-wrapped in the store and it is hard to know exactly what you are purchasing). This dish is great year round, but I chose to post it this month because it is nice weather to enjoy grilling and it goes so well with the sweet potato/apple dish that I have been craving.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

5 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
2 Pork Tenderloins 
Combine ingredients in a glass measuring cup. Pour over 2 pork tenderloins in a dish.  Marinade meat  in a covered dish for 2 hours or more.  Grill, flipping frequently until a thermometer inserted into the largest part of the meat reads 150-155 (approximately 20 minutes).  Remove from grill and wrap in foil to continue to cook and maintain warmth.  


Our tips with the pork are:
*Use a Meat thermometer to know when it is done!  If you don’t have one, this would be a good tool to purchase.  Rather than guessing or cutting your meat repeatedly to see if it is fully cooked, the thermometer inserted can give you an accurate read that will let you know when the meat is safely cooked. 

*Flip the meat in the marinade a few times during the time it is marinating.  (I have this cool marinating Tupperware container which is really convenient and useful for meat preparing - you can flip the container and both sides have a tenderizing texture).

*Be careful when grilling, because the marinade can easily burn on the pork.  My griller-husband suggests you turn the tenderloin often while it is on the grill to prevent charring. There is plenty of marinade to continue to baste while grilling.

*If you don’t have a silicone basting brush, I recommend you get one, as it is much easier to clean and care for than a traditional basting brush.

*Make more than you think you will need, as it is a little hard to stop eating it. (My 8 year old son ate 7 pieces today when we said, "STOP! ENOUGH!")

Sweet Potato Apple Scallop
For my friend’s 40th birthday (in October) a couple of years ago, several friends gathered and cooked a meal for her.  It was a lovely occasion and the main dish was pork tenderloin (a more complex recipe than the preceding one).  I was to bring a sweet potato dish and decided that I wanted something a little different than baked sweet potatoes, or a sweet potato casserole or mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Don’t get me wrong, I like sweet potatoes of all varities.

My family loves sweet potatoes at thanksgiving and we have a history of voting on “how we want our sweet potatoes fixed” each year.  I love them all ways…they are just so good! We have been known to have 3 versions of sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner- my sister, who likes the marshmallow topped and the crumble-topped casserole has had the great insight to create a ½ and ½ pan and she scoops her portion down the center in order to get some of each!

But the night of the birthday dinner party, I envisioned a baked apple/sweet potato combo.  I searched around for what I was looking for and found a recipe online and adapted it my liking.  It is tasty, hearty and beautiful too.  It is one of those recipes that can be altered according to your preferences.

4 sweet potatoes
4 medium apples, peeled and cored
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp orange juice
½ cup cranberries (as per your preference)
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp butter

Place sweet potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil; cook for 20-25 minutes or until tender. 
Drain and cool.  
Peel potatoes and cut into ¼ inch slices.  

Place in a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  
Cut apples into slices.  Arrange over sweet potatoes. 
Sprinkle with lemon juice.  
Then sprinkle cranberries all around the top.

(You can alternate layering of sweet potatoes and apples, if your pan’s dimensions allow). 

Combine the brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and orange juice; sprinkle over fruit. [If you are making in a pan with 2 layers of each item, I recommend you sprinkle the brown sugar mixture between layers as well as on top, so as to flavor the bottom half as well as the top.]   Dot with butter.  

Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until apples are tender.


  1. I loved eating this apple sweet potato bake at Connie's bday party. But could you tell me -- do you use fresh cranberries or dried sweetened cranberries like Craisins?

    Thanks Julie for more AWESOME recipes!!


  2. Jana,It's fun to hear from you. Thanks for the encouragement! I use fresh/frozen cranberries and they cook down during the process. Although using Craisins would work fine, I'm sure.

  3. Julie! I read this and got it on the menu as the weather turned colder. We tried it last night and everyone *loved* it. Reading your blog makes me miss being in your house. Thanks for the lovely writing and the yummy recipes. ~Rachel

  4. Oh Rachel, so glad it was a success! I miss you IN my home. Love to you and yours. Thanks for the encouragement!