Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

The Best Laid Plans….Pork Tenderloin or Pulled Pork


Sometimes what you have in mind just doesn’t happen, which was the case last night when I had planned to make this nice smoked tenderloin with a side of grilled asparagus and sweet potatoes. Sounds good right? Well, unfortunately (or actually fortunately because it ended up tasting great!) this gourmet dish turned into pulled pork sandwiches when Hubby called to let me know that he was going to be stuck at work for quite a while. See, I had already started smoking the pork tenderloin when he called so there was no turning back and even though I was following the “low & slow” rule, it still got done WAY before he was expected to arrive. I really didn’t want this beautiful piece of meat to dry out which is what would have happened if I had to reheat it.

Then as time went on, I started to feel a bit lazy and really didn’t want to make grilled sweet potatoes or asparagus or have anything to do with firing up the grill again when it was getting close to my bedtime (which embarassingly is about 9pm). So, I just pulled out some buns that I’d made the other day and started shredding!!! The meat stayed moist and retained it’s wonderful smoky flavor. Now that I’ve gotten more into real “barbecuing” I didn’t soak it in barbecue sauce either and the addition of just a tad bit of barbecue sauce once placed on the bun was perfect!! Now I’m perfectly aware that the best pulled pork comes from “pork butt” but shredding the pork tenderloin was a pretty close second….and I’m pretty sure a much healthier option.  So for this recipe you can either use it as “pork tenderloin” and slice it up all pretty or you can use it as “pulled pork” and shred it! Either way you can’t go wrong. Also, I recommend that you use apple wood chips for this. I’ve used hickory and it’s pretty good but the apple chips really give it something extra (we all know pork + apples = winner!). One more thing to mention is the spice rub will make way more than you need for just one pork tenderloin so you should be sure to prepare it in a sealable container so you can keep the leftover for another time or another meat ;).

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

1 – 1 lb. pork tenderloin

Pork Rub (recipe follows)

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

Barbecue Sauce of your choice (click here for an amazing barbecue sauce recipe!)

Pork Dry Rub

(Remember this makes more than enough for the recipe so make sure to store it in a sealed container so you can use the rest for something else).

3/4 cup paprika

1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup kosher salt

2 tbsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. garlic powder

2 tbsp. onion powder

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

  1. The night before (or at least 8 hours ahead) you plan to make this, prepare the pork tenderloin by rubbing the olive oil over the entire piece of meat. Then add the dry rub (be sure to actually “rub” it in). Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Preheat your smoker to 200 degrees F. Prepare wood chips and smoker per manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Remove the pork from the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking to bring it to room temperature.
  4. Place the pork in the smoker and cook for about 1 -1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
  5. To serve, slice or shred. Top with barbecue sauce of your choice.
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Ranch Chicken Grilled Pizza


Here is another delicious grilled pizza recipe. For this recipe I did not use my usual “go to” pizza dough recipe, but used one that is a little bit thinner and has a good texture for cooking it on the grill. It is so easy to work with and shape and it’s not sticky at all. When you put it on the grill it may puff up a little but this goes down and ends up nice and crispy. For the chicken you can pretty much make it however you want or use leftovers, but personally I like to make my Grilled Ranch-Style Chicken.  Also, you can use whatever cheese you like, but based on previous attempts at making this I think mild cheddar is the way to go, as it does not overpower or clash with the ranch dressing. Also, I’ve included measurements in the recipe, however they’re just guesstimates so just go ahead and adjust them based on your own tastes. Remember to follow the last step of completely removing the dough from the grill to add the toppings. If you do not do this you will run the risk of burning your pizza!!

 

Ranch Chicken Grilled Pizza

Pizza Dough:

  • 2 tsp. instant/rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 – 3 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

 ¼ to ½ cup Ranch Dressing

4 oz. cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed (I use Ranch Style Grilled Chicken)

2-3 slices bacon, cooked crisp & crumbled

1 to 1 ½ cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded.

  1. Combine all the pizza dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on low-medium speed until well combined. Increase the speed and continue to mix until dough forms a smooth ball and no longer sticks to the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into four. Place on a baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes. (If you let it “rest” for longer it’s ok; it will not affect the end result of the dough)
  2. Meanwhile, gather and prepare all other ingredients. Preheat the grill to medium high heat.
  3. After the dough has rested for at least 15 minutes, roll out each piece as flat as possible (be careful not to rip it).
  4. Place the four pieces of dough on the grill for about 2 minutes. Remove the dough completely from the grill (grilled side down) and add the ranch dressing, chicken, bacon and cheese. Return to grill for 3-4 minutes until dough is crisp, toppings are heated through, and cheese is melted.
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Grilled Ranch-Style Chicken


There is truly nothing like going out to your garden and getting the fresh herbs that you need for a recipe, which is exactly what I did when I made the marinade for this ranch-style grilled chicken. This recipe works best with fresh herbs but you can definitely substitute dried, just remember to use less.  Also, I like to put my marinades in the blender (I have the Cuisinart CPB-300 SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System, so it’s pretty convenient) when I am using fresh herbs, personally I think it helps get all the flavors into the meat better, plus sometimes I get a little bit lazy and don’t really feel like chopping everything up, so blending it takes care of that!  So you can either just chop everything up and mix it together or throw it all in the blender. Totally your choice! I called this “ranch-style” because it is not your typical creamy ranch, but I still used all the seasonings from my Ranch Dressing.

Grilled Ranch Style Chicken

10 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. white vinegar

Salt & pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except for chicken in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined (or put it all in a blender and blend for a few seconds). Place chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Grill chicken over medium high heat for about 20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

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Homemade Ranch Dressing


I have definitely been slacking in the blogging department, but not the cooking department! I’ve finally got a moment to post some of the yummy food I’ve been creating.  I have just been enjoying this hot summer weather spending all my free time in the pool! AHHHHHH!

So without further ado, here is a good summer recipe that can be used for not only salad dressing, but lots of other foods such as pasta salad, pizza, veggie dip, etc.

I have to say that ever since the first time I made my own homemade salad dressing I loathe the store bought kind. So today’s post is for Homemade Ranch Dressing, which is sure to please!  I decided to make chicken ranch pizza on the grill and used the ranch dressing for the “sauce” of the pizza. Since I was using this for a “sauce” as opposed to a dressing, I made it a bit thicker than normal, so if you are using it for something besides a dressing and you need it to be thicker just add less buttermilk. It’s best to make this at least an hour in advance for the flavors to combine and become prominent. The dressing should last about 3 days. This recipe makes a fairly small batch so if you need a lot you should probably double the recipe. Remember to taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings to your preference. If you are feeling really adventurous fry up a few pieces of bacon, crumble and add to the dressing…voila…bacon ranch dressing! 😉

Homemade Ranch Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup buttermilk (more to thin it out & less to make it thicker)

1 tbsp. white vinegar

¼ tsp. onion powder

1 clove garlic, crushed

¼ tsp. salt

Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

½ tbsp. freeze dried chives

1 tbsp. dried parsley

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl except for the buttermilk. Whisk until just combined. Add the buttermilk 1 tbsp. at a time until you reach the desired consistency, whisking thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. Dressing should keep for about 3 days.

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Grilled Pineapple Sundae with Rum Sauce


This is a really easy and yummy dessert perfect for summer! I don’t even like pineapple, but I always eat this when I make it…it’s just that good (especially the rum sauce). You will impress whoever you make this for and little will they know that it was so simple!

I wish I could take credit for coming up with this on my own but I did read it somewhere. I think it was either in Food Network Magazine or on their website. I just remember seeing it and since it had minimal ingredients I was able to commit it to memory (shocking at my age 🙂 !) So I can’t give proper credit, but I’m definitely not trying to take all the credit! 😉

So what are you waiting for? GO MAKE THIS!!!

Grilled Pineapple Sundae with Rum Sauce

1 small pineapple, sliced into rings

Vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup pineapple rum (i.e. Malibu)

1 tbsp. butter

  1. Combine the sugar, rum and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Grill the pineapple rings for 4-5 minutes per side.
  4. To “build” your sundae: place 1 pineapple ring on a plate, top with a scoop of ice cream in the middle and pour about 1 tbsp. of the warm rum sauce over the top. Serve immediately!
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Smoked Corn Salad


This recipe is a great side dish for any summer meal. It is light, fresh and has a great blend of flavors. The original recipe is from Barefoot Contessa…I only modified it slightly. Although I highly recommend you roast the corn in your smoker (the smoke flavor in the corn is so awesome!!) you can cook the corn however you’d like. Also you should plan to make this ahead so that the flavors have an opportunity to really come through.

I love summer cooking!!!

Smoked Corn Salad

(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

3 ears of corn

1 small onion, diced

1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into strips

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place the corn in the preheated smoker (around 225 degrees) for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle cut the kernels off from the cob.

  2. In a medium bowl add the corn, onion, tomato, vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt & pepper and mix well.  Taste and adjust ingredients to your preference. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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And the Garden Grows!!!


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Well my garden is actually growing!! Some things better than others! 🙂 The zucchini & tomato plants are flourishing! Unfortunately I didn’t know how big the zucchini plants get so they kinda hindered some of the growth of the herbs. I ended up transplanting most of my basil to pots and also planted some pots of oregano, rosemary & thyme.
I’m so proud of my little garden…can’t wait till I can start eating from it!!!

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Grilling Cheese Anyone???


Last week I mentioned that I had planned to write a post about my recent trip to Whole Foods. I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods. On one hand I absolutely love Whole Foods…on the other hand I hate their prices!! I really can’t imagine shopping there all the time. I just cannot bring myself to pay that much for groceries! Nonetheless, Hubby took me there on Memorial Day and I was in heaven! I love the produce and all of the fresh, natural stuff! What I love the most, however, is all the cheese!!! Thank goodness for Hubby’s voice of reason or I could’ve easily spent $200 in just cheese! Not to mention an hour perusing the cheese section. Since it’s only two of us…and we can only consume so much cheese (and even 2 weeks later we’re still using up the two blocks that I bought) Hubby was right to keep me under control. 🙂

My super-cool find this trip to Whole Foods was “Yanni Grilling Cheese”. As you all know by now I love to grill…so anything that has the word “grill” in it will be hard for me to resist. We threw it in the cart and brought it home. I did a quick Google search to see what this stuff was all about and came across a few blogs that mentioned marinating the cheese before grilling it. I thought this seemed like a good idea and luckily for me (because if it came out bad I’d be out $5!!!) it was. It tasted so good and the way it grilled up was so awesome…I don’t even know how to put it into words! Even if you are not a cheese lover like myself…if you ever come across this in a store…you must buy it! You will be pleasantly surprised.

I served this with some smoked ribs and smoked corn salad and since the corn salad had basil I decided to make a basil marinade. The recipe below makes a decent amount of marinade…so if you don’t like to waste things like me you can use it for something else. Since you’re not marinating meat you can re-use the leftover marinade safely. I ended up using it on some chicken breasts, but I was thinking it would probably have made a nice dressing for pasta salad. If any of you decide to use this on anything else let me know how it turns out.

I would suggest marinating the cheese overnight to get a really intense flavor, but even if you only marinate for an hour or so it will still come out with a nice accent to the cheese flavor itself. So here’s to the awesomeness of Whole Foods….even if it does put a big dent in the wallet!

Basil Dressing/Marinade

½ cup fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ c. olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until well combined and basil and garlic is chopped.

Place cheese in glass dish and pour marinade over the top. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Grill the cheese per the package directions, about 2 minutes per side.

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Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken


Well so much for getting back in the groove like I said I was last week! Since my last post I’ve been slacking all around in the diet department, the blogging department, and the cooking department. Too much eating out and a lack of fresh groceries in the house has caused me to gain 2 lbs. at this week’s weigh-in…*sigh*!  But, I have no one to blame but myself. So here is my attempt to once again get back in the groove with eating better, cooking yummy food for me & Hubby and sticking to my blogging.

 

Tonight’s dinner consisted of a simple yet very flavorful chicken dish served with a side of grilled veggies. This chicken was inspired by the Grilled Lemon Thyme Lamb Chops recipe I posted a while back. To make it “slimmed down” I eliminated the oil and used rosemary instead of thyme (only because I ran out of fresh thyme, but had the rosemary). Since there is no oil and a minimal amount of lemon juice the Weight Watchers Points Plus is equal to the amount of chicken you use. So for this recipe I used 4 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast (weighed before grilling) which is a WWPP value of 3.

Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken (1 serving = 3 WWPP)

4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast

Juice of ½ lemon

1-2 cloves garlic

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until well combined and garlic and rosemary is chopped.

  2. Place chicken in a glass dish and pour the mixture over the chicken. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat grill to medium high and grill chicken until done (internal temperature of 165 degrees).

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Chocolate Cake Martini


Apparently flavored vodka is all the rage right now and so I picked up a bottle of Pinnacle Cake Vodka after seeing some drink recipes on Pinterest. Unfortunately I didn’t look at those recipes carefully enough because I really didn’t have any of the other required liquors to make them. So I just ended up improvising…

Chocolate goes with cake right?? Of course!!! So here is a really quick easy and very tasty martini recipe for your Saturday night (or any other night for that matter ;)!).

Chocolate Cake Martini (Serves 1)

2 oz. Pinnacle Cake Flavored Vodka

2 oz. Godiva Chocolate Liquorer

1 splash Half & Half

Chocolate Syrup (optional)

Ice

Drizzle chocolate syrup around the inside of a martini glass.

In a shaker, add the ice and all the other ingredients. Shake for at least 30 seconds and pour into prepared glass.

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