Balsamic Cherry Pork Tenderloin

We’ve never been parents that crammed a million things into summer break.  Quite honestly the school year is busy enough and we are all craving the break during June and July.  Sure we might go swimming, take a short vacation, and for a while they all attended a week of Bible camp, but summer “break” is called a break or vacation for a reason!

One of the most relaxing things about summer are the lazy afternoons and evenings that have allowed us to slow down. I suppose I will have to adjust to this year round with the children all grown (wow that seems odd to say), but there is something very enjoyable about taking time to cook supper each night. No deadlines, no running in from practices, no where to be; it’s a wife and mom’s dream!

Cherry Balsamic Pork

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Balsamic Cherry Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Yesterday morning I planned to prepare a pork tenderloin for our evening meal. Most of the day was spent wondering how to prepare it. There was the grilling option, but a ferocious band of thunderstorms was headed our way and fighting to keep charcoal lit around rain was not my idea of fun. The crockpot option is always a good one, but when you’re carefully eating only at mealtimes, smelling supper cook all day makes one want to eat all day. There are at least a thousand ways to roast a tenderloin, but my tastebuds were screaming for something seasonal and unique.

This particular pork tenderloin was purchased locally and not in the grocery store, so after looking through the refrigerator I found just the flavors needed! Taking fresh cherries, yummy Georgia Vidalia onions, fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar I went to work preparing supper.

cherries and sweet onions

Searing the tenderloin in olive oil after tucking a few fresh cloves of garlic inside, it went straight from the stovetop to the oven thanks to using a cast iron skillet. With the tenderloin being long and thin, it doesn’t take long to cook. Dry pork is horrible, so pay attention when cooking it. Internal temperature should be around 145° and then allow to rest a few minutes.

Once the pork was cooked and removed from the pan, the pan and juices went on the stove top on medium heat. I added an entire sliced onion, cherries that had been pitted and a little fresh rosemary from the back porch. After a few minutes of sautéing the two together to soften balsamic vinegar was added to the mix. Stirring often, this mixture was allowed to reduce and thicken for a sweet and textured sauce for the pork tenderloin.

Click Balsamic Cherry Pork Tenderloin to print off the full and very easy recipe.

Balsamic Cherry Tenderloin summer supper

Serve with fresh green beans and a salad for a completely seasonal supper everyone will enjoy!

Summer supper alfresco

Tell me dear readers, what do you enjoy most about these summer days?

Velvety White Chocolate Cake

Despite all the baking going on in the house this summer I’ve actually lost 10 pounds and several inches since Bradley left for boot camp last month. The patriotic cupcakes shared earlier this week were delivered to the local police department so that they didn’t stay in the house after Audley, Madeline and my niece ate a couple.  But, when you whip up something like this cake we carried to South Carolina as we visited two of our kiddos over the weekend, it’s really hard to say “no” to sweets!

WhiteChocolate Cake

 

Making a cake from scratch is not that difficult. A little more time consuming maybe, but really not as hard as people would have you think. My problem with taking the time to bake is there are actually people out there who will complain about the dense layers of homemade flavor, and say they prefer a box mix!

Really?!

You have got to be kidding me!

Nonetheless, I will continue to scratch bake when time allows, and if someone doesn’t like it, it’s their loss. They should probably have their taste buds checked and shop the outer rims of the grocery stores for real food more often!

Velvety White Chocolate Cake

For my white chocolate cake you need a good quality cake flour (I love King Arthur’s brand), sugar, baking powder & salt for your dry ingredients. For your wet ingredients you will need egg whites ( separate your own, don’t use prepackaged liquid eggs), vanilla; grass-fed, fat-filled, real butter, and whole milk. You will also need 8 ounces of quality white chocolate …. I prefer Ghirardelli brand.

Scratch Cake Ingredients

The better quality products you use, the better tasting your cake will be!

You also want to have a flour sifter on hand to use when measuring your flour. You will be able to tell a difference in the density of your cake if you do (or don’t) sift the flour.

If you’ve never used one, it’s not difficult; promise! You just place flour into the gadget and shake or sift into a measuring bowl the amount your recipe calls for.

You’ll also need two bowls (one for wet ingredients; one for dry), measuring spoons and of course a mixer. You will need a bowl to melt your white chocolate in as well.

Prepare to 8-inch cake pans by spraying with Bakers Joy or another cake release product and preheat your oven to 350°.

White Velvet cake

After you have baked your layers, allow them to cool on a cooling rack,  The edges may be crispy (my favorite part to eat), but carefully level each layer with a cake leveler.  You can find a good one at Hobby Lobby for under $10.  Its worth keeping on hand if you like to bake.

The cream cheese icing recipe I shared earlier this week would be perfect to frost this cake, but since this cake was traveling I used a decorators buttercream that would hold.  Click here for the full and printable Velvety White Chocolate Cake recipe and here for the Cream Cheese Icing recipe.

 

White Chocolate Cake with Sprinkles

An easy way to decorate your cake would be to add a colorful holiday sprinkle mix over the top.  Fresh summer berries would also be a delightful addition!  Strawberries especially compliment the flavor of a white chocolate cake!

Sliced White Chocolate Cake

 So tell me, which do you prefer… A box cake or a fresh baked scratch cake?

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Simple Cream Cheese Icing

Usually when the summer heats up I bow out of the kitchen or take a lot of shortcuts, but this season has been quite the opposite. From cakes and cupcakes to jams, jellies, and pickles, as well as many a lovely supper our kitchen has been quite busy!

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One of the most delicious things to leave my kitchen was cupcakes frosted with cream cheese icing. While quite tasty, I will admit they were a challenge with all this Southern heat!  Cream cheese is not a fan of heat at all.

I actually cheated when making the cupcakes by using a box mix. When I resort to box mixes Duncan Hines Butter recipe is my favorite. I use a full stick of butter for each box and it makes for deliciously light cupcakes that are normally devoured. Top with cream cheese icing and you have an easy summer delight everyone will love!

Ingredients for the icing include cream cheese (use the full fat stuff for best results), a stick of real butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar. I’m a firm believer in using quality products to maximize flavor, so go for the grass fed butter and a reputable brand of vanilla!

The icing is quite simple to whip up. First, I blend the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the vanilla and combine. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until all ingredients are blended well. Due to the heat, I usually refrigerate my icing about 30 minutes before putting it into a bag to pipe.

You can grab the entire recipe and instructions for the Cream Cheese Icing here.

Since one box of Duncan Hines cake mix generally makes 24-30 cupcakes, I double this easy cream cheese icing in order to make decorative swirls on top.

After your cupcakes are iced, dress them up with fresh berries or colorful sprinkles that fit your special occasion.

I love simple, and these cupcakes combine both the ease of a boxed cake mix and the flavor of homemade cream cheese icing will have your guests thinking you’ve spent HOURS on dessert!

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Uncle Jack’s Meat House

There are restaurants you visit where you walk in, eat your food and leave, barely remembering what you ate.

Then, there are restaurants you visit where you walk in with friends, savor your meal as if you are in Cuba (where table time is much valued), linger just a bit longer over coffee and dessert, and then tell everyone you know about the evening out because the entire experience was just THAT spectacular!

It’s rare to find, but it does exist.

Over the weekend I was so fortunate to experience an unforgettable meal out with fabulous company and amazing food. My girl friend, Tammie asked me to accompany her to Uncle Jack’s Meat House in Duluth for an unforgettable tasting experience that will long remain a topic of discussion.

{Seriously, it’s Monday morning and we are still talking about it!}

Uncle Jack's Meat House Duluth

Uncle Jack’s Meat House in Duluth is an unassuming restaurant located on Sugarloaf Parkway  near the Infinite Energy Arena.  Despite being located in such a busy area for  over a year (they opened in late 2016), so many people still have not discovered this hidden gem!

Tammie and I were greeted warmly when we walked in.  We were given the option of indoor or outdoor dining; both of which are fabulous options.

Indoor Dining Uncle Jack's Meat House

Indoor Dining

Uncle Jack's Meat House Outdoor Dining

A glimpse of outdoor seating

 

The manager introduced us to our waiter, Luis, who treated us wonderfully! The decor is laid back and casual with a bit of an industrial vibe.  Guests were dressed as casual as shorts and tee-shirts to suits and dresses!  We dined with parents and their children, couples, groups of friends and even a group of teenagers.  Restaurant patrons were so diverse and everyone was welcomed the same!

Uncle Jack's Meat House Bar

Uncle Jack's Meat House decor

The executive chef, Mitch came out and introduced himself to us and shared a little background of the restaurant.  Uncle Jack’s Meat House is owned by  Restauranteur and Food Network personality Willie Degel, who also owns two other restaurants in NYC.  Together Degel and Chef Mitch came up with a menu and concept for the restaurant.  After a little trial and error the menu and restaurant concept evolved into the fabulous restaurant it is now!

Uncle Jack's Meat House Menu

Chef Mitch is an Atlanta native who has put a decidedly Southern and delightfully Atlantan spin on the restaurant menu.  Everything is prepared fresh and to order here.  There are no prepackaged meals heated up in an oven, only fresh ingredients; as many as possible from local farms and dairies.  All sauces are even prepared on site; you will not find a bottle of A1 here, nor do you need it.  The only freezer is a small chest freezer that holds the ice cream for one of their desserts, which is also made onsite. Chef Mitch said they work hard to accommodate the dietary needs of guests, including those with allergies or gluten intolerance.

With your food cooked made from scratch and made to order, don’t expect your meals in five minutes.  This isn’t a heat your dish in the microwave and bring to the table restaurant.  This is a place for you to socialize over the table as each course is brought out, and to savor each bite you put into your mouth.  If you want to eat in a hurry this is not the place to eat, but if you truly want a memorable experience, make your reservation and plan to stay awhile!

Chef Mitch had several menu items already planned ahead to serve us, then had us also choose an entree.  Everything brought to our table was absolutely fantastic and every bite lovely to experience.

Tammie and Jen at Uncle Jack's Meat House

So what deliciousness did Tammie and I indulge?

Munchies:

Applewood Smoked Bacon with house-made peanut butter (slather it on y’all!) and maple syrup

Uncle Jack's Meat House Chef Mitch

Chef Mitch bringing out the applewood smoked bacon

Uncle Jack's Meat House Applewood Smoked Bacon

Smoked Local Pork Spare Ribs with a sweet and sour BBQ glaze and Apple Cider Coleslaw

Uncle Jack's Meat House Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Maine Lobster and Avocado Mini Tacos with a shell made of taro root and served with herb mayo and wasabi

Uncle Jack's Meat House Maine Lobster and Avocado Mini Tacos

Maine Lobster Mini Taco Uncle Jack's Meat House

We also enjoyed selections of fresh local cheeses, cured southern meats, pickled onions, cherry jam and whole grain mustard on a Charcuterie board.

Charcuterie Station Uncle Jack's Meat House

Selections from Charcuterie Station

Uncle Jack's Meat House Charcuterie Station Selections

Charred Spanish Octopus with chickpea puree, olives, capers, pickled onion, and drizzled with Spanish olive oil.

Charred Spanish Octopus from Uncle Jack's Meat House

Spanish Octopus

USDA Choice Steak:

For our entrees Tammie and I enjoy selections from the steak menu.  I tried the 35 day dried aged rib chop (this is enough for THREE meals!) cooked medium rare.

Uncle Jack's Meat House Cowboy Ribchop

Served with roasted garlic and shallot

Cowboy Ribchop cooked to perfection

The perfect steak!

Tammie enjoyed the tender center cut filet mignon.

Sharing Sides:

The menu at Uncle Jack’s Meat House is ala cart, but the sides are completely sharable and options are just fabulous! We tried four delicious side dishes with our steaks.  By far the CornGasm Brûlée and collard greens were my favorite!

Organic Cauliflower Gratin with Gruyere cheese

Uncle Jack's Meat House Cauliflower Gratin

5 Cheese Mac and Cheese made with gouda, Parmesan, Cheddar, Jack and Gruyere cheeses

Uncle Jack's Meat House five Cheese Mac and Cheese

Slow Cooked Collard Greens with smoked ham hock and aged sherry vinegarUncle Jack's Meat House Collard Greens

CornGasm Brûlée complete with a crystalized sugar top

Uncle Jack's Meat House CornGasm Brûlée

Sweet Tooth:

And if all of the above wasn’t enough, we had dessert.

The banana Dutch Baby was delicious….

Uncle Jack's Meat House Dutch Baby

But the Fudge Brownie Soufflé served with Salted Caramel Ice Cream was probably the best dessert I have EVER enjoyed!  This dish is prepared when you order it, so it takes around 20 minutes to be out at your table.  Don’t be impatient.  The wait is totally worth it!

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Uncle Jack’s Meat House is open for lunch and supper Monday through Friday and for supper on Saturday and Sunday.  They went from empty to packed within 30 minutes of our 6:30 arrival on a Friday night, so make a reservation!

Uncle Jack’s Meat House

6590 Sugarloaf Pkwy suite 201

Duluth, GA 30097

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