Wednesday, February 27, 2013


My apologies for my lack of post for this week. I have been battling a nasty stomach bug, and food is the last thing on my mind. With any luck, I'll be back at it by next week.

Blessings from my quiet kitchen to your (hopefully) healthy and hopping kitchen!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cream Cheese Coconut Tarts

Ah, a special treat from our past, which I made for hubby for Valentine's Day.  Individual serving tarts with a flaky cream cheese crust, and a sweet, chewy filling. Steve is partial to the coconut filling, but they can also be made with chopped nuts or raisins, or a combination. They make a beautiful presentation, and are fairly easy to make. 

My apologies for the blurry picture, I had to snap a picture quick with my phone before my family ate them all!

Leni's Notes:
~I have no idea where this recipe originated, but we've been making it for years, and they are somewhat fool-proof. OK, nothing is fool-proof, but even when these get messed up a little bit, they still work out. Very forgiving recipe.
~The original recipe calls for corn syrup. I have a moral objection to corn syrup. I used a simple syrup, made by boiling equal amounts of raw sugar and water until everything was dissolved and then cooled. I have also used agave syrup and brown rice syrup in the past, and have thought about trying maple syrup or honey. 
~I used a silicone pan, and did not need to grease the pans. Just make sure you let them cool completely before you try to remove them from the pan.


8 ounces cream cheese
2 cups flour
1 cup cold butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup simple syrup
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
2 cups chopped nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut


~Place flour and cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl and blend. 
~Cut in cold butter until crumbly and continue mixing until mixture forms a dough, using hands if necessary.
~Portion dough into 24 small balls.
~Lightly grease muffin tins and place one ball of dough in each cup.
~Press dough up onto cup sides, making a little "bowl" or "cup" shape.
~Put all filling ingredients into a separate bowl and mix until well-blended.
~Spoon filling evenly into the individual cups.
~Bake tins at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until filling is slightly solidified (it will set a little more once out of the oven, but should still be slightly liquid once done).
~Let cool completely before removing from pan.


Blessings from my Valentine kitchen to yours,

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Gang's All Here Sweet & Savory Pork Tenderloin

As you may have deduced, I enjoy cooking for friends and family. ;o) I'm always playing with recipes, tweaking and experimenting. While I love doing that, I also like to keep a nice supply of go-to meals. The type the everyone loves, and for the most part never go wrong when I make them. Today's recipe might look familiar, as it was inspired by ChanceLee Chicken.

I was looking for something I could make for a large group without losing quality in the cooking. I decided to make it with pork tenderloin. That turned out to be a terrific choice! I love the way my house smells when I make this stuff. 

I made some changes to the recipe, nothing too major. I like making this dish for company because the sweetness makes it a huge hit with the kids, and the spicy makes it have a nice taste for the grown ups, also. The kiddos at dinner (aged 7 and under) were pleased and asking for seconds, so that makes me a happy camper. Pretty sure my 16 year old faked illness to come home early from an overnight so she could have some too. ;o)

Leni's Notes
~This recipe is intended to feed a large group (we got 14 servings,) so scale down accordingly. 
~Also pictured above, stir fried french green beans and egg noodles with butter and parsley. Also good with cous cous and carrots.
~Every time you warm it up, the sauce gets a little thicker and the sweet gets a little more intense, so you might want to add some water to thin it and maybe some more salt or soy sauce if you have leftovers.
~Generally when I list soy sauce, I mean Bragg's Liquid Aminos. This time we used Coconut Aminos. The taste was good, but it had half the sodium, so the finished product needed salt. (Coconut Aminos are crazy expensive, but if you have an allergy to soy, a nice alternative.)
~Replace the pepper with cayenne for an extra spice kick.

4 pork tenderloins
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup ginger ale
2 Tbls. lemon juice
6 Tbls. minced garlic
4 Tbls. soy sauce
2 tsp. white pepper 
1/4-1/2 cup corn starch

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~Sear tenderloins in a cast iron pan with olive oil.
~Place tenderloins in a greased 13 x 9 pan.
~ Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and pour over tenderloin.
~Place in oven, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes, until a meat thermometer says they are done.
~Remove from pan, slice into tenderloin coins, and place in a dish or on a platter, and pour sauce over the top.
~Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Blessings from my kitchen to yours,

Monday, February 04, 2013

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Ice Cream cake? In February? In Upstate NY? No, I haven't lost my mind, it was a special request from my daughter.

Yes indeed, this weekend we celebrated my baby girl's sixteenth birthday! 

Isn't she beautiful? More importantly, she's got a beautiful spirit.  My baby is growing up. *sniff, sniff*  To mark the special occasion, I made her a cake I first made over 20 years ago for her big sister's first birthday. Come to think of it, that might have been the last time I made it!

We had planned a day of shopping with the Thrift Store Teen Queen, but the snowy weather kept us from leaving town.  So instead, we stayed home and ate ice cream cake, of course. ;o)

Leni's Notes:
~While my family loved the way I made the peppermint layer, I think if I make it again, I will cut down on the amount of peppermint patties. Only because it makes it kind of chewy when it's frozen. I seemed to be the only one who noticed.
~This will fit into 2 13x9 pans or one larger pan.

2 containers chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreo type)
1 half gallon chocolate or vanilla ice cream
1 regular sized bag of York Peppermint Patties
1/2 - 1 Cup cream
2 T coconut oil (You could use shortening if you need to)
4 C whipped cream

~Crush cookies in a plastic bag, and place into the bottom of the pan, reserving a cup of crumbs.
~Slice or scoop ice cream and put on top of the cookies.
~Let the ice cream melt over the cookies while you make the chocolate sauce. (Not completely to liquid, just til it's soft enough to push down over the crust.)
~In a double boiler, place the candies and oil, and turn on the burner to medium. (I break the candies up a bit.)
~As they start to melt, add in the cream, and stir occasionally.
~When the sauce is smooth, dump the hot water out of the double boiler and set the sauce aside to cool a bit.
~While the ice cream is melting, press it down over the cookies.
~Drizzle peppermint sauce over the ice cream, reserving about half a cup.
~Cover with whipped cream.
~Lightly drizzle with remaining sauce, then sprinkle cookie crumbs over the top.
~Cover with plastic wrap, and place on an even surface in the freezer.

~When ready to serve, remove from the freezer half an hour before cutting.

Blessings from my kitchen to yours,