Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

“This tastes like Fall!”

That’s what Mike said about this recipe, which is exactly what I was going for.

Cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Salty bacon and tender pork. Sweet squash and apples. I’d say this is Autumn in a Pan, and is completely Thanksgiving-worthy.

Make the bacon-wrapped pork the night before, and you can easily throw everything in the pan and cook it while you entertain guests. A meat thermometer (get one here) ensures perfect doneness and no need to poke and prod at the meat.

Use a large roasting pan if you like, to fit more vegetables. My home was filled with the scent of cinnamon and apples…I buy candles that smell like this!

I served the pork and squash with rice that got a big spoonful of the cooking sauce over the top. Or add sliced potatoes to the pan for a one-pot meal.

No candle necessary for festiveness! Have I mentioned how glad I am it’s Fall/Autumn/Festive Food Time/Good Hair Weather?

Spiced Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Squash & Apples

for the roast:

  • 2 pounds whole pork tenderloin (2 loins)
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 wooden skewers, cut to 4-5 inches long

for the vegetables:

  • 1 sweet dumpling squash, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1 large red delicious apple, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • juice of 1/4 lemon

for the glaze:

  • 2 large garlic cloves, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°F (400°F convection).

Set roasts out on counter for 30 minutes before preparing. Rub roasts all over with chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Use skewers to hold roasts together. Wrap bacon slices, one at a time, around pork, ends on the bottom, slices slightly overlapping. Lightly oil a large skillet, and place pork in center of pan. If desired, sear off bottom of roast over medium heat while you slice the vegetables.

Carefully cut the squash into wedges, using the ridges as a guide. Cut the apple into large chunks (peel if desired). In a large zip-top bag, add squash and apple and toss with canola oil, cinnamon, and lemon. Add to the pan with the pork roast, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part and transfer to the oven.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and bubbles form but pop slowly, 30-45 minutes. Strain out garlic (yield about 1/2 cup sauce). Pour over the top of the roast and vegetables about halfway through cooking.

Roast 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an internal temperature of 135°F is reached. Broil 5 minutes if needed to brown the bacon. Enjoy!


Crispy Parmesan Pork Chops

Crispy. Healthy. Delicious.

This recipe is all of these things.

Greek yogurt keeps the pork moist and adds flavor. You can use sour cream in a pinch, but stick with the yogurt if you can. And go easy when coating the meat – you only need a thin layer to get the bread crumbs to stick!

Gluten free bread is by nature drier. So, it makes fantastic breading for meats and crisps up perfectly in the oven. Baking the meat first gives it a head start on cooking so you don’t burn the bread crumbs trying to get it baked through. (P.S. – don’t forget to spray the breaded chops with cooking spray before you bake!)

My oven has 5 settings for broil – Lo, 2, 3, 4, Hi. I set it on 3 or 4 to get these chops just right. If you only have one setting, keep the oven door cracked open to help remove some of the heat, and broil on the middle rack.

Of course, regular bread crumbs will work too. But gluten free ones get so crispy! I’m biased.

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[recipe recipe title=”Crispy Parmesan Pork Chops” servings=4-5]

  • 1 1/2 pounds 1/2″ thick boneless pork loin chops (4-5 steaks)
  • cooking spray oil (I use olive oil, any Pam-like spray will work)
  • salt & pepper

for the wet coating:

  • 1 container (5-6 ounces) fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

for the dry coating:

  • 2/3 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the can)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the oven rack on the second highest notch.

In a bowl, combine yogurt and spices. Stir to combine.

On a large plate, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops. One at a time, spoon a small amount of the yogurt onto a pork chop and smooth over. Flip over in your hand and coat underside.

Drop yogurt-covered chop into the breading and coat well. Shake off excess and place on a baking sheet lined with either silicone or parchment paper (if you don’t do this, you risk your breading staying on the pan when you flip them!).

Don’t forget to spray them with cooking oil now!

Bake for 10 minutes, then switch to a medium broil. Watch them – it will take about 5 minutes for the breadcrumbs to start to brown. If they begin to burn, move the oven rack to the center position. Remove from oven, flip chops over. Spray with cooking oil and brown the other side as well, another 5 minutes.

I serve them with spaghetti, then sprinkle dried parsley and a little more Parmesan cheese on top. Enjoy![/recipe]

Lemon & Rosemary Baked Fish with Onions

I bought a bit of fresh rosemary today. So I’m going to make a few recipes featuring this sweet herb!

This is an adapted version of one of my mom’s recipes. Use any whitefish (although salmon would probably work too).  Tilapia, cobia, grouper, etc.

You can also swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt if you like.

The fish comes out moist and perfect because of the mayonnaise sauce; just really watch it while the pan’s under the broiler, and turn the oven off when you start to see little brown spots forming on the top.

Try this same recipe using thinly sliced pork chops as well!

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Lemon & Rosemary Baked Fish with Onions

  • 1 pound whitefish filets, approx. 3-4 count per pound
  • 1 large white onion

for the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil mayo (or any you choose)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper

Set the oven rack 2 levels below the top setting and preheat the broiler on high or medium-high.

Cut the ends off the onion; remove the peel.  Cut it into 4-6 thick slices.

Heat the butter in a broiler proof pan over medium-high heat; add the onion slices. Cook about 5 minutes per side,or until beginning to brown. Take care to keep the rings from separating. Remove pan from heat.

Mix the ingredients for the sauce together in a small bowl.

Rinse and pat the fish dry. Sprinkle with a little salt. Lay the filets on top of the cooked onion planks, overlapping the ends slightly so they’ll fit in the pan.

Spoon the sauce over the fish, smoothing it out into a thin layer.

Transfer the pan to the oven.  Broil about 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to turn brown in spots.  When you see this happen, immediately turn the oven off broil and switch to bake at 350°F.  Continue baking for another 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans

Here’s a simple, healthy way to make green beans.  Get creative with the seasonings! They make great finger food for little kids!

Roasted Green Beans

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put green beans in a resealable plastic bag; add oil and seasonings, zip closed and toss to coat.

Spread evenly onto a baking sheet.  Roast for 30-45 minutes, tossing beans around every 15 minutes for even cooking.

Beans are ready when they are browned in places but still slightly firm.

These are great hot or room temperature; try dipping them in ranch dressing or Greek yogurt!  Enjoy!

Oven Baked Barbecue Ribs

Pork ribs.  Barbecue pork ribs.  They’re so good grilled, but what if you don’t have a grill?  Or it’s too cold outside (not a problem here often).  Or maybe you’re out of propane (a problem here often).  “We have no tv outside to watch football while I grill” is acceptable too.  Make up a reason – because these ribs are fall apart, barbecue-y perfection!

My mom made ribs one night for Sunday dinner.  For maybe the first time, she had (it’s possible my dad just bought the wrong ones…) boneless “country style” pork ribs.  She baked them low and slow and then my dad threw them on a charcoal grill for a few minutes to crisp up the outside.

Do I have to tell you they were fantastic?  Ok – they were fantastic.

One day we just finished them in the oven.  Either way these are amazing!

You really can’t mess these up – measurements are approximate.  But do have one bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce on hand for every 2-3 pounds of ribs – between basting and dipping you’ll use it!

Make sure your barbecue sauce is gluten free (we use Sweet Baby Ray’s Original  – check labels between flavors too, some might be ok while other flavors from the same brand are not!) and you’re good to go.

Oven Baked Barbecue Ribs

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (white vinegar will work too)
  • 1 bottle gluten free barbecue sauce

Seriously.  That’s it.

Note – the more ribs you pack into a pan (and the bigger your pan), the longer you’ll need to let them cook.  If you have 10 pounds of ribs, up the 45 minute blocks of time to around 90.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Line a baking pan (9×9 inch) with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.  Lay ribs side by side, touching lengthwise.  Pour vinegar over them, then pour on the barbecue sauce.  Cover tightly with foil – you want them to steam in there!

Bake for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, and remove foil cover.  Your ribs are probably sitting in an inch of juices – that’s ok for now.  Pour more barbecue sauce over the top, and recover with foil tightly.

Oven finish:

After another 45 minutes, remove foil.  Remove some of the liquid, leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (1/4 inch or so).  Coat with more barbecue sauce – you want a nice thick layer this time.

Put back in the oven at 400 degrees uncovered.  Watch the ribs – you want them to start to brown, which could take 15-30 minutes more depending on your oven.

When browned, remove from oven and cover loosely with foil.  Allow to sit 10 minutes.

Grill finish:

Grill cooked ribs over high heat until browed to your liking.

Serve with more barbecue sauce for dipping.  Enjoy!

Oven-Fried Ravioli

One of my most favorite appetizers from the Olive Garden is the fried ravioli.  I mean, are you kidding?  They are just ridiculous.  They serve it with warm marinara and also this equally ridiculous ranch-style dip.  The guilt I feel when I eat these things is terrible.

I decided there must be a better way.  Let’s bake them!

Now, my recipe isn’t necessarily anything special.  Do a Google search for baked ravioli and you’ll get all sorts of variations.  This is one that works well for me every time, and I’m sure it’s because they’re double dipped in the egg and breadcrumbs (oh yes!).  And don’t skip the extra dip, it make all the difference.

The first time I made these, we ate the whole batch…seriously.  With some warm marinara sauce these are every bit as good as the fried version!


Oven Fried Ravioli

  • 20 (about 1 pound) frozen or fresh ravioli (gluten free if you like)
  • 2 eggs
  •  1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs (gluten free if you like)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the can)
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Boil ravioli for about half the time on the package directions (or until soft).  Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano, along with the Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.  Whisk the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl.

Working in batches of 3 or 4, dip the ravioli in the egg and allow excess to drip off.  Coat in breadcrumb mixture, pressing to adhere.  Set on parchment paper and continue until all ravioli is done.

Repeat dipping process once more for each ravioli.  Spray lightly with olive oil spray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve immediately with marinara sauce or Ranch dressing.  Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall is (sort of) making an appearance here in Florida, and with Halloween just a few days off, pumpkin carving is in full swing.  What to do with those handfuls of pumpkin guts?  With a little work, you can sort out the seeds and roast them for a healthy treat!

Have you ever noticed how much seeds (and nuts) cost in the supermarket?  It’s ridiculous.  So save the pumpkin seeds you’ve got and save some cash!

There are several ways to roast the seeds, but my preferred way is low and slow.  I’ll give alternative cook times if you don’t have an hour to wait, but roasting them slowly allows them to fully dry out and minimizes chewiness.

Here’s the recipe – or really, just how to roast perfect seeds.  The seasonings are up to you!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Fresh pumpkin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Seasonings of your choice

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin flesh; wash the sorted seeds in water and pat dry.  Put them in a bowl and add a drizzle of olive oil.  I like to put the oil in my hand and then stir the seeds with my fingers.  All you want is a very light coat so the salt and seasonings will stick.

Here’s the fun part.  Add a little salt (or not) and whatever flavors you prefer – Cajun, garlic, curry, Old Bay, or chili powder…or how about trying some cinnamon and sugar?  You really can’t go wrong!  I use about half a teaspoon of seasoning per cup of seeds, but adjust to your liking.

Spread the seeds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (you can do without but it keeps the seeds from sticking to the pan; don’t add nonstick sprays, it will add too much moisture).  Try to get them in a single layer with minimal overlaps.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, check for crispness at 45 minutes (this means take one out and eat it!).  If you have a lot of seeds on the tray, stir them around halfway through to help evenly cook them all.

If you don’t have that much time, preheat the oven to 350-375 degrees and roast for about 35 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them!

After they’ve cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature.  How long will they keep?  I don’t know – ours never make it more than a few days!