Super Easy Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Every woman has her go-to recipes when guests are coming over, as well as a short list of easy busy school-night dinners, holiday dishes, and family favorites.  This dish meets every one of those criteria.

Dress it up, dress it down.  Like a pair of jeans - casual with a tank top and scarf, ready to wow with boots and a little sparkle.  That's this recipe.  Serve it up quick for family when you're pressed for time, or on china when friends come to call.





Peppercorn-Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4-5, double for guests

Ingredients -

5 TBS. coconut oil

3 small sweet potatoes (or ten red potatoes), thick slices or cubes

1 /2 white onion, long strips

1 bunch asparagus, 2-3" segments

Trader Joe's Peppercorn-Garlic Pork Tenderloin

(Regular grocery stores have their own variations on this theme.  The important thing is "pork tenderloin".  Take a few extra home and store them in the freezer.)


Heat up that cast iron skillet your Mother-in-Law gave you last Christmas.  Get the coconut oil steaming hot then brown that tenderloin, 2 minutes each side.  Next, add onion wedges and potatoes next to the meat.  Coat them in the oil, and transfer skillet to 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until internal meat temperature hits 170 degrees.  I often throw asparagus on top for the last 5 minutes.


This dish is complete in and of itself.  No need for a side dish!  Though a salad and some crusty bread never hurt anyone.Oh... and pears too.  Pears are fabulous this time of year!


Do try this recipe and let me know if it becomes one of your staples.

Eat up,




Newlyweds with a side of Chicken Salad

There's a bit of a story here before you get to my favorite Chicken Salad Recipe.
Read on...


We stopped attending our Sunday school class at church about a year ago, we just didn't feel that it was where we were supposed to be.  We kept the boys in their two hours of Sunday School fun, but stopped going to our second hour.   Instead we purposed to sit together in the cafe, and earmark that time to really connect with one another - about the deep-down soul stuff we'd been carrying over the course of the week, or piling up over the years of our marriage.


It was an incredible blessing on so many levels.  Primarily, it took the edge off of anything that burdened me throughout the week.  I'd relax at the thought, "Sunday's coming!  Matt wants to know my heart.  I can share what concerns me today... on Sunday."  Within this safe place, we started sharing with more courage and listening with more grace about all the issues in our marriage, our parenting, our individual dreams and struggles.  It was a safe time, a loving time, a healing time.


Then the day arrived when we stopped coming to the table with an intense need to be heard.  It's like all the build-up from the first 12 years of marriage had been worked through and we were communicating well and loving one another intentionally again - Not just on Sundays but throughout the week as well. It just took six months worth of Sunday mornings to get us there.


Now there we sat, across the green patio table, him with a breakfast sandwich and me with my cup of tea, just smiling because we had nothing left to work through.  And he said, "So what do you want to do now?"  I shrugged, and noticed how light my shoulders felt.  It was then I remembered an announcement in the church bulletin that morning about a newly marrieds group just forming.  Sure we weren't newlyweds, but we felt brand new on the inside.  So I opened up the Sunday program and showed it to my guy.  He shrugged his own unburdened shoulders and said, "let's go."


And so, after 13 years of marriage, my husband and I walked into a class for newlyweds.


We walked into the small classroom 10 minutes late, and half a dozen young couples looked up.  I noticed immediately how close they sat to one another.  We waved awkwardly and sat down.  They were halfway through an ice-breaker, where everyone shared the song they'd chosen for their first dance together at the wedding.  So much laughter.  Then it got to us and Matt  stuttered, 'uh... it was by George Straight I think, yeah?"  "Yeah," I affirmed, "and we danced the cowboy cha-cha."  Crickets.


Then the young girl who was leading the class with her husband stood up and explained how the class would stay connected via an iphone app, and I turned to Matt and whispered, "this isn't our generation... and I think that girl baby-sat for the boys when she was in high school, like three years ago!"


After class we chatted with the couple upfront, turns out Nicole had babysat our boys, and they told us how they'd been hoping and praying for a mentor couple to join them.  And there we'd been, sitting together on the patio wondering, "What should we do now?"


The answer came easy, "Absolutely."


Now, a few short months later, and there's no way to describe in one brief paragraph how dear these young couples have become to us?   Matt has sincere love for the young men, and I absolutely adore the gals.  And each time I look at them, pouring over the pages of good marriage books, learning to care and pray for one another, I think how lucky they are to be building these skills so early in their marriages.  And we're learning right beside them, and shedding light on what these principles can look like over a decade in.


To celebrate the start of fall we had all the couples over to our home for lunch.  It was 105 degrees with Santa Anna winds blowing hard, and eucalyptus leaves chattering in the breeze.  That's what fall looks like in Southern California, friends.  The ladies circles around the patio table poolside with the men on the inside of our home.   I watched them through the window, loading up their plates and sitting on the orange couch with a rug at their feet that reads "family."  And we broke bread and laughed hard.




I served my favorite chicken salad recipe and they all clamored for the recipe, which didn't surprise me because it's a gem.  I say it without pride; I didn't invent this medley of fabulous flavors after all.  But I love it heart and soul, and keep Trader Joe's apricot chutney in my pantry at all times just to be prepared.


Today I offer it up to you, wishing I knew the special occasions and people you will share this with in the years to come.  But I also share it with the encouragement, to those of you who are married, to find the time you need in your busy lives to carve out a safe place, a sharing place to deal with the real life challenges you are facing.  Bless you and your husbands today.  Now go make those men some chicken salad!


The Best Curry Chicken Salad (Like Ever!)


Combine Dry Ingredients

5 Chicken Breasts - cooked and chopped

(I prefer two rotisserie chickens for ease)

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2-3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 cup raisins

2 cups cashews


In a separate bowl whisk together

1 jar mango chutney (I use Trader Joe's brand)

2 tsp. curry

3/4 cup mayo

2 tsp. lemon juice

garlic salt / pepper to taste


Prepare and Serve

Allow the dressing to sit on the countertop or in the fridge for a good 30 minutes before you toss the chicken salad and serve.  This allows the intense flavors to meld.  Also, if serving this as a main dish, you can stir in 3 cups of cooked rice.  I, however, usually serve this beside a few other salads; shown in the picture with this quinoa salad topped with avocado, and a wedge of brie to complete the plate.  


You will own your dinner guests

after serving this dish!



Lemon Bars Recipe


This recipe, my mother's recipe, has been a favorite of mine since I was a young girl.  Before my hair turned from blonde to brown I knew summer tasted like lemon bars.  Now I have my own home, and my own summer-time children, making deep sense-memories as they pick their fruit straight from our lemon trees.  Buckets full of yellow in a bright green bucket from spring through mid-summer.  

DSC_0779 DSC_0784 DSC_0785 DSC_0787 DSC_0790 DSC_0789

An hour's worth of picking takes two and a half hours to squeeze!


The boys like their lemonade without pulp, so I press it through a fine sieve.  But some fresh squeezed juice remains pulpy, and I place it in a  Tupperware labeled with a piece of masking tape, upon which I write PULP.

I use this juice with pulp for my lemon bars.






My Mother-in-law's been asking for this recipe for nearly a decade now.  No fooling.  I never meant to be elusive, keep it for my own, it's just slipped my mind a dozen times.  When I remember to look I can't seem to find the thin paper with three layers of ingredients scribbled in blue ink.  But I found it this week.  Made it for her visit.  And promised I'd write it out for her.  I'm doing that now. Because today my husband's Mama leaves Southern California's lemon tree dappled hills, rich soil and salt air.  But when she arrives home in sticky sweet Texas, the land of southern hospitality, she'll find my Mama's lemon bar recipe in her inbox.





bottom layer

1/4 cup confectionary sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

(Cut cold butter into dry ingredients, then press into greased  8" square pan.  Bake 15 minutes at 350.)


middle layer

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2 eggs slightly beaten

2 TBS lemon juice

(Mix in a mixer on medium until slightly frothy.  Pour over bottom, shortbread layer.  Return to oven for 20 minutes.  Make sure middle layer is set, then take out to cool completely.)


top layer

2 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS butter, softened

3/4 cup confectionary sugar

(Whip together in mixer, scrapping down sides multiple times.)


Prepare:  Once the bottom two layers have cooled, cut them into 12 - 16 squares (depending on preference), drop a dollop of icing on top of each bar, and place on a serving platter.  Cool in fridge, or place platter into the freezer for an extra refreshing kick on a hot day.

Gluten Free option: Bob's Red Mill GF sugar cookie mix makes a WONDERFUL alternative for the bottom layer. However, it only requires 1/3 of the dough, so wrap the rest up tight for another time. Or roll the left over dough out to a 1/4" and use a knife to cut out lemon shaped cookies.  Double the frosting amount, then add a few drops of yellow food dye.  Lemon sugar cookies couldn't be more darling next to these lemon bars.