Everyday Dorie: Sweet Chili Pork Tenderloin

Oy–I’m late with posting this for French Fridays with Dorie. I cooked it early, if that counts. Ha! It’s been a rough two weeks, and posting about this pork fell right off my list.

Long story short, I caught the respiratory infection that the kids passed between each other. I then developed walking pneumonia, then a completely closed canal ear infection. After taking antibiotics for about 3 days, I broke out in hives and my tongue swelled up. I have a history of “chronic urticaria”–basically, mystery hives. It’s not an allergic reaction; it’s an autoimmune response. Supposedly. Honestly, doctors don’t seem to know much about it. I had it for months in 2017, and the doctors’ general attitude of “beats me” is what prompted me to start focusing on nutrition and exercising, to see if I could impact it from the inside. I put myself on Whole 30 (anti-inflammation elimination diet that claims to reset your system. No grains, dairy, sugar, beans, soy), because I’d read blog posts online of people in similar situations saying that their condition improved when they followed it. By the end of the 30 days, my hives finally responded to antihistamine. They’ve been controlled by a nightly Zyrtec since July or August of 2017, until now. I put myself back on Whole30 (today is day 9), and things seem to be improving (knock on wood!). I woke up hive-free for the past two days. Keep your fingers crossed.

Did I mention that all of this happened while my husband’s ship is underway? Like I said–oy. Single parents, I salute you.

I’m getting off-topic. My point is, I made this pork the night before my tongue swelled up, so now I’m afraid to eat the leftovers, even though I know the two events were probably totally unrelated. Ha!

It’s a shame, because this was very tasty and very easy, and the kids both liked it. I’ve only ever roasted pork tenderloin in the oven, and was worried that something would go haywire cooking it on top of the stove in a dutch oven, but it was fine. There was enough sauce in the pot that it braised (after being browned). I probably won’t make this again, just because of all the baggage I now have connected to it, but it really was good. What can you do?


Everyday Dorie: Butternut Squash Hummus

I hate to say it, but I did not love this month’s selection for Cook the Book Fridays: Butternut Squash Hummus. It was bland, and nothing I did seemed to change that. More salt? No change. More lemon? No change. That’s basically where I ran out of ideas. HA!

Admittedly, I’d altered two things that could have caused the disappointment. I’m about half a year out from our next move, which is basically the time when I start looking at my closet, panicking about being a food hoarder, and refusing to add anything to my pantry that I can’t use up in the next six months. The internet told me that balsamic vinegar could be used to replace pomegranate molasses, so that is what I did. Having never tasted pomegranate molasses, I don’t know how things would have been different. Also, Dorie suggests topping the hummus with pomegranate seeds. The pomegranates in my supermarket were $4 each, and my cheapness won out. I do see how those little hits of refreshing juiciness might have livened things up, though.

I didn’t dislike this, but it’s been sitting in my fridge, unsnacked-upon, for nearly a week.


My Happiness To-Do List

Over the past year and a half or so, I’ve been on a big “figure out what makes you happy, then DO those things” kick. This was triggered by the stress of our current tour. I know myself well enough to know that my gut impulse when I’m stressed out or feeling depressed is to retract–stay home, eat, sleep, and wait for it to pass. That may have worked out okay when Matt deployed 9 years ago, while I was pregnant and exhausted from building another person’s cardiovascular system, but this time around, with 2 kids to keep looking forward, hibernation wasn’t going to fly. I needed to actively engage with the things that interest me, to prevent myself from wallowing. Once I started doing it, I realized that it’s crazy that I haven’t been doing it all along. OF COURSE I should be thinking about and doing things that make my heart feel light and keep my brain whirring along. We all should.

The first thing that I tackled, for a score of reasons beyond my own happiness and psychological fulfillment, was getting myself into shape. 3 years of eating my way through Europe, plus 9  months of pregnancy, plus a year of not taking care of myself, post-partum, had compounded into medical problems that scared the crap out of me. (Months of antihistamine-unresponsive hives that culminated in my mouth swelling up, and the doctors freaking the F out because my throat was very likely next.) I did what I had never been able to do before in my life: feed my body nutritious food and exercise every day, no matter what. It worked. My hives came under control. I lost weight. I grew stronger. I had enough energy to keep up with my guys. I could get up the stairs without losing my breath. All good things.


Learning to treat my body well and challenge the limits that I’d spent a lifetime confining it to was an enormous change for me, and I started thinking about all the other things that I’d always wanted to do, but hadn’t.

I made a list. I hung that list on my fridge, and add to it whenever something pops into my head.


I like lists. It’s satisfying to cross things off as I accomplish them. One “problem” with this particular list is that the items are mostly ongoing, so nothing is ever complete. It’s a good reminder to have hanging up, though, and I want to start focusing more deliberately on pursuing these things that make me happy. Here’s my list, in no particular order, besides how they popped into my head:

  1. Make wreaths
  2. Paint
  3. Make croissants
  4. Knit (learn how)
  5. Run a 5k (I DID THIS ONE!)
  6. Crafts
  7. Make cinnamon buns
  8. Sourdough starter/ learn more about bread
  9. Light grill/cook on it
  10. Photography. Use the good camera
  11. Learn Italian
  12. Write something. Anything. (Does this count? haha!)
  13. Learn to love madeleines or donate the pan
  14. Learn to love canneles or donate the pan
  16. Learn to do makeup (problem here is that I’m also super cheap. If you have cheap makeup suggestions, let me know.)
  17. Learn to do hair
  18. Stop dressing like a slob
  19. Stop hoarding non-perishable food and cook the pantry
  20. Work out early, so can play more with kiddos
  21. Plant things. Don’t kill them. Grow food.
  22. Meatless Mondays. Less beef.
  23. Make photo albums, starting 2010. Eeek.
  24. Dye hair teal. (Probably not going to happen, but I’ve always wanted to.)
  25. The boots
  26. Don’t quit on Turbofire
  27. Use Nigella seeds that I bought
  28. Make a pavlova
  29. Read, read, read

I’ve taken small steps for a bunch of these things. I made myself a wreath for Halloween.


Just writing this blog post has lit a fire under my butt to make myself a Christmas wreath, even though I have no vision in my head of what I want right now. I did run a 5k. Wooooo! I haven’t actually decluttered much, but I DO think about it a lot. hahaha. I bought myself some new clothes and put makeup on a little more often. I’ve been eating less beef. I’ve been waking up early to get some work done (not workouts, usually, but it’s still productive). The process is ongoing.

What’s on your list? What are all the things that you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t, for one reason or another? No time like the present to start!

Everyday Dorie: Balsamic Vinegar and Mustard Brussels Sprouts

I straight up yelped and clapped my hands when the votes in Cook the Book Fridays revealed Maple Syrup and Mustard Brussels Sprouts to be November’s selection. I’m currently on Day 16 of my Whole 30 (and feeling fantastic! It’s such a great reset for when your Sugar Dragon takes over), and this was the only recipe of those selected to vote on that I could make Whole 30 compliant. Dorie suggests swapping out the maple syrup for balsamic vinegar, so that is what I did. Other than that, all I had to do was read some labels and buy bacon and mustard that did  not have sugar in them (they usually do. It’s in EVERYTHING.) I’ll be good to go with non-compliant recipes in the future. I’m just keeping it strict before Thanksgiving, because the way I was downing sweets, I would have taken down an entire pie by myself.

I love Brussels sprouts, though I’m always wary when cleaning them, because there are so often bugs and eggs tucked up in the first few layers. We grew Brussels sprouts when we lived in Italy, and the sight of entire plants wriggling with–I don’t know what. Aphids? But bigger, and white–and giant leaves drooping under the weight of eggs, turned me off of them for a while. I’m back at the point where I’ll buy them, but I always get anxious when I’m prepping them. Is there such a thing as PTSD for terrible gardeners?

These sprouts were, thankfully, bug-free, and DELICIOUS. You steam them, then brown them up in bacon grease, and glaze with mustard, balsamic, garlic, shallots, and bacon.

It’s going to be a few months of badly-lit food pics around here. It’s too dark in this house.

Nugget asked for seconds.

Batman whined that he doesn’t like Brussels Sprouts, then conceded that “the bites with bacon taste better.” I’d say that’s true for just about anything.

Matt, who got home from work waaaay late (sad face), said, “OH MY GOD. These are GOOD. I could eat a whole pan. Let’s have this again. SOON.” Just imagine if he’d had them fresh. ha!


Norse Mythology

My 2018 New Year’s resolution was to prioritize reading. Growing up, and all through my 20s, books were my constant companions. Then I became a mother, and became too tired to read. My brain was occupied by the 30,000 details of daily life and the schizophrenic nature of attempting to accomplish ANYTHING while simultaneously keeping tabs on tiny death traps/navigating the persistent interruptions of those tiny death traps. Beginning and completing a task–ANY task (brushing their teeth, cooking dinner, making a phone call, paying bills)–without interruptions, sounds downright luxurious to me. Up until January, any time I tried to read, my brain would shut down and I’d fall asleep.

I missed books, though. I feel most like myself when I’m submerged in a story. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me. When I read, I’m completely and totally inside my own head. I’m not thinking about chores. I’m not thinking about my family. I’m not thinking about what our next duty station will be and how the kids will adjust and which choices to make to ensure everyone transitions well. I’m inside a world in my head. Period. It recharges me, and it helps my brain synapses fire more interestingly in my normal life.

I set a goal to read 20 books this year. I’m currently at 27, so hooray to that!

One book that I’d been meaning to read for quite a while is Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. I love Neil. He’s my favorite author. I’ll read anything he writes, including stories about Thor and Loki, which are pretty far outside of my normal interests.


I own the book, but when I spotted the audiobook, read by Neil, available for free on Hoopla, I decided to give it a shot. I could listen to Neil read just about anything and be happy. Love his accent, love the quality of his voice, love the emotion with which he commits to the words. Several of his books sit safely in my top 10.

These myths stand alone as individual stories, which made them ideal to listen to in short bursts, but also work together to tell the story of the gods, from beginning to end to  new beginning. It was a cozy and funny and tragic listen, and I couldn’t help but pretend that I was in old times, when stories and myths were told by firelight, and passed by mouth through the generations. I feel like Neil would approve of that.

Do you have favorite audiobooks you can point me to? I enjoyed having something to listen to while I was cooking/driving/etc.

Back to the Beginning

When I started cooking Around My French Table, Gougeres were one of the first recipes I’d made. My kiddo, hereafter referred to as Batman, was a picky eater, but liked cheese, so I gave these “cheesy poofs,” as we came to call them, a shot. He loved them, and they became the thing I made for parties, or when traveling, or anytime I wanted a food available that I KNEW he’d eat.

So little and squishy!!  Note the flat gougere.

Funny enough, Gougeres were also the first recipe that the cooking club had made from AMFT.

Because it felt like a nice, full circle, we decided that My Newest Gougeres would be the first recipe we cooked from Everyday Dorie. There are a few tweaks–one less egg yolk, which Dorie says makes the puff sturdier, and the addition of toasted nuts and Dijon mustard.

I don’t know if it was because of that one missing yolk, or if I’m just a better baker/cook than I was in 2012, and executed these differently, but these poofs were crispier, and held their roundness more than the ones I’ve made in the past. They were toasty-cheesy delicious, and I loved them.



Because these were rounder and crispier, Batman wouldn’t eat them. He’s 8 now. Still hard to feed, though not as bad as he used to be. He said he wished they were softer.

It’s been a while since I made the old recipe for gougeres. I think I need to bring them out to play soon, just to make sure Batman still likes them. I might cry if he doesn’t, because they loom so large in his childhood. I’m really curious to see if that one egg yolk really made that big of a difference, or if the difference is me. Or something mysterious. Temperature? Humidity? The NEED to conduct a series of experiments seems like a pretty good reason to work cheesy poofs back into our normal lives. Ha! At least I know he’ll still eat Dorie’s cauliflower soup…

Less squishy. Still a sweetheart.

(Folks who follow me on instagram may see that I’m currently doing a Whole30, and be like, “Wait! Cheese and grain are off limits!” True. The leaders of the club kindly emailed me the recipe ahead of time, and I  made it last week, as a last hurrah.)

I’m so happy to be back with the Doristas, and working on this new book. Check out Cook the Book Fridays to see how everyone else’s gougeres turned out!

It’s a Dorie Miracle!!

If anything could bring me back to blogging, it’s my love for Dorie Greenspan! I swear, I’m not a stalker.

I cooked my way through her wonderful book, Around My French Table, several years ago. Through that experience, Dorie taught me that I could cook anything I want to eat, and, as long as the instructions are good (hers always are), I can try new things in the kitchen, without feeling lost or nervous. As I cooked her book, I became more confident, and now, I’m not afraid to cook anything. I’m not saying it’s always going to turn out perfectly, but I’m not afraid to try.

I’d basically closed up shop on blogging three years ago. Does it help if I say I moved from Italy to DC to Norfolk, grew a baby, and now he’s 2.5? Or that I’ve lost 40 pounds in the past year and now spend much of my time trying to inspire and connect people with the tools that I used to form their own healthy habits? Maybe I just needed the right motivation. Either way, I’M BACK.  Dorie’s brand new book–Everyday Dorie–released today, and I am completely stoked that the Cook the Book Fridays cooking group is going to dive into it, starting this Friday! I have been waiting for yeeeeeeears for Dorie to publish another book that isn’t desserts. I’ve missed the companionship of the “Doristas”, as we all share our experience cooking through the same recipe. I’ve maintained relationships with quite a few of them over the past few years, and I’m jumping for joy that the gang is getting back together.


The book is beautiful, the recipes all look like things I want to eat, and there’s such a variety of flavors, that I can’t wait to get started! This new project seemed as good a reason as any to me to start a fresh blog, and let it become it’s own new thing. (Also, blogger was making me jump through hoops to upload pictures, so I got pissed off and switched platforms.)

Anyway. Join us! It’s so fun! To participate in the group, all you have to do is purchase Everyday Dorie, cook the scheduled recipe, blog about it, and share your blog post with the Cook the Book Fridays group on the designated day. The first recipe is My Newest Gougeres, and you should post about it this Friday. See you then!!