The Holidays Are Coming

One week from today is Thanksgiving and 36 days from today is Christmas. and I still don't know what I am doing for either one.

Race day is 58 days away and I have some major deadlines looming.

I swear it was just June like three days ago.

This will be the fourth year in a row that I haven't gone home for Thanksgiving and I am mostly ok with that. Especially since my family won't even be home for it. They are having Thanksgiving in Colorado. Yes, I was invited. No, I am unfortunately not going. I thought long and hard about it. I've been looking at flights for forever. Tried to move past the irrational jealousy...I have lived away from home for 10 years and the fam has never come to me for a holiday. The twin has lived away from home for three months. And Thanksgiving is in her state this year. But that's not why I'm not going. Mostly.

This is an insanely busy time of year for me. Did I mention the race is in 58 days? My overall to do list takes up 1.5 pages on a legal pad. And several of the items on there each have their own accompanying to-do lists that are themselves a page long.

But. I'm still trying to get into the holiday spirit. And what better way to do that then with food! I don't know what I'm doing next week, I have a few invites, but I could also end up making this ridiculous meal that I've put together with various recipes I've seen in the last few days.




 

Scalloped Sweet Potato Stacks with Maple Vanilla Bean Bacon


Yield: 24 sweet potato stacks
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

6 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced into rounds (buy sweet potatoes with a diameter similar to that of a muffin tin)
1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or rosemary, finely chopped (depending on taste preference)
salt/pepper
4 strips of bacon, cooked & roughly chopped
1/2 of one vanilla bean (I used Rodelle)
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  In a large bowl, toss together sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, olive oil, butter, oregano, salt/pepper.  Grease muffin tins with cooking spray.  I used two muffin tins for 24 total sweet potato stacks.  In the muffin tins, layer in the sweet potato-parmesan mixture.  The sweet potato stacks will flatten a bit while cooking, so feel free to stack the sweet potato slices high above the top of the muffin tin.  Top with remaining parmesan cheese and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife easily cuts through them.
While sweet potatoes baking, fry up some bacon in a skillet.  Allow excess oil to drain off on a paper towel.  Chop bacon and place in a bowl.  Scrape the seeds from one vanilla bean and add them to the bowl along with the maple syrup.  Top sweet potatoes stacks with the maple bacon mix and serve!

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Shallots, Poached Pears, and Blue Cheese

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds pork tenderloin
2 Bosc pears (2 cups once diced)
2 medium shallots (1 cup once sliced)
1 tbsp Salted Butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 1/2 feet of butcher's twine
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 c. chicken broth

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Dice pears into small 1/4 inch squares. Thinly slice the shallot.
2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or an oven-safe pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and 1/4 teaspoon Salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pear and the white wine. Let steadily simmer until the liquid has absorbed and the pears are translucent for about 12 minutes.
3. While the pears simmer, slice the pork tenderloin horizontally down the center. Slice almost all the way through the tenderloin, and then lay it flat.
4. Once the pears and shallots are done simmering, generously pile the mixture into the center of the tenderloin.
5. Pile the crumbled blue cheese on top of the shallots and poached pears. Cut the butcher's twine into 6 inch pieces. Then, press the shallots, pears, and blue cheese down and pull the tenderloin together, top with the rosemary, and tie with the butcher's twine. The easiest technique is to slide the butcher's twine underneath the pork and then pull the pork together and tie it closed. Cut the excess twine after tying it. Top the pork with the remaining salt and pepper.
6. Heat olive oil in the same Dutch oven or pan (no need to wash it) over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the pork tenderloin and sear for 2-3 minutes until it has browned. Rotate the tenderloin in the pan 2-3 times letting all sides brown.
7. Place a lid on the pot, and put the tenderloin in the oven to bake. Let the tenderloin bake for 12 minutes, or until it reaches 145 degrees with a meat thermometer.
8. Remove the tenderloin from the pot and place it on a cutting board to rest. The tenderloin needs to rest for 5 minutes before slicing it. This keeps the juices in the meat making it tender.
9. Pour the chicken broth into the pot used to cook the tenderloin. Simmer over medium heat, scrapping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Let reduce and thicken for 5 minutes creating a sauce.
10. Slice the tenderloin, removing the butcher's twine as you go. Serve with the sauce poured over the meat.


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