On Mother’s Day, Let’s Rock n’ Roll

On Mother’s Day, Let’s Rock n’ Roll

Mmm…bacon wrapped pork tenderloins with a cheesy, veggie laden center…That’s how I roll on Mother’s Day!

Nanas will remember Donny Osmond’s song about being a little bit country, and a little bit rock n’ roll. Well, I’m a Baby Boomer, who thinks this recipe is kind of like that; so versatile you can pack it with anything – from farm stand veggies to jarred Italian goodies from an urban market. My recipe for juicy, cheesy, veggie laden pork tenderloin serves 6, but keeps well if you decide to use it in a Panini sandwich the next day. It’s so easy to make, that whoever’s cooking dinner on your special day (even if it’s you), has plenty of time to enjoy a glass of wine before and after meal prep.

This dish is also highly portable. You can tune into Skype, your swivel chair picnic in hand, and visit with your grandkids while you eat. Just recently, I was treated to my three grandkids (ages 9, 7 and 6, respectively) lip synching their version of Pitbull’s “Timber”. They actually fell down yelling TIMBER!! – I was laughing so hard. By the way, I recommend Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet to go with your pork roll – this way, if you skip dessert, you won’t feel cheated.

If you’re more of a beer person, like my youngest son who dabbles in making his own craft brews, this pork dish is excellent with any of these English stouts from the Beer Advocate. You’ll see a lot of love and chocolate imparted in the taste descriptions. I hope Jon is reading this, and brings over a batch of something yummy soon. Hint, hint…

For those of you who don’t already know, I have three wonderful sons: Trey, Chris and Jon. My middle son, Chris and his wife, like to cook (gee, how did that happen?), and buy and prep ingredients in advance. They made me so proud once, when they opened their freezer, and revealed a stash of make ahead meals. Ideal for busy people, the food Chris and Colleen made looked a lot like these freezer pleasers – all excellent Mother’s Day gifts by the way. Hint, hint…

Maybe they knew what I was thinking. They quickly shut the fridge before I managed to see any pork pinwheels. Pictured here, is a rock n’ roll pork tenderloin, made in a sauté pan rather than an oven. Hey, I told you this recipe was versatile!

Even though I won’t be with my kids and grandkids this holiday, I still have plenty of things to occupy me…

With three grown boys, it’s safe to say I’ll be on my own this Mother’s Day. Not to worry. I can Youtube the latest lip synch sensation, shop lifestyle websites (my favorite right now is IndiaHicks.com), and simultaneously play around in the kitchen – because you can do all these things WHILE YOU COOK in the year 2016. This is what I have to say to Moms of every generation: after breakfast in bed and your well-deserved afternoon at the spa, keep in mind that “DAD” is still on the hook. Show him this recipe, and you’ll do just fine. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Rock and Roll Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6 with Extras

75 Minute Cuisine

Let’s fancy up the everyday pork dish by rolling it around farm fresh veggies – just about any kind you choose for this dish are delicious. Then let’s make it even better by rolling bacon around all of it.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins

12 slices bacon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

9 slices Swiss cheese

1 (6-ounce jar) julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and blanched

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup Balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375°. Drizzle the olive oil into a large baking dish. Place the tenderloins onto your work surface. Cut each lengthwise three-fourths of the way through. Do not cut all the way through. Open each one as you would a book. Place the tenderloins between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to pound the tenderloins to less than ½-inch thickness.

            Lay out the bacon strips on a piece of parchment or waxed paper. You can cut some of the strips to make the bacon layer match the size of the pork tenderloins. Lay each tenderloin side by side on top of the bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

            Lay the cheese slices over the tenderloin. Cover with sun-dried tomatoes and asparagus. Roll the bacon and tenderloins around the filling, jelly-roll style. Place the roll into a baking pan.

            Stir together the ketchup and balsamic vinegar. Brush the sauce over the roll. Bake until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 145° for medium rare, about 45 minutes to an hour. Let the tenderloin roll sit for 5 minutes. Cut into 1-inch slices and serve!!

Farmer’s Market Tip

Stuff it up! This dish screams for your creativity. Substitute the filling ingredients with whatever you find in the market. Use goat cheese, mozzarella, smoked Gouda and/or brie. In place of asparagus, use sautéed spinach, chopped zucchini, peppers and/or onions. No sun-dried tomatoes? Feel free to use chopped artichoke hearts, olives and/or hearts of palm. You can even theme your stuffed roll. How about mozzarella, pepperoni and marinara sauce! Now you have a pizza stuffed pork tenderloin!

Emily Post Called, She Wants You to Put Your Napkin in Your Lap

Emily Post Called, She Wants You to Put Your Napkin in Your Lap

Photo credit: Caroline Photo credit: Caroline

One of the best things about writing a book is finding experts in your subject matter, and really getting to know them. This time, I had the pleasure of talking with Joanne Blake, the CEO of Style for Success. Her advice echoes that of Emily Post, making it clear that the best family dining experience, packed with great flavor and even better conversation, is a matter of etiquette!

To begin with, Joanne weighed in on the all too common problem of kids disrupting a nice dinner by asking to go to the bathroom. She recalled delivering a dining etiquette presentation at a restaurant, where a seven year-old girl continually asked to be excused:


“She did this in part to gain my attention,” says Joanne, “and also because she wasn’t keen on eating everything on her plate. In subsequent presentations, I encouraged the children to visit the restroom AND WASH THEIR HANDS before we started the presentation. I explained to them that it was not only good manners, but the hygienic thing to do. I asked them to stay seated until the very end of the meal, prefacing my request with ‘just like the grown-ups do…’.”


Joanne’s experience feeds right into more useful etiquette tips for family dinner time:

  • Help Your Child Feel Like a Grown-up. This can be done by minimizing interruptions and excuses to leave the table halfway through the meal. If the child leaves because they don’t like the food, try exposing them to a variety of different foods and veggies, and don’t make a big deal of it if they leave some of it behind. Remember: even adults don’t always clean their plates.
  • Explain why it’s important to behave at the dinner table. You can do this by reminding the child that it interferes with everyone’s conversation if they’re constantly getting up to leave, spilling food, or not listening when other people talk.  Remind them that they won’t earn their place at “the big people’s table” until they learn to converse cheerfully and eat neatly, i.e. putting a napkin in lap.
  • Praise and reinforce good behavior. At the dinner table and beyond, parents should be clear and specific about what their children are doing well. Example: Your picky eater refused to try pineapple until tonight, when you served a side of it with dinner. Alas, she ate the fruit with her fingers instead of using a fork. Resist the urge to correct the mistake, and say instead that you are proud of her for giving a new food a try.
  • Remember, Having Good Manners Makes You Savvy, NOT Stuffy. If you want your kids to eat neatly at the dinner table, provide every person with a napkin that covers the entire lap. Just for fun, print a diagram of the way the dinner table should be set and give your youngsters a chance to recreate the picture when they set the table. A great example is this info-graphic from Huffington Post’s piece How To Set a Table Without Being Stuffy. The pictures include settings for both formal and informal dining.

Like this? Look for more great tips in my upcoming book!

Remember that good manners begin at home! Think of your kitchen as a classroom, and let me help you see those lessons through. DINNERTIME: It’s About Food and So Much More will be published in late 2015 by Motivational Press.