Chorizo & Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin

Do you ever tire of the usual turkey and ham for the holidays?  I love trying something new during the holidays.  I guess I figure if I am going to go to the extra effort there might as well be a house full of people to enjoy it!

A few years back I cooked a sausage and dressing stuffed pork loin.  It was a nice departure from the ordinary turkey and dressing, but it didn’t just wow me.  Maybe it was a little too similar to our usual holiday flavors.  However, my family loves pork, so I began playing around a bit with some flavors and landed upon a this fall recipe.  I use chorizo, goat cheese, dried cranberries and pistachios.  It’s a little sweet and spicy- a combo my family enjoys.

I filet a 4-5 lb pork loin length wise.  Then I prepare the baking dish.  I use a standard 9×13.  Grease the pan and line it with aluminum foil.  Spray the aluminum foil lightly with cooking spray.  Lay the cooking twine out, then place the filleted pork loin in the pan.

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Brown half a pound of chorizo in a skillet.  Once the chorizo is browned add one cup of  dried cranberries and half a cup of shelled pistachios.  Stir until the cranberries begin to soften and plump.  Turn the heat off, allowing the chorizo mixture to cool.  Add 8 oz of crumbled, plain goat cheese to the mixture.

Pour the mixture down the center of the filleted pork loin.  Take the cooking twine, pulling the pork loin up towards the center, being careful not to force the filling mixture out.  Tie the twine, cutting any excess.

In a microwave safe bowl combine 1 8oz jar of orange marmalade (I use sugar free) and one 8oz jar of red pepper jelly.  Heat for approximately to minutes in the microwave, stirring to combine.  Pour the mixture over the top of the stuffed pork loin.

Bake the stuffed pork loin uncovered at 375 F for 50-60 minutes.  The pan will fill with juices.  If you feel the pork loin is getting dry, simply spoon some of the cooking juices over the top as it continues to bake.

This dish is best served with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted new potatoes and a simple salad.  It is a very savory dish, needing little to accompany it.

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 Chorizo & Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin

1- 4-5 lb pork loin, filleted

1/2 lb chorizo, browned

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly salted

8 oz goat cheese, crumbled

8 oz jar orange marmalade

8 oz jar red pepper jelly

cooking twine

 

 

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Are You Going to Do More Than Survive the Holidays? PLAN

I was asked to speak recently at a church women’s event, one of my favorite things to do.  With the holidays upon us, I was asked to speak on surviving the holidays.  For most of us that is exactly how it feels-like we are just surviving.  Much of life used to be that way for me as a strove to find success in my career, sought to have the cleanest house and most organized pantry. Life was often nothing more than moving from task to task, falling into bed exhausted, praying for a little respite to come my way.

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God’s plan for our lives holds so much  more than that.  There are no promises of pain free, sorrow-less days, but there is the promise of transformation, healing, strength, hope and joy.   We are reminded life is lived in the ordinary moments of our days as we love others.

P.L.A.N.

There is a way to develop habits and lifestyle which lead to more than just surviving the days, the holidays.  I’ve not perfected it for myself, but it gives me a guide, an accountability tool to use.  As we plan our days, determine our “to do” list, we need to filter everything through the PLAN.

P:  Purpose/Priorities

L:  Limits/Letting Go

A:  Acknowledge/Assign

N:  Nurture

Purpose and Priorities.  Too often we move through life allowing others to determine our choices and actions.  We say “yes” in order to please, gain a sense of accomplishment, fit in with a group, to avoid guilt, and the list goes on.  We give no thought to our purpose and priorities.

As I have sought to simplify my life and live a more organized life that reflects who I am as a Christian woman I have come to realize I must spend time here-in this place of determining priorities.  Scripture tells me I am to place Christ first, which means daily I must spend time with Him, study Him, seek Him.  Then I must care for those He has entrusted to me, my family.  I then consider the gifts and talents He has given me and consider ways to use those gifts to serve others, whether it is through paid employment or volunteer work.  When you set these priorities and limit your “yes” to only those things you have talents and gifts for, it really isn’t hard to determine priorities.  (The next step will be critical, so come back Monday.)  Interestingly, for those of us who call ourselves, believers, the priorities are pretty much the same.  He has a clear road map in the Bible.  The only real variance is the latter, using our specific gifts and talents.

To live according to our purpose and priorities, we must allow God to transform us.  Transformation begins with the renewing or our minds, thus the scripture reading, bible study, prayer and corporate fellowship.  Scripture also tells us the heart is the wellspring of life.  While we want to think through our decisions carefully, often those “best yes” decisions are the ones made with our whole being.  The one that just “feels” right as it aligns with our minds.  Those decisions you can smile at, settle into like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.  The one that when carried out gives deep satisfaction, peace and joy.

I have come to ask myself this very important question as I try to make that final determination between “want to” and priority. Will doing this “thing” affect someone’s body, mind or spirit.  If not, if it only affects me or has no real relational value, then I don’t do it.  It simply isn’t part of how God has designed us.  Now lest you think that means you can quit cleaning toilets, exercising or all that other mundane, not so much fun stuff, stop and think.  As a wife and mother (or husband and father) the care of my home impacts my family’s mind, body and spirit.  A clean, well managed home provides them a place of shelter in which to find safety, rest, health.  It is a place meant to refresh and prepare them to go out and carry out their purpose and priorities.  Exercise helps me maintain or regain strength.  It offers an opportunity to release stress and ensure my cardiovascular system is staying healthy.  I can then serve better, care for others better.  I can inspire or encourage those around me to do the same for themselves.

Get it?  Setting our purpose and priorities is about perspective.  To have the right perspective you have to stop and give it thought, look in scripture for guidance and seek His counsel that your mind may be transformed and your life may spring up from within your heart.  That is the place of peace and joy.  That is the place that even when tragedy or mishaps occur you can carry on.

What are your purposes and priorities this holiday?  Have you given it any thought?  Mine are:

  1. Create a home environment in which friends and family find peace.
  2. Keep our schedule open enough we have time to fellowship one on one, with family and close friends.
  3. Establish times to serve as a family, remembering Christ came to love, to serve and to save.

Set your “P” today.  Don’t rush into the holiday one more day.  Step back, get some perspective and decide your purpose.

Can you do IMPROMPTU?

I did not blog last Friday.  It was the 31st.  If you have followed my blog at all, or know much about me, you know I try to set aside the 31st of the given month and have a mini-retreat.  It is a day of planning,  praying over the calendar, reflecting upon weeks past and looking to the future.  I didn’t get a full day this time, due to an important board meeting I needed to attend. Fortunately though I had smidgens of time leading up to the 31st to get things organized, highlight some areas of concern and list out the items I wanted to focus on.  I had some big decisions to make.  Although my time was limited, I had a good day.  I was able to pull aside during the late afternoon and do what I needed to do.  Three things emerged, each a message already on my heart.  Having them emerge again, helped me focus and make some tough decisions.

1.  I need more intimacy with Christ.

2.  Come Home.  I have felt that call on my heart for two years.  It is difficult to know what that means.  We are in financial times and in a place in life where my working would make sense, would provide more security for college etc…  I am still engaged in Real Estate.  My best friend and I have started an organizing business.  However, the refrain keeps going through my mind.

3.  I need to give the very best to my family, so that corporately we can overflow into our community and world.

Some big decisions followed.  I’ll write more about those Wednesday.  That evening, following this time of refreshment and planning, I made a special dinner for the family.  I had this planned, but at the end of my day, this particular day, it felt comforting and rewarding to do this special task for my family.

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I made cheese Polenta with Barbecue Shrimp.  I pullled out my new soup and sandwich platters from Pier One.  We had toasted garlic bread and a side salad to round out the meal.  My family was duly impressed.  We lingered a little longer at the dinner table, enjoying a special Friday night.

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Then came the challenge.  My mother decided she wanted an impromptu 69th birthday party.  Thankfully, being fairly organized, and coming out of a day of revisiting my purpose, we were able to throw it together.  My sister-in-law and her 4 youngest pitched in.  On top of that, a young married mother of two called asking us to keep her precious two year old daughter over night so she could focus some time and energy on her marriage.  What’s one more at the party!  With the help of two incredible daughters and an ever patient husband we created a taco salad bar and put together a little birthday centerpiece on the island.

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I don’t share this hoping for a pat on the back or adoration.  (although a few words of encouragement never hurt :))  No, I share it because I was challenged after a day of planning and purpose searching to live what I preach.  I was reminded yet again, that being organized, planning and knowing our purpose is not so we can do more with the same amount of time.  It is not about accomplishments.  It is not about managing time.  Being organized is about living in such a way that you can allow the interruptions (good or bad).  You can focus on people and relationships.  You can give.  You can live being EFFECTIVE, not just EFFICIENT.  There were some things that didn’t get done over the course of the weekend, but no regrets.

Then today, I got the blessing.  Sometimes we have to bless to be blessed.  I attended my first ever blog event.  Arkansas Women Bloggers hosted a get together at Family Life here in Little Rock.  I hesitated and almost didn’t go.  But I went.  And oh how glad I am I did.  It was refreshing to be around other women sharing their hearts through blogging, all with a desire to minister to other women.  The greatest blessing came though in meeting Barbara Rainey.  I have know of Barbara and read her books, but to meet her in person was true joy.  She has entered a new phase in her own life, and is doing some amazing things as an “empty nester”.  To get a glimpse go to http://www.everthinehome.com.  (I have to confess I placed an order as soon as I got home!)  While I was excited to meet her and hear about her new venture these words struck deep into my heart.  God used Barbara to confirm for me my decisions and heart desires.

“My advice to you as moms is to remember, you don’t have to do it all now, in this season.   As women we are blessed to be able to lead two lives.  We have a season where we focus on God, our husband and our families.  Then we get to have this other season, when the kids are gone, to pursue all those other things.  Don’t try to do it all now.  You have thirty to forty, maybe even 50 years to pursue other things after you children have left home.”

It was as if in that moment I could breathe.  God has been clear to me to come home.  He has blessed my husband’s business providing what we need.  He has given me opportunity to engage in real estate and a business with my best friend, but most of all He has reminded me the time for my family is now.  As Barbara said, there will be time later to pursue other things.  My girls are only home for a period.  They will navigate these teen years but once.  There are no second chances.

A Moment of Holiday Panic and A Money Saving Tip for the Holidays

My daughter came down the stairs last night filled with excitement as she burst out, “There are only 8 more Fridays until Christmas!”  Little did she know these words would send her ever planning, over achieving, type A mom into mass panic. One look at my face and she figured it out and quickly added, “Mom, don’t worry, we’ll help this year.”  I wish I could say the knot in my stomach went away, but…

This blog has been a practice in self-discipline and accountability.  On many levels it is helping.  As I thought today about the quickly approaching holidays, which can seemingly run together in one big blur if we are not careful, I took a deep breath.  It really is amazing what breathing can do for one’s spirit!  I took a few more deep breaths and reminded myself I have a plan. I already have my Holiday Planning pages tucked neatly into my projects notebook (the big green one from last week’s post). I’ve already begun a gift list.  My holiday decorations are neatly stored and labeled.  So, really, there is no reason for panic. What is needed is my mini October 31 retreat.  My time of quiet with a good cup of coffee and my beloved planner, projects binder, Holiday Planning Pages and Bible.  What is needed is to focus my thoughts once again upon all that matters most so the distractions fall away and the beauty of a holiday season full of love, caring and giving of ourselves can emerge.

We moms, especially us Second Season Moms have a way of getting distracted (pulled in a million directions).  We have a way of forgetting to breathe.  I pray this season I will let the distractions fall to the wayside.  I pray I’ll take every opportunity to be still and breathe.

So, tip 1.  Enjoy your day of planning tomorrow.  Take one holiday at a time.  For now, there’s no rush.  Set aside some time and plan.

To save a little money this season make a few extra trips to the grocery store over the next 3 weeks.  Groceries will be at their lowest prices these next three weeks.  Add to that, coupons will be in abundance.  Take advantage and purchase as many staples as you can: sugar, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, sodas, cake mixes, soups, oils and breads (to freeze).  If you have freezer space go ahead and purchase your turkey.  The prices on all these items will rise the week before Thanksgiving and stay that way through the first of the year.