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Effortlessly elegant

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

So it all started when the doorbell rang just as Kenny finished saying grace, and we were all putting that first bite of a fantastic-smelling Thanksgiving feast in our mouths. He went to answer the door as many commented, between bites, that it was incredibly rude for someone to ring your doorbell during holiday meal time. Turns out it was the local police officer. Someone had apparently called 911.

Now a stunned silence falls across the 23 people seated throughout the kitchen, dining and living rooms. We each pondered who might have done it. It was almost like a murder mystery or the game “Clue.” I look at Jeff and he looks at me. We are both thinking the same thing, “Please, don’t let it be our kid who called 911.”

I don’t foresee that scene will make the front of a greeting card nor will it likely be part of a magazine feature on seamless presentation of a dinner party. But it was our dinner party nonetheless—a gathering of family and friends and sharing of some darn good grub. I’m fairly certain I ate six servings of Aunt Gayla’s potato sausage that year.

Society has accelerated the expectations of this holiday far beyond the simple gathering of yesteryear. So forgive me if I don’t spend hours creating a cornucopia horn out of bread dough or fashion an edible centerpiece out of cheese and sausage which looks like a turkey. I’m all for good food but I’m more for great conversations and sharing time with family.

The recipes in this week’s article are all about simplicity! They taste fantastic and look like you spent all day on them. Whip these up in no time and enjoy time with the family this weekend.


Spicy Cranberry Pork Tenderloin

Source: www.porkbeinspired.com

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 pork tenderloins (1 lb. each)
2 limes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 (12 oz.) bag fresh cranberries
2/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 F. Finely grate zest from limes. Juice limes (about 4 tablespoons). In a small bowl, mix half lime zest (about 2 tablespoons) with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brush tenderloins with oil. Place tenderloins in a nonstick roasting pan, fat side up. Roast, flipping them over after 8 minutes. Add lime zest mixture to the top, and continue roasting until a digital meat thermometer reads between 145 F. (medium rare) and 160F. (medium), about 20 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water with cranberries, brown sugar, jalapeño and remaining lime zest and juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries have burst and juices thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Transfer pork to a carving board and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in the roasting pan, bring cranberry sauce to a boil over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits in the pan with a wooden spoon. Carve pork and serve with sauce.


Mexican Cheesecake

Perfect for grazing in-between meals. This tastes great with scoop-shaped tortillas, crackers and cut up fresh veggies.

2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c. sour cream, divided
1 envelope taco seasoning
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chilies
1 c. chunky salsa, drained
Tortilla chips

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream and taco seasoning until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in cheddar cheese and chilies. Transfer to a greased 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until center is almost set. Spread remaining sour cream evenly over the top. Bake 5 minutes longer or until topping is set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, and remove the pan side. Cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Top with salsa garnish and serve with tortilla chips.


Hot Bacon

Reader submitted recipe: Brendon Powers, Spearville, Kansas.

3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. dry mustard
3 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 lb. bacon, regular slice
3 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed

Slice pound of bacon into thirds. Mix egg, mustard, cayenne and vinegar together. Dip each piece of bacon into egg mixture and roll in cracker crumbs. Place on a foil-lined shallow baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Yields 60 appetizers.


Cheddar Ham Roll

Reader submitter recipe: Amber Uhlenhake, Ossian, Iowa

1 tube crusty French bread
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 lb. thin sliced deli ham
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Unroll dough into a 14- by 12-inch rectangle. Sprinkle with cheese to within 1/2 inch of edges. Top with a single layer of ham. Roll up tightly, jellyroll style. Place seam side down on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Brush top with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, slice and serve.


Strawberry Cake

This dessert is refreshing and can be frosted with whipped topping or regular frosting mix.

1 box white cake mix
1 pkg. (3 oz.) strawberry gelatin
1 c. water
1/2 c. canola oil
4 egg whites
1/2 c. mashed strawberries
Whipped topping

In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix, gelatin package, water and oil. Beat on low for 30 seconds until combined and then on high for 4 minutes. In a small bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites and mashed strawberries into cake batter. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove cake to wire rack to completely cool. Spread whipped topping between each layer and stack on a cake plate. Frost entire outside. Chill until ready to serve and store in the refrigerator.


Caramel Cashew Clusters

2 lbs. milk chocolate almond bark, coarsely chopped, divided
1 c. salted cashew halves
28 caramels
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper. Set aside. In a microwavable bowl, melt 1 lb. of the candy coating in the microwave stirring often until smooth. Drop by level tablespoonful onto prepared pans. Let stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Top each evenly with six cashews. Let stand on counter until set or pop in the fridge to quick set. In a small heavy saucepan, combine caramels and cream. Cook and stir over low heat until melted; stir until smooth. Spoon quickly over cashew mounds. Melt remaining candy coating and spoon over the top of the caramel. Let set before serving.


Candy Bar Apple Salad

1 1/2 c. milk
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
6 c. chopped apples
4 Snickers candy bars (2.07 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 additional meetings or until soft set. Fold in whipped topping. Fold in apples and candy bars. Refrigerate until serving.

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