Okay, I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted, but I have very big news!
School’s out for summer!
(Bonus points if you just sang that in your best Alice Cooper voice.)
(Double bonus points if you also busted out the drum part.)
The kids finished school last Wednesday. Teachers finished the next day. What a wonderful relief!
Elizabeth’s birthday actually fell on Friday, so she got the best “Happy First Day of Summer” gift ever! On Saturday, we traveled in to celebrate with the grandparents. As is our custom, I got up early, cooked lunch, packed it up, and we took it on the road. In fact, I had everything cooked or in the oven before anybody else even got out of bed!
You may remember that on Christopher’s birthday, he requested meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and honey-glazed carrots. When I asked Elizabeth what she wanted for her special meal, she replied quickly and simply, “Broccoli Cheese Casserole.”
That’s all. Seriously, that’s all she wanted. It is her very favorite dish in the world. She doesn’t really like meat, so she was no help at all in planning the rest of the meal. I’ve posted my recipe for Broccoli Cheese Casserole before. It’s really easy and really yummy. But I knew that everyone else would like something more than just that one dish.
I decided to also make a Sweet Potato Casserole. That recipe will be posted soon. You’ll love it, too. Creamy sweet potatoes with a pecan praline topping. To. Die. For.
I also decided to bake a pork loin since everybody in both of our families loves pork loin. I crusted it with a brown sugar, Cajun seasoning, cumin, and paprika crust and then baked it until the top was crispy and the pork was juicy and delicious. So good.
Brown Sugar Crusted Pork Loin
- 3-4 pound pork loin
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove pork loin from packaging. Place on a rimmed baking sheet with the fat cap up.
Mix together the brown sugar, Cajun seasoning, cumin, and paprika. Use one hand to press the mixture firmly into the top and all sides of the pork loin.
Baked uncovered for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the loin reads 170 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least fifteen minutes before slicing.
Well Duh #1: My Cajun seasoning of choice is Tony Chachere – pronounced “Sacherie.”
Well Duh #2: Pork cooking time is 20-30 minutes per half pound. I choose to err to the side of more well done when cooking pork. I know some of the new foodies claim to prefer their pork a little pink, but no, thank you. I love a rare steak, but when it comes to pork or chicken, I want it juicy, but cooked through.
Well Duh #3: No. Regular paprika is NOT the same as smoked paprika. Seriously. Don’t even try. I live in a fairly small area and I can still find smoked paprika. If you can’t, ask your grocery store manager. He or she can order it for you. Or you can order it from Amazon. Trust me on this. Smoked paprika will rock your world.
Well Duh #4: I like to mix the rub in advance and store it in a quart jar. Here’s an awesome kitchen tip: do NOT throw away the lids from your Parmesan shakers! They fit perfectly on small-mouthed canning jars – from jelly jars to small-mouthed quart jars. I like to use them for rubs and for pourable pantry items like chocolate chips or dried cranberries.
Well Duh #5: You must bake this with the fat cap UP! As it cooks, it will melt down into the loin and help make it moist and juicy. You don’t remove it after cooking. It becomes this crispy, yummy, sweet, porkish thing. It’s awesome!
Even though she didn’t eat the pork loin, Elizabeth loved the rest of her meal. It really was yummy!
She also doesn’t like cake, so we had a cookie cake and an ice cream bar.
I’m still in so much shock that we just celebrated her eleventh birthday! That really doesn’t seem possible! Next year, she will embark on a new adventure as she starts middle school! Be still my heart.
How time flies!