Whoa! I cannot believe that it is already the end of September! I used to say I would never comment about how quickly time passed or say to a young child “when did you grow up?” because well, time does go by so quickly and unfortunately to many parents disbelief children do grow up. But as I get older, I am more and more amazed, with every flip of the calendar page and passing season, just how quickly time really does go by. And even though time passes by more quickly than I would like, I feel like with each day I grow, learn and embrace life; a phrase, which I realize, makes me seem much older than I really am! Smile.
By now, with it being the end of September, and a month (or more) well into the new school year; I am sure we are all readjusting from the lazy days of summer and settling into our “back to school” routines. While back to school schedules vary from family to family, I can confidently say that it means a busy time for most.
From early mornings to after school PTA meetings, soccer practice, choir concerts and upcoming holidays, filled with fun seasonal festivities; life is full in more ways than one!
For us, back to school means I am back in the classroom teaching culinary arts to eager young minds and sophisticated adults. And for Eric, it means after years (and years) of working and going to school full time, he is finally in the homestretch!
It also means we are going non-stop and often in opposite directions. If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed a common trend with my updates. “Busy day means I am throwing this in the crock-pot now so I don’t have to worry about dinner later!” then linking to one of our favorite, go-to crock-pot recipes. As much as I love to get in the kitchen, and mix and chop and taste; the truth is, that often crazy back to school schedules mean I rely heavily on my crock-pot to help me crank out dinners we can actually sit down and enjoy together!
My latest crock-pot concoction? A hearty (almost all-in-one) meal that highlights some of those delicious seasonal flavors of fall! Not only is this simple slow cooker meal perfect for your busy back to school routine, it is loaded with apples, sweet potatoes and a succulent Smithfield All Natural Pork Tenderloin, all conveniently available at my local Randall’s store. For me, I love the way apples and pork perfectly complement each other, so combining them was a no brainer. Since this recipe makes a tasty, flavorful sauce I was this close (insert finger quotes) to making mashed sweet potatoes to serve with it. And while that would have been amazing, hello, the whole point of cooking with my slow cooker is so I don’t have to put so much effort into the dinner hour! Adding the potatoes directly to the slow cooker was a huge time saver (and cut down on the amount of dirty dishes!) and still yielded a fantastic meal! This crock-pot dinner is almost complete as is, serve with a simple green salad or roasted Brussels sprouts, like we did, and bam! dinner is done!
Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Apples and Sweet Potatoes
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low Serves: 4
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (2-3 pound) Smithfield All Natural Pork Tenderloin
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1 small onion, diced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces
2 large Granny Smith, Cameo or Johnny Gold apples, diced
1 cup apple juice
½ cup apple jelly
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut pork loin in half, if needed to fit in slow cooker. Season pork with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Add pork loin to skillet and brown on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer pork loin to a plate and set aside.
Place diced onion, sweet potatoes and apples into the bottom of a large slow cooker. Place browned pork loin on top of apples and sweet potatoes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, apple jelly, mustard, apple cider vinegar, spices and dried herbs. Season to taste with remaining salt and black pepper. Pour apple juice mixture over pork loin in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
Make this Slow Cooker Pork Loin with Apples and Sweet Potatoes and bring dinner back to the kitchen table on a busy school night! Grab this $1 off Smithfield All Natural Pork Products (while supplies last) available through the Safeway Just4U online portal and get slow cookin’! For more information about Smithfield All Natural Pork products, available at Safeway family stores (including Tom Thumb, Randall’s, or Genuardi), visit Smithfield online or on Facebook!