I try to make dinner time at our house as unhurried as I can. While I am running an errand after work, my husband is fighting traffic on Route 80, and our 3 kids are at various sporting and after school activities. Making time for dinner seems like an almost impossible task. With 5 family members with 5 different schedules, we still manage to sit down to dinner a few times a week to relax and catch up with each other.
Not only do we reconnect as a family, studies have shown that family dinners can have a positive effect on other aspects of our lives. Eating dinner around the table leads to kids doing better in school, better nutrition for the family, and it fosters healthy child and teen development. Well adjusted kids are less likely to do drugs and be depressed because the lines of communication are open between them and their parents.
While I am the chief dinner maker at our house, I usually pick recipes that are quick and appeal to the whole family. A recent recipe I made for our family for Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin with Snow Peas and Carrots met many of my dinner requirements.
1. a fast prep time – about 25 minutes
2. most ingredients I have on hand and I only need to pick up a few items from the store
3. it is a cuisine I know my family loves – Asian
4. it is a one-pan dish loaded with vegetables
5. if there are any leftovers, the dish will reheat well
Not only was the entree beautiful to look at, it was delicious. The meat remains tender and the vegetables are slightly crisp. This variation of sweet and sour pork is a far cry from the sticky sweet version with deep fried pork from your local Chinese take out restaurant.
We have a winner!
Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin with Snow Peas and Carrots
adapted from a recipe in the January/February 2011 Food Network Magazine
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons sugar, plus a pinch
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, cut in matchstick size pieces
2 carrots, thinly sliced
3 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups snow peas, cut in half
4 cups of cooked rice, kept warm
Toss the pork with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, the soy sauce, cornstarch, ketchup, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in another bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the pork and slowly stir until it turns mostly opaque, about 2 minutes. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in the skillet, then stir-fry the garlic with a pinch each of salt and sugar, 15 seconds. Add the mushrooms and red pepper and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes. Add the carrots and scallions and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. (Add a little water if the garlic starts to stick to the skillet.) Add the pork, snow peas and soy sauce mixture; stir until the pork is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
Serve pork and vegetables over warm rice.
Amy Casey has had a lifelong love of food. It began at an early age with many hours watching Julia Child on The French Chef and learning to cook from the many fabulous cooks in her family. Her love of food lead her to become a personal chef, and she is the chef/owner of EAT! A Personal Chef Service in northern New Jersey, and also a member of the United States Personal Chef Association. Always wanting to share her love of food, she chronicles her collection of recipes in the blog Dinners for a Year and Beyond.