The semester is quickly coming to an end and for me, graduation is biting at my heels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to be relieved of all the grueling exams, the carbon-copy lab reports, and the heavily detailed research papers, but it’s kind of hard not to feel bittersweet about the whole transition. In 2 weeks, I’ll be entering the big-bad-real-world and saying so long to my college years, hello nine-to-five and a steady paycheck (hopefully)! If there’s one thing I’ll miss the most, it’s the friends I’ve come to know and love over these past four years. It’s people like them that make a girl feel lucky and even more thankful to call these friends my family.

I’m taking advantage of this time that we have living together. On every Sunday when we were kids, my mother made a big home-cooked dinner and a special dessert for our family. We’d stop everything and gather together around the table to share our weeks and enjoy this meal in the company of one another. Last Sunday, my friends gathered together for our own family dinner… and of course, dessert!

Our Sunday dinner consisted of spiced pork tenderloin tacos with cilantro-lime rice and avocado salsa… The dessert was a really moist lemon yogurt cake (a recipe I’ve been eyeing for weeks) with strawberries (IN SEASON!) and a lovely-partner-in-crime, lots of whipped cream… Aren’t my friends lucky?

Avocado Salsa

adapted slightly from Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the onion with the red wine vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the tomato, avocado, chipotle, cilantro and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Set aside.

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of cooked basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • grated zest and juice of 2 limes (about 2 teaspoons each)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and set aside

Spice-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

adapted from Food and Wine; serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Set the tenderloin on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the smoked paprika with the cumin, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and olive oil to form a paste.  Rub the spice mixture all over the pork.
  2. Roast the tenderloin for about 25 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centers registers 145°. Transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2 inch thick pieces and serve with warm tortillas, cilantro-lime rice, and avocado salsa. Enjoy!

Lemon Yogurt Cake

from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used my favorite 2% vanilla)
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • strawberries and whipped cream for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
  4. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces and serve with strawberries and whipped  cream. Enjoy!
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