Rachel Maria's Modified Version of Chef John's Maple-Brined Pork Loin


**Rachel Maria modified this (already delicious and suitable) recipe by The Chef John, found here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/maple-brined-pork-loin/

**Total Prep Time: 8-10 Hrs (6-8 hours to refrigerate Pork Loin in Brine Mixture)  

Rachel Maria’s Modified Version of Chef John’s Maple-Brined Pork Loin


  • 2-2.5 lbs. Pork Loin
  • 4-6 Cups of Water
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato Paste
  • ¼ C. Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Ground Gineger
  • 2-3 Tbs. Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Rosemary
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • Dijon-Syrup
  • 3 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 3 T Maple Syrup


  1. Combine Brining Ingredients in a large bowl or container.  Whisk together.
  2. Submerge pork loin in water mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°
  4. Remove pork from Brine mixture and gently pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Salt and pepper both sides of pork loin.
  6. Add 2-3 Tbs. Vegetable Oil to a cast iron (or oven-proof) skillet.
  7. On Med-High heat– Sear both sides of Pork Loin (3-5 minutes each side).
  8. Remove garlic cloves from Brine liquid and add to skillet (Discard remaining Brine Mixture)
  9. Transfer skillet to oven (uncovered)
  10. Cook for approximately 25 minutes/pound.
  11. In a small bowl, mix Dijon Mustard and Maple Syrup which together makes “Dijon Syrup”.
  12. After 40-45 Minutes: Remove Skillet from oven.  (Be careful NOT to touch the pan without oven mitts!)
  13. Pour the Dijon-Syrup on top of the pork.
  14. Place back in oven for another 10-15 minutes OR once the pork reaches an internal temperature between 145-150.
  15. After removing the pork from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Rachel Maria suggests serving this with Spinach & Fresh Garlic and Sweet Potatoes. Enjoy!

EXTRA Ordinarily Yours


Snickers & Squats - Achieving Balance in an Unbalanced World

Extraordinary Living, Health & Fitness

Sometimes, on rare occasion, I am asked for my take on diet & exercise. I usually assert my personal tongue in cheek phrase, Snickers and Squats.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have a very healthy appetite. I can out-eat most men. I’ve entered several All-You-Can-Eat Wing Bowls- Once, against a large group of high school boys (as their church youth leader) and eh hem, won first prize. And yes, I am often spotted holding up buffet lines with my second helping of dinner or dessert. What can I say? My appetite is EXTRAordinary.

Last summer, my husband and I were at one of our favorite breakfast places on the outskirts of Margate called Hannah G’s that makes ridiculous Belgium Waffles. One morning, as we were enjoying our breakfast at our table outside, a line formed alongside the pavement with several hungry patrons.  A group of women were staring at me, as I plowed through my waffle, with my mile high whipped cream and berries. (And yes, syrup, too.)

At one point, one of the ladies sarcastically asked my husband, “So, let me guess…that will probably be her only meal for the day, right?” Scott looked at me (at this point my face was half-way buried in the whipped cream), then replied, “Umm no. She’ll still eat a lunch and dinner…and probably more after that.”

There was silence. I’m presuming they were either shocked or unsatisfied with his reply. I wasn’t fazed. I have grown accustomed to the sarcasm over the years. But, I can’t help it that I eat more than ordinary. I am 5’10”. I will at least admit and agree that this most certainly is an advantage and most likely the reason why I eat more. I have more cells than someone with my exact measurements who stands 5’5”. So in my perspective, I legitimately have more cells to feed.

Interestingly, I have always sought balance in my life. Even as an awkward frame-less adolescent. I used to wake up at 5am on Saturday mornings, turn on the TV in my bedroom, and follow this corny exercise program called the 20-Minute Work-out. Does anyone remember this show from the 80’s? With the girls and their feathered, frizzy hair… and leg warmers! I did this ridiculous regime most Saturdays for as long as I can remember. And, I didn’t even have a butt or boobs to firm up back then. But, I guess in my wacky head I was attempting to “balance” my over-indulgence of food with my sacrifice of 20 minutes every Saturday. Come to think of it now, that hardly seems equitable.

As an adult, I have pretty much done it all (exercise-wise) to compensate for my affinity towards calorie consumption…from Aerobics Instructor, to Personal Trainer, to Mixed Martial Arts Aficionado. I eat well. But, I actually enjoy burning off the calories. Therefore, my personal mantra of balancing snickers and squats while maintaining a fairly healthy physique, has been working for me.

However, there are more than just calories to balance in our lives. Like anyone else, I need to work at balancing the other resources in my life, such as my time, my dollar, and my energy. And there are many areas in my life that have suffered due to an imbalance of resources.

My loved ones will undoubtedly testify that I was guilty of expending too many resources (of time and energy) at the workplace. As a result, my health suffered. My marriage suffered. Anxiety, frustration, and insomnia became the daily norm for me. I was extremely unhappy and depressed. And I never felt rested, caught-up, or even content. I had to fall hard before I was even consciously willing to let go. It was an extremely painful recovery before I accepted the changes that I so desperately needed to make. This was not as easy as compensating snickers with squats. Please don’t make this mistake, my friends.

Which brings me to a few questions for you. How are you doing with balancing your life? Are you spending too much time, energy, or money in one area and completely neglecting another? Are you taking care of your health, exercising in conjunction to calorie consumption, and feeding your mind, daily with HEALTHY material? Are you balancing your budget and living the life-style within your means? Are you making time for important relationships? Are you reserving some energy for yourself and enjoying your interests or hobbies?

I know I need support to balance these areas. Will you support me as I support you in achieving a balanced lifestyle? And while you’re at it, give me 10 squats and I’ll share my Snickers with you.





PS In her book, Becoming the Woman God Wants You to Be, Donna Partow provides an inspirational 90-Day Challenge with extraordinary tips and relevant advice on achieving a balanced lifestyle. She addresses every practical area from household management to retirement planning. Her book was one of several books that I have read during my personal hiatus that has helped catapult me from a difficult time period to my decision in initiating the LE Woman Network. You can try a sample read on your Kindle by visiting: http://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Woman-God-Wants-Me/dp/0800730720


Rachel Maria's Quick & Easy Shrimp Fra' Diavolo


Recipe Yields 2-4 Servings


* Fresh Shrimp or Frozen set in cool water until defrosted (Figure 5-7 per person)
* Garlic (3 Cloves or 10 for the Italians)
* 3 T Tomato Paste
* 1 C Red Wine
* Cubed Tomatoes (2-4 Fresh or 1 Lg. Can)
* Hot Sauce (Sriracha) OR Red Pepper Flakes
* Basil, salt, pepper,
* Your Favorite Pasta (Rachel Maria Recommends Angel Hair or Thin Spaghetti)


* In a Saute Pan – Saute’ Garlic in on Medium High Heat in EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) until soft
* Add Tomato Paste & stir
* Pour in Red Wine & Stir
* Add Cubed Tomatoes, Hot Sauce, and seasonings
* Lower Heat.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
*Add to your favorite pasta with lots of Pecorino Romano & Your Favorite Glass of Wine


Rachel Maria's French-Maple Bread


Are you ready for a knock-your-socks-off breakfast treat? Make this for company. Make this for your loved ones. Make this just because you want to eat something delicious. 

Rachel Maria’s French-Maple Bread

Yield: 4-6 Servings


  • * Day Old Bread Loaf (French, Italian, Sesame...you name it)
  • * 3-4 Large Eggs
  • * 1/3 C Milk, Cream, or  Go Crazy with Flavored Creamer!
  • * Tsp Vanilla, Cinnamon, Nutmeg (optional)
  • * 3 T Each - Caramel & Syrup (Preferably Maple Syrup)


  1. * Preheat Oven to 350 F
  2. * Slice Day Old Bread into 1 1/2 " Slices
  3. * Assemble Bread in a greased Baking Dish (Butter or Pam - NO Olive Oil, Italians!)
  4. * Whisk Eggs, Cream, and Seasonings in bowl
  5. * Pour over bread.  Cover with Tin Foil.  Bake for 25 Min.
  6. * In a small bowl melt (microwave for 30 sec.) Caramel & Syrup
  7. * After 25 min. of baking.  Remove Foil.  Pour Caramel Syrup on top.
  8. * Bake for 5 more min.
  9. * Serve with Fruit, Cool Whip, or why not...more maple syrup!



Extraordinarily Created by,

Rachel Maria


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