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Pulled Pork

16 Mar

I got a Pork shoulder at the supermarket and stuck it in the freezer a month or so ago because I knew I would get the hankerin’……

The hankerin’ for some PULLED PORK!!!! Pulled Pork is not only delicious, but it’s so flexible and works in/on anything!

My good friend Dennis also has a foodblog (http://digitallydennis.wordpress.com/) and posted a recipe for a dry rub that I wanted to try the next time I did pulled pork. Now, Dennis showed it with barbecued chicken, but after reading the ingredients, I knew it would work for pork. It was spicy without being too spicy. It was exactly the perfect taste I was looking for in a rub!

Typically, pulled pork is made in a crockpot, but I didnt want to make it that way. I saw a tip on one of the blogs I follow (http://www.hardlyhousewives.com) on how to physically roast the pork so that it was insanely tender. So I put that into practice. And it was totally right – instead of roasting the meat in a crockpot or something along those lines, you wrap the meat tight in tin foil and roast for a couple hours. It locks in the flavor.

I meshed the two together – technique and recipe – and came out with an AMAZING finished product. It was sinfully delicious and so simple to make and do. Just let it cook in the oven for hours and go about your business around the house.

And you can take that pulled pork and put it on anything! You can put it on a sandwich, eat it plain or put barbecue sauce on top, or put it in other foods – like pizza, nachos, and stuffed rolls!

Like these quickie nachos…..Next I want to try a pulled pork pizza! I cant wait to make this pulled pork roast again!!!!

Shooter’s Secret Spice Dry Rub

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (use less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 4-6 pound pork butt or pork shoulder

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine.

Sprinkle Shooter’s Secret Dry Spice Rub on both sides of meat and rub. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1-2 hours (or overnight if you like).

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

Put the pork, fat side up, in the oven. Bake approximately an hour.

Lower the oven temp to 300 degrees. Take the meat out and triple wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and slow cook it for 7 hours or so (for a 6-7 pound piece of meat) until the meat is fork tender. It works out to cook for an hour per pound.

This will give you an incredibly moist pork with a crunchy outside. Feel free to freeze whatever you dont eat!

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Beef Enchiladas

10 Mar

When I was planning for Mexican Supper Club in October, I referred to the Cooks Illustrated Mexican Edition for some inspiration. I found so many recipes that I ended up using, but this one especially called my name: Beef Enchiladas.

This recipe couldnt have been easier to put together. And note – I used homemade flour tortillas, not the storebought ones in the picture above (recommended over buying storebought tortillas).

The flavor in the sauce is insanely amazing. Never in a million years did I imagine it would be this tasty.

Everyone ate it up like crazy. I had to fend the leftovers off from Beth and save them for Robb. I can not wait to make it again.

Seriously, if you want an authentic and EASY mexican feast, include this in your mealplan. You will not be sorry.

Beef Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tblsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt
  • 1.25 pounds top blade steaks (chuck meat)
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups Monterey jack (or cheddar cheese) shredded
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped canned pickled jalapeno chiles
  • 12 corn or flour tortillas

Directions:

Combine garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, sugar, and 1 tsp salt in small bowl.

Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook meat until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer meat to plate.

Reduce heat to medium, add onions to pot, and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and water and bring to boil.

Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is fall-apart tender, about 1.5 hours.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350. Strain beef mixture over medium bowl, breaking meat into small pieces, reserve sauce. Transfer meat to bowl and mix with 1 cup cheese, cilantro, and jalapenos.

Spread ¾ cup sauce on bottom of 13×9 inch baking dish. Microwave 6 tortillas on plate on high power until soft, about 1 minute. Spread 1/3 cup beef mixture down center of each tortilla, roll tortillas tightly and set in baking dish seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas and beef mixture. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and spread to coat evenly.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over enchiladas, wrap with aluminum, and baked until heated through, 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until cheese browns slightly, 5-10 minutes.

Flour Tortillas

9 Mar

I am sure the last thing you think about making from scratch when doing mexican is flour tortillas……well I am here to let you know how EASY it really is.

When cooking for my Mexican Supper Club night, I planned to do Beef Enchiladas. I bought flour tortillas from the store as a back-up just in case I didnt have time to make my own.

But I always had a feeling that I was going to make my own no matter what. It turned out that I had some extra time and I just went for it!

It was BEYOND easy to put together. They took a little longer in the frying pan than I thought they would. But all in all, they turned out AMAZING.

The key when you are sauteeing them in the frying pan is to make sure you have a damp towel on top of saran wrap on top of the plate of cooked tortillas so they stay a bit pliable when you go to use them.

Making your own tortillas is SO much better for you than using store-bought. They taste fresher and dont contain any chemicals or additives. They have a better texture, too, and are great to use in almost any recipe!

And I am so bummed that I didnt take any pics of the finished tortillas. I’ll have to update in the future when I make them again. But here is a pic of my yummy beef enchiladas!

Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ¾ cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 6 tblsp Crisco, cut into 6 pieces
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tblsp water, heated up to 110 degrees
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

Directions:

Combine flour and salt in bowl – stir. Rub shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until combined.

Turn dough out onto counter and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll 2.5 tblsp dough into 1.5 inch balls. Transfer balls to plate and refrigerate until firm, wrapped in plastic.

Working on lightly floured counter, roll out balls to 8-inch rounds. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat until just smoking. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Lay 1 round in skillet and cook until surface begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate and cover with dish towel. (NOTE: It took my tortillas about 3-4 minutes per side to cook)

At this point – go on and use them for whatever dish you plan to make.

Chicken Mole

1 Dec

When people talk about complicated Mexican dishes,  you always hear about Mole Sauces. All my life I’ve heard how hard a mole sauce is.

In planning for Mexican Supper Club, I knew I had to make a mole sauce to challenge myself and find out just how hard this sauce is to make. The question was, where to find a recipe that was good but yet not too ridiculous with the ingredient list.

BINGO: Cooks Illustrated Mexican Edition!! You cant go wrong with Cooks Illustrated. And if you are a serious cook, I HIGHLY recommend getting a subscription to this bi-monthly magazine.

This recipe could not have been any easier, or any more delicious.

The hardest part about the recipe (and it wasnt even that hard) was roasting the chilis and dicing them up and removing their seeds. And remembering to wear rubber gloves when doing this step 😉

Honestly, this dish was out of this world. It wasnt that spicy (you could certainly modify your spice level with the amount of peppers/seeds you use). And one of the keys is ALMOND BUTTER. Dont skimp and think that peanut butter would substitute……The almond butter totally makes this dish what it is.

It’s a month and a half after I made it, and I can still taste the multi-layered flavor palette in my mouth. It was like something I’ve never had before. I will absolutely be making this again. Bueno!!

Chicken Mole

Ingredients:

  • 2 dried ancho chiles (sub 2 tblsp dried ancho chile powder if possible)
  • ½ dried chipotle chile(sub ground chipotle chile powder / ½ tsp minced canned chipotle in adobe sauce)
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 ounce bittersweet, chopped coarse
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 tblsp sesame seeds, toasted plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar
  • 3.5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed and trimmed

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Place anchos and chipotle on baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard seeds and stems, then break into small pieces.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in toasted chile pieces, cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate and cook until spices are fragrant and chocolate is melted and bubbly, 2 minutes.

Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, at least 30 seconds. Stir in broth, tomatoes, raisins, almond butter, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender (or food processor) and process until smooth, about 20 seconds, season with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.

Adjust oven temperature to 400 degrees. Pat chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in baking dish in single layer. Cover with mole sauce, turning chicken to coat evenly. Bake uncovered, until breast registers 160 degrees, about 35-45 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest in sauce 5-10 minutes. Transfer to large platter and spoon sauce over top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Chicken Pot Pie

11 Nov

The first chilly weekend came earlier this fall and I decided it was time to make some Chicken Pot Pie. I cant believe I’ve never made it before. I was definitely surprised to find out how easy it was. Duh….why wasnt I doing this for the past few years?

I went onto AllRecipes.com and did a lot of research and read a lot of reviews….and picked what sounded like the best recipe – “Chicken Pot Pie IX”. Robb and I both wanted a recipe that would not be too watery or too complicated.

And neither of us wanted to use potatoes either since we try to limit our carbs as much as possible. So we made sure our recipe did not include potatoes. And I used fresh mushrooms from the farmers market and sauteed them up prior to adding so they added to the flavor.

I roasted my own chicken in the oven (more on simple oven-roasted chicken later….) instead of boiling or buying a pre-roasted chicken. I wanted the flavor of the chicken to be perfect. I also wanted to make my own pie crust, since I know that it tastes the best 🙂

The filling was so easy to make. It came out nice and thick and had a stellar taste.

I put the top on the pie and couldnt resist using extra dough to make a goofy shape to put on top of the pie…..just like my mom does. Although my mom’s decorations on her pies are outstanding. And mine just looks…….really pathetic! hahaha I believe I thought I was putting a chicken on top of the chicken pot pie. Get it?????? 🙂

And look at how it came out after it baked its little heart out…….

It was so good. I will now let you look at some of the pictures of deliciousness……..

This chicken pot pie recipe is the BOMB. It’s simple enough where you can add in a lot of your favorite ingredients/vegetables (I added corn and sauteed mushrooms) and customize to your liking. Dont fear the pie crust – you can use storebought if you like and that is perfectly allright.

This dish tastes hearty and delicious and is perfect for that chilly sunday dinner.

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cupsliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  •  2 (9 inch)unbaked pie crusts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. (Or you can roast your chicken in the oven to cook and then cube into pieces, which is what I did – just make sure to cook the veggies!)

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Combine with chicken, carrots, peas, and celery.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Authentic French Onion Soup

4 Oct

John and Jeff came over for dinner last October right before we went to a Haunted Ski Mountain/Chairlift. We were both making certain parts of the dinner. I think I made my burgers for dinner and Country Apple Gallette for dessert and John and Jeff brought over the most amazing French Onion Soup I’ve ever had in my life. I dont even LIKE French Onion Soup and I couldnt get enough of this soup.

Ingredients

Sautee onions

He sent me the recipe – it was a Julia Child recipe. It looked so easy and I knew it tasted so amazing. I couldnt wait to make it. I made it for a family get-together. And then made it for one of my Girls Nights. I was going to have to substitute vegetable broth instead of beef broth because my one girlfriends is a vegetarian. But it would have been allright. I ended up not having to because she couldnt make it.

Flour and onion mixture

Let it simmer

It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it’s really easy and goes together quickly. If you have a large food processor, you can easily slice the onions in a few minutes. That cuts down  a LOT on the time.

Crisping the bread

Bread in soup before the cheesebake finish

Getting ready for cheesybake!

Here it is at Work Girls Night Dinner

Authentic French Onion Soup (Courtesy of Julia Child)

Ingredients:

  • 5 -6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 cup wine (dry red or white)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 ounces swiss cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 raw yellow onion
  • 2 -3 tablespoons cognac
  • 8 slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:

Place heavy bottom stock pot or dutch over over medium-low heat.

Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2Tbs butter to pot.

Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil.

Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent.

To brown or caramelize the onions turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat.

Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly.

Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions.

Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here).

Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits.

Add the rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

To make the “croutes” (toasted bread), heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet.

Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total).

Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it).

Transfer to a casserole dish or individual oven-safe dishes or crocks

At this point you can add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup.

Add a few ounces of the swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir.

Place the toasted bread in a single layer on top of the soup.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning.

Drizzle with a little oil or melted butter.

Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Then turn on broiler and brown cheese well.

Pesto

23 Sep

I LOVE PESTO.

Love it. It took me 32 years to understand it….but now that I do, I cant get enough of it! Typically, I grow at least 9 plants of basil every summer and in late September I whack them all and make 15-20 batches of pesto to freeze for the wintertime!

Pesto is so easy. It’s adaptable. There are so many variations: basil, arugula, red pepper, parsley, sun-dried tomato, spinach…etc. There are variations on nuts you can use instead of the traditional pine nuts: pistachio, walnut, almond, sunflower seed….etc. You can also vary the types of cheese! Pesto is great!

Ingredients

I stick with the traditional pesto though. Recently, at one of my farmers markets, there was a vendor selling basil for “$2/a bunch”. I said “how do you quantify a bunch?” to which she replied – “as much as you can carry with your hands.” I made out like a bandit and instantly knew I was making pesto! Look at this pile of basil!!!!!!! You can practically smell it, cant you?

Pile of Basil

Closeup

The hardest part about making pesto is trimming all of the basil.

Here are all the ingredients dumped into the food processor. It’s as easy as that – dumping everything together into the food processor. Read the recipe to see my secret ingredient.

And here it is 2 minutes later all ground up into a paste:

Here is another closeup because this stuff is off the hook.

There are a couple people who are FANS of my pesto (My brother Pat and my friend, Jeff). So I am always sure to freeze several containers and give them out when I see them. I ALWAYS have containers of it in my freezer to either take with me to someone else’s house or to enjoy in my own. It is so awesome to have some fresh garden pesto on a dreary January day…..I think my brother and I are the only ones I know who can just eat spoonfuls of this stuff. Isnt that gross? So gross, but so good!!!!!

And here was the recent grilled pizza I made with this pesto on this day. It was so darn good. I feel like the vendor had a couple strands of Lemon Basil mixed into the regular Genovese Basil because there was a bright lemony taste!

I just hacked 3 of my 5-foot tall 9 basil plants this past weekend and made about 18 batches of pesto. Here are my tall plants – in the garden and then some of them hacked down waiting to be plucked apart:

Here is the assembly line of ingredients to make it easy to dump into the processor and keep moving.

What in the world does 18 batches of pesto look like? Well, to me it looks like heaven….

39 containers of deliciousness….

Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 anchovy (optional)

Directions:

De-stem and wash all basil leaves and dry thoroughly. Place in food processor with pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, and salt/pepper.

Turn food processor on and grind until it forms a thick paste (about a minute). Now, you may not want to add the anchovy. And you dont have to! But it adds another dimension to the flavor and makes it richer. I really enjoy it – it does NOT taste like anchovy at all.

Drizzle in olive oil while food processor is still running and run for another 1-2 minutes. Done!

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