Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ooooh, baby. Today's recipe is easy.

Speaking of...I've noticed something about myself. Whenever I really like a recipe, my first qualifier is simplicity. After that comes deliciousness. It all speaks to my laziness and love of TV. Less time on dinner = more time with the Real Housewives. I may not be great at math, but that's the kind of equation I can get behind.

Anyway, as I was saying, today's recipe is easy. And delicious. I'm usually dubious about dump-and-stir crockpot recipes, so my first bite of Slow Cooker Pulled Pork was tentative. But my concerns disappeared as easily as this tender, fall-apart pork disappeared into my belly.

Next time you're feeling—how can I put this—less than ambitious, pop some pork into your slow cooker and tell your family you were sweating over the stove all day. They'll believe you. And then they'll offer to clean the dishes as they lick barbecue sauce off their sticky fingers.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

18 ounce bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder roast
1 onion, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper
Hamburger buns, for serving (optional)
Simple Coleslaw, for serving (optional, recipe below)

In your slow cooker, stir together barbecue sauce and chili powder. Add the pork roast and roll it around so it's coated in sauce. Nestle the onions in with the pork. Cook on low for about 8 hours, or until the pork is tender and literally falls apart when you poke it with a fork. (Mine only took 7 hours, but my slow cooker tends to be on the speedy side.)

Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker. Use forks to shred it into bite-sized pieces. Use a spoon to skim fat from the remaining sauce in the slow cooker. Stir as much sauce* as you like into the pulled pork and season to taste with salt and pepper. If desired, serve on hamburger buns topped with Simple Coleslaw (recipe below).

*A note about the sauce: If you're planning ahead for leftovers, consider leaving some of the pulled pork plain. I used the leftovers without sauce to make Cuban sandwiches and quesadillas.

Simple Coleslaw

4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
16 ounce bag coleslaw mix (or feel free to shred your own cabbage)
Salt and pepper

Stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, and sugar. Stir in coleslaw mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (At this point it will look a little bit dry.) Refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to serve. (As it sits the cabbage releases moisture and the coleslaw gets creamier. I've found that it gets soggy if you add too much mayo at the beginning, and I like my slaw crunchy. Feel free to stir in more mayo or Greek yogurt at this point if it's too dry for your taste.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coffee Cake

It is cold.

I recognize that it's February—the doldrums of winter—and that cold weather should be expected. But the entire eastern half of the country is blanketed in a bone-chilling, arctic blast, and I just don't like it.

What better way to show the weather who's boss than to crank up the oven and bake something warm and cozy? Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coffee Cake is rich, filling, and topped with a sweet, crunchy crumble that will knock your socks off.

So, Jack Frost, you just bring it. We've got Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coffee Cake, and we're ready for anything. Even spring.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake:
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla would be lovely)
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but tasty)

1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" broiler-safe (i.e. probably not glass) pan and set aside.

In a large bowl combine oats, butter, and boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Stir in yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt, and (if using) cinnamon. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of baked coffee cake. Turn the oven to broil and move the oven rack a bit closer to the broiler element. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the topping begins to melt and get crunchy.

Serve warm for the most delicious treat.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day...Are you ready?

Public Service Announcement: Valentine's Day is this Saturday. No pressure or anything. 

The husband won't be around for Valentine's Day this year, so Danny and I will be on our own. I think I'll make my little sweetheart his favorite meal to celebrate, which means we'll be eating macaroni and cheese from a box. Just keepin' it real, people. 

But if I had to cook for someone who was interested in more than Kraft for dinner, noodles would still be prominently featured. I think it started with Lady and the Tramp. That spaghetti slurping scene was my first glimpse at romance, and it stuck. 

With that in mind, here is just a taste of some Valentine's Day inspiration. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce: Classic. Rich. Disney-approved. 

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli: The husband's favorite. 

Three Cheese Bacon Macaroni and Cheese: Three cheeses and bacon? Just...yeah. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Roast Chicken Breast with Herbes de Provence

When it comes to chicken, I'm always buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They're healthy, tasty, and quick-cooking. But sometimes they get a little bit...boring.

So when bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts went on sale at the grocery store, I was all over that. I schmeared those babies with butter and some aromatic herbes de Provence, then roasted them in a hot oven. When I served the roast chicken to the husband for dinner in all its buttery, skin-on glory, his response sealed the deal, "This is my kind of chicken."

Well, then. I think this could be your kind of chicken, too.

Roast Chicken Breast with Herbes de Provence
Serves: 2-4

2 tablespoons softened butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon butter into a small bowl and stir in herbes de Provence. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the chicken. Rub herb butter under the skin of each chicken breast. Rub plain butter on top of the chicken skin. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If you have smaller chicken breasts, this will take about 35 minutes. For larger chicken breasts (mine, for example were 1 pound each—huge!), it will take about 50 minutes. Tent chicken with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Apricot Glazed Carrots

I had a jar of apricot preserves languishing in my fridge after making Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham, Although as you know, I'm a huge fan of PB&J sandwiches, I'm strictly a strawberry jam kind of gal. So I had to come up with a plan to use up my leftover condiment more creatively.

Enter Apricot Glazed Carrots.

Sweet and subtly spiced, these babies are just the ticket to round out any meal. You can stir them together on the stovetop in about 10 minutes, so it's a speedy side dish, too.

Apricot Glazed Carrots
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic and curry and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, apricot preserves, and carrots and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook until carrots are tender and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms

The other day I made a pretty decent dinner. But these peas? Yeah. They totally stole the show.

In about 10 minutes, you can have a steaming bowl of Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms on your dinner table. Sure it's a tiny bit more effort than my usual pea routine, which involves throwing a bag into the microwave, but, oh, is it worth it.

Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 small glove garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups frozen peas (No need to thaw!)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in peas, chicken broth, and Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until peas are heated through and the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham

I don't know about you, but I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving. I ate so much stuffing. And so much cranberry sauce. And SO MUCH pecan pie. Good gracious, the pie.

But since I'm in the holiday mode, I'll keep on with the holiday food. Sound good?

Today we're making ham. Every time I smell ham roasting in the oven, I'm immediately transported to Christmas Eve at my parents' house in Buffalo. Ham, cheesy potatoes, five or six feet of snow. Those were good times. 

I've made ham on several occasions, and Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham is both the simplest and tastiest in my humble opinion. Sweet, salty, and just a tiny bit tangy thanks to a dollop of grainy mustard, it's the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table. 

Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 pound semi-boneless ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, mustard, preserves, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside. Line a baking dish large enough to fit the ham with foil. Place ham cut-side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour glaze over the ham. Bake until ham is heated through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting with pan juices several times. Thinly slice and serve.