Friday, May 26, 2017

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork

When I wrote my last post at the end of March, I apologized for falling off the face of the earth because of our business move. Well I fell back off. As soon as we got settled in our new office, life got a little crazier. I was feeling relatively terrible because apparently morning sickness and exhaustion are twice as bad when you're pregnant with twins.

Yep, you heard that right. The husband and I are having identical twin boys! They'll arrive sometime in October, and we couldn't be happier. Especially now that I'm in my second trimester and eating more than crackers and cheese.

While the nausea reigned supreme, my family was subsisting on mac and cheese from a box while I laid on the couch like a cranky beached whale. But I'm back in the kitchen! And I was craving pork like you wouldn't believe.

I found this recipe on my Pinterest board, and immediately headed to the grocery store. When we sat down to dinner, I wasn't disappointed. The entire family demolished this meal; it is absolutely delicious. And you can prep everything ahead of time! The Pineapple Coleslaw might seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it's worth it. I ate my weight in slaw. The kids even helped me stir together the dressing.

If you're looking for an easy, delicious, filling, make-ahead meal, give Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork a whirl. You're whole family will love it. Guaranteed.

Let's get cooking!
Erin


Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork
Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Pork 
1 1/4 cups pineapple juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 pounds pork shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Coconut Rice (recipe below), for serving
Pineapple Slaw (recipe below), for serving

Mix together pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, sriracha, and ginger. Set sauce aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add pork and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add pork to slow cooker. Pour sauce over pork. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until pork falls apart when you poke it with a fork. (My slow cooker tends to run hot, and my pork was finished cooking in 6 hours.) Remove pork to a plate and shred into bite-sized pieces.

Whisk together cornstarch and water. Whisk into cooking liquid in slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to high and take off the lid. Allow the sauce to simmer until it's thickened, about 15-30 minutes. Stir shredded pork back into liquid and allow it to warm through again. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Coconut Rice and Pineapple Slaw.


Pineapple Slaw
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
1 cup pineapple chunks (fresh or canned)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Stir together mayo, pineapple juice, yogurt, vinegar, brown sugar, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cabbage, pineapple, and cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Coconut Rice
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
Pinch salt
1 cup rice

Bring water, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until rice is firm but tender. (If you have one, you can certainly use a rice cooker in place of cooking rice on the stove.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Old-Fashioned Cream Pie

I rip recipes from magazines (that I own, not say in waiting rooms) all the time. If I never tore another recipe from People, Real Simple and more, I'd easily spend the next couple years cooking my way through my "to make" recipe pile.

Anyhow, this year for Easter the kids and I decided a cream pie sounded tasty. I used a recipe from the June 2013(!) issue of Ladies' Home Journal. It was worth the wait, so give it a try sooner rather than later.

XOXO,
Amy


PS: What drew me to the LHJ recipe was the headline on the article — "The Pie That Made My Dad Propose." Here's a version of that story, originally published in LHJ. And below is a piece of art that ran with the story.



Old-Fashioned Cream Pie

Crust:
12 graham crackers, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Or...
1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust (For less than $2 and a lot less hassle, this is my preferred option.)

Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
 2 1/2 cups cold milk
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh berries for serving

For crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend graham cracker pieces and sugar until finely ground. Add butter and pulse until combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of graham cracker mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom and side of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until lightly browned, about seven minutes. Cool while you prepare the filling.

For filling: In a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together sugar, salt and cornstarch. Add milk and egg yolks and whisk to combine. Heat mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to bubble and then cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, nutmeg and butter. Place over and ice bath to cool slightly before pouring into prepared crust. Cover pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm — about 5 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with reserved graham cracker crumbs and serve with cold berries.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cilantro Walnut Pesto

Pesto is one of my addictions. I love it on pasta, steak, chicken, shrimp, vegetables -- it's so good on almost anything!

For years I've been a traditionalist, sticking to the basil, pine nut and Parmesan cheese varieties. I usually serve pesto swirled into angel hair pasta, as a side dish to grilled steak.

Boy, was I missing out. Turns out many fresh herbs and vegetables deliciously transform when you whip them into a pesto with some nuts and olive oil. Think fresh peas, or even trimmed broccoli stalks.

This cilantro version is the healthiest pesto I've ever encountered – no oil, no cheese. Trust me, you won't even notice.

I could not stop eating it. First on pasta, then later as a dip for veggies. It's nutty, earthy and fresh – with a little zip! – all at the same time.

If you're ready to welcome spring, add this cilantro walnut spread to your menu.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea




Cilantro Walnut Pesto
Inspired by a recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil

1 cup walnut pieces
2 heaping cups cilantro leaves, stems removed
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup water

Using a food processor, finely grind walnuts.

Add cilantro, jalapeño pepper, salt, vinegar and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Blend until combined and smooth. Add more water to thin the pesto mixture.

Serve over pasta, top grilled meats or use as a dip.

To dress up this pesto, you could add a drizzle of olive oil.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.











Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Twice-Baked Creamy Chive Potatoes

My son Sam is a big fan of my Aunt Dottie's twice baked potatoes. The last time she made then, Sam ate 3! Somehow, she gets her filling to be like velvet. When Sam requested these as a side dish recently, I went to work.

Unfortunately for me, I couldn't catch my aunt on the phone or by text. After reviewing lots of online recipes, it seems the trick is the right combination of butter, milk, cream cheese and sour cream mixed into the cooked potatoes.

And since I was experimenting, I made some of the potatoes with chives to suit my own tastes, leaving some plain for my kids.

Sam declared these "pretty good" but Aunt Dottie still wears the cooking crown in his eyes.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Twice-Baked Creamy Chive Potatoes

6 medium to large baking potatoes, like Idaho or Russet
1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Kosher or table salt
2/3 cup of milk
3/4 cup of butter at room temperature, cut into chunks
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese, cut into chunks
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 tablespoons snipped chives (or other fresh herb), plus more for topping

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub potatoes and dry well. Prick all over with a knife. Lightly coat with olive oil, then rub with salt. Bake for about 1 hour, or until potatoes are soft. An alternative method is to cook potatoes in microwave first, until soft. Then transfer to oven for about 20 minutes until the skin crisps up.

When cooked, remove from oven and let cool until you are able to handle the potatoes but they are still warm.

Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Carefully slice each potato in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp and place into a large mixing bowl. Be sure to leave a thin layer of potato inside each potato skin for 5 of the potatoes, so that they make little boats. For the 6th potato, you just want the cooked potato pulp and you can discard the skin.

Combine milk, butter, cream cheese and sour cream and garlic powder with potato pulp. Use a potatoes masher or electric mixer to combine until creamy. If potatoes are too starchy or stiff, add more sour cream or cream cheese (your choice) until you get the consistency you want.

Add salt, pepper and chives or other fresh herb and stir to combine.

Arrange potato boats on a baking sheet and scoop filling into a mound in each potato skin. Sprinkle with additional snipped chives.


Bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until the top of potato filling is slightly browned. Remove from oven, arrange on a pretty platter and serve.








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Creamy Tuna Avocado Salad

Baseball season is underway for my two boys, and that means I need to be able to serve up fast and easy meals – or get used to eating hot dogs and concession stand popcorn every other day!

A video for this recipe caught my eye on Facebook, so I gave it a try (with a few little tweaks). The result? Super yummy and super quick to prepare.

Another bonus? By swapping out the mayo used in traditional tuna salad for avocado, you get a healthier dish.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Creamy Tuna Avocado Salad
Inspired by this recipe from Natasha's Kitchen.com

1 large can (12 ounces) and 1 small can (3 to 4 ounces) tuna in water, drained
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 medium, ripe, avocados peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
1/2 to 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

**Note on the salt: If you are making this ahead, or if you are planning on leftovers, do not mix in the salt. Instead, salt each serving separately. The salt will make the cucumbers release water, which will make the salad soggy after a few hours.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour lemon juice and olive oil over ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alone or on top of mixed greens.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Savory Spring Egg Cups

These breakfast treats remind me of the Italian Easter meat pie (pizza rustica) that my family would devour every spring. That hearty dish (best consumed cold) combines hard boiled eggs, mozzarella, prosciutto and ricotta cheese in a flaky double pie crust.

I still hope to make one of those savory pies before summer hits, but today's sweet little recipe satisfied my craving.  Better yet – my boys liked it. I served these egg cups for dinner and the leftovers held up great the next day. Lunch for me; hearty after-school snack for them.

You can use your favorite breakfast meat, like sausage or ham. I used bacon because it imparts a taste similar to the prosciutto used in my family's traditional Easter morning meal.

These would make a great addition to an Easter brunch menu, especially if you have extra eggs in the fridge. Or they might be a good way to use that leftover holiday ham.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea


Savory Spring Egg Cups
Inspired by a video from HomemadeHooplah.com

2 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
Small container ricotta cheese
6 slices precooked bacon, chopped
1 dozen eggs
Garlic salt
Fresh ground pepper

**Cut recipe in half if you don't need 12 egg cups.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a large 12-tin muffin pan with cooking spray. If you like, line each tin with paper or parchment muffin liners.

Place 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to flatten into a square shape. Repeat with second pastry sheet.

Cut each pastry sheet into 6 squarish rectangles. Push 1 square of pastry into each prepared muffin tin. Flute edges of pastry so they stand up slightly. Spray pastry with cooking spray.

Fill each muffin cup with 1 or 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Push down gently with back of a spoon.

Crack one egg into each muffin cup. Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.


Place in preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cook a few minutes less if you prefer a less solid yolk. (You can test the yolk with a toothpick.)

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Tastes great served warm or cold. Fresh berries make a nice side dish. Perfect for any meal!







Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sheet pan Lemon Chicken with Olives & Capers

Sheet pan suppers are a great way to whip up a savory meal in less than an hour. This recipe is one I made with items I had on hand.

My pantry is usually stocked with olives and capers so this was a good way to put them to work.

The bonus with this dinner is that as the olives cook they release their oils, which blends with the juices from the lemon and chicken to make a nice sauce.

Mangia! Mangia!
Andrea



Sheet pan Lemon Chicken with Olives & Capers

2 pounds of chicken pieces (I used an assortment of boneless thighs, skin-on legs, and boneless skinless breasts.)
1 cup whole green olives, pitted and stuffed with pimento
1 cup whole kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup whole black olives, pitted
2-3 tablespoons capers
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Spaghetti for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread 1 tablespoon on bottom of a shallow sheet pan. Place chicken pieces on pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl mix olives, capers, lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil. Pour evenly over chicken pieces. Top with lemon slices.


Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through. Baste chicken pieces and stir olives occasionally during cooking time.

Serve chicken alone with capers, olives and pan sauce or on top of spaghetti.

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