Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

4 lbs boneless pork shoulder blade roast
1 medium onion,chopped
1/2 C ketchup
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C tomato paste
2 Tbls paprika
2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls yellow mustard
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
sandwich buns/rolls

Stir together onion, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, paprika, Worcestershire, mustard, salt and pepper together in a 4-6 quart slow-cooker. (Mine isn't big enough; I have to 1/2 or at least reduce this recipe for it to fit. ...plan ahead!) Cut pork roast into quarters, add to slow cooker and turn to coat with sauce. Cook pork, covered, on low setting 8-10 hours or until pork is very tender. (Cutting your pork into smaller pieces will help it cook faster.)

Use tongs or a meat fork to transfer pork pieces to a large bowl. Turn slow cooker on high; heat sauce to boiling to thicken and reduce slightly. While sauce boils, use 2 forks to pull pork into shreds. Return shredded pork to slow cooker and stir to combine with sauce. Cover slow cooker and reheat pork if necessary.

Serve on sandwich buns, ciabbata, etc with chips, dill pickle wedges, fruit...and napkins! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Curried Salmon Cakes & Lemon-Curry Aioli

2 eggs
14-15 oz cooked salmon
1/2 C finely chopped apple
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/4 C thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbls mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper

Beat eggs; add salmon and break it up. Stir in apple, bread crumbs, onions, mayonnaise, curry, paprika and pepper. Mix well.

Place skillet over medium heat. When hot, add oil. Scoop 1/4 of the salmon mixture into the skillet shaping into a cake about 3/4" thick; repeat shaping additional cakes in the skillet. Cook until well browned on bottom (about 5 minutes). Turn cakes; cook until browned on the other side (about 3-4 minutes).

Serve with lemon-curry aioli. (Recipe below)

The recipe makes 4 'full sized' cakes. I love them on their own, but they make tasty salmon burgers in a bun with lettuce and the aioli as a spread.

Bite sized cakes make nice appetizers (with the aioli, served on crackers).

If you don't like curry--or just feel like something different--swap out the curry and paprika for other spices... Lemon-dill is always nice with salmon. Or dill & chives? Spice it up with garlic & hot sauce. For something milder, sweeter...try rosemary or tarragon. Don't forget to use complimentary spices in the aoili as well.

Lemon-Curry Aioli
In a bowl combine:
1/2 C mayonnaise
1-2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 Tbls lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
salt to taste

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Homemade, nephews were very willing guinea pigs as I tried out a pizza dough recipe; I had two or three that I experimented with to see which I liked best - taste, texture, "toss"-ability... :) Turns out, simple is best:

Pizza Dough
1 tsp/pkg fresh yeast
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
6 cups flour
3 Tbls salt

Put yeast, oil, and 2 C cold tap water in bowl of a stand mixer; mix using dough hook on lowest speed 5 minutes or until yeast has completely dissoved. Add flour; mix another 5 minutes. Cover bowl loosely with a damp towel. Let dough rest and rise for 20 minutes.

Add salt; mix on low speed another 5 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. For thin crust pizzas (12") divide into 6 equal portions. I divided mine in to 4; for an even thicker crust, divide it in thirds. Roll each into a ball and place on a floured tray (or dust it with cornmeal). Cover the tray tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at least 4 hours at a warm room temperature. The dough balls will be soft and pillowy.

Roll, pat and/or toss each dough ball forming it into a 12" circle. (Work from the edges first, not the center, or you'll end up with a very thin center...or a hole!) Place on a pizza stone, pizza pan or use a cookie sheet. -- dust it with cornmeal if desired.

With a thicker crust, you may want to bake the crust alone for 4-5 minutes before adding toppings, especially if you're using a solid pan (some pizza pans have holes which typically makes for a crispier crust).

Add your choice of toppings. Bake @ 425° for 10-12 minutes. Check the pizzas earlier, especially if they're thin crusts which may bake faster. Thicker crusts--and toppings!--of course take a bit longer, maybe 15-18 minutes.

You can use the same recipe to make calzones...just fold the dough in half over the ingredients, and seal the edges before baking. You'll probably need to adjust the baking times too - longer, since it's thicker. Flip it halfway through if desired.

Here's a simple recipe if you're making your own sauce:
Basic Tomato Pizza Sauce
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbls parsley flakes

Or...skip the sauce. Spread a well drained can of petit diced tomatoes on the crust instead, then add other toppings.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C evaporated milk
2 Tbls light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 C peanut butter

Mix sugar, salt, syrup and milk in pan. Bring to boil slowly. Cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 235° on a candy thermometer. (It changes consistency a little and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit as you stir.)

Remove from heat; add peanut butter and vanilla. DO NOT STIR.

Cool to lukewarm, then beat just until creamy, losing gloss and beginning to hold shape. Pour into a buttered/sprayed 8x8" pan. Cut into squares to serve.

It's delicious on its own, but I often make this and chocolate fudge at the same time and swirl them together while they're both still warm. :) Or, as in the picture, I put chocolate chips and/or peanuts in the bottom of the 8x8" pan before pouring in the fudge. Use creamy or crunchy peanut butter, stir in nuts (peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.) if you like...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maple Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

1 lb skinless chicken pieces
1 lg or 2 sm sweet potatoes
1 small onion
8 oz baby carrots
1/3 C maple syrup
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1" chunks. Cut the chicken pieces into 1" chunks too, if you like; or leave them whole, on the bone. (Whole pieces will take longer to cook through. If you're in a hurry...cut it up.) Cut onion into 1" pieces.
In a shallow baking dish or roasting pan, combine chicken, sweet potato, onion, carrots and maple syrup. Toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
Roast chicken mixture 40-45 minutes, stirring once half way through cooking and turning chicken pieces (if whole). Easy and delicious! :)

Cut a large piece of chicken in half to test that it's cooked through; there should be no pink.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Orange Beef & Asparagus Stir Fry

3/4 C orange juice
3 Tbls soy sauce
1/4 C honey
1 Tbls cornstarch
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb flank steak
3 Tbls olive or peanut oil
1 1/2 C asparagus
1 red bell pepper
1/2 C sliced scallions
1 C shredded carrots
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 C honey roasted peanuts

Thinly slice steak across the grain. Julienne red pepper. Coarsely chop peanuts.

In a bowl, combine orange juice, soy, honey, cornstarch and pepper flakes. Add steak strips and stir to coat; let meat strips marinate while you stir-fry vegetables.

Heat 2 Tbls oil in skillet or wok over high heat. Add asparagus and stir-fry 4 minutes. Add bell pepper, scallions and carrots; stir-fry 1 minute. Add ginger and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove vegetables to a bowl.

Heat remaining 1 Tbls oil. Add steak; stir fry 3-4 minutes. Add vegetables and peanuts; stir-fry until heated through. Serve with rice.

The recipe doesn't call for mushrooms, but you may notice them in the photo... They were on sale and I like them. I was also a little short on the scallions, so I threw in a little red onion. Feel free to fiddle with the veggies. Also, my dad hunts and when he's successful, he generously shares! :) This is actually Orange Elk and Asparagus Stir Fry. You can substitute elk or venison for the beef in almost any recipe. Venison definitely has a stronger wild game flavor, so you'll be more likely to taste the difference. Elk is a flavorful recipe like this people may not even notice.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sweet Potatoes/Yams

A family favorite at holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...)

4 medium sweet potatoes (or yams)
¼ C butter
2/3 C brown sugar
   ...sometimes I use more!
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°Peel sweet potatoes and cut into ½” – 1” cubes (just be fairly consistent for even cooking). Melt butter in skillet. Add sweet potatoes to skillet over medium high heat, stirring just occasionally, until nicely browned. (You're not really cooking them through and through, just giving them those 'toasted' caramelized's this extra step that my family loves.) Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle generously with brown sugar.

For a subtle kick, sprinkle with just a dash of cayenne pepper. Bake until potatoes are soft, about 40-45 minutes (or up to an hour depending on the size of potato chunks... 'texture doneness' taste-testing is encouraged!). Remove from oven and turn on oven broiler, top with mini-marshmallows; return to oven under broiler just long enough to toast the marshmallows (2-3 minutes).

Sweet Potato Casserole

For something more non-traditional with sweet potatoes...

4 lbs sweet potatoes
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/4 C milk
4 eggs
4 Tbls lemon juice
* optional ingredients (see below)

Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Boil in salted water (enough to cover) 25-30 minutes, until tender. Drain, return to pan. Slightly mash potatoes. Stir in butter, milk, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and any of the optional "stir ins" (below); mix well. Transfer mixture to a greased baking dish. Top with any of the "toppers" (below). Bake @ 350°, uncovered, 30-35 minutes until heated through.

Stir In Options:
3/4 C peanut butter, OR...
3 Tbls orange peel, OR...
3 tsp red curry paste, OR...
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 C pineapple tidbits and 1/2 C crumbled blue cheese, OR...
1 C mixed peanuts and toasted coconut, OR...
2/3 C crumbled bacon and 1 tsp rosemary, OR...
2/3 C sautéed, thinly sliced onion and garlic

You can use a stir in and a topper, or either one on it's own. Get creative! :)

Sweet Potato Salad

4 lbs sweet potatoes
4 thick cut slices of bacon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 Tbls oil
1/3 C lime juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 scallions
1 red bell pepper,
1/3 C roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
cilantro, chopped

Peel and dice sweet potatoes into 1" chunks; cut bacon into small chunks. In a large roasting pan, toss potatoes, bacon, 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper, 1 Tbls oil until evenly coated. Roast 40 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned and tender, and bacon is crisp. Remove from oven; cool to room temperature.

Remove seeds from red pepper and cut into 1/2 inch dice; thinly slice scallions. In a large serving bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 tsp salt and peper with 2 Tbls oil, lime juice, mustard and garlic. Add potatoes and remaining ingredients. Gently--careful not to smash potatoes--toss salad with large spon until evenly coated.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Southern Hospitality Lemon Bars

1 C flour
1/2 C butter, softened
1/4 C powdered sugar
Press into 8x8" pan.
Bake 20 minutes at 350°.

While crust bakes, mix:
2 eggs
1 C sugar
4+ Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tbls flour
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

When crust is done, quicly wisk 1/2 tsp baking powder into lemon mixture. Pour lemon topping over crust; bake 25 minutes. Cool. Dust with additional powdered sugar.

Rosemary & Red Wine Mushrooms

2 Tbls butter
1 or 2 shallots*, finely chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3/4 C red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 Tbls fresh rosemary (1 tsp dried)
(Optional: 1/3 C cream)

Melt butter in skillet, add chopped shallot and mushrooms; stir and cook until tender and lightly browned (5 minutes). Pour in wine and rosemary. Cook until wine is reduced by 1/2 -- about another 5 minutes. For a creamy sauce, add 1/3 C cream after wine has reduced; heat just to simmer for 1 minute.

Serve immediately over steak or pork. Add some roast potatoes and a salad...and ENJOY!

Note: If you cooked your meat in the skillet, don't clean it before you cook up this mushroom sauce...the little browned bits of meat left in the pan add another layer of flavor to the sauce. :)

* 1/2 a small onion will work though the shallots are nicer; shallots have a much milder, smoother flavor that lets the flavor of the mushrooms and wine come through more.

Variation: use thyme instead of rosemary; try different kinds of mushrooms, different wines...