Sunday, August 2, 2015

Teacher Party- Pulłed Pork


Sorry I don't have an actual pic of the pulled pork yet, but I will take one this evening. 

I've always been apprehensive about making pulled pork. What if it doesn't come out tender enough?  What if it doesn't have enough flavor?  But not anymore. What has changed my pulled pork world?  My pressure cooker.  I've cooked pork shoulder in my Instapot 3 times- and it has been perfect every time. 

I don't think there's any one right way to do this. You can adjust it to your tastes.  

In my opinion, the secret to good pulled pork is the dry rub. There are tons of brands on the market, but I like to make my own.  Here's my basic combination: brown sugar, granulated garlic, granulated onion, finely ground black pepper, salt, and smoky paprika. Amounts?  Depends on how much butt you're rubbing and what flavor profile you like. I like more brown sugar and garlic.  

However, for this party, I went a little crazy and cleaned out my spice pantry. 

I order most of my dry spices from Penzey's.  Every time I order, they always include little sample bottles of different spice blends for me to try.  This is cool, but those little plastic jars pile up in my spice pantry- and I hate plastic.  So I went on a rampage!  Here's what I put in the rub I used this time: Turkish seasoning, Greek seasoning, Bangkok seasoning, brown sugar, granulated garlic, granulated onion, smoky paprika, salt, and black pepper.  It made quite a bit of rub, but then, I cooked about 20 pounds of pig for this party, so I didn't have any left!

As for the actual cooking, it's almost too easy. I cut the pork shoulder into smaller chunks (because I can't overload my Instapot, I cooked the pork in 2 batches), rolled each chunk in the dry rub, then put it in the icebox for about an hour.  Half an hour before I wanted to cook it, I took it out and put it on the counter. 

I placed half the chunks in my Instapot, then poured in a root beer. I added a wee bit of water to make sure the liquid almost covered the meat. I closed the lid and set it to manual (pressure cook) for 75 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes for the temperature to build up before it seals and begins cooking, and it takes about 25 minutes after it cuts off for the temperature to come down and the pressure to drop. 

When the alarm goes off after cooking (75 minutes), I turn off the pot and let it sit for 25 minutes.  Then I release the pressure valve and open the cooker. The pork is soft and tender. I shredded it, put it in a foil pan, and poured the juice from the cooker over it. It is sitting, covered, in my icebox waiting for 25 people to show up tonight and devour it.  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pesto v. 1.0


After spending some time in the herb patch this morning, I decided to make pesto. 

The first experiment involved sage and cashews. 

Classic pesto contains basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. 

I decided to do something a bit different. I picked a huge bunch of sage leaves, and threw them in my mini food processor with 2 small cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper, cashews and olive oil. I didn't add the cheese because I'm going to freeze this. I'll add grated Parmesan when I'm ready to use it. 

I just blitzed everything into a paste, scraped it into a small mason jar, put a layer of olive oil on the top, and popped it in the freezer. 

Easy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash

I made turkey burgers for dinner last night.  I can't eat turkey burgers without sweet potato fries.

When I was making dinner last night, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, because I made way too many sweet potato fries.  So I popped them into a container and stashed them in my icebox.

Fast forward to this morning, when I was rummaging around looking for something to make for breakfast.

I saw the container of sad little sweet potato fries on the shelf.  I started thinking about what I could do with them... what about some kind of hashbrowns?  I had about 1/8th of a bag of regular frozen hashbrowns in the freezer... an idea began to take shape.

Here's what I did....

Sweet Potato Hash

2 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil or butter
A handful of leftover sweet potato fries, chopped up (any kind of pre-cooked sweet potato will do)
A handful of grated frozen hashbrowns (any kind will do)
Half a small onion, chopped
6 small mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
s/p

In an 8inch cast iron skillet (or non-stick if that's what you've got), melt the bacon grease over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and let it cook for a few minutes.  Then add the sliced mushrooms, and again, let it cook for a few minutes.  When the veggies have cooked down a bit, throw in the cut up sweet potato fries and the shredded hashbrowns.  Stir it around, then let it sit for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Don't over do it, as you can taste it along the way for seasoning.  I don't use much salt because the bacon grease has some already.  You want some color on the potatoes and veggies.  After 5 minutes or so, make a well in the center of the mixture and put in the extra tablespoon of butter.  Stir things around, and let it continue to cook until the other stuff you're having for breakfast is done.

I served this to my husband with a couple of scrambled eggs.  The picture you see was my portion, which I topped with a fried egg.

This was really good.  I think from now on I'll make too many sweet potato fries on purpose, just as an excuse to have this for breakfast again!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tuna Two Ways...




This summer, I will be primarily contributing to the other blog I have, called 1700 Miles of Cooking. The blog is a joint venture with my best friend, Diane.  We've had the blog forever, but we almost never update it.  This summer we have committed to bringing it back!

Here's the link, so go take a look at the post on cooking tuna!


Sunday, June 14, 2015

My First Coffee Cupping (Tasting)

So I'm going to let the pictures I took speak for themselves...


Summer Lunches



This is what summer lunches look like at our house sometimes. To tell the truth, these are my favorites. I get to clean odds and ends out of my ice box- and get away with eating cheese and crackers for lunch. Plus I found beautiful figs at Whole Foods and this is my favorite way to consume them. 

Here's to many more summer lunches!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cheater Calzones and Thoughts about My Blog...

Lately I've been a little bummed about the state of food blogging.  I've had this blog for almost 8 years, and although I've never monetized it, I admire people who make money from their blogs.  It seems like the days of being paid "per click" are gone, so the only way to make money on a blog is to do sponsored posts.  And sometimes, that feels dishonest.  People should be able to blog about whatever they want, not choose what to blog based on their ability to pay the bills.

Anyhoo, I've never had much traffic or comments here.  I get much more play on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Which has been making me think.  I have mainly been using my Instagram to journal about my cooking day to day.  I really only use the blog for original recipes.  It makes them easier to share.  I feel like my online presence is shifting from the blog to other, shorter forms of communication.  And I'm ok with that.  My blogging will never pay the bills.  I'll stick to teaching for that.  At least for the time being!

On to today's recipe.  It's a total cheat.  A few weeks ago I opened a box of puff pastry to make some savory ham and cheese pies.  They were awesome!  But I only used one sheet of the dough.  The other sheet had been languishing in my ice box, begging to be used.  So one night this week, I got it out and got creative.

I preheated my oven to 400 degres, then rolled the sheet out a bit, and cut it into 2 huge triangles.  I had about a third of a pound of Italian sausage in the ice box, so I browned it with chopped onions and peppers.  I also had a little dish of canned tomatoes leftover from another adventure, so I used them as well.  I layered shredded mozzarella cheese, then the sautéed sausage, onions and peppers, then a few canned tomatoes, and lastly, more cheese.  I popped them in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Oh- and I snuck some goat cheese into mine- it was lovely!



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