Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Wow....a lot has happened since the last post. Sorry for the huge delay in getting back on here. I have lots to tell you about but for today, I'll just give you a super delicious and very easy recipe.

Hopefully in a few days though I can get all my pictures around and show you my 30th birthday celebration which was a BLAST! And also, pictures from Pat's and my weekend get-away to Gatlinburg TN. Lots of fun stories there!

This time in my life is a bit crazy and a lot chaotic. I am working full-time and going to school. And while I love to cook, sometimes my schedule just doesn't permit a whole lot of extra time. Which is why I love my crock pot. Pat actually gave me my crock pot as a birthday present a few years back and I was ecstatic! Yes, that does sound like a bit of an odd gift, but I had been asking for someone, anyone to get me one for the past 2 years for Christmas, birthday, anniversary, basically anything I could come up with as an excuse to get a gift!

And now that I finally have it, I really try to make good use of it. Here is a great recipe I came across on the Food Network website. Now, I don't normally make any of Sandra Lee's recipes but this was is a must. I promise, people will go crazy over this...and it's just so easy!

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Adapted from Sandra Lee


1 packet Hawaiian Marinade (recommended: McCormick Grill Mates)
1 Tbs smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp ground pepper
3 ½ pound pork shoulder
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup chili sauce
1 (6 ounce) can pineapple juice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
8 hamburger rolls

Hawaiian Sauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs ginger, chopped
2 tsp garlic, chopped


1. In a small bowl combine Hawaiian mix, paprika and pepper. Coat the pork with the rub mixture, patting until all the rub is used.
2. In a bowl whisk together the chicken broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili sauce and pineapple juice. Set aside.
3. Put the chopped onions and carrots in a 5-quart slow cooker. Place the pork on top of the onions and carrots and pour half of the pineapple mixture over the pork. Reserve remainder for Hawaiian sauce.
4. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. The meat should fall apart easily.
5. Remove the roast from the slow cooker to a cutting board. Using 2 forks carefully pull the meat into shreds.
6. Serve the pork on rolls drizzled with the Hawaiian sauce or on the side for dipping.

Hawaiian Sauce:

In a medium pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add remaining pineapple mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Last Bite: The Hawaiian Sauce is the ticket. You almost want to drink it, it's so good. Pat and I liked dipping our sandwiches but be prepared to get a little messy. You won't mind though, and will soon be practically licking the dripping off the table, your fingers, your plate....(and when I say practically, I mean you will be!) Enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

To each his own said the old lady as she kissed the cow

This is a birthday/tribute post to my dear grandma. It is her first birthday since she's been gone and I think most of the family is unsure how to celebrate or what to do. But I know we all want to remember and give toast to an incredible woman who influenced all our lives.

While my brother and I were one of the many grandchildren she had, I know she always made each of us feel special. She may not have had a lot of money, but she always had a lot of heart. But more than that, the lady was a hoot! My mom actually made each family a jar of "Momism's" filled with little pieces of paper of all the funny things she said. The heading to this post is my case in point!

I think it has been a sort of healing process for us to have the jar around. When I am having a bad day or unsure of what is to come, I often ask the Momism jar. While much like a Magic 8 ball....she is way more insightful.

There was one day where Pat and I were disagreeing on something and I was getting frustrated so I decided to ask Grandma why we weren't getting along at the moment. Her response: "Love will find a way, even in a manure pile"

It was such a perfect thing to say that I started laughing right away.

She also loved babies. It makes me sad sometimes that I never had any kids for her to meet before she passed away. But I remember having a conversation with her about it one time. She told me that I would have kids someday and they would be beautiful and look just like me and have my eyes. I know when I finally do have a baby she will be smiling. She always used to say, "Our family is blessed. Not with money, but with healthy babies".

To celebrate tonight Pat and I are going to share a nice bottle of red wine in her honor. For, if you knew her, you know she loved her red wine!

She was quick-witted and one of the wisest women around. I know she was sad to leave us all....but I also know she is watching down on us, day after day, and I can't wait to see her again!

I don't have a great or recent picture of her, but this is from Christmas a few years back. At her nursing home they put on a Cowboy Christmas.

Grandma and baby Aaron!

It's a Cowboy Christmas!

In honor of her birthday I have included one of her favorite recipes. I am sorry I don't have a picture to show you, but I have had it before, and trust me, it's good!!

Daffodil Dip

1 hard cooked egg, chopped
2Tbs chopped onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise (the real stuff!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Dash of pepper

1. Gradually add mayonnaise to softened cream cheese. Mix until well blended. Add parsley, chopped egg, onion, garlic and pepper. Mix well.
2. Serve with veggie dippers such as cucumbers, radishes, cherry tomatoes or crackers.
Last Bite: Make the dip, you'll love it! And hopefully you have a wonderful grandma to love too!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pesto-Part 2

Yes, I love pesto so much that I am giving you another way to use this delicious stuff! With the weather a bit warmer and the sun out shining I feel the need for lighter, healthier food which is why I just love this little dandy!

This pesto stuffed salmon actually came to me by way of realtor's postcard in the mail. Although I'm probably not going to call the realtor, I was pretty excited to snag the recipe off the front of the postcard. I also thought it was a pretty clever marketing tactic.

Pesto Stuffed Salmon

Pesto (recipe below)
4 salmon fillets
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto Sauce
2 cups fresh basil or spinach (pack these cups FULL!)
2-3 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped (you can use less if you prefer)
2 tsp butter (feel free to leave this out...I try to...but I just can't!)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
Pepper and salt to taste

1. Combine pesto ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined while drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil
2. Slice each fillet horizontally, stopping 1/2 inch from the edge. Open the fillets and divide stuffing mixture evenly between them
3. Close the fillets and brush with oil. Season with salt and pepper
4. Saute in a non-stick skillet and/or grill
5. Cook each side for about 5 minutes

I also served up some Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with this meal as well. But I bake my fries....makes them sound healthier doesn't it?? These fries are pretty easy but I will warn you...they always take me at least 45 minutes to an hour to make. Every recipe I read out there claims they are finished in about 20 to 35 minutes. That has never, not once, not when I am starving for food, been the case in my house. So brace yourself!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

2-3 sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges
2 Tbs olive oil
Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper and salt (I sprinkle all of the above until I feel good about it...feel free to use as much or as little as you like!)

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Place your baking sheet in the oven while it preheats so it is hot.
2. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl and coat with olive oil and seasoning. Make sure each wedge is coated
3. Remove your baking sheet from the oven and (carefully!) place the potato wedges in the sheet
4. Bake anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Flip potatoes occasionally.

Last Bite: This is a fairly easy yet very good meal! I really liked the pesto stuffed in the salmon. I haven't ever made it before, but it's a new favorite! Also...I always love these potatoes...they have just enough kick to make your upper lip sweat just a little....or maybe that's just me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pesto, You're the Besto!

Well....it's starting to feel like spring out there isn't it?? The weather has a hint of warmth that we have all been so longing for! I don't even care that it's a little rainy today....because it is at least above freezing!!

In light of the recent warm weather I have been spending time dreaming about what we will plant in our garden this summer. This will be the third year for us to have a garden and have learned quite a bit since our first garden several years ago.

Pat and I both grew up in families who planted big gardens, but I am fairly certain neither of us paid any attention to what was going on at all.

This became pretty evident when Pat brought home 10 tomato plants and 15 pepper plants for our tiny little 8x8 foot garden in our backyard the first year!! Needless to say, our neighbor ended up with some extra tomato and pepper plants they hadn't planned on....

Last year I decided to plant a few herbs in the garden. It was pretty much a huge failure, except for my basil. Oh, did my basil grow! I had gads of it that I had no clue what to do with. That is when one of my friends mentioned something about making pesto!

Let me tell you, once you make your own pesto, you will NEVER buy it again! It is that good! I'll tell you how I make my pesto but you can find a recipe just about anywhere...they are all pretty similar too.

However, in the dreary months of winter, basil can be tricky to find, and if you do find it, it can be a bit pricey. So I just swap out the basil for spinach and find it to be just as good.

But, what do you do with all the wonderful pesto? Pat and I love to add it to pasta with shrimp. It's one of my favorite, easy, go-to meals...summer or winter! Plus I think it looks fun too....all green and fresh with yummy shrimp....I'm sure you will love it!

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

Pesto Sauce (recipe below)
1 bag peeled, deveined shrimp
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb cooked pasta of your choice

Pesto Sauce
2 cups fresh basil or spinach (pack these cups FULL!)
2-3 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, chopped (you can use less if you prefer)
2 tsp butter (feel free to leave this out...I try to...but I just can't!)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
Pepper and salt to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente.

2. For the pesto, add pesto ingredients to your food processor except for the olive oil. Begin to pulse while streaming in your olive oil until smooth and combined. Scrap down the sides as needed.

3. Heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium heat and add shrimp. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook.

4. Drain the pasta and add pasta to cooked shrimp. Add pesto sauce and stir to combine. Enjoy!
Last Bite: I love pesto...and this meal is super simple and delish!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meatloaf My Way

Do you know that I have never made meatloaf in my entire life until recently? Sure I’ll try all sorts of complex things, but meatloaf? Never.

Then I realized the simple beauty of meatloaf. There is really no way to screw it up! I think you could really put whatever you wanted in a meatloaf and it would probably taste good.

This reminds me of the “Friends” episode where Rachel makes an English Trifle, but totally messes it up by combining two recipes accidently. While everyone was gagging theirs down, Joey of course loved it, “Cream? Good! Jam? Good! Beef? Good!!”

So I think the same rule could apply for meatloaf. I gave it a whirl and included some of my favorite ingredients and was pleasantly happy with the result. Pat is still trying to talk me into making this with venison…..but….I’m not sure I want to ruin the meatloaf!

I also made a side of dill potatoes with this dish too which were super easy and very tasty.

Meatloaf My Way


2 lbs ground turkey
2-3 cloves garlic
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 onion chopped
4-5 sundried tomatoes chopped (I used the ones NOT in oil)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (or as much heat as you like!)
1 slightly whisked egg
Basil, Parsley, Salt and Pepper (I just eyeball this…use what you like here!)


1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Mix everything together in a large bowl until combined.
3. Spray non-stick spray in your loaf pan and then pour the meat mixture in. Press until even. 4. Coat generously with ketchup.
5. Cook for 1 hour or until cooked through.

Dill Potatoes
Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks
2 Tbs butter
¼ chopped fresh dill
Salt and Pepper

1. Fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and place them over high heat. Boil potatoes until fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Drain and place the potatoes back into the pan on the burner for 30 seconds to dry them out. Add the butter and toss in the herbs. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.

Last Bite: I really liked this meatloaf! I thought it had great flavor and I really liked the subtle heat from the red pepper flakes. I really like the fresh taste the dill brought to the potatoes…I might even try a squeeze of lemon the next time I make them too!