Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pulled Pork Extravaganza, Part Two

Hi guys!  I am so excited to show you tonight’s recipe because it is so crazy good.  I am not normally one for homemade pizza.  It is usually something that I actually prefer to come from a restaurant instead of being homemade.  I love pizza, pizza delivery, eating at a pizza place, etc.  We usually have to go out to get pizza because nobody delivers to where I live.  I only live about 10 or 15 minutes from town, but the pizza delivery guys must think I live in Bum$%^&, Egypt.  When we moved here, and I found out that I couldn’t get pizza delivered…..I think I cried myself to sleep for the first two weeks. 

So as you may have gathered, smarty pants, I am showing you a great pizza recipe tonight.  And you also may remember that I am still knee deep in amazing BBQ pulled pork. If you are remembering correctly, I cooked a HUGE pork butt in my slow cooker so I would have plenty of pork for the week.   I promised you another great idea, starring pulled pork, plus lots of other ideas.  I shall deliver.  Before I show you the fantastic pizza…let me remind you how I made the pulled pork.

And by remind you, I mean I will post the link and the rest is up to you.

And now…here is a partial list of what you can do with the aforementioned pulled pork.  “Partial” because I am sure there are a million that I am not thinking of;)

-Pulled Pork Spaghetti (replace your usual sauce with saucy pulled pork)

-Pulled Pork topped baked potatoes

-Pulled Pork topped French fries

-Pulled Pork Quesadillas

-Pulled Pork Nachos

-Top a salad with Pulled Pork

-Layer Pulled Pork with cream cheese and cheddar cheese and bake, serve with corn chips for dipping

-Pulled Pork omelets

-Pulled Pork on biscuits

Ok, I am sure there are plenty more….but I bet this gives you some ideas!

Onto my pizza…..

I have always loved California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Pizza, so it makes complete sense that I would love a pulled pork pizza.  The BBQ sauce goes so well with a yummy crust and lots of cheese.  Of course, it is best when you use Gourmet Rooster BBQ Sauce….right?

I used a premade pizza crust….You know, the kind you buy in a package that is not from the refrigerated section?  Normally, I buy a bag of pizza dough from Raley’s, but they didn’t have any today.  It was a vicious plot against me, I am sure.

I chose the thin crust variety, but you can use whatever your little heart desires.

I also used leftover pulled pork (duh), a little more Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple BBQ Sauce, extra sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, red onion, chopped tomato and chopped green onions.  You know what else would be phenomenal on this pizza?  Bacon.  And that is because bacon is good on anything.

Instead of pizza sauce, I spread BBQ sauce on the crust.  I only used a little bit because the pork is really saucy.  I don’t want this pizza to loaded down because then it may not ever cook through….it could stay soggy.

Then, I put on some of my leftover pork and some sliced red onion.

Remember to leave a border.

I could totally get a job at Round Table.

Now the best part….cheese, beautiful cheese.

I like the mix of cheddar and mozzarella.  I think that BBQ goes well with cheddar, but I like the stretchiness of mozzarella.

Now, I bake this bad boy.  I like to add the green onions and tomatoes after the pizza cooks.  That choice is up to you too.

I followed the directions on the pizza crust package.  My package told me to bake at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes.  I baked mine a smidge longer to make sure that it really was cooked in the middle.

Once the pizza was done, I sprinkled on the green onions and tomatoes.

I couldn’t wait to cut into this.  I am totally the one that eats pizza before it cools and totally burns her mouth.  Every time.  I am 35 years old, and I have yet to learn that hot pizza burns mouths.  Oh wait, I mean I am 26, and I have yet to learn that hot pizza burns mouths.

Oh man…this pizza is good.  The BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy, the pork is moist and tender, and the cheese is creamy and delicious.  Isn’t this a great use of leftover pulled pork?  I think so.  I think this pizza makes me 50% less sad that nobody will deliver pizza here.

I will see you next week….Shall we celebrate Cinco De Mayo?

BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

One pizza crust, About 12 inches in diameter

1/3 cup BBQ Sauce

1 cup Pulled Pork with sauce

1/3 cup red onion, sliced

½ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

¼ cup green onions, chopped

1/3 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place pizza crust onto baking pan.  Spread BBQ sauce over crust, leaving a border around the edge.  Top sauce with pork, red onion and cheeses.  Bake according to package directions.  Top cooked pizza with green onions and tomatoes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pulled Pork Extravaganza

Hi all!  I was just on TV!  I am questioning my hair ‘do choice (a pony tail), but the interview was at 8 in the morning….I didn’t have a lot of options.  It was a great interview with my girl, Lauren Garber, from KOLO 8 here in Reno.  She focuses on a local business once a week, and I was the lucky duck this week!  I will post a link to it as soon as it is up on their website.

Seeing yourself on TV is weird.  I felt like it didn’t sound like me or look like me either, but Chris swears it did.  My wee ones were filmed too.  Addy takes after her mom….she was upset about her wardrobe choice.  She was rockin’ her little league sweatshirt, and apparently that wasn’t the right call.  She looked adorable, of course….as did Peepers.  I can’t wait for you all to see it!

This weekend, when I was thinking about dinners for the week, I realized that we have a crazy busy week.  I am busy with all my Rooster business, Addy has baseball, Chris has some work functions, etc.  I really didn’t want to plan anything to lengthy or difficult.  I knew this was going to be a week for my slow cooker.  I decided to pop a pork butt in the slow cooker and then turn that into pulled pork.  Pulled pork can be used in so many different ways.  I think that a lot of the ways I use it, you might not have thought of.  It really is crazy versatile.  Today, I will show you how I cooked my butt (hahahaha!!), and how I turned that into one of the best burritos you will ever have.  On Thursday I will show you another way to use pulled pork, plus…I will list a ton if ideas.  I mean really, how easy is it to throw some meat in the slow cooker, and then use it for several different meals??

I have covered this before, but I will show you once again how I cook my butt in the slow cooker…..

Here is my butt.  And yes, I am laughing every single time I say that.  I am secretly a 12 year old boy.

Pork butts are also called pork shoulders.  Now of course, I like big butts and I cannot lie.  Ok, sorry…I couldn’t resist that.  But, if you are going to cook one, make it a big one.  This meat will freeze really well.

This particular butt has a bone in it.  I prefer it with the bone.  The bone has lots of flavor, and it will help keep the meat moist.

To cook this butt, I used a spice rub that I will tell you all about at the end of this.  I also used Worcestershire sauce, a beer and some sliced onion.

Although this pork will get drenched in Gourmet Rooster BBQ sauce later, I don’t cook it in the sauce.  I feel like the sauce gets too diluted when the pork cooks all day in it.  Saucin’ will come later.

The rub gets smeared all over the pork.  Massage your meat, people.

Then, I brown the meat on all sides.  I put it in a large sauté pan that has a smidge of oil in it.  This goes quickly.

My butt barely fit in the pan!

Finally, I put the browned meat on top of the onions, in the slow cooker.  I poured on the Worcestershire and beer, put the lid on, and let ‘er rip for about 8 hours….on low.

When the meat was done, I took it out to cool a bit.  This meat was barely holding together…..so close to falling apart.  But that is the whole point.  You want the meat so tender that it just falls apart.

To help it along the way….I shredded the meat with two forks.  Once the meat was shredded, I added BBQ sauce.  I used Gourmet Rooster Whiskey Apple BBQ Sauce.  You can use whatever you want.  I’m not pushy.

Yum!  Now this is ready to do a million things with….but tonight….it’s burritos.

I make a green chili and cilantro rice to go in my burritos.  Plain rice works well too if you are someone that hates cilantro.

Did you know that some people have an enzyme that makes cilantro taste like soap?  Or maybe they are lacking an enzyme.  True story, I just can’t remember the specifics.

I actually cook the rice with one tiny can of green chilies, but I don’t add the cilantro until the rice is cooked.

Let’s build a burrito.  Notice that I am working on foil.  This way, I can wrap my burrito up in foil, just like at a Taqueria!  I am so authentic;)

I layered some pinto beans, the BBQ pork and sharp cheddar cheese.  The BBQ pork will be amazing with pinto beans and sharp cheddar. 

Then, I added my green chili and cilantro rice and some guacamole. 

You can add any number of things to this burrito…sour cream, more BBQ sauce, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.  What do you like on your burrito?

I don’t add salsa because I don’t want to take away from the BBQ flavor.

BTW-I make sure that all the ingredients that are supposed to be warm are warm when added to the burrito.  That will melt the cheese.

All wrapped up snug as a bug in a rug!

There it is!  Day one of my pulled pork extravaganza. Have you had a burrito with BBQ pork in it?  I prefer it to salsa-esque pork.  I could eat pulled pork in anything, and when this week is over, you will be pretty sure that I do.

See you on Thursday!

BBQ Pulled Pork, Slow Cooker Style

One pork shoulder (or butt), about 5-8 pounds

2 Tablespoons minced, dried onion

2 Tablespoons minced, dried garlic

2 Tablespoons paprika

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

12 ounces beer, Pale Ale

1/3 cup Worcestershire

1 onion, sliced

2 Tablespoon oil

Mix together dried onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.  Rub mixture all over pork.

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Brown pork on all sides over medium heat.  About 4 minutes a side.

Add sliced onions to the bottom of slow cooker.  Add browned pork.  Pour Worcestershire sauce and beer over meat.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker and let rest for 15 minutes.  Shred with two forks and add BBQ sauce.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For the Love of Mascarpone Cheese

Hi all!  I know I told you, last Tuesday, about my secret love affair with chives.  The truth is, I am having an even more secret love affair that I am about to reveal.  It isn’t even a love affair.  It actually borders on obsession.  Before you start to think I am completely psycho, and have a restraining order taken out against me….I must tell you that this love affair is with mascarpone cheese.  Yes, I have gone the way of Giada De Laurentiis.  I put mascarpone cheese in everything.  But I don’t pronounce it with an Italian accent.  In fact, I am pretty sure I mispronounce it every time I say it.

Mascarpone cheese is basically an Italian cream cheese.  It is sold in 8 ounce containers, and you are familiar with it if you have had tiramisu.  But don’t be fooled….it doesn’t taste like American cream cheese.  I think it is a little bit sweeter, and it doesn’t really have the tang of cream cheese.  It is super smooth and creamy though, just like cream cheese.  It is used in both sweet and savory recipes.  And to show that, I will be showing you two recipes today…one sweet and one savory.  And both crazy easy.

Now you know that I almost never post other people’s recipes.  I usually post my own.  Today, I am going against everything I believe in.  Everything I know.  Everything I love.  Today, I am posting a recipe straight from the Queen of mascarpone cheese herself…..Giada. 

I was watching her show a couple of weeks ago, and she made a dip that was a combination of mascarpone and sour cream, mixed with chives and bacon.  I knew I had to make it.  I made it for a friend and her family, and we all could not stop eating it.  Literally, we had a problem stopping.  There might have even been bowl licking going on.  I add an extra ingredient, which you will see, but still….I owe it all to Giada.

I used my love, mascarpone cheese….and sour cream, bacon, chives, garlic salt, pepper and pecans.  Pecans were my very own touch;)

My mascarpone had been sitting out at room temperature for a while, so it was easily mixable.  I blended the sour cream, mascarpone, garlic salt and pepper together.

Then I stirred in my chopped pecans, chopped chives, and cooked and chopped bacon.

So you can see this dip comes together in seconds.  If you want to eat it right away, go ahead.  But don’t be afraid to stick it in the fridge for a while.  It is even better the next day after the flavors get a chance to marry.  I know, I know…that kind of marriage wouldn’t be recognized in California.  I will eat this in Vermont.

I served mine with corn chips, which seemed like the right thing to do.  If you have a party to go to, or you are throwing a party….you must make this.  It is the perfect mix of smooth creaminess, a bit of tang from the sour cream, salt from the nuts and bacon, etc.  So, so good.

I really wish I hadn’t inhaled all of this last night.  I really want some now.

My next recipe is actually all my own.  I also used some mascarpone in a sweet fruit dip.  I wanted to make a fruit dip that would encourage my kids to eat fruit.  This dip did that and then some.  They ate so much fruit I was scared that there were going to be some severe tummy consequences today. 

I used mascarpone, sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Could not be easier.

I tossed all the ingredients into a bowl.  Obviously.

Although my mascarpone was room temperature, I still busted out my hand mixer just to make sure the brown sugar was all mixed in.  I wanted this smooth.

This dip is sweet, creamy and totally delicious.  I love brown sugar in anything, and it definitely goes well with sour cream and fruit.

Oh man.  I could eat all of this.

And I am pretty sure I did.

This dip is also a must try.  So many yummy fruits are starting to come into season now.  They would all be perfect with this fruit dip.  I promise.  I ate enough of it to be sure.

I hope that you also fall in love with mascarpone cheese the way I have.  It deserves some recognition for something other than tiramisu.

Here is a link to Giada’s dip recipe.  My big change is that I added ½ cup of chopped pecans.  I also used garlic salt in my dip.  And I didn’t serve mine with pita chips.  So really, just a few changes;)

Mascarpone Fruit Dip

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

¾ cup sour cream

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Blend all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Serve with assorted fruit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chicken Meatball Sliders

Hi everyone!  I am trying to get back into the swing of things.  It was great having a week off, but it did feel kind of weird not blogging.  Cooking and not taking pictures of it?  Weird.  But truthfully, I only cooked once when I was down in California.  My mom cooked for me.  Love it. 

The one time I did cook, I made spaghetti and meatballs for my bestie, Jennifer, and her family.  I used a recipe that I love from Tyler Florence.  The meatballs are made of beef and pork, and they are fried.  Crazy good.  If you are looking for a “go to” recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, use that one.  If you are looking for a meatball recipe that won’t make you gain 50 pounds and get angina, use the one I am about to give you. 

After eating the fatty balls, I decided I wanted to come up with a recipe for lighter, healthier meatballs.  I used ground chicken, tons of herbs, and I served mine as sliders instead of with spaghetti.  I always feel better about myself when I eat tiny food.  I know it makes no sense, but I just feel that sliders are lighter than a big ‘ol plate of spaghetti.  Of course, when you eat 30 sliders, that all goes out the window;)
And yes, everytime I type "balls", I giggle.

I think you will like this recipe.  I, of course, feel like I killed it.  These sliders rocked.  The chicken stayed moist, which is tough with breast meat, and the flavor was anything but “diet” tasting.  Let me show you how I did it.

Here are the ingredients:

3 slices hearty white bread, like sourdough

¾ cup milk

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ an onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1& 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 heaping tablespoon chives, chopped

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 pound ground chicken breast

1 egg

½ cup parmesan cheese

The first step is to soak the bread in milk.  This is what will keep the meatballs moist.  I hate that word (moist) but, unfortunately, nothing else describes it.

Like I said above, chicken breast can be dry.  You need to add a few secret ingredients to keep them from being like chalk.  The milk soaked bread is the most important on this list. 

I let the bread sit for about 10 minutes.

I push down my bread to make sure it is soaking up as much milk a possible.

Side note….Don’t my nails look pretty??

Next, I get the veggie component ready.  I use the word “veggie” lightly.  I don’t think anything pictured above really has any nutritional value.

I sauté the veggies, over medium heat, for about 8 minutes.  I just want to soften everything.  I used a smidge of oil in the pan, and I stirred frequently.  Don’t let your garlic burn!

I am having a secret love affair with chives.  I throw then into everything these days. They totally work in this.

I let the veggies cool before they get mixed into anything.  Not for a long time, just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, I tossed the chicken, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper into the bowl.  You can put the spices in here or into your veggies.  Either is fine.

I squeezed the bread to get rid of the extra milk, and added that to the bowl.  I also added the cooled veggies.  Then, I dug in.  I mixed just until everything was incorporated.  Don’t over mix.  You want your meatballs to be light and fluffy, not dense.  Lightly mixing will keep them light….like biting into a light, chicken pillow.

Throw away your extra milk, in case you didn’t figure that one out on your own.

All mixed.

I used a ¼ cup scoop to measure my balls.  I placed them in a greased (sprayed) pan.  This mixture is super wet.  It will almost be hard to form balls.  Just do your best, but they will still flatten out a bit.  This mixture NEEDS to be wet.  Remember, we want moist balls.  Ha ha…..moist balls.

I baked these at 400 degrees for 10 minutes to set their shape.  Then, I turned the heat down to 350 and let them go another 15 to 20 minutes. 

See how they are browned a bit?  That means they are done.  What the heck happened to the one in the corner?  The oven must have eaten it;)

I make a quick pomodoro sauce to serve over my meatballs.  You can use your favorite jarred sauce, but this pomodoro sauce is so easy, why open a jar?

I used a can of “ground” tomatoes which is a fancier way of saying “crushed” tomatoes, I guess.  I also used the other half of my onion, more garlic, salt and sugar.  The sugar will help the sauce taste less like canned tomatoes.

In a medium sized pot, I lightly sautéed the onion and garlic.  Just enough to soften them.

P.S. This makes more sauce then you need, but you can save it for pasta.  It freezes well.

I stirred in the tomatoes, salt and sugar and let this simmer for about 15 minutes. 

If you are fancy, you can add fresh basil.  I, clearly, am not.

For my slider rolls, I used a package of dinner rolls.  I cut them in half and laid them out on a baking sheet.

I placed a slice of fresh mozzarella on the bottom half of each roll.  Then, I popped these under the broiler until the rolls were slightly browned and the cheese was melty.

When it all came together, it looked like this little piece of heaven above.  I spooned sauce over the meatball and served.

These little sliders were crazy good.  They were everything you could ask for in a meatball.  The balls were flavorful, moist and light.  They were the perfect little 3 bite sandwich.  My kids loved them too! 

This recipe makes about 12 sliders, so if you are making these for a party, just double the meatball recipe….you will have enough sauce.  If you are having these at a party….will you invite me?

See you on Thursday!

Chicken Meatballs

3 slices hearty white bread, like sourdough

¾ cup milk

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ an onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1& 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 heaping tablespoon chives, chopped

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 pound ground chicken breast

1 egg

½ cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour milk into a small bowl.  Add bread.  Push bread down to help the milk soak in.  Soak for at least 10 minutes.

Add olive oil to a sauté pan.  Sauté onion, garlic, chives and parsley in oil for about 8 minutes over medium heat.  Veggies should be soft and translucent, but not browned.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, mix together bread (excess milk squeezed out), cooled veggies, egg, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and ground chicken.  Form meatballs using a ¼ cup scoop.  Place meatballs into a greased baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are starting to brown and are cooked through.

Pomodoro Sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ an onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened.  Add salt, sugar and tomatoes.  Simmer for about 15 minutes over medium heat.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Best Grilled Cheese...From Left-over Ham

Hi everybody!  I know you haven’t celebrated Easter yet, so obviously…you don’t know if you will have leftovers or not……but I still have a ton of ham.  Remember, I made my Easter ham last week so I could show you a really good recipe.  It was huge.  We have had ham in every way, shape and form you could imagine.  My favorite ham meal that we had was a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  It was on sourdough bread, and it was piled high with leftover ham, Swiss cheese, cream cheese, spinach and Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread.  I will show you how I made it because if you have leftover ham after Easter, which I’m willing to bet you will, you have to make this.  You have to.

There is a food truck here in town called GourMelt.  They make a million different kinds of grilled cheeses.  They use cream cheese on a few of them, and that is right up my alley.  This sandwich is kind of an homage to them since it has cream cheese on it.  I would eat cream cheese on virtually anything.

If you haven’t been to GourMelt….you must find them.  If you don’t live in Reno….you will have to make this sandwich and pretend.

Like I just said, I used sourdough bread, leftover ham, Swiss cheese, cream cheese, Dijon mustard, spinach and Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread. 

Here is a helpful hint:  When you are putting away your leftover Easter ham….portion it out into storage containers or plastic bags.  It is so much easier to separate it from the get go then always pulling a huge container out of the freezer.

I started by grating my cheese in my food processor.  Obviously, if you buy your cheese grated…..skip this step.

Swiss cheese works so well with ham.  Fontina does too if you aren’t a Swiss lover.  Even if you don't love the Swiss, you must at least be neutral.  Get it?  Neutral?  Ha.

I switched blades and tossed the cream cheese and Onion Spread into the food processor.  I blended this until mixed.  It won’t be smooth because the stuff in it is too chunky.

If you don’t have a food processor, mix this in a bowl.  If your cream cheese is soft it will be easy.  Not as easy as using a food processor, but still….kinda easy.

I started by spreading Dijon mustard on one piece of bread.  I will show you how to make one sandwich.  I have faith that you can take it from there.

Next, I spread my crazy good cheese spread on each piece of bread.  This will be the “glue” so I put it on both sides.

Next comes the ham and spinach.  I felt the sandwich needed some green, so I went with spinach.  Watercress or arugula would work well too.

 Is my shadow seriously in the bottom of most of these pictures?  Creepy.

I spread butter on the outsides of the sandwich.  This will help it brown nicely.

Finally, into the Panini maker.  Oh wait, that’s right….I don’t have a Panini maker.  I improvised and used my Lean Mean Grilling Machine.  Same concept really.  If you don’t have either of these….use a frying pan.

So, so good.  The cheeses, onion spread and ham are a marriage made in heaven.  And look how well the Lean Mean Grilling Machine did!  This sandwich is ooey-gooey goodness on a plate.

Look at the cheese!  You know you want this.  If you think that you are on the road to no leftover ham…..hoard that stuff.

So next week my kids are on Spring Break.  I will be in CA visiting my mom.  With the kids.  I’m not ditching them for Spring Break.  I will be taking a wee break from blogging next week, but I will be back with new recipes on April 17th.  I will re-post some favorites from last year during next week so you can still get your fix;)

Grilled Ham and Cheese…Done Right

8 slices sourdough

¼ cup Dijon mustard

6 ounces Swiss Cheese, grated

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 ounces Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread

½ lb. sliced ham

1 cup baby spinach

Butter for Grilling

Add the grated cheese, cream cheese and onion spread to the food processor.  Blend until mixed.

Spread out bread.  Divide mustard evenly over half the slices.  Assemble sandwiches with cheese spread, ham and spinach.

Spread butter on the outside of each slice.  Grill or fry until sandwiches are golden brown and cheese is melted.