Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Peanut Butter Sesame Pork

Ok, let me start off by saying what you are all thinking.  Yes, I cook with Asian flavors a lot.  A LOT.  It’s a hit.  It’s a crowd pleaser, and so on and so on.  My kids love most Asian dishes, my husband does, and I do.  You know what else I love?  My slow cooker.

We have been so busy lately with work, school, softball, etc.  My daughter’s softball games are weeknights at 6pm.  I realize someone has to play at that time….but it really messes with dinner.  She has to be there at 5pm.  Do I feed everyone first?  And then they want to eat again when we get home at 8pm?  Do I make them wait till we get home?  Nights like this, my slow cooker really comes in handy.

Today I am going to show you my favorite slow cooker recipe.  I call it Sesame Peanut Butter Pork.  That might sound unappetizing.  Feel free to give it another name.  What it is, is a boneless pork shoulder that slow cooks all day in sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, etc.  At the end of the day, it pretty much falls apart and soaks up all the yummy sauce.  The possibilities of what to do with now are endless.

Let’s start with me showing you how to make the pork, and then we can talk options later.

I start by browning my pork shoulder, which is about 3 or 4 pounds, in a large pot.  I realize this step is a pain, but I think it is a must for slow cooked meat.  Searing the meat first really seals in the flavor and keeps the meat from just turning to mush.

Then, I throw the seared pork onto a bed of sliced onions in my slow cooker.  It still needs a sauce, so pay attention.  I mix sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, creamy peanut butter, fresh ginger and a smidge of chicken broth together in a bowl.  I pour this on top of the pork and let ‘er rip for about 8 hours on low.  The smell from this is amazing.  Seriously.  Amazing.

Here is a little tip for you peanut butter.  Throw it in the microwave for a bit to soften it up.  This will make for easier scooping and mixing.

When the pork is done, it will already be falling apart.  I help it out with two forks.  I put the shredded pork back into the sauce to let it soak up all the peanut butter/soy goodness.

So now you have about four pounds of pork.  What are you going to do with it?  I like to serve it with rice and a veg, with the sauce poured all over the top.  I also like it on hamburger buns topped with extra sauce and a spicy coleslaw mix.  I have added it to fried rice, burritos and I’ve even topped a pizza with it.  But my favorite way to serve it is with cold sesame noodles. 

Why you ask?  Because cold sesame noodles with Sesame Peanut Butter Pork can be eaten anytime.  Before a softball game, after a game, at the game, in the middle of the night, etc.  It sits in the fridge and gets better the longer it sits.  It is fast to make and delicious to eat.

I boil a box of thin spaghetti according to the package directions.  Once the noodles are about a minute from being done, I throw in a bag of broccoli slaw and some julienned red bell peppers.  This will slightly blanche the noodles.  They will still be crispy, but not raw crispy. 

BTW-Broccoli slaw looks like coleslaw, but it is shredded broccoli, cabbage and carrots.  It is pretty easy to find near the bagged veggies in the produce department. 

And…..“Julienne” means to cut something into thin strips.  Fancy, I know.

When the noodles and veggies are done, I drain them and run the whole thing under cold water to cook everything off.  Then, I mix the pork and cooking juices/sauce in.  Most of the time I still feel like this needs a bit more, so I stir in some Ginger Sesame Salad dressing.  There are so many available….pick your favorite.

I top the whole thing with sesame seeds and green onions.  It sits in the fridge till we want it.  Yum!  It’s sweet, salty, spicy and so, so good.  The flavors all work so well together.  And the crispy veggies with soft noodles are perfection.


I hope you try this recipe.  With our weather heating up, it is the perfect dinner! 

Sesame Peanut Butter Pork

3 to 4 pound boneless pork shoulder or butt

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced into thin rings

1 cup soy sauce

¼ cup sesame oil

½ cup rice vinegar, seasoned

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated

1 cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce (Optional)

In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Sear until brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Add sliced onions to the bottom of slow cooker.  Place browned pork shoulder on top.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, peanut butter and chicken broth.  Pour over pork. 

Cook on low for 8 hours.  Shred pork with two forks.  Store in cooking juices.

Serves 8-10

Cold Sesame Noodles

1 pound thin spaghetti

12 ounce package broccoli slaw

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 cup Ginger Sesame Salad Dressing

Sesame Peanut Butter Pork with sauce, 1 recipe

½ cup green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Boil noodles according to package directions.  When noodles are about 1 minute from being done, add broccoli slaw and bell pepper to the boiling noodles.  Drain noodles and veggies well and rinse with cold water.

Mix noodles and veggies with shredded Sesame Peanut Butter Pork and sauce.  Add salad dressing and mix.  Top with green onions and sesame seeds.

Serve chilled.

Serves 10.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Girl's Night In!

I hope everyone had a great Easter!  We had a fabulous Easter.  I had a brunch at my house.  It was way too much fun, and it made me remember how much I love entertaining at my house.  I hadn’t done it in a while.  We have been so busy lately that neither myself, nor any of my friends, have had the time.  But I want to change that.  Party at my house!  I’m thinking I’m going to make it a Girl’s Night In.

I have always been a huge fan of “Girl’s Nights”.  I love playing Bunco, pretending to play Bunco but really just gossiping, craft nights, etc.  Anything that gets my girls together for great food and even better drinks.  Today I am going to show you a couple of my “go-to” recipes that are super easy to make, and I promise they will be a hit.  Although if you serve enough cocktails…..does anyone care what you serve to eat?

Let’s start off with the best recipe…the crowd pleaser….the “main dish” if you will.  The cocktail.  My favorite spring time cocktail is my “Strawberry Shortcake”.  This amazing libation is a combination of cake flavored vodka, strawberry puree and club soda.  The whole thing gets topped off with whipped cream and a strawberry garnish.  It tastes just like strawberry shortcake.


There are probably about five different kinds of “cake flavored” vodka on the market right now.  Choose your favorite.  I chose Smirnoff Iced Cake vodka.  I also used a strawberry puree that is meant for strawberry margaritas.  There are also quite a few options there too.  I like using this kind of strawberry puree because it is very smooth.  Just make sure that the one you choose doesn’t have any tequila in it.  You just want the puree.

This is also such a pretty girly drink too.  Although my hubs has been known to knock back a Strawberry Shortcake too.

My second and third recipes are great little finger foods that are delicious and super easy to make.  First, I whipped up a batch of my meatballs (recipe below), but I made them smaller then I normally would.  These bake in the oven so they are really quick to throw together.  Once they are cooked, I top each meatball with a cooked cheese tortellini, then I skewer the whole thing with cute little mini forks that I found at Raleys.  A long toothpick would work too.  The meatball/tortellini combo gets drizzled with marinara sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

My third recipe is what I call “Bloody Mary Shrimp”.  I boil some shrimp in salted lemony water until they are just cooked.  I serve the shrimp in a little shot glass filled with my favorite Bloody Mary mix and a piece of celery.  And oh yea, depending on who I am serving these too….I might throw in a little vodka too.  But not cake flavored!  Just regular vodka.

The bloody mary mix gives the shrimp a great tang and spice.  It really works will with seafood.

The hardest part about this recipe is finding a plain shot glass that is appropriate to show anyone.  For a thirty five year old woman, I sure have the shot glass collection of a college frat boy.  My collection includes Chico State shot glasses, sorority shot glasses…..and a set of four Tupac Shakur shot glasses.  Who knows where those came from.


And because all my girls deserve dessert, I always whip up a little dessert finger food too.  Just one or two bites, but oh so necessary.  The dessert recipe I am showing you today is Cannoli Cups.  I love a good cannoli, but it is impossible to find the shells in most grocery stores, and I certainly am not making them.  That sounds hard and time consuming.  I use chocolate chip cookies!

I like to use a pack of chocolate chip cookie dough straight from the grocery’s fridge.  I bake the cookies in my mini muffin tin, and when they come out of the oven, they will have already formed a little dent in the middle.  I make this into a bigger dent by poking the middle with the end of my wooden spoon.  Once the cookies are cooled, I fill them with a mix of ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and mini chocolate chips.  I garnish the little cookie cannoli cups with more mini chocolate chips and some chopped pistachios.


These little babies taste just like a cannoli, but even better because they are also a chocolate chip cookie!  Yum! The ricotta filling is creamy and has a perfect hint of cinnamon.  The pistachios add a great crunch.  I think these are the perfect ending to a Girl’s Night In.  Invite me to yours…..I will bring dessert.

“Strawberry Shortcake”

3 ounces cake flavored vodka

3 ounces strawberry puree (strawberry margarita mix)

3 ounces club soda

Whipped cream and strawberries for garnish

Add vodka and strawberry puree to a chilled cocktail shaker.  Shake well.  Pour evenly into two chilled glasses (martini). Top each with club soda.  Garnish with a strawberry and whipped cream.


Meatball and Tortellini Bites

1 ½ slices white bread

¼ cup milk

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1 egg

¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1 tablespoon basil, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 package (9 ounces) three cheese tortellini

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place slices of bread in a shallow dish.  Add milk and let soak for 5 minutes.  Break apart bread with your hands.

Place ground pork and ground beef in a large bowl.  Add egg, ½ cup parmesan cheese, chives, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and milky bread crumbs.  Mix together with clean hands.  Do not over mix.

Form 1 inch in diameter balls.  Place meatballs on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, boil tortellini according to package directions.  Drain tortellini and mix with butter.

Place 1 tortellini on top of each meatball.  Skewer tortellini onto meatball with a long toothpick or mini fork.  Drizzle warmed marinara sauce over meatballs and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.

Makes about 40.


Bloody Mary Shrimp

1 pound raw, peeled tail on shrimp (16-20 count)

2 tablespoons salt

1 lemon, sliced

2 ½ cups bloody mary mix

1 ¼ cup vodka

Celery for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add salt and lemon slices.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp float to the top and turn pink.  This will happen quickly.  Drain shrimp and chill.

To serve:

Add 2 tablespoons bloody mary mix and 1 tablespoon vodka to each shot glass (about 10).  Add 2 cooked shrimp and a piece of celery to each.  Serve cold.

Makes about 20.

Cannoli Cups

1 package Nestle Mini Chocolate Chip Refrigerated Cookie Dough (break apart dough)

2 cups ricotta cheese

¾ cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons honey

¾ cup mini chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Break apart cookie dough at perforations.  Place each piece of cookie dough into a greased mini muffin tin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.  Gently press the end of a wooden spoon into each cookie to form a shallow well.  Let cookies cool for at least 1 hour before removing them from pan.

In a mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, powdered sugar, honey, ½ cup mini chocolate chips, vanilla and cinnamon.  Pipe or spoon filling evenly into each cookie cup.  Top with remaining chocolate chips and shopped pistachios.

Makes 40