Tag Archives: easy

Chicken Big Mamou

http://dawnoffood.comI went to graduate school in New Orleans.  New Orleans blew my mind, food wise.   For one of our first food adventures, my mom and I ate at Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s in the French Quarter.  All of the food was so lovely!  I looked at the menu and Chicken Big Mamou stood out as something I wanted to try, but I’m not a spicy food person.  The menu warned that it was a very spicy dish.  My mother scoffed and said that this is a restaurant, they’ll moderate it and make it so that everyone can eat it.

I fell for it and ordered it.  For me, it was inedible.    Beyond spicy.  Torture level hot.  I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like because it just felt like molten lava in my mouth.  My mom traded with me (thanks mom!) and ate it because she loves food spicy.  It was hot for her, but she loved it.  We bought the cookbook and made it at home.  Others had to appreciate how hot a dish can be!!

The men in the house ate it, but it looked like they were having a heart attack:  red faced, pouring sweat and clearly uncomfortable.

So, why make it?  Well, one it’s Mardi Gras season.  I didn’t want to do a shrimp creole or crawfish etouffee.   Two, my husband and son love spicy food.  They make their own hot sauce!  So, back to my enemy.  I looked at the recipe.  My goodness, what a fussy recipe!  Lots and lots of ingredients, and butter.  Lots of steps.  Ugh.  So, I googled it.  Prudhomme had changed the recipe!!   Wrap your head around that.  The recipe on his website is 1/10th the fussiness of the one in his fantastic cookbook.   But in reviewing it,  I was about to make it a lot less fussier.  This has now become an easy (and cheap!) weeknight meal that anyone can add into the rotation.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m going to say here, but while I love Prudhomme, his recipes are maddening.  Extra steps that don’t seem to add much turn homey recipes into complicated, time consuming affairs.  The  spice lists alone are daunting.  I never got the sense that people in the bayou would cook this way.  Maybe they did and I’m totally off base.  But, it just seemed like he was “fancying up” traditional recipes so that food critics would take Louisiana cooking seriously.

So, first he modified the recipe, then I “unfancied” it.  And it is really, really good and very true to the original.  Excellent entertaining dish as well!!

Chicken Big Mamou
Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes (40 are low effort simmering)

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
6-8 chicken thighs or legs
2 1/2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme’s chicken magic, divided (see below for a substitute)
1 cup very finely chopped onions
1 cup very finely chopped celery
3/4 cup very finely chopped bell peppers
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne, if you want it really hot!!)
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock or water
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the poultry magic over the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken in the saute pan, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Saute the onions and peppers in the remaining oil, until the onions are translucent. Add oil or butter if needed to prevent the veggies from burning. Add the remaining chicken magic, bay leaf , minced garlic, and cayenne pepper (if you want it really hot!) and cook for about a minute. Add 2 cups of tomato sauce and 2 cups of stock. Return chicken to the pan and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over cauliflower “rice”, rice or pasta. Top with the green onions and parsley.

From “Top Secret Recipes“, Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Magic:
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
dash cumin

Combine spices.

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Sardines

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This post was a really hard one to do.  Look at those pictures.  Sardines are not really “photogenic”.  However, they are incredibly delicious.  And SOOO simple to make.   I was walking through my local Whole Foods and came across fresh sardines.  $5.99 a pound.  For wild caught, fresh fish.   So, I bought a half a pound and figured why not?  They are incredibly heart healthy, they’ll cook quick for a weeknight appetizer splurge, and it’s about $3.00. I’ll take a chance for $3.

Marinated them in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme.  Threw them on a screaming hot grill pan.  At 20 degrees outside, I thought it was a touch cold.  After the thick smoke abated from my “open concept kitchen/dining room/living room”, I decided next time they would cook on the grill.  A scant few minutes later, we had an amazing appetizer.  They were gone in seconds.  To say that tasted amazing would be an understatement.  Again, didn’t look like much, but tasted great.

I was inspired by this recipe and the author’s incredible photos.  While I should have probably left the fish whole for picture purposes, I’m pretty sure the kids wouldn’t have eaten them with the “guts”.

As this is a fish recipe, please be careful to avoid eating the bones. Sardines have bones, and lots of them. Bones can pose a choking hazard.

Grilled Fresh Sardines
Prep Time: 1 hour (marinating)
Cook Time: about 6 minutes

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ pound sardines, cleaned, tails and heads intact.
finishing salt
lemon wedges to serve

Place the first 5 ingredients in a container and mix together well. Place sardines in container and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat grill or grill pan moderately hot. If using grill, these fish are small, use a basket or some other device that won’t allow the fish to go through the grates. Place fish on grill, cooking on each side for about 3 minutes,  until done. Remove from grill, sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt (large crystal salt) and serve with a lemon wedge. Best eaten with hands, picking the fish from the bones. As with any fish, be careful with the bones!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I’m on a roll with recipes that aren’t really good for you. I had blueberries and cream cheese that needed to be used and thought: what can I do with these items? Around the same time, my son asked for a hiatus from waffles for breakfast. So, despite having the brownies, I figured I would venture into coffee cake land. I love coffee cake, it’s an acceptable cake to eat for breakfast! What made this cake appealing was really the fantastic chunks of cream cheese dotted throughout. The cream cheese adds a sweetness and texture that is so unique and incredibly good to contrast with the tart blueberries.

As always, this recipe is very easy and straightforward. No surprises. I saw this recipe on tasteofhome.com and thought I would give it a go. I added lemon zest and lemon juice for a bit of a bright pop.

My son loved this recipe and my husband said it was amazing! So overall, this was a really big hit.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 40 minutes

1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

TOPPING:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cold butter

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

For batter, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and
fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt;
gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Toss blueberries with remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir blueberries and cream
cheese into creamed mixture (batter will be thick). Transfer to the greased dish.

For topping, in a small bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter
until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Brownies

Yes, my New Year’s Resolution is fading fast. I have kids and they want snacks. Pineapple, apples and blueberries aren’t cutting it anymore!

Brownies. I joke that there’s no point in cutting brownies because they just end up getting slivered to death in my house. A literal death by 1,000 cuts. It’s no secret that I eat the most. I do. I hide them from my husband and children. I am shameless. Truly. Note in the picture the lack of actual brownies. There’s might be seven there. Couldn’t make it to the picture stage.

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In addition to being a brownie addict, I am a bit of a brownie snob.  There is only one type of brownie: fudgey. Take your cakey brownie and go. Don’t try to cover the listless dryness with frosting, it’s a lost cause. People have made their entire careers off of one spectacular brownie recipe (see Maida Heatter). For the longest time I thought the only good brownie came from a mix. Recipe after recipe lead me to the dry, unsatisfactory cake-like brownies I despise. I was partially convinced by Alton Brown that super chemicals unavailable to a lowly home cook made the mix brownies deliciously moist. I held that belief until I came across Maida Heatter and James Beard. Maida’s Palm Beach Brownies are the stuff of legends, and rightly they should be. Crinkly top, moist middle and all over CHOCOLATE. James Beard held little affection for the lowly brownie, but pointed me to an issue I had not considered: eggs. In one sentence, he cleared up the cake vs. fudge issue I had been having. If you spot a brownie recipe with more than 2 eggs, they will be cakey. If not, fudgey. It’s just that simple, most of the time.

Maida Heatter’s recipe teaches that brownies are pretty much eggs, sugar and chocolate. Small amounts of flour for binding and extracts for flavor amp things up a bit, as does a shot of expresso. But, was really sets Heatter’s recipe apart is the amount of sugar. 3 ¾ cups! Holy Crap!   Which might explain how she gets away with 5 eggs and not having a cakey brownie.  But, then I thought of fudge, and pretty much, same thing. Sugar. Lots and lots of it.

So, for me, the perfect recipe will have lots of sugar, 2 eggs and lots of chocolate.  I can’t do so much sugar in a brownie.  I’m by no means a nutrition drill sergeant, I’m doing a blog on brownies, but I have to draw the line somewhere.  3 ¾ cups in 1 pan of brownies is my line.  The recipe is good, trust me.  Really, really good.  But it’s a tad much.

My mom used to make black bottom cupcakes when I was a kid and I loved them.  I’m not that big of a cupcake fan now (read: can’t sliver them and mentally eating a whole cupcake instead of slivers of that amount to the same mass seems gluttonous.).  So, I wanted to recreate the recipe with brownies.    You can make the brownies without the cheesecake topping and they are wonderful.  The cheesecake topping is great, if you like that.  Allegedly, my husband didn’t, but a suspicious number of brownies (whole, not slivered) are missing, indicating otherwise.

Brownies are a rather new invention, probably around the 1900s.   General thought has the creation coinciding with the rise in food science and ready availability of chocolate, refined flour and sugar.    Of course, there is the legend of the Palmer House Brownies, created when a patron asked for a dessert that could be packed up and taken to the Chicago Exposition.  Either way, the brownie is an easily made and transportable dessert.

This recipe was inspired by recipes on Epicurious.com

Black Bottom Brownies

Cream Cheese Topping:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips

Brownie Layer:

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour a 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan. Set aside.

Put the cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Mix together until well blended. Add the chocolate chips and set aside.

Over medium low heat, melt together the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter. The chocolate mixture will be glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and vanilla. One by one, whisk in the eggs. After the eggs are incorporated, stir in the salt and flour until completely incorporated. Finally, stir in the flour.

Spread the brownie mix evenly into the baking pan. Top with the cream cheese topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, 35-45 minutes.

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New England Clam Chowder

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As a kid I LOVED Campbell’s New England Clam Chowder.   As I began cooking more for myself, there’s no comparison between canned soup and homemade.  Gumbo is the biggest example of this disparity.  Canned gumbo and actual gumbo are two entirely different species.  Would homemade New England Clam Chowder be that much better?  I had to find out.

I also vividly remember the moment when I, as a child,  ordered Clam Chowder at a restaurant and something very much not New England Clam Chowder was put in front of me:  Manhattan clam chowder.    For the longest time, I just thought it was me who found the Manhattan version awful.  When searching for a recipe to try for New England Clam Chowder, I came across James Beard’s opinion on the Manhattan Version.  In his introduction to Miss Farmer’s Recipe for Rhode Island Clam Chowder his American Cookery:

This is the closest bridge I have found to that rather horrendous soup called Manhattan clam chowder.  It is a sensible recipe and takes away the curse of the other, which resembles a vegetable soup that accidentally had some clams dumped in it.

Pretty much sums up my feelings on the non-New England version.

Now, I am usually all about using the traditional old recipes.  But in this case, a slightly more modern version ended up being more simple and easily done.  Traditional clam chowder has the following narrative:

Cook clams, chop clams, reserve cooking liquid.  Render fat from salt pork, sauté onions in salt pork fat.  Parboil potatoes for 5 minutes.  Arrange onions in the bottom of a heavy sauce pan and top with a layer of half of the potatoes.  Add the salt pork pieces, chopped clams, second layer of potatoes and salt and peppers.  Cover with boiling water and cook.  Add scaled milk, bring to a boil, add crackers soaked in milk and the reserved clam liquid.  Lastly, add a bit of flour and butter that have been kneaded together, return to the boiling point and serve.

You can find the above version in Fannie Farmer and other famous New England cookbooks.  I agree with James Beard that it appears this recipe allows the clams to cook for too long.  Plus, I would worry the onions would burn.  I’m sure they wouldn’t, but didn’t see the point of testing it out.

So, I came across a little recipe in Beard’s American Cookery that seemed easy, yet captured the spirit of the New England Clam Chowder.  As a plus, it is cracker (and gluten) free!  As an extra bonus, this recipe is shockingly cheaply made.  At Whole Foods, I grabbed a pound of frozen clam meat for $6.99.   Heavy Cream was an additional $4.99 for a quart (I don’t use it all), add a couple of potatoes, an onion, few stalks of celery, and a few strips of bacon and you are good to go!    The recipe below was inspired by Beard’s “My favorite Clam Chowder” recipe from American Cookery.  The family loved it and I’ll never eat canned chowder again.  It was really, really good!! It also makes a great weeknight dinner!

New England Clam Chowder
Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

3 slices of thick slab bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
2 cups of water, salted
2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
1 pound frozen clam meat with frozen clam juice (or cooked clam meat with juice)
3cups heavy cream (may substitute half and half)
Butter
Thyme
Chopped parsley

Cook the bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and add the onion and celery and sauté until translucent, or just slightly brown and remove from heat. In a 4 quart sauce pan, bring the salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, cooking until just tender. Add the bacon, onion, celery, salt and pepper to taste, and the clams and heavy cream, simmering until the clams are no longer frozen. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Correct the seasoning. According to Mr. Beard, serve with a “dollop of butter, merest pinch of thyme, and a bit of chopped parsley”.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby

I first saw this dish made on Alton Brown’s show Good Eats and I thought it was pretty cool.    It’s not really a good entertaining dish in that it doesn’t serve a bunch of people and for breakfast, and it’s pretty labor intensive.  However, if you are serving a smallish group or a family, this is a pretty impressive dish.

This dish resembles a few others.  When eating this dish, you get hints of the influence of German Pancakes and Yorkshire Pudding.  Crispy in parts, soft and soufflé-y otherwise.   On the whole, a fantastic addition to your breakfast regime, if you are eating carbs/gluten/other stuff that is likely not good for you.

As for the history of the Dutch Baby, the recipe supposedly has its origins in Manca’s Cafe in Seattle.   A recipe for the Dutch Baby from Manca’s ran in Sunset Magazine in 1971, making it a popular dish.  There are LOADS of recipes now for this dish.  I stick to a fairly classic version that uses a cast iron skillet.  In order for this recipe to work, you have to preheat the pan, not just the oven.  Also, as you’d like to remove the Dutch Baby from the pan when finished, you want to employ pans or methods that aren’t prone to sticking.    I like cast iron for this task for a variety of reasons.  It’s naturally non-stick if seasoned correctly.  But most importantly, I don’t trust coated non-stick pans in high heat environments.  I won’t say I never use non-stick pans, but I especially don’t use them with heat over medium.  With cast iron, no worries.  And, while I could use my stainless steel and lots of oil, I really don’t want to take a chance.  It’s not like you get any redos on this recipe.  It’s pretty much a one shot deal.  It’s an easy one shot deal, however.

My recipe was inspired in part by a recipe I found on Food Network.

Dutch Baby
Serves 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

3 tablespoons clarified butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, warm (heat 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave)
1 tablespoon sugar,
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Confectioner’s Sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place clarified butter in a cast iron skillet (about 9-10 inches) and place skillet into the oven.  You may ask if you can substitute butter.  I’m leery of butter for this recipe, as this cast iron skillet will get hot (see the 400 degrees above) and you’ll really not be watching the butter melt as you are making the batter.  Clarified butter is the safer choice.  You could easily end up with burned butter here.  Any other high heat tolerant fat would be fine here as well.

Place remaining ingredients in a mixer and mix at medium speed until well combined.  Remove skillet from the oven (with an oven mitt!!!) and swirl butter completely around the pan (again, with oven mitt!!).  If the butter is excessive, whisk surplus into batter.  Pour batter into pan and bake until golden brown and puffy, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar.

Love my Kitchen Aid mixer!!

Right out of the oven.  CAUTION HOT!!!

Right out of the oven. CAUTION HOT!!!

Wild Goose

Wild Goose

My husband has taken up waterfowl hunting, and he loves it.  He brings home at least one goose every time ventures out.  Unlike the geese in the grocery store, these come in slightly battered and scarred by shot.  Also, unlike farmed geese, these are “working geese”.  These aren’t farm animals standing around all day.  These are flying geese!   As a result, the meat tends to be a bit tough and there’s no awesome leftover goose fat.   His hunting buddies relayed to him that the goose legs and thighs were inedible and most of them just use the breast meat.  I determined that this was a personal challenge to me to see if I could make them edible.

About the same time, my wonderful friend Pam gave me a pressure cooker.  There are many kitchen appliances I have used, but a pressure cooker just isn’t one of them.  They’ve always intrigued me.  It’s the opposite of a slow cooker, but with the same result!  You want tender pot roast in an hour?  The pressure cooker is your device.  The price, however, is this slight, remote chance that there could be an explosion if something goes wrong with the cooker.   Besides burns and cuts, we can add explosions to the dangers of cooking!!

So, I thought this my fortuitous acquisition of a pressure cooker at the same time my husband started to come home with these tough little birds couldn’t be a coincidence.

A few years ago, I made a goose recipe from Epicurious.com with Armagnac and Prunes and it was amazing. I know, I know. Prunes. I get it.   But, the pressure cooker dissolves these suckers into nothing and they leave behind a slightly sweet and distinct taste. Really. It is good. No one will know you put prunes in this dish, they will just know it’s awesome. As mentioned above, this goose was too tough to roast outright, so I just could draw flavor inspiration from that recipe for this one.  The prunes and red wine were an amazing combination with the rich goose meat, so I used that part of the recipe to create this one.

The pressure cooker wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  I didn’t fill it up too high, made sure the steam was escaping and didn’t let the pressure get too high and we got this amazing goose dish!  The thighs and legs were completely tender, as was the breast.  Mission accomplished!!!  So, if you are faced with game meat, I would seriously consider a pressure cooker to make game meat tender and amazing!  This recipe was incredibly easy to execute!

As a disclaimer, please follow your own pressure cooker instructions to ensure the safe cooking of this dish.

Goose in Red Wine and Prunes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 75 minutes

¼ cup duck or goose fat, or vegetable oil or clarified butter
1 onion, medium dice
1 cup of diced celery
3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8-10 prunes, sliced in half
1 cup full bodied red wine
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 Wild Goose (5-6 pounds), skinned and quartered (2 breasts, 2 leg quarters)

Heat duck fat in pressure cooker over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent. Add salt, pepper, thyme and prunes. Sauté for a minute. Add wine and chicken broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a pressure cooker, the alcohol does not boil off. Obviously, we need to do that before beginning to pressure cook the goose. Add the goose parts, legs first, breasts on top. Add the lid of the pressure cooker and, following your pressure cooker’s instructions, bring the pressure cooker to high pressure for 60 minutes. For my cooker, I need to lower the temperature to medium low to maintain a safe pressure level after the ideal pressure level is reached. At the end of the 60 minutes, remove from the heat and allow pressure cooker to cool until the lid can be safely removed.

Wild Goose

Hunted by my husband, butchered and skinned by me. Very primal.

Wild Goose

Pulled Pork and Carnitas- Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My husband and I work. We have two kids that like to do stuff. Our weeknight schedules are crazy and I have to tape (how old am I that I still use the word “tape”!!)  DVR The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because the thought of being awake at 11 o’clock is beyond hysterical.  I’m laughing right now, just imagining trying to stay up that late.  I really belong in the central time zone.  If it wasn’t for my DVR, I would not see any shows with a 10 o’clock start time.

More importantly, getting dinner on the table before 7 pm is a herculean effort.  Between arguing about doing homework, arguing about correcting homework, and actually making the meal, the night flies by really fast!  So, any shortcut I can find is greatly appreciated.

I was in a large warehouse store the other day picking up my month supply of paper towels and toilet paper and decided to pick up a Boston Butt, also known as pork shoulder.  At $1.69 a pound, it’s a hard bargain to pass up.  I realize that it’s not pastured or otherwise “green”, but as we eat that way most of the time, once in a while being cheap isn’t awful.  Being a warehouse club, I ended up with 14 pounds of the stuff.  No mean feat to cook this hunk of pork.

Now, I’m pretty reluctant to pull out my slow cooker due to less than optimal results and the fact that my daughter hates anything “saucy”.   I find pot roasts and chicken either turn out “dry” or mushy.   Let’s face it, once you remove “sauce” as an option for a dish made in a slow cooker, you pretty much remove the slow cooker as an option.  Except for this recipe.  You can really cook this pork rather plain in the slow cooker, and the pork stands up pretty well to a long cook time.  I put half the package (about 7 pounds) in the slow cooker.  The first night, we had “pulled pork”- my husband asked that I put the quotation marks, as the pork was not smoked.  Then two nights later, I repurposed the leftovers into carnitas.   Cook one piece of meat in the slow cooker, get two awesome meals on the table before 7 pm!!

I pulled no punches with the meat.  I made it pretty much as you would any piece of pork that you would put in the smoker.   I start with a light glaze of mustard and then heavily season with traditional barbecue spices, but I did add some spices that had been smoked- like smoked paprika.  I would normally leave that out of any seasoning mix to go on the smoker.  Here, to give it a more smokey feel, the meat needs, well, smoke.

For my second night, I placed all the meat on a cookie sheet and baked it in a fairly hot oven to make the meat a little more dry and the end bits a touch crispy.   In a few minutes, I had the perfect pork carnitas meat and I served the carnitas with the traditional toppings.  I can’t stress how easy this made dinner time for the week, especially in a week when my husband was working late most nights!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

5-7 Pound Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder Roast
1/4 cup yellow mustard (enough to cover meat)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard (love Coleman’s)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup water

Cover the Boston Butt with a thin layer of yellow mustard. In a small bowl, combine all the spices and rub over the pork. Add the onion and the water to the slow cooker. Add the pork. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Remove pork from slow cooker and pull apart with a couple of forks. Serve with Cole Slaw and barbecue sauce.  Seriously easy stuff!

Pork Carnitas

Pork Carnitas

Left over pulled pork
1/4 cup olive oil
Onions, cut into strips
Green peppers, cut into strips
Round tortillas, slightly warmed
Avocado, chopped
Salsa
Queso Fresca

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan.

While the oil is heating, spread pork in an even layer over a cookie sheet. Place in oven and cook until less moist with some crispy bits, about 15-20 minutes.

Sauté onions and peppers until slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Carnitas

My best Jackson Pollock inspired work!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

When I came home, the house smelled amazing!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

So moist and ready to be pulled!!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Slightly dried and ready to go!

Recipe Redo: Whole Foods Challenge

Whole Foods Greek Chicken ChallengeMy mom and I have “disagreements” over my shopping at Whole Foods.  She thinks it’s a rip off and the food is overpriced.  I’ve heard the snarky “Whole Paycheck” used as well.   Can Whole Foods be expensive?  You betcha.  If you compare grass fed ground beef made from cows that were raised on a pasture and never saw a feedlot at $8.99 a pound to the stuff in a big box store for $1.99 a pound that may or may not be butchered by illegal workers or comprised of the meat from 100 different cows from “North America”, it may seem expensive.  But you are also comparing a BMW with a Ford Escort.

So, I “re-did” my Greek Chicken and saved my receipts to see what it would cost.   First, some ground rules as to what this “costs”.  I don’t track the cost of spices (unless they are odd and can’t be used elsewhere), fats (butter, olive oil, etc.), onions or garlic.  These items, hopefully, are pantry staples and hard to parse out how much 1/2 tsp would “cost”, so to speak.

I got the leg quarters for $1.49 a pound, for a total of $5.02.  These are “level 2” chicken quarters, which means the chickens they are from aren’t crated or caged (except for transport), no antibiotics or animal byproduct feed, and an “enriched” environment that encourages pecking, perching, etc.  Additionally, the chickens need to have no more than an 8 hour journey to slaughter.

My $5.02 bought a lot of chicken quarters.  There’s no way we can eat this much, so there will be lunch left over at this price.   I used two cans of organic, diced tomatoes at $1.49 each.    Instead of cauliflower, I used lentils.  Well, I had lentils and didn’t remember to pick up the cauliflower.  My bad.   Organic green lentils run about $2.49/pound. I used a cup, which is about 1/2 of the pound (it’s a little less, so I’m over estimating), so $1.20.

Total “ridiculous” Whole Foods cost:  $7.22 and I have two plates leftover for lunch!  Now, for those tsk tsking me for calling my tomato the veg on the dish and not having something green.  I could have gotten a bag of organic broccoli for about $3.00, bringing my total to $10.22.   But I wasn’t feeling the “green” foods on this particular day.  Plus, the lentils were green, that counts, right?  And lentils are a “superfood”.   Fine, next time I’ll add a more substantial veg than tomatoes.  🙂

Greek Chicken

Made this recipe again using Cauliflower as “rice” for a paleo meal.

If doing this with Cauliflower, as shown above, cost is $2.99/head.

 

Smørrebrød- Shrimp

smørrebrød shrimpI have more than a few close friends that don’t eat chicken, beef, pork, etc.  They confine their meat sources to seafood, for health and ethical reasons.   On the other hand, husband is an unabashed carnivore.   So, this blog won’t veer too far from animal meat sources.  However, every once in a while, I will come across an awesome sounding recipe and make a seafood dish as tribute to my wonderful seafood eating friends.  When research items for my smørrebrød post, I came across this pretty amazing version of the Danish open faced sandwich and couldn’t resist giving it a go.

If you are looking for an easy appetizer, or luncheon dish, this is it.  It’s pretty much just assembly.  No real work of any consequence, yet you end up with a very high impact dish.  This is a fairly minimal, clean dish and the flavors work very well together.  While the look is amazing, the taste is not overly complicated.  Some of my taste testers preferred a pinch of salt added to the sandwich, so you may want to consider that as a finishing touch.

This recipe is inspired by a recipe I found on Epicurious.

Shrimp Smørrebrød
Makes 8 Sandwiches

1/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
2 firm-ripe California avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 leaves Boston lettuce, rinsed and dried
1 pound large-jumbo shrimp (16), steamed, peeled, chilled and deveined
Cut Chives
1 1/2 tablespoons drained bottled capers

In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Add sour cream and horseradish and whip until stiff. Set aside.

Cut the crust off of the rye bread and make uniform squares or rectangles. Generously butter bread. Set aside on serving plate.

Peel and slice avocados, place in a bowl and toss with lemon juice until thoroughly covered. Set aside.

Place a lettuce leaf on each piece of buttered bread. Layer avocado, shrimp, cream, chives and capers on each sandwich. Serve.