Friday, March 26, 2010

Judge's Fantastic Shredded Pork

When my oldest son first started school, I hit the jackpot during his school's PTO meeting.  Every year, for the teacher meal during conferences, a local judge (and mom) would bring her famous shredded pork.  The teachers all were just nuts about it.  I was at the PTO meeting where she finally divulged her secret recipe and now you (if there is a you that reads this, lol.)  have hit the jackpot, because I am going to  share it with you!

Please ignore the ginormous bite taken out of my sandwich.    

Judge's Fantastic Shredded Pork

"Making shredded pork is more like an art that a science.  I've dabbled at this art for several years, and this is what works for me." -Local Judge who shall remain unnamed;p

1 whole pork loin
apple juice
bacon ends 
liquid smoke
minced garlic
BBQ Sauce (Famous Dave's preferred)

Slice the pork into 1-1/2 inch chops, and simmer in a mixture of apple juice and water.  Half and half works well.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes and drain the juice

Arrange the pork in a Dutch oven.  I add some bacon ends for flavor and a little liquid smoke.  Sometimes, I add garlic too.  Put in the oven at 250* for 5-6 hours.

When you remove this from the oven, there will be a lot of liquid in the Dutch oven.  I remove the meat and discard the bacon and any visible fat.  The meat shreds itself.  I strain some of the liquid from the Dutch oven and mix it with the shredded meat.  Then, I add BBQ sauce- I like Famous Dave's.

Put the shredded pork in a crock pot to serve to a large group.  I freeze shredded pork in portions which will allow me to heat it up for sandwiches for the family.  You can also use it to top potatoes or wrap it in tortillas.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

Just when I thought things were finally warming up here in good 'ole ND, I woke up to my lawn dusted with snow.  The sun has also deserted us once again.  Don't get me wrong, there are many things that I LOVE about ND.  The fact is though, it has been a long winter and I really need some sunshine right now.  I will take it with or without the warmth accompanying it.  

I made these potatoes a few weeks ago along with a salmon recipe from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook that I have been exploring.  The salmon just did not turn out very good.  These potatoes though, were SO DELICIOUS!  The best part is, they are pretty nutritious as they are flavored with just a little olive oil and whole grain mustard.  I was worried that they would be too spicy/strong for my kids but they all loved them!  So much that they wanted seconds!  If it ever warms up around here, I think these will be great as an accompaniment to some grilled meats.  

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

2-1/2 lb. small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 Tbsp. good olive oil
2 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
Kosher Salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425*.  

Cut potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on a sheet pan.  Cut onions into half-rounds and toss with potatoes on sheet pan.  Add olive oil, mustard, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and pepper and toss everything together.  Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until potatoes are lightly browned.  Toss from time to time during baking so they brown evenly.  Sprinkle hot potatoes with parsley and salt to taste (if desired) and serve.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake

Ahhhh...what a beautiful day.  After all the fog/snow we have had in ND, I am so appreciative of days like today.  NO wind, sun shining, nearly 50 degrees (pretty much shorts weather in ND!).  I can't wait to get outside today to play with my daughter.  We will need to go for a walk, because our yard and driveway are still extremely wet but I just cannot wait to feel the sunshine on my face.  So, onto my recipe!  Today is not a day to spend too long on the computer!

This recipe is for Ree Drummond's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Ever.  

If this isn't the best chocolate sheet cake ever, then I don't even want to go in search of the best.  Really, this was SO incredibly rich and delicious.  I ate it until my stomach hurt just like I tell my kids not to do.  This is a very dangerous recipe that I will not be making too often (or my pants will not fit anymore).  It is, however, perfect for special occasions.  The occasion the day I made this was that it was Monday.  Everyone needs a pick-me-up on Monday.  Right?  Perfectly reasonable. 

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Ever.

For the cake:
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (heaping) cocoa
2 sticks butter
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 whole beaten eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

For the frosting:
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans (I left these out)
1-3/4 sticks butter
4 Tbsp. (heaping) cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. (minus 1/2 c.), powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add cocoa.  Stir together.  Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.  Pour over flour mixture and stir lightly to cool.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.  Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture.  Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350* for 20 minutes.  

While cake is baking, make the icing.  Chop pecans finely.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir to combine, then turn off heat.  Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Stir together.  Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake. 

Cut into squares and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana

Is there anywhere better than Ree Drummond's recipe file for delicious food?  I think not.  It is amazing to me the amount of exercise that I am getting lately (I'm attempting to train for a 1/2 marathon) and my inability to lose a singe pound.  Unreal.  A big portion of the blame fall squarely on the shoulders of Ree Drummond.  I am OBSESSED with her recipes right now.  I really need to at least mix it in with some lower calorie dishes or I will be the first person to gain massive amounts of weight while exercising like a mad woman.  

Anyway, I made Ree's Chicken Parmigiana a few weeks back.  I am so behind right now.  I just uploaded my pictures and I have at least 10 recipes that I photographed that I have yet to share.  This Chicken Parmigiana is a total winner though.  I have made other recipes and this one is a hands down winner.  Yum.  

Chicken Parmigiana

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded flat
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 whole medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. wine (either red or white is fine)
3-14.5 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley (as you can see, I cheated and used dried)
1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. thin linguine 

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.  Dredge flattened chicken in flour mixture.  Set aside.  

At this time, you can start a pot of water for you linguine.  Cook linguine until al dente.  

Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.  

Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes.  Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom.  Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to cook for 30 minutes.  Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give a final stir. 

Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and cover them in grated parmesan.  Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is throughly heated.  Add more cheese to taste. 

Place cooked noodles and a plate and cover them with sauce.  Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley.  Serve immediately.  

Monday, March 22, 2010

California BLT's

I'm baaaaaaaack!  Hockey season is now officially over.  We spent Thursday-Sunday in Grand Forks at the last hockey tourney of the year.  It was fun, back I must say, I am ready for a break.  My kids are currently in ZERO activities.  This never happens and I am kind of excited about it.  It will be nice to have a little break before they start summer hockey/camps/swimming/baseball this summer.  I think I need to find something for Grace to do soon though.  We are always so busy hauling the boys around that she kind of gets left out.  She is still little, but I vow to change that next year.  I can't wait for her to start dance in September!!!

A few weeks ago, I checked Barefoot Contessa At Home out from the library.  I LOVE to check cookbooks out from the library.  I try to check out a new one at least once a month.  I am currently due for a new one, but I am a bit afraid to go to the library and find out how much I have racked up in late fees.  With all the hockey tournaments/extra practices the boys have been going to, we just haven't had the time to head over to the library in far too long.  Anyway, here is a fantastic recipe that I made out of my Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  I know I will be making it again this summer, what a great twist on the classic BLT!

California BLT's

12 thick-cut slices smoked bacon
8 slices good white bread, cut 1/2 inch thick (bakery white/Pepperidge Farm Hearty White recommended, I used Texas Toast brand and that worked great too)
1/2 c. mayo (Hellman's recommended, I used light generic)
2 ripe Hass avocados
juice of 1 lemon
2 Lg. ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer.  Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Place 8 slices of bread on a sheet pan and toast them for 5 minutes.  Turn the slices and toast for 1 more minute, until all the bread is evenly browned.  (You should know, I cheated and used my toaster;P)  Place 4 slices on a cutting board.  Spread each slice with about 1 Tbsp. of mayo.  Cover the slices with a layer of lettuce.  Place 3 slices of bacon on each sandwich.  Peel the avocados and slice them 1/2 inch thick.  Toss the avocado slices gently with the lemon juice and arrange on top of the bacon.  Add a layer of tomato slices and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  

Spread the remaining 4 pieces of toasted bread with 1 Tbsp. of mayo and place, mayo side down, on the sandwiches.

Makes 4 Sandwiches

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast

Boy, I am really getting behind.  No post yesterday because somebody put a virus on my computer that my husband had to spend last night repairing.  I don't even want to talk about the virus (picked up from a pop-up when a certain person was facebooking), it flooded the screen with tons of not so flattering images of consenting adults.  YUCK.  I had to threaten the kids with no computer usage for 1 month to make sure they didn't turn the screen back on and forever scar themselves.  Although, since all I, I mean, somebody was doing was facebooking when they picked up the nasty s-e-x virus, I am a little afraid that my 10 year old could innocently do the same.  Ugh.

Enough about raunchiness, on to food!  (Nice transition, no?)

I really loved the Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast recipe that I made last week.  I have tried many, many pot roast recipes, and this was (big surprise, SHE ROCKS!) a favorite of mine.  Be sure to serve it with some mashed potatoes too though, since it doesn't include any.  I suppose you could throw some in the pot, but I agree with PW that mashed potatoes are just better all around.  If your short on time though, I would just throw 'em on in with the other veggies.

Here is why I think hers is so darn good (knowledge gleaned from some good, bad, and mediocre pot roast experiences)
*She sears the meat: non-seared meat= DRY pot roast
*She sears the veggies: this was a new concept to me!  I really think it improved the flavor though
*DEGLAZING!!!  Need I say more?
*WINE!!!!!  Nuf said.  Plus, I got to finish the bottle.
*Last, but not least, I really think a pot roast tastes better when oven-roasted.  I LOVE my crockpot, but I really isn't the same even though I wish it was not so.

PW's Pot Roast

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 lb. chuck roast
2 whole onions
6-8 carrots
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 c. red wine (you can use beef broth instead- I think wine gives better flavor though)
2-3 c. beef stock
3 sprigs fresh Thyme (I forgot to buy both this and the rosemary, so I just used about 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning and it tasted great)
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat.  This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else.  Generously salt and pepper your pot roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch Oven over med-high heat.  Add 2-3 Tbsp. of olive oil.

Cut 2 onions in half and cut 6-8 carrots into 2 inch slices (you can peel them, but you don't need to).  When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side, then the other.  Remove the onions to a plate.  Throw the carrots into the same, very hot pan and toss them around a bit until lightly browned, a minute or so.  Remove carrots to plate.  

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan.  Place the meat in the pan and sear on all sides until it is nice and brown all over.  Remove the roast to a plate.  With the burner still on high, use 1 c. of red wine or beef broth to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of the wonderful flavor up.  When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2-3 cups).  Add in the onion and the carrots as well as the thyme and rosemary.  

Put the lid on, then roast in 275* oven for 3 hours (for a 3 lb. roast) or 4 hours (for a 4-5 lb. roast).  

When serving, the juices make a wonderful gravy for the meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chinese Beef Broccoli

Lately, I have become obsessed with the Pioneer Woman's recipes.  I have yet to try anything that hasn't knocked my socks off.  The only problem I foresee with this new obsession is that my ability to button my pants might become a bit of a difficulty.  I am just hoping my 1/2 marathon training prevents me from too much weight gain;P  

This beef broccoli recipe isn't actually bad, it is actually pretty healthy.  Then again, this isn't actually PW's recipe even though she does feature it on her site.  It actually comes from Steamy Kitchen, another fantastic food blogger.  Beef Broccoli is a family favorite around here.  I am always trying out new recipes that I think might be just a little better than the last.  This one really was a contender for one of the best.  It is certainly the simplest version I have ever tried.  Actually, I was surprised by how little sauce was used, very different from other recipes.  I really didn't hinder the flavor though and it actually enhanced the main ingredients instead of drowning them in a heavy sauce.  I know I will be making this again! 

Chinese Beef Broccoli
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal

1 lb. top sirloin or flank steak, sliced very thin (1/8 in. thick strips)
1 1/2 lb. broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 Tbsp. high heat cooking oil (I used canola oil)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic

Beef Marinade:
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cooking oil (I used sesame oil)
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef

Stir-Fry Sauce:
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsp. Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 tsp. Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)

In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the beef marinade.  Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce.

In a wok or large saute pan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes.  The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender, and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork.  Drain.

Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well.  Set the pan over high-heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat.  Add the garlic and fry for 15-30 seconds, until fragrant.  Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer, and fry 30 seconds.  Flip the strips and fry the other side.

Pour in the stir-fry sauce and stir to combine.  Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds.  Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.

Serve atop white rice.

Source: Steamy Kitchen as featured on Pioneer Woman

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kielbasa Skillet Stew

I am ashamed.  It has been over a week since I last posted a recipe.  I had planned to try to put one up every weekday.  Well, I certainly haven't stopped cooking, I have lots of recipes that have been cooked and photographed (and eaten;).  Unfortunately, the weekdays really fly by when you are out of town every weekend.  My oldest son, Kade, has kept us incredibly busy hauling him to extra hockey practices during the week and hockey tournaments out of town on the weekend.  There are 2 more weeks of this and I am counting down the days.  I love to watch him play hockey, but during tournament time at the end of the season, I don't feel like any of us have time for anything other than hockey.

The following recipe can't exactly be called quick, after all, it needs to simmer for 45 minutes, but it is certainly easy.  It comes together in a snap, then, if you are like me, you can clean your much neglected house while it simmers.   

Kielbasa Skillet Stew

5 bacon strips (today I used peppered because it is what I had, usually I don't though)
1-11/2 lb. smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2-15 oz. cans Great Northern Beans, undrained
15 oz. tomato sauce
4 oz. chopped green chilies
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp. black pepper

In a 12 inch skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove to paper towel to drain.  Cook sausage and onions in drippings over medium heat until onion is tender; drain. 

Stir in remaining ingredients; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.  Crumble bacon, sprinkle over stew. 

Yields 6 servings 

Source: Taste of Home (a long, long time ago;)


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