Archive of ‘Pork’ category

Brunch Pad Thai

Life is stressful and sometimes, all you need is a warm bowl of noodles. Noodles of any form are what I consider real comfort food to me and I like ’em every which way! I was the kid on spaghetti night who preferred her spaghetti sans the red sauce and with the lovely addition of butter and parmesan cheese. My favorite part was biting into a huge forkful of pasta, not being able to fit the whole bite into my mouth,  and getting those cheesy, buttery noodle footprints  all over my face. I knew I was doing something right. Those same buttery delicious noodles get me through the hardest of days and longest of hours. Of course, I’ve traded in my green can of parmesan for the real deal. I love being a grown up! Well, other than the stressful part, of course. I tried to conjure up a few more Thanksgiving leftover recipes but honestly, I need a break from the holiday food for a sec. Feel me? Usually, Asian inspired dishes are what I turn to when I need a break from the usual rich and filling foods of the holidays. I introduce the Brunch Pad Thai! It’s a simple noodle dish made with the usual suspects of brunch: eggs and bacon. You could really eat this for any meal but isn’t it a fun thought to think of having a few friends come over for a unique brunch like this? All I know is that it’s delicious and I didn’t miss my eggs benedict…this week at least. (more…)

Our ingredient line up:

Asian rice noodles, beaten eggs, pea shoots, a mixture of tamarind paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce, mushrooms, bacon, sugar, garlic, crushed peanuts, and scallions.

The key here is to have a very hot wok or heavy skillet. We add our bacon and garlic. Be prepared. Your house is about to smell amazing.

This is how pad thai works; similar to stir fry. You cook meat and veggies on very high heat, remove, and repeat. You have to literally be on your toes during the whole cooking process so nothing burns. Here, we cook our eggs by swirling them in the pan so they cook fast and evenly. Burnt eggs equal gross so work fast!

Our noodles, pea shoots, and scallions are cooked. Our tamarind paste mixture is added. Tamarind paste is a must for yummy pad thai!

We kind of just throw everything else into the pan and toss! So much going on! So much flavor! Real talk: whatever you do, DO NOT overcook your rice noodles! This sweet little gal did and everything turned to mush! The horror!

Chaos. Perfect. Delicious. Chaos. You know what would be delicious with this? Cilantro and fresh lime juice! Don’t forget it at the grocery store like I did. Let me be the example. I hope you can find a calm moment in the midst of the holiday chaos and make yourself a nice bowl of your favorite noodles. Happy noodles making!

Roasted Bacon Meatballs

The best meatball I ever had was in Boston. Chris and I had ventured there on a whim to get him a tattoo; 8 hours on a train, just to be in Boston for the day. My, we were adventurers back in our dating days! The day was spent strolling the busy and historic streets of the city, finding cozy little restaurants and sub shops in the most unexpected places. Getting down poured on with no spare clothing for the long trek home is also a nice memory. It was actually a great trip looking back (maybe because we don’t take as many trips nowadays). One of my favorite memories is aimlessly wandering the wet, shiny streets in hopes of a good meal. We love Italian food so that is what we always look for while in a new city. There was a small restaurant, tucked into a larger building. It was burnt orange and had cute little windows. I wish I remembered its name. Any who, after rushing around all day, mainly on foot, and being incredibly soaked, we walked in. We were seated up against a wall and almost uncomfortably close to the people sitting next to us. It was cozy and perfect. What made it more perfect was my dinner. I didn’t care about anything else but the meatballs on my plate. I want to be those meatballs when I grow up.
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Since it’s getting cold and all, I like to feature comfort food. We all could use a little more comfort. In my list of top 3 comfort foods, meatballs are definitely included. And the best part is: they are a cinch to make. I bake mine, making the process so much easier and less messy. I use bacon instead of just ground pork because it adds the perfect smokiness and richness for a meatball. Tons of pecorino romano and fresh parsley make these meatballs so cheesy and fresh tasting. I like to make a big batch and freeze them. Perfect cure for a busy, cold day! Please make these! Your life is about to change. Are you ready?
Our meatball ingredient line up: From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, garlic (lots and lots), parsley, eggs, cream, bacon (it’s finely minced so it just melts into our meatballs), onion, pecorino romano, basil, and fresh breadcrumbs.

This! This is all I need! So much yummy in one picture. Take a fork and combine all of that yumminess.

Get your baking sheets ready! I like to use a small ice cream scoop to measure out 2 tablespoons of mixture. You could obviously make them bigger, they just might need to cook a little longer.

While our meatballs are in the oven, we make our sauce! I like to use red wine in place of sugar in tomato sauces. It adds a sweetness and depth that sugar really just doesn’t have. Always fresh herbs here!

See that? All of that wonderful cheese has melted. I like to call them my little flat bottoms because they aren’t perfectly round since they are baked.

Eat them with your spaghetti, eat them in a sub roll, or serve them as an appetizer. You are going to love these! Happy meataballa making!

Slow Cooked Brats with Onion and Apple Sauerkraut

Did anyone else enjoy their first football weekend of the season? In our house, we are divided. Some of us root for the Ravens (go B-more!), and some of us root for the Steelers (I won’t name names). Rivalries are fun; especially when fun bets are placed like a new cutting board or a criterion DVD. There’s something in the air that makes football Sundays extra delightful. Carbs are always available. Naps should always be taken. Everything should be finger food. No one wants to watch a game having to fork and knife something on their laps. Too stressful. Too. Much. Work. I don’t know if you have noticed but I’ve been trying really hard (like really, really hard) to come up with football friendly recipes. As a kid, my mom would always lay out a beach blanket in front of the football game and bring us picnic food. It was brilliant. Let’s keep that tradition going. Nothing too complicated, just simple, eat with your hands, kind of food. You get it. (more…)

Now, these brats were delish. BUT, these brats were also hard to photograph. I need grace here. Thank you. Back to the brats! There was so much flavor going on and the best part is: they hang out in a slow cooker all day until they are ready for some football munchin’, beer drinkin’, love. They are so tender, you wouldn’t need to give them the fork and knife treatment if you didn’t want to eat them with buns. But, buns make these finger food friendly so I highly recommend eating these on buns. Oh! Don’t forget the yellow mustard! Or spicy brown if that’s more your flow!

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Bratwursts, sauerkraut, fresh thyme, onion, maple syrup, brown sugar (mine started to melt and I have no idea why), apple, and buns.

Our onions and apples are cooked. The sauerkraut is added. Then here comes the hard part: throw it into the slow cooker.

Then, we sear our brats for color. I’m sorry if this photo is too provocative for you. Brats also go into the slow cooker and, are, you guess it, slow cooked.

These brats are great for game day. Start ’em early and keep them warm in your slow cooker until ready to eat. They are sweet and savory with that wonderful fermented sauerkraut flavor. Happy brats making!

Sage Butter Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Tomatoes

I came up with this recipe when dreaming of Fall a couple of weeks ago. The morning air was cool with no humidity in sight. I tried said recipe   and opted for a pizza night instead. If you spend your time and money on a recipe that goes awry, you deserve a pizza night. I can write you a doctor’s note if that’s what you need to convince your family. But again, who needs much convincing when pizza is for dinner. So I’m back at it, changing it up. Instead of a succulent loin, I’m using easy peasy boneless pork chops. Instead of smearing our sage compound butter all over the meat before cooking, we add a pat to each pork chop before they go into the oven. See, we all live and we learn. Thank you for accepting me. (more…)

Before my heart gets all pittery and pattery for signs of orange leaves and sweater weather, I wanted to send a nod to summer by using what’s left of the summer produce. Two things I know people are up to their knees in: peaches and tomatoes. Oh and squash. Tricky, tricky. Well, this tomato recipe is great for those tomatoes on their way out. You know, a little too soft to eat raw but not soft enough to consider the hungry bunnies anxiously waiting outside. We roast the tomatoes making their sweetness intensify and giving them a more satisfying texture. You could serve these guys with your summer squash or green beans. Also, these tomatoes make a simple and fresh tomato sauce for any lonely pasta.
Disclaimer: This post might feel super long but the amount of time it takes to make this recipe isn’t. I just got photo happy.

Our Summer meets Fall ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Boneless, center cut pork chops, lemons, fresh sage, brown sugar, ground mustard, garlic powder, salt, butter, fresh thyme, olive oil, garlic, small tomatoes (these are heirloom but grape or cherry also work!), and balsamic vinegar.

We first make our compound butter so it can harden in the fridge. A compound butter is simply ingredients added to softened butter then is hardened in the fridge. Sage, butter, lemon juice blended. Roll it in plastic wrap and forget ’bout it…until you need it for the pork chops. I am using salted butter and will ALWAYS choose to do so. If you join me, keep that in mind as you season your pork. If unsalted butter is your thing, you might want to add a pinch more salt to the chops.

We season our tomatoes with olive oil, brown sugar, thyme, garlic, and balsamic vinegar

Our spice blend of salt, garlic powder, and ground mustard powder is rubbed onto the chops.

The pork chops are sauteed to get that golden color. Remember that sage butter? Slice it up and put onto the chops.

Then, to get even fancier, we slice our lemon and lay the slices on the pork. An easy step but a worthwhile step. Plus, look how cute those lemon slices look! Now time for the chops to get the oven treatment.
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This is what our tomatoes look like when done. Do you see the glorious sauciness and tenderness? I thought maybe the addition of mozzarella would make these extra good but the good, honest truth is that they are perfect on their own.

Tomatoes represent Summer in such a bright and sweet way; while the pork chops are bringing in their Fall flavor with the sage butter. I love it when we can all come together.

Now, I’m going to give you a big tip and you might owe me your first born because of it (not really but maybe take some pics?). If you have leftovers, put the whole thing on a bed of pasta. Leftover makeover: pork and tomato edition. A dab of that butter never hurt anyone, either.

Happy dinner making!

Al Pastor Pork Tacos with Piña Colada Slaw

I don’t know when putting coleslaw on top of my tacos became a thing at my house. Maybe it was an attempt to add veggies to the meal without being obvious? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that the taco/slaw combo is delicious and perfect for good summer eating. I love making a spicy taco then topping it with a slightly sweet, cooling coleslaw. The perfect combo. No, wait. Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combo but this one is close behind. I bet right about now you are wondering what Al Pastor means. Al Pastor is the process of slow cooking pork with dried chilis and pineapple juice. How simple is that? Plus, you can impress people by calling simple pork tacos Al Pastor. Are you impressed? Let’s kick off our Sunday shoes and put on our Taco Tuesday hats on Monday. Not confusing at all!
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Our tropical ingredient line up:

From Top Left: Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, a spice mixture of salt, chili pepper and dried oregano, lime, pineapple juice (try not to mix it with your coconut water and drink all of it), cilantro, tortillas, and pork shoulder.

We begin with our spicy rub for the pork! The colorful spice mixture is combined with our garlic. I’m a sucker for that deep chili powder color.

We take our dainty, not used to getting dirty paws and rub the mixture all over the pork. Let this sit for awhile. It will be worth it.

We pour our chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, pineapple juice, and lime juice on top of the pork. This pork is treated with the utmost respect and is slow cooked. It’s the right thing to do. You could throw this in your slow cooker and forget about it until dinner! Let’s shred that sucker!

Our ingredient line up for the coleslaw is as follows:

From Top Left: Coconut cream, sugar or honey, lime, greek yogurt, red onion, pineapple, and broc slaw because you know I love it!

Just take a whisk and combine the coconut milk, yogurt, lime juice, sugar/honey, and a pinch of salt. Coconut milk is not created equal unfortunately. I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream in a can. It’s incredibly thick and doesn’t have added sugars like other milks so be warned. You don’t want the added sugars and make this a dessert coleslaw. Yuck! Not to be graphic but look at that thick, creaminess!

We pour the coconut milk dressing over the slaw and mix. Taste for seasoning! The tacos are spicy but if you need more spice, save the cooking liquid and skim the fat. Dunk your shredded pork back into the liquid. I love this taco. All I need is a beach to eat it on! Feel me? Happy taco making!

Quesadilla Cubans

Pickles and mustard. Mustard and pickles. What if I told you these two ingredients are my favorite part of a Cuban sandwich? Would you give a light little chuckle but then secretly roll your eyes and judge me? I understand if you would. But in all seriousness, without those ingredients, a Cuban wouldn’t be special at all. It’s the magic of making the two kinds of pork and swiss cheese work together. The pickle and mustard cut through all of that richness making you beg for another irresistible bite.

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Along with my pickle and mustard rant, I also think it’s important to have a flavorful shredded pork. Too many Cubans have I wasted due to pre-made, unseasoned pork. A good Cuban is all team work with not one element in the spotlight (except for the pickles and mustard). I used a pork tenderloin for the pictures but the recipe is for a pork shoulder. It’s a more authentic cut of pork but I was lazy and didn’t feel like driving to the store when I had a perfectly good tenderloin at home. I will post my cooking notes for the tenderloin at the bottom. Ok, ready? Go team!
Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: flour tortillas, limes, pork tenderloin trying to look like pork shoulder, yellow mustard, cilantro, garlic, swiss cheese, orange juice, pickles, dried oregano, and deli ham.

We first start with la marinade. Put your cilantro, orange juice, limes, garlic, oregano, and a dash of salt in a blender. That’s right, we are blending our limes with their rinds on! I told you this was going to be flavorful! Blend until pureed.

Now, we take half of that marinade and pour it over the pork. Turn it a few times to coat then leave it alone. It needs to marinate for a while. How fresh does that look? We then slow cook our pork (hello crock pot!) so it will be fork tender and easy to shred.

Do you know what comes next? We shred! Take a sample! Take two! You’re the cook and I think you deserve it!

Let’s assemble our quesadillas! Take a tortilla, schmear some mustard on it. Use yellow or spicy brown mustard. This is NOT the time for dijon. Feel me? Then scatter your pickles on top of the mustard. Then place your cooked deli meat on top (I know I didn’t show that step. Forgive me?). Take a healthy handful of that delicious shredded pork and put on top of the ham. Then, add your swiss. Lastly, schmear more mustard on another tortilla and place on top.

If you have a panini press, then this is the time to break it out. If you don’t, just heat up a skillet with some butter. Place your quesadilla in the skillet once heated and then top with another pan. After a few minutes, take the top pan off and turn over your quesadilla for even cooking. Once golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove from heat, cut and serve! This has all the yummy components of a Cuban sandwich but in fun quesadilla form! Happy ‘dilla making!

For the pork tenderloin: I made sure the silver skin was off (it won’t cook down but be tough and chewy). I cooked the tenderloin in a dutch oven at 200 degrees for about 3-4 hours. Then shred. The meat can be somewhat dry so add a little bit of the cooking liquid if it’s too dry for you.