Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Slow Cooker Southern Style Pulled Pork and Coleslaw

I don't make this that often, but after what I think was one of the best meals we ever had, I will be making this a lot more.  When I made pulled pork previously, I used a very basic rub - brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and done.  It was good, but not nearly as good as the recipe for the rub that my dad gave me, which is what I used this time.  And did I mention this is done in the Crock Pot?   Yeah, easy, one pot and you're set. 

So, my in-laws were visiting and I decided to make this and for the first time, to make a coleslaw to top it.  Oh.Em.Gee.  Never again will I make pulled pork without coleslaw!  I mean, where have you been all my life?!  You can buy the coleslaw, but it was too easy not to just make it.  I'm super picky about my coleslaw anyway so this way I could make it just the way I like it (creamy, but not too creamy that it gets soggy, you know?).  My dad had given me the rub already made, but I know it isn't hard to make.  You may not have all of the ingredients though, so just be sure to check (I know for sure that I don't usually have smoked paprika around, but I will now!).  Enjoy - my mouth is watering just thinking about this.  Hmmm...I do have pork in the freezer.  I should get it out to thaw NOW... :)

Awesome pulled pork on ciabatta rolls

Homemade coleslaw

Serves 8

1 4-5 pound Boston Butt pork roast, cut into 4 equal pieces
1/4 cup smoky-sweet BBQ rub
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 rolls, your choice - we use ciabatta
barbecue sauce

Sweet and Smoky Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard 
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all the ingredients for the rub and place in an airtight container (you will use less than half of what you make).  Rinse the pork and pat dry.  Make little slits throughout the meat and sprinkle with the rub.  Really work the rub into the meat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, water and garlic in a medium bowl.  

Place pork in Crock Pot and pour vinegar mixture over the pork.  Cover and cook on high for 5-7 hours or until meat is tender and shreds easily.  Transfer pork to cutting board and shred with 2 forks.  I usually place all the pork in a bowl and ladle some of the liquid on top to keep it moist.  Serve on your favorite type of roll, topped with your favorite barbecue sauce (we are Sweet Baby Ray's all the way!) and coleslaw (recipe follows).

1 bag of shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed

Combine all the ingredients and allow to sit for about 15 minutes before serving.  
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Chicken Fajita Tostados

We love anything with tortillas in our house...flour or corn, it doesn't matter.  Just an overall love for Mexican food I guess.  I make these quite a bit because they are easy, delicious and really are pretty good for you!  Lots of chicken and veggies.  I use short cuts like frozen chopped bell peppers, so that saves me on the time it takes to chop, chop, chop.  

Throw the frozen peppers, frozen (or fresh) corn and salsa on a baking sheet to roast while you cook your chicken and your dinner is done in under a 1/2 hour.  Love that! 

The corn tortillas are toasted before being topped, sprinkled with chili powder.  So much flavor packed into this very simple dish.  I use a blend of Mexican cheese that also has seasoning in it, but other cheese such as Colby jack or cheddar would be great too. 

5-6 Tostados

Chicken Fajita Tostados

1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup corn kernels 
1/4 cup salsa (or you can use Rotel)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 tablespoon spicy Montreal steak grill seasoning
5-6 corn tortillas
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a 11 x 18-inch baking sheet lined with foil, combine peppers, corn, salsa, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing occasionally, until slightly charred.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and grill seasoning and saute until chicken is cooked through.  

Once the chicken and veggies are done, combine the two into a bowl and set aside (reserve baking sheet but remove foil).    

Arrange the corn tortillas on the baking sheet and brush on a light coating of the remaining tablespoon of olive oil (or I used my Misto to just spray it on).  Evenly sprinkle the chili powder over the tortillas and sprinkle salt to taste.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until lightly toasted (not too toasted because they are going back in the oven later).  Remove from the oven to assemble the tostados.  

Turn the oven to broil.  Scoop the chicken and veggie mixture evenly onto each tortilla and top with cheese (about 1/4 cup on each tortilla).  Put back in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted.  Top with salsa and sour cream if desired (we like ours just as is!).
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cornmeal-Fried Onion Rings

I love onion rings.  Love, love, love.  But, I don't really care for onions all that much, so I don't know what it is about them that I go crazy for?  This is another super delicious Ina Garten recipe that I make over and over again.  Unfortunately, my husband shares my dislike for onions and will actually not even eat these, so I've been know to make just one onion at a time for myself.  A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

These are the BEST onion rings I have ever had (or made).  They are light, crisp and so flavorful.  Basically, there's no heavy batter, but instead a light dusting of flour and cornmeal.  I try to cut these as thin as possible and even use a sweet onion to cut that really strong onion flavor.  You can use a Spanish onion or yellow onions, but you will need 2 large or 3 small if following the below recipe.  Try these on your next Burger night and your family will flip!!  

Serves 4-6 

2 large onions
2 cups buttermilk
kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 quart vegetable oil

Peel the onions, slice them 1/2 inch thick, and separate them into rings.  Combine the buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the onion rings, toss well and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes (they can sit in the buttermilk for a few hours).  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Set aside.  

When you're ready to fry the onion rings, preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels.  

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a large pot or dutch oven.  Working in batches, lift some onions out of the buttermilk and dredge them in the flour mixture.  Drop into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown, turning once with tongs.  Don't crowd them!  Place the finished onion rings on the baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with salt and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batches.  Continue frying the onion rings and placing them in the warm oven until all the onions are fried.  They will remain crisp in the oven for up to 30 minutes.  Serve hot.  

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Shrimp Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa

 This meal is the like the epitome of summer time meals.  In fact, when the weather turns warm, this is one of the first meals we crave.  It's my husband's favorite dinner and he will request it for special occasions (actually he had me make this on Father's Day for him!), but I love it just as much and so does our toddler.  And great for me, because there's really nothing to it.

So this is the really easy (but just as delicious) way to make these tacos, but I'm also going to give you a couple of hints on how you can go above and beyond if you have the time.  Like using fresh corn and grilling it before making the salsa.  If I had the time, I would do this every time - grilled corn is fabulous!!  I have another amazing recipe for grilled corn that involves lots of butter, lime and chili powder, but that's for another day...soon, I promise!!

P.S. These are amazing with my Light and Easy Margaritas!

Makes 2-4 servings

Shrimp Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa

1 Roma tomato 
1 can whole kernel corn (or 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (I used jalapenos from a jar but you can use 1 small jalapeno if you want to use fresh)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 avocado, diced

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon spicy McCormick grill seasoning

8 flour tortillas
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese 

To make the salsa:  Cut tomato, remove seeds and dice.  In a medium bowl, combine tomato, drained corn (or corn cut from the grilled corn cob), lime juice, jalapeno, olive oil, cumin and salt.  Fold in avocado.

To make the shrimp:  Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Saute over medium high heat until shrimp turns pink, 3-5 minutes (or place on skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side).  

While shrimp is cooking, place tortillas between 2 damp paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds to warm.  

Assemble tacos with tortillas, shrimp, corn salsa and cheese.

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Chunky Plum Applesauce

I love the color of this applesauce...don't the plums just give it this fabulous purple color?  My 8 month old, Max absolutely loves homemade applesauce and I make it all the time for him.  So, I decided to mix it up a little and add something that he had not tried before.  When it comes to fruit, this boy is not picky (not so much with veggies), so I knew this was going to be a hit.  It also made a wonderfully wholesome afternoon snack for my toddler (it's definitely not just baby food!).  

Makes 2 cups

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (your choice - I used golden delicious)
1 plum, sliced and pit removed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Fill a medium saucepan with about an inch of water and bring to a boil.  Place steamer basket on top of boiling water and add apples and plums.  Cover tightly with lid.  Steam for about 10 minutes until apples are tender, but not too mushy (by this time, the plum had pretty much disintegrated and I was able to just fish out the skin).  Mash or puree, whichever your little one can handle.  Add cinnamon and stir to combine.  

Store for up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.  

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Magic Shell

I snagged this idea about putting Magic Shell into the ice cream from my dad.  He made this while I was visiting a couple weekends ago and it was probably one of the best homemade ice creams I ever had!  He did the "putting the Magic Shell into the freezer container" trick, but I went one step farther by squeezing it directly into the ice cream maker before it was finished.  This ice cream is very soft and creamy, it didn't really harden all that much more after it sat in the freezer.  But, that's ok by me...I like that soft serve consistency.  I used just chocolate topping, but there are a number of different Magic Shell flavors - hot fudge, peanut butter - it's all up to you! 

12 servings
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablepoon vanilla
1/2 cup Magic Shell ice cream topping

In a medium bowl, whisk whole milk and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.  Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or overnight.  

Set up ice cream maker and pour mixture into freezer bowl.  Turn the machine on and let stir until thickened, about 20-25 minutes.  5 minutes before it is done, start squeezing in Magic Shell topping about a tablespoon at a time (I did about 5 squeezes).  This will mix and give you the little bits throughout the ice cream.  

When the ice cream is finished, scoop into a freezer container.  In between scoops, squeeze a layer of Magic  Shell topping to get the bigger chunks throughout.  Store in freezer for at least 2 hours before eating.  

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Seriously, one of the easiest bar cookies you will ever make.  I mean, 5 ingredients?!  I think you might agree that these are probably one of the tastiest cookies also!  I love how gooey and sugary these are in the center.  The original recipe called for M&M's which I know would be fantastic (and I will definitely try one day) but since I didn't have them around, I just subbed with chocolate chips.  Still amazing.     

Makes 16-20 bar cookies 

3/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose baking mix (pancake mix)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray 9x9 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter and eggs until smooth.  Stir in the brown sugar until combined.  Add the baking mix and stir until moistened.  You will probably need to use your hands (it's a very thick batter)...I kneaded it like a dough.  Fold in the chocolate chips (again, probably will need to use your hands).  

Press dough into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Don't overbake...these are best when they look underdone when you cut them! 

(Source:  Adapted from Rachel Cooks)


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Sweet Tea with Mint

If you live in the south and you don't initally love sweet tea, believe me you will learn to love it.  We've lived here 5 years now and I swear, just last week was the first time I experienced my husband purchasing it from the grocery store!  I've loved it from the beginning, but for him, apparently, it was an acquired taste.  Anyway, I make a pretty darn good sweet tea so I'm so excited to have it around a lot more (so I don't drink it all myself!).  And with an abundance of herbs in our backyard, I couldn't help but add fresh mint to this tea!  It's so incredibly refreshing.   

Makes 2 Quarts

6 tea bags (or 3 family size)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups water
1 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, tea bags and mint.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover.  Let steep for about 15 minutes.  Remove tag bags and mint and pour warm tea into a 2 quart pitcher.  Add sugar and stir.  Fill the rest of the pitcher with cold water (or water and ice).  

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I'm a super busy mom of 3 and a Beachbody coach. Follow along as I try to find a balance between eating good food and keeping my family healthy and happy! We eat mostly clean with a few fun treats thrown in every once in awhile. Thanks for stopping by!

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