Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smoky Coleslaw



Well hello there!

Is everyone getting in the American Spirit?  Ready to celebrate??

I love the 4th of July holiday.  LOVE IT!   Ever since I was a little girl I looked forward to our 4th of July celebration.  Memories of family, American spirit, parades, fireworks, great food, and homemade ice cream always come to mind.


Yep, that's me!  Nice decor huh?

So what's a BBQ, a picnic, or just a holiday without great side dishes????
Boring....

So I bring to you a coleslaw...but not your everyday coleslaw...certainly not boring!
This will put some zip in your get-a-long!!

Coleslaw is generally eaten as a side dish along side BBQ or fried chicken.  It's also good along side of sandwiches.  It goes perfect with my BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches (click the title to view the recipe)!!

It's also great as an ingredient in sandwiches such as BBQ Pork, Hamburgers, or on Hot Dogs.  Experiment, it's fun!

So what's different about this coleslaw?  The dressing...it's not your usual sweet mayo based dressing...this one is smoky and sweet together.  You have to try it!

First you make your dressing in a large bowl.





Add the coleslaw and stir to coat with the dressing.





Cover and refrigerate to meld the flavors!!!  Simple...but what a flavor punch this has.
Hope you enjoy it and your 4th of July!!




Smoky Coleslaw 

1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 T brown sugar
2 t smoky chipotle paprika (or just smoky paprika)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/3 c canola oil
1 16 oz bag of coleslaw mix

In a large bowl mix together the vinegar, sugar, paprika, salt & pepper.  Slowly drizzle in the canola oil while whisking.

Add coleslaw mix and toss well to coat. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a least 2 hours to blend  all the flavors.


Source:  Adapted from Sandra Lee's Smoky-Sweet Slaw

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches



What better way to celebrate our county's independance than with a good 'ole American sandwich!

Not just any old sandwich, but one that has the flavors American's love....BBQ.

Now this sandwich is not just any 'ole meat....it PORK...and not a typical smoked pork, cause I don't have a smoker.  But, it certainly does have the smokey flavor, AND the pork is slow cooked and pulled just like a real smoked pork.

The trick is that I used a slow cooker....yes, a crock pot...and it came out tender, moist, and falling off the bone!

Don't let this fool you, this sandwich packs a great punch.  I also used my special Chili Rub I posted yesterday, which gives this great "smokey" flavor. (click on the link to go to the Chili Rub recipe)  Make sure to add this step it's crucial!

This pulled pork sandwich is in the spirit of the Carolina BBQs.    The meat is slow cooked, over indirect heat.  Using a pork shoulder, the meat is "pulled" or shredded.  The all important sauce is a vinegar based sauce which I bought (more on that later) and is used to flavor the pork after the slow cooking is complete.  This sauce is typical of North Carolina.  In South Carolina they tend to use a mustard based sauce, but I like the vinegar base myself!

This is not a "quick" meal by any means, so it takes some time and planning.  Great for a large crowd, a party, celebrations, holiday, or weekend meal.

So let's pull some pork!!!

Take a 4 1b. boneless pork shoulder.  Rub the pork with my chili rub all over, on both sides.  Really rub it in there. 




Place the pork fat side up in a 5 quart slow cooker.  As a basting, add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1/2 stick of butter.  You can put some of the butter on top of the pork so that it melts and seeps in to the meat.




Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or under very tender.

Remove pork from slow cooker and place on a cutting board to rest and cool enough for you to handle.  I've pulled off the top fat layer here... see that great crust, and the seasoning??



Meanwhile heat up the BBQ sauce in a sauce pan on your stove over low heat.  I purchased a North Carolina Sauce called "NC Barbecue Sauce" from "The Pit".  Purchased from Williams-Sonoma.  The Pit Western-Style North Carolina Barbecue Sauce: A famous blend of pureed tomatoes, tangy cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses and local wildflower honey, this spicy-sweet sauce comes from The Pit Authentic Barbecue in Raleigh, North Carolina; 12 oz.  You can purchase this here:  The Pit - Carolina BBQ Sauce .

You might need several bottles if you are serving a large crowd!


Remove and discard any excess fat from the pork.  Using 2 forks, shred the pork.

Place the shredded pork in the sauce pan and mix with the BBQ sauce.


Toast the hamburger buns using the broiler for about 2-3 minutes until nice and brown.



Top buns with the saucy pork mixture, add a pickle if you like!

See how yummy, makes you want some huh?
Now I served this with a "special" cole slaw...which I'll share with your tomorrow!





So fire up the...hmmmm...slow cooker, and get you some BBQ pulled pork going!  Enjoy!












BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Serves 8

4 lb. boneless pork shoulder
1 c chili rub
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 bottle of BBQ sauce, North Carolina Style (I used "The Pit")
8 hamburger buns, toasted
pickle slices are optional

Rub your pork with the chili rub mixture, rubbing on all sides.  Place pork in a 5 qt. slow cooker.  Add apple cider vinegar and butter to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until very tender.

Remove from cooker and place pork on a cutting board.  Let cool for several minutes.

Heat BBQ sauce in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Shred pork using forks.  Place shredded pork inside the sauce pan stirring to coat completely.  Allow to simmer while you prepare the sandwiches.

Toast hamburger buns in the broiler 2-3 min until golden brown.  Top the bottom bun with pork mixture.  Cover with the top bun.  Serve with pickles if desired!



Monday, June 27, 2011

Chili Rub



Everyone getting ready to BBQ or Grill for the 4th of July??

I'm going to do a series of posts of some delishhhhious foods that you can make for the holiday, or just any time this summer.


Let's start off with a Rub

A rub is a spice and/or herb mixture.  It's applied to the outside surface of your food before cooking.  They can be used as a dry rub, or a wet rub.  Dry rubs are applied and allowed to sit on the meat, which breaks down the fibers and tenderizes it.  It's great for food that is cooked using direct heat or on food that won't tenderize much.

A wet rub is a dry rub with oil or other fat added to it to create a paste.  Again it's rubbed into and on top of the meat and allowed to sit.

Rubs are very commonly used on meats when grilling or smoking.  They are a great way to add flavor....so try it!

I've made a Chili Rub to go with my pork shoulder for some tasty BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  I'll give you the pulled pork sandwich recipe tomorrow!

Rubs are super easy to make, using a variety of spices.  In addition to the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, this would be great on grilled or pan fried chicken, pork chops, and steak. 

Start the summer right with a great BBQ and a GREAT RUB!




Chili Rub

2 T coarse salt
1 T Brown Sugar Splenda (or 2 T regular light brown sugar, packed)
1 1/2 T Smoked Chipotle Paprika  (if you can't find this use smoked paprika and add some chipotle powder as well)
1 T Black smoked pepper (or regular black pepper)
1 T garlic powder
1 t dry mustard
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t dried oregano

Blend all spices together in a bowl.  Use immediately, or cover tightly and store for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.  Makes 1 cup of spice rub.

Source:  Adapted from William-Sonoma

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pizza Night: Individual Pizzas



Who doesn't love pizza??

Pizza is such a popular dish everywhere, so why not make some fresh homemade pizza yourself?

We decided to do individual pizzas, each choosing our own toppings and creating our own perfect pizza, and then sharing them so we can sample and vote on the best.  A pizza tasting party!!

Pizza is easy to make at home. It starts of with a good dough.  You can use store bought or homemade, thick or thin crust.

I bought a whole wheat pizza dough at the grocery store and split it in two.  We both like thin crust pizza so we rolled it out thin, and kept it rustic, not neat and round.


Next, assemble all your toppings.  We chose shredded mozerella, sliced fresh mozerella, sliced turkey pepperoni, whole basil leaves, chopped basil, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, and fresh sliced mushrooms.  You can choose any toppings you like!



To assemble, you will want a sauce to place on the crust of your pizza.  We chose a red sauce that I made from a can of tomato sauce, adding garlic powder, italian seasoning, salt & pepper, which I heated up and simmered for 10 min to blend all the flavors.  You can choose, a white sauce such as alfredo, green sauce such as pesto, or a jarred tomato sauce...even marinara works wonderful.  Just as long as you enjoy the flavor.  Add your tomato sauce to the crust, using a much or as little as you please.

Place your toppings of choice on the pizza.

I chose to make a traditional Margherita Pizza, and MGG made one with diced tomatoes, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, and a little basil garnish.



Make sure you preheat your oven to 425 - 450 degrees.  I use a pizza stone, which you must put in the oven when it is cold and allow it to heat up with the oven...these stones are awesome for pizza and any kind of bread baking.  Here's the stone in the oven...bad pic...sorry it's dark in there!



Then you slide your pizzas on to the stone, using a peel, or a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal, and one that doesn't have sides...very important!  This helps get the pizza off the tray!

Cook for about 10-13 minutes.  It's done when everything is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Here's mine....yum!!



Here's his....lookin' good!



Allow to cool for about 5 min....Now the serving....mine




his...




both...hey! his is bigger!!! 


a lot bigger....hmmm.


And for the taste contest...well he liked both..and I think I liked his better...I'm partial to pepperoni and mushrooms! 

Happy pizza tasting!!!



Friday, June 24, 2011

Product Review: Surf and Turf & Crate and Barrel's Ginger Dipping Sauce


It's Summertime! 

Don't you just love it?  Well if you are not having a heat wave that is...!

Here in LA we love summer.  We usually have great weather with the exception of several weeks of sweltering heat late summer.  Right now we're having what we call "June Gloom".  It is cloudy in the morning, even chilly, and then it burns off and heats up in the afternoon.

Just preparing us for the heat to come...

Lovin' summer so much I have to share a pretty summer tablescape with you!  A crisp white quilted runner sets the cool mood.  Dark green chargers bring in a touch of the outdoors.  The pretty white plates with dotted edges add texture and set the canvas for a beautiful, summer colored salad plate of pretty flowers!  Even the flatware reflects nature, depicting leaves on the handles.  Isn't this tablescape fresh looking?



But I digress..so on to the product review.  So for summer solstice we decided to grill some surf and turf.  Steak, fillet mignon, and shrimp to be exact.  So I got out my Lodge cast iron grill skillet (one of my best skillets!) and fired it up.

I wanted to try a new product I found at Crate & Barrel...a favorite store of mine!  The Ginger Dipping Sauce sounded so good and reminded me of that great sauce that you get from Benihana's.  You know the one?  It's just awesome...and I want it!

So I picked this one up having high hopes of that great tasting Ginger sauce.  Here's what Crate & Barrel has to say about their product.

Ginger Dipping Sauce. 9.5 oz.

Savory, all natural Asian sauce flavors delicious meals with a minimum of fuss. Dip egg or spring rolls into ginger dipping sauce, season veggies or noodles, or use as a marinade for virtually any protein.
  • Ginger Dipping Sauce contains onion, tomato, celery, Japanese soy sauce, canola oil, corn syrup, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, spices and herbs

As you can see the ingredients are all natural, and very well balanced.

So we grilled our fillet mignons... (just using salt & pepper)


and our shrimp....(again just using salt & pepper)



and served it with the Ginger Dipping Sauce.    I wanted the food to be all about the dipping sauce complimenting the steak and shrimp's natural flavors.



I liked the sauce but there was a definite prominent vinegar taste.  The ginger was a prominent flavor as well.  A good sauce, but not exactly like that of Benihana fame...I would definitely buy this again...and the price is reasonable at $5.95 as you will get multiple uses out of it if you use this as a dipping sauce.  I'm still going to recreate the famous Benihana sauce but  I would recommend that you pick up a bottle of this if you have the opportunity, it's a close second.  You can buy this online here, ginger dipping sauce which sells for $5.95 at Crate & Barrel.

This dish goes great with my Zucchini and Thyme side dish.  yum!

What your favorite dipping sauce is?
Happy summer!!!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Zucchini and Thyme



It's summertime!  The heat is on in LA and all the flowers are bloomin'...

I love the summer for the weather but especially for the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available from our local farms.

One of the healthiest ways and cheapest ways to cooks is to eat seasonally, and with local grown products. 

This time of year our farmer's markets are overflowing with a great selection of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.   

I frequent the farmer's market and love to make dishes using all the fresh ingredients...they really do taste better than those in the supermarket...riper, crisper..and overall just plain better!

Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies and this dish is a quick side dish that is big on flavor!
So enjoy the beginning of summer and celebrate summer solstice tomorrow by cooking up some wonderful dishes using summer's bounty!

See, even my baby dog, Brandy loves summer!  She's a natural model, and loved to pose for the camera!



This dish is super easy, just dice your onion and cut your zucchini in planks.  Then toss in a medium pan to cook adding some aromatics, such as thyme and beef bouillon.  Enjoy!!!





Zucchini and Thyme



Serves 4

Ingredients: Print Options
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 c diced onion
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1 lb fresh zucchini, cut into 3-by-1/2-inch sticks
1 tsp better than bouillon, beef flavored
1 tsp dried thyme
Sea Salt and coarse ground black pepper

Directions:

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add your diced onion and parsley.  Cook until soft, but not browned.

Add the zucchini sticks, beef bouillon, thyme and a pinch of salt & pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and cook until tender, from 12 – 15  minutes.  Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sue's Famous Loaded Baked Potato Salad



My sister, Sue, is an excellent cook.  You know, one of those people that just pick up ingredients, throw them together, and make it up as they go along...and voila! 
A MASTERPIECE!!!

Don't you just hate when that happens???

Well, Sue's got it like that...I mean she can whip up just about anything...give her an idea, or a concept and she runs with it and creates a dish that delicious and memorable.

Such is true with her famous Loaded Baked Potato Salad.

She got the idea from a dish she ate in Kentucky and decided to create one of her own and came up with this masterpiece....trust me it is....a masterpiece!  It's a potato salad...no a loaded baked potato...no a loaded baked potato turned into a potato salad...yeah that's it!

I didn't want to put this dish down..it's the bomb...really...I was dreaming about it all night....still am!

So to pay tribute to my sister and to add another great dish to serve on Father's Day we are sharing this recipe with you.  Here's my sister Sue, my niece (Denise) and my Mom (Imy) chilling before our feast!



Now check out this AWESOME, creamy, tasty dish...make it today, you'll love it!


Oh my, look at this....I'm excited!




Here's the recipe....make it, make it, make it!!!!


Sue’s Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Ingredients:
3lbs. red potatoes
1 ½ cartons of sour cream (low fat)
6 strips of turkey bacon (or regular)
5-6 green onions chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese
¼ cup low fat mayo
1 tsp olive oil
Sea salt & pepper

Directions:

For a crisper skin on the potatoes, brush with olive oil and then bake until slightly soft (but able to slice) when you fork.  Or you can just boil them but the skin is harder to keep on the potatoes.  Let potatoes cool then cut them into small bite sized pieces.  In a large bowl gently fold in all the ingredients, saving one bacon strip and ¼ cup of the cheese to garnish on top.  Refrigerate with a lid or saran wrap till chilled.  Enjoy!

Glow Worm Fabulous!!

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