Barbecue Pulled Pork

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Sometimes, when you plan in advance, you can create some great, fast weeknight meals.  Paging through my Cooking Light magazine a few weeks ago, I stumbled across an intriguing recipe.  Pulled pork with a bourbon-peach barbecue sauce.  The only catch is that my better half HATES peaches.  Yes, sadly I am the only peach/nectarine consumer in our household.  The recipe below is inspired by the Cooking Light version published in their July 2014 issue.  The original can be located via myrecipes.com

 

Barbecue Pulled Pork
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Meal
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ c water
  • ½ c homemade chicken stock
  • ½ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c molasses
  • ¼ c brown sugar
  • ⅓ c apricot preserves
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, vertically sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ c Four Roses bourbon (my favorite!)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. water
Instructions
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet. Pat pork roast dry and rub in salt and pepper. Add olive oil to pan and brown roast on all sides. Remove roast and place in a large slow cooker.
  2. Whisk water through brown sugar until dissolved. Add preserves and heat until boiling. Pour over roast. Add onions and garlic.
  3. Cook for 8 hours on low temperature cycle.
  4. Remove pork from pot and shred with two forks. Set aside. Strain out garlic and onions and add to pork.
  5. Defat the remaining juice and add to a small saucepan. Add bourbon and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Mix cornstarch and water into a slurry and whisk into barbecue. Continue to cook until thickened to your desired thickness. Add to reserved pulled pork mixture and serve over your favorite roll!

 

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Pea Soup with Dumplings

One of my partner’s favorite supper meals growing up was pea soup with dumplings.  Admittedly, when I heard him talk of pea soup, I thought of the thick, salty, split pea soup I experienced as a child.  Though I’ve grown to like that soup (with a little less salt), I had not a clue what this would wind up being.  Pea soup with dumplings is a celebration of the garden pea.  There isn’t a ham bone, there are no carrots, and there is no broth.  Yes, just peas and dumplings…with a little browned butter.

On a mission to get the most pea flavor possible, I set out to try something new this time around.  What if the broth itself was infused with garden pea flavor?  I got the idea while shelling three pounds of peas.  By the way, shelling three pounds of peas yielded 4 cups of peas.  We were very excited to see the amount received as we have never had that many at once before!

I took the discarded pods and decided we would “steep” the pods in water.  I rinsed any remaining dirt off of the pods and placed them in a stock pot.  Before adding water, I pressed down as hard as I could on the pods to help start breaking their  cells a bit.  I figured if I could offer a slightly broken down pod, there would be more extracted into the water.

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I added water just so that there were a few pods sticking above the water.  The water was brought to a boil and I continued to press on the pods until they were all submerged.  Once the water came to a boil, I removed it from the heat and covered for an hour.  The result:  an amazing garden pea broth.  The pea pods didn’t look so hot…but that’s fine as they gave up their best for a  lovely pea-flavored broth.

Follow the recipe below to savor the best your garden peas have to offer!

Pea Soup with Dumplings
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 c garden pea broth (see above instructions)
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 2 c garden peas
  • ½ stick butter
  • Dumplings
  • 1½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp double-acting baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk
Instructions
  1. Place pea broth, water, and salt in a stock pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Mix dumpling ingredients (don't over stir) and set aside.
  3. In a small pan, heat butter. Hold off on browning the butter until after the dumplings have been dropped.
  4. Add peas to boiling water. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 2 minutes.
  5. Drop dumplings by heaping tablespoon into water. After all dumplings have been added, flip dumplings to cook second side.
  6. Heat butter at a higher temperature now and bring to browned stage.
  7. Reserve one ladle of pea broth and pour browned butter over dumplings. Then, pour broth into butter pan to rinse and pour broth/butter into pot.
  8. Serve immediately.

 

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Garden Peas Arrive

We didn’t plant radishes this year…which are usually the first produce to arrive in our garden.  Peas however come in a close second.  On this first day of summer, we are experiencing fog, mist, and low 60′s for temperature.  Certainly doesn’t seem fitting for the longest day of summer.  After days of rain (3+ inches in many areas of Southeastern Wisconsin) our peas have plumped beyond belief.  Our garden pea plants (at 3 ft mind you) are now dwarfed by snap pea plants towering at 5.5 ft at the shortest!  We are so excited to have extreme success with peas this year.

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The image above is a mere three pounds of peas pulled from the garden this morning.  We’ve barely touched the surface of what will come.  And to put this in perspective, I’m unsure if we’ve totaled three pounds of peas across the last four or five years!  Very exciting to see success so early in the growing season.

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25 Minute Meal – Asparagus, Pepper, and Steak Stir-Fry

We wanted to get a long walk in tonight…yet another wonderful summer night.  This meal, inspired by a recipe in Cooking Light magazine, came together really fast tonight and left me with a lunch meal for tomorrow.  I love making my own heat and serve lunches for work.  (Definitely a tad less sodium than those Lean Cuisines!)

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Asparagus, Pepper, and Steak Stir-Fry
 
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Inspired by a Cooking Light Magazine recipe...
Author:
Recipe type: Meal
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 lb boneless, beef sirloin steak, cut into thin slices
  • 3 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • ½ c organic chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (I always use Penzeys)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1½ tsp cornstarch
  • ½ lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 c red and yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • steamed jasmine rice
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tsp oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook steak slices on medium-high heat until browned.
  2. While browning beef, combine broth through cornstarch in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  3. Remove browned steak from pan and set aside.
  4. Place remaining teaspoon of oil in pan and saute asparagus and peppers, about 5 minutes. Return beef to pan and pour in broth mixture. Cook until beef is done and sauce thickened, about two minutes more.
  5. Serve over steamed rice.

 

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Monday Night Grill Session

Last night, we had one of our best summer evenings yet.  Ripe for a thunder storm, the air was warm, slightly breezy, and getting humid.  I’m glad that I planned to make something on the grill.  The house was nice and cool and I got to spend some quality time in our backyard watching the garden grow!

The inspiration for the meal came from a recent Cooking Light magazine.  I modified a bit for our taste and had great results.  Here’s my version of the recipe.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Paprika
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Meal
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Spice Rub
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1¼ tsp Penzeys Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Penzeys Hungarian Sweet Paprika
  • 2 thick cut, bone-in center cut pork chops
Instructions
  1. Mix the spice rub ingredients together.
  2. Pat the pork chops dry and sprinkle a quarter of the rub mix on each side of the pork chops. Gently massage the rub mix into the chops and place in a zip top plastic bag. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to grill, take the chops out of the refrigerator and let them come up to room temperature as you prepare your grill. Grill should be at medium-high heat level if gas fueled.
  4. Grill chops to desired doneness.
Notes
I like to setup my dry rub marinades in the morning before going to work. This gives you a leg up at dinner time further cutting the time it takes to bring a quality meal to your table fast!

 

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Garden Status – Mid-June

The garden is shaping up well.  With the aggressive work done in the house before the snow started to melt, we’re well on our way to having produce before the Fourth of July.  Where I won’t be able to slice into a juicy, red tomato, we will have several things available within a few weeks.  Here are a few shots of what’s going on…

2014-06-14 Chive

The first onion flavors of Spring come from chives.  Our chives are nearing the end of their first run.  I’ve been using chopped chives on everything.  Most recently, we pulled the blossoms and placed in vinegar.  We’ll have chive vinegar for the rest of the summer cooking season!

2014-06-14 Fennel

I can’t wait to dig into this fennel bulb.  These were some of the first items I started back in March.  These oldest bulbs are just about ready to harvest.  I have others nearby that were sown about a month later.  We’ll have a steady crop of this crunchy, licorice-flavored vegetable.

2014-06-14 Onion

I call this my onion forest.  The very first items planted this spring.  As soon as this section was thawed, I tilled it and put the onion sets in.  There are just over 100 bulbs growing in this section.  Where I won’t have softball sized mega onions that you see in the grocery stores, these heavy papered onions will last well into winter once harvested.

2014-06-14 Corn

There is nothing better than sweet corn in the summer.  Many enthusiasts will tell you that the only way to have sweet corn is to bring your boiling water to the stalks.  Where I won’t recommend that, I do suggest that you pull your ears off as close to cooking time as possible.  The die-hard corn enthusiasts are trying to help you understand that the sugars in the corn quickly start turning to starch.  The sooner you eat it after removal from the stalk, the sweeter it is!

2014-06-14 Swiss chard

One of my favorite vegetables in the garden, and maybe the most prolific, is Swiss chard.  I’m not a big fan of spinach.  This beautiful leaf is what I use in place of anything that requires spinach.  The most amazing dish I’ve made with Swiss chard is a quiche.  The green is also excellent sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes…a very simple side.

2014-06-14 Peas

Our peas are just starting to plump up.  The shelling peas are forming hundreds and hundreds of pods.  The snap peas just finished their five foot high climb.  They are flowering to form their pods as you can see in the picture.

It’s quite an adventure every time I go into the garden.  I can’t wait to share more pictures and meals as everything is ready to eat!

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Quick Summertime Pizza

After spending a good portion of the day working in the yard, I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen last night.  We had landscape trimming, lawn cutting, and garden duty.  With meals planned for the week, I didn’t have anything planned for last night.  Knowing that we were going to sip on mojitos on the deck before dinner, I asked the other half what we should do for dinner.  Dale says, “Pizza?”  One, short, tasty word…

I pulled out my Dean & Deluca cookbook for a trusty basis for pizza dough.  The dough recipe you’ll find below is adapted from their basic dough recipe.

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Quick Summertime Pizza
 
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A fast, healthy, and tasty summertime dish...This makes a fairly thick crust pizza. Divide dough in half to make two thin crust pizzas.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Dough
  • Adapted from Dean and Deluca
  • 1½ C wheat flour
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ C warm water
  • Toppings
  • ¼ to ⅓ C canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 to 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Herbs from your garden
Instructions
  1. To make dough, place all dry ingredients in a food processor. Add honey and oil to warm water. With the food processor on, pour water through the food chute and process until the dough forms a single ball and runs around the bowl. I like to let the dough run another 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough and place into oiled bowl. Set aside until doubled in bulk.
  2. Preheat oven to 450.
  3. Work dough into your favorite pizza pan. I like to use a large round pan with holes to allow the heat and air movement from below to create a very crisp crust.
  4. Spread tomatoes over pizza. Sprinkle with salt and top with thinly sliced pieces of mozzarella. Place in oven and bake until well cooked and mozzarella has melted with a slight brown crust on the cheese.
  5. Chiffonade, or very finely slice, your favorite herbs. I pulled 10 to 15 giant leaves of basil, several chives, a stalk of oregano, and fennel fronds from the garden just before use.
  6. When the pizza comes out, sprinkle the herbs over the pizza, slice, and serve.
Notes
The prep and cooking time does not include dough rise time. You should allow for one hour, up to two hours, depending on temperature and humidity levels in the area you are proofing the dough.

 

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