Monday, January 31, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I can't say enough good things about this pork.  It was easy.  It was delicious.  It was very affordable.  (Pork was on sale that week, and a Boston butt is even more affordable than a pork tenderloin and still so flavorful!)   It only used a few ingredients.  You have to try this! 

Depending on the size of the Boston butt you get (and they're all pretty big), it feeds a crowd, so you could easily do some pulled pork sandwiches for the Super Bowl or any other get-together you have coming up.  Ours had a small bone in it, but all the meat just fell off the bone, so it easy to remove.  YUM!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1 (3lb) Boston butt
Minced onion flakes
12 oz root beer
1 (18oz) bottle barbecue sauce
8 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

Season the pork with salt, pepper, and onion flakes, and place the pork in the slow cooker.  Pour root beer over the meat.  Cover with lid and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 5.5-6 hours.  Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred with forks; drain crock pot.  Put pork back into crock pot and cover with desired amount of barbecue sauce.  Cook on low for an additional hour.  Serve on hamburger buns.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bell Pepper Baked Beans

We made these beans as a side dish the other night, and this was an easy and tasty way to dress up a regular can of baked beans.  The recipe, which I adapted from AllRecipes, calls for green bell pepper, which was great and gave it a very unique taste, but I'm sure it would be still be wonderful with the more traditional caramelized onion.  Yum!   It also says to heat them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes (thus making them baked beans), but if you're short on time, I'm sure you'd be fine just heating everything on the stove in a pot for a while.  

This recipe only yields 2-3 servings, so feel free to double or triple it for a family.  It's theperfect side for a summer barbecue (or for pretending this freezing winter will end soon!).  

Bell Pepper Baked Beans

 1 (15oz) can pork and beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 strip bacon
3 Tbsp barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp mustard

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove to a paper towel.  Saute green pepper in drippings until tender.  

In a bowl, pour drained can of beans, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, green pepper, and mustard.  Chop strip of bacon and add to mixture.  Pour into a greased 1 qt. baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Teak had his tumor removed yesterday, and they're testing it this week to see if it was truly benign, like the vet speculated.  In the mean time, he has a big shaved patch on his shoulder, and he has about a two-inch-long scar with stitches.  He didn't need a cone (this time around) since his mouth can't reach that spot on his shoulder, but he can reach it with his back legs to scratch it and possibly pull the stitches out.  The solution to that problem is hobbling his legs, which basically means that his back legs are tied together.  They're wrapped so that they're always about two inches apart, preventing him from scratching at the stitches, and also forcing him to bunny-hop around the house and the yard.  His legs have to stay hobbled for a week!  I feel so bad for him.

I love this little dog.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vanilla Crisps

These cookies are really good basic butter cookies.  This recipe came from my mom's old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  It couldn't have been any easier to throw together.  I already had all the ingredients.  They look a little plain on their own, so I dressed them up with some colored sugar and stencils that I had.  You can decorate them however you want.  They're nothing fancy--just really good. 

Vanilla Crisps

1 stick butter or margarine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add salt and vanilla.  Add egg, beating well.  Stir in flour and mix well.  Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with floured glass.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Remove immediately from pan, and cool on rack.  Yields about 3 dozen small cookies. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of my all-time favorite foods, and I love all of Pioneer Woman's recipes.  PW knows what she's doing, and all I had to was follow her directions, but of course, I didn't.  I like spicy food, but I was a bit too heavy-handed with the chili powder on this one.  The taste was saved, though, by a nice dollop of sour cream, which mellowed everything out and made it just delicious.    

PW's recipe tells you to sprinkle a mixture of cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder on chicken breasts and then bake them; I just sprinkled on salt and pepper and browned the chicken on the griddle.  To make up for the chili powder I didn't put on the chicken breasts, I sprinkled it (too generously) in the soup.  I won't do that again.  The main differences between the recipe I'm posting here and hers is baking the chicken (her) vs. pan-frying (me) and the cutting down of spices (me).  I also cut down on the cooking time, mainly because I was hungry and I didn't want to wait. 

This really is so good on a cold night or any night you need a pick-me-up.  You'll like it!

And on another note:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! 

Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 can black beans, drained
32 oz low sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup to 1 cup water
3 Tsbp cornmeal
Corn tortillas

Sour cream

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and cut into strips.  Cook chicken in skillet sprayed with cooking spray until no longer pink.  Set aside. 

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions, bell pepper, and minced garlic.  Stir and begin cooking; add some of the spice mix (of cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder).  Stir to combine, and add chicken strips.  Pour in diced tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, and black beans.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. 

Mix cornmeal with water.  Pour into the soup, then let the soup continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed.  Turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Add corn tortilla strips before serving.  Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, or cilantro.  Yields 6-8 servings. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

He looks a little mad here. 

We found out yesterday that Teak has what is probably a benign tumor on his left shoulder (it looks like a mole, but dogs don't have moles--this one is pink and raised off his skin), so he's going to get that removed next Monday.  Please keep your fingers crossed that it is benign and that all goes well.  Thank you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jalapeno Cheese Grits

This is a great recipe from one of my Southern Living cookbooks.  It isn't spicy at all, so don't be afraid of the jalapenos that it calls for.  I made it to bring to a friend's house, so since I wanted to keep it wam, I baked it in the stoneware pot from my crockpot.  Then, when it had finished baking, I put the pot back in the crockpot and just kept it on warm.  So easy and so good!  We didn't have any leftovers at all.  

The original recipe said to add five eggs (!) at the end, but I didn't see the point of that, so I left them out, and everything was still great.  I also didn't add all the cheese that it calls for (that's four cups of cheese), but as with anything, the more cheese you add, the better it is.  I sprinkled some of the leftover cheese over the top before I baked it, and that made them look even better.  Enjoy!

Jalapeno Cheese Grits

32 oz chicken broth
1 3/4 cups quick cooking grits
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350.  Bring broth to a boil in  large saucepan; stir in grits.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Cover and remove from heat.  Melt butter in a large skillet; add chopped onion, bell pepper, jalapenos, and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in grits and cheeses.  Pour mixture into a lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish.  Bake, covered, for 45 minutes or until set; serve immediately.  Yields 8 servings. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Strawberry Pecan Bread

This is an excellent recipe from a cookbook I have on the best recipes from Louisiana.  (My picture does this recipe no justice.  It really is so good.)  I really enjoyed eating a slice with some cream cheese for breakfast in the mornings, and I bet it would be great if you baked it in a muffin tin, too.  It will be wonderful when fresh strawberries are out.  This is a nice change from banana bread, but I'm sure it would be awesome to add some mashed bananas, too.  Delicious!

Strawberry Pecan Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (10 oz) package frozen strawberries, thawed

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda; set aside.  In a small bowl, beat eggs and oil; add pecans and strawberries.  Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients.  Grease and flour a (9"x5"x3") loaf pan.  Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake for one hour (or 45-50 minutes for smaller pans). 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fudge Brownies

These are my family's favorite brownies, and the recipe is from my mom's Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook from before she got married.  They won't disappoint!  The original recipe calls for two (1-oz) melted squares of unsweetened chocolate, but you can substitute 2 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, which is what I did.  I added pecans in these, but you can add walnuts or any other nut that you like.  Not only are they delicious, they also look beautiful on my new heart-shaped plates.  Thanks, Jenny!

Fudge Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add cocoa powder.  Remove from heat; stir in sugar.  Blend in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Stir in flour and nuts; mix well.  Spread in greased 8"x8" pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cheddar Biscuits

(One picture of two different recipes means that we have two posts in one day.  Yay!)

These biscuits are so easy and delicious, and you probably already have everything at your house.  If you want a good breakfast biscuit, you can just make them plain, or you can have a great side for your dinner with the savory onion and garlic flavors.  They're so good either way.

Cheddar Biscuits

4 cups baking mix
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly spray a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, combine the baking mix, milk, and cheese.  Mix until dough is firm.  Using a small scoop, place dough on the prepared pan.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Combine the melted butter, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and parsley, and brush over baked biscuits immediately upon removing them from the oven.

Baked Potato Soup

One of the best things to have on a cold night is soup, and since we're headed for a few cold nights in a row, this is a good one.  This recipe requires you to bake the potatoes beforehand, whether in the oven or in the microwave.  Just make sure you make cook them until they're nice and tender before continuing with the rest of the recipe.  The recipe also calls for a cup of half-and-half, but I used 3/4 cup of sour cream and the rest milk.  The soup is delicious!

Baked Potato Soup

2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 strips bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce, etc.)
Shredded Cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp.  Drain and reserve one tablespoon of drippings.  Set bacon aside; saute onion and garlic until drippings until tender.  Stir in flour, salt, basil, and pepper; mix well.  Gradually add broth.  Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes, cream, and hot sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon and cheese. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pizza Hut Pizza Crust

I love Pizza Hut's crust; it always tastes so buttery and delicious.  I found a copycat recipe on the internet and decided to give it a try.  Our end result was really good, but it didn't have quite the same effect as the original. 

The recipe tells you to use 9" cake pans, but I didn't have any pans like that, and I wanted to use our new pizza stone (thanks, Kinsey and James!).  After you make the dough, the recipe says to put 3 oz of oil in bottom of the pan before you put the crust in; obviously, that's what gives the crust its buttery taste...but that's 1/3 of a cup of oil!  I drizzled 1 oz (which is the same as 2 Tbsp) on the pizza stone before putting the dough on it, and I feel like it just made the bottom of the pizza soggy.  We like it crispy, and it wasn't crispy.  However, when we reheated it on the hot griddle, it was perfect!  A hot pizza pan or pizza stone may be the trick.

Here are some other notes on the recipe: It will tell you to use a rolling pin to roll out the crust, but I don't have one, so I just used my fingers.  Also, be aware that it makes three pizzas!  It says they're 9" pizzas, but depending on how thick or thin they are, you can probably get them closer to 11" or 12", so be ready to make them for a crowd.  You could also make two and allow for leftovers (which is what we did), and then we threw the last dough ball into a Ziploc and are keeping it in the refrigerator until we can make another later this week.

The ingredients made a great crust, and I will make this again--I'll just pre-bake the crust and not use any oil.  I'm going to put the original recipe up here in hopes that it'll work better for you than it did for me, but I'd caution you again not to use so much oil in the pans!  Your heart will thank you.

Pizza Hut Crust

1 1/3 cups warm water
1 packet dry yeast
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (for dough)
9 oz vegetable oil (3 oz per pan)
Butter flavored cooking spray

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, salt, sugar, and dry milk.  Add water, and stir to mix well; allow to sit for 2 minutes.  Add the 2 Tbsp oil and stir again.  Add flour and stir until dough forms and flour is absorbed.  Turn out onto a flat surface, and knead for about 10 minutes.  Divide dough into three balls. 

In three 9" cake pans, put 3 oz of oil in each, making sure it is spread evenly.  Using a rolling pin, roll out each dough ball to about a 9" circle.  Place in cake pans.  Spray the outer edge of the dough with cooking spray.  Cover with a plate, and place in a warm area for dough to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. 

For each crust, heat the oven to 475.  Spoon sauce, cheese, and desired toppings on pizza crust.  Cook until cheese is bubbly and outer crust is brown, about 8-10 minutes. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teak Dog Tuesday!

Doesn't that look like an uncomfortable way to sleep?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Corn Casserole

This casserole is so delicious and has such basic ingredients.  You might want to save it for a special occasion, since you probably don't want to eat so much butter and sour cream on a random weeknight; then again, wouldn't this make any given Tuesday night so much better?  Either way, this was really good.  I went back for seconds.

Corn Casserole

1 can whole kernel corn
1 can creamed corn
1 stick butter
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 cup sour cream
Parmesan cheese

Mix together first five ingredients and pour into casserole dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 for one hour.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas

Happy New Year!  I hope 2011 brings everyone countless new blessings.  It will certainly be a big year for my family, and I hope it will be a great year for you and yours.

One New Year's Day tradition is to eat black eyed peas for good luck and cabbage (or some other leafy green vegetable) for money.  However, since I don't like black eyed peas and neither of us likes cabbage, we're crossing our fingers and eating fajitas instead.  Be honest; wouldn't you rather have fajitas, too?  I thought so.

We were very excited to use our new Crock Pot (thanks, Mom!), and the fajitas did not disappoint.  The smell of them cooking throughout the day was almost as good as how they tasted.  It would be wonderful to put these on before you leave for work and then enjoy them when you get home, too.  I hope you like them as much as we did!

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1 sweet onion, cut into thin wedges and separated
2 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
6-8 flour tortillas

Optional Ingredients to Serve with Fajitas:
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Sliced Jalapeno Peppers

Place chicken, onion, and bell pepper in crock pot.  Sprinkle spices over all.  Add the chicken broth and lime juice, and stir well.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Cook for over 6 hours if starting with frozen chicken breast.  Serve in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings.