Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Cole Slaw

My sister-in-law recently asked me to recommend some slow-cooked meals that could be dropped in the crock-pot in the morning and eaten in the evening. I know of a few, and thought I'd start testing them (and maybe re-testing?) before recommending them.

Here is the result of a pork shoulder that was marinated overnight and then slow-cooked on low in the crock-pot for about 11 hours (hey, my work days are long!). Topped with BBQ sauce (a new quick recipe that used ketchup) with a side of chilly coleslaw (made from farm cabbage that we accidentally froze in our fridge). I'll be repurposing the pork tonight as carnitas.

Geez, this food photo looks nasty.

Company Pumpkin Carving Contest 2007!

Today is Halloween, and that means it's time for my company's annual pumpkin carving contest. There was no theme last year and I arrived at the office to find that *two* of my co-workers were using the same idea as mine. I had to come up with a new idea fast and submitted this pumpkin in 2006:

It came in second to someone who "carved" their pumkin into pumpkin pie. How could anyone beat that??

This year had a "scary" theme, and few things are scarier to me than a hand injury. For as many surgeries and nasty medical things I've seen - none of which disturb me at all - there's something about a papercut that causes all of the blood to drain from my face. (This was exemplified a few months ago at work when I X-Acto'd my thumb and had to lay down so I wouldn't pass out!). So, here is my 2007 pumpkin submission:

Red Sox World Series Parade 2007

One of the perks of my current job is working smack in the middle of Boston. I get to catch a bunch of events and weird promotional things (for example, I got to see Fabio pushing I Can't Believe It's Not Butter one day last year...lucky me!) just by stepping outside.

Naturally, a small bunch of us went to the Red Sox World Series Parade yesterday, and we thought we had a pretty good position for viewing - right in front of the press stand! Unfortunately, this whole event was a chance for people to behave badly and about 15 people (including a mom with her 4-year-old daughter!) climbed up on top of the MBTA vehicle in front of us - the roof was concave, but that didn't stop them from doing the Papelbon dance.

Future car-tippers:

Despite a near altercation with some chic who insisted upon wedging herself in front of me, climbing on the truck, such that her butt was in my face (I would have taken a photo and published it on the web if I had her name!), I had a good time. And all was made well when I got to see my personal Red Sox MVP pick, Mike Lowell.

He waved right at me!

And it starts all over again in April...

Sunday Dinner - Turkey Meatloaf

I change my meatloaf recipe every time I make it. Sometimes beef, sometimes turkey. Everything else depends upon what's in the fridge!

Although we ate this for two days, I never took a photo. Maybe because meatloaf just isn't pretty? Or MAYBE because we were too excited (and overtired) watching the Red Sox win the World Series!

Penne with Pumpkin and Sausage

Wow, it was about a year ago in one of my first blog posts that I attempted to make a pumpkin pasta recipe. I had decided (last November!) to try to change the recipe a bit and try again - this time, with much success!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sunday Dinner - Turkey Tetrazzini

I had roasted a turkey breast (which was much larger than I expected!) and had quite a bit leftover. I had been wanting to make *chicken* tetrazzini for some time, but used the turkey instead to make this wonderful meal - a turkey, linguine and cream-based casserole that was even better the second day.

I am rarely, if ever, disappointed by Giada DeLaurentis' recipes. This one was a bit more time consuming (and well worth it!), but hers are usually simple, delicious recipes.

(Kind of) Craft Day

Although I really needed to designate a "cleaning day," a "laundry day," and a "build my webpage" day, I decided instead to hold a "craft day" for myself. Only, I barely got anything done and the livingroom is in more disarray.

I made an address book for my in-laws as a thank-you for rescuing us from Pep Boys a couple of months ago:

And a Christmas accordion book for......? Somehow I managed to procrastinate more important crafts during "craft day." Not sure how that happened?

ACLS Game 6 Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Today I learned that canola oil and vegetable oil are not the same oil. I don't know what the difference is, and the cupcakes came out fine just the same. However, I now have both in my pantry.

We were treated to an evening of grilled-food and game-watching at the home of my in-laws this past weekend, and I brought dessert: (almost) Ina Garten's carrot cake cupcakes made with our farm share carrots. It has been so much easier to utilize the autumn vegetables than the ones we received in the summer. Who would have thought I would make dessert out of them! If only I could make celeriac ice cream...

Roasted Onion and Garlic Soup

This soup would have taken much less time to make if I hadn't had a freak immersion blender accident (and subsequent cleanup). To me, it felt like this Emeril-recipe soup was trying hard to be French Onion soup and would have been better if it were. In short, I won't be making it again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Thank You" Brunch Invitations

A lovely bunch of friends and family came to our rescue this summer when my mom became ill. Now that she is doing considerably better (and has her appetite back!), she decided to invite a small bunch of these folks to a Sunday brunch. I wanted to help out, and quickly created a dimensional invitation with a little brunch-related poem attached to bottles of maple syrup. I can taste the Belgian Waffles already!

The back of the card:

Sunday Dinner - Beef Stew

Althought I've heard that my dad has perfected crockpot beef stew, I have yet to try it myself. So, for my first attempt at beef stew I went with Tyler Florence's "Ultimate Beef Stew," which was...ultimate. Without offense to those who have served me beef stew in the past, this was the best beef stew I have ever had. I made the suggested sour cream/horseradish sauce (which was a fantastic addition!) and my first popovers. AND, I finally got to bust out my cast iron dutch oven. Love it. And, as was part of the Sunday Dinner plan, we have leftovers for at least one more evening meal.

A one pot meal!

Wow, good.

Garlic Giddiness

It was in the early days of our farm share this year that we received those crazy twisty (tasty!) garlic scapes, the sprout portion of a garlic plant that needs to be cut in order for garlic (as we know it) to happen. (Image borrowed from JupiterImages.)

At last, in this week's delivery we received the bulb part of this plant - and a whole lot of it!

What better to make than Alton Brown's "Chicken and 40 Cloves"? (It's been on my to-make list for years!) It was easy and dangerously tender (tiny bones!). The garlic, roasted in olive oil and thyme for hours, was sweet and perfectly spreadable. One drawback - I could still smell the garlic oozing from my pours late the next morning!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tried and True - Melissa's Beans

This "refried" bean recipe was one of the first things I ever cooked and I am always amazed at how good AND healthy it is. My vegetarian friend shared the recipe with me about 10 years ago (holy!) and I make it to this day - I highly recommend it as a side dish or dip. Try it!

You'll need:
olive oil
1 big yellow onion (cut into rings or half rings)
1 big green pepper (I used a red pepper this time) (cut into thin strips)
3 cloves or garlic (minced)
1 can of pink kidney beans (with liquid)
1 can of red kidney beans (with liquid)
1.5 packets of Goya Sazon
big pinch of salt
big pinch of sugar
big pinch of cumin
big pinch of coriander
2 big pinches of basil

Here's what you do:
1) Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil until they start to soften
2) Add the peppers until they start to soften
3) Add both cans of the beans and their liquid
4) Add all spices and mix, cook for about 10 minutes with cover on
5) Mash the contents of the pot (so about 1/2 the beans are mashed)
6) Uncover and cook for about 10 minutes (to thicken the bean mixture)
7) Remove from heat and mash the rest of the beans
8) Enjoy!

The Sunday Dinner

The arrival of the cool, dry air of autumn calls for a change in the contents and preparation of our dinners, about which I am very excited. I hope we can fit in one more grilled meal, but the slow cooker is calling to me.

I have decided to start making official Sunday dinners - a bit of a challenge when there's only two of us. I love marking the start of a new week, and I enjoy the pace that such a dinner sets for the day. I'm envisioning spaghetti and meatballs, beef stew, baked beans, chili, roasted chicken...that kind of thing.

So, this past Sunday was a start, although it was more time consuming than future Sunday Dinners will be.

I made slow-cooked pork chops (which I brined overnight - my first brine!) and homemade tortellini filled with roasted delicata squash and ricotta. I learned from both endeavors (overly salty pork and excessively time consuming tortellini) but the sitting-down-to-a-Sunday-meal part was wonderful!

My brine!

Our tortellini (John helped!)

The dinner:

I Know What We Did This Summer

The weather has (finally) started to turn colder, and I have been reflecting upon Summer 2007 - the good, the bad...this summer had it all. Happy to say that things are pretty darn "good" right now.

I thought I would officially document our many ventures over the past 5 months (although my ticket pile is missing the Steely Dan concert we attended in May that had us singing "Black Cow" for months!).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cherry Pork Tenderloin & Delicata Squash

This meal was truly easy and unexpectedly delicious. Our first delicata squash was roasted and served aside butterflied pork tenderloin with a shallot cherry sauce. We'll be having this meal again soon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tomato Confit?

We have been receiving a good amount of tomatoes in our weekly farm share, and I discovered that my often-referred-to fish/pasta class instructor was experiencing the same. She offered a recipe on her website for Tomatoes Confit which sounded like a great solution for prolonging the shelf-life of these little summery tomatoes. However...

To follow this confit recipe would have meant to actually be at home with the oven on for 3 hours - only after blanching them and removing the skin and seeds. I just haven't had the time, so I decided to get experimental...or, realistic, really.

I simply cored the tomatoes, sliced them in half and plopped them into my crock pot with olive oil, garlic, salt and sugar for, well, all day. Upon coming home from work, I tasted the result and was truly amazed. I am about to put my crock-pot-confit to the test by tossing it with some cheese tortellini.

UPDATE: Oh, the pasta was goooood!