BBQ pulled pork pasta

I know I have mentioned several times that dinner sometimes comes from whatever I have on hand. There are certain leftovers that I admit kind of stump me with how I can re-invent them. There are only so many pulled pork sandwiches one can eat; at least once the coleslaw is gone.
img_3897.jpgI was going to make nachos with the leftover BBQ pulled pork but I just wasn’t feeling it. So I decided to try something new; to us and has a little more substance than just tortilla chips with toppings. It does help that I do have a well stocked pantry and I am on a kick to start cooking with what I have on hand and only shop for the essentials.
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I would love to tell you that I succeed with cleaning out the freezer and pantry but after a few weeks I usually cave and get bored with what I have on hand. Though right now I couldn’t fit one more thing in my freezer and my pantry is a train wreck so I am going to try really hard this time.
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I would probably use a creamier cheese next time I make this, only because cheddar; while one of my favorites was a little hard to stir it into the pasta and meat mixture. Also if you don’t have cumin on hand you can use one of the following chili powder,  Garam Marsala, ground coriander, or curry powder.
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Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
1 medium green or red pepper, chopped
1 medium/large cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
BBQ pulled pork, approx 16 ounces
1 can mild rotel
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used Garam Marsala – it was in my pantry)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (a creamier cheese would be great here – Goat cheese, feta or even mozzarella, grueyre)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions
Cook pasta according to the directions on the package

Heat the butter and oil in your skillet, saute the onions, pepper for 3-5 minutes on med-low heat or until they are soft. Add the garlic, cook for another minute or so. Add the pork, rotel, broth and cumin. Saute until heated through.  Add the cheese at the last minute just till it melts. Serve and sprinkle with a few green onions.
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Turkey Chili crockpot/slow cooker

How many parties have you hosted or attended? How many guests do you have staying with you? Who has plans to ring in the new year? So many things to do, so little time!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday however you celebrate!

IMG_3745.JPGThis time of year is always crazy busy and it’s like we are all racing to make sure we fit everything in we possibly can. Oh and let’s also throw in 2 birthdays and an anniversary all within 6 weeks. Needless to say I have already declared January a sugar free zone at the office. And I am threatening to follow suit at home. There will be a rebellion for sure.
IMG_3742.JPGWe had an awesome Christmas party last week I have no idea how many people were here but at one point in the night I walked outside and counted around 24 cars, that’s a lot of people and I think this one had the most people singing along, it was glorious!
IMG_3743.JPGWe were 11 for overnight and 13 for breakfast with that many people there is no way to not be organized and part of my organization is to have something in the crockpot all day just in case anyone needs a little something to snack on and want to help themselves.
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Turkey Chili
1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
1 small white onion diced
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onion to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook until it is browned, breaking it up as you cook it. Add the spices to the pan, the heat in the pan helps the spices come alive.

Add the cooked turkey and onions to the crockpot and then all the other ingredients, stir well to combine.

Cover with lid and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-7 hours.

Scallopini – Milanese – Piccata

Super quick dinner that everyone will love; if they don’t you are probably reading / following the wrong blog. Or maybe should rethink who you eat dinner with – OK I know you can’t probably stop feeding your kids but you can definitely make them take the “no thank you” bite and they might just like it enough to keep going.
IMG_3737.JPGYou might be thinking I am confused today having 3 different “meals” listed in the title. Well it is quite possible. Last night was our annual Christmas party and I am literally writing this while setting up for it and directing 3 of my on hand “staff” aka as my daughter, one of her friends and my sister-in-law. So if this blog is a little frazzled you’ll know why.  I am SUPER multi-tasking right this minute.

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Yes that is my glass of wine – wink wink

OK so back to why I listed the 3 above and they actually are in order of how you can make a quick dinner that again you will love. They all start with thin sliced meat. Usually Chicken but I had Turkey on hand and usually always do in my freezer so that is what I used. So thin sliced meat lightly breaded and fried in a little oil in the pan. This is the definition of Scallopini. To make it a Milanese you need to make a sauce by deg-lazing the pan with white wine and a little lemon juice and then finish it off with a tab of butter. Then to make it a Piccata you add a small jar of capers. Voila dinner 3 ways!
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Turkey, Chicken or Veal cutlets – buy them or slice your own
salt & pepper
flour
2 tablespoon Olive or vegetable oil
¼ cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 jar capers
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon sliced

Salt and pepper both sides of the cutlets, dredge lightly in flour. Shake off the excess.
IMG_3726IMG_3727Swirl some oil in your saute pan, place them in the pan, not touching and leave them alone until they release on their own. Should be about 3-5 minutes. Flip, cover and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside. If there is excess fat in the pan, pour it off.  
IMG_3729IMG_3730Deg-laze the pan with white wine and add the minced garlic; cook the garlic just till it starts to get brown and cook till the liquid is about gone. Don’t walk away from the stove about 2 minutes. Add the broth, lemon juice and capers.
IMG_3731IMG_3732IMG_3733Return the cutlets to the pan and let the juice reheat the meat up. Transfer to a warm plate.
IMG_3734IMG_3735For the sauce add the butter and sliced lemons, once the butter melts pour the sauce over the cutlets. If you want to be fancy and have fresh parsley it looks really nice chopped sprinkled on top.

Beef and Guinness Stew

I should be writing about something you can make for your Thanksgiving dinner but I made this for dinner last night and it is just too good not to share immediately and it might be something to make on the Sunday after the holiday when you have had enough of turkey leftovers.

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Loved the oven roasted potatoes

A few week ago a couple of girlfriends and I went on a road trip to Simon Pearce a handmade glassware company; its about an hour and half from my house in Quechee, VT. This is my second visit to the combination store, glass blowing workshop, restaurant and bar.

My first visit was on Mother’s Day which happened to be a lovely day in May when my husband and I were on our way back from a weekend in Montreal. It was an unexpected treat. The property is on the river and there is a beautiful covered bridge and waterfall which you can enjoy while eating your meal.

May Simon Pearce

our May visit

I would suggest if you want to eat here; and you should; put your name in for a table and then walk around the store and glass blowing workshop. Learn from our mistake, well mistake is a little harsh. It just gave us more time to walk around.

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I’m a dork I used a clothespin because I couldn’t figure out my daughters stand – till this morning

Both times my food was excellent and I would go back again; although after talking with our waiter and him bringing over a copy of the latest book that has some of the recipes included in it and of course I ended up buying it. Between me and my daughter (mostly my daughter) we are going to need a library just for our cookbooks/magazines.

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I had a 4 pound chuck roast I cut up

IMG_3647So I had their beef stew and the depth of flavor was so intense I figured it had to have been on the stove or in the oven for hours. I was pleasantly surprised that we were eating in just about 2 hours and most of it was the pot simmering on the stove.

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all the love on the bottom of the pan – scrape it up when you add the liquid

IMG_3650My daughter came home after work and reheated a bowl for herself and said it was ridiculously good and worth buying the book for.
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after an hour and half

Beef and Guinness Stew with oven-roasted potatoes
This is exactly how their recipe – I will also share how I made mine

Ingredients:
2 & 1/2 pounds of beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions:
Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large stewpot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and brown the beef in batches, adding 1 tablespoon olive oil to each batch, over medium high heat. Using slotted spoon, remove the beef from the pot and set aside.

3 carrots, peeled and sliced (blanch and set aside)

1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. Flour
1 bottle Guinness Stout
2-3 cups beef stock
(I used my carrot water and added a tablespoon of beef base plus a container of unsalted beef broth so mine was a little less thick than there’s)

Add onions and a small amount of olive oil to the stewpot and cook over medium heat until translucent. Once the onions are caramelized, add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add the browned beef back to the pot and add the Guinness. Bring to a boil and add beef stock. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the carrots and adjust the seasonings before serving

Ingredients:
2 pounds small red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. Paprika

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the Paprika added a little heat – which was nice!

IMG_3652Instructions:
Cut potatoes in quarters.  In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet in one layer (do not overcrowd). Roast for at least 1 hour in 400 degree F oven or until brown and crisp. Flip twice during cooking to brown every.

Recipe from the Simon Pearce Restaurants

Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad

I did it again; I made something that needs to be shared and didn’t take pictures. Why do I do this to myself? I often wonder if it is so I have to make it again? I doubt it I think I was a little pressed for time; who makes a new roasted chicken recipe during the week for friends? This girl does!
IMG_3634.JPGI knew it was going to be good since it was an Ina Garten recipe and she is a rockstar in the kitchen. And roasted chicken is her thang. Yes I wrote thang on purpose. I can’t be certain how many ways there are to roast a chicken, or how many different ways I have roasted chicken or even how many of them were Ina’s recipes. But everyone should have at least one favorite way to do so and make it often. This one is a keeper, very moist full of flavor and pairs perfectly with the arugula salad.

I actually roasted 2 chickens in two separate pans; one cast iron as instructed and the other in a stainless steel. The bread I used was not thick enough for the cast iron and came out too burned for me. It worked perfectly in the stainless. Thank you KP for asking if I was going to take a picture so I actually have a couple to share just before we dug in.
IMG_3633.JPGRoasted chicken for me is home, warmth, comfort, family and friends. What dish brings you home?

Notes: Season the chicken 24 to 48 hours before you roast it
I hate reading a recipe and get excited about making it and then find out I should have started it a day or so before. 

Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad
Ingredients

1 (4-4½ pound) whole chicken (try finding a Bell & Evans)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 thick slices of country bread – ¾ in thick
Olive oil
Arugula salad (see below)

Directions
Place the chicken in a baking dish, Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Ina ties the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. I didn’t do either of those thing and it worked out for me. You do you!
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 or 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500’F, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm up a bit. Place the bread in a medium 10” cast iron skillet in a single layer. Pour a little olive oil over the bird and place the bird breast side up on the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn the bird over and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.

Place the dressed arugula salad in a large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1 inch squares and sprinkle it on top of the salad. Carve the chicken into thick slices and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt and serve warm.

Salad ingredients
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons dried currants
6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)

Directions
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a mason jar, or small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.

Recipe: Ina Garten make it ahead

Creamy Pasta and Beef

Tis the season for comfort food – do you really need a season to enjoy comfort food? I don’t think so! I know I can and do make and enjoy a comfort meal more times than not. My comfort food go to meal starts with roasted chicken. I can and have roasted a whole chicken for Sunday dinner more times than any other Sunday meal. Sometimes I even roast two. Which is why there are at least 3-4 containers of chicken stock in my freeze at all times.
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Soups are another one of my comfort food staples. I usually make a soup over the weekend for a quick grab and go lunch option for the week. So I guess it’s good thing I always have stock available. Maybe it’s all part of the cooking equation; I have so I make. That kinda makes sense now that I say it out loud.

Maybe they call it comfort food because it’s on the heavier side of the food pyramid? (I do know that it isn’t) For the record I love salads but I wouldn’t call it comfort food. I would call it more of a necessity, again probably because of the roasted chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and the rich broth soups I need or should eat a salad or two only so the scale doesn’t roll it’s eyes at me; another for the record – it does all the time.
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So here is a quick and easy comfort food meal that you can make any night of the week. And maybe make a tossed salad to go along side of it. Plus don’t forget the fresh loaf of bread; remember you are also eating a salad so it’s totally legal.

Ingredients
box of medium pasta shells – cook according to directions and set aside
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning – if you don’t have this see below
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
¾ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a stock pot or large skillet over medium high heat, add the ground beef, crumble and brown till cooked through ;drain the excess fat and remove the beef to a bowl or plate.

Add the onion cook for about 2-4 minutes until they are translucent then add the garlic stirring frequently. Cook for another minute or so. Add seasonings cook for another minute or so. Add the flour and cook till it is slightly browned this should take a couple of minutes.

Gradually whisk in the beef broth and tomato sauce. Bring it to a boil; reduce heat stir occasionally and simmer until it thickens around 10 minutes.
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Add the Pasta, beef and cream until everything warms and melds together. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  

If you don’t have a jar of Italian seasoning – it is generally made up of the following spices so I suggest adding a sprinkle or two of the ones you do have. Or pick the ones you like the best. Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Sage and Parsley

adapted from online Damn Delicious

Cider-Sage Pork Roast

Sometimes dinner just comes together; at least in the beginning; I’ll explain more about that in a bit. I had picked up a pork roast on my last shopping trip. There was a little cider leftover in the fridge and some of my herbs are still going strong especially the sage.
IMG_3582.JPGLast Tuesday I think I was a little over ambitious; I blame vacation and not having a kitchen for a couple of weeks and the weather; fall is coming, well actually weather wise it is here and I love cooking roasts; it helps take the chill out of the air in the house. My husband keeps saying “winter is coming” but he is a Game of Thrones fan and he loves to ski.
IMG_3570.JPGThe front cover of one of my favorite foodie magazines Fine Cooking had a roasted pork loin on the cover that I wanted to try. It does help to actually read a recipe through before jump in and start making it. Which I hadn’t done; thankfully there was exactly 4 cups of cider left in the fridge; it was meant to be. If nothing else the brine was easy and made the pork taste exactly as I thought it would. A little sweet from the cider, just enough salt and very juicy – which you need to cook it to the correct temperature to help with the juicy part.
IMG_3575.JPGI had to run to the store after work to pick up the things I didn’t have on hand and that’s when it went and usually does go sideways. I needed a couple of apples and ended up grabbing enough to make an apple pie. Really Donna on a Tuesday night; what is wrong with me? There were going to be 5 of us for dinner and I started with making the pie crust around 5:30 I think we finally ate dinner around 7:30 – 8:00.
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While the pork was outstanding and cooked to perfection, I will admit it wasn’t because I had a firm grasp of the cooking process. It smelled like something was burning so I checked the oven and my potatoes, apples and onions were mostly charcoal. Since it was getting late I flipped the convection switch and the oven was on a ridiculously high temperature plus everyone was around the island looking at vacation pictures. Needless to say I was distracted and shit happens. But I made apple pie 🙂

Cider-Sage Pork roast

Brine
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half
3 lb. center cut pork loin

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of the cider, sugar, salt and garlic and bring to a simmer until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the other 2 cups of cider and cool to room temperature. Add the roast to a bag or bowl and cover with the brine, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
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Roast
16 fresh sage leaves
3 large granny smith apples, 2 inch wedges
1 ½ lb small potatoes, similar to Yukon gold, halved – I used my potatoes from our garden
1 large red onion, ½ inch wedges
3 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups apple cider

Preheat oven to 425’F with the rack in the center of the oven
Bring the roast out to the counter to come to room temperature about 20-30 minutes.
IMG_3578.JPGIn a large roasting pan, toss the apples, potatoes and onion with half of the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast until they are mostly tender around 20 minutes. While they are in the oven remove the pork from the brine and place on some paper towels. Discard the brine. Dry the pork. Using kitchen twine or if you are lucky enough to have silicon bands like mine. Tie in three evenly spaced spots. Take 12 sage leaves and place them under the twine. Season roast with black pepper.
IMG_3579.JPGWhile the veggies and apples are roasting, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, Add the rest of the olive oil, and when hot sear all sides of the loin, don’t move the pork until it releases from the pan, which will ensure a nice brown crust.

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sorry about the lousy picture – but you get the gist

Place the pork roast onto the apples, potatoes and onions in the roasting pan. Reduce the heat to 350’F (which I didn’t do, another part of my problem) roast for about 60-80 minutes or until the roast registers 145’F check on it after 60 minutes. Once done let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I also missed this step. While the pork is resting, make a pan sauce. Pour off and discard any of the fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, flour and the rest of the sage leaves torn into large pieces. Cook making sure to stir up ant brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cider and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
IMG_3574Remove the twine and thinly slice the pork. Serve with the apples, potatoes and onions along side the sauce.

Adapted from Fine Cooking