Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork (in the slow cooker)

ingredients in the slow cooker (I reset the timer to 8 hours)
*the red peppers on top are the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Pork shoulder before shredding (topped with chipotle peppers)

Pioneer Woman strikes again! Every time I tell my husband I'm making one of her recipes, his face lights up. Why? Ree (we're on a first name basis, in my head at least) makes food for men (cowboys) and women (cowgirls) but if the guys are around, she makes food the cowboys will love. This usually involves meat and potatoes. There's a reason she hooked a hot rancher! 

I pulled my slow cooker out of the basement, the one I gave Josh as a gag gift a few years ago because I really wanted a fancier one with a timer. Every single time I make a home run dinner in my crock pot, I vow to use it more, and then it ends up back in the basement. Ce la vie. 

The star ingredient in this recipe is the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I was able to find them at Walmart, and there is just no substitute. We wrapped our pulled pork in tortillas topped with sauteed red peppers, cheese, and cilantro, though I'm sure the pulled pork would be divine any way you decide to serve it. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as we did! 

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Pork shoulder roast (mine was 5 lbs)
1 onion
12 ounces Dr. Pepper
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce 
2 Tbsp brown sugar

For serving - 
shredded pepper jack cheese
sauteed red bell peppers
sour cream

  1. Quarter the onion and spead out on bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Place pork shoulder on top of the onions.
  3. Pour the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce over the pork.
  4. Now pour the Dr. Pepper on top of the pork.
  5. Add 2 spoonfuls of brown sugar to the slow cooker and stir to mix.
  6. Put the lid on - set it on LOW and cook for 7-8 hours.
  7. When the pork is ready, carefully lift out of the slow cooker and shred with 2 forks on a large plate. Return the pork to the liquid in the slow cooker and stir well. 

Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with grated cheese, bell peppers, cilantro, or whatever toppings you would like. Enjoy! 

Black Bean Salad
This black bean salad was the perfect side dish to the tortillas! 

1 can black beans
I corn cob
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, diced
handful of cilantro, rough chop

5 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix dressing and whisk together. Combine black beans, corn, and red bell pepper in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top and mix well. Prior to serving, add avocado and fresh cilantro. 

GaryTalk #5

Less talking, More doing. 

Do you know any people that YAP YAP YAP about how they want to lose weight, plant a garden, learn a new language, or become a photographer? Then, they go the store, and BUY every item they could possibly need for this new endeavor. This may include golf clubs, running shoes, a nice camera, or gym membership.

Now, it's time to PLAN. This takes another couple of hours, to come up with a perfect set schedule of when we will do this new THING. Then, let's tell all of our friends and family about it. Oh wait, then we actually have to do the thing? Then keep doing it, over and over again, to become proficient? The reason that people are good at something is because they practice and have practiced and will keep practicing, forever and ever. 

We are all guilty of this behavior from time to time, and I appreciate being called out on it (though initially I may seem MAD). It forces me to shut up and put on my running shoes, hit the pavement and actually run. Even writing this today, I'm realizing there are a few things I need to hush up about and just do. How long did I talk about the patio herb garden I was planning in my head before I just went to Home Depot and got it all planted? Too damn long. 

Of course I can write it here, but my dad will never tell you in conversation that he is a brilliant golfer, pilot, and guitar player. Yet, when I spend time in his house over the holidays, at some point every single day he will pick up his guitar. He usually golfs twice a week and goes up in a plane once a week. He's doing. 

Dad says, Less Talking, More Doing. (LTMD). Get out there and live your life. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Reese's Nutella Banana Bread

If you're thinking what I'm thinking, then you're wondering how in the world can so many HAPPY words exist in the title of one recipe. Especially considering I left out the words "peanut butter". The combination of peanut butter with bananas and nutella is simply divine. 

I followed by own birthday advice and ate a thick slice of this bread, while sitting at the kitchen table, doing nothing but enjoying all of the flavors. No phone, no book, no TV, just my fork and my smiling face. As I'm typing, I'm reminding myself to slow down and enjoy each moment without hurrying or being constantly distracted. I'll call it the Nutella Rule. Stop and enjoy. 

Reese's Nutella Banana Bread
from backforsecondsblog.com

1 and 1/4 cup flour (all purpose)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla 

TOPPING: 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup Nutella, 1/2 cup Reese's Pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt
  3. In a mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and bananas. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour mixture and blend until well incorporated. 
  4. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (bake 45-50 min for standard loaf pan or 20 min for mini loaf pan) or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then run a knife around edges and place the loaf of bread on a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.
  6. Melt the peanut butter and Nutella and stir together. Carefully spoon over the bread and sprinkle with Reese's Pieces. Store covered at room temp. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Le Creuset

My wonderful work friends surprised me with a gift certificate to a very fancy schmancy kitchen shop on the market in Roanoke (Ladles & Linens) and I splurged on an item I have been wanting for YEARS! Hello and Welcome Home, my new 9 quart Le Creuset dutch oven in the color dune. Yes, this is the same one that Ina cooks in ALL THE TIME on her show. 

There was no alternative, we just HAD to give Le Pretty Pot a welcome home party. Thank you so much to my work friends for this amazing gift, as I would have never splurged on this myself! I made the perfect batch of Italian kale with garlic, shallots, pancetta, and cannelloni beans. I think Le Pot was pleased. 

Caprese Salad

Kale saute with cannelloni beans, shallots, pancetta, and garlic

the magnificent dinner spread, with French batard from On the Rise bakery. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

cherry time

Josh took this beautiful picture of our budding cherry tree on Saturday morning. 

SALAD night #1

I instituted a new house rule tonight, which I shared with Joshua AFTER he polished off my leftovers. You could either say I tricked him, or I played my cards just right. Of course I feel it was the latter. 

Are you ready? Allow me to introduce SALAD NIGHT to the Salmon household! I'm going to start spelling it SaLmon so that people don't think I married a fish. Not Sammon. SaLmon. 

This salad is phenomenal. Here are a few insider tips: allow your chicken to rest. After pulling the chicken off the grill pan, I wrapped it in foil for ten minutes before dicing it. Truly, this is the difference between super moist chicken or dry chicken. It's totally worth the ten minutes. Also, rather than glopping the dressing on top, take a second and toss the spinach with the dressing. This way, the salad is perfectly coated but not soggy. The bleu cheese crumbles on top really shine with this light vinaigrette. 

I'm hopeful I can craft a salad next week that we both love as much as this one! 

California Cobb Salad
serves 2

5 oz baby spinach (split between two bowls)
bleu cheese crumbles (about a handful on each salad)
grilled chicken, diced (2 breasts)
4 strips bacon (2 strips per salad)
1 avocado

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Season chicken breasts and grill. (I used a grill pan and Zatarain's blackening seasoning). After grilling, wrap chicken in foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Dice before adding to salad.

2. Cook bacon in a cast iron skillet and crumble. (if you don't own a cast iron skillet, this recipe is the perfect excuse to purchase one! I love my Lodge brand skillet.)
3. Split the spinach between two salad bowls. Pour dressing over each salad and toss.
4. Top in pretty strips with bleu cheese crumbles, chicken, bacon, and diced avocado. Serve immediately. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

"I Love You" Pie

I believe that you can express love through actions - and baking and cooking are at the very top of my list. My other favorite love actions include giving a big hug, making a perfect jack & coke, and just being quiet and listening at times. When Josh does little things like put my coffee mug under the Keurig with a little note, bring home flowers just because, or snuggle up with me, my world lights up. It's the little things. 

I think my Grandma Shirley would smile from Heaven if she knew that I greeted Josh as he walked in the door from work today with a homemade apple pie fresh out of the oven. The entire house smelled amazing. My grandma would always bake your favorite cookies or cake, and sit there and smile as you took the first big bite. She was a love action person, and there was never any doubt that she loved us so much. 

I may have committed a sin in the culinary world, as I combined Ina's perfect pie crust with "Grandma Ople's Apple Pie" from Allrecipes, which featured a pretty lattice with a perfectly golden top. It's my very first pie, and I was thrilled that it came out of the oven very pretty and photogenic! Of course, I served my pie "a la mode" with vanilla bean ice cream. Now that my friends is pure love. 



Perfect Pie Crust

click here for recipe

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust, either as lattice or one piece cut with slits. 

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople
click here for recipe

1 recipe pastry for a 9inch double crust pie (I used Ina's, shown above)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) I used 6
*1 tsp vanilla
*1 tsp cinnamon
*dash of nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer. I simmered for 5 minutes, then off the heat add vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

GaryTalk #4

Be your own person. 

Most of us go through a phase in our lives when we want to fit in with the crowd and avoid standing out at any cost. For me, this period was mostly in 8th and 9th grades, when I cared greatly about having the "right" clothes. The ones the other girls were wearing, with parents willing to spend more money on clothes than my parents were. This meant babysitting for extra money, and spending way too much for Abercrombie jeans. Looking back, it's all very amusing, and a little sad. I fell into the trap. 

There is a side of human nature that quietly pushes all of us to want to go unnoticed, to blend in with the crowd, to like the same things other people like, and to do the same things other people are doing. 

My father, being the parent that he is, tried his best to encourage Frieden and me to be our own person.  His technique in this instance was "leading by example". While the other dads were wearing the cool nonchalant dad clothes to sporting events, my dad was wearing a bright pair of Converse Chuck Taylor tennis shoes, Levi's jeans, (always Levi's to this day), and some bright freebee baseball hat. He really didn't give a damn. Really. That's how he liked to dress, and what else mattered? In fact, he continues to truly not care what other people think about what he does, what he wears, or the things he likes. He likes what HE likes, period.  

At the end of the day, that is the the way it should be for all of us, when we have the courage to decide to be our own person and live away from the crowd. To make decisions based on our personal likes, rather than what most people like. Let us not fall into the trap of trying to be like everyone else. Be yourself.