October 20, 2017

Pulled Pork Hash


1 large Russet potato (about 1 lb), cubed
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 oz fresh spinach
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup leftover pulled pork (any will do, I used my Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork)
2 fried eggs (like crispy, lacy eggs myself)

In a large skillet, saute the onions, and pepper in some oil until the potato is nearly fork-tender. Stir in the spinach. Saute until the spinach is about half wilted. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the pork. Cover for 1-2 minutes. Remove the cover and saute until the pulled pork is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Divide onto two plates, top with fried egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Serves: 2 (can be doubled)

My thoughts:
Whenever I make pulled pork, I always end up with a lot of leftovers. I normally freeze it or just eat it as a sandwich the next day but sometimes I get vaguely creative. I've made pulled pork grilled cheese, Matt just had a sort of donburi/loco moco inspired dish and had it over sticky rice and with an egg, and I made this hash. It is so easy yet flavored-packed thanks to using the great pulled pork I made the other day. It does take a bit of time because you are sauteing raw potatoes so keep that in mind (if you have parboiled or pre-cooked potatoes you can use those and speed the process up) but is is dead simple. 

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October 18, 2017

Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork

1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
1 1/2 lb honeycrisp apples, sliced
2 1/2 lb boneless pork butt
12 oz bottle chili sauce (like Heinz)
1 teaspoon ground mustard (powder)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the onions and apples in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Place the pork roast on top of the onion. Add the remaining ingredients over the pork. Cover and cook on high 4 hours then on low for 4 hours. OR cook 9-10 hours on low. Remove the roast and shred with forks or "meat claws".  Discard any unwanted chunks of fat.

Mash the onions and apple mixture in the slow cooker until nearly completely smooth.

Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and toss with sauce. Serve on rolls or bread.

My thoughts:
It's apple season again! I am not a huge fan of fall as you may remember from nearly every post this time of year from 2004 to today. I like somethings about fall--when it is still hammock weather, apples, generally less humidity, baking again after avoiding the oven in my non-centrally air-conditioned home, deciding if I am brave enough to wear a poncho--but I don't like knowing that my least favorite season is coming, it getting dark early, no fresh tomatoes worth eating, no nectarines, colder temperatures. Blah! But I do love apples and my fruit consumption goes way up in fall because they are so easy and neat to eat.

My all-time favorite apple is the Stayman-Winesap but for a sweet apple, you can't beat the Honeycrisp. It is in fact, crisp and sweet like honey. They also can be huge! I literally only used one apple for this recipe! It was that big! This recipe is super simple, you don't have to do a lot of prep and it basically makes its own apple-y barbecue sauce as the meat cooks. The end result is melt in your mouth tender pork that is redolent of spices and apples. The perfect fall weeknight dinner.

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October 16, 2017

Stove-top Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

 Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and spices. Whisk until it forms a paste, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheddar, pimentos and Worcestershire sauce and whisk until thickened 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained noodles. Serve.
My thoughts:
I've never made stove top mac and cheese before! I'm normally a heavy seasoned, baked mac person (crispy, cheesy bits!) but since I am back into the cooking around my husband's work and school schedule time of the year again, I thought I'd try a quicker version.

I love pimento cheese and it really is a shame it is not more popular here in Baltimore. One of my favorite things about the South besides barbecue and meat and threes is the amount of what we call "ladies who lunch" restaurants; places where a salad plate means a scoop of chicken salad, pimento cheese and a scoop of tuna salad. Or if you are in Kentucky, benedictine.  The pimento cheese is always on point at those places. I've made a fair amount of pimento cheese over the years but never pimento mac and cheese before which seems like a major oversight.

I'm so glad I finally made it. There are no chewy bits in this macaroni and cheese but it is very creamy and very, very cheesy! It is also full of flavor thanks to the spices and pimentos. No bland box mac and cheese here! I went old school and served it with ham but anything would be good. Just be forewarned, it does cook up very quickly! We ended up eating way earlier than expected as it went from milk to thick cheese sauce in just minutes. I'm used to having to make it and bake it for nearly an hour in a casserole so having homemade mac and cheese in like 20 minutes was a bit of a foreign concept.

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October 13, 2017

Hangtown Fry-ttata

1 pint shucked oysters, preferably "select" size
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup milk
10 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil


Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1-inch canola oil in a heavy skillet.

In a small, shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge each oyster in the cornmeal mixture and fry, turning once until golden. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until fluffy.  Stir in the scallion and bacon. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.  Arrange the oysters in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.

Pour the egg mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.

My thoughts:
It is prime oyster season here and I've been scoring pints of local oysters for under $10. The Hangtown fry is one of those weird dishes that had to have been invented by an American. Who else would think of adding fried oysters to scrambled eggs? There are a lot of variations and stories about the Hangtown fry but basically, it was an expensive breakfast that originated with minors during the California Gold Rush. Think: oysters were plentiful but not up in the mountains. It is only relatively recently that oysters can be safely purchased year round so think about having to keep them cool and alive in the 1880s and hauling them up a mountain! Only a successful prospector would think of such a meal! Other expensive ingredients would have been bacon and eggs so why not throw them all together in a sort of loose omelette?

 It is a little labor intensive to make a Hangtown fry and it is tricky to make it for a crowd and have it ready for everyone to eat at once so I thought turning it into a frittata was a clever move. It really only took about 20 minutes of prep time--I fried the bacon and the oysters at the same time and since it is a one-step breading process, I just dredged and dropped them in the hot oil one after another. Oysters only take about 5 minutes to fry, even if they are big "select" size oysters. I was worried about the texture but the oysters held up perfectly and the breading was still pretty crisp and provided that "fried" taste that is really needed to make this a Hangtown Fry-ttata vs a generic oyster frittata. It helps to use good bacon too, I like True Story bacon for dishes like this because it is thick and has a good porky, smoky flavor and isn't too salty but any thick cut bacon would work.

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October 11, 2017

Goo Goo Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup salted dry roasted peanuts
10 soft caramels, cut into 1/4 inch pieces*
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips, marshmallow, peanuts and caramels. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out ON the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 2-5 minutes (or until the caramel isn't quite so molten) on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies

*I used Werther's soft caramels and halved them. (they are super cheap at Aldi BTW)

My thoughts:
One of my favorite candy bars in the Goo Goo Cluster. Unfortunately, it isn't sold here in Baltimore so I have to stock up in airports and on trips further south. (You can order them online but I have had bad luck ordering chocolate outside the absolute dead of winter) For the uninitiated, the basic Goo Goo Cluster is a chocolate-covered mix of peanuts and caramel with a marshmallow cream center.

Since I don't have access to Goo Goo Clusters, I had an idea that makes me either a mad genius or just plain mad. Why not take all of the ingredients that make Goo Goo Clusters so awesome and turn them into a cookie? Why not, indeed. It worked surprisingly well! A few had some caramel ooze but that is to be expected. Any extra caramel was easily broken off the cookies after they cooled and the marshmallow basically melts into the batter and gives it a soft, chewy texture. The cookies were oddly not super duper sweet (thanks to the peanuts and dark chocolate, I think) but they are very satisfying to eat. The cookies really do taste like a Goo Goo Cluster and a chocolate chip cookie had a baby. So if slightly sticky, chewy, caramel-y, chocolate-y, peanut-y desserts are your thing, make these cookies today!

The dough is very chunky and a little sticky so if you have a cookie scoop, this a good excuse to put it to use.

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October 09, 2017

Roasted Oyster Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts with Shiso and Shichimi Togarashi

1 lb Brussels sprouts, quarted
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, stems removed and mushrooms separated into pieces
1-2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi*
1-2 tablespoons shiso fumi furikake* (rice seasoning)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the onions in a single layer, top with mushrooms and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi and furikake . Bake for 18 minutes.

*I buy shichimi togarashi by the bag on Amazon and we bought this mixed case of furikake but any store with a well-stocked Japanese section should have it.

My thoughts:
Shiso, also known as perilla, has sort of a minty flavor that I really enjoy. The shiso furikake is basically just dried, shredded shiso so I thought it would be interesting to try in on something other than rice (or popcorn, my other favorite use for furikake). I'm glad I took the risk, it added a herby note to the dish and complemented the spices in the shichimi togarashi quite well. I love side dishes like this that are super easy but very tasty and satisfying.

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October 05, 2017

Crab Imperial


for the imperial
16 oz lump blue crab meat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground mustard (I like Colman's)
2 tablespoons Old Bay
1 egg, beaten
juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2-3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread from the bakery)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, stir together imperial ingredients until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Spread evenly in a 1 1/4 quart baking dish. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread or just a fork.
My thoughts:
Crab imperial is one of those dishes you don't see on menus too often, even here in crab-loving Baltimore. You see it more often as part of a larger dish (like shrimp stuffed with crab imperial--my fave) but not always by itself, either as a main dish or an appetizer. I don't know why not! If you like crab cakes you will love crab imperial because it is very, very similar but in some ways even better---there is literally no filler of any kind in crab imperial. So if you are a crab cake fanatic who searches for the crab cake with the least amount of bread cubes, crackers or bread crumbs, crab imperial is going to be your new favorite dish.

I personally had never made it at home before but crab season is still going strong so Maryland crab meat has been on sale and I've picked it up a few times. Last time I made crab cakes, which I love but are a little time consuming and hands-on so I thought I'd try something different. This was so easy! You just stir everything together, top with some crumbs for some crunch and there you go! Perfect for a meal or appetizer. I served it with bread slices and crackers but you can also serve it in spoons or individual ramekins. It is so flavorful and impressive. 

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
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