Friday, November 19, 2010

That's What She Said

I have never handled a piece of meat that big.

That's what she said.

No really, when it comes to cooking, big meat intimidates me. I am now sitting here giggling to myself and contemplating deleting this whole post, but those who know me, should already know that I won't. Ok everyone let's concentrate here. We are talking about pork shoulder. Get your heads out of the gutter and get on track. Pork shoulder. Ok. I can do this.

As you already know, I LOVE The Food Network. I LOVE it. Every time I watch it, my mouth waters and I just start craving everything and anything. Jasen thinks it is a form of self torture, since I am on a never ending quest to lose weight and here I am just watching and wanting. I guess he's right. It is torture, seeing all of those delicious things and all of these people eating as much of it as they can stuff down. Jerks. Yes, jerks, but enough of that rant. I love The Food Network because it gives me ideas and plenty of them.

One of my favorite things on that channel is when they focus on BBQ. Come on, who out there can't resist the smell of a tasty dinner roasting on a BBQ? I know I love it, now. Let me start by saying I have not always been a big meat girl. (That's what she said.) That is until I met Jasen.

Jasen is a HUGE meat and potatoes kind of guy. That is how he was raised. That is what he comes from and that is what he loves. Meat and potatoes meet I think I'll have the pasta. What a match made in heaven. Yeah, our dinner experiences were polar opposites for many years, but I am starting to come around. Just ask him, he'll tell you.

It all started with a bite here and a bite there. Just the well done outer edges, of course, that pink in the middle and the juice grossed me out. Slowly but surely, he wore me down. Way down. Bring me a fillet, medium, with a bleu cheese crust and a baked potato with butter and sour cream and I will challenge you to try and take it away from me. Just try. You will lose. That is a promise and that makes my husband so proud.

Now that I am liking the meat (that's what she said), I am much more interested in trying to create tasty meals that includes it. Still the big meat intimidates me. (That's what she said.) There is just something about a big roast that makes me nervous. Maybe it is because all of that always seems dry to me. I don't know. I just don't like it, therefore, I don't want to make it. However, pulled pork is one of my all time favorites! You can't resist a heaping pulled pork sandwich, on a kaiser roll, smothered in slaw. COME ON PEOPLE! You just can't.

Enter my inspiration...the pulled pork sandwich and cole slaw.

Here is what I did:
Sent Jasen to the store to get the pork shoulder. 3-4lbs. The one he bought had the bone in. I have no clue if that makes any difference, but this one had a bone (that's what she said).

Bought the Tangy Tennessee Sauce from Tastefully Simple, which is another one of my favorite things. I sound like Oprah now with all of my favorite things.

The Sauce.
I read the directions on the jar, which said, put the pork shoulder in the crock pot, cover with half of the jar of sauce, cook on low for 6 hours. Remove meat, shred. Return the meat to the crock pot, pour in remaining sauce and heat through.

Yes, that was it. However, you all know me, I can never just do what it says. I had this rub. Yes a rub for the big meat (that's what HE said). It was a rub for pork, so I thought, hmmmm...this is pork, let's do this. So I rubbed the meat(that's what he said) and then did the directions from the sauce above.

That's it. Easy. Simple. Can't get any simpler. For real.

Right out of the crock pot
and already falling apart.

Coming to a table near you.
Six hours later, man, did it smell good in our house. I took it out. Put it on the cutting board and shredded that baby up with two forks.

It was so tender that it was barely any effort to shred. For those of you, like me, who didn't know how to shred meat. You take two forks and pull in opposite directions. Hence, pulled pork.

I added the rest of the sauce and heated.

While that was all cooking I made the slaw. Again, something that I really love, but had no clue how to make. It is so simple. Don't be intimidated.

Here is what I did:
If you haven't gotten yourself the Vidallia Chop Wizard, what are you waiting for? Go get it. One head of green cabbage, chopped up in that Chop Wizard, the smallest squares.

Half a bag of baby carrots, again, in the Wizard on the smallest squares.

One onion. You guessed it, Chop Wizard, small squares.

2/3 cup of Miracle Whip do not use mayo. Don't even be temped to try.
3TBS vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
2TBS white vinegar
1/4tsp. salt
Get a good look.
You won't see many
of me. I'm usually
behind the camera.
1TBS lemon juice

So you double all of the above in a bowl. Get out your whisk and work it. Whisk it until it is all smooth and the sugar is dissolved. Get into it. This is the dressing. Pour it over all of the chopped veggies and mix it up good. Get it all coated. Let it sit in the fridge for at LEAST 2 hours. I really prefer to let it sit over night.

See! I eat my
veggies too!
There you have it. Seriously, one of the easiest meals I have ever made.  I thought big meat was intimidating, but I took the challenge and won. (That's what she said.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I got whipped by a Carmel Apple Pie Martini

I like to read recipes all of the time, well at least their titles, and if they sound good, I usually try to make them. Most of the time, on my first go round with a recipe, I follow it to a T and use it for what it was intended, but sometimes, I go off the beaten path and hope to find something amazing.

Pumpkin Spice Latte. That sounds good, right? But doesn't a Pumpkin Spice Martini sound better? Yeah, I thought so too.

I was busy reading when I came across this recipe. The title was intriguing, since it is seasonal and I am a pumpkin lover, I thought, hmmmmmm, wouldn't this be a wonderful addition to the Harry Potter Party tonight, but in martini form?

Yes, Harry Potter, and no, we were not serving these to teenage kids. My dear friend Tracy and I LOVE the Harry Potter series and I know some of you out there are thinking, these are grown women, please ladies, give up the Potter, but instead of persecuting us for this love of Potter, join forces with us and prepare to have a party. You will not find a person anywhere that can plan a party better than Tracy.

Tracy is the Queen of planning and when she threw this idea of a Harry Potter Party out to me, of course I said, I'll be there! So her planning began. We were going to have a Harry Potter marathon with tons of snacks, some dinner and drinks and of course our kids.

Carefully reading the recipe.
Anytime I am in the kitchen one or both of my children are interested in what is going on in there. They seem to share my love of cooking and also my hate for not cleaning up after. Stop by our house on any given day and you will see, I'm telling the truth. So, back to the story of the Pumpkin Latte adaptation into Martini. I am in the kitchen, day of the party, with my recipe, trying to concoct this drink and of course, someone took notice. Little Payten. Little Payten can be quite a helper. She always wants to be on the big stool so she can see and she always and I mean always wants a taste.

Little Payten on her big stool, helped me read the recipe and also helped me measure and pour everything together all while saying, can I have a taste?

Here is what we did:
2 cups of milk
3 TBS canned pumpkin
2 TBS white sugar
1 TBS vanilla
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice and a little for garnish
1 cup of coffee, which we all know, I didn't use. We are making martinis here people!
Whipped Cream, optional, but please do not make it an option. You are going to want it. Trust. Trust me.

I also added on my own after tastes and tastes:
2 TBS cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine milk, pumpkin and sugar in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, continually stirring until steaming. I thought to myself, I don't work at Starbucks, how in the world am I going to know if this milk mixture is "steaming". I kept staring at the pot, got down low and close to the pot, no steam. Give it time. The steam will come. You will see it.

Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla, 1/2tsp pumpkin spice, all of my extra addition spices, if you want and wisk rapidly until foamy. Again, not a barista here, but it foams and rather quickly. You will know it when you see it.

Original recipe, transfer into a mug, fill half way and top remainder with coffee, garnishing with whipped cream and spice.

My way, pour into a sealable container and refrigerate until using to make a martini.

Carmel Apple Pie Martini
Now, imagine a good 5 hours later, at Tracy's having this Harry Potter Party/Impromptu Fall Martini Showdown with my drink nemesis, Jimothy. He has already created this delicious Carmel Apple Pie martini, which I promise I will get the recipe for, but what I could see was the vodka, apple pucker, carmel, ice cream, which according to him is the secret ingredient and may be the reason he won, and some cinnamon, but I promise, promise, promise to get the real breakdown, and now it is time for me to shake up a tasty Pumpkin Spice Martini. F that latte.

So, shaker in hand, filled with ice, I pondered, how much vodka should I add to this? Logic struck, the latte said half pumpkin mix to half coffee, seems logical to me to deduct that I should do the same, only substitute the coffee with the vodka. The shaker was filled with ice so it wouldn't be that strong, right? WRONG!

Tracy and Jim loving the
Carmel Apple Martinis

I put in my half to a half and gave it a great big shake. I was working it. All shook up. Glasses ready. Pour. Man, these smell awesome! Imagine fresh baked pumpkin pie with that warm smell of spicy goodness, it was all there, wrapped up in a martini glass. We all take our glasses, the moment of truth, the first sip. Oh please, please, please let mine be better than Jim's! PLEASE! OMG! Too much vodka, toooooo much vodka! Hairs on the back of everyone's

Although Jim continued to disagree, Tracy and I came to the conclusion, this was too strong. My thought, next time, three parts mix, one part vodka. Start there, then increase the vodka if you want them stronger. What was I thinking? So much for reason.

Raspberry Martini to the rescue!
Tracy then brought out her tried and true, Raspberry Martini. Again, I promise I will get the recipe for it. You want it, trust me. This was the perfect refreshing drink to wash away that Pumpkin disaster. Thank you Tracy for saving the day, hosting an awesome Harry Potter Party/Impromptu Fall Martini Throwdown and for all of the fun.