Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

January 31, 2011

I know my recent posts have all been dessert; but I do eat other things in addition to dessert šŸ™‚ I was basically lured into trying this recipe because I kept on seeing it advertised on every magazine that I was reading at that time. I couldn’t remember when the last time I had pulled pork and never made it before; so I wanted to give this a try.

I didn’t have a boneless pork butt, so I used a bone-in version, and let it cook for 12 hrs. It was super tender, fell apart beautifully and was ridiculously delicious. I sprinkled some smoked paprika as well to give it a bit more spiciness to it, and it was perfect.Ā  I love that it makes so much andĀ  they froze and reheated well.Ā  IĀ  served it with this Carolina Cole Slaw and used store-bought barbecue sauce (although I think they were delicious without it as well. What could be more perfect winter meal than this? Happy eating! šŸ™‚

Ingredients
1 5-pound boneless pork butt (shoulder) –I used a bone-in version that I think made it even more flavorful!
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Soft sandwich buns

Directions
Combine all the seasonings in a small bowl and rub evenly over roast. Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add water. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours or until pork is very tender.

Remove pork to a large cutting board or platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Pull, slice or chop to serve. Serve in buns with barbecue sauce.

Makes 16-20 servings


Red Velvet Cake Truffles

January 29, 2011

Since I discovered these addictive Oreo Truffles, I learned how easy it is to turn your favorite ingredient into these delightful little treats. And just about anything covered in chocolate has to be good right? Then I saw Jen from Beantown Baker turning her leftover slice of Red Velvet Cheesecake cake into truffles… brilliant!!! I didn’t quiet have a leftover cake, but I did have some trimmings from my Red Velvet cake when I tried to stack the layers together and someĀ  cream cheese frosting left, so I went to work on making these! I brought these to work to the excitement of my co-workers who called them divine and dangerous… because they were quite addictive! There is really nothing that can go wrong with bits of red velvet cake mixed with cream cheese frosting, dipped in chocolate…Ā  Many thanks to Jen for the inspiration.

Ingredients
3 cups of crumbled Red Velvet cake
1/4 cup of Cream Cheese Frosting
1/3 lb of melting chocolate

Directions
Mix all of the crumbled cake and cream cheese frosting together. Form them into a 1/2-inch diameter balls. Refrigerate for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meanwhile, melt chocolate either in microwave (at 50% power), or over double broiler.

Dip cake balls into melted chocolate. Let set for a few minutes and store them in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: approximately 2 dozens


Salted Peanut Cookie Brittle

January 27, 2011

Red has been talking about these “peanut cookies” for as long as I have known him. He keeps on talking on how he grew up eating them at his grammy’s house and how he would love to be able to enjoy them again. We have been looking for a peanut cookie recipe for a while, and then we ran into thisĀ  recipe that seems pretty close toĀ it. I was excited to no endĀ to finallyĀ be able to try this. These cookies turned out to be asĀ delicious as Red remembers it.

I decided to cut them into bars instead of breaking them; and ended up about a couple of dozens of bars. One thing that I wish I would have done was using salted peanuts instead of “lightly salted” peanuts–I think the contrast between the saltiness and the sweetness of the dough would be a dramatic combo, which would win any peanuts’ lovers in your audience.Ā  They were great with coffee; and made for a very addictive snack. They were also best enjoyed within a few days after making them. If you love sweet and salty dessert combo–this one is a must try! Happy eating!

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies via Piece of Cake

Ingredients
1/ 2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into the cup and leveled
4 ounces (1 cup) roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat in the salt and vanilla, about 30 seconds more. Reduce the speed to low and gradually stir in the flour, stopping to scrape the bowl as necessary. Stir in half the peanuts.

Turn the dough out onto a rimmed sheet pan, about 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inches. Lightly flour your hands and pat the dough in a thin layer (don’t worry about making it perfectly even). Sprinkle the rest of the peanuts evenly over the dough. Cover the dough with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and using a rolling pin or a tall, smooth glass, roll over the paper to smooth the dough and press the peanuts firmly into the dough.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through baking time. Cool in the pan for five minutes before cutting the warm slab into bars, or wait for it too cool completely and break into pieces like brittle candy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: Approximately 2 dozens


Red Velvet Cake

January 24, 2011

My friend Sarah was turning the big 3-0; but unfortunately I had to miss her birthday party. I invited her over for a birthday lunch the weekend after to celebrate and asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday cake. She requested a red velvet cake; which I have never made before–and I definitely didn’t have a recipe for; which is kind of odd considering this is my dad’s absolute favorite cake! I went looking for a recipe–and really wanted a special cake that would not dissapoint. After all, this was for my friend’s birthday milestone. I then learned that Bridget had blogged about comparison of the recipes from several sources! Score! I was excited by the opportunity to try making this from scratch using a recipe that has been tried and recommended. I decided to make the Saveur recipe, that was originally tested by Kelsey from Apple a Day.



This cake, I have to say, turned out so perfect… as a special birthday cake should be! It stood tall, proud and cut beautifully… the kind that looks incredible on a dessert plate at a party. The bright red color was stunning and elegant against the white creamy cream cheese frosting. The cake itself was moist, not overly sweet, along with a bit of tang. It was delicious! I had originally made only one batch of cream frosting from Smitten Kitchen’s version; and as soon I made it, I realized that I would not have had enough to fill three-layers cake, let alone frost the side and the top. Therefore, I went ahead and made another batch. The recipe version I had written below was doubled to reflect the actual amount that I used although I had about 1/4 cup of leftover. I had originally wanted to make caramelized pecans for decorations but ran out of time; so I just arranged some whole pecans on top.

Sarah was elated; and so was I. So I must say that we found ourselves a winner here. Many thanks to Bridget for test driving all of the recipes for us!

As seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles From Apple a Day, who adapted it from www.saveur.com

Ingredients

For the cake:
2Ā½ cups cake flour
1Ā½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1Ā½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectionerā€™s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350Ā°.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8×2ā€³ round cake pans. Or, I used (1) 8×2″ and (1) 8×3″ which I split into two layers.

Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.

For the frosting: (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, yield ~ 6 cups of frosting)
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

Yield: (1) 8-inch 3-layer cake


Banana Stuffed French Toast

January 22, 2011

As soon as IĀ  saw this recipe printed on a recent Williams Sonoma catalog, I knew that I had to make these. I love having bananas for breakfast; and love them in all of my baked goods.Ā  I don’t normally make French Toast at home not because I don’t love them-but because I don’t have access to places that sells breads that would make wonderful French Toast. This was a great excuse for me to make Challah; which I had been putting off for a very long time. While this recipe calls for a specialized panini maker; I think they be as wonderful as well on a regular griddle; you just need to flip them to ensure that both sides get browned. I really loved how the caramelized bananas inside the gorgeous challah slices really added sweetness and interesting contrast of texture to the crispy bread. I think having the right kind of bread is very critical in this recipe. If you are looking for something special to make; this may be one to try. Next time, I would also double the amount of caramelized bananas and used them as topping as well.Ā  Happy eating!

In case you’re looking for more breakfast recipes that uses this power fruit; check out the following recipes:

Banana Bread, Easy
Banana Bread, Flour Bakery Famous
Banana Bread, Kona Inn
Banana Crunch Muffins
Banana Pecan Muffins

Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio via Williams Sonoma

Ingredients
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. water
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. granulated honey ( I used 1/4 tsp of regular honey–not sure if this was the correct amount)
Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean

Directions
In large sautƩ pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and the water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.

Preheat an electric panini maker to ā€œpaniniā€ mode. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, granulated honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and blend with an immersion blender. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place the bread on the panini maker and cook, adjusting the top plate so it lightly presses the bread, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast with maple syrup and your favorite toppings.

Yield 6.


Challah

January 18, 2011

I have been wanting to try making my own Challah for a while now (like, a couple of years). My excuse: I just have an overwhelmingly long list of things that I would like to try someday, although my Bucket List here may not reflect it. One of my motivations for making Challah is they are wonderful bread for French Toast. I finally decided to take the plunge and give this bread a try. One of my friends, Sena, a great baker — often makes this bread; and I asked her if she had any tips for making my first Challah. She graciously offered up her recipe; and I was doing the happy dance at work (thankfully, my co-workers are very tolerant). I knew that her recipe would work, because she makes this bread often.

I had initially planned to take the steps by steps picture of the braid, but (sigh…), just like I always do… I ended up starting this bread at 8 o’clock at night; and probably didn’t finish until after midnight because my kitchen was a little bit drafty, and the dough took longer to rise. The cold winter outdoor really provided a cozy backdrop of my warm baking adventure in the kitchen, but not too great with my energy level. Therefore I only ended up with a final picture. I hope you enjoy this recipe – and would give it a try. I enjoyed this bread toasted with jam and Red enjoyed his with peanut butter. Charlotte enjoyed a couple of ends pieces as well. Everyone in the family was happy and satisfied with this bread. Finally, I also made a fantastic new stuffed French Toast recipeĀ  with the leftover that I would post in the near future. Many thanks for Sena for sharing the recipe; and letting me share this with the rest of the world through the blog. Happy eating & baking!

Adapted from Bobbi Kazenelson via Sena Cooper

Ingredients
Ā¾ cup warm water
2 large eggs
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Ā½ teaspoons salt
3-2/3 cups flour
2 tsp yeast

Directions
Put all of the ingredients together in a stand mixer bowl, fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low for approximately 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and stiff with a slight sheen. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for 2-3 times.

Fold the bottom third up and top third down, fold left and right sides in, and turn the seams’ sides down into a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with lightly oil plastic wrap for approximately one hour or until it is doubled in size.

Punch dough down; divide dough into three equal pieces and roll them into cylinder approximately 18-inches long. Braid the three cylinders together.

Move braided Challah carefully onto a lined baking sheet. Let rise for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm area. Make a glaze of egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water. Brush over bread and sprinkle with kosher salt or sesame seeds.

Bake at 375 for 27 minutes.

Yield: 1 large loaf.


Grilled Steak with Balsamic Teriyaki

January 14, 2011

I was a big fan of Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen Blog long before she published her book. Her blog is just full of simple unpretentious Asian recipesĀ  with ingredients that can be found in regular groceries. I was so excited when I saw her book in my local library, because this way I can really check out the book before purchasing it. I had so many recipes tagged from her book that I am going to purchase my own copy.

This recipe really caught my eye right away. I was never really a big beef eater until I met Red. But now, I really enjoy cooking beef like this recipe. Obviously, I didn’t grill this outdoor (with a single digit temperature outside), but it turned out fabulous on the pan as well. I think this sauce would be delicious with chicken: it is a bit tangy, sweet, with just enough saltiness. Red and I enjoyed ours with regular *ehm* American salad with croutons and all. But I know it will pair up well with steamed rice or mashed potatoes. I am definitely glad that I tried this recipe.

This recipe is a keeper that I am sure that I will be making again before the summer arrives… **groan** That’s probably another four months for us in the Midwest.Ā  Happy cooking and eating!

Adapted from Jaden Hair’s Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients
1 lb of skirt steak (or other steak of your choice)
2 tablespoons high heat cooking oil (if cooking in frying pan)

For Sauce
1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 ts sugar
1/4 cup store bought or homemade beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of mirin (sweet rice wine)

Directions
To make the Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce, add the butter to a saucepot and set over medium-low heat. When the butter just starts to bubble, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until aromatic are soft. Watch to make sure that you don’t burn the shallots or garlic.

Pour the balsamic vinegar in and bring to a boil. When boiling, immediately turn the heat to medium low and simmer; uncovered for 15 minutes or until reduced by half. The balsamic should be thick, glossy, and coat the back of a spoon. Add the sugar, stock, soy sauce, and mirin. Stir well and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, immediately turn the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce for marinating and remaining 1/4 cup for serving.

If you are marinating the steak before grilling it, place the steak and just 1/2 cup of sauce in a large sealable plastic bag. Marinate 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes prior to grilling, remove steaks from refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature. Discard the marinade and pat the steak very dry.

Grilling Outdoors. If you are grilling outdoors on your barbeque grill (preferred method), preheat the grill for direct grilling over high heat.

Grilling in Pan or Stovetop. If you are cooking the steak on the stovetop, set a large frying pan or griddle over high heat. When a bead of water sizzles and evaporates upon contact, add the oil and swirl to coat.

Add the steak to the hot grill or pan in one layer. The pieces should not be touching. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Skirt steak varies in thickness so you might want to add the thicker pieces to the grill or pan first and give them an extra minute of head start.

Let the grilled steak rest for 5 minutes then cut ACROSS the grain for ultimate tenderness. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of the Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce over the meat.

Yield: 4 servings