Category Archives: Pork

Slow Cooker Life Saver!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, hard to believe it is already over! It is hard to get motivation to slave in the kitchen during the holiday season so we decided to try out something new in the crock pot! We drove back from spending Christmas in Michigan early Tuesday morning and I was unable to make it to the grocery store Tuesday which resulted in dinner consisting of ramen noodles, boxed mac & cheese and caramel corn! By the time we got home, which was around 8:00 at night, we were in no mood to scour what was left in our fridge and find something to whip up…we saved that for Wednesday morning! We knew Wednesday was going to be another late night and didn’t want to have to come home and cook so we pulled out the remaining veggies we had leftover in the fridge and a pork loin out of the freezer and went with it! We cut up some onions, brussels sprouts, beets and apples and threw them in the bottom of the crock pot. We combined some Jamaican jerk seasoning we had in the fridge with chicken broth, cornstarch and some seasonings, poked some holes in the pork loin and threw everything on top of the veggies and let it cook all day Wednesday while we were at work. We cooked one of those Uncle Ben’s 90 second microwaveable rices and ate the pork and veggies over that. It turned out to be so good! The pork was super moist and shredded so nicely while the veggies were very tender (maybe a little too tender, the apples pretty mushy actually), but the flavor was amazing and the rice helped the texture so it didn’t matter too much! Lesson learned here: you can pretty much throw anything into a crock pot and it’ll be delicious and incredibly easy!

On another note, my Michigan Christmas was wonderful! Spent my first Christmas away from home which was pretty difficult but my my in-laws and new family made it so much easier! They made me feel right at home and I had such a good time. We went caroling, ate our faces off for days on end, laughed, played games (some possibly in a casino) and just had an all around great time! It is so nice to get to spend so much time with them, I feel that we do not get to nearly enough so every moment is precious! I am so lucky to have such amazing people to now call family!

I’ll post more in the next few days hopefully, and as promised I will still get the wine cookie recipe up here! Think we are going to make some for New Year’s!

Deep Dish Throwdown!

While watching Food Network Sunday  (as I tend to do at least once a day), I caught a new Throwdown with Bobby Flay…where he challenged Mark Malnati (son of the famous Lou Malnati) to the ultimate deep-dish pizza challenge! I am not a super huge pizza fan, unless it’s deep dish! Regular thin or thick crust pizza does nothing for me! From the show, I learned a few important tips to making the best deep dish pie which I tried out for myself Sunday night. Apparently the secret is all in the dough, deep dish pizza dough has more fat in it (be it butter or oil) to make the dough extra soft and flaky. This is not the type of dough you toss up and twirl into the air, it is fragile and would probably rip, which was exactly what happened to Bobby on his first try. Secondly, the layering of ingredients completely surprised me…the order goes: dough, cheese (Malnati’s uses slices, not shredded mozzarella), toppings, then sauce. The slices melt so much better than shredded cheese, giving it that signature ooey, gooey, melty goodness that makes deep dish pizza so damn irresistible! Instead of picking up the phone and calling in a delivery, I opted to give making my own a try!

Lou's pizza!

I will admit that I cheated on the dough and used store bought Trader Joe’s dough. I didn’t think it was the right consistency but I figured I’d give it a shot anyways! I did however make my own sauce with fresh basil, oregano and parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, Parmesan and olive oil. There’s a pizza place in Battle Creek, Michigan that my husband is in love with, called Sir Pizza that makes one of the only thin crust pizzas I truly enjoy and he always orders hamburger, ham and mushroom. This was my inspiration for my filling! I fried up some diced pancetta (also courtesy of Trader Joe’s), set it aside and sauteed portobello mushrooms in the grease from the pancetta. Meanwhile, I browned some ground sirloin in olive oil, drained it and set it aside. To make the pizza, Josh rolled out the dough enough to fit into the deep dish pizza stone (if you don’t have one, a cast iron skillet or even a pie pan would work just as well), worked it up and over the sides of the pan. I then added two full layers of mozzarella cheese slices, the more cheese the better in my opinion! After that, I spread out the ground beef, pancetta and mushrooms. Finally topping that with the homemade sauce and a large sprinkling of Parmesan,and rolling the edges down to form a nice crust to hold in all of the luscious ingredients! I melted some butter and painted the edges of the crust and sprinkled them with Parmesan for a little extra dose of deliciousness! We baked it at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes and it came out perfectly! Tonight, I am going to make this again, however this time, I am going to make my own dough!

Our pizza...and sadly this was all that was left!

Considering we almost ate the entire thing, I would say it was yet another success! Hopefully it will get even better with homemade dough tonight!!

Spicy!

My husband and I are obsessed with this little place in Evanston, called Dixie’s Kitchen and Bait Shop that serves what I find to be the best jambalaya ever! (Sidenote: also a favorite little spot for the Obama’s when they are in town)! So we figured, why not try to make our own version! So we downloaded Emeril’s recipe from Foodnetwork.com and altered it slightly and made it into a crock pot recipe.

Monday night, Josh and I cut up some sausage and chicken and defrosted some shrimp in preparation for our very first attempt at making jambalaya. We added some diced green pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeno, celery, and tomatoes along with chicken broth, Worcestershire, frank’s red hot, some olive oil,a few bay leaves and a whole lot of Cajun creole Seasoning and cayenne pepper. BAM!! We let that all marinade overnight in the refrigerator so the flavors could fully meld together.

Yesterday morning before heading out to work, we threw the mixture into the crock pot and set it on low, hoping we would have a delicious dinner waiting for us when we got home! We didn’t add the shrimp or rice into the crock pot since they would overcook so we grabbed white rice from a Chinese Restaurant down the street and pan-fried the shrimp in olive oil and Cajun creole seasoning when we got home! All in all, it turned out delicious! Luckily we both love spicy food because this was very hot! Maybe it was marinating everything together overnight or maybe it was the hot Italian sausage we used in place of Andouille, either way, a definite success in my book!

Here is the recipe we ended up coming up with:

  • 3 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, sliced
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 T Cajun Creole Seasoning
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t Frank’s Red Hot
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package frozen shrimp, defrosted
  • white rice

I’d love to hear your feedback if you decide to make your own Jambalaya, if you liked this recipe or how you altered it to make it your own!