Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BBQ Pulled Pork and Coleslaw

This is a delicious pulled pork using homemade BBQ sauce, made in the slow cooker.  I love the BBQ sauce- I don't like any store-bought varieties very much, so haven't used it much at all lately.  This homemade one is really good.  You can top these pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, which makes it even more delicious.  Note:  The recipe calls for lemon juice in the slaw, but I think I'll replace with apple cider or honey vinegar next time, to add a bit more sweetness.
BBQ Pulled Pork 
adapted from Closet Cooking

1 (3 pound) pork butt
1 cup BBQ Sauce, recipe follows
4-6 buns
coleslaw, recipe follows

1. Put the pork in the slow cooker, pour 1/2 cup of the bbq sauce over it and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

2. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and let cool.  Meanwhile, skim the fat from the juices, place the juices in a sauce pan and simmer to reduce.  Mix as much of the juices as you want into the remaining bbq sauce.

3. When the pork is cool enough to work with, shred it with a pair of forks.  Mix the pulled pork bbq sauce.  Assemble sandwiches and enjoy, topping with extra BBQ sauce and coleslaw, optional.

Closet Cooking's BBQ Sauce

1 small onion (grated)
2 cloves garlic (grated)
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked hot or sweet paprika
pepper to taste
smoked sea salt to taste, optional but awesome

1. Mix everything.

Closet Cooking's Coleslaw

2 cups cabbage (shredded)
1 carrot (shredded)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 lemon (juice) or 2 TBS apple cider or honey vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful parsley (chopped)

1. Mix the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.  Add the mayo, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in another bowl and combine, and then mix everything together.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

No-Bake Cookies, Two Ways (Biscoff & Nutella)

Recently, I tried two different variations on the old no-bake and loved both of them!!  I loved the Biscoff version the best, which is why I'll post it first.  No-bakes are super sweet, but reducing the sugar with these might affect turnout, since these cookies are kind of like making fudge.  Deviate from the recipe too much, and they might turn out too soft or too hard.
In the past, I've had trouble with any no-bake cookie recipe turning out, and I started boiling the mixture a little longer, which seems to help.  I boiled both of these batches for 1 minute and 20 seconds, which seems to be the perfect number for me here, with my humidity, etc.  I'll do that from now on.  Also, have all the ingredients measured out to add after boiling; Nutella, pb or Biscoff, vanilla, oats.  
Biscoff No-Bake Cookies
adapted from Cooking Classy

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced into 4 pieces
1/2 cup milk (preferably 2% or whole)
1/2 cup Biscoff Cookie Spread* (I only had Crunchy on hand; it worked)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick oats

1.  In a medium saucepan combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, butter and milk and heat mixture over slightly over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture begins to boil. Allow mixture to come to a roiling boil, and boil for 1 minute and 20 seconds without stirring, then remove from heat and immediately stir in Biscoff and vanilla, whisking until well blended, then mix in quick oats.

2.  Drop mixture by the spoonful (using 2 spoons - one to scoop and the other to push the mixture off opposite spoon) onto wax paper and allow to cool until set.  (Note: You may need to only boil for one minute if you live in a drier climate; but I'm not sure.)
*Biscoff Cookie Spread can be found near the peanut butter in many grocery stores.

Nutella No-Bake Cookies
adapted from Shugary Sweets

1 3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Nutella
3 cup quick oats

1.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook sugar, cocoa, milk and butter. Boil one minute and 20 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, Nutella and oats. Stir until combined. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper and cool until set. (Note: You may need to only boil for one minute if you live in a drier climate; but I'm not sure.)
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Orzo
I loved this Greek Pasta Salad.  It contains so many delicious ingredients and flavors.  I made a similar dish years ago, but wanted to try this recipe from Joy the Baker.  Although it says to serve immediately, leftovers are so good, too.  This would be great for a potluck. I want to make this again soon.
Greek Orzo
Greek Pasta Salad
adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

For the Pasta Salad:
4-5 cups cooked orzo pasta*
2 cups de-seeded and coarsely chopped English Cucumbers
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 heaping cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced purple onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1.  In a medium mason jar (or other sealed container), combine olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, honey, and a pinch of salt a fresh cracked black pepper. Secure the lid tightly and shake vigorously until emulsified. Taste and season with more lemon, honey, salt, or pepper as necessary. Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl toss together orzo pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, and fresh basil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Just before serving, drizzle in the dressing. Taste and season accordingly. Serve immediately.  (Leftovers are great, too.)
*I cooked about 2 cups of dried orzo & ended up not using all of it for this.  Be careful when draining; if left too long in a strainer, it will stick to it.
Greek Orzo
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Baked Salmon with Dijon & Garlic

This salmon was easy and delicious- which is very important to me on some days.  I prepared the garlic/olive oil mixture in advance, so when dinnertime came, all I had to do was pour it over the salmon and bake.  My 7-year old especially liked this, and asked for seconds.  We liked this so much that I made it twice in two weeks.
Baked Salmon with Dijon & Garlic
adapted from Natasha's Kitchen

1.5 lbs salmon filets
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 large OR 3 small cloves of garlic, pressed
1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt, or to taste
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
⅛ cup mild olive oil (that's 2 Tablespoons)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Lemon slices

1.  Preheat the oven to 450° F and line a rimmed baking dish with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

2.  In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley, 2-3 cloves pressed garlic, 1.5 tsp Dijon, ½ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp pepper, ⅛ cup olive oil and 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice. Mix well.  (Can do this ahead of time and store in the fridge.)

3.  Lay salmon onto your lined baking dish skin side down.  Generously brush all sides of your salmon with the sauce and top with fresh lemon slices.

4.  Bake at 450°F for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through. Don’t over-cook or your fish will be dry.


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Japanese Yakisoba

A while ago, when I taught my friend to make macarons, she taught me how to make Japanese Fried Noodles, or Yakisoba.  These are so good and satisfying; full of veggies and such great flavor.  You can use whatever veggies you want; cabbage, carrot, onion, sweet bell peppers, etc.  You can use pork or chicken.  You can also make a big batch of this, and it's a perfect dish to bring to a potluck.  The recipe below is per person, so adjust to how many people you will be feeding.  (PS: My friend uses spaghetti noodles here because they're widely available.)
Japanese Yakisoba
from my friend H.S.

Per Person:
Noodles: 120 grams
Onions (sliced): 30 grams
Cabbage (sliced): 30 grams
Carrot (julienne): 10 grams
Garlic (minced): 1 clove
(Other veggies if desired- sliced bell peppers, zucchini, etc.)
Meat (Thin-sliced Chicken or Pork): 65 grams
oil for cooking veggies
sliced green onions for garnish, optional
Sriracha sauce or other chili sauce, for serving, optional

Oyster Sauce: 1 1/2 Tablespoons
Soy Sauce: 1/2 teaspoon
Salt: pinch, or to taste (or omit)
Sugar: 1/2 teaspoon
Black Pepper: to taste
Sesame Oil: 2 drops

1.  Boil noodles according to package directions & drain.  In the meantime, in a bowl, mix sauce ingredients.

2.  While noodles are boiling,  in a large skillet or wok, heat a bit of oil.  Cook veggies until almost tender, and then add sauce and boiled, drained noodles and heat through until veggies are cooked to your liking and everything is heated through.  Serve with Sriracha sauce or other chili sauce, and sliced green onions, if desired.  
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

More School Lunch Ideas

I wanted to quickly post a few more school lunch ideas.  These are some lunches my kids enjoy in their Easy Lunchboxes.  (Find them on Amazon; we love them.)  Pictured above: ham and cheese on a small pretzel roll; peeled clementine, treat.  Like I've said before, add anything your kids will eat.  If I include more food than pictured, it usually doesn't get eaten, because the kids don't have a ton of time to eat lunch.  You can add any kinds of fruits or veggies you want, leftovers, whatever.  Be creative.  For an easy, re-usable ice pack, wet a brand-new sponge and stick it inside a ziplock bag; freeze.  
Triscuits & colby-jack cheese, fresh broccoli and homemade ranch dip (in mini container with lid); treat.
Triscuits and mini banana (local!), peeled clementine, treat.  (Juice box, doesn't actually fit in easy lunchbox, lol.)
Greek yogurt with homemade granola (in mini container with lid), grapes, treat.
Two cheese sandwiches on slider rolls, ham, peeled clementine, cashews, and two Golden Oreos.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Homemade Strawberry Sauce

Strawberry Sauce
This is a super easy, super simple homemade strawberry sauce I've made a few times in the last year to top waffles and pancakes.  I was able to get a pic of it last time so I can finally post it here.  :)  I use frozen strawberries for this, making it even easier.  I use vanilla sugar to make this sauce extra tasty.  For a special treat, top homemade waffles with this strawberry sauce and whipped cream.  Or try it with vanilla ice cream!
Strawberry Sauce
Homemade Strawberry Sauce
adapted from Nature's Nurture

1 pound bag frozen strawberries (sliced works well)
2 tablespoons sugar or vanilla sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3-4 tablespoons water

1.  Add the strawberries and sugar to a medium-sized heavy saucepan.  Heat at medium-low until the sugar melts, then turn up the heat to medium and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, remove from heat and lightly mash the strawberries using a potato masher, or a fork or wooden spoon.

2.  Return to heat and bring back to a boil, then dissolve cornstarch into the water (using a small jar or air-tight container) and add to the pot. Stir the sauce and continue boiling for another couple minutes until it thickens.  Serve warm over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.
Strawberry Sauce
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