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Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

28 Mar

For all those out there madly in love with shredded meat (I am included in this group), man do I have a recipe for you. It requires patience, as a forewarning. It also requires a Dutch oven. I JUST bought myself one only a few weekends ago (gracias tax return!) and this was the recipe I KNEW I would try first. Not exaggerating, this recipe has been on my radar since I first read it on the Pioneer Woman’s website a year ago. I really, really, REALLY like shredded pork. Really.

As a related side note, in my post a few days ago I mentioned I wanted to buy the Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook (which I did. Of course.) and this recipe is also featured in her cookbook. If that’s helpful for you to know.

Ok – so very simple ingredients and process…all you have to do is plan enough in advance and have a lot of mouths who need delicious food. This guy takes 6 hours in the oven, so plan your chopping/assembling accordingly.

Ingredients (serves 18 – yes 18. I made this entire recipe too. I now have 17 servings to eat or feed others with. This is where the ‘plan ahead’ part comes in. Oops.)

  • 1 whole large onion (I used a white onion and it was perfect. Just sayin.)
  • 1 whole pork shoulder – 5 To 7 Pounds (Depends on how many you’re feeding. I used a smaller one closer to 5 lbs.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (11 Ounce) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (Depending on the amount of spice you can handle, use as much of the can as you desire. I’m somewhat of a spice sissy…so I used about 3/4 of the can.)
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper (Or bottles…aim for 24 or so ounces.)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

How to Make:

As I said, very simple. Grab your onion and chop it into quarters and line the bottom of your Dutch oven.

Then, on top goes your lovely chunk of pork shoulder. Salt and pepper as much as you’d like. Then, pour on the amount of chipotle peppers and adobo sauce you’d like (the whole can or less depending on ability to handle spice).

After that, pour on your DP all around and on top of the meat, getting into all the crevices. Last, add your 2 Tbsp of brown sugar into the liquid, stirring if needed to get it dissolved. I also sprinkled parts on the top of the meat because I really love a sweet shredded pork with a bit of heat, but that’s just me. The lid goes on top and you’re going to pop it into a preheated 300 degree oven. Turn that timer on to the 6 hour mark and find something to amuse yourself for half a day. I hope you do more than I did with cleaning, Downton Abbey episodes and relaxing on my patio. Although now that I think about it, that’s a fairly fantastic Sunday. Ah well, you may have different expectations. Do give the meat a flip 2-3 times in that 6 hour time period. That way everything gets a chance to soak and intermingle within the glorious Dutch oven. (Below is what mine looked like at the halfway point.)

Once you have made it, somehow, to the 6 hour mark with or without starting to drool due to the smell, take it out of the oven.

Pull the meat out and using two forks, shred it up as much or as little as desire. Then throw the meat back into the pot to soak in more juice before serving.

This is great for tacos, for sandwiches, or for a main dish on its own with a side or two. I had some leftover grits which went perfect with the meat. I am not one of those unfortunate people who don’t mind food touching (if you are one of those people, I don’t judge…ok, just a little) so I loved the extra juice from the meat mixing in with the grits. But eat however you wish – can’t imagine a way this wouldn’t make an excellent meal.

YUM is putting it mildly.

Lobster Pasta Salad

19 Mar

I have a thing for cold pasta salads. I can’t turn them down. Throw some lobster in there…and wow. That would be heaven. That would also be what my family cooked to celebrate (yes, again) my dad’s birthday last Friday. This time it was my parents, my younger brother Greg and I who were celebrating. We all cooked together – Mom and I chopping while we gave Dad the lobster duty (I’m a wimp.). Here’s why we picked it…

I was showing Dad one of my new cookbooks from the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten). We were flipping through, realizing Mom and Dad have that very same cookbook and they’ve made a few tasty items from it too. We were chatting about the store that Ina Garten used to own (called the Barefoot Contessa…which is where the name came from) and that lobster salad was apparently one of the many delectable treats her shop was known for. Next page we flip to…lobster pasta salad. Done.

The great thing about this recipe – it has grains, meat and vegetables. It’s a full meal! We just added some crispy baguettes from the grocery store and that was our entire dinner. It’s simple to whip up too – just chopping/boiling/mixing. That’s it! Our only complaint was it was a tad salty for our taste, so we’d cut back when we make it again. But we also didn’t let the salad ‘marinate in its juices’ for the 6 hours recommended. This could have helped the salty taste subside. Perhaps. If you like salt, then pour it on. However, if you are sensitive to overwhelming sodium, you can cut back and still have a delicious salad.

I made a few tweaks based on our family’s preferences but take it with a grain of salt. (Ha.)

Lobster Pasta Salad:

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt (I’d decrease the salt the second time around and have modified the recipe below to reflect that)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound small pasta shells (We used Conchiglie but any small shells will do.)
  • Kernels from 4 ears of corn (This is about 3 cups. Ignore the lack of the other 2 cobs in the picture below. We did use 4. Promise.)
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (If you’re not with it, like me, this means scallion stalks…so you may have two or three stems on one stalk…you want 6 stalks of scallions total. And a partridge in a pear tree. I also had to look up stalk vs. stem. Confusing stuff.)
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and small-diced (We used yellow, but if you’re into super colorful aesthetics with your food, the orange would pop better against the yellow corn and red tomatoes…just saying.)

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound cooked fresh lobster meat, medium-diced (We tried to find fresh lobster but Mankato, MN was fresh out…we were creative and used frozen lobster tails instead…it still tasted great – so if you can’t find fresh lobster, no worries.)
  • 3/4 cups good mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cups minced fresh dill (We were also fresh out of fresh dill and bought the herb blend/paste instead. It worked great, but a little goes a long way. We only used about 2 Tbsp fearing it would overpower the dish. As Dad said…you can always add more.)

How to Make (all Ina’s instructions):

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 Tbsp of salt and some olive oil. Add the pasta and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Add the corn to the pasta and cook it for another 2 minutes, until the corn is tender.

Drain the pasta and corn together in a colander and pour them into a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, diced pepper, tomatoes, and lobster, tossing gently to combine. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise. sour cream, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper until smooth. Pour over the pasta and mix well to bind the ingredients. Stir in the dill. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Check the seasonings and serve chilled or at room temperature. (As I mentioned, we ate ours right away. Feel free to chill yours for the ‘flavor development’ or if you’re starving like the Voses…dig in!)

Hard for it not to feel like spring is already here when eating this dish. Enjoy!

Lasagna (like you’ve never had it…)

4 Mar

Realizing there’s been an extensive hiatus since my blog creation and first post, I have finally found the time to post about a recipe I truly love.

First, I must tell you, I am a huge Pioneer Woman fan. I mean huge. I love her humor, her witty blog and most of all, her recipes. If you haven’t heard of her (which would baffle me) or haven’t read her blog – check her out: http://thepioneerwoman.com/ Her lasagna recipe is the feature of my post today. This recipe is featured both on her website and in her cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. (I must put this out – she has no idea who I am or that I love her food. I just love her and her recipes. That’s it.)

Now even for those who aren’t huge fans of lasagna, I guarantee you’ll think it’s delicious. I can make that claim as I was once you. After making this the first time, I am now a lasagna lover.

It’s a simple recipe, but has multiple steps. I need to learn to master multi-tasking kitchen tasks, but perhaps you’re more equipped with this trait than I.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 pound Hot Breakfast Sausage (I used a combination of mild breakfast sausage leftover in my freezer and regular breakfast sausage, as it was all Target had available)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 Ounce) Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley (or fresh if you have it)
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Basil (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cups Low fat Cottage Cheese (small or large curd)
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley (yes…you’ll use this twice…again, this can be fresh if you have it.)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (needed twice too)
  • 1 pound Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) Lasagna Noodles (I used whole wheat noodles, but any type will do)
  • (add 1/2 Teaspoon Salt And 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil To Pasta Water)
*Note…none of the cheeses or eggs are present in the picture above because I’m a moron. But they were used in this recipe.

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding the olive oil and a pinch of salt.

(Here’s where the kitchen multi-tasking begins) In a large skillet (the largest you have would be best), throw in your meat – ground beef and sausage. Also, add in your chopped garlic. Over medium-high heat, brown it up. This starts to smell fantastic. If you’re going for a slim version, you can drain the fat (about half is suggested). I like the rich, fatty taste of the meat and I leave it in. Judge me if you must.

Once everything is all brown, turn the skillet down to low and add in your whole tomatoes (including the juice), tomato paste, 2 Tbsps of parsley and 2 Tbsps of basil and 1 tsp of salt. Let simmer for about 45 minutes. Don’t be like me and realize your burner has been off for the first 10 minutes. I was not pleased with myself. However, it tastes delicious and if you’re as impatient as me…I suggest sneaking a spoonful of this from the pan. Yum!

While this is simmering, stir occasionally to get things heated evenly. Now you have time to complete another task – creation of the cottage cheese mixture. Mix your cottage cheese, the beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, the other 2 Tbsps of parsley and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it all up. I set mine in the refrigerator for a bit as I was overzealous and mixed this when there was still much more simmering needing to happen to my meat/tomato mixture. But, it should be fine to have this sit at room temperature for a bit.

Your pasta water should be bubbling by now – add in your lasagna noodles. Just cook until they’re al dente, no more. (You’ll need approximately 8 noodles, depending on the size of the dish you’re using.)

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, your meat/tomato mixture is done simmering (and smells like heaven) and the cottage cheese mixture is ready, grab the mozzarella. It’s assemblage time!

Layer lasagna noodles in the bottom of your dish, about four overlapping should do the trick. Pour half of the cottage cheese mixture on top, spreading it around evenly. Next, layer your slices of mozzarella. Finally, spoon about half of the meat mixture on top. Repeat all four steps once more – noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella and then ALL the rest of the meat on top. If you’re really into Parmesan cheese, this goes well sprinkled on top. But it’s delicious without too.

Now, you can throw in the oven and bake it, or freeze it to bake later. (I did both! Splitting mine into two small square pans and baked one and froze the other.) You can also refrigerate it for up to 2 days. Your choice!

Bake the lasagna for 20-30 minutes. The top should be ‘hot and bubbly’ as the Pioneer Woman says. Your kitchen should also smell pretty lovely at this point. This recipe serves 12, but those are 12 large helpings. I personally eat mini-helpings and made this into 24 between my two square pans.

Slice it up and ENJOY!

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