Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blackberry Pulled Pork Shoulder

Blackberries were on sale 2 for $0.50 this week, so I needed to put them to good use!  I could have gone the "safe" route and made a dessert with them, but I really felt I needed to do something wild and crazy!  So, that's how this came to be!

Tastefully Simple makes a delicious Pomegranate Chipotle Sauce, so I decided to make something similar!

I will say this, I did not really taste Blackberries in the end.  Not at all really.  The pork was kind of sweet, but didn't end up with a thick sauce like I had anticipated (hoped, really!)  I think if I had used a leaner cut of meat, like a loin, I would have gotten the result I desired.  HOWEVER, this was actually quite delicious!  There was just a hint of sweetness to the meat and a tiny bit of zing from the red pepper.  Next time, I'll add more red pepper since it kind of got lost!

Again, I got to use my fun new Breville chopper, blender, mixer thingy!  It's so cool!!!

I HIGHLY recommend adding the Bread and Butter Pickles to your sandwiches like we did!  It was SOOOOOO yummy!

Tip:  Personally, I like how the juice from my pork soaked my Kaiser Roll, but most of you probably won't appreciate it.  Here's what I suggest, after you shred your pork, discard about half-3/4 of the liquid you have in the crock.  (Just don't lose all your onions!  You might want to pour it out through a strainer.)

Tip 2: The night before, do all the prep work and stick your crock in the refrigerator.  In the morning,  place the crock into your slow cooker and turn it on!  Easy Peasy!

Ok, I really hope you try these.  They were delicious and definitely something different!

Blackberry Pulled Pork Shoulder

2-3 lb. Pork Shoulder (or a pork loin roast would work great)
1 large onion, chopped
2 pints fresh blackberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper (but I would go for 1/2 tsp. next time!)
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

Place your pork shoulder in the bottom of your crock.  Cover it with your onions.

Wash your beautiful blackberries....
then puree them
(I used my awesome new Breville Gadget!)
Next, pass your blackberry puree through a sieve or a mesh strainer.  I don't own a sieve, so mesh strainer it was for me! Use a spatula to push the liquid through.
Don't forget to scrape the outside of your strainer to get the juice stuck to the outside!
(Don't mind my mess!  LOL)
Your beautiful blackberry puree will look like this...
To the puree, add the remaining ingredients.

Pour this over your pork shoulder.

Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
Serve on some nice buns with Bread and Butter Pickles!
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Applesauce Pork Chops

When I went to the grocery store, I knew I needed something besides chicken or beef today.  We haven't had pork chops in ages, so I decided to head that way.  Once I got to the pork section, I went back and forth over what cut of pork chop to get.  I went for the thick cut bone in pork chop, but really, whatever cut of pork you choose will work for this recipe!

I have to add, I had no idea what I was going to do with the pork chops once I got them home.  LOL  Well, applesauce always goes well with pork chops, so I decided to make it into a sauce of sorts!  I'm so happy I did!  This was super tasty and extremely easy!  You are sure to please your whole family with these delicious, juicy, fall-off-the-bone pork chops!

I used Tastefully Simple Onion Onion with these chops and if you don't have any, I HIGHLY recommend getting some!  It's so versatile!  Not only can you cook with it, but you can make chip/veggie dip with it too!  It's SOOOO good!  If you don't have any yet, just substitute some minced onion.

Applesauce Pork Chops

1.5-2 lbs. Pork Chops (I used bone-in, thick cut)
1 1/2 cups Natural Applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. Tastefully Simple Onion Onion (or used minced onion instead)
salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of your crock, place a couple of your chops and sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion onion.

Mix together the Applesauce and brown sugar.
Poor part of your mixture over your chops.

Continue adding layers of chops and seasoning until all your chops are covered in sauce.

Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3.5-4 hours.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Eggnog Bread Pudding

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I made my first bread pudding on Thanksgiving about 7 years ago.  Everyone politely took a bite.  Enough said?!  LOL  I found this recipe online (for the oven, since this was way before my slow cooking days!) and decided to give it a go on Thanksgiving.  It tasted "eggy" and was extremely soggy. It took FOREVER to cook!

Fast forward to the present!  I wanted to give bread pudding a try again.  But, I didn't want to make traditional bread pudding.  I had two ideas.....one was eggnog bread pudding, and the other was chocolate bread pudding.  My step-dad requested the eggnog bread pudding when given the choice, so that's what I went with!  I'm SO glad I did!

This bread pudding has the delicious flavor of eggnog and just a hint of the yummy Kahlua I soaked the raisins in!  (Yes, I soaked the raisins in Kahlua.....and YES!  It's as yummy as it sounds!)  It wasn't too sweet, but just sweet enough!  It actually turned out to be almost like a monkey bread, where you can tear cube by cube off of it and munch on it!  It's wonderful topped with some whipped cream!  Your family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. will LOVE you if you make this for them!

Note: I used a 6.5 Quart Crock for this recipe.  It made enough to feed around 16-20 people!  Half this and cook it in a smaller slow cooker if you have a smaller crowd :)

Eggnog Bread Pudding

2 loaves of french bread, cubed and set to dry out over night
8 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 cups Eggnog
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup Kahlua

The night before, set your cubed bread on a baking tray and let the bread dry out over night.  Yes, this is an important step.  If you don't dry out your bread, you'll end up with a soggy mess.

The day of, while you're making you're assembling all of your ingredients, get your raisins soaking in the Kahlua while you prepare everything else.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.
(I used my fun new Breville Kitchen Gadget!!!! Yay!)

Next, add the melted butter, sugar and eggnog.  Mix well.

Now that you've mixed all the other ingredients, it's time to dump in those delicious soaking raisins and Kahlua!  Give it a stir.

Slowly add in your bread cubes, stirring as you go.

Keep adding your cubes until they are all evenly coated/soaked with the mixture.

Place into your greased Crock.

Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, or until your knife comes out of the center clean.
The last hour or so, place a couple layers of paper towel under the lid to help soak up some of the moisture and to keep the top from getting a bit soggy.

Serve with Whipped Cream on top!
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tatorbug Creations Custom Branding Package Black Friday Deal!

Stephanie from Tatorbug Creations has a GREAT deal for all of my Fans going on now!  It's a BLACK FRIDAY deal you won't want to miss!  She did my logo, business card, etc. and she's the cheapest and best around!  This deal makes a branding package even more affordable for you!  The deal goes now through Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011, so hurry up and take advantage!  See details below.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Week's Plan 11-20-11

Here we are, it's the Week of Thanksgiving!  I can't believe we're here already!  From here on out, the school year flies for me!  After Thanksgiving is Winter (Christmas) break, then Mid-Winter break comes shortly after that, then Spring Break.....then, the END OF THE YEAR!  Whoo hoo!

This week, we're going to be in and out of the house so much, I'm not going to make much of a plan.  Plus, I'm waiting hear what I'm supposed to bring to each Thanksgiving gathering, so it's hard to plan.  I know for sure I'll be making my Decadent Sweet Potato Casserole again as well as some Chocolate Bread Pudding (which I don't have a recipe for yet, but will after I make it!)  I bought Kahlua to put in it, so it can't possibly be bad!  LOL

I hope you have a very special Thanksgiving with your family!  I'm going to enjoy each and every moment with my family over the next week!  I have so very much to be thankful for!  Each of you give me yet another reason to be Thankful!  Thank you!

So far, here's what I have planned this week:

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Something with Pork Chops?!

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Thanksgiving at my in-laws

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Thanksgiving at my mom's with Chocolate Bread Pudding and Decadent Sweet Potato Casserole

Happy Slow-Cooking!
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Creamy Herb Chicken with Vegetables

It was one of those days.....what to make, what to make, what to make?  UGH!  I hate when I don't have a plan.  Although, sometimes, no plans turn out to be good plans!  I dug through my freezer, pantry and fridge and came up with this!  A happy coincidence if I do say so myself!

This was very good!  Mine wasn't as creamy as it should have been because I was out of milk.  I hate when that happens, don't you?!  So, I used water instead of the milk I really wanted to use.  I do like that there was plenty of sauce.  I LOVE to have sauce!  Since this already contains the veggies, all you have to do when you get home is make some rice.  (So, make sure you've got rice in your pantry that doesn't take 45 minutes to cook, just sayin'!  LOL)  All in all, this is a great meal for your family!  I hope you enjoy!

Creamy Herb Chicken with Vegetables

6 FROZEN Chicken Thighs 
1 can Cream of Chicken with Herbs
1 can Cream of Celery
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
6 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large or 2-3 small carrots, sliced into rounds (mine was seriously huge!)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. garlic powder

In your crock, place the frozen chicken.  Top it with the onions, carrots and mushrooms.

Mix together the Cream of Celery, Cream of Chicken with Herbs, milk and garlic powder.

Pour this mixture over your chicken and vegetables.

Cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
Serve with Rice.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slow Cook Your Thanksgiving!

As Ginger from Crock Pot Recipe Exchange and I have been slow cooking through the holidays, I thought I would share a nice summary of Thanksgiving slow cooker recipes with you Ginger assembled for us!  She's such a great gal!  I'm so grateful to her for her extreme organization!

We're going to give you every chance possible to cook a complete Thanksgiving meal using your slow cookers!  What's better than that?!  Pick and Choose from this menu and you're sure to "knock their socks off!"

Cheesecakes in Jars (individual servings)

Happy Slow-Cooking!
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Green Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon and Onions

One of my followers sent me a recipe he wanted converted into a slow cooker dish.  I'm SO glad he did!   I added my own touch to it and it turned out amazing!  The green beans cooked perfectly in the slow cooker!  The onions added so much flavor and the tomatoes added just the right amount of brightness needed!  The bacon added just a touch of smokiness.  I felt as though this dish needed just a hint of spice, so I added a tiny bit of red pepper.  It was perfect!

This would be a great addition to any meal, holiday or not!  I sure hope your family enjoys it!

Green Beans with Tomatoes, Bacon and Onions

This makes about 4 servings.
2 1/2 - 3 cups fresh green beans, ends snapped off, washed and halved
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2oz. fresh bacon bits
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup water

In your crock, place the green beans, tomatoes, onions and bacon bits.
(Isn't that pretty?!)
Top with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and red pepper.

Give it a stir, tuck your bouillon cube down into the bottom and add your water.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.
Serve and Enjoy!

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Leftover Turkey and "Dumplings" Casserole

I'm always looking for a way to use up that leftover Turkey before it goes bad.  Did you know Turkey is only good for about 3 days in the refrigerator?  You're going to want to use it up so it doesn't go to waste!  This is a GREAT way to make sure you do that!  Not only will you be able to use up your leftover turkey, but this will take care of the gravy too!  Yay!  I love it when I can "kill two birds with one stone!"

When my husband first took a bite of this, he said "Wow!  This is really, really good!"  (That's always a good sign!)  Even though it took 2 hours for my Pillsbury Grands to cook, it was worth the wait!  They were actually cooked to perfection.....in my slow cooker!  How cool is that?!

I hope you give this one a try!  Your family will thank you for it!

Leftover Turkey and "Dumplings" Casserole

2-3 cups leftover turkey, chopped into small pieces
1 16oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever you like)
2 1/2 - 3 cups gravy (I made gravy from our drippings, but feel free to use jarred gravy)
1 container of Pillsbury Grand Biscuits, UNCOOKED

Place your turkey in the bottom of your crock.

Top with your bag of frozen vegetables.

Pour your gravy over that.

Cook on LOW for 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours.
2 hours before serving, place your UNCOOKED Biscuits on top of your casserole.

Before you place the lid back on, put a couple layers of paper towel underneath the lid.
Cook for an additional 2 hours on HIGH.

Serve and Enjoy!
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post - Cooking Up Some Safe Family Fun in the Kitchen

Cooking up Some Safe Family Fun in the Kitchen
Submitted on behalf of Primrose Schools: Balanced learning child care developing confident, happy children by Emily Patterson (@epatt1062)

Preparing a recipe at home in the kitchen is a fun activity for parents and children to share. Not only does a child get to learn about ingredients and cooking, he or she is able to contribute to making a meal for the family. Along with teaching kids about ingredients, cooking utensils, temperatures, and measurements, a cooking activity allows a parent to teach kids about safety in the kitchen. The following are a few tips for parents who'd like to teach their children how to safely and successfully prepare a meal in the kitchen.

First, a parent should sit down and show the children a written recipe. Right away, they will see that a dish requires particular amounts of ingredients. A parent may want to set out a few measuring cups and tablespoons to show the kids how the ingredients are measured. The recipe may have some words that are unfamiliar to the kids. A parent should take the time to explain what they mean. For instance, a child may not know what the words sauté or puree mean. Once everyone has read through the recipe it's time to move on to the next step.

Parents should assign kitchen jobs to each child. For instance, a young child may have the job of measuring a teaspoon of salt and adding it to the other ingredients. An older child could use a spatula to sauté a pan of onions. It's important that each job be appropriate for the child's age and capabilities. While measuring out and mixing ingredients parents can take the opportunity to point out safety considerations. For example, as the older child is sautéing the onions on a back burner of the stove, a parent can point out how the child is keeping his or her wrist away from the edge of the hot pan. Also, if a child spills an ingredient on the floor a parent can stress the importance of cleaning up a mess right away to prevent falls. Furthermore, if the handle of a pot atop the stove is facing outward a parent can move it while explaining the danger of someone bumping into it. In short, these safety reminders can be mixed into the process of preparing a recipe.

There are other lessons that go along with a cooking activity shared with kids. For example, a meal that involves a meat entrée presents an ideal opportunity to teach kids about washing their hands thoroughly. Parents can explain how important it is for someone who handles raw meat to wash his or her hands before and afterward. Parents can teach kids the trick of sneezing into their elbow if they have their hands full of dough or other ingredients and aren't able to grab a tissue. By preparing meals with a parent a kid can learn and practice many good habits.

Finally, encouragement and patience are the two main ingredients critical to a successful cooking activity shared with a child. In the end, the child will be proud that he or she contributed to the nightly meal enjoyed by the family.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Decadent Sweet Potato Casserole

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Wow, wow, wow, wow, W-O-W!!!!!!!!!!!!  There really are not very many words to describe how incredibly awesome this casserole was!  It's a side-dish and dessert all in one!  

I've always been a huge sweet potato fan, but man oh MAN!  This was seriously delicious!  I'm not gonna lie, this is not lo-cal!  LOL  Not at all, but who's counting calories when they're setting out to make a DECADENT Sweet Potato Casserole?!!!  

 Personally, I feel this casserole tasted better warm, not hot.  When it was hot, it really took away from the flavor.  As it cooled a little bit, it tasted JUST RIGHT! :)

Don't forget about Ginger's take on Sweet Potatoes from Crock Pot Recipe Exchange.  Her Slow Cooking Through the Holidays Crock Pot Sweet Potato Casserole can be found here.  It looks seriously delicious as well!

Decadent Sweet Potato Casserole

2 apples, peeled, cored, sliced and chopped
4-5 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups (about) Mimi Marshmallows

Place your apples in a bowl.
Add your sweet potatoes to that.

Next, mix together the vanilla, melted butter and brown sugar.

Sprinkle the cinnamon onto the sweet potatoes and apples.

Pour your butter/vanilla/brown sugar mixture over your sweet potatoes and apples and mix.  
Dump them into your Crock.
Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

About 1-1 1/2 hours before serving, Turn your slow cooker to HIGH, take 3-4 paper towels and stick them underneath the lid of your slow cooker.
This will help absorb a lot of the moisture and thicken your casserole.

About 5 minutes before serving, add your marshmallows to the top.
They will melt and look like this:

Serve and ENJOY!

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Sweet and Savory Homemade Stuffing

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Growing up, my Mom ALWAYS made homemade stuffing for Thanksgiving.  I'll never forget my first Thanksgiving where I got to cook.  I called my mom in the wee early hours of the morning, trying to make sure I got it just right.  When I met my husband, I began spending some of the Holidays with his parents.  His dad makes a delicious stuffing as well.  So, when I began thinking about what kind of stuffing I was going to make for our "Mocksgiving" this week, I ran it by my husband,  He pretty much begged for me to make a stuffing like his dad's.  So, I gave it my best shot!

The verdict?!  My husband said it was DELICIOUS!  Not exactly like his dad's, (which he was ok with) but close enough for my husband to tell me a million times how much he LOVED it!  I have to admit, I loved it too!  (And so did my daughter!)  It's the perfect combination of sweet and savory, which is how I named this stuffing!

I stuffed my stuffing right into my Traditional Turkey Breast.  Because of this, I did not need to add any liquid to my stuffing.  If you plan on making this stuffing out of your Turkey, you will need to add some broth (either turkey or chicken will work).  I would cook that on LOW for about 6-7 hours or on HIGH for about 3 hours.  I'm guessing here since I've never made stuffing on it's own in the slow cooker, but this should be about right!

Sweet and Savory Stuffing

6-7 stalks of celery, diced
2 onions, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, diced (I used mini-bellas)
12 slices Italian Bread, crust removed, cut into small cubes
7 oz. freshly baked sweet corn bread (I used Martha White Sweet Cornbread Mix...cheap and easy!)
1/2 cup Pecans, chopped
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. poultry seasoning

Saute your celery, onions and mushrooms on the stove top until your onions are translucent.

While this is cooking, crumble your corn bread into a bowl.

Add your cubed Italian bread to that.

Your celery, onions and mushrooms should be just about done at this point, so add them to this bowl as well.

Add your pecans, seasonings and melted butter to this and stir.

Stuff into your Turkey and cook according to turkey directions.

IF you are not stuffing a bird and just making this in your slow cooker,  you will need to add some broth (either turkey or chicken will work).  About 1 cup should be good.  I would cook that on LOW for about 6-7 hours or on HIGH for about 3 hours.  I'm guessing here since I've never made stuffing on it's own in the slow cooker, but this should be about right!  If you try this,let me know how it comes out!

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