Monday, August 29, 2011

PW Pulled Pork

Hello! Hope everyone had a good weekend. The abundance of free time I thought I'd have once both boys are in school (twice a week anyway) hasn't quite kicked in just yet...I made this last week and just now getting to post it!

Ah, my nemesis, the pulled pork. I made this one other time, from a different recipe, and it didn't turn out very well. That's about all I remember. And it was a huge mess in my roasting pan. Most things I make do turn out, but I can also mess up pretty much anything!

This recipe calls for a pretty involved marinade. There's onion, brown sugar, garlic, vinegar, some spices (including a buttload of cumin). Those get mixed up together in the trusty food processor.

Warning: do not have your face in the food processor when you open it up after blending. The aroma WILL burn your face. In a good way. But still.

So here we go. I used my brain this time and got a disposable pan. GREATNESS!

Marinade all rubbed in. Messy. And gross. Raw meat = gross to me.

Here is is after about 7 hours in the oven (covered). Still gross. Keeping my eye on the prize.

Then you take the foil off and cook some more. Still gross.

It seemed to be done, it was falling apart as it should be. Then begins the process of "pulling" it, i.e. shredding it with 2 forks. Someone seriously needs to invent an appliance that can do this for you. It took me like 30 minutes.

Here we go, all done, a ginormous bowl and left on the cookie sheet was everything I deemed not edible (fat, etc.)

I decided against keeping the marinade and pouring it over the shredded meat. I figured we'd want to flavor it our own way, and different ways. This was an ENORMOUS amount of meat. I think the roast was about 6 pounds?

The recipe calls for serving it with limes and tortillas. But we opted for BBQ sandwiches. This is homemade BBQ sauce (simmer on stove ketchup, garlic, molasses, apple cider vinegar, some other stuff. Can't remember when it's not in front of me! I can post the recipe if anyone's interested).

The next time I had a sandwich I made it with Frank's and Ranch, a la my fav thing at Buffalo Wild Wings. YUM.

We went through about half the amount of meat in a week, then I had to get it in the freezer. Hopefully it will keep okay!

This week I will be making one more batch of jam and peanut butter too. Hopefully I'll remember to take pics so I can get those up here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Time!

I've been having a BLAST with my new hobby.....making my own peanut butter and jelly. Let's face facts: We consume mass quantities of it in this house. It's something I've always wanted to do. Canning can be a bit intimidating, and you not only need the jars but all that other stuff. And new issue of Everyday Food (Martha) came in the mail...and low and behold there was an article in there about "freezer jam". The process is almost the same, cook down the fruit (either stone fruit or berries), add some pectin (a certain kind) and sugar, then you put it in the jars let it sit for a day until it cools and the seal forms. Then it's good in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or in the freezer for 6-12 months (hearing different things). Genious!!! I am in love. I already buy "natural" jam so to speak, but we go through it alot. I figured out for the price of one of those jars I can make 4 of these. My goal is to have a year's worth of it. In order for it to keep at room temp, you have to do the extra steps of "processing" it in boiling water after the jam is in the jars and that requires more equipment that I don't have yet. This is easy enough for me just to get my feet wet.

I figure we go through about 3 of this size jar (pint) a month. So far I have made plum, peach, blueberry/strawberry, and strawberry/peach. I still have to make a batch of plain strawberry and then maybe some more peach. Yall, it is SO yummy. And I know exactly what is in there, just fruit, sugar, and pectin. No preservatives-yay.

I have made peanut butter before, with a small amount of peanuts and also a small amount of almond butter after seeing an article online about it. But I used what I had, which was dry roasted salted nuts. I find that it is just too salty. So I set out to find dry roasted unsalted nuts, so I can add just a little salt, which I found for pretty good price at Whole Foods. Making peanut butter is SO easy, I highly reccomend everyone do it! I think it keeps in the fridge for about a month also. I wish it kept longer or you could freeze it! Then I could make a bunch of it at once. All you do it put the peanuts in the food processor and let it go. It takes several minutes. First it becomes fine ground. Then as the oils are forced out of them it becomes pasty. If you let it go for longer, about 5 minutes, it becomes creamy like it should. I do have one reccomendation.....after trying it with my smaller food processor, mainly meant for chopping small quantites, I think you really think you need a good quality large food processor that can handle the resistance making this gives you.

You can also make "seed butters". At the same trip to WF I got some sunflower seeds to try out. I'm pretty sure you need already roasted ones (same with nuts, not the raw kind unless you want to roast them yourself). I'm pretty excited to try it! This is a great alternative for people with nut allergies. Also? "speciality" peanut/nut butters cost AN. ARM. AND. A. LEG. So this? is a much more cost effective way to have the good stuff!

I think I may break this up into a few posts, with an instructional one on the peanut butters. I think more people would make their own, if they knew how easy it was! Would anyone be interested in that?

I'll leave you with this for now.... this is a PBJ made with plum jelly and almond butter...on homeade white bread no less. Not an everyday occurance around here, as much as I wish, it's so time consuming!! But boy, was it delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PW Penne a la Betsy and Homeade Ranch

Hi! This past week has been crazy....getting BOTH boys ready for school, backpacks and lunch boxes ready, spare sets of clothes, EVERYTHING labeled! And this week the boys have been going to school every other day, so keeping it straight has been a full time job! More on that later.

I did have a busy cooking week last week but barely had time to post about anything! (so much so that this week is "leftover week" because our fridge/freezer space is so limited!) I only made one thing from the PW book, the Shrimp Penne. Well, 2 things. I also made the homeade ranch. Here it is on my wedge salad. It was very thick, more like a dip, and it does say you can thin it out if needed. It needed. I added a small amt of milk to some to make it more runny for dressing. I still found it too thick and frankly not enough flavor for iceberg, which is already pretty dull. However, it IS really good as a vegetable/cracker dip. My husband really liked it alot, much to my surprise! He even took some to work and apparently it went over well there too.

Here is the shrimp cooking in butter. YUM. The end.

Finished result-the sauce is tomato sauce with heavy cream...yummmm...I love creamy tomato sauce. Yes my pasta is funky colored....the only penne I had on hand was vegetable pasta. Yeah, I'm that person who buys "healthy" pasta.

Monday, August 8, 2011

PW Breakfasts: Egg-in-a-Hole, Huevos Hyacinth, Breakfast Potatoes, Breakfast Burritos

It's PW Breakfast Time!

First up is Egg-in-a-Hole. Again, not an original concept. I've actually tried this before, about a year ago, and it didn't turn out at at all. So I gave it a go again. Simple enough, right? The picture is pretty self-explanatory.

Cook a little bit on one side until partially set, then flip. This time it turned out pretty good. I'm pretty sure it's because I cooked it in actual butter and not cooking spray. That's the case alot around here lately.

Next up is Huevos Hyacinth. This is deli ham, then tomatoes or salsa, then an egg, then cheese cooked in a ramekin under the broiler. It gives those 2 options, tomato slices or salsa...which one should I choose? Both of course! I made this for my self for lunch one day actually. They were both really good, I still can't make up my mind which I like better.

Finally, my nemesis. Breakfast Potatoes and Burritos.

These are one of those bajillion step, mass quantity recipes. I almost halved it, but then I didn't. I figured, I'll just wrap them all up and freeze them, surely they will keep and reheat okay? We shall find out. I did this in an afternoon, and it took me about 2.5-3 hours start to finish. I don't know how anyone would ever be able to make these in an actual morning. But, I think they fall in to the category of, "might as well make a ton in one day and have a stash for a month".

First step is baking the potatoes. Next time I will boil them. When trying to cut them up, they flaked apart alot, much like baked potatoes do. You know how boiled potatoes have a different consistency? I swear the pic in the book of the cut potatoes she uses are even boiled. They even look different to me. Cook up some onions up in the trusty (small) cast iron. Here I am, looking at my mound of potatoes and wondering if they will all fit in the skillet.

Um, yeah. Barely. It was impossible to combine without spilling though. So there you have the Breakfast Potatoes, which are a separate recipe.

Now on to the Burrito part. Start with 10 eggs. TEN. I'm still getting over that. But it makes 12 burritos, so I guess it's not that bad. Like I said, mass quantities.

Whisk in some chives, cheese and half and half. Now, you are supposed to add this mixture to your GINORMOUS skillet you have already browned up some breakfast sausage, bell peppers, and then added the entire quantity of potatoes/onions I just made. Well, I knew that wasn't happenin. I transferred my "dry" stuff to my larger pot and decided to cook the eggs in the skillet. I know from experience if I added them to the other full pot they wouldn't cook right and get weird. I scooped some of the mixture out to cook with the eggs.

Yall, 10 eggs on low heat takes foreeeeeeeeever to cook.

Here they are finally cooked. Yeah, it's almost 4:00! I started at 2. Any bets on whether this full skillet of eggs will fit into the blue pot?

Barely. Again. Hard to stir together. Again.

Then I go about measuring out and filling the tortillas. None of her recipes are exactly healthy (well, except for the Pico), and we are a calorie conscious household, believe it or not. I calculate the calorie content for every dish I make, even the majority of the PW ones. Also, we keep in mind, all things in moderation!

Even with my measuring out, this still made exactly 12, as promised.

I texted this picture to my husband, to which he replied, "holy burrito!" No kidding, right!

I put a couple of them in the fridge for the next morning and the rest in the freezer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

PW Apps: Pico de Gallo, Guac, Hot Artichoke dip

This week was apps and breakfasts! Most of them were fun and easy to make, and not very time consuming....except one certain one....(breakfast burritos, I'm talkin to you).

First up was Hot Artichoke Dip.

(sorry for the sideways pic, it's not like that in my folder!) I halved this recipe, because I'm pretty sure it doesn't keep that long and I'm the only one eating it. It has canned artichoke hearts, mayo, cream cheese, and some spices. Pretty simple. Then you bake it in the oven. I'm definitely a fan of artichoke and spinach artichoke dips, so I knew I'd like it. I went ahead and blended it all up in my food processor instead of having half of it chunky, because I was planning on offering some to the boys and if it had chunks of artichoke in it I knew they wouldn't go for it.

And....they ate it! Even my most discerning food critic, Number One. I couldn't believe it. I may or may not have let him have just that with tortilla chips for dinner.

Next up is Pico de Gallo.

I actually made this before a few months ago but forgot to take pics! So I made it again. Equal parts cilantro, tomato, onion, jalapeno. YUM. I could eat this every day.
(look at my new measuring cups trying to get in the picture. they're so purdy I don't blame them.)

Throw some of the pico in with an avocado and you have.... Guacamole.

Not exactly an original recipe, but I appreciate it being in there. I also could eat this every day. No Lie.

Breakfasts next week!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PW Mac and Cheese

This is actually my second go at this one. I made it the first the night of OVEN-GATE back in March. You know, the night my oven broke. So I didn't bake it in the oven. Generally, I'm not much a fan of "oven-baked" macaroni, I prefer the creamy kind. Also, none of us really loved this last time. I think I didn't put enough seasoning in it. It was much better this time, but just not that creamy from being baked in the oven. And hello, massive portions! This will make about 10 2-cup servings (which is a generous serving size). Kids will usually only eat 1 cup.

I forgot to take a pic before scooping out for the boys. Note the GINORMOUS casserole dish filled to the brim. My food critic, aka Number One, ate it up right away. Surprising, really, I don't think he liked it that much last time. After I took the pic of my bowl I smothered it with some Sriracha. YUM.

Heeey, lookie what I finally figured out how to do! I deserve a medal for figuring out how to do this all by myself. I know it's kind of small...I'll work on that. This is a list of all the recipes in the book and the ones I've done so far.

Monday, August 1, 2011

PW Oatmeal Crispies, Perfect Pie Crust, and Flat Apple Pie

I've really been plowing through this book the last week or so. No idea why really. Here we go!

Flat Apple Pie: A Disaster in Pictures.

The concept is that this is pie not in a dish that can be cut with a pizza cutter and ate on the go. This started out easy enough. I'm trying to remember, I don't think I've ever actually made an apple pie before. You can pick your jaws up off the floor now. You slice up and peel up the apples, then mix it with some brown sugar, lemon juice and some other stuff. I decided it would be a good idea to mix this separately before adding to the apples, seeing as how my *large* glass bowl wasn't big enough. Big surprise. Bad decision. It took forever to mix in, and it got all clumpy, but it did eventually.

This also goes with Perfect Pie Crust. I kind of already have a go-to pastry recipe, but I went ahead and used this one. I thought it was weird that it's all shortening in this, not butter. I'm sure there's a good reason for that? I didn't take pics of the process, it's pretty much the same as before...I pulsed it together in my food processor. I made these a few days before because they are supposed to set in the freezer.

Mistake #1: I read the recipe as putting the thawed crusts on the cookie sheet, then rolling them out. I have no idea why, because later I saw it said actually to roll them out on a floured counter first then put them on the cookie sheet. I should know better really. Pregnancy brain maybe? As a result, they were sticking to the sheets, even though I greased one and greased and floured the other one. The would up sticking like crazy and having several holes in it when I folded it up. I tried to do my best to seal them up.

I also wrestled with using parchment or not. I A.L.W.A.Y.S. use it when baking. I'm not sure it would have saved my cookie sheets here, but it might have. It didn't say to use it or something similar, so I didn't. This pic is from 10 minutes into the 40 of baking. Not a good sign. I went ahead and finished the baking, because I figured, even if they didn't look right, and leaked all over the place, it might still taste all right. And I hate wasting food.

At the end of baking. R.I.P favorite cookie sheets.

These had no prayer of staying together, probably because all the juice and stuff leaked out. I managed to get one onto a plate and the other one in a tupperware. It all went into a tupperware and I've been just treating it like a cobbler. It tastes pretty good, just a little dry. I think I will try this again in the future but make it like a regular pie.

On a better note, I also made the Oatmeal Crispies. This also involved some make ahead-ness. You have to make the dough and roll it into a log and refrigerate it for a while before slicing and baking. They are really light and crunchy, and pretty good for an oatmeal cookie I think considering they aren't soft, or have raisins. And they have chopped up pecans in them, which you can't really taste. Not a lot of complaints from any of my taste-testers.