Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spicy Pulled Pork

What can I say about pork...the other white meat, besides that this dish has made it's way into our lives and will continue to stay for a very only time. My husband is not a fan of pork, mostly because he finds it to be dry. The day I told him that I was going to be making pulled pork sandwiches he didn't appear to be too excited to try it. Which to me was a major bummer because I was looking forward to it.

Once dinner time rolled around he actually eat a huge sandwich and asked if he could have another. After dinner he stated that he was in state of "food comma" but wanted to know if this recipe could be put on our regular meal plan rotation. So I knew that this dish was a hit. Based on his reaction to the dish I have decided that next time I have a Pot-luck dinner to go to, this will be what I bring.

The funny thing about this recipe is that I didn't find myself making all kinds of changes to the recipe like I always do with anything else that I make. I did however take two recipes for pulled pork and combined them to make this one. The outcome of combining the two recipes was amazing. Both recipes I used were great on their own, however I think together it's out of this world. (We are spice fans in this house LOL!) I hope that if you try it that you will come back and let me know how it came out. Good or bad I would love to get your take on it.

This recipe was adapted from...
both Melissa's blogs (http://melissaheartsfood.blogspot.com/2009/07/slow-cooker-pulled-pork.html and BrigetMc food blog http://www.crumblycookie.net/2008/05/30/crockpot-pulled-pork/

What you will need

6lb bone-in pork shoulder
2 cans or bottle root beer
1 bottle your favorite BBQ sauce
Burger Buns (We like Whole Wheat Bun)
1 medium tomato sliced (my husband like the fresh crisp taste with the pork)

What you will need for your Spice Rub

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper

What you need to do....

Mix all dry spice rub ingredients in small bowl.

Rub spices into meat and then Wrap tightly refrigerate over night

Next morning place unwrapped pork into crock pot, cover with root beer, and cook on low for 8-9 hours, until meat falls apart without your help.

Remove pork from crock pot and discard all liquid in crock pot.

With two forks remove any access fat and shred pork shoulder. The meat should appear to be "falling apart" on it's own.

Once meat is shredded place it back into your crock pot and add a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Let the meat heat on low for another hour.

And your done!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Crock pot Cauliflower Soup

I have found myself wanting to "doctor-up" recipes to make them a little more healthy. Besides the benefits being active, Both my husband and I have found that it is important to teach our son how to eat the right foods without having to give up on taste. While I have always said that I wanted to feed my family as much healthy food as possible I also don't want them to miss out on the favor. Just because something is good for you doesn't mean that it has to taste bad. Thus the reason I think soups are a great source of nutrition and favor.

I also have to admit that I have become bored with my veggies and decided that I would buy a head of cauliflower so I could make some cauliflower soup. A friend of mine served this rich creamy soup once at her dinner party and when I asked her for the recipe I wanted to die just thinking of how many calories I took in that night. Of course I wasn't about to use her recipe so I turned to the ladies on the nest and Mary-Ellen was sweet enough to share her's with me. I did follow her recipe to the tea, but I did add a few things and made mine in the crock pot, which was great because all I did was add everything in and let it cook. It was so good that I can't wait to make it again.

adapted from Mary Ellen link below if you would like to see my reference.

What you will need:

Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (I just eye ball it)
2 tablespoons butter,
1 large cauliflower cut into small bunches of florets
3 ribs celery chopped in big chucks
1 medium onion, chopped in big chucks
2 cloves of garlic (or you may use garlic powder)
1 carrot chopped into large chucks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 12oz chicken broth (I almost always use home made chicken broth but this time I ran out and had to use LOW SODIUM stock)
1 12oz of water
1 and 1/2 cup milk (I use 2% but Maryellen recommends heavy cream because it would make it creamer.)
2 tablespoons hot sauce (It is amazing, it adds a little kick and is not over powering)
chopped fresh parsley leaves or chives, for garnish (I skipped this part because I didn't have any)


-Add all ingredients listed above toss into your crock-pot.
-Let everything cook for about 4 hours on high. Then turn to low.
-Remove all the carrots, onion, celery chunks and put into blender along with half the cauliflower florets. left cool a little before blending.
-Once everything is blended add puree into crock pot. Stir with a wooden spoon to blend everything together.
-Let it cook for another 1 hour on low. After that hour pour yourself a big blow and serve some toasty french bread.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's a Sandra-Rita

Let me set the scene....

It's Saturday night, my husband is in New York at my in-law house and I'm home alone reading the posts on "What's Cooking" and then it happens. The question "What is everyone drinking" is posted. Being that I'm alone I can't polish off a bottle of wine on my own; so the next question I ask myself is... what else can I have?

It finally came to me, I have frozen berries in the freezer that I really need to use up. So I will make myself a Margarita, only to discover that we don't have any more tequila. I'm not going to let that stop me. I'm determined to make myself a drink dammit! So I decided that I will just mix whatever and see what happens. Thus the Sandra-rita was born. (Yes, I know real original name)


1 Cup frozen strawberries
1/4 Cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup Gray Goose Vodka
1/4 cup Margarita mix
1/4 cup Berry flavored sparkling water

Put everything in blender and pulse until smooth. Transfer into a big Margarita glass. All that is left to do is enjoy the rest of your night. LOL

Easy Ham and Corn Chowder

I am not a fan of corn chowder, actually I'm not a fan of corn period, however my husband and son love corn. Seeing that the temperature keeps dropping here in New England I think that now would be the perfect time to make them a hearty chowder.

By the way this recipe also works wonderfully in the crock-pot.

Not that chowders are meant to be lite but this is my version of a "healthier" ham and corn chowder. Yields about 8 servings
Nutrients per serving (1 cup) Cal 210, Fat 4g, Saturated fat 1g Cabs 34g, Protein 11g,


2 medium unpeeled red potatoes
1 cup cubed cooked ham steak with all fat removed
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 teaspoon of butter
2 tablespoons of AP flour
14 ounces of homemade chicken broth (if you don't make your own you can use one can of store bought chicken broth)
1 can of fat-free evaporated milk
1 can creamed corn
1 cup of frozen corn
2 tablespoons chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
cooked crumbled bacon


Cut potatoes and ham into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Dice bell pepper and chop celery. Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat, add bell pepper and celery cook for about 3 minutes until veggies are crisp and tender. Stir in flour heat until bubbly. Add broth, evaporated milk and creamed corn until blended.

On a slide grilled I like to cook cubed ham until they are crispy.

Add potatoes and bring to a boil, reduce heat and add frozen corn. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes (potatoes should be tender). stir in ham, heat thoroughly. Remove from heat stir in chives and season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with bacon.

Chicken Enchiladas

I find that it is hard find recipes that are both easy to make after a day at work and that are also something that I would consider to be healthier. Like everyone else I do love the "unhealthier" versions but do I really want to feed my son that? I know that when he is older I wouldn't be able to control is food intake, but for now all I can do is try to instill good food habits and hope that he follows them later in life.

I came across a enchilada recipe that I didn't think was too "bad", but I did make a lot of changes so I could feel better about serving it to my family. Needless to say I am happy with the final product. And I plan on making his for my family anytime we crave Mexican food.

FYI...You can't see the cheese on the Enchilada because A) I used only a little cheese on top and B) The cheese that I used was white... I ran out of yellow. But it was still very tasty.

Yields about 6-8 servings

What you will need

2 cups of chopped cooked chicken or turkey (3 boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1 cup of mixed peppers (I do prefer using more red peppers than green)
1 chopped onion
1/2 package of cream cheese cubed (I use the Philadelphia 1/3 less fat but you may use regular cream cheese if you wish)
8 OZ of salsa divided
8 6-inch tortillas (I like to use wheat)
12 OZ of 2% cheddar cheese or Mexican blend cheese
1/4 cup 2% milk
Fat free sour cream (optional)


Stir chicken, peppers, cream cheese and 1/2 the salsa in saucepan on LOW heat until cream cheese is melted.

Take 1/3 cup of chicken mixture and place in the center of each tortilla. Roll enchilada up and place seam-side down in lightly greased 12x8 inch baking dish.

Stir cheese and milk in sauce pan on LOW until smooth. Pour sauce over Tortillas, then cover with foil.

****Before covering spray foil with cooking spray to prevent any toppings from sticking.****

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Before serving top with remaining salsa

Friday, December 11, 2009


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Cookie Brownies

During the holidays I feel like I have people dropping by all the time, therefore I feel like I need to have someone on hand just in case I have an unexpected visitor. I like to keep on hand something that is sweet, but not overwhelming. Yesterday I got a call from my old next door neighbor asking if she could come over for a visit. Who am I to say no to a 85 year-old women, who has always treated my family was her own. I wanted to have something to offer her when she came over for coffee. I was thinking about baking a coffee cake however I didn't have all the ingredients I needed. I did however have the ingredients to make Cookie Brownies.

So seeing that I have the ingredients to make the cookie brownies I decided that that would go to my never fail brownie recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Copyright 1999, and just jazz them up a little with my cookie recipe. Here is what I came up with.

One more thing I want to say is you will have a lot of extra cookie dough which you may freeze to use at a later date. I hope you all enjoy the recipe and if you do try it. Let me know what you think.

Ingredients for the brownies

* 1 pound unsalted butter
* 1 pound plus 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
* 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
* 6 extra-large eggs
* 3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
* 2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 ¼ cups flour, divided
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients for cookies
2 FULL cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar (I only used 1/4 cup since I was adding more chips)
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 3/4 cups I love chocolate chips!)


Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream together butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.


Melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss chocolate chips with flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Once you have the brownie mix in the pan take small scoops of cookie dough and drop into of brownies. Then bake for about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Rissois (Portuguese Shrimp cakes)

Growing up in a large Portuguese family food was always a big part of family gathering. The amount of food during the holidays was insane. And to this day, when I host any type of gatherings I tend keep the "tradition" of going overboard in the food department. As I have gotten older, and have had a child I feel like it's important that I continue to carrying out the family traditions. With my family, you can't have a party without having the shrimp cakes. =) I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Thanks to my mother I am able to continue the family traditions and I am able to share this recipe with all of you.

This recipe should yield about 100 shrimp cakes.

A few tips before you start... To get this recipe to work for you must read this a few times before starting it. The dough is tricky and has to be just right if you want them to hold together. Also This recipe can be spicy, based on your own likes for spicy foods you might need to adjust the piri piri. Personally I like spicy food so the three piri piri are just enough heat for me. One last note, make sure you have enough time because this will take a few hours.

I would also like to say that they are freeze really well and can remain frozen up to 6 months and taste as good as if they were freshly made. (Read below on how to freeze the patties). Also make filling before making dough to allow time for filling to cool.

For the filling you are going to need

2 Lbs of large shrimp
3 cloves of garlic
3 chopped piri piri
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups of flour
black pepper
salt to taste
1 tsp of paprika
2 tsp creme de marisco (knorr soup)
1/2 cup fresh parsley

Directions for shrimp:

Boil shrimp in enough water to cover shrimp with 2 cloves of garlic and 1 piri piri.
Once shrimp is cooked strain and save stock. Let cool.

Chop cooled shrimp in food processor until coarse (I like to do a very coarse chop because I like to bite into chucks of shrimp) Once you have gotten the shrimp to your desired coarseness set aside.

In chopper mix finely chop 1/2 yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves saute over medium heat in 1/2 stick of butter and 2 chopped piri piri. Slowly add 2 cups flour and shrimp stock little by little making sure it thickens before adding more. Add a dash of black pepper, season with salt to desired taste and 2 tsp creme de marisco. Add shrimp and 1/2 cup fresh parsley. The filling should have the consistency oatmeal. It should not be runny nor should it be "cookie dough" stiff. Set aside and let filling cool.

For the pastry you will need

3 cup flour
3 cup water
3 TBL butter
2 tsp salt

Boil 3 TBL of butter in 3 cups water with 2 tsp salt. Once it begins to boil remove from heat and add flour. stir well. Reduce heat to medium and continue stirring until dough has formed into a ball.

Roll dough out until thin. Using the pampered chef cut and seal cut out rounds. Fill center of each round with about 1 FULL teaspoon of filling, then take one side and flip over making a half moon shape. Seal with Pampered chef cut and seal. Once you have all your patties made. Scramble 8 eggs, dip each patties into egg and then cover with seasoned bread crumbs. Fry in HOT veggie oil until golden brown. You can eat them warm or at room temperature.

The best way that I have found to store the left over shrimp cakes is to place them on a lined cookie sheet place in freezer allow patties to harden then transfer to ziplock bags. By doing this you will avoid patties from sticking together. If frozen, let patties thaw for 30 minutes before frying.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pureed Veggie Soup with Orzo

As a child I remember my mother having a big pot of soup going on the back burner. She actually has a stockpot that she refers to as her "soup pot". She always made a fresh pot of soup every week, and one of my favorites is her vegetable soup. Being that I have a little boy, I now find myself wanting him to have the same yummy soups as I did when I was growing up.

The difference between my mother's soup and my version is that I puree all the veggies making it easier for my son to eat it. I hope your little one enjoys it as much as mine does.


* 4 medium white potatoes (I sometimes like to use sweet potatoes)
* 1/2 small onion
* 1 cup of chopped up broccoli
* 1/2 cup of peas (I like to use frozen peas and not the canned ones)
* 4 large carrots cut in large chucks
* 1/2 cup of green beans
* 2 stocks of celery
* 10 cups of water
*1/2 teaspoon of salt
* 1 chicken bouillon
* 3/4 cup Orzo

First thing you need to do is wash all your veggies and chop them all into small pieces. In a stockpot add everything listed above expect the orzo. (That will be added in later).

Let everything simmer until all veggies are cooked. Once all the vegetables are cooked remove them from the liquid and puree in a blender. Once everything is pureed pour mixer into stockpot and mix until everything is mixed in together. Soup will be thick and will require another 1-2 of water. Once the soup starts to boil add in orzo. make sure that you keep stirring the soup because it could stick at this point if left unattended. Soup will be done once orzo is cooked.

This is a very thick hearty soup you can add more water or chicken stock when reheating if you prefer a thinner soup.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

I have been craving chocolate cupcakes but not the ones you buy in stores nor the boxed kind. I was looking for a cupcake with a twist. When I came across this recipe I actually wondered if they would be good considering that they called for beer. Seeing that I had a few beers left over from our last house party I decided I would try it and see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised how good they were. While it calls for a full beer, you would never guess that the wonderful taste cames from beer. I will for sure keep making this recipe from here on out.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Recipe adapted form Dave Lieberman

Before you get started I do have a recommendation and that is use ALL ingredients be at room temperature.


* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* Pinch fine salt
* 1 bottle Guinness stout beer (or any stout beer you prefer)
* 1 stick butter, melted
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup sour cream

For the frosting you will need

* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
* 3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar (sounds like a lot but it's for the frosting)

Directions for cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool wire cookie rack.

To make the icing:

In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (I like to add a little of food coloring just to make them look a little more festive)

Once cupcakes have completely cooled you can frost each cupcake with the cream cheese frosting. You can also top each cupcake with your favorite candies, sprinkles or a dusting of coca.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Whole Wheat Pancakes with a Nutty Topping

I love this pancake recipe, they are easy to make and to top of that they come out lite and fluffy. I have tried making different pancake recipes and I this is the only recipe that my son will eat 2 full pancakes for breakfast minus the nutty topping. My husband and I love to add extra topping on ours. (Nutty Topping not pictured)

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger, Show: Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger

For the Pancakes:

* 1 medium Golden Delicious apple, cored and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
* 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup lowfat buttermilk
* 3/4 cup lowfat milk
* 2 teaspoons honey
* 1 teaspoon of vanilla

For the Topping:

* 1/4 cup sliced almonds
* 1/4 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
* 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
* 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (preferably unhulled)
* 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
* 1/4 cup real maple syrup, plus more for serving
* Pinch salt


Put the apple in a microwave-proof bowl, tightly cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until softened, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, 1/2 cup of the milk and honey. Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. If the batter seems too thick, add as much of the remaining 1/4 cup milk as necessary.

Spray a large non-stick griddle with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake into the pan and top each pancake with a heaping tablespoon of the cooked apple. Flip when the pancake tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look cooked, about 2 minutes. Cook until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through, an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer the cooked pancakes to an ovenproof dish and keep warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven while making the rest. To serve, arrange 3 pancakes per plate and sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup of the topping. Serve with additional maple syrup.