Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese

This is something I’d been craving for the last few weeks, and I was pretty pleased with the end result. The two flavors go very well together, and this makes enough that it was every lunch and dinner for me for almost a week.

IMG_6216Where this takes a bit of time at the end to pull the pork and make the mac & cheese, I figured an easy/quick morning would be nice and used bottled bbq sauce, but if you have a favorite recipe from scratch, you could probably use it. Just keep in mind that a sweet bbq sauce goes better with the mac & cheese than a strongly vinegar or mustard-y one.

IMG_6204A quick heads up: There’s probably going to be a week or two ‘summer break’ for the blog starting, oh, say, right after you finish reading this post!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gingerale
  • approximately 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 18 ounce bottle sweet bbq sauce
  • 1 pound shell pasta (elbows are also ok, but shells are more fun)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • extra shredded cheese and/or bbq sauce, as desired

IMG_6206To prepare the pork, place the gingerale and pork in a crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours.

IMG_6201 IMG_6202Remove from the crock pot and shred using two forks, then return the shredded meat to the liquid in the crock.

IMG_6203Stir in the bbq sauce, then leave turned on low heat with the lid off while you prepare the shells.

IMG_6205Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13″ pan. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. If the pasta finished boiling before the cheese sauce is prepared, toss it with a small amount of olive oil to prevent it from clumping.

In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until there are no dry flour clumps left, then slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Reduce heat to low, and whisk until thick and creamy. Sprinkle in the cheese and continue cooking and stirring until completely melted.

IMG_6209Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta. (If your pan isn’t big enough to hold all the pasta, put the pasta back into the pot it was cooked in and mix it with the cheese sauce in there.)

IMG_6210Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the greased dish and spread evenly.

Seemed the best place in case I missed.

Seemed the best place in case I missed.

Top with the pulled pork – you don’t HAVE to use all of the pork, but it will fit on if you want to.

IMG_6212Top with extra cheese, if desired, then bake 15 minutes.

IMG_6213 IMG_6214Drizzle servings with extra bbq sauce if desired.

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese

  • 1 cup gingerale
  • approximately 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 18 ounce bottle sweet bbq sauce
  • 1 pound shell pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • extra shredded cheese and/or bbq sauce, as desired

To prepare the pork, place the gingerale and pork in a crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove from the crock pot and shred using two forks, then return the shredded meat to the liquid in the crock. Stir in the bbq sauce, then leave turned on low heat with the lid off while you prepare the shells.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13″ pan. Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. If the pasta finished boiling before the cheese sauce is prepared, toss it with a small amount of olive oil to prevent it from clumping.

In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until there are no dry flour clumps left, then slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Reduce heat to low, and whisk until thick and creamy. Sprinkle in the cheese and continue cooking and stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked pasta.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the greased dish and spread evenly. Top with the pulled pork. Top with extra cheese, if desired, then bake 15 minutes.

Drizzle servings with extra bbq sauce if desired.

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Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

I got an ice cream maker at a thrift shop recently, and this was the first thing I made with it. It’s kind of light and refreshing, from the fruit, and tangy from the buttermilk. It’s a nice combo.

Tiny Peter Cottontail spoon much better at launching sherbet out of the dish than separating off a chunk to eat.

Tiny Peter Cottontail spoon much better at launching sherbet out of the dish than separating off a chunk to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt

I used thawed frozen strawberries (so much cheaper!) which look a bit squishy and lumpy at first, but as it all goes in a blender or food processor I don’t really think it matters in the end.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the strawberries and sugar in a 9X13″ pan and stir together. Place in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is juicy and bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. If you’re in a hurry, you can slightly speed matters by transferring the strawberry mixture out of the hot glass dish and into a room temperature dish.

IMG_6182Combine the berries and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Leaked so very much of this all over multiple counters...

Leaked so very much of this all over multiple counters…

Refrigerate the mixture until chilled, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

IMG_6184Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer.

IMG_6191This sherbet gets firm enough that you’ll want to pull it out of the freezer during dinner to give it 15-20 minutes to soften slightly, but it’s very much worth the wait!

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

Lightly adapted from Bon Appetit.

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the strawberries and sugar in a 9X13″ pan and stir together. Place in the oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is juicy and bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine the berries and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer.

Let rest at room temperature 15-20 minutes before serving.

 

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Refrigerator Pizza Dough

This dough chills in the fridge from 3 hours up to 2 weeks, making it great to throw together the night before or morning of a day you know you’ll be rushed for dinner, or as something to just keep ready in the fridge for whenever time is tight or a pizza craving hits. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also super easy!

Sturdy enough, and a bit chewy.

Sturdy enough, and a bit chewy.

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups hot water (about 100 degrees – enough that it’s very warm, but wouldn’t burn if you kept your finger in it for a few seconds – yeast can’t handle temperatures any hotter than you can!)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 4-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • sauce
  • cheese
  • toppings as desired

These pictures all show a half batch, but certainly feel free to make the whole amount and only cook half at a time!

In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, salt, yeast, and sugar. Stir together well.

IMG_6185Add the flour, and stir until evenly moistened and well combined.

IMG_6186You don’t need to knead, just get it all mixed in. Cover loosely with a lid or saran wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, up to 2 weeks. If refrigerating 2 days or more, cover tightly to prevent the dough from drying out.

When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. I didn’t find it sticky enough to require any extra flouring at this step. Place it on the greased pan, and top as desired.

IMG_6192 IMG_6193Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

IMG_6194You shouldn’t have any trouble sliding it off the pan right onto a cutting board, and shortly after into your mouth. Nice!

IMG_6195 IMG_6197

Refrigerator Pizza Dough

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

  • 1-3/4 cups hot water (about 100 degrees – enough that it’s very warm, but wouldn’t burn if you kept your finger in it for a few seconds – yeast can’t handle temperatures any hotter than you can!)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 4-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • sauce
  • cheese
  • toppings as desired

In a large bowl, combine the water, oil, salt, yeast, and sugar. Stir together well. Add the flour, and stir until evenly moistened and well combined. You don’t need to knead, just get it all mixed in. Cover loosely with a lid or saran wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, up to 2 weeks. If refrigerating 2 days or more, cover tightly to prevent the dough from drying out.

When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. Place it on the greased pan, and top as desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

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Turkey and Lentil Meatballs

Another attempt at doing something healthy, these meatballs actually come out tasty. (Shocking, I know!) I was expecting them to be a bit crumbly, with all the lentils, but they actually are just as sturdy as ‘normal’ meatballs!

IMG_6169

  • 1 cup dry green lentils, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (one teaspoon was entirely unnoticeable, 2 was the max I’d want, so it’s sort of up to if you like a tiny bit of heat)
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all the ingredients together by hand, then shape into balls.

This picture's actually from my boring first batch, so yours should have more flecks of colors up in there.

This picture’s actually from my boring first batch, so yours should have more flecks of colors up in there.

Place on the prepared baking sheets, and bake 23-35 minutes, until browned.

IMG_6167Serve with your preferred pasta and sauce.

IMG_6168

Turkey and Lentil Meatballs

  • 1 cup dry green lentils, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all the ingredients together by hand, then shape into balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, and bake 23-35 minutes, until browned. Serve with your preferred pasta and sauce.

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Banana Bread Brownie Swirl

What better way to meet new people than to bring fairly absurd baked goods? It works for me!

IMG_6165Ingredients:

Banana Bread Batter:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Brownie Batter:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Plus:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Grease a 9X13″ pan and set aside.

To make the banana bread batter, first mash the bananas in a large bowl until smooth.

IMG_6152Stir in the butter.

IMG_6153Add the salt and baking soda, then stir in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.

IMG_6154Add the flour, then set aside.

IMG_6155Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the brownie mixture, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Stir together the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

IMG_6156Beat in the eggs, adding one at a time.

IMG_6157Stir the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions.

IMG_6158Drop the brownie batter into the pan in large blobs.

IMG_6159Pour the banana bread batter on top.

IMG_6160Drag a knife through, if desired, to mix slightly.

IMG_6161Sprinkle the peanut butter chips over the top, if desired.

IMG_6162 Bake 50-60 minutes (mine was done at 55), until it passes the toothpick test.

IMG_6163Cool in the pan, then slice and serve.

IMG_6166 IMG_6164Each bite is a bit different, depending on how much banana bread or brownie you’re getting, but each is delicious!

Banana Bread Brownie Swirl

Adapted from Simply Recipes and AllRecipes.

Banana Bread Batter:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Brownie Batter:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Plus:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Grease a 9X13″ pan and set aside.

To make the banana bread batter, first mash the bananas in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the butter, then add the salt and baking soda. Stir in the sugar, egg, and vanilla, followed by the flour. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the brownie mixture, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Stir together the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, adding one at a time. Stir the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions.

Drop the brownie batter into the pan in large blobs. Pour the banana bread batter on top. Drag a knife through, if desired, to mix slightly. Sprinkle the peanut butter chips over the top, if desired. Bake 50-60 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in the pan, then slice and serve.

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Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta

Is this the first time I’ve bought feta in the year+ since I left Greece? Yes. Did I buy the smallest package the supermarket could provide? Yes.

IMG_6134For some reason orzo always seems a cheery pasta to me, and with the bright flavor of lemon and some veggies to make it feel healthy, this is a nice light summer dish. I actually thought about adding chicken, but I didn’t think about it enough and forgot to buy any chicken. Oh well!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and cook a further 3-4 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook until the asparagus is tender and the spinach has wilted.

IMG_6130Combine the orzo and cooked vegetables in a medium bowl, then drizzle the lemon juice on top.

IMG_6131Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve still warm.

IMG_6133If you’re at all confident in the kitchen, you can get away with cutting the asparagus and pulling out all your other ingredients while the water comes to a boil, and then cooking the veggies while the pasta cooks, making it actually a very quick dish to through together. I think you could do well adding some grilled chicken breast, or some chunks from a supermarket rotisserie chicken if you want to beef this up a bit, but as is it’s enough for dinner for 2, or as a side for more.

I got some ridiculous ‘healthy’ cookbook recently and was hoping to have a second asparagus recipe to share after this one, but it turns out that, nope, asparagus cake is every bit as gross as it sounds.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta

From Two Peas and Their Pod.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces and cook a further 3-4 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook until the asparagus is tender and the spinach has wilted.

Combine the orzo and cooked vegetables in a medium bowl, then drizzle the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Serve still warm.

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Maple Oatmeal Cookies

These are the cookies I made at the same time as last week’s brown sugar maple cookies. As I mentioned then, I liked the texture of last week’s cookies way more, but most of my coworkers loved the texture of these, so I guess it depends on what you’re into. These ones were definitely easier to snack on indefinitely.

IMG_6075Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar (I got mine from the internet, your local store may have some)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

IMG_6063First, adjust your oven racks to be in the top and lower thirds of the oven, rather than having one in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda, then set aside. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

IMG_6067Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

IMG_6068Add half the flour mixture, beat until just combined, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture.

IMG_6069Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough, well spaced, onto your lined sheets. Bake until the edges are golden, about 11 minutes, rotating the top and bottom pans halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are too big!

These are too big!

The ones one the left are a good size. The thing on the right...I was curious?

The ones one the left are a good size. The thing on the right…I was curious?

This uneven cooking is what happens if you do big ones. The tray way back at the top of the post is the more even cooking of smaller ones!

This uneven cooking is what happens if you do big ones. The smaller ones cook more evenly, and stay a better texture!

IMG_6074

For once you (I) really should listen to the recipe when it says such small amounts per cookie – they cook fairly unevenly when you use a larger amount, although admittedly they still taste good anyway.

Maple Oatmeal Cookies

From Martha Stewart.

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

First, adjust your oven racks to be in the top and lower thirds of the oven, rather than having one in the middle. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, salt, and baking soda, then set aside. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add half the flour mixture, beat until just combined, then repeat with the remaining flour mixture.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough, well spaced, onto your lined sheets. Bake until the edges are golden, about 11 minutes, rotating the top and bottom pans halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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