Sunday, March 24, 2013

Avocado bean dip

a friend from church served this to me when I attended a knitting group meeting at her house.  doesn't that sound domestic?  it could be served just as a dip with tortilla chips (don't those broken chips look appetizing?) or inside a wrap.  it is delicious and full of nutritional goodness.

1 Can corn (or the equivalent measurement of frozen corn)
1 Can black beans drained
3 green onions diced
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
1 C. sliced cherry tomatoes
1-2 ripe avocados chopped

1 envelope Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix. Follow directions on back.

mix all ingredients together.  add salt to taste and anything else that suits your fancy.  this is the sort of recipe that you can add your favorites to or leave out your not favorites. it is meant to be served cold. chill in fridge.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Matt's 4th of July Pulled Pork

This is the most delicious pulled pork ever!  Keep in mind that it takes 2 days to prepare, since the meat has to soak in the brine solution for 8-24 hours, then cooked "low and slow" (as Matt says) for several hours.   It's a labor of love, and totally worth it.

1 whole Boston Butt pork shoulder

Dry Rub

1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cayenne pepper
1 Tbs salt
1 Tbs pepper
1 Tbs paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix well.  Can be mixed ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Brine Solution
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 qts cold water
2 bay leaves
3 Tbs Dry Rub Mix

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved.  Then add the brown sugar, drub and bay leaves and stir well to combine.

Pork Shoulder Preparation:

Meat in roaster oven reaching 200 degrees.
pull meat apart wearing gloves.
 Rinse pork shoulder and place in a large 2.5 quart ziplock bag, then pour the brine solution into the bag.  Making sure that the meat is completely covered, let the excess air out of the bag and seal it tightly.  Place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.  Then remove pork shoulder from brine solution, pat dry with a paper towel, place in a baking pan that is bigger than the pork shoulder by at least an inch in length and width, and at least 3 inches deep.  We always use our roaster oven.  Sprinkle dry rub on the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it sticks to the meat.  (touching meat=gross).  Coat all sides.  Make sure you place the meat in the pan with the fat side up.  Place baking pan uncovered in a 225 degree oven on the middle rack.  Do not remove from oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200 degrees.  OR, if you have a roaster oven and a lot of time, set the temp to 200 and cook overnight and well into the day.  You know, low and slow.  When the meat has reached 200 degrees internally, shut off the oven and let the meat sit for an hour or longer before removing it from the oven.  When the temp drops to 170 or lower, remove from oven.  Place on a large clean working surface, like a cutting board, and remove the top layer of fat, as well as any other fat from the meat.  Then you can pull the meat apart with two forks, or wear kitchen gloves and pull it apart with your hands.  The meat is very tender and easy to pull apart.  It's delicious as is, or you can add some of your favorite BBQ sauce.  We also like to make sandwiches using those square-shaped yellow buns.  Serve with potato salad and red jell-o!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breakfast Shake

This is our morning breakfast shake. It sounds disgusting, but it's not. My kids actually drink it.

1 Banana
1 handful of spinach
1 cup (apx) of frozen blueberries
1/2 cup POM juice
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (or regular milk)

Blend it in the blender. I throw in some ground flax seeds when I remember .

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tortellini Soup

I'm so ready for Spring, but right now it's snowing sideways outside.  Winter is mocking me.  But the joke is on winter, because I'm happy to stay inside as long as I have soup to keep me warm. 
This is one of my favorite soups.  Some soups are delicious, but work best as a side dish (like my Cream of Carrot Soup.  yum!) and some soups are just "stuff floating in water" (as my husband so eloquently put it) and are only delicious if you have a stomach bug and are craving something bland.  This soup is neither.  This soup is a meal.  ("I want a MEAL!")  It will fill you up and make you happy.  So there, winter!

Tortellini Soup

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cups beef broth
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. thinly sliced carrots
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups cheese-filled tortellini
1 1/2 c. sliced zucchini
3 T. chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot, brown sausage over medium heat.  Remove sausage and drain all but 1 tsp remaining fat from the pot.  (If sausage is very lean, you may need to add a little olive oil to prevent sticking and burning.)  Saute onion and garlic in pot.  While the onion softens, slice carrots. 

When onions are soft, add beef broth, red wine vinegar (Full disclosure: I've never used red wine vinegar in this soup, so I'm not sure what magic I'm missing.  Do not substitute regular vinegar.  If you don't have it, just leave it out.  The soup will still be tasty.), tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, sausage and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.

While soup simmers, slice zucchini and chop parsley.  (Secretly I've never used fresh parsley, either.  My whole life is a lie!)  Skim fat from soup.  Stir in zucchini and parsley.  Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Add tortellini and simmer five more minutes, or until tortellini is al dente.  Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Makes 8 servings.