Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

pulled pork 7Thursdays are a busy day for me this time of year. My oldest daughter has softball after school and that means I don’t have much time to make dinner. So the slow cooker it is! That way when we get home from practice, we can still enjoy a home cooked dinner that’s waiting for us. I’d much rather prefer that instead of having hungry, complaining little people walking around, whining and asking repeatedly when dinner will be ready.

I like to start this recipe the night before but if you’re pressed for time, it can always be put together the morning of. Just skip the night before step.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • 3-4 lb. bone in pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. each of ground cumin and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each of paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 6 oz. beer

The night before: Mix together all of the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle and rub the spices all over both sides of the pork. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning: Add the sliced onions to your slow cooker insert. Unwrap the pork and place on top of the onions. Pour the beer over the meat. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 8-10 hours.

When the meat has finished cooking, remove the bone and the layer of fat on the pork. Using forks or tongs, pull the pork apart into smaller pieces. Serve on buns with BBQ sauce.

pulled porkpulled pork 2pulled pork 3pulled pork 5pulled pork 4pulled pork 6*If you don’t drink or like cooking with alcohol, you can omit the beer. I’ve cooked this both ways and I like them both. But the beer adds just that little extra flavor. And I used a whole beer and only poured half of it over the meat. If you’re into morning drinking, finish the beer. If not, you can put it in the fridge and give it to your husband when he gets home from work. Mine asked me why the beer was so flat and why there was only half of it. But seriously, if your husband likes beer as much as mine, he really won’t mind.

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

pasta salad 3This is a copycat recipe. And it’s all in the name of saving money! There’s this fancy grocery store/market around the corner from me and they sell the inspiration for this sun dried tomato pasta salad. We had it from their salad bar before and it’s delicious. But the catch? I think they want my firstborn child to pay for it! It’s so incredibly expensive! For a large container, it’s like almost $20! It’s really tasty, but not $20 tasty! So I wrote down all the ingredients that were in it, (lo & behold, I had a lot of them in my fridge/pantry already) and gave it a whirl. Bingo! It’s pretty close. And it didn’t cost me $20 to make a cup of pasta salad. And it’s now my husband’s favorite pasta salad. Can’t beat that!

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Salad (this will serve a crowd)

  • 1 lb. penne rigate pasta
  • 1, 8 ounce jar sun dried tomato pesto (Classico is my fav)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/3 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 c. crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 c. pepperoncinis, chopped
  • 1/2 c. cubed/chunked mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. mayo (optional)*

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and let cool. When pasta is cool, add to a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir together and drizzle with a little more olive oil if pasta has become dry.

*Of course I had to add mayo into this. It adds a tad bit of creaminess but if you prefer, leave it out. I’ve done it both ways and they’re both delicious in my opinion.

pasta salad 2pasta saladpasta salad 4Serve this at your next BBQ. Steaks, chicken, burgers, hot dogs….. it goes with just about anything.

 

Marinated Rib Eyes with Garlic Butter

ribeye 2I’m going to keep on, keeping on. A grill post, AGAIN! But yes, the weather is right and when it is, we GRILL! This is my go to marinade for rib eyes. Which happens to be my favorite steak, besides filet mignon of course. I have to tell you that my dad is a butcher and has been my whole life. So I’ve had a love for steak since childhood!

This marinade may sound like it has a lot of ingredients but most likely, you should be able to find these items inside your pantry and fridge. Nothing too special but oh my, does it really flavor the meat! If that wasn’t enough, I made a compound butter to melt over the top of the steaks after they came off the grill. Is your mouth watering now??

Just a quick note about flavored butter/compound butter. Make this at home! I’ve seen commercials lately for this one specific brand in particular and I’ve also seen it at the store. And it’s expensive. Compound butter is so incredibly simple and easy to make at home and you can completely make it your own. So please do try it. This butter is also amazing on shrimp and chicken. Potatoes too. And roasted veggies. Well, mostly anything. It’s that good.

ribeye 3

HUGE steaks!

marinade for ribeyes

Marinade for the Rib Eyes

Marinade for Rib Eyes (makes enough for 2-3 LARGE steaks)

  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp. worchestire
  • 1 tbsp. rosemary, dried
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. sugar

Place all ingredients in a gallon sized Ziploc bag. Whisk together until combined and then add steaks. Place in fridge for at LEAST 6 hours, turning over once.

Time for the next component in the dish. Butter. And with goodies in it.

garlic butter 4

All ingredients in the food processor

garlic butter 3

Pulse it!

garlic butter 2

Try to make a log shape. Key word, TRY!

garlic butter

No that’s not a cigar, that’s delicious flavored butter

Garlic Compound Butter

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until nicely blended together. Spoon butter onto plastic wrap and roll up into a log/cylinder shape. Put in fridge until ready to use. This butter keeps really well in the freezer too.

To make the steaks : 30 minutes before you want to grill, take those steaks out and let come to room temperature. Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium or around 325 degrees. We cooked our steaks about 5 minutes per side, but they were really huge steaks! Like I’ve said before, I typically don’t time how long we cook our steaks so this is approximate. But we like our steak medium rare.

ribeye

Delicious cow goodness

After steaks are cooked, place on a plate and slice off some of that butter and put over the top. Cover with foil and let rest about 15 minutes. That butter will melt beautifully on that meat, making for a spectacular steak!

Steak+butter=LOVE

 

 

Grilled Romaine Hearts w/ Balsamic Dressing

grilled romaine 4It’s getting hot out! Well, at least here in my neck of the woods. Should hit the triple digits today. Know what that means? It means I DO NOT, and I repeat, I DO NOT, want to turn my oven on. Time to head outside to grill.

This recipe is great for a hot day, but I could eat it pretty much any time of year. If you’ve never had grilled salad before, try it out. It may sound strange but it’s oh so good! Really!

I like this salad best with balsamic dressing. If you don’t have time to make it yourself, there’s some really great store bought options out there. But I’ve included below a creamy balsamic dressing recipe that I found from Pinterest. It’s simply delightful. This salad is also great with just some extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar drizzled over the top. Your choice!

Grilled Romaine Hearts

3 romaine hearts, washed and cut in half lengthwise with the base slightly trimmed (you want the heart intact still)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

grilled romaine

Washed and drizzled with olive oil

grilled romaine 2

Cooking the salad? Weird, but delicious

grilled romaine 3

Get some good grill marks

Preheat your BBQ to a medium heat. An indoor grill pan will work too. Drizzle your romaine hearts with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place romaine hearts on the grill and let cook for a few minutes, until they start to brown and wilt slightly. Flip over and do the same to the other side. Once cooked, place on a plate, drizzle with dressing and freshly grated parmesan.

grilled romaine 5

Dig in!

Balsamic Dressing (original recipe at My Life as a Mrs.)

(makes 1 2/3 cups of dressing)

4 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning (I didn’t have this so I omitted this ingredient)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra light olive oil

Whisk together garlic, mayo, lemon juice, dijon mustard, sugar, Nature’s Seasoning, and salt until well combined. Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk well. Slowly add in the olive oil (while whisking). Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Vanilla Bean Fruit Dip

vb dip 6Did I have you at vanilla bean? Hope so! Well, I love the flavor of vanilla beans. But they’re expensive! Luckily, a friend told me about vanilla bean paste. Yay! Where has this product been my whole life? Sad that it took me so long to “discover” it, but glad I now have it in my possession. And I’m taking every opportunity available to use it.

vanilla bean paste

Me love you long time

That being said, I made this dip for Easter brunch last week. It was born out of necessity. I had some pretty strawberries and it was absolutely necessary that we have a cream cheesy type of dip to go with those red gems. First thing I thought of was this dip that my aunt made throughout my childhood. You’ve probably had it or something similar. Hers consisted of cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, and amaretto. And I always LOVED it when she brought that out. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any marshmallow fluff OR amaretto. But I did have turbinado sugar (think Sugar in the Raw). Which also reminded me of another childhood memory. Another aunt of mine would always serve strawberries with Sugar in the Raw whenever we came to visit. I also LOVED that whenever she brought it out. With those two memories in mind, this lovely dip was born.

Vanilla Bean Fruit Dip

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (or Neufchatel), softened
  • 1/2 c. sour cream (I used light)
  • 1/4 c. turbinado sugar (granulated sugar will do just fine too!)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste

Add the cream cheese to a stand mixer. You can also use a bowl and use a hand mixer. Beat cream cheese until smooth and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, etc. Whatever fruit you fancy.

vb dip 4

Lovin those specks of vanilla bean in there

Don’t save this recipe for holidays! I will definitely have this dip and some fruit at my next BBQ.

vb dip 3

This fruit dip is also great without fruit. And just on a spoon. Don’t judge me.