BBQ Pulled Pork

Since I don’t have time to roast a whole pig, the crock pot is an easy alternative for pulled pork and will give you the same great flavor. Pulled pork is awesome on sandwiches and is a great substitute to hamburgers and hot dogs at your next barbecue (or for the big game tomorrow!).

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 12 oz can of non diet root beer or coke
  • 18 oz bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays)
  • Hamburger or slider rolls

How to make it

  1. Place the pork in the crock pot and pour the soda over the meat.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Stir in barbecue sauce. Serve (Serves 6-8)

Helpful Hints

  • I find that pulled pork works better on smaller rolls. Try making a bunch of mini sliders for your next big event. Pssst…this will also make great nachos!
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Oven Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I use to carve pumpkins religiously every October until one Halloween when I cut open my left arm (3 stitches-yikes!). I started up again a couple of years ago motivated to try this recipe. So instead of tossing the innards of your pumpkin this year, save the seeds and make a tasty treat (or just go buy them at your local grocer).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds (make sure these are rinsed and dried out if you take them from your pumpkin)

How to make them

  1. Preheat over to 275°F
  2. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly
  3. Spread them out on a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet
  4. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally

Helpful Hints

  • If you are taking the seeds from your own pumpkin wash them off and give them a day or so to dry out. Place them on a paper towel and put them in the sun.
  • These will make great “fingernails” at your Halloween party!

Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com.

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Sunday Night Chili

Chili is a great meal to make on a Sunday so you can enjoy it all week long. It will smell so good by lunch time you won’t be able to keep yourself from having a bite (or two). If you plan it right, it will be ready just in time for Sunday Night Football!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (29 oz cans) tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can white kidney beans (or white beans), drained and rinsed

How to make it

  1. Place ground beef in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. Place onion, celery and green pepper into the same skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add everything to your crock pot and cook on low for at least 6 hours.
  5. Serve with some fresh cheddar cheese and a small dollop of sour cream (Serves 6-8).

Helpful Hints

  • Brown the beef and cook the veggies the night before. Measure out your spices and keep them in an air tight container so they are ready for you to pour in first thing in the morning.
  • Substitute half of the hamburger for lean ground turkey to save on some fat and calories.
  • Serve with tortilla chips or crusty bread!
  • Divide left overs into portions and bring them for lunch.

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com

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How to Make the Best Bacon

I love bacon and I’ve tried everything from pre-cooked bacon to beef bacon (this was an unfortunate grocery store accident – tastes like beef jerky). I’ve also tried a number of ways to cook it – frying pan, microwave, griddle. The best way to cook bacon? – The oven. Not only does it get your bacon crispy and delicious, it also lets you forget about it for 20 minutes while to prepare the rest of your meal.

Ingredients

  • One package of your favorite bacon (I like hickory smoked)
  • One baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil

How to Make it

  1. Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil
  2. Place flat strips of bacon on the baking sheet (about 1/4″ apart)
  3. Place the baking sheet in a cool oven
  4. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees
  5. Cook the bacon for 20 minutes
  6. After 20 minutes check to see if the bacon looks crispy (you might have to remove it from the oven to get a good look)
  7. If you still see some fat on the bacon leave it in for a couple more minutes
  8. Watch it carefully to make sure it does not burn

Helpful Hints

  • If you have more than one baking sheet of bacon you can put both trays in at the same time but it will take a little longer to cook
  • I love to make a batch of bacon on the weekend and use it on my sandwiches all week for lunch or a cobb salad for dinner.
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5 Ways to Make Your Veggies Taste Better

I love going to local farmers markets this time of year and usually spend my time browsing over the fresh veggies – rarely buying. I find that most fresh veggies go bad in my fridge so I like to stick with fresh frozen instead. However, recently I have found a new appreciation for fresh veggies after talking with my favorite veggie loving friend, Candace, about how she likes to prepare her fresh veggies.

Here are some of her best recipes and techniques.

1.Steaming

The correct way to cook your veggies on the stove top is to place about a cup of water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Turn it down to simmer and add your veggies. Cook until warm through.

Strain the excess liquid and add a little kosher salt and fresh pepper. A little butter never hurt either. Want a little more flavor? Add a tablespoon or two of your favorite cheese sauce or vinaigrette.

If you can spare the nine bucks, invest in a adjustable steamer basket. It will keep your veggies out of the water and cook them thoroughly.

2.Grilling

Drizzle olive oil on your chopped veggies (just enough to cover) or mist them with an Olive Oil Sprayer. Season with kosher salt and fresh pepper and place onto a grill set at medium-high. Cook, turning over once, until the veggies are tender and easily pierced with a fork.

Grilled veggies are great on salads, grains or by themselves!

3. Roasting

Spray or drizzle enough olive oil to just cover your chopped veggies. Season with kosher salt, fresh pepper, one clove of chopped garlic. Spread veggies out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees from 25-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the veggies are fork tender.

Try adding some chopped fresh herbs of your choice for a burst of flavor.

4. Sauteing

Chop veggies into small pieces and heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan on high. Harder veggies (broccoli and carrots) will take longer to cook than softer veggies (zucchini and tomatoes) so when the oil is hot add the harder veggies first. Continue to stir veggies on high until golden brown and fork tender.

Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the veggies will not brown evenly. If the pan becomes dry while cooking, add a tablespoon or two of vegetable stock, white wine or water to prevent sticking.

5. Green Smoothies

If you are feeling adventurous and need a refreshing drink, try a green smoothie. Add a chopped apple, a cup of baby spinach, juice of half a lemon and one cup of ice cold water into a blender. Blend until smooth. The acidity of the lemon will mask the bitterness of the spinach. Try any combination of fruits and veggies.  I love freezing berries to use in smoothies with a cup of yogurt and whatever other fruit happens to be laying around.

Don’t feel like cooking? Chop some veggies into sticks and enjoy with your favorite hummus, peanut butter or low fat dip.

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The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg (just in time for Easter)

I HATED egg yolks as a child. They were always greenish-gray, hard and grainy. Yuck. It turns out this is what happens when you don’t cook the egg correctly. I’m still not a huge fan, but these instructions will give you perfectly hard boiled eggs every time.

Ingredients

  • Eggs (2 weeks old are best and easiest to peel)
  • Cold water
  • Bowl of ice water

How to make them

  1. Put your eggs in a sauce pan, arranged in a single layer
  2. Pour in cold water, just enough to cover the tops of the eggs
  3. Cover the sauce pan with a lid
  4. Bring the water to a boil
  5. When the water starts boiling, remove it from the heat
  6. Let the pan sit for 10 minutes
  7. Put the eggs into the ice water
  8. Let them sit for 5 minutes
  9. Peel them, or start coloring!
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Surprisingly Healthy Shredded Buffalo Chicken

My favorite thing during happy hour (other than a pitcher of beer) is crispy, spicy buffalo wings. Unfortunately, fried buffalo wings are also ridiculously unhealthy. I use this recipe to save on fat and calories but maintain that great buffalo taste. It is great for sandwiches, salads, pizza or even nachos!

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 8oz of a 12 oz bottle of buffalo wing sauce (I like Franks RedHot Wing Sauce – save the rest for topping off your sandwich!)
  • 1 package of dry ranch dressing mix

How to make it

  1. Place the chicken in the crock pot and pour in about 8oz of wing sauce.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
  3. Shred the meat and add the dry ranch dressing mix.

Helpful Hints

  • Serve on rolls with provolone cheese and iceberg lettuce.
  • Add to your favorite pizza with blue cheese (click here for a quick pizza dough recipe)
  • Serve it on your favorite greens with blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • Substitute for beef on your nachos

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com

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Crispy Jalapeño Cornbread

One of our favorite restaurants, Los Altos Grill, serves the best jalapeño corn bread. I found this recipe on recipezaar.com and even though it isn’t exactly the same, it is pretty darn close. Unlike most cornbread I’ve tasted this recipe is moist, sweet, and has just the right amount of spice. This will go great with your corned beef and cabbage this St. Patty’s day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can creamed corn
  • 2 oz canned jalapeño peppers (about 1/2 of a small can)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese (shredded)
  • 4 eggs

How to make it

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
  2. Mix the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder and set aside
  3. Melt butter and combine with sugar, creamed corn and jalapeño peppers. Mix to combine
  4. Add eggs one-by-one and mix until well blended
  5. Add cheese
  6. Fold in flour mixture until well mixed (clumps are okay)
  7. Spray a 9X13 dish or muffin tin with cooking spray
  8. Pour in cornbread batter
  9. Bake 40-60 minutes (depending on pan size-30 minutes for muffins) or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

Helpful Hints

  • This cornbread will come out extra crispy in a cast iron skillet. Place the skillet in a cool oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. After preparing the batter, remove the skillet from the oven and coat in vegetable oil. Pour in batter (Be careful! It might splatter) and cook for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  • For some extra sweetness and crunch, mix an egg white and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. When your cornbread is done, brush egg white and sugar mixture on the top and place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • If it isn’t getting as brown as you would like but a toothpick is coming out clean, turn on the broiler and set it under it for a minute or two. Watch it closely because it will burn really quickly.
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Emergency Pizza Dough

Friday night means pizza night! If you’re still ordering delivery, it’s time to change up your game plan. Making pizza is fun, inexpensive and easier than you might think. I usually buy pre-made dough from Trader Joe’s (whole wheat is my fav) but if I don’t have any on hand I go to this trusty backup.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup of milk

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix
  3. Add the egg and the milk
  4. Form into a ball of dough
  5. If you are making a round pizza:
    1. Spray your pan with cooking spray
    2. Dust it with cornmeal (optional)
    3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into desired shape
    4. Put dough onto pan and bake for 10 minutes
  6. If you are making a rectangular pizza
    1. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray
    2. Dust with cornmeal (optional)
    3. Press dough evenly into baking sheet
    4. Bake for 10 minutes
  7. Add your toppings and bake for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Helpful Hints

  • Spice up your dough. Literally. Add 1 tablespoon of dried or 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs in with the wet ingredients to add some more flavor. I recommend oregano or Italian seasoning.
  • If you are using a pizza stone, it is really important to use cornmeal to prevent sticking. I learned the hard way…
  • Don’t have tomato sauce? Try using bbq sauce with left over chicken, some red onion and whatever else you have on hand.
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Game Day Guacamole

This may sound crazy, but the first time I had guacamole I was 23 and visiting California for the first time (Taco Bell is as authentic as Mexican food gets in upstate NY). If you only make one thing for the big game this weekend, make guacamole. Who knows, maybe you’ll expose your friends to something new and different.

This recipe is courtesy of Alton Brown. I’ve tried a bunch of guacamole recipes and this is my favorite. The others are either too complicated, bland or add sour cream (which hides the star of this dish, avocado).

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe Haas avocados, halved, seeded and scooped (need help?)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

How to make it

  1. In a large bowl place the scooped avocado and the lime juice
  2. Toss to coat the avocado
  3. Drain the remaining lime juice and reserve it
  4. Add the salt, cumin and cayenne and use a potato masher to mash the avocado and incorporate the ingredients
  5. Fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro and garlic
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice
  7. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour so the flavors meld together
  8. Serve with tortilla or pita chips

Helpful Hints

  • An avocado is ripe when it is soft to the touch. If it feels loose in it’s skin, it’s too ripe. If it feels hard, it isn’t quite ready.
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