Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Nobody loves a good deal quite like my mother. I’ve observed her thrifty ways for years and admired each and every incredible deal that she has scored. She can tell you which Marshall’s has the best home goods, and which TJ Maxx has the best deal on workout clothes. She knows all the great online shopping sites and somehow always manages to get beautiful clothes and shoes for half the price. But her latest spot for scoring a good deal is a bit more old fashioned. Estate Sales. She’ll flip through the newspaper to find which old homes around town are hosting estate sales and off she goes. She has found some beautiful old furniture, a plethora of bakery style cookie sheets and cupcake pans, and most recently, a slow cooker. And the best part? Not only are these items found at half the price, but they are in great condition as well. So when she brought home a slow cooker in perfect condition, I knew I had to test it out with a recipe I’ve been saving. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. This recipe is incredibly easy and only has a handful of steps to complete before your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of slow cooked barbeque. You can choose to cook the pork for longer at a low heat, or if you are short on time, you can cook it on high. Both methods result in a tender and flavorful batch of pulled pork that is delicious with or without barbeque sauce. Personally, I like my pulled pork with just a drizzle of barbeque sauce and a scoop of tangy cole slaw. The perfect summer dish brought to you by my mother’s incredible bargain hunting skills.

Ingredients: Recipe from Chow.com, Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon packed  brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt),
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place thinly sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker pot and cover with chicken broth
  2. In a small bowl, combine next five ingredients (brown sugar through cinnamon) and rub mixture over pork
  3. Place pork over onion layer and cover. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours, or cook on low for 8 to 10 hours
  4. After pork has cooked through, use tongs to remove pork pieces from the slow cooker (it should be very tender and fall off the bones)
  5. Place pork in a bowl and use two forks to shred pork
  6. Mix in barbeque sauce, if desired

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Scenes from the Summer

 

It’s hard to believe it’s already mid August. I feel like Memorial Day was mere days ago, yet here we are facing the end of yet another summer season. The summertime always seems to be chock full of fun events, quick vacations, and for me, very little time spent in the kitchen. Cozy nights of baking are few and far between in favor of evening walks with my best friend Anne, or quick adventures to new restaurants and breweries with Eric. So instead of a recipe, today I thought I would share a few photos showing what I’ve been up to these last few months. And not to worry, as soon as the temperatures start to cool, I will find my way back to the kitchen for plenty of new recipes and stories.

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Dancing the night away at Kerri’s Wedding

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Winery Tour in Traverse City, Michigan

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Seared Salmon with Shrimp Pesto Risotto at Palate in Petosky, Michigan #bestthingieverate

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My mama and some Mackinaw Island fudge

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Bridesmaid Dress shopping with my beautiful best friends. Only missing our Leona!

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Finally getting to see my best friend Lo perform her original music. ❤ LoJo and the Truth!

Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins

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I love the way food can induce so many different memories. Sometimes it’s an old cherished family recipe that will bring you back to a different time in your life. But sometimes it’s as simple as a childhood snack that can flood your mind with memories. This past weekend I had the urge to make some homemade blueberry muffins and I was suddenly reminded of one of my favorite childhood snacks. My mom used to always buy my brother and I those packaged blueberry mini muffins for an after school treat. Those 4 tiny muffins, studded with sweet blueberries always take me back to the days I spent in my Catholic school uniform chasing after my big brother. I remember being in Kindergarden and hating the time I had to spend without Sean. He was in the 3rd grade and went to school all day, whereas I was only in my Kindergarden class until noon. Since I couldn’t quite tell time, he would tell me he would be home right after Barney was on. And as soon as Barney ended I would run to the window  patiently waiting for my friend to return home. My mom recently told me that there were a few times Sean was set to go to a friend’s house after school, but would ask if his friends could come over to our house instead because he knew how sad I would get when he was gone. And here we are, 20 years later and I still absolutely love hanging out with my big brother. My best friend LT brought Sean as her date to our friend’s wedding this past weekend and we had a blast. It’s funny, because there were a few of my old friends there who had never met Sean and I’m sure they were surprised at how different we seem. I was always known for being a bit quiet and reserved, whereas Sean is the life of the party and pretty much captures the attention of every room he enters. And though we may be opposite in a number of ways, we do have one very important thing in common. We will always be each other’s first friend. And I think that is one of my favorite parts of growing up with a sibling. It teaches you early on to make friend’s with people who are different than you. Because those are the friendships that teach you more about yourself and really help you grow.

And these were the thoughts that came to mind as I was peacefully whipping up these classic blueberry muffins. They filled the kitchen with the delicious homey smell of butter and sugar reminding me of childhood afternoons spent at the kitchen counter. These muffins pair tangy lemon juice with sweet blueberries, and the contrasting flavors pair really well for a deliciously nostalgic treat.

Ingredients: Makes 14 muffins, adapted from Forget Those Calories 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup yogurt(I used vanilla greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon zest and juice
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (baking soda through flour)
  4. Slowly beat dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined (mixture will be crumbly)
  5. Beat yogurt into batter until just combined
  6. Stir in blueberries
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into greased muffin tins
  8. For the streusel topping, combine all streusel ingredients (melted butter through brown sugar) and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoonful of topping over unbaked muffins
  9. Place muffins in the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes

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Faygo Cola Baby Back Ribs

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New Yorkers may have their cheesecake and Chicagoans may have their deep dish pizza, but here in Detroit we have Faygo. If you aren’t from Michigan you may not have heard of Faygo, but it’s a Detroit brand of pop (or soda) that comes in a ton of fun flavors. From Orange Crush to Rock n Rye to Pineapple, Faygo has pretty much every flavor of pop covered. So it came as no surprise that a Faygo recipe contest was held here in Michigan a few years back. Winning recipes included Rock n Rye Braised Pot Roast and Pineapple Faygo Pound Cake. But the recipe that really stuck out to me was the Grand Prize winning Faygo Cola Ribs. I received the Faygo recipe contest cookbook for Christmas, and have been waiting for barbeque season to give this winning recipe a try. And this past weekend I made the Faygo Cola ribs for my family, and we were blown away by just how good they were. And the recipe is so easy that it made me wonder why I don’t make ribs more often. The ribs were incredibly tender and the meat fell off the bone easily. The Faygo Cola barbeque sauce was slightly spicy, and full of flavor. Definitely the perfect new recipe to try for your Memorial Day Barbeque this weekend. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 6-7 , Recipe adapted slightly from the Faygo Recipe Cookbook

  • 6 pounds of baby back pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Faygo cola
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Preparation:

  1. Place ribs on a large cutting board and use a paring knife to remove the white fatty membrane from the underside of the ribs (the side closest to the bone)
  2. Rub ribs with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning and place in a large roasting pan and cover with tin foil
  3. Place ribs in the oven, and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours
  4. To make the Faygo barbeque sauce, combine next 8 ingredients in a large bowl (garlic salt through hot sauce)
  5. After ribs have cooked for the first hour and a half, remove from oven and pour Faygo barbeque sauce evenly over the ribs
  6. Cover ribs with tin foil, and return them to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours of cooking time
  7. Remove ribs from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving

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Pina Colada Bars

I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen lately…I’ve been too busy going to fun places like Margaritaville!

If you’ve never heard of Margaritaville, you need to get your hands on some Jimmy Buffet music asap. His music is the perfect summer soundtrack and instantly transports you to a breezy island shore land. And for me, it usually transports me to my childhood. Because thanks to my dad, Jimmy Buffet music was also the soundtrack of my childhood. We always had Jimmy’s tropical songs about boats, beaches and “island time” drifting through our house. My dad even played Jimmy Buffet during my soccer practices…so all my friends from grade school know all about Jimmy and his classic “Fins.” So I’m sure you can understand my excitement when Jimmy Buffet himself came to Detroit for one of his fantastic summer concerts and we got tickets. But his concerts are a bit more than a few hours of great music. Jimmy Buffet fans, or “Parrot Heads” camp out for a full day of tropical tailgating before the concert. So what do you bring to a tropical tailgate? This dessert. Chock full of coconut, pineapple & lime, these Pina Colada bars are the perfect summer dessert. The bars are incredibly moist and decadent with a sweet and tangy pineapple glaze. I would suggest you whip these bars up, make yourself a boat drink and turn up the Buffet tunes, and soon you’ll be a Parrot Head too.

 

Ingredients: Makes 9 bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • lime zest from 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  3. Beat in coconut extract, lime juice & zest
  4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt
  5. Slowly add dry ingredients into butter mixture and beat until well combined
  6. Stir coconut and white chocolate chips into batter
  7. Spread batter into a greased 9 x 9 baking dish
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes
  9. For the glaze, whisk powdered sugar and pineapple juice together
  10. Drizzle glaze over cooled bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Nothing quite stirs up the nostalgia of childhood summers like that first chilly bite into a sweet, ice cream cookie sandwich. I can remember running down the street after the ice cream truck to claim the delicious prize of creamy … Continue reading