Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hockey Tailgating

Here in Carolina we do something special. We tailgate during hockey games. Walking through the parking lots at the RBC Center you will find people hanging out, grilling, and having some beverages. As long as the weather will tolerate us, anyway! Since we don't have a small, portable grill, we enjoy some barbecue before our games.

We first made this recipe during a crock-pot feast after beer fest. It was really easy to make and super delicious as well. We ate this on small slider size rolls with some coleslaw and it was enjoyed by all. The recipe calls it South Carolina Pulled Pork, but the only SC barbecue I've had was mustard-base, and this is cooked in vinegar, which is generally what we have in this area of NC. So I have consequently renamed the recipe. No big deal, right?!

Sorry for the poor quality pictures, I will attempt to replace them next time we make this!

North Carolina Pulled Pork (Crock-Pot Style)
adapted from

3 lbs. pork shoulder
1 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. paprika
4 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 c. apple cider vinegar

Mix the onion powder, paprika, 1 tbsp. brown sugar, chili powder, allspice, and black pepper. Remove one tbsp. of the spice mixture. Rub the remainder of the mixture evenly all over the pork. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap and let stand at least one hour or refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown all sides of the pork. Transfer the pork to a slow-cooker. Add the vinegar, reserved spice mixture, and the remaining 3 tbsp. of brown sugar to the slow-cooker. Cover the cooker and cook for 6 to 10 hours, until the pork is fork tender.

Remove the pork and shred with two forks. Add some tabasco sauce to the cooker liquid, if desired. Return the pork to the cooker and toss to coat with the liquid. Serve immediately on rolls with some coleslaw, if that's how you like your barbecue sandwiches! Trust me, you will enjoy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Good Staple

So a few months ago I set out to make an apple crisp. I googled recipes and searched blogs. I just wanted something basic, with ingredients I already had on hand. I even asked my sister, you know, the baker in the family. She is the self-professed Queen of Crisps, and since she never brags, if she says that it must be true. I found many variations with interesting add-ins and odd fruits and flavors. I just couldn't find a simple apple crisp recipe.
I know it sounds silly. Lots of online sources and my sister tried to explain to me how to make the topping. A little flour, a little melted butter, and some brown sugar. Somehow I came out with a version of a pie crust. Or maybe it was cobbler? I don't honestly have any idea what it was, but it was most certainly not a crust. This story really just goes to prove that it's not in my head that I MUST have a recipe to follow, at least the first time.

So while many of you probably know how to make an apple crisp, I am posting this for those of you like me that truly need a recipe, even for something seemingly as simple as crisp topping. And this one was certainly delicious. As evidenced by the bowl licked clean by the hubby and his brother. Thanks Betty Crocker!

Apple Crisp
from Betty Crocker

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. oats
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 c. margarine or butter (melted)

apples (about 5 medium)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the apples in a baking dish, about 8 x 8. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until crumbs form. Spread evenly over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and crispy. Serve with ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

Hmm, typing this now, I feel kind of dumb. Oh well, variations could include:
-adding nuts to the topping
-adding some lemon juice to brighten up the apples
-adding a cinnamon/sugar mixture to the apples themselves

Enjoy, no matter how you make your crisp!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

Yes, please! (One of) the awesome things about having Canadian friends is getting to celebrate an early Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving food is so delicious, and a lot of it only gets eaten once a year. I mean, what's up with that? Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, veggies, and pie... I understand saving up the quantity, but there's no reason not to eat some of these at other times.

Anyway, we were fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate Thanksgiving on October 11 (well, technically it was October 10) with some great friends. They pulled out all the stops and had a great spread. Most everyone contributed something. I decided to bring a little of the South to the feast.

Last year during Thanksgiving I made Sweet Potato Casserole Candied Yams Who the Heck Knows Anyway?! for the hubs and his family. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but they raved over it and I'm pretty sure someone even said it was the best they'd ever had. I think the trick was using fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned yams. Anyway, I offered it up again this year and have to say I was even more pleased. Last year I tried them and thought it was iffy. This year the potatoes (from a local farm) were amazing and full of flavor and the slightly toasted marshmallows on top added a great crunch.

I'm quite sure these will be making an appearance at American Thanksgiving too!

Allison's Southern Sweet Potatoes (there, I renamed it)

can feed up to 15 people if served as a side

5 lbs. of sweet potatoes (the fresher - and more local - the better!)
2 - 4 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 c. small marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the sweet potatoes with the skins still on them. Enjoy the amazing, sweet smells that fill the kitchen. When the potatoes are tender (when poked with a fork), remove them from the water. Cut them in the half (or in quarters) and slide the skin off. Cut the remaining chunks into bite size pieces.

Place one half of the potatoes in a shallow rectangular baking dish (I used 9 x 13). Top with 1 - 2 tbsp. of butter (cut into small cubes) and up to 1/4 c. of the brown sugar. Layer the remaining potatoes on top. Cover these with the remaining small cubes of butter and the remaining brown sugar. Evenly place the marshmallows on top of this layer.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the marshmallows are slightly toasted and you can see the melted sugar and butter boiling in the bottom of the dish (if you can't see this, it's ok).

Seriously, try this! Even if you're not sure if you like sweet potatoes... a lot of people felt the same and still enjoyed this (or at least lied to me)!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Perfect Fall Cookies

Well, things have been busy around here! Luckily they have been busy with lots of things I have to share with you! This past weekend has included a beer fest, a meal o' crock pots, and Canadian Thanksgiving. So there is much to come! First, however, I'm going to bring you an excellent fall cookie recipe.

Of course, I'm always wishing my sister was around to do the baking for me, but since that's not the case I had to step it up. I saw the recipe for this on Brown Eyed Baker and knew that I would love the pumpkin cookie and hubby would love the cream cheese icing. Anyone who knows him and me knows that we make an excellent couple because I eat the cake and he eats the icing we're always looking out for each other. Anyway, I saw these and wanted to make them for him. I saw the perfect opportunity when the pops and the bro-in-law came to visit this weekend.

This recipe is phenomenal. The cookies are soft and moist and the icing is delicious. My only comment is that the icing was just slightly grainy from the powdered sugar. It tasted great as is, and you couldn't tell when it was sandwiched in between two cookies (who do you think was eating the icing alone?) but I might cut down the sugar by 1/4 cup next time.

I halved this recipe, but sort of regret it and wish I had made the whole thing. This is the original recipe.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
not really adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

for the whoopie pies:
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. sugar
1 c. dark or light brown sugar
1 c. canola or vegetable oil
3 c. canned pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

for the filling:
3 c. powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 c. butter (room temperature)
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or just use non-stick. Whisk the sugar and brown sugar and the oil together. Add the canned pumpkin and whisk together. Lastly, add the vanilla and eggs together and continue to whisk until well-combined.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the flour is combined. Use a large spoon to drop rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are just beginning to crack. Let the cookies cool completely.

To make the filling beat the butter on medium with an electric mixer until it is smooth. Add in the cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth once more. Add the powdered sugar, about 1/3 - 1/2 cup at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and maple syrup and beat until combined.

Assemble the cookies by spreading (or piping) the filling onto half the cookies. Top them with the other half. If you're my husband, spread some more icing on top of the sandwich. Otherwise enjoy as is!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mom's Muffins

Wow. So... sorry for the disappearance. I had such great intentions. The whole month of September got away! There was actually a week in there where the most I cooked was making a grilled cheese sandwich. But there was some good kitchen time in there as well. I do have a bit of a backlog of recipes that I want to share, and am also really looking forward to the soups and comfort foods that come with fall cooking. I promise to make October awesome and share a lot of great stuff in the coming weeks!

For now, here is a recipe for another one of our family favorites. Mom has an amazing muffin recipe. Until now, my sister and I have joked that we could never imagine making these on our own because it's always what Mom makes when we go home. That was until I woke up this morning craving muffins, and Mom wasn't here! I had to take matters into my own hands and whip some up.

These are super easy, and you probably have all the necessary ingredients in your pantry already. They're really simple, but the finishing step of cinnamon and sugar on top of melted butter totally makes them amazing. They will probably take about 30 minutes from start to finish, so even waking up hungry doesn't have to stop you from making them!

Mom's Muffins

1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg. Add in the milk and vegetable oil. Beat all in the dry ingredients until the flour is moistened but the batter is still lumpy. Either grease a muffin pan or use cupcake liners. Pour the batter into the muffin cups so they are about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately remove from the pan. Melt the butter. Mix the cinnamon and 1/3 c. sugar together. Roll the muffins in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Eat and don't forget to lick the paper clean!