Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls

Tuesday’s are my crockpot days.  Darling Hubby has his weekly gaming session at the local game store and I take the boys to the local library for the “It’s Elementary” kids club program and to check out some new books.   Darling Hubby usually gets home before the kids and I do and wants to get in and out so he can get to the store and I’m not in the mood to cook a full meal when we get back, therefore, I like to have a meal already ready and waiting for us. Tonight will be Apricot Pulled Pork Sandwiches, served on freshly homemade toasted Kaiser rolls, french fries and baby carrots with dip.  It already smells amazing in here!

Apricot Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4lb boneless pork roast, trimmed of fat

2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
10-12 kaiser rolls, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients. Place pork roast in crockpot. Pour apricot mixture over roast and cook on low 8-9 hours.

Transfer pork to cutting board, cool slightly and shred with forks. Skim fat from liquid in crockpot.

Blend water, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and pepper until smooth. Whisk into crockpot liquid. Cook 15-30 mins on high, uncovered, until thickened (sauce can also be done on the stovetop if you are in a hurry.) Return shredded pork to crockpot, mix well. Serve on toasted buns.

I use this receipe for my kaiser rolls.  I use the bread machine method for the dough.  So much better than store bought and I know exactly what is in them!

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

When someone mentions Shepherd’s Pie I immediately think of something with beef, gravy and mashed potatoes.  I’d planned to use some chicken to make a pot pie, but Darling Hubby suggested I use up some more of the leftovers we had in the fridge, so I pulled out a pound of cooked chicken and parmesan mashed potatoes (leftover from Bug’s 9th birthday a few days ago), some green beans from dinner yesterday, some frozen corn and peas, and Velveeta cheese and made a yummy dinner.  Bug was already asking me to make it again before he’d even finished his first bowl (yes, he had seconds in addition to eating the leftover kale and kidney beans, also left over from his birthday dinner.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures while I was cooking, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Cheesy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie
1 lb cooked chicken, cut into chunks
10 oz of frozen or leftover veggies (I used cooked green beans and frozen corn and peas)
8oz of Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks
freshly ground pepper
2Tbsp unsalted butter
2Tbsp flour
1 cup hot water
Mashed potatoes (2 cups will probably be enough – I didn’t measure exactly)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375*

Put the chicken, veggies and Velveeta in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the cheese starts to melt.  Stir gently and frequently until all the cheese melts and everything is coated.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and combine with the flour.  Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.  Gently whisk in the water and heat til bubbly.  Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the chicken mixture is coated with cheese, taste and season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt), pour into an 8×8 pyrex square baking dish.  When the gravy is done, pour that over the chicken mixture.  Do not stir.

If, like me, you are using leftover mashed potatoes, warm them in the microwave for a minute or 2 until spreadable.  Spread around on the top of the gravy.  Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the cheese is brown.

Enjoy!

Prep time was about 25-30 mins, cook time 20-25 mins.

Tips and additions:

If, unlike us, you like onions and want to add them, saute a few in a little butter before adding the chicken, veggies and cheese.
Hubby added some rosemary to his portion.
This would be yummy with leftover turkey…maybe try this after Thanksgiving.

White Bread – Bread Machine and Oven

I love having a bread machine since it does all the kneading and rises for you, but I just hate that once it bakes it has a giant hole in the bottom from the kneading paddle.   I looked through a cookbook I have and found a method that I could combine with my bread machine to make my dough and bake it in loaf pans to prevent that hole in the middle.  As my 2 year old would say, “Score!”

This recipe makes 2 1lb loves (or if you just want to use your machine, one 2lb loaf).

  • 1 1/4 cups water (80*F)
  • 3 Tbsp oil (you can olive oil or even apple sauce to make this soy free!)
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups bread flour (you can use AP, but bread flour works best)
  • 2 tsp yeast, warmed to room temp.   I use Fleishman’s bread machine yeast that’s in the refrigerated section.

Warm you yeast to room temperature.  Place all the ingredients into the machine in the order suggested by your bread machine’s manufacturer.  Use the dough setting.  When the machine is finished, punch down the dough and divide it into equal portions.  I use my kitchen scale to weigh them out.

Grease your loaf pans.  I use olive oil rubbed around with a paper towel to keep this soy free, but you can use spray oil.  Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, roll each ball into a rectangle no wider than your loaf pan.  Rolling out the dough squeezes out all the air bubbles that can create holes in your loaf.   Roll the dough up jelly roll style starting with the short side and place seam side down in your greased pan.  Repeat for 2nd loaf.

You want to let your bread rise in a warm place until it’s the size you want it to be (I usually go to just above the edge of the pan.)  Since we keep our house cooler in the winter and spring I end up warming my oven slightly (to about 80*) and putting my towel covered loaf pans in to warm.  It takes about 1 1/2 – 2 hours to rise completely.  I check my ovens temp every half hour or so just to make sure it’s still warm.

When the rise is complete, remove loaves from oven, if using it, and preheat to 375*F.  Bake for 30 mins and let cool in pans on wire racks.  Remove from the pans by sliding a knife around the edges and cool completely before storing.

Loaves freeze well.  I end up making 2 loaves and freezing 1.  I just use a gallon size freezer bag.  It comes out just as fresh as when it was made.  I store all bread in the refrigerator in a gallon freezer bag and cut slices as needed.

Enjoy!

Rhubarb Cream Pie Recipe

Rhubarb is in season and it’s plentiful.  Last year I first heard of a rhubarb cream pie.  It’s something my Darling Hubby had when he was growing up.  My family only ever made sweetened rhubarb boiled down and eaten straight out of a bowl.  This pie is really yummy and is one of my new favorites for the spring.

You can use your favorite double crust recipe, but this is my favorite go to pie crust.  It’s flavorful and flaky (and in my case, can be made soy free!)  The original recipe is written to make 2 double crust pies, but I’ve halved it for you in brackets, so if you want to make one double crust pie, please use the number in ().

  • 4 cups flour (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cup shortening (I use butter and find it is so much better and is soy free!) (3/4 cup) (1 1/2 sticks butter)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (1/8 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp vinegar (1/2 tsp)
  • 1 egg, beaten (1)
  • cold water to = 1 cup (1/2 cup)

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together and cut in butter or shortening til you have course chunks.  Set aside.  In a liquid measuring cup mix vinegar and the beaten egg and add enough cold water to equal 1 cup (1/2 cup).  Pour liquid into dry and mix til dough forms.  Roll on a floured surface and line the pie pan bottom.  Prick with a fork all over and add filling.

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks.  Frozen is ok to use, just rinse and extend cooking time to 1 hour

Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, eggs and rhubarb in a large bowl.  Pour into prepared pie crust.  Top with remaining crust (lattice if you so desire), or cut slits for venting and bake 50-60 mins at 400* F.

Let cool and enjoy!

Strawberry Cake From Scratch

Bug’s birthday party was scheduled for February 4th and if I wanted to share in the festivities and eat cake, I had to find one that was ok for me to eat.  All the boxed mixes contain soy.  Bug loves strawberries and asked for a strawberry cake (chocolate was easy, but not strawberry) and that left me to find a homemade strawberry cake…there are some out there, but they all use strawberry gelatin and not having a box in front of me I didn’t know if there would be soy or natural flavors included…plus I didn’t want the added food coloring, especially since I was already planning on dying the frosting red, green, blue and yellow.

Then I stumbled upon this little gem or a recipe.  Rather than strawberry gelatin it used real strawberry puree!  Score!

Here’s the recipe copied from the above link.

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour (sifted)  (I used All Purpose flour, sifted)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter , room temp (2 sticks)
  • 1 ¼ cupssugar
  • 2 teaspoons strawberry extract (you can use vanilla if you can’t find strawberry)
  • 1 cup whole milk , room temp
  • 3 eggs , room temp
  • ¾ cup pureed fresh strawberries(or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest(I left this out)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

    My ingredients

Directions:

Thaw (if necessary) strawberries and puree.  Bring butter, eggs, and milk to room temperature.

Combine sifted flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time; mix well after each addition. Next add pureed strawberries and extract and combine well. Gradually add the flour (and baking powder) and the milk alternating between them until completely mixed. Then add lemon zest and juice and mix well.

Lightly grease and flour a 13 X 9 pan or (2) 8″ round pans. Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Oven times may vary.  (Mine was done in 30 minutes, the recipes author did two 8″ pans that were done in 25.)

The cake just out of the oven.  It smelled delish, really just like a boxed strawberry cake, only better!

So the verdict…Darling Hubby asked me to make it again, leaving the frosting off.  My complaint was that it didn’t bake up fluffy like a traditional cake, though that might have been because I used AP flour rather than cake flour.  It was dense, more like a fudge brownie than cake.  It had good flavor, though.  Most of the kids ate it, but by the time we had cake they’d filled up on fruits and veggies.  lol  Despite the cake being soy free, it appears that butter is going to be another issue, but we knew that was a possibility.  Hopefully when my gut heals from all the soy damage I’ll be able to introduce milk and butter again (cheese seems to be ok for now).

Oh, and if you want to see the finished decorated cake, here ya go.

I followed the recipe for Wilton’s Fluffy Boiled frosting from the can of meringue powder and dyed it red, blue, yellow and green (the primary lego brick colors).  The red was a hit…I just hope it washed off the faces of our guests!  lol  Hopefully I’ll find time to write about the party tomorrow.  The day has gotten away from me and I have things to do before Darling Hubby gets home.  🙂

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

My husband loves Reeses Peanut Butter cups and this pie comes close to recreating that in a pudding pie.  It’s so delicious and easy to throw together. I’m not sure of where I found the original recipe for this (it’s possible it was on a cream cheese or cool whip package.)  I apologize in advance for the less than stellar photographs of a quarter of a pie…it’s seriously so good that it disappears so fast!

IngredientsPeanut Butter Cup Pie
8oz package of cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter + 1 Tbsp, divided
1 package (3.4 oz) of vanilla pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
2.5 cups (8oz) cool whip, thawed & divided
3 squares semis-sweet bakers chocolate
1 Oreo, chocolate or graham cracker crust

Directions
Mix the cream cheese and 1/2 cup peanut butter together until smooth.  Add the pudding mix and the cold milk and blend until well mixed.  Whisk in 1 cup of the cool whip.  Pour filling mix into the crust and refrigerate until ready to use.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie Top ViewIn a microwave safe bowl, combine the remaining 1.5 cups of cool whip and the bakers chocolate.  Microwave on high 1.5-2 mins, stirring after each minute, until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Cool completely (placing in the freezer for a few minutes speeds up this process.)

When the chocolate mixture is cool, spread over the pudding mixture in the pie crust.  In a small microwaveable container, warm the last Tbsp of peanut butter for approximately 30 seconds and drizzle over the chocolate topping.

Recommended chill time is 4 hours…it usually doesn’t sit that long in our house!  Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Meatloaf

When someone mentions comfort food, I usually think of Thanksgiving dinner, and with Thanksgiving in 2 weeks I’m already drooling for the roast turkey (check out Alton Brown’s Roast Turkey – it’s the best, ever!), mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes with toasted mini marshmallows (or baked since Darling Hubby doesn’t care for the marshmallows), green beans and who could forget cranberry sauce.  Mmm…makes my tummy rumble just thinking about it…But, in today’s busy world, who has time to cook a turkey with all the fixin’s for dinner during the work week when you are craving that comfort food?  Well, aside from me, being a stay at home mom, not many people do.

I don’t know if this recipe exists in the world already, but it’s something that I made up based on another meatloaf recipe.  I like to call it Thanksgiving Dinner Meatloaf.  It’s nice served with mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes and marshmallows if you desire) and veggies to round out your weeknight meal.

Ingredients:

2lbs ground turkey
1 6oz package of your favorite stuffing mix (turkey flavored)
1 cup water
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, divided
1/4 cup of dried cranberries (optional)
2 eggs, beaten

Mix the turkey, dried stuffing mix, water, 1/4 cup of the cranberry sauce, dried cranberries and the eggs together until well combined.  I do this in a bowl with my hands, but you can also put everything in a large zip top bag and mix it that way.  Shape into a loaf and place on a rack on a sheet pan (or on another pan that will allow for drainage of any grease).  Top with remaining cranberry sauce.  Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours at 375*F until internal temperature reaches 165*F.

Slice and serve with your desired fixin’s and enjoy!