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Category Archives: Entertaining Ideas

Pork Carnitas

This pork is the bomb.com.  It is amazing because it’s done in the slow cooker and it only takes a few ingredients.  This pork is so amazing that a couple of friends took cupfuls home as a “snack” for the drive home haha (even after tupperware was offered).  I found this recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com, and used other reviewers advice and doubled the spice rub (which is how I’m listing it below).

It is rich and slightly sweet and overall completely yummy!

1, 3-4 pound pork shoulder roast (I used bone in roast)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried crumbled oregano

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

4 bay leaves

2 cups chicken broth

Mix together all the spices.  I used about a 3 pound roast with the bone in and was using a smaller crock pot, so I actually cut the roast in half.  This did work out well so that I could coat more of the roast with the spice mixture.  Rub the spices all over the roast, you want to make sure it is covered and that you really rub it in.

Place the bay leaves in the bottom of the pot and place the coated roast on top.    Pour the chicken broth around the roast, being careful not to rinse the spice mixture off.

Roast the pork on low until it shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours.  The original recipe advised to flip the roast after 5 hours, which I did do (though several reviews said that this is unnecessary).  Carefully find and remove the bay leaves.  Some reviewers said to remove the pork, shred and place on a baking sheet and cook the pork on a fairly high temperature to crisp up the meat.  But, for my taco bar, I just shredded the meat and left it right in the crock pot.

Sooo delicious!  I will definitely be making it again very soon.

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Fiesta! Fiesta!

This post is LONG over due!  It has been a crazy and exciting couple of weeks for me, and I have been terrible about turning on my oven or computer!  The reason I have been so overwhelmed is because I got a new job!  I started at The American Heart Association and love it so far!  I’m getting a hang of the schedule, and am getting caught up here.

Luckily I have lots of goodies to post!  And appropriately, several of the upcoming posts are for a fiesta I had recently.  If getting a job with your dream organization doesn’t give cause for a celebration, I don’t know what does!

 

My sister and brother-in-law gave me 3 section crock pot (a completely fantastic Christmas gift!) and I had been itching for months to use it.  It is perfect for a taco bar!  I made pork carnitas, chicken fajitas, and ground beef for the tacos, chips and fresh salsa and guacamole and cheesy Mexican rice.  And a pitcher of margaritas (ok, it was 2 pitchers!)

 

I found sombreros a the dollar store, perfect for decor and fun props!  I used a table clothe with peppers all over it and red and white silver ware.  My friend and I both made some colorful tissue paper pom poms to brighten up my place.

 

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Mini Scrambled Egg Muffins

This was a really great dish to entertain with, it was easy to put together and was easy to put in the oven and forget about while I got other things ready.  You can customize this very easily, and just throw in whatever you like!  These also tastes great the next day after about 20 seconds in the microwave.  I think these would also freeze well.  I will probably be making a batch of these to freeze, soon and will confirm this theory!

This made 20 mini muffins.

8 eggs

1 TBS heavy whipping cream (I just had a little bit of this on hand, you could definitely substitute milk)

2 TBS mayonnaise

1/2 pound of sausage

1/2 can fire roasted tomatoes

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

Brown the sausage in a skillet.

Crack eggs into a large bowl and add the cream or milk.  Scramble gently.  Add in the mayonnaise (it helps give the eggs a nice puff while baking) and mix again.  Add in the sausage, cheese and tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies).  Make sure it is combined well, but don’t over mix it.  Line your muffin tin with only the foil cupcake liners.  Spoon in the egg mixture into the each opening, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 until they have risen a bit and are don’t give any wiggle in the middle when you jiggle the pan, about 20-25 minutes.

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Stuffed French Toast Sliders

These stuffed french toast sliders are incredibly delicious and very simple to make.  They are such a great serving size for a brunch; it would be a very easy recipe to multiple and make for a crowd.  You could do this with any type of fruit you want as the stuffing.  This was on the menu for a recent birthday brunch and it will probably be on the menu of every brunch I host in the future!

Slider rolls(1-2 per guests)

1 block cream cheese

about 2 TBS sugar

2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped in small bite size pieces

2 eggs

2 TBS milk

1 tsp almond extract

Using a long serrated knife to cut a pocket into each roll (it will look like it has a little mouth dying to be filled with sweet and scrumptious cream cheese and strawberries!).  Place cream cheese in a bowl and let it come to room temperature.  Mix sugar and cream cheese with an electric mixer until it’s whipped and fluffy and perfectly sweet.  Stir in the fresh strawberries until well incorporated.  Fill each roll with about 1 or 2 TBS of the filling.  In a large bowl or dish whisk the eggs and milk together until it’s bubbly and frothy.  Add in the almond extract and whisk again until it’s mixed.  Dip each roll into the batter and coat completely.  Heat the griddle to high (and grease or butter if yours isn’t nonstick).  Place each roll on the griddle.  The filling will ooze a bit, but it will harden a bit and stick to the roll.  Make sure you flip the rolls and get each side nice and browned.  Depending on the type of roll you have, flip it to each side (not just the top and bottom).  Serve with regular syrup or for a special treat with strawberry syrup!

They turned out really well, but I think the next time I make it I think I’ll brown them and then put them in a baking dish and bake them for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure that the filling and middle gets nice and cooked and warmed.

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Watermelon Feta Bites

I saw this on www.foodgawker.com (it’s seriously so inspiring to look at!!) and had to try it!  It was really easy to do, and looked so elegant.  It was on the menu for a birthday brunch that I threw for myself last weekend haha.  The picture and recipe I saw had a balsamic reduction that I’m sure would be a fantastic addition.  But, we didn’t have any balsamic vinegar when I made these, so we just left that off.  Next time I do them, I will definitely include that though!

1 watermelon

1 block Feta cheese

Fresh basil

Balsamic vinegar reduction

Slice watermelon in 1 1/2 inch slices.  Use a small biscuit cutter to cut out circles from the melon.  Repeat for as many as you are making.  The block of Feta I had was about 1/2 inch thick.  Use the same size biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the cheese.  Use a very sharp knife and very carefully cut each circle in half.  The Feta is very potent, so you want a much higher ratio of watermelon to the cheese.  Make the balsamic reduction by placing vinegar in a sauce pan over low heat and let it reduce.  It will become thick and sticky.  Place the watermelon on a platter or plate and top with the Feta and then a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.  Place a fresh piece of basil on each bite.

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Birthday Brunch!

I really love brunch!  So what better reason to have a brunch than to celebrate my birthday with my family 2 weekends ago!

I think to have a great brunch you need something breakfasty, something savory, something light and fresh and something sweet.  The best way to do this is to have small serving sizes of each, so you get a nice variety of flavors but aren’t guaranteed to feel disgusting at the end of the meal!

On the menu for this brunch was mini scrambled egg muffins, strawberry stuffed french toast “sliders”, watermelon and feta bites, bacon, almond pound cake  and chocolate cups with raspberry chocolate mousse with orange juice and tea.    Everything turned out very well, and were all pretty simple to get ready for a group.

 

My sister set a lovely table with her beautiful china and good silverware.  It doesn’t always have to be an over the top special occasion to use the good stuff!

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Stuffed Banana Peppers

Apparently this summer is all about stuffing peppers for me!  I saw locally grown, beautiful, and fresh banana peppers at the farmers market recently and I had to have them.  And stuff them haha.  They varied in color which directly resulted in slightly different heat in each of them (I read somewhere that the deeper or oranger/ redder they are the more mild they taste).  They were all delicious!  I had been talking to my co worker about stuffed banana peppers, and knew the basic jist of what went in them, but didn’t do my usual research to find things I liked about 5 recipes and then come up with my own spin.  So, I just went for it.  While I was stuffing the browned sausage into them I realized people probably make a meat ball (or tube would be more relevant, I guess) and cook the meat in the oven.  I didn’t do that and it crumbled like crazy all over the peppers.  But, I must tell you, I think I enjoyed the extra texture that the crumbly browned sausage gave over the regular baked only filling.  And it really wasn’t difficult to stuff them even if it was a little crumblier.

6-8 Fresh whole banana peppers, cut n half length wise and seeded

1 package ground hot sausage

1/4 cup or so of Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 medium white onion, chopped

A few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce

a pinch of salt (I used Tastefully Simple’s seasoning salt)

I also used a sprinkle of Garlic! Garlic! from Tastefully Simple

 

Pre heat the oven to 350.

Saute the onion in some butter over medium heat.  While they are getting beautifully transparent and making your kitchen smell amazing, slice the peppers in half long ways and get all of the seeds out.

Place the peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle with just a tad of extra virgin olive oil.  If you are browning the meat first, like I did, bake the peppers for just the amount of time it takes you to brown the sausage.  If you are doing a meat tube (that phrase is cracking me up!) and baking it all together, you could skip this step.  You don’t want the peppers to be an overcooked mushy mess.

Once the onions are nice and sauteed, add the hot sausage to the pan.  You may need to add a slight amount of butter or oil here.  Break up the meat with your spoon as it cooks.  Once the sausage is browned, add a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, the spices (seasoning salt and Garlic! Garlic! in my case), the bread crumbs and the cheese.  Once you have that combined, take the peppers out of the oven and spoon into the pepper boats.  Spoon it in as best you can and just know that it will be delicious!  Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top and place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes (until the cheese is nice and melted and everything feels nice and warm).

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Veggie Sushi with Shrimp

I saw a great picture and recipe for a vegan veggie sushi roll with cashew paste.  It was so pretty and I wanted to put a spin on it.  The cashew paste did not appeal to me at all, so instead of that to seal the wrap I used cream cheese with shrimp and wasabi.  They turned out pretty tasty!

1 zucchini, sliced very thin

2 carrots, chopped in about 2 inch match stick width

1 bell pepper, chopped in about 2 inch thin strips

1/2 block of cream cheese

4-5 squeezed of wasabi (do this according to your taste, taste after each squeeze)

1/4 cup chopped cooked shrimp

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and let it come to room temperature.  While that is happening, slice and chop the vegetables.  Squeeze the wasabi into the cream cheese and continue to mix until you get it to your taste.  Add the shrimp and mix until it’s incorporated.  Add about 1/2 – 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture to each slice of cucumber and place the carrots and peppers on top.  Roll the zucchini as tightly as possible.  The cream cheese mixture will help it stay sealed.  Serve with soy sauce.

1 cucumber will make about 15 rolls.  Oh and I ended up not using the radish that was in the pic, I didn’t like how it tasted with everything else.

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Stuffed Jalapenos

If you love jalapeno poppers, you will love this recipe!  This was the other selection for our recent apps for dinner, and turned out very well!  It gives you all of the great flavors of a jalapeno, but I think it would have to be a little healthier for you, because it’s not completely in-cased in breading like they are.  Oh and they are baked and I’m sure the ones you get at restaurants are probably fried.

If you love the flavor, but want a pretty mild pepper, prep the peppers and roast them in the oven while you make the filling.  The longer you roast them, the milder they will become.

If you love the heat, leave the seeds in them or mix them into the filling for lots of forehead sweat inducing extra heat!

1-2 jalapeno pepper per person

1/2 block cream cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 sour cream

1/4 – 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke

Panko breadcrumbs

(This ratio will stuff about 6 or 7 peppers, adjust accordingly to serve more!)

Heat the oven to 350.

Split each jalapeno in half length wise and remove the seeds and veins.  (Again if you want them very spicy, leave some seeds)  To reduce the heat, roast the peppers in the over for anywhere 10-30 minutes to make the pepper more mild.

While those are roasting, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and Liquid Smoke with an electric mixer.  Stir in the shredded cheddar and mix by hand.

If you roasted the peppers, remove them (you may have to wait til they are cool enough to handle) and fill with the stuffing mixture.  Return to the pan or dish and sprinkle with the Panko breadcrumbs.  Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

To get the breadcrumbs nice and golden brown, place the pan under the broiler for just a minute or 2.  This will give the perfect golden crunch to the “popper”!

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My take on a southern bar-b-q picnic (but indoors in Pittsburgh)

This week for dinner I wanted to do a take on a southern bar-b-q.  I served pulled pork, to help fulfill my friend Leigh Ann’s birthday wish that this year be full of pork.  This meal did the trick!  I know crock pots are often reserved for chilly winter nights and coming home to a warm and comforting roast and veggies.  I had to snap out of that thinking because it’s a perfect way to come home to a delicious meal without having to turn on the hot beast that is your oven added unnecessary degrees to your kitchen.  The great thing about this menu is that if you can suffer through having the beast (or in my case the mini beast) having the stove on long enough to boil the potatoes and eggs, you can entertain while keeping your cool!

As side dishes I made Momma G’s potato salad, which cross my fingers hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, is the best potato salad that you will EVER have!  I also made a carrot, chili and coriander coleslaw that I found in my recent Bon Appetit magazine.

To make the picnic feel authentic (even though it was indoors) I got some red and white checkered fabric for a table cloth and put blue bandanas down the center.  I also saved up tin cans for a couple of weeks to make cute little candle holders after I got them squeaky clean post enjoyable tin can meals.  I drilled different size holes into the cans and painted them different shades of blue.  I then put tea light candles in the tin cans which made a rustic-ish easy candle holders.  Beverages included iced tea, lemonade (or Arnold Palmers’ for the fancy ladies!) and water and was enjoyed out of mason jars!

And, dinner was concluded with an out of this world salted caramel ice cream with chocolate covered pretzels made by my friend Leigh Ann.  Sooo amazing!

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