Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Barbecue Sauce & Pulled Pork Sandwiches

If there ever was a time for smell-o-vision...
That time is now. If you only make barbecue sauce just to have your house filled with the most wonderful sweet, savory, tart aromas, then you have not wasted a moment.

This is so easy, you can't resist!

Barbecue Sauce:
Makes approx. 3 cups

1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar or honey

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cayenne, ginger and cumin and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

At this point, the sauce is ready -- slather over ribs, spread on a burger, or marinate shrimp. Cool and store in the fridge for a few days. 

For Pulled Pork Sammies, nestle 2-2 1/2 pounds pork sirloin into the barbecue sauce, cover, and slide into a 325 degree oven (or alternately, in a slow cooker on low heat for about 4 hours). 

Check the pork after an hour, it should come apart easily with only the slightest pressure. Cook for an additional 10 minutes at a time if necessary. Add a splash of water if the sauce appears too dry. 

Serve on a whole wheat bun and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Avocado Dream Pasta

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
I didn't like avocados.

Crazy, I know.

And every -ous adjective you might conjure up.

Aren't you glad my insanity has been cured? This form of my insanity, at least, let's not get too excited. 

Do you want a little avocado in your pasta? Well, let's get to it.

Avocado Dream Pasta:
Serves 2, 15-20 minutes

1/3-1/2 pound pasta
1 avocado
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound large shrimp

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, peel and pit the avocado. In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, yogurt, cilantro, garlic and parmesan with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they are curled and pink, another 4-5 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the avocado mixture and the shrimp, stirring to combine. Add just enough of the pasta water to coat the pasta and shrimp with the avocado sauce.
Serve immediately and enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bunny Bait

I have fallen in love with popcorn all over again.
When I was little, I used to stay with my grandparents for a few weeks over the summer. One of my favorite memories was eating air-popped popcorn and Neapolitan ice cream (I called it "Napoleon") with Bobby while watching Nick-At-Nite. I even remember their air-popper in all of its 1980's glory.

I've been making stove-top popcorn for years, but it never occurred to me to air-pop my popcorn at home. While my corn pop-pop-popped in the microwave, I hop-hop-hopped around the kitchen with joy. There's nothing quite like ditching the vegetable oil for thermodynamics to pop your corn.

And make a sweet Easter treat. 

Use your microwave -- its faster, healthier, and dish-free.


All you need is a brown paper bag, a few tablespoons of popcorn and three minutes.

Load your paper bag with two tablespoons of popcorn and fold up the edge. Place the bag in the microwave just as you would any other microwave popcorn.
With the power on high, go for three minutes and listen for the pops and crackles to spread to about two seconds apart. Open the microwave, toss a pinch of salt in the bag and enjoy. Every microwave is different, so use your ears to find the sweet spot. The paper bag is even reusable!

You can't get any more "whole grain" than leveraging thermodynamic properties to explode a kernel of corn into a crunchy snack. The microwaves cause the tiny bit of moisture in the kernel to expand until the little starchy casing ruptures into the crispy goodness we know and love. Stove-top, fireside or in the microwave, the process is all the same. Popcorn is edible science!

But didn't I say something about a sweet Easter treat?

Yes, yes I did. Bunny Bait. The easiest Easter treat you will ever make. Four ingredients.

Four ingredients!!

Bunny Bait:
3-4 cups air-popped popcorn (from about 3-4 tablespoons popcorn)
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup m&m's speckled eggs (your flavor of choice)
pinch of salt

Pop the corn in the microwave and immediately toss with marshmallows, m&m's and salt in a medium bowl or large zip bag. Enjoy!
Remember, if you actually want to snag a bunny, you cannot eat all of the bait. 
Good luck!

The heat from the popcorn softens the mallows and the chocolate and the salt brings the flavors together in perfect harmony. The peanut butter speckled eggs are my favorite, but all the flavors -- milk chocolate, coconut, pretzel -- go well with popcorn and mallows.

Whether or not you catch a bunny, have a blessed Easter!