Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dad's Pulled Pork

My dad makes a great slow cooker pulled pork so I decided to give it a shot! This is a spicy and sweet BBQ sauce pulled pork.

I did a half batch, 2.5 lbs of boneless roast pork. You can use pork shoulder too.

Combine everything into the crock pot. 8-9 hours on low, 4-5 hours on high. I did about 6-7 hours of some variation of low and high.

Cover the pork with the soupy mixture
Pork is tender and starting to break apart when you jab it with a fork

Take it out and use forks to pull it apart/shred it
Put it back into the broth
Garlic butter grilled Kaiser rolls!
I melted a pat of butter with a little less than a 1/4 tsp of garlic powder in a frying pan. Raise the heat to about 7 and then put the buns in the pan for about 3-4 minutes, until they are golden and crunchy.

Look at that!!!
Normally we serve it burrito style on a tortilla with white rice and Mexican style shredded cheese and then grilled. And this is wonderful. However, when N. and I went to lunch at Woodstock Inn in Woodstock NH, we had pulled pork served on garlic butter grilled rolls.

So, for burritos I would keep the beans and corn. If I want to serve it on rolls, I would omit the beans and corn.

UPDATE 3/9/13: Used boneless pork loin pieces, very tender.

Dad's Pulled Pork
makes enough for 8-10 sandwiches

½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp Red pepper flakes
1 tbsp Cayenne
1 tbsp Black pepper
12 oz Coke
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup ketchup
4 ½ lbs roast pork, pork shoulder...
28 oz of black beans (drained)
1 can corn (drained)
Combine all ingredients and marinate overnight in the fridge.
10 h on low
Pull it apart
Put it back in and make make sandwiches or burritos!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I was in Chicago for a few days! Chicago reminded me a lot of Boston, it was not as fast paced as New York and has a rich history. We didn't touch on the night life or jazz scene, or even see the numerous museums that are in the area, but that will be next time!

Here is my review of what we did! :)

Skyline from the Boat Tour

Tourist things:
Wendella Sight Seeing Boat Tour - a 90 minute architecture tour and points out many of the famous buildings (Trump Tower, Wrigley Tower, Residential buildings, Theater Buildings, etc) and some of their history (river reversal, fire, history of the buildings too). This was a great way to kick off the trip and start to get the lay of the land. A lot of the technical terms were over my head but you go from the river into Lake Michigan and get the skyline view.

Willis Tower & Sky Deck (aka Sears Tower) - Heart stopping! Huge waits, if you are considering going to any of the other places listed on the GoChicago pass, I'd invest in one. We were in line for a little over 2 hours. You are brought from room to room to see different history of the building of the tower and fun facts. However if you can bypass the line, you may as well.

Shedd Aquarium - Way bigger than the New England Aquarium! There are 4D shows, penguins, an Amazon exhibit, a water show... Lots to see and do! Easy spend 3-5 hours here. It was a little pricey, but worth it if you can spend the time and see all the fish! It was very interesting how many of the exhibits were tailored to the Great Lakes especially since I know next to nothing about them. If you invest in the GoChicago pass you can bypass the lines here too. It was an hour and a half to two hour wait otherwise.

Buckingham Fountain is right next to Millennium Park.
Millennium Park - Home to "The Bean," gardens, bridges, and live music. Nice to walk around and people watch, this is a place you can take as long or as short of a visit to see.
Navy Pier - Not really sure what the hype was about here... We went, we looked. There were restaurants, boat cruises leaving from here, a few shows (Cirque du Solei, Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and fireworks at night. If you are looking for a nice skyline view or want to see a show, this seems like a good place. But if you aren't going to a show and you have to triage your list of sites, feel free to skip this one.
Starved Rock National Park - This was great! It was nice to get out of the city and see what else was going on in Illinois. Nothing compared to NH mountain hiking, but it was a short -ish easy route along wooden walkways. Interesting historical points and information about the legends, people who used to live there, and the dam that is currently there. We had a picnic lunch there, if you have time to check it out and have access to a car, take the trip!

This is the important part of the trip of course. We had to try the local cuisine!

Deep Dish Pizza - We were recommended to Gino's. There is quite a wait here (are we surprised?) but it was worth it! This pizza is dense buttery crust (not flake-y like from Unos the chain restaurant), chunky tomato sauce, and about a pound of cheese.
 Hot Dogs - Chicago hot dogs are "Vienna" hot dogs and served on a poppy seed bun. They have all sorts of toppings such as mustard, diced white onions, tomato slices, pickled peppers, dill pickle spear, celery salt, and relish. I liked the hot dog better and the bun was pretty good too! But I think the toppings were a little overwhelming. PS, don't ask for ketchup!

Italian Beef - Our final meal before we left the beautiful city of Chicago. We went to Johnnies and ordered a "beef hot" and french fries. This was spicy! But very good. Shredded beef with pickled veggies. I recommend searching out a place that serves these and giving it a try!

 Happy Traveling!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vegetable Lasagna

Girls night! And I'm still on a zucchini kick, so I decided to make a hearty vegetable lasagna and talked Kelly into it. It is full of zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and spinach and then layered with ricotta and mozzarella cheese and a tomato basil sauce.

Fairly fast dinner, takes about an hour with 20 minutes waiting for eggplant prep, 20 in the oven and 20 actively cooking and assembling.

You can also sub in other veggies or add in more veg. Others could include mushrooms, peppers, onions....


Chop up the veggies to about the same size and thickness. They will be sauteed and baked so about 1/4 inch.

I also salted the eggplant and let it sit in the strainer for about half hour to let the bitter out of it.

Heat oil and spices (oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder) for a minute. When pan is hot add in veggies. Toss around in the oil. After about 4-5 minutes, when veggies are still al dente, wilt in spinach and chopped fresh basil.

Layering begins! I put down some sauce in the bottom of the pan, then some veggie mix, then pasta sheets. Not really sure why I put the veggies on the bottom, a little sauce would have been good... but it didn't really make a difference with the veggies. Anyways, a dollop of ricotta cheese, some tomato sauce, more veggies, a handful of mozzarella cheese, then more pasta sheets!
Layering in action!
 Cover dish with foil and cook at 350 for 20 minutes. I cook it for a shorter time because the veggies are already hot. Take foil off and broil for another 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, it gets brown fast!

Golden cheesey topping!!

 Let it cool a minute or two, then cut and serve. Tender veggies in every bite!

 It was soo tasty. Highly recommend this and will make again!

Vegetable Lasagna
Makes 4 servings

olive oil
1/2 tsp each of oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder
1/2 a zucchini, a squash, a eggplant; sliced and quartered (approx 1 cup or a little more of each)
1/2 of a 6 oz bag of spinach (could add more though)
1/4 cup basil leaves
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
12 oz jar of tomato sauce (I used tomato basil flavor)

Slice veggies
Salt eggplant and let sit for about half hour, then rinse

In frying pan add a tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Add zucchini, squash and eggplant, cook about 5 minutes
Wilt in spinach and basil leaves

Put some sauce in the bottom of the pan
Add some of the cooked veggie mix
Put down the pasta sheet... then Ricotta cheese, Sauce, Veggies, Mozzarella cheese then another sheet of pasta. Continue another 2-3 times ending with mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil, cook 20 minutes at 350 degrees
Cook additional 5 minutes under broiler - but keep an eye on it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Snickers Brownies

Guess you could say I'm on a brownie binge. I made some snickers brownies for my aunt and my cousins!

Same recipe as the Slutty Brownies and PB brownies. But I chopped up 12 mini snickers bars and added them into batter.

Sugar, melted butter, and vanilla!
add 2 eggs
Combine Cocoa and Flour
Add to wet ingredients
mini snickers!
Chop em up!
Add the snickers into the batter, pour into pan

Perfectly cooked at 20 minutes, edges are starting to come off the sides


Recipe below not halved

Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies

1 c butter, melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 c cocoa powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 9x13 baking dish
Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla
Beat eggs in 1 at a time
Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter into prepared dish.

Bake in oven approx 20-30 minutes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownies

 Great fellow at work always helps me when I break spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel. My way of thanking him is to bake treats! This is the brownie recipe from the Slutty Brownies. What I did to make these a little special was to take Reece's Peanut Butter Cups and place them on top before baking. In the past I've done them in mini muffin tins and used a mini Reece's, however it can be quite tedious.

Combine sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in the mixer. When mixed completely add eggs one at a time. In separate bowl combine flour and cocoa powder. Then mix into wet mixture.

I halved the recipe and used a 9x9 pan. This took about 20 minutes to bake.

Dense fudgey batter!
9x9 pan of brownie batter
Added the Reece's cups!
Alternative recipes could include chopping up the pb cups into quarters and mixing them into the batter or using pb chips or swirling in a pb ganache...Try different candies like Snickers or flavored Hershey Kisses. I think I want to try toffee bits next time. 


Recipe below is not halved.
Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies

1 c butter, melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 c four
1 c cocoa powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease 9x13 baking dish
Combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla
Beat eggs in 1 at a time
Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter into prepared dish.
Bake in oven approx 20-30 minutes.