Today I brought lunch to a bunch of hungry men, including two of my sons, who took a Saturday to pull their considerable talents and muscle together to build a very special tree house for a sweet little 5 year old girl, recovering from major surgery.
One of the easiest, most economical, filling, and yummy things to Make & Take to feed a crowd is bar-b-que pulled pork sandwiches! The sauce is so good, you really don’t need any condiments, but a spoonful of my Easy, Spicy Crunchy Asian Slaw on top adds extra deliciousness!
I like to use an even mixture of pork loin (which is the lean white meat cut of pork) and pork butt (which is darker, a little fattier and more tender). This recipe will easily feed 10 people, but I doubled the recipe today, and was able to cook the whole thing in my extra big crockpot — which yielded enough for 20. Just turn on your crock pot the night before and it will be ready to pull it apart in the morning; or start it in the morning and have dinner ready when you come home.
Easy Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
2 – 3 lbs. pork loin
2 -3 lbs pork butt (with or without bone)
1 full head of fresh garlic, peeled, and rough chopped
2 t. Tony’s Chachere’s Seasoning (or your favorite Cajun Seasoning with Salt)
2 t. Grill Seasoning (or 1 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t pepper)
2 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 cups your favorite bottled B-B-Q Sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays)
1/2 cup ready-made Italian Dressing, any kind
1 t. Tabasco sauce
1 envelope dry Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 cup water
2 T. brown sugar (if you prefer your sauce a little sweet)
Cut the pieces of pork into about 6 big pieces. Whisk the rest of the ingredients for the sauce into a big bowl. Pour half the sauce into the crock pot, add the cut pieces of pork arranging evenly, pour the rest of the sauce on top of the meat. Cook on high for 5 to 7 hours or until tender enough that when you pull at the meat with two forks it comes apart easily. When pork is tender, lift out the meat with tongs or two big spoons, and place in a big rectangle pan. Using two forks tear the meat into shreds. Pour the sauce from the crock pot over the meat and mix evening so that the light and dark meats are evenly combined. Taste and check seasonings, adjust to your taste. At this point you can serve it right away, or cover and refrigerate, then reheat in the oven (covered with foil) at 350 for about 20 minutes when you are ready to serve. Serve on your favorite buns or potato rolls with slaw, extra bottled BBQ sauce, sliced pickles and jalapenos.
What fun Rachel and I are having hearing back from readers enjoying We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. Here’s one I got a kick out of today from Linda: “Becky I’m only on page 18 and I’m laughing out loud like a nutcase. You really have made a career out of telling on yourself! OMG, too funny and you’re not exaggerating, not even a little? Starting with misplacing your car keys in Nashville, your suitcase exploding at the airport, you can’t find your car once you arrive in Fort Worth, then when you do, the battery is dead? I’m dying over here.”
People often ask my daughter (now co-author), my friends, my husband, “Come on, tell the truth. Is Becky making this stuff up?” All they can say, with a slow head shake is, “We only wish she were.”
As I read the fun note above, I was in the middle of posting this episode on Facebook:
Leaving hotel room today. Close door, get 4 big suitcases in hall.
Me: “Uh I took my glasses off again.”
Greg: “Did you leave them in the room?”
Me: “I might have.”
All four of our keys are behind locked doors so Greg goes to get new ones. Upon his return, I say, “I also can’t seem to find my cell phone.” He enters the room and turns it upside down. I look on the carpet, I’ve been sitting on the phone in the hall. I find my glasses, in the case where I put them in my suitcase. I don’t remember doing that AT ALL. We close the door pick up our things and go on. Greg never gets mad, not even testy. No matter how many times we exit a hotel room this way.
Life has been so busy lately with the book’s release and travel and finding things I have lost, that when I do cook I want it to be fast and easy and delicious. One of the things I enjoy the most at some of the great Italian restaurants we’ve visited on our trip to Oregon this week, is fresh homemade bread dipped in a little plate of olive oil, good aged balsamic vinegar and a little garlic. Heaven.
Recently I found a way to turn Heaven into a quick snacky meal or a wonderfully easy appetizer for a bunch. Cutting a nice fresh loaf of French bread lengthwise, I sprinkled it with cheese, then layered sliced fresh garden tomatoes, followed tiny pinches of salt, pepper, basil or oregano (fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand), a little fresh grated garlic. Pop this in the oven until the cheese melts and tomatoes are sizzling. Then, here’s the fun part: drizzle it all with good olive oil and balsamic, cut in slices and serve with plenty of napkins.
Cheesy, Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic
1 French baguette, sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella, some white cheddar and feta. Use any combination you like.)
2-3 tomatoes (my baguette was small so Roma tomatoes were perfect size), sliced
Pinch fresh salt
Several turns of fresh pepper
1 t. dried oregano, or 2 t. minced fresh basil
1 clove fresh garlic, grated
¼ cup olive oil, approximate
2 T. good aged balsamic vinegar
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
Put both baguette halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle about ½ cup grated cheese on each side. Slice tomatoes and place atop both pieces of bread, overlapping slightly as shown. Sprinkle each half with a little fresh salt, some turns of fresh pepper, the herbs and garlic.
Place in oven for about 5 minutes or until baguettes are hot, cheese is melted and tomatoes are sizzling.
Drizzle the baguettes with oil and vinegar, slice in 3 inch pieces and serve hot. (With plenty of napkins.)
(Becky, the Mama.)
I was faced with a true dilemma. We were packing up to vacate our vacation the next morning, our condo cupboards were almost bare and I still had to create something for this food blog. Normally, I love these conditions. They make me feel like a contestant on the show, “Chopped,” where chefs are forced to create a 5 star meal out of five unlikely ingredients in a basket. Say, pickled pig’s feet, Lucky Charm’s cereal, passion fruit, Worcestershire Sauce, and edible fern fronds.
My “basket” was not as challenging as that list, but I was at the end of our book deadline for We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. (Lord willing, it will be turned in by the time you read this!) The manuscript was absorbing every available brain cell leaving me with precious leftover neuron’s kitchen creativity. My available list of ingredients were: mustard (2 kinds), Ranch Dressing, Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bread and four iffy apples.
I put the list on my Facebook status, asking for help. Within seconds my brilliant daughter came back with, “Do you have any eggs?”
“Yes, I have one egg,” I replied
“Butter or oil?”
“I have about a tablespoon of butter and plenty of olive oil.”
“Then how about a French Toast Peanut Butter Sandwich with Warmed Jelly Syrup?”
What can I say? My daughter is brilliant. And thankfully, since I am not a contestant on “Chopped,” I am not required to incorporate Ranch dressing, mustard and iffy apples into this recipe.
I had just enough stuff to make two French Toast PBJ Sandwiches for our final morning of vacation, and they turned out, well….. quite fabulous, actually. Greg loved it and said, “I’d definitely enjoy eating that again!” It’s a fun way to fancy up a PBJ for kids, or when you are hankering for something a little sweet as a midnight snack with a glass of ice cold milk. We often do “breakfast for supper” on Sunday nights, and this would be a perfect recipe for those occasions, perhaps served with some sliced oranges and bananas.
One half a sandwich was plenty filling for me, so if you make this for light eaters or children, one portion could easily feed two.
French Toast PB Sandwich with Warm Jelly Syrup
Serves 2 hungry people, 4 kids or light eaters
4 slices bread
2-4 T. peanut butter
¼ c. Jelly, Jam or Preserves (I used blackberry)
1 T. milk (dairy, almond or soy)
1 T. Butter
1 T. olive oil
Optional: 1 T. powdered sugar
Put butter and oil in skillet and heat until bubbly and melted, stirring to mix them. (The oil will help the butter keep from browning and burning.) Beat one egg with the milk in a shallow wide bowl. Make two peanut butter sandwiches, using as much peanut butter as you like. Dip the whole sandwich, both sides, into egg mixture and place in skillet. Do the same with the second sandwich. Turn over when one side is golden brown.
While the French Toast Sandwich is cooking, place jelly or jam in an oven-proof bowl or measuring cup. Heat for 10 seconds at a time until it is hot, melted and the consistency of a thick syrup.
When sandwiches are cooked on both sides, move to a plate and carefully cut at a diagonal, propping one corner up on the other for a nice presentation.
Sift a little powdered sugar over all, if you like. (Alas, I had no powdered sugar in my “basket.”) Slowly pour the hot melted jelly in a zig zag pattern over the French Toast Sandwiches and serve warm.
- First of all, a little giveaway business to take care of. The winner of Friday’s Cookie Butter Giveaway is Wen. (I swear we used a random number generator, but have to admit, there is a nice ring to Wen is the Winner!) Wen, we’ll email you to get an address where we can send your cookie butter. Congratulations!
Rachel, the daughter
It’s summer and many of us, either married to school teachers or with school age children, have extra mouths to feed at lunch. Most of the year, lunch is my meal, the meal that doesn’t have to make sense, or be well-balanced. It’s the meal no one’s going to comment on or scoff at because they don’t like what I’m serving. If I’m lucky, I even get to eat it alone while the baby is napping. It’s usually not planned and often just a plate of randomness, if I even actually put it on a plate. I like to have one meal a day that is mine, all mine.
Not that I’m even close to ready to send Jared back to work and into the dreaded long days of football season, but I admit sometimes during the summer I miss my lunch.
During these months, I get asked daily “What’s for lunch?” To which I spout off a list of things I know we have on hand. Somehow a handful of almonds, a bowl of leftover spaghetti, and a sliced avocado, does not sell well as a collective lunch offering. My well meaning husband will kindly decline and offer to make his own lunch instead, and by make, I mean open a bag of his jalapeno-flavored pretzels or serve up a plate of pistachios. I cannot, in good conscious, let this happen on my watch, so I either go in the other room and look away or pull a lunch together that the both of us can enjoy.
My go-to lunch this summer has been anything “Build-Your-Own,” sandwiches, pitas, salads, pizza, pasta. I can eat whatever I’m craving and Jared can choose to eat or not eat any or all of the toppings I’ve offered. Sandwiches don’t have to be boring and they are a familiar vessel to introduce your family to new ingredients and flavor combinations. Try offering roasted chickpeas instead of sandwich meat, avocados instead of mayo, lightly dressed dark leafy greens instead of romaine, hot peppers instead of pickles, roasted red peppers instead of (or in addition to) tomatoes, whole grain garlic toast instead of white bread. You can put out some of your favorite sandwich standby’s too, but my food philosophy with my family is to introduce lots of different foods and to keep trying until I’ve won them over (I’m persistent!). Jared didn’t eat a single thing on this sandwich bar when I first met him, but today he happily ate at least a little of everything except for the tomato (my work is never done around here.)
What are your favorite gourmet or out-of-the-box sandwich toppings?
- Sliced Avocado
- Roasted Chickpeas (see below), plain chickpeas work well too
- Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, and/or arugula) lightly dressed w/ a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper
- Roasted Red Peppers (storebough or see below to make your own)
- Spicy Peppers
- Bread, buttered (Earth Balance for vegans) and sprinkled with garlic powder
Other Gourmet Ingredients you might want to offer on your BYOGS bar:
Hummus, grilled tofu, grilled or breaded eggplant, caramelized onions, mixed olives, shredded roasted chicken, smoked salmon, basil, cilantro, fresh mozzarella, different breads: Ciabatta rolls, hoagies or pitas
Roasted Chickpeas & Red Peppers
Heat oven to 400 degrees (I use my convection oven’s roast setting and it works great if you have one). Either line a baking pan with parchment paper or coat with olive oil or cooking spray.
Drain & rinse a can of chickpeas. Pat dry with a paper towel. Put them on the baking pan and rub olive oil (you don’t need much, maybe 1/2 tablespoon), and season generously with your favorite seasonings. I like smoked paprika, seasoning salt, and a touch of cayenne, but any combo of spice works.
Seed and cut a red pepper in half or thirds and put on a separate baking sheet. Put both pans in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes (the convection oven will cook faster, closer to 10 minutes). The chickpeas should be crunchy on the the outside, but still have a little chew in the middle. The skin of the red pepper should be charred and bubbling up in places. You can stick them under the broiler for a few minutes to char up quickly.
Immediately put the red peppers in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. The steam should loosen the skins and make them really easy to pull off.
To serve, put everything out on the table and let your family taste the ingredients and build their own combination. It could be super casual on a typical Tuesday afternoon or, with the right tablescape and ingredients, really elegant for a shower or reception. In fact, I think I just talked myself into doing a BYOGS bar for Jackson’s upcoming birthday party. There will be something for everyone from the pickiest of eaters to the snobbiest of gourmets.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Build-Your-Own-Gourmet-Sandwich Bar
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ya
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)
This morning at 5:30 am, Jared hopped out of bed and yelled “Rach, come on, we’ve gotta go!”
“Where? What? What’s going on?” I asked in a bit of a frantic haze.
“To the bathroom. We have to take cover.”
In seconds, I threw the comforter off of me, jumped out of bed and started heading to grab Jackson, when I thought to ask, “How do you know a tornado is coming?!”
“I hear the wind” he responded, “but I guess I should check the weather.”
I paused and quickly checked the local weatherman’s Facebook page to see that the storms were not severe.
“You mean to tell me, you woke me up from my deep sleep and asked me to go wake my soundly sleeping baby so we could take refuge from wind?”
“Sorry, the wind sounded like a freight train. I really thought it was a tornado. In hindsight, I guess it could have actually been the freight train that runs through town.”
To his credit, we did get the car into the garage before it was pelted with a hail storm that came through shortly after and we were scary close to a bad tornado not long ago, so his heightened awareness was not completely displaced.
Texas weather is just crazy! Just a couple of days ago, we were grilling up some corn on the cob and pineapple and I was whipping up a batch of these sweet potato black bean burgers to enjoy on the patio after an afternoon at the pool. Today, we were pelted with hail and are on alert for more severe weather this evening. Thankfully, we have leftovers and so even though it’s windy and rainy outside, it’s summer inside!
10-month old Jackson LOVED these burgers. In fact, he ate an entire patty with avocado. Here he is with just a few crumbs left. Baby approved.
I think the key to a good veggie burger is getting them a little crispy on the outside and cooked until firm on the inside. I’ve found that if I only cook them on the stove, they are too mushy on the inside unless the patty is very thin, but baking them alone doesn’t give them the outside crunch that I personally really like. If you don’t have time to do both, you can certainly just bake them, but I would probably skip the bread crumb coating if you do it that way.
Rachel’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
Makes 8-10 patties
1 sweet potato, chopped and boiled until fork-tender
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup oats, coarsely ground (see picture in directions)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (whole wheat if you can find it), divided in half
1/2 cup corn, fresh, frozen & thawed, or canned & drained
2 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. cayenne (if you like spice–omit for little eaters)
Heat oven to 350 F. Either spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
In a large flat-bottomed skillet (cast irons are great), saute onions and carrots on medium-low heat with a little olive oil until onions have a nice golden color. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash one can of drained black beans (a fork, potato masher, or your hands will do the job), then add the other can of drained black beans and just lightly mash them, leaving some whole. Add the sauteed veggies and all the other ingredients, except for 1/2 of the bread crumbs, and mix well, mashing some of the sweet potatoes to help bind the mixture.
Put the remaining bread crumbs on a small plate or pie pan.
Form the patties. Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup, slightly over-filled, to measure out each patty. Patties should be about 1 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter.
In the same pan you cooked the veggies, add just enough oil to lightly coat the pan and turn the burner back to medium low. Dip the patties into the panko crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the patties. Add panko-crusted patties to the pan (2-4 at a time depending on the size of your pan), letting them get lightly golden brown, then flipping. The first side browns quicker.
Transfer the patties to the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve on hamburger buns with your choice of toppings. Avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper, lettuce, chipotle mayo (just blend a chipotle pepper with 1/2 cup of mayo), are all great with these.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-mj
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved