Easy Crock Pot Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork for a Hungry Bunch!


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.

tree house 1

tree house 2

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.






Skinny Deli Veggie Roll Ups (No Carbs, Less than 100 Calories)

rollups 006

1 Skinny Roll-Up, cut in half to better show you the stuffing.(But you may prefer to eat it without cutting it in half, as it is less messy)

(Becky, the Mama)    You know those times when you want “just a little somethin’-somethin’’” to tide you over to until the next meal, or give your foggy brain an energy boost?  Something good for you, tasty, without lots of calories or carbs?  But  you want more than a few carrot or celery sticks.  Or maybe you want a light lunch in a hurry, but you aren’t crazy about the idea of sandwiches or wraps with all that bread?

           Here’s my favorite pick-me-up-in-a-hurry snack and it is less than 100 calories per Skinny Roll Up.  No carbs. No gluten (as long as the meat and cheese you use is gluten free.)  Plus there are a thousand variations to this basic “recipe”:   you can choose whatever thinly sliced sandwich meat you like (or substitute a vegan version), then chose a small bit of cheese (your choice, or leave it out),  whatever veggies you have on hand (cooked or raw or a combination), and any sauce that floats your Roll Up Boat from honey mustard (as I used here), to a little dollop of Ranch Dressing with Buffalo Sauce, to Teriyaki Sauce with Sriracha, to Bar-b-que sauce… and on and on.  They are surprisingly filling, two of them with a piece of fruit works as a great light lunch, and the calories are such that you can enjoy another snack or small dessert with a cup of tea or coffee at mid-day and not break your calorie bank.

            When your kids claim they are famished and dinner is till an hour away, you can teach your kids how to build-their-own Roll Ups, letting their imagination lead the way.  Just one Roll Up will tide them over until dinner, but won’t spoil their appetite.   You can also wrap their favorite “roll-ups” in Saran Wrap, leave off the sauce, and send them a little “dipping sauce” in a small container for some variety in their lunch box. (You may want to use 2 slices of deli meat for these so they are easier for the kids to handle.  A half slice of American cheese also helps it “stick” and stay together better.)

            Vegetarian or Vegans can substitute ToFurky Roasted Deli Slices, which have excellent taster reviews.  Or skip the meat layer, use a large soft piece of lettuce instead, and spread the lettuce with humus or refried beans for the protein.

rollups 002

I used thin deli Honey Ham, a slice of Romaine, a slice of Roasted Red Pepper, some white cheddar cheese strips, sweet pickles and honey mustard. Yummmm….

Skinny Deli Veggie Roll Ups

Thin Sliced Deli Meat (Your choice, I used Honey Ham.  Vegans can use ToFurky Deli Slices)

1 t. or more  of your favorite sauce or dressing (I used Honey Mustard)

1/2 to 1 oz. of cheese, sliced or cut in small strips (1/2 slice of American Cheese, or 2 or 3 small thin strips of any hard cheese)

Small pieces l of lettuce

Pickles, Roasted Peppers (Anything pickled you like that adds a “bite” — pepperocinis, sliced olives or jalapenos are yummy too. I used midget sweet pickles)

 1 or 2 T.  Veggies, cooked or raw (thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, tomato, avocado, raw pepper sticks, sliced green onions, mashed beans, humus  or leftover cooked veggies of any kind)


Lay a thin slice of deli meat on a plate (you can double this if you want more protein and sturdiness).   Stack lettuce, cheese, pickles and veggies down the middle of the deli slice.  Squeeze your favorite dressing over this. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy.  If making a bunch of them to serve later or to pack in a lunch, you may want to secure them with a toothpick.   (Also if they are to be served later or eaten for lunch, you may prefer to leave off the dressing and keep it separate to use as a dipping sauce.)

rollups 005

One Skinny Roll Up, Cut in 1/2 on Diagonal (to show inside stuffing)

Cheesy Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic Drizzle

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Cheesy Hot Garlic Bread with Tomatoes, Drizzled with Olive OIl and Vinegar

(Becky, the Mama.)

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.”

grunge image of a field

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.

zuchinni and bruschetta 012

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.)

 zuchinni and bruschetta 011

French Toast PB Sandwich with Warm Jelly Syrup

(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 egg

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.

Build-Your-Own-Gourmet-Sandwich Bar

A Build Your Own Sandwich bar is an easy way to please different appetites if you’ve got a house full of hungry picky eaters this summer.

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?

Build-Your-Own-Gourmet-Sandwich Bar


  • 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.

Place roasted peppers in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. The steam loosens the skin and makes it easy to peel right 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

Vegetarian Reubens

(Becky – The Butter Lovin’ Mama)

My Aunt Hazel once asked me if I’d like to know her theory of how a grandparent should discipline their grandchildren.  “I’d love to hear,” I said.  She leaned onto the kitchen table, her eyes twinkling over the cup of coffee she was sipping.  Then she set the coffee cup down and told me, flatly, “Give them everything they want. Never tell them ‘no.’”

Tragically, Aunt Hazel would lose her only son before he could marry and have children, but I have never forgotten her advice.  Now that I am a grandmother of five little boys,  I have found that if you are truly creative with grandkids, and stay one step ahead of them, you really almost never have to use the “no” word.

When I was a new driver, I used to avoid left turns at intersections, preferring to take three right turns instead.  The same method works for the grandkids.  I try to find three ways to say a “yes” to avoid one “no.”  So tonight when my grandson Georgie asked to stay up and play and it was time for bed, I didn’t say, “No.”  I just said, “Yes, you can play with toys in the bathtub. And then you can play a Sesame Street game on the computer for ten minutes in bed, right after you get your PJ’s on. Then Nonny will read you three books. Won’t that be fun?”  I managed three “yes’s” instead of one “no” and Georgie was delighted to comply. And fell asleep in no time.

The “Three Yes’s” to “One No” always works great with food psychology.  I’ve learned that no matter what your special diet, whether imposed or chosen, it is much more pleasant if you give yourself lots of yes’s instead of a no.  “Can I have a milkshake?” you asked yourself.  Your Inner Nonny can answer, “Yes, of course you can have a shake! You can totally enjoy almond milk and a frozen banana, some strawberries and a little ice and agave whirled in a blender. It will be delicious.”

I’ve decided to try cutting back on meat, especially processed meat like cold cuts.  But as I was making my husband a classic Reuben with pastrami, my mouth started watering. How I wanted a Reuben, too. Then I thought of the flavors in pastrami: garlic, peppercorns, something salty and a little bit sweet. Something smokey. Within a few minutes I’d made my own “vegan pastrami” and was enjoying one of the best Reubens I’ve ever had.  I didn’t have to say “no” to pastrami, just yes to all the flavors in pastrami — infused into tofu.

Vegetarian Reubens

Becky’s Vegetarian Reubens 


Ingredients for Tofu Pastrami

1/3 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos (available at health food stores, or substitute lite soy sauce)

1  t. brown sugar

1/2 t. smoked paprika

1 grated garlic clove

1 T. crushed peppercorns

6  thin slices (about 2 by 3 inches) of firm to very firm  tofu

3 T. olive oil

1 T. butter (Earth Balance for Vegans)

1/3  c. Ranch Dressing or Mayo or  Greek Yogurt (Vegan Ranch or Veganaise if you are vegan)

2 T. Catalina Dressing (or your favorite French Dressing)

4 slices pumpernickel or rye bread

4 T. sauerkraut

2 slices Swiss cheese (vegan swiss cheese if you are vegan)


In shallow bowl, mix first 4 ingredients.  Lay tofu (sliced as thin as you can) in the sauce and let marinate about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle one side of each slice with some of the crushed peppercorns and press into tofu.

Tofu marinating in “pastrami sauce”

Make dressing for sandwiches by mixing ranch dressing or mayo with the Catalina in a small bowl.

Put 2 T. olive oil in a skillet (preferably iron skillet)  and turn heat to medium high.  Cook the tofu in the skillet until golden brown, turn, and do the same thing on the other side.   Set aside on a plate. Rinse and wipe out the skillet and add 1 T. oil and 1 T. butter, and turn heat down to medium.

About to assemble vegetarian Reuben for me, a classic one for my husband.

Put vegetarian Reuben sandwiches together by spreading four sides of dark pumpernickel bread with the sauce.  Put a slice of swiss on two of the slices.   Lay 3 slices of cooked, marinated tofu “pastrami”on each of two slices of bread.  Top the swiss cheese slices with 2 T. sauerkraut, each.

Carefully put Reubens together and lay in melted oil/butter in pan, cooking on medium heat on both sides until the sandwiches are golden on the outside and the cheese is melted on the inside.  Cut in halves or quarters and serve.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Vegetarian Reubens

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-n3

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers with grilled pineapple and corn on the cob, hits the spot after a day at the pool.

(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 Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers are this little man’s new favorite. He cleared his tray.

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.

I love the crispy outside and the moist, yet firm inside of these Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers. The key is coating them in bread crumbs, pan-frying, then finishing them off in the oven.

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)
olive oil


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.

Pulse oats in a blender, food processor, or coffee bean grinder once or twice until they are coarsely ground like this.

The mixture should be thick and slightly sticky. This looks a little gross, but let’s be honest, ground raw meat doesn’t look much better! 🙂

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

Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches

A Favorite of Momma's Dishes

Happy Mother’s Day to each one of you, whether a mother, a daughter, a son, or even a husband. We all have someone’s life to celebrate today. My mom and I both have a special place in our hearts for those whose moms aren’t with them anymore or for those with difficult mom relationships. Today can be a tough day for some, we know.

I don’t ever take for granted how blessed I am to have  a relationship that is based on love, acceptance, trust, and laughter with my mom. I think the reason I don’t take it for granted is that I’ve watched her use her mothering and nurturing gifts (truly her spiritual gifts) beyond our family. She often spends her afternoons cooking up lunch for 20-somethings and their little chicks on her patio, many of whom are learning for the first time what motherly love should look like.

Several of these young women have become like sisters to me, a bonus to having a mom that girls my age love to hang out with. When we get together at mom’s house, we all know to expect it to look a bit like a monkey on speed was cooking in the kitchen. Literally, the way this woman cooks boggles my neat freak mind. Last time I visited, I watched her use 13 utensils to make one cake. But, she’s quick in the kitchen, which gives her more time to focus on her chickadees. So we don’t complain and we all pitch in after lunch to try and piece her kitchen back together.

This Messy Greek Sandwich is one of the typical lunches she whips up for “her girls” on the fly. She’s made it for me several times and it’s always a hit. It’s one of those sandwiches you really want to enjoy in the company of those you don’t have to try and impress. It’s big, it’s messy, and it’s delicious. Mom always laughs when she serves me this, because I vocalize my approval with each bite. “Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmmm.”

Happy Mother’s Day Momma! Thank you for teaching me mothering is not just for mothers,  if you cook good food, guests will overlook a messy kitchen (and even help you clean it), and when all else fails, laugh…or write it down and hope you’ll laugh later.

Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches
(Rachel’s Variation)

Serves 2 big messy sandwiches


Two Hoagie Rolls (or other hearty bread)
olive oil
garlic powder
8 1/4 inch slices of eggplant
1/2 a bell pepper (any color of mix of colors), sliced
1/4 medium onion, sliced
4 T. Spicy Pepper & Olive Mix (a mix of green & black olives, pepperocinis, & jalapenos)
1 Avocado
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of Baby Kale or Spinach
2 T. Sundried Tomatoes


Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat (an iron skillet works well for browning veggies), add eggplant to the skillet, trying not to overlap too much, sprinkle with just a little salt. Let brown on one side, then turn over, sprinkle with a dash more salt and add a little more oil to the pan if needed. Once both sides are golden, set on a paper towel lined plate. Add onions, peppers, and mushrooms to the pan. Don’t add salt yet and try not to stir too much. You want the mushrooms and onions to get nice and golden. Once the onions are soft, add in the kale, sprinkle with a drizzle more of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

Coat the inside of the hoagie rolls with olive oil and garlic powder and toast under the broiler until golden.

Now pile on the ingredients: avocado slices, eggplant, onions, peppers, mushrooms, greens, sundried tomatoes and the spicy olive & pepper mix. You might want to tackle these with a knife and fork, or if you’re brave and don’t mind a mess just pick it up with both hands and go for it. As the old saying goes, Eat Like Nobody’s Watching (or something like that!)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:  Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/12/mommas-messy-greek-sandwiches/

The BEST, Easiest , Juiciest Tri-Tip with Oodles of Au Jus

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This recipe for tri-tip is so lip-smacking good, that our pastor Hugh Halter once asked me to do a little cooking demo of it before a church service. I have no idea how he tied this into the sermon, but if Hugh is anything, he is creative.

Last week I made it again for our pastor and his wife and some friends.  As we sat on the back porch enjoying the meal, Hugh said, “I just don’t know how you make a piece of beef this juicy and tender!”  I reminded him that I had  once done a cooking demo on how to do it, in front of the entire church.   Another attribute of our beloved pastor is that he has a memory like Swiss Cheese and had totally forgotten all about it.

Another one of the men at the table that day, leaned back, patted his stomach and said, “Becky this tri tip has ruined me.  My father in law takes us out to the best steakhouse in town about once a year, and no steak I’ve had there is as good as this roast.”

Seriously, this tri-tip recipe will change your life.  Your IQ will raise, you’ll be more beautiful, your charm quota will hit an all time high.  At least in the eyes of the people to whom you serve this meal. They will look at you as if you are the Cooking Angel.

The best part: it will be the easiest roast you’ll ever make.  I typically pop this roast in the oven before church – a la our mothers and grandmothers of the past – and 3 hours later, we walk into a home filled with a heavenly fragrance, lunch practically done.

I serve this roast alongside mashed potatoes and a salad the first day.  But the second day is my favorite, because the  I take the thinly sliced marinated leftovers and put them atop thick slices of buttery garlic toast, then top this with grilled onions and peppers, and finally the au jus.  Au man, it is amazing.

I’ll first give the recipe for the Tri Tip, followed by the recipe for the Tri Tip Dip Sandwiches.   Prepare to amaze yourself.


Tri Tip Dip Open-Faced Sandwich (Before pouring on au jus)

Becky’s Tri Tip

Serves 8-10

Heat oven to 325 degrees


Two tri-tips (if you go to Sam’s Club, ours sells them two to a package)

Large Reynolds Cooking Bag

2/3 c. teriyaki sauce

1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup

3 ½ c. water


Take a large cooking bag and holding it upright like you would a grocery bag, fill it with teriyaki sauce, onion soup mix and warm water.  Carefully squish it around.  Then, put both tri tips in the bag (you may want to call for some help on this),  tie the bag with the twist tie that comes in the package.  Then carefully lay the tri tips into a large rectangle pan. I do not poke holes in the  cooking bag, and this seems to keep the roast juicier.

Two tri-tips in cooking bag with marinade, tied up and ready for roasting

Thus far, I’ve not blown up a bag and I’ve probably made this recipe 30 times.  (I use my biggest Pyrex.)  Pop in the oven at 325 and bake for 3 to 3. 5 hours.

When the tri-tip is done, carefully cut a slit in the bag and pour the juices into your biggest, deepest skillet.  Slice the roast (I use an electric knife) across the grain.  Then put the slices into the au jus in the skillet and simmer for a few minutes to infuse the roast with juices. Test to see if it needs additional salt and pepper.

Delicious served alongside or atop mashed potatoes.

Becky’s Tri Tip Dips & “Pouring on of Au Jus”

Tri Tip Dip Open-Faced Sandwiches

Serves 2

4 slices of French bread

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half

1 onion, sliced thin

1 large red or yellow pepper slice

Leftover Tri-Tip, sliced and Au Jus


Put 4 slices of French bread on a cookie sheet and spread with butter, then sprinkle with olive oil. Broil until golden brown and then rub each slice with the cut end of a piece of garlic.

Toasted garlic bread

Saute onions and peppers until soft.   Put two pieces of garlic bread on a plate, followed by several slices of warmed tri-tip, and generous portion of onion and peppers.   Serve warm au jus in a small bowl on plate.    Just before eating pour au jus over all and eat open-face style with knife and fork.

Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

If you, like me, served a big bunch of family and friends a large Easter dinner yesterday, then I declare tonight to be “Cook’s Night Off!” If, however, like me, the thought of getting dressed, driving to a restaurant, and making polite conversation with other human beings sounds like it would take more energy than you currently have leftover, this AMAZING and easy sandwich recipe will help you get out of the kitchen and onto the comfy couch quick.

Sorry about the long name. I tried to work with just the initials (a la the “BLT”) but “CCNCMC Sandwiches” sounded like robot food.

I also give you permission to eat this buttery deliciousness in your most comfy T-shirt and stretchy pants. Or better yet, just wear your PJs and ratty old robe.  Home chefs that serve big holiday meals deserve to be as lazy as you want to be the next day. Wallow in it, I say!

Feel free to substitute ham if you’ve got lots of it leftover and want to use it in place of chicken or as an addition to it. I am personally a little “hammed out” today.

A vegan version also follows, because I love my daughter and I want her to taste this dynamite flavor combo!

Becky’s Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos

Serves 4


4 slices good bread (I like the round sliced French boule from Whole Foods, a light and airy artisan bread)

1/2 c. whipped cream cheese (Toffuti “Better than Cream Cheese” if you are vegan)

1/4 c. chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios

1 T. chopped green onions

4  slices turkey or chicken  (use extra portion of of chopped nuts in place of meat for vegans)

1/3 c. whole cranberry sauce

2 eggs beaten with a dash milk (vegans use egg-replacer  of choice and 1/3 c. non-dairy milk)

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter (Earth Balance for vegans)

1/4 c. arugala or other lettuce greens

1 T. powdered sugar


Mix whipped cream cheese or Tofutti with chopped nuts and green onions. Spread 4 pieces of bread with this mixture on one side. Lay two slices of chicken or turkey on two slices of the bread. (Add extra layer of chopped nuts in place of meat if you are vegan.) Spread cranberry sauce on the other two slices. Put together to make two chicken-cheese-walnut-cranberry sandwiches.

Melt butter or Earth Balance and oil together in  a skillet big enough to hold two sandwiches. In a wide shallow bowl, beat the two eggs with milk (or substitutes if you are vegan). Carefully dip both sides of the sandwiches in the egg mixture as you would for French toast. Place the sandwiches, gently, into the skillet and let cook at medium heat until one side is golden brown. Carefully turn over the sandwiches and grill the other side (adding more oil and butter if needed.)

Sizzling Sandwich

Cut in half, tuck in a few arugula leaves, sprinkle tops lightly with powdered sugar. Serve with extra dollop of cranberry sauce if desired.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chicken-Cream Cheese-Nut Cranberry Monte Cristos
The URL:https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/09/chicken-cream-cheese-nut-cranberry-monte-cristos/