Tag Archives: pork

Just a Dream Away

In Olympics news yesterday, Yuzuru Hanyu won gold in the men’s figure skating competition winning Japan’s first men’s figure skating gold medal.  In the women’s skeleton event Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S. won silver, ending an incredibly emotional career on a high note.  The U.S. men’s curling team beat Germany 8-5, but was defeated by Russia who won by one point.

Today is day seven of our Winter Games feature, and that brings us to the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.  These were the first Winter Olympics held in a Communist state.  At these Olympics, British figure skating pair Torvill and Dean earned perfect scores for artistic expression in the free dance portion of the ice dancing competition.  This has not been accomplished since.  U.S. skier Bill Johnson became the first American man to win a downhill skiing event when he won gold in the downhill competition, and he was also the first skier from outside the Alps to win an Olympic downhill event.

sarajevo burek

Depending on where you get it, burek goes by many variations of the name.  In Sarajevo, it’s called burek and it’s pretty popular.  Burek is essentially a flaky pastry (such as filo or yufka dough) surrounding a meat, cheese, or vegetable filling (or some combination of the three).  These are tasty as a meal or a snack, and incredibly easy to make.  To make these, you can use packaged filo dough or make your own dough.  Either method is equally time-consuming, but to make the dough yourself you will need a very large work space (think kitchen table sized) so you can stretch the dough out as thin as you need to.

sarajevo burek open

Meat Burek

Ingredients:

for the dough (or use store-bought filo dough):

  • 3 C. instant blending flour (such as Wondra)
  • 1 1/3 C. warm water
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • pinch of salt

for the filling:

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • chili powder, to taste (optional)

Directions:

To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, water, oil and vinegar in a mixing bowl, using your hands to knead the ingredients together.

Knead for a few minutes until the dough begins to form, adding a small amount of flour if necessary.

When the dough has formed, remove it from the bowl and slap it against the counter about 25-30 times to break down the gluten and make the dough more elastic.

Return the dough to the bowl and continue to knead it normally for about 10 minutes, until you see little air bubbles starting to form or until it stops sticking to the dish.

Sprinkle flour over the dough, cover with a clean towel, and let it sit for about an hour.

Put a clean table cloth (I suggest either a vinyl one that can be easily wiped down/ washed/ parted with or a cheap plastic disposable one) onto your table and sprinkle flour over it.

When the dough is ready, flip it out of the bowl onto your hands and use the back of your hands to gently stretch the dough slightly. Be very careful not to snag the dough on any jewelry (I suggest removing it first) or your nails- it will tear very easily.

Place the dough onto the table and coat it with a generous layer of oil, spreading the oil with your fingertips.   Let the oil absorb for 5-10 minutes.

Use your fingertips to gently stretch the dough toward you, lifting one side of the dough with your palms.  Do this to stretch the dough until you can nearly see through it.  Continue around the table until all of the dough has been evenly stretched this thin.  If your table isn’t big enough, see if you can get the dough to drape over the edges.

*If you are using store-bought dough, you can skip to here.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the meat filling by mixing together the meat, onion, and spices.

If you have made your own dough, you will distribute the meat mixture evenly around the edge of the dough, around the table.  Leave a gap a few inches wide without any meat mixture on it.  Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the dough from the center to the edge where you have left a gap.  Eventually you will have one very long thin roll that circles the edge of the table.  If you are using store-bought filo you will make individual size portions.  Start by spreading the meat mixture evenly down the long end of 10 sheets of filo dough.

If you are using the homemade dough, work your way around the table gently rolling the edges in toward the center (like you are rolling a giant circular jelly roll).  As you go, you will need to continue cutting the dough until you eventually have two long rolls.  If you are using filo dough, roll each sheet up starting from the long edge where you put the meat mixture.

Spread oil on a baking sheet.

If you are using homemade dough, cut the long piece evenly into 8 pieces and coil them up like snakes.  Coil them up in the same fashion if you are using filo dough.  Place the coils on the prepared baking sheet and brush them with oil.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the outside is golden brown and the meat mixture is cooked.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: adapted from  The Domesticated Feminist

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No Ordinary Love

People are starting to think I’m having some kind of strange affair with my crock pot, I use it so often.  I know many people who only pull out the crock pot for jeans-and-hoodie-weather recipes.  I used to be one of them.  Every time the weather got colder, I’d reach for the crock pot and churn out hearty foods like beef stew and pea soup and keep right on doing that until the first sign of summer.  Now I’ve learned the error of my ways and use the crock pot just as much in hotter weather as I do when the weather is cool.  Need to make dinner and it’s hot and humid and the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen? The crock pot has it covered.  Add a crock pot liner and you have a dinner that didn’t heat up the kitchen and with no cleanup beyond a skillet and the dishes you use for serving.

In hotter weather the last thing I feel like making for dinner is beef stew, so I’m glad the crock pot is more than just the beef stew machine.  I made these smothered pork chops, and they are a new favorite.  This is possibly one of the easiest meals I’ve ever made, crock pot or not.  If you thought pork chops covered in tasty gravy couldn’t be any better, think again.  Those pork chops could be covered in gravy and bacon, like these.  This is a little more involved than just dumping ingredients into the crock pot and walking away, but not all that much more involved.  You will have to cook the bacon and use the bacon fat to cook the onions.  I do also recommend giving the pork chops a quick trip through the skillet to brown them a little but that’s really more for appearance than anything.  We do eat with our eyes, so I did brown my pork chops but this is just as tasty if you skip that step.  At the end, you will take the extra step of turning the cooking liquid into a fantastic sauce.  So, while this isn’t exactly “set it and forget it” easy, it’s worth the extra steps to enjoy these simmered-all-day pork chops.

crock pot smothered pork chops

Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices bacon, chopped
  • 4 boneless center-cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick (1-1/2 lbs.)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. cold water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 C.  low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned.

Remove the bacon from the skillet using a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel lined plate.  Leave the drippings in the pan (If you have more than 2 Tbsp. of drippings, drain some of the drippings as well.  If you do not have 2 Tbsp. of drippings, add canola or olive oil to make up the difference).

When the bacon is cool, refrigerate until pork chops are almost done.

Heat the skillet with the bacon drippings over medium to medium-high heat until hot.

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over both sides of the pork chops.

Place the pork chops in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes per side, just until golden brown on both sides.  Do this in batches if your skillet can’t hold all 4 pork chops in a single layer at one time.

Place the pork chops into the crock pot.

Pour all but 2 tsp. of the fat from the skillet.

Add the onions to the skillet along with 1 tsp. of the brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and 1/4 C. of the water.

Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and cook the onion mixture over medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft.

Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook the mixture until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour the onion mixture over the pork chops in the crock pot.

Pour the broth, soy sauce, and remaining 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar over the pork chops in the crock pot.

Add the bay leaves to the crock pot.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook for 8 hours on low or about 4 hours on high, until pork chops are tender (I suggest checking at 7 hours for high and 3 hours for low- depending on the pork chops and how hot your crock pot actually gets, they may be done before the 4 or 8 hours).

When you’re ready to serve the pork chops, remove the pork chops to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Remove the bay leaves from the crock pot and discard.

Pour the liquid remaining in the crock pot through a mesh strainer into a saucepan and discard the solids, keeping the liquids in the saucepan.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and remaining 2 Tbsp. of water, and stir the mixture (slurry) into the liquids in the saucepan.

Stir the reserved cooked bacon into the saucepan.

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until bubbling and thickened.

Stir in the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the pork chops.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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On An Ordinary Day

Last year for my birthday, I made high heel cupcakes that we’re still talking about.  This year, I suspect Lane is handling dessert preparations for the occasion.  This morning M subjected him to a line of questioning about cake, concerned that because I’m the one who usually makes the cakes and I wasn’t planning on making a cake, there would be no cake.  She has declared cake the best part of a birthday.  I can’t say I completely disagree with her logic but I’m pretty happy with my new iced tea maker just the same.  When I was pet-sitting a few weeks ago, I briefly contemplated whether or not my dads would notice their iced tea maker was missing.  I’m guessing they would, so I’m glad the kids gifted me one of my own.  There are more surprises up their sleeves, but soccer practice and baseball practice call later, so we’ll save the celebrating for after that.  Until later, it’s just an ordinary day and that’s fine. 

Most of the best days are just ordinary days.  Okay, so today’s “ordinary” involves maybe sneaking out for a manicure (yeah, I know how to live it up!).  Other than that, I put the kiddos on the bus this morning just like I do every morning that we send them off for school.  I sipped my coffee, checked the news, and now there’s laundry spinning away in the washer.  It’s an ordinary day, and that’s perfectly fine by me.  Sunday was also pretty ordinary day.  Lane mowed the lawn, I did some housework, and we ran some errands together.  What made it extraordinary was these ribs.  Lane had been itching to make some ribs on his charcoal grill, and when the grocery store had these country-style ribs on sale for a steal a few weeks ago, all we needed was the perfect ordinary day to make them.  Sunday the weather cooperated and we were without social or other major obligations so it was the perfect time to put some ribs on the grill and let them hang out on there for a few hours while we read on the porch.  Simplicity turned out to be key here.  A little pork rub, a little barbecue sauce, and a lot of time were all these ribs needed.  We are by no means rib experts, but we know a good pork rib when we taste one and these are good pork ribs.  Lane grilled these to perfection and was nice enough to document the process for me, so the directions for grilling you see below are all Lane’s.   I see some guest posts in the future ;)

grilled barbecue pork country ribs

Grilled Barbecue Country-Style Pork Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 4 country-style pork ribs (about 3 lbs.)
  • dry rub of your choice (I use my own mixture, you can use your favorite or seasoned salt)
  • 1/2 C. your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions:

To prepare the ribs for grilling, trim off some of the excess fat.  You’ll want to leave some visible fat on them, but most of it can be removed if your ribs are particularly fatty.  Leaving too much fat on the ribs can cause the flames to flare up.

Sprinkle dry rub evenly over the ribs, flipping to coat all sides.

Lightly rub the dry rub onto the surface of the ribs to make sure it sticks well.

Cover and refrigerate the ribs for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before the grill is ready.

Here’s how to set your grill up for success {or, grilling ribs, according to Lane}:

*These are directions for a charcoal grill.  Keep reading for gas grill instructions.

First of all, you need to keep in mind that good ribs take some time, 3 hours for baby backs and individual thicker ribs, 4 hours for a rack of the St. Louis style. Getting the ribs right involves a little bit of proper preparation and patience.

First, set up your grill.  You will need two zones of heat: an indirect and a direct.  Most of the work is going to be in the indirect zone.  Start your charcoals using a chimney starter.  If you’re contemplating using match light briquettes or lighter fluid, stop right now, your ribs are going to taste like a chemical fire.  For the small investment of  about $15, you can have a chemical-free way of getting your briquettes going.

Once you have your briquettes lit and all of them starting to turn gray in the starter, dump them on one side of the grill. Place a 9″ x 9″ pan of water on the other side of the grill, opposite from the briquets. This water pan will provide humidity to keep the ribs from drying out, and will also moderate the temperature inside the grill.

Place the grilling grate onto the grill, then place the ribs on the side of the grill that has the water pan.  Put the lid onto the grill.  Try to put a probe thermometer in the grill and adjust the vents such that you achieve a target temperature over the water side of 250 degrees, give or take about 20 degrees.  You’re going to cook these low and slow.  Trust me, its worth it.

As an option, about 45 minutes into the cooking time, you can toss a small handful of hickory or applewood chips.  45 minutes later, do this again.  The wood chips will make for a very nice flavor and add a smoke ring.  Make sure you don’t open the grill more than necessary, you’re going to lose temperature every time you do this.  Don’t overdo the chips.  You can’t un-smoke too much smoke, and it won’t taste as good.

Maintain grill temperature and grill the ribs for about 3 hours , until they register 150 degrees on a meat thermometer.

When the ribs are done, you’re going to want to caramelize a little barbecue sauce on them.  This is where the direct fire of the coals comes in.  Brush on some barbecue sauce using a silicone brush, and place the ribs directly over the coals.  Grill, flipping occasionally until the barbecue sauce thickens and slightly caramelizes.  You want to caramelize the barbecue sauce, but be careful, there’s a very fine line between caramelized and charred. Charred is not tasty.

To make these on a gas grill, set up your gas grill to maintain a temperature of about 300 degrees.  Place aluminum foil on the upper grilling rack.  Place the ribs onto the upper cooking rack and close the lid.  Monitor the grill temperature, and start checking the ribs at about 45 minutes for doneness.

Makes 3 lbs. country-style pork ribs (about 4 servings depending on your crowd).
Source: Diana Dishes original, with grilling instructions provided by Lane
pork ribs on the grill

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Hooray For Spinach

For the last week, I’ve been puppy (and kitty) sitting.  Cooking in someone else’s kitchen is one challenge; cooking in someone else’s kitchen while three pets are underfoot hoping you’ll drop something tasty is another. It means rummaging through drawers to find just the right utensil and opening cabinets to chase down more pepper while being careful to mind my footsteps so I don’t accidentally step on any paws. It also means gently pushing curious puppy noses away from the hot oven so that the puppy nose doesn’t get burned and the puppy mouth doesn’t eat my dinner.

Nothing says “good time” like a wet puppy nose on the back of your leg as you try to carefully remove a pork tenderloin from the oven.  I’m not sure I can really blame them, it was pretty delicious.  Instead of grilling it like I have in the past (which eliminates having to look for an appropriate pan!), I decided to flatten this and stuff it with sautéed spinach and feta cheese.  I didn’t regret it.  The most complicated part of making this is butterflying the pork tenderloin and then pounding it out thin, and even if you’ve never done this before, it isn’t difficult at all.  The spinach gets a quick saute with garlic and olive oil, then the whole thing goes into the oven for about an hour.  This is a great recipe when you need an impressive entrée but don’t have time to hover over the stove.  It’s simple but delicious and it looks like it took way more hands-on time than it actually did.

spinach and feta stuffed pork tenderloin

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 2 C. fresh spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 C. crumbled Feta cheese
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut a slit lengthwise down the center of the pork tenderloin, staying about 1/2 inch away from cutting entirely through it.

Open up the pork tenderloin (like a book) and lay it flat between two sheets of waxed paper and pound using a meat mallet or heavy skillet to 1/2 inch thickness.

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the pork tenderloin.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the spinach and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach just starts to wilt.

Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the surface of the butterflied pork tenderloin.

Sprinkle the feta evenly on top of the spinach mixture.

Roll the pork tenderloin up, like a jelly roll, starting from the long end.

Place the pork tenderloin into a baking dish or roasting pan with the seam down (use toothpicks to keep the tenderloin closed if needed).

Sprinkle the pork tenderloin evenly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into approximately 1 inch slices (or wider depending on preference).

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Ordinary Day

If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know that we are not a Christian household.  Without getting too into it, I hold one set of religious beliefs and Lane holds another, and the kiddos will decide what, if any, religion they subscribe to when they are older.  Despite being raised Catholic, Lane and I are not Christian and do not celebrate Easter.  I celebrate spring at Ostara, usually with a good house cleaning, a nice meal, and some spring treats.  That said, the Easter bunny doesn’t stop here.  While I’m happy to celebrate Easter with family when there’s a gathering (I don’t feel that because I hold different religious beliefs I should be disrespectful of theirs and not attend on principle), Easter Sunday is really just another day over here.  The grocery stores don’t hesitate to cash in on Easter though, so that’s when there are an abundance of hams available and on sale.

Many times I’ve considered making ham for a regular weekend “just because I have time today” dinner but I’ve found that the only hams available are way too huge for a family of four unless I want to be eating pea soup and ham sandwiches for a month.  Even on a night we have the kids, with ham sandwiches planned for the next day, no one’s eating twenty pounds of ham. So when we found ourselves standing in front of the hams at a warehouse store and finding one that was solidly under twenty pounds, ham was put on the meal plan for our next weekend with the kiddos.  Lifting a ham (even the eight pounder we enjoyed) onto a cutting board to score it (making that diamond pattern) and then hefting it into a roasting pan isn’t for me, so it was great that this is a spiral cut ham.  This was a ridiculously low-effort meal, and it looks like you must have spent all day checking in on the ham.  As far as it being spiral cut, just pull of even slices of delicious ham with your fork and keep moving down the buffet line- no carving necessary.  I can’t take credit for the spiral cuts, but I can take credit for the glaze.  The first thing I do when I unwrap a ham is throw away the glaze packet often accompanying it.  It’s so easy to make your own glaze and pour it on with about twenty minutes of cooking time left that there’s no excuse for that often overly-sweet packaged glaze to make an appearance.  Don’t fear the tiny amount of cayenne pepper in this glaze, it lent that “extra something” to the flavor, but wasn’t spicy at all.

pinapple cayenne spiral ham glaze

Pineapple Brown Sugar Cayenne Glazed Spiral Ham

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C. pineapple juice
  • pineapple rings, optional
  • 2/3 C. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • spiral cut ham (this was 8 lbs., the glaze is enough for a much larger ham as well)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the unwrapped ham into a roasting pan fitted with a rack (if your roasting pan doesn’t have a rack, either insert a wire cooling rack or coil up some aluminum foil and place it underneath the ham so the ham isn’t sitting on the bottom of the pan).

If desired, place pineapple slices on top of the ham and secure with toothpicks.

Cover the ham loosely with aluminum foil.

Bake the ham for 10-12 minutes per pound (for an 8 lb. ham this is about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Whisk together all ingredients for the glaze.

During the last 30 minutes of baking, remove the foil from the ham and pour the glaze over the ham.

Continue baking until ham reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Serve hot (for spiral ham, the slices should pull right off with a meat fork, no carving required).

Source: Diana Dishes original

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Like a Lion

I remember being about O’s age and working on lion and lamb paper bag puppets at school, because March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  While the snow that’s falling right now is pretty and all, I’m ready to skip to the lamb part.  About eight inches of accumulation this morning and it looks like maybe a foot by the time this is over today.  It’s crazy that in the aftermath of the blizzard we had last month, I hear that a foot of snow is coming and think that’s really nothing.

My favorite way to warm up the house when it’s snowy and cold outside is to crank up the oven inside.  Pizza Friday is a great excuse to do that, and this pizza makes it a no-brainer.  White pizzas, or pizzas without red sauce, are always harder for me to get excited about, mainly because something has to make up for the lack of sauce and plenty of places don’t get this right.  It takes more than just skipping the tomato sauce to make a white pizza work.  When you top a great pizza crust with a drizzle of olive oil, creamy fresh mozzarella, some thick cut bacon, and thinly sliced browned onions you’ve definitely managed to make it work.

bacon onion pizza

Bacon Onion Pizza 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe basic pizza crust dough (or 1 lb. your favorite pizza crust dough)
  • 8 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • cornmeal, enough to lightly sprinkle onto pan or pizza stone

Directions:

Put an oven rack in the lowest position in the oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cook bacon for 2-3 minutes in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until fat is partially rendered.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.

Put the onions into the pan with the rendered bacon fat and cook, stirring frequently, 10-12 minutes until browned.

Section the dough into four equal pieces and stretch each portion out into a roughly 12 x 4 inch rectangle.

Place the dough rectangles onto a large baking sheet or pizza stone that has been sprinkled lightly with cornmeal.

Top each piece of dough evenly with mozzarella, then onions, then bacon.

Bake for 12 minutes, until cheese melts and the crust is golden brown (if you want a darker crust broil for 30 seconds to one minute).

Grate Parmesan cheese over each pizza.

Cut and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Three Many Cooks

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