Category Archives: Pork

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Sage Pork Chops

I felt a bit like I was in a cooking rut and wanted to switch it up somehow.  We hadn’t had pork in a while and I found an inspiration for spinach and feta stuffed pork chops rubbed with fresh sage.

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Deep Dish Lasagna

I love lasagna but I have found that making it in a traditional rectangular lasagna pan limits the amount of layers and fillings I can add. So I decided to try something different this time around and made my lasagna in a dutch oven. For those who do not have a dutch oven you could also use the ceramic pot of your crock pot as the vessel for this classic dish.

I started off by making my fillings for the lasagna. First I sauteed some onions and mushrooms and set those aside.

Another filler I typically add is sausage. For this dish I used hot Italian Sausage.

I just cook it up and try to break it down into small bite size pieces. Once it’s cooked through I drain it and set it aside as well.

The next filler is one of the most important- the ricotta cheese. To the ricotta I add an egg, freshly minced garlic, and my dried spices- typically salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper.

Once all the fillers are set it’s time to assemble everything. I cooked the pasta as the directions on the box specified (I used Dreamfields low carb pasta) and gathered tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella as well.

Then it’s really up to you how you want to layer everything. I always start of with a layer of sauce and then noodles.

Here you get a sense of the depth of this pot.

I trimmed my pasta so it would fit in here. Obviously with the round dish it’s a bit more challenging, but it worked out just fine.

I sort of freestyle the rest of the layers- ricotta, sauce, pasta. Sausage, sauce, pasta. Mushrooms and onions, sauce, pasta… you get the idea. Go until you reach the top or you run out of ingredients! I topped it all with some shredded mozzarella.

The next step is to bake it. What I also loved about using the dutch oven was that I could cover it using the lid. In the past when I used the lasagna pan I would cover it with tin foil and since I would fill the pan to the top the cheese would always melt and stick to the tin foil. When I would take the foil off, half of the cheese would come off too. By using the lid here I was able to avoid that mess.

I baked it for about 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees and took the lid off for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Once the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted it’s done. Its tough to do this, but if you can let it rest for a good 15 minutes before you cut it. Easier said than done though! 

It came out great. You can see all the layers below.

It takes a while to prep this dish but as you can probably guess you will have leftovers for days. Leftover Italian dishes always taste better than the first night too! I hope you like this one.

– Eileen

Stuffed Banana Peppers

These were simple and good but they sure were hot!  Start by making the stuffing which was primarily hot sausage with chopped onion, garlic, and Italian cheese.  Make the stuffing with the proportions of your choice.

Cook the sausage about half way and drain the grease.

Add the other ingredients once the sausage is ready and put aside.

Cut the stems off of the peppers and remove the seeds and pulp.  You may want to wear gloves and be sure not to touch your face….TRUST ME!

Then stuff as much filling as you can into the peppers and line in a baking dish.

Cover with a bit of tomato sauce and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

We put them on a bit of pasta to cut the heat of the peppers.

Enjoy!

Greg

Pig Roast!

Warning!  Some of the following post may be graphic and upsetting to some readers!

As a going away gift, our friends graciously sponsored our going away party as we were about to depart Maryland.  Roasting a whole pig was decided upon, as the idea has been floating around for a few years and this seemed like the opportunity.  They were able to find good deals on a pig and renting an electric spit.  We cook, eat, and talk about a lot of different cuts of meat on this site, but being in the whole form does seem to change things a bit.  So proceed with caution, and I did omit many pics that could have made it far worse.

The first questions is, what kind of person desires so strongly to roast a whole pig?

This guy does!

The pig weighed about 49 pounds and came pre gutted and basically all prepped for us.  We added some seasoning and filled the cavity with onions, garlic and leeks.  Then the pig had to be skewered and sewn up to keep the filling in.

Coming together

Filled and ready to be closed up

He makes an excellent seamstress

The rented spit was well experienced but did a great job once we messed around with it, formed it into shape, and got the right tension on the chain to the motor.

We ended up using about 50 lbs of charcoal total

Once the pig was stabilized on the skewer and the coals had ashed over, it was time for the final assembly and a lot of waiting.

The pig ended up cooking for about 8 hours and could have used a little more time and a little hotter charcoal throughout.  It was our first time though and everyone seemed pleased with the final product.  There was plenty of time to hang out while the pig roasted and it was over 100 degrees this day so…

What up dawg? Ya know staying cool in the pool.

This is the last picture we have of the pig, which is about halfway through.  It turned out great though and we will do even better next time!

Pork and Peach Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

This was another leftover use of the pulled pork.  We were invited to a gathering and thought of using the leftover pork in an appetizer. The intention was to make spring rolls, but they did not have spring roll wrappers at the grocery store and I was too lazy to go to the Asian store to get them so I used egg roll wrappers. The wrapper said they could also be used as spring roll wrappers.  They were not the consistency that I was looking for, so I ended up adjusting the plan half way through and it worked out.

First off was to prepare the filling which involved sending peaches, carrots, cucumber, and jalapenos through the food processor.

Then adding some of the leftover pulled pork.

I guess it works out that we don’t know how to cook for just 2 people (tons of leftover pork!)

I mixed the filling together.

Fillings are not meant to be pretty. That's why they are hidden.

Then I prepped the rice stick noodles.

Keep them in the water until you use them otherwise they will all stick together.

At the same time, I warmed water to just about as hot as I could put my hand into.  Then I would quickly dip the wrapper into the warm water to soften it up.

Just a real quick dip

Then to the assembly process which can be a bit tricky.

First add a small twirl of noodles.

Then a scoop of the filling.  It is hard to be disciplined enough to put in the right amount of filling.  Remember that less is better and easier to wrap up.

It's tempting to put so much filling in!

Then to the wrapping process.  Much the same as a burrito.  Over from one corner first.

Then the two outer corners over and try to pull the filling in a bit and tighten it into a roll.

Then flip it over onto the remaining flap and try to tighten it and round it.  You can do this by rolling it back and forth a bit.

Next onto the peanut topping and dipping sauce.

I followed this recipe from Ellie Krieger, which was first introduced to us by Ashley. This recipe is easy to follow- I just threw everything in the blender- and it is delicious! I doubled the recipe so we’d have some leftovers. Believe me, you’ll want some leftover!

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

YUM!

Like I said, the original plan was to have spring rolls so I was not planning on cooking these at all. However, when it came down to it the egg rolls were really wet and sticky and needed to be cooked. We baked them in the oven for a few minutes, just enough to stiffen up a bit and this worked pretty well. We also ended up with a few of these leftover and later fried them in a skillet with a little sesame oil, which created a nice crunchy outer shell. Both cooking options worked well, so it’s really up to you and what type of consistency you want. Enjoy!

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

 

Pulled Pork

Pork butt also known as Boston butt (not Bill Belichick) was on sale at Harris Teeter for .99 cents a pound which made this 8 pounder quite a deal.  I wanted to slow cook it since it was summer and I had the time, but didn’t want to slow cook it for 14 hours.  I did a bit of an in between method using indirect heat.  First I got the grill started before I prepped the pork.

 

Keeping all of the heat to one side

I put down a base of charcoal and a few small logs on top as added fuel and to get a smoky flavor.  I kept all of these to one side and started them up planning to put the pork on in about a half an hour.

In the meantime, I prepared the pork.

 

Fat jackets are gross, but necessary for flavor and tenderness

There was a bone in the meat

Next I took about 8 cloves of garlic and cut them in half.  Then I cut small slits throughout the meat and put the garlic in, making sure it was deep enough that it could not be seen.

You wouldn't know it, but there is a lot of garlic in there

Next I prepared a dry rub by combining some dry seasonings.  I prefer doing this over using a store bought one as they are often packed with sugar and or can be way too salty.

 

Just pick what you like and mix it up

Then I thoroughly covered the pork on all sides.

Next onto the cooking.  The coals were white and ashed over and the wood was burning and smoking well.  I opened the bottom air intake of the grill about half way and placed the pork on the grate on the opposite side of the heat so that there was nothing underneath it.

 

The flames will die down when covered but will still be plenty hot

I then covered the grill putting the top air intake over the meat and opening it about halfway also.  This makes the smoke and heat travel over and around the pork in order to escape out of the top.  Opening the intakes up halfway gives the flames enough air to be hot and continue to burn.  To truly slow cook it, you would have barely opened the air valves, but it again would take twice as long (up to 8 hours 0r more).  This is what I meant by using a hybrid method that was still slow (about 5 hours), but not the typical slow cooking process.

After about 2 hours, I opened the grill up and took the whole grate, pork and all, off and placed it aside.  I stirred up the coals, got rid of some of the spent ash, and added a few more coals and small pieces of wood.  Then I turned the pork so that the other side of it was facing the heat source.  It was looking great already and could have probably been eaten, but it would not have been very tender.

 

After about 2 hours of indirect smoking

This was also going on during the process which really helped. The site's namesake!

I let the charcoal and wood heat back up uncovered for about 10 minutes then put the flipped pork back on.  I checked it in about an hour and flipped it around again, and the same in another hour.

Because the temperature was close enough to what I had wanted it to be and it was getting late, I took the meat off after about 4.5 hours of total cooking time.  This method also uses the fuel very efficiently as the coals could have gone for another few hours.

 

Got to about 205 degress at its highest

Government official numbers say to cook the pork to 160-170 degrees, but when slow cooking it like this, you want to get it closer to 200 for the tenderness.  This was tender and did come apart pretty easily, but also could have gone for another hour or a little less.  Towards some of the bone, the meat was not as uniformly tender, but was still tender enough.

 

Finally ready to come off the grill

I let the pork rest for a bit so that it could be handled.  The fat jacket came right off and many other visible fat pockets were easy to remove, though some people(southerners) would keep most of them for the extra flavor.

In the meantime, I cut up some cauliflower and covered it in vinegar and mustard before grilling.  I wanted something tart to contrast the pork and this easy mixture did that well.

 

Threw it in the grill basket for about 30-40 minutes

Once the pork was cool enough to handle, I shredded it with two large forks which was pretty easy except for a bit around the bone as mentioned.  The smoky flavor and rub had really penetrated throughout and there were pockets of stronger garlic flavor than others which I considered prizes.

 

Pulled Pork

We put the pork in a bowl with some cauliflower and ate some plain and ate some with a bit of BBQ sauce.

 

Was good enough plain

BBQ sauce is good too.

It was great and I am really pleased at how it turned out.  It could have been enjoyed on buns or with slaw or many other ways.  As you may have noticed, we do not know how to cook for 2 people and base our portions on a family of 8 which means that there were tons of leftovers which you will see some uses of in the coming days.  This may sound difficult, but really was not and also did not require a lot of attention.  Don’t put it on and go to the store, but is easy to set up and entertain while the magic happens.

 

Recipe for Pulled Pork Dry Rub

Ham and Potatoes

Since we knew we would be missing Easter this year, Greg and I decided to have our Easter dinner before we went away. We made a traditional (I never had Easter dinner before meeting Greg so this is traditional in my opinion!) meal including ham, potatoes au gratin, and roasted brussels sprouts. We got a HUGE ham from Giant for $5 and lived off of it for the week leading up to our trip. Let’s just say I really will have no objections to not eating ham again for a little while! The ham came out great though and we used it in a variety of dishes following our Easter dinner, including sandwiches, salads, and quiche (next post).

This was our HUGE ham.

Greg prepared it with some sliced pineapple and a sweet and sour ham sauce that he made. First he made the sauce and spread it over the ham.

Then he pinned pineapple slices all over the ham using toothpicks.

It really reminded me of the dress Phish’s drummer John Fishman’s always wears . Eh?

Anyway, he baked it for several hours and this is how it looked when it came out.

He also made potatoes au gratin, which basically means potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce. How can you go wrong with that? First the potatoes need to be sliced really thin. Luckily our sweet new grater has an almost mandolin-type plane that worked really well.

and they get layered into a casserole dish along with some sliced onion.

Followed by the creamy cheesy sauce….

and this cooked along side the ham in the oven and looked like this when it came out.

I also roasted some brussels sprouts, which I halved first, then mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and pine nuts. Once they were cooked, I topped them with some freshly grated parmesiano reggiano.

Then dinner was served!

Recipe for potatoes au gratin

Pork Chops Marsala

SnOMG, Snowmeggedon, Snowpacolypse, SuperStorm ’10, etc etc etc! Whatever you want to call it, it came, it conquered, and it’s little brother is on it’s way tonight to provide another 10-15 inches. Just what the region needs! I am a little behind on posts so here we go with the first since the onset of the mega snowstorm.

These pictures were from 4pm on Friday.

So for dinner we decided to make pork chops Marsala (a play on veal Marsala). This complimented the weather nicely, as the sauce came out thick and rich. Also, this recipe is relatively easy and doesn’t take too long to make.

First, we dredged the pork chops in flour, a step that can be omitted if trying to go low-carb. I like to use bone-in pork chops for the extra flavor the bone provides. Don’t be scurred of the bones!

Next, we sauteed the pork chops…

…and put them aside to make the sauce.

The sauce ingredients include mushrooms, onions, garlic, and Marsala wine to name a few. They actually sell Marsala wine at the grocery store, so no special trip to the wine store is needed (although if you are on your way there already they probably have it there as well!).  We also had some leftover thyme so we threw that in and it worked really well too.

We used “baby bellas” (pre-sliced) for this dish. Any mushrooms on hand will do.

We were happy with the way it turned out, although an afterthought was to add lemon juice to the sauce. This would have been a great way to break down the sauce a little and add some acidity to it.  Next time, we will definitely add lemon juice!

Even though having cabin fever would be physically impossible at this juncture because we just got home hours earlier, maybe the thought of being stuck in the house for the next several days was the catalyst for this bout.

Recipe for Pork Chops Marsala

Bogie lost this match, but many more will likely be fought… keep your head up buddy!

Meatloaf! The All-American Dinner

Whether it’s 1950 or 2010 you cannot go wrong with this dinner. A classic diner institution, I am pretty sure my meatloaf can match up with anything you see on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but as Greg said, my meatloaf is good because I make it with love. I really do LOVE making (and eating) this meatloaf and the combination of eating it with mashed potatoes and peas (thanks to my Grandma J) is the ultimate combo.  In our house though there is a division over ketchup. I simply cannot eat meatloaf without it and Greg rarely uses it all and prefers his meatloaf with the classic beef gravy, which coincidentally I do not like so much. So, what to do? Make two meatloaves- one with ketchup and one with gravy.

The ingredients for the all-American dinner include, meatloaf “mix” (ground beef, pork, and veal), peas, mashed potatoes (cheating, ya caught me-not from scratch), ketchup (reduced sugar), onion soup mix (hiding in the background), beef gravy, eggs, and bread crumbs.

Meatloaf #1 was my meatloaf- Ketchup Style.

From left to right, bread crumbs (I try to use as little as possible), onion soup mix, ketchup, and an egg atop a package of ground meat. I mix my meatloaf by hand to get all the ingredients incorporated together.

Meatloaf #2 was Greg’s meatloaf- Gravy Style

From left to right, onion soup mix, gravy (a little too much poured out than I wanted), egg, and breadcrumbs (I had to use more to balance out the excess gravy) atop a package of ground meat. Due to my pouring error I had to add more breadcrumbs to get the consistency right. This nearly doubled Greg’s meatloaf in size from mine.

Each loaf went into it’s own dish and got covered in preferred sauce- mine ketchup, Greg’s gravy.

These guys have to cook for a while, at least 45 minutes. In the meantime, I prepared the sides- mashed potatoes and peas. It’s tough to know when the meatloaf is done. I used a meat thermometer and also just went on looks. Below: this meatloaf is not quite done but it’s getting close.

Yum, yum, yum. Both varieties came out great.

Ketchup!

Gravy!

I have to say, the gravy plate looks great! I still prefer to have it my way though.

Recipe for Meatloaf

Two Pizzas

For dinner tonight we decided to make pizza at home because trying to find good pizza in suburban Maryland is IMPOSSIBLE. We went to a local Italian market called Marchone’s to get some of our ingredients. We bought enough dough for two pizzas, their homemade red sauce, and two hot sausage links. We decided to make pizza number 1 a barbecue chicken pizza and pizza number 2 a margherita style with sausage. Both came out great and highly recommend Marchone’s for any ingredients you need for an Italian meal. Also, the sandwich line was very long, which is also a good sign that their subs are good too! We must try those soon…

Pizza #1

After several hours of thawing...

both doughs

chicken mixed with Stubb's bbq sauce

the good stuff

before baking...

after baking

after baking

there was some extra crust so we folded it over

Recipe for BBQ Chicken PizzaPizza #2fresh hot sausage from marchone's.. i love when food comes in deli paper!

before baking

after baking

Recipe for Margherita Pizza with Sausage

Making pizza is an activity I highly recommend! If you live where we do, you will surely be pleased and you get to add whatever toppings you like, making it even better.