Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was a Dutch oven from my mom, so naturally the first thing I did when I got back to Austin was make pulled pork. I also used the leftover mashed potatoes (we had a ton!) to make a potato salad- delish!
Pulled Pork
Barbecue Sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Pulled Pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 pound pork butt, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
Hamburger buns
For the sauce, combine all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the pork, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium high heat. Rub the pork with salt and pepper and then place in oven. Brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add onion and 1 cup barbecue sauce, reduce heat to low and cover. Turn pork about every 30 minutes, cooking for about 4 hours total (longer if desired). Remove pork from heat and pull into bite-sized pieces. Toss with extra 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and. Serve on a hamburger bun with extra sauce as desired and cole slaw, recipe listed below.
Simple Cole Slaw
4 cups coleslaw mix (found in the produce pre-cut veggie section)
1/2 to 3/4 cup light mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. Excellent on sandwich or as a side dish.
Mashed Potato Salad
3 cups mashed potatoes (mine were herbed mashed potatoes)
1/2 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup diced pickles
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and enjoy! Go light on the salt and pepper at first, since the mashed potatoes will have already been seasoned if you're using leftovers.

Spicy Turkey Peanut Stir-fry

In an effort to use up Christmas leftovers, my next few posts will all feature fun leftovers meals. These are all new recipes for me, and they're quite tasty! Enjoy!
Spicy Turkey Peanut Stir-fry

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 poblano pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup carrots, julienned
1 tablespoon chili paste
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chicken or turkey broth
1 cup cooked turkey (I used breast meat)
4 cups swiss chard
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet, add onion and garlic and saute about 2 or 3 minutes. Add all peppers and carrots and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chili paste, peanut butter, lime and broth and reduce, about 2 minutes. Stir in turkey to heat through and simmer for 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in chard until wilted, about 2 minutes. Finally, top with peanuts and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays From My Kitchen to Yours

Tis the season to celebrate with your friends and loved ones. No matter what you celebrate or who you celebrate with, I hope you are happy and healthy! Here are a few ways that I celebrated the holidays this year:
Early "Christmas morning" with the roommates which consisted of a traditional Lehfeld family breakfast and a traditional Noteware breakfast, a secret santa gift exchange and of course, mimosas!

Decorating a gingerbread house with my sister. This is a lot tougher than I remember! It looks like a 6 year old made it, but we had so much fun doing it (and didn't even eat the gumdrops!) Too bad there were no soda cans to support the walls while the icing dried, so we resorted to beer :)

Presents! Need I say more?

Games and wine- if you know me or any of my family members, this is quite fitting :)
A delicious dinner. It was so much fun cooking and having help from all the family members- I love a good Christmas feast!

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

I've recently discovered my affinity for olives and have therefore started to include them more in my meals. I'm in Kingwood this week celebrating Christmas with my family, and since we usually eat out a lot whenever I come in town, I thought it might be a treat to cook dinner for them. We usually have a good bit of wine around, so I thought a Mediterranean pasta with a wine sauce would be the perfect thing.
Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup artichoke hearts
1/2 cup pitted olives
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes
8 ounces fettuccini
4 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese

Cut chicken breasts into pieces and sprinkle with herbs. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat and add oil. Cook chicken breasts until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Add onion and garlic and sautee about 3 minutes. Stir in artichoke hearts and olives and cook addition 2 minutes. Stir in broth, wine, salt and pepper and tomatoes, cover, reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water until boiling. Salt well and add fettuccini, cook until al dente. Drain and reserve.

When chicken mixture is done simmering, stir in spinach to wilt, about 2 minutes. Then divide fettuccini evenly among 4 plates, top with chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Enjoy!
My mom and sister loved it :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies

I wanted to make something tasty for my friends and coworkers for Christmas, but I wasn't sure what. I stumbled across this delicious looking brownie recipe on Our Best Bites and decided to try it out-- so good!

Peppermint Candy Cane Brownies


4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4oz)
1 C butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1t vanilla
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 t baking powder


2 C powdered sugar
4 T butter, softened
1 1/2 t peppermint extract
1 T milk
Pink food coloring

Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz (about a cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips ,you could also use dark
6T real butter


1/2-1 C crushed candy canes (Use Bob's NOT Spanglers!)

First, the Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The chocolate you want is baking chocolate, which is sold in bars by the chocolate chips. Make sure it is unsweetened. Give those squares a rough chop so they'll be easier to melt.Then place them in a microwave-safe bowl along with the 2 sticks of butter (also chopped).

Melt in 30-45 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a stand mixer or with electric beaters, beat eggs for about 3 minutes until thick and frothy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat to combine. Then add in the melted chocolate and butter that you set aside. Combine flour and baking powder and whisk into brownie batter by hand until just combined. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. If you want to make the job much easier, line your pan with foil first.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness and don't over bake! When brownies are done, cool on a cooling rack. When completely cool, pop in the fridge to chill. (makes the frosting spreading easier)

Next layer is the frosting
Combine all frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Add extra milk by teaspoonful if you need a little more. Spread evenly over cooled/chilled brownies and place back in the fridge to chill again while you do the final step.

Chocolate Glaze:
Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in 30 second intervals until smooth.

Set aside for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, so it can cool off just a bit. Quickly spread on top of brownies.

Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and return to the fridge until chocolate is set on top.

Remove from fridge a few minutes before serving. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Shrimp Skewers with Sauteed Veggies and Southwestern Wontons

A few weeks ago for our office Christmas party we did a cooking class at Whole Foods which turned out to be a lot of fun! We did a world cooking class and made dishes from six different countries. I was in charge of Mexco and made these delicious sirloin kebabs, which inspired my shrimp kebabs for this evening.

The previous night, I had prepared a dessert using won ton wrappers and had some left along with corn kernels, so I thought it would be fun to do a southwestern won ton appetizer- there were some fun flavors in there, though I may tweak the recipe a bit, so be on the lookout for a revised version soon!

Finally, I thought some sauteed fruit and veggies with a pineapple soy sauce would be the perfect side dish in a bed of rice for this tropical winter treat.

Chipotle Lime Shrimp Kebabs

2 chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle in adobo can
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound shrimp, deveined and tails off

Finely chop the chipotles and then mix in a bowl with all other ingredients. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak 6 wooden skewers in water to prevent scorching while cooking.

Preheat a grill pan on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Thread 3 to 4 shrimps on each skewer and cook about 3 minutes on each side.

Sauteed Fruits and Veggies with Pineapple Soy Sauce

1 (6 ounce) can pineapple juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Zest and juice from 1/2 orange
1 orange bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups 1-inch pineapple chunks

Preheat a saucepan on medium high heat and combine first four ingredients. Once simmering, reduce heat and cook about 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened. While sauce is thickening, heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add remaining ingredients and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

To serve, place vegetables on a bed on white rice and drizzle with pineapple soy sauce.

Southwestern Won Ton Bites

12 medium won ton skins
4 ounces corn kernels
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 (4 ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 roma tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and place won ton skins in the tin. Heat a skillet on medium and spray with cooking spray. Roast corn, onion and bell pepper for about 5 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl. Mix in cream cheese and salt and pepper and divide equally among won ton skins. Bake about 15 minutes until skins begin to brown. Remove and top with tomato and avocado pieces and then top with cilantro. Enjoy!

Tamales with Mexican Rice

I didn't grow up eating tamales, so I've always been intrigued by them. My friend Ivette raves about them and had been on a quest to find good, homemade tamales for a reasonable price. She found a random lady selling 7 dozen for $7 a dozen, so I ordered a dozen of half chicken and half pork. They were delicious! I plan on buying some more next time she makes an order and making omelette's out of them, much like El Arroyo.

To go with them I wanted to make Mexican rice and a salad to lighten things up. One of my favorite bloggers to read is Ben from What's Cooking, so I took his recipe for Mexican Rice- it turned out great, so thanks Ben!

Mexican Rice

Vegetable oil
1 ½ cups of rice
2-3 Roma tomatoes
½ small onion
2 garlic cloves
chicken broth if necessary
1 small can of mixed vegetables

In a deep saucepan heat about 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium fire.
When the oil has thinned add the rice and let it fried until it gets light brown. Stir constantly so it browns evenly. This step is very important to avoid the rice to stick when cooked.

In a blender mix tomatoes, onion and garlic with some chicken broth until well blended. The secret to perfect
rice is to double the liquid of the amount of rice. This means that for 1 ½ cups of rice we will need 3 cups of liquid. Make sure that you have 3 cups of liquefied tomato mix on your blender.

When the rice is light brown mix it with canned vegetables, tomato mix and salt to taste.
Stir and bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and cover. Let it cook for about 15 minutes.

Here’s another tricky part to avoid the rice to break and stick.
You don’t want to stir constantly but not stirring at all will cause the rice to stick and burn at the bottom of the pan so stir lightly every 5 minutes making sure the rice is not sticking to the bottom.

When the water is almost absorbed stir more constantly but always lightly.

Cilantro Poblano Salad

1 poblano pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 bunches cilantro
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 bag romaine hearts
1 package cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup roasted corn kernels
1 avocado

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast pepper for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Let cool, then halve and remove stem and seeds. Add garlic and pine nuts to a food processor and pulse. Add pepper and pulse again. Add cilantro, 1/4 olive oil, salt and pepper and lime juice and pulse until smooth. Whisk together 2 tablespoons with remaining olive oil and set aside. Toss lettuce tomatoes, corn and avocado with dressing and serve.

I like this salad because I had made the pesto a couple days before for some breakfast tacos I had prepared, so this was a great way to finish it off.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best Green Beans Ever

Before you get confused, this is not Apron. She's making me muffins right now, and I've confiscated her computer so I can blog about green beans. By the way, this is Roommate Daba, and this recipe is a concoction that my mom and I adapted from a most delicious entry in the most delicious cookbook called Stop and Smell the Rosemary. And, I tend to go overboard on onion and garlic, so use your own discretion on that!

Best Green Beans Ever

4 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup minced white onion

1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade

2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

3 0r 4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt
1 lb. green beans, snapped and blanched

Melt butter in large skillet and add onion. Saute until soft on medium heat. Add basil, rosemary, garlic, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in beans. Cook uncovered until beans are thoroughly heated. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve, and enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Something that I've really come to enjoy the past few years that I wasn't really exposed to as a child is hummus. Somehow, I've managed to never attempt making it, even though hummus is actually quite simple. I decided to make a roasted red pepper one since that is the first hummus I ever had. Of course there are a hundred

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 red bell peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 15-ounce can chick peas
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheets and roast about 20 minutes, turning every few minutes. During last 3 minutes of cooking, toss garlic cloves on sheet to lightly roast. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove stem and seeds from bell pepper and place in food processor with garlic; pulse. Add in chick peas and pulse until smooth. Add lemon juice and olive oil as needed (about 1/4 cup) and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. I served this with warm sliced pita, carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

My friend Karen was visiting so I made her my test subject. She approved!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Guest Blog: Thanksgiving Lefse

Hello Apron Adventurers! Lindsay was nice enough to ask me to write up a post about the traditional Made lefse for thanksgivingNorwegian flat bread I contributed to our duplex thanksgiving this year, so here it is kids. Enjoy!

Part of my family's tradition for both thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for about as long as I can remember has been the making and eating of Lefse. Lefse originates in Norway, and is about the only thing I can show for my 1/16th Norwegian heritage, but this was the first year I've ever attempted to make it alone. It turned out to be pretty easy, but does take a good amount of time and some special equipment.

  • 13 cups mashed potatoes (no lumps)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs thick cream
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup flour
Yield: 10-12 lefse.
20lb of
potatoes yields roughly 10 and a half batches (we like to think big).

You will also need:
  • lefse stick. A wooden stick thats flat enough to slide under a lefse and about 3/4" wide, used for moving the dough from the rolling surface to the griddle.
  • lefse rolling pin. I've never seen these used for anything else, its a regular rolling pin with grooves cut laterally down the side. Luckily my mom had a spare.
  • Pastry Cloth. Its hard to find these, but it can be done. I made mine from a thick cotton canvas pulled tight across a flat, heavy piece of wood (just like my grandma used to). You need it to be at least as big as your griddle, and the more room the better.
Boil and mash the potatoes, mixing in the cream, butter, and salt. This can be done all at once if making multiple batches. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool. You can keep it like this overnight, but I'd throw some saran wrap on it in that case. Once the potatoes are cold, heat up your handy lefse griddle to about 475 degrees, and rub flour into your pastry cloth. One batch at a time, add the 1 cup of flour to the potatoes, and make into small fist-sized balls. To keep them as cold as possible, return them to the fridge, taking out one ball at a time. Roll each ball into as thin a lefse as possible before it starts sticking to the pin. This is the tricky part. Cold dough minimizes stickiness, and frequently rubbing the pin and cloth in flour helps as well. In order to transfer the lefse from the pastry board, start from one end and roll it up around the lefse stick, unrolling it on to the griddle.flour everywhere It should cook for about 1 minute a side, enough for golden brown spots to begin to form. When done, place between two moist towels, flipping the pile occasionally.

And there you have it! I made 10 pounds of potatoes, and between snacking while cooking, and our 30 guests at thanksgiving, only 3 lefse were left over, so it looks like I'll have to do it again for Christmas since I had none left to freeze. We typically serve lefse warm or at room temperature (it cools fast...) with butter, with butter and brown sugar, or just plain. I usually roll it up and eat about half a lefse at a time, depending on the size. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Ha Det!

Grilled Sandwiches: 2 Ways

As the weather gets even colder, I keep wanting warm comfort food. I love sandwiches, but when you add the hot element, it instantly elevates a sandwich in my mind. The Monte Cristo sandwich I made because we were having a game night. I wanted something delicious and warm, but also kind of fun. I wanted to add my own spin, so I added bacon, because I had it, and I also didn't want just the traditional jam, so I turned it into a cream sauce.

The grilled cheese came about becau
se, well, I had a lot of bread I needed to use. Also, I had made a delicious chicken, onion and red pepper soup the night before and plenty of leftovers, so a warm grilled cheese sandwich was the perfect companion.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches with Grape Dipping Sauce

Monte Cristo

8 slices bread, I used Earth Grains Whole Wheat
4 slices turkey deli meat

4 slices ham deli meat

4 slices cooked bacon
4 slices Jarlsberg cheese
1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Grape Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grape jam
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet on medium heat, sprayed with cooking spray. Assemble sandwiches by putting 1 piece of turkey, ham, bacon (halved) and cheese in between the bread. In a shallow dish, combine egg and milk. Dunk sandwich in egg mixture on each side and add to skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on one side, flip, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on the other side, until bread has a nice brown color and cheese is melting.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan on medium low heat. Melt butter, and then
whisk in flour. Let cook about 1 minute. Whisk in heavy cream and let heat about 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in grape jam and salt and pepper. Serve in a small condiment dish next to sandwiches.

I served this with a great light salad. It was simply spinach, halved grapes, bacon and toasted almonds drizzled with my sweet onion poppyseed dressing I love so much.

Grilled Cheese with Spicy Cilantro Pesto


3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

2 cloves garlic

1/2 jalapeno, halved and seeded

1 bunch cilantro (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Olive oil as needed, about 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper to taste


8 pieces bread

2 tablespoons butter, softened

8 slices colby jack cheese

4 ounces Manchego cheese, shredded

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 cup cilantro pesto

1 avocado

For the pesto, add pine nuts and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in jalapeno and pulse again. Add in cilantro and cheese and pulse until combined. With motor running, stream in olive oil until it reaches a desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the sandwiches, Preheat a large skillet on medium heat, sprayed with cooking spray. Butter one side of each piece of bread. Spread a thin layer of cilantro pesto on the other side of each piece of bread. Layer sandwiches in this order: 1 piece bread (butter side down), 1 slice colby jack cheese, a sprinkle of Manchego cheese, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice colby jack, other slice bread (butter side up). Add to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until bread is nicely browned and cheese is melting.

While sandwiches are cooking, halve avocados and cut into slices. When sandwiches are done, slice on the diagonal and place an avocado piece on each half, secured with a toothpick. Enjoy with a nice warm soup!