Tag Archives: entree

Slow Cooked Root Beer Pulled Pork with a kick…

31 Oct

I’m pretty sure most people like me because of this pulled pork recipe. I’ve brought it to football parties, potlucks and picnics. It’s always a hit and I rarely have leftovers. As someone who complains about leftovers, I get a little sad when all of the pulled pork is devoured.

I made Root Beer Pulled Pork for The Bears Monday Night Football game last week. I was looking forward to having a lazy night on the couch and eating a couple pulled pork sandwiches. I got a call from my hubby mid-morning asking if he could have a couple of friends over for dinner. I hesitated slightly. I wasn’t worried about not having enough pork, but I wasn’t totally thrilled about not having a pork sandwich for lunch the next day. But I decided to put my greediness aside and said of course he could have friends over. I love entertaining and pulled pork is perfect for a Monday night meal.

However, I didn’t get enough pulled pork for my liking. So over the weekend, I made more. It was a nice break from the massive cheesy meatball lasagna I made on Friday night.

I know there are a lot of root beer pulled pork recipes out there… but dare I say, this recipe is the best. Root beer provides some flavor, but I want more. So I like to add additional spices to turn things up a notch. Trust me, you don’t even need BBQ sauce. (but you still can if you want. I won’t judge you.)

And since this is made in a crock pot, it’s the perfect meal for any day of the week. It requires no attention until it’s time to shred the pork.

So to all of my friends, here is my recipe. I guess I’ll need to come up with another recipe to get me invited to shindigs. 🙂

Slow Cooked Root Beer Pulled Pork

  • 1 cup root beer, additional might be needed
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grill seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 lb boneless supreme pork roast
  • 4 to 8 buns
  • BBQ sauce, if needed


  1. Pour root beer into slow cooker. Add all the spices, seasonings and garlic. Gives everything a good stir. Add onions and pork. Add more root beer if needed. You don’t want the pork to be submerged, just nicely floating.
  2. Set the slow cooker on the lowest setting. Cook for 5-6 hours.
  3. When the pork is cooked, shred meat in the slow cooker. Turn the setting down to warm and let the shredded pork hang out for 20 minutes. Serve on buns and BBQ sauce.

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo Risotto

22 Oct

Have you ever had one of those days where everything is thrown at you and you’d really like to hide from the world? This has been my Monday…and a majority of last week. At my place of employment, I’ve been running the warehouse, which isn’t what I normally do. My counterpart who handles this has been out on vacation for the past week. During this time, I’ve had to deal with a lot of warehouse headaches which has taken time away from what I should be doing. Here are just a few things I’ve had to deal with..

  • Fix a printer..which included going out to buy new parts and installing them.
  • Handling an email migration since we switched servers.
  • Another printer broke and this one I couldn’t fix… but I spent countless hours talking & skyping with support to try to get everything resolved.
  • Trying to recover a new password for production’s email account because the girl who set the new password forgot it. Aaand since she forgot it, I wasn’t able to access things I needed from that email account.

So, I was very happy to come to work on Monday because my co-worker would be returning and I can get back to my things. Oh but guess what??!! Co-worker’s flight got delayed and wouldn’t be in the office until Tuesday. Just.My.Luck.

Thankfully, I have something to look forward to this afternoon. Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo Risotto. I know gumbo is usually a soup, but I really wanted risotto. I also really wanted gumbo. And I don’t see a reason why I had to pick between the two. Risotto is an italian rice, it just takes a little longer (and a lot more attention) to cook.

If you don’t already have a Cajun spice mix in your spice drawer, do yourself a favor and go get one. I absolutely love Penzey’s Cajun Spice Blend. It provides so much flavor and just a hint of spice. I can see myself using this blend for more than just gumbo.

I really enjoyed this recipe! It has everything I love — loads of veggies, meat, rice and spice. This is an easy recipe to make your own, too. If you don’t like chicken, replace it with shrimp. Don’t have andouille sausage in your grocery store? Try a spicy turkey sausage instead. Hate okra? Green beans would work.

The highlight of my afternoon will be this risotto. I’m planning on shutting my office door, turning off the light and hiding under my desk in hopes no one will approach me with, “Meghan, we have another problem…” Wish me luck for some solitude!

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo Risotto

  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 okra, sliced
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 lb andouille sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup Arborio Rice
  • 1 tbsp Cajun Spice Blend
  • 1/2 cup wine (could use water or chicken broth)
  • 5-6 cups of warmed chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Put some olive oil in a warm skillet and saute green peppers and celery. Saute till tender crisp. Take off heat and set aside.
  2. Add okra to warm skillet. Okra cooks up fast, so be sure not to over do it. If you do, you will know. It gets slimy. (Gross!!) Once it’s done, remove it from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Cook chicken and sausage. Set aside when done.
  4. Add olive oil to the skillet. Saute onions and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste. Cook and stir for another minute. When all of the tomato paste is incorporated into the onion mixture, add rice and Cajun spice blend. Add salt &  pepper. Cook and stir for a minute. Add wine. Stir the rice mixture until all of wine has been completely absorbed.
  5. Are you ready for a little arm work out?? Add 1/2 cup of warm chicken broth. Stir constantly until the broth has been absorbed. Repeat this task until risotto is cooked. It took me about 25 minutes. If you run out of chicken broth, just use warm water.
  6. Once rice is cooked, add the cooked veggies, meat and diced tomatoes. Continue to stir and make sure the added elements are warm. You may need to add some broth or water to make everything come together. Season with salt, pepper and additional cajun spice blend if needed. When you’re ready to serve, garnish with parsley.

Breithlá sona duit!!

6 Mar

No, I did not make up my own kind of language. Breithlá sona duit means “Happy Birthday” in Irish Gaelic.

Today is a very special person’s birthday. My Dad. And in honor of him, he asked me to come up with a salmon dish…. you know, something besides adding some salt & pepper before throwing it on the grill.

Dad requested something sweet & maybe with a little bourbon. I can do sweet, but no bourbon. I have a Monday Bourbon Free rule. I know that sounds shocking, but it’s true. My liver needs a break.

Instead, I create a marinade with lime juice, cilantro & cumin. YUM. The leftover marinade turned into my sauce for the baked fish. I added some olive oil and honey in my blender with the cilantro marinade and it turned out to be just the right amount of sweet. To round out the meal, I created a veggie filled couscous salad. It was really light and paired nicely with the salmon.

If you have leftovers, this meal is easily made into a salad. This morning, I “flaked” the salmon and added it to my left over couscous, then I drizzled the cilantro honey sauce over it. It was so good!! And it made me really happy to have such a great lunch. (Subway can get a little old after a while.)

So Dad, I hope this recipe hits the spot. If you miss the bourbon, have a little on the side in a shot glass. After all, it is YOUR birthday!

Cilantro Honey Salmon & Veggie Couscous Salad

  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 box couscous, prepared as directed on package
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped thin
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin and paprika in a small bowl. Season with salt & pepper. Spray two pieces of tin foil with cooking spray. Place a salmon fillet in the center of each piece of tine foil. Pour 1/4 cup of marinade over the fillets. (share 1/4 cup between both fillets.) Wrap up each fillet in the tin foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the remaining marinade to the blender. Add 1/2 cup cilantro, olive oil and honey; puree until smooth. Taste, add additional seasoning if needed.
  3. Cook couscous according to directions on the package. Add red pepper, green onions & carrots when the couscous is ready to be fluffed. Put the lid back on the pot for 3 minutes; the veggies will soften slightly.
  4. When the salmon is done, take each fillet out of the foil. Top with salmon & couscous with honey cilantro sauce.

Quesadilla Italiano

29 Feb

Yes. That’s right. Not all quesadillas need to be covered in salsa & stuffed with chorizo. (But I am a HUGE fan of such a thing.)

In this quesadilla, you’ll find lots of vegetables & cheese. YUM. I also came up with a dipping sauce with an Italian flare. You can switch out a beer with this recipe and have a nice glass of vino!

I’m not sure where inspiration came from this dish. However, I did start craving italian food while skimming a gossip blog today. I read New Jersey’s favorite meatball was prego. Lord help us.

This is a meal for 1. But the great thing about a quesadilla is it’s easy to double, triple, octo-something the recipe.

The first thing you want to do is make the dipping sauce. The longer these flavors “hang out”, the better it will be.

Next, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic with some olive oil (or BUTTER). Once the onions are soft, fire up another skillet and spray it with cooking spray. Put a tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle with cheese, mushroom mixture, sun-dried tomatoes & spinach. Top with more cheese and another tortilla. Once the cheese has set, flip the quesadilla so the other side can cook.

When both sides are brown, cut into triangles. Serve (and don’t be shy) with the balsamic dipping sauce.

CHOW, my readers. 🙂

Quesadilla Italiano

Balsamic Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 3 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Onion, diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 tortillas
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbs sun-dried Tomatoes, julienne
  • 1/4 cup Baby Spinach


  1. Combine all of the Balsamic Sauce ingredients. Mix until smooth. Set aside
  2. In a saute pan, add olive oil. Once the skillet is at a medium heat, add mushrooms, onions & garlic. Cook until onions & mushrooms are soft. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet (at medium heat), spray some cooking spray before adding one of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese, mushroom mixture, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach over the tortilla. Top with additional cheese. Place the other tortilla on top.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the tortilla over & cook for 3 minutes (or until brown.) Cut into triangles and serve with balsamic dipping sauce.

Want to impress someone? Make risotto

31 Jan

I laughed when I came up with the name for this blog post. Why? Well, I’m cooking this risotto for myself…. but I’m sure if someone was eating with me, they would be impressed. 🙂

Risotto isn’t the easiest thing to make. It’s a rice that demands a lot of attention, so this isn’t the type of meal that requires little effort. It includes constant stirring but at least your arms will get a nice work out. You’ll need to be patient to get the perfect al dente texture. Once you make risotto at home, you won’t need to order it at restaurants again. Risottos are rarely prepared made to order, so they miss the fine texture which you’ll get by cooking it at home.

Making risotto is a method, so you can add any ingredients you like. In this recipe, I’m going to add roasted red peppers, mushrooms, chicken & goat cheese. If you’re going to follow my posts for this week, you’re going to see these 4 ingredients in all of my recipes. I hope you’re starting to get my cooking mentality, “Cook what you have.” With just 4 ingredients, I’m going to come up with 3 different meals.

For the risotto, the most common short grain rice used is Arborio.  If you’re like me, I have hard time guessing how much dried rice (or pasta) I’ll need for a recipe. I’ve found 1/4 cup of uncooked Arborio rice will cook & expand to about 3/4 cup… which is plenty for me. This recipe is scaled to serve one person, so please make the adjustments if you’re cooking for others. Another tip, any liquid added to the risotto while cooking needs to warm. Cold liquid will shock the rice and keep it from cooking correctly.

This risotto was AMAZING!! The goat cheese makes this recipe so creamy & yummy… not to mention I never had to add any salt to the dish. All of the flavors melt into each other and it’s a really cozy meal. It takes “comfort food” to the next level. Make this dish and you’ll get lots of compliments! What’s your favorite meal to make when you want to impress someone??

Creamy Goat Cheese & Chicken Risotto (Serves 1 person)

  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 3 tsp butter, divided
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup wine
  • 1/2 cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 tbs goat cheese, additional for garnish
  • Basil for garnish (optional)


1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

2. Warm 1 teaspoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

3. Add 2 teaspoons of butter to skillet,  and stir in the onions & garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with butter, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes. ( FYI – I didn’t use the full quart of chicken broth, I had about 3/4 cup leftover.)

4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms, cooked chicken, roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Taste and add salt & pepper (if needed.)

5. Garnish with a small ball of goat cheese and fresh herbs if you have any on hand. Serve immediately and enjoy!