Sunday, July 22, 2012

RECIPE: Cabbage Soup, where have you been all my life?

So I joined a CSA two weeks ago, which makes me feel very green and virtuous, as you can imagine. I eat local produce! Yay agriculture!

But it also means I have to find uses for vegetables I'm not acquainted with, like the freakishly large head of cabbage we got last week. Luckily, while researching cabbage recipes, I found that cabbage gets along very well with ham -- and if you're cool with ham, then you're cool with me. I decided to go with a cabbage soup, but I had to cheat like crazy because I've been neglecting my duties as the resident grocery shopper and the cupboards are pretty bare as a result.  

Get ready for a random ingredients list:

  • one 8-oz. pack of diced ham
  • 1 cup water
  • the seasoning from a Lipton chicken soup packet (We were out of bouillon cubes, so I just fished out the seasoning. A few stray noodles snuck in, but noodles don't cause trouble! Of course, if you have some bouillon in stock, fancypants, go ahead and use that.)
  • half a head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tsp Papa Joe's salt (or a mix of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • half a bag of steam-in-the-bag carrots
  • 1 can of Campbell's Select Harvest tomato basil soup

Boil the cabbage in a pot of water until it gets wilted. Then strain the water and add everything else listed above (including a cup of water). Let it simmer until it's all hot, then eat.

Dude, I could totally do the cabbage soup diet. I've never liked anything with cabbage (stuffed cabbage? cole slaw? ugh) but THIS WAS DELICIOUS. I was all...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

RECIPE: Slow Cooker Apple Pulled Pork with a Kick

It's my birthday on Sunday, and I'm going to celebrate the same way I do every year -- by eating the tops off all the cupcakes. You know why? Because I'm a grownup and I make the rules now. So I can lick the icing and throw away the cake if I want to.

That's pretty much the same reason I eat pulled pork every week. It used to be relegated to the occasional party or festival, but once I figured out how to make it in the crockpot, my instant gratification kicked in and now it's a weekly staple.

I'm kind of obsessed with pulled pork recipes, and constantly shifting my favorites around on the proverbial podium. But I have to say -- this is hands-down my best pulled pork recipe since last year's pulled porkgasm.

You'll need:

  • 1-2 lbs. pork loin (I used boneless)
  • 1 1/4 cup apple juice (we like Mott's Natural)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Papa Joe's salt (or a mix of sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Weber Kick'n Chicken spice mix
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic

Mix everything but the pork in a bowl. Dunk the pork loin in the bowl to coat it, then dump everything in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours.

You can do the usual tricks to make it extra juicy (marinate it ahead of time, brown the outside of the pork to seal in the juices) but trust me when I say it is not necessary. The mixture just seeps into the pork like magic and makes it crumble -- it literally took me four stabs of a fork to shred the entire roast.

Hubby dressed it up with a slice of muenster and a fresh Jersey tomato on the bakery multigrain from Shop-Rite which is possibly the best grocery-store bread ever.

Monday, July 9, 2012

RECIPE: Horchata!

Horchata has been around for eleventy billion years (or at least a lot of centuries) so I'm not sure why I never discovered it until about four years ago. We were at Blue Tortilla in New Hope (one of my favorite Mexican restaurants) and the owner peer-pressured us into ordering a pitcher. (I was knocked up at the time, and he won me over by whispering in my ear, "Don't worry, zee milk eez pasturized." He knows how to sweet-talk a paranoid preggo!) I love rice, and milk, and cinnamon, and vanilla, so horchata pretty much blew my mind.

But for all my extensive burrito consumption, I haven't had the best luck finding places that serve horchata. So I've been relying on our yearly trips to New Hope, and the one time at Rutgers Day when one of the Latin-Am student clubs had a huge cooler of horchata and the girl running the table was like, "We have a lot left over, so take as much as you want" and I swear I heard church bells.

Anyway. I decided to make my own. And guess what? NAILED IT! On the first try, no less! O-freakin'-lé!

You'll need:
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rice (anything non-instant...I used basmati)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (heaping)
  • 1/6 cup sugar

Soak the rice in the water for about 45 minutes. You'll end up with murky rice-water like this:

Dump it into a blender and puree for about 30 seconds.

Then pour it into a pitcher, using a strainer to separate the rice water from the rice.

Throw the rice chunks away. Add the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar to the pitcher. Stir it up and serve it cold. As Backpack would say, "Om nom nom nom nom, delicioso!"

P.S. Random fun fact: In Valencia, Horchata is called orxata, as in "Or, xata!" or "Gold, darling!" :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

RECIPE: The Perfect Steak Marinade

I know yesterday was the 4th of July. And I know as a food blogger, I'm supposed to make some sort of patriotic dessert like a star-spangled apple pie or a red, white, and blue parfait.

But here's the thing: I didn't feel like it.

For starters, I don't actually like parfait. I don't even like fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt. I love raspberries, and I love yogurt, but nary the two shall meet in my cup.

So I decided to make a big, juicy steak instead. U-S-A! U-S-A!

And I declared independence (see what I did there?) from bottled barbecue sauce and made my own slammin' marinade.

YUM. I'm eating the leftovers as I'm writing this.

Just a sidenote, I used local honey (from Mill Creek Apiary) in this recipe. We keep it around for our allergies. If you haven't tried it yet, local honey is insanely effective at keeping seasonal allergies at bay.  (You should probably talk to a doctor first if you have severe allergies.) I'd like to thank my hubby's friend Mike for this little gem of holistic brilliance -- I went from wanting to decapitate myself last season to feeling mildly stuffy this season. And all I had to do was drink sugar. GOOD DEAL.

Anyway. Back to the beef. You'll need:

  • 2-3 lb. London broil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Papa Joe's salt (or a mix of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder)

1. Throw everything in a Ziploc bag and marinate overnight, massaging the bag occasionally. Just stick it on the middle shelf so whenever you open the fridge, you're like, "Hey, there's my bag o' steak. I should massage it."

2. After it's had 24 hours to soak in, grill it up like you normally would! For me, that means handing it to my husband and saying, "Here, grill this. And don't overcook it!" (I'm very helpful.)

Good job, hubby! I'd say "well done" but it was more like medium-well, am I right? (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Then eat. Perfection!