Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dr. Pepper Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is my love language, this drippy beautiful baby of a sandwich right here.

Some ladies want to be taken out for ice cream, some maybe want a nice steak or lobster dinner. For me, however, the way right into my heart is through good old American BBQ.

Pulled pork sandwiches speak to me more than a romantic poem. When I know I'm on my way to a BBQ restaurant, my heart is light and my tummy is hungry. What is better than sweet and tangy barbeque sauce smothering tender, juicy pork all piled high on a soft bun? Don't think too hard, because there is nothing.

When you have a hankering for genuine BBQ at home, try these Dr. Pepper Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches. These are tasty, messy, and completely satisfying. A big ol' pork butt is rubbed with your favorite spice blend then slow-cooked in the Crock-pot with a whole can of Dr. Pepper. How fun is that? The Dr. Pepper flavor is not too overpowering, but it perfectly compliments the sweet notes of the pork. Once the roast has finished cooking, I drained out most of the cooking liquid, shredded the meat with two forks, then doused it all in my favorite BBQ sauce.

Once the pork is done, it is my favorite time--that is, SANDWICH TIME! I used fresh sesame seed buns as the sandwich vessel, then whipped up a quick coleslaw made with fresh cabbage and a homemade mayonnaise. The coleslaw adds a perfect crunch and freshness to these rich BBQ sandwiches. Don't forget to add an extra squirt of BBQ sauce before absolutely inhaling these!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet

Any meal that starts off with the words "quick and easy" instantly has a place in my heart. When those dishes are also packed full of flavor and are super tasty, it's a match made in heaven.

I am a total taco junky, but sometimes I just don't have the patience to prepare all the toppings, and the meat, and the tortillas. There are times when I just want to be able to face-plant right into taco goodness without all the mess.

I think this Quick and Easy Taco Pasta Skillet is just the ticket. This is an absolute crowd pleaser. I tried lightening this dish up by using low fat cheddar cheese, ground chicken, a low-sodium taco seasoning, and Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta. This is a really easy way to sneak an extra 1/2 servingof vegetables into your dinners (by the way -- this post is NOT sponsored! I just enjoy this pasta...)

Pasta noodles are mixed into the browned ground chicken along with a can of petite diced tomatoes, sweet whole corn kernels, taco seasoning, and a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot. A hearty helping of grated cheese goes down on top before the whole skillet is popped into the oven to melt that cheese into a lovely cheese blanket. Has anyone made a cheese blanket yet? No? Well, then.

To finish this dish and add a little freshness, I chopped up a bit of cilantro to garnish the whole skillet. Individual servings can be trashed up with a dollop of sour cream, a few chunks of fresh avocado, or a bit of salsa over the top. If I were eating this skillet alone, I would have also added a can of drained and rinsed black beans. Yes, yes, yes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falafel Pita Pockets

I really, truly, deeply wanted to call this post "Totally Amazing Homemade Falafels." I always back off from things like that though because I might be biased. But with this not-so-humble-brag, I guess the cat is out of the bag now.


Ahem. OK. Let us talk about one of my most beloved foods on this earth. That food is FALAFEL. I think I first discovered these vegetarian gems at Pick Pockets in Smithfield, RI while I was at Bryant University. Pick Pockets is a very modest counter within a gas station convenience store that made the most perfect falafel pita pockets. If for whatever random reason you find yourself in Rhode Island, do yourself a favor and go here! I. Was. Obsessed.

And from then on, I was HOOKED on all things falafel. Falafel is quite simply pulsed chickpeas mashed together with amazing flavors and spices and breadcrumbs, formed into balls or patties and fried to golden perfection. You can eat falafel in all sorts of ways--on salads, as an appetizer or snack, or--my personal favorite--wrapped up in a pita with all the fixin's.

These Falafel Pita Pockets are just that. Simple and delicious homemade falafel patties wrapped up in warm pitas with a cucumber yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and feta cheese. Feta makes everything betta!

Yes, yes. I know. I am a wizard with words.

For a while I reserved falafel for the professionals. Why I was doing this, I have no idea. Homemade falafels are so easy to pull together and the taste and texture is out of this world. These are a regular in our dinner rotation and will be for a long time.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas and Cauliflower

Guys, I've missed you.

I am sorry to have been MIA for the month of February and now most of March. Work and exams required my full attention, but that attention has paid off. And now, just like that, I am back and ready to test out some fun new recipes with you.

You can probably tell from the quality that I snapped these photos really quickly before Cory and I sat down for Valentine's Day dinner (I know, I know. I made this on FEBRUARY 14th and I'm only NOW sharing it with you--awful!) Anyway, trust me when I tell you that despite the boring pictures, this risotto dish is so yummy!

This Baked Parmesan Risotto with Bacon, Peas, and Cauliflower is creamy and dreamy and so flavorful. It has all the delicious qualities of a traditional risotto without the task of stirring it constantly for 40 minutes. I love the combination of peas and bacon -- it's like this risotto is a nod to Pasta Carbonara! Roasted cauliflower adds a depth of flavor, while fresh leeks and crisp white wine cut a bit of that parmesan richness.

If you've been dying to make a risotto at home but aren't ready to tackle the constant stirring process, give this recipe a try. It is totally simple and foolproof, yet it is still elegant enough to serve to your special someone or a bunch of friends for a dinner party. All you need is an oven-proof pot, such as a dutch oven, and you are ready to roll.