When the holidays are over

Pork Roast
You put away the decorations. Take down the lights.

Pork Roast
Pack up the tree shaped cookie cutters,

Pork Roast
and tuck away the red sprinkles.

Pork Roast
It’s kind of sad.
More than kind of.

Pork Roast
Just taking down all the Christmas lights leaves me feeling a bit dim.

Pork Roast
It’s important to find something warm and comforting to look forward to.

Pork Roast
Something to make your spirits bright, even as you stack the last of the storage boxes in the garage.

Pork Roast
Knowing that dinner’s waiting in the crock pot when you get home is pretty darn comforting.

I know, I know. “Pork roast? Come on, Jo; two weeks ago I was gorging myself on honey glazed ham and pierogies.
Roast is so…not festive.”

I hear ya! I do. But I think what I need now is comfort food. And the added luxury of not having to come up with a full dinner menu is so nice. It makes the transition out of the holiday mindset just a little easier.

So. Merry…happy…Thursday.

Pork Roast in the Crockpot
Serves 4 with leftovers

I have to admit, I did not use a recipe or write down what I was throwing into the crockpot, so this is an estimation to the best of my memory. Feel free to add or subtract whatever spices you prefer.

2 pound pork shoulder (or other cut of meat suitable for roast)
1 quart beef or vegetable stock (enough to cover the meat in the crockpot)
1 medium onion, sliced into big chunks
1 or 2 large turnips, sliced into half-rounds
6-8 red potatoes, cut into evenly sized chunks
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
Rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, oregeno and thyme to taste

Pour the stock into your crockpot and add all the seasonings. Stir gently to combine. (If you like a thicker, more gravy-like sauce at the end, add 2-3 tbsp of cornstarch to the stock with the rest of the seasonings.)
Cut the pork in half, or smaller, to ensure that it’s covered almost completely in the stock. Then add the vegetables on top of the roast.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. You just need to make sure the internal temperature of the pork reaches 160F.

And now for something completely different

Name that movie!

The blog world has gone pumpkin crazy.  Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ravioli and even pumpkin macaroni.

I love it, but Nick swears he just doesn’t like pumpkin.  Sad face for me.

So instead of a pumpkin recipe, I bring you pork!
Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and sour pork. It’s so sad that I used to think I hated pork. Pork has totally replaced chicken for me (no one tell my husband!).

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly long ingredients list. This is an easy dinner to throw together, and as long as the pork isn’t frozen, you’ll have it on the table in about 30 minutes, depending on if you serve this with rice or quinoa. (Rice takes a little longer)

I have made this recipe twice already. The first time I used carrots, because that’s what the original recipe called for, and that’s what I had in my fridge. Let me just say, my family (me especially) hates cooked carrots. I’m not sure what I was thinking, except for “sweet, I already have carrots in my fridge!” If you see carrots mixed in with the pork, pretend it’s magic when they turn into snow peas, ok? It’ll be more fun that way.

Sweet & Sour Pork
Adapted from Eating Well

1 pound pork sirloin
1 tbsp minced or grated ginger
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp dry cooking sherry, divided
3 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sesame oil, divided
3 tbsp pineapple juice (I just used the juice from the canned pineapple)
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp brown sugar
snow peas (several large handfuls)
1 tomato, thinly sliced into wedges
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 cups pineapple chunks (I used canned so that I’d have pineapple juice, but fresh would be delicious too)

Cut the pork into bite sized pieces. Combine the pork, ginger, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sherry, 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, salt, pepper and 1 tsp sesame oil in a bowl.
In another small bowl, stir the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. When the brown sugar has dissolved, add in 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sherry and 2 tsp cornstarch.
Heat a wok until it’s so hot that a drop of water evaporates in a second or two, then add the pork mixture in a single layer. Let it cook for a minute before stirring, and then stir fry it until it’s almost completely done through. Remove it to a plate to let it rest.
Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in the wok, and add the snow peas. Stir the peas a few times, and then add the pork and it’s juices back to the wok. Add the tomato and the scallions, then pour in the pineapple juice mixture, followed by the pineapple. Heat through and allow the sauce to thicken before serving over rice or quinoa.

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Isn’t it fun how carrots can magically turn into snow peas?

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork
Letting the pork rest between stir frying keeps it moist and ensures that the texture won’t get rubbery.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork
The sauce won’t get super thick, but it definitely sticks to everything.

Sweet and Sour Pork
Ah! Magic!!

Sweet and Sour Pork
Magic carrots over quinoa.

Sweet and Sour Pork
Magic snow peas over rice.

Either way, this is a keeper.

Citrus Glaze with Pork

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I know, I know. I’m not supposed to like pork.

Here’s the thing–I can admit when I’m wrong.  About food.  I can totally admit when I’m wrong about food.

This was one of those recipes that I’ve never tried before, and hadn’t really put much thought into, and didn’t exactly involve a recipe.

But really, how can you go wrong with freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce and ginger?  You can’t, really.  It’s pretty much a sure thing.  Little of this, splash of that, shake here and there.  Voila, dinner.

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Start with some orange juice. Toss it into a bag. Add some splashes of low sodium soy sauce. Put some pork chops into the bag. Put the bag into the refrigerator. Go to work. Dream of dinner.

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Get home. Put some more fresh orange juice into a pan. Add brown sugar.

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Add corn starch. Whisk like crazy because you’re not familiar with how corn starch works.

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Remember that ginger would be absolutely perfect in here. Remember that you have no fresh ginger to grate on your new microplane. Remember that you have the next best thing.

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Whisk like crazy and try not to add 8 teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken it up instantly. Cornstarch takes a minute to work its magic.

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Get really excited when your sauce starts to visibly thicken.

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Pour it into a bowl and let it cool. Dip the tip of a finger into the bowl. Lick the sauce off of your finger and resist the urge to go at the sauce with a spoon.

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Admire the sauce and wonder what else it would be good with. Steak? Pancakes? More sauce?

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Gather your grilled pork and some quinoa or white rice.

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Start the drizzling.

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Keep drizzling.

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Drizzle with wild abandon.

Enjoy.

Grilled Pork with Citrus Glaze
Serves 4

4 pork chops
3 oranges
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp ginger powder

Combine the pork chops, soy sauce, and the juice of one orange in a container. Allow the pork to marinate at least two hours (all day is best).
Grill the pork, occasionally adding the leftover marinade to keep things juicy.
Meanwhile, squeeze the juice of the remaining two oranges into a pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, corn starch and ginger, whisk to combine. (This is when you should also cook the quinoa or rice, according to package directions)
Allow the sauce to thicken, stirring regularly. When it reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat and let it cool.
When the pork is cooked completely, drizzle the sauce over it and serve.

This is a great mix of sweet and savory. If you want to spice things up a bit, add some red pepper flakes to the sauce.

PS: Pretty soon I’ll have progress shots of the new kitchen!  w00t w00t!

Turning Hate into Delicious

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What happens when you take three things you “hate” and put them together to make a meal?

Epic success, apparently.

What are my hates? Well for this meal, they were pork, mango and cilantro.

Normally, the only pork I like is bacon. Very rarely, I’ll eat sausage; but only if it’s really, really good, high-quality sausage. My friend Elizabeth once got me to eat a stuffed pork chop, and that was delicious, but not something I’d try to make for myself. My experience with pork chops have been…Do you want the nice version? Unsatisfactory. Dry. Inedible. Just plain “ugh.”

Mango is one of those things I really want to like. It’s so exotic. And pretty! But it has the strangest texture. And truthfully, I like the aftertaste better than the actual taste. Isn’t that weird? There are a few mango flavored things (ice cream) that I enjoy, but I seriously love fresh fruit. I would very much like to eat fresh mango the way my husband and son devour them.

Cilantro. I can take it in very small doses. Or I can leave it out entirely, which is a better option. If it’s supposed to be the main source of flavor or “pop,” I generally sub in basil. This poses a problem for me because I love Indian food. And Indian cuisine uses a lot of cilantro.  Basil is a good substitute most of the time, but not always.

But when I was stalking the internet uhhdrooling over recipes umm, researching what to make for dinner, this beauty made me stop.  And then I read the title.  “Hold on, hold on.  Pulled pork?  With mango slaw?  Oh great, cilantro!”

But it just looked so juicy!  And fall-y apart-y.  Did I mention delicious?

And then I made the *mistake* of telling Nick about it.  The next thing I knew we were at Costco putting a four pack of pork sirloin and a flat of mangos into our cart.  A quick trip to Safeway led to a few sprigs of cilantro, and dinner was in business.

I’ve been changed.  I’ve been converted!  Well, maybe.  Converted to Andie’s Pulled Pork with Mango Slaw, anyway.

This is so full of flavor, but it feels very light.  It wasn’t at all greasy, but that was mostly due to the sirloin that we got.  And the Mango Slaw is a must.  Seriously, don’t leave it out.  The pork is amazing on it’s own, but with this slaw?  Just do it.

Can You Stay For Dinner Pulled Pork with Mango Slaw
Serves 4

1/2 onion, sliced (not chopped)
1 pound pork sirloin
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mango Slaw
1 large mango, peeled & sliced into matchsticks
juice of one lime
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro

Place the onion in the slow cooker, followed by the pork. Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over top of the pork. Cook on low for 8 hours. Before serving, use two forks to shred the pork. It will look like you have too much sauce before you shred it, but I promise you it will get absorbed and be amazing.

Combine the mango, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

In case you aren’t sold yet, you should really go check out the photos from the original post. Here’s what I managed in my haste to eat:
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Andie, for real, I would love to stay for dinner!