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

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

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

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Ah! Magic!!

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Magic carrots over quinoa.

Sweet and Sour Pork
Magic snow peas over rice.

Either way, this is a keeper.

Not so much a recipe…

More of a “why have I not been doing this for years?” post.

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Remember back when I made caramel sauce? For some strange reason, I haven’t made it since then.  I know, right!?

The other day, I decided to make caramel sauce.  I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but it sounded lovely.  And come on, like I wouldn’t be able to figure out what to do with it?

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I’d also been pouring the leftover coffee into an ice tray and freezing it in the off hand chance I’d have time to make iced coffee.

See where I’m going?

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I didn’t have time to cold brew, so I made coffee in the french press, poured it into a pitcher, and let it rest in an ice bath.

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Once it was chilled, I took the caramel sauce and drizzled it in some glasses.
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Totally fancy, I know.

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Then I added the coffee cubes,

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my favorite creamer,

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then the coffee. I used the caramel drizzling spoon to give it a little stir, and voila!

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Lovely. Like Starbucks, only waaaaaaaay cheaper. And closer. To my mouth. Mmmhmmm.

For this batch, I didn’t let the coffee cool enough, so the caramel drizzles disappeared when I poured the coffee in. I got it right the next time, though. When drank through a straw, you’ll get little caramel bombs of delicious. And if you want to be suuuper fancy, blend the coffee, coffee cubes and creamer for a frappuccino. There’s no way you’ll regret that.

So, now that I have the power of delicious iced coffee, you’ll find me out in my back yard, chillin’ with a book and sippin’ on love. You should try it too. Then call me.

Pioneer Woman’s Caramel Sauce

4 tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp course grained sea salt (optional)

Combine butter, brown sugar, half and half and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk gently, but pretty constantly, for 5-7 minutes. Add vanilla and cook for another minute or so, allowing the sauce to thicken before removing it from the heat. Pour the sauce into a container (glass jars rock) and refrigerate until cold and thick. If you like salted caramel, add in the 1/2 tsp of course sea salt once the caramel is completely chilled, just before serving.

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!

14 Things

This post contains an obscene amount of exclamation points.  Read at your own discretion.

1.     I have exciting things to show you!

2.     But not today.

3.     I’m feeling so much better!

4.     Strep is awful.

5.     Antibiotics are amazing!

6.     Which is good, because strep is truly debilitating.

7.     I got back in my kitchen!

8.     The pictures, of course are still hanging out in my camera.

9.     I made something that my husband loves!

10.   I love it too!

11.   I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love it as much as we do!

12.   I feel like a schmuck for not remembering  to upload my photos.

13.   I feel like a schmuck for teasing you with such an exciting title.

14.   As soon as I get my photos uploaded, I’ll have a really exciting recipe to post!

Have a good day!  And in advance preparation, please pick up some course grain sea salt and some half and half.  Extra credit goes to anyone who can guess the recipe based on those clues!

🙂

I Had Some Time

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Complete recipe written up neatly at the bottom

I had some time yesterday morning.  Because my alarm went off at 5:30 in the morning, and even the thought of going to the gym couldn’t get me out of bed.  I was tiiiiiiiirrrrrred.

But then, at exactly 6:15, I decided I was awake and had better get out of bed.  My workout was scrubbed for an extra 45 minutes of sleep.  Sometimes you just have to give yourself those little indulgences.

So, with all my free time in the morning, I decided to marinate tofu.

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This tofu was pressed to remove the extra moisture for about 10 minutes.

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Then cubed.

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Stuff was thrown in a bag.

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And then smooshed to combine.

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Tofu was added, and then shaken. Not stirred.

And then I threw the bag in the refrigerator and went to work.

When I came home, I turned the broiler on, covered a cookie sheet in foil, and used my new Misto to spray some olive oil on the foil. (Heehee, I rhymed!)
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The tofu had sucked up almost all of the marinade, but I tossed it out onto the cookie sheet and poured the last drops of marinade on top.

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Once that was in the oven for a few minutes, I started some quinoa.
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About ten minutes later, in between stirring the quinoa, I stirred the tofu around a bit,
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It smelled so delicious!

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Chopped some vegetables for a salad,

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And then all that was left was assembly.

This was so fast and easy. From turning the broiler on to sitting down at the table was about 30 minutes.
Although this tofu wasn’t knock your socks off and “call yo’ mama” good, it was delicious and far moister than my typical (10 minutes) marinated tofu.

So if you have some time tomorrow morning, give it a shot.

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Easy tofu marinade:

1 block of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic (or one whole clove, pressed)
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp cayenne

Wrap tofu in a towel or paper towel and press under a few plates or cook books for about 10 minutes. Dice into desired shape (cubes or slices) and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a ziplock bag or bowl, whisk or shake to combine. Add tofu, then refrigerate for half an hour or up to 8 hours.
Preheat broiler and cover a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil with olive oil or cooking spray, and then spread tofu into a single layer on the cookie sheet.
Remove tofu from the oven when the corners are crispy and the tofu is a nice dark color.  Serve over quinoa, rice, couscous, or whatever floats your tofu boat!

Sauced

I love making things from scratch.  It just tastes better, 99% of the time.  There’s so much satisfaction in saying “I made it myself.”  You always know exactly what went in it, and you can tailor it to suit your tastes.

That being said, I don’t know that I would have attempted to make my own tomato sauce.  I mean, don’t you have to be an Italian grandma to do that?  Things like homemade bagels and sugar cookies don’t worry me at all, but sauce?  I don’t know man…

Fortunately, as I’d find out, tomato sauce can be much easier than bagels and sugar cookies.  Nick, brave soul that he is, whipped this sauce together without knowing the Italian grandma rule.  I just came home one night, and it was heating on the stove.  He may not be Italian, and he’s definitely not a grandma, but it took a lot of will power not to just eat all the sauce, straight up.  Both of us were spooning it right out of the pot.

I’m sure he looked up several recipes online and then adapted them for his taste and our available ingredients, but I have no idea which ones he used.  I’ll check with him and give credit where credit is due.

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Start with two cans of diced tomatoes. If you want to use seasoned tomatoes, that’s cool. We buy these in bulk at Costco so that we can make a lot of sauce.

Diced Tomato
Throw ’em in a pot, and then add one small can of tomato paste.

Hollow Paste
My paste has a hole in it! 😉

Onion
Add some diced onion. We like chunky sauce, so there’s about half an onion in there.

Orange Bell Pepper
Diced orange bell pepper. Ours were pretty sad and limp, but we were able to get about one whole pepper worth in the sauce.

Basil & Spinach
Here’s where the Italian part comes from. Fresh basil makes a huge difference in the flavor. If you’re in a pinch, you could definitely use dried basil–just know that you’re missing out, and try not to be too sad.  We added 2 cloves of fresh garlic, but you can use more or less, depending on how Italian you are.  We also added a large handful of fresh spinach, just for fun. We didn’t regret it.

White Wine Vinegar
Give that a stir, and then add a few shakes (about 1 tablespoon) of white wine vinegar. Then a teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of salt. When you add the baking soda, it will fizz and bubble a bit. I like watching this part, maybe even more than my son does. He’s five. I’m not. It’s ok.  I was so busy watching the bubbles that I forgot to take a picture!  I’m so fired.

Melding
Give it another stir, and then just let it simmer for a little while until heated through completely.

One Use
This sauce is really versatile. You can season it however you want, and we use it for all sorts of different things–pasta dishes, straight up spaghetti, chicken–we even put it in the food processor and used it as pizza sauce.  Waaaaay better than canned pizza sauce!  It freezes really nicely, so you can make up a big batch and pull it out as you need it, and as the sauce hangs out, the flavors get stronger and more defined.

So go get sauced!  Then call your Italian grandmother and tell her all about it.

Tomato Sauce
2 cans of diced tomato
1 small can of tomato paste
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 bell peppers, diced
handful of chopped fresh basil
1-2 handfuls of chopped fresh spinach
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together over medium heat until heated through. Taste often to make sure it’s seasoned the way you like. Add salt, pepper and basil as needed. Taste again to make sure it’s still good. Try to leave some for dinner. Taste one more time and remember that you shouldn’t keep it all for yourself. (What would your grandma say?)