CIC: Pears & Red Pepper Flakes

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I’m {finally} back with another Crazy Ingredient Challenge!

This month’s mission: to combine pears and red pepper flakes.

As I informed my husband of the task at hand I was also creating my menu and grocery list. I thought about the proteins that were in the freezer and the lightbulb went off.

Barbecue pork!

Why not make a barbecue sauce with the pears and add in the red pepper flakes for kick?

Pear Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

I made the barbecue sauce in the morning and then added it to the slow cooker along with my bone-in pork shoulder. I shredded the pork when it was ready, put it in a container, and headed out the door to Pure Barre. When I came home, all I had to do was assemble a sandwich on my favorite pretzel bun for an easy dinner.

Well, actually, I had to first put the boys to bed. But then I got to eat my sandwich! I had more for lunch the next day, too. Having the pork for lunch was really the best thing about it!

Pear Barbecue Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C tomato paste
  • 1 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 2 red Anjou pears, diced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 2 1/2 – 3 lb bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed of extra fat
  • 6-8 pretzel buns

Steps:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt, and saute until translucent. Add the fennel seeds and cook until the onion become golden. Stir in the cinnamon and tomato paste and cook 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, pears, and pepper flakes. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, until pears are tender. Let cool slightly.
  2. Transfer sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. (If the sauce is still warm, be sure to cover the top of the blender with a kitchen towel.)
  3. Place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a slow cooker. Season pork with S+P and place in slow cooker. Cover with 1 C of the pear barbecue sauce. Cook on LOW 8 hours.
  4. Shred pork with two forks. Serve with extra barbecue sauce on a pretzel bun.

*The barbecue sauce is adapted from http://usapears.org/recipe/pear-barbecue-sauce-with-chile-and-spice/*

Pear Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich for Crazy Ingredient Challenge from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

#SundaySupper: Easy Dinner Recipes for Two

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Associate affiliate links.

It’s been two months (and a day) since I’ve posted with Sunday Supper and I’m so excited to be back! This weekend we’re sharing dinner ideas for two. It probably has something to do with Valentine’s Day coming up. Thank you, Candace of Authentically Candace, for hosting this event. Scroll past my recipe to see some other great ideas for your next date night.

Most of the recipes I make I make for two. With two boys under 3 it’s hard to include them in my serving size head count. While they’re always provided some of whatever I’ve made, they don’t often eat it. I swear, they live off of cheese and bread.

Pork tenderloins are always an easy dinner option. It’s a perfect protein for slow cookers or popping in the oven with zero babysitting required. Pork often pairs well with mashed potatoes and some sort of green vegetable, making the complete meal also easy enough to assemble.

This recipe uses red wine, making it a perfect date night dish. Dried plums (aka prunes) are reconstituted in red wine and then pureed to create a deep sauce for the pork. Fresh sage leaves were to be laid across the top of the tenderloin, but the two grocery stores I went to were sold out of the herb. I substituted by sprinkling some dried sage (not rubbed sage) onto the meat. Still delicious, just not as visually striking as I imagine the fresh sage leaves would have looked.

We served the pork with Brussels sprouts. Mashed potatoes would have been a nice addition, too.

Roast Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Pinot Noir wine
  • 3/4 C prunes
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 4 fresh sage leaves (or some dried sage)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Steps:

  1. Put wine, prunes, sugar, and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the prunes get soft. Transfer sauce to a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with S+P. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  2. Season the pork with S+P. Arrange the sage leaves down the center of the tenderloin, or sprinkle with dried sage. If using fresh sage leaves, tie them in place with kitchen twine.
  3. Coat a cast iron skillet with the olive oil and heat over medium-high. Sear the pork on all sides. Place in the oven and cook 12-15 minutes, until an internal temperature of 145-160 degrees F is reached. Allow pork to rest 10 minutes before removing the twine (if using) and cutting in 1″ thick slices.
  4. Serve with plum sauce.

*This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen*

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook

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Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Countdown to 2017: Most Popular

unnamedWe’re polishing off the year with the five best recipes of 2016.

I skipped yesterday’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes because, believe it or not, I didn’t blog a single one! I’ve used my Slow Cooker plenty but always remaking something or not finding the dish blog worthy. Ah well. There’s always next year.

This blogging countdown party is hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.

2016 was an interesting blogging year for me. I’ve struggled to find my rhythm ever since our move in the spring. We’ve been in California 8 months now, I can’t keep using the move as an excuse! We are enjoying California living and are looking forward to the boys growing and the opportunities we have for exploring the West coast.

I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to continue blogging. It’s hard not getting caught up in the numbers. I’m part of a lot of blogging groups and some support groups on Facebook. Comparing my little piece of the internet to all of these other “more successful” bloggers brings me down a little bit. I’ve taken a step back from those pages and am just enjoying being me.

It’ll be fun (hopefully?) to look at my annual stats from WordPress.

Well, it could have been fun, however the annual stats report hasn’t come in yet (as of 8:30pm PT on 12/30) and I’m hitting “schedule” on this post soon! If the report comes in and I’m available, I’ll edit this post as needed.

Sew You Think You Can Cook was viewed 40,349 times – that’s 2,535 more times than last year! Definitely not as big a jump as between 2014 and 2015, but my social media presence has been gaining great ground. My Facebook page has reached over 1,000 followers; if you’re one of them I thank you – keep clicking and please keep sharing!

Last year, the majority of my referrals came from Foodgawker. I’ve been quite proud of my photography skill advancement this year thanks to my new macro lens (sure, it’s still got ways to go), but the time and effort I’ve been able to expend towards submitting to Foodgawker and other similar “food porn” sites hasn’t been up to what it used to be. My acceptances have had a higher percentage, but I’m simply not submitting as often as I like or should. I’ll work on getting my images into more public spaces in the future.

This year, my most popular referrer were search engines (mostly Google and Bing), funnily enough though I don’t know what people are searching to reach me!

I’m fairly positive that my busiest day of the year was December 1st when I wrote about having lost our Christmas ornament box. Thanks to fellow military spouses who connected to my pain and shared my post on their own Facebook pages. It was my highest grossing Facebook post ever, reaching over 2,000 people alone! While I don’t think we’ll ever get our box of Christmas memories back, I’m blessed to have the people in my life who can help me make new memories and remind me that it’s still just “stuff.” I was touched when I received a surprise package from my mom’s step-sister with a kind note, a brand new Auburn ornament, and a sweet book for the boys.

And now for the top five recipes of 2016, these are in ranking order:

  1. BBQ Pulled Pork Pasta: A perfect way to use up leftovers!
  2. Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork: A tangy spin on slow cooker pork!
  3. Pot o’ Gold Cookies: Save these addicting cookies for St. Patrick’s Day!
  4. Chocolate Cherry Brownie Pie: This decadent pie was one of my favorite desserts this year, too!
  5. Cappuccino Crinkle Cookies: Save these caffeinated cookies for the adults!

Top 5 posts of 2016 | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

To see more popular recipes click here: An InLinkz Link-up

#CranberryWeek: Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin

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Welcome to #CranberryWeek, hosted by Caroline’s Cooking and A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures. We’ll be sharing cranberry-inspired creations all week long in celebration of national cranberry day. Search #CranberryWeek to keep up to date and follow the #CranberryWeek Pinterest board for more cranberry inspiration.

When I made this glazed pork, I was hoping to find a turkey breast to serve with the cornbread dressing I shared yesterday.

Actually, I had a couple ingredient finding hurdles to overcome.

I’ve been in a grocery store loyalty crisis. Now that Treat is too big for the Baby Bjorn (not impossible, but highly uncomfortable), I prefer to shop with him in the cart. That leaves Firecracker to walk beside me. There isn’t enough magnetic force in the world to keep that kid by myside for more than three minutes! That energetic 2 year old is off running up and down the aisles as soon as I let go of his hand. Or, he’s touching every single item at arms level when he is staying near. My patience with him wanes thin and I have to load him up into the basket. As I try to start each grocery trip with a positive attitude, by the time I “give up” I have a cart full of groceries. And to add to the frustration, Treat has a habit of screaming at an insanely high pitch. He’s not upset or crying, just screaming to scream. It’s a happy and excited sound, but one that deafens ears. Naturally, his older brother follows suit and I’m standing in the grocery store pulling out my hair half laughing half crying and all about yelling at my children.

The solution is to find a grocery store with “car carts” so both of my boys can be buckled into a cart. The bonus of a steering wheel definitely helps. Unfortunately, there aren’t many option for that out here in SoCal.

I do a decent amount of shopping at the commissary on base, particularly for yogurt as it’s about half the price of the local grocery stores. Being tax free means that processed foods end up being a tad cheaper, too. Only problem, is that I don’t quite trust their meat and seafood department, and the fresh produce is hit or miss on quality.

For small trips, I love walking to the local Whole Foods, but I’m limited to the space under the stroller. And while the meat quality is fantastic, it’s a bit pricy.

One Monday morning, I decided to try another store about a mile away. Took the kids on a walk and did some recon. Yogurt was the same marked up cost as the other stores. THe produce department was beautiful, and their bulk foods section to die for. Their meat departement looked fine, but was small; there wasn’t a turkey breast in sight (I assume that changed closer to the holiday?). I settled on a beautiful looking pork loin instead.

Another missing ingredient? Apple cider.

I knew one of the grocery stores I like sells it, but did I really want to get in the car for one item? Nope. Instead, I popped into the local coffee shop and ordered a cup of cider to go. Mission accomplished. I’m sure that 12 oz cup cost the same as a half gallon at a grocery store, but you can’t underestimate the price of my time, energy, and sanity!

Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter, divided use
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp whole juniper berries
  • 1 C fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 C apple cider
  • 2/3 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 C red currant jelly
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • pork loin, trimmed

Steps:

  1. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallot until translucent. Add the juniper berries, and cook one minute. Add cranberries, cider, syrup, jelly, and S+P. Simmer 3-5 minutes, until cranberries burst.
  2. Transfer glaze to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the saucepan after passing through a sieve.
  3. Bring glaze to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced to about 1 1/4 C, 10-15 minutes. Keep warm.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Melt butter in a large oven safe skillet, sear pork abour 2 minutes on all sides. Brush with glaze and put in oven until an internal temperature of 145 degrees F is reached. Brush with glaze every 10 minutes or so. Cook time will depend on thickness of pork loin.
  6. Be sure to bring any extra glaze back to a boil to prevent contamination before serving alongside pork.

*This glaze recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart at http://www.marthastewart.com/261237/cranberry-glaze*

Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin for #CranberryWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out all the other cranberry recipes being shared today:

Braised Short Ribs with Hoisin-Cranberry Sauce and Asian Coleslaw from Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Cranberry & Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops from Books n’ Cooks

Cranberry Borscht from Palatable Pastime

Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Cranberry Lemon Curd Tart (No Bake, GF) from Caroline’s Cooking

Cranberry London Broil from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Cranberry Mustard from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Cranberry Vanilla Bean Donuts from Hostess At Heart

Grilled Brie with Cranberries from Full Belly Sisters

Honey Roasted Cranberry Ricotta Crostini from Take Two Tapas

Orange Cranberry Turnovers by The Bitter Side of Sweet

Panko Crusted Chicken with Maple Cranberry Sauce from Family Around The Table

Sweet Heat Cranberry Spread from Cooking With Carlee

#ChoctoberFest: Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs

#Choctoberfest

 I knew I wanted to do something savory to share during #ChoctoberFest. I thought about making a chili and could’ve sworn I had something saved on my Pinterest account. While searching I came up empty handed (looks like I’ll have to develop a new recipe this winter!). However, while I was searching I discovered baby back ribs with a cocoa spice rub. Conveniently, I had a rack of ribs in my freezer. Winner!

What wasn’t a winner – making these ribs in a small kitchen on a hundred degree day without air conditioning. I guess I should’ve looked at the forecast of the week before thawing my baby back ribs.

These ribs didn’t need a barbecue sauce, but I did have some extra rub which could maybe be used in a sauce. I’ll need to remake these ribs for my husband and might explore with developing a savory chocolate barbecue sauce. (Or, who knows, maybe someone will be doing the hard work for me during this two week event?)

Yes, I made these ribs while I was home “alone.” Alone being a term that doesn’t ever apply to me anymore. Or at least, not for quite some time. And while, sure, I’d love just a couple of hours alone, I wouldn’t trade my ability to stay home with my two young boys for anything!

The boys wouldn’t touch the ribs the day I made them. But, we ate off of the rack the entire week, using the meat in quesadillas, in sandwiches, and on nachos. I was a little skeptical on how the flavors of the cocoa would mesh with cheese, but it was delicious! And the kids had zero problems eating the ribs in a more comfortable medium.

The cocoa rub has an earthy, warm, comforting quality. Using unsweetened cocoa powder means you’re not getting a sweet flavor – the sugar in the rub is what creates a crust to the meat. With chili powder you get a hint of the flavors you’re accostomed to with barbecue, but the cocoa gives it that something unique yet familiar. I highly encourage you to branch out and give this rub a try.

Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3 lb baby back ribs

Steps:

  1. Whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, and spices in a bowl. Generously rub the ribs all over with the cocoa spice rub. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove ribs from the fridge 2 hours before cooking.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Bake ribs in a casserole dish 40-50 minutes, until tender. Remove.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Transfer ribs to a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake another 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

*This recipe is adapted from Saveur at http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cocoa-Rubbed-Baby-Back-Ribs*

Cocoa Crusted Baby Back Ribs for #ChoctoberFest from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway and be sure to check out the other bloggers who posted more chocolate recipes today:

Pork and Apple Meatballs

It was the game day after our apple picking adventure and we were in need of something a little more substantial to munch on during the Michigan game. We had a lovely platter of cheese, crackers, and apple slices and my baked buffalo cauliflower. We actually kept a portion un-coated in the batter and I might even like them better sans-breading. (Gasp!)

It was decided that I should go ahead and make some meatballs. With an abundance of apples sitting on the table I thought it’d be a good idea to use them! Pork and apples are a classic combination that works well in meatball form, too.

We had mixed reviews on whether or not these appetizers needed a dip. While everyone enjoyed them plain-Jane, my husband couldn’t help himself from grabbing some honey. That man puts honey on just about everything.

Pork and Apple Meatballs (with honey) | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

My aunt couldn’t understand why they’d be served with anything and preferred them as is. I found that serving them with the honey we purchased at the apple orchard helped highlight the pork flavor and provided a sweetness that amplified the apple.

An Original Recipe

Pork and Apple Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 pkg (19 oz) Italian sausage
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2-3 tbsp diced red onion
  • 1 egg
  • S+P, to taste

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until just incorporated. Form into ping-pong sized meatballs.
  3. Place in a lightly greased casserole dish and bake 20-30 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 160 deg F is reached.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of apple blossom honey (optional).

Pork and Apple Meatballs | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Pork with Caraway and Onion

Here I am, hurriedly trying to take advantage of Treat’s nap and edit and upload photos for today’s post. As I open up my WordPress there isn’t a single draft to be found. I’m a compulsive “saver,” too, so I’m not quite sure how that happened – other than my computer died before I could plug it back in. But even still! Truth be told, I’m surprisingly taking this better than I could be. Here’s to hoping I can recreate my thoughts. Ready. Set. Go!

I can’t believe it’s taken me a good 7 months to finally crack into Rose Petal Jam: Recipes and Stories from a Summer in Poland. When Tara did a review of this spectacular cookbook, I knew I had to have it. Seriously, go read her post and you’ll be scrambling to order yourself a copy, too.

When my parents were here last month I had my mom look through the cookbook. My mom doesn’t mind cooking, but she says she hates deciding on what to cook. In fact, my blog has helped her find some new favorite dinners, and she is my biggest fan. Granted, she’s kind of obligated. Whenever she comes to visit I’ll ask what she wants for dinner and I’m always met with the same “I don’t decide” answer. Even tasked with making a decision from this Polish cookbook she wouldn’t commit to a recipe! She narrowed it down to 2 or 3 and I made the final verdict.

This Pork with Caraway and Onion (Pieczen Wieprzowa z Kminkiem) is the ultimate comfort food. Deliciously tender pork is flavored simply with salt, pepper, and caraway seeds seared and roasted underneath a pile of sweet onions.

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Before I get on to the recipe I have a few notes to make:

  • Pork neck is also called pork collar. I found my roast at a local Korean meat market.
  • I only used about half of the rub.
  • My onions didn’t get as golden as Beata’s, so I decided to caramelize them on the stove top while the meat rested. (Yum!)
  • We served this roast with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

Pork with Caraway and Onion (1)  Sew You Think You Can Cook

Pork with Caraway and Onions

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb pork neck or pork collar
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 C water

Steps:

  1. Using a paring knife, cut shallow diagonals on the surface of the pork.
  2. In a small bowl, combine caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. Rub on the pork. Let rest 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the pork on all sides. Top with the onions and add the water. Place in the oven and roast 40-50 minutes, or until a minimum internal temperature of 150 degrees F is reached. Allow pork to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Pork with Caraway and Onions  Sew You Think You Can Cook

Phew! Post scheduled as Treat’s cries come out over the monitor. Perfect timing!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.