All posts by Qui Phan

Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce

Bring meat to a Super Bowl party and everyone will love you for it.  Bring good pulled pork and you won’t have to worry about brining leftovers home because it will gone before the 3rd quarter!  This dish served as a nice break from all the chips, dip, bad interceptions, turnovers and snack foods.

Side note:  I love this recipe because it allowed me time to recover from a party I attended the previous day while the meat cooked in the crock pot.

I wish I have a good picture for this recipe but it was blurry and not good enough to include!

This is a modified version of a recipe by Better Homes and Garden.

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2-3 lbs pork sirloin roast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • tablespoon cooking oil
  • medium onions, cut in thin wedges
  • cup root beer (DO NOT USE DIET)
  • tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 large cloves)

Sauce

  • cups root beer (four 12-ounce bottles or cans)
  • 2  (12oz) bottled chili sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
  • 8 -10 hamburger buns, split (toasted, if desired)
  1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut roast to fit into a 3-1/2- to 5-quart crockery cooker.  Sprinkle meat with the salt and pepper and let sit for 10 minutes. In a large skillet sear meat to a nice brown on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Transfer meat to cooker. Add onions, the 1 cup root beer, and garlic.IMG_6061_2
  2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.  Most modern slow-cookers run hotter and will actually take only 6-7 hours on low.
  3. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a large saucepan combine the 6 cups of root beer and the chili sauce and ground red pepper (if desired). Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 1hour or until mixture is reduced to 4 cups.
  4. Transfer roast to a cutting board or serving platter. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds.  Using a sieve, remove onions and garlic from cooking juices and discard.  Mix the juices and set aside 1/4 C of juice, discard the rest. Wipe the edges of the crockery.
  5. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds and place the meat back in the crockpot. Add 2 cups of root beer sauce and the 1/4 C of juice.  Mix the meat, juice and sauce with a pair of tongs, cover and leave the crockpot on warm or low to keep the meat hot.
  6. Place the left over 2 cups of sauce on a small bowl.  Serve pulled pork on the buns and drizzle with extra sauce if desired.Makes 8- 10 servings.

Note:

  • You can make half of the sauce recipe, mix it in with the meat, and omit the extra sauce altogether, but who doesn’t love extra sauce?
  • You can make the sauce quicker by dividing it in two and placing the sauce in two  12 inch skillets with decent sized walls.  If you do this, you can divide the time in half to 30 minutes).

Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese and Garlic

This recipe was made as a side for the 2014 annual family Christmas dinner with a bit of deception: we didn’t tell people that there was goat cheese in dish.  We didn’t want people to dismiss the dish before giving it a chance…and it went over really well!  The addition of goat cheese and nutmeg gives this dish a great nuance that I have not experienced  before in a potato gratin.
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This dish also gave Kevin and I an excuse to use our mandolin slicer which made prepping this dish so much quicker! We took the extra step of rinsing the slices to wash off the extra starch and then blotting the slices dry between two towels to avoid having a watery gratin.  Most food processors have slicer attachments that could work or you could slice the potatoes by hand.
Nod to Cooking Light for this truly delicious and simple dish!
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Ingredients

IMG_5660_21 cup half-and-haf, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups thinly sliced peeled Yukon gold potato (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 2 tablespoons half-and-half with flour in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the remaining half-and-half, cheese, and next 5 ingredients (cheese through garlic), stirring with a whisk. Arrange half of the potato slices in a single layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

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Pour half of the milk mixture over potato slices, stirring the milk mixture immediately before adding. Repeat procedure with remaining potato slices and milk mixture. Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.

Note:  We ended up cooking this dish about 15 minutes longer to get that gorgeous golden brown color.

Who Brings Meatballs To a Cookie Exchange? –Slow Cooker Cranberry Barbecue Meatballs

 Who brings meatballs to a cookie exchange?  The answer is: this guy!  The annual cookie exchange came along and normally the party happens after work at someone’s place and the rest of us would bring cookies, alcohol, and maybe chips and dip.  I don’t know about most of you, but after work I am ravenous!!!  I also wanted something that was quick and easy, something that I could just pack up and take with me since I would be rushing in and out of the house.  I was looking around and I found this recipe at Betty Crocker.com; I could throw everything in a Crock Pot, go to work, and everything will be done when I get home!
You know your dish went over well when there is nothing left, so make this and watch it disappear.
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Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 packages (16 ounces each) frozen meatballs, thawed
  •  1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
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Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients except meatballs and parsley in a crockpot; you can use a for or a butter knife to mash up the cranberry sauce.  Mix well.
  2. Add meat balls and stir to coat.  Cover with lid and set crockpot on low for 3 hours or until thoroughly heated.
  3. After 3 hours,  remove the lid and give the mixture a good stir to make sure every meatball is coated.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley for a pop of color.
 NOTE:  Since I would be at work all day, I added 1/4 C cup of water to the mix and cooked everything on low for 8 hours.

Better Than A Sugar Cookie! -Gooey Butter Cake Cookies

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Kevin and I participate in a cookie exchange with a group from work and this year Kevin wanted to make something simple instead of over-the-top.  We have been busy and needed something what was easy and that would taste good.  This little gem came to us from our Twitter friend @brandiego and we thought that it sounded delicious and simple; so simple that I was unsure how this cookie would stay together since there seemed to be so little flour!
I have to admit: the first batch was undercooked, so undercooked that it still tasted somewhat of raw dough and could not keep its shape when held.   We made one crucial mistake:  since we were making a double batch, we had two pans in the oven and we forgot to switch their positions halfway through the baking process!  Luckily we were able to save them by throwing them back in the oven for a few minutes.
It was a hit! I thought these were going to be a sugar cookie, but they are so much more; these are moist and buttery, sweet but not tooth-achingly so, and feel so light that before you know it, you already had your third cookie!  Our friend Peggy Steele loved them so much that when she made a batch for her kids she made them fun by adding green food coloring and called them grinch cookies!
The recipe below is a modified version of the one found at www.Dessertfortwo.com
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Serves: 1 dozen
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (adding more when needed)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Beat together with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  2. Slowly add the sugar to the cream cheese mixture while continuously beating. Beat the sugar into the cream cheese mixture until light and fluffy, 1 minute.
  3. Next, add the vanilla, whole egg, and egg yolk. Beat until combined.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this to the cream cheese mixture in three increments, beating in between each addition.
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Have the powdered sugar ready in a shallow bowl nearby.

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8.  Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough, with a 1 tablespoon ice-cream scooper (you can use a bigger one or a smaller one, just adjust placement on the cookie sheet as necessary). Drop scooped dough into bowl of powdered sugar and roll the dough into the powdered sugar before placing them evenly on the baking sheet.  Make sure the dough is completely covered.

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9.   Bake for 16 minutes. Keep a close eye on these cookies–they should not brown in the oven. The top of the cookies will be puffed. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before serving.

Tips and changes:

  • Bring the butter to near room temperature, the cream cheese needs to be close to that as well, doing this will allow the dough to mix much better.
  • I adjusted the time in the fridge because I feel that the original 30 minutes is not enough to solidify the dough, especially when you make a double batch.
  • Disregard the powdered sugar amount: just pour a lot of powdered sugar into a bowl and then scoop the dough into it and roll it around. Don’t bother rolling with your hands…it will be too tacky and besides, using an ice cream scooper will help make them all uniform.IMG_5554
  • The cookies should not be brown, they should be golden, on the other hand, the cookies should not be undercooked either!