Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Barbecue Pork

It's no secret that I love using my slow cooker in the summer. And winter. Okay, basically anytime. 
So convenient and easy. 

While we don't eat pork very often, this has become one of our very favorite ways to eat it. The entire family gets excited when I make this, and that's saying something. Very few recipes in my arsenal illicit such enthusiasm from 7 people. 

So what makes it special?

Apparently not the bourbon.  Ha.  See, this recipe is originally entitled Bourbon Pork - but we never have bourbon in the house and I just used water (through rinsing out the ketchup bottle) instead. It tastes so fabulous, I can't imagine bourbon making it any better. But if that's up your alley, give it a shot. 

But really, it's so simple to throw together. The longest part of it is trimming the fat from the pork. If you get a pork loin, even that is pretty fast.  However, I will say, as much as I love the easier trimming of a pork loin, the pork shoulder roasts are a little more flavorful and less likely to dry out.  You can't go wrong with either one, though. 

The sauce is slightly sweet with a little tang and complements the tender pork perfectly. 
I do recommend toasting your buns a little; otherwise, the bottom bun gets soggy pretty quickly from all the dripping sauce.  Or just eat it as soon as you make it.  No letting it sit around!! 

The leftovers are equally good and some people might have even been caught sneaking some bites straight from the bowl right in the refrigerator.  

Slow cooker Barbecue Pork
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1 3/4 cups ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water (or bourbon, if you prefer)
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
4 lbs boneless pork roast, trimmed of as much fat as possible

Place all sauce ingredients in slow cooker and mix.  Add pork and turn to coat.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.  Remove pork and shred with two forks.  Return shredded pork to slow cooker and cook an additional 30 - 60 minutes.

Source: adapted slightly from Lemons for Lulu

Monday, July 14, 2014

Strawberry Monkey Bread - SRC

What's your favorite part of summer?

The longer, sunny days?
Time at the pool or lake or beach?
No school/vacations?
Outdoor concerts, farmers' markets, or grilling out?

All of those things are pretty great and all, but my absolute favorite part about summer in Arkansas is the fresh, juicy, sweet fruit that we pick at local farms (or buy at local markets, if you're so inclined).  We picked strawberries in late May, blueberries several times through June and early July, and now blackberries and peaches are in season.   I LOVE supporting local farmers!! 

There is just nothing as good as summer fruit, fresh from the vine/tree/bush - I just want to eat it all plain and not even bother cooking with it.  However, for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment, I simply couldn't resist using some (store-bought) strawberries to make this luscious monkey bread.

If you're not familiar with monkey bread, it's basically a lightly sweet dough that's rolled into small balls, covered with cinnamon sugar, layered in a bundt pan,and doused with a large serving of a buttery, cinnamon syrup to bake.  This variation uses a homemade strawberry syrup instead of the cinnamon syrup, plus there are chunks of freshly diced strawberries sprinkled throughout the dough.  YUM!

I got the recipe from C Mom Cook, where Shelley doesn't let the busyness of being a stay-at-home mom of 2 stop her from making amazing recipes like Tiramisu, where she made each component from scratch. Including the marscapone, lady fingers, custard, everything. In fact, she has her youngsters helping her out. It's so awesome. I'm totally motivated to get my kids in the kitchen more, even though they usually slow me down and make three times the mess. :)
I also made her Skillet Arroz con Pollo, which was is a great and simple weeknight meal, but I didn't get a decent photo of it. We really liked it, though!
Oh, and these Apple Buns look perfect for fall - definitely have those on the list to make!
So needless to say, I loved perusing Shelley's blog and finding all sorts of amazing things to make.  She is one talented lady!

This delightful bread was a huge success with my family and we could have probably eaten the entire pan of it in one sitting if I hadn't made the kiddos stop. :)  Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave very nicely - but the bread is BEST served on the first day.  So make it when you have a crowd to help you eat it!

Strawberry Monkey Bread
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

1 cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar
5 Tbsp. butter (I used salted)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 eggs
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup diced strawberries

To prepare dough:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and butter. Heat until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat and pour into your mixing bowl to let it cool until just warm (about 110°F). Stir in the yeast and let stand until foamy.

Add in eggs, 4 cups of flour, and salt.  Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing with a dough hook or knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add additional 1/4 cup flour if dough is too sticky. Grease a large bowl with oil or cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn once to coat. Cover and let stand in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Combine 1 cup sugar, butter, and strawberries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.

To build the monkey bread: 
Prepared dough
about 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar (1/3 cup sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon, well combined)
1 cup diced strawberries
Prepared syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a Bundt or tube pan with non-stick cooking spray with flour, or grease generously with butter and dust with flour. Gently deflate dough and take small portions and roll into balls.  Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar, then place in prepared pan.  Interspersed through the balls, toss some of the diced strawberries so that they are evenly layered throughout the pan. Once all of the dough and berries have been added to the pan, pour the prepared syrup evenly over the top.

Place the Bundt pan on a cookie sheet and place the bread in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine was done at 40 minutes.  Check on bread periodically to make sure that the top is not over-browning. If it starts to get dark, cover it loosely with foil as it bakes.

Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate and serving.

Source: adapted slightly C Mom Cook

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