Peppadew Beef Sliders {potlucks & picnics}

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Picnics and potlucks and parties, oh my! Got to love the start of the social season. I’m so looking forward to concerts in the park, school social potlucks, pool parties, backyard parties…

For someone who cooks as much as I do, you’d think I’d have a “go-to” dish to contribute to these events, but I always struggle with what to bring. Especially since I really want to make something special but I don’t want to spend a fortune, have no time, and usually forget until the night before.

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Enter my Spanish-inspired shredded beef. Put it in the crock overnight or all day and bring to a picnic or potluck with slider or kaiser rolls. You don’t really have to keep it hot for a picnic; room temp is fine. Or, if you’re having a party at home, consider serving over saffron rice with peas.

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This uses jarred peppadew peppers and smoked paprika, both of which you can easily find at Whole Foods or online. But if you can’t easily find them, skip the smoked paprika, or sub oregano, and use a jar of peperoncini peppers instead of peppadew.

I don’t know if this will end up being my go-to dish but it’s darn good and I will be making it a few times this summer! What’s your go-to potluck or picnic dish?

Peppadew Beef Sliders

Total Time: 10 hours

Yield: 10 servings

Peppadew Beef Sliders

Perfect for potlucks and picnics, this 4-ingredient Spanish-inspired shredded beef is great for feeding a crowd!

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pound round roast
  • 1 14 ounce jar peppadew peppers--do not drain, you'll use the peppers and the juice for this
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • sauteed peppers and onions (optional)
  • chopped green olives (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the whole round roast, the jar of peppers--including the juice, salt and paprika in a crock pot. Cook on lowest setting for 8 hours.
  2. Remove the roast, shred using 2 forks. Leave the liquid in the crock pot.
  3. Return beef to crock pot and cook on lowest setting another 2 hours, or whatever time you have. It's really not necessary but it does let the sauce get fully absorbed by the beef.
  4. Serve on slider rolls or over rice, topping with sautéed peppers and onions and/or olives if desired.
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Kale and Radish Tabbouleh

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Um, yeah, so it’s snowing again. It’s late March and it’s snowing. But I can’t stop believing that someday, one day, soon, we will have an actual spring. With picnics, and potlucks, and get togethers.  And outside. Playgrounds. Running, jumping outside of my house….that’s not a dream is it? We will be able to leave the house, won’t we?

Of course, I always think of spring food as asparagus and peas and strawberries, but we’re still a few months away from that. Early spring means rich dark greens, radishes, and spring onions. 

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So I’m making the most of it before we get into the asparagus and peas and strawberries. Tabbouleh is traditionally a mid-summer dish with fresh, ripe tomatoes and cucumbers, and I love to bring it to picnics and potlucks then. But I thought I’d spring it up a bit and replace the tomatoes with radishes and some of the herbs with kale.

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It’s a fairly easy dish that you can make ahead and bring to your next spring outing.

I use a mixture of traditional ingredients like parsley and mint that are pretty easy to find this year. But I add in kale, chopped as finely as the parsley and then wilted in the microwave to lose some of the bitterness. And radishes chopped small so they add flavor and texture without overwhelming.

Kale and Radish Tabbouleh

Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 12-16 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bulgur
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2-3 cups chopped kale
  • 1-2 cup chopped parsley (1 bunch is about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (the good kind)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgur. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, steam the kale. I do this in the microwave: dampen 2 paper towels and lay them on a microwave safe plate. Top with chopped kale. Lay another 2 dampened paper towels on top of the kale. Microwave for 2 minutes. Check the kale. If it's not completely wilted, microwave for another minute. Set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a very large bowl. Toss in the bulgur and kale. Mix until combined.
  4. Allow to stand for an hour or so to let the flavors combine. This keeps great in the fridge for 3-4 days.
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Individual Meat Loaves

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Let’s all admit it…the best part of meatloaf is the crust. Sweetened by ketchup, the caramelized, crusty outside is reason alone to make meatloaf.

That’s one reason that I made these meatloaves individual-sized–to maximize the crust-factor. The other is that they freeze better and who doesn’t want their very own meatloaf for dinner any night of the week? Plus, the kids love that they get their own meatloaf. Territorial much?

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I sit squarely in the oatmeal camp for classic meatloaf. I think breadcrumbs give it a meatball–like texture. Not that that’s a bad thing, just not what I’m going for here. I want moist, hearty-but-not-heavy, meatloaf inside that crazy crust. The oatmeal does cause it to fall apart a little more easily–the price you pay for moisture!–but the individual size helps with that as well. If you let it sit out a good 10 or more minutes out of the oven you should have no trouble cutting without it falling apart.

This is a great recipe to have the kids help with. They can dump the ingredients into the bowl, help to mix the meatloaf and form the loaves. They can even make crazy shapes if they want!

Individual Meatloaf with Red Wine Ketchup

Yield: 12 individual meat loaves

Ingredients

    For the meatloaf
  • 4 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • 4 small onions or 1 very large, cut into large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
  • 3 carrots, cut into large chunks (I don't even bother peeling them)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons worcestershire
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 pounds ground beef or turkey or a beef/pork/veal mix (my favorite)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence or a mix of rosemary, thyme, maybe a little sage
  • For the Red Wine Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon worcestershire
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or 2 cups crushed tomatoes)

Instructions

    Make the ketchup:
  1. Saute garlic in olive oil for a minute until soft.
  2. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring regularly, until it starts to turn a copper color.
  3. Add the worcestershire, white pepper, salt, and brown sugar. Then add the red wine and cook, bubbling vigorously, until most of it has cooked off and you only have a couple of tablespoons of syrupy goodness. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. Then add the tomatoes. If you're using sauce, you're done at this point. Turn is off and let cool. If you're using crushed tomatoes you'll now need to let it cook down again by half. Then turn it off and let cool.
  5. Make the meatloaf:
  6. Heat oven to 400.
  7. Put the garlic, onions, celery and carrots in a food processor, and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times. Add the salt, pepper, and worcestershire and pulse just to mix it up.
  8. Kids Cooking Steps:
  9. Put the vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add the eggs, meat, oats, and herbs. Mix gently with your hands until everything is equally distributed. Be as gentle as you can though; you don't want to knead it or massage it or it will get tough.
  10. Shape into 12 individual loaves and place at least 2 inches apart on a couple of sheet pans. Don't use a pan with high walls, like a cake pan or roasting pan--you won't the the maximum crust.
  11. Brush the ketchup over the loaves, reserving half of ketchup for serving.
  12. End Kids Cooking Steps.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Check with a meat thermometer--meatloaf is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
  14. When it's done, remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes. This is important for it to keep from falling apart as soon as you serve it.
  15. Serve with remaining ketchup.
  16. To freeze: put leftover loaves on a clean sheet pan and put in the freezer. Once frozen, place individually or in pairs into food saver bags, vacuum seal, and return to freezer. They'll stay fresh for a good 6 months.
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Banana Berry Muffins {a healthy grab-n-go breakfast}

Lazy Sunday doesn’t mean the same thing as it used to. In the old days it meant wake up sometime before noon and relocate to the couch for football or movie watching. In college my roommate and I would sometimes even convert the couch into the pull out bed for maximum lounging comfort. If we were feeling really motivated I’d go out and get something to eat; if not, hello delivery.

Now a lazy Sunday means waking up at (or before) 6am and stealing a couple of hours to myself drinking coffee and writing while the kids blissfully sleep until almost 8. Then taking our time to make a healthy breakfast before playing with puzzles or Legos, staying in our jammies as long as possible.

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And mentally preparing ourselves for the week ahead full of work and school and commuting. No, don’t think about that now.

Instead let’s make some tasty blueberry muffins that just so happen to be ridiculously healthy and portable so we can eat them all week while rushing to school or sitting in rush hour. And let’s have the kids help. Measuring and pouring and mixing are awesome kids activities. Even the 2 1/2 year old can jump in and help by putting the muffin liners in the pan and dumping flour all over the counter in the mixing bowl.

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Oh, and did you know that when you’re baking you can substitute applesauce for both the sugar and the oil/butter? Yeah, that just happened.

 

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Banana Berry Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

These muffins are a triple-threat: no fat, no sugar, and filled with fruit! Great for a lazy Sunday morning or make ahead for an easy grab-and-go breakfast during the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line a muffin pan.
  2. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. If you have a stand mixer, mash bananas in the mixer on a low setting. Then add egg, applesauce and vanilla and mix thoroughly. If not, mash with a fork and blend in rest of ingredients using a hand mixer. Add dry ingredients slowly just until mixed through. Do not over mix. Fold in berries using a spatula.
  4. Drop batter into muffin pan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a couple of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, and then remove to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Muffins need to be refrigerated or frozen after they are cool.

Notes

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

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Chili Verde–Slow cooked pork with green chilis & tomatillos

It’s the pork butt that just won’t quit! In my last installment of how to turn one slow cooked pork shoulder into a plethora of meals: Chili Verde. Green chili is pretty much my favorite thing ever when it comes to stews. I think it just tastes fresh, which is so welcome in the dead of winter!

Basically, you’re essentially making a salsa that you simmer more of your leftover pork in. I had a sweet potato without a plan so I threw that in too as I was worried that it might be a little scimpy by the end of our pork shoulder. I didn’t particularly need it for volume, but I loved the added texture, color and sweet flavor that complimented the tangy salsa.

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I roast the tomatillos and peppers in a hot oven to deepen the flavor…plus it’s just a really easy hands off way to get all of the tasty goodness out of them since you’ll puree anyway.

Chili Verde–Slow cooked pork with green chilis & tomatillos

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • 3 Anaheim or cubanelle peppers (Anaheims are hotter, cubanelles not at all)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teapsoon cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 3 cups pulled pork
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into a half inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Chopped cilantro, optional
  • Queso fresco, optional
  • Sour cream, optional
  • Sriracha, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Toss the tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and cumin together on a large baking sheet. Roast vegetables for 30-40 minutes until they are soft and begin to char.
  3. Transfer to a large, heavy bottom Dutch oven or blender and add cilantro and chicken stock. Using either an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree roasted vegetables and stock until smooth.
  4. Return to Dutch oven and fold in pork and sweet potato.
  5. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, until pork is thoroughly heated through and sweet potatoes are soft.
  6. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro, queso fresco, sour cream and sriracha if desired.
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So there you have it! 1 slow cooked pork shoulder, 3 tasty weeknight meals!

What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes? Do you have any other ideas on things to do with shredded pork?

Steak Kabobs

Kabob with kidsFeatured Recipe: Steak Kabobs, Grilled Asparagus

Me: N, what would you like to help me cook for dinner (expecting an answer of mac & cheese or pizza)

N: Steak. I want to help you cook steak. With vegetables. And a nice salad.

Me completely freaking out because he’s hilarious and awesome. And then trying to figure out how he can help me cook something that you literally just throw on the hottest surface you can find for 5 minutes and then slice with your sharpest cutting implement.

Kabob AssembledHe’s 4. He’s super good with assembling and mixing. Not so good with slicing and searing. That’s ok! Kabobs are all about marinating (essentially mixing) and assembly. I cut everything to size in advance and pre-mixed the spice blend (although older kids could easily do that part too). Then, just before dinner, N and I skewered the kabobs. I grilled them solo of course, but he still got to play a big role in helping mom in the kitchen.

Kabob N eatingSo kids can help prepare their steak and eat it too!

Gourmet Mommy B&B

Oh happy day, our friends came to play. Which means something so different than what it meant in pre-kids days. Even with the 4 kids running around underfoot though, we can still manage to have good food, good wine and good conversation:

“How’s your book coming along? Nicholas PUT THAT DOWN.”

“Jo Jo stop moving the furniture. Great, almost done”

“I can’t wait to read–WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”

Ok, well at least we can have good food and good wine.boeuf bourguignon meal

Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and boiled potatoes. A cheap cut of meat simmered in wine and bacon all day. Yeah, it didn’t suck. It could also all be made ahead so I wasn’t spending too much time in the kitchen, unless I was trying to escape the chaos.

breakfast casseroleI also made breakfast ahead so when the kids woke us up at 5:30am after a big night of visiting, we didn’t need to worry about cooking. Just turn on the oven and pop in the Southern Breakfast Strata. An hour later it’s done.

So, the menu for an effortless weekend of entertaining with 4 kids?

Dinner
Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
Buttered Parsley Potatoes
Apple Fennel and Celery Salad (a la Gourmande in the Kitchen)
Wine: Coates du Rhone

Breakfast
Southern Breakfast Strata