Fresh Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipe

I LOVE salad.  Maybe that is weird, but I know for sure it comes in handy for maintaining a healthy diet. Most of the time when Will and I go out to eat I order salad – partially because they are a safer gluten-free bet, but mostly because I really enjoy them.  Though I love salad, I am not a huge fan of the heavy, creamy dressings.  I prefer vinaigrettes mostly.  I also enjoy having a variety of veggies in my salad, and I love having fruit in my salad.

Raspberry vinaigrette  (6)

These things in mind, it is no surprise that my favorite dressing is a fruity vinaigrette.  Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Raspberries are one of my very favorite fruits, and lucky me – they are in season, which means that they are cheap!  This combined with the adorable container I got at the dollar store, inspired me to try my hand at some homemade raspberry vinaigrette.

that little bottle was only $1!  Dollar Tree FTW 6000!
that little bottle was only $1! Dollar Tree FTW 6000!

It was really easy!  And it’s some of the best dressing.  It’s sweet and light to begin with followed by the zing of vinegar.

I tried it out for Will’s family last weekend, and everyone seemed to like it.  Our little sister shares my love for raspberry vinaigrette and a good fancy salad.  So Carrieli, this one goes out to you!

Raspberry vinaigrette  (1)

Simple Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette

adapted from this Walmart Living Better Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Fresh Raspberries
  • ¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar (I think you could sub apple cider vinegar here)
  • A splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼-1/3 cup Honey
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Puree raspberries with the vinegar and honey in a food processor/blender.
  2. Add in the olive oil and blend some more.  If you have the ability, slowly add the oil while blending.
  3. Taste and add more ingredients as need.
  4. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Raspberry vinaigrette  (2)

I have had mine in the fridge for a week, and it is as good as the day I made it.  Just give it a little shake before using, and voila! I also want to try this recipe with other berried, like blackberries, or the wild berries from Will’s mom’s farm, or maybe the mulberries on our tree out back that I made compote, cobbler, and jam out of this week!    Yeah, so we are berry obsessed (and that was a little bit of a pun); at least our life is delicious =).  This dressing will make your life more delicious as well.   making your own salad dressing will also make you feel really accomplished.

Raspberry vinaigrette  (4)

Let me know if you try it!  Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

Munchie Monday >> Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie

For as long as I can remember I have either helped make or been completely responsible for making the pumpkin pie in my family for the holidays, especially on Christmas.   For the last several years my mom and I have been using this recipe that she found in a holiday Sam’s Club catalog.  It makes a delicious, deep, custardy pie, and the best part is that it’s all from scratch!

last year's pie at Christmas
last year’s pie at Christmas

This weekend some of our friends organized a Friendsgiving potluck meal.  I am so grateful for our community, and what better way to cherish and celebrate good community than with a ton of good food?!  Our friends are an extension of our family, and I was so excited to have a chance to make my family’s pumpkin pie for them.

I have never made this recipe with canned pumpkin puree.  I always use homemade.  If you have never made homemade pumpkin puree before, don’t sweat it.  It really isn’t hard.  Takes some time and getting your hands dirty, but it’s not hard.  Here’s a good post from the Pioneer Woman on how to do it. (Oh I got to see her like at the Kentucky Proud IncrEDIBLE food show as part of my birthday! Thanks Dara!)

You can buy the Sugar Baby/Pie Pumpkins at he grocery store in the fall, but I like to pick them up at the orchard when Will and I go for Apple Fest. Here are some pictures from my pureeing experience:

pumpkin pie 3

oiled and ready to bake (the foil makes for easier cleanup)
oiled and ready to bake (the foil makes for easier cleanup)
a can has about 1 1/2 cups, so when I freeze my pumpkin puree I try to use the same amount as a can has for easy substituting in recipes.
a can has about 1 1/2 cups, so when I freeze my pumpkin puree I try to use the same amount as a can has for easy substituting in recipes.

From Scratch Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

Follow the instructions in this recipe, but make the measurements a little larger:

  • 1 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cold Shortening (or use half shortening & half butter)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I like to add it to the crust for my Pumpkin Pie)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Cold Water

Filling: 

  • 2 Eggs + 1 Yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups Homemade Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or about 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, & 1/4 teaspoon All Spice)
  • Topping: Candied Nuts and/or Whipped Cream

Instructions

Crust:
  1. Mix flour, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, until your mixture starts looking mealy.
  2. Sprinkle in the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until you have a moistened dough that is beginning to stick together (a tiny bit more water can be added if needed).
  3. Using your hands, gather the dough together into a ball, form it into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Once the dough has chilled and hardened some, remove from fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. You will want it to be a couple inches bigger than your up-side down pie pan. If you want it flakier, roll it into a large rectangle, fold it like a letter width wise and length wise and then roll it out again.
  5. You want to use your biggest pie pan.  You need one that’s either deeper or wider than normal because this makes a lot of filling.
  6. Trim off the extra crust and flute the edges using your preferred method.
Filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, eggs, and extra egg yolk.
  3. Add the sugars and spices and whisk again.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree and mix it in gently.  According to the Sam’s recipe, over mixing is a large cause of the cracks you sometimes see in pumpkin pie (that and over baking).
  5. Pour into prepared crust.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes (mine is almost never done at 50 minutes).  The center should still have a little jiggle to it.  Check the center with a knife; if it comes out clean then the pie is done. If it isn’t done keep baking and checking it about every 5 minutes.
  7. NOTE: At some point you may need to cover your crust with foil to minimize burning.
  8. Top with desired toppings.
Pie from Friendsgiving this weekend
Pie from Friendsgiving this weekend

This pie definitely serves 8 probably should be sliced into 10 because the pie is very tall.

If you give this pie a try, let me know what you think of it!

 

Do you have any holiday favorite recipes that you look forward to making every year?

National Doughnut Day: Mini S’Mores Doughnuts

Happy Hour Friday/Happy National Doughnut Day everyone!

S'Mores Doughnuts (3)

When I discovered (thanks to facebook) that it was national doughnut day I just had to tell Will.  He happens to LOVE doughnuts.  Sometimes I think that He is about to go into depression about the fact that he can’t eat as many Krispy Kreme’s in one setting without getting nauseous as he used to be able to. But I know he was happy when he saw this spread in the break room at work today:

How do they expect you to focus with those sitting there? Sorry for the bad quality picture.  I figured cropped and a little blurry was better than including the rest of the break room.

I thought it was just him, but to my surprise both my father and my sister texted me telling me to go eat a doughnut today!  Now for most people, that’s easy. Walk to the gas station down the block or stop by your local Krispy Kreme while the free doughnut light is on (did you know there’s an app for that?!) For me however, not so much.  Dang Gluten.

Will's manly sized doughnut with contraband graham cracker bits.

For me to be able to celebrate, I had to do some homemade doughnut making. Which I don’t mind at all!  And thanks to my awesome mother-in-law I have a regular and a mini doughnut pan! I love using them when I have extra batter from things.  Like when I have too much muffin batter.

yeah.... those were amazing little muffin bites.

Or when we have chili, I make “corn holes.”  It’s cornbread, but dunkable!

Dunkable Cornbread for our Spicy Chili!

I was unaware that it was National Doughnut day till I was already at work – blogger fail.  I feel like bloggers are supposed to know about these weird “holidays” so that we can have the perfect post ready ahead of time.  Not me!  So I am making doughnuts for dessert tonight!  These babies are fresh out of the oven and this recipe is hot off the presses!

S'Mores Doughnuts (13)

I decided that I wanted to make s’mores doughnuts because it is s’mores time of year.  I mean the evening weather is that perfect temperature where it’s not too hot for a fire and not too cold to sleep outside, which means I want to go camping, which means I want s’mores…..

….to be honest, I don’t care what time of year it is.  I will ALWAYS eat a s’more.  BUT same dang gluten issue.  I don’t always have Gluten Free Graham Crackers so I opted to make a sort of warm-cinnamon flavored doughnut as the base to make up for the lack of graham crackers.  I used a recipe I have tried before from Pinch of Yum as my go by.

Mini S’Mores Doughnuts

 These are easy, but fancy. They satisfy your every desire for the campfire classic. They aren’t overwhelmingly sweet. The ratio of marshmallow to chocolate to doughnut is pretty good too!

Ingredients

Doughnuts
  • 1⅓ cup Flour (I used ⅔ cup oat flour, ⅓ cup white rice flour, ⅙ cup brown rice flour, ⅙ cup tapioca startch + 1 tsp guar gum)
  • ¾ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon Ginger
  • ¼ cup Sugar (I think brown sugar would work even better)
  • 1 Egg
  • ⅓ cup Applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • 1 taspoon Molasses
  • 2 tablespoons melted Butter
Chocolate Ganache
  • 4 oz (2/3 cup) Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 1 tablespoon Corn Syrup
Other Toppings:
  • Crushed Graham Crackers
  • Toasted Marshmallows
Instructions
Doughnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients.
  3. To the dry ingredients add the egg, applesauce, milk, and butter. Batter will be very thick
  4. Spoon or pope the batter into your doughnut pans. You want them to be about ½ way full.
  5. Bake for about 7-8 minutes.
  6. Remove the doughnuts from the pan.
Ganache:
  1. Place the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl and melt the chocolate chips slowly in the microwave.
  2. Dip your doughnuts in the ganache and give them a little twist as you pull them out.
  3. For the rest of the topping I sprinkled crushed graham crackers on Will’s and toasted marshmallows in the broiler to put on top as well. For the mini doughnuts I had the marshmallows cut in half so that they would be more proportional, but I think there wouldn’t be anything wrong with leaving them whole! There is a picture of the marshmallows on a cookie sheet fresh out of the broiler below.

here's the marshmallows fresh from the oven! they are just the way hubster likes them. =)

S'Mores Doughnuts (16) S'Mores Doughnuts (12) S'Mores Doughnuts (8)

Other Doughnut Recipes on the Blog:

Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free, Vegan.... and still so good!

Easy as opening a can of Pillsbury biscuits! (these would make good S'Mores Doughnuts too!)

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

Yesterday I posted about using Leftover Pulled Pork to makeBBQ Nachos.  Today I am going to share how to use that same pulled pork to make pizza!

pizza 3

Since I am gluten-free pizza is a special thing in our house because it requires a lot of extra effort.  But on Saturdays I try to put extra effort into having an awesome meal ready for Hubster when he get homes from his long, sunny shift of chucking bags of mulch and loading paver stones all day at Home Depot. He’s great at what he does!  I have stalked him at work.  He’s always ready to help someone and is always friendly and approachable.  So as a reward for having to work all day in the sun on Saturday I have an especially good meal ready and on the table when he walks through the door with his fresh layer of farmer’s tan.

pizza 2

A couple Saturdays ago I had this pizza ready for him.  He loves pizza.  We were in a rush to leave the house for his brother’s birthday party, so pizza seemed like the perfect meal that would satisfy the hard-working man but be quick to eat.

It was.  This pizza is like a party in your mouth! It’s not greasy like pizza usually is.  It’s filling, refreshing, and a perfect blend of sweet and spicy.  Maybe you think that is weird for a pizza.  That’s ok.  Just try it anyway.  Growing up I was your regulation pepperoni lover. Extra pepperonis please! Somewhere along the line I became a grease blotter, trying to mop up the pools of grease before they found their way to my arteries. That was the beginning of a slippery slope into trying different pizzas… now I prefer veggie loaded pizzas of all different flavors.  Including taco pizza; that’s definitely one of my favorites!

You’ll notice nothing has measurements…. That’s because pizza is a very intimate food.  Everyone has their own preference and specification for sauce to cheese ration and meat to veggies, toppings under the cheese or toppings on top of the cheese.  You see where I am going with this.

pizza 1

Instead of having normal, tomato-paste-based pizza sauce, this pizza has a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce.  What I did was put a couple tablespoons of some BBQ sauce (KC Masterpiece – have to represent my homeland/we were out of Will’s favorite) and then I mixed in a few shakes of hot sauce.  Neither of us are big pizza sauce fans; we care more about having a mountain of toppings. So you will need to eyeball how much sauce you need and how spicy you want it to be – only you can answer those questions about your own pizza.

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza

This pizza is like a party in your mouth! It’s not greasy like pizza usually is. It’s filling, refreshing, and a perfect blend of sweet and spicy.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite pizza crust recipe (I used this one from Betty Crocker http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/pizza-crust/dfd30165-0b22-47aa-b192-268be25e138d for Will’s pizza)
  • Pulled Pork
  • Hot Sauce (we used Franks)
  • BBQ Sauce (we used KC Masterpiece)
  • Jalapeno Slices
  • Pineapple (I sliced up some canned rings)
  • Shredded Cheese (we used “Queso Quesadilla”)
  • Finely Diced Purple Onion

Instructions

  1. Make your pizza crust according to the instructions. Mine called for being pre-baked some. So while it is pre-baking slice up your onion and pineapple and get out your cheese and jalapenos.
  2. Mix together the BBQ Sauce and Hot sauce (see post for more on this). I used about 2-3 Tablespoons of BBQ sauce and a couple teaspoons of hot sauce.
  3. When the crust is done prebaking, brush on your desired amount of sauce. Top with your desired amount of onion, pineapple, and pulled pork. Then cover it with the cheese and top with jalapenos. I do it this way because I want to be able to see my jalapenos coming.
  4. Put back in the oven for 8-10 minutes until everything is very warm, crust is baked through, and cheese is starting to brown.
  5. Remove from oven, slice, and devour. Your taste buds will thank you.

Munchie Monday: Pulled Pork “Nachos”

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I posted a Jerk Pulled Pork recipe.  That recipe made way more than we could eat before it would have spoiled so we froze some of it.  It freezes very well!  The best part is that it makes for quick easy dinners when you have a bunch of pulled pork ready to pulled out of the freezer.

jerk pulled pork

We used our leftovers to make some BBQ “Nachos” and BBQ Hawaiian Pulled Pork Pizza.  Please make yourself some pulled pork and then use the leftovers to make nachos and pizza.  Or even taquitos.   Today we will cover the nachos, and tomorrow I will share the pizza recipe.

the “Nachos” you use potatoes instead of corn chips. Less processed and more filling.
the “Nachos” you use potatoes instead of corn chips. Less processed and more filling.

Some nights we are in a rush or aren’t able to eat dinner till close to 8pm.  Nights like those are perfect for these nachos.   They are simple to make, and chances are you will have most of what you need on hand already!

I think that they would also be a good appetizer for a big dinner or a fun alternative to normal nachos for party or game night.

nachos 1

Pulled Pork “Nachos”

These are a full of flavor, quick dinner, and a good way to use up leftovers. They would also make a good appetizer or snack to have at a game night.

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 medium Potatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil (or whatever oil you have on hand)
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon Oregano
  • Pulled Pork
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Your Favorite variety of Shredded Cheese
  • ½ small Onion (I like purple onions with BBQ), finely chopped
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 Green Onions, finely chopped and white and green parts separated.

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Slice the potatoes no thicker than a ¼ inch thick.
  3. Lay them out on a plate and microwave them for 3-5 minutes (depends on your microwave and the thickness of your slices). This gets the potatoes cooking so that they do not have to be in the oven for as long. If you aren’t in a pinch you can cook them in the oven the whole time. If you are really in a bind you can microwave then fry them in a skillet.
  4. After your potatoes have pre-cooked a bit toss them in the oil and then add the spices and mix them up. (if you want to lighten this up more, you can just season the potatoes, lay them on a cookie sheet, and lightly spray them with oil based non-stick spray)
  5. Lay the seasoned potatoes out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and cook for 10-15 minutes more. (or fry them in a large skillet till crisp on each side)
  6. While the potatoes are cooking, thaw your frozen pulled pork in the microwave if it isn’t thawed already. Mix the pork with enough BBQ sauce to moisten it – you don’t need it to be drowning.
  7. Finely chop up the onions and the cilantro. You can lightly sauté the onions if you like or use them crunchy and raw like we did.
  8. When the potatoes are done, lay them out on a plate and top with the pulled pork, then cheese, and then onion and whites of the green onions.
  9. If necessary, microwave to melt the cheese. Top with finely chopped cilantro and the green parts of the green onions.
  10. EAT!

 

I hope you make these and enjoy them!  Come back tomorrow for BBQ Pulled Pork Hawaiian Pizza!  It was probably one of the best pizzas we have made!

Munchie Monday: Jerk Pulled Pork

In Kansas, Beef is what’s for dinner.  And when we barbecue, it’s beef not pork.  The extent of my pig eating growing up was ham at Christmas & Easter, bacon, and the occasional fried pork chop.

I can honestly say that I had never had pulled pork till Will and I were dating.  I don’t think that I even knew what it was.  However, one of Will’s favorite foods is pulled pork.

Now we eat pulled pork pretty frequently.  Granted it’s not usually restaurant quality pulled pork, but for how easy it is, how versatile it is, and how cheap it is we don’t complain!  Plus, just because it isn’t restaurant quality, doesn’t mean it isn’t good!  This Jerk Pulled Pork recipe was definitely really good!

PhotoGrid_1398695377773

 

As you can see we ate it on sandwiches and salads.  Will had his on toasted bread without any fixin’s, and he enjoyed it.  I had mine on bread one day and as a salad the next.  Both times I topped it with some rainbow slaw veggies (Shredded cabbage and carrots), thinly sliced red onion, and “grilled” pineapple.  Let me tell you…. Will was missing out.  If you don’t do anything else, top this stuff with the pineapple.  It’s amazing!

Jerk Pulled Pork

I got the basic recipe for this pulled pork from this blog.  But here is how we made ours.

Jerk Pulled Pork

Sweet and flavorful bbq. Very versatile.

Pulled Pork:
  • 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tsp Thyme
  • ½ tsp Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Paprika
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 (12 oz) can Root Beer
Serving
  • Bread/Buns – toasted
  • Rainbow Slaw Veggies
  • Thinly Sliced Red Onion
  • “Grilled” Pineapple
  • BBQ Sauce
”Grilled” Pineapple:
  • 1 can Pineapple Rings
  • cinnamon
Instructions
Pork:
  1. In small bowl, stir together all the seasonings. Save ⅓ of the seasoning mix for later.
  2. To prepare the tenderloin, first coat it with the olive oil and then rub the remaining ⅔ seasoning onto the oiled tenderloin.
  3. Put the seasoned tenderloin in the crockpot, and pour the root beer over it.
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  5. Once the pork is cooked, remove the tenderloin from the crockpot and shred (this is easily done using two forks).
  6. Discard the juices from the crockpot. You don’t need them anymore.
  7. Sprinkle the seasoning mixed you saved over the pulled pork and mix it up.
  8. To Serve: Mix the pork with a small amount of bbq sauce, top with thinly sliced red onion, grilled pineapple rings, and any other desired toppings. Serve warm on toasted bread or over a bed of salad.
Pineapple:
  1. Place pineapple rings in a single layer in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
  3. Cook until browned, flip, and repeat.
 If you want something Chocolatey and Sweet to go with this, try my Grandma’s Chocolate Zucchini Bread.  It’s the perfect light and tropical dessert to follow this meal.

mmmmmm

I told you that Will really likes pulled pork; well here are some other recipes of ours involving pulled pork:

Crockpot Carnitas (aka Mexican Pulled Pork)

And then use the leftovers to make this unique and tasty soup:

Carnita Soup

Or Make the pulled pork recipe from this post, and then use some to make these taquitos.  These little babies are wonderful because they freeze really well so when you are in a hurry you can pop a couple in the broiler for a few minutes and ta da!  crispy taquitos in a flash!

BBQ Pulled Pork Taquitos

Munchie Monday: French Onion Soup

 

This is one of Will and I’s favorite soups.  It’s a go to cheap meal that feeds us for a solid three days. We don’t do the bread/cheese topping because Will doesn’t like soggy bread and I don’t like the way the cheese sticks to the spoon.  Does that gross anyone else out?  It’s just…. weird and feels awkward in my mouth.  Instead we do something equally delicious and I think easier. We just make garlic bread to eat with it, or toast with some cheese on top to dunk in it.

The crusty Dutch Oven Bread in the picture below was gluten-free and delicious!  With a great texture.  I will post that recipe soon as well.

20140212_183439

look at all those beautiful onions sauteing. yum! 20140209_155755

French Onion Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick Butter
  • 3 Large Yellow Onions
  • 1-2 Medium Purple Onions
  • 3/4 cup Cooking Wine
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Beef Broth
  • 2 large cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Pepper & Thyme to taste
  • Optional: Bread and Cheese of choice

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Place soup pot into the oven with the lid slightly ajar to ensure the onions will brown.
  2. Allow onions to cook in the oven for 1 hour, stirring at least once during the cooking process so onions won’t stick and burn.
  3. Remove pot from oven and place back on stove top over medium heat. Stir, scraping off all the brown, flavorful bits. Turn off heat and pour in wine. Turn heat back to medium. Cook wine for five minutes, allowing it to reduce. Add broths, Worcestershire Sauce and minced garlic and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. To serve you can do the traditional method of topping with bread and cheese then broiling.  Or do what I prefer and simply stick some bread topped with cheese in the broiler to dip into the soup.

Munchie Monday: Blackberry Crack

If you have been following along with our lives for very long then you may remember last summer when I posted about all the amazing wild berries we would pick at the farm. Those days will be upon us again in a few months and I can’t wait!  We have been slowly using up our frozen stash from last year.  One thing that they are really good for is making “Blackberry Crack” as Will and I affectionately refer to it.

Throwback to last summer.... that one time when I looked like a complete hillbilly
Throwback to last summer…. that one time when I looked like a complete hillbilly

If you’ve ever had the Blackberry Syrup at Cracker Barrel then you really need to go buy some blackberries and make this for yourself. Trust me, you won’t regret spending money on those blackberries once you top some pancakes, waffles, cake, ice cream, cheesecake…. pretty much anything with this syrup.

....on pancakes
….on pancakes

This recipe is really simple, but it’s not for those who are afraid to have a heavy hand with sugar.  I admit, that part is hard for me.  If I am going to eat something unhealthy I generally prefer it to be chocolate filled, coated, chipped… you get the picture.  I make exceptions for blackberry crack, and since I make this stuff  myself I use it sort of sparingly, meaning, it’s not as bad as it seems.

I will make a single (or double) batch of this recipe to go with our weekend brunch.  It really doesn’t take long, 20 minutes tops.  We store ours in a mason jar in the fridge.  It keeps for a long time!  Although the only reason it’s ever made it longer than month in our house is because it was forgotten in the back of the fridge…. When you go to use it out of the fridge just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it more liquid again.

on some Citrus Almond Cake
on some Citrus Almond Cake

Ok, before you start drooling on your screen…. Here’s the recipe.

Blackberry Crack

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Blackberries (fresh or thawed out frozen ones)
  • 1/2 water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Optional: dash of Cinnamon (because cinnamon makes almost everything better)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a pot on the stove over medium heat.
  2. Stir to dissolve sugar and help break apart berries.
  3. Bring to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes to help break apart berries and begin to thicken the syrup some.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. At this point you have to decide how many whole berries you want in your syrup (if any). I like to leave 1/3 to 1/2 whole. The more berried you keep, the more seeds you will have in your syrup.  Scoop out the desired amount of berries, place them into a fine sieve, and being smashing them through the sieve. (photos below)
  6. Once you have strained out your desired amount of seeds/berries pour your syrup into a mason jar or desired storage container.  This will keep for quite a while in your fridge.
ready to begin
ready to begin
straining out seeds and berries
straining out seeds and berries

20140312_204247

the finished product
the finished product

Try it and see if you don’t think it is as addictive as crack.

Crockpot Carnitas

If there was one kind of food that I could eat all day every day (other than chocolate and cereal) it would probably have to be Mexican.  I love me some Mexican food!  Tortilla chips, enchiladas, tacos, nachos, burritos, Chipotle, huevos rancheros, Mexican hot chocolate, fajitas, quesadillas, beans & rice…. You get the picture.  Mexican food is really the best there is.  Can I get an Amen?!

Carnitas

Will and I love trying out new Mexican restaurants.  They MUST have all you can eat complimentary chips and salsa, and if we don’t like the salsa…. We won’t be back.  Is there anything that ruins the fiesta vibe of trying out a New Mexican restaurant worse than bad salsa?  One bite and all the mouthwatering you had been doing over the menu is instantly extinguished.

You have heard people referred to as “Coffee Snobs.”  Will is a Mexican Snob.  He has high standards, but I am not going to complain about that because it means we eat really awesome food!  He is also a Chipotle addict.  If going to Chipotle is mentioned around him, you can bet that we will be there.  He never misses an opportunity to go to Chipotle.  I think the only time I have seen that happen was the other night when he seared for a place with gluten free pizza for me instead of going to the Chipotle next door because he knew I was craving pizza.  It’s kind of a big deal when I give a firm opinion on what I want to eat.  It doesn’t happen often.

Will's favorite place.
Will’s favorite place.

Another wonderful thing about Mexican food is that a lot of the time it’s the same few basic ingredients just prepared in different ways, which makes it great for maximizing your grocery budget.

Will and I like to buy meat when it’s on sale, store it in the freezer, and then base our menu off of what’s in the freezer.  Well, thanks to our nearly 2 month vegan stint at the beginning of the year we have a freezer full of meat to use. This week we are eating a couple of pork tenderloins.  I say a couple, but in all reality it’s just one because we save money by purchasing tenderloins that would be enough for a family of four and splitting them into two.

see the two smaller pieces of pork in there
see the two smaller pieces of pork in there

As an attempt to use up some of the meat in our freezer before it gets freezer burnt I decided to try my hand at carnitas and have Mexican food to eat this week.  Because Mexican food is just too good!  These were really easy to make, but they taste like I spent a long time slaving over them.  I had mine sitting in the fridge, soaking up the rub for a whole day because the schedule changed, and I wasn’t able to turn the crockpot on in the morning.  Instead I turned it on at night when we went to bed and shredded the meat in the morning.  That took no time at all!  the meat just falls apart!  I left the shredded meat sitting in the juice all day till dinner time.

after cooking all night it just falls apart when you touch it, and turns into that wonderful stuff!
after cooking all night it just falls apart when you touch it, and turns into that wonderful stuff!
photo credit to Will who chopped and displayed all the toppings so nicely
photo credit to Will who chopped and displayed all the toppings so nicely

Carnitas Carnitas Carnitas

These were instantly hubster approved!

Crockpot Carnitas  

based off of a recipe from pinch of yum.                         

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs. Pork Tenderloin (or shoulder or butt)
  • 2 large cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ cup Orange Juice
  • 6 ounces Beer (supposedly chicken broth works too)
  • 2 tablespoons Salsa or Tomato Paste or Tomato Puree (I used a “tomato cube” which is a frozen chunk of pureed tomatoes from our garden last year)
  • Toppings: diced onion, chopped cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, cheese, lettuce, hot sauce, beans, sour cream…. whatever your heart desires (but definitely onion, cilantro, & lime juice)
  • Tortillas for serving.  I tried making my own corn tortillas following this recipe.

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the spices and the minced garlic together in a bowl.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker, sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the meat, and rub it into the pork.
  3. Place in fridge and allow it to soak up the flavors of the rub overnight.
  4. Remove from fridge, cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice over the pork, then toss the lime in the crockpot.  Add orange juice, beer, and salsa/tomato.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours…. Your house will smell amazing!  I actually let mine sit in the fridge for a whole day then cooked it overnight while we slept.
  6. Shred meat with two forks. It will fall apart super easily!  You can shred it in the crockpot with all the juice or try to pull it out, shred, and place it back in the sauce.
  7. Preheat broiler. Place the shredded meat on a cooking sheet, drizzle a little sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes, until edges of the pork start to brown.
  8. Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, avocado, cheese, lettuce, jalapeno, onion, hot sauce, and/or lime juice.  Basically top with whatever your preferred toppings for Mexican food are.  As BK would say “have it your way.”  However you have it; it’s going to be delicious!

Use the leftovers to make soup!20140312_190625

Other Pork & Mexican Recipes:

BBQ Pulled Pork Taquitos
BBQ Pulled Pork Taquitos
cilantro-lime chicken tacos
cilantro-lime chicken tacos
Sweet Potato Taquitos
Sweet Potato Taquitos

Good For You Apple Cider Doughnuts

Sorry It has been so long since I posted anything on the blog. Since the last time that I posted anything Will and I have loosened our dietary constraints.  Such a relief!  Meal planning is much easier, and cooking requires less creative energy when you can use meat and dairy.

So we may have splurged at City BBQ when we decided to easy up... No worries, I promise there were lots of leftovers.  We ate lunch and dinner the next day.
So we may have splurged at City BBQ when we decided to easy up… No worries, I promise there were lots of leftovers. We ate lunch and dinner the next day.

We are still eating healthy – small portions of meat, very little dairy, and Will is doing great at staying away from soda and refined sugars…. me on the other hand – I have to make the verbal commitment that I will not allow my sweet tooth to control me.  It really likes to control me.  Anyone else out there have problems with their sweet tooth?

When we were in Nashville a couple weekends ago (which I need to write a post about), I spent a lot of time hanging out in a candy store with the little sister and our niece… the sights, the smells, the samples…. fresh fudge, caramel corn, and pralines.  It was heaven.

Back to the point.  When Will and I were being really strict I issued myself the challenge of coming up with an awesome breakfast to wake Hubster up with on Our Valentine’s Day.  After all, 3 years of being together warrants delicious food. Will loves doughnuts. When we were dating they were his go to comfort food to help him through the drive home after he would drop me off at the airport. So what better thing to wake him up with than doughnuts?

What Will Woke up to.
What Will Woke up to.

After quite a bit of searching I found a recipe that I thought would be delicious, easy to make gluten-free, and taste good without frosting/glaze.  My hunch was right.  BUT I still want to make these again and have the glaze on them now that we are less strict.

I promise to be better about posting again.  Posting Recipes, Menus, Workouts, and Life Updates.  But in the mean time go enjoy the warm taste of fall on this cold, snowy, almost spring day.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

original version found here.2014-02-07 10.09.14

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup all oat flour
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease a donut pan and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together maple syrup, apple cider, apple sauce, canola oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.
  3. Spoon or pipe batter into the prepared doughnut pan, filling each mold about 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until doughnuts springs back when gently pressed. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a few minutes before transferring doughnuts onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon and chopped pecans.  OR find a glaze recipe here.
They were flavorful and hearty.  AND they didn't put you in a sugar coma 10 minutes later.
They were flavorful and hearty. AND they didn’t put you in a sugar coma 10 minutes later.