Pulled Pork and Carolina BBQ Sauce

This is an American classic that should be experienced properly.  The very best way to make this is to smoke it long and slow on a natural charcoal grill.  But if you must, the oven or a slow cooker will suffice.  Especially in the winter.  Frostbite will definitely decrease your enjoyment of this tasty treat.  For me this dish is for the heart of summer time.














 I started with about with about 8 lbs of pork shoulder and cut it into 4 pieces. More surface area equals more of the “bark”.  Bark is that smoky, dark crust on the outside of the meat when it’s completely smoked/cooked. Mmmmm….  Directions are as follows:

  • 8 lbs of pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces – or whatever fits in the pan that will go on your grill
  • Spice rub, salt and pepper, and brown sugar 
  • Apple juice
  • Wood chips for smoking – I used apple wood, soak them in water for about a half hour before use














Rub the meat liberally with the spice rub, salt and pepper and brown sugar.  Don’t worry about amounts.  Just coat the meat and rub it in!  A cup or so of apple juice in the bottom of the pan and you’re ready.  Set your grill to about 225F, place the pork in a pan that will fit your grill, and maintain that temperature for about 8 hours or until the meat is fork tender.  Allow meat to cool a bit and shred with two forks – hence the name pulled pork.  Separate the fat from the liquid and pour the liquid back into the pulled pork.

Now for the sauce.  The Carolina style means vinegar plus other flavors.  It’s supposed to be thin and really compliments the flavor of the pork.  Don’t skip this part if you’ve never had it.  It’s a different experience from the sweet, sticky, Kansas City style sauce.  The world needs both!  And for sure there are about a thousand or more recipes for BBQ sauce – just like spice rubs – you should try them all and become a connoisseur.  Ha.

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Simmer for 5 minutes and you’re done.  Again, this is a very thin sauce so use sparingly at first. I put it in a ketchup type bottle.














Top it with cole slaw and serve it with some sweet tea and all will be well with the world.  Truthfully…I don’t drink my tea “sweet” but it seems like the right thing to do.














Now breathe in the steamy summer air and the aroma of BBQ and slow down.  It’s for your own good.  And mine too.






Categories: Grilling, Main Dishes, Recipe Index | Leave a comment


Say yes to Hummus! It’s origin is claimed by many countries on the Mediterranean so I’ll just say that it’s delicious, healthy, and heavenly.  It’s really easy to make except for one little thing.  Without a doubt you should remove the skins off the cooked chickpeas so your hummus is really smooth and creamy.  We’ll get to that.  It’s not hard to do but just a bit of a pain.














The first time I tasted hummus was a loooonng time ago.  An Iranian coworker brought it to a picnic.  “What’s this stuff?”  It’s amazing.  Can I eat all of it?  No??  We had it with pita bread or chips.  I forget which.  Now it’s fairly mainstream stuff and you can buy it most anywhere, but of course you should make it.  Here are ten reasons why you should eat more hummus.  There are ten reasons for almost everything but these are pretty solid.














There are lots and lots of various flavored hummus recipes but…I like a more basic one best.  Here’s my recipe.

You will need:

  • One full head of roasted garlic
  • Two 15 oz cans chickpeas – skins removed, reserve some of the liquid from one can
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1-1/2 to 2 lemons)
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini – this is a sesame past that comes in a jar (think peanut butter only made with sesame seeds)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

Slice the top off the garlic head without removing the outer skins and wrap in foil.  Place cut side up on a baking sheet in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Drain the chickpeas (remember to reserve some liquid).  The liquid will be used to thin the hummus a bit during food processing.  Now get a helper to assist in removing the skins of the chickpeas.  All you do is give it a little squeeze and the skins come right off.  You can catch up with each other.  Share life and maybe even a glass of wine.  See?  Cooking is fun!  All those little chickpea exoskeletons are kind of creepy.  Aren’t you glad you removed them?

Now into the food processor with all of the ingredients.  Just squeeze the roasted garlic out like toothpaste.  Turn it on and allow to process until smooth.  Feel free to add some of the reserved liquid from the chickpeas and/or drizzle in a bit more olive oil.  It should be the consistency of Greek yogurt. Not as thick as peanut butter.

I hope you saved your used lemons to clean the garlic smell off your hands…

That’s all there is to it!














Refrigerate and allow the flavors to marry a bit before making any adjustments.  Garnish with fresh parsley or mint, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of paprika, fresh cracked pepper, and serve with fresh veggies or pita bread/chips.  It’s great as a sandwich spread too.

The makes 2+ cups so you could easily cut the recipe in half.  Keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.


Categories: Main Dishes, Recipe Index, Seasonings, condiments | Leave a comment

No Bake Key Lime Pie with Almond and Coconut Crust

I’ve loved Key Lime Pie from the first day we met and it’s true, the first time I had it was in the great state of Florida.  There is much debate about which is the proper recipe but this is my favorite.  Although…I wouldn’t turn down any Key Lime Pie come to think of it.  Key limes are pretty widely available these days and they are imported from Mexico. But you can either buy the limes – those tiny, round, green and yellow gems, or buy the juice in a bottle, or use regular limes.  If I lived in Florida I would definitely have a Key Lime tree.

Key Lime Pie Close Up













This is pretty easy.  This recipe makes one pie but of course I played around with jars and mini springform pans.  You could use pretty glasses too.  Let’s go!

  • 1-2/3 cups ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup ground coconut flakes (I recommend the flakes, not the shredded, sweetened coconut)
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Mix this all together and press into pan.  No bake, remember?

Now for the filling.  Again, it’s easy.  Using an electric mixer, mix the four ingredients below until smooth.

  • 1  14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  8-oz room temperature cream cheese – this is important.  No cheating or you’ll have lumpy filling.
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 2 tsp lime zest

Key Lime Mini Pies













Pour this into your pan or vessel of choice and you are done!  I told you…easy.  Now there is one more optional trick.  If you want the pretty whipped cream swirls you can stabilize your whipped cream with plain gelatin.  A nice touch.

  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer prior to mixing.  Your whipped cream will whip up faster.  Here are the steps:

  • Sprinkle 1 tsp gelatin over the cold water and allow to soften for 5 minutes.
  • Heat the water in the microwave about 30 seconds and stir to dissolve gelatin, heat a little longer if your gelatin is not dissolved.
  • Allow mixture to cool – it should not be warm when you add it to the whipped cream.
  • Remove bowl and beaters from the freezer and add the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla.  Whip until you have soft peaks.
  • Slowly add the gelatin/water mixture in a steady stream to your whipping cream.  Beat until you have stiff peaks and pipe immediately onto your pie.  I used a very large star tip.
  • Garnish with lime zest, coconut flakes and lime slices.

Key Lime Mini Pies Tight Crop



















And now you can plan your next tropical vacation.  I hope it includes Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie with Flowers and Limes











Categories: Desserts and Sweets, Recipe Index | Leave a comment

Gluten Free Dog Treats

Dog Biscuits and Cutter













Yes.  If you know me even a little, you know that I’m a dog lover.  Nora is a sassy, mischievous and smart Wheaten Terrier.  She is a lover of all people and dogs and makes me laugh daily.  You can’t find cheaper therapy.  And while I don’t normally dress my dog in people clothes…I couldn’t resist just this once.

Nora and her Biscuits













 I make a batch of these doggie treats every few weeks.  It’s cheaper and Nora has some food allergies or sensitivities that make her itchy so, out of necessity I found a recipe that I modified to have limited ingredients, healthy for dogs, and will store for weeks.  Not all dog biscuit recipes are created equal.  I watch out for things that dogs can be sensitive to or that just aren’t good for them.  I’ve used all types of flour including all purpose and rice flour, but have settled on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour since Nora didn’t do well on rice flour or all purpose flour.  Wheatens can have gluten sensitivity (LOL).  The benefit to gluten free flour?  NOT STICKY.  Nice for rolling out and you do have to roll them.  Also, a dog bone cookie cutter is required for this recipe to work.  Just kidding.  That’s kind of like putting frosting on a dog biscuit.  Who’s that for?  The dog or you?  So the dog bone cookie cutter makes me feel clever.  Nora doesn’t care.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

  • 1-15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free) – you may add a bit more flour depending on which brand of pumpkin you use
  • 3 tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Just follow these steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Mix all ingredients together until homogenous
  3. Roll out of floured surface to about 3/8″-1/4″ thick
  4. Cut and place on baking sheet
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes then turn off the oven and let them cool in the oven.

Put them really close together since they don’t raise or expand.  This makes two very full half sheet pans.

Dog Biscuits in Tray













Then when they’re all baked and cooled you can put them in a nice jar.

Dog Biscuits












Next, find a super cute chef’s hat and try to get it on your dog’s head for a picture.  Then take about 150 pictures and reposition the hat every single time.  Have lots of treats in your pocket.  Don’t forget to take them out when you’re done.  Eek.

Nora with Chefs Hat













Much credit goes to my husband Steve for his mad photography skills, and Nora’s awesome groomer Tracy who (bless her heart) didn’t shave Nora even though she had lots of mats in her fur this time. I promise to never, ever let that happen again!

Categories: Dog Treats, Recipe Index | Leave a comment

Spinach and Blackberry Salad

Fresh!  A salad that’s full of color and good, healthy things.  This is not hard to do and you can substitute any other nuts, cheese, berries, or lettuce.  The idea is…eat good food!  And make your own salad dressing.  It’s easy, cheaper, and better tasting.

Spinach and Blackberry Salad













Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

As always, use good quality ingredients.  Whisk these together and you’re done.

Spinach Salad Dressing













Now for the salad.  Assemble your ingredients.

Spinach and Blackberry Salad

  • 6 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Sliced red onion

Spinach Salad Ingredients













Put it all together and you have a gorgeous salad and your body will thank you.  And now for the close up.  Yay!  Good food is pretty, don’t you think?

Spinach Salad-cropped


Categories: Recipe Index, Salads | Leave a comment

Reuben Casserole

Overhead on Plate at 650













One of my favorite dishes of all time is the Reuben Casserole.  I’ve been meaning to get this on my blog so I have it recorded for history’s sake.  It’s super easy, feeds 6-8 adults and is better than the sandwich itself!  Not kidding.  I make the Thousand Island Dressing but I’ve bought it before too.  Still…many people will have the ingredients on hand already so why not make it?  It’s easy too! 

Side View with Guinness Glasses & Flowers at 650













This is a great, any-time comfort food.  Pair it with Guinness and you’ll be as Irish as can be.  Truly, I bought the Guinness for the photo remembering that I don’t like it and would just give it away.  But I guess I do like it.  Huh.

So here’s how easy it is.  Again, either make the dressing or buy it.  Either way is great but here is the recipe:

Thousand Island Dressing

  • 2 cups mayo
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

What is easier than that?  Now for the casserole:

Reuben Casserole

  • 12 slices of pumpernickel rye bread cut into cubes
  • 1-1/2 lbs thin-sliced corned beef cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 27-oz can sauerkraut that has been drained and squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1-1/2 cups Thousand Island Dressing
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lb shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray
  3. Combine dressing and sour cream together in a bowl
  4. Place half the bread cubes in the bottom of pan
  5. Place all of the corned beef over the bread cubes, then layer with sauerkraut, dressing/sour cream mixture, and cheese
  6. Top with the remaining bread cubes and drizzle with melted butter
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes
  8. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes


Now find someone you love and enjoy.

Overhead with Thousand Island Dressing-2 at 650














Side View with Guinness Glasses at 650














Overhead on Plate-2 at 650















Categories: Main Dishes, Recipe Index | Leave a comment

Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe is for you if you want to try and make your own sauce but don’t know where to start.  Once you learn to make this you can personalize it to your own taste and add or take away ingredients.  Custom sauce.  And if you make your own you save money and can have it on hand in your freezer.  It’s so easy and so much better than the stuff in a jar.  I use the giant can of San Marzano tomatoes from Italy.  They are said to be the best because of the growing conditions in Italy.

2014-11-30 Spaghetti Ingredients














You will need:

  • 1 giant can Nina San Marzano tomatoes (3000g or 6 lb 10 oz) or other brand
  • 2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel dice tomatoes and green chilies
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 very large chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Put all those ingredients in a nice large pot.  Turn on the heat to medium for a start – just until everything gets warmed up and starts to simmer, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 2-3 hours or until the onions and tomatoes are very soft.  Then remove your bay leaves.  Using a stick blender mix it all together until smooth.  That’s it. Easy as can be.  Now you have 4 quarts of amazing sauce that will be ready whenever you need it.  Buon appetito!

2014-11-30 Spaghetti on a Plate

Categories: Main Dishes, Recipe Index, Seasonings, condiments | Leave a comment

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  Right?  Not always.  Not for everyone.  Lots of pressure for family, friends, parties, traditions, shopping and more shopping.  We miss loved ones.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  In the chaos I sometimes lose my focus.  Then I stop.  Breathe.  What am I doing?  Why do I celebrate Christmas?

Oh yes.  In the craziness I sometimes forget.

Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, this and many other prophecies were written (and fulfilled) about the coming Savior:

Micah 5:2 (ESV)

2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

We celebrate the Savior who came to us as a baby.  Who created the universe.  I worship the One who made me.  That’s it.  Jesus.  He is why I celebrate Christmas.  He is a bit surprising at times.  His family tree contains the likes of prostitutes, murderers, liars, cheats.  And lest anyone think this is a white person’s religion, think again.  Jesus came from a multi-racial family.  His political and top social issues might be summed up in this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

So…Merry Christmas to all.  May it be a time of reflection as well as all the other stuff.  Much love to you.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year if you let it be.

Thank you Steve, for your beautiful photo.  This is our Christmas card to you.

for Karins Christmas 2

Categories: Faith | Leave a comment

Dutch Baby

Pannekoek (plural Pannekoeken), German Baby, Puff Pancake.

Dutch Baby- Cropped 1














“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.  “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.  “It’s the same thing,” he said.

– A.A. Milne

The Dutch Baby is exciting.  Make sure that your family is gathered around when this comes out of the oven because it is quite dramatic but it doesn’t last long before it settles.  A big, buttery, reminiscent-of-a-popover delight!  A puffy, crusty pancake.  With toasty brown butter flavor.  Topped with farm fresh berries.  Ahem and amen.

You must have a cast iron skillet for this.  If you don’t have a cast iron skillet (whaaat?!?) we should talk.  This is our heritage in America and the original cast iron cookware actually goes back to the time before Christ in China.  They are durable and in the South they are handed down from generation to generation. It is a source of pride to have grandmother’s skillet.  Truth be told, I had to buy my own.  No matter.  I went to a camping store and paid $12 some years ago.  True, they are heavy and you’re not going to do any fancy omelet flipping in one of these.  They are the workhorses of cookware; solid, beautiful things.  Truly, you could probably use some other skillet but I won’t vouch for them.

Here we go.  Get your ingredients ready.

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)

Dutch Baby Ingrediants














Turn the oven on to 425F and place 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter in your pan and pop it into the oven right away, WHILE it is preheating.  That’s important.

Dutch Baby Butter














Mix all ingredients with a stick blender, blender, or hand mixer.

Dutch Baby Batter














As soon as your oven has reached temperature, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter right over the melted butter and into the hot pan.  Put it back into the oven immediately.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.  Serves four.

Dutch Baby- Cropped 2


Categories: Breads, Desserts and Sweets, Recipe Index | Leave a comment

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-4














Yay for pumpkin AND cheesecake! I usually don’t like my cheesecake messed with too much, but there are exceptions. Yes to pumpkin in cheesecake for sure.

The first time I made this was for Thanksgiving some years ago.  My family promptly informed me that we no longer needed regular pumpkin pie.  This was the new star of Fall celebrations and Thanksgiving, and pumpkin pie is a little boring after all.  My daughter makes this for her family now.

Right now it is 4:00 a.m. on a beautiful September morning. The windows are open and I can hear an owl outside somewhere. Who-who-whoo! Just the owl and I are awake. Anyway, I’m wired to be a morning person. I can’t really help it so I might as well enjoy it.

When I first found this recipe it had a graham cracker crust and not really enough filling in my opinion – but still a lovely pie with star potential.  So I added a gingersnap crust and increased/modified the filling.  Serve it with some whipped cream or Browned Butter Ice Cream to dress it up a little.

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-5














This is pretty simple for cheesecake.  For the crust:

  • 1-3/4 cup ground ginger snap cookies
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Mix together and press into pie pan or springform pan.  Bake 350F for 10 minutes.

Now for the cheesecake:

  • 3 8-oz pkg softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Mix the cream cheese in the mixer until smooth.  Add sugar and mix until smooth.  Add one egg at a time and mix, add vanilla.  Place half of batter in pan and spread evenly.

Make sure your naughty puppy doesn’t counter surf for the empty cream cheese wrappers.  But she’s so cute…









Now blend the pumpkin and spices into the remaining cheesecake batter and spread over the top of the plain cheesecake batter.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.  Cool and then refrigerate before serving.  Absolutely delicious.  I’m loving autumn!

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-2















Categories: Desserts and Sweets, Recipe Index | 1 Comment