Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder with Tomato sauce

Welcome to 2014! Now that it’s the start of a new year, it’s time to get back on the “eating less crap” bandwagon again. Jene and I have both been very guilty of eating a lot of junk food and sweets since Thanksgiving. Carbs carbs and more carbs! With this in mind I decided I’d better get back to cooking.

I had a rather large piece of pork shoulder in the freezer that I pulled out to thaw. It was too big to fit all of it into the slow cooker so I cut it in half and made soup with one half and put the other half in the slow cooker.

I did my usual seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic and onion. Then as I was laying in bed with Mew on my stomach, I got the idea to make up some sauce and put it in with the pork. Apparently Mew’s purring was very inspirational, the dirty look I got when I moved her was less so πŸ˜‰

Tomato Sauce (rough measurements)

2 14.5 ounce cans of tomato sauce

1/3 cup honey and/or molasses

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup worchestershire sauce

1 TB dried ground mustard

1 TB mixture of cumin and coriander (2 parts coriander to 1 part cumin. this is something I had on hand that I had ground myself. if using preground spices, use 2 teaspoons instead)

salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a pot and stir over medium low heat for a few minutes to let the honey and/or molasses melt and everything is well blended. Pour over the pork in the slow cooker.

Cook on low heat 6-8 hours or until the pork falls apart.

After removing the pork, pour the sauce into a sauce pan and simmer over low heat to reduce and thicken up.

Really easy and really tasty. πŸ˜€

 

 

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An experiment: slow cooker tomato paste

I’m sure that my readers have noticed I’ve been rather quiet lately. I apologize but life has been busy kicking me in the shins. It’s been very hot here for the last several weeks and it messes with my Multiple Sclerosis. The result is that I have the brain power of your average carrot and the energy of your average rock. I’ve been sleeping up 15 hours a night. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much time for cooking, let alone blogging. To top things off, a dear friend of mine passed away and I started back to school. However, I have the most insane tomato plants EVER this year and sometimes you just gotta do something with them.

So… Sunday afternoon I picked about 20lbs of tomatoes. Yep, you read that right, 20 POUNDS of tomatoes. I knew that with the heat I wasn’t in any condition to peel and can them whole, plus a lot of them were slightly over-ripe. I still have several quarts of tomato sauce in the freeze from last year so I don’t need sauce… what to do, what to do. Then I got an email with an update on my friend Cat’s blog. She was using some of the tomatoes I gave her to make tomato paste.

Now, at some point in the past I vaguely remember reading a recipe for making tomato paste in a slow cooker. Being the lazy sort I thought that sounded just right up my alley. Also being the lazy sort, I didn’t actually go find the directions, I just decided to play it by ear. So yes, I’m trying something I might have read an article about as long as ten years ago without actually looking it up again. I’m just special that way. πŸ˜‰

So the first thing I did was toss all the tomatoes in the slow cooker for a day and a half on warm. I would have used one of my big pots but Jene (my usually very helpful husband) had placed all my large pots out of reach and wasn’t around to get them off the high shelf. (He hates having them sitting around in accessible places like the top of the chest freezer or the dining table. Go figure…) So I thought if I was going to use the slow cooker anyway, I might as well start with it. So I put almost all 20 lbs of tomatoes in the slow cooker. I did leave a few out for making salads πŸ™‚

Obviously, with that many tomatoes, you can’t put the lid on but that’s ok because you don’t really want the lid on. That was on Sunday. Today I came back and ran everything through my food mill to get the seeds and skins out. I actually have a cool contraption, Cat calls her’s The Machine, that will do this too but it was too much like work to go find it and put it together. Food mill being at hand, that was my tomato smooshing weapon of choice.

Now this is where things get really experimental… According to my vague memory, the tomato puree goes in the slow cooker on the lowest heat setting without the lid on. Leaving the lid off allows the extra water to evaporate as opposed to just running back down off the lid. So I now have about 3.5 qts of puree in my slow cooker. I have no idea how long it’s going to take to cook down to paste. My guess is that I’ll be able to ignore it for a couple of days except for occasionally giving it a stir.

Come back later and I’ll tell you how it turned out! πŸ˜€

Oh and a note about pickles… my pickled mushrooms came out quite tasty but could have definitely used some more time to mellow. So I won’t be opening the dill pickles or the mixed veggie pickles for another week or two.

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Vegetarian Chili

Now that I’m back home, I’ve been busy making a mess of the kitchen. And although I haven’t been posting this week, I’ve been busy cooking up quite a lot. The first thing Jene asked me to make was a vegetarian chili. I made this for a party a couple of years ago that had a vegetarian attending. I guess it made an impression because Jene wanted me to make it again lol.

After rummaging around in my memory for a bit I came up with the following recipe. (I apologize for the lack of a picture. I was too lazy to go get my phone.)

Recipe

4 cans of beans (1 can each of black, canneloni, pinto and kidney)

1/2 head of celery, chopped

1 onion, choppped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb carrots, chopped

20 oz mushrooms, sliced and sauteed to remove the water

1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces

chili powder, to taste

cumin, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

This makes a pretty big batch so I used my 6 qt crockpot. It can also be made on the stove over very low heat.

Spray the inside of the crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Drain and rinse the beans then dump them in the pot. For the celery I washed the entire head without pulling any stalks off. Then I just started cutting it from the end until I’d used up half of it. This way you get the leaves in the chili. They have lots of good flavor. Add the celery, onions and carrots to the pot. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. Do NOT put the mushrooms and asparagus in yet. Set the crockpot on low and let it cook for about 5-6 hours. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in some butter in a skillet over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. The purpose of this is to cook out the water so they don’t make the chili runny. Chop the asparagus. When you’re about 45 minutes away from wanting to eat, add the mushrooms and asparagus to the pot, stir them in and and check the seasoning. If necessary add a bit more seasoning. Let cook just until the asparagus is tender. Turn of and serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions if desired.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a big fan of Penzeys spices. I used their Chili 9000 for the chili powder. The number has nothing to do with heat so it’s not very hot. It’s justΒ  very rich, flavorful chili powder with something like 26 ingredients in it. I highly recommend it. πŸ™‚

And no, I didn’t eat any of this chili. I hate beans lol. Jene really enjoyed it and has been taking it to work for lunch this week.

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Pork Chili

It’s cold. Some parts of the country actually have snow this time of year (poor buggers). Here in the Bay area it’s mostly just kind of chilly. It’s still good weather for making a nice thick hearty chili.

Recipe

This makes about 6 quarts so use a big enough pot.

5-6 lbs boneless pork butt/shoulder cubed into 2″ pieces

1 head celery, chopped (yes, it’s a lot)

3 cans diced tomatoes

2 onions chopped

chili seasoning of choice

salt

I like to use my crock pot for this. I’ve got a nice big one, about 6 quarts I think. I spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray and just toss everything in. For the BEST flavor, brown the cubes of pork over medium high heat in a skillet on a the stove before putting them in the crock pot. I didn’t do that today because I wasn’t feeling good. Thus the chili was a little bland. Once you have all the pork in the crock pot (browned or not) add the canned tomatoes, salt and chili seasoning. I used about 4 TB of Penzeys Chili 9000 which is probably my favorite. I also kicked it up with a bit of extra cumin. I let the pork, tomatoes and seasoning cook on high for about three hours and then added the celery and onions. It cooked in the crock pot for another hour until we had to leave for the party. My crock pot was too full so I moved everything to a large stock pot. Then it simmered on the stove at Darren’s house for another hour or two. So probably, a cooking time of about six hours. I could have started it last night and kept it on low.

Garnish with sour cream, green onions and shredded cheese. Pretty tasty. πŸ™‚

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Slower Cooker Asian Pork Loin

This is actually something I threw together earlier this week and finally got around to nibbling on. Jene’s been taking it to work for lunch but I’ve been eating bagels with home made cream cheese lol. This recipe happened because I had a chunk of pork loin (3-4 lbs maybe) that I needed to do something with. I didn’t feel like stuffing it so I got out the slow cooker. I had picked up a copy of Cooking Light Best Ever Slow Cooker Recipes and one of the recipes gave me the idea of what I made.

Recipe

1 pork loin roast 3-4 lbs

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 TB rice wine vinegar

1 TB garlic paste

1 TB ginger paste

1 tsp sesame oil

pepper to taste

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with some non-stick cooking spray. Put the pork loin in the pot, fat side up. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the pork loin. Cook 3-4 hours on low until the pork is cooked through. Unlike a pork shoulder, you do NOT want to cook this until it falls apart. Pork loin is a very lean cut of meat and should only be cooked to an internal temp of 145F. If you over cook it, it gets really dry.

For the ginger and garlic pastes… if your store doesn’t carry those lovely tubes of pre-made paste, just use finely minced fresh ginger and garlic in place.

One last note… as usual, I didn’t actually measure my ingredients so I’m guessing. You want enough liquid to come about 1/2 – 3/4 inch up the side of the pork loin. So if the measurements I gave don’t make enough, just make more. πŸ˜‰

What I did today was make some rice, pour some sauce over the rice and put some slivers of pork on top. Really really tasty. This recipe is one I will put into rotation and make on a regular basis.

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