March 30, 2007

Peep This!

I must admit, I have a sweet tooth and it’s pretty bad. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by where I haven’t eaten at least one piece of candy. Even when I am deathly sick I consume so many cough drops that they might as well be candy.

Because of my candy addiction Halloween and Easter are by far my favorite holidays. I can’t explain the feeling I get when I go to the grocery store and either see employees setting up an aisle for the candy or it is already packed full of holiday candy. But if I had to pick between the two of these holidays I would have to pick Easter. Why? Because that is when the Peeps come out. Ahhh, yes the marshmallowy, gooey, sugar-coated candies that I love so much.

Anyway if you are a lover of Peeps like myself check out a peek inside a fishbowl. They are having a Peep-tastic Photo Challenge. On this blog, Andrea challenges all the Peep lovers to pose, freeze, melt, stuff in your mouth and basically do anything with them and take as many pics as you can and send them to her so she can post them. Then she, along with some others, will judge and pick the best. This challenge ends on April 7th. Have fun!

March 29, 2007

Pulled Pork

With many foodies, the crock pot has somewhat of a bad reputation. It’s often viewed as a rather low-brow cooking technique capable only of boring pot roasts and chili. While the crock pot is pretty spectacular with pot roast and chili, I know it has potential outside of these areas. Slow-cooking results in moist and flavorful meat, that I have been known to eat right out of the crock pot. All the tastes have time to truly blend during the long spell of cooking and you have a chance to do other things, such as work a full day. The problem might be that people cannot plan a meal 4-5 hours ahead of time for the High setting or, even worse, 8-10 hours ahead for the Low setting.

Since I have been running around for the last week preparing for my imminent move to NYC, crock pot cooking came in handy. At dinner time a few nights ago, I made a simple meal and also started marinating a pork loin roast in a spicy rub in preparation for Crock Pot Pulled Pork from Heaven. Four hours later when I was starting to yearn for bedtime, the pork was ready for the crock pot. Although you can marinate a piece of meat for up to 24 hours, many chefs advise four hours for optimal results. I put the pork roast in the crock pot, and making sure to keep the rub in tact, covered it with a mixture of apple juice and cider vinegar. The roast cooked for about 10 hours at low while I slept.

The result was delicious, and the best part was waking up to the smell of apple and pork filling my apartment. With a couple forks, the roast easily fell apart, and with a little BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or ketchup, quickly became many, many pulled pork sandwiches enjoyed for days to come. With no one to share with immediately at hand, I think I have now effectively overdosed on pulled pork. Mmmmmm, it was worth it.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork From Heaven

Ingredients

2 1/2-4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. paprika
1 Tbs. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 Tbs. mesquite powder
1/2 C. frozen apple juice concentrate
1/2 C. cider vinegar

Directions

Combine brown sugar through mesquite powder. Spread over entire roast. Refrigerate roast in a Ziploc bag for up to 24 hours. Place apple juice and vinegar in a crock pot and add the spiced shoulder being careful not to lose the rub. Cook on high for two hours, then reduce to low for 10 more hours. Remove the roast and let rest for 30 minutes. Pull roast apart with two forks.

Recipe compliments of one our favorite readers, Sandi Kafka, Arcadia, CA

March 28, 2007

Not For Diabetics Only

Yesterday was 19th Annual American Diabetic Alert (r) as sponsored by the ADA (American Diabetic Association)

What does that mean to you? Probably nothing if you aren’t diabetic or don’t live with one. But there are many people out there that don’t even know that they are diabetic. I didn’t know; I found out accidentally. So if you have a minute, take this easy Diabetic Risk Test. It’s much healthier to know and get it under control than to go undiagnosed.

Now just because you are diabetic doesn’t mean you cannot eat any of your favorite foods anymore. You can pretty much have anything you like depending on what it is, in moderation. And with all the healthy choices out there and Sugar-Free recipes to choose from, as long as you read the ingredients and nutrition information, you cannot go wrong. The best part is that if just eat healthy, not only can you eat the same things as your family and not have labeled ‘diabetic food’, but you become healthier and keep your diabetes under control.

Since all the rage is now for healthier living, it’s not surprising that most of the healthier choices for meals include many things that are appropriate for diabetics. Just be smart about what you eat, which is really good advice for anyone, not just diabetics.

March 27, 2007

Saturday Morning Rituals

Conveniently – and scarily like a planned-out sitcom – my best friend’s boyfriend lives less than two blocks from my boyfriend’s apartment. This was not some conniving girl-plot to be BFF forever, it just worked out that way. It makes cab rides easy (and cheaper) and it’s always nice to know they’re close. But the best part about having them within spitting distance is that every Saturday morning they wake up hungry – and so do I.

We regularly receive a phone call between 9 and 10 a.m. yelling in scratchy morning voices that it’s time for pancakes. No argument here. Our classic staple is Banana Chocolate Chip pancakes (a nice compromise for me and R with a good fruit-to-chocolate ratio). We usually just use the regular Aunt Jemima mix and then throw in whatever else is in the fridge (by Saturday, it’s usually not much).

This past Saturday we were feeling particularly adventurous. I had found a recipe for Orange Ricotta Pancakes in this month’s Everyday Food magazine and we decided to give them a try. (Ever since I read about Pumpkin Pancakes at Everybody Likes Sandwiches, I’ve been itching to try a new pancake recipe.) The batter was quite thick as the recipe calls for almost two cups of ricotta. You’ll notice in the picture that our griddle is strangely spanning the two burners on the stove. Something about the size of the griddle and the distance between the burners necessitates a diagonal placement of the griddle and a constant rotation to keep the pancakes browning nicely (I left this up to R while I did the dishes).

The pancakes came out thicker than I would have liked and were very dense from the ricotta cheese. The picture in the magazine looked like they were much thinner, maybe adding some milk to the batter would help this cause. We also used a nonstick spray instead of the canola oil that it called for when cooking. This kept the grease level down and eliminated the need to drain them.

Overall they were enjoyable, especially with some strawberry jam spread over the top. If you like your pancakes dense, then you’ll definitely be a fan of this recipe. I think I’m more of a buttermilk girl. I highly recommend starting your own Saturday Morning Pancake Ritual… even if your best friend doesn’t live next door.

Orange Ricotta Pancakes
Adapted from Everyday Food, April 2007

Ingredients

1 3/4 C. part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
2/3 C. all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. canola oil (see note)
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, granulated sugar, eggs and orange zest. Whisk in flour just until combined. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-low. Working in batches (and adding more oil to the skillet when necessary) add batter, using a a scant 1/4 C. for each pancake. Cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Serve hot, dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with jam and maple syrup.

*You can substitute a nonstick spray for the oil and eliminate the need to drain the pancakes.

Yield: 12 pancakes

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