Meat and other ‘Merica things


10367736_737019966349243_6995694065233738491_nWell I’d say I’ve officially crossed the bridge to being a real live American woman by cooking my first successful big roast of meat. Sure, I cook all the time, but rub down and roast a four pound pork butt for seven hours in my oven, I had not.

I had my friends over for a pre-July 4th celebration last night since all of us actually have to work today (what is that? that is not exactly freedom, my friends). I don’t even know why I automatically jumped to pulled pork sandwiches, but once I did I had the whole menu played out in my mind. I did some researching and landed upon this fabulous recipe for more of a Texas style pulled pork that wasn’t drowning in crockpot liquid (pulled pork is really not a TX thing, but I might like it better than fatty brisket, shhhhh).

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A coffee chipotle rub and dry low and slow heat give you that beautiful charred bark on the outside and fall apart moist and slightly sweet meat on the inside. If that’s not American, then I don’t know what is. I let DJ contribute by having the all too important task of shredding the pork, even though I knew he was bound to (and did) “taste-test” about a half pound of it before bringing to the table. Boys…

I tossed the pork with about a cup of Stubb’s original BBQ sauce (again with the accidental TX theme) and paired it with the slaw from the same site (with the addition of carrots): red cabbage, julienned jals, cilantro, and a great tangy lime dressing (I subbed Greek yogurt for the mayo). Spicy, limey, and crunchy perfection to contrast the smoky sweet pork. I toasted up a combination of honey wheat Hawaiian rolls for sliders and onion rolls for regular sized sandwiches.

For an easy side, I roasted a few ears of corn (in their husks and directly on the oven rack at 350 for about 30 min) and served them with a chili lime honey butter that really complimented the pork sandwiches. I just eyeballed amounts of chili powder, lime juice, and honey and stirred into room temp butter.

Jenna brought over the cutest little watermelon, and dinner was served. Of course some cold, classic Shiner was the perfect beverage for this Texas, I mean American, celebration. After another dinner of hilarious conversations, we played a round of Apples to Apples and concluded that none of us have low self esteem or confidence issues; it gets pretty heated and competitive with our four fiery personalities, the only way games should be in my opinion.

What other way to finish off a Fourth of July dinner party than with Bluebell berry sundaes and watching one of the greatest American works of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby?

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Happy Independence Day to all you lovely Americans. Rep those Stars and Stripes proudly wherever you may be today, and never take our freedom for granted!10151998_737240736327166_9154440737824637170_n

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Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza for One

I remember the first time I heard of BBQ chicken pizza a few years ago as it was gaining popularity in the food scene.  Being a mostly pizza-purist, obsessed with all things Italian and secretly hoping it’s somewhere in my family tree (a lost cause, I know), I was slightly appalled at the idea of such an American concept tainting the art of real pizza.  I eventually decided I’d loosen up and try it one day, not expecting to be impressed. Well, I admit I was wrong. I now understand the craving for the unexpected, slightly sweet and smoky BBQ flavor stealing the show from the familiar tomato sauce.  Caramelized onions are a key supporting role, and I personally love the addition of a little more veg and fresh cilantro.  Another great thing about this recipe is there’s no kneading or rising of homemade dough – don’t get me wrong, it’s still the best way to go. However, when you’re up to your eyeballs in homework and studying like me, pizza on the table in less than 20 minutes is simply more appealing.  It also lightens it up in terms of total calories and carbs.

Ingredients

1 whole wheat tortilla

Cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil

2 oz sliced rotisserie chicken (or deli turkey, cooked chicken breast, etc.)

1-2 T BBQ sauce

1/4 c bell pepper- any color, diced

1/4 c  onion, diced

Garlic powder/cumin/chili powder/paprika/crushed red pepper to taste

S&P to taste

1 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/2 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar

Fresh green onion

Fresh cilantro

1/4 avocado, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 450. I used my pizza stone, so if you have one have it in your oven while preheating. If not, a small baking sheet will work fine.  Spray the tortilla with a little bit of oil on both sides and put in on the stone by itself for a few minutes to help it crisp up before adding the toppings. Combine the chopped chicken and BBQ sauce and set aside. Saute the onion and pepper in a little bit of oil or cooking spray over medium heat with spices for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened. After the tortilla has been baking a few minutes, take it out and top with BBQ mixture, veggies, and cheeses.  Bake for about 10 more minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is as crispy as you’d like.  Finish off the pizza with the avocado, fresh green onion, cilantro, and try not to drool over that sweet, smoky, spicy and satisfying little pie.

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BBQ Sweet Potato Chip Nachos

Call me crazy, but these three glorious things good on their own came together as one incredible unit of major flavor that can still be enjoyed guilt-free.  This was one of those nights when I didn’t really have a real meal prepped or even thought up in advance, and it was already getting pretty late.  I knew I wanted to watch the NBA finals game, so of course my mind and cravings went straight to sports-related unhealthy snacking food perfect for vegging out on the couch. After looking in every cabinet and fridge drawer, I somehow managed to put this concoction together in my mind and immediately ran with it.  I’ve been having a recent obsession with combining two of my favorite flavors – sweet potato and BBQ – and it never turns out bad. Why not eat an entire plate’s worth of sweet potato chips (but just from one medium potato), top it with some tasty vegetables and cheese, and call it dinner?

Ingredients

1 small/medium sweet potato

1 T olive oil

Spices of choice to taste for chips (I did S&P, cumin, garlic powder, Adobo blend, truvia)

1/2 small onion, sliced thin or chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped (any color)

1/3 c chopped red cabbage

1/2 oz shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar

1/2 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella

1/2 oz reduced fat feta crumbles

1-2 T BBQ sauce

1 green onion, chopped

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 (I started here and ended up turning down to 400 towards the end to try to keep them from burning too quickly). After washing potatoes, slice uniformly with a mandolin on almost the thinnest setting.  You want them to crisp up but be able to hold the toppings. Rinse with water to remove some of the starch and dry thoroughly.  Place potatoes in a gallon ziploc and add 1/2 T olive oil.  Close and shake the bag to coat evenly.  Add spices and shake again.  Spread out onto one or two sprayed baking pans in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on them and flipping halfway.  Heat the other 1/2 T oil in a skillet over low/medium heat.  Add onion and seasonings (I did same as chip flavorings) and let caramelize a few minutes.  Add peppers and cook another couple of minutes.  Finally add the cabbage right at the end just to soften it a bit.  In a microwavable bowl, add all the cooked veggies, BBQ sauce, and mix of cheeses.  Microwave on high 30-45 seconds or until cheese is melted and BBQ sauce is warm.  Arrange the sweet potato chips on a plate (yes, ALL those are for you) and top with cheesy BBQ veggie mixture.  Top with fresh green onions and cilantro and sit down to a seemingly unhealthy, “snack-y” meal full of chips and cheese that’s actually good for you! After all, the sweet potato has been deemed “the perfect food.” Don’t feel bad for eating nachos for dinner because in reality it’s tons of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats!

P.S. You might need a fork 🙂

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