November 2013


Colder weather has finally hit Dallas! I missed the start of it because I was hanging out in 90-degree Singapore (sorry for the lack of posting), but I stepped off the plane this weekend into a crisp 40 degrees and it felt great.  For my WI/IL/MN friends,
November is the start of a long and bone chilling miserable winter (at least that’s how I remember it). In Texas,
it’s really the start of a delicious cooking season. The cold weather is so fleeting that you really get to enjoy its comforts in all their glory.  And you really have to jump
right into it because grilling season comes back before you know it.  Slow roasted meats,
stews, gravy, casseroles….I love it all.

So this past weekend I was craving a pork shoulder. And it occurred to me that I had only eaten a slow roasted pork shoulder in the form of a pulled pork taco. Why?? I don’t know! I love the flavor of the meat and the way it falls apart in the oven.  I decided to cook it just a tad less so that it wasn’t totally dissolved into a pulled pork, and I braised it in an apple juice based broth, then added a touch of cream.  Ohhhhh, it made the house smell so good and the taste was even better – the pork is so tender and literally melts in your mouth. Putting this on the favorites list.


  • 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut in half
  • Salt, pepper, brown sugar, and flour for seasoning
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 2-3 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more if using low sodium beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 cups carrots, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 1/2 lb mushroom caps
  • 3 tablespoons flour, whisked together with 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup half & half

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Pat the pork dry, then season with plenty of salt, pepper, and brown sugar (probably about 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar).  Coat with flour (about 1/4 cup).  Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the pork shoulder on all sides, then reduce the heat to low.  Add the apple juice, beef broth (enough to cover about 3/4 of the meat), Worcestershire, bay leaf and thyme.  Add in one carrot and 1 onion to help flavor the broth (you’ll add the rest later so they don’t get overcooked).  Bring the sauce to a simmer, then cover tightly and place the pot in the oven.  After two hours, add in the remaining carrots, onions, mushrooms, and more apple juice if necessary. Cook for about one hour more (three to three and a half hours).  Remove the pot from the oven, and increase the heat to 400.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Carve the meat into large delicious looking chunks (6-8 pieces).  Drizzle with enough sauce to cover the bottom of the baking sheet.  Place the meat/veggies the oven, and cook for about 10 minutes to brown the meat (no longer or you will begin to dry out the meat).  Meanwhile, place the remaining sauce over high heat on the stove.  Skim off any excess fat, and remove the bay leaf and thyme.  Whisk together the flour and water, then stir into the sauce and allow to thicken.  Reduce the heat to low, and mix in the half and half. Serve the meat and veggies over mashed potatoes and drizzle with LOTS OF SAUCE.  Loved loved loved this.


Brownie Oatmeal Cookies


I make brownies from a mix. I used to be ashamed to admit that, but now I embrace it. In fact I’ll say it again: I make brownies from a mix.

How did you do it, Mr. Hines? I don’t even care, keep the secrets for yourself. Whatever you did to the modern day brownie mix is magical. I hope you are sunning yourself on a chair made of gold in some exotic tropical location, enjoying the earnings of your genius contribution to society.

So, I can’t very well put brownies on my blog (as clearly all the work is not my own), but I can put brownie oatmeal cookies on here. These remind me of cookies my mom made when I was a kid, but I used a brownie mix because I had one at home. And they took 3.4 seconds to make. And I wanted some chocolate cookie dough as a snack.


  • 1 package brownie mix(DUNCAN HINES!!)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all ingredients, then refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Bake for 10-11 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet, and top with ice cream immediately.  HURRY.

Teriyaki Glazed Salmon


I’ve had this recipe on my mind for a while now, salmon with a super thick and sweet Teriyaki glaze. My food services company serves one for customer visits that always looks so delicious and pretty.  Yes, this recipe was inspired by my food services company at my work. I’m a little ashamed, but not really because it was a fun challenge to get mine to look just like theirs. A thick coating of sweet Teriyaki glaze that you could eat with a spoon.

Mission accomplished, and we loved it. In fact, we did eat the sauce with a spoon. I coated the salmon first with a mixture of brown sugar, salt, and corn starch, which helps to crisp the top a little bit, and also helps the sauce stay on top of the salmon instead of falling off during cooking.  I made a simple glaze of soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, and orange juice, and thickened it using a bit of corn starch.  To be fair, I don’t think this is a true teriyaki sauce. Teriyaki is supposed to have either Mirin or Sake, but I figured most people don’t keep ingredients like that on hand so I omitted them.  That and the fact that I had a bad experience with Sake in college and might throw up at the smell of it. But we’ll save that story for another day.

This is a very simple weeknight dinner that takes no time to make, but I think you could serve it for an easy dinner party too. Then I would probably throw some sesame seeds on top to be fancy.


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons corn starch
  • Pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (I actually used the juice of a little Cutie)
  • Dash ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 300. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel.  Pepper the salmon, then sprinkle on a mixture of brown sugar, salt, and corn starch.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, fresh orange juice, and ginger.  Heat on medium low, then add the corn starch mixture to thicken. Bring to a low boil, then remove from heat and set aside (ps- this makes a lot of sauce, so you could make up to 4 salmon fillets, and still have a little sauce leftover).  To give my salmon a nice crisp outside, I pan seared mine first for a couple of minutes. You could skip this step and just bake for about 5 minutes longer.  Heat a nonstick skillet to medium high, coat with nonstick spray, then pan sear the top of the salmon (skin side up), for about 2 minutes. Place the salmon in a baking dish (skin side down, although we had ours removed), brush with desired amount of Teriyaki (we did about 3-4 tablespoons on each salmon), then bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Broil for another 1-2 to caramelize the top a bit.  If you prefer less well-done salmon, reduce the cooking time to 8 minutes.  Serve with sauce on the side.

Homemade McRib


Yep, that’s right. A homemade McRib. After being harassed by McDonald’s for weeks now about the return of the McRib, we finally had to cave in and make it.  Have you not felt that same temptation? Well, move to Texas. Everything with barbecue sauce will start to make your mouth water. And quite frankly, it intrigues me. What the $%$#^%$^% is a McRib made out of?

The answer is: who knows (or according to this website, 70 different ingredients). Sort of gross.  But if you make your own, you know exactly what’s in there.  I found and followed this recipe, and it tastes just like it.

I went to Central Market and got boneless country style pork ribs instead – about a pound and a half. I think you could probably just ask the meat man to remove the ribs on a regular rack, but they might ask you to never come back.  Then you simply puree the meat in a food processor with a bit of sugar, water and salt (sorry to use the words ‘puree’ and ‘meat’ in the same sentence), form them into patties to fit your buns (long but fatter than hot dog – Cobblestone hoagie rolls were perrrrfect), use your fingers to create little ridges for ribs (this was my own sneaky little personalized step for authenticity), freeze them for a while to get them to hold shape, then grill and slather with barbecue sauce! Easy.  We used Rufus Teague’s Honey Sweet BBQ sauce, but use whatever your fave is.  For the record, I can’t figure out what my favorite is. At any given time we have 4-5 bottles of barbecue sauce in our fridge. Since moving to Texas, I can’t get enough. Put it on my sandwich, put it on my tortilla, put it on my nachos, put it on my pizza. Sweet, tangy, hot, mild. Love it.  Love it all.

Anyway, if you want to impress the man in your life, make these. If only just to offer something year round that McDonald’s can only offer annually.


Hot Beef Quesadillas


Last weekend, I felt like I found a $100 bill in an old purse. I was trying to fit my leftover fro yo in the freezer (yes, sometimes it’s that big), and as I was rearranging I found a big container of leftover hot beef.  Jackpot. And instead of making the sandwiches that we know and love, we decided to try quesadillas.  Tortillas, Mexican blend shredded cheese, and hot beef (drained a little to remove the excess juice), cooked on a hot skillet…it was SO GOOD.  Best use of leftovers ever.  In fact next time I make hot beef I might just make the quesadillas. Serve with sour cream!

PS. Hot beef freezes amazingly well – it tasted just as good. My recipe makes a lot so it’s perfect for freezing for a rainy (or busy) day.

Butterfinger Blondies


Similar to my challenge every Sunday of what I can do with our ripened bananas, after Halloween I love thinking about all the things I can do with leftover candy. I spent a good portion of my weekend googling ideas for what to do with leftover candy.  Turns out, there is a whole community out there that specializes in Butterfinger recipes.  Things like that make me happy. I have never met a Butterfinger-related item that I haven’t liked.  And these were no exception…recipe here.

Gooey, chocolate-y, and butterfinger-y.  Highly recommend.