Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pork Shoulder Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pork Shoulder Pulled Pork Sandwiches are amazing!  Pork shoulder is an affordable cut (I can feed 5 people, with leftovers, for around $8-10).  It’s also really easy to cook – you just let it cook all day in your slow cooker until it becomes moist and tender.  First, I salt and pepper my shoulder and place it in my slow cooker (fat side up) with orange wedges and a little orange juice.  I let this baby cook all day until the meat is practically falling off the bone.  I strip, or “pull,” the meat from the bone and return it to the slow cooker with about a half a bottle of this delicious Dinosaur BBQ sauce.  Let it cook on low for an additional 30 minutes and serve atop some delicious toasted buns.  You’re good to go – these are the perfect sandwiches to serve at your Super Bowl party!


  • 1, 5lb pork shoulder
  • 1 orange, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 bottle Dinosaur BBQ sauce
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper for rubbing shoulder
  • Sandwich buns


  1. Rub both sides of the pork shoulder with sea salt and cracked black pepper and place in slow cooker, fat side up.  Pour orange juice over and scatter orange wedges around pork.  Cook on low, 8-10 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Remove pork shoulder to carving board and allow to cool until meat can be pulled.  Remove orange wedges from slow cooker and discard.  Once pork has cooled, pull strips of pork off with a fork and place back in slow cooker.  Pour BBQ sauce over pulled pork and mix well.  Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.  Place pulled pork on sandwich buns and serve immediately.


Filed under Main Course

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Tis the season for citrus fruits!  I’ve had a recipe for olive oil cake that I’ve been meaning to try for the past 2 years.  I finally saw some blood oranges at the supermarket and decided to make Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake.  The cake tastes almost like a pound cake but much lighter since there’s no butter.  I also created a glaze of confectioner’s sugar, blood orange juice, and milk.  The glaze makes this cake look pretty-in-pink and gives it an extra sweetness.  I definitely like how the olive oil cake turned out and will be trying this recipe with lemon next.  Enjoy!
  • 3 blood oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking pan
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Juice of 1 blood orange
  • 1-2 tbsp milk (or until desired consistency)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Grate the zest from 2 of the blood oranges and place it in a bowl. Dump in the sugar and, using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until the sugar is evenly flecked with the zest and the smell is irresistible.

3. Supreme two oranges: Lop off the bottom and top so a bit of the fruit is exposed and the orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Starting at the top, cut away the peel and white pith with the tip of your knife, following the curve of the fruit. Slice down one side of a section and the other, using your knife to wiggle the fruit out, releasing it from the membranes and letting it fall into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the sections and do the same to the second orange. Break up the segments with your fingers.

4. Halve the remaining orange and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. You’ll have about 1/4 cup. Add enough sour cream to the juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the zested sugar and whisk well. Then plop in the eggs and whisk until incorporated.

5. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in the oil a little at a time. Fold in the orange segments. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

6. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until it is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and onto the wire rack, right-side up, and cool to room temperature.

7.  Meanwhile, whisk frosting ingredients together until desired consistency.  Once cake has completely cooled, drizzle frosting over.

*Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria


Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Snickerdoodle Chip Cookies

Pin It

I haven’t made snickerdoodle cookies since I was in 8th grade home-ec class.  I decided it was ample time to give these delicious cookies their due, so I amped them up with some cinnamon chips and made Snickerdoodle Chip Cookies.  These cookies are fluffy and delicious… perfect with a glass of milk.  They definitely remind me of my childhood.  Such a great cookie and I’m sorry that I had forgotten about them!

What was your favorite childhood cookie?


  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 tbsp cinnamon for dipping


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combine, about 2 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Add flour mix to the dough and beat until dough comes together. Add in milk and cinnamon chips and beat until combined. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. In a bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Remove dough from fridge and roll into 1 inch balls. Dip in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Lightly press down on dough to flatten it. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.
Yield: 2 dozen
 *Adapted from How Sweet It Is


Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Steak Au Poivre w/Red Wine Sauce & Rosemary Polenta

On New Year’s Eve, I had steak au poivre (pepper steak in French) at Ray’s to the Third Restaurant in D.C.  If you’re familiar with the restaurant scene in D.C., you have definitely heard of Ray’s the Steaks, Ray’s Hellburger, and/or his newest restaurant, Ray’s to the Third.  I loved this steak because the crushed peppercorns definitely gave the meat flavor and a little zing too.  I decided to make my hubby Steak Au Poivre with Red Wine Sauce.  I served the steaks and sauce over a bed of Rosemary Polenta.  I love making polenta because not only is it simple to make, but you can add whatever cheeses or spices you want.  I also love it because it sopped up all that delicious red wine sauce.  Definitely give this dish a try.  Happy eating!


  • 4 filet mignon steaks
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Red Wine Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (I used Chianti)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper


  1. Sprinkle both sides of steaks generously with sea salt and pepper, pressing pepper into both sides.  Let the steaks sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the steaks and cook to desired doneness; I cooked my steaks to medium, 5 minutes on each side.  Remove the steaks to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Meanwhile, in the same saute pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and rosemary and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and beef stock and bring to a boil until reduced by half, about 4-5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium, whisk in the tomato and cornstarch, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve steaks a top Rosemary Polenta and spoon sauce over steaks, allowing to soak into polenta.


Filed under Main Course

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Brownies

Pin It

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate???  I had some leftover peanut butter buttercream frosting after making those Peanut Butter & Chocolate Owl Cupcakes for my hubby’s birthday this past week so I couldn’t let it go to waste!  I decided to make some Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Brownies.  You could make brownies from scratch or use your favorite brownie box mix.  Either way, these chocolate brownies topped with peanut butter buttercream frosting and Reese’s Pieces are sure to make your belly smile.  Enjoy!

Brownie Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips
Peanut Butter Buttercream

  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Reese’s Pieces, for topping
  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate.  Heat, stirring often, until melted, about 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt.  Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir until just blended.  Stir in the chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out almost completely clean, about 30 minutes (longer if using a metal pan).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed. On low speed, mix in sugar until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  6. Once brownies have cooled completely, spread frosting on top (you will have frosting left over).  Sprinkle Reese’s Pieces over frosting and cut into squares.
Source:  Martha Stewart & Cookies


Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Owl Cupcakes

Today was my hubby’s 29th birthday!  When I saw these owl cupcakes on Pinterest, I knew I had to make them for him to share with his co-workers.  Let me explain… My hubby has these big beautiful eyes and when he was small, he had to get glasses.  Because he was just going to grow and eventually need new, bigger glasses, my mother-in-law decided to buy him a gigantic pair of glasses that he could grow in to.  To this day, everyone in the family teases him about the glasses and about what my mother-in-law used to say to anyone that commented on his ginormous glasses: “he’ll grow into em!” (Must be said in a Queens accent to get the full effect).  I’m not really sure why I thought these cute little owl cupcakes reminded me of that, but they did.  And I thought he would get a kick out of me embarassing him a little bit on his birthday.  🙂

I made Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting. I then used Oreo cookies for the eyes and Reese’s Pieces for the eyeballs and beak. They are too cute.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
  3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with Easy White Icing using a table knife or small offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
Peanut Butter Buttercream
  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 48 Oreo Cookies (you need 24 cream-filled sides)
  • Reese’s Pieces  (24 brown for eyes and 12 orange for beak)
  1. Cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed. On low speed, mix in sugar until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste, if desired. Use immediately.
  2. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, frost liberally.  Separate Oreo cookies so you have 24 cream-filled cookies.  Place 2 on each cupcake on top of frosting.  Lightly frost one side of each Reese’s Pieces and place on cupcakes.  Makes 12 cupcakes.
Source:  Martha Stewart


Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Cinnamon Sugar Focaccia

I’ve only ever made savory focaccia bread before now.  Then, I came across this amazing Cinnamon Sugar Focaccia from How Sweet it is and decided I’d have to try.  I used my original focaccia recipe and made a few changes such as using vegetable oil instead of olive oil and adding some honey and cinnamon to the dough.  This bread was warm, fluffy, and delicious – it’s the perfect after-dinner treat or if you really have a sweet tooth, the perfect breakfast treat.

In other news, I recently became obsessed with Pinterest.  It’s fabulous and quite addicting.  I added a Pinterest button on the right-hand side of my blog; feel free to follow my Pins if you’d like!


  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar, plus 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 5 cups flour and extra for kneading
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, plus 1 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp melted butter


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp sugar, oil, honey, flour, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. If using a kitchen aid, attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 5-7 minutes (or knead by hand for same amount of time). Add up to 1/2 cup flour while kneading in order to prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl. Form the dough in a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about 1-1.5 hours.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and press the dough into the pan. If it’s too elastic to spread out, let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover the pan with a dry kitchen towel and let rise again for 1 hour. Position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 400. Dimple the dough with your fingertips and brush melted butter over bread.  In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon and sprinkle over bread.  Bake focaccia for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
*Adapted from how Sweet it is


Filed under Baked Goods, Bread

Cornmeal Muffins & A Book Review

I made these Cornmeal Muffins to go with my White Turkey Chili that I made this past weekend.  Since this week has been super cold in the D.C. Metro Area, this is the perfect comfort food.  I am pretty acclimiated to cold weather; I grew up in Syracuse and went to college in Rochester.  However, let it be noted that these are not walking cities… we turn our cars on, let them get warm, and then drive everywhere.  Normally, you’re not walking very much outside or at least not 4 blocks to work like I do every morning from the metro.  It’s during these times that I miss driving to work.  But as I’m walking faster than most people are driving in D.C., I go back to being grateful for public transportation. The grass is always greener right?  🙂

In other news, I have to tell you about this book that I read right before Christmas.  It’s called the Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy and is one of the best books that I’ve read in a while.  It’s historical fiction (which is my fav) and is set during WWII on a tiny island off the coast of Normandy in the English Channel called Guernsey.  I had planned on bringing this book home over Christmas to read, but instead, finished it in 2 days right before we left for the holidays.  Ooops!  It was that good.  I highly recommend.



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. dried sage
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 11 standard muffing cups with cooking spray.  Fill the unused cup halfway with water to prevent warping.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and sage into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the milk, olive oil and eggs. Fold into the flour mixture and stir 15-2o strokes; do not overmix.
  3. Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling them level with the rim.  Sprinkle each muffin with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden on top or a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

*Adapted from Muffins


Filed under Baked Goods

White Turkey Chili

Going back to work after a nice week-long hiatus is always hard, but since today was my birthday, it could’ve been worse!  🙂  I made this White Turkey Chili over the weekend along with some Cornmeal Muffins.  I wanted something easy that I could throw in my slow cooker that was hearty and full of flavor.  This chili was definitely a pleasant alternative to the regular stuff.  I added some of my favorite beans (butter and cannelini) and also a can of hominy.  I had never cooked with hominy before, but saw it while browsing around the Goya aisle at the grocery store.  According to, hominy is “coarsely ground maize prepared as a food by boiling in milk or water.”  Haha I dunno… but it was good and gave the chili a unique flavor!  Enjoy and have a wonderful week.  Stay tuned for the delicious birthday dinner my hubby made me!
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and cracked pepper for seasoning
  • Your favorite shredded cheese for topping
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Lemon wedge for squeezing over


  1. Heat the oil in large sautee pan over moderate heat and add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable and turkey mix to your slow cooker.  Add the cannellini and butter beans, broth, oregano, and hominy to the slow cooker.  Stir to combine and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 6 hours or until ready to serve.
  4. Spoon hot chili into bowls and top with shredded cheese immediately so cheese will melt.  Garnish with fresh parsley and fresh lemon.  Serve alongside Cornmeal Muffins (To Be Continued!).

*Adapted from Ellie Krieger


Filed under Main Course

My Top 10 Favorite Recipes from 2011

Happy New Year!  I hope you had  a wonderful holiday!  I’ve been MIA for the past week taking a much needed break from work and V.A. to visit family and friends.  2011 was a great year; we bought a house, I got a great new job, and most importantly, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I decided to reflect on my recipes from 2011 and pick my 10 favorites:

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Mint Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Cups

Cannoli Cupcakes

Blueberry Glaze Doughnut Muffins

Toasted Coconut Cake

Baked Brie w/Balsamic Strawberries

Marshmallow S’more Bars

Summer Berry Pie w/Crumb Topping

Molasses Cookies

Fruit Tart w/Lemon Pastry Cream



Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Desserts, Main Course