Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just Like Mom's - Green Beans, Potato, Pork

This weekend is the annual Colonial Half Marathon and 5k and my parents and grandparents have come into town every year that I've been at William & Mary to run it together.

In honor of my family coming to visit me this weekend, I thought I'd post this meal I made last week. Growing up, one of my favorite meals was a mixture of equal parts green beans, potatoes, and pork, all mixed up and cooked to tenderness in a beef broth and soy sauce mixture (gives it that little extra asian flair). While I will never be able to make it like my mother does, I at least gave it a try!

The biggest mistake I made was the meat I used... I couldn't remember exactly what kind of pork meat my mom would use, but all I remember is small chunks of pork (about 2" pieces) with a bone inside. I don't have access to an asian foods store like we do back home, so I took my chances at bloom and used Pork Neck. I will never use pork neck again - the meat was only okay, and there were so many little chunks of bone that got mixed in and had to be picked out. Lesson learned: don't use pork neck! (what is it used for normally, anyhow??)


1 lb fresh green beans
1-2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1-2" pieces (or use angus beef cubes)
4 Yukon potatoes, cut into 1-2" chunks
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 (12oz) can beef broth
1/4 cup soy sauce

Pick stems off of the ends of the green beans and break them in 1" pieces. Boil green beans until halfway cooked.
Wash potatoes and chop them into 1-2" cubes, (the smaller the size of the potato, the easier and quicker it cooks!)
In a large bowl, mix together the green beans, potatoes, and onion.
Place the pork pieces into the Crock Pot.
Pour in a little beef broth to make sure the meat doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot once the remaining ingredients are added.
Layer the green beans, potato, and onion mixture on top of the pork.
Pour in the beef broth and soy sauce; distribute as evenly as possible over the food.
Add water if necessary. The Crock Pot should be about 1/2 full of liquid to make sure everything gets cooked well!
Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

This is best served with warm rice (brown or white will do)! And personally, I think the broth is one of the
best parts of this meal.

My mom made a big pot of her version of this meal and is bringing it to me when she comes today :) can't wait!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Ingredient Pork Tenderloin

We've been extraordinarily lucky to have been blessed with BEAUTIFUL (mid 70s) weather the past few days so needless to say, I've been taking every opportunity to "pretend" like its summer already - running outside, shopping at the Outlets, spending time in the sun, and of course margaritas and guacamole and my favorite restaurant in the world, Plaza Azteca! So that's why I haven't been cooking much. But once Sunday rolled around, it was time to hit the books again - which meant time to let my dinner cook all day while I did work!

I loved this recipe because I'm a college student on a budget, so cooking gourmet is hard sometimes! Especially when I am not motivated by preparing a nice romantic meal for J and I :) These pork tenderloins only take three ingredients and it was absolutely delicious.


1-2 lb Pork Tenderloin
1 (12 oz) can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Coat the pork tenderloins with Salt and Pepper.
In a small bowl, blend together the Cream of Mushroom soup and the Chicken Broth (and the garlic, if you choose to use it).
Pour half of the soup mixture into the Crock Pot. Place the pork tenderloins into the Crock Pot. Pour the remainder of the soup mixture over top of the pork tenderloins.
Cook on LOW 5-6 hours.

The pork tenderloins were served with Uncle Bens Wild Rice and Green Bean Casserole.


1 lb fresh green beans
1 (12 oz) can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 cup skim milk
1 (12oz) can French's Fried Onions
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut stems off of the ends of the green beans and break into small, 1 inch pieces. Cook green beans on stove in boiling water until they become tender.
While green beans are boiling, mix Cream of Mushroom soup, milk, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl.
In a casserole dish, mix green beans and soup mix in a casserole dish. Sprinkle French's fried onions over the green bean casserole.
Bake casserole in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until French's fried onions darken with crispiness!

I've been getting great feedback from readers and hearing that you are inspired to use your Crock Pot makes me so happy! Keep it coming :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crock Pot for Side Dishes: Potatoes Au Gratin

One of the greatest things about Crock Pots is the convenience of coming home to a warm entree, ready to serve and no additional cooking necessary. But for those days when you'd like to make something in the oven or on the stove, you can still find uses for your Crock Pot - side dishes!

I love my mom's "fall off the bone" BBQ ribs so I decided to recreate her masterpiece for J and I when we were in Vermont...YUM! I baked the ribs in the oven for four hours, slathered in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce (I swear, the best)...what could make this meal better? Often, ribs are served with a baked potato. I thought I'd treat us to some Potatoes Au Gratin :)


1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup milk
1 can cream of celery soup
6 thinly sliced peeled Idaho potatoes

Mix soup, onion, milk, red pepper, oregano, and cheeses in a large bowl.
Place a layer of potatoes in the Crock Pot. Layer the soup/cheese mix over the potatoes. Repeat until all ingredients are used!
Cook on HIGH 4-6 hours, or until all potatoes are tender.

These potatoes were served with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Ribs and Garlic Roasted Asparagus.


Rack of Baby Back Ribs
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's Original BBQ Sauce
1 stick Butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cover an oven sheet with aluminum foil and place the ribs on top. Loosely cover the ribs with another sheet of aluminum foil.
Coat all surfaces of the ribs well with butter.
Cook buttered ribs in oven for 30 minutes.
Take ribs out and coat with BBQ sauce. Layer the sauce on thick! Recover the ribs. Put them back in the oven for one hour.
Take ribs out, recover with BBQ sauce, and flip over to bake in the oven for another hour.
Repeat one more time (at least).

Tuck a napkin bib into your shirt and get messsssy!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shredded Chicken Chili

This was inspired by my roomie who used to be obsessed with making chicken chili in her slow cooker when we lived together freshman and sophomore year. We happened to be talking about it the other night so I got the craving to make it! I went to Bloom, bought my essential chili ingredients, and started it the next morning.

Oh also, the Crock Pot I have been talking about is our 6 quart baby that we got for J's apartment in Vermont. But when I come back down to Williamsburg, I haven't been using one because I don't have one here. And then suddenly, an angel (my mother) pulled out a brand new "extra" Crock Pot she had laying around the house! Yessss. And as an added bonus, the new Crock Pot is 4 quarts, so when I move to Vermont in June, J and I will have not one, but two Crock Pots to use (you know, appetizer and main course...hehe).

So, back to the recipe... I made this very similarly to how I made the White Bean Turkey Chili, but I just love how the meat becomes so tender and juicy, and what starts as a big lump of meat, will just shred apart so easily after being cooked for 8-10 hours. I am still amazed by it.


1-2 pounds chicken breast (I used about 3 breasts)
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Northern Cannellini Beans, drained
1 can diced green chiles
1 can (12-16 ounce) chicken broth (depending on how soupy you like your chili)
1 packet White Chicken Chili seasoning (optional)

Mix onion, garlic, beans, chiles, chicken broth, and seasoning in slow cooker.
Add in the chicken breasts. Make sure the chicken is submersed under the liquid and is covered on all sides by chili mixture.
Cook on LOW 8-10 hours.
Pull chicken apart into shreds with two forks.

Before: Chicken breast before it is completely shredded.
After: Shredded chicken mixed with the rest of the chili.

Three Cheese Lasagna

I have textbooks and notebooks scattered all around me right now but all I want to do is what better way to procrastinate than to upload another recipe?

My fiancée J is Italian and needless to say, he has had many different home-made lasagnas in this life. I was THRILLED with he tried this one and said it was one of the best he has ever had!


1 pound lean ground beef/turkey (we used ground turkey)
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (12 ounce) package oven-ready lasagna noodles (you don't have to cook these beforehand!)
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat cook the ground beef, onion, and garlic until meat is browned and onion is translucent.
Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, and oregano to the skillet. Stir until well incorporated. Cook until heated through (just a few minutes).
In a large bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix well until all of the cheeses are nice and blended together.
Spoon a layer of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the slow cooker (about 1/3 of the meat mixture to make a three-layered lasagna).
Add a double layer of the uncooked lasagna noodles. Break to fit noodles into slow cooker if you need to.
Top noodles with a portion of the cheese mixture (again, about 1/3 of the cheese mixture). Repeat the layering of sauce, noodles, and cheese until all the ingredients are used.
Cover, and cook on LOW setting for 3-4 hours, or until noodles are at your desired softness!

I served this with simple GARLIC-ROASTED ASPARAGUS (as pictured).

Asparagus spears (as many as you want to make!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil

I cut the ends (near the root) off of the asparagus before I cook them, but this is just personal preference. On the stove, heat olive oil in a pan. Once heated, add the minced garlic. Immediately add the asparagus spears. (Note: Garlic cooks really fast so you don't want to leave it on for too long!) Make sure to turn the asparagus over so all sides are cooked evenly. I cooked these for about 5 minutes, until they were easy to pierce with a fork but not too soft!

Happy Lasagna-ing!

Monday, February 14, 2011

For Those Cold Days...White Bean Turkey Chili

At the request of my roommate...

Even though Spring is supposedly here, we all know that we have plenty of cold, miserable days ahead of us (sorry to break the bad news). But! I have a good idea. When you're sitting there trying to decide which of the on-campus dining halls is worth bearing the cold for, after hours of walking around campus and sitting in class, why don't you just go home to the delicious White Turkey Chili waiting in the crock pot for you?

Let me preface this recipe by saying that, when made right, this smells amazing.


1 pound ground turkey (or beef, if you prefer)
1-2 cups chicken broth (depending on how soup-y you like your chili)
1 (15 ounce) can Northern Cannellini Beans, not drained
1 (12 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 can green chiles (this is what gives it a little kick...choose mild if you don't want the kick!)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pinch ground black pepper
salt, to taste
1 packet white chili mix (optional)
Shredded cheese (to garnish, if desired)

On the stove, brown the ground turkey and drain off excess fat.
Mix in the remainder of the ingredients and stir well.
Cook on LOW 4-5 hours.

Stay Warm! You know that's my number one priority :)

Falling In Love with the Crock Pot: Sloppy Leucks

In January, my fiancée (J) suggested we get a Crock Pot after having some delicious slow cooked chicken noodle soup at his parents' house. As soon as we got home to Vermont, we went to Bed Bath & Beyond (literally the very first place we drove to after landing at the airport) and bought a 6 Quart Crock Pot:

We brainstormed recipes and made shopping lists and it was LOVE instantly. While I'm definitely no Crock Pot pro...I do love it and I think it's a great addition to any household! It is so convenient to prepare the slow cooker in the morning when you first wake up, go out and do whatever you want all day long, and come home to a delicious smelling apartment AND a warm home-cooked meal :)

One of the best days we had in January included: prepping the slow cooker at 7am, packing up our snowboards and spending the day taking turns at Stowe (which is only about one hour away).

As soon as we got back, we had SLOPPY JOES waiting for us! Although I did "adapt" the recipe to our taste buds so we actually call them "Sloppy Leucks"...needless to say, they were just as good, if not better, than any I had had in the past! Not to mention that neither of us had even had sloppy joes in 10+  years...which only made it that much better!

 Here's our recipe - it's EASY and quick (only takes 4 hours!)



1-2 pounds lean ground beef/turkey (we used ground turkey)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 (12 ounces) bottle prepared chili sauce (we just used pasta sauce)
1 (6 ounces) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground red (cayenne) pepper (gives it a kick!)
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 packet of mccormick's "sloppy joe" mix (optional)
Toasted sandwich/hamburger buns

In large deep skillet, brown ground beef/turkey; drain off fat.
Place ground beef mixture in crock pot and stir in all other ingredients.
Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve on toasted buns and enjoy!

Hope you try, enjoy, and LOVE it just like we did! <3