Tag Archives: Slow Cooker

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

“Is it legal for meatballs to taste this good?” – Matt

Let’s hope, because these meatballs may just be the meatballs that will ruin all the other meatballs for you. I don’t know how the crack culinary geniuses at Fine Cooking Magazine came up with this one, I’m seriously living in complete awe of their recipe development prowess, but I’m forever grateful that they did.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

And I’m forever thrilled to share it with you. This one is definitely going in my repertoire with the “Best Ever…” label firmly attached, something I’ll be pulling out to impress company. The slow cooker does most of the work, and you don’t even have to broil or brown the meatballs first (I told you they were geniuses!!).

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Dried herbs, usually a foodier-than-thou no-no, are much of what takes the flavor of both the meatballs and the sauce just soaring. This is one instance where I’m thinking fresh actually isn’t better. The dried herbs really stand out in the long cooking time. Also, porcini mushrooms – ‘nuff said there! Soaking the breadcrumbs in sweet vermouth really makes a difference too – don’t skip that step. Genius.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

I really can’t overstate how much we enjoyed these. I made them twice in one week – the first time because I hadn’t planned on blogging them, then a second time a few days later because I realized what a grave and unpardonable sin it would have been not to. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we did!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015


1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup sweet vermouth
1 ¼ lb. ground pork
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
¼ cup tomato paste
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Make the MEATBALLS: mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the pork and sausage to the mixture, breaking the sausage up with your fingers as you go. Add the egg, cheese, sage, oregano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs.
To make the SAUCE, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried porcini, oregano, thyme, fennel, pepper flakes, and salt in a 5-6 quart slow cooker until the tomato paste dissolves.
Nestle the meatballs into the sauce. It’s fine if they don’t all fit in a single layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Once done, the meatballs can stay on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, gently break the meatballs apart if necessary, and gently turn them all in the sauce. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce, and with extra Parmesan for garnish, if desired.

Chicken Pozole Verde

Chicken Pozole Verde 5176

Today finds me rather upset with myself, seeing as it’s another Sunday Supper, but one I’m unable to officially participate in. Last weekend I made and photographed this lovely recipe, specifically for today’s Sunday Supper, and then thanks to a high-octane work trip for my other job, completely forgot to sign up in time. Go me…

dried hominy 5187

But, since I have the purty pictures and all, I thought I would still share today’s Slow Cooker menu. (That’s the #SS theme today – Slow Cookers. And one of my favorite things in my kitchen, which ensures some extra bummed-out-ness for me that I’m not technically participating. Oh well, life happens, doesn’t it?)

So let’s talk about the ingredient that makes pozole a pozole: hominy. I couldn’t stand, and this cannot possibly be overstated, could not stand hominy as a child. Now, one of the running themes on this blog is my triumph over childhood picky eating, and my triumph is probably at least in part due to the fact that my parents simply didn’t tolerate the behavior. I had to eat what was on my plate, and if I dug in my heels and refused, I went to bed hungry.

dried hominy and limes 5208

Picky eater that I was, the first time I was served hominy, of course I was highly skeptical. It was a peculiar looking veggie with (to me at least) a highly repulsive smell. Of course I voiced my objections and of course they were met with a nonchalant, “eat it anyway.” So I took a bite, and literally chucked my up, right at the dinner table. It tasted that gross to me. From that point on, hominy was placed in a special category all its own – my parents never again told me to “eat it anyway.”

Chicken pozole verde 5211

So then I grew up, and became a grown-up who still vividly recalled that fateful hominy incident, but also a grown-up who learned about pozole. A Mexican soup/stew that always looks delicious, but isn’t pozole without the addition of hominy. What to do?

chicken pozole verde 5196

Solution: dried hominy. I gave it a try and found it to have blessedly little in common with its canned cousin. It doesn’t smell bad and tastes wonderful. Of course it is more time consuming, but unsurprisingly well worth it to me personally. I’m giving directions for using dried, but if canned doesn’t bother you, then of course feel free. I hope y’all enjoy it!

Chicken Pozole verde 5219

{One Year Ago: Date and Prosciutto Doughnuts}
{Two Years Ago: Jalapeno Poppers}

Source: adapted from The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider

12 oz. dried hominy
2 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 medium onion, peeled and halved, with root end intact
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock
5 cups water
4 sprigs cilantro
½ cup raw pepitas, roasted
6-8 tomatillos, husked and washed
1 cup diced white onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 serrano chiles, stemmed
1 small bunch fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
Chopped Hass avocado, for serving

Place the hominy in a large bowl and cover with water by about 4 inches. Set aside at room temperature at least 4 hours, and up to overnight.
In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, garlic, onion, salt, cumin, chicken stock, and water. Drain the hominy well and add it to the slow cooker. Let it cook on LOW for 4 hours, until the chicken is tender and cooked through but not falling apart. Remove the chicken and let cool. Add the cilantro sprigs to the slow cooker. Discard the chicken bones and skin and shred the meat into pieces. Store in a food storage container in the refrigerator.
After you have removed the chicken and added the cilantro, let the soup cook for another 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make the Salsa Verde. Place the tomatillos in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and simmer 5 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and place in a blender, along with the pepitas, onion, garlic clove, serranos, and cilantro. Add ½ cup broth from the slow cooker and puree, scraping down the sides as needed, until very smooth. Pour the salsa into the empty pot you used for the tomatillos and cook over medium to medium-low heat until the sauce is thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir the salsa into the soup and let it go at least another 3 hours, or until the hominy is done. You know the hominy is done when it bursts and is very tender with a soft chew to it. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Add the shredded chicken into the slow cooker for about 30 minutes to warm back through, then ladle into bowls. Serve with lime wedges and avocado.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Chowder #SundaySupper

Butternut Squash and Spinach Chowder 4712

Welcome to Sunday Supper, where our theme this week is Fabulous Fall Foods! I’ve met the theme requirements – this chowder features butternut squash (a fall produce item), and it tastes amazingly fabulous. Thank goodness the theme wasn’t Fabulous Fall Food Photography, because then I would have a major problem.

butternut squash 4701

I found this recipe in one of my many cookbooks, “Slow Cooker Revolution” by America’s Test Kitchen. In the cookbook, there is no picture of this recipe. I now understand that. When you think about any kind of butternut squash chowder, you think of it being a gorgeous orange-ish color. But as you can plainly see, this chowder is rather green, thanks to the spinach. So I’m left with the problem of the pictures not entirely matching the recipe description, which is probably precisely why ATK didn’t include a photograph in their cookbook!

Butternut Squash and Spinach chowder 4734

Ah well, what are you gonna do? I promise from the bottom of my heart that it’s delicious, misleading color and all. And when I make it again, I will include the spinach again! Other than it messing up the chowder’s color, I actually do love it in there. It adds significant healthful properties, and it really cuts the squash’s sweetness.

Butternut squash and spinach chowder 4722

I have to admit, I don’t love it when winter squash soups are too sweet. I never add any brown sugar, and I love ingredients like bacon bits, bacon fat, and salty cheeses to cut the richness. The spinach only adds to that. So in the end, I really love this chowder, even if I don’t love my pictures all that much. I hope you will love it too!

Butternut Squash and spinach chowder 4724

Oh, and be sure you check out all my other Sunday Supper peeps – they’ve brought some drool-worthy perfect-for-fall recipes to the table today!

{One Year Ago: Funnel Cakes}
{Two Years Ago: Chocolate Crepes with Rum Whipped Cream, Shrimp and Grits}

Source: adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

At least 4 oz. bacon, chopped, more if you want it
1 onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
3 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 bunch (roughly 8 oz.) adult spinach, stemmed
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbs minced fresh sage
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it is nice and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve for later.
Pour out all but about 2 tbs bacon fat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is softened. Add the thyme, nutmeg, plus salt and pepper. Stir and cook 1 minute. Now add the flour and stir for about 1 minute to cook out the pasty, raw flour taste. Slowly add up to 2 cups of the chicken stock, stirring out any lumps and letting the whole thing thicken up nicely. Shut off the heat and add this mixture to your slow cooker insert. Also add to the slow cooker, the remaining chicken stock, vegetable stock, half the squash, and the bay leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Toss the remaining squash with the olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Lay a large piece of aluminum foil on a flat work surface and carefully transfer the squash to the center of it. Gather it in the center and fold the foil up around it to create a foil packet and lays somewhat flat. Lay the foil packet on top of the soup in the slow cooker. Close the lid and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours, until the squash in the slow cooker is tender and completely cooked.
Transfer the foil packet to a plate. Open it, being cautious of steam hitting you in the face, and then pour the squash and the juices into the slow cooker. Add the spinach leaves. Stir them in, then cover the slow cooker again and cook another 30 minutes, until the spinach is nicely wilted.
Shut off the heat. Discard the bay leaves. Then hit the soup with an immersion blender. Take your time and be sure the soup is really well-pureed. Now stir in the cream and sage, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or nutmeg as needed.
Serve in bowls garnished with the bacon bits and grated parmesan.

Appetizers and Drinks

Soups, Stews, Chili, and Casserole

Salads and Side Dishes

Main Dishes

Desserts and Baked Goods

Sunday SupperJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Hot and Sticky Slow Cooker Chicken Wings

Hot and Sticky Slow Cooker Chicken Wings

Happy Hump Day! It’s also Day 3 of Chicken Wing Week over here! I’m getting you ready for the Super Bowl. And I’m very excited to share this recipe, because it might be the easiest of all the wing recipes this week!

What is easier than throwing stuff into the slow cooker and walking away? Very little in life. Napping, maybe. But not much, really! There’s a reason everyone loves their crockpots.

These wings were A.W.E.S.O.M.E. I made them for some guinea pigs friends, and they absolutely evaporated. Seriously, I only ate three of them!

chicken wings in the slow cooker

There is definitely some heat, but also a hint of sweetness, and they have that extremely pleasant sticky texture we all love. Plus, they get so tender from being slow cooked that they just fall off the bone when you bite into one. So delicious.

If you are making these for a crowd, I would highly recommend briefly taking leave of your manners and sneaking one before you let your guests have at it. It will likely be the only wing you’ll get to eat!

Stay tuned for tomorrow and Friday – we will finally fry some wings, I promise.

hot and sticky slow cooker chicken wings

{One year ago: Blood Orange-Braised Pork Shoulder}

Source: adapted, quite a bit, from Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes by Sandra Lee

3 lbs. chicken wings, cut into sections, tips discarded
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil
1 (18 oz.) jar apricot preserves
¼ cup organic ketchup
2 tbs chipotle chile powder
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced

Season the wings with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in just a touch of olive oil. Brown the wings, skin side down, for just a few minutes. No need to brown the non-skin side. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan, if necessary. After you have browned the wings, transfer them to the insert of your slow cooker.
In a large bowl, whisk together the preserves, ketchup, chile powder, jalapeno, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the wings in the slow cooker, stirring to make sure all the wings are coated.
Close the lid and turn the slow cooker to HIGH setting. Let go for 2 ½ hours. At that point, turn the slow cooker setting to OFF and set the lid ajar. Let stand for 15 minutes. This will thicken up the sauce.
After 15 minutes, turn the slow cooker to KEEP WARM setting. If not serving immediately, replace the lid.
Serve with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing.

Tacos de Lengua #SundaySupper

Tacos de Lengua

I’m ba-ack – to Sunday Supper, that is! The holidays got a little nutty so I took a break, but I’m very happy to be participating once again. This week we are *slowly* ringing in the New Year. Slowly – get it? Yup, slow cookers! All the recipes this week are crock pot friendly and quite appropriate for all the cold weather we’re having. I considered it a perfect excuse to check one off my cooking bucket list – making beef tongue tacos! (Lengua is Spanish for beef tongue.)

I first tasted beef tongue about a year ago in a restaurant. It came on a small plate as a hash, and we all loved it. Making it at home immediately went on the list. I’m quite pleased to discover and report that this is a very easy dish to make at home. The beef sits in the slow cooker with a few aromatics for 8 hours, then it cools slightly and you remove the skin and dice it. Then you simmer it just a few minutes in the sauce and you’re done!

slow cooker beef tongue

Now, you may have noticed that I didn’t post any pictures of the tongue whole. That’s because, well, the cooked tongue, pre-skinning and dicing, well, just looks like a giant penis. I wish I was kidding. But it really, really does. As in, men wish they were… okay never mind. But anyways!

Once you get it peeled and diced, it’s not so disturbing (or phallic) and things are pretty smooth sailing from that point on. I know this recipe probably isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re even a slightly adventurous eater, I’d highly recommend trying this, it’s really quite tasty. Matt ate three tacos in a row. Oh, and this doesn’t have to be tacos; I loved it on tortilla chips, which makes me think it works as a dip of sorts, or possibly as nachos, too. Whichever way, enjoy!

Beef Tongue Tacos

Source: adapted from Muy Bueno by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith, and Evangelina Soza

2 ½ – 3 lbs. beef tongue (make sure it’s raw, not cured)
3 cups water
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbs olive oil
½ a medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (15 oz.) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican
¼ tsp ground chile de arbol
8 corn tortillas
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Crumbled Cotija cheese, for garnish (optional)

Place the beef tongue, water, onion, garlic and salt in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
You’ll know the beef tongue is ready when the skin has turned white and a sharp paring knife pierces it easily. Remove the tongue and let it cool to where you can handle it. Peel the outer skin off. Use a sharp paring knife to help if necessary. You will also need to cut off the fatty and funky looking underside part. Basically, it’s the part that looks like the testicles. I know that’s crude, but if you’re making this dish following these directions, you’ll know *exactly* what I’m talking about.
Once the tongue is skinned and trimmed, dice into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the strained stock into a fat separator. If you don’t have one, then refrigerate it so you can skim the fat off.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the olive oil to a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and place it over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion has softened. Shut off the heat and scrape the veggies into your blender. Add the tomatoes, ½ cup of your reserved stock, cumin, cinnamon, chile de arbol, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until very smooth, 1-2 minutes. Pour the sauce back into the skillet. Add the diced tongue and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer about 5 minutes to warm the tongue through and thicken the sauce slightly. It should not be runny.
While the sauce is simmering, warm the tortillas and keep them in a tortilla warmer if you have one, or in a foil packet.
To serve, fill a tortilla with some of the beef tongue mixture, then garnish with cilantro and cheese, if desired. I used both garnishes, and I could go either way on the cheese, but I highly, highly recommend using the cilantro. It really adds a needed fresh, grassy note.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the fabulous Sunday Supper team!

Ease into 2014 with these great slow-cooker and crock pot ideas from the Sunday Supper Group!

Whet Your Appetite

Simmering Soups, Stews, and Side Dishes

Main Courses

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches #SundaySupper

pulled lamb barbecue sandwiches

Welcome to another Sunday Supper! Our theme this week is TAILGATING!! Which makes me incredibly happy, as tailgating is all about football, which is one of my favorite things on earth. Especially college ball.

leg of lamb in the slow cooker

So what to make for tailgating fare? Many options out there, but in the end I decided to share these unbelievably delicious sandwiches with you. Firstly, I think these would work well for tailgating because they could be made at home the day before, in your kitchen where there is hopefully no dust, car exhaust or mosquitos, and then piled into a food storage container and kept warm on a hot plate or a grill at the game.

pulled lamb barbecue

pulled lamb barbecue

Secondly, at least where I come from, lamb is not associated with barbecue much at all. But I thought, if you can have pulled pork, pulled chicken, and chopped beef at the barbecue table, then why can’t you have lamb? Well, now you can. And you definitely should.

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

OMG, you guys. This was incredible. Matt even pronounced it one of the Top 5 barbecue plates he’s ever had. And he’s had some goooood barbecue, y’all.

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

So in closing, I will say happy tailgating to you all! May your team always win, unless they’re playing against my team, of course. And no matter what’s happening on the field, may your tailgating and game day grub always be delicious. Be sure you check out the rest of the #SundaySupper links. Some amazing food bloggers have brought some scrumptious recipes to the table!

Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches

{One year ago: Whole Wheat Ricotta Raspberry Scones}

Source: Mint Barbecue Sauce adapted from BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen

For the Lamb:
3 ½ lbs. leg of lamb, boneless
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder
1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 bottle beer
8 hamburger buns

Mint Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup veal, beef, or chicken stock
3 tbs light or dark corn syrup
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs Dijon mustard
½ cup ketchup
2 tbs chopped fresh mint leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim the lamb, if necessary, then season on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the garlic powder on one side of the lamb only.
Into your slow cooker place the onion slices and garlic cloves. Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker, nesting it atop the onions and garlic. Pour in the beer. Let it go on Low for 8 hours.
Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat the medium and let the sauce simmer until thickened slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the lamb is done, use tongs to transfer it to a plate (discard the onions and garlic). It’ll probably start falling apart on you; that’s okay. Use two forks to shred the lamb. Transfer the lamb to a mixing bowl and toss with enough barbecue sauce to coat it thoroughly, but not enough to drown it and make it a soupy mess. (This will likely use up quite a bit of your barbecue sauce, though – it’s a lot of lamb!)
To serve, pile shredded lamb on the hamburger buns and dig in to your messy but delicious sandwich!

Warm Ups (Appetizers):

Bacon and Onion Dip by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chicken Fajita Dip and Quesadillas by Chocolate Moosey
Crab Rangoons by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Double Cheese Dill Scones by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Fried Yucca With Pink Sauce by Basic N Delicious
Grilled Corn Dip by Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Grilled Gameday Nachos by Supper for a Steal
Homemade Potato Chips w/ Blue Cheese Sauce by girlichef
Liptauer Cheese Spread by Magnolia Days
Mahogany Baked Chicken Wings by The Dinner-Mom
Mexican Corn Dip by Growing Up Gabel
Pizza Dip by Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Posh Pigs In a Blanket by The Weekend Gourmet
Pretzel Nuggets by I Run For Wine
Roasted Balsamic Smoked Sausage, Red Grape and Brussels Sprouts Bites by Eat, Move, Shine
Roasted Garlic & Tomatillo Salsa Verde by Killer Bunnies, Inc
Savory Baked Pinwheel’s by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Sesame Glazed Cauliflower “Wings” by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Stuffed Banana Pepper Bites by Daily Dish Recipes
Sweet Potato Hummus by Alida’s Kitchen
Sweet Potato Skins by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Tabbouleh Salad with Golden Raisins by Take A Bite Out of Boca
Vincent Jackson’s Buccin’ Delicious Nachos by My Other City By The Bay

Game Time (Main Dishes and Sides):

1,2,3,4,5 Chinese Spareribs by The Urban Mrs
Bacon Burger Sliders by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Beef on Weck by Healthy. Delicious.
Carrot Slaw by The Foodie Army Wife
Cheerwine BBQ Pulled Pork by Nik Snacks
Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Quesadillas by Cookin’ Mimi
Chicken, Brie and Apple Turnovers by Shockingly Delicious
Easy Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwiches by Momma’s Meals
French Onion Chicken Sandwiches by Foxes Love Lemons
Frito Olé by Home Cooking Memories
Gomoku Treasure Rice by NinjaBaking.com
Grilled Fajita Kebabs by CuriousCuisiniere
Hatch Cheddar Burgers by Doggie at the Dinner Table
Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese Burgers by Juanita’s Cocina
Italian Sliders with Basil Pimento Cheese by La Bella Vita Cucina
Italian Tuna and Shells Salad by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Pressed Brick Sandwich by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches by The Texan New Yorker
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Soup by Neighborfood
Smoky Turkey Burgers by Webicurean
Snorker and Spicy Slaw Sandwiches by Food Lust People Love
Tandoori BBQ Chicken by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Tortilla Hot Dogs by La Cocina de Leslie

Overtime (Drinks and Desserts):

Coconut Funfetti Ice Cream Cake by What Smells So Good?
Funfetti Sugar Cookies by Pies and Plots
Individual Elvis Pies by Treats & Trinkets
Portuguese Sangria by Family Foodie

Slow Cooker Refried Beans


It probably goes without saying that refried beans were a large part of my diet growing up, what with all the Tex-Mex I indulged in. But what might surprise you is that I don’t have many memories of eating them at home. It was usually restaurant and Taco Bell fare.

After moving to New York and discovering the scarcity of Tex-Mex restaurants, I learned to make the cuisine at home. But the refried beans portion of the meal usually came from a can, I’m sorry to say.


I did attempt them from scratch once, a few years ago, but it qualifies as a Bona Fide Kitchen Disaster, as hours of soaking and boiling the beans left them still crunchy and inedible, and marked probably the first (and hopefully last) time I ever ate enchiladas without a side of refried beans. That little incident drove me right back to the canned stuff.


Fortunately, I have since discovered the magical awesomeness of cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. So now I will never need the canned stuff again! Okay, I probably shouldn’t make such a bold statement – we all get in a pinch sometimes. But I’m so happy to have this method available, because these refried beans are the real deal, y’all!


Your family and/or guests will swear you had them flown in from the best restaurant in Mexico. Or maybe San Antonio. They are so amazing and do not remotely compare to the canned stuff. And speaking of guests, I served these at a dinner party last weekend which is why I have no pictures of the prep or raw ingredients. My apologies. But they are too good not to share.

If you enjoy Mexican and/or Tex-Mex food, I highly urge you to try these. It’s very easy, and the recipe makes a ton, so you can eat off them all week. Black beans can be subbed in for pinto beans if you prefer.


Source: slightly adapted from The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider

1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
7 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp chile de arbol powder or crushed chile flakes
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbs lard or canola oil
¼ cup finely diced white onion
1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine the beans, water, chile de arbol, salt, and black pepper in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are very tender. When the beans are done, shut off the heat.
In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Remove skillet from the heat. Add 1 cup of the beans and their liquid to the skillet. Mash to a smooth paste with a potato masher. Return the skillet to the heat and continue to add the remaining beans, 1 cup at a time, mashing them until smooth after each addition and adding liquid as needed. When all the beans are mashed, add any remaining cooking liquid necessary to thin to the proper consistency. The beans should be thick but not stiff. Serve hot, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, Monterey jack cheese, scallions, raw minced white onions, cilantro, or plain, whatever you want.

Guinness Beef Stew


New York is very gray and yucky today. Mother Nature has sent us chilly temperatures, gray skies and sideways rain, which is of course the loveliest kind of rain (NOT!!). You know sideways rain, right? Where the umbrella just doesn’t matter… No two ways about it, if you go outside, you’re getting soaked. Period. I am never a fan of this weather. I know some people love rain or a good thunderstorm, but I’m really not one of them. These days always leave me feeling a bit listless and sluggish. Fortunately, I have some very tasty leftover beef stew to keep me company!



A few days ago I made some amazing Guinness beef stew, and since the recipe made a ton, we’re still enjoying it. This stew is so lovely – beautiful grass-fed beef chuck, hearty root vegetables, bay leaves, deep stout beer, rich beef stock, and the secret ingredient – unsweetened chocolate! – all simmered together for 10 hours in my slow cooker. The house smelled wonderful and the result was delicious, warm, comforting stew.


Guinness beef stew, one of Ireland’s most iconic dishes, is different from regular beef stew, because Guinness beer has such a distinctive malty taste. If you use too much in the stew, the end result can be one of bitterness. I think probably everyone has been there at least once. The key is moderation in the amount of beer you add – a little goes a long way. And the secret ingredient of unsweetened chocolate was just genius! Its richness mellows the slight harshness from the beer and makes the whole stew very rich and smooth.


So wherever you live, I hope you are not having dreary weather, but if you are, consider warming up with this delicious stew!


Source: adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Reviews and Recipes 2008

4 lbs. boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 ½ cups Guinness stout, divided
1 tbs light brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate
2 bay leaves
5 small carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and chopped
24 baby red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tbs minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half the beef until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to your slow cooker with a slotted spoon and repeat with 2 more teaspoons of canola oil and the remaining beef.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet and sauté the onions until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and garlic and cook a minute more. Now add the stock, 1 ¼ cups beer, brown sugar, thyme, chocolate (no need to chop it), and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Carefully transfer the entire mixture to the slow cooker.
Now add the carrots, parsnips, and potatoes to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9 to 10 hours, until the meat is very tender. Whisk the flour and the remaining ¼ cup beer in a small bowl. Make sure there are no lumps, then pour it into the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine, but try not to break up the meat chunks. Cook, covered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve the stew garnished with parsley.

Pulled Pork Sliders

Texas barbecue is a beautiful cuisine.  Unless you order pulled pork.  Then, not so much.  When you visit a barbecue joint in Texas, get the brisket.  Do not order the pulled pork if it’s on a menu.  More often than not, it won’t be done right.  There’s just not a history of it in the state, thus, not a lot of practice at perfecting it.  When you want delicious pulled pork done right, you go to its home state of North Carolina.

That’s exactly what Matt and I did for our summer vacation.  We spent a lovely week at the Outer Banks.  We stayed mostly in Kitty Hawk, at the Hilton right there on the beach.  And lo and behold, across the street from the back of our hotel sat High Cotton, one of the best barbecue joints on the entire Outer Banks (according to TripAdvisor, anyway).  It was a very exciting discovery.  Tuesday evening we ventured over for dinner.  We both barely ate lunch, and swam an extra thirty minutes in the (freezing cold!!) ocean in preparation.  The anticipation was riding high.

We both ordered combo plates with ribs, sides, and of course, the pulled pork.  Matt got daring and ordered some brisket, too.  The sides were overall disappointing.  The ribs were good.  Not outstanding, but pretty good.  Surprisingly, the brisket was pretty respectable.  Eons away from the quality you’ll find in Texas, but it was enjoyable.  The pulled pork was far and away the star of the plate.  It was some of the best texture of pork shoulder I’ve ever tasted.  The classic vinegar sauce was tangy but not too potent, and the pork was not over-sauced at all.  I wish I had just ordered an entire plate of it.  Utterly sublime.

That meal left me craving it upon returning home, so I set about to sate my taste buds and tummy.  This recipe is more of a barbecue slathered pork than the traditional Carolina vinegar sauce, but still delicious.  The coleslaw is technically and officially considered optional, but it’s mandatory in my world.  I always have coleslaw with pulled, barbecued meat.  Catch that recipe here.

Source: adapted from Wine Bites, by Barbara Scott-Goodman

1 (3-4 lb.) boneless pork shoulder
3 tbs paprika
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
1 tbs ground cumin
3 tbs chili powder, divided
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 tbs canola oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups organic ketchup
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Dash of hot pepper sauce
16 slider rolls, split

Pat the pork very dry.
Make the dry rub: in a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, granulated sugar, 1 tbs brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. Rub the spice mix all over the pork, then wrap in plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Prepare your slow cooker. Place the sliced onion in the bottom and sprinkle the garlic cloves on top. Tie the pork with kitchen string so it cooks evenly, if needed. Place the pork shoulder on top of the onions. Slow cook on low heat for 6 hours.
Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the ketchup, vinegar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbs chili powder, mustard, and hot pepper sauce and stir to mix well. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the flavors blend, 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If chunks of onion bothers you, hit it with an immersion blender or throw it in your blender to puree it.
When the pork is ready, remove from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board or plate. Tent loosely with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Cut off the kitchen string and then pull the pork apart with two forks. Transfer the shreds to a large bowl and add the barbecue sauce. Toss to thoroughly combine.
Spoon the pulled pork onto the bottom buns of the rolls, dividing it evenly. Replace the tops of the rolls. Top with coleslaw. Serve immediately.