Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sweet and Sour Pork Roast Made in a Crock Pot.

So, I was going through some cooking magazines and saw several recipes geared towards "sweet and sour". Whether it was pork or chicken, none of the recipes involved any type of frying, simply crock pot cookery or baking in the oven. Which got me to further thinking, since I had a boneless pork loin roast sitting in the freezer and I usually make pulled pork with that cut of meat. I don't know if I warned you of this before, but my mind tends to be its own game of Trivial Pursuit.

I noticed one recipe, for ingredients, it simply had: boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into pieces, soy sauce, brown sugar;  for preparation it had: place in crock pot on low for 6 hours.  The recipe name was "Hawaiian Chicken Teriyaki" and try as I might, I was just not seeing it; nope, not one second of imagery.  Instead, I pictured "sweet and sour pork" in my mind, what the ingredients were and what it would look like if I did not fry up the pork in a cornstarch coating.

The house smelled amazing as the ingredients cooked away in my crock pot; the final product though was simply out of this world!  Oh, how did I get from "sweet and sour" to "Hawaiian teriyaki" and back to "sweet and sour"?  Yeah, its that Trivial Pursuit thing again.  Anyway, here's the recipe and I'm very sure you are going to lap up your plates so clean, you'll think they were not used at all.

Sweet and Sour Pork Roast


2 and 1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks in natural juice; strain juice, but reserve
3 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce



Spray a 4 quart crock pot with nonstick cooking spray; place pork roast inside.  Place onion, bell pepper and pineapple over and around roast.


In a small bowl, whisk together reserved pineapple juice, flour, brown sugar and soy sauce until all flour is incorporated.  Pour mixture over roast, fruit and vegetables; cover and cook on low for eight hours.


Remove roast from crock pot to serving platter to rest for five minutes; surround with fruit and vegetables.  If serving with rice, substitute half cup of cooking water with sauce from crock pot; cook rice according to directions.


Makes 8 servings.
Now just in case you need to know how to make simple white rice, but this isn't the fluffy variety.  This rice will be moist and almost a "risotto" consistency.
4 cups water (or 3 and 1/2 plus 1/2 cup sauce for this dish)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp butter
2 cups long grain rice
In medium sauce pan, bring water (or water plus sauce), salt, black pepper and butter to a rolling boil.  Add the rice and stir vigorously (helps keep rice from sticking immediately); allow to boil for 15 minutes and stir occasionally to make sure it is not sticking.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes. 
Makes 8 servings.
Mary Cokenour

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Layers of Flavor in a Strata.

Remember that brined turkey I made and saved the white meat for future use? The future is here!  One recipe my husband loves, simply loves, is Turkey Vegetable Strata.  When we lived in Pennsylvania, my mother would make several trays of this dish just for him; we would freeze the trays for when he felt the desire for it.  Well, she is 2700 miles away in Pennsylvania; we're in Utah, so I needed to make this dish on my own for him; of course I tweaked the recipe.  No, I just can't leave recipes as is; have to keep playing with new ingredients.

Anyway, my husband paid me the most awesome compliment the other day, "Hunny, this strata is so good; it's even better than your mother's."  I was on cloud nine and still climbing; I think the smile on my face was so wide, I dented the walls in the kitchen.

Turkey Vegetable Strata is one of those casserole dishes that takes two days to prepare.  The first day, the body of the casserole needs to rest in the refrigerator, so moisture and flavor can soak into the bread stuffing.  The second day is the baking process and to be truthful, the casserole is even better the next day after that when all the flavors have melded together...but who can wait!?!

Enough teasing, lets get to baking and eating!

Turkey Vegetable Strata


1 medium onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 Tbsp butter
1 (10 oz) bag herb seasoned, cubed bread stuffing (white or cornbread)
1 (16 oz) bag frozen white corn
1 and 1/2 lbs cooked turkey, white meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided in half
2 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
3 cups milk, divide into 2 cups and 1 cup
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 (10 3/4 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of celery soup
1 tsp crushed dry sage



In a 12 inch skillet, melt butter on medium heat; sauté onion, bell pepper and mushrooms for 10 minutes; do not let brown, just soften. 


With nonstick cooking spray, spray a 4 quart baking dish.  In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed bread, corn, turkey, one cup cheese and sautéed vegetables; spread out into sprayed baking dish.


In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, mayonnaise (or yogurt), two cups milk and black pepper until smooth.  Pour evenly over contents in baking dish; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.


Next day, bread stuffing is moist and double in size.

Next day, preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, mix together soups, sage, one cup milk and one cup cheese till well combined; spread evenly over top of contents in baking dish. 

Bake covered with aluminum foil  for 50 minutes; uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.  Let casserole rest for 15 minutes before serving.


Makes 12 servings.


Mary Cokenour


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bahama Oh Mama!

The "Bahama Mama", what started out as a classic rum punch to give any party a tropical flare has now become...a smoked sausage!  Whether in your grocer's prepackaged deli meat section, or at the local convenience store/gas station; the Bahama Mama smoked sausage is up there with the all American hotdog.

First off, the drink:

Bahama Mama Cocktail


1/4 ounce coffee liqueur
1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce coconut liqueur
1/4 ounce 151 proof rum
juice of half a lemon
4 ounces of pineapple juice


Fill a tall glass (10 ounce capacity) with cracked ice; pour all the ingredients in and stir. Garnish with fruit (strawberry, pineapple, skewered cherries).

However, alcohol is not the main focus of this post; it is my husband Roy's passion for the smoked sausage.  The smoked sausage; a mixture of beef and pork seasoned with a spicy blend and smoked to perfection.  Warmed up on a grill, or, in the case of the local Maverik, the rolling grilling machine; placed in a warm potato roll and topped with a multitude of toppings.  This is the breakfast my husband so desires when we are off adventuring; and I will hold you in suspense no longer.

Canyon Man Bahama Oh Mama


Bahama Mama
Potato Roll
Spicy Brown Mustard
Sweet Pickle Relish
Chopped Onions
Sweet Banana Peppers
Pico de Gallo
Lots of Napkins


Place hot Bahama Mama inside potato roll; begin topping with ingredients layer upon layer; except the napkins of course.  Eat, enjoy, use the napkins on face, hands and wherever else the toppings have landed upon.

When I first presented this masterpiece to Roy, he said, "Now how I am supposed to eat this?"  I had given him a fork, but stated the point that, "a real man would pick it up and eat it"; he proved me correct.

After the first bite, his reaction was, "Oh yeah, now that's what I'm talking about!" 

While I am not particularly fond of the Bahama Mama myself; it brings me happiness to see my hubby enjoy his food.

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Any Season is Turkey Time.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States usually means it's time for a roasted turkey and stuffing; so much work and eaten in so little time. Prices in the markets go sky high for whole turkeys, or turkey breasts; days after, the same markets practically give them away. That was the case for a twelve pound whole turkey I purchased the day after Thanksgiving. While others jammed department stores for half price on televisions, cameras or whatever they desired; I was buying a frozen turkey for half the price and into the freezer it went for future use.

Finally, it was time to get the turkey out, defrost it and create; I decided to finally try the brine technique, roast and see what the difference would be from my usual sage leaves under the skin, roast and baste with butter method. I made a mixture of 1 cup each of kosher salt and sugar to which I added 2 tablespoons each of dried sage, thyme and celery seed, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. I placed the turkey (insides removed) in an extra large, plastic mixing bowl (yes, it fit perfectly) and smeared the mixture inside and outside; any excess was put into the bowl. Next I covered the turkey with cold water, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator for a 12 hour nap. Sounds almost like sending the poor little bird for a spa treatment before sending it to the oven.

Next day, the oven was preheated to 325F; 8 tablespoons of melted butter was combined with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder in a small bowl.  The large roasting pan, with rack, was sprayed with nonstick spray; 2 cups of chicken stock plus 2 cups water added to the pan.  The turkey removed from the plastic bowl, placed on the rack and liberally basted with all of the butter/oil mixture.  I covered the bird with aluminum foil and in the oven it went for 3 hours.  After uncovering the bird, I gave it a good soaking of the liquid in the bottom of the pan; back into the oven for two more hours; a good basting every 45 minutes though.

When the internal temperature, at the thickest part, reached 180F, it was time for the bird to come out.  I let it rest on the rack for 15 minutes before moving it to a platter; the liquid in the pan would become gravy later on.  So, what did I think of the brining method?  The turkey was very moist, tender and juicy; the skin crispy and delicate; actually I didn't taste much difference from my method.  I thought it was a lot more work for the same result; my husband, being out of town for work, hasn't tried it yet, but the legs and wings are in the freezer waiting for him.  I took most of the white meat, portioned it out into freezer bags for use in recipes; one of which I will post next time.

The point of all this is, don't ever deny yourself something you enjoy to eat just because it is not a particular holiday. 

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tamale in a Dish, No Need for a Corn Husk.

Now I know this is nowhere near the traditional tamale; and while I would like to call it Mexican shepherd's pie, it's truly not a shepherd's pie either.  Instead I'm going the route of most magazines geared to the home cook and calling it "Tamale Pie", since there is no better name.  However, I make mine a bit different, I do not put the cornbread mix on top to bake up as a thick topping; I put mine right in the mix of it all.  Lets be honest, when it comes to a bread topping of some sort, there never seems to be enough to go around.  Having it mixed in means there is going to be a cornbread taste in every bite and it acts as a binder for the other ingredients; extra cornbread on the side is a bonus though, so won't say no to that at all.

Tamale Pie


2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) creamed corn
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles (medium heat)
1 package (7 oz) cornbread mix
1 package (12 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided in half


In a large skillet, medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and diced onion together until there is no pink in the meat; drain excess oil.

In a large mixing bowl, add the black beans, creamed corn and tomatoes with chiles.

When beef and onions are ready, add the cornbread mix and half the cheese to the bowl; mix to break up any clumps in the cornbread mix. 

Add the beef and onions and mix until all is incorporated well.

Preheat oven to 350F; spray a 3 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the mixture into the dish; bake for 25 minutes.

Spread other half of cheese over the casserole; return to oven for another 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour