April 5, 2012

Macaron Madness

My very near and dear friend from college was in town from California this week, and she suggested I make macarons for her after seeing the macaron tower I had pinned on Pinterest.  Seeing as it's been on my list of "to-dos", I figured this was a good reason to give macarons a try!  So we put on our aprons (well, at least I did), grabbed our spatulas, and made an evening out of it.

My friend would like me to clarify she is not being fobby in the photo.  She's giving the sign for number two - our second try after a botched first attempt (we made three in one night).

We had a blast, even though the macarons were a bust for the most part.

Now I understand what they mean by "macaron madness".  It's not that you're mad about macarons,  but rather they'll make you mad trying to get them to be perfect!  Where did we go wrong?  Well, some of the factors included not reading instructions carefully, skipping a vital step (mixing the ground almond with the powdered sugar in a food processor), and laughing too much when we should've probably been watching the oven (it baked quicker than the recommended 10 minutes in my oven).

Out of 50-some shells, only two turned out somewhat decently.  Just enough to make one lovely, first-time effort macaron filled with dark chocolate ganache.

Regardless of pretty or not, I have to say they still taste amazing!  The crumbs on my boys' shirts can attest to that.

I will try again (probably using the instructions from this video and helpful tips from this blog).  In the meantime, we're enjoying eating the "mistakes".

We hope everyone has a blessed Easter!


April 3, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwich

I love my slow cooker.  And I love when I can make simple and tasty dishes like this without requiring too much effort on my part.

I was surprised by how easy pulled pork is to make.  Throw a hunk of pork shoulder in the slow cooker with broth, onion, bbq sauce, salt, and pepper for 8 hours, and you've got pork so tender, it melts off the bone and into your mouth.

I found so many wonderful recipes that I had a hard time choosing one, so I incorporated different elements from several of them (including Tyler Florence's Ultimate BBQ Sauce and Pioneer Woman's Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork).  The end result came out nicely.

I love the added texture and flavors the onions, garlic, thyme, and bacon give the bbq sauce.  I would've loved to make this spicy and add the Chipotle peppers from Pioneer Woman's recipe but kept it mild for the kiddies.

But if you're looking to keep it simple, no need for fancy bbq sauces.  Here's a really easy recipe for pulled pork, and I'm sure it's just as good.

Serve the finished product on hamburger buns topped with Wolfgang Puck's Apple Coleslaw, and you have yourself one delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork sandwich ready for your next barbecue.

Pulled Pork Sandwich
{Makes: 10-12 servings; Prep time: 30 minutes; Cook time: 9 hours}

1 (6-8 lb) pork shoulder on the bone
1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
4 cups favorite bbq sauce (recipe below)
1 (12 oz.) can of Dr. Pepper
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper

BBQ Sauce Ingredients:
1 slice of bacon
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 onion chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 (16-19 oz.) jar of favorite bbq sauce (I used Guy Fieri's Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce)
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

  1. Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder.  Layer onion on bottom of the slow cooker and place pork shoulder on top.  Add water, broth, Dr. Pepper and 1 cup of homemade bbq sauce.  Cover and cook on low until very tender, about 8 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, make the bbq sauce.  Wrap the bacon around the bunch of thyme to create a bundle. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat (this gives the sauce a nice smoky flavor).  Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly without coloring for 5 minutes.  Remove the thyme bundle from the sauce and add the store-bought bbq sauce, ketchup, dry mustard, cumin, and paprika.  Stir over low heat and cook slowly for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Once the sauce is done cooking, remove 1 cup of the sauce to reserve for serving along side the pulled pork sandwich.  The remainder of the barbecue sauce will be used for cooking the pork.
  3. After pork is done cooking for 8 hours, remove meat and let cool.  When pork is cool enough to handle, pull meat into thin shreds, removing all bone, fat, and gristle.  Return pulled pork to slow cooker, stir in remaining barbecue sauce, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 hour longer on low.  Serve with hamburger buns and coleslaw.


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