Collard Greens (Not just a side)

There are many side dishes out there that can be tweaked a little to be turned into a main course if  you just have a little imagination. Now I know that a lot of people tend to turn their nose up and say ewwww to different greens and it is mostly because of the smell they give off while cooking or just a general loathing of anything green. To you people I say give them a chance because once they are done and you get that first bite you will be hooked. I grew up eating collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens and love them when they are cooked properly which unfortunately is something a lot of places don’t do. Most restaurants will have them on the menu as a side dish and that is fine but I am here to show you that this does not have to be the case. You can make them where they are the main dish and you will be looking for something else to put on the side.

So here is what you need to make this tasty dish

Ingredients

3 bunches of fresh collard greens

2 lbs country style (pork) ribs (boneless)

1/4 lb sliced salt pork (you can use bacon but salt pork is better)

Garlic Powder

Black Pepper

Red Pepper Flakes

Prep

Cut the the salt pork into small 1″ pieces

Cut the pork ribs down to 2″ square pieces

Cut the stems off of the collards right at the bottom of the leaf and throw them away, now rinse the leaves, then cut the leaves into small 1 to 2 inch squares and set aside in a bowl.

Cooking

In a large pot with a lid you want to cook the salt pork first. You are going to cook it on medium high heat until it is golden brown and most of the fat has been rendered off to make a nice cooking oil. Then add the pork ribs in and season with the garlic powder and black pepper (Use about a tablespoon each). Cook the ribs until they are nice a brown and crisp on the outside. Now reduce the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Add in the cut up greens and red pepper flakes and put the lid on the pot. Cook them on medium for about 45 minutes occasionally stirring.  Now reduce the heat to low and cook for another 45 minutes.

By now the greens should be nice and soft and the ribs should be tender and starting to fall apart.

That’s all there is to it.  A nice dish that is great by itself or accompanied by sides.
Enjoy

Thanks for reading,

JMW

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Italian Stuffed Peppers

As promised for my second Italian recipe of the week I give you my take on stuffed peppers.  I have not had stuffed peppers of any variety in quite some time and the ones that I have had in the past I was never a huge fan of, so I set out to make them in a way that I  would enjoy them. I think the one thing I have never cared for in stuffed peppers is the rice to meat ratio, so I cut out the middle man and this recipe goes riceless (I’m not sure if that is a word but it sounded good while I was writing it). The good news is that if you have read my recipe for lasagna you will be using most of the same ingredients. It worked out nice that way.

What you need:

1 lb ground beef

1 lb Italian sausage

1 medium white onion (diced)

3 garlic cloves (diced)

1 24 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Rao’s Arabiata sauce)

1 pack of sliced fresh mozzarella

1 6 oz container of shredded Parmesan cheese.

olive oil (3 to 4 tablespoons

Garlic powder

red pepper flakes

Italian bread crumbs

4 large bell peppers (tops cut off and seeds and membranes removed)

First you will want heat the olive oil in a pan and then saute the onions and garlic in until they start to turn clear. Then add the meat (both sausage and beef) and cook until the are brown. Drain any excess fat from the pan and then pour cooked meat and onions into a large mixing bowl. Add in about half the jar of sauce, 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs and about half the container of Parmesan cheese and stir them all together.

Now place the 4 peppers in a baking dish and fill each one to just about 1/2 an inch from the top of the pepper with the meat mixture. The other half an inch will now be filled with the sauce. Now place a slice of the fresh mozzarella on top of each pepper. With the remaining sauce fill the bottom of the baking dish.  Now sprinkle a little garlic powder and red pepper flakes on the top of the whole thing.

Place the peppers is the oven on the middle rack (preheated to 375) and bake for an hour to an hour and half or until the peppers start to get soft but will still hold together.

You will want to let them cool a little before serving. Then you can put them on a plate and spoon on a little extra sauce and enjoy. The good thing about this recipe is you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a couple of days before you cook it.  It is a nice take on an old classic and should satisfy even the most die hard stuffed pepper lovers out there.

Thanks for reading.

JMW

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Growing up on the east coast I was introduced to pork BBQ at an early age and grew up with that being the norm anywhere you went to eat. You walk into a restaurant and the menu showed items like pulled pork, sliced pork, pork ribs etc. Now you can imagine my surprise when I moved to Texas and walked in to my first Texas BBQ restaurant only to look at the menu and not see pork listed anywhere. Everything is beef, Brisket, ribs, chopped BBQ and on and on, its all beef. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good smoked brisket and have even come up with my own rub and method of doing it myself but its just not the same as the BBQ pork I grew up with. Another odd thing about Texas BBQ joints is the cole slaw. Every where you go they have cole slaw on the menu but what you get is a scoop of shredded cabbage soaked in vinegar. This is not cole slaw people. Cole slaw needs to be thick and creamy with hints of vinegar and sweetness. Oh and did I mention the creaminess? for this you need mayo and not just any mayo, you need Helmann’s mayo. It is the perfect consistency and flavor for making a good southern cole slaw. So I took matters into my own hands and came up with my own pulled pork recipe. Now the one I am posting differs slightly than the one I usually make because it is Hatch Chili pepper season, so just about everything I make is getting Hatch peppers added to it.

Lets start off with the ingredients you will need.

Pulled Pork

1 pork loin (about 3 to 4 pounds)

Chili powder

Garlic powder

olive oil

hatch chili peppers, about a pound (optional)

BBQ sauce (regular Kraft works great)

Cole Slaw

1 large bag shredded cabbage

sugar

apple cider vinegar

garlic powder

chili powder

Mayo (Helmanns)

Black Pepper

Salt

And for the sandwich you will need Garlic Toast (or Texas Toast). This is not optional. You have to have it for it to taste like it came from the east coast.

Lets get started on the pork first since it takes a while to cook in a crock pot.

First you will want to heat up a large frying pan with a couple table spoons of olive oil in the bottom. Once the pan is heated you will put the pork loin in and sear it on all sides making sure to season it pretty heavily with chili powder and garlic powder. Now we are not cooking it all the way through here, just searing the outside. Once that is done you want to drop it in the crock pot. Add enough water to cover it only about a quarter of the way. Cover it and let it cook on high. We will be adding something else very soon.

Now lets move on to the Hatch peppers.

You will want to roast the hatch peppers on the grill or in an over close to the broiler. You want the outside of the peppers to turn black. once they are black you will immediately put them into a plastic storage bag so that they can sweat. This makes it much easier to remove the outer skin. Let them sweat for about 20 minutes then remove them from the bag and start peeling the skin off. Once all the skin is removed you will cut the top stem off and remove all of the seeds. Then chop the peppers into about half an inch pieces.  After all of the peppers are chopped you will add them to the crock pot with the pork.

And now it is time for the cole slaw. Yes you do need this even if you think you don’t like cole slaw. That is probably because you have never had it done right and I am now going to show you how to do it right. mmm…mmm…

In a large mixing bowl you want to dump in the cabbage and then pour in about half a cup of apple cider vinegar. no spoon in about 4 tablespoons of sugar and then sprinkle in about 2 tablespoons of garlic powder. 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Go ahead and give that a stir and then add about to cups of mayo and stir it all together. You will want to taste it to see if it needs a little more of anything. Some people like it more sweet and some like it less. Once you get the flavor where you like it put it in the fridge to cool while the pork is cooking.

about 4 to 5 hours later…

Check the pork to see if it is ready. You will want to use a spatula or long handled spoon and press down on the pork. If it starts to come apart pretty easy then you are ready to go. Turn the heat off and move the pork to a large mixing bowl to cool. Once it has cooled you can start pulling it apart into smaller chunks with your fingers. Now use a slotted spoon and scoop out the peppers (making sure to let the excess water drain) and add them to the pork. Add about two cups of BBQ sauce and stir it all together until everything has been coated in sauce.

Now its time to assemble the sandwich.

Heat up the garlic bread and place two pieces on a plate. Now on one piece add a big scoop of pork and spread it around to cover the whole thing. Add a nice coat of BBQ sauce and then a big scoop of cole slaw on top of it (trust me on this, you will love it). Now put the other piece of garlic bread on top. You may want to cut it in half because it is going to be messy, but that is part of the fun. All that is left to do is grab a hand full of napkins and sit down and enjoy.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Lazy Day Recipe Help #1

I am sure that everyone out there has come home from work and had that feeling of dread when it comes to thinking of what to make for dinner. Well I hope to help you all out with some suggestions and tips that I have come up with over the years. I got home from work last night and was not really in the mood to make an elaborate meal but also did not want to do take out or order in food. So I did what I have done on many occasions and stared into my fridge hoping that something would jump out ready to go on a plate. While that thankfully did not happen (because that would have meant there was something living in my fridge) I was able to look around at a few things I had and like MacGyver came up with a quick idea that while it involved some cooking it did not take long at all.

Tip: When you buy fresh veggies at the market take them home, rinse them off and cut them up and put them into containers right away. That way you will have them ready to use throughout the week.

See, cooking does not have to be an elaborate event every time you want to make something tasty. Looking in the fridge I saw a container of left over spaghetti noodles (no sauce), soy sauce, a little bit of General Tso’s sauce left in a bottle and some veggies that I cut up earlier in the week. So now all that was left was figuring out what meat I wanted to add. As I was thinking a light bulb went off over my head. I have a small bag of shrimp in the freezer.

Tip: It is always good to keep small single portions of a protein that can thaw out quickly in the freezer just for those lazy days.
So with a clear plan in mind I dumped the shrimp in the sink and covered them with hot water and put a medium frying pan on the stove to start heating up (to medium high heat).  I added in about 2 tbsp of olive oil and tossed in a handful of the pre cut onions and peppers.  While those started to sizzle I took the thawed shrimp (it does not take long at all for them to thaw) and placed them on a paper towel covered plate to get the excess water off and then dumped them in the pan with the veggies. I then poured in about a tbsp  of olive oil and sprinkled in some garlic powder from the pantry and gave a good stir. As soon as all of the shrimp had turned pink I added the left over noodles and poured in the General Tso’s sauce (about 1/4 cup). I then stirred it all together stirring it for about 2 minutes until the sauce started to reduce and then poured it out onto a plate.

That’s it. The whole process took about 15 minutes from start to finish and turned out fantastic. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use shrimp either. This can be done with a piece of left over chicken breast or steak from the a couple of nights before. Just chop it up and go.

Tip: Try and keep a variety of sauces in the door of your fridge for Lazy days like this. It can go a long way in throwing something together quickly.

I plan to do more of these lazy day recipe helpers from time to time. So keep your eyes on my blog for more tips.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Omelet Making 101

I know many people out there have attempted to make an omelet only to get egg stuck in a pan or burnt on one side or just have it fall apart completely but I am here to tell you that there is hope. It have taken me a while to come up with my technique for omelet making which is surprising because it was actually pretty simple once I figured it out. The most important thing to have to make a successful omelet at home is a small to medium non stick pan with a lid. There are many different types of omelets and many different ingredients to put in an omelet so I will not try and sway anyone one way or the other with what to add because we all like different things. Instead I will just walk you through the process of making an omelet using the ingredients I decided to use on this occasion. I also know that some people like to add the ingredients to the egg mixture and cook it all together. I’m sorry but this is not an omelet to me. This is just scrambled eggs with stuff in it. So I will be showing you how to do what I consider a real omelet.

 

Ingredients

 

1 small bell pepper

1 small white onion

1 roma tomato

2 tablespoons of minced pickled jalapenos

2 ounces goat cheese

salt

black pepper

2 to 3 eggs (depends on how hungry you are)

 

 

Prep. Dice up all the veggies (keeping the tomatoes separate from the onion and bell pepper).

Coat a non stick pan with a non stick spray and heat to medium heat.

Cook Onions and both kinds of peppers until they start to caramelize. You want the onions to turn clear and the edges to start to turn brown. This brings out the flavor in them. Once they start to turn brown add in the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes. You will see the tomatoes start to soften up and change color. Scoop them all in to a bowl and add the goat cheese. Stir it all together and set aside. Now rinse out the pan, spray with non stick spray and heat on medium heat with the lid on it.

In a mixing bowl beat or whisk the eggs until the yolks and the whites are blended together.

Now add the egg mixture to the heated pan and cover for about 20 seconds. Remove the lid and tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the uncooked egg starts to make a thin coat around the sides of the pan. Add a little salt and black pepper and replace the lid for another minute. Using the lid traps the heat and lets the top of the egg cook along with the bottom so there is no flipping involved. Now remove the lid and the egg should be solid on top and not move when you jiggle the pan. If the eggs still jiggle a bit put the lid back on for a few more seconds until they are ready. Now take your filling and scoop it out into a nice layer on one half of the egg. Using a spatula flip the other half of the egg over on top of the mixture closing your omelet. Replace the lid for another 10 to 15 seconds to let everything heat up.

Now you are ready to plate your omelet. Have a plate standing by and take the pan in one hand and a spatula in the other. Hold the pan over the plate as close you can and tilt it toward the plate. Use the spatula to guide the omelet to the plate and it should slide right out with no trouble. Now you are ready to eat. You can add a little salsa (or hot sauce as it is called here is SA).

You of course can use whatever filler you would like but I do urge you to give mine a try. I hope that this helps at least a few people in your future breakfast endeavors.

 

Thanks for Reading

JMW