The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Labor Day weekend is here and in full swing. All across the country, summer-lovers are mourning the end of the favorite warm and care free months, while others excitedly await the arrival of fall, a crisp, cool, pumpkin-filled period of time.

IMG_8364.JPG

I’m fortunate enough to be spending the weekend with my best friend since high school. I’m so excited about my time here in Music City, but for anyone planning a BBQ celebration this weekend, I think you should definitely check out this new recipe.

IMG_8363.JPG

Last week, we invited our friends Alex and Katie over for dinner. As usual, I was stressing out over what to cook. I wanted something simple, so I wouldn’t be rushed in the one-hour window of time between getting home from work and their arrival, but I also wanted to try out something new. I was – again – browsing through Pinterest, and decided on a crock pot pulled pork concoction.

IMG_8361.JPG

A few hours later, I’d say our mission was a success. We took the time to throw everything together in the crockpot before work, and I took over when I got home. The food was good, and the company was great. Not to mention, I even won a game of Catan. Score.

Ingredients: (For the Pulled Pork) 2 Lbs. Pork Boneless Shoulder / 1 Onion / 1.5c BBQ Sauce* / .5c Water / 2 Tbsp. Dry Minced Onion / 1 tsp. Allspice / 1 tsp. Ground Mustard / 1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes / .5 tsp. Garlic Powder / .5 tsp. Cinnamon (For the Broccoli Slaw) Bagged Broccoli Coleslaw / .25c Slaw Dressing / .25c Sunflower Seeds

Directions: In a bowl, mix together the spices, and rub the mixture into the pork shoulder. / Place the shoulder into the crockpot, adding the water and the sliced onion. / Cook on low for 8-10 hours. / When the pork has cooked, remove from the crockpot, saving one cup of the juice. / Shred the pork using a fork. / Place the pulled pork back into the crockpot with the cup of juice, and add barbecue sauce. / Cook on low for another half an hour. / Meanwhile, mix the slaw dressing, sunflower seeds and broccoli coleslaw together in a bowl. / Refrigerate for half an hour. / We recommended serving the pulled pork and slaw on toasted buns with a side of grilled corn on the cob. / Enjoy!

*Feel free to use absolutely any kind of BBQ sauce you’d like, but we used Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style Smoky Barbecue Sauce. Unlike most sauces, this one doesn’t use any artificial sweeteners! Its only ingredients are tomato paste, sugar, molasses, vinegar, salt, hickory smoke flavoring, onion and garlic powders, and caramel color. It offers the perfect balance of smoky, sweet and vinegar flavors. You’ve got to try it out!

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Go ‘Head and Go Ham Sammich.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Go ‘Head and Go Ham Sammich.

Another weekend, another picnic. This time, the theme was #teambonding. My boss wanted to gather our team together to celebrate the success of our Global Leadership Conference, and to rally the troops before we head into the madness of the holiday season. Again, I found myself in the midst of a what should I make dilemma. So, I turned to Pinterest.

 I scrolled, scrolled, scrolled through the pages of appropriate side dishes, and nothing caught my eye. I had almost decided on an easy plate of crudités when a delicious looking crescent roll kind of thing appeared on my screen. I took a quick glance at the necessary ingredients and darted off to the grocery store.

IMG_5832

As soon as I got home, I quickly started assembling the crescent roll things – I’m still not sure what to call them – getting excited at the simplicity of it all. To me, each ingredient was as simple as a letter. But letters, when assembled correctly, create words and words create stories and the possibilities are truly endless.

spinach4

 

15 short minutes later, my things were done and my mouth was watering. Crispy golden crescent rolls swaddled slices of honey-baked ham, bright green spinach and creamy garlic and herb cheese. I popped one into my mouth, threw the rest into a container and made my way to the picnic.

My crescent roll things, along with my boss’ ribs and my coworker’s homemade macarons, were fingerlickin’ good. Almost as good as the team bonding. Flong, anyone? (Special shoutout to our team mascot: Vinnie Lambo.)

photo 2-2 Ingredients: 1 Lb. Fresh sliced honey-baked ham / Fresh Spinach / Spreadable Cheese (like Laughing Cow’s Garlic and Herb Cheese) / 2 Packages of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚. Grease baking sheet. Spread cheese on unrolled, uncooked crescent roll. Layer ham and spinach. Roll crescent roll, and place on baking sheet. Continue until you’ve assembled all of the crescent rolls. Bake for 12 minutes, and enjoy.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad.

As summer slowly creeps to an end, I find myself on the receiving end of an increasing number of picnic invitations. And, as a good and thoughtful guest, I start thinking about what kind of dish I can contribute. It’s a tricky thing, picnic foods. Should I choose a hot plate, or something cold? Homemade (always) or store-bought (never)? Sweet or salty? Will 7 other people bring the same thing? It’s really way more difficult than it should be.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided that my contribution to a friendly game night would be a pasta salad. A safe choice, but something I knew I could have a little fun with. I hopped in the car, no recipe in mind, and headed to the grocery store. Before I could even realize it, I found myself mindlessly throwing myriad produce into my basket. Onions, sure. Peppers, definitely. Cherry tomatoes, why not. Cucumbers, heck yeah. Fresh mozzarella, absolutely. Some salami, alright

Then came the dressing. Creamy or not? I threw open the door of my refrigerator and stared into its bleak contents. I didn’t have any salad dressing that could acceptably pass as a pasta salad dressing. I only had mayonnaise. Ding! Mayonnaise was all I needed. A little bit of Trader Joe’s organic mayo, some white vinegar and a sprinkle of Italian spices. Voila. The creamy Italian flavor perfectly complemented the mozzarella and salami.

photo 1-2

Game night (and my pasta salad) turned out to be a huge success. A lovely gathering of wonderful friends – and pretty decent food – simply can’t be beat. Not to mention, Chinese lanterns and sparklers make any occasion a special one.

Ingredients: cooked tortellini, whatever the heck else you want

Directions: Mix together, enjoy. Simple as that.