Picture credit goes to Heather Blackwood and Taylor Logan (a million thanks!) because it was too late to take pictures when I decided I wanted to document this on the blog.
Last week a couple girlfriends and I hosted a shower for some of our friends that are expecting their first baby. The expectant parents both work for my organization, and they happen to live in our neighborhood, so we’ve become good friends over the last couple of years. With help from others in our organization we pulled off a shower that I think turned out pretty great. The theme was “Fall in Love with Baby Simon,” and we just had a bunch of Fall food and décor.
The shower was so fun, and I think they really liked it!
We had the shower in the dining room at work, with the beautiful woods as the backdrop. It was kind of a windy day, so there were plenty of times that we would just see a flurry of leaves falling to the ground. Imagine a Winter themed shower with it snowing outside, but with Fall leaves instead. It was truly, magically Fall.
The menu was easy, and we had help from other people:
Sliced Jalapenos Waffle Bar
Pumpkin Whipped Cream
Caramel Sauce Fresh Popped Popcorn Pumpkin Pie Dip
Graham Crackers Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites (recipe below) Drinks
Décor was easy. My friends Sarah and Taylor had a bunch of wooden trays that we used as serving pieces, and we used lanterns and small pumpkins/gourds to round things out. I also ordered some custom onesies for baby Simon, so we made a banner out of those.
If you find yourself hosting a baby or bridal shower in the Fall, I would highly recommend this theme. It was so easy and had that effortlessly perfect feel. Now we just have to wait for baby Simon to make his intro!
Chocolate Caramel Apple Bites
Large Granny Smith Apples (each apple makes 6-8 balls, so multiply by the number you need)
Melting Chocolate (I use this kind – found in the baking section of the grocery store)
Melting Caramel (I found this kind at Michael’s)
Cake pop sticks (also found at Michael’s)
Using a melon baller, ball out 6-8 bites from each apple. Insert a cake pop stick through the skin side.
Melt the chocolate according to package directions.
Dip the apple bites in the chocolate, making sure it is completely covered, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once you’ve dipped all of the apple bites, set in the freezer for 15-20 minutes for the chocolate to set.
Melt the caramel according to package directions.
Dip each bite into the caramel, covering the bottom half of the bite.
Return to the parchment paper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to set. Leave in the refrigerator until just a few minutes before serving or the bites will start to sweat.
Let’s call today Wacky Wednesday, shall we? I have no tie-in between the two things I’m talking about today other than the fact that they’re both basic Fall things and that when we came home from the fair we had leftover butternut squash lasagna with sausage waiting in the fridge. That works right?
This past weekend we went to Raleigh to hang out with my sister’s family and go to the fair. I’ve blogged about it before, but anytime we get together with cousins it’s a great time. Throw in rides and fair food, and you’ve got one happy Anna Ruth. Corn dogs, hot dogs, obnoxious square ice cream cones, funnel cake, blooming onion and (the best ever) bagguetaboutit <– srsly, guys, this food truck makes me want to move to Raleigh. We ate things we never eat, and didn’t feel bad even for a second. The kids were troopers and had a ball, and I’m pretty sure we need to make this an annual thing. Here are just a few pictures, but just know I am crying over not taking food pictures because it was so wrong and so right and I wish I had a visual to get me through the next 364 days until we go back. (I’m mainly sharing these pictures so I can have it documented for myself, but enjoy! If you’re just here for the recipe – no prob, bob – just scroll on past.)
Okay, since I’ve already established I have no tie-in, let’s just jump right on into the butternut squash lasagna with sausage sitch. You guys, this lasagna is so basic and so Fall I just can’t help but do and wear all the Fall things. The day we made this, I just happened to buy five thousand pumpkins and mums (while sipping on my PSL, obv), and rocked my favorite boots and scarf JUST BECAUSE this lasagna got me in that kind of mood. It’s so basic and so Fall and everything I need in my life on a cool Saturday made for football watching and lazy cooking.
This is far from a traditional lasagna (read: butternut squash), but the effort and assembly are about the same. You need a little time for this one, which makes it perfect for a weekend meal. (Bonus: leftovers are a’plenty, and – voila – lunches are ready for the week.)
You may remember my love for butternut squash runs deep (read about it here, here and here). It’s just so good and so versatile. Roast it with a little olive oil, Italian seasoning and S&P and it can be used for so many different things. It is also incredibly good with Italian sausage. Fact: I started out making a meatless lasagna, but Italian sausage raised its hand and I just couldn’t say no. You’re welcome.
2 lbs mild Italian sausage
2 lbs butternut squash – chopped (I buy the pre-chopped container at the store)
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt/pepper/Italian Seasoning – to taste
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 tsp sage
½ tsp salt
12 whole grain lasagna noodles
-3 tbsp butter
-¼ c flour
-2 ½ c milk
-½ c shredded parmesan cheese
1 c shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butternut squash and olive oil on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until soft.
Prepare the sausage: Cook the sausage over medium heat until done, making sure to crumble it as it cooks. Drain in a bowl lined with paper towels and set aside.
Prepare the noodles: Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse with water to keep from sticking, and set aside.
Prepare the filling: Put the cooked butternut squash into a food processor (or blender), and add ricotta, sage, salt and eggs. Pulse until the ingredients are well combined, and then puree until smooth.
Prepare the white sauce: in a small sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually stir in the milk, and continue stirring over medium heat until the mixture comes just to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan until it is melted.
Assemble the lasagna: spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
Spoon about 1/4-1/2 cup of the white sauce in the bottom of the dish
Spread four lasagna noodles over the bottom of the dish
Spread 1/3 of the butternut squash mixture over the noodles
Spread 1/3 of the sausage over the mixture
Spread a little of the white sauce over the sausage
Repeat: 4 noodles, 1/3 butternut squash mixture, 1/3 sausage, a little white sauce
Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler just until the cheese is totally melted and starting to brown.
Notes: I would definitely go with the mild Italian sausage here. Hot would overpower the other ingredients. Also, regular lasagna noodles will work, but the whole grain gives it a slight nutty flavor that pairs really well with the butternut squash.
Happy Wednesday, folks! Today we’re talking about one of my favorite things: Saturday Brunch.
First off, let’s get right to the elephant in the room: that *obnoxious* name. The truth is I really don’t know what to call this dish. The inspiration came from Andy. When he was in college he worked at a little coffee shop that would make something similar to this whenever they had leftover hardboiled eggs. The owner of the coffee shop had a different name, but my mama raised me to not be crude, so Saturday Brunch Surprise it is! (Also, I’m open to any name suggestions you think would be more fitting, please and thank you.)
Now that that’s out of the way, back to business…Fall Saturdays (and really any Saturday if we’re being totally honest with ourselves) are made for a good brunch. Wake up, put on your warm slippers because Fall temps are starting to settle in, pour yourself a cup of coffee and have a leisurely morning topped off with a delicious meal. Have your people over or don’t – you, bae and the kid(s) can enjoy brunch before getting on with whatever Fall activity you have planned that day, and it’ll tide you over into the football-watching-snack-eating afternoon.
We enjoyed this particular brunch a few weeks ago with my family on the morning of my birthday, and everyone loved it. The “surprise” can be made ahead, so there is very little work involved the morning of. The gist here is you have a mixture of egg, bacon and cheese served over a bread of choice. Think of this as sort of a breakfast egg salad (surprise!), but with way way less mayo than would go into an actual egg salad. Side note: the bread of choice obv needs to be a halved biscuit, but I won’t judge you for using English muffins or plain toast. As written the recipe makes quite a lot, but it is easily halved. Whatever plans you have this weekend, make sure to include these. You seriously won’t regret it.
12 hardboiled eggs – peeled and chopped
1 lb bacon – cooked and chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread of choice*
Sliced cheddar cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.
Spoon the mixture onto the bread* and top with sliced cheese (if using).
Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
* We buy the biscuits with pull apart layers, bake according to package directions, then split in half and put the filling on the halves.
** These make great leftovers. Even if you’re planning to eat on these for days, go ahead and bake them with the cheese on, then just refrigerate until you’re ready to eat and then microwave for about 30 seconds.
Frittata: a dish that sounds fancy and complicated, but really comes together in minutes and makes you feel like a domestic goddess because you just made a frittata. This frittata is even better because two of the three main ingredients are make ahead, and the third just needs to be washed and chopped.
Seriously, guys, if you’ve never made a frittata before, please let me enlighten you. A frittata basically consists of eggs, optional meat, optional veggies and optional cheese. Think of it as a “clean out the fridge” dish resembling a crustless quiche. If you have 15 minutes, you can make a frittata. Any veggies you have that need to be used up are fair game. I have yet to find a combination that doesn’t work.
This frittata, however, came about from leftovers I already had in my fridge. Last week I talked about how roasted sweet potatoes have joined my list of veggies I like to prep ahead on the weekend, so there’s that. We also had some leftover bacon – Andy decided he should just finish cooking the rest of the package one Saturday morning, and HELLO we do not need to eat 12 pieces of bacon for breakfast, so I made sure we saved half.
Parents, listen up. A major bonus here is that I can get Anna Ruth to eat a ton of veggies she wouldn’t normally eat were they not baked into eggs. She loves frittatas, and clears her plate every time. Girlfriend will not touch kale otherwise. Have a picky eater? Try this and see if they take the bait.
The number one thing you need here is a skillet that can go from the stove top to the oven (I use my cast iron skillet). You start with the veggies/meat in the pan, add the eggs, let set and then finish in the oven – easy peasy!
1 large sweet potato – cubed and roasted (see last week’s post)
6 slices bacon – cooked and chopped
6 stalks kale – torn into small pieces
2 tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
2 tbsp milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat bacon grease (or olive oil) over medium heat. Add kale and sauté until slightly wilted.
Add bacon and sweet potato, and make sure everything is evenly dispersed.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and season with a little salt and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture over the bacon/sweet potato/kale mixture, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs start to set.
Top with the mozzarella and put into the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are completely set and the cheese is melted.
Well hello there beautiful, glorious Fall. I’ve been waiting about nine months for you to come back around. Today we’re transitioning from summer with a Fallish salad. We’re taking the base salad we’ve eaten basically every day all summer and adding a little coziness to it because what is this life if everything in Fall isn’t cozy?
Let’s break this Fallish salad down, shall we…
Really this isn’t so much of a strict recipe, but more of a guide for building your Fallish salad. The beauty of salads is that you can load as much of a particular topping as you prefer. (I know some of you like exact amounts, so the recipe below has the portions we generally go with.) We start with grilled chicken breast because every salad we’re calling a meal needs a protein. Grill with just a little salt and pepper, and you’re good to go. Next we have the roasted sweet potatoes. They add just a hint of savory sweetness, and (oh, hello!) bright orange yummmm to your salad. Then we have the brown rice and quinoa. Guys, just trust me here, grains on salad = good. These three things are the only “requirements” for this Fallish salad, but I added cherry tomatoes (from our garden, thankyouverymuch) and sliced avocado for good measure. Top with a little balsamic vinaigrette (hint: the Good Seasons spice pack made with balsamic vinegar and olive oil is muah muah muah), and you’re done.
I love this salad because you can prepare the chicken and sweet potatoes the day of or several days ahead because – ta da – this Fallish salad is good hot or cold. Also, the whole “brown rice and quinoa” situation sounds fancy, but it’s really just these awesome, organic, ready-to-go-in-90-seconds pouches that you can buy at your local Costco. We go through so many boxes of these a year because who has time to make their own quinoa and brown rice with garlic? As. If. (Feel free to use whatever grains you have on hand, though. I just prefer the convenience of the magic pouches.)
Fall: the season where Laura gets back on her prep all the things train. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a solid place in my heart for summer, but getting back into this groove just makes me feel like myself again. Sure, I’m myself all summer, but just a lazier, unprepared version, and that is just so unsettling for this type-A planner.
As detailed above, this Fallish salad uses two of my current favorite prepped foods – grilled chicken breast and roasted sweet potatoes. You may remember how I like to roast cauliflower and butternut squash on Sunday’s. We took a break from that over the summer, but now I’m into the same thing, and sweet potatoes have joined the mix. Sweet potatoes just scream Fall to me. And have you ever tried them on a salad? So good.
My latest food prep obsession, however, is chicken breasts. This is probably a duh thing for most of you, but I hope I’m not the last one to figure this out. Over the summer we got into the habit of grilling 3-4 chicken breasts on Sunday evenings, and using them throughout the week for at least two dinners and two lunches. During the season where my cooking interest involved going into my garden, plucking a few tomatoes and cucumbers off the plant and putting them on a bed of lettuce, having grilled chicken at the ready was a life saver. My goal was to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, and having extra chicken ready for the week was key. So why not continue that into Fall? I certainly can’t think of a good reason not to. Now, instead of using all of the chicken for salads, we make other hot things with the chicken that is already prepared – think burrito bowls, quesadillas, chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, etc. The skies really limit on this one.
So there you have it. Grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa on a bed of lettuce. I hope you’re as excited as I am about all of the delicious Fallishness coming your way from Miss Foodie Two Shoes!
Boneless/skinless chicken breast (about 1/4-1/3 lb per person)
Sweet potatoes (about 1-1.5 for every two salads)
Grains (I use this pouch of brown rice and quinoa)
Salad greens (Spring Mix, spinach or arugula work best)
Optional: avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, any other salad topping you like
Dressing of choice
Grill the chicken breast(s) with a little salt and pepper until the juices run clear.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes, spray with olive oil spray (or mix with ½-1 tbsp olive oil if you don’t have spray), and season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning (Rosemary also works here by itself). Roast in the oven for one hour, stirring half way through.
Prepare the grains you are using according to package directions.
Prepare any other toppings you wish to use.
Assembly: add the chicken, sweet potatoes, grains and any other toppings to a bed of salad greens. Top with dressing of choice and enjoy!
Friends, I’m out of words this week. Getting into the groove of this new school year has been more exhausting than usual, and my brain is finally putting up the stops for a week.
Luckily this week’s recipe really doesn’t need much discussion. You love pesto. I love pesto. The refrigerated pesto at the store is far superior to the jar on the shelf, but it can be $$. Even homemade can be $$ because do you even know how expensive a little jar of pine nuts is? Enter our homeboy, almond.
We make this pesto with basil straight from our garden, but you can buy the basil fresh from the store. If you’re buying the basil I would possibly half or quarter the recipe because my goal here is not for you to spend $15 on herbs alone. We just happen to have a bunch of (ahem, 12) basil plants, so we have plenty of basil throughout the summer and early fall to make this recipe 4-5 times, as well as just have basil when we need it randomly.
I can’t actually believe I’m about to type this because I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, but do you know how easy it is to grow basil? SO easy. We generally buy 1-2 plants at the beginning of summer, then get more plants from that. You seasoned gardeners probably know this, but basil is a plant that you can put a stalk in water and it will grow new roots. Plant the new rooted stalk, give it a little love, then wham bam you’ve got a new basil plant. We just do that over and over until we have enough or just run out of space (always the second).
A few notes before diving right into the recipe:
As written, this is very basily. Andy and I prefer it this way, but just add a little less if too much herbiness overwhelms you.
Don’t get super caught up in measurements here. Pesto is pretty forgiving, so just tweak it until you come up with the proportions that are right for you.
Olive oil goes a long way towards the thickness or sauciness of the pesto. If you want a thicker pesto, use less. We like to use a full cup because we generally use it with pasta, and the extra olive oil helps the sauce stick to the noodles.
This makes a lot of pesto, so I generally use half and freeze half for later.
4 c basil leaves
¾ c almonds
½-3/4 c grated parmesan
1 tsp salt
¾-1 c olive oil
Place basil leaves, almonds, parmesan and salt into a food processor.
Pulse a few times to get things going.
Turn the food processor on and slowly add the olive oil through the food chute. Start with ¾ cup, and check for the consistency you want. If you want it “saucier,” add the remaining ¼ cup.
Happy Fall, y’all! It’s official. We made it past Labor Day, so it is perfectly acceptable to take on the Fall mentality: pumpkin spice everything, football, football snacks (<–one of my earliest posts, yet still one of the top viewed recipes – make it, you won’t be sorry), mums, Fall décor and soup…oh soup, how I’ve missed you. This tomato coconut lime soup is our perfect transition into Fall with its bright flavors and feel good vibes. The fact that it’s soup nods to the cooler weather coming, but it’s also light enough that you don’t feel like you’re jumping into the deep end of heavy, cold-weather, stick to your ribs kind of foods.
(Sorry for the crummy picture – I will figure out how to float avocado on top of soup and update ASAP once I get it right.)
Let me start by saying I am generally – like 99% of the time – NOT a coconut girl. Sure I like caramel delights, but otherwise flaky coconut is just not something I enjoy. However, over the years of becoming a spicy curry lover (4lyfe) I have found that I really do like the flavor of coconut milk in soup/brothy dishes. If you’re worried about this being overly coconutty, don’t – even Andy agrees it’s not overpowering in this soup. What we have here is just a hint of coconut sweetness to balance out the zesty lime zing and acidic tomatoyness of the soup.
My inspiration for this soup came from my office. I’ve mentioned before how we have an awesome cafeteria, and tomato coconut soup is usually on the menu at least once a week. I got to thinking that it’s basically just a fancied up tomato soup, and couldn’t be hard to copycat. Lucky for us – dear reader friends – I was right, and now we can all enjoy this fancy tomato coconut lime soup anytime we want.
Pic of luscious coconut milk pour in 3, 2…
In my true fashion, let me list out why I love making this soup…
It comes together in less than 10 minutes (hiiiiii, 5 ingredients!!).
It makes enough for a dinner and a couple lunches.
It freezes well.
It’s easily doubled or tripled for plenty of freezer meals.
You can customize it to your liking with a variety of (highly recommended) toppings.
Seriously, drop what you’re doing right now and go make this soup. Serve with crusty cheese bread for dipping and dinner is on the table in 15 minutes.
23.2 oz can condensed tomato soup
(2) 14-15 oz cans diced tomatoes*
32 oz chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make this vegan)
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp lime juice
Optional toppings: avocado, shredded cheddar, tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro
In a large pot combine condensed soup, diced tomatoes (with liquid) and chicken broth over medium heat. Make sure to stir well so that the condensed soup really incorporates with the tomatoes and broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once at a simmer add the lime juice and coconut milk**.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
Notes: we prefer ours with fresh avocado and a little cheese, so while optional I would highly recommend this.
* If you want more tomato chunks, just add another can or two, but drain the juices.
** If you want a smoother soup, use an immersion blender to get the consistency you want.
If I could have it my way, we would live in a constant state of summer vegetables at their peak with our gardens overflowing with Mother Nature’s bounty (minus the thick, hot air you can practically cut with a knife). Our – errr, my grandfather’s – garden is at the peak of production right about now, and I’m seriously loving it. Tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, squash…oh the squash.
Laura + yellow summa squash 4eva (hearts)
Remember my grandfather? I’m pretty sure there’s nothing he can’t do…long career in business, carpenter and expert farmer. He has a huge garden every summer and we get the direct benefits of it. AKA, we get to pick a peck pretty much whenever we want, and it sometimes makes its way to my little blog.
We love summer squash all kinds of ways, but TBH I’ve never been much of a squash casserole girl. What do you think of when you think of squash casserole? If you said “mush,” then you’re right. Gross, bleh and meh are also acceptable answers. You know why that is? Because nearly all squash casserole recipes call for you to cook the squash before it goes into the casserole. This makes it super runny and generally unpleasant.
Enter my method: let the squash sit in a little salt to pull out some of the liquid, then put it straight into the casserole dish and bake. The result is a squash casserole that has actual, fresh vegetable, “I’m doing myself a healthy favor” bite with real texture that is the total opposite of the baby food version you’ve been eating all these years.
I took the “casserole” part of this dish in two different directions, so (bonus!) you’re actually getting two different squash casserole recipes today. The squash prep is the same, but one involves an egg/milk mixture and the other involves a butter/flour/milk mixture. Think about the two main ways you would go about making macaroni and cheese, and that’s similar to what we have here.
Let’s talk through when you might make one over the other…
When to make it the eggy way:
When you need to be getting other work done while the squash is sitting in salt
If you prefer the mac and cheese version that has the eggy consistency with cheese on top
If you’re serving right away
When to make it the milk way:
When you have time to make the sauce while the squash is sitting in salt
If you prefer the cheesy sauce version of mac and cheese
If you’re going to a pot-luck where the dish can cool a little and firm up a bit before serving
We’re up to our eyeballs in summer squash, so we’ve made this casserole multiple times. We really like both ways, hence why I feel compelled to give you both recipes. Enjoy!
Method 1 (Pictures are of this method)
8 c yellow squash – diced (about 3 large or 5 small)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs – beaten
2 c milk
1.5 c shredded grueyere cheese (or Swiss)
½ tsp pepper
½ c panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice the squash, mix with the salt and allow to sit in a colander for 20 minutes.
After 20 or so minutes, juj the colander around to let the liquid drain out. Place into a casserole dish prepared with cooking spray.
Combine the eggs, milk and pepper. Pour the mixture over the squash.
Spread the cheese over the squash, and top with the panko.
Bake for one hour, or until the liquid is set. Broil for the last few minutes so the panko turns a deep golden brown.
8 c yellow squash – diced (about 3 large or 5 small)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1.5 cups milk
½ tsp pepper
1.5 cups shredded grueyere cheese (or Swiss)
½ c panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Dice the squash, mix with the salt and allow it to sit in a colander for 20 minutes.
After 20 or so minutes, juj the colander around to let the liquid drain out. Place into a casserole dish prepared with cooking spray.
Melt the butter in a sauce pot over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk continually until a smooth mixture forms. Bring to a low simmer and whisk in the milk.
Bring the mixture just to bubbling and whisk continuously for another minute to let it thicken. Once thickened, stir in the cheese and peper.
Pour the cheese sauce over the squash in the casserole dish and top with the panko.
Bake for 45 minutes and broil for the last few minutes to finish off the breadcrumbs.
Allow to sit for a few minutes for the sauce to firm up.
Short post for you guys today. I’m looking at recent posts and realize this is numero FOUR in a row that is pork. Who am I? I mean, we’re *chicken* people. I guess this blog is an ongoing manuscript of what we really are eating at any given time, so I guess this is just me being true to myself? I promise there won’t be any pork in sight next week, but this week we’re deep diving into oven smoked pulled pork.
Remember when we did pulled pork in March? That was Andy’s game – this easy peasy oven version is my game. This was (you guessed it) a meal from our recent beach week. My sister got the recipe from her bil, who got it from a magazine. You guyzzzzzzz, the spice blend with the smoky flavor was everything. We did tacos, but you can do any number of things with the meat.
As with anything delicious I eat, I came home wanting to make it as soon as possible. Enter the easy, friends-over-for-dinner Saturday night. I tweaked the spice blend and added more liquid to the cooking process, but the method is the same: spice rub, brown the meat, add liquid, “smoke” in the oven, shred.
Like I said – we made tacos with our oven smoked pulled pork, but we’ve also used it for anything Mexican. Think nachos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, salads and…wait for it…breakfast burritos <– y’all, for real real, change your life good. As per my usual, this recipe makes a ton, which is great for feeding a crowd, multiple weeknight meals or freezing for several meals later on. Now go. Be the oven smoked pulled pork master we all know you are.
Cut the pork shoulder (or butt) into fist-size chunks.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, oregano, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, chile, pepper and cinnamon. Rub onto the pork pieces, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Place the oven rack in the lower-middle part of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.
In a large dutch oven heat the oil on medium-high. Working in batches, add the pork and brown on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
Once all of the pork is browned and out of the pan, add the onion, garlic, beer and liquid smoke. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a simmer. Return the pork to the dutch oven, cover with the lid then place in the oven. Cook for 2.5 hours, or until it is easily shredded with a fork.
Remove the pork pieces from the liquid, shred and use however you like.
Notes: at the end we also like to strain out the onions, as they serve as a great topping for the pork, as well.
We’re going Vietnamese today! Please don’t let that scare you. I’ve forged the way, now just take my hand as we dive into this bready, meaty, crunchy, spicy, herby situation that is now my lyfe. Banh mi, you guys. Sorry in advance, this post is a little long, but it’s just because I have so much to say on the subject, and I’m determined to bring you all with me into the obsession of pork banh mi sandwiches.
Have you guys heard of Banh Mi? I’m sure you have, and I’m just late to the game #asusual. I first heard about what is now my favorite sandwich obsession while watching a show on Food Network, and immediately knew I would like it. Fast forward a million years (okay, like, 2 years) and Andy and I stumble upon a place in our city that specializes in them.
Face in palm, y’all. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE? In our defense it’s in an area of town that we rarely go through, and it’s got a textbook hole-in-the-wall status. No matter what the situation – we found it, and my life changed for the better. It was everything I thought it would be and more. After having that sandwich I couldn’t stop thinking about it and knew I wanted to make it at home, so I did some research.
The first thing I realized is that there’s no rule book for banh mi, but I did find some common themes in that they generally include some sort of marinated meat (or tofu), pickled veggies, sauce and fresh herbs. They also often involve pate, which is that brown spread you see really well in the picture above. See the notes section after the recipe. While it’s a traditional ingredient to use, we found that it’s really not necessary. The taste is fine (unless you don’t like pate – hiiiiii, dad!), but it just doesn’t really add much to the sandwich.
Before I get into discussing my recipe we need to have a little chat – lean in and listen to me closely. There are three parts that have to be made for this recipe, and I don’t want anyone thinking that means it takes a long time. Two of the three parts can/should be prepared a few days in advance, and literally take 5-10 minutes each. Then the day of you’re just cooking the pork and assembling the sandwiches. Do not let the number of steps fool you – this is an EASY recipe.
First step here is a spicy sauce. I knew right away that I would make my sriracha mayo for this. I’ve been making this sauce for years because – surprise! – it tastes exactly like the spicy mayo you get with sushi, and I love it with seafood. A little goes a long way, so that’s how I rationalize eating mayo with seafood…or maybe it makes me feel like I’m sort of eating sushi when I use it? Either way, it’s good, and we generally have some on the ready in our fridge. The good thing about this sauce is that you can make it several days before you have the sandwiches because it lasts in the fridge just like regular mayo (you can also make it the day of, but I find it tastes better when the flavors have had at least several hours to cozy-up).
The second thing I realized was that I would need pickled veggies, so I did some research and found that pickled veggies generally include vinegar, salt and sugar. So I made my own 🙂 My mom seemed impressed, and I was like, “What? Like it’s hard?” These veggies are so good, friends. They provide the perfect crunch and pop of vinegary zing that goes perfectly with the soft bread, spicy mayo and pork. I used my spiralizer to cut the daikon radish, and then just quickly julienned the carrots. Don’t have a sprializer? No problem. I’ve also just julienned the daikon, and it took no time at all. These need to be made at least two days in advance, but can be made up to a week early. (I found the daikon radish at Whole Foods, but if you don’t want to make multiple grocery store runs and can’t find it then just double the amount of carrots to pickle.)
The third part of my banh mi is the pork. This is the star of the sandwich. Even if you don’t make the sandwiches, make this pork with this marinade. It is SO good that it could be served as a main in its own right. I got it into the marinade during naptime at the beach, but it would be fine going a little longer, so get it into the marinade before work on the morning you’re going to make it. Then you’ll just roast it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and dinner is ready!
Okay, I hope I’ve given you the motivation needed to make your own banh mi sandwiches. All you need are three super simple parts made at your convenience, and you have a casual friends over for dinner meal, or weeknight supper with leftovers for days. Either way you’re totally winning.
2 pork loins (about 2-2.5 lbs total)
– ¼ c soy sauce
– 2 tbsp fish sauce
– 4 cloves minced garlic
– 2 tbsp lemongrass paste*
– 2 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
– 1 c mayonnaise
– ¼ c sriracha
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– ½ daikon radish
– 4 carrots
– ¼ c sugar
– 1 tbsp salt
– ½ c rice vinegar (white works, as well)
Soft French bread rolls
Toppings: cilantro, jalapeno, pate (optional)
Prepare the pickled veggies (2-5 days in advance): julienne cut the daikon and carrots, and place into a container with a tight fitting lid. Combine the sugar, salt and vinegar and pour over the veggies. Fill the container with water so that the veggies are submerged. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the sriracha mayo (can be made in advance): combine the mayonnaise, sriracha and sesame oil. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Prepare the pork (day of): place the pork loins in a zipper plastic bag. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over the pork, and marinade 4-8 hours.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove pork from the marinade and place in a baking dish. Cook the pork for 20-25 minutes.** Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
While the pork is cooking cut the French rolls and prepare the toppings.
Slice the pork loin in about ¼ inch slices.
Assemble: spread the sriracha mayo on the bread, add preferred amount of pork slices, top with the pickled veggies, cilantro and jalapeno***
*You can find lemongrass paste in the same section of the produce department where you find the tubes of basil and other fresh herbs.
**We like our pork loin to still have plenty of pink when it’s done – not still bleeding, but pink. If you prefer your pork to be well-done, up the cooking time by five minutes.
***If using pate as a topping, just spread on one side of the bread before topping with the pork.
Notes: the pictures include pate, but we’ve found that it’s really not necessary. In my research, pate always came up as a topping, so we at least tried it. It’s not bad, but for us it just didn’t add anything, and we could barely tell it was there.
More notes: this feeds about 8 people, but if you’re making it for a small group of 2-4, the leftovers are just as good as the fresh meal, so definitely don’t worry about cutting the recipe in half. If you’re like me then you’ll be fine eating them every day for a week!