Monday, December 28, 2009

Down Home First Attempt

I have a couple of friends that just moved here from Memphis, Tennessee, and if you read my previous post, you may remember that that is where my favorite Food Network couple, the Neelys, are from. A little background behind this recipe day I was watching the Neelys and they made BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos that looked amazing, but I never took the time to actually make them because I looked up the recipe and it took a long time to make your own pulled pork, BBQ sauce, etc, and I just didn't feel like going through that much trouble for nachos. My two friends from Memphis, Megan and Daniel, came over soon after and were talking about how Memphis serves these BBQ Nachos at all sporting events and claimed they were quite possibly the greatest nachos ever. Ergo, I wanted to make them even more.

My new Neelys cookbook had the pulled pork recipe in it, along with their homemade BBQ sauce and dry rub, so no more excuses, I knew I had to make it. With a $50 gift card to Target that I got for Christmas, I went to Target in search of a crock pot. Now, the Neelys recipe actually says to "slow cook" the BBQ on a smoker, but I weighed the odds of me actually using a crockpot vs. a smoker (after making this recipe)and decided I would probably get more use out of a crockpot than a smoker. Smart decision? I say so.

After my Target excursion, I made a list of ingredients I needed for the recipe and set off for the store. Things I did not have in my spice collection: paprika, onion powder, and dry mustard (shameful, I know). I bought an 8 lb. Boston Butt for my recipe, which said pork shoulder would also work, but my local grocery store only had one option, thank goodness. Next on my list, tortilla chips and some generic cheese sauce to pour over the nachos. I'm still not sure how I feel about the generic cheese sauce...cheese in a jar? Didn't sound that good and not very "chef-y" of me, but I went with it because that's what the recipe called for and to my surprise, it was actually really good on top of these nachos. Maybe if I'm feeling ambitious one day, I'll try to make my own velvety cheese sauce, but for now, my first pulled pork mission was enough of a challenge.

First recipe to make, Neelys' dry rub-3 simple ingredients, I couldn't believe it. Rubbed it all over the pork then put in the refrigerator for the night. Then I set to work on the homemade BBQ sauce, whose base ingredient was ketchup!

This is the sauce simmering for 3-4 hours on the stove.'s so so good.
The next morning I put my pork butt in the slow cooker and let it cook on low for 8 hours. It took a long time, but well worth the wait. Once it pulled apart easily, I shredded the pork with two forks, then put it back in the crockpot with the juice that cooked off of it and a little bbq sauce and let it simmer a little bit longer. Here's a picture of the shredded pork, although I don't think it looks very appetizing by itself.

And now for the assembled product. The infamous Neelys BBQ Nachos. First step, layer tortilla chips on a plate. I chose some thicker chips that would hold up with all the weight of the meat and cheese, so I used "On the Border Restaurant Style Chips." Second step, pile pulled pork on top of chips. Third step, pour BBQ sauce over pork. Fourth step, pour melted cheese sauce over all of these layers. Fifth step, sprinkle with Neely's dry rub seasoning. Last and final step, eat and be amazed.

I still haven't figured out how to put words that when you click on them go to the recipe, but I'm still learning. So for now, if you go to the Food Network website, you can find all of these recipes to try for yourself!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The gift

At last, the present I have been waiting for, for many years, finally made it into my house (well, my apartment) this Christmas. Since the first time I saw the pink Kitchenaid Mixer in Williams-Sonoma, I was hooked. Had to have it, loved everything about it. I asked for it every single year for my birthday and Christmas only to be told that I should wait and register for it when I was starting my first home. I could buy it myself, I thought, but where is the excitement in that and I knew if I waited long enough, someone would get it for me and that would make it all the more special. So for years as an avid baker (or so I would like to think), I have pulled out my trusty little hand mixer, sufficient at mixing and also giving me an arm workout, and made breads, cookies, meringues, cakes, icings, wishing every single time that I had that pink Kitchenaid mixer. Why pink? Because it's cheery and I love pink. It makes me smile.

So, back to this boyfriend Ryan asked me months ago "what would you like for Christmas this year?" "Pink Kitchenaid mixer," I said jokingly (but not really jokingly, jokingly in that fact that I did really want it but knew it was too expensive of a present to seriously ask for). "Hm, is that what you really want?" he asked. "No, not really. I could always use more running stuff," I replied. (Short digression, in addition to my passion for baking and cooking, I also run, a lot. Currently training for my 4th marathon. Gotta stay in shape somehow with all of the eating I do.) Back to story, that was the end of it. Didn't ask for anything else and just assumed he would surprise me with something. Fast forward to Christmas night, he gave me my first present, still hiding the second one. First gift= "Down Home with the Neelys Cookbook"---YAY! I absolutely love watching Food Network and one of my favorite shows to watch is Down Home-they are precious and their food always looks good. Another cookbook to add to my many on the bookshelves-excellent. Second gift=very heavy, ripped off the wrapping paper and lo and behold, my mixer! (This is when I squealed, jumped up and down, gave him a big hug (after hugging my mixer) and opened the box to display my mixer on the counter) Pink Kitchenaid mixer + super fancy running watch with footpod + 2 new cookbooks (And a new pair of Toms)= best Christmas ever

Now, another thing about me, besides my love for my mixer and cooking/baking, I enjoy reading food blogs. I work nights in a hospital nursery, "Catching" babies and transitioning them, and on nights where the stork doesn't bother to drop off many babies or there isn't a full moon or bad weather, I have some down time to read blogs. I told myself I wanted to start my own someday and how much more appropriate could it be than to start one once I got my dream mixer. So, here goes.

Because I have so many cookbooks, I decided a fun thing to do would be to randomly pick a recipe each week out of one of them and make it. Flip open a book, close my eyes, point at a recipe and make whichever one my finger happens to land on. (We'll see how long that lasts) But in addition, I enjoy making recipes that I've seen on other people's blogs so I will be doing that, as well. Sadly, I am no master at picture taking and my apartment hardly has the lighting for good pictures, but I will do my best.

Last night I christened my mixer by making my favorite chocolate chip cookies. Not to toot my own horn, but I have been told that they are pretty good. Simple recipe off the back of a Tollhouse bag of chocolate chips, but my secret...add a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract and only cook for 8 minutes. Deliciously soft and chewy and amazing.

The recipe can be found here or on the bag of a Nestle Toll House bag. Simple.

Step 1: Mix ingredients. Step 2: Fold in chocolate chips. Step 3: Eat and enjoy!