kalua pork sliders

I was having one of those days where I wanted to buy a whole pig, dig a pit in my backyard, and just roast the crap out of the damn thing Luau-style. But a couple of things stood in my way: 1) I don’t actually know where to get an entire pig at the drop of a hat. Head? Sure. Feet? No problem. But the whole beast? I think I’d have to order it. Or drive outside the city. Which I don’t like to do on the weekends (Seattle traffic is a bitch).

2) If I came home with a pig carcass my animal-loving 3 year-old would name it, put a leash on it, and try to walk it around the yard. Mommy, why are you burying Puffaluff? Over a bed of hot coals? Oh, Mommy whyyyyyy????!!!!!! I can’t afford the therapy. 3) I live adjacent to the fire department. Quite literally. And with my luck, the boys (and girl–there is one) would be lured over the fence by the smell of roasting swine and write me some sort of citation for, I don’t know, an illegal animal roast.

So I nixed the whole pig idea and settled for a 4-pound roast and this lovely recipe from La Fuji Mama. It has all the flavor of that slow-roasted Hawaiian pork, but you don’t have to locate a whole swine, scar your daughter for life, or burn your house down to get it.

Hawaiian red and black sea salts (available at better grocers or spice markets; I bought mine in bulk for about $1.25 total) lend an earthy flavor, while liquid smoke (usually on the aisle near the BBQ sauce) substitues for the pit and charcoal. I downsized to a 4-pound roast (the recipe calls for 5-6), and it fed six of us with lots of leftovers.

Prick the roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife…

…and rub with the red and black sea salts. It will look super attractive.

Cook on low for 10 hours with a dash of liquid smoke, and that’s it!


Take a picture of Charlie, because she spies the camera and is saying “cheeeeeeeese!”

Take a better picture of Charlie.

For a casual dinner party we piled the pork on soft slider buns with good coleslaw. Everyone went back for seconds. And thirds. And the best part? The pork took no time at all to make, so I could sit back, relax, and plot where to dig my pig-roasting hole.




Kalua Pork Sliders quantities and times adjusted from La Fuji Mama’s fabulous recipe 

Serves 8

  •  4 lb pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1 tbsp red hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • slider buns (I like King’s Hawaiian)
  • good slaw, for topping
1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Prick all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Rub with salts.
2. Place roast in slow cooker , pour liquid smoke over the meat, cover and cook on low for 10 hours (you may be able to cook it longer, depending on how “low” your lowest setting is on your slow cooker).
3. Discard 1/3 to 1/2 the juices and shred the meat with two forks, tossing with the rest of the juices (if you later chill the shredded meat without discarding some of the fat, you’ll find the solidified fat hard to pick around).
4. Pile slider buns high with pork and top with slaw. Enjoy!



pulled pork enchiladas

Remember a few weeks ago when I revealed my secrets on how we eat well on the cheap? Well, this dish totally falls into that category. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s delicious. Plus, it’s perfect for double batches. Double the recipe, freeze the second pan and save for a rainy day. Or, you know, a tuesday.

I love making enchiladas because they are so adaptable for every season. In the summer I love stuffing them with fresh corn and herbs. In the fall, they’re fun to make with roasted pumpkin. In the winter, sweet potatoes make them scrumptious. Switch up the meat, cheese, and seasonings to make whatever flavor you want, whenever you want.

This particular batch—one of my favorites—uses slow-cooked pulled pork, jack cheese, sweet corn and fresh basil. They’re so summery but warm and comforting at the same time.

Begin with a pork shoulder. They usually range anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds (boneless), and that’s too much meat for 8 enchiladas. So either plan on making a double batch or using half of the pulled pork for something else.

I would say slice the roast in half and freeze the remainder, or just buy a really small roast, but I’ve never had good luck cooking small amounts of meat in the Crock.

Marinate overnight in enchilada sauce. A word to the wise: the kind of enchilada sauce you use is important. Make sure it’s a brand you know and like since it’s such a dominant flavor in this dish.

After marinating, place in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

To assemble the enchiladas you’ll need basil, tortillas (handmade will make all the difference—trust me), corn, sour cream, enchilada sauce, jack cheese, one sweet onion, and a few cloves of garlic.

Begin by mincing the garlic…

…and slicing the onion. I like wedges myself since it’s more fajita-style.

Saute the garlic in a little vegetable oil, then add the onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion just begins to become tender. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl shred half the pork…

…then add the corn (carefully sliced from the cob), chopped basil, and onion mixture.

Toss together.

Now here’s a trick that will perk up any enchilada recipe: mix sour cream into the enchilada sauce. It will make it creamier. And dreamier.

Next, shred an unholy amount of cheese. A hill of cheese. Heck, a mountain of cheese. If you like the pre-shredded stuff you obviously don’t like cheese should really consider taking 5 more minutes and shredding a real brick of cheese yourself. I don’t know what they put in those plastic baggies, but I don’t think it’s actually cheese.

Pour one cup of the the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan, then fill each tortilla with a sprinkle of cheese…

…and a few spoonfuls of the pork filling.

Roll up each tortilla as you go and place in the pan.

Pour the rest of the sauce mixture over the enchiladas…

…and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake. Bask in the heavenly aromas that are wafting from your oven.

Serve topped with sour cream and pico de gallo, if you wish. Or just inhale them right out of the pan. Up to you—no judgment here.

For me, the contrast of the sweet corn and basil against the spicy pork and creamy sauce is just about as good as it gets. I have died and gone to summer enchilada heaven.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas    printable pulled pork heaven

Using quality pork, handmade tortillas and good enchilada sauce makes all the difference in this dish. Plan on either doubling the recipe or finding another use for the other half of the pulled pork. Serves 4-6.

Inactive Prep Time: 1 day                 Active Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 35 minutes 

  • 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (sometimes called “pork butt”)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 28 oz can red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 c lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 16oz container sour cream
  • 8 handmade 9″-10″ flour tortillas
  • 4 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • pico de gallo, for serving (optional)
1. Rinse pork and pat dry. Place in a large freezer bag with 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and the kosher salt. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Place pork and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Mince garlic. Slice onion. Heat vegetable oil on medium-high in a large saute pan. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion just becomes tender. Remove from heat.
4. Place half of the cooked pork roast in a large bowl and shred with a fork (reserve remaining half of pork for another use). Add the onion mixture. Slice corn kernels from the husk and chop the basil. Add corn and basil to bowl, stir and season filling mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream (reserve some for serving, if desired), and the remaining enchilada sauce. Pour 1 c of the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
6. Divide the filling equally among the 8 tortillas. Top with 2-3 tbsp shredded cheese, roll, and place in pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, removing foil for last 10 minutes of baking, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and pico de gallo if desired.



tamale pie with bbq pulled pork

A few weeks B.C. (Before Charlie), my dear sister-in-law stocked our freezer. She handed over a tote bag full of homemade frozen meals as her baby gift to us. Among the foil-wrapped containers there was one labeled “Tamale Pie.” Curious, I stashed it in the freezer and waited for the busy day on which we would need to use it.

Weeks later, exhausted from being up with a baby all night and chasing a toddler around all day, I popped it in the oven for dinner. The smells of Mexican spices and sweet corn began wafting from the oven. Eating it was even better—spicy ground beef, peppers and onions were all topped off with a layer of light, crunchy cornbread. If this was tamale pie, I thought, I wanted more of it.

I set out to make a sort of “ultimate” version with pulled pork slathered in a spicy barbecue sauce. Barbecue and cornbread were made for each other. I’m a fan of Stubb’s, but homemade or another brand work just as well (and if you make your own barbecue sauce, send me a bottle? Please?).

Marinate a pork shoulder roast in the barbecue sauce, then cook in the Crock Pot. Shred the meat.

Next, you’ll need fire-roasted tomatoes, cornbread mix, peppers (orange, yellow, and poblano), a sweet onion, chili powder, cumin, and kosher salt. Oh, and one handsy toddler lurking in the background.

Uh oh.

And she’s got it.

Saute the onion and poblano pepper in a bit of oil until tender.

Add the bell peppers and spices, saute a bit more…

…and finish with the tomatoes. Check the spices and make sure everything is to your liking.

Assemble the cornbread (my favorite $0.53 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix requires milk and eggs, but yours may be different).

To the cornbread batter, add corn (frozen or canned is fine) and sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite variety—pepperjack would be great as well).

Stir together the pork with the pepper/onion mixture and spread into the bottom of two 9″ pie plates or one 9×13″ rectangular baking pan.

Top with the cornbread mixture…

…and bake until golden.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. A frosty margarita on the side is also mandatory.

This has become one of my new, go-to comfort meals. There is something soothing about these classic flavors, and since the recipe makes a large batch you can enjoy this meal for several dinners or stash half in your freezer for a hectic day. Kisses to my sis-in-law Becky for introducing me to this crazy wonderful dish (and for stocking our freezer!). Make this for yourself or for some lucky parents-to-be soon.


Tamale Pie with BBQ Pulled Pork Click here for printable version

If you’re using another brand of cornbread mix, omit the eggs and milk and follow the directions on the package. Makes 1 rectangular 9×13″ pie or 2 round 9″ pies.

Inactive Prep Time: 12-24 hours for marinating pork, 7-8 hours for cooking pork.

Active Prep Time: 25 minutes.

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes.

  • 3 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 c barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 c corn kernels (frozen or canned is fine)
  • sour cream for serving

1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Place in a large Ziploc bag and cover with 1/2c of the barbecue sauce. Refrigerate 12-24 hours.

2. Transfer pork roast with marinade into bowl of slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Remove pork, shred, and stir in remaining 1/2 c barbecue sauce. Set aside.

3. Dice sweet onion. Seed and dice poblano pepper and bell peppers.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano pepper and saute 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to become translucent. Add bell peppers, salt, chili powder and cumin. Saute 5 minutes more. Add fire roasted tomatoes and continue to saute 5 minutes more or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in shredded pork. Check seasoning.

5. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine corn muffin mix, eggs, milk, cheese and corn in a large bowl and mix to combine. Grease one 9×13″ baking dish or two 9″ pie plates. Spread the pork mixture into the bottom of the pan and spread the cornbread mixture evenly on top*. Bake for 25-30 minutes (may take slightly longer in large rectangular pan) until cornbread is cooked through and slightly golden on top. Serve topped with sour cream.

*NOTE: Can be covered and frozen unbaked. Bake from frozen at 400F for 45 min-1 hr or until cornbread is done.


slow-cooked meat sauce

Nesting is an odd compulsion. While I’m buying out the store of newborn diapers, wiping down the baseboards in the closet, and vaccuming every last Cheerio out of the car, I know in the back of my mind that I don’t need to be doing this. In fact, I probably should not be doing this. The baby surely doesn’t care if the corners are full of dust bunnies and I should be squirreling away my energy for the sleep deprivation to come.

Instead I squirrel away diapers and meals. The latest Ziploc to grace my freezer is full of this wonderful slow-cooked meat sauce, made in the Crock Pot in a quantity enough to feed an army. Or enough for several meals for two sleep-deprived parents and one bouncing two year-old. The flavors are rich, the sauce is thick, and it is a truly easy comfort food.

To make it, you’ll need red wine, an onion, a little sugar, basil and oregano (fresh if you have them, dried if you don’t), tomato sauce, tomato paste*, crushed tomatoes, garlic, carrots, salt, and the meat of your choice. I use ground beef but turkey, pork and sausage would all work well.

*I use store-brand tomato sauce and paste because I like a deal. Just read the ingredients carefully; they should contain little more than tomatoes. I’ve seen scary store brands that contain corn syrup.

Oh, and roasted peppers. Locally grown…in the Napa Valley. And crushed red pepper. All forms of pepper magically escaped my ingredients photo.

Brown the ground beef and drain as much fat as you can manage.

Mince (or twist!) the garlic. This is one of my new favorite kitchen gadgets.

Chop the onion, peppers and carrots.

Saute the onions, carrots and garlic in a bit of butter or olive oil until tender. Toss in the roasted peppers during the last few minutes.

Now comes Lucy’s favorite part: stirring everything together. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, switching to high and removing the lid for the last hour to thicken the sauce. If you like, finish it with a little milk or cream and parmesan cheese.

When I no longer have time to worry about the Cheerios in the car and the dust bunnies in the closet, I will be happy that this rich meat sauce is in my freezer for dinner. It’s so easy that I may even have time to whip up another batch with a newborn strapped to my chest and a toddler tugging at my leg.

Or maybe not.


Slow-Cooked Meat Sauce

This recipe makes a large batch, so plan on feeding a crowd or freeze portions of cooled sauce in airtight containers for up to 3 months.

Yield: Approximately 10 cups of sauce Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 7-8 hours

Special Equipment: Slow Cooker

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, sausage, turkey or pork
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1/2 c chopped roasted red peppers
  • 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 29 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 c red wine
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Brown meat with 1 tsp of the kosher salt. Drain of fat and spoon meat into bowl of slow cooker.

2. Mince the garlic and dice the onions and carrots. Heat butter or olive oil on medium in a large saute pan. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the carrots and onion and saute 6-7 minutes, or until carrots are tender and onion is translucent. Add the roasted peppers and saute 2 minutes more. Carefully spoon vegetables into bowl of slow cooker.

3. To the slow cooker add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, sugar, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well, cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. During the last hour, switch heat to high and remove the lid to thicken the sauce. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. If desired, stir in 1/2 cup milk or cream and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese before serving.

creamy portobella pot roast

I’m here to settle a big debate. Here’s the sitch:

When you’re describing those big, fat delicious mushrooms known as portobello/as, do you say “portobello” or “portobella”?

This has bothered me for years. It’s kept me up many a sleepless night, tossing and turning and wondering which dang vowel to use. Happily, my friends over at the Mushroom Council (Yep. You heard me. Mushroom. Council.) have decided to put an end to the whole messy controversy and go with the feminine portobella.

Whew. Thank goodness for Mushroom Councils. Without them, who would settle volcanic debates that threaten to rip our nation in two? Our liberty, nay–our way of life is at stake here, people.

There goes my invitation to their annual conference.

At any rate, you’ve gotta pop by the market soon and pick up the goods for this loverly creamy portobella pot roast. It’s rich. It’s heart-warming. It will cook itself while you are at work.


Steal a 3-4 pound boneless pot roast from your butcher while he’s not looking. C’mon. Variety is the spice of life, folks. Being a law abiding citizen is totally overrated.

Rinse and pat dry. And I mean dry. Julia Child will come and smack you over the head with a Le Creuset if you don’t. Or Meryl Streep. Either way, both are big women and Le Creuset is some heavy friggin cookware. You wouldn’t survive.

Season with salt and pepper.

Next, scrub down 10-12 yukon gold potatoes. Or reds. Or fingerlings. Whatever makes your hanky go panky.

Grab four portobella mushrooms. Wipe ’em down with a damp paper towel and see how much soil comes off. You’re glad you cleaned ’em down, eh?

You can be lazy and rinse them, but only if you want to experience the wrath of a Le Creuset to your noggin.

You need one yellow onion. Or as I like to call them: yellah.

Also grab about a cup and a half of baby carrots…

…some gahhhlic…

…and one can of cream of mushroom soup. But don’t tell anyone about the Campbell’s. My reputation would be ruined.

But we all know that’s a lie.

To make up for the use of a canned soup, grab a bottle of really good red wine. I know, I know. I’m a conundrum. You’ll need about one cup.

Alright, it doesn’t have to be good red wine–I was opening this bottle for a special occasion anyway, so I figured a cup could be sacrificed for the sake of pot roast. A $10 bottle would work just fine. But seriously, folks: don’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.

Now, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. We need to brown the meat, my darlings.

Brown quickly on all sides, using tongs to turn, and remove from heat.

Layer some of the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of your slow cooker insert. If you have a small Crock or prefer super-soft potatoes, you will want to chop the potatoes beforehand. I like my taters whole, and I have a big dang Crock, so I just tossed ’em in. Lay the roast on top.

If I can help it, I don’t like to lay a roast directly on the bottom of the Crock. The edges can tend to get overcooked if they’re touching the pan.

Now then. Peel your onion and hack it in half.

Give it a rough chop. You don’t want your pieces too small.

Chop off the stems of your portobellas…

…and slice those bee-youtiful mushrooms into half inch pieces.

Peel the amount of garlic you’d like to add. I’m crazy. I add a metric ton of garlic to everything I cook. You do what feels right–anywhere in the range of 4-8 cloves is pretty reasonable for this dish.

Mince those suckers up.

Throw the rest of the carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and garlic on top of the roast.

Now we need to make the sauce. Roast can’t cook without liquid, people. Crack that can of cream of mushroom and stir in one cup of wine.

I know, I know. It looks kind of like a lavender mess. But I promise the results will be delicious.

Add a little bit of salt and pepper and get ready to cook this sucker.

Add a bay leaf to the mix and give the whole thing as good of a stir as you can manage. Once it cooks down a little bit you can give it a more proper stir.

Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours.

See? No more purple distaster here. What’s left are tender potatoes, scrumptious portobellas, meat that falls apart at the touch of a fork and some fragrant broth to tie it all together.

This hearty wintry dish goes great with a big hunk of crusty bread.

This is totally decadent.

Mmmm. Warms my cold February tummy. And the Mushroom Council would be so proud.

Make this for a delicious, warming weekend meal.



Creamy Portobella Pot Roast

Serves 6-8

  • 3-4 pound boneless pot roast, rinsed, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10-12 small potatoes (yukon gold, baby red, or fingerling), chopped if desired
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in frying pan. Quickly brown meat on all sides and remove from heat. Create a small layer of potatoes and carrots on the bottom of slow cooker insert. Lay roast on top. Add the rest of the potatoes and carrots on top of the roast, as well as the garlic, mushrooms and onion. Mix together the cream of mushroom soup and the wine in a separate bowl; add to slow cooker. Add bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serve immediately.