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.


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.

apple cranberry pot roast

I know what you’re thinking. A pot roast with fruit? Damn, girl. You crazy.

Why, yes. Yes I am. And you should be too. It’s the right place to be.

I make up some recipes that don’t go on this blog. They flop. They suck a big one. Husband and I eat them alone, crying on the living room floor and wondering why I bother to cook in the first place.

But that’s how one learns, little chickadees. Make a bunch of inedible stuff and you’re bound to come up with something edible once in a while.

This was one of those whiles. The flavor was incredible—moist meat that fell apart at the touch of a fork. Sauce that was tart, sweet, and tangy in all the right places. Little slices of apple, cranberry and shallot that lent texture and enriched the sauce. We loved it. We scarfed it. We licked our plates. We sat, smiling, at the dining room table. The living room floor was so lonely.

A word of warning before we begin: this is not a meat-and-potatoes type of pot roast. This is a pot roast for the sweet-and-savory minded. If you like that combo, or you’re up for trying something new, raise your hand. And grab the following ingredients:

A hunk of cow. A 3-4 pound boneless pot roast, preferably no longer mooing. Rinse and pat dry.

This recipe would also lend itself nicely to pork, so if you feel like it, grab a pork shoulder instead.

A couple of apples. I had fujis on hand, but you could use any type of apple you like. Except anything with the word “delicious” in the title. Those apples are certainly not delicious. They should be voted off the apple island.

Grab about a half a head of garlic and one large shallot.

You’ll need one cup of dry red wine. The rest of the bottle, do with what you will. But hear this: I don’t condone drinking and cooking.

Okay, I do. I really do. Those two activities were made to be performed together. Don’t fight it. Just go with it.

Rummage through your pantry and find a can of whole cranberries left over from two Thanksgivings ago. Check the date on the bottom. Not expired? Sweet.

If you would prefer a little more tart and a little less sweet, I would go the fresh cranberry route.

Find some apple cider vinegar….

…and a little veggie oil or olive oil.

Forget to take a picture of the oil, please. Don’t make me look bad.

For spice, grab one sprig of rosemary, a dollop of dijon mustard, and a little salt and freshly ground pepper.

Ready? Let’s do this dang thing.

Chop up the apple into 1/2″ pieces.

And while you’ve got the cutting board out, mince that gorgeous rosemary.

And while your chopping arm is warm, mince up that gahlic. Gaaahhhlic, I say! Gaaaaahhhhhhlllliiiicc!

Sorry. Momentary outburst.

And since you’re so good at chopping, slice up that loverly shallot. Shallots are like onion’s leaner, meaner cousin. They may be small, but they can make you tear up twice as fast and twice as much. They ain’t jokin, those mangy shallots.

Now’s the time to pile all of those ingredients in Le Crock Pot. Add the wine, cranberries, apples, shallots, garlic, dijon, salt, pepper, one tablespoon of oil, two teaspoons of vinegar, and rosemary to the pot. Give it a good stir.

Add the meat and spoon some of the sauce on top. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Halfway through cooking, flip the meat over and coat with sauce.

Oh my darling roast. You are so beautiful.

Remove the roast and put onto a plate. Cut or shred the meat into the size pieces you’d like to serve.

Meanwhile, turn the Crock on high for 5-10 minutes with the lid off. It’ll thicken the sauce a bit. Toss the meat back in and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the chunks of roast with a bit of the sauce spooned on top.

We ate ours with a spinach, butter lettuce, walnut and gorgonzola salad with garlic vinaigrette. It was a delicious combo, although I wished halfway through that I had some crusty bread to sop up the juices from the roast.

I totally loved the combination of the sweet sauce with the savory meat. The apples and cranberries were a tender topping, and the shallots gave a tiny bit of bite.

Flavorful, easy, and gorgeous winter meal. If you love sweet and savory dishes as much as I do, make this sometime soon.

Have a lovely Thursday!


Apple Cranberry Pot Roast

  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, stem removed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium apples, cored and diced
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pound pot roast, excess fat removed and patted dry

Combine first 10 ingredients in a slow cooker and stir. Add the roast and spoon some sauce on top. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Halfway through cooking, turn meat over and coat with sauce.

Remove meat from pot and shred or cut into pieces. Turn slow cooker on high for 5-10 minutes to thicken sauce. Return meat to pot, mix with sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.