Slow Cooker Spiced Honey Apple Pork

There may be nothing better than a fall crock pot experiment that turns into a keeper recipe. Armed with dozens of golden delicious apples after a trip to the orchard I searched for recipes that were more savory than sweet. When I found one similar to mine below, I made a few key changes and created something I think we will be making over and over again this winter! fullsizerender


2+ pounds of boneless pork loin (I used about 2.4 for this recipe)

6 medium golden delicious apples (any green apple would work)

1/4 cup of honey + hot chili honey

Apple pie spice, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder


Thinly slice the apples and cover the entire bottom of the crock pot with a layer of apple slices (about 3 apples). Coat generously with apple pie spice and then drizzle with about half of the regular honey. Season both sides of the pork with a generous amount of smoked paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder (you want these flavors to infuse into everything) and then place it on top of the apples. We received Mike’s Hot Honey in a DIY pizza kit from Bespoke Post and I thought it would be the perfect kick to this recipe. Drizzle it on top of the pork instead of the regular honey. Then, layer the remaining apples and sprinkle again with the apple pie spice. I drizzled the remaining honey and some of the hot honey on top and set it on low to cook for 6 hours.

For a side dish, I made a box of pearl couscous and cooked in some raw baby spinach to sneak some veggies into the meal.

After 6 hours, the pork chops were still perfectly in tact, but fell apart easily when eating with a fork. They were incredibly moist and even held up as leftovers in the microwave.

So simple and had my fiancé raving about how delicious it was. Something to make again and again!

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Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken + Veggies

I was searching for a recipe over the weekend that required little-to-no grocery shopping (based on what I had in the pantry) and came across this one for Thai Peanut Chicken that I had pinned a few weeks ago. The recipe looked great, but I wanted to add more veggies and I didn’t have crunchy peanut butter, so I made some changes and it turned out absolutely delicious.

Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken + Veggies

1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts IMG_5551

1 large green bell pepper

1 packet of fresh snow peas

1-2 large carrots

1 white onion

Rice (brown or white)

For the sauce:

1/4 cup of House of Tsang Bangkok Peanut Sauce

1 tbs lime juice

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tbs honey

A sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)

Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot and cover completely with the sauce. Set to low and cook for 5-6 hours. When the chicken has about an hour to go, shred the chicken and then let it keep cooking. Meanwhile, chop your vegetables to be sauteed on the stove. Finely chop the carrots and add to a saucepan on medium-high with some salt, ground ginger and sesame oil. As you chop the onion, pepper and snow peas, add to pan, stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables have started, cook your rice as normal (2-1 water ratio), but substitute one cup of water for broth from the crockpot.

When the rice is finished, serve with the veggies and chicken and drizzle some of the leftover Peanut Sauce on top. Be sure not to overcook the vegetables– they should be a little bit crunchy so that they add some texture to the dish. For me, the dish made about 5 generous servings.

I really, really loved this dish and will definitely be making again!

Summer Corn “Chowder”

IMG_1545Summer soup, what could be better? I adapted this recipe from one I came across on Pinterest and was really happy with it. The changes I made were simply because I wanted a bit more protein to make a heartier soup.

Summer Corn “Chowder” 

2 tbsp butter  

1 white onion, diced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1.5 lbs of yukon gold potatoes, peeled & diced in 1/2-inch cubes 

3 ears of corn 

1 red bell pepper

2 chicken sausages (TJ’s smoked with apple) 

1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed

2 cups of chicken broth + 3 cups of vegetable broth 

5 sprigs of thyme

Goat cheese with herbs (optional)

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven and then add the onion. Saute until the onion is tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil, then let simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs before serving. This is a great broth-based soup, but the real kicker is to add a dollop of goat cheese. The recipe I saw called for ricotta, which I didn’t have on hand, so I tried goat cheese instead. I was a bit skeptical, but it actually gives a great flavor and once mixed in makes a nice, creamy “chowder!”

Menomalé: simply a must

Of all the food in the world, pizza is one of the most simple. We see it presented by the face of Peyton Manning and bubbling with cheese-stuffed crust laden with fruit, but in reality, it is best when made with a handful of quality ingredients. In Italy, pizza is an art form. Pizzaioli know that to make a perfect pizza is a serious study. In Italy, this is common, but to find a true Neapolitan pizza here in the US isn’t easy. I think that Menomalé of DC is the best I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.

Everything about Menomalé is true Italian: the tiny water glasses (no room for ice), the limited seating, and, of course, the wood-fired oven. Go to Menomalé and take some time to enjoy the experience. Their select beers are all great pairings with pizza and they also boast a decent wine selection. Their antipasti platters are standard – meats, cheeses, breads – and you can tell that everything is hand-picked to resemble Italy’s finest. Share the antipasti, enjoy a beer, order a pizza, and then imagine. I’ve spent time in Italy and I’ve made memories around the table. The pizza served by Pizzaiolo Ettore Rusciano makes me nostalgic. Served in whole on specially made plates, the perfect Neapolitan pizza, the one that can be found so effortlessly in Italy, is bursting with the flavors of tomato and mozzarella di bufala. The dough has a bit of charring, but is soft and slightly chewy. The traditional toppings, often representing more than initially considered, are the perfect after note. This is Menomalé. Maybe I’ve been away from Italy for too long, but if I close my eyes, there is no distinction.

Menomalé upholds my love affair with pizza. The whole experience is genuine: the staff is knowledgable, the atmosphere is comfortable and the ingredients embody the best of Italy.

Located in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast DC, it should not be overlooked. If you’ve been to Italy, it will take you back. If you haven’t, just don’t ask for it sliced.

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 I suggest: Affettati Misti della Casa, the Quattro Stagioni, the Diavola, Nastro Azzurro (draft), Curieux (bottle)

 Menomalé, 2711 12th St, NE, Washington, DC 20018

It’s time to start documenting my “culinary” adventures

Acknowledging the plethora of food bloggers out there, I’m doing this mainly for my own personal benefit. Pinterest has opened us up to a world of recipes and food porn, yet only occasionally does the recipe turn out the way it “should.” Pinterest Recipes always seem to require a bit of tweaking and they never look exactly like the picture that accompanies them. I’ve also decided that in my next life I want to be the next Top Chef and I figure soup is a good starting point. It’s pretty hard to mess up and pretty much always delicious. One day I will graduate to more involved dishes. Until then, I will be experimenting with easy, post-grad, budget-friendly recipes.

Taking advantage of a free morning (yay, President’s Day), I decided to make a big pot of soup to get me through the rest of the week. Side note: after all of the foodie posts I have done in the past, I am coming to the realization that soup is actually my favorite food. Sad? Maybe. At least there’s a lot of variety.

Italian Vegetable Soup (can anyone think of a more creative name?)

1 lb ground beef                                         1lb Italian sausage (I like it hot)
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes                1 can red kidney beans (drained)
1 can cannellini beans (drained)        3 carrots
3 stalks of celery                                      2 large russet potatoes
1 yellow onion                                          1 jar (almost) of Prego traditional
3 cups beef stock                                      1.5 cups water
2 tsp black pepper                                  2 tsp Italian medley seasoning blend
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage. Drain. In a large dutch oven, combine the ground beef/sausage with all of the other ingredients (chopped– doesn’t have to be perfect… you’re throwing them all in a pot together). Bring to a boil. Let simmer for another hour to hour and a half. Finito! It’s actually that easy. The soup can simmer for longer, but at this point all of the vegetables are perfectly tender and ready to eat. Even better with toasty bread and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

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PS. This recipe makes A LOT of soup. I’m talking I have enough to eat it every day this week and also freeze some. Make sure your dutch oven is big enough (my 6 qt was nearly overflowing!) and that you are really in the mood for soup!

PPS. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE BUY ME A CAMERA THAT TAKES PICTURES OF FOOD

comfort foods

After deliberating for most of the night (thanks, Mom / Cooking Light for the pain and inspiration), I have finally compiled my top ten list of comfort foods. It was harder than expected, but brought back some awesome memories. As a self-proclaimed “foodie,” these may not be the most amazing dishes I have ever tried (next blog?), but they mean something. And I could probably live off of them.

1) Mom’s mashed potatoes. A staple at every family holiday and they are perfect in every way.

2) Panzerotti from Gina’s in Mola di Bari, Italy. They’re kind of like fried pizza pockets, but better. They can also be stuffed with ricotta and cinnamon. So they’re a win-win sweet & savory situation.

3) Fried Dumplings. There’s never really a time when a fried dumpling isn’t delicious.

4) Pizza Diavola. This is my all-time favorite pizza. It’s basically just a cheese pizza with Italian salami, which is essentially pepperoni, except it’s not. It’s really only available in Italy and that’s awesome.

5) Tortellini al Brodo. This is weird. Tortellini in broth? I know. But I love soup and this was one of my favorite comfort meals in Italy, whether I made it at home or ordered it at a restaurant.

6) Chicken Enchiladas. Just because.

7) Bacon-Cheddar-BBQ Cheeseburger. I could possibly eat one of these three times a week. Maybe four.

8) Bread. Because when you’re having a bad day, nothing is better than stuffing yourself full of carbs. Spread with butter, covered with cheese & garlic, dipped in parmesan & olive oil, whatever.

9) French Fries. Only the breaded, extra crispy, dipped-in-bbq-sauce kind like from Spanky’s in D-town.

10) Cool Mint soft serve ice cream from Soft Stuff. An explanation for this is impossible. If you would like to try and understand, drive to Route 40 in Ellicott City and ask around.