Friday, June 28, 2013

Grilling Tutorial: 10 Steps to a Perfect Pork Butt

I posted this super fun grilling tutorial over on Endless Simmer last week & thought it deserved a share over here on my own blog!

I followed my boyfriend's step-by-step process in creating the most flavorful, juicy pork butt and documented it.  And you know what?  Grilling is not that intimidating, after all!

You, yes you, can create a perfect pork butt (or any other type of large meat) with just 10 easy steps!  Try it out and impress your friends for the upcoming July 4th holiday.
(I believe this technique would work well with a pork shoulder or a beef brisket, as well.)

Step 1: Buy a butt
Look for a butt for however many guests you are feeding.   I think ours was 8 lbs and it fed approximately 15  people.  You want some fat on the butt, but not a huge sheet of fat, because then it will be super greasy tasting.
Step 2: Make a rub
We made a rub using this recipe.  It tenderized the meat and gave it amazing flavor.

You can even make a shaker out of a mason jar!
Step 3: Make an injection
An injection keeps the meat moist throughout the long cook time.  We used this recipe here, featuring apple juice!

You can find injectors in lots of stores, in a variety of sizes and materials.  We like this stainless steel one found on Amazon.
Step 4: Prep your butt the night before
To prep the butt, you squirt some spicy mustard all over the meat and put a healthy amount of rub on all surfaces of the meat, rubbing it in slightly.
Then, inject the meat in several different places with the injection recipe.
Wrap it in foil twice and put it in a plastic bag (to safeguard against any leaks) overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 5: Light your coals, set up your grill

Fill a chimney starter with coals and newspaper and light it up.  Get those coals smoking and then put them on one side of your grill.  On the other side of your grill, you should have a drip pan filled with 2 cups of water.

Optional—you can also add foil packs of soaked wood chips into the coal side, periodically, throughout the grilling process.
Step 6: Mind your temperature

Try to keep your grill temp at around 225 – 250F degrees.  To maintain the heat, you can adjust the chimney stack thingy on your grill (to make it cooler) or add more hot coals (to make it hotter).  You’ll most likely have to add more coals at least three times to keep a steady temperature.
Step 7: Make a mop sauce & baste the butt
A mop sauce adds additional moisture to your pork as it cooks.  So you have a double whammy, the internal moisture from the injection plus the mop sauce basting the outside of the meat.  Can’t go wrong with that!
Here’s our recipe for mop sauce:
1 cup of apple juice
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients together and baste the pork butt with a grilling mop about once an hour.
Step 8: Make your own BBQ sauce
Store bought BBQ sauce is okay, but making your own sauce really seals the deal and adds your own unique, fresh flavors to the meat.
We used an award-winning recipe, found here (except that we omitted the apricot preserves).  Highly recommended if you like a tangy hint of sweetness followed by a kick of heat.
Step 9: Check your internal temperature
The internal temperature for pork is 200 degrees.  Use a meat thermometer, like this digital one, for accuracy.

Almost there!
Cook time varies by the size of your butt.  Ours cooked for 8 hours before it reached 200F degrees.
We placed the meat fat side up, so it basted the meat throughout the entire cook time.  We did not flip or rotate the meat.  It needed to do its own thing.
Step 10: Wrap your butt & give it a rest
Once your butt is within 5 degrees of 200, remove it from the grill (careful!  It’s hot!) and wrap in aluminum foil to rest for about an hour.  This will keep the meat very juicy and enhance all the flavors.

Check out that smoke ring!
After, that, shred your meat with a fork and serve.

And bask in the glow of your grilling victory!  Also, you may commence with the butt jokes.

Have a safe & fun Forth of July, everyone!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WIAW: Healthy Mushroom Orzo Risotto

Good Morning!!!
Guys, I'm pretty bummed about losing Google Reader next week.  There's gotta be people out there as dependent on it as I am.  I use it to read over 100 blogs every day.  I have a couple other dashboards in mind, but meh.  Still sad.

***Update--just read this post from Peanut Butter Fingers & imported all my blogs to Bloglovin'!  Eeee!

Ok, onto happier things--It's that time again.  Time to share my food consumption from yesterday.
Try to contain your enthusiasm.
The above picture is my art for this week.  Almost too pretty to eat.  Ha!  Who are we kidding.  Totally didn't even hesitate when eating it.  It tasted as pretty as it looked!
Let's get to it.

Peas and Crayons

Breakfast: Waffles & Berries

For breakfast I enjoyed 2 Eggo Nutrigrain low fat waffles topped with a smear of peanut butter (Skippy natural super chunk), sliced strawberries and sugar free syrup.
I also had two mugs of coffee in my cute new mug!

A.M. Snack: Pear & Graham 

For snack I had some (more) peanut butter on a half graham cracker and a lovely pear.  Such a great snack!

Lunch: Big Salad 

It was hot as the dickens outside, so we did not walk the dogs like we usually do.  Instead I chopped up some ingredients for a big ole salad.  It was so satisfying and refreshingly light.
In the mix: chopped romaine lettuce, ham and turkey deli slices, leftover broccoli, reduced fat feta cheese, avocado & a dressing of plain Greek yogurt mixed with ranch dressing seasoning.
How pretty is that bowl?  I love it!  It's not mine-just a borrowed bowl that I love.

P.M. Snack: Orange & Tea

Gosh, you know it's a slow, boring day at the office when I take the time to peel an orange.  This was the best orange I've had in a while.  So juicy and delicious.  I had also gotten a tea on the way back from work from the place that takes all my money from me.  Trenta unsweetened black tea wtih 3 Splendas, FTW!

Headed home to change for boot camp.  I made my first Instagram video of Bizzy doing her tricks (sit, lay down, spin).  She was very confused because when she sees the treat she automatically sits, but I wanted to start with her standing up, so I could tell her to sit.  So, she's a little frantic in the vid.  Also, she's full of puppy energy, which can be an overwhelming thing.

Dinner: Bacon Wrapped Salmon, Mushroom Orzo Risotto & Veggies 

Sometimes when I get home from exercise and I have a crazy puppy demanding my attention, I do not feel like cooking.  Such was the case tonight.
Luckily, I was able to throw something together in about 20 minutes.

First I seasoned my salmon & wrapped it in bacon.  My thought process behind this was that it will keep the salmon moist while adding a smoky, bacon-y (it's a word.) flavor.  It worked!

Before I cooked the salmon, I had to get my risotto going.  Here's how I made it:

Healthy Mushroom Orzo Risotto
serves 3-4 (as a side dish)

1-2 tbsp Olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups orzo
2 cups chicken broth (approximately)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
2 tbsp goat cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup diced & sauteed baby bella mushrooms (or button mushrooms)

Heat enough olive oil to coat a sauce pan. Add onion and cook until onion becomes translucent (about 5 minutes). 
Pour in the orzo and stir to coat. Toast orzo for 2-3 min. Add 1 cup of chicken broth into the sauce pan. Stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed. Add another half cup of broth and repeat. Repeat one more time.  Taste the orzo throughout this process and when it is no longer crunchy, it's about done.
Add in goat cheese, seasoning & Parmesan.  Fold in mushrooms.

About halfway through the risotto, I started the salmon in an oiled grill pan.  Also, I microwaved some fresh broccoli & cauliflower.

My other risotto recipes: butternut squash risotto & healthy brown rice risotto.

For dessert, I ate a serving of these stupid jerks.  You know a serving is only 9 little cookies!  Ludicrous!  But delicious....

Then Bizzy and I watched Chopped.

Sometimes she finds it boring.

Happy Wednesday, all!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Creamsicle Martini Slush

Today is the first official day of Summer!  Hooray!  
Of course, it's felt like summer for a few months here in the south.

What's a better way to celebrate than with a favorite childhood flavor like a Creamsicle all grown up?

This was actually my silly attempt to make boozy popsicles, gone awry.  The thing with boozy pops is you can't have too much alcohol or it won't fully freeze.  And I wanted to have a decent amount of alcohol in my Creamsicle.  So, live and learn.

Enjoying this in a martini glass by the pool was more enjoyable than dripping a popsicle all over my shirt, anyways.

Creamsicle Martini Slush
makes 2 drinks

1 1/2 cup of Trop 50 no pulp orange juice
1 cup of whipped cream vodka

Shake these up in a shaker & freeze.  Serve in martini glasses with an optional orange slice.

It really tastes like a creamsicle.  I promise.  This is actually a skinny cocktail, if we're being technical.  Which we're not...but I thought you'd like to know.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WIAW: Shrimp Poboy & Recipe Testing

Peas and Crayons

Good Morning, Sunshines!
Hope everyone is having a great week.  Mine's been good.  Wow, I can't believe that Summer will be officially here on Friday!  I have a special skinny cocktail recipe I'll post then, so pop back over and check it out.
Now, on to my eats!

Breakfast: Salmon Omelet & Fruit

Last week, I bought some fresh cod and smoked salmon and they were in the same grocery sack.  I didn't get to use the cod, so I threw it in the freezer...and the salmon went with it.  I didn't know how well smoked salmon would thaw so this was a risky breakfast.  But it worked out!  The salmon was delicious and I couldn't even tell it was frozen.  Victory!
Ok, so for breakfast I had an omelet with a whole egg, an egg white and chopped smoked salmon in the middle.  Paired with a piece of wheat toast and strawberries and you got yourself a superstar of a breakfast! Coffee, repeated twice, on the side as well.

Snack: Oatmeal

I wanted something different for my sensible snack today, so I packed up some oatmeal.  Here's how I packed it.

Perfectly portable!!  
I just measured 1/2 cup of almond milk in a mason jar (you can microwave a mason jar without the top) and grabbed an oatmeal packet and some strawberries on the run.  This is my favorite oatmeal!  It's soooo good!

On my lunch break, we had to take Reggie home and I was sad.

We kept my boyfriend's parents' dog, Reggie, for a little over a week while they were out of town and we really enjoyed hanging with him around the house.  We still go over and walk him a couple times a week, though.  So, all of us look forward to that!

Lunch: Roast Beef Lettuce Wraps

I whipped up a lovely summertime lunch of lettuce wraps (with romaine lettuce, roast beef, sharp cheddar, avocado & tomato), some chopped watermelon and baby carrots for lunch.  Fresh & delicious!

After we left Reggie, Bizzy was sad and needed to be spoiled with a puppacino from Starbucks.

She is a diva dog.
I don't know where she gets it from....

So, yeah.  I had an iced coffee and cake pop and had to pose like a cheeseball with both of them.
It was funny!  I embarrass my boyfriend with my antics.

Snack: Peanuts

Around 4 p.m. I had a handful of peanuts.  I never usually buy peanuts, because I assumed they were not as healthy of a nut as almonds, but according to this infographic they are pretty dang healthy:

Dinner: Light Shrimp Poboys & Grilled Veggies

After a rigorous boot camp workout, I walked the Bizzy dog and made my favorite Healthier Shrimp Poboys (<--click there for my recipe.  It's worth it)

It was so yummy!
I also grilled some asparagus in my grill pan & microwaved a few red potatoes til cooked, then sprayed them with cooking oil (and added salt and garlic powder) and grilled those in the same pan.

A perfect, light meal!

After dinner, I was stuck.  Bizzy camped out on my lap and literally would not let me move for like an hour.  It's kind of nice being forced to relax.  Thanks, Bizz!

Dessert Testing: Microwave Muffin Thingy

Ok, so I was testing out a recipe for a singe serving microwave dessert and I really wanted to make a healthy cookie.  This ended up more like a muffin, but it was really good and dense...and worth sharing.  So, here ya go.  I'll share the cookie recipe once it's perfected: 

Single Serve Microwave White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie Muffin

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Egg white
2 tbsp wheat flour
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp white choc chips
1 tbsp chopped macadamia nuts

Combine all in a small bowl.  Spray a microwave safe ramekin with cooking oil and microwave for 30-40 seconds.


Ok, have a lovely Wednesday, everyone.

If you want more single serving desserts, check out my:
Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Treat for One
Single Serve Chocolate Cherry Cake
Peanut Butter Toast Crunch Cake for One
Chai Latte Chocolate Chip Mug Cake
1 Minute Bailey's Chocolate Cake
4 Cookies

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WIAW: Thai Inspired Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Peas and Crayons

Well, hello there, friend!  Thanks for stopping by ;)
This week has been full of crazy excitement...due to only one thing: my boyfriend's parents' dog, Reggie, is staying with us this week.
If we thought Bizzy was crazy before, Reggie intensifies her craziness tenfold!  He is also super full of energy, himself.  I could not even get a picture of my breakfast without dogs in my face.  I'm cool with it, though!  Love those pups!

Breakfast: Shake
Good Morning, Reggie!!  

I woke up late this morning.  No reason, just couldn't pull my lazy butt out of bed, so breakfast was on the go.  Made a quick shake containing: frozen banana, 1 cup of strawberries, vanilla protein powder & almond milk.  Simple & delicious.
Also, had a giant mug of coffee on the run!

Forgive my dirty windows.

 Not much going on at the office today, so I just read blogs.  I came across this awesome menu printable from Back to Her Roots & did some menu planning for next week.
Nerd Alert! 

A.M. Snack: Bar
Honestly, a protein bar is not my idea of a sensible snack.  It's fine when you are on the go, but not when you are at the office and too lazy to cut your apple (referring to myself, here).  Still, a decent calorie count from this Aldi protein bar.  Not the best in texture & taste, though.

Lunch: Grilled Cheeeeeessseee!!

It was 100 degrees today, so no walk with the dogs :(  Of course that gave me extra time to burn cook a grilled cheese! This charred delight included muenster cheese, avocado & tomato on whole wheat bread.  A side of carrots and berries just rounded out the meal.
Here's a closer shot.  Can you spot the avocado & tomato?

Got back to work and squealed with excitement when I saw my package from Old Navy had arrived!!  They had a killer fitness sale (that is possibly still going on...too lazy to check) & I scored all this loot for around $40!

My boss loves sweets and has a stockpile in the kitchen area.  Usually I ignore them, but the siren call of the Nutty Bar was calling my name.  Like, hardcore.
Buuuut, I went and looked at the calories and a Nutty Bar has 330 calories for both bars.  Can we say, "Not worth it!"?
So I Googled the calories on fun sized Twix and had that and a diet coke instead.
Healthy choice--NOPE!  But, a better choice, at least :)

P.M. Snack: Berries & Cheesy Wasa

Even after knowing the calories in the Nutty Bars, a few hours later I was singing, "Oooh, I want you I don't know if I need you.."  A little Savage Garden for your Wednesday ;)
But I resisted again!!  Go me!
I had the rest of the berries from lunch and a Wasa cracker with muenster cheese.  Perfectly satisfying and sensible.

Before I headed to my evening boot camp workout, I played with the dogs and did some colorful dinner prep.  So pretty!

Ok, so chopping these veggies & microwaving my spaghetti squash made cooking dinner fast & easy.
And so freaking delicious.  I kid you not.
I had a Thai noodle dish a few weeks ago with rice noodles and I could just taste the fat.  It was yummy, no doubt, but not great for you.  So I made a healthy copycat of it!  And it was even better!!
Are the exclamation points adequately expressing my excitement?!
Probably not.

Thai Inspired Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce
serves 4

Spaghetti squash (cooked)
Zucchini, carrots
Chicken breast
Coconut oil
Soy sauce
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Chopped peanuts
Cilantro (optional)
Peanut sauce (below)

Peanut Sauce:
2-3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp rice vinegar
red pepper flakes, salt & pepper to taste

Chop your zucchini and carrots as close to matchsticks as you can get (I didn't get that close) and slice your mushrooms.
Poke your spaghetti squash with a knife and microwave for around 7-8 minutes.  Allow it to cool.
Season 3-4 thin chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder & soy sauce and sear in a pan coated in coconut oil.  Set aside.
In the same skillet, throw in a little more coconut oil and the sliced carrots.  Season with salt and cook for about 5 minutes.  Toss in the zucchini and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Chop the chicken in bite sized pieces and throw it and the sliced mushrooms in the pan.
Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over all the stuff in the pan.
Cut your spaghetti squash in half (lenghtwise) and scrape out the seeds.  Use a spoon to scrape out the innards and add them to the pan.
Mix everything together and season to taste.
Add chopped peanuts and cilantro as garnish.

After eating, I, of course, played with these crazy dogs:

Bizzy plays hard & rests hard.

In Case You Missed It:
I'm blogging on Endless Simmer again!!
Creativity is a'flowin'.  Check out my recipes!

Have a great week, all!