Chow Chow, Hotdogs and Carolina Style Pulled Pork

September 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Posted in pork | 35 Comments
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Why am I like a hundred years old and have never heard of or tasted Chow Chow until this summer? 

I saw my first ever mention of Chow-Chow from Chris over at Nibble Me This.   Wikipedia tells us that Chow Chow is popular in the south, in Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Even my good friend Cauleen, who grew up in Pennsylvania, looked at me like I was from outer space, when she learned I had never had it. Especially since the area around my hometown where I grew up supports large Amish and Mennonite communities. Nope, never heard of it.

I was thrilled to find that my favorite local canning vendor at our Farmer’s Market sold Chow Chow so I grabbed a couple of  jars, one regular and one hot. We’ve tried both and think they’re absolutely delicious. We’ll be buying a few jars to get us through an otherwise Chow Chow-less Winter.

Just as Chris suggested, we piled some on top of hot dogs.  Oh-my delicious!

I threw a pork roast in the crock pot and let is simmer all day in some Carolina style sauce, topped it with some Chow Chow and it was out of this world.

Let’s talk about Carolina style sauces. We recently had Carolina style pulled pork at a local BBQ  joint and really found this vinegar-based sauce to be a wonderful mixture of flavors. 

In Googling Carolina Style Sauces so I could make it at home, I found Northern Carolina, Eastern Carolina, Northeastern Carolina, Western Carolina sauce recipes. I didn’t take the time to sift through the ingredients to find out what the difference was in all the variations and just chose a generic crock pot version and tweaked it to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand. My Southern readers will have to fill me in on the difference in what these regionalized Carolina sauces are all about.

We found the recipe to be quite tasty and it’s now in my database.

 Spicy Carolina Style Pulled Pork:

3 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 tablespoons paprika 
2 teaspoons sea salt 
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper 
5 lbs pork shoulder 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes 
2 teaspoons sugar 
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard 
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
1/2 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper 
2 red onions, quartered 
2 yellow onions, quartered

Combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper, and rub the mixture over the roast. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate a few hours, overnight is best. 

In a bowl, combine the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix well. 

Unwrap the roast.  I lined my crock pot with banana leaves, and rough cut onions to make a nice flavorful bed. Place roast on top of onions, drizzle most of the vinegar mix over the top, reserving some to add to the shredded meat at the end. Wrap banana leaves around the roast.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or high for 4 to 5 hours. 

Remove the meat and onions to a cutting board. Remove skin and set aside. Using two forks, pull and shred the pork. Chop the onions, and mix into the shredded meat. Using a fork, remove some of the fat from under the skin, mince, and add to the shredded meat and onions as needed for moisture and flavor. 

Serve on warm buns or crusty hard rolls, with the remaining vinegar mixture on the side.

Chow Chow Topped Sandwiches,

They’re What’s For Dinner.


Italian Sweet Frying Peppers

September 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Italian | 19 Comments
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Did anyone notice this  basket of Italian Sweet Frying Peppers that appeared in my Pete Polombo slide show? This is the first time in my life I remember seeing them available for sale. When I googled “Italian Frying Peppers”, one entry indicated that these peppers are the same as Cubanella peppers.  Any experts out there? 

Italian peppers, stuffed and ready for frying

Whatever they are, I love them. Offering a sweet yet intense “pepper” flavor, something about them screams “It’s Amore”. I wish I could find these peppers year round, they’d definitely amp up my Italian recipes. From what I read about them, being medium fleshed makes them an excellent candidate for frying.   

Frying the stuffed peppers, face down in some olive oil

A sack full of these delicious sweet peppers made their way home with me and voila, the next day I opened up Food and Wine Magazine and saw this recipe for Stuffed Italian Sweet Frying Peppers. It was meant to be.  🙂 

This recipe comes together easily and is simply delicious. The peppers are so unique in flavor that I will not try this recipe with regular green bell peppers, but will wait to prepare this until when I can get my hands on some more Italian Sweet Frying Peppers.  Thank you Grace Parisi of Food and Wine for a great and savory combination. 


The only variation I made was to tear off some small chunks of fresh mozzarella and insert here and there into the stuffed peppers. I liked the addition and will alter the recipe for my database. 

Cooked and ready for some tomato sauce

Spinach-and-Sausage-Stuffed Peppers

  1. One 5-ounce bag baby spinach
  2. 2 slices of white sandwich bread, finely chopped
  3. 1/4 cup milk
  4. 1 large egg
  5. 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  6. 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  7. 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  8. 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  9. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  10. 8 small or 4 large Italian frying peppers—halved lengthwise and cored, stems left intact
  11. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  12. 1 cup canned tomato sauce
  13. 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  14. A few chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese to poke here and there into the stuffed peppers


  1. In a very large skillet, cook the spinach over high heat just until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain and press out all of the water. Coarsely chop the spinach. Rinse out and dry the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, knead the chopped bread with the milk, egg and cheese to form a paste. Knead in the pine nuts, onion, sausage and spinach and season lightly with salt and pepper. Using lightly moistened hands, divide the mixture among the pepper halves and lightly pack it in.  Add chunks of fresh mozzarella gently pressing into the stuffed peppers.
  3. In the skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the stuffed peppers, filling side down, and cook over high heat until well-browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the peppers and cook until the skins are browned and blistered, about 4 minutes longer. Add the tomato sauce and chicken broth, cover and simmer until the sausage filling is cooked through and the peppers are tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve right away.

Stuffed Italian Sweet Frying Peppers… 

It’s What’s For Dinner. 

Pete Polombo’s Roadside Market

September 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Vegetables | 14 Comments
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I must say that even though Denver has got some great little neighborhood Farmer’s Markets, they’re just not the same as a trip to Pete’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love out little street markets which offer up a few vegetable vendors, always a good variety of Western Slope Peaches and Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, and home to lots of local product vendors offering bbq and pasta sauces, pestos, gourmet dog foods and not to mention the long lines at the Danish Bakery stand.  But again, there’s no place like Pete’s.

For over 20 years,  the late summer/early fall season highlight for me has been taking the 40 minute drive north from Highlands Ranch out to Brighton and to Pete Polombo’s Roadside Market.  Folks, this is the real deal!  A market chock full of a huge selection of fresh Colorado grown fruits and vegetables.

The area northeast of Denver contains miles and miles, acres and acres of large vegetable “truck farms” and is also home to many smaller organic growers. The trip is always a fun guessing game to identify the variety of vegetable growing in the large planted fields along the roads.

The area is rich in agricultural history with sheep, cattle and vegetable growers settling to the area in the late 1800’s. If you’ve ever seen the mini-series Centennial, it highlights the trials and tribulations, feuds and partnerships that transpired during the pioneer settlement to this part of our state.

Join me for a little tour.

I must say that the flat-bed trailers that hold mountains of sweet corn is always the best I’ve ever tasted! THE BEST! You’re always guaranteed corn that is picked that day and it’s always a treat to get home and slather butter over an ear of corn that just came off the stalk a few hours earlier. Nothing better in the world. I usually favor his “Super Sweet Yellow” variety, but the white Silver Queen and the bi-colored Peaches and Cream may have been even sweeter this year. I brought home five dozen and within two hours had them shucked, blanched, kernels cut from the cob and in the freezer for a winter stash.

I bought this handy little tool last summer at a beautiful little kitchen store in downtown McMinnville, Oregon. It made quick work of removing kernels and freezing all that corn. It’s one of those kitchen gadgets that actually works.

This time of year the roasters are in full swing, and the aroma of peppers wafting through the air as you browse the market is purely intoxicating. 

Each year my trunk is loaded to the gills with a variety of Colorado Produce. 

Stick around and enjoy the slide show.

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Crab Cake Croquettes and Creamed Corn Appetizer

September 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Seafood, Vegetables | 26 Comments
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Next time I have a dinner party I’ll most certainly be serving up this great little appetizer idea.  Mini crab cakes floating on top of some sinfully delicious creamed corn. 

First of all, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Tony’s Flat chickens.  Several of you asked about the terminology and what made them “flat”.  Thanks to Chef Mick for responding with this explanation. “I didn’t give Lea Ann all the details, here goes…the chicken is properly butterflied – the backbone and sternum ‘keel bone’ are removed, leaving the two halves attached at the breast and allowing it to lay flat (aka spatchcocked) but we take it further, we also remove the breast and thigh bones for even quicker cooking and ease of eating. The bird is then packaged in a variety of marinades. It’s ideal for grilling or roasting in quick order. A lot of folks sear first to brown and slow down the cooking – this assures browning but makes burning less likely. I hope this gets all the questions…thanks for supporting local shop owners and cheers!”

On to the crab cakes and creamed corn. What you see pictured above is a larger variation of the mini crab cakes that Chef Mick Rosacci turned out in the video below.  He takes one full-sized crab cake, cuts it in into 6 pieces, forms them into croquettes, fries them and places them in little bowls nestled on the creamed corn.  Add a sprinkle of fresh diced tomato and green onion and it’s divine.  I had taken two bites of out of my dish and realized I had forgotten that part…so no photo with the color.  :-/

I let Tony’s do the work and bought pre-made crab cakes from their seafood counter.  I used a super sweet variety of Colorado grown corn from the Farmer’s Market for the corn recipe. It was out of this world. And with a  little kick from the cayenne…great recipe. Take a look:

Crab Croquettes and Creamed Corn

8 large ears Colorado Sweet Corn
1 cup half and half – separated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 tsp cayenne
white pepper and sea salt to taste

2-3 Tony’s prepared Crab Cakes – or crab cake recipe follows
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
butter, olive oil or a combination – for sautéing

Garnish: 1/2 bunch green onions, minced; one tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

Creamed Corn:
Cut kernels from corn. Using the back of a knife, scrape the cob to extract the milk and add to the corn. Divide corn into two batches. Puree two cups of the corn with 1/2 cup half and half. Melt butter in a saute pan, add pureed corn, remaining corn kernels, cream, remaining half and half, cayenne, and salt to taste. Simmer until thickened.

Crab Croquettes:
Reshape Tony’s Crab Cakes into 6-8 small croquettes or patties and roll in panko crumbs – or make crab cake recipe and shape into small croquettes, rolling in panko breadcrumbs. Saute in a heavy skillet with butter, olive oil or a combination – cooking until nicely browned on each side.

Separate creamed corn into 6-8 attractive bowls, topping each with a browned Crab Croquette. Garnish with chopped green onion and tomatoes.
Serve with a brisk, fruity to off-dry white wine. Also delicious with seared scallops, salmon, or halibut. – Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, http://www.TonysMarket.com

Crab Cake Recipe
2 slices dried bread, crusts removed
2 TBS milk
1 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS Parsley Flakes
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp Old Bay brand seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 pound fresh lump crab meat

Break bread into small pieces and moisten with milk. Add remaining ingredients and combine well.

Tony’s Crab Cakes And Homemade Creamed Corn

It’s What’s For Dinner (and my next dinner party appetizer)

Dark Chocolate Pasta

September 8, 2010 at 1:48 am | Posted in dessert | 45 Comments
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I just had to give it a try. Dark chocolate-flavored pasta. Flanked by fresh raspberries and fresh Colorado Western Slope Peaches. All sitting on top of drizzled dark chocolate sauce.

My favorite Denver-based pasta vendor, Pappardelle’s came out with this dark chocolate flavored pasta. Sounding so interesting, I couldn’t pass up a chance for a unique dish not to mention good blogging fodder.

Starting with my favorite big white pasta bowls, I drizzled some chocolate sauce in a manner to appear artsy. I obviously need some artsy practice. By the way, I thought about making my own chocolate sauce, but opted just to purchase some good quality bottled.

Cooking the pasta according to package directions, I then plated the dish. I must say the pasta had a wonderful and almost perfect chocolate flavor. And and you can’t go wrong with chocolate and fruit, but I must admit I think it was a little too sweet for my taste. Hubs thinks it would be good sprinkled with bacon bits.  I’m all over that and might give it another try.

I’d be interested to hear what you’d do with Dark Chocolate Pasta.

Dark Chocolate Pasta,

It’s What’s For Dessert.

Bacon and Egg Open-Faced Style Sandwich

September 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Posted in eggs, Sandwiches | 18 Comments
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After my last post and days of combining fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil piled on top toasted bread, hubs has put his foot down regarding the usage of the “B-word” around here which describes that dish. 

I’m not to use it anymore, say’s he’s heard it far too many times.  B this, B that, “look at this beautiful “B-style” sandwich, “we’re having a side of “B” tonight”, “Isn’t this “b” delicious”, “look how pretty and fresh the “b” looks”…I’ve even been banned from watching Giada because she says it all the time. Too funny. Now don’t get me wrong, he’ll eat it till the cows come home, he’s just annoyed with that word.

So with all that said I’d like to show you another (but not last) open-faced style sandwich which has been placed on a slab of toasted french bread.  🙂

Kathy over at Wives With Knives posted this sandwich a couple of weeks ago and I nearly dropped to my knees when I looked at her delicious photo. Plus, never would I have thought to finish this with a vinaigrette and parmesan. It was awesome. I like her idea of the frizzled style greens and will use those next time I make it, but I needed to use to my carton of mache for now. 

Even though the presentation wasn’t as dramatic and impressive with the mache, it was a delicious little meal. Not to mention that I really got my money’s worth out of that loaf of bread over the last few days.

Kathy has a wonderful blog.  The number of recipes I’ve bookmarked from her site is ridiculous. And with all of that fresh Oregon and Willamette Valley produce and products, I look forward to each and every one of her posts.

Head on over to Kathy’s blog to see a really great photo of this sandwich!  And don’t hesitate to give this “B-style” sandwich a try.

Now for a little fun. This photo showed up on my computer along side the bacon and egg  “B” when I downloaded off my camera. It took me days to figure out what it was. Take a guess. I’ll give you a hint, it’s a kitchen essential that I use every single day. I must have accidentally taken the photo when I was sitting the camera down.

Egg, Lettuce and Bacon “B”…

It’s What’s For Dinner.

Grilled Chicken and Cantaloupe Bruschetta

September 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Chicken, Sandwiches | 11 Comments

Tis the Season For Bruschetta…

We’re loving all the fresh tomatoes from the garden. I know it’s so last year to talk about Julie and Julia, but one of the best things I walked away with from that movie was the simple bruschetta recipe that Julie was preparing at the beginning of the film. A slice of toasted French bread, swiped with a clove of garlic and topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil. I’ve been serving it alongside everything for the past week.

So, wanting to be a good steward, I decided to embellish the bruschetta idea and use up some of those waning items loafing around in the fridge.

When my science project was complete and I announced that dinner was on the table, Hubs walked into the dining room and exclaimed “What the hell is it?!” Well here’s what the heck it was!  🙂

  • A thick slice French bread toasted and smeared with Boursin cheese
  • Topped with a flattened, seasoned and grilled chicken breast which was glazed with sweet chili sauce towards the end.
  • Slices of grilled Rocky Ford Cantaloupe (about an inch thick and grilled just until grill marks appeared on one side)
  • Assembled, then popped under the broiler to melt some fresh mozzarella cheese for a oozie topping.
  • An addition of  any type of greens.  This happens to be beautiful and slightly nutty flavored mache.

This little open-faced sandwich ended up to be really good. We love Boursin cheese, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with that. The addition of our deliciously sweet Rocky Ford Cantaloupe was a coup. And by the way, last Sunday at our Farmer’s Market I asked the grower why this was an exceptionally good year for our melons. He replied that lots of early heavy rain made for an impressive growing season here in Colorado.

I really love sweet chili sauce from the Asian isle. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. It added an additional sweet kick to the sandwich not to mention a pleasantly flavored heat to spice things up a bit.  And of course that curly elegant maiche turned a “leftovers” open-faced bruschetta style sandwich into an elegant “what the hell is it” presentation.  🙂

I had planned to add some chopped tomato, but just couldn’t find room.

Grilled Chicken and Cantaloupe Bruschetta,

It’s What’s For Dinner.

Ancho Chili Sauce for Pork Chops and Salmon

September 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Posted in pork, Vegetables | 21 Comments
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This was a great little meal with the star being this sweet and earthy ancho chili sauce.  A sauce that worked beautifully over both pork chops and grilled salmon.

First let’s talk about that relleno. An idea so simple that when I looked at the photo in Bon Appetit I said “why didn’t I think of that”? A poblano pepper stuffed with cheddar cheese smashed potatoes. Ridiculously simple and a great idea. 

Let’s get started.

For the poblano peppers: Grill or broil the peppers until charred. Place in a plastic bag for about ten minutes. Remove and peel the peppers.  Meanwhile boil some new little red potatoes until tender. Smash them with a drizzle of cream, salt and pepper and lots of grated cheddar cheese. Make a slit in the chilis and oh so gently stuff the peppers with the potatoes.

For the Ancho Chili Sauce: In a saucepan add 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 cup of chicken broth, 5 teaspoons of good quality ancho chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened and cooked down a bit to intensify flavor.  Slather over your grilled pork chops.

For the Pork Chops:  I have cooked up my fair share of dry chewy pork chops in my lifetime. Frustrating. I finally found that a thin cut center loin chop has been my “pork chops for dummies” savior. About two minutes per side on the grill and voila….a thin piece of meat full of juicy flavor. It’s a relief to no longer shy away from pork chop dishes.

For the corn on the cob:  In a casserole pan pour one can of coconut milk. Add salt and pepper and a good sprinkling of ancho chili powder. Add the fresh corn and marinate for at least six hours, turning once every hour to coat the corn. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

The ancho chili sauce turned out to be a delicious compliment for the pork chop. The cheddar cheese potato chili relleno was a natural combination of yumminess. I’m a purist when it comes to fresh corn on the cob. Even though this was delicious, I found myself wishing for the simple cob slathered in butter, salt and pepper.

We thought the leftover ancho sauce worked just as well the next evening over grilled salmon. Served along side bruschetta, a fresh vinaigrette drenched tossed salad and no-frills corn on the cob. 

Ancho Chili Sauce Over Grilled Meats…

It’s What’s For Dinner.

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