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Sunday dinner makes those dark winter Sundays a bit more bearable. Add in a delicious Navarra Tempranillo, fun people, and a silly dog, and Sunday becomes positively joyful. It’s a tradition I highly recommend starting.

principe de viana reserva tempranillo



mashed butternut squash


roasted vegetables


red wine gravy


Sunday dinner    

The menu:

Slow roasted pot roast, seared first with garlic and onions, then popped into the slow cooker with a 1/4 cup of red wine, two shots of espresso, black pepper, sea salt on low for six hours

Red wine gravy, made with liquid from the slow cooker and a nice brown roux

Roasted veggies – parsnips, potatoes, and carrots, slow roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper

Mashed butternut squash

Crusty baguette

Chocolate cake from South End Buttery

Príncipe de Viana Reserva 2011- One of the wines generously sent to me by Navarra Wine, this 100% Tempranillo was one I was waiting to share with some serious wine-loving friends. I knew a roast would pair really well with it, and Sunday dinner in itself is enough of an occasion to bring out the special wine, if you ask me!

Aged in oak barrels, with a deep garnet red color, this lovely wine had notes of cherry and smoky dark chocolate, full of flavor but balanced enough to not overpower our dinner. The menu went perfectly with it, from the umami flavors in the slow cooked roast to the earthiness and bit of spice in the roasted vegetables. The last few sips went to wash down dark chocolate cake, which only brought out the cherry characteristics of the wine. Really lovely.

In this fast-paced world we live in, there’s something so soothing about taking the day to prepare a meal and to share good wine with fun people. Slowing down on a Sunday is definitely one way of dealing with the Sunday scaries if, like me, they tend to dominate the day!


Thank you to Navarra Wines for sharing some of their delicious wines with me to pair with food and share reviews with all of you.

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Tags: Navarra, roast, slow cooker, Spanish wine, Sunday dinner, Tempranillo, wine, wine of navarra, Wine Wednesday

Because I can’t eat at Myers + Chang every night, though I really would if I could, I decided last weekend to make some sort of pork dumpling at home.  I have been enjoying the addition of more pork to my diet recently, and I love how well it goes with all sorts of flavors, from maple and apples, to tacos, to this delightful, Asian-inspired recipe.  I love pork in the slow cooker, especially when feeling under the weather, so on Sunday morning, I got this pork roast going.

pork roast

First I grated up a ton of fresh ginger, really an entire large root. I patted it on to the sides of the pork and placed it into my slow cooker. To that, I added a cup of rice vinegar, half cup soy sauce, a few tablespoons of sriracha and a few drops of sesame oil.


sesame oil

I let the pork, which was frozen to start, cook on high for a few hours until it was thawed and started to cook, then added a handful of chopped scallions. I  flipped it over so the flavors would get evenly distributed, and I let it go for another four hours on low while I made cupcakes.

green onion

When the pork was cooked through, I used a sharp knife and my trusty Oxo tongs to shred it. God I love tongs. I use them just about every day and have three sets. I find them much more helpful than a spatula when flipping grilled cheese and even omelets. The pork smelled great, the house was warm and cozy, and we had no appetites. The pork got put aside as we skipped dinner and went to our neighbor’s house for an outdoor fire. The next day we were stricken with the ugliest flu ever, so the poor pulled pork just sat and sat until we were able to eat again. I got a little worried that three days went by before we were able to eat it, but it was delicious. My original plan was to get Nasoya wontons and make little dumplings out of those. However, my unsuspecting husband was the one to do the shopping, and the kids at Shaw’s, well they led him in the wrong direction.

rice paper

He came home with this rice paper instead, but it worked out just fine. I happen to love the texture of these thin wraps, and I plan on making fresh rolls with the rest. With a quick soak in hot water, the rice paper wraps were ready to be filled. I made some with just pork and some with pork and shredded cabbage. To cook, I added the little dumplings to a pan of hot oil, tossed until hot, and served with soy sauce and sriracha. In my mind they looked much prettier, but I am generally happy with the way they came out. I love that these wraps can be filled with all sorts of ingredients and flavors to make a different meal each time. Fun party food! Or just a delish anytime meal.

pork dumpling

I do realize this photo is awful and way too bright. There is definitely something wrong with my camera; I can’t get it to take photos unless there is a ton of light, no matter what setting I use. Perhaps it’s more something wrong with the person using it? Likely. Winking smile

I am incredibly, extremely happy that it is Friday. Today I have an exciting meeting about the PR I am doing for a big upcoming event, followed by a focus group, a day of work, and an evening out. Tomorrow I am taking a road trip with friends to Portsmouth, NH. I’ve never been there! If you have any recommendations, please let us know.


What are you up to this weekend?

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Tags: dumplings, Food, pork, slow cooker

When I received an email about participating in the latest Kitchen PLAY event with Calphalon products, I was incredibly excited. It has been almost a year since I last participated in a Kitchen PLAY event, and I looked forward to getting a little creative in the kitchen. I soon found out that I would be receiving a Calphalon 4 Qt. Digital Slow Cooker, part of their new Kitchen Electrics line. My assigned course was appetizer, which threw me for a second. When I think of slow cooking, I often think of main courses like chili, soups, and slow cooked meat. While I waited for the slow cooker to arrive, I slowly pulled together an autumnal recipe that would be a great appetizer, Spicy Maple and Apple Pulled Pork Sliders, served on fresh corn muffins.

Calphalon Slow Cooker

When the slow cooker arrived, I opened it right away and instantly loved its modern stainless finish and the very easy digital display. I couldn’t wait to get cooking, and with the weather the way it has been, it was the perfect timing for a cozy meal.

calphalon slow cooker

First I assembled the ingredients for the slow cooking portion of this dish. If you have the time, you will want to get it started as early as possible, on low, so that it cooks all day long and just falls apart.


1 pork butt, fat on (You can remove it later in the cooking as I did, but the meat gets a lot of flavor and moisture from leaving it on!)

2 cups pickle juice, preferably from some zesty homemade pickles

1 cup white vinegar

4 tsp chili powder

4 tsp paprika

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

5 apples, cored and chopped

1/4 cup maple syrup

Grillo's Picklesimageimage

I mixed the chili powder, paprika, pumpkin pie spice, and crushed red pepper and set it aside so that I could get the pork situated in the slow cooker (Note, you have to take the string off. Winking smile Doing so made me think of the butcher on the Brady Bunch). It fit perfectly in the four quart space, not touching the sides but there also wasn’t so much room that I felt the need to fill it with liquid which I sometimes do after a little slow cooker burning incident. I poured the pickle juice (from a local pickle maker, Grillo’s) over the pork, following that with the white vinegar. Then I sprinkled about 1/4 of the spice mixture on the side of the pork that was not in the liquid.

slow cooker pork

I set the digital timer on the slow cooker to 7 hours and cooked the pork on low for the entire time. Every couple of hours, I went in, turned the pork, sprinkled the newly exposed top with spices, and let it do its thing. All of the spices can go in at once, if you are not home, but I liked how each time I did this, the top kind of got a spice crust, really sealing in flavors and moisture. And when the pork started to fall apart, I used tongs to pull off as much fat as I could. Fat’s good for cooking, but you definitely don’t want a ton of it in your pulled pork!

slow cooker pork

At around the 6th hour, I chopped my apples and placed them on top of the pulled pork, closed it up and walked away.


slow cooker pork

Because the apples have sugar in them, I didn’t want to cook them all day. An hour made them soft and imparted their sweetness on to the pork, but it wasn’t enough to burn them. The last step was to turn the slow cooker to warm and to mix in the maple syrup.

maple syrup

I left the pulled pork and apples in the slow cooker on warm while I made some homemade corn muffins. When we were ready to eat, I assembled little sliders of pork, apples, and cornbread. The flavors were all over the place, sweet from the apples, pie spice, and syrup, but nice and spicy from the chili powder and crushed red pepper. And the vinegar offered a nice tang, along with helping to make the meat super tender. These would make an awesome appetizer for a casual fall party, watching football, or a pot luck. I love making pot luck dishes in the slow cooker; it’s so easy to pick it up and bring it along, keeping everything nice and warm!

pulled pork

What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes? Do you ever make dishes other than main dishes in the slow cooker?


Calphalon Kitchen PLAY Calphalon is also sponsoring a wonderful giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win a Calphalon Kitchen Electrics prize valued at $100 (6 prizes total). The deadline is November 30, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!


Thanks so much to Calphalon and Kitchen PLAY for allowing me to participate in such a fun online event! I did receive the Calphalon slow cooker free of charge, but my opinions are my own.

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Tags: appetizer, apples, Calphalon, Kitchen Play, pork, sliders, slow cooker

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