Appetizer Sliders Three Ways

With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.

Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.

It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.

Pork Slider

Blackberry Pulled Pork

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
  • Salt &  Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Slider Buns

Instructions:

  1. Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
  2. After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
  5. Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!

*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!

Buffalo Alternate

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 stalk celery finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Ranch Dressing to serve
  • Slider buns to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Sliders

  • 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
  • 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
  • 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
  • Slider Buns to serve

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions: 

  1. Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  3. Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
  4. In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
  5. Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
  6. Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Korean-Style Pizza

After my Korean-themed dish for the Olympics was a flop (and may have broken my pressure cooker?), I knew this pizza weekend was my opportunity for redemption! This recipe turned out really well, and made for some good leftovers later in the week.The bulgogi marinade is shamelessly stolen from Merideth’s Bulgogi Sub with Gochujang Mayonnaise.

Ingredients

Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly

Tomato Sauce

  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 2tbs soy sauce
  • 2tsp brown sugar
  • 2tbs mirin or rice wine

Toppings

  • 1 apple pear or ya pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 red and green bell pepper each, diced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1in ginger, grated

Instructions

Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly

  1. Marinate pork belly overnight, or for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Pat pork belly strips dry and score fat side with diagonal cuts. Lay fat side up on metal baking pan.
  4. Roast pork belly for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees. Cook for another hour, checking every 5 minutes after 45 minutes have passed.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool. Dice meat portion and set aside.

Pizza

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together tomato sauce ingredients and spread on prepared pizza crust. For our recipe, we made 4 smaller pizzas.
  3. Top pizza with pork belly and other toppings. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until edges of pizza crust is a golden brown.

Wine Pairing: I had my first taste of plum wine with this recipe! It’s sweetness was a great aperitif while I waited on the oven. For the rest of the meal, a fruity merlot helped balance the saltiness of the pork belly and marinade.

Pork, Apple & Brussels Sprout Hash

While Amanda and I both enjoy going all out for these posts, sometimes we just don’t have the time. We generally cook and skype to discuss our meals on the weekend so we have all day to putter around in the kitchen. Not this time. For this meal, we wanted to make something quick and seasonal that we might actually bother to make on a weeknight when we’re just trying to have a nutritous dinner after a long day. I’ve made this dish a few times on weeknights and it always satisfies. It’s also a great winter dish with apples and brussels sprouts being in season. Plus, if you cook the eggs directly in the pan instead of as topped with it as pictured, it ends up being a one pan meal. I don’t know about you, but on a weeknight I am all about less dishes (well, on all nights really).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded brussels sprouts
  • 2 small red potatoes, shredded or cubed to make about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 small or 1 large granny smith apple, shredded or diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 6 eggs
  • Dried Italian herbs if desired

Instructions:

  1. Place the cubed pork tenderloin in a medium-sized bowl and add a teaspoon of salt, teaspoon of pepper, the white wine, apple sauce, thyme, rosemary and and a sprinkle of any other italian herbs that strike your fancy. Toss to combine.
  2. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes or cover and marinate in the fridge up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil and add the pork. Cook until all sides are brown and meat is mostly cooked through.
  4. Transfer the pork from the skillet to a plate to await being added later.
  5. Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook until the shallot becomes translucent–about 3-4 minutes and be careful not to burn the garlic.
  6. Add the shredded potatoes and a pinch of salt, and cook for 3-4 minutes until they are starting to soften slightly. Then add your brussel sprouts and apple.
  7. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, then reincorporate your pork. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. At this point, you can serve as is or add an egg.
  8. To add eggs, you have two options: you can fry them up separately in another pan to your liking (I do this when I suspect I’ll have leftovers so I can top with a fresh egg later) or you can cook in the same pan. To do the second option, make 4-6 divets in the hash mixture and crack an egg in each hole. Cover with a lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the eggs have a white film over them and are no longer too jiggly.
  9. Scoop onto a plate and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Well, you have some of that white wine leftover right? No? A Chardonnay’s butteriness might be a nice match with the tartness of the apple flavor. 

Brussels 2 pic

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango Cilantro Sauce

Wanting to live vicariously through Amanda’s recent vacation to the sparkling shores of Miami, we decided to cook up our best tropical inspired meals to keep the vacation magic alive. I, being nowhere near a beach now or in the near future, was a big fan of this idea. While munching on something with these tropical flavors is undoubtedly more enjoyable while breathing in the fresh sea air and listening to waves crash in the background, I’ll take what I can get.

Since I’m currently and tragically landlocked, and any attempt at obtaining fresh, Caribbean fish seemed futile, I opted for pork. Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a cilantro kick and I knew I wanted those fresh, albeit divisive, flavors to be included. Fortunately, cilantro pairs wonderfully with mango and nothing screams tropical to me more than the bold and tart flavors of the mango. This slow roasted pork tenderloin topped with the coconut sauce was enough to give me the taste of the vacation I didn’t have, even if I couldn’t quite smell the ocean air.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Mango Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mango (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into fine pieces.
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced.
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola/vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. For the pork tenderloin, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and spread onto the pork tenderloin until all surfaces are covered.
  2. Place tenderloin in a roasting pan and roast in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 145°F. Allow to rest outside the oven for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  3. While the pork is roasting (probably about 20 minutes before done), prepare the sauce. In a small pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, salt and grapeseed oil. Stir until the onions are fragrant and semi-translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, mango, and the Serrano peppers. Allow this to simmer until reduced by at least 1/3 and thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice. Wait for the cilantro to wilt and then transfer mixture to a blender (once cooled slightly). Pulse until the mango chunks are smooth and the cilantro is well incorporated–about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can also use an immersion blender for this step if preferred.
  6. Transfer back to the stove to warm until the tenderloin is ready. Slice the rested pork tenderloin, and top with sauce. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: While I’ll admit, I actually decided to make rum runners instead for this dish to get the full beach bar experience from my couch, I would say that an aromatic white wine, such as a chenin blanc would work nicely.

 

Baby Back Ribs-Three Methods

Amanda and I have been friends for quite a while so it’s not too surprising when we’re in sync. This post was a happy accident since we had been discussing how we were culinarily going to enjoy the big game (as we often do–other people must think I’m so nosy when I ask what they plan to cook that long weekend/holiday/etc but I just want to go on a food journey with everyone!) and we had both independently decided on ribs!

I had recently received an electric pressure cooker over the holidays, which I am quite enjoying and I had heard that ribs were the real masterpiece to come out of one of those appliances. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect excuse to try these out.

Sadly, I also had to say goodbye to my trusty Immersion Circulator after it malfunctioned beyond repair, but I happily replaced it with a different brand and was anxious to try it out! I have so far stayed away from sharing any Sous Vide recipes on this blog, though it is the small appliance I use probably the most in my kitchen (yes, more than my rice cooker). Immersion Circulators are gaining popularity but they’re still very niche and aren’t quite making an appearance in everyone’s homes as say, a slow cooker. Thankfully, since Amanda was also feeling making some ribs in a more accessible way, we decided to utilize and share all three methods! Sadly, there are no pictures of the oven method at the moment because Amanda’s results were so delicious they disappeared before photographing but spoiler alert: you pretty much can’t go wrong here.

Ingredients:

  • One Rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs,
  • Salt & Pepper, and optionally any dry rub blend of your choice.
  • 1 8oz bottle of your favorite Barbeque sauce (having lived in Texas I’m partial to Stubbs, Franklin’s and Salt Lick brands).
  • 3/4 cup of beef broth or water (for the Pressure cooker method only)

Amanda’s Oven Method Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Season the ribs with salt/pepper/dry rub of choice and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake the ribs for one hour or until internal temperature reaches at least 190°F. Brush with sauce and serve.

Electric Pressure Cooker Method Instructions: 

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  1. Season the ribs with salt/pepper and any additional seasonings of your choice if desired. Portion the ribs in to 2-3 rib sections so they will fit in the cooker.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of your bottle of barbecue sauce along with 3/4 cup of liquid (water or broth) to the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add your rib portions to the pot by stacking them or lining the sides. Don’t worry if everything is not submerged.
  3. Close the lid of your pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  4. Once the pressure is released, open your pressure cooker and spoon some of the sauce in the bottom over all of the ribs (carefully!).
  5. Preheat your broiler to high. Remove the ribs from the cooker and place them onto a sheet pan.
  6. Brush the ribs with your bottled barbecue sauce and broil for 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Brush with additional sauce if desired and enjoy!

Instructions (Sous Vide Method)–This one takes a while so plan accordingly

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  1. Preheat a water bath with your immersion cooker to 145 degrees (62 C).
  2. Slice the ribs into manageable sections–about 2-3 rib portions.
  3. Season the ribs with salt, pepper.
  4. Place the ribs into sealable, airtight plastic bags (see step 4 on options for bags) that the ribs are not stacked on top of one another, but they can be next to each other. If you need multiple bags for this, go for it. Add about 1-2 tbsp of your favorite barbecue sauce to each bag with ribs inside.
  5. Seal the meat in the bags using one of two methods:
    1. You can use traditional zip top bags (I’d recommend a heavy duty, freezer type bag) and using water displacement. To do this, place the bag into the water bath with a small portion of the top unsealed and sink as the air escapes through the top. Try to get out as much air as you can and seal fully. Secure in the water bath with a clip to prevent floating.
    2. Use a vacuum food sealer system if you happen to have one. If you are fortunate to have a Sous Vide Cooker in your home, I cannot recommend a food sealer enough.Make sure you use the “wet” sealing option if you have it since there is sauce in the bag.
  6. Secure the ribs in the water bath and cook for 18-24 hours.
  7. Once timing is finished, remove from the bags, place on a sheet pan. Brush with additional sauce if desired and broil in the oven for about 2 minutes on each side. This is not completely necessary from a cooking standpoint, but does make for a yummy looking finished product.
  8. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Since the perfect complement can really depend on your sauce or rub preferences, you could  go as bold as a Zinfandel, but I think a nice, chilled Rosé would go great with any of your customizations. The lightness and tartness would pair well with those notes in the sauce, and it adds a summery, grill-out type of feel to your evening. Happy sipping!

Slow Cooker Blackberry Pork

So, as you can probably guess from the picture, this is from one of our Distance Dishes dates this fall. However, this recipe is a year-round favorite! I included it in my family’s cookbook compiled for our last family reunion. Adapted from a roasted pork recipe, I like this for the slow cooker – not only does it give me time for chores while it cooks (or, more realistically, a nap!).

Ingredients

  • 2lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 16oz jar seedless blackberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Season pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  2. Lay pork tenderloin in slow cooker and pour over jam, honey, and wine.
  3. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Wine Pairing: I had this pork with the same wine I used in the recipe, which was a Cabernet Sauvignon. The fuller flavor stands up to the slow cooking process and the pork!

Garlic Ginger Pork Chops with Sweet Chili Glaze

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus lately as I prepared to move away from the east coast (boo!). While I am terribly sad that I am no longer within driving distance of Amanda, I sure am happy we took advantage of the lessened distance for those few months. Now, the distance dishes title seems more appropriate than ever as it is the perfect way to keep in touch between our (hopefully) semi-annual run-cations.

I’m sure it goes without saying though, that moving is a complete pain. Aside from living without furniture as the moving company is in transit, cross country driving along skinny country roads with two furry babies in the car, and the unpacking all my junk(still makes me shudder), the inability to cook a yummy, home-cooked meal was very wearing. There were 10 days from when the movers hauled our things from our South Carolina home to when they arrived in our new destination and another day or so before the pots and pans were located in our vast supply of boxes. Still, spending a few long days of unpacking, the last thing I want to do is go big time grocery shopping. For this post, we wanted to do something that feels fancy, is extremely flavorful and doesn’t use too many crazy ingredients. So, these garlic ginger pork chops with a sweet chili glaze is my go to. Inspired by this recipe by Skinnytaste, I absolutely love this dish. They feel a bit fancy, and are very low maintenance. To make these pork chops, you will need:

Pork Chops:

  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops (or bone-in if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1tsp ground black pepper

Glaze*:

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

*The measurements/ratios of the glaze are fairly fluid and can be tuned to your palette. I prefer a spicier glaze so I may add a bit more sriracha. Usually I just eyeball this mixture. 

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix together the ingredients for the Sweet Chili Glaze in a small bowl and set aside as you prepare the pork chops.
  • Blend together ginger, garlic, salt and pepper together and rub the chops in the spice blend with even coverage. Don’t be shy about it.
  • Using a skillet or oven safe pan, brown the pork chops cooking about 5 minutes on each side.
  • Once the chops are nicely browned, I like to brush a bit of the glaze on eat chop before transferring to the oven, however you can save it all for the end if you’d like. regardless, transfer the pan to the oven and continue to cook the chops in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature of each chop reaches 140 degrees.
  • Brush the entirety of the glaze onto the pork chops dividing between the four of them, cover in foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: To pair with the deliciousness and complex flavors of the sweet chili sauce, I coupled this dish with a Casillero del Diablo Devils Collection white wine blend that had notes of pineapple and citrus to match with the tart notes of the sweet chili. I think this was my favorite pairing so far, so if you happen to see this wine in the store, I highly recommend these two together.