Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy

I love my slow cooker!  My favorite slow cooker recipes are the easy peasy, drop ingredients in recipes.  I love coming home from a long day of work to a nice home cooked meal.  I was originally going to use pork chops for this recipe but had a pork shoulder roast sitting in the freezer.  I decided to change things up a bit with the roast.  It came out yummy!!  This recipe is a keeper!  

The gravy comes out on the thin side.  Add flour or cornstarch to thicken if you like.  Also don't be too heavy handed with the salt.  Remember that the gravy will evaporate and become more concentrated (thus increasing the salty factor).

I basically threw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and jetted off to work.  I think next time (if I have more time), I would salt and pepper the roast, flour it and brown all the sides before throwing it in the slow cooker.  I think browning always gives meats a nice depth of flavor.  Plus I think the flour will mix in with the gravy and thicken it up a little.  But I make no promises.  It was super easy just to toss everything in the slow cooker.  

Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Carrots, Potatoes and 
Mushroom Gravy
Serves: 8-12 (depending on size of roast)

4-5 lb pork roast (I used a shoulder roast with bones)
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of mushroom
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken
1 (1 oz) package dry onion soup mix
1 and 1/4 c. water
1 package pre-sliced mushroom (I told you I went the easy route)
baby carrots
4-5 red baby potatoes, cut into chunks

1) Add cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, water and dry onion soup mix to the slow cooker.  Combine well.  Add mushrooms and combine.  Lightly salt and pepper roast and add to slow cooker.  Turn to coat the pork roast with the gravy.  

2) Add carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8-10 hours.  

3) Once done cooking, remove roast and shred.  Place shredded pork on a serving plate.  Discard bones and excess fat.  Remove carrots and potatoes to a serving plate.  

4) You can either serve gravy as is (thin) or thicken with cornstarch or flour.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Hapa Ramen

Food carts are very much imbeded in the Portland culinary scene these days.  I've been craving ramen for some time now.  Some friends and I made a trek over to a small pod of food carts to try out Hapa Ramen.  

I had the miso ramen.  It was delicious!!  It's a little out of the way for me but I will travel for good ramen.  This bowl was definitely worth it!!

Hapa Ramen
A la Carts Food Pavilion
4926 SE Division Street
Protland, OR 97206

Harvest Monday: June 23 and June 30, 2014

I'm always so amazed at how quickly greens grow in the spring/summer garden.  I harvested some baby greens last week as well as a few sprigs of basil.  This is a late posting of those baby harvests.  

It's only been 2 weeks since I planted out these transplants, yet they've taken off.  I've already gotten a harvest out of these guys.  This week it's been Olympia Spinach and Outredgeous Red Romaine Lettuce.  The spinach will be great for my smoothie and the lettuce will provide salads for the week.

Happy Harvest!!

Linking up to Daphne's Harvest Monday at Daphne's Dandelions.  Be sure to visit her site to see what other gardens have been harvesting this week!

Last week's totals (7/23/14):
  - basil = 0.06 lb
  - lettuce = 0.21 lb

This week's totals (7/30/14):
  - spinach = 0.31 lb
  - lettuce = 0.72 lb

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yum Woon Sen (Thai Noodle Salad with Shrimp)

This is a very nice and refreshing Thai inspired noodle salad for hot summer days.  The shrimp adds a nice protein.  I left out the cilantro and mint the first time around but I can see where they would made a nice addition to this salad.  I really enjoyed this recipe!

Yum Woon Sen (Thai Noodle Salad with Shrimp)
Adapted from:
Serves: 2

4 oz. pre-soaked mung bean noodles (glass noodles or cellophane noodles)
8-12 medium-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. roasted cashew or peanuts, pounded or chopped

Dressing Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. warm water
1 Tbsp. lime juice, or to taste
1/2 Tbsp. chili garlic paste

1) Soak the dry noodles in warm water for about 10-15 minutes (until soft).  Drain noodles and set aside.  Boil some water and add in the noodles.  Cook according to the package instructions (a few minutes or until the noodles are just cooked but not mushy).  Drain the noodles.  

2) Boil the cleaned shrimp until they are completely cooked.  Remove from water and set aside.

3) Mix all the ingredients for the dressing well (making sure the sugar is completely dissolved).  Set aside.

4) In a large bowl, toss together the mung bean noodles, shrimp, shallots, tomatoes, cilantro and mint.  Pour the dressing over the noodle mixture and toss to blend well.  Add the roasted nuts and stir to combine.  Serve immediately at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Garden at Week #2

The weather's been nice and held up.  We've had some very nice days in the low to mid 70's.  I got a pretty late start on the vegetable garden this year.  However, I'm amazed at how quickly the garden has been filling out in just 2 short weeks.  These photos are actually at day #15.  

Here's the Dwarf Santa Rosa tree I planted about 5 years ago.  It's been well worth the wait as it has begun to produce plums.  Last year was the first year I got more than just a handful of fruit.  This year is looking like it'll also be a good plum producing year!!  I'm so excited! 

Here's a bed of Lacinato Kale.  During the summer I love making smoothies and juices.  Having a supply of fresh organic kale helps save so much money!

In two short weeks, the kale have produced more leaves and are looking very healthy.

The bed of golden beets are also looking happy and healthy.  I bought these as starters and planned on starting more from seed.  Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to planting the seeds yet.

Even in a container, the Delicata squash is holding it's own.

This bed of greens has filled in nicely.  Because it's uncovered, I've had to be vigilant about checking the leaves of the kale for cabbage moth eggs and the Swiss chard for leaf miner eggs.  They're both annoying pests for the spring/summer greens.  

This variety of spinach is Olympia.  They're looking nice and happy.

These are beautiful Outredgeous Romaine Lettuce leaves.  

This is my favorite variety of Swiss chard.  It's called Bright Lights and they live up to it's name.  I love the colorful stems.  They usually come in white, bright yellow, pink and red.  I love the splash of color they bring against the greens.

These are large storage tubs that I use to plant tomatoes.  These usually hold cherry tomato plants.  This year I decided to scale down to just two cherry tomato plants instead of the three I usually have.  It seems they produce too much tomatoes for me to keep up with.  I bought colorful tomato cages to add some fun color to the garden.

One of the two cherry tomato plants is a Sweet 100 this year.

I planted an indeterminate tomato in between the two cherry tomatoes this year.  This is a Green Zebra tomato plant.  It's a staple in my garden every year.  I just love the green fruit with the bright yellow shoulders that it produces.  It makes tomatoes fun!  With it, I planted Thai basil that seems to be doing well.

My second cherry tomato pick for this season is Sun Gold.  This is another must in the garden each season.  I love the color (yellow) and how sweet these bite sized tomatoes are.  They're like garden candy!

The Ichiban eggplant are already producing flowers.

The green beans are slowly coming along.

The Tasty Green cucumbers are getting taller and taller.  They're almost ready to climb.

I'm not sure why, but both the Lemon Cucumber bunches I planted look like they're not doing as well.  The smaller leaves seem to be yellowing.  They're also not growing as tall as the other cucumbers yet.  I hope they survive as I love the round Lemon cukes.

These Tsuyataro cucumbers are new for me this season.  They're doing well and growing taller.

Here's the borage plant.  I've never grown it before.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it blooms.  I hear it's a bee favorite.  Lets hope so!

These are the main season tomatoes.  This one is the Japanese Black Trifle.  It's new for me this season.  With it is growing Lemon basil.  

I'm excited as this plant already has a few fruits formed!

The dill in the background was a volunteer plant.  As you can see, it's already super tall!  The Roma tomato in front of it looks so dwarfed.  

On closer inspection, the Roma plant is actually pretty large.

The Roma also has a few fruit that have set already.  This is the only determinant tomato variety that I'm growing this year.

This is a paste variety called San Marzano.  It's making friends with the Sweet Basil.  

The two tomatillo plants have done well.  It's recommended to plant two together to increase the chance of pollination.  I've had problems in the past with earwigs as a pest to the tomatillos.

This is the volunteer tomato plant.  It's a potato leaf variety.  I think it maybe an Organic Brandywine.  I guess we'll see later this summer!  I love garden surprises!

These are the pepper plants.  They've been enjoying their new home.

The Shishito Peppers are starting to flower.

The Little Bell Peppers are also starting to flower.  

I planted up this planter with nasturiums.  This variety is called Whirlybird.  I also added more nasturiums planted from seed.  

I've never had good luck with zucchini in my garden.  I've always tried to plant them in the ground and with the clay soil, it has never been very good.  This year I finally decided to use a pot.  It seems so far, the zucchini loves the pot method!

I love when dill flowers!

A shot of the hanging basket.  The hummingbirds seems to appreciate the Million Bells too.  I love the happy colors!

Thanks for stopping for a peek of my summer garden as it is slowly coming along.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice 2014

Summer solstice is the longest day of the year.  We lucked out and it was also a beautiful day in Oregon.  As I was sitting on the back deck enjoying this fine evening I was greeted by one of the hummingbirds that frequent my feeders.  This feeder is located off the back deck.  He was a little upset that I was sitting out next to "his" feeder.

He zoomed in for a closer look as I snapped this photo.

The feeder was already in the shade so I apologize for these dark photos.  You can kind of make out the hummingbird's silhouette as he zooms in to give me the hairy eyeball.  

He finally decided I was harmless as he settled in for a drink.

They're such beautiful and entertaining creatures.  Happy Summer Solstice!!

Salad Bowl Trim

I planted this lettuce bowl a few weeks ago.  It's filled with Romaine lettuce and pretty leaf lettuce.  It's been loving the overcast days we've had.  It was due for a trim.  

I did the cut and come again method.  I trimmed the individual leaves (leaving about 1 inch on the plant).  I was able to harvest about a large colander of leaves for yummy salads.