Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes that inspire me.

Thai Holiday Appetizer – Larb”alicious”

As I think you have come to understand, I LOVE PORK!! As part of the NC Pork Council blogger network it was exciting to learn our December challenge was to create a holiday appetizer or side. The challenge was an open canvas to creativity as we could use any cut of pork, and create any appetizer/side we wanted.

I have an intense love affair with Thai food so decided I would navigate into the world of sweet, salty,sour and spicy for this challenge. Certain Thai foods resonate with me; Larb, Tom Yum, Penang Curry are just a few. I went the Larb route and consulted my friend and well known cookbook author, Nancie McDermott . She has travelled extensively in Thailand and written several cookbooks on the subject of Thai food. In the world of Thai foods this dish is called several things. From Nancie, I learnt you can find this Thai salad listed as larb, lahp or laab. The recipe below is from her Quick and Easy Thai cookbook, a must have for anyone interested in the cuisine.

In Nancie’s words, “The beloved Thai “salad” (can be) made with everything from pork, chicken and beef to catfish and roast duck.”

I turned this recipe into a fun and festive Holiday treat using lettuce cups and Asian soup spoons. It turned out lovely and I plan to make this again ASAP.

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Issahn-Style Minced Pork Salad with Crunchy Rice and Fresh Mint

lahp moo

For the lahp:
1 cup chicken stock or water
½ pound coarsely ground pork
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
½ teaspoon sugar
A handful of fresh mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots, or purple onion, or onion
2 heaping tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Small lettuce leaf cups, such as limestone lettuce, Boston, bibb,
or butter lettuce
Cucumber slices
Mint leaves

Quick and Easy Thai

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Crumble in the meat and coo, turning and pressing to break up larger chunks. Cook the meat evenly, 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. Scoop the meat into a medium bowl with about ¼ cup of the broth.

Add the roasted rice powder to the bowl along with the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and sugar. Use your hands or two large spoons to toss and mix everything together well. Tear the mint leaves in half, add to the bowl along with the shalots and green onions, and mix well. Mound the salad on a small, deep serving platter, juices and all, and garnish with the mint sprigs, lettuce leaves, and cucumber. Or scoop lahp into lettuce cups, arrange lettuce cups on a platter, and serve. Serve at room temperature.

*Roasted Rice Powder:

¼ cup raw long-grain rice

Toast the raw rice grains in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice turns a wheaty golden brown. Tip onto a plate. Grind to a coarse powder, using a small food processor, spice grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle. Use 1 tablespoon for this recipe and reserve the rest for another use.
Add roasted rice powder to the cooked meat along with the lime juice and seasonings, and toss well.

This recipe comes from Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
by Nancie McDermott . Published by Chronicle Books (2004); all rights reserved. You can find all her cookbooks at

NOTES: I altered this recipe based on other herbs and peppers I had in the house. I added a handful of cilantro and mint and used finely diced Thai chili’s. I did not use chicken stock, just fish sauce and a few tablespoons of water and drained the meat after cooking. This was simply because I knew the preparation for this particular appetizer would need little to no juices.

I would also have added a slicer of red pepper or red Thai chili to the top of each spoon for color but I did not have any.

After consulting with Nancie, she reassured me that if I didn’t have the time to make the Roasted Rice Powder, I could skip it. Thank you Nancie =)

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!



For the Love of Pork……Shoulders!

I love to cook with pork in many ways. As part of the NC Pork Council blogger network I was excited to learn our October challenge involved a pork shoulder. The beauty of the shoulder is it’s perfect  for a smoker, crock pot, dutch oven or braising pan.

I took the shoulder and rubbed it all over with the Memphis BBQ Rub from the Savory Spice Shop, in Lafayette Village, Raleigh. Once rubbed, I wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge over night.


Come morning, I took the pork out of the fridge and let it sit for 30 minutes while my husband got our Big Green Egg ready. We use both hickory and cherry wood chips for a sweet smoke finish. Any wood is good for smoking except mesquite. I  find it far to smoky with kind of burnt flavor, but that’s just my opinion =)

We aim to get the temperature on the egg up to 225 degrees then set the pork on the grill for 8-12 hours depending on the size of the shoulder. After we’re confident we’ve reached a temperature that will remain throughout the day, we walk away and don’t look back.


The little green cap you see on the ground sits on top of the egg and is what you use to help get the egg to the temperature you want. It has a small opening that you open and close to raise to raise or lower the temperature. It’s pretty nifty.

One of the great things about cooking a pork shoulder in a smoker, crock pot or braising pan, is the finished product translates in to multiple meals. Once shredded you can make tacos, pork sandwiches, pork plate, enchiladas and so much more. What would you make?


pulled pork

Happy Eating, oink oink! =)


Grilled Pork Chops

I love to grill, especially pork. So as part of the NC Pork Council blogger network I was excited to learn our August challenge involved the grill.

With bone-in pork chops in hand and armed with a bottle of Georgia Boys All Purpose BBQ Rub from the Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village in Raleigh, I went to work.



I  love a quick and simple meal and this proved easy. I rubbed the pork chops with the spice rub the morning I planned to grill them and let them sit in the fridge for the day. I pulled them out to sit on the counter about 30 minutes before grilling.

When it came time to grill I set my husband to work. He has his way of grilling meats that time and time again works like a charm. He gets the grill hot (medium to high heat), sears each side 4 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat, then wraps it in foil to rest and finish cooking through. Serve with your choice of sides.

Pork is such a versatile meat and grilling it using this method translated great to small pork tenderloins this past weekend. For a large tenderloin, a more low and slow method works best.

On this  particular occasion I had fresh cauliflower from my Papa Spuds CSA box. I broke it down to florets, steamed them until tender then tossed them in a pan with butter. We also had some leftover salad from a dinner the night before.

Voila! Dinner!


Happy Grilling and Eating

Oink Oink =)

Easy to Make Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

As part of the North Carolina Pork Council blogging network we’ve been asked to create various  meals utilizing pork. Each month is a different challenge. Last month we were asked to put together a pork entree in 30 minutes. I went with Pork Fried Rice, which has now become a family favorite.

This month we’ve moved on to bacon, and as we all know, EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BACON!! For this challenge I wanted to share the perfect party pleaser, Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos. I’ve used this recipe from Inspired Taste for a few years now but tweaked it here and there to suit our taste buds.

jalapeno poppers

It’s really simple. Decide if you want to grill them or use the oven. grab your cream cheese, bacon and flavorings of choice. I stuck with the chives from the original recipe and added minced garlic. This recipe also doubles and triples up easily if you have a large crowd.


I also like spicy food, so I do keep some of the pepper seeds and mix them in with the cream cheese. This is optional depending on how spicy you want them.

Jalapeno scraped jalapeno membrane

With Father’s Day TODAY,Fourth of July right around the corner, and BBQ season in full swing, these are perfect for a crowd.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers


6 jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded

4 oz cream cheese, softened (this can be done in the microwave for 20 seconds or let the cream cheese sit on the counter for 30 minutes)

2 Tablespoons chives, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 slices BACON, cut in half

24 wooden toothpicks

1 sandwich bag


To prevent toothpicks from burning, place them in water for 30 minutes before using

Slice each pepper in half lengthwise and remove seeds and white membrane (The majority of the heat in peppers comes from the seeds and membrane).

In a small bowl add the cream cheese, chives and garlic and mix together.

Now to fill each pepper with the cream cheese mixture. Here you can do one of two things. Either use a spoon to fill each pepper, or place the cream cheese mixture in the sandwich bag, snip off a corner of the bag and pipe the mixture into each pepper.

Wrap each pepper with a slice of bacon being sure to wrap it from tip to tip and secure each end with a toothpick.

To Bake:

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parch,end paper

Arrange stuffed peppers on the baking sheet, filling side up

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and paper is tender

To Grill:

Heat grill to medium – high heat.

Arrange your peppers on a grill  basket, slotted grilling pan or aluminum foil directly on the grill. You don’t want your peppers to fall through the grates.

Arrange stuffed and wrapped peppers, filling side up and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and the peppers are tender.

Occasionally peppers will char. If this happens, move them to a cooler section of the grill.

EAT EAT EAT, these babies will be devoured quickly, they are that good!

Happy Eating,


Quick and Easy Pork Fried Rice in 30 Minutes

I was recently asked to be a part of the North Carolina Pork Council blogging network to create various types of meals utilizing pork. Each month is a different challenge and last months was whipping together a pork entree in 30 minutes.

The NC Pork Council’s mission “is to promote and educate to ensure a socially responsible and profitable North Carolina pork industry” and as a lover of “The Other White Meat,” I was super excited to take on this challenge.

I found the easiest was to go about creating this meal was to look for products at the grocery store that would ensure I could meet the challenge. I used pre made packages of rice (really good actually and may be my new “go to”) and frozen veggies to cut down on the cooking time.



This recipe was adapted from Southern Living’s recipe website. Original Recipe can be found here.



1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into strips

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided

1 small bag, frozen veggie of choice, thawed

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups cooked long-grain white or jasmine rice, chilled
1/4 cup soy sauce


Total: 30 Minutes

1. Season pork with pepper. Cook pork in 1 1/2 tsp. hot sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes or until done. Remove pork from skillet.

2. Heat remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil in skillet; sauté  onion and garlic in hot oil 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender and garlic fragrant. Stir in green onions, and sauté 1 minute. Remove mixture from skillet. Wipe skillet clean.

3. Melt butter in skillet. Add eggs to skillet, and cook, without stirring, 1 minute or until eggs begin to set on bottom. Gently draw cooked edges away from sides of pan to form large pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds to 1 minute or until thickened and moist. (Do not overstir.) Add pork, veggies and rice  to skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in soy sauce. Serve immediately.

Note: Chilling rice will help keep it from clumping while stir-frying. Use leftover rice, or prepare 1 (8-oz.) pouch ready-to-serve jasmine rice according to package directions, and chill.

And Voila a delicious and healthy meal in 30 minutes!


Come see Whole Foods Market’s cheesemongers cut open an 85 pound wheel of cheese on 3/7!


Ever noticed those huge wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in the Whole Foods Market cheese department? Come see one of these 85-pound wheels get “cracked” in the cheese section on Saturday, March 7, at 3 p.m (Durham event is at 2pm) when the Whole Foods Market cheesemongers will simultaneously crack into more than 85-pound wheels of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano company wide.


These cheesemongers are true experts, and they love talking cheese, so join them in the annual “Crack Heard around the World.” This event will include tastings and pairings and is free to the public.

Love Parmesan Reggiano? Share your favorite use of it in the comments section for a chance to win a $50 Gift Certificate to Whole Foods Market.



· Parmigiano-Reggiano Party Mix
· Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto Toasts with Balsamic Glaze
· Chicken Noodle Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano Broth
· Kale Caesar Salad with Parmigiano-Reggiano
· Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisps with Chocolate and Sea Salt
· Parmigiano-Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard
· Roasted Kale Chips with Parmigiano-Reggiano



· Each year Whole Foods Market‘s cheese experts visit the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and select wheels from just four producers.
· Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano carries proof of its authenticity with an impressed rind and brand.
· Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is 85 pounds and requires special knives for cheesemongers to “crack” it open.
· Only cheese made in area specific area in Northern Italy — Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua – can bear the Parmigiano Reggiano name.
· Parmigiano Reggiano is the pride of an Italian food tradition dating back nine centuries.
· Every wheel at Whole Foods Market is aged 24 months (this is the best age in terms of flavor and texture; it cannot be called Parmigiano Reggiano until it is aged at least 12 months).
· Its flavor profile is toasted, salty and nutty with subtle crystal-like texture and a little goes a long way.

Don’t forget to comment below about your favorite use of this great cheese for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods Market. I personally love eating it when mixed with a good gooey cheese  in grilled cheese and scrambled eggs =)

Say Cheese!!


Johnsonville “Brat Crock” Recipe

logo The Super Bowl is not just about “The game” in our house. It’s about good friends and good food. My husbands three best friends (and others) arrive Saturday for our pre-game day party of food, drink and good times and then wake up (barely) Sunday morning to play their annual golf tournament, a ritual that has lasted close to 20 years. As the years have progressed, our Super Bowl pre-party has really become the “it” party. In the last few years most of our “boys” head directly home after golf and the hubs and I curl up on the couch to watch the game. This year however, the two of our three boys are staying in with us and I’m stoked (I love to cook for a crowd). We have leftovers from last night: Gaucamole, Bean Salad, Wings, and Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers. To top off the meat factor,  I am incorporating some delicious Johnsonville Brats. fiveEightyNine   Thanks to the kind folks at JohnsonvilleI am making their delicious indoor tailgate recipe for a Brat Crock.” This is easy to make and are the perfect grab and eat delight throughout the game. Few ingredients are needed, nor is it labor intensive. If you are out and about shopping today, consider this fast and fabulous recipe for your indoor tailgate. Johnsoville Brat Crock Hot Tub Johnsonville Brat Crock What You’ll Need: · 1 large slow cooker · 3-4 cans (12 ounces each) beer (depending on the size of your slow cooker) · 2 tablespoons butter · 1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced into rings · Johnsonville Brats What to Do: · Pour in the beer, add butter & onions first, then turn slow cooker on high · Heat a grill pan or heavy skillet to medium high and grill or sear the brats on all sides (Brats are fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160F) · Add your Johnsonville Brats to the slow cooker and heat until the brats are cooked Place through, about 2 hours · Reduce heat to low to keep the brats hot throughout the game · When folks are ready for seconds or thirds — or even when stragglers show up late –grab a Johnsonville Brat out of the “Brat Crock” and enjoy! Doesn’t get much easier does it! So grab a brat and enjoy the game. Happy Eating Johanna Disclaimer: I was given coupons to purchase my brats thanks to Johnsonville.