Smoked Pork Shoulder

My goodness, I certainly had no intention of taking THIS long of a hiatus from my blog. I hope all of you are doing well. I’ve certainly missed the creative outlet this blog afforded me. Shout out to my boss, who had NO idea I wrote a food blog, she came across it while googling, thanks Kim for the reminder that I needed to get back to writing!

Memorial Day weekend is a bit of a washout here in Southeastern PA. Temperatures in the 40’s and rain. I decided not to let that deter me from enjoying my time off from work and I always enjoy a “project” when I have the time. We bought a smoker about a year ago, after YEARS of me asking for one! The hubby wasn’t sure we would use it, let alone enjoy it, but I finally wore him down!

On Friday, I stopped by the local butcher for a pork shoulder. The ones they had in the case were HUGE, all of them were between 9-12 lbs. I asked for one of the smaller ones to be cut in half and they willingly obliged. I was the proud owner of a 4 1/2 lb bone in pork shoulder. I’ve been experimenting with different spice rubs and recipes for all of the proteins we’ve been cooking on the smoker and this weekend’s adventure was no different. I found this recipe and decided to try it out, including making the Signature Sweet Rub. On Friday afternoon, before starting dinner, I slathered the pork shoulder with yellow mustard and liberally sprinkled it with the rub. I put it on a cooling rack, set over a foil covered cooking sheet and let it hang out, uncovered, overnight.

Pork shoulder, seasoned, and ready for a nice long rest in the fridge overnight

In the morning, we started the smoker and added the pork shoulder. Ten hours later, we had delicious, lovely, tender, smokey meat! I shredded the pork, added a bit of BBQ sauce and we tucked in for dinner. I rounded out the meal with french fries and homemade coleslaw. YUM!

Every holiday meal needs a fabulous dessert and I HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK with a chocolate raspberry cheesecake, made with fresh raspberries. Sinfully delicious, creamy, luscious, and well…CHOCOLATE.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry…oh my!

I used this recipe and made minor adjustments, well, mainly because I can’t help myself! I used two 6 oz containers of raspberries in the cheesecake, then topped it with more fresh raspberries. I omitted the ganache because I was feeling lazy and instead of vanilla extract I used a combination of chocolate and raspberry extract because I had them and I thought they would be a nice addition. I HIGHLY recommend you make this cheesecake and I fully intend on trying more recipes from the Baker by Nature food blog (thank you Ashley!)

I hope you all have a lovely Summer Kick Off Weekend (aka – Memorial Day Weekend) and take some time remember the reason behind the holiday – the sacrifices of those who gave all for our freedom.

Turkey Rachel’s on the Grill

I had picked up a really, really good loaf of rye bread and I absolutely wasn’t going to let a single piece go to waste so I needed to find a dinner that used rye bread!

I asked the hubby if he wanted patty melts, but he said he was burgered out.  I asked if wanted breakfast for dinner and he shook his head.  I got to thinking, what other sandwiches could I make, preferably on the grill, because our weather has been H O T and I did not want to use the oven or stove.  Bingo!  Turkey Rachels!

turkey rachel

I ran to the grocery store, the only turkey breast they had in the meat case were thin cut pre sliced cutlets.  Not exactly what I was looking for, but beggars can’t be choosers and I was not interested in deli meat.

I didn’t have time to marinate the turkey, so I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, John was kind enough to grill them for me.

Next up, I made a quick batch of coleslaw and cooked off a half pound of bacon.  Yes, I know, bacon is not a traditional component of a rachel, but it is awesome and I wanted it.

I laid everything out on the counter and we assembled our sandwiches.  While assembly was happening, I put my cast iron griddle on the grill to preheat. (nobody tell my Mom I put my cast iron on the grill, it is a pet peeve of hers!)

1000 Island dressing, coleslaw, swiss cheese, grilled turkey, and BACON! The sandwiches were delicious and totally hit the spot on a hot summer night.   I kept it super simple with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers for me, chips and a side of slaw for the hubby.

Holy Cow, It’s JULY!?!

Goodness, I truly need this year to slow down, I cannot believe it is already July!  Work hasn’t slowed down AT ALL, and I haven’t gotten to a single summer project.  Heck, I haven’t made any canned goods yet.  I totally missed strawberries and if I don’t hurry up, blueberries will be done and I’ll miss them as well.

I’ve been working quite a few hours this summer, which is unusually.  We’ve had some folks leave and I am trying to fill in the gaps.

The good news is that at least I am still making dinners….not as often as I expected, but I am still making dinner!

I had thrown the leftover pizza dough from a while back in the freezer, I pulled it out, let it thaw in the fridge and made us a batch of garlic knots.

garlic knots

Garlic knots are DELICIOUS, buttery, garlicky, cheesy pillows of carbs…..what more could a girl ask for? As our main dish, I made a small batch of stuffed peppers, using the leftover hot italian sausage (which I froze as well) from our last pizza night.

It was super simple, the meat was already browned, I sauteed up a bit of shredded carrot and zucchini along with some diced onion and garlic.  I added some cooked white rice and stuffed the peppers.  I used the leftover pizza sauce, thinned with a bit of white wine as our sauce and cooked everything on the grill.

stuffed peppers

Easy clean up, we used up all of the pizza leftovers, and we had no leftovers from this meal. WIN/WIN!

Bone in Pork Chops

Our local butcher had bone in pork chops for sale this week and they looked awesome.  I have been craving BBQ cabbage and I knew it would make a great side dish for the pork.

bone in chop, beans, cabbage

The cabbage is super simple to make and tastes absolutely divine.  I got the recipe from my Momma years ago.  Simply shred a head of cabbage (or if you are pressed for time like me, use a bag of coleslaw mix from the store!), put it in a pan, season with salt and pepper, dot with butter and add a generous pour of heavy cream.  You want the cream to fill the bottom of the pan and be at least 1/4 of an inch high.  Cover the pan with foil, add it to the grill and cook for 25 minutes.  The cabbage gets so sweet and lovely.

I cheated some more and opened a can of baked beans and heated them up.  The hubby was thrilled, he loves baked beans.  I ate my pork chop and the cabbage and left the beans for him. Summer meals on the grill are so easy and we get to spend time outside enjoying the view!

Salmon and Veggies

It has been in the 90’s for days around here, which makes me incredibly happy.  The hubby isn’t a huge fan of the  heat and prefers to eat lighter dinners in the summer.  He is a huge fan of fish, me not so much, but I knew I could make a big batch of vegetables for me and we could both enjoy dinner.


I picked up a bunch of veggies – onions, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, bok choy, etc.  I diced it up, tossed it with some store bought Korean BBQ sauce and cooked it on the grill.  While that was cooking, I started a batch of rice pilaf and put the salmon on the grill to cook.

Dinner was super easy and clean up was a SNAP!  I filled my plate with yummy spicy veggies and a bit of rice.  The hubby was thrilled with the salmon.  It was a great summer meal that satisfied both of us, whoo hoo!

Pizza and Beer

The hubby requested pizza on the grill for dinner Friday night.  I made the dough on Friday morning and ran to the store for pizza toppings.  About twenty minutes before we were ready to start the grill, this awesome, fierce storm came rolling in.  High winds, lightening, driving rain, it was a thing of beauty.  It also meant, I had no interest in grilling.  It was still going on at 7:30pm, so I made the executive decision to order out.

Saturday afternoon we had a storm as well, but it was all over by 6pm so at 7pm, I put the pizza stone on the grill and turned it on.  While the stone got hot, I prepped the toppings and rolled out the dough.

John is a traditionalist – pepperoni with a TON of sauce.  I decided to force him to expand his horizons by tempting him with a bit of hot italian sausage.  He made the executive decision to have both on his pizza.

Beer and Pizza

At least he tried something new!  Of course, nothing goes better with pizza than beer, in the world according to John, so as you can see, he was a very happy camper!

I like to mix things up with my pizza, and use a LOT LESS sauce than the hubby.  Honestly, I don’t know how he is able to pick up slices of pizza with that amount of sauce.  Anyway, I went with some red onion, black olives, and yellow pepper on mine.  It was SO good.  I was very happy with the suggestion and even happier with the end result, good meal, eaten on the deck, could you ask for a better day?

Sausage Mushroom Risotto

It’s been raining a lot here….and I mean A LOT, sigh…

Anyway, I decided to forgo grilling in the rain, which turned to be a wise choice because we got a bit of hail with the storm

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Not gonna lie, they were tiny, but the winds were fierce and I think trying to keep the grill lit would have been a challenge.  Anyway, I figured I would try a recipe that I have been interested in for awhile.  Sausage Mushroom Risotto.  Trust me when I tell you, it is absolutely NOTHING to look at but my oh my, does it taste good.

Start by browning 8 oz of sliced mushrooms in a heavy cast iron skillet.  Remove the mushrooms and brown one pound of sweet italian sausage.  While that is cooking, saute a bit of onion in olive oil in a medium saucepan, before adding in your arborio rice, stirring to coat it with the fat.   Deglaze with a bit of white wine, let it cook out completely before adding in the mushrooms and sausage. Start ladling in the chicken stock, you’ll need about 5 cups of liquid for one cup of rice (dry measurement).  Once the rice is tender, add in a generous handful of parmesan cheese and serve.

saus mush risotto

It really was delicious, the flavors were amazing. I served it with some steamed broccoli and a nice crusty bread.

Summer Desserts

I’ve been on a bit of strawberry kick for our desserts lately. Mainly because they are in season!

First up, I made a strawberry rhubarb coffee cake, which was AMAZING.   I found the recipe in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks and I will certainly make this again.  Who doesn’t love coffee cake and the combination of sweet berries with tangy rhubarb, to die for, seriously.

straw rubarb coffee cake

Next up a simple delicious strawberry shortcake.  I made a batch of sweet biscuits, topped with some sanding sugar.  Once they were baked, I cut them in half, filled them with fresh whipped cream and berries that I tossed in a bit of sugar and cassis.  YUM!

straw shortcake

Last, but certainly not least, I made a sour cream pound cake and served that with sliced strawberries and blueberries.

There is something just so perfectly elegant about a pound cake.  It is so versatile, you can serve it alone, with fruit or chocolate sauce.  It is great the next morning toasted with a bit of butter and jam.  If you find yourself with leftover pound cake that is starting to go stale, use it to make french toast….decadent, yes, but oh so good…..


Pan Roasted Vegetables

I have been CRAVING vegetables lately, something about warmer weather has me looking forward to lighter dinners, filled with veggies.

roasted veg

I hit the produce aisle in the store and grabbed peppers, potatoes, bok choy, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and yellow squash.  I diced them, tossed them with a bit of olive oil and some homemade seasoned salt before placing them in a disposable pan to put on the grill.

I marinaded some chicken, that went on the grill as well and dinner was done in about 20 minutes.   Simple, easy, grilled dinners are our go to meals in the summer.  Pair that with eating outside on the deck and I am one happy girl!

chx and roasted veg

Welcome to summer….I’ve been patiently waiting all year!

Ribs on the Smoker

After trying our hand at chicken on the smoker, I convinced the hubby to branch out and try a slab of pork ribs!

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I picked up a slab of ribs and a pork rub from my butcher.  The day before, I generously seasoned the pork and left it in the fridge overnight.  The next day it was a matter of heating up the smoker, adding in the wood chips and smoking the meat.  Several directions suggested using a small spray bottle filled with vinegar on the ribs every 45 minutes and flipping the ribs every hour.  I did, and it worked perfectly!

About 30 minutes prior to dinner, we slathered on some BBQ sauce and let it cook.

I paired the ribs with a batch of red skinned dilled potato salad and a tossed salad on the side.  Dinner was awesome, the ribs were tender, we LOVED the potato salad and will DEFINITELY make it again.

dill potato salad

smoked ribs

I can’t wait to try my hand at smoked brisket next!