Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

As I have said before, I like using the slow cooker at least once a week. It makes meal planning easy for me, and it so nice to come home to a meal that's basically done. I pinned this one awhile ago, and finally got around to making it a couple weeks ago.
Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

It was super easy: just mix the ingredients, pour over the meat, and turn on the cooker. Our current nighttime routine is for me to feed JJ when I get home, then we go for a family walk and some playtime after. Then Joe gives him a bath and when I am getting him in his pj's and feeding/reading him to sleep, Joe finishes up what needs to be done for dinner. In this case, he had to make the sauce and boil/mash the potatoes (I had them washed, peeled, cubed, and sitting in a bowl of water in the fridge the night before). On Sunday's I try to plan out/organize as much of the week as I can, it really helps keep me sane and not freaking out at 8pm about what to cook. This routine is sure to change soon - JJ is starting solids and we want to eat as a family, but for now we try to get in as much baby time as possible without trying to shove food down our throats.

Anyway, here are my (few) pics:

Meat in cooker

Mixing up sauce

Pour sauce over meat and set cooker! Super easy!

It's hard to make slow cooker food look appetizing, but I swear it was good.

The Verdict: It was tasty. I think I overdid it a little (is it supposed to look black?) but it was still pretty moist. Like I said, it was super easy and I usually have most of the ingredients so for those reasons alone it might make it into the crockpot rotation more.

Things to Consider: Since we are out of the house all day and the meal is usually cooked by mid afternoon, I think I should start cutting the cooking times back by 30 minutes. I mean it's sitting in the "keep warm" setting for hours so its still getting cooked, right? This might help the black appearance. Also, I would probably cut back on the cheese a little. But as I said above, it was good and will most likely be repeated.

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast
Ingredients:1 (2-3 pound) boneless pork roast
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup honey
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.

Remove meat to a serving platter; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Slice roast; serve with gravy (I also made mashed potatoes and the gravy was delicious on them!).

PS - I am looking for some spring/summer slow cooker recipes. I feel like most of what I put in there is a hearty, winter type meal (stew, pot roast, etc). Anyone have any lighter suggestions?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Embroidery Hoop Nursery Art

Hope everyone had a great Easter and Passover! We had a great weekend with our little bunny!

So I still haven't had a chance to catch up yet. Stay tuned for posts on this (delish!), this (pretty good), this (failure), this (pretty good), and more at some point in the future.

Today I am finally going to post on a project I started while still on maternity leave. I pinned this photo a long time ago - I thought it would be a cute way to add some color into our very chocolate and vanilla nursery:

So I set out to find some cream, blue, and brown fabrics and some embroidery hoops. Apparently, AC Moore and Michaels don't carry embroidery hoops (or not very many). When I went to Joann's Fabric, I looked around for some. All I could find were these plastic ones. Although they were colored (and some brightly), I thought I would just spray paint them and make them all white, so I picked up a bunch.

My laziness and lack of patience led to the failure of this idea. I just bought regular old spray paint and thought that would work. After one coat, I knew there was no way it was going to cover. Then, after the second coat, I knew there was no way it was going to stick. It was flaking off before I even got them in the house.
Paint chipping = Fail.

Clearly I should have bought the paint made to stick to plastic and/or primed them first. Oh well, on to Plan B: order some hoops online. Not only were they cheaper, they arrived in just a couple days!

Amazon ordered hoops

Fabric collection

So I started cutting the fabric and sticking it in the hoops.

Then I played around with placement:

Once I decided I liked which fabrics were in which sized hoop, I trimmed them up. They sort of look unfinished, and because of the fabric in the back, they wouldn't lay flat on the wall. So I trimmed as much as I could, then hot-glued the fabric to the frame - the instructions in the pin said to do this, I was just hoping to not have to so I could swap out the fabric or maybe use them again for something else.

Then they sat, in a pile, on JJ's dresser for weeks.

Finally I recruited Joe to help me hang them over the crib. I tried to replicate the layout I liked on the floor, but we sort of just started throwing them up there. I used super strong 3M Velcro hanging strips for the J's, and just regular picture hanging hooks for the hoops.

We took a step back and checked them out. Not loving the placement. We spaced them way too far apart (I hadn't looked at the pin in awhile), and I think I need some more. But, at least they are off the dresser and hung. And this nursery finally has something else hanging on the wall besides these counting cards. I have a couple spare small hoops, so I may venture out and hunt down a couple more fabrics.

"Finished" product

JJ's view from the crib

Side note, this little guy is my favorite:

I know it is a bit girly, but its special to me. I read a million blogs and websites while I was pregnant about what to bring to the hospital. I think it as on Ashley's that I read to buy a cute pillow case. Since so many pics are taken with you laying on it, its more fun to have something you like than just a plain white one back there. So while I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting for me to go into labor, I did a lot of shopping. I found these cute pillow cases from Walmart of all places, and fell in love. Blue and brown were our wedding colors, and I knew I would use these cases again. Of course I have only a couple pics with this pillow behind me, but you can see a little of it here, while we were getting JJ in his too-big bear suit on discharge day! 

Because we had a boy, I thought the blue would fit nice in his room. The cases actually came in a little pouch that was the same pattern, so I used the pouch for this hoop.

Anyway, there is my super long post on the nursery art that I am still not happy with. Once I get some more stuff on the walls and paint the closet doorknobs, I will do a full nursery post. Expect it sometime after JJ is in a real bed!

So what do you think? Any ideas on how to make it look a little better? Do you think I should paint the J's? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies

My apologizes for the lack of posts! Work has been crazy lately and it’s been tough finding the time to load my pictures. Anyway, let’s just dive back in! Recently I tried these Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies from Brandy’s Baking.

Brandy's Baking
I decided this would be a good time to try out this food processor my mom gave me for Christmas. So, I used it to chop of the Oreos.

I think it chopped up the Oreos too finely. Although, it would be perfect for the Oreo Truffles.

Then I whipped up the batter.

The dough then needs to chill in the fridge for 2-4 hours. Good thing I started to make these in the morning because I didn’t read the recipe ahead of time - rookie mistake!

Anyway, once the dough was chilled, I rolled it into balls and placed it on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Let cool, then enjoy!

The Verdict: These were delicious! I brought them to work the next day and people just loved them! I will say that they are very chocolately. They would taste great with milk (if I actually liked milk). The cookies with the bigger Oreo chunks in them were the best ones.

Things to note/consider: The dough was very sticky/tacky and a bit hard to work with. I used the whisk attachment and if I were to do it again, I would use the beater attachment with the flex edge.  

The only other thing I would change if I were to make these again, is that I wouldn’t use the food processor to crush up the Oreos. I would do it the regular old rolling pin & zip lock bag way. The Oreos were crushed up too fine and it lost the “crunch” factor of the cookies.  

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies
adapted from Brandy’s Baking

1 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies

  • Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy
  • Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.
  • Fold in chocolate chips and crushed Oreos.
  • Chill dough for 2-4 hours.
  • Roll into balls and place on baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
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