Hello my darlings. This past weekend, I hosted my mother's birthday party. It was a small gathering of her closest of friends, and it went very well. Everyone in attendance was lovely, telling stories and laughing. Though I knew everyone, I spent an extended period of time talking to my mother's friend, Lorenza. I always knew I liked her, but now, I love her. She has such stories, and when I commented on a bracelet of hers that I loved, she told me that she made it, then took it off and gave it to me. In May, my friend Deb did the same thing. Took off her bracelet and gave it right to me. Wild, right? It seems that people like to take off their jewelry and give it to me. Pretty damn cool.
I set the party up outside, with string lights everywhere, and damask table cloths on the tables. I kept it simple and had fruit and cheese platters as appetizers, all of which I had the opportunity to sample at Whole Foods first. Dinner was a choice of empenadas or pulled pork, both of which were spectacular. The empenada recipe was from Krinky, and the pulled pork was from Deb. I know you don't know who they are, but you must know that they are both great in the kitchen.
I cannot say which was better. Both food options were amazing, and that is not me patting my own back, so much as it is me thanking them for their recipes (posted below). They are simple, simple, simple to make. You just have to give them a try. Let me know how you do with them.
1 lb. 85% ground beef (leaner will be too dry)
1 onion, chopped fine
2 T tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground cumin
1 c Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1 (15 oz.) box Pillsbury just unroll pie crust
Adjust oven rack to middle; heat to 450*. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (I didn't one, and it all stuck to the aluminum foil).
Cook beef and onion in large skillet over medium heat til just browned. Add tomato paste, garlic, cinnamon, and cumin, and cook til fragrant (about 30 seconds). Off the heat, stir in cheese and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Cut each dough round in quarters. Arrange 1/4 of filling on one side of each half, leaving 1/2" border around edges. Brush edges with water, fold over filling, crimp edges to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet. Pierce air holes in dough and bake til golden brown, about 15 - 20 minutes.
Deb's Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker Style)
1 can root beer
1 pork loin 3 - 4 lbs.
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (largest size)
1 onion, sliced into rings
Pour a can of root beer in your slow cooker with the pork loin. Cover and turn the slow cooker on low for 6 hours.
Turn off slow cooker, drain out root beer and fat from pork loin. It's yucky and doesn't smell good but don't worry. It will.
Cut apart your pork loin into about four pieces. Put back in slow cooker, and add the whole bottle of BBQ sauce (I like Jack Daniels brand). Ade 1/4 to 1/3 c Worcestershire to empty BBQ sauce bottle and shake it well, getting all the BBQ sauce off the sides (waste not, girls), and then pour it in with the pork. Add onion rings.
Let it cook another 2 hours on low and mix it around periodically.
Use two forks to pull the pork loin apart. Remove and discard any fat.
Let it cook another 30 - 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve on your favorite rolls.