Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions

Have you ever noticed that there are times in your life when you are staring down a pork loin (or a “beefy” 5 1/2 pound half pork loin) and your slow cooker, and you simply cannot stick it in there with a little salt and pepper, some onion, carrots, and potatoes, and call it a fix-it-and-forget-it day?

And, at the same time, been on an Asian (especially Chinese-ish) food craving binge?

No?

Me neither.

Whistles oh-so-innocently.

Today found me in such a predicament.  I wanted to squeal over aromatic slow cooker pork with an Asian zing that didn’t taste completely processed.  Get it, squeal, pork?

I also wanted to challenge myself to use a Chinese hot mustard packet Josh picked up when he got Chinese a week or so ago.  Did I mention that this Chinese food craving binge has been going on for over a month?

At the same time, I felt the need to use up the remainder of green onions I purchased at Aldi yesterday.  I only needed two for Tuesday’s menu, and that left 10 or 12 more that would languish and eventually become oozy goo (trust me; it is not pretty!) in the fridge until is tossed after a week or so.

The solution?

Something I will only call “Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions.”

What do you do?

Wash out your new trusty slow cooker (or your old trusty).  Peel, cut in half long-ways, and slice into rings the quantity of one onion.  Separate the rings and scatter in the bottom of said slow cooker.

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Trim, clean, and chop 10-15 green onions into 2-inch lengths (greens and whites).

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Do you call them green onions, spring onions, or scallions?  To me, they are always green onions.  Scatter said green onions over the onion rings in the slow cooker.

Mix together the yummy paste ingredients with a plastic fork.

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Go all slasher flick on the pork loin, gouging it repeatedly with your sharpest knife.

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It’s very stress relieving and anger managing to do so.

With a pastry brush (or a barbecue brush), slather paste on the fatty side of the loin, making sure to fill the gouge-wounds with paste.  Place the loin fatty-side-down in the slow cooker atop the onions.  Pour the remaining paste over the pork loin, using the brush to smooth and spread the paste evenly.

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Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with rice and a veg.

The verdict?

It was so aromatically awesomesauce.  And, yes, that is the technical description.

Asian-Paste Pork Loin With Two Onions

Source:  My Brain

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(It tastes so much better than it looks!)

half pork loin (mine was 5.5 pounds, but it can definitely be smaller)

1 onion, cut from pole-to-pole and sliced into half rings

10-15 green onions, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch lengths

1 cup brown sugar

sprinkle of cayenne or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake

2-3 tablespoons ground ginger

twenty grinds of freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

one lone packet of Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

soy sauce to thin the mixture to a paste

Scatter first the white onion, then the green onions, on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Perforate the pork loin in several places with either a skewer or a sharp knife.  Mix paste ingredients (stirring together dry ingredients first before adding the mustard packet and then the vinegar).  Thin paste to thick pancake batter consistency with soy sauce.

Using a silicone brush, brush the paste on the side of the pork loin (the fatty side).  Place the pork loin, fatty side down, in the slow cooker.  Pour and spread the remaining paste over the top of the pork loin.

Cook on low for six hours.  Serve with rice and appropriate veg.

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The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Eleventh Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the eleventh day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A printable recipe for red nectar so sweet!

Click on the image above to access the recipe!

Click on the image above to access the printable labels.

This recipe for red nectar syrup (that originates in New Orleans) can be mixed with club soda to make a neat soda pop or poured over shaved ice to make a nifty snow cone.  Either prep it in either incarnation to serve at a Christmas party or bottle the syrup with the printable tag and give as a hostess gift at a Christmas party (or a neighbor gift).  Your sweet gesture will be much appreciated!

Here are some recipes you can use to add to your syrup.

The twelfth day of Christmas brings an end so apropos…you will love the gift of tomorrow though!

What is your favorite neighbor gift to give?

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Tenth Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the tenth day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A cover for a binder to hold all your recipes!

Click on the image below to access the PDF located in GoogleDocs.

These are some of the recipes that are essential to the merriment of the season in LFam Land.  I always start early with these recipes (mid-October) in order to make them by the end of December rush.  Many of these make up part of the Christmas gifts that we create each year.  Included with the printable is a tag to label your goody plate, basket, bag, or egg carton (long story best saved for December).  Just remember to click the image below to access the tags.

I hope you enjoy day eleven’s present…a recipe for a delicacy from the City of Crescent (and it’s red…just in time for the holiday season).

What is your favorite Christmas goodie?

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July: On the Second Day of Christmas in July…

The Twelve Days of Christmas in July Graphic

On the second day of Christmas in July, Muffin’s Mama gave to thee…

A cream cheese mint recipe to make the breath so sweet!

If you click the image above, that will take you to a GoogleDoc PDF full page recipe card with the recipe included.  Enjoy, my lovelies!  My oldest nephew makes a version of these and they are always melt-in-your-mouth delish!  If you click on the image below, it will take you to the PDF file of a nifty tag to add.

Tomorrow’s gift will make your house shiny and new…even though I’ve already posted a few.

What is your favorite flavor at Christmas?

Cent Saving Saturday: The Canadian Edition and a Cranberry Punch Recipe

Cent Saving Saturday

Today we are in Canada, so we will be missing the U.S. sales on this sales cycle.  My mother-in-law receives the sales flyers for the week on Thursdays (With the exception of Fresh Co., all of the sales start on Friday and run through Thursday.  Fresh Co.’s sales cycle is Thursday through Wednesday).  So, in honor of Canada Day on Tuesday (and in honor of the fact that my mother-in-law’s town is having their big Canada Day celebration today), I bring you Cent Saving Saturday, Callander/North Bay, Ontario-style.  (I noted the items that were my cost point down there or below.)  All items are in Canadian currency, and several use the metric measurement system.  For the benefit of my readers below the border, I am going to try to translate into customary units as well (except for those that seem to be universal, such as 2 L sodas).

Fresh Co.

Tostitos tortilla chips $2

Tostitos salsa or salsa con queso $2

Seedless Watermelon (9-11 pound average) $3 each

Dempster’s Whole Grains or Garden Vegetable Bread $2

Ocean Spray Cocktail $2 (64 ounce size)

Minute Maid orange juice (frozen concentrate) $1

Hunt’s Snack Pack puddings, 4 count $1

Del Monte canned fruit $1

Cavendish frozen french fries $1/bag

8 ounce package Ontario White Mushrooms $1

Ontario Romaine Lettuce $1/head

Pom 100% pomegranate juice 236 mL (8 ounces) $1

Anjou pears $1/pound

Laughing Cow cheese $2

4 pound case Ontario tomatoes on the vine $3

Target (formerly Zeller’s)

50% off all pools, water toys, and swim accessories

select Minute Maid frozen juice concentrates 2/$1

Giant Tiger

Maple Lodge chicken wieners $1

Catelli pasta sauce, 700 mL (24 ounces) $1

Minute Maid orange juice, 1.75 L (59 ounces) $2

Walmart

Minute Maid, Five Alive, and Fruitopia juice cartons 1.75 L (59 ounces) 94 cents

Neilson 1% chocolate milk carton, 1 L 94 cents

Blueberries, 2 pounds, $4.94

Gala apples, 3 pound bag, $2.94

Wholly Guacamole $1.94

Maple Leaf hot dogs 94 cents

English cucumbers 77 cents each (I paid well over a dollar for some the other day in Louisiana)

Grape tomatoes, 10 ounces, 94 cents

Great Value potato chips $1.24

Great Value candy/chocolate bags 94 cents

Food Basics

Nestle Pure Life water, 24 pack bottles, $1.88

Blueberries,pint, 3/$5

Coca Cola/Pepsi 12 pk. 355 mL (12 ounces) $4.77 (This seems to be the lowest price city-wide because it is cheaper than the 3/$10 most places are offering.)

Ragu pasta sauce 99 cents

Selection bacon 500 grams (1 pound package) $3.99

Independent

President’s Choice potato chips (including the poutine flavor) 3/$5

Foodland (I will be trying out and publishing recipes from their new circular shortly, including one my mother-in-law tried yesterday at the cookout)

Whole or sliced mini Bella mushrooms $1.99

Shopper’s Drug Mart (For people south of the border, think CVS)

Coca Cola or Pepsi 6 pack 710 mL bottles (24 ounces each) 2/$5 (Saturday and Sunday only)

No Frills (My personal fave…home of the No Name brand as a store brand–possibly the cheapest store brand product I know)

Cherries $1.88/pound

Top sirloin steak $3.88/pound

Coca Cola/Pepsi soft drinks 2 L 3/$2.88 (less than 99 cents a bottle)

Farmer’s Market mini cucumbers (pickling), 8 pack, $1.88

Dole Classic iceberg or cole slaw salads 88 cents

Old Mill bagel or Wonder+ English Muffins, 6 count 2/$2.88

No Name chicken broth 900 mL carton (30 ounces) 88 cents

President’s Choice 2 L frozen yogurt $2.88

Post Cereal 340-550 grams (12-19 ounces) $1.88

Fruitopia, Five Alive, and Nestea cartons 1.75 L 88 cents (Yes, it’s cheaper than Walmart.  Take those flyers and price match!)

*I did look at the Kroger and Albertson’s sales papers for the week online, but most of these put their prices to shame!

As promised, here is a recipe (from the Foodland recipe booklet) that has only 2 real ingredients, both of which are on sale this week.  My mother-in-law made this recipe last night for a cookout she hosted; she made one batch and realized that she probably could have doubled it.  A single of the recipe makes roughly one gallon/4 liters.  Ocean Spray cranberry juice is on sale at Fresh Co. for $2, and No Frills has 2 L soft drinks on sale for 3/$2.88.  The upshot is that this can be made for less than the equivalent amount of gasoline to fuel your vehicle (whether you are in Canada or the U.S.).

Cranberry Punch

64 ounce bottle Cranberry Cocktail or 100% Juice Blend Cranberry (My mother-in-law used the Cran-Raspberry blend which made it fabulous!)

2 L bottle club soda, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda (My mother-in-law used lemon-lime soda)

mixed fruit and/or herbs (My mother-in-law sliced up an orange and floated it in the mixture which flavored it nicely)

Chill both bottles thoroughly.  Soak fruit in the juice prior to making the punch.  Add the soda/pop just before serving as well as any herbs, if desired.  Ice may also be added to the pitcher/serving apparatus when the soda/pop is added.

page01By the way, this recipe was extremely Muffin Approved.  And everyone else approved.

What is your favorite punch to make?

 

Recipe Remix: 2-Minute SAVORY Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug

After the success with 2-Minute Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug, I realized that I should try a savory variety.  It happened yesterday morning.  I had made a sweet version with maple syrup and dried cranberries that was a bit too sweet.  I decided, since we were having brinner for supper last night, that I would make a savory version from some of the leftovers and ingredients that we were getting out anyway.

So, I scoured my Mother’s Day special magazines, and kind of combined some of the breakfast casseroles.

Into this lusciousness:

2-Minute Savory Frenchy Toasty Bread Pudding in a Mug

1 egg, beaten

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon mustard (your favorite variety–I used honey mustard, but I want to try Dijon the next time)

1/4 cup deli ham, shredded into thin ribbons or diced

1/4 cup cheese (grated or minced)–I minced up some sharp cheddar

1/4 cup veg, cooked (I didn’t use any, but I look forward to some sauteed onions and peppers next time)

1 teaspoon melted butter

1-2 teaspoons (total) dried herbs–I used chives and parsley (A tablespoon or so of fresh herbs would make it even better!)

cubed bread (torn by hand) (I used four slices of large sandwich bread), preferably “day old” or stale

salt and pepper, to taste (I used seasoned salt and freshly ground the black pepper)

1 teaspoon butter, melted

few splashes Tabasco

I fried my ham in a bit of leftover bacon grease for a few seconds–well, Josh did.

And shredded it to ribbons (think:  basil chiffonade)

And minced the cheese…and I do mean minced (the grater was in the dishwasher getting washed):

1.  In a small bowl, whisk mustard, egg, salt, pepper, herbs, and Tabasco until combined.  Add milk and whisk until fully combined.

2.  Toss with bread cubes in a separate bowl until all is eggy and herby.  (If those aren’t words, they should be)

3.  Use a pastry brush to grease the inside of a tall coffee cup with butter.

4.  Pack about 1/4 of mixture in the mug.  Sprinkle ham, cheese, and veg (if using) over the mixture (roughly 1/3 of “extras”).  Do not completely cover the bread layer.  Pack another fourth of the eggy bread in the mug.  Sprinkle with extras.  Repeat.

Pack the final layer in the mug, mounding the bread cubes a bit.  Sprinkle with remaining extras (I had a bit of cheese left).

(I covered mine with foil and refrigerated overnight)

5.  Cooking instructions (whether cooking immediately or from refrigerated):  Cook on HIGH in the microwave for two minutes.  Serve with ketchup, salsa, or au naturel (or however you want–It’s yummers!).

This actually makes two huge servings.  This recipe is actually Daisy…

and Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

The beauty of this recipe is how adaptable it is (as I listed the variations before).  Bacon, cream cheese, a variety of cheeses, veggies, meats, nuts, and other yumminess!  Different herbs, fresh herbs, spices…so much fun!

What would you choose?

Cent Saving Saturday: Making Homemade Cordials

Cent Saving Saturday

Now let me say from the very beginning that this is not Muffin Approved.  I am not the type of parent (Is any parent really the type of parent?) to advocate feeding my child homemade cordials, or any alcoholic beverages, for that matter.

But, if you cook with alcohol (baking, flambees, etc.) it is much cheaper to make liqueurs and cordials than to purchase them.  Also, they make great gifts for alky-minded friends.

The Pinteresting Blogosphere abounds with homemade cordial and liqueur recipes.  There are numerous tomes on them, as well.  I’ve had some success with the now out-of-print Classic Liqueurs by Cheryl Long and Heather Kibbey.  I’ve actually seen copies at garage sales and book sales throughout the years.  And our public library has it, as well.

Today’s recipe has been brewing in the back of my mind for some time.  I made it fairly sweet; I’ve only tasted the original in mixed drinks in the past, so I have no idea how sweet it is.  It’s one of the liqueurs that I consider to be “cost prohibitive,” like the Grand Marniers of the world.  I’m talking about St. Germain, or elderflower liqueur.  Mine came out a bit paler, but it may be because of what I started as a base.

Back when I was using my SodaStream with annoying frequency and so NOT in love with the sodamixes (except for the “naturals” which are more expensive per serving), I had purchased a bottle of elderflower juice concentrate from IKEA in Frisco, TX (outside of Frisco) which is very VERY tart when diluted to the suggested 1:6 with soda water.  Think just barely sweetened lemonade.  But with a lovely floral quality; don’t get me wrong.

The concentrate has sat, half used, in the door of my fridge mocking me.  Because, in the back of my mind, I knew what I wanted to do with it.  I wanted to try my hand at liqueur making again, with elderflower cordial.

With no recipe to go by.

Josh knows that usually means trouble.  Usually when I come up with a recipe for something, I pull the “Tyler’s Ultimate” approach of Tyler Florence fame.  I look at many available recipes, take the best parts, and mash them all up into one.

I couldn’t quite do that here.

And, usually, this means roughly a 60% failure rate.

Therefore, for months, the elderflower concentrate continued to mock me, every time I opened the fridge.  I comforted myself with the knowledge that I didn’t have enough vodka to make it anyway.  But, I owed my mom her major Christmas present (homemade Limoncello…which I will make…once I have enough lemons…I promise, Mom!), so I purchased the big “liter and a fifth” bottle at Albertson’s of vodka.  Their brand.  With the exception of homemade Grand Marnier, you want to use cheap hooch in liqueurs.  Some people recommend using diluted grain alcohol in cordial making; I don’t have the patience (or the chemistry degree) to figure that out.

(Both are probably reasons for my 60% failure rate)

The goal was to provide a liqueur of enough body to be roughly equal to others of that type.  The kind that when sloshed in a glass leaves resinous residue.  That meant making a syrup with the elderflower concentrate.  I figured on simple syrup proportions:  equal amounts concentrate to white granulated sugar.

I guesstimated (have I mentioned that this is my one and only attempt so far?) on half cup increments of each, half a cup of elderflower concentrate and half a cup of sugar.  Then, I decided to just say to heck with it and add roughly a quarter cup of water (after realizing the concentrate was already fairly resinous to begin with).

I cooked that over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the grains of sugar were no longer visible.

Then, I poured the mixture through a funnel into an empty wine bottle (something to collect if you plan on cordial making…especially screw top wine bottles).  I then filled the bottle halfway with vodka, capped it, shook it, and then topped it up with the vodka, capped it, and shook it, trying to disperse the syrup.

To test the viscosity, I poured a tablespoon or so into a wineglass (that I purchased today at garage sales for 25 cents each!) and swirled it around.  To my utter delight, there was the telltale resinous residue!  Result!  I then did something you should never never do:  I taste tested it.  Most liqueurs take some time to meld and blend (coffee liqueur is notorious for this…imagine coffee-flavored mouthwash…well…minus the mint flavor), so the vodka flavor is usually very pungent.  To tell you the truth, it wasn’t that bad.  There is already (hiccup!) some evidence of the complexity to come.  If St. Germain is anything close to this, I can understand why liquor outlets feel confident charging upwards of $30 a bottle (that’s for less than a liter, by the way).

The cost breakdown of mine is (considerably) less.  I used a fourth of a bottle of elderflower concentrate (so $1.13 for that), a half cup of sugar (pennies…but lets just say ten cents to be obstinate), a quarter cup of water (I’m not figuring out the cost of filtered tap for this amount, sorry), and roughly 15 ounces of store-brand vodka that I purchased for roughly $10 for 1.75 liters (roughly $2.54 worth, give or take a penny).  Ultimately, the grand total for the homemade version was $3.77.  One of the prices quoted for St. Germain online was $33.99.  The “homemade” version would save you $30+…nearly 90%.

That’s the kind of math I like.

I’m glad it worked so well the first time out of the gate because I could now be upset about wasting $3.77 of materials, especially that last 1/4 of the elderflower concentrate that I had such great plans for…someday.  Here’s an (admittedly not very effective) shot of the tablespoon of liqueur in one of my new wine glasses!

(The important part is that you can see the resinous residue on the side of the glass!)

Cheers!

You may see the printable of the recipe here.