Pinterist Schmenterist: Semi-Home Made Budget BBQ Pork

Sometimes inspiration for dinner comes from a blog, but sometimes it comes from a great deal at the grocery store.  After teaching Zumba(R) in the Circuit, I headed over to a local discount grocery store for a few items.

It was set to snow here, and when one is living between two houses, one of them always gets the short end of the grocery stick.  See I spend some time at my fiance’s farm, and then the rest with my mother and pooch in the City.  Living between two houses is a very bi-polar thing, and I tend to find that there are less fresh foods and groceries at my mom’s house when I return from an extended stay at the Farm.  However, currently the farm is without heat — and I am a wuss.  So back to my mom’s house I go.

So I was picking up a few things that could have been missing from the house — a half-quart of milk, a box of store-brand cheerios, can of lima beans.  Just a few things I knew I could eat while on exile from the frozen-tundra that is the inside of the Farmhouse, but not too many since I hadn’t really had time to assess the fridge and pantry.  After picking up a frozen pizza for the family to eat that night (the fiance was going to come by as well), I went to scan the meat department.

This grocery store has a very basic meat selection.   They even have a 5 for $20 special, where families can pick up five different packs of meat ranging from hamburger meat to small packages of beef tips for a stew and chicken.  Again, this is a discount grocery store – and a much needed commodity in areas where people are living on fixed incomes and do not have the luxury of pricy meats.

I always check — no matter what grocery store I am in, the discount section.  And yes folks, there is one for meat too.  Now if you shop this section, be ready to either immediately freeze or cook whatever you buy.  There’s no waiting on those products.  They are STILL GOOD and SAFE for consumption, but the expiration/use by date is usually extremely close.

So in that lovely section I found a small pork roast for $2.50.  TWO -FIFTY!   Sold!

But then I got home and wondered — what in the world do I do with this.  Being the Southern Woman I am, BBQ immediately came to mind.

At first I was just going to dump the pork and some BBQ sauce in a slow cooker and call it a day, but then I began to think harder.  So here is my super simple method.

Ingredients:

  1. Piece of Pork — whatever size you like, whatever type you like
  2. 2 Onions
  3. 1 Can of Beer (whatever you have — really)
  4. 1 package of dry onion soup mix
  5. Seasoning of your choice
  6. BBQ Sauce of Your Choosing (we had a bottle of Budweiser Smoky BBQ Sauce in the cabinet that was close to expiring, so that’s what I used.  If you make your own, great — if you want to use a bottle, works too.  Add as much or as little as you like, to you and your families taste)
  • Peel onions, then cut them into rough quarters.  This does not have to be fancy, as you will be cooking them down.  Place them in the bottom of your crock pot as a bed for the pork.
  • Season the pork with whatever you like.  I used black pepper, garlic powder, and Creole Seasoning.  Pick your own favorites.
  • Place the pork on top of the onion bed, and then season the other side.
  • Pour one can of beer around the pork.
  • Mix in the dry onion soup mix with the beer.
  • Cover the crock pot and cook.  I cooked the pork/onions/beer mixture on HIGH for 1 hour, then on low for until done.  That’s just me — I want it falling apart (and this crock pot isn’t as hot as my one at the farm).
  • Check part-way through cooking and pull any bones out of your roast  (once your meat hits the point of falling apart)– if it was not boneless.  You can also shred up the meat at this time.
  • Once I was able to shred up the meat, and remove the bones, I took all of the pork and onions out of the pot and strained the juices out.  I poured out the juices and returned the pork to the pot.
  • I then added the bottle of BBQ sauce.  For my fiance, the Budweiser sauce was a little too tart — so we added in about four tablespoons of brown sugar to mellow it out.  Feel free to doctor up bottled sauce to you and your families liking.
  • Cook pork and sauce for about another hour on LOW until the flavors meld together.  Serve on toasted buns, or however you like.

NOTE:  I didn’t time this exactly.  I’ll be honest.  I left it on overnight, and then probably longer than one hour in the sauce.  That’s the awesome thing about crock pots.  You don’t HAVE to be percise.  As long as you get that meat to its proper doneness and temperature – after that you golden.  So once the meat is properly cooked, your continued cooking time is up to you.  I love that part of the flexibility of a crock pot over an oven.  I don’t burn it if I leave it a bit longer that necessary, I just want it cooked and tasty.

I don’t have any photos, because I honestly forgot to take some during the process.  However — I wanted to share this more for my friends who are afraid of cooking or experimenting.  I took a super cheap cut of meat, and turned it into a super simple meal.  I didn’t use a recipe, I just guessed — and if it hadn’t have turned out tasty I only wasted about $3 (meat + onions, everything else I had in the house).  So experiment  try new things, try twists on old things!  

What have you experimented with that has worked out well?  Or been a total fail?

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Pinterist Schmenterist: Shrimp and Cream Cheese Grits

So the Fiance and I were trying to figure out what to have for dinner, and he volunteered shrimp and grits.  Perfect!  We wanted something quick and easy, as we had spent a good part of the day outside target shooting on the farm.  Side note:  I have realized 9mm’s are not for me, I will SO stick with anything that shoots a .22!    

I had remembered this recipe from The Caramel Jar (recipe here) that I had recently pinned, and decided to make the grits like the recipe.  However, when we went to the grocery store — I never looked up the recipe.  I knew I had grits and a brick of cream cheese in my farm kitchen.  No need to look anything up…..well that was wrong.  As you can see if you click the recipe — it takes heavy cream, whole milk, and she used stone ground grits.   So what is a girl to do…find something comparable and swap! Not to mention that I’ve recently started Weight Watchers and I DO NOT want to know how much one serving of The Caramel Jar’s grits would be!   [Though I did happily find out that there are activity points to be had from my shooting outing.  I stand while I shoot (be it a handgun or my rifel), and I do try to move about a bit to get better at hitting the target!  Yay activity points!]

So I doctored a Tase of Home (recipe here) since I had most of those ingredients in our pantry or basement stockpile.  Here were our changes:

  1. I used four cups of just straight chicken broth (Kroger brand with 33% lower sodium).  I didn’t bother with the water + bouillon mix.  
  2. We had no chives, but we are a household that oddly had shallots of all things.  So I diced up a very small one, and tossed it into the warming broth before it boiled to make sure the pieces softened and fragranced the broth.
  3. I used quick grits and the world did not stop.  It’s what we had, so I went for it.  I threw the cup in after the chicken broth had began to boil.
  4. I used an entire package of cream cheese — which is 8 oz not three.  I don’t know where Tase of Home is finding three ounce packages of cream cheese, so I made an assumption they were incorrect.  It melted into the grits just fine, promise.
  5. I also added fresh ground pepper while folding in the cream cheese.  The recipe didn’t call for it, which I found odd.  I added ZERO salt by the way.
  6. We did NOT add the shrimp to the grits.  The Fiance lightly sautéed/warmed the pre-cooked (but still slightly frozen) tail-on shrimp in some butter (this is the South!  No judgement!  He was proud of himself because he’s from DC, and usually thinks Southerners use of butter its nuts.), minced shallots, and garlic.

So we ended up just scooping some of the thick and creamy grits into a bowl, and topping them with the shrimp and a spoon full or so of the softened garlic/shallots mix.  And the entire meal took about 20 minutes or so.

So this is what it turned into — a delicious melty mix of what virtually is a shrimp scampi (what I counted it in my points tracker as — that would be 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points for 6 Medium Shrimp (our shrimp were small, and small wasn’t an option, so I made a best guess) and creamy and cheesy grits (from the nutritional values given on the Taste of Home website that equals to 7 Weight Watchers Plus Points).

If you try it let me know what you think and what you changed (if anything!).

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Pinterest Sminterist: Mississippi Roast

So like most women I am addicted to the innovative web-board Pinterist (follow my boards here!), and since I am off from academia for a while I’ve decided to embrace my inner domestic diva and take care of my household!   In any “Pinterist Sminterist” post you will see me trying something I found on the site.  If I tweak it, I’ll let you know.  If I love it, you’ll know.  If it’s a #fail, you’ll know.

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When we returned from Christmas up north with the fiance’s family  (and my mom; but that is another post) I realized maybe I should have made that pledge a little later.   Yet for dinner to the internets I went.

Tonight’s Pinterist find: Mississippi Roast from A Perfectly Lovely Ordinary Day.

So this roast only takes a bit of beast, some ranch dressing dry mix, a packet of au jus dry mix, one stick of butter, and some pepperocini’s.  The fiance was totally up for it!

However, admittedly I changed the recipe a touch after reading the comments on the blogger’s page.  This was kind of a hodgepodge of various bits of advice from the other home cooks, and my own ideas:

  • (1) I 86-ed the butter, and used about 16 oz beer.
  • (2) I added an extra dry packet of mushroom gravy.
  • (3) I used more than five pepperocini peppers (about seven)
  • (4) I added two spoonfuls of minced garlic and one yellow onion cut up.
  • (4) I also cooked it on Low for about 7 hours, and then upped it to High for about 2.5 hours or so.

Also FYI:  For cost savings I used store-brand (Kroger here — no I’m not paid by them either) dry mixes (all three) and I procured my jar of pepperoni peppers from the Dollar Tree (again not paid by them).  A penny saved is a latte (or more funds to the wedding photographer) earned!

Verdict

Success! The future hubbs loved it and cleaned his plate, the pup enjoyed a few tasty pieces of beef, and I found it to be a great option for pot roast.  I personally didn’t find it too salty (a complaint on the blog) but that could be that instead of butter I used the beer.  I thought it was tender, and I did not use an overly expensive cut of beasty — just the least expensive roast I saw at the local Kroger.