Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pulled Pork with Strawberry BBQ Sauce

I am always looking for reasons to use my super cool cast iron dutch oven...
and having about 9 more pounds of strawberries had me searching my recipes.

In my notebook of "Recipes to Try One Day", I remembered a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens:

I purposely froze diced strawberries to make this and fit it into our meal schedule!

With a 3.5 lb pork tenderloin, trim off the excess fat along the back.

Heat your oil in your dutch oven, and heavily salt and pepper your tenderloin on all sides.
Brown on all sides. 

Grab your essential ingredients for making BBQ sauce -
ketchup.  Heinz only please.
Apple Cider Vinegar.

Once your meat has been browned, it will look quite beautiful...

Add your ketchup, vinegar, garlic and strawberries...

Cover and let everything mingle for a couple of hours....


After several hours, the pork will have cooked through, tenderized and soaked up the flavors...

Amazingly delicious I tell you! 
Sorry for the lack of photo after everything was pulled and plated! 

The recipe follows!

(adapted from BHG)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBL cooking oil
4 cups strawberries, halved or quartered
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced


Trim fat from pork.
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.
In large Dutch oven over medium heat brown pork in hot oil on all sides.
Add half the strawberries, the ketchup, vinegar, and garlic.
Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 2 hours or until pork is tender.
Remove pork from Dutch oven; loosely cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes.

For strawberry BBQ sauce, skim fat from cooking liquid.
Return liquid to Dutch oven; bring to boiling.
Reduce heat.
Simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes or until reduced to about 2 cups.

Using two forks, shred pork; discard fat.
Stir 1 cup strawberry BBQ sauce into pork.
Stir remaining strawberries into BBQ sauce.

Serve pork on buns.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Strawberry Cake!

At a birthday party, I had a homemade Paula Deen Strawberry Cake.
But something about it wasn't "right". 
The cake was heavy. 
The icing was too rich.
The cake was still yummy, but not "I've died and gone to heaven!"

And I wanted to achieve that... 

I searched one of my go-to recipe sites -
This site is a collection of recipes from the makers of Southern Living, Cooking Light, Coastal Living and all the magazines that fall into similar categories.

The recipe for Fresh Strawberry Cake just felt like a winner! 
The strawberry content was high.
The cake only used 3 egg whites (not 4 whole eggs like the PD recipe and made it heart healthy and light!).
The icing was cool whip! 
All around it seemed perfect.

The cake certainly looked perfect.

I began with my yummy strawberries!

I pureed fresh strawberries (instead of using frozen strawberries).
I fully believe that this helped add to the yummy rich flavor of the cake.

I had a photo of the cake after it cooked, but I do not know what happened to them! 
(I am not at my own computer and will not have access for several weeks!)
Anywho, the cake looked amazing without the cool whip and berries!

I pureed strawberries and stirred in with the cool whip for the icing. 
Such a wonderful idea! 

The cake was moist and smooth.
The whipped topping added a hint of sweetness without overpowering the depth of the strawberries.
The almonds were the perfect compliment to the yummy goodness.
And with each bite, I really did feel as if I had died and gone to heaven. 

Trying this recipe, you will not be disappointed. 

Fresh Strawberry Cake
(adapted from


2 cups of fresh strawberries, pureed
1 package of white cake mix
1 (3 oz) package strawberry gelatin
1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
3-5 fresh strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons sliced natural almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°.
Puree the 2 cups of strawberries.  Set aside.
Combine cake mix and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed 30 seconds.
Add 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries; beat at medium speed 2 minutes.
Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
Pour into two 8" round cake pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 28 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center.
Cool completely in pan before removing.

Add 1/2 cup pureed strawberries to the thawed whipped topping.
Spread whipped topping over top of cake. Place 2nd round on top.  Spread whipped topping around entire cake.
Arrange sliced strawberries on whipped topping, overlapping slightly.
Sprinkle almonds over cake.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Strawberry Puree!

Fresh strawberries will keep longer if you:
1) Do not wash until you are ready to eat
2) Do not cut the strawberries until you are ready to use

Keep this in mind when you put them in the fridge!
I wanted to puree strawberries for a recipe (I will be posting later).

I am going to show you how to do it.
Rinse well, and cut off the green tops.

Separate according to 1 cup portions to give you an idea of what you are working with...
1 cup of whole strawberries is not the same as 1 cup pureed strawberries. 

I am thinking it was 1 1/5 cups of whole strawberries equates to 1 cup pureed.

Enlist the help of your children to help slice.
Children shouldn't use knives!

No worries, he is using a child safe butter knife!

Throw your strawberries in the blender and push the puree button.
The blender knows exactly what to do!

Once you have a liquid, you can use it as you please!
Recipes for baking! 
Pour over angel food cake or french toast!

I also wanted to freeze some puree for later.

I had already planned what I would be using it for later.
*MOST* recipes call for 1 1/5 cups puered strawberries.

My recipes called for 2 cups.
I  measured 2 cup portions and placed into freezer bags.
Flatten the bag and smoosh the puree around, leaving room for expansion as it freezes.

Your finished product will look like this!

Find a flat object in your freezer and place on so the bag will retain its flat shape.
This is a fabulous space saving tip! 

There are a few cookbooks that encorporate pureed goods into the recipes for an added health benefit.
You puree any food in the same manner!
I own Deceptively Delicious (Thanks Lindsay!)
My friend Paige lives by The Sneaky Chef.

Check them out at your local library and let me know what you think!

Strawberry Season!

Last weekend, we took a trip to a nearby orchard that has strawberries during May.
The trip was amazing.
No one in my family had ever been to a strawberry patch and picked strawberries directly from the vine!

We walked away with 11 lbs of freshly picked strawberries!
I think had the kiddos not grown so tired, we would have gotten more.

I learned several things while there, and I wanted to share in case you are able to pick strawberries!

**Tip Number 1**
Do not wear white.

 I don't care how determined you are to stay cool (white reflects light) or match your daughter's white and red plaid dress - white is not a good idea.

I will state the obvious.  Strawberry juice is very staining!

**Tip Number 2**
Take some form of wet wipe or baby wipe with you. 

I don't care if your husband makes fun of you for taking your suitcase sized purse filled with wipes, take the wipes with you.  Doing so will help prevent further handprints, as forementioned in Tip Number 1.

**Tip Number 3**
Use a garden knee mat.
if you have one.  If not, go to Tarjay and buy one from their dollar spot.

My knees were wet and dirty from resting my knees after growing tired of crouching.

**Tip Number 4**
Take a snack and water for your kiddos.
Children will grow tired of being at the patch quickly.  Having  a snack (no, they will not get filled up from strawberries....they will only want something different to eat).

**Tip Number 5**
Do not fall for the unique beauty of large berries. 
My husband was amazed and picked many berries that were larger than normal.  These berries are not as sweet and delicious as the smaller berries.

**Tip Number 6**
Do not pick more berries than you can actually use.
Fresh berries spoil quickly!  Have some idea of what you intend to do with the berries and how many you need in order to not waste your time, hard work and money! 

No worries though! 
I have a few strawberry recipes to share so you will have an idea of where to start with the berries!

One of my favorite things is to slice strawberries, and toss with spinach leaves and red peppers.
Check back later for more! 

And if you go strawberry picking, have a wonderful time!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

House Tour: Boy Room

I have shown you my son's room before! 
But just a peak when making his valance.

Here is his collage of photos...

His room is beside Mere's.
From the hallway, this is what you will see.

His valance, and another cozy rocker...
The room is painted a blue color that came with the house. 
I opted to work with it because even the ceiling was/is the same color blue. 

Please ignore the fact that his letters are a little crooked.
I made the dinosaur print blanket on his bed. 
His bed frame came from craigslist - brand new - $35 dollars. 

A moment of silence for all the Dr. Seuss books that are in print.
Including all the Early and Bright Beginning books.
Tarjay for  his little green lamp (green is his favorite color-I have to accommodate).
The little nightstand is being made over...

The green bucket stores paper bound books so they can sift through the titles.

One evening, Lucas exclaimed that he wanted a green rug to put beside his bed.
Where he got this idea, I will never know....
I cannot express how difficult it is to find a green rug that will please a 3-year-old.
I was about to resort to a bathmat (he prefers a neon green to a crayola green), when we found this at Marshall's.

I wasn't sure about it, because I knew Rich would hate it.
But I liked the character it had - it is a rag is is quirky.
I planned to leave it in the store to think about it.
But he cried.

Besides, we all know you can't leave something in a store like Marshall's.
So now it lives next to Lucas' bed.

And now that you have way too much information about a rug, let's talk about the dinosaur...

When we moved in, the whole wall was the color of the dinosaur, with a scoreboard.

I primed over the scoreboard part and painted it the same green color in Meredith's room, Aloe Vera.
It took forever, several coats, and the numbers still show through a little.
I have no idea how the previous owners made it almost 3-D.

After the idea to draw a dinosaur on the wall, we decided to use the existing green for the body color and paint around it. 
Such a great idea!  The lines are much smoother.
You can read about the process here.

We took the green up a bit more and then primed and painted the blue.

The toys and overflow of books are stored in the corner.
I like this because stuff can move around, while still looking halfway organized.

This dresser belong to my husband as a child.
Don't be fooled, it isn't as big as it looks. 
And even I have trouble opening the drawers. 

The mirror was a $10 buy when a "hotel" in Oklahoma was getting rid of some of its inventory.

And we have a few wall shelves that are in transition from baby to big boy right now...

The measuring chart lives behind his door.
I purchased this for oober cheap at Ross, and I have one in the works for Mere.

 And now that you have seen Lucas' room, I should tell you that it doesn't even look like this anymore.
 He has experienced a major overhaul.
The toddler bed is gone.  I am sorting and rearranging his life. 

You will have to stay tuned for the finished product! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

House Tour: Girly Room

Welcome to my baby girl's room!

We were so wrapped up in moving and meeting our house that I had no idea what her room
would look like when prepping for her arrival.

So it stayed like this for a little while...

Once we were settled,  I knew a few things.

I was in love with this simple and soft white floral bedding.
I did not want her room to be all one color.
I wanted to incorporate all my bunny accessories that I had in my room growing up.

This is what you see standing from the hallway...

We chose a light pink and a light green based on the flowers in her quilt. 
The stripe in the center was taped out first.
My husband did an amazing job. 

We purchased her dresser with mirror, and nightstand in an antique store that I told you about before.
Solid wood.  Super sturdy.  Super simple.  I adore it.

I received this musical carosel for Christmas when I was 6 or 7 years old. 
If you know how old I am, you can figure out how old this is.

Mere received her big pink piggy last Christmas.
The mini white one was on clearance at Michaels for $1 after Valentine's.
The lamp was also a Tarjay clearance find...

Mere's bookcase is one of my favorite things.
Her jewlery hanger is my own creation, with tutorial here.
The pink bear is a bean bag chair.
And the pink rocker is the most comfy seat in the house.

The bunnies on the shelf are all beanie bunnies that were mine growing up.
The Velveteen Rabbit was my own copy.

The other bunny books were gifts to Meredith.
Guess How Much I Love You  is one of my all-time favorites.
We don't read this copy though, we have board book version.

Across from her bookcase lives her lovely toddler-sized bed.

We are convienced that she will be in it for a very long time.
Especially since the massive amount of stuffed animals does not inhibit her sleeping...
(she has a mental inventory of all her animals and knows if one is missing)

Above her bed are the remainder of my bunny collection, and a Peter Cottontail Collection that is at least 21 years old (shh, don't tell my brother, they have his name in them)...

And just for fun, I will show you what it looks like as you walk out...
In case you need a hot pink, character purse, we store those behind her door.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Hopefully, it won't take 10 hours to create my next post so you can see the rest of my home!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gadget Withdrawl!

I missed you guys!  I have been away for far too long.

I was suffering from withdrawl.

Have you ever been without the internet for an extended amount of time? 

What gadgets can you NOT live without? 

I'd love to know!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Hi!  I hope all you moms had a Happy Mother's Day! 
I apologize for the interruption of the house tour. 

I am on vacation right now. 
My husband is studying for exams right now, so I had to give myself a break, since he is unable to.

I stocked up the fridge with leftovers. 
I gave my hubby kisses and hugs.

And off we went. 

I don't have internet access, so I will continue our tour once I arrive back home! 

Talk with you soon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

House Tour: Multi-Purpose Room

Are you ready to head upstairs with me?

We carried the Dancing Light up the stairwell and into the upstairs hallway.
I have a pile of frames to hang along the stairwell.

I do have these frames hanging on the lefthand side though...

They are random prints - one is a drawing of a Civil War battle that someone gave us.
                                    - one is a panoramic photography of my husband's undergraduate school
                                    - one is the main building of my own undergraduate school

My husband wants to add one of his law school - but I actually took an awesome shot that I plan to blow up and frame for him.....

All the way down the hall, is our "multi-purpose room". 
Right now we are considering making it a child's room - but until then, this is what it looks like!

We have yet to paint.
Here is our guest room portion of the room.
The curtains are a gold, tweedy looking fabric that blackout when closed.  I really do love them - they were in my kitchen in our previous house and I was determined to make them work in our new home somehow.
I was in heaven when I found this duvet cover that would "match".
The bedding is a yellow leaf print from PB.
The dresser is nearly 20 years old.  I grew up with it in my bedroom.
The lamp is a Target clearance - $7!!

Now on to our "office" - which is really the place my husband studies or I sew.
The desk was one of our first furniture purchases as a couple.
It is L-shaped, but can be made smaller.

I would show you upclose photos of wall art, however it is exam time, and I don't want to disturb my hubby's concentration with a flash!

And finally is our "workout" space.
We purchased the elliptical during my husband's deployment. 

The prints are Marathon posters, which my husband adores.
You see my husband runs marathons....with a goal of running one in every state....
and his name is actually printed (in very small print) on the Boston poster on the top!

There is a shadow box of all his marathon medals in the room too, but I forgot to photograph them!

I guess that concludes our tour for today! 


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