Slow Cooker Spanish Pork

So right down the street from my new office is an amazing family-owned Spanish restaurant – Andy’s.  It’s hard not to go for lunch every day as they have the best Spanish pork, rice, and beans, I’ve ever had.  I was inspired to try to recreate it for a celebratory meal (and some awesome leftovers). This recipe was so easy to just set and forget, but still full of flavor.

  • 4 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 4 TBSP minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP oregano
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine garlic, pepper, oregano, olive oil, and salt in a small bowl. Rub pork with the mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or a minimum of 4 hours) to marinate. Then drop it into the crockpot on low for 8 hours. It doesn’t need any added liquid as the pork will create it’s own as it cooks. 

Once it’s done, if you’re looking for a nice crispy exterior skin, stick it in a baking dish and bake in the oven at 450 F for about 20 minutes. Cover the pork and let it rest for about 20 minutes before shredding it. Serve with black beans and yellow rice for a nice hearty meal.

Until next time,


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Irish Soda Bread with Guinness Reduction Sauce

There’s plenty of foods that scream “Irish” – corned beef, cabbage, shepherd’s pie, and, of course, soda bread. While I’ve had it a number of times, I’ve never attempted to make it at home, and this year seemed like the perfect time to start. Of course with a Guinness reduction sauce to pair with.

Since the Guinness sauce takes longer, we’ll start with that recipe:

Guinness Reduction Sauce

  • 2 cups Guinness stout
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar 
  • Extra virgin olive oil

In a medium saucepan, add the Guinness and brown sugar and cook over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by about half.

Allow the sauce to cool and serve with a drizzle of olive oil to taste. The sauce should be sweet and malty, pairing beautifully with the dry soda bread. 

    Irish Soda Bread

    • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    • 1/4 cup melted butter (optional)

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter.

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Using your hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl. The dough should come together and be soft but not wet and sticky.

    Flour a work surface and knead the dough for a few seconds, then form it into a round disk (about 2 inches thick). Place on the baking sheet and use a knife to cut a large “X” into the entire top of the loaf. If desired, brush melted butter onto the top of the loaf. 

    Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake at 400 F for about another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. 

    Serve warm and dip into your Guinness reduction sauce! The dryness of the bread will sop up all of that Guinness goodness! May you all feel a little Irish magic everytime you make this!

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 


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    Recipes Sweet Treats

    Leprechaun Rice Krispie Treats

    In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend I wanted to whip up a fun treat for J. and our friends. J.’s mom makes these amazing red and green Christmas Rice Krispie treats so I was inspired to tweak the recipe to include a little “luck o’ the Irish” flare.

    Leprechaun Rice Krispie Treats

    • 5 TBSP unsalted butter
    • 8 cups mini marshmallows
    • 6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup Lucky Charms marshmallows
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 5 drops of green food coloring (optional – if you want to be extra festive)

    Before you get started, measure out your mini marshmallows, cereal, and Lucky Charms marshmallows. Line a 9×13 pan with waxed paper or tin foil and grease with butter. (These treats are super sticky so it helps to have both the waxed paper and greased inside.)

    In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat – make sure it doesn’t burn! Once melted, mix in the salt, vanilla, and food coloring and then add the 8 cups mini marshmallows, stirring constantly.

    Once the mini marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and add the Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until cereal is well coated. Next mix in the cup of Lucky Charms marshmallows. (Note: make sure to work quickly as the marshmallows will begin to seize up!)

    Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and press down evenly (with a large spoon or spatula – the treats will stick to your hands). Be careful not to press too hard as you can break the cereal and make them tough.

    Let them cool on the counter until they have set and then cut into squares (recipe should make about 16). These are best served same day while they are fresh, but if not, store them in an airtight container to keep them from going stale. 

    Now pair with some green beer and you’ll be all set to celebrate! 🙂

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 


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    Brewing Arts Program

    Malting Technology and the Science of Mashing

    Module 02: Malting Technology and the Science of Mashing

    Module two jumped straight from history right into the science of mashing. But what is mash you may ask? Mash is the result of your malted grains steeping in hot water. They’ve been rehydrated, activating the malt enzymes to convert the grain starches into fermentable sugars. It’s basically the beer base that we would add hops and other flavorings to. The wort (the liquid from the mash) is then extracted and that is what ferments into the alcoholic beer we all know and love.

    These classes bring me right back to high school chemistry –  full of balancing equations, converting measurements, and chemical reactions. It was definitely a walk down memory lane and I was happy to pick it back up so quickly! Without trying to get too complicated, I’ve laid out a basic overview of the start of the brewing process:


    So I think as everyone already knows, most beers are about 90% water. Along with water you also need some malt, hops, and yeast for a standard recipe. Of the four primary ingredients, water is the best regulated and least variable since you are typically getting water from a standard local or state source. But you still have to pay attention to the types of ions and minerals that may be in your source water supply.  Depending on what ions may be in your local water (e.g. Calcium, Sulphate, Chloride) affects how you have to treat it (e.g. adding acid to balance out alkalinity). Depending on the style of beer you are brewing, you have a target pH of the mash that you will need to adjust for.  The level of the pH in your mash and wort can affect the finished beer flavor, character, and taste.


    Next, to make beer you, of course, need your source of starch. Malts (grain seed) are often used – like barley, wheat, oats, rye, sorghum, or even corn or rice. After evaluating, choosing, and cleaning your grains, you’d steep them in water causing the grain to swell and aerate. The water would then be drained and the grain would begin to germinate (aka sprout). This is beginning the enzymatic activity. After about five days, you need to stop the germination process and remove the moisture by drying it out via kilning. The amount of time and temperature that you dry out the grains can affect the flavor of the malt. 


    The malted grain we just dried out through kilning, will be milled, turning it to fine grist. We will then add hot water to the grist, starting our mash. The starches will break apart and enzymes will turn it into fermentable sugars. The liquid will then be extracted from the mashing process – this is the wort. This liquid contains the sugars that will then be fermented by yeast to produce alcohol. 

    While making the mash and wort you’re creating the beer’s fundamental flavors. You’d add hops during this process as well, but unfortunately, that will have to wait until module three!

    And if you missed my last post about module one and the archaeology of brewing – check it out

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    Brewing Arts Program

    The Archaeology and Indigenous Knowledge of Brewing

    Module One: The Archaeology and Indigenous Knowledge of Brewing

    So module one started out with teaching us about the history of brewing based on archaeological findings. Our professor for the course, Dr.  John Arthur is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and has worked in southwestern Ethiopia since 1995 where he discovered how to interpret beer production in the ancient past, in areas like Ethiopia, Sudan, and northern Mexico. He has worked with the Gamo community in southern Ethiopia understanding the importance of beer in their daily and ritual lives. 

    I was a history major in college (Go Gators!) so starting off this program with basically a big history lesson was right up my alley. It was fascinating to learn all about how brewing got started in all corners of the world, how beer was integrated into cultural, religious, and economic parts of society, and the correlation to how we brew beer today.

    History has often recorded the presence of wine in society, however, it’s actually more likely that beer was present during these periods since grain was easier and cheaper to come across than grapes and was a lot faster to make. At archaeological sites around the world, the residue found in pots has been studied to determine what Old World beer was made of, typically out of grains and other produce easily grown in the area. This can then be compared to how beer is produced today. Throughout time, studying the residue has also shown changes in the domestication of agriculture and the improved production of beer. 

    The earliest beer production can be traced back to 9,000 years ago to the Chinese site of Jiahu. Archaeologists discovered pots in burial sites containing residue of rice, hawthorn fruit, grapes, and honey that had most likely been fermented into a beer-like beverage. 

    Beer residue has also been discovered in areas like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, and Nordic areas, dating back up to 9,000 years ago. Residue found in jugs and pots shows traces of common produce of the area, like barley in Mesopotamia and maize in Mexico. It was often consumed by all classes in society and was not just considered a social drink for celebrations and festivities, but a primary food, a wage, and a healing agent for cosmetic and medical issues.

    In current Indigenous societies, like the Gamo, beer is an essential staple and provides many health benefits for these communities. It is often considered a food rather than a beverage as it adds a significant amount of daily caloric intake to their diets. It also contains more protein, vitamins, and minerals than unleavened bread. And while it is made with unprocessed water, the low alcohol content created through the fermentation process kills the bacteria that may be present, making it safer and cleaner to drink than the water itself.

    Now that we have a good foundation of how beer event got started, stay tuned for module two where we learn all about water!

    And if you missed my last post about the Brewing Arts program and how I got started – check it out

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    Brewing Arts Program

    USFSP Brewing Arts Program

    Hi fellow foodies! 2018 has already been a whirlwind, and it’s only the end of February! Between a new job, a new puppy, a couple different trips, and starting classes – it’s been a lot to try to balance it all. But I’m glad to finally be back in the swing of things and back to to the blog! 

    So as many of you know in January I started the Brewing Arts Certificate Program offered by University of South Florida, St. Petersburg (USFSP). As part of the program, the school has collaborated with numerous local and national breweries to create online courses that cover all aspects of the brewing process – from the history of beer, to the opening your own brewery, and everything in between.  It wraps up in a hands-on training internship with a local brewery to practice our knowledge and prove we are ready to enter the craft brewing industry.

    Of course I love craft beer and with living in the Tampa area brewery-hopping is a pretty common past time for J. and me. I am excited to begin this program to take my interest up a notch, actually be hands-on, and see what type of future this program could hold for my career.  

    While I’m already into Module 4 (out of 10 + the internship) I thought it’d be a fun opportunity to document my progress through the program and recap highlights along the way. I’m excited to share this journey with all of you! Follow my progress through the modules: 

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    Restaurant Spotlight


    I never turn down a brunch date, whether with J., the girls, or our whole gaggle of friends – it’s always a grand time. Our most recent group foodie adventure was to Boca in the Hyde Park/Channelside area of Tampa. J. and I had been there once before for dinner many moons ago when the farm to table focus was not quite mainstream. Boca is always ahead of the curve it seems and their menu offers twists on classics to appease every palette.

    “Local. Simple. Honest.” That’s Boca’s mantra and they definitely live up to it. Boca’s menu is based off local ingredients and sourced from nearby farmers and specialty food purveyors. You can check out all the local ingredients in the latest edition of the Local Dirt on their website. The restaurant inside is inviting, warm, and comfortable, with lots of wood (including a planter wall of lettuce), cozy hightops, and intimate dining rooms with industry style lighting and accents. It’s a great place to gather with friends and family.

    J. and I started off with splitting the fried green tomatoes – with pimiento cheese, tomato jam, and bacon. The breading was crisp and light and stuck to the fried green tomato well. Each of the toppings on their own are perfect complements to the fried green tomato, but all three is a creamy, sweet, salty perfection. I also got a glass of their “F’rose & F’rozignon Blanc” a blended frozen wine slush. It was basically like an adult slurpee. While I probably couldn’t have more than one (it was decently sweet) it was the right consistency (not too icy) and I’d consider it a great alternative to a mimosa for brunch.

    Unsurprisingly, J. went for the chicken and waffles (although I had my eye on it too) – fried chicken tenders, buttermilk waffles with molasses maple syrup and sriracha plum glaze. I appreciated that the chicken was boneless, it’s much easier to eat. The breading was not too heavy, perfectly crispy (even with the syrup), and well seasoned. I found the waffles to be a little bit dense, but a bite of chicken, waffle, syrup, and glaze hit all the right flavor combos on your tongue. I’d put that sweet and spicy sriracha plum glaze on any meat.

    The BBQ pulled pork benedict was calling my name – two poached eggs  and bbq pulled pork on jalapeño & cheddar toast, cilantro lime hollandaise, house hot sauce, and served with potato hash. BBQ for breakfast may sound weird, but Boca makes it work. The bbq pulled pork was fall apart tender and the sauce was sweet, which I really enjoyed. The jalapeño and cheddar toast was light and acted as the “cornbread” to this meal to soak up all the sauce and runny egg. I think the cilantro hollandaise got a little overpowered by the other flavors, but alone had a great unique flavor – and dipping the potato hash in it was absolutely delicious.

    No matter what you order at Boca, you are in for a treat. They truly know how to take a comfort classic, and upgrade it – both in flavor profile as well as with their locally sourced ingredients. They do it right, and it’ll keep people coming back again and again. I’m already looking forwarding to my next trip.

    One last note…they also offer a variety of fresh muffins with apple butter. Get. A. Muffin. Trust me. 

    Until next time!


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    Brown Butter Blueberry Waffles

    With the new year unfolding, J. and I wanted to start it off right with a fun brunch at home. I had planned for some fancy omelettes, bacon, and hash browns (and mimosas of course), but J. stumbled upon this recipe from Layers of Happiness and this was the clear winner. It didn’t hurt that we always have almond milk stocked in the fridge too 😉 .

    Brown Butter Blueberry Waffles

    • 4 TBSP unsalted butter (1/2 a stick)
    • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (I used Silk Original Unsweetened Almond Milk)
    • 2 eggs yolks
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 4 tsp baking powder
    • 1⁄4 tsp salt
    • 2/3 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

    First, brown your butter. Melt it in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the butter begins to foam and turn golden brown (the butter will start to smell nutty) – about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the butter turn into a rich brown color (about 15 – 30 more seconds). Carefully pour butter into a small bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to cool completely. (Note: if you burn the butter – start over! Burnt butter will make your waffles taste burnt. Also, make sure you let your butter cool. If you add it into the rest of your wet ingredients while it’s too hot the mixture will curdle. Gross.)

    While your butter is chilling, preheat your waffle iron.

    In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the almond milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Once butter is cooled, add that in and mix until combined. Then add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix well and fold in blueberries.

    Generously coat the waffle iron with with non-stick spray and pour on about 1/3 cup of batter. Cook according to the waffle iron’s instructions. Finish off with desired toppings – butter, syrup, powdered sugar, cinnamon, whipped cream, nuts, fresh blueberries – whatever you’d like!

    This recipe made 5 full sized waffles, so I ended up freezing the extras for J. to have as breakfast during the week. These waffles have a perfect consistency of light and fluffy on the inside, but still crisp on the outside. The nuttiness from the brown butter and almond milk balance out the sweet tart blueberries perfectly.  These were a huge success in my book and we will be making variations of this recipe for years to come.

    And if you are obsessed with that brown butter flavor as much as I am, make sure you check out my brown butter bourbon cookies!

    Until next time!


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    Recipes Sweet Treats

    Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

    I love fall spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar – they all just seem to be perfect complements to each other, and are more powerful flavors together rather than apart. J. is not a fan, so it’s rare I eat a lot of spiced flavors unless it happens to be in my coffee or I splurge for a dessert of my own. But since we were hosting 15 people for Thanksgiving, I knew there were enough other mouths to feed to make this cake. So, as promised, here’s my other scrumptious baked good from my baking day before Thanksgiving – Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

    (And if you missed my first one – make sure to check out my Parker House Rolls recipe!)

    Spice Cake

    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup canola oil
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup grated apple (1 – 2 large apples, I used Gala)
    • Butter for greasing pan

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/8 tsp salt

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Peel and grate your apples. Grease a 9×13 inch pan with butter (or oil).

    In a large bowl, mix together all your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices. In a separate large bowl, mix together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Then softly mix in the grated apples.

    Pour batter into your greased pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until cooked through and a toothpick comes out dry. Allow to cool completely before frosting. If possible, make the cake the day before so it can cool overnight.

    For the  the frosting: In a stand mixer (or large bowl with hand mixer) beat the room temperature cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix for another minute. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and let it set in the refrigerator for about 20 – 30 minutes.

    And voila – spice cake ready for any occasion! The one downfall of fall spices is that they can sometimes taste very dry. The applesauce and grated apples give this cake a natural sweetness and keep the cake moist and tender, plus apples + cinnamon, you can’t ask for a better combo!

    Until next time!


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    Parker House Rolls

    When J. and I decided to host Thanksgiving, many of our guests took care of bringing side dishes so I could focus on handling the the beast that was my 22 lb. turkey. But, being me, I really wanted to go above and beyond, and when I was unexpectedly gifted the day before Thanksgiving off of work, I knew exactly how I wanted to spend it – baking. First up, was a recipe I stole from Bobby Flay for his infamous Parker House Rolls.

    Parker House Rolls

    • Additional butter for greasing bowl
    • Additional melted butter for brushing

    Pour milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar and let cool. In a small bowl of warm water, dissolve yeast and let it sit until it gets foamy (this should only take a few minutes). In another small bowl, crack and lightly beat 3 eggs.

    In a stand mixer (with a dough attachment) mix together 3 cups of flour with the milk mixture, salt, yeast, and eggs. Once combined, add in the remaining 3 cups of flour, a 1/2 cup at a time, until a smooth ball of dough forms.

    Flour your work surface and remove the dough from the stand mixer. Knead my hand for about 5 minutes until the dough looses its stickiness, becomes more elastic, and holds its shape.

    Notes for kneading: Work the dough with your hands, forming it into a ball, pressing it down, and reshaping it. Sprinkle in more flour as necessary and work it into the dough to become less sticky. You can also press the heels of your hands into the dough, pushing forward slightly. Once it begins to become a little more elastic, knead the dough by folding it  in half and pressing the heels of your hands into the dough to press it flat. Turn the dough slightly, fold it in half again, and press it flat again. Continue this process for the 5 minutes.

    Place the kneaded dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 60 to 70 minutes. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour your work surface and place dough. Punch down the dough and shape into desired roll shapes (I shaped mine into small balls – a little larger than the size of a golf ball – this created about 35 rolls) and place on baking sheet. Cover again and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.

    When the rolls are almost done rising, preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter before serving.

    These are best served fresh, but if you are baking ahead of time, let the rolls cool and place in an air-tight container or zip lock. When ready to serve, warm in the oven for about 10 minutes and brush with melted butter.

    These do take awhile, but you can’t beat fresh baked bread, especially around the holidays!

    Enjoy and stay tuned for my other baked good from that day – spice cake with cream cheese frosting!

    Until next time!


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