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Since we moved in together, Sara and I have really made an effort to cook most of our meals at home. The thing is, we both love spicy, flavorful, and complex food but we don’t want to spent an exorbitant amount of time or money on dinner every night. Inspired by a recipe we saw on Pinterest, last night’s main dish was barbecue pulled pork over sweet potatoes and of the meals we’ve made so far, this very well may be my favorite. It’s definitely a hurry-up-and-wait dish, but with no more than ten minutes of active prep time, I’m more than happy to toss the meat into the slow cooker, the potatoes in the oven and go on with my evening until it’s time to eat.

I’ve reprinted the recipe below including the tweaks we made and the smaller portion sizes. Neither Sara or I eat much, so we make adjustments of large recipes that make lots of servings to fit our little family.

Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pork loin
    We found that 1/4 pound of pork per person works for us, so we just chose the smallest pork loin we could find at the grocery store and cut it in half. You can easily adjust this to fit your appetite.
  • chipotle chile powder
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 4 mini cans Coca-Cola®, or enough to cover pork
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Jack Daniel’s® Spicy Original Recipe barbecue sauce
  • 2 large sweet potatoes

Directions

  1. Season entire pork loin with garlic powder, salt, and chipotle chile powder.  Feel free to use what you have in the cupboard—cayenne, red pepper flakes, black pepper, whatever. Let the rub rest on the meat for a half hour or so in the fridge. We found that putting it directly in the slow cooker yielded a final product that wasn’t spicy nor salty enough.
  2. Pour a little Coca-Cola™ in the bottom of the slow cooker and add the pork. Add enough Coca-Cola™ just to cover. Cook on low for 3.5–4 hours.
  3. Toward the end of the pork cook time, bake your sweet potatoes:
  4. Preheat oven to 400°. Scrub potatoes. Coat each in a little olive oil and salt, wrap in foil. Bake in oven for about 1 hour. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Remove pork from slow cooker and use two large forks to shred the meat. Add barbecue sauce to taste and combine. Leave slow cooker on low, or warm, to keep things hot until you are ready to serve.
  6. When ready to serve, cut a a slit in the sweet potato, lengthwise. Fill each sweet potato with a generous helping of pulled pork and top with an extra drizzle of barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.

For Christmas, my aunt and uncle gave me an ice cream maker. Now, I definitely enjoy cooking but I hesitate to collect tools for cooking and baking projects I’m just not going to undertake that often and I honestly considered taking it back to the store and exchanging it for something more practical. I am so glad I didn’t. So far, I’ve made six batches of delicious, homemade ice cream and now that it’s getting to the warmer months, I’m sure that there will be more on the way.

The beauty of the whole thing is that as long as you have space to store the ice cream maker’s bowl in the freezer until you need it, the process takes no more than five ingredients and 20 minutes from quart of half-and-half to soft serve. It’s a great project for kids, an impressive treat for adults, and so customizable.

I’ve made mint chocolate chip, lemon custard with a raspberry swirl, chocolate, Oreo, and red raspberry sorbet but, believe it or not, the best batch I’ve made was this vanilla recipe which came from the personal, 1780s journal of Thomas Jefferson and was published on The Kitchn. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Custard

makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

3 yolks of eggs
1/4 lb sugar (5/8 cups)
2 pints cream or half-and-half
1 vanilla bean

Directions

  1. Mix the yolks and sugar together.
  2. Put the cream or half-and-half in a heavy pan over medium heat.
  3. Cut open the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and put the seeds and the pod into the cream.
  4. Heat until nearly boiling. Take it off and pour it gently into the mixture of eggs and sugar. Stir well.
  5. Put the mixture back over medium heat and bring just to a boil.
  6. Pour into a bowl and cover the custard with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t form a skin. Chill overnight.
  7. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

If you’d like to add any mix-ins, toss them in right at the end of the churn. It’s absolutely delicious in the soft serve stage but you can also pack it into a container and freeze for up to a week.