BF&F – Best Friends and Foodies


Cuban Pork 2 Ways – Bumpkin

I had a pork shoulder roast, a HUGE pork shoulder roast.  So, I knew there would be leftovers.  When I was deciding what to do with it, I went ahead and just decided to make 2 dinners with it and went with Cuban. 

Roast Cuban Pork
adapted from elly says opa!

1 (2-3) lb. pork roast
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 dried California chilis
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, juiced
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup chicken broth

I had every intention of doing this in the crock pot, it’s the perfect recipe for it.  However, the HUGE aspect of the roast meant it didn’t FIT in my crock pot.  So, I roasted it in the oven on 300-degrees, covered, for A LOT of hours…until falling apart and deliciousness set in!

You SHOULD rub all the ingredients all over the meat, wrap in plastic and let it marinate overnight, but I didn’t.  It cooks long enough in some pretty hefty flavors that it was still flavorful.  Really, I find with a nice bone-in pork roast that sometimes even with just a bit of salt and pepper, it is still delicious.  Outside of a great rib-eye, and a perfectly marinated flank steak… I love no other meat as much as I LOVE pork!


The first night I did the pork as tacos.  The kids did burrito style with the beans and everything in a tortilla.  They aren’t fans of corn tortillas so they used flour, added a bunch of fixins and ate seconds. Hubby and I went for the taco route, simple and yummy. I like corn tortillas and when I don’t have time to get down to the Mexican market for homemade, I like these hand-made style corn tortillas for soft tacos. The meat is versatile enough you can do just about anything with it (to be honest even after 2 dinners there were still leftovers so I made a pan of green chile enchiladas with it and took that over to a friend who needed some “care”).  I’m tellin ya….HUGE pork roast!

LIke the original recipe I made a jicama slaw.  I just diced half a jicama, 1 small red bellpepper, about 1/2c. fresh cilantro.  Then I used fresh key lime juice, Tapatio sauce, salt and pepper to taste.  It added a nice flavor and cruch to the tacos.  I served dinner with black beans and rice (mixed together because that is how we Costa Ricans eat our frijoles negros, gallo pinto style!)


The second night I did El Cubanos.  Basically, a cuban grilled cheese.  They are REALLY yummy!  They are supposed to be on a hoagie roll type bread, but I used sourdough instead.  They get pressed like a panini.  Super easy, and a crowd pleaser:
shredded cuban pork
sliced ham
sliced pickles
swiss cheese
buttered bread

Have some fun…use your leftovers!


A giveaway!!!!

Take a look I’m hosting a giveaway over at ilonaskitchen!!

Chicken Spaghetti – Bumpkin

It’s been awhile.  I made this before going on a business trip and was going to post while I was gone.  But, alas, I did not!  I made very few modifications to this as it is already something the kids will eat as is.  I would love it with more spice.

I used one can of Cream of Chicken and one can of Cream of Mushroom and added a bag of frozen Southwestern Corn so I could have a one dish meal!  I also cooked my chicken with large chunks of onion, bell pepper and carrots in the water so when I drained it those veggies got added to the final casserole.


Chicken Spaghetti

adapted from The Pioneer Woman (again)


  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken
  • 3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
  • 2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained (or Ortega green chilies…I have done both ways)
  • 2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper

  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Let’s Make It!

Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.

Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).


Baking Tuesday – Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

I bought a huge bag of Fuji apples at Sams Club this weekend.  It was way more apples (HUGE apples) then my family could eat before they go bad.  So, I went on the hunt for an apple recipe.

I found this recipe.  It looked easy enough and I had all the ingredients.  It came together easily.  Unfortunately, it only took 2 of the apples, I had peeled 4! 

I don’t think I liked this too much.  But, I can’t quite put my finger on why.  The kids and hubby all liked it. 

 *The dough for this is VERY sticky.

Fresh Apple Cake w/ Brown Sugar Glaze

adapted from Lick the Bowl Good 

Apple Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond exract
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Brown Sugar Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream

For the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pan (round or square) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.Stir with a whisk to mix everything together.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs with a hand mixer til light in color and foamy. Add the oil, vanilla and almond extract and beat well.

Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon and continue stirring the batter til the flour disappears. Add the apples and nuts (if using) and stir to mix them into the batter.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the hot cake on a wire cake. While it’s still hot, prepare the glaze.

For the glaze: Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot-from-the-oven cake. Let the glazed cake cool completely before serving straight from the pan.

Brown Sugar and Garlic Chicken – Bumpkin

Townie and I both had chicken out this week.  I knew she was making Bourbon Chicken, which tends to be pretty sweet so I opted to make a sweet version of chicken as well.

I was on Pinterest, my new internet addiction, when I came across a recipe for Brown Sugar Garlic chicken.  The photo looked yummy and a quick browse at the recipe showed it was super easy because I had all the ingredients and it all gets thrown in a crock pot!  I went to “repin” the post to my boards only to discover I hadn’t logged in!  So, when I logged into the site I could no longer find the recipe.  But, I could “remember” most of what  I had read so that is what I did, with my usual modifications.

The chicken was definitely sweet, but fall off the bone (had I used bone in cuts) tender.  I served it over plain steamed rice with a green veggie as a side, thrown into a bowl to make a one dish meal.  The kids LOVED it!  I might make it again for an easy meal I know the kidlets will eat without fussing.  I suggest hot sauce of some kind, for the grown ups.


2lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/4c brown sugar

1/4c chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 can Sprite/7-Up although I used Fresca because it’s what I had

4T chopped garlic

4T soy sauce

Literally drop everything into your crock pot, turn it on HIGH and walk away for about 3 hours.  Dinner served!


Thanksgiving in Colorado

Thanksgiving was always a big deal in my family.  Even when we lived abroad, we celebrated with a big dinner full of traditions and handed down recipes.  Growing up we all had our “part” in our annual family Thanksgiving feast.  Mine usually consisted of making place cards, centerpieces and setting the table.  Mind you, I have always been a decent cook but, I am about the only “crafty” person in the family thus, tables were my gig.   So, this year, at age 36, was the first year I have made the entire Thanksgiving dinner and for the in-laws, no less!  Needless to say, I was stressed!

I have made a total of 2 – TWO- turkeys in my life before this year.  Townie can attest to my first attempt….shoe leather!  The second was earlier this year, because I had one in the freezer left over from buying on sale after Easter.  I waited 10 years after the leather turkey before attempting it again!  The second time was more successful, it was a mere 12lb turkey so wasn’t too much different than roasting a chicken.  However, Thanksgiving with the family requires a much larger undertaking.  My 3rd attempt was 23lbs!  eeeek!!

I don’t know how people survive Thanksgiving without (1) ample prep time and (2) two ovens!  I actually even contacted my neighbors to see if they were staying home or going to family in case I had an oven-needed emergency!  I knew the 23lb beast was going to take up my oven space for the entire day so I did as much prep work as I could prior to sticking Tom in the oven.  I made my cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes on Wednesday night.  I baked pies first thing in the morning.  I have a dual oven, but one side is much smaller than the other so not many of my dishes actually fit in it.  But, I have a pyrex that is just the right size so was able to use that for our sweet potato casserole which was able to cook during the last 45 minutes of turkey in the big oven.  Stuffing was going to throw me for a loop.  I LOVE stuffing, so naturally made way too much.  But, the dish I put it in was shallow enough that I could place a rack on the bottom of the oven, and slide it under the turkey rack so, it shared the oven for 1.5 hours.

My husband whipped up mashed potatoes for me (he makes them with butter, milk, sour cream and chopped garlic) and my brother-in-law makes the most delicious brussel sprouts on the planet (maybe I can coax the recipe out of him)  But, other than that, I did it all myself.  I tried everything a little differently than the recipes I grew up with.  I did baste my turkey with a 50-50 mixture of wine and melted butter, just like my dad would.  The types of food on the table were the same but, that is about where tradition left.  I LOVE the food I grew up with, but this was my opportunity to do everything the way I wanted and you know what, I am thinking new traditions have started.  There were a couple of things missing that I feel should have been there, like my great-grandma’s cooked purple cabbage and the oh-so-disgusting but lovable Waldorf Salad, but all in all I was perfectly pleased with our offering (AND, I didn’t have to wash a single dish!!).

Turkey – 2 lemons, 2 limes and 2 oranges were cut in half and stuffed into the cavity with 2 full heads of garlic (tops chopped off) and a bunch of green onions.  I lathered with butter and rubbed some Citrus Blend poultry seasoning into the skin.  Tom was covered with foil and was basted every hour.  I removed the foil, except over the breast, for the last hour of roasting (which turned into an additional 45 minutes because those thighs were so thick!) so we could have that beautiful golden color.  The turkey was delicious and moist!

Sweet potatoes – I have never loved the sticky sweet, canned yams with roasted marshmallows the way my sister does.  So, I usually try to make mine with fresh sweet potatoes.  I am partial to Red Garnets.  So, I used those in my hubby’s aunt’s recipe, which, naturally, I modified!  The below recipe is with my modifications.


  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I used 6, that I roasted in their skins the night before)
  • 3/4c sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 stick of butter
  • 1/2c milk
  • 1 1/2t pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • fresh grated nutmeg – I am guessing I used about 1/2t
  • Topping – 1c brown sugar, 1/3c flour, 1/3 stick of butter, 1c chopped pecans

Let’s Make it!

  • Blend all ingredients, except topping, in a bowl.
  • Put in 9×13 baking dish
  • Cover evenly with topping
  • Bake at 350-degrees for 40-50minutes until golden brown.

Stuffing – I modified a recipe from the November/December 2010 edition of Cooks Illustrated Magazine.  It was good, but I certainly would have used a little more liquid to make the stuffing more squishy.


  • 2lbs leftover white bread, cubed and dried (I had hamburger buns, loaf bread butts and a partial french loaf that I mixed with a box of Mrs. Cubison’s stuffing cubes)
  • 6 chicken thighs, with bone and skin (I also added the turkey giblets and neck)
  • 2t olive oil
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cubed
  • 4T butter, plus extra for baking dish
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, minced
  • 1 bunch of celery hearts, diced
  • 3T minced fresh thyme
  • 3T minced fresh sage
  • 3T minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 1/2c chicken broth
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup dried berries (I used what I had left of golden raisins and an entire bag of craisins)
  • 1 large apple, cubed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Let’s make it!

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook until golden brown on one side.  Flip and repeat.  Transfer to a dish and set aside.
  2. Add bacon to rendered chicken fat and cook until browned.  Transfer to papertowel lined plate, leaving rendered fat in skillet.
  3. Heat butter with rendered fat.  When foaming subsides, add shallot, green onions and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned.  Add fresh herbs, salt and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30seconds.  Add 1c broth and bring to a simmer, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.  Add vegetables to bread mixture, in a large bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Grease 9×13 baking dish with butter.  In medium bowl, whisk eggs with remaining broth until combined.  Add to bread mixture along with berries and apples and bacon pieces.  Toss to combine and transfer to baking dish.
  5. Top the stuffing with the chicken pieces, cover with foil to trap moisture  and bake for about 60minutes.
  6. Fluff with fork, let rest 5 minutes before serving


Cranberry sauce – I used this Maple, Citrus & Ginger Cranberry Preserves recipe and it is my new favorite way to eat the tart berry.

Apple pie – I made Southern Comfort Caramel Apple Pie, which was heavenly sinful, just as “advertised”.

Pumpkin pie – I followed the recipe on the back of the Libby Pumpkin Pie Filling can but grated about (I saw about as I didn’t actually measure) 1/2t of fresh ginger and 1/2t of fresh nutmeg into the custard and boy oh boy did that make a HUGE difference!

I also always whip my own whipped cream, heavy whipping cream some pure vanilla extract and a dash of sugar.  There is no comparison!!

In the end, there is really nothing to worry about.  Family isn’t going to judge (well, not seriously, right?!?!?).  While we put so much emphasis on the food and we spend all day cooking it for 1 hour of together time, Thanksgiving is more about being thankful for what we have.  We were discussing, during our meal, how fortunate we are to have all this delicious food on our table, a comfortable roof over our head and an abundance of logs in our fireplace to keep us warm.  In a day and age when so many have nothing, I am ever more grateful for all with which I have been blessed.  That hour at the dinner table, laughing and telling stories is what will stick with everyone far longer than the memory that Bumpkin’s 3rd attempt at a turkey took an hour longer than anticipated…then again, that could have been an extra hour of wine talking!

Quick Crock Pot Pork Roast – Bumpkin

This week we decided to just wing it with the recipes.  I asked Townie if she had a pork roast in the freezer, as I had one thawing.  Rather than cook the same recipe we decided to both make something with our pork roasts and post.  She opted for the delicious (we are having it tonight) Asian Pork – seen in her post below – and I went with some of my old standbys.  Namely – a crock pot, chicken broth and my dad’s super secret dry rub, which contains brown sugar and chipotle, for sweet and smoky flavors, in addition to about a gazillion other yummy spices.  I usually also throw in a ton of chopped garlic but didn’t this time because I was going “simple”, as I was doing this right before walking out the door for work..  I rubbed up the pork roast, threw it in my pot with some broth, put the lid on and went to work.

When I returned home, my hubby had baked some garnet yams in their skins, which we served with a pat of butter and pumpkin pie spice.  I threw together a mixed green salad with multi-colored bellpeppers, pomegranate seeds and feta tossed in olive oil and pomegranate red wine vinegar.  Voila, dinner was served.  There is absolutely NO reason to not have a beautiful dinner on a work night.

We have a monthly dinner with friends and this month was our turn to host.     With some simple ingredients on standby, there is  no reason not to “entertain” just because you work all day.  I usually would have planned a dessert but got home late from work the night before and I knew Krista wouldn’t mind coming to my rescue….this time!  She brought over some spice cupcakes with fresh peach filling and delicious cream cheese frosting.

Does this meal not SCREAM fall to you!?!?!


Bone in pork shoulder roast

dry rub of choice (I like dad’s because it has a great mixture of sweet and smoky, but you can use whatever you like.  There are TONS on the market)

1 can of chicken broth

chopped garlic/onions/to taste (which I opted out of this time)


1. Literally chuck it all in a crock pot, cover and cook on high for 8 hours.

2. ENJOY fall off the bone deliciousness!