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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pumpkin Spiced Crumb Cake

Photo Dec 05, 2 18 04 PM

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My Pumpkin Spiced Crumb Cake is one of my family’s favorites. I do want to explain why I take help from my local grocery store whenever I make a cake. In the past, I’ve mentioned using box cake mixes. They’re a time saver, most importantly, there are great box cake mixes out there. First, they’ve come a long way in their quality and variety. Second, why would you break out the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and or cocoa powder, when all these ingredients are already measured and mixed for you!

I start with a basic box cake mix, building a flavor profile of the type of cake I’m looking to make. For example; If I’m making a chocolate cake, adding brewed coffee will enhance the chocolate flavor. I also like to add Ricotta cheese to the cake batter. These ingredients I’ve mentioned. ultimately enhance or make for a more tender cake.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Total Time: 45-55 minutes (Baking time may vary depending on the type and size of the pan you use)
Equipment: parchment paper, 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch square pan
Yields: 9 slices

Note: I’m using a store-bought pumpkin spice for this recipe. I’ve also included a homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe below.

Ingredients For Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of cake flour
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup of chopped pecans (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons), melted unsalted butter

Ingredients For Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice:
4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 pinch of allspice

Directions For Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice:
In a small bowl, whisk the spices together until combined. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

For The Pumpkin Spice Cake:
1 box vanilla cake mix (16.5 oz. Duncan Hines French Vanilla)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4  cup granulated sugar
1 cup of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix
1/2 cup Ricotta cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of water
pinch of Kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:
For the topping:
Using a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, cake flour, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a spatula until thick crumbles form. Set aside while preparing the cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For The Cake Batter:
Spray pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, then spray the parchment paper. Note: This will allow for easy removal.

In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add oil, vanilla extract, sugars, pumpkin pie mix puree, and ricotta cheese. Once the mixture is smooth, add 1 egg at a time until incorporated.

In a medium size bowl, add the box cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and Kosher salt. Whisk these ingredients together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix! Note: If you are doing this by hand, you can use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading into an even layer. Cover with the crumb mixture. If needed, break up the larger crumbs into smaller ones.

Place into oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester, inserted into the center, comes out clean, and the center of the cake barely jiggles. Remove from oven and let cool in the loaf pans for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Top the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Crispy Pork Belly

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Pork Belly seems to be one of the most sought-after cuts of meat. The Iron Chef show is who really brought this cut to the forefront. In restaurants today, it’s become one of the hottest items to order. I mean, once you’ve ordered the Pork Belly, you’ll most likely always order it no matter the style it’s being served. It’s that delicious!  I sometimes think we may be a little slow when it comes to trying new things. Many Asian cuisines, have for many years, implemented Pork Belly into a variety of their dishes.

I have a great and easy way to prepare Crispy Pork Belly at home so it will come out tender, golden, with a crispy top. This recipe doesn’t require scoring the skin in any way. This will allow you to slice it later and it will retain its integrity. I think it’s worth mentioning, that Shaoxing rice wine is available in most Asian markets today. If you adore Asain cuisine and want to make delicious Asian dishes at home, Shaoxing rice wine should be a pantry staple.

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Yields: 10 large pieces
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours to overnight
Cook Time:  roughly 1 hour 10 minutes
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
2-pound pork belly
1 cup of Kosher salt

Marinade:
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 cloves of minced garlic

Directions:
Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the Pork Belly completely dry. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour them into a rectangle style baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the pork belly.

Carefully place the Pork Belly into the baking dish making sure only the meat touches the marinate. The skin on the top must remain completely dry. If the marinade level is too high, then discard any extra by pouring some of it off. Place the baking dish with the pork belly and marinade into the frig for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.. Completely line a roasting pan with foil. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top to hold the Pork Belly.

Remove the baking dish with the marinated pork belly from the frig. While the pork belly is still in the baking dish, spread 1 cup of Kosher salt evenly over the fat cap of the pork belly as seen in the pictures above.  Next, transfer the Pork Belly onto the wire rack. The Pork Belly will cook above the water and the drippings will fall into the water.

Note: If one part of the Pork Belly is slightly lower or shorter on one side, use an oven-safe item to prop up that side so the pork will cook evenly. Bake for around 40 minutes.

Remove the pan with the Pork Belly and increase the temperature to 470 degrees F. The salt should have formed a crust which you can easily remove. You’ll be able to see the Pork Belly,  in the side by side pictures, with the removed salted fat cap above.

Once the temperature of the oven has reached 470 degrees F., place the Pork Belly back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. The skin should be bubbly and crisp. The internal temperature should be 165-degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Crispy Pork Belly is a great appetizer and one I know you’ll make over and over.

 

 

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Chipotle And Cola Crock-Pot Pulled Pork

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The slow cooker is one of the greatest inventions EVER!. Set it and forget it. Every busy person has to just love a Crock-Pot. My Chipotle And Cola Crock-Pot Pulled Pork has to be my absolute favorite recipe for pulled pork. It’s so easy and delicious. If you’d like to see my Slow Cooked Pulled Pork or my Fennel Slaw recipes, click on the links at the bottom of the page

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I chose bone-in pork shoulder (or pork butt) because anything with a bone will give you more flavor, the boneless will work fine too. Take a knife and score the top (as seen in the pictures), then season really well with Kosher salt and dark brown sugar all over the top.

Set the pork butt (fat side up) on top of the onions. To the top of the pork, add 1 whole can of Chipotle pepper along with the Adobo sauce. Leave the Chipotle peppers whole and just spread them out with the sauce all over the top of the pork.

Next, add the cola (coke) and unsalted chicken broth, allowing the liquids to just drizzle down from all over the top of the pork until they settle at the bottom. I set the slow cooker for 10 hours on high, place the lid on and let it do its thing.

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Eight hours into the cooking process, flip the pork over and continue cooking. Be careful here because the bottom part of the pork is really tender from sitting in the juices. When you go to turn the meat, use two sets of tongs for extra support.

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After the timer goes off and the pork is fully cooked and falling apart, carefully transfer the pork onto a plastic cutting board and shred away. I use to forks for this task. Place all the pork back into the pot with all its cooking liquid, cooked onions, and garlic.

This is when I add my favorite barbecue sauce in. If you have homemade sauce, great, if not, your favorite store-bought is just fine.

Toss the barbecue sauce through really well so that it coats all the pork and you’re done. Serve it on your whatever type of bun you like, maybe with some pickles or slaw. This is when SWEET meets HEAT! This Chipotle And Cola Crock-Pot Pulled Pork is going to be a roller coaster for your taste buds for sure.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 hours in the Crock-Pot, on high
Yields: 8-10 sandwiches or servings
Equipment: Large Crock-Pot

Ingredients:
3-pound bone-in pork butt, fat cap scored (pork shoulder)
3 large onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1 can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo
1/4 cup of coke
1/4 cup chicken broth, unsalted
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce (favorite brand)

Directions:
Place the onions and garlic in the bottom of the Crock-Pot. Set the scored pork butt on top of the onions. Season the top with Kosher salt, dark brown sugar. Add the Chipotle Peppers along with the Adobo sauce all over the top.

Next, add the cola (coke) and unsalted chicken broth, allowing the liquids to just drizzle down from all over the top of the pork until they settle at the bottom.

Set the Crock-Pot to cook for 10 hours on high. Two hours (8 hours into cooking time) before the timer goes off, flip the pork butt and continue cooking.

Carefully remove the pork onto a cutting board and shred the meat. Then add the shredded pork back into the cooking liquid. Finish by adding the barbecue sauce. Toss the sauce through so that all the meat gets nicely coated. Pulled pork is ready to serve.

Serve hot alongside your favorite side dishes or make sandwiches.

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

Fennel Slaw

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Sunday Gravy

Sunday Gravy (2)

In our house, tomato sauce was referred to as Sunday Gravy.  I remember my mom and nana putting the tomatoes through a food mill. They preferred a strained version of their Sunday Gravy.

Over the years I’ve taken my Nana’s basic recipe and made a few changes. My nana never mixed meat into her sauce. The sauce with the meat was always separate from the tomato sauce that went over the pasta. I prefer my Sunday Gravy to be full of meat. I suppose I’ve started a new tradition.

Sunday Gravy

Sweet Italian Sausage

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven with lid, 8-inch sauté pan with lid, mesh sieve

Ingredients:
1 pound of Sweet Italian sausage (5 links)
1 pound ground sirloin (90% lean 10% fat)
1-28-ounce cans of San Marzano, crushed
1-28-ounce can of San Marzano, whole tomatoes
1 yellow onion, small dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, 1/4 inch dice
1 fresh bay leaf (substitute dried)
2 1/2 cups of unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, quartered (optional)
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup of red wine of your choice (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon  of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of fresh basil

Directions:
Start by dicing the onion, carrot and mincing the garlic. Set those aside before starting the meat.

Place the 5 sausage links into a small sauté pan with 2 cups of unsalted chicken stock and cover. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer (low boil) for 15 minutes. Transfer the sausage links to a plate. Drain the fat and liquid from the sauté pan, return the links back to the pan. Turn the heat medium-high and cook the sausage links until they reach golden brown in color, around 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the sausage links to a plate and set aside.

In the same sauté pan, don’t bother removing any of the fat left from the sausage it will flavor the beef, add the ground sirloin. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. On medium-high heat, sauté the ground beef while breaking up the meat up with a wooden spoon. Once the meat is completely brown, 7 to 10 minutes, remove from the heat, using a mesh sieve drain any fat. Transfer the ground beef to a bowl and set aside.

In a Dutch oven heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and tomato paste stirring occasionally. Next, add the carrots, continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, minced garlic, dried oregano, bay leaf, and thyme, stir to combine, cooking for another 5 minutes.

Pour in the Cabernet and 1/2 cup of unsalted chicken stock. Bring to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. Allow the liquids to reduce by half before adding the meat back into the pot, around 5 minutes.

Finally, add the crushed and the whole peeled tomatoes. Using a pair of kitchen shears cut the whole tomatoes in half. Stir gently and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 3 1/2 hours taste for seasoning to see if you need to add a little more salt. Turn off the heat and add chopped fresh basil and stir. The sauce is done put a lid on it and keep warm until pasta is cooked

Cook the pasta of your choice in boiling salted water until al dente. My Nana always told me do not to drown your pasta in sauce, use it as a condiment. You want a little of everything but, you want the Sunday Gravy to compliment the pasta.  It really is so much better this way.

 

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