Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cozy up

It makes me sad that the woman credited in many food circles for "bringing back" the crock pot is Semi Homemade Sandra Lee. First of all, the Crock Pot never left. Like sexy, it didn't require a comeback. Second, Sandra Lee is the devil. Just because someone out there keeps buying her cookbooks, doesn't mean the rest of us look to her for cooking inspiration. The idea of stirring three cans of soup into a can of chicken and a block of cheese and calling it dinner gives me the shivers. That said, I am all about short cuts. Just please make one of those short cuts a rotisserie chicken instead of a can, then you don't even have to open it.

My crock pot makes me happy because there is nothing like coming home to a kitchen that smells incredible and a meal that is ready to go. I have a few go-to favorites, and this is one of them. Served with some purple cabbage slaw, it is the perfect fall dinner. No cans required.

Cider Braised Pork Roast

3 lb. boneless pork loin
4-5 apples, cored and quarted
2-3 shallots, chopped
3/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
olive oil

Blend thyme, sage, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub all over pork. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork to the pan and cook 3-4 minutes perside, or until well browned. Place apples and shallots in the bottom of the crock pot and place pork on top. Over medium heat, pour a bit of the cider into the pan to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits. Add to the crock pot with remaining cider and stock. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Like It Hot

Despite the crazy Indian Summer weather we've been having here in the Jerz, I'm in the mood for fall food. To me that means soups, stews, slow cookers, and potatoes. This week I'm fitting all of those in, heat wave or not. First up was an attempt to clear out some of the random ingredients tucked away in the fridge before we take off for the weekend. Occasionally I come up with something I totally love when I have no plans. This is totally one of those times. I can see this dish becoming a staple. It was so delicious! It becomes a really quick meal if you have some things done in advance (like extra sausage cooked from a pasta dish the night before, and the tomatoes and garlic roasted while you do laundry in the afternoon:)).

Seafood and Sausage Stew with Roasted Tomatoes

1 lb. bay scallops
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. spicy Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 head of garlic
6 medium tomatoes
3 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the top off of the head of garlic, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and wrap in foil. Place in the center of a baking dish. Slice tomatoes into quarters and arrange around the garlic. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until tomatoes are soft and begin to brown. Cool slightly. Unwrap the garlic and squeeze into a bowl, reserving half for another use. Using a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes with half of the roasted garlic. Set aside.

In a large saute pan, heat a little oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, crumbling with a spoon. Add onions and peppers and saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato puree and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add red pepper flakes, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 - 15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding scallops. (If you are using small shrimp, you can add both shrimp and scallops at the same time). Cook until scallops are opaque and shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 3 more minutes. Serve in large bowls over a hunk of crusty bread for sopping!

And by the way... Congratulations, Danielle, for winning my 5th Blogiversary Giveaway!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Celebrations and Another Giveaway!

It's been a big week. Jude celebrated his half birthday, which has me shaking my head in disbelief that our little man has been with us for a whole six months. It's crazy. I can not get over how freaking amazing he is. My awesome aunt Janine of Angel Art Photography shot his baby photos (she did my maternity photos and his newborn shots, too) and they are incredible. Seriously, if you are anywhere in the Westborough area, call her. She's magic!

We had a long visit from my parents, finished another custom wedding invitation order, welcomed E home from a 2 week business trip to Munich (conveniently scheduled during Oktoberfest, nice huh?) and then my little blog turned 5. Yep, and 5 years of blogging equals, you guessed it, a giveaway.

This year I am super excited  to have a great group of Etsy teammates who are willing to offer you guys some of their wares.   Lucky ducks, you! 

First up is a $15 gift certificate from Barbara Dannenfelser of Quilted Hugs Bibs: "I make quilted, waterproof bibs in sizes from infant to toddler with coordinating paci clips and burp cloths. I've been sewing forever and quilting for about 35 yrs. When my granddaughter was born in 2009, of course I started making quilty things for her. At some point I made her a quilted bib and everyone loved them. So, being the fabric junkie I am, I pulled all the prints I thought would be good for bibs and then bought more!" 

Check out Barbara's cute Halloween line of bibs and accessories! I love these binky clips, too!

Next up is PopsicArtPopsicArt is Joshua Zaitz, who creates whimsical 3D pop art of musicians, celebrities, iconic images and famous places. The artwork features vibrant colors and fun themes offering viewers a unique 3-D experience. Hand-cut pieces are glued layer by layer to the background picture. Since every piece of artwork is hand-cut, constructed and embellished differently, collectors of my artwork each receive a unique piece of art. Joshua is giving away this 

Dunkin Donuts Coffee Cup Logo 3D Pop Print. It measures 4 x 6 inches and is valued at $20.

You will also win your choice of either the Purple Haze Earrings or Halloween Hair Clip from Jamie of Jamie's Precious Metal. "My name is Jamie Menake and I am a jewelry artist living in New Jersey. My passion is creating beautiful jewelry that people will want to wear everyday! I work primarily with Precious Metal Clay and sterling silver. I have been studying with a pioneer in the PMC world, and seriously designing jewelry since 2005. I have two children whom I adore, so I work mostly during nap time and in the evenings." 

I will be tossing in a Halloween goodie bag from my own shop including a set of my Halloween Chalkboard Cupcake Flags a set of Recycled Chalkboard Gift Tags in Halloween colors, and a Halloween greeting card. 

The total value of this giveaway is $70.

How to enter: All you need to do is leave a comment to enter! Don't forget to leave me an email to contact you if you win.

You may of earn up to 3 extra entries for:
1. liking the Jojobean Designs Facebook page
2. Tweeting this giveaway
3. Blogging about this giveaway
Leave a new comment for each of these 3 extras with the link for varification.

This giveaway ends at midnight EST on October 10th, 2011. A winner will be chosen via

In addition to the prizes, the following shops are offering exclusive coupon codes for generous discounts in their shops!

Alicia's Jewelry Shop: 20% off your purchase using code SPECIAL811
Woodstream Dream: 15 %off your total purchase using code SNICKERBLOG15
La Classique Bonita: 25% any purchase using code HAPPYANNIVERSARY