Crock Pot Pork Loin Roast with Potatoes, Apples & Sauerkraut

Last fall, I cooked a delicious recipe of “Pork Loin Roast with Potatoes, Apples & Sauerkraut” in my crock pot. This was in honor of Oktoberfest, that great beer-drinking festival which is celebrated every autumn in Munich, Germany. Although Octoberfest has long since passed, my slow cooked pork roast with all the fixings makes for a satisfying winter meal. Every now and then, I’ll get out my crock pot. It is the perfect way to cook a large roast which needs moist heat and time to cook and tenderize it. And I love sauerkraut and potatoes; we usually have a jar of sauerkraut in the refrigerator — just because. This is such an easy recipe; simply add the ingredients to the crock pot, turn the setting to high, and leave it alone. In three hours, supper is ready. In the meantime, I became curious about German heritage in New Orleans after a friend shared the story of her great-grandfather. He was a German immigrant to the city in the late 1800’s and became the beer master at the Weckerling Brewing (now the site of the World War II museum). After researching the subject little further, I discovered that New Orleans was quite a German beer-brewing and beer drinking city at one time. I’ve shared my eclectic “discoveries” on that subject at the end of my blog post. It is for the folks who like history in addition to cooking!

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Duchess Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter Sage

I walked into Whole Foods Grocery Store to return gift items at the Amazon Customer Service Center and walked out with Louisiana sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes were right inside the entrance to the store. Too tempting to walk by them without purchasing several. This root vegetable has lots of nutritional value. Plus, they are in season and inexpensive. So, there you go — three good reasons for why to purchase sweet potatoes. Today, I am making “Duchess Sweet Potatoes” which is a jazzed up concoction of mashed potatoes. I added browned butter with sage to give a upscale flavor. I even located my pastry piping bag and star tip to bake the potatoes little swirl shapes which is what makes “Duchess Sweet Potatoes” special. These creamy potatoes are just as good for when baked in a casserole dish as piped onto a platter for a fancy holiday dinner.

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Brown Sugar Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow & Pecan Topping

Here is a simple, yet slightly decadent sweet potato recipe, which is perfect for the holidays. The scent of aromatic spices and toasty pecans warm up the kitchen as fresh sweet potatoes bake in a brown sugar glaze. Even if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes, this recipe is hard to resist. And best of all, it is easy to make. The most difficult part of this recipe is peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes. I like to share sweet potato recipes in the autumn; since Louisiana-harvested sweet potatoes are so readily available. Plus, they are quite nutritious. This year I am sharing a holiday recipe which deviates a bit from the nutritional angle — but this recipe is so very good — serve it for a special occasion.

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Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries in the Air Fryer

My daughter-in-law gave me a package of a Za’atar-seasoning blend which was intended for use as an olive oil dipping sauce. She loves Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and had an extra packet to share. How thoughtful, and now I have a new cooking adventure! Rather than making a dipping sauce for pita bread, I used the Za’atar spice blend to flavor sweet potato wedges. The za’atar gave a totally different flavor profile to the sweet potatoes and it was a nice change from Cajun-type spices — which are typically “hot” and require a strong palate to eat. The “Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries” were delicious. Best of all, I successfully roasted the small batch of sweet potato wedges in my air fryer — yeah, go air fryer. This three-ingredient sweet potato recipe is so simple!

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Easy Cook: Zucchini, Cherry Tomato & Couscous Medley

Here’s a rather unique dish for using some of the abundance of zucchini which shows up in our gardens, grocery stores and farmer’s markets each summer. This recipe is simple to mix up and quite tasty. The dish pairs roasted zucchini squash and cherry tomatoes with couscous and a splash of red wine vinegar. What is couscous? It is sort of like a pasta which is about the size of small barley. This pasta-like ingredient sits on my kitchen shelf, lonely, just waiting for a recipe to come along to use it. Here’s a great pairing — the neutral couscous blends well with the tomatoes and zucchini. We really like this recipe!

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Yellow Squash Ratatouille

It looks like I am going to have a bumper crop of yellow squash this summer if my giant squash bushes keep growing. I am actually observing a few bees in my garden; that’s a good sign. If yellow squash is fixed properly–it is very tasty. Otherwise, it can turn out to be the vegetable that nobody likes. To get ready for my explosion of squash, I am trying to recall all the squash dishes that taste really good! Today I am making an easy recipe which marries yellow squash with tomatoes and herbs. The dish bakes slowly in the oven which allows all the herbs and spices to meld with the squash and tomatoes. Even if you are not a fan of squash — the dish tastes great! I served the ratatouille with pasta.

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Easy Cook: Skillet Zucchini and Corn Sauté

Everyone should have a couple of good zucchini recipes for the summertime. This squash is so plentiful and inexpensive during the summer months; it’s a great way to get fresh vegetables into a person’s meals. And cooking zucchini doesn’t have to be difficult. My recipe for “Skillet Zucchini and Corn Sauté” sort of sneaks the zucchini into the dish. It is turning out to be one of our favorite zucchini recipes. The dish has only a few ingredients, uses “one pot” (a skillet) and tastes great. Let’s eat zucchini!

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Authentic Cajun Dirty Rice

This week I’m featuring a recipe for “authentic” “Cajun Dirty Rice.” What is so special about “Cajun Dirty Rice”? When this recipe is made properly, it is absolutely delicious. Long ago, I worked in a small town outside of Baton Rouge. Upon leaving work, I would drive out of my way just to purchase a helping of “Cajun Dirty Rice” from a local fried chicken joint, “Danny’s Fried Chicken.” It was that good. This is one of those recipes which you will probably never find outside of Louisiana but it epitomizes Cajun cooking to me. It is full of the “Cajun Holy Trinity” of vegetable seasonings, fluffy long grain rice, meat, green onions and spices — yes, this dish can be quite “hot.” The mixture is slowly cooked on the stove to blend the flavors. It reminds me of a “jazzed-up” rice pilaf. This recipe does include two “secret” ingredients which make it unique. Read on.

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Louisiana Strawberry and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For a few fleeting weeks in March, April and May, Louisiana strawberries ripen and are at their peak. You can find these luscious berries in local grocery stores and farmers markets. What is so special about Louisiana strawberries? I compare them to vine ripened tomatoes versus those which have been grown to travel long distances to markets. Louisiana strawberries are sweet, juicy and aromatic. They are picked when ripe; hence they are perishable and really are not suitable for transport to far away markets. Today I am enjoying these strawberries in a salad along with fresh bibb lettuce that I grew in my garden. I added feta cheese for flavor and nutrition, sliced almonds for crunch and served my salad with a Sweet Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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Instant Pot Magic: Let’s Cook Dried White Beans & Smoked Cajun Tasso

I love my Instant Pot for many reasons. One is speed. Some foods, such as dried beans, cook much faster when using the pressure setting on an Instant Pot. Now I can cook healthy dried beans in a reasonable amount of time (rather than all day). Although there are differences between types of beans, I have developed a “template” recipe for cooking white beans –Navy, Great Northern, cannellini or lima beans. This is a one-pot recipe; everything is done in the Instant Pot. No need to soak the beans overnight. The Instant Pot does that function. Then add seasonings, smoked Cajun Tasso or other smoked meat, the soaked beans and let the Instant Pot finish the job. No need to keep checking on the beans as the Instant Pot regulates the temperature and keeps track of the cooking time. In addition to being a tasty meal, dried beans are full of healthy fiber and other nutritional benefits. So, let’s start the New Year with some healthy dried beans cooked in an Instant Pot. Here is a bowl of white beans and ham (made with Navy beans).

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