Carolina Pulled Pork with Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

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A few weeks back, my manfriend/lover boy/better half spent a romantic weekend away to celebrate our anniversary.  We stayed in a really cute town and did some (window)shopping and a lot of eating.  Of course in this really cute town, there was a really cute specialty foods store.  And of COURSE we went in.  Upon entering, we were thrilled to find an assortment of locally produced condiments, baked goods, and WINE.  We splurged on two amazing bottles of wine (which we were lucky enough to taste beforehand).  In addition, we fell in love with a Carolina Gold BBQ sauce.  And if you know me, you know you don’t have to twist my arm to make some pulled pork.  Obviously we bought some and obviously I made pulled pork.  Blah blah.

Here’s the recipe for the pork:  http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/carolina-pulled-pork-sandwiches

I would recommend using whatever BBQ sauce you love.  We also made homemade sweet potato chips. Here’s my recipe for those:

Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

1-2 cups canola oil
2 medium sweet potatoes
sea salt flakes

Pour oil into a medium saucepan to a depth of 1-1 1/2″.  Turn heat to medium and heat oil to 320 degrees.  Slice the sweet potatoes as thinly as possibly (a mandoline is extremely handy for this recipe).  When the oil reaches 350 degrees, carefully add about 10-15 slices of sweet potato at a time to the oil.  Allow potatoes to fry until they are golden brown around the edges.  Remove chips quickly and carefully from the oil and put on paper towels to drain.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt while still warm.  Repeat frying process with remaining potato slices and enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Balsamic-Sage Brown Butter

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I did something awesome.

I, like, actually made the best thing I’ve ever eaten this weekend.

And as a bonus?  I had other people eat it who agreed.  WITNESSES.

So, this is a recipe I came across ages ago and knew I had to try.  #1. Gnocchi is my favorite. #2. Sweet potatoes are my life. #3. Brown butter.  #4. I ADDED PANCETTA.

Yes, you read that correctly.  As if this dish wasn’t already divine, I decided to add some bacon.  Everyone’s lives just got a lot better.  I have a few justifications for this.  One of them is:  Just because.  The other one is real and is: The salty, fatty pancetta contrasted the sweetness of the sweet potato and balsamic in an insane way.  By insane I mean undoubtedly good.

I’m going to keep this brief because I feel like my words are only preventing you from making this and also eating this, so just leave right now and make this OK??

Here’s the recipe you need: http://www.aidamollenkamp.com/2012/11/sweet-potato-gnocchi-with-balsamic-sage-brown-butter/

*I bought a 1/4 lb of pancetta and browned it in a pan until it was crispy.  I then added it to the dish when I tossed the gnocchi with the sauce.  DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE PANCETTA.

Best of luck.  Now off you go…

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Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

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It snowed this week.  I mean, it’s the second weekend of November and all of Chicagoland has already had a light blanket of the fluffy, white stuff.  It’s like the universe knew I needed an extra little push to turn up the Christmas tunes.  Judge me, I’m perfectly fine with it.

In addition to the inappropriately early Christmas celebrating, make some cookies.  It only makes sense.  No wonder this time of year does nothing for my waistline.  All I want to do is bake things and eat them while cuddling under a cozy blanket.  That’s the very opposite of exercising, in case you were wondering.

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These cookies are amazeballs mostly because of the addition of brown butter.  Basically you melt a stick of butter until little brown bits form at the bottom and caramelize.  It’s good, folks.  Real good.

Mine turned into little nugget cookies I believe because I put the dough in the freezer to chill.  Ugh, I was running short on time.  They turned out just slightly denser than I would’ve liked, but the flavor was still on POINT.

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I found the recipe on one of my favorite food blogs How Sweet It Is.

You can find it here:  http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/03/brown-butter-oatmeal-chunk-cookies/

I did alter the recipe slightly by adding butterscotch chunks in addition to the chocolate chips.  I just halved the amount of chocolate chips and added a 1/2 cup of butterscotch morsels.  Yum.

Even if you didn’t get any snow this week, you should still make these.  And if your Harry Connick Jr. Christmas album magically starts to play, I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

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Caramel Shortbreads

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I recently took a stand against pumpkin flavored things which many may feel is not only wrong, but Un-American.  If you share this opinion, I gotchu.  It’s not that I dislike pumpkin.  In fact, I quite enjoy it.  BUT, I am a little peeved at pumpkin for thinking it has a place in every dessert, dish, scent, decoration, and children’s costume this time of year.  We can’t all be good at everything, pumpkin.

Would you like to know which Fall flavor know’s its place and excels every time?

Caramel.

Caramel is chewy and buttery and delicious and sweet and rich and I love it.  I love you, caramel.  I love you for sticking to what you do best and making no apologies.  Can you be added to a multitude of desserts, thus improving its richness and flavor?  Yes.  Can you be added to hot holiday drinks to add a depth of warmth and comfort that is unmatched?  Absolutely.  Thank you, caramel, for being the quiet hero of the Fall season and for not feeling the pressure from your friend pumpkin to up the cockiness.  We are all grateful.

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If you would like to celebrate the Fall season with me and enjoy my favorite flavor, then make these Caramel Shortbreads.  After learning that bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate were NOT, in fact, the same thing, I omitted the chocolate on most of them and opted to melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips to decorate a few.  I used them as a small going away treat for my best friend who recently moved.

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I used this recipe from Style Me Pretty:  http://www.stylemepretty.com/living/2013/06/12/sweet-salty-shortcake-bars/

Although the caramel is quite rich, the shortbread cuts the sweetness and adds an awesome texture.  I didn’t even miss the chocolate!  These would make a great hostess treat for all of the holiday parties that fill our calendars this time of year.  Just don’t forget to keep a few for yourself!

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