Easy Pulled Pork


My favorite thing to make, when friends come to visit, is anything that will make my house smell amazing while it’s cooking. This recipe fits the bill perfectly!
NOTE: While I roasted this pork in the oven, you could easily make this into a crock pot recipe.

  • Boneless Pork Shoulder – Mine was just under 5 pounds
  • Dry onion soup mix
  • Red wine – I used Boordy Vineyards Cabernet
This is the pork I used for this recipe


  • Remove netting from pork shoulder and toss in a gallon ziploc bag with dry onion soup mix and 1/2 cup red wine.
  • Marinate pork overnight.
Pork in marinade of onion soup mix and red wine
  • Remove pork from bag and sear on stovetop in cast iron pot.
  • Once all sides are browned, add another splash of red wine and cover.
  • Place pot in 300* oven to roast.
Pork, after 2 hours of roasting. This is my mother’s cast iron pot.
  • Roast, low and slow, until pork shreds easily.
  • Serve on homemade rolls for a delicious and easy dinner
Easy Pulled Pork, ready to eat!

I love to use my mom’s heavy cast iron pot. This is my favorite pot to use for low/slow cooking (pulled pork, pulled chicken, roasts of any sort) but I also love using it for soups and stews. While there are many options for a large pot, this specific one always reminds me of cooking with my mom.

This recipe is a great one to keep on hand for feeding a crowd. I’ll make it again in a few weeks when my son and his friends come for the weekend, but I’ll add a large pork butt roast so there’s enough food to go around. I like to make homemade kaiser rolls to complete the meal.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – let me know if you ever try it!


Chicken Divan Casserole

I have very fond memories of my mom making Chicken Divan casserole throughout my childhood. The recipe she used was based on one from Aunt Treva, my grandfather’s sister, and had lots of “cream of” soups included to make the sauce. It was always yummy, but I decided that I wanted to create a healthier version.

When searching for a similar recipe as the one from my childhood, I found a fabulous one created by Natasha Bull of http://www.saltandlavendar.com. Her original recipe can be found here: https://www.saltandlavender.com/chicken-divan/ but I needed to adjust the flavors to match what I was trying to recreate. If you’re looking for a cheesy, creamy chicken and broccoli casserole, look no further… this one is terrific.

For me, simply adding curry powder to the recipe above wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I played around with it until I created something that made sense for me. I also trimmed everything down to make an easy meal for two + 1 leftover serving. This recipe will make 3 servings in a 9×9 baking dish.


  • Broccoli florets – I used a small bag from the local store
  • Chicken Breast – I shredded two breasts from a rotisserie chicken but you can also use leftover chicken or even turkey
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • 3/4 c almond milk – you can use a mixture of almond milk and half & half if you prefer
  • 2 T whipped cream cheese
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp white wine – use what you have available/open but I also use this wine to thin the sauce before adding the cheese
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese – separate in half
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 10 Ritz crackers (approximate)


Preheat your oven to 375*F.

Prepare your broccoli for the casserole. After trimming down the broccoli into bite-size pieces, put all the florets in the bottom of the 9×9 baking dish. Lay a piece of paper towel over the broccoli and lightly dampen it with some white wine. Microwave the broccoli on HIGH for 2-3 minutes or until the broccoli is lightly cooked and still crisp. NOTE: if you’re using a metal dish, you can microwave the broccoli in the original bag and layer the cooked broccoli onto the bottom of the baking dish.

Layer your shredded chicken on top of the broccoli.

Make your sauce. Start by melting the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk until combined and the mixture starts to bubble. Let the butter/flour mixture cook until it begins to get slightly toasty. Slowly add your milk and whisk to combine, then cook this mixture until it begins to thicken. Add the cream cheese (I like the whipped version b/c it’s light and combines fairly easily – if you use a block of cream cheese, I would decrease to 1T), whisking to combine. Add in your spices (mustard, Worcestershire, wine, curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder) and taste the sauce, adjusting as needed. Add salt and pepper if desired. NOTE: if sauce is too thick, add a splash of wine or almond milk. I have been known to add 1/4c-1/2 cup of wine to thin the sauce. Be aware that the sauce will thicken when you add the cheese. Remove the sauce from stove top and stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Pour sauce over the chicken/broccoli mixture in your baking dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese then crush Ritz crackers over the entire casserole.

Bake casserole, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes. Cheese should be melted, crackers should be browned, and the sauce should be bubbling. Let casserole sit for 5 minutes before portioning out and serving.

Recipe: Red Breakfast Hash

I’m sending this recipe to The Today Show for a segment by Joy Bauer on healthy apple recipes. The writing below is a bit different than my typical babbling about how to make something (I thought this might sound more professional) but I wanted to share this recipe with you all first.  It’s just so darn tasty… I hope you agree!

I make a Red Breakfast Hash that is a great brunch recipe – full of flavor and color!  I’ve put a few variations on my wine blog (www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) but this is one of my favorite offerings.  The recipe can be increased or decreased as needed and it uses up any leftover baked potatoes or extra veggies left in your fridge, so it’s healthy AND a good value.RedBreakfastHash

Basic Ingredients for two:

*1 tablespoon butter

*one baked potato, diced

*one onion, diced

*one apple, cored and diced (I like to leave the skin on)

*Red Wine (I use whatever is in my fridge at the time)

*Salt/pepper to taste

*2 eggs (plus some white vinegar to poach eggs)


  1. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet and saute’ potato, onion, and apple until browned and a little crispy.
  2. Add red wine to your skillet and give your potato mixture some time to soak up all that flavor and color. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. While you’re working on #1 and #2, boil some water with some white vinegar added and drop the eggs in to poach just before your wine is totally absorbed.
  4. To serve, divide the red potato mixture onto two plates, top with the poached eggs and break the yolk to share that yummy goodness with the rest of your food.
  5. ENJOY!

I came up with this recipe while working at a winery in VA.  There’s an old joke that goes “what do you call a meal without wine?  Breakfast”, so I decided that I had to fix that problem.  This can be made healthier by using more of the onion/apple mixture, but I really like using a 1:1:1 ratio so the flavors are easily recognizable.  You can also add sautee’d peppers into the mix, if you’d like.  If you’re not a “poached egg fan”, feel free to fry the egg or simply use Fat-free egg substitute as your egg choice.

Note:  the photo mashup I included was created on Picmonkey, using iPhone photos of the food in various stages of creation.  I like to use these on my website to entice people into trying to make my recipes, since they tend to be fairly easy and enjoyable to make.

Recipe: Red Meatloaf & White Carrots

Dinner last night was one of those “comfort meals” that everyone talks about… meatloaf and mashed potatoes… classic, right?  I have a habit of taking classics and adding a new “wine’d up” spin on things, so this dinner was no different.  I was craving meatloaf and I had a small bag of baby carrots in the fridge, so I came up with a way to cook both dishes at the same time.  Brilliant, right?  Actually, it was more of a fluke the first time I tried it last week, but it really does work!RedMeatloaf&WhiteCarrots

I started out making the meatloaf.  I used one package ground turkey, two palms full of seasoned bread crumbs, some dark red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon that my neighbor had given me… yummy!), a hefty squirt of dijon mustard, some Montreal Steak Seasoning, an egg, and some parsley.   I mixed everything together until it was nicely combined (feel free to add a little more of the bread crumbs if it’s too moist).  Then I assembled the baking portion of the meal.

Using a loaf pan, I sprinkled a layer of baby carrots on the bottom of the pan and poured some white wine (I used the Chardonnay I had in the fridge) over top.  I then put a large piece of foil over the carrots, to create a new “loaf pan” for the meatloaf, and sprayed it with cooking spray.  I formed the meatloaf into the pan and made a bit of a well down the center.  Before I popped the pan into the 375 degree oven for an hour, I added a touch of ketchup on top for color and sweetness.

  DOnce the meatloaf had cooked for the hour, I removed it and let the pan sit for 5-7 minutes before lifting the meatloaf off the carrots and slicing the loaf for dinner.  The white wine had cooked the carrots to a perfect al dente’ and the meatloaf was dense and tasty.  Adding some homemade mashed potatoes was just the perfect accompaniment.

If you’re looking for a simple way to make comfort food, this really did it for me.  I hope you’ll try it and let me know how it turns out for you!  Enjoy….

Recipe: Wine’d Up Meatloaf

Since I’m trying to make healthy recipes that also count as comfort foods and tasty dinners, this recipe ended up as a triple winner.  My husband actually went back for seconds and I had another serving for breakfast… that, for me, makes this dinner even better.  Aren’t we always looking for a new and unique meatloaf recipe?  This one definitely earned a gold star in my book.WinedUpMeatloaf

I started with a package of ground turkey.  NOTE: I like using ground turkey instead of ground beef in most of my recipes because I think it takes flavors better and more thoroughly than beef… but you should feel free to use whatever sort of ground meat you like best.  I placed the thawed meat in a bowl and added a palmful of parmesan cheese, a half an onion (diced), 1/3 an apple (diced), two cloves of garlic (diced fine), a big squirt of horseradish mustard, some red wine (I love using James River Cellars’ Rad Red or Boordy’s Petite Cabernet for this sort of dish), and seasonings (I used herbs de provence and salt/pepper).  I also needed some breadcrumbs, and I didn’t have any on hand, so I diced four pieces of toast and added that to the mixture as well.  Once everything was in my bowl, I gently blended it all together with my hands… best tools ever!

I like to change up how I form meatloaf patties from time to time, but I decided that I’d go “old school” and just bake this recipe in a traditional loaf pan.  Since I didn’t have ketchup in the fridge (I’m going to have to get some at the store the next time I go), I spooned a bit of spaghetti sauce over the top of my meatloaf and then sprinkled it with a bit of sugar to replicate the taste of ketchup.  Once baked (in a 375 degree oven for an hour), I found this dish to be thoroughly cooked, yet still moist enough to be flavorful.  I loved it.

Meatloaf is a fun recipe to use when you’re feeling creative.  I don’t always use horseradish mustard… I rarely use apple… it’s just a great way to play with different ingredients to make a delicious meal.  Try it sometime and let me know what you think… It’s fun!

Recipe: Stuffed Pork Chops with Gewurztraminer Gravy

This dinner really had a great “wow” factor… the flavors were big, the presentation looked good, and the taste was amazing.  I really thought it was stellar, especially since much of it was simple “Use The Force” type cooking…. my favorite kind, right?!

I had purchased two thick-cut pork chops when they were on sale at my local grocery store a few weeks ago and popped them in the freezer.  Since tonight was supposed to be  “just the two of us” dinner evening, I thought they’d be perfect.  They didn’t take a tremendous amount of time to thaw (especially since I wasn’t planning on letting them thaw completely) and I was able to put things together fairly easily.

While the chops defrosted a bit in the microwave, I made a tiny batch of stuffing.  For things like this, I really do like to use a packaged container of stuffing.  I keep a container of dry stuffing mix in my pantry and can use as little or as much as needed… very convenient!  I scooped out about half of what was left in the container (just under 1/3 cup) and added a little margarine (maybe a thumb’s worth?) and some wine (rocking the Gewurztraminer theme, this was my wine of choice for the night… James River Cellars Gewurztraminer… Mmmmm) and tossed it together in a measuring cup.  I warmed up the mixture in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds (until the margarine was melted) and then stirred to get all the crusty bread into the liquid to soften and re-hydrate.

My biggest challenge with this meal was to stuff the pork chops.  This (to me) seems much easier when the chops are still slightly frozen.  I use a thin paring knife and make a small slit in one side, then wiggle the knife back and forth to make an open pocket in the chop, being careful not to make the original slit too big.  I like to check the size of the pocket with my fingers before attempting to insert the stuffing.  **Make sure not to cut the entire way through the chop but try and get the pocket as close to the edges as possible.


Once the pocket seems deep enough, divide the stuffing into both chops, doing your best to push it around to fill all the edges.  I then let the chops rest until I was ready to start making dinner.

Using a medium saute’ pan, I added a small pat of butter, and a drizzle of olive oil, heating them in the pan until bubbling.  I seasoned the chops on each side with salt, pepper, and a touch of cracker crumbs.  Panko bread crumbs would work well here, but I used crushed saltines since that’s what I had in the cupboard.  I let the chops cook on medium-high heat in the butter/oil mixture until all sides were slightly toasty.

At this point, I poured a generous amount of Gewurztraminer wine into the pan, sprinkled some Hungarian Paprika over the chops, and popped the entire pan into a pre-heated 375 degree oven while I finished mashing and seasoning some golden potatoes that had been simmering on the stove top.  You can serve these chops with any sort of side dish you want (or none at all, if you prefer) but I love mashed potatoes and gravy, so this was “it” for me.  Egg noodles, pasta, macaroni, or even rice would all be fine accompaniments with this dish… make what you and your family like.

I didn’t really time the chops while they were in the oven.  You can see how much wine I poured into the pan before I put the pan in the oven and it had cooked into the chops by the time I pulled them out, so my best guess would be that they roasted for about 20 minutes or so.  Seriously… I really make dinner this way… The Force is my friend… 🙂

Once the chops looked done, I removed them from the pan, put them on a pewter dish, and put them back in the oven for a few minutes while I made the gravy.  Here’s my favorite way to make gravy… I put the saute’ pan on medium heat and added a pat of butter and use that to help lift off the “bits” from the bottom of the pan.  Once melted, I added a spoonful of flour and let it bubble together and start to get toasty.  Before it starts to burn, add your wine (ok…. you can use stock at this point if you’d prefer… I just prefer to use wine) and slowly whisk and add more wine until the mixture thickens and “looks” like gravy.  I seasoned the mixture with a little salt and pepper, as well as a splash of cream.  I had some leftover heavy cream, so I used that, but normally I would have just used the skim milk that is a staple in my fridge.  Once everything is whisked together and the gravy tastes “just right”, I plated our dinner.

Mashed potatoes, a stuffed pork chop, and gravy drizzled around to look pretty… delicious, no?  The chops hadn’t overcooked… the potatoes were fluffy and lightly seasoned… the gravy had enough texture and taste to hold everything together… it was a wonderful thing.

A homemade dinner to share with my husband is balm to my soul… and I am always glad that he enjoys eating the meals I make.  Sometimes, it’s all about the simple pleasures in life.

May you find, and feed, the simple pleasures in your own life…

Recipe: Red Macaroni and Cheese

I love a simple recipe.  I also love to take a simple recipe, like one for macaroni and cheese, and turn it on its ear by adding and altering ingredients to create something entirely different and entirely delicious.  This recipe started out as one of those creative journeys into my childhood favorites… but with an added spark of the here-and-now.

I’ve always loved macaroni and cheese.   It’s a secret indulgence, a hidden splurge, and a step beyond the “blue box” staple that most think of when “macaroni and cheese” is mentioned.  Lots of chefs do their own rendition of this meal and I, while not a chef, have a version that I have served to hungry throngs of volleyball players more times than I can count.  This recipe, howeRed Mac and Cheesever, is one that is heartier than most, with the addition of ground turkey.   While a variation of the original, it’s got the staying power of a great meal.  Feel free to play with the ingredients to suit your own family’s tastes!


  • 1 package ground turkey
  • ¼ cup Mesquite steak seasoning
  • 1 cup Red Wine (I like using Cabernet Franc or Rad Red)
  • Jumbo elbow pasta
  • 2T butter
  • 2T flour
  • Milk
  • Reserve Chardonnay
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salt/pepper

Start by browning the ground turkey in a large sauce pan.  You won’t need to use a stock pot or anything very deep since you’ll be transferring the meat into a casserole dish to bake later.  Once browned, top liberally with mesquite steak seasoning and red wine, as you do in taco meat directions, and cook until the liquid is thoroughly absorbed.  I used the same amount of steak seasoning and wine as the taco seasoning packet directs (I always have to recheck that part) and the meat becomes something entirely new and really tasty.

While the meat is browning, cook your jumbo macaroni pasta to al dente and then drain.  Feel free to use another pasta shape if you prefer – I love the fat rounded shape of the jumbo elbow macaroni, so we keep that in the house for just such an occasion.

Once the meat and pasta are both cooked, blend them together in a large casserole dish.  You’ll want to make sure to mix them thoroughly so there aren’t big clumps of either meat or pasta.

Now make your cheese sauce.  Start by melting your butter and flour together and allow them time to bubble a bit to cook off the flour taste.  Alternately add both milk and white wine (equal amounts is fine) until the white sauce is smooth and thickened.  You’ll know you’re done adding liquid if the white sauce is just barely thick but has nice flavor.   I know that doesn’t sound like a very precise term, but I really do feel my way around this part of the cheese sauce.  The sauce needs time to cook and incorporate the milk and wine, so take your time at this point… it can take 7 minutes or more to add/cook the sauce until it “feels right”.  Once you’re happy with the white sauce, add liberal amount of cheese to morph this into your cheese sauce.  I sometimes add a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg before I season with salt and pepper… just a little will go a long way to make this dish your own.  Make sure to taste your cheese sauce… it’s the final touch of this casserole and needs to taste yummy before you add it to the dish.

Pour cheese sauce over meat/pasta, top with cheese, and bake casserole at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until top is nicely browned and cheese is crunchy.  Serve hot.

This is a great dinner to make a day ahead and simply bake that evening.  Since everything has already been cooked, all you’re really doing is bringing all the ingredients together into a wonderful warm meal of comforting goodness… just the right touch after a long day and a chilly drive home.  Add some warm bread and I don’t know many people who could possibly resist…. I know my family wouldn’t!

Recipe: Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie

My younger son came home from college this past weekend and, as luck would have it, I was working on Sunday… so I decided to make an easy dinner in the crockpot that we could use for a day or two.

For Dinner #1, I put a sliced onion, two fairly large pot roasts (on BIG sale at my local grocery store), salt, pepper, and a half bottle of James River Cellars’ Rad Red wine into my crock pot.  I then turned the thing on as low and slow as it would go and let it cook the entire time I was at work.  **It’s ok, really…I was only working a 6 hour shift.

When I got home, there wasn’t much more I had to do before dinner was ready.  I ladled out all the liquid into a fridge-friendly container (this stuff is gold… like a beef consume that I didn’t have to babysit?  Awesome!) and set about shredding the beef for sandwiches.  I’d already bought rolls and M sweetly went out and picked up some BBQ sauce (would have sworn we had some in the house), so this weekend dinner was a quick fix for everyone.

For Dinner #2, I started with 2 Tablespoons of flour and 2 Tablespoons of margarine.  Once the margarine was meltDeconstructed Shepherd's Pie2ed and the flour was bubbling away, I began to add some of the reserved beef consume that I’d saved from Dinner #1.  I added enough, slowly to allow things to gel nicely, until I had a good amount of sauce.  I also added a splash of worchestershire sauce and some Viognier white wine to add some depth to the sauce.   I could have eaten this with a spoon… turned into such a yummy gravy.

While playing with the sauce, I made a small, quick batch of mashed potatoes.  You could certainly use instant mashed potatoes if you’d prefer, but making homemade seems easier to me (as long as I have a little time).   When the potatoes were “mash-able”, I added some milk, margarine, and a half teaspoon of horseradish before mashing them for the topping and setting them aside.

Into the gravy went a nice amount of the shredded beef from Dinner #1.  I stirred it into the sauce and then sprinkled frozen peas on top everything.  Since the peas were frozen, I stirred them into the mixture and then topped everything with the homemade mashed potatoes and a liberal dash of paprika (for color).  It looked so tasty!

Your Shepherd’s Pie is now made… and just needs to bake a bit.  I popped the entire skillet into the oven and added a package of frozen biscuits, using the time and temperature needed to bake the bread.  Once everything was done, I plated dinner for the four of us and sat down to eat… simple, filling, and really comforting.

There’s something so great about being able to turn out an old-time dinner on a “new age” time schedule.  If you have a favorite from your childhood, there’s nothing better (IMHO) than being able to create it using some current cooking tips.  I love coming home to a house that smells of something baking in the oven.  It makes me incredibly happy to create meals for my family that remind me of when I was a child.  This dinner was one of those meals.

I hope you’ll try something like this for yourself… and may the warmth and comfort of “home” bring you a few moments of peace in an otherwise hectic day.