Tag Archives: pork

Coconut Milk Braised Pork with Lemon Grass and Ginger

Coconut Milk Braised Pork with Lemon Grass and Ginger at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

When I was diagnosed a few years back with food sensitivities, I found out that any products containing whey such as milk or yogurt were off limits to me. At first this was frustrating until I realized that companies like Silk have created wonderful tasting (and easy to cook with) alternative milks like their coconut and soymilk products. (I don’t use almond milk because of my daughter’s nut allergies.)

Since I’ve discovered Silk’s dairy free and gluten free products, I’ve really bloomed as a food blogger because I’m willing to use alternative products – from milks to sweeteners – in my cooking. This makes it easier for my readers who have food sensitivities and allergies to find delicious and healthy recipes to make at home that everyone in their family will like – not just the person who has to avoid dairy or sugar!

I feel good about using Silk products because they’re made without the use of GMOs, which I know is important to many of my readers, too. Silk is a leading supporter of the Non-GMO Project and is committed to ensuring that all of their products receive their verification. Plus, their seal is displayed right on the front of most Silk products.

Silk Unsweetened Coconutmilk at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

To learn more about Silk and get an instant coupon for .75 cents off any Silk half gallon, sign up for their monthly email blasts. When you register, you can also look forward to receiving more coupons, getting news of Silk sweepstakes and promotions, and have monthly chances to win a year's supply of Silk!

You can also connect with Silk on Facebook, on Twitter @LoveMySilk, on  Instagram, and Pinterest.

Cooking with Silk Unsweetened Coconutmilk

Coconut Milk Braised Pork with Lemon Grass and Ginger at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

To show you how versatile Silks alternative milk products are, I decided to make a milk braised pork recipe using Silk Unsweetened Coconutmilk. What I especially like about using coconut milk to braise pork is that unlike cow’s milk, it doesn’t curdle and you don’t need to strain the curds out of the milk before making the gravy. Silk Unsweetened Coconutmilk also adds a wonderful but subtle coconut taste to the recipe.

I gave the coconut milk braised pork a Thai flare by using lemongrass, ginger, basil and some sriracha sauce. If you cannot find lemongrass at your supermarket, Gourmet Garden has tubes of already prepared lemongrass. (They also carry basil and ginger.)

I cooked the coconut milk braised pork in a Le Creuset round braiser with lid, but a large Dutch oven would also work. Finally, serve the braised pork on a bed of quinoa, rice or with some steamed veggies on the side. Cover with a few spoonfuls of the coconut milk gravy and you have an amazing dish the whole family will love – at least my family did. Enjoy!

Coconut Milk Braised Pork with Lemon Grass and Ginger at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Coconut Milk Braised Pork with Lemon Grass and Ginger


  • 4 pounds bone in Boston butt (shoulder) pork roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon grass
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 medium onions, cut in quarters
  • 4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons rice or corn starch


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Evenly sprinkle salt and pepper all over the pork roast.
  3. Heat a Dutch oven or braiser over medium high heat. The pot should have an oven safe lid and be big enough to hold your roast.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pot and brown the pork roast well on all sides. (Don’t forget to brown the ends, too!)
  5. Add the onion, basil, lemon grass, ginger and sriracha to the pot. Pour the coconut milk over the roast, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover the braiser with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook until the pork roast is tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the meat every 30 minutes.
  7. When done, turn off the oven, and take out the pot. Remove the pork roast from the pot, wrap in foil, and place back in oven to keep warm. Make sure the oven has been turned off!
  8. Place the pot on the stove top and bring liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the rice starch with enough liquid from the pot to form a slurry. Pour slurry into pot and stir occasionally until the coconut milk thickens. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed. If you want, use an immersion blender to puree any pieces of onion and make the coconut milk gravy free of lumps.
  10. Place the meat back into the braiser. Pour the coconut milk gravy over the meat, cut into pieces and serve with rice, quinoa or steamed vegetables flavored with a few spoonfuls of the gravy.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Total Time: 3 Hours 45 Minutes
Servings: Feeds 4 to 6 with leftovers.
  • Serving size: 1/4 to 1/6 of recipe

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.


Skillet Baked Eggs with Potatoes, Pesto & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Skillet Baked Eggs with Potatoes, Pesto & Sun Dried Tomatoes at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com Continue reading

Basil Marinated Pork Roast

Basil Marinated Pork Roast at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Savory Country Ham & Corn Fritters

Savory Country Ham & Corn Fritters at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Healthy Gluten Free Leftover Enchiladas

Leftover Enchiladas from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Balsamic & Sorghum Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Sweet Potatoes

Balsamic & Sorghum Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Sweet Potatoes at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Just because it’s fall, it doesn’t mean you have to give up summer time grilling favorites like pork ribs. No, that doesn’t mean putting on boots and a wool jacket just to get the smoker going. Instead, how about cooking up some pork loin back ribs in the slow cooker? Not only does this mean that you don’t have to check the grill or smoker all day long, but you can make this weekend favorite during the week while you’re at work! Just make sure you have a six quart slow cooker before attempting this recipe.

Sure making pork ribs in the slow cooker takes a little preparation the night before, but you’ll come home to a house that smells amazing. Plus, you’ll have a meal on the table less than 30 minutes after arriving home – much faster (let along cheaper and healthier) than hitting your favorite barbecue joint on the way home from work, too. You don’t have to worry about missing the smoky flavor either as the smoked paprika in combination with the balsamic vinegar does the trick.

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Balsamic & Sorghum Drizzling Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

This pork ribs recipe uses two of my favorite Holland House products, Balsamic Vinegar and Marsala Cooking Wine, which are both gluten free. I’ve also cooked the ribs up with some healthy sweet potatoes, which you can turn into Marsala Sweet Potato Mash if you’re in the mood. Or you can serve with a little smear of a buttery spread and a dash of sea salt. However, my favorite way is to slice up the sweet potatoes and pour on some of the Balsamic and Sorghum Drizzling Sauce, since it’s not just for the ribs. The Balsamic & Sorghum Slow Cooker Ribs goes great with a side salad and some Wine and Rosemary Quinoa, too!

This dish would also make a terrific party appetizer. Since you can fit two three pound slabs of pork loin ribs in a six quart slow cooker, just double the recipe and omit the sweet potatoes. After about five to six hours, check to see if the ribs are cooked through, but not falling apart done. Cut the ribs apart, and place the ribs back in the slow cooker for an hour or two before the party. Serve the drizzling sauce as a dipping sauce. Your guests will love ‘em!

Balsamic & Sorghum Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Sweet Potatoes at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Balsamic & Sorghum Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Sweet Potatoes

If you’re unable to find sorghum, use maple syrup, honey or agave nectar instead. Inspired by this recipe at Epicurious.com


  • 1 (3 pound) rack pork loin back ribs

For the rub

  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Holland House Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

In the slow cooker

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Holland House Marsala Cooking Wine
  • 8 small sweet potatoes, wrapped in aluminum foil

For the drizzling sauce

  • 1/2 cup “drippings” from slow cooker with fat skimmed off
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Holland House Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum syrup


For the pork ribs

  1. To make the rub, combine minced garlic, thyme, sorghum, balsamic vinegar, chile pepper, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Rub evenly over the rack of pork ribs.
  3. Place the rack of ribs inside the stoneware crock so the meat side is touching the inside of the crock. Place lid on crock and place in refrigerator to marinate overnight.
  4. In the morning, add water, marsala cooking wine, and wrapped sweet potatoes to crock. Place stoneware crock into slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours.

For the balsamic and sorghum drizzle sauce

  1. Combine drippings, water, balsamic vinegar and sorghum in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a broil over medium high heat.
  3. Lower heat to medium low. Simmer until reduced to about 1 cup – 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. Serve the Balsamic and Sorghum Drizzle Sauce on the ribs, the sweet potatoes, and anything else that may end up on your plate!
Prep Time: 1 Hour
Cook Time: 8 Hours
Total Time: 9 Hours
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 3 to 4 ribs and 2 sweet potatoes per person

Holland House Dutch Oven Giveaway!

As a Mizkan Blogger, I’m giving away a Lodge Enamel 4-Quart Dutch Oven (in blue) and three bottles of Holland House product (approximate retail value $100). Enter below!

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Slow Cooker Pork Ribs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza

Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I’m always on the lookout for food products that make it easier to get dinner on the table, like premade pizza crusts. That’s why I was excited to come across Flatout Flatbread’s Thin Crust Flatbreads Artisan Pizza at Walmart. (Find the store nearest you that sells Flatout’s Thin Crust Flatbreads here.)

I’ve been a big fan of Flatout Flatbread’s other products and was sad to give them up when I went gluten free. However, with Flatout’s Thin Crust Flatbreads, I can use these for my family and save my much more expensive gluten free pizza crusts for me. I’m sure my family will find these a bit more delicious, too.

I especially like individually sized flatbread pizzas since you can custom make them with everyone’s favorite pizza toppings – perfect for picky kids or those with food sensitivities or allergies. Flatout’s Thin Crust Flatbreads also make great party appetizers – just cutting them up into smaller, bite sized pieces. Finally, Flatout’s Thin Crust Flatbreads can be used on the grill as well as the oven.

A Seattle and Dr. Seuss inspired pizza

When I was in Seattle, I had the most wonderful salad – a chopped sirloin patty served on romaine lettuce with a runny egg on top - at Von's GustroBistro. Marvelous!

Salad with sirloin patty and egg at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I started brainstorming about doing something similar with a pizza – greens, eggs, and ham like the famous Dr. Seuss story, Green Eggs and Ham! Instead of ham, I decided to use diced prosciutto since it would be easy to evenly sprinkle it over the flatbread. For greens, I used a mix of arugula and spinach, but feel free to experiment and use your favorite lettuce greens. I also used Flatout’s Spicy Italian Thin Crust Flatbread. If it’s too spicy for you or your family, use Rustic White, Heritage Wheat, or Rosemary & Olive Oil instead.

Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Also, I should warn you there are hazards serving not fully cooked eggs to family and friends. If you have concerns, you can bake the egg until it’s cooked through. Or you can use slices of hard boiled eggs on your pizza instead. (Adjust cooking times accordingly to just melt cheese, cook greens, and warm egg slices.)

How to make Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza [VIDEO]

Check out these Flatout recipes from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet:

Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Greens, Egg & Ham Flatbread Pizza


  • 1 Spicy Italian Flatout Thin Crust Flatbread
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup shredded pizza cheese (I used a mix of parmesan, asiago, fontina, and mild provolone.)
  • 1 cup mixed greens (I used spinach and arugula.)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush on olive oil on one side of flatbread.
  3. Place flatbread oil side up on to a baking sheet or pizza peel.
  4. Evenly sprinkle prosciutto then shredded cheese on to flatbread.
  5. Cover the flatbread with greens. Make two small “wells” in the greens on either end of the flatbread to hold the eggs.
  6. Place in oven for 5 until cheese starts to melt. (If using a pizza peel, slide flatbread on to a pizza stone.)
  7. Remove pizza from oven. Carefully crack eggs into your wells in the greens. Gently put the pizza back in the oven.
  8. Continue baking for 13 minutes until the egg is cooked but still runny.
  9. Carefully remove the flatbread pizza from oven and sprinkle just the egg with a little salt and pepper. Allow to rest for a minute or two.
  10. Cut in half and serve. You can use pieces of crust to dip into the yolk. Or you can break the yolk and spread it over the surface of your pizza if you like.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 1 to 2 people
  • Serving size: 1 to 2 servings

Greens, Eggs & Ham Flatbread Pizza at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Tacos are always a go-to meal at my house when I don’t know what else to make, whether it’s fish tacos with a little homemade queso fresca, grilled carne asada tacos, or ground meat with taco seasoning. That’s why when The Motherhood asked me to cook up a Taco Night recipe with McCormick spices, I was happy to join in.

The beauty of a Family Taco Night is that it’s easy to make, easy to clean up, and everyone can usually find something they like to eat. With that in mind, I chose to do a pulled pork in my slow cooker using several spices from McCormick’s Gourmet Collection like Smoked Paprika, Chipotle Chile Pepper, and Sicilian Sea Salt along with Ground Cumin and Garlic Powder from their regular line. (Some of the McCormick spices I already had in my kitchen cabinet. Others were sent to me by The Motherhood.) I figured the smokiness of several of the spices would give the feeling of smoked pulled pork without the hassle. Plus, what could be easier to clean up than a slow cooker?

(Here's a recipe for smoked pulled pork done in a smoker that's almost as easy.)

How do you serve your tacos?

I like serving my tacos on warm soft corn tortillas street taco style with the following toppings:

  • chopped cilantro straight from the garden
  • salsa – sweet, verde and/or fresca
  • Mexican hot sauce
  • shredded Mexican-style cheese
  • crumbled queso fresca
  • wedges of lime
  • diced tomatoes
  • slices of avocado
  • chopped green onions

Feel free to use any or all of your favorite toppings along with my Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos. Or you can make a taco bowl on white or brown rice or pulled pork burritos. Leftover pulled pork can also be reheated with eggs and potatoes in a breakfast hash style dish.

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comYou’ll probably notice that I made a huge amount of pulled pork in my large, six-quart Crockpot, since you cannot get a pork shoulder smaller than six pounds here in Georgia. It’s barbecue season and people are serious about their Boston butt around these parts! If you have the same situation in your hometown, feel free to save this recipe for when you’re throwing a Taco Night party or freeze half the meat after cooking for a future Family Taco Night.

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos


  • 1 (6-pound) pork shoulder (also called “Boston butt”)
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Smoked Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Chipotle Chile Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Cumin
  • 4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Sicilian Sea Salt


  1. Trim any extra fat off of the pork shoulder and place it in your slow cooker.
  2. Place canned tomatoes and seasonings in a medium sized bowl. Stir until combined.
  3. Pour spicy tomato mixture over the pork shoulder, evenly covering it.
  4. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or until pork is tender enough to pull apart with a fork.
  5. When cooked through, removed shoulder from slow cooker and place on a large carving board or platter.
  6. Pull apart – or shred – pork with two forks. Remove any bones and discard.
  7. Strain the liquid from the slow cooker to capture smaller pieces of pork and the diced tomato.
  8. Place shredded pork in an oven safe dish and add tomatoes. Cover dish with foil and keep on warm in the oven until serving time.
  9. Place pulled pork and your favorite taco fillings on your tortilla of choice. Enjoy!
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 8 Hours
Total Time: 8 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 people with lots of leftovers or 8 people with hearty appetites!
  • Serving size: 1/4 to 1/8 of recipe

Pear Ginger Pork Chops from The Paleo Slow Cooker

Pear Ginger Pork Chops from The Paleo Slow Cooker cookbook at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

If you’re looking for a more healthful way to eat, you’ve probably heard about the Paleo diet. For those of you who haven’t, the basic idea is to eat like our hunter-gatherer ancestors did before the development of agriculture and diets heavy in grains like rice and wheat. Paleo is a protein heavy diet, but allows for vegetables, nuts and seeds. Many people feel better eating the paleo way and have lost weight or gotten rid of health problems like diabetes due to it. The Paleo diet also works well those who eat gluten free because of having celiacs or food sensitivities, since Paleo recipes don’t contain wheat or other types of glutenous foods.

Eating the Paleo way isn’t very hard to do, especially if you love to grill steaks or fish or enjoy a nice salad or sautéed veggies. However, until I came across The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way cookbook by Arsy Vartanian I never thought of using my slow cooker to cook Paleo foods. Arsy, who blogs at Rubies and Radishes, makes it look easy and delicious! Her cookbook features chapters on beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and seafood. The Paleo Slow Cooker also features recipes for appetizers, breakfast, drinks and even Paleo friendly desserts. I’m impressed! Even better, it’s a visually beautiful book with excellent photography, though I wish there was more of it.

Whether you’re a hardcore Paleo dieter or just looking to turn your health and cooking around with simple and healthy recipes, then maybe The Paleo Slow Cooker is for you! Not convinced? Try Arsy’s recipe for Pear Ginger Pork Ribs. This is a perfect dish when pears are in season, plus pork is very reasonably priced. I like that Arsy uses coconut oil in this recipe, which should really give this pork dish a lovely flavor. And yes, honey is considered OK on the Paleo diet, especially raw honey (local if you can find it). If you need to avoid honey, try using stevia instead, which is OK on the Paleo diet, has no calories, and is considered a natural sweetener.

Finally, I would double this recipe if you have a big slow cooker. That way you can have leftover pork chops the next day for lunch – gently reheat in the microwave or dice up the pork and put it in a salad or Paleo friendly stir fry!

Pear Ginger Pork Chops from The Paleo Slow Cooker cookbook at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Pear Ginger Pork Chops

From the The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way cookbook by Arsy Vartanian


  • 4 thick cut pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 ripe d’anjou pears, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine (can substitute water or broth)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • Salt and pepper just before serving


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.
  2. Brown the pork chops on both sides (in batches if necessary) for about 5 minutes total and place in the slow cooker.
  3. Sauté the pears and ginger in the remaining coconut oil.
  4. Add the vinegar and wine, turn to medium low and cook for 5 minutes to reduce slightly.
  5. Pour mixture over chops in slow cooker.
  6. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Total Time: 6 Hours 20 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/4 of recipe

Recipe and photograph used with permission.

Crock Pot Shredded Pork with Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce

Crockpot Shredded Pork with Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Do you have a favorite crock pot shredded pork recipe? I bet that you make it with barbecue sauce! How about slow cooking some shredded pork with a Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce with Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine instead? I made this for Christmas dinner and served it over brown rice – delicious! I loved combining the pork with the dried cherries, though you could use dried cranberries, golden raisins or even dried plums. It’s an elegant twist on an old favorite and very easy to make any night of the week.

Serve the shredded pork over brown rice or quinoa. Or buy some whole wheat or gluten free buns and make sliders for your next football watching party!

Crockpot Shredded Pork with Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Crockpot Shredded Pork with Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce

Based on Mizkan’s recipe for Glazed Ham with Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce


  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1 1/2 cups ham stock*
  • 2 tablespoons Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 cup amber or raw agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 whole cloves
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins or dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel


For Shredded Pork:

  1. Place pork tenderloin in the slow cooker.
  2. Combine the ham stock and Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine and pour over the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily with a fork – about 6 to 7 hours depending on your crock pot.
  4. Drain well and pour the Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce over the shredded pork.
  5. Stir and serve.

For Sherry-Orange Dijon Sauce:

  1. Combine agave nectar , cornstarch, cloves and nutmeg in a 1-quart saucepan.
  2. Whisk in mustard, sherry cooking wine and orange juice until well blended.
  3. Add dried cherries.
  4. Cook sauce over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils.
  5. Reduce heat and boil gently 3 to 5 minutes.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Total Time: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe

*Note: you can find my method of making ham stock at the end of my recipe for Tangy Collard Greens. If you’re pressed for time, you can use vegetable or chicken stock instead.

Save money with Holland House

You can download a coupon for 50 cents off your next purchase of Holland House cooking wine here. Also, for more recipes using Holland House, sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is Holland House’s parent company.) Finally you can connect with Holland House on Facebook.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of Holland House, provided compensation for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Prosciutto Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

When I entertain during the holidays, I try to mix up healthy appetizers along with small but delicious indulgences. I also believe that if you’re going to treat yourself, it’s healthier to have a few small bites than a big plate of something that’s not so good for you.

That’s why I’m sharing this fun party appetizer recipe from Prosciutto di Parma. Instead of using dough, this recipe uses the prosciutto to form the cups to serve the goat cheese mousse in – a really cool and unique idea that's totally gluten free!

You could cut a few fat calories by using a low fat goat cheese and no fat milk. You could also experiment with other herbs that would go well with prosciutto, like basil.

If you don’t have a piping bag, make your own by filling a ziploc sandwich bag with the cheese mixture, making a small diagonal cut at one corner, and squeezing it out the open corner.

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Crispy Prosciutto di Parma Cups with Goat Cheese Mousse


  • 6 slices Prosciutto di Parma
  • 3.5 ounces plain goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut Prosciutto di Parma slices in half crosswise. Press a half slice of prosciutto into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine goat cheese with milk and chopped chives until creamy.
  4. Remove Prosciutto di Parma cups from the oven and let cool.
  5. Pipe or spoon the goat cheese mousse into cooled Parma cups, filling each with about a tablespoon of mousse.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: Makes 12 cups
  • Serving size: 1 cup

Recipe and photo supplied by Parma and used with permission.

Christmas Eve dinner: Christmas Pork

christmas cookies This year, we’re going to a friends’ home for Christmas dinner – and all they’ve asked me to bring is mashed potatoes. Boring! Since I have the holiday meal cooking bug, I’ve decided to make a big meal for late Christmas Even afternoon. (Why afternoon? We’re off to see other friends that evening. Busy are we!)

As I’ve mentioned previously, my kids aren’t big turkey eaters, so I’ve decided to make a pork dish especially after seeing this Christmas dish for pork loin by Rocco DiSpirito a couple of weeks ago in the Denver Post. I was very intrigued the Rocco uses stevia as a sweetener as I don’t see many celebrity chefs using it.

Also the cooking technique he uses is pretty crazy – cooking the pork submerged in water in a large pot it in the oven. I’ve never done that before! It’s even more challenging since I’m cooking up a six pound pork loin as Costco didn’t have three pound roasts. Needless to say, I better start this dish right at noon on Christmas Eve.

I’ll be combining this with Quinoa with Pomegranate Arils and Goat Cheese, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Medjool Dates, and maybe some gluten free Cranberry Crunch Bark for us – and Santa!

So what are you cooking up on Christmas Eve?


  • 3 pound fresh pork loin, trimmed of all visible fat
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 gallon cold water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, plus extra
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
  • Packets stevia sweetener powder, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarse-ground or stone-ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the pork on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, make shallow diagonal crisscross cuts over the top and bottom of the roast at 1-inch intervals. Use a metal skewer or meat fork to poke about 60 holes over the surface of the roast, making sure to push the skewer all the way to the center of the roast.
  3. Insert the cloves into the intersections of the cuts on the top of the pork. Set aside.
  4. In a large oven-safe pot, combine the water, 1/2 cup of salt and 4 sprigs of the thyme. Stir to dissolve the salt. Gently submerge the pork in the water and cover with the lid or foil. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the pork registers 145 degrees at the center.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Add the turnips and toss to coat evenly with oil. Season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the turnips are tender and nicely browned, stirring once or twice.
  6. Pick the leaves off of the remaining 2 sprigs of thyme and add to the turnips. Toss to coat, then set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the pomegranate juice and the arrowroot until the arrowroot is dissolved. Pour the remaining pomegranate juice into a small saucepan. Add 1 packet of stevia and the cinnamon and heat to simmering. Whisk in the arrowroot mixture. Continue to cook and stir for about 30 seconds, or until the sauce is thickened. Taste and add stevia as needed for desired sweetness. Set aside.
  8. Remove the ham from the cooking liquid and pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is smoking, add the pork roast and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned on both sides, turning once. Remove the pork from the pan.
  9. Add half of the pomegranate glaze to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the pork back to the pan with the glaze and turn to coat the meat completely. Remove the pork from the pan and place on a cutting board. Add the turnips, half of the pomegranate seeds and the tarragon to the glaze in the sauté pan. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the turnips are heated through and coated with the glaze. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Whisk the mustard and horseradish into the remaining half of the pomegranate glaze and pour into a small serving dish.
  11. Remove the cloves from the pork, then thinly slice the pork. Place the pork slices on a large platter. Add the turnips to the platter around the pork and sprinkle with the remaining pomegranate seeds. Serve with the mustard and horseradish sauce
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 8
  • Serving size: 1/8 of roast
  • Calories: 313
  • Calories from Fat: 75
  • Total Fat: 8g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 1421mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 11g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 39g
  • Cholesterol: 107mg

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How to make homemade Agave & Bourbon Smoked Bacon

bacon slices

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that I’ve become a little bacon obsessed here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet. It all stems from a friend’s annual bacon themed party, where I made Goat Cheese and Bacon Pops. While I loved the idea of bacon wrapped Tater Tots, and the bacon jam was fabulous, my favorite was the Bacon Caramel Popcorn.

Creating a healthier bacon

I know you’re wagging your finger at me, saying, “Anne-Marie, bacon’s not healthy! Why are you blogging about it?” Well, I’m all for indulging, in moderation of course. After all, I’m NOT telling you to consume a pound of bacon in one meal. Honestly, there IS such a thing as too much bacon. After my friend’s party, I woke up with a bacon hangover the next day and felt pretty crappy. So glad his party only comes once a year.

Making my own bacon let me work around my food sensitivities. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, making food from scratch like bacon lets you control what’s in it.

Also, with the trend in buying local and organic, many people are harvesting their own food through hunting, fishing and gardening, or buying from local, small family own farms. I also have friends who are raising their own chickens for eggs and pigs for pork, and a few are even foraging for wild plants and mushrooms. Making your own fruit preserves, pickles, jerky and cured meats is part of that trend, too.

Finally, making your own bacon means you can limit the nitrates and nitrites in your diet, though culinary expert Michael Ruhlman says that The “No Nitrites Added” Hoax is, well, a hoax. He writes in his For Charcutepaloozians: Food Safety and Common Sense post:

Nitrates and Nitrites are naturally occurring chemicals that our bodies rely on for a number of reasons.  Green vegetables such as spinach and celery are loaded with them.  Of all the nitrite in our bodies, as much as 93% of it comes from the nitrate in vegetables.  Our bodies naturally convert nitrate into nitrite, which works as a powerful antibacterial agent, particularly in an acidic environment (such as in our stomachs).

In the 1970s, concerns arose that nitrites could be carcinogenic.  Current studies conclude that large quantities (as in contaminated water) can do serious damage, but that the quantities added to food do not.

The pinking salt used in making bacon is sodium nitrate. Michael says it’s “by regulation 93.75% sodium and 6.25% nitrite” and that it kills bacteria that cause botulism in smoked and ground meat. As you can see from the recipe below, it’s a very small amount. However, if you’re still freaked out about nitrite, I’d advise you giving up bacon. Easy said than done!

Making bacon is easy

charcuterie Those are a few reasons why I’m sharing my recipe for homemade bacon. Another is because making bacon to your tastes and dietary specifications is incredibly easy to do and the end result is so much tastier than the stuff you can buy at the store or even at your local butcher.

I smoked mine in our Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, but you can cook it in your oven like my friend, Barbara of Creative Culinary, did in her Maple Bourbon Bacon. I based my recipe on Barbara’s, but changed a few ingredients that I can’t eat due to my food sensitivities (the sugar and the maple syrup). I also followed Michael Ruhlman’s smoking advice in his book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

Barbara, who lives about an hour from me, had a tough time finding her pork belly and pinking salt. I was fortunate that my local butcher had a couple of pork bellies in stock in their freezer when I called to check. While I was picking it up, I asked they butcher if he carried pinking salt. He didn’t but he told me that I could get it at the local Ace Hardware. It seems that the guy in charge of Ace’s extensive grilling section makes his own bacon, so always keeps it in stock.

Agave & Bourbon Smoked Bacon


Curing directions:

  1. If necessary, defrost your pork belly in the refrigerator. You cannot cure frozen pork!
  2. Combine the salt, pink salt and sugar in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Rub this mixture over the entire surface of the belly.
  4. Place pork belly in a 2 gallon Ziploc bag or shallow container. (The salt will make the pork release water creating a brine).
  5. Pour the agave nectar over the pork belly. Make sure it’s distributed evenly on all sides of the pork belly.
  6. Refrigerate, turning the pork, and redistributing the cure every day for seven days.
  7. Remove the pork from the cure, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.
  8. Place it on a rack set over paper towels in the refrigerator and allow to dry, uncovered for 12-24 hours.

Smoking your pork:

  1. Set your smoker to 200 degrees. I used maple wood pellets for smoking. Hickory, apple, or pecan would work, too.
  2. Fill your water dish with four cups Maker’s Mark or your favorite bourbon or whiskey.
  3. Place your pork belly in your smoker and cook it until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 3 hours. (I used the meat thermometer that attaches to our smoker, which is why my bacon has a hole through it. No biggie.)
  4. Remove from smoker and let cool slightly when it’s cool enough to touch. If your pork belly has skin on it, cut it off leaving as much fat as possible. (The piece I bought already had the skin cut off).
  5. Allow to cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to slice and use.

Tips on cooking homemade bacon

  • It’s very challenging to thinly slice homemade bacon. Partially freezing it, then using a very sharp knife helps. Even so, your bacon slices will be much thicker than commercially made bacon.
  • A little of this bacon goes a long way. It’s very “hammy” and thick. So if you usually have four pieces of bacon with your Sunday breakfast, you may want to only have one or two pieces instead.
  • Fry your bacon on low heat otherwise it will quickly caramelized and burn.
  • You may want to bake your bacon in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes instead of frying. It doesn’t get crispy this way, just warm and juicy.
  • Remember, this bacon is already cured and cooked. When you’re frying or baking, you’re just warming up the already-cooked bacon, so don’t worry about it being raw or undercooked if it’s not fried to a crisp.

Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Bacon Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comAfter catching my kids watching Family Guy the other night while I was working upstairs, I’ve been searching for more family friendly TV and movie fare. That’s why I signed up to be Friday Night Ambassador to tell you about the latest Family Movie Night show, Who Is Simon Miller?, premiering Saturday, August 6th at 8/7c on NBC.

I had a chance to sit though a special pre-screening. Even though Who Is Simon Miller? is a spy action movie, it’s perfect for the kids. (Think Spy Kids without the special effects.) Dad goes missing and his family figures out that he’s a spy. His wife, Meredith and their two kids, Sarah and Kevin, figure out where he is and get mixed up in an international spy ring. It’s hard to tell who’s a good guy or a bad guy, and it’s interesting to watch the story unfold.

Frankly, the plot’s rather unbelievable at times. Mom’s too young, slim and pretty. Sarah, who’s only 18, speaks Spanish and French fluently. And Kevin, even though he’s a geeky genius, has the most clear skin I’ve seen on a 15-year-old. Also, I doubt an intelligence officer would bring the family along on his or her mission.

However, the iCarly crowd will love it, while their parents will be happy that they’re not exposed to gratuitous violence or adult sexual situations a la James Bond. There’s lots of touching family moments, too, along with discussions about trust and honesty.

Who is Simon Miller? is perfect viewing for a quiet Saturday night at home after a long summer day at the beach or amusement park. Learn more about Family Movie Night on Facebook or check out a preview below.

Healthy Family Movie Night snacks - Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Summer’s a great time of year for healthy snacks. There are fresh berries and cherries on sale at the grocery store or at the farmer’s market. You can make ice pops or other frozen treats. You could also do veggies and dip, hummus and pita chips, or apple slices and grapes. However, there’s nothing that says “movies” like popcorn.

I recently attended a party where everyone brought a bacon-themed dish. One couple brought a fabulous bacon and caramel popcorn dish that featured vegan bacon. Though their dish featured nuts, it was very similar a recipe from Vegan by Valerie.

Not only is this bacon flavored healthy snack vegan, but it’s gluten free. I’ve tweaked it to use products that fit with my food sensitivities like coconut palm sugar. However, feel free to make your own substitutions. You can also add nuts, dried fruit pieces or even chocolate chips to the popcorn. Bacon Caramel Popcorn can be as healthy – or decadent – as you want it to be.


Bacon Caramel Popcorn at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Bacon Caramel Popcorn

Based on a recipe from Vegan by Valerie


  • 3/4 cups good quality popcorn, unpopped
  • 1 3/4 cups bacon crumbles made from your favorite type of bacon (vegan, turkey or pork)
  • 1/2 cup buttery spread
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (amber, light or raw)
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten free baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract


  1. Fry up your bacon until crispy. Let cool and crumble.
  2. Pop popcorn using Alton Brown’s microwave brown paper bag method or an air popper.
  3. Combine the buttery spread, agave nectar, and coconut palm sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, and boil for another 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining caramel ingredients (salt, baking soda, bourbon, and vanilla).
  6. Pour the bacon bits over the popcorn and stir.
  7. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and gently stir to combine.
  8. Spoon the popcorn onto two large baking sheets.
  9. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stopping every 15 minutes to stir.
  10. Let the popcorn sit for at least 30 minutes or until it cools to room temperature.
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours
Servings: 6 cups
  • Serving size: varies

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of P&G and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate

Paleo diet friendly stuffed pork chops

Stuffed pork loin chops and beet tops

Before the advent of the Food Network, one of my favorite PBS cooking shows was Justin Wilson’s, I gar-on-tee! I’ll never forget the episode that featured Pork Stuffed Pork – yes a pork chop stuffed with more pork. It seemed like a heart attack on a plate.

Memories of the pork stuffed pork episode can back to me while reading The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. The recipes in it are very meat centered and very “clean,” so a good to fit in with my food sensitivities. However, when I saw the Paleo Diet recipe for chicken liver stuffed pork chops, I had to laugh. Who knew that Justin was (sort of ) ahead of his time?

Yuck, chicken liver!

Now, I’m sure you’re saying, “Ew, chicken livers!” I know my husband did when I told him about it. But I LOVE chicken liver! I always have as my mom’s chopped liver was out of this world. While other people search New York City for the perfect sweets or black and white cookie, I look for delis that sell chopped liver. One spoonful and I’m transported back to my childhood.

However, if chicken liver skeeves you, you can use mushrooms as a substitution – about two mushrooms per chicken liver. I chose to keep the recipe to two servings since I know most kids don’t like chicken liver. However, if you’re using mushrooms, feel free to double the recipe and serve it to the whole family.

I served this with a  Simple Beet Salad.

stuffed pork chop Chicken Liver Stuffed Pork Chops

Inspired by Justin Wilson and The Paleo Diet

Makes 2


  • 2 boneless, lean pork chops (about 6-8 ounces each) trimmed of all visible fat
  • 4 chicken livers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pepper to taste


  1. Take a paring knife and carefully slit the pork chops horizontally to make pockets.
  2. Spray a saute pan with cooking spay and saute the livers, celery and fennel until transparent.
  3. Add chopped chicken livers until thoroughly cooked through.
  4. Season to taste with pepper.
  5. Stuff pork with the liver mixture and use metal skewer to close pockets.
  6. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet, add chops and sear them over high heat on both sides. (Be careful not to scratch your no-stick pan with the metal skewers!)
  7. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Place stuffed chops in the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until tender. Do not overcook pork! It should be slightly pink not gray!

Nutritional information

  • Calories 686
  • Calories from Fat 471
  • Total Fat 52.4g
  • Saturated Fat 17.5g
  • Trans Fat 0.0g
  • Cholesterol 343mg
  • Sodium 153mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 3.9g
  • Dietary Fiber 1.1g
  • Protein 48.0g
  • Vitamin A 95%
  • Vitamin C 21%
  • Calcium 10%
  • Iron 46%

Nutrition Grade B+ from CalorieCount 

Weight Watchers POINTS = 9 points for HALF a stuffed pork chop! To lower even more use veggies only and sear chops in less olive oil.

This Mama’s tips

  • Boneless pork chops can be pretty big. You might want to split one between two people with smaller appetites.
  • If you’re on the paleo diet, you may want to add more veggies like carrots and have have a 1:1 ratio of flaxseed oil to olive oil, so you get all your Omega-3s in.
  • Believe it or not, the pork chop is pretty darn good cold. Slice it up and add the pork to a leafy green salad.
  • If you cannot find fresh fennel at your grocery store, use onion or double the celery.