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.comIt’s Secret Recipe Club time once again! This month’s assignment was to cook up something from Adventures in All Things Food by Andrea Kruse. I’m not sure how she has time to blog as she has three kids under the age of six. Plus I’m sure living on a farm keeps her super busy, too.

Some of my favorite pictures on her blog are of her farm, from the snow on the old tractor to all the chicken adventures! Of course, there’s food. Some of it’s inspired by what they’re growing, like Prune Cake. Still others are just things she likes to eat like her recipe for Skillet Baked Pesto & Tomato Taters, which is what I decided to cook up. It combines things I love, too, like eggs, pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Plus, it gives me an excuse to finally break in my 10” Lodge cast iron skillet! [affiliate link]

Speaking of pesto, I can’t wait until summer when we have basil growing in the garden so we can make our own from scratch. I have a few pesto recipes here at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet:

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

This Mama’s tips

Since regular potatoes give me a tummy ache due to my food sensitivities, I decided to use baby purple potatoes instead. I love how regular grocery stores are carrying a variety of potatoes now, including fingerling and baby sized potatoes. You can use red, purple, gold or whatever variety of baby potatoes that suits your fancy since you don’t have to peel them. (Just remember to wash them!)

I also substituted country ham for the bacon, since I’m obsessed with it nowadays and always have some in the refrigerator or freezer. If you prefer bacon, use enough to cover your 10” skillet. (Andrea used 4 pieces in her recipe.)

If you have a 12” skillet, increase the amount of ingredients a bit and you should have room for an extra egg or two. When I served this up for a late lunch in my 10” skillet, I found that one egg was plenty of food for me, but that my husband wanted more. (He and my daughter, Lucie, shared another portion.) Next time, I’ll serve this with a side salad and some crusty bread or gluten free toast, so everyone feels satisfied.

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

Skillet Baked Eggs with Potatoes, Pesto & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Based on Skillet Baked Pesto & Tomato Taters from Adventures in All Things Food


  • 1 large slice country ham (piece or pieces big enough to cover entire 10” skillet)
  • 16 baby purple potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. If the sun dried tomatoes are dried, soften in very hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Heat 10” cast iron skillet or oven safe frying pan over medium heat. Place slice of country ham and heat until ham starts to render and curl at the edges.
  4. While country ham is cooking, thinly slice baby purple potatoes in a food processor.
  5. Remove country ham from the pan and place on cutting board. Trim fat from edges and set aside. Dice ham and set aside.
  6. Place sliced potatoes in skillet. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. If you feel there isn’t enough grease in the skillet leftover from cooking the country ham, place some of the trimmed fat back into the skillet. (This can be removed later.)
  7. Once the potatoes are soft, turn up the heat to medium high to brown. Add the minced garlic.
  8. When potatoes are browned, turn off the heat and remove skillet from the burner.
  9. Evenly sprinkle the top with sun dried tomatoes. Then spoon the pesto over the top in evenly distributed dollops.
  10. Using a spoon, create 4 small wells in the potatoes. Break 1 egg into each well.
  11. Sprinkle the top with diced ham.
  12. Place the skillet in the oven till the eggs have set – 9-12 minutes depending on how firm you like your eggs.
  13. Serve straight from the oven.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1 egg plus surrounding potatoes

Basil Marinated Pork Roast

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

It’s that time of year where we’re all looking for ways to lighten up the foods we eat. Maybe that’s cutting calories on old favorites or making better choices – especially after a holiday season of high calorie treats and non-stop eating!

Some of the ways I’ve been making better choices has been to keep lots of fruits and vegetables available for healthy dishes or to snack on between meals.  Also, my sister has challenged my kids to give up soda for six months with a $100 incentive and one year for a $200 incentive. (And boy are they motivated!) So I’ve stocked up on flavored and plain no calorie seltzers for them. In addition, I’ve been making sure that I’m drinking lots of water, taking my vitamins and probiotics, and getting a good night’s sleep.

To help you lighten up your foods, you might want to look into Truvia® natural sweetener. It’s just one small thing that can help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Use it as a substitute for sugar in your tea or coffee or in your baking or cooking. It’s a great way to reduce calories and lighten up everything from your morning oatmeal to desserts.

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

You should also check out the Truvia® brand website for more recipes like the one below for Basil Marinated Pork Roast. I really loved this marinade and felt it would also work on grilled chicken for an outdoor barbecuing or tailgating party. Start this recipe in the morning before work and when you come home, get it roasting in the oven while you start the brown rice cooking.

Making dinner from scratch – instead of picking up fast food or eating out – is probably one of the best ways you and your family can eat healthier. It’s also a great way to have healthy leftovers to take to work and school the next day!

Just a few notes on the recipe. I was unable to find a 1 1/2 to 2 pound pork roast and instead I used a 3 pound roast and doubled the marinade. However, I found the pork roast cooked up in about the same time the recipe called for. So, if you find a smaller roast, please to check the temperature after 30 minutes to make sure you’re not over cooking it. Nothing worse than dried out pork! Also, baste with a soup ladle not a turkey baster. The marinade is way too thick and will clog up your baster.

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

Basil Marinated Pork Roast


  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup club soda
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup Truvía® natural sweetener spoonable
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 1⁄2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 1⁄4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1.5-2 pound) pork loin roast, tenderized


  1. In a small bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, club soda, olive oil, Truvía® natural sweetener, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, basil, parsley, mustard, celery seed, mustard seed and garlic.
  2. Tenderize the pork loin by placing on a cutting board. Take two forks with both hands and simultaneously jab the fork into the loin multiple times to pierce.
  3. Place pork loin roast in a large plastic re-sealable bag and pour marinade over pork loin. Seal and marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. Remove roast from bag, place in a roasting pan, and save marinade.
  6. Roast pork loin at 325 degrees F for about 1 1⁄4 hours, or to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. Baste the pork with the marinade every 30 minutes while cooking.
  7. Remove roast from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes (it will continue to cook during this resting stage). Confirm internal temperature has reached 160 degrees F prior to serving.
  8. Serve with wild brown rice or string beans
Prep Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours 45 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person
  • Calories: 90
  • Total Fat: 3g
  • Saturated fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 90mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 13g
  • Cholesterol: 40mg

Small setbacks and the Truvia® brand TRU to You Sweepstakes!

A recent survey commissioned by Truvia® natural sweetener showed that 55 percent of people experience small setbacks to eating healthy, such as snacking on sweets or junk food. That’s why Truvia® natural sweetener is launching The Stay TRU to You Sweepstakes, which aims to give fans a chance to enter to win one of three rewards for sticking to their New Year's resolutions. By taking the Stay TRU to You pledge, each entrant will receive a Truvia® brand coupon and will also  have a chance at winning one of the three selected rewards. To take the Stay TRU to You pledge, visit Facebook and go to the Stay TRU to You Facebook tab.


Truvia® natural sweetener is a great tasting, zero-calorie sweetener made with the best tasting part of the stevia leaf. One packet provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar, and is great in coffee, tea, or even your morning grapefruit. The sweetener is available in 40-, 80- and 140-count boxes, and in a spoonable jar. Truvia® Baking Blend blends Truvia® natural sweetener and sugar to provide a sugar-like taste and texture for recipes, with 75% fewer calories than sugar. For more info, check out Truvia.com/recipes or our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube channels.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Cargill® via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Cargill®.

Gluten Free Asian Ginger Meatballs

Gluten Free Asian Ginger Meatballs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

I was recently introduced to a wonderful product – Massel bouillon cubes and seasoning granules. If you’re gluten free or have food sensitivities, you know how impossible it is to find bouillon and stock making ingredients that don’t have flour, MSG, or lactose in them. Massel also makes concentrated liquid stock and gravy mixes that are also gluten free and made with premium vegetables, herbs, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil. In fact, their factory is entirely gluten free to prevent cross contamination. Their factory is animal product free and kosher certified, as well.

Massel is an Australian company company and their wonderful products are finally becoming available here in the US. (You can find out where Massel products are sold by using their store locator. Or you can order Masel products on Amazon.) If you’re trying to eat more healthily, Massel bouillons and gravies are fat free, cholesterol free, and lower in sodium than other instant bouillons. They also make salt-reduced bouillon cubes and granules for those of us who are watching our salt intake.

Asian Ginger Meatball Appetizers at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Healthy gluten free appetizers for the Big Game

Massel sent me some of their products and asked me to recreate a recipe from their website, so I chose to make their Asian Style Meatballs. With the upcoming Big Game, I’m sure you’re on the lookout for something easy and fun to make. Massel’s recipe fits the bill – delicious and gluten free.

I suggest serving this with San-J’s Orange Sauce, which is also gluten free and ORANGE for those of us rooting for the Denver Broncos, which I hope you are! Other sauce options that would go well include sweet chili, sriracha, or a spicy peanut sauce. I’ve quadrupled the original recipe to make a party sized portion. (I think the original recipe was a bit off in that 8 ounces of ground pork would make 24 meatballs.) The original recipe used pork (I used reduced fat ground pork), but this would work just as well with ground turkey, too.

You can halve the recipe and serve the Asian Ginger Meatballs with vegetable stir fry or over brown rice with a spicy Asian sauce. (Or make a full batch, and freeze half the meatballs in a Ziploc baggie for another night’s dinner.) Either way, your kids will love them!

To find out more about Massel, connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Gluten Free Asian Ginger Meatballs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Gluten Free Asian Ginger Meatballs


  • 8 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Massel Vegetable Ultracubes or 4 teaspoons Better Bouillon granules
  • Ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds ground pork


  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine shallots, ginger, garlic, and Massel bouillon granules or Ultracubes. (Mash Ultracubes with the back of a spoon. Mix them into the other ingredients before mixing into the meat). Add ground pepper.
  3. Add ground pork to seasonings and mix with hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  5. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie dough scoop, scoop ground meat on to baking sheet until sheet is covered.
  6. Since ground meat will be too sticky to shape into meatballs, place baking sheet in freezer for 10-15 minutes until meatballs are slightly firmed up.
  7. Remove baking sheet from freezer. Shape meatballs using the palms of your hands, and place back on to baking sheet.
  8. Bake meatballs for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  9. Serve meatballs with toothpicks and sauce of choice.
Prep Time: 40 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes 74 appetizer sized meatballs
  • Serving size: 2 meatballs

Savory Country Ham & Corn Fritters

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

When I told my husband Paul I was making his famous corn pancakes for the blog, he was shocked to hear that I hadn’t shared with you what has been a Christmas morning staple at our home for years. Paul thinks he invented “corn pancakes” (which are really corn fritters) when he was living in Berlin and only had some frozen corn, eggs, flour, milk and some ketchup to make breakfast with at a friend’s home. When he came home, he made them for me. I loved them so much that I always request them for special occasions like birthdays and holiday brunches.

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

Over the years I’ve had to make a few changes to this recipe. Namely, I’ve had to make it both gluten free and dairy free. I still use whole eggs in the recipe, but you can health it up even further by using the equivalent of two eggs worth of eggs whites. These days I’m also adding country ham, which is the Southern version of prosciutto, but much thicker and fattier. If you want, you can use a meaty bacon, pancetta, sausage, or even spicy chorizo! Or you can forgo the meat altogether and add some sautéed diced peppers instead. Totally up to you.

Serve with either pancake syrup or your favorite sweet syrup such as agave nectar, honey, sorghum syrup, or maple syrup. We like our corn fritters with ketchup, including my homemade Green Tomato Ketchup as shown in the picture above. Try it, you just might like it!

Cooking with frozen and refrigerated foods

This recipe is the reason we always keep frozen corn and onions in the house. However, I use frozen vegetables all the time in my cooking from stir fries to curries. I also use frozen berries to make smoothies and desserts like my Gluten & Dairy Free Coffee Cake Topped with Berries & Pine Nuts. Not only are frozen fruits and vegetables convenient, but freezing preserves foods at the peak of freshness, from the moment they’re harvested or procured. In addition, I sometimes find that the frozen version is cheaper than the fresh one. For example, fresh okra is three times the price per pound than the frozen okra at my local grocery store. Plus, the frozen version is washed and already cut up and ready to be put in soups, chilis, or curries.

Corn Fritters at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Of course, looking over this recipe, a couple of items comes from the refrigerated aisle, too, like the rice milk, eggs and bacon, if you’re using it. Some times it can be overwhelming all the choices we have in both sections.

That’s why the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRFA) asked me to share some places where you can get online mealtime inspiration like EasyHomeMeals.com and  The Dish Diary on Tumblr. You can also follow them on  and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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

Savory Country Ham & Corn Fritters


  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free baking mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups rice milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag or 2 1/2 cups frozen golden sweet corn, defrosted
  • 1 cup frozen chopped onions, defrosted
  • 1 cup cooked and diced country ham, meaty bacon, pancetta, or sausage (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  • Ketchup or pancake syrup for serving


  1. Heat pancake griddle, skillet or frying pan.
  2. Combine all purpose gluten free baking mix, baking powder, salt, black pepper and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, add eggs to rice milk and beat until combined.
  4. Pour milk and eggs into flour mixture and stir until combined. Add corn, onions and meat if using. If batter seems thick, add more rice milk.
  5. Grease pancake griddle with cooking spray. (You can also use oil, butter, buttery spread, or even grease left over from cooking up the ham or bacon.)
  6. Using a 1/4 cup measure, spoon out batter on to hot griddle. Cook pancake until each side is golden brown. Keep warm in oven until served.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: Makes approximately 15 pancakes
  • Serving size: 1 pancake (1/4 cup batter)

Disclosure: As a “Cans Get You Cooking” Ambassador, I was compensated for my participation in this campaign. I am also part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network.

Healthy Gluten Free Leftover Enchiladas

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

Got leftovers? This recipe works great with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, leftover pork from my Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos, leftover chicken or even some shredded beef – whatever you have on hand including a combination of two or more meats if you’re adventurous.

Believe it or not, I never made enchiladas before! Not a problem, as this leftover enchilada recipe was easy to make. I even made my own enchilada sauce from scratch using Emeril Lagasse’s Easy Enchilada Sauce recipe. (I substituted all purpose gluten free flour mix for the flour.) If you're using store bought, check the ingredients to make sure it's gluten free. To keep my leftover enchiladas on the healthy side, I kept the cheese to a minimum, too - just 1 cup total. I also used corn tortillas to make sure it was gluten free as well.

And the verdict from the family? Two thumbs up and no complaints about the lack of cheese! I liked it so much I even ate it for breakfast with a fried egg on top!

Leftover Enchiladas with an egg on top from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

My Leftover Enchiladas recipe is for a double batch – one to eat now and one to freeze for later. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you wish and use the half the can of corn and tomatoes in chili or soup.


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

Healthy Gluten Free Leftover Enchiladas

Inspired by Grandma Kim’s Best Ever Healthy Chicken Enchiladas at Pretty Providence


  • 4 cups shredded turkey, pork, chicken, or beef
  • 3 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 26-30 small corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled


  1. Place shredded meat, 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, corn, and diced tomatoes in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Spray two 9 × 13 pan with cooking spray.
  3. Fill tortillas with about 2 generous tablespoons of filling , roll up, and place in pan. (You’ll need to have two enchiladas per horizontal row.) When you’ve used up half the tortillas, start on the second pan. If tortillas break, patch with an extra tortilla if you wish, but don’t worry about it.
  4. If you have leftover filling, add remaining 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce to it. Then pour half the sauce over one pan, then the remaining enchilada sauce over the other dish.
  5. Lightly sprinkle each dish with half the grated cheese and half the queso fresco.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes until edges are crispy.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: Double batch - serves 16
  • Serving size: 1/16 of recipe

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.