My Must Have Kitchen Items

I like small appliances and gadgets. I depend on them now that I’m a food allergy mom and cook dinner every single day.

If there’s an appliance or gizmo that will make cooking easier, well by golly, I want it!

Here is a list of my favorite small appliances, gadgets and doo dads that make my life a little easier.

  • Bread Machine: I use this a few times a month. I make my own pizza dough. My machine has a dough setting. The recipe I use isn’t even for the bread machine, but I tried it and it works. I don’t want to make bread if I can’t figure out how to do it with my bread machine. I’m not lazy… I have too many other things to do! I also make a super easy and yummy homemade bread. I choose the “rapid white” button and we have homemade bread in less than an hour.
  • Rice Cooker: I LOVE my rice cooker. I mean, I can’t live without it. Okay, *maybe* I’m exaggerating, but the point is, I DON’T want to live without it. When my old rice cooker broke, we immediately replaced it. I usually make rice at least once a week. This is a must have in my kitchen. Enough said.
  • Slow Cookers: I have a 12 year old Crockpot that I received as a bridal shower gift. I use it several times a month. I have a smaller one, too. I love having two different sizes. I want a third one, but I haven’t found one on clearance yet. You can never have too many slow cookers, right?
  • Wok:  We love stir fry!  We have a big, ole wok and enjoy using it.  I’ve also found it’s great for holding a ton of spaghetti sauce.  Like several jars of sauce plus meat.
  • Pizza Pans: Oh, cheesy and gooey pizza…I mourned you. Especially you, “Pizza, pizza!” We had to break up, you see. It’s not me…it’s you. I’ve moved on to homemade dairy free pizzas and I think I found the key- a pizza pan with holes! I bought two inexpensive pizza pans from Hy-Vee. The last pizza crust I made tasted just like the pizzas we used to buy. It is nonstick so I didn’t have to fight the pizza with the spatula to get it off of the foil. Win! Also, there was something about the pizza being round instead of the rectangular shaped ones I was making… It made me feel happy. It’s the little things, ya know?
  • Grill Basket: I love summer because the Huzz grills a lot. And I love handing him the protein to grill and a grill basket full of fresh veggies! I season the veggies with olive oil, salt & pepper. That’s it. Easy and fresh is the best!
  • Microwave Popcorn Popper: We use this to make popcorn. Just last week, SG was watching yet another movie on NetFlix. I decided she should have some popcorn. I whipped together a homemade, freshly popped batch of “Dragon’s Breath” popcorn. A few years ago, I had no clue how to do this. Food allergies have made us better eaters, that’s for sure!
  • Keurig: Okay, this is my list so I have to include it. I wake up and go straight to the Keurig. Even the short wait for the Keurig to heat up seems like it takes too long some mornings. Little Mama (that’s me!) needs and loves her coffee with Silk french vanilla soy creamer. Gotta have it. No coffee, no talkie!

What are some of the items you depend on in your kitchen?

Bread Maker & Rice Cooker

 My fabulous bread maker & rice cooker!

Pizza Pan

My handy dandy cheap pizza pan that has rocked our pizza world!

Homemade Mojo Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients for homemade Mojo

Ingredients for homemade Mojo

My mommy (yes, I still call her mommy and I’m 35 years old!) makes the best pernil in the world! Pernil is a pork shoulder picnic roast that is marinaded in mojo (say mo-ho with a spanish accent) and cooked at a low temperature in the oven for several hours. The meat is scrumptious and just falls apart!

I have not personally mastered the art of making pernil. I haven’t even tried. I do have a growing stash of pork tenderloins that I’ve scored great deals on and they are taking up space in my little freezer. It’s not quite the same as a giant roast, but nevertheless, my mommy suggested I marinate a pork tenderloin with mojo and throw it in the slow cooker.

So I did.

Only I didn’t use the bottled mojo like my mom does.

I’m the crazy homemade lady so I decided to make my own. It was time consuming but worth it.

Here’s the link to the mojo recipe I used.

http://www.food.com/recipe/traditional-cuban-recipe-cuban-mojo-cuban-marinade-148976

Here are the changes I made:
I didn’t use peppercorns. The bottle at the store was almost $4 and quite honestly, I never use peppercorns. Shhh… I don’t like the grind your own pepper thingamajiggies. I know, I know… I said above I’m crazy. 🙂 But in a good way. Anyway, I subbed ground black pepper for the peppercorns. And I did make the soured orange juice with the addition of two freshly squeezed lemons.

The mojo recipe yielded three cups of mojo. I did not need that much. I used one cup and froze the other two cups.

Here’s how I made our Mojo Pork Tenderloin:

Ingredients:
1 cup of homemade Mojo (see above link)
1 Pork Tenderloin
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

Directions:
1. Put the tenderloin in the crockpot. My tenderloin was mostly defrosted but not completely. Sprinkle the top of the tenderloin with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour 1/2 cup of the mojo on the tenderloin.
2. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. My crockpot has pre-determined times as my only options so I cooked it for 6 hours on high. If you have the time, low is better. Halfway through the cooking time, turn the tenderloin over and pour another 1/2 cup of the mojo on the pork.
3. When the tenderloin is ready, shred the pork in a bowl with two forks.
4. Either mix the shredded pork back into the crockpot with the drippings and cooked marinade or make a gravy with the drippings from the crockpot.
5. To make gravy: Scoop out the drippings from the crockpot and put in a medium sized pan. In another bowl, add 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with 4 tablespoons of cold water. Mix well. Add the cornstarch water to the drippings. Heat on medium low and mix well until the mixture resembles gravy. You may have to add water to thin out the gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, serve the gravy over the pork.

There you have it… my not quite pernil but a little taste of home mojo pork tenderloin.

***Updated Notes***
Since originally posting this recipe, I have made a few changes. I added one cube of my homemade sofrito. (Click here for the recipe.) I also turned the pork tenderloin several times throughout the day and basted it with the liquids with each turn. I then shredded the tenderloin in the slow cooker and let the pork soak up all of the juices and flavor. Oh my! It was even better this way!!!

Yes, the recipe uses 3 HEADS of garlic!!

Yes, the recipe uses 3 HEADS of garlic!!

 

Making Mojo

Making Mojo

 

Pork Tenderloin in the Crockpot

Pork Tenderloin in the Crockpot

This marinade would be equally delicious with pork chops. Marinate and then grill…Mmmmm… I must make that next!

Happy Mojo-ing!!! 🙂