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Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 mini sweet peppers
  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ cup onion; diced
  • 4 oz. cream cheese; room temp.
  • 4 oz. goat cheese; room temp.
  • 1 tspn. garlic
  • 2 Tbs. green onion; sliced thin
  • 1 lemon; juiced & zested
  • 1/8 tspn. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tspn. oregano
  • ¼ tspn. salt
  • 3 Tbs. butter; melted
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbs. parsley; minced

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice each pepper in half lengthwise then use a spoon to scoop out any seeds and white membrane. Cut the bacon into ¼-inch-thick strips then add the bacon to a saucepan over medium-heat and cook until golden. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Add onions to the pan used to cook the bacon. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the garlic and onions, set aside. Combine goat and cream cheese. Add the bacon, onions, garlic, sliced green onions, lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, dry oregano and salt. Stir to combine. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs and parsley with the melted butter. Spoon the cheese mixture into each pepper half, place filling side down into the buttery breadcrumbs then place filling side up onto a baking sheet. Bake the stuffed peppers for about 20 minutes or until peppers are softened and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Thai Pork and Papaya with Whole-Wheat
Couscous

Monday, February 6th, 2012

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 medium onion; chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper; chopped
  • 1 tspn. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tspn. soy sauce
  • 1 tspn. ginger; finely grated
  • 1 tspn. garam masala
  • 3 garlic cloves; minced
  • ½ lb. pork tenderloin; sliced into ½-inch – 2-inch strips
  • Juice & zest of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro; minced
  • 1 lb. papaya; peeled, seeded & cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ tspn. black sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover with a lid and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. Set aside. In a medium dutch oven over medium heat, add the extra virgin olive oil. Sauté the onion and bell peppers until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add soy sauce, ginger and strips of pork, and let cook for 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Place 1 cup couscous onto each of 4 plates. Top each with 2 oz. of the pork mixture, ½ cup papaya, and 1 Tbs. skillet juices. Garnish with reserved papaya seeds if desired.

Perfect for your Game Day Party: BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Cilantro Crab Cakes, Guacamole and More

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011


The Super Bowl is this Sunday and Food Pyramid has a lot of great party food prepared and ready for you to host a “Super” party. For those of you who like to make your own party trays, here are some ideas for great finger foods. Go Raiders! Oh. Wait a second… (sighs) maybe next year.

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

Nothing says football like ribs, but going outside to BBQ in the snow is not my idea of a good time. Here is a method for cooking ribs that is guaranteed to please the most discriminating tastes.

For the Ribs:

  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher cup salt
  • 1 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 slabs baby back ribs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups light chicken broth

METHOD

In a medium-size bowl, combine the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, coffee, and brown sugar. Reserve two tablespoons of the mix and set aside for sauce. Rub remaining mixture liberally onto both sides of ribs. Get a skillet very hot over high heat. Add oil to pan and sear ribs until dark brown. You may have to cut each rib rack in half first to fit in pan. Place seared ribs into a broiling pan, cake pan, or sheet tray with sides and pour broth into pan. Cover tightly with foil. The key to this method is to get an airtight seal, so don’t skimp on the foil! Place in an oven preheated to °300 and bake for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is almost falling off of the bone. Baste with sauce* and serve immediately.

*For the Sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Reserved dry rub

In a medium-size saucepan combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Set aside.

Brie with Tomato-Basil Coulis

You don’t have to use Triscuits, but the nutty flavor and crispy texture really worked well with the tangy tomato sauce and creamy Brie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small wheel of Brie or Goat Cheese Brie
    (available at some Food Pyramid stores)

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch or 8 large leaves fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse, black pepper

METHOD

Place tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a small bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour onto a small cookie sheet or ovenproof pan and cover with foil. Bake tomato mixture at °375 for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until you are able to handle. Remove to cutting board and with a sharp knife, chop tomato mixture until somewhat smooth.

Pour tomato coulis over cheese and place on a microwave proof plate. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds or until cheese is soft. Serve with Triscuits.

Guacamole with Veggies

Even though it is the Super Bowl and you are probably going to eat some fun food that may not be as healthy as you would like, it is good to have a few healthy items on hand. I’ve found that almost everyone likes guacamole and when served with some fresh vegetables or Garden of Eatin’ blue corn chips, it is a filling, healthy, and delicious appetizer!

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ripe avocados
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, skinned, seeded, and diced*
  • ½ cup loose packed cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce or Cholula
  • 2 teaspoons salt

METHOD

Peel and seed the avocados. In a small bowl, mash the avocados with the back of a spoon. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

*To roast poblanos; rub peppers with olive oil evenly coating the skin. Place on a greased cookie sheet and cook in a °450 oven for 15 minutes, turn over, then cook for another 15 minutes. Total cooking time is 30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place in a brown bag or other tight fitting container. Wait 20 minutes or so then remove chiles from bag and peel skin from the peppers. Open them up and remove seeds. They are now ready to dice. This procedure can be used to skin and seed any pepper.

Cilantro Crab Cakes

Everyone likes crab cakes. I once ate at a restaurant near Destin, FL, called The Red Door, which claimed to have the best crab cake in the world. Intrigued, we all ordered the crab cakes. I haven’t yet tasted one better, but the recipe below is as close as I have gotten to recreating that masterful recipe!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • Two, 10 oz. cans crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 2 tablespoons Hiland Sour Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • Juice and minced zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs plus ½ cup extra for breading

Have ready:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Non-stick skillet

METHOD

Form the crab cakes into 2 to 3 oz patties. Pour some of the remaining panko breadcrumbs onto a plate and gently push the breadcrumbs onto the crab cakes until each cake is evenly coated with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. Heat non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add enough oil to just cover bottom of pan. When oil is hot but not smoking, add crab cakes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Be careful when turning crab cakes as they can fall apart. Serve with Remoulade Sauce* and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

*Remoulade Sauce

  • ½ cup red bell pepper
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 green onions (including all the green)
  • ½ cup of fresh parsley leaves
  • ½ cups of Miracle Whip
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Purée in food processor or blender until smooth.

Pan Smoked Pulled Pork w/ Horseradish Coleslaw

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Last Sunday’s NFL games got me thinking about what I would like to serve at my upcoming football party and my first thoughts were centered on mini BBQ pork sandwiches with horseradish coleslaw.

The problem with winter weather is that it doesn’t make it very fun to go outside and BBQ. I could cook the pork in the oven, but the smoke-filled flavor the meat gets from the wood smoking is really one of the best things about the dish. To resolve this issue, I have decided to share with you a fabulous method for smoking meats indoors. The process is called “pan smoking,” anyone can do it and you don’t need any special equipment, just what I have listed below.

Pan Smoked Pulled Pork

How often have you heard the term “pulled pork” and wondered what it was? More often than not when a BBQ restaurant or a home BBQ fan says, “pulled pork,” they are talking about meat that comes from the pork shoulder. Sometimes it’s called “butt roast” because it used to come from the shank area or butt end of the pig; pork shoulders are now the accepted product to use when making pulled pork. The shoulder is rubbed with spices and (hence the term, “dry rub”) cooked very slowly at low temperatures until the meat literally falls off the bone. The term “pulled” comes from the fact that after cooking, one pulls the meat from the bone.

Since it takes some time to cook, you might want to start in the morning.

For the Dry Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground or coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your preference for heat)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

For the Roast:

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • One, 2-inch deep foil-roasting pan (available at most stores)
  • One, 4-inch deep foil-roasting pan that is the same length and width of the 2-inch pan (available at most stores)
  • Wood chips for smoking (I like mesquite chips, available at most stores)
  • Foil
  • Water
  • BBQ sauce

METHOD

To cook the pork, remove the shoulder from packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. You might want to do the next step over some newspaper or a big cutting board as it gets a bit messy! I recommend wearing latex gloves as well to protect your hands from the spices that always seem to find a way into my eye! Rub a generous amount of the prepared dry rub into the surface of the roast. Take care to completely cover the meat with the dry rub. It shouldn’t be thick on the roast, just evenly coated all over. You are now ready to cook the roast.

With a pair of sharp scissors, screwdriver, or knife, poke 12 to 15 ¼-inch diameter holes in the bottom of the 2-inch pan. Place 2 cups or so of the wood chips in the bottom of the 4-inch pan. Place rubbed pork shoulder in 2-inch pan (the one with the holes) and set the 2-inch pan over the wood chips in the 4-inch pan. Cover VERY tightly with foil, making sure that you crimp the foil on the sides of the deeper pan. I cover the pan with a long piece of foil down the length of the pan, and then cover again with two shorter pieces across the width. You are trying to create an airtight seal. This is the key to this process. If you do not get an airtight seal, you risk either a kitchen full of smoke or setting the chips on fire and burning the roast so let me say again, the seal MUST BE AIR TIGHT! You get the picture.

Ok, now set the whole apparatus on your stove and turn your stove to its lowest setting. If you have a ventilation fan over your stove, you might turn it on. No matter how carefully you wrapped the pans in foil, some smoke is still likely to leak out. Because the wood chips cannot get air, they will only smolder, not burn. This creates some really nice smoke! Once your pan is on the stove, allow it to smoke on the stove for two hours. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool for 10 minutes. Remove the foil. I usually do this outside to allow the smoke to escape. Put two or three cups of water into the pan (the water will drain through the whole into the bottom pan. Recover with foil and finish cooking in the oven for about 4 more hours at °325. It is not necessary to remove the wood chips from the bottom pan when you add the water. You will actually continue to get flavor from the wood, this time in the form of steam. To test for doneness, open a corner of the foil and press on the meat with a fork. If you can see that the meat can be pushed off the bone, it is done. If not, cook for another hour and continue testing until meat is fork tender.

Remove from oven and let cool for at least 45 minutes before you remove the foil. This will allow the naturals juices to be absorbed back into the meat. Remove from foil and pull the meat from the bone discarding any large fat deposits. You can either shred the meat with your hands or chop with a knife. At this point, I put the meat in a bowl or ovenproof pan. Mix one cup of the BBQ sauce with ¼ cup (more or less) of hot water. Pour sauce over meat and toss to coat evenly. Turn your oven off or very low, cover sauced meat with foil and set aside until you are ready to serve.

For the rolls, I used a product from our stores that I had not used before: Rhodes (in the freezer case). It is a thaw, rise, and freshly baked roll that quite honestly is one of the best dinner rolls I have eaten. They are easy to make and work extremely well for these sandwiches. I did the “quick” method printed on the package and had hot, fresh rolls in an hour. Cook two to three dozen rolls for your sandwiches, following package directions.

Horseradish Coleslaw

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon each Kosher salt and black pepper
  • One, 14 oz. package Dole Coleslaw mix

METHOD

Place mayonnaise, horseradish, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Add coleslaw and toss until evenly coated with the dressing. Refrigerate.

Cut each roll in the center until it lays open or cut all of the way through if you prefer. Place a portion of the meat on the bottom half of the roll and top with a heaping tablespoon of coleslaw and serve. Delicious!

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with White Wine Jus

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

In This Menu:

  • Oven Roasted Pork Loin with White Wine Jus
  • Cauliflowers Braised with Leeks

Cooking this time of year can be difficult. The energy and money spent preparing the Thanksgiving meal coupled with the calories consumed is taxing to say the least. Keeping in mind that you have Christmas dinner to prepare next, I’ll try to give you some healthy, simple recipes that utilize things on sale that won’t break the bank. I made this dish for the first time in preparation for this blog and I LOVED it! I need to say a word or two about food combining before I go further. There is a theory in nutrition that when certain foods are eaten together, it is harder for our stomachs to digest which causes our bodies to expend more energy. This results in that “tired” feeling we get for example after the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Although there is a chemical that occurs naturally in turkey (L-tryptophan) that can make you drowsy, the mixing of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is a much more likely candidate.

The meal presented below is a combination of a protein (the pork loin) and a vegetable (cauliflower); we are not going to serve a carbohydrate. I can tell you from personal experience that when you eat like this, you will have more energy and if you are trying to lose weight, it can help you in this process. At the very least, it might help you get through the holidays without gaining any weight. Wouldn’t that be a great gift!

Oven Roasted Pork Loin with White Wine Jus

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lb. boneless pork loin
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse, black pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1½ cup dry, white wine
  • ½ cup chicken bullion or stock

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to °475. Cut pork vertically down the center so that you have two pieces that are roughly 1½ in diameter. Rub pork with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cut the ends from the onion, cut in half horizontally, and remove peel. Slice onion into thin slices. Grease a metal roasting pan and lay one half of the onions in pan. Place pork on top of onions and lay the other half of the onions on top. Place pork in oven and cook for 10 minutes, reduce heat to °300 and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is °160. Remove pan from oven and take pork off of the pan and set meat aside to keep warm. If you plan on serving soon, just turn your oven to off and place pork on another pan with sides.

Place pork pan on stove top on low heat and add wine and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and with a wooden spoon, scrape the pan being careful to remove all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. For you newbies, this process is called deglazing and is done because the brown bits clinging to the pan are made up of caramelized bits of protein and are PACKED with flavor! The brown bits actually have a name. They are called the fond.

When the pan looks fairly clean, pour the sauce (pan jus) through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Place saucepan on high heat and bring back to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with the water to make a slurry and add to the jus, stirring constantly. Sauce should coat the back of a spoon. If you feel it is too thick, add some more broth, too thin and make some more slurry and add it slowly. Keep in mind that cornstarch does not activate unless a liquid is boiling so if, after adding the slurry, the sauce is thin, make sure and let it come to a boil before deciding if the consistency is correct. Check the sauce for salt. It may need a little bit. Slice the pork to desired thickness and lace sauce over the meat. Serve with braised cauliflower and leeks.

Cauliflowers Braised with Leeks

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ stick of butter
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

METHOD

Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Cut or break into 1-inch pieces. Set aside. Cut the root ends from the leeks then cut off most of the green tops. You can leave about 1 inch of the green part of the leeks. If you leave anymore than that, it will be too fibrous and tough. Remove the first couple outer layers of the leeks. Cut leek into 1-inch thick pieces. Check them for any dirt and rinse as necessary. Place a large saucepan (one that has a lid) on stove and melt the butter over low heat. Add the vegetables, salt, pepper, and the stock. Turn heat to medium and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring as needed.

Reduce heat to low again, cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove vegetables from the liquid in the pan. Set veggies aside to keep warm. Put pan back on heat and bring to a boil. Boil liquid until it begins to thicken. Pour over vegetables and serve.

Pork Chops with Cider Reduction and Golden Potato Soup

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

In This Menu:

  • Pork Chops with Cider Reduction
  • Golden Potato Soup
  • Bananas Foster

I love the fall. The leaves, cool autumn air, football on TV and a fire in the fireplace all take me back to an earlier time. With growing up in Springfield, my mom used to make creamy potato soup often and she always served it with crisp bread and real butter.

My potato soup uses buttery, Yukon Gold potatoes. The flavor of these potatoes with soft onion and rich cream is deliciously excellent. Add some bread smeared with butter, maybe some Chardonnay or even a tall glass of cold milk…man!

The entrée this week utilizes a wonderful, sirloin pork chop topped with a sauce I developed several years ago specifically for pork.

Pork Chops with Cider Reduction

For the Pork:

  • 4, 6 oz. sirloin pork chops with bone
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons “Better than Bouillion” Chicken Base
  • 2 teaspoons “Better than Bouillion” Beef Base

Heat a large skillet over high heat until very hot. Season pork chops as desired with salt and pepper. Place chops in pan and sear for about 2 minutes, turn over and sear on other side for another two minutes or until pork is golden brown on both sides. Mix chicken and beef base with water. Remove pork from pan and add bouillon mixture to pan. Bring to a boil and scrape up all brown bits from sides and bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low, place pork back in pan, cover tightly and cook for about 15 minutes until pork is medium well in the center. Remove pork, set aside, and keep warm. Pour sauce from skillet into a small saucepan.

For the Sauce:

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups Hiland apple cider
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 fresh Fuji apples, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons water mixed with
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Put first three ingredients into the saucepan with the pork sauce and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and keep boiling until liquid is reduced by half. Strain liquid through a mesh strainer and discard rosemary and any solids strained out. Place sauce back on stove and add apples, onions, and celery. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the cornstarch and water mixture. Bring to a boil. Remove from stove and serve over pork.

Golden Potato Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion,
    sliced thin

  • 2 lb. Yukon Gold
    potatoes, peeled
    and thinly sliced

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black
    pepper

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • More chicken broth
    as necessary

  • Sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

METHOD

Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, potatoes, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil and reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Puree in food processor or food mill and put back into saucepan. Add cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add more broth as desired to reach desired thickness. Garnish with sour cream and chopped parsley.

Serve with a loaf of our “Bake and Serve” French bread available at most Food Pyramid bakeries.

Bananas Foster

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur (or 1
    tablespoon banana extract)

  • 4 bananas, cut in half
    lengthwise, then halved

  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

METHOD

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a skillet. Place the pan over low heat on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur (or flavoring), then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream. Garnish with whipped cream and serve immediately.

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