My brother is coming in town ON his birthday so I’m throwing him a little dinner party for 11 members of our family. The weather should be nice and that means we’re eating outdoors by the pool. I think food just tastes better outside don’t you?

This pork is devine! It’s perfect for a large group. I fix it a day or two before and then just reheat before we’re about to eat. It’s the best pork recipe out there I think.


Best Pulled Pork for a crowd

Edamame Wild Rice Salad

Israeli Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Deconstructed Street Corn

Lemon Raspberry BIRTHDAY Cake

Drink du jour: Sailor’s Punch and French Rose

It ended up being a fabulous evening celebrating my brother! See more pics below.

Best Pulled Pork

(Adapted from Kevin and Amanda)

1 (5-8 lb) whole Boston Butt or pork shoulder (bone-in with a layer of fat on the bottom)

Buns for serving

BBQ sauce (if desired)

Sliced pickles (if desired)

Dry Rub

1 TBSP ground cumin

1 TBSP garlic powder

1 TBSP onion powder

1 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP cayenne pepper

1 TBSP salt

1 TBSP black pepper

1 TBSP paprika

1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution

1/2 cup salt

 1/2 cup brown sugar

 2 quarts cold water

 2 bay leaves

 3 TBSP dry rub mix

Dry Mix

Mix dry ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

Brine Solution

Add salt to cold water and stir well until all the salt is dissolved.

Then add the brown sugar, dry rub, and bay leaves, and stir well.

Pork Preparation

Rinse the pork and place in a large container ( I used a JUMBO ziplock baggie).

Pour in the brine solution until the pork is completely covered.

Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

After at least 12 hours, remove pork shoulder from brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, place in baking pan that is bigger than the shoulder by at least a inch in length and width and at least 3 inches deep. Sprinkle the rest of the dry rub onto the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it adheres to the surface. Coat all sides.

*Make sure the fat layer on the shoulder is facing up before cooking. Place baking pan uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack. Insert a probe thermometer into the center or thickest part of the shoulder, but not touching the bone. Monitor the temperature throughout cooking (a digital thermometer with an alarm function is the easiest way to do this). Do not remove from the oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200 degrees. This process should take at least 12 hours.

When the shoulder has reached 200 degrees, shut off the oven and let the roast cool for a couple of hours before removing from the oven when it reaches 170 degrees. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) then cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the cooling period. When the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove from oven.

Place on a large, clean work surface such as a cutting board, and remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top.

Pull apart with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. And I dare you not to eat half of the pork while you’re cutting it up! It’s ridiculously good!

Serve on toasted buns with pickles and BBQ sauce if desired.

Edamame Wild Rice Salad

(Adapted from Nadiya Hussain)

1 1/4 cups cottage cheese

1 TBSP grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp salt

4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP honey

1 lemon (juice and zest)

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (remove stems)

4 TBSP pickled red cabbage

1 cup cooked long grain and wild rice

4 cups frozen edamame, cooked and cooled

In a bowl, stir together the cottage cheese and ginger.

Add the salt, oil and honey. Then add the lemon and zest, and mix well.

Add the parsley leaves, then add the cabbage and rice, and mix well.

Finally add the edamame. Stir and serve.

Israeli Tomato and Cucumber Salad

(Adapted from All Recipes)


4 English cucumbers, diced 

4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced

½ purple onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 TBSP chopped garlic

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 TBSP chopped fresh mint


½ cup extra virgin olive oil 

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice

1 TBSP kosher salt

1 TBSP ground black pepper

Toss cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, parsley, and mint together in a bowl.

Mix olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat; season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Deconstructed Street Corn

(Adapted from Food Network)

Chipotle Salt: 

5 TBSP chipotle powder

3 TBSP salt


6 ears corn

1/2 red onion, minced

1 TBSP vegetable oil

3/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise

2 TBSP roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 2 limes

For the chipotle salt:

Combine the chipotle powder and salt and store in an airtight container.

For the corn:

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until hot, and then add the corn and char on all sides, turning occasionally, until blackened in parts, 12 to 15 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the charred corn kernels and cook until warmed.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, the mayonnaise, cilantro and lime zest.

Season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the chipotle salt. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cotija cheese and more chipotle salt.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

(Adapted from Food Network)


1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pans

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 

1/2 cup vegetable oil 

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest plus 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice 

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

3 large eggs 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp kosher salt 

1 cup whole milk 

Frosting and Filling:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened 

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

5 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar 

1/4 cup raspberry jam 

About 1 1/2 cups raspberries 

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.Combine the butter, granulated sugar, oil, lemon zest and vanilla together in a large bowl.

Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Beat the eggs in, one at a time. Beat in the lemon juice.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the 1 cup of milk, and beginning and ending with the flour.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.

Bake in the center of the oven until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert onto racks to cool completely.

For the frosting and filling:

Beat the butter, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth.

Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated and smooth. Separate 1 cup of the frosting to a bowl. Mix the jam into the cup of frosting.

Spread the raspberry frosting on top of one cake layer.

Arrange most of the raspberries on top (reserve 7 or 8 for the top of the cake).

Carefully put the second cake layer on top.

Take about 1 cup of the remaining plain frosting and use it to cover the entire cake in a thin, even layer (it is okay if it looks messy).

Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, about 20 minutes. Use the remaining frosting to evenly cover the cake. Mound the remaining raspberries in the center and serve.

Sailor’s Punch

We LOVE this drink! I’ve been making this big batch drink for friends and family for about 30 years! My mother actually gave me the recipe, and I first prepared it while on vacation with our 2 kids and another family. Since then it has become THE drink to kickoff every beach vacation week. It’s delicious and refreshing and a snap to make – just remember 6 – 6 – 12:

6 oz vodka

6 oz frozen limeade

12 oz beer

Toss the ingredients in a blender or Vitamix along with a lot of ice and blend until pureed.

Serve immediately and wait for the compliments…

A few pics from the fun night:

All were excited to meet/see the newest family member!