Friday, April 27, 2012

Crockpot Carnitas & HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

This is an easy, flavorful recipe for crockpot carnitas. I doubled it, so for our little family it made tacos for 2 nights, then I used the other half to make TWO carnitas cornbread pies (click here for recipe), we ate one of those over two nights and froze the other- so that's SIX dinners and a fun new freezer meal recipe!!
Back to the carnitas.

I, like so many, many people- use as a wonderful reference for recipes. I found the Skinny Taste Crock Pot Carnitas recipe via Pinterest and was really excited to try it!
You can find that original recipe HERE. I made a few adaptations and along the way have come to discover that my inventive cooking methods are really a product of my inability to read and follow directions when it comes to cooking....or putting together furniture....or anything to do with electronic equipment... fortunately this usually yields favorable results (in the kitchen, can't say the same about the furniture or electronics- thank goodness for my handy hubby!)

I made this recipe on a Monday and had meals for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday dinner all set!
Friday (today) is our FIVE year wedding anniversary- so we're making a special dinner after the little guy goes to bed & looking very forward to it.

It's unbelievable that we've been married five years! It seems like five minutes and forever all at the same time- and it's been so amazing. That also means that this blog is almost five too!! WHAT?!? That's nuts.

More on that soon....
Here's the carnitas recipe!! The Cornbread Carnitas Pie dinner/freezer meal comin atcha ASAP!

You'll need:

About 4 lbs pork tenderloin, fat trimmed off (or two 1.5-2lb tenderloins- we had a BIG one!)
1 head of garlic (8-10 cloves)- coarsely chopped
dry adobo seasoning, I used the Goya brand (as did the original recipe)
garlic powder
1 can of 99% fat free chicken broth
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 bay leaves

Lightly season the pork with salt and brown all sides in a saute pan over medium high heat. Takes about 10 min.
Remove from the pan and cool.
The original recipe says not to skip this step and these were really, really good so I wouldn't skip the browning next time either- totally worth it.

Poke holes in the pork w a sharp knife and insert chunks of garlic.
Season GENEROUSLY with cumin, adobo and garlic powder on all sides.
Pour broth into crock pot- add bay leaves and chipotle peppers. Put the tenderloin(s) in the crock pot and cover.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours. The original recipe calls for 8 hours on a 2.5 lb tenderloin and maybe my crock pot runs hot but that is WAY too long...ours was perfect at 7 1/2 hours- you just need to lightly pull at it with a fork and it should shred- then you know it's ready.
Remove pork into a large bowl and set crock pot to warm- shred pork and pour juices from the bottom of the crock pot over the shredded pork.
Return it to the crock pot on warm, cover for about 10-15 minutes then make yummy tacos & enjoy!

We made tacos for two nights, then saved the rest for two cornbread carnitas pies, I will get that recipe posted STAT!

Happy Anniversary to my amazing husband, best friend and greatest dad a boy could be blessed with!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cornflake Crispy Cod with Parm-Butter-Brocc

Here is a VERY easy, VERY tasty dinner you can make in a hurry! Things have been crazy over here with spring in full swing and teething in full effect. Dude cut his first tooth on the 11, followed quickly by the second on the 16th...who knows when the next will start to make it's appearance!
Anyhow- with my crawling/cruising/wild-man teether- we try to spend as much time OUT of the house between am & pm naps as is humanly possible- so we headed down to the beach yesterday and had a beautiful time!
This leaves me very little time to throw dinner together before bedtime gets going- but with recipes like this, I'm ready for our busy active summer ahead!

This can easily be doubled or more to serve more people- this recipe as-is serves 2~
(based on THIS (click here) recipe from Real Simple)

2 cod fillets
2 handfuls corn flakes cereal
1 crown of broccoli (two or three handfuls chopped up)
1/4 cup butter 
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Lemon pepper

Preheat the oven to 400
Crush the cornflakes (I did it by hand, then put the bits in a shallow dish)
Line a baking sheet with foil, and place the cod fillets on the sheet.
Drizzle olive oil over the cod (the side that didn't have the skin removed, so the "top") & lightly salt each filet.
Coat with cornflake crust.
Cook about 15 minutes or until flaky & cooked through.
Meanwhile steam the chopped broccoli for about 5 minutes.
In a small sauce pot, over low heat, melt the butter, add a handful of Parmesan and stir- turn off heat and remove pot from the burner.
Put the steamed broccoli in a medium bowl and toss with the Parm-Butter add a little salt and lemon pepper (if you have it)- I didn't end up using all of the butter mix.
If you have extra you can drizzle a little of the butter mix over the cod too~
Garnish the broccoli with a little extra parm & enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chicken, Chard & Zucchini Pasta (leftovers night)

As a mom/busy person, I find it VERY necessary to meal plan for the whole week at once- shop once- and stick to the plan so we can eat as healthy & budget friendly as I can every night.
Of course we all have days/weeks that there is just no possible way to stick to ANY plan, and that's life (thank goodness for great places that deliver!)

Here are the "categories" I use each week to menu plan...I pick 3-4 recipies to cover 6 days- we usually eat out (or get delivery) about 1 night a week
1. Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
2. Leftovers
3. Freezer
4. Quick & Easy
5. Meatless (can also be a sub-category of one of the above)
8. Big Production* (currently the least utilized category, but when I do use this one I generally double it up so it leaks over into #3 & #2 to really make it worth the time and effort!)

Here's the menu from last week and a new recipe~
Monday Grilled Bison Meatloaf (make meatloaf sandwiches for Tuesday lunch)
Tuesday Whole Chicken Crock Pot
Wednesday Chicken, Chard & Zucchini Pasta (recipe below)
Thursday Chicken w/ Parmesan
Friday Tofu Salad for Lent Friday
Saturday/Sunday - RIBS!!

RECIPE (as promised...)
Leftover chicken from crock pot chicken- about 1/3 of a chicken-you can just chop it or to shred put it in a stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to "shred" it (warm it up before you put it in the mixer- it's too tough to shred when it's cold right out of the fridge)-you'll need to warm it up for the pasta anyhow!
Dry pasta
2-3 cloves fresh garlic chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1/2 a bunch of green chard, chopped
1/4 of an onion chopped
Butter (about 1 T)
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Boil water in a medium sauce pot and add pasta- cook about 8-10 minutes or until aldente.
Meanwhile in a large skillet melt the butter- saute the garlic and onion about 3 minutes, add zucchini and stir for another 5 minutes- turn off the heat and stir in the chard.
Drain pasta, reserve 1/8 cup pasta water.
In a large bowl toss the cooked pasta, the zucchini/chard/garlic/onion mix, warmed, shredded chicken and mix it all up!
Stir in a few drizzles of the pasta water, then add balsamic vinegar, olive oil (probably a few tsp of each- just drizzly- eye-ball-it)
Add salt and pepper to taste- top with Parmesan and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

7-Minute Chocolate Cherry Brownie Puddin' Pie

I made THAT pie in 7 minutes!
Well, "made" is maybe not the most accurate term- assembled is more like it- but with my 7 month old crawling- standing up on EVERYTHING and focused on only wanting the dogs toys for teething- I will do what I gotta to save time, and still have something for my hubby on his birthday that I know he'll LOVE!

Feel free to note you can absolutely un-short-cut any part of this and make a beautiful from-scratch dessert with chocolate mousse and tart cherries, go for it!!... I would if I had more than 7 minutes!

1 store-bought graham cracker pie crust
1 package chocolate pudding (and milk needed to make the "pie filling" recipe on the box- 2 1/2 cups in my case- and it was his birthday, so I went whole milk party time)
1 container of store-made "brownie bites"
1 can cherry pie filling
whip cream (which I totally forgot about after dinner so no photo of it here- that's what happens when mommy goes out for the first time in ages and has a few adult beverages!)

Chop or crumble the brownie bites.
Spread a layer of brownie bite chunks over the bottom of the pie crust, you'll use 1/2 to 2/3 of em here- the rest on top.
Make pudding pie filling.
Pour pudding over brownie bites.
Add cherries one by one to the top in any way you'd like- this is the most time consuming part, but it would be a hot mess if you just poured the filling over the top. So at least get the cherries out of most of the "other part of the cherry pie filling" before adding to the top of the pudding.
Add remaining brownie bite chunks.
Garnish with whip cream!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner- Tofu Salad

My husband is not normally a big fan of tofu, but we're both trying to shed the winter/baby weight and a while back he made this tofu salad that I absolutely love...we figured it'd be a perfect weeknight meal to get some veggies for dinner and also have a meatless dinner. We try to do that at least once a week year-round- but we also participate in Lent which, for us, means no meat on Fridays.

Here's what you are gonna need
1 pkg extra firm tofu, diced into 1 inch cubes 
(press it- this will help it get as much of the marinade as possible- place 2 pieces of paper towel on a plate- then tofu then paper towel then another plate with something a bit weighty on top- like a frying pan or big container of chicken stock in this case...)
1 bag of snow peas (Trader Joe's)
shredded carrot (a few handfuls)
1/2 a green cabbage (or if you have it do 1/4 green, 1/4 purple- or you can even buy a bag of slaw mix- already cut cabbage to really save some time!!)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 (or a little more) fresh ginger, grated
4 green onions chopped/sliced
1/4 c soy sauce
1/ 4 c. sweet chili sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds

In a medium bowl combine the garlic, ginger, green onion, soy sauce, chili sauce, and sesame oil- whisk until well combined.
Put the tofu in a Tupperware container or Ziploc bag- pour the marinade over it and refrigerate for at least an hour or more. (I like this because I can do that part during Logan's afternoon nap then the rest takes minutes!)

Place a few handfuls of cabbage in individual salad bowls, or on dinner plates- add marinated tofu, carrots and snow peas- sprinkle with sesame seeds- drizzle with leftover marinade aka dressing!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caio Italia- Ziti with Eggplant & Olives

My husband knows great Italian food, and can also make it- which is such a blessing! We love FOOD, period, but both of us being Italian-as seemingly impossible as claiming a "favorite" food is- we'd have to say Italian. 
He was the one who discovered the Ciao Italia show on PBS (?) and started tivo'ing it. We'd watched a few episodes and everything, I mean EVERYTHING looked so delicious!! 
We had to try one of the recipes, I picked the mac n cheese right away (which Nate did make for me on my birthday and it was AH-MAH-ZING) and he picked this recipe that I was really excited to try too!!

Believe it or not, this is actually something I could qualify as an "easy-weeknight-dinner" which is stunning for how much fabulous flavor and the awesome ingredients used. It's also beyond perfect for Friday nights during Lent (which is when I made this a few weeks ago). 
I prepped everything during Logan's first nap (took me less than 30 minutes!! But, he's actually been indulging me and napping for up to an hour at least one of his two naps a day now- which is fantastic)
From there it's pretty easy to throw together and eat! 

Because I really have the very most respect for Mary Ann and this fantastic recipe, and I really did not make any modifications at all (with the exception of being a little heavy-handed with the cheese- as usual)
I think it's right to post the link to her site for the recipe~