Pork Carnitas

Carnitas 4

Growing up, my parents made Chinese food at least 90% of the time. So you would think my blog would be mostly Chinese food recipes. Nope. Once I moved out and was left to cook on my own I enjoyed trying all sorts of new food types and trying new recipes. If you ask my kids, they will tell you I can eat Mexican food everyday of the week. It’s true. Pork carnitas is one recipe I love as it is not particularly hard to make. And if you get a large pork shoulder, it makes enough for a crowd or you have leftovers for days. This recipe makes at least 12 servings!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt, then arrange the pork in the Dutch oven. Cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Pour in the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to simmer until pork is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Transfer the pork shoulder to a large baking sheet, reserving the cooking liquid. Drizzle with a small amount of the reserved cooking liquid.Carnitas 1
  5. Bake the pork in the preheated oven until browned, about 30 minutes. Drizzle more of the cooking liquid on the meat every 10 minutes, and use two forks to shred the meat as it browns. (Keep in mind, the objective of the final step is to get slightly crispy outside with a moist, tender inside.)
  6. Carnitas 2
  7. Serve the carnitas with warm, fresh tortillas and pico de gallo or whatever you like! I like to make mine into tacos. Carnitas 3
Advertisements

Skillet Pizza Rolls

skilletpizzarolls

When I went by the deli area of my local grocery store, I saw they had fresh pizza dough balls. I thought maybe I should make a semi-homemade pizza of some sort.  My kid at heart had fun making these skillet pizza rolls. You can choose what items you want. So my vegetarian friends can make vegetarian pizza rolls. But I do suggest sautéing your vegetables before adding to the pizza rolls.  I made two different batches in the picture above because I have a huge cast iron skillet. Stick to the recipe if you have a regular size 9 inch cast iron skillet.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup pizza or pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pepperoni slices
  • sliced black olives
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • or your choice of toppings

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16×10-in. rectangle. Brush with pasta sauce to within 1/2 in. of edges.
  3. Sprinkle pizza dough evenly with with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. And then add your pizza toppings of choice.
  4. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into eight slices. Place in a greased 9-in. cast-iron skillet or greased 9-in. round baking pan, cut side down.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

skilletpizzaroll

Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup 2

We had a few weeks of cold and rainy weather. I wish I had made this soup back then. For some reason I was all about making heavy and  filling stews. This soup is nice change from the stews. Light enough for lunch or add a salad or some cornbread and make it a filling dinner. Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken if you want to make things even easier. I’m all about shortcuts and making things easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 1/4 cup Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Hot Water
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
  2. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
  3. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, orange pepper, red pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
  5. Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, black beans and corn kernels. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
  7. Optional: Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, cilantro, pico de gallo, and grated cheese or whatever you like!

chicken tortilla soup

 

M&M’s Pudding Cookies

M&M Pudding Cookies3

Here’s another cookie recipe that I made for my treat boxes to give out this Christmas. Who can resist M&M’s and white chocolate chips? I’m not sure if the pudding mix is for added flavor or to make the cookies soft and chewy. Either way, these cookies are a sweet treat. Next Christmas, be sure to put some out for Santa! You can most certainly switch out the M&M’s candy colors to suit other occasions to enjoy these cookies all year long.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 box (4 ounce size) vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup green and red M&M’s
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl.
  4. Beat in dry pudding mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
  5. On low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture until well blended.
  6.  Stir in chocolate candies and white chips until blended.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lined cookie sheets. M&M Pudding Cookies1
  8. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
M&M Pudding Cookies2

Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies3

Every year I give out Christmas cookies and candies to my family and friends. And every year I try swap around the cookies and candies I make. I came across these Italian Christmas cookies. I noticed they traditionally use anise extract, but I’m not an anise (or black licorice taste) fan. So I substituted almond extract. You can choose to use either.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Nonpareil sprinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add the vanilla and anise flavoring.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Do not overbeat.
  6. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
  7. When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Dip the bottom of a small glass into some powdered sugar and press each ball down slightly.Italian Christmas Cookies1
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  10. Remove and cool completely.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sift two cups of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk in milk and vanilla.
  2. Dip top of each cookie in the glaze. Garnish with some nonpareil sprinkles.
  3. Allow glaze to dry before freezing. Italian Christmas Cookies2

 

Snowman Cupcakes

Snowman Cupcake

Here’s a fun baking activity for your kids or for you kids at heart to make during the holidays. All you need are a few items you may already have in your pantry.  I did make my own cupcakes from scratch, only because I was already making my Christmas cookies and had most the ingredients out anyway.  But I did use store bought frosting. Either way is fine.  The snowmen won’t complain.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box chocolate or Devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 container vanilla frosting (buttercream or whipped style)
  • white sparkling decorating sugar sprinkles (I used Wilton brand)
  • butterscotch baking chips (or use orange M&Ms)
  • mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare cupcakes as per cake mix directions and let cool completely.
  2. Spread a generous amount of frosting on top of the cupcake.
  3. Fill a small bowl with white, sparkling decorating sugar.
  4. Holding the bottom of the cupcake, gently press it down into the coarse sugar and rock it back and forth in all directions until the icing is completely covered.
  5. Take a regular sized butterscotch chip and gently press it into the center of the cupcake.
  6. Then use mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.
  7. Aren’t they so cute?! How easy was that?

Snowman Cupcakes

 

Jerk Chicken Pasta

Jerk Chicken Pasta Plated

The hardest part of this recipe for me was finding somewhere that sold Jerk seasoning. I looked up and down the spice aisle. Then I tried the international aisle of my local grocery store. Still couldn’t find it. I tried the store across the way from my favorite grocery store. Still couldn’t find it. I found every other type of seasoning spices. Finally I did an internet search. I found it on Amazon of all places.  Finally! This recipes is actually very tasty and not as spicy as I like since my son can’t handle spicy foods. So feel free to adjust the amount of seasoning you use according to your tastes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound Gemelli pasta (or Penne pasta will work too)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk seasoning (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/3  cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions to al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. . Season chicken breasts all over using 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning per chicken breast.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook chicken until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside to rest.
  4. Add remaining oil and cook peppers until mostly tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add green onions and garlic until fragrant, 1 minute. Season with remaining  tablespoon jerk seasoning.
  6. Add chicken stock and heavy cream and let simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, slice prepared chicken.
  8. Add Parmesan and stir until melted and creamy, then add pasta and chicken and toss until completely combined.
  9. Garnish with green onions and more Parmesan and serve.

Jerk Chicken Pasta Skillet