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Friday, February 28, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Pulled Pork with Honey Jalapeno Lime Slaw on a Grilled Onion Bun

I've always been told that it's best to leave the crock pot lid on at all times when cooking, so as not to let all the heat escape. Well....it's confession time! I think I l lifted the lid at least 5 times to taste this for quality control because I couldn't resist the smell of it! Of course I waited until after the pork was cooked through, pulled and back in the sauce before the temptation overwhelmed me. I put this in my crock pot when I left for work this morning and oh the joy of coming home to a BBQ pulled pork smell in my house after work, was heavenly. I was so excited to try these tonight for dinner that I actually overloaded my sandwich and was forced to use a fork to eat it, because it was too hard to pick up. But trust me, even with a fork...this sandwich was incredible. There are so  many wonderful tastes and textures that come together to create a perfect blend. Sweet, spicy, crunchy, smooth...just to name a few. So if you are looking for a quick and tasty crock pot meal to throw together, this just might be the right one for you!

For the Pulled Pork:
 
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries ( I used blueberries and raspberries) *Original recipe calls for cherries
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
1 bottle BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
3 lb pork shoulder
2 tsps paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
 
For the Slaw:
 
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 (10 oz) bag cole slaw mix
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
 
Directions

Combine first 4 Pulled Pork ingredients in the bottom of the crock pot. Mix in 1/2 of the BBQ sauce.
Season the pork shoulder with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper and place on top of the BBQ sauce mixture. Pour the remaining BBQ sauce on top.
Cook on low for about 6-7 hours, or until the pork is tender and can be pulled apart with forks.
Remove the pork, pull it (use two forks to shred it up), and return it to the crock pot.
Mix everything together in the crock pot and cook on low for an additional hour.
As the pork cooks, prepare the slaw by mixing together all of the ingredients. Cover until ready to serve.
Grill the onion buns by placing a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Heat on high. Place the buns (inside down) into the olive oil and grill until golden on the inside. 
When the pork is done, serve warm with slaw on fresh grilled onion buns.




Recipe adapted from: http://blog.hostthetoast.com/sweet-and-spicy-pulled-pork-with-honey-jalapeno-lime-slaw/

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thai Chicken Coconut Quinoa Salad

This afternoon I happened to take some chicken out of my freezer with absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. I contemplated just putting the chicken on the good old grill and making something very simple. Then I sat down at my computer, supposedly to look up some hotels to make reservations for our upcoming vacation and I got seriously side tracked with Pinterest. (Don't judge.... admit it...it's happened to you too!" When I found this recipe, I was so happy because I had almost everything to make it. I knew the things I didn't have could so easily be substituted with food I had around the house. So instead of making hotel reservations, I made this wonderful dinner! Now our bellies are full, but honestly we still have no idea where we are going to lay out little heads down when we take our road trip. Maybe tomorrow night we can figure it out. Anyway, this is a really good salad. It's not only good for you, but tastes great too!
Makes 3 large salads:
    For the Marinade:
     
    1/2 cup coconut milk
    1 Tbsp + 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
    1/4 cup chili/garlic sauce
    1/8 cup all natural peanut butter
    3 Tbsp agave nectar
    1 Tbsp sesame oil
    1/4 tsp fresh, chopped ginger
    1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, sliced 
     1 tsp coconut oil
     
    For the Quinoa 
     
    1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
    1 cup coconut milk
    1 Tbsp lime juice
     
    For the Salad:
     
    2 cups fresh spinach leaves
    2 cups spring salad mix
    1 mango, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro

  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade, except for the chicken and the coconut oil. Mix well.
  2. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is marinating, you can cook the quinoa. Rinse it in a mesh strainer well and add it to a medium-sized saucepan, followed by the coconut milk, cook over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove from burner and allow it to sit for 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove the lid. Fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Squeeze in the lime juice. Toss to coat and set aside.
  6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tsp of coconut oil. Add the chicken, but reserve the leftover marinade.
  7. Cook the chicken pieces 3-4 minutes on each side, until fully cooked.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  8. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add the reserved marinade. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!! You MUST cook the leftover marinade to cook the raw chicken juices that are left in it from marinading the chicken.  Bring the marinade to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently, until the marinade is reduced down to about 1/4 cup and is thick and shiny.
  9. To assemble the salad, toss the spinach and  spring salad leaves together in a large bowl. Add the mango, cooked chicken, and the coconut quinoa. Sprinkle on some fresh chopped cilantro, and drizzle the desired amount of cooked marinade glaze over the top. Enjoy
Recipe Adapted From: http://fabtasticeats.com/2014/02/08/thai-chicken-coconut-quinoa-bowls-2/

Monday, February 17, 2014

Salmon with Mango Habenero Salsa

For some reason, I love fruit with my meat dishes. Whether it be chicken or fish, I can always find a way to incorporate fruit into it. This meal was no different. I have made this many times, but for some reason, I have never taken time to blog about it. It just seems too simple, but maybe that's what someone might be looking for, so here it is!

Serves 2

2 salmon steaks
1 mango, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 small onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

To prepare the salsa: In a small bowl, combine the mango, lime juice, habanero pepper, onion, cilantro and salt. Stir to combine. If you want the salsa to be a little less "chunky" you can put half the salsa in a food processor or blender and combine it well, then add it back to the other "chunky" half. I like my salsa chunky, so I did not blend mine at all. 

Grill the salmon on an indoor or outdoor grill until it is cooked through. The time will vary depending on the cooking apparatus and the thickness of the salmon steak. So just keep testing the fish to see if it is done all the way through. Serve with salsa on the top of each salmon steak.

Mom's Good Ole Grilled Chicken with Salted Butter Sauce

Do you remember that one "go to" meal as a child that your mom or dad would make and you just could hardly wait until dinner time? Well this chicken and my mom's famous chicken and dumplings are the two "go to" meals that I remember! I can just picture my dad out by the grill, in his wheelchair, basting the chicken with this butter sauce. I wish he was still around today to see how well his "baby girl" can make this chicken now. Every time I eat this chicken, I am reminded of just how much I miss him! So tonight was one of those nights when I got to remember my amazing dad, while I ate this chicken. Living in Southern California, means you can grill all year round. Since today was nice and warm, I stoked up the old grill and put it to work, even in the middle of winter what feels like summer! There is only 5 ingredients in the basting sauce and it's pretty much a great "I have no time and  need to throw something together quickly", kind of meal. So get out the old grill and get crackin on this one!

Serves approx 4-5

9 Chicken legs or any other of your favorite parts of chicken
 1 cube butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, melt butter. Add in all the seasonings and stir well. Grill the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill, only brushing the butter mixture onto the chicken close to the end of the cooking time, so as to prevent burning the outside of the chicken , due to the butter.  Serve warm.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Buttermilk Peanut Butter Fudge

I've always been a fan of Southern fudge, which has a completely different texture than the fudge we all know and love today. Southern fudge is a much harder, more "sugary" type consistency. So when offered most fudges, I turn them down, as I'm not a fan of the softer fudges. But I had some leftover buttermilk and decided to try this fudge recipe. It's a cross between Southern fudge and regular fudge. I would venture to say it's a "caramely" texture. I took it to work and the students swarmed over it like it was money! Before I could even hardly lift the lid off the container, I was hearing "can I have a piece Mrs. D.? Can I take one for my friend?" (haha)! They proceeded to eat it all and then I was left with a room full of students in a sugar coma lol. Needless to say it was a nice quiet day ;)
Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter

Directions:
Butter a large plate and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, buttermilk, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook to the soft ball stage, removing from the heat immediately when the candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees. Add the vanilla and peanut butter, and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Then beat energetically with the spoon until the fudge begins to lose its gloss and starts to thicken. Pour quickly onto the plate. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.

Baja Fish Taco Salad with Creamy Red Chili Dressing

Often people say to  me, "You like fish tacos?...eewwww!" I will never understand that question/statement. I love, I repeat, LOVE fish tacos. What's not to like? You get the health benefit of eating fish, you get the whole taco experience and on top of that, the cabbage and other ingredients give it so much texture! I love to make beer batter fish tacos, but since I am not 21 yet and can't buy beer....cough cough....since I didn't happen to have a beer lying around my house, I decided to try the Baja fish taco salad recipe I had found earlier in the week in one of my old forgotten recipe magazines. I figured it couldn't hurt to leave off the old shell and have a few less carbs for dinner. I'm so glad I tried it. I tweaked the recipe just a bit and my hubby, who is not  "foodie" like me ( I know....how is it possible not to be) kept commenting how much he loved it! So today, I may not have any fish leftover, but I do have salad and dressing leftover, so that will be my nice healthy lunch!  So I say "FISH TACO LOVERS UNITE" and give this one a try. You will thank me later :)
Recipe Adapted From: Cuisine at Home Magazine February 2012

Calories: 309 per serving
Makes 6 servings
Total time: 45 min

Baja Fish Taco Salad:

For the fish, whisk together:
1 cup cornflake crumbs
3/4 tsp coriander
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

To Coat the fish and cook it::
3/4 cup canola oil
3 egg whites, beaten
2 Tbsp water
 1 lb Flounder pieces, cut into 2 inch long strips

For the salad, toss together:
6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (you can chop these, but don't chop them too fine)

Whisk the cornmeal, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Combine egg whites and water in a small bowl.
Cut your fish into pieces that are approximately 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
Dredge the cut pieces of fish into the corn flake crumbs, then into the egg white mixture and then back into the cornflake crumbs. (Make sure you let the excess egg whites drip off before you re-dip them into the cornflake crumb mixture to prevent clumping)
Fry the fish in small batches, until golden (fry in small batches to prevent cooling down the oil) and place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil.
For the salad, toss together the cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, radishes and cilantro in a large bowl. Divide the salad among  the plates and top each salad with as much fish as you would like. Serve with Creamy Jalapeno Dressing. (recipe follows)

Creamy Red Chili Dressing

1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise ( I used Veganaise)
1/4 cup almond milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice (orig.recipe used buttermilk and I didn't have any so improvising was necessary)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 small red fresno chilies, seeded and roughly chopped (you can substitute jalapeno)
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Place all the dressing ingredients in a food processor and process until the green onions and chilies are minced well and the dressing is combined.





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Caramel Topped Frosted Brownies

I have been on kind of a frosted brownie kick lately. I'm not sure if it's because I love giving brownies to people, or if it's because I love eating the brownie batter and the frosting out of the bowl before it goes on top of the brownies. Truth be told, I guess it's the latter. *sigh*
Some of you might even be wondering to yourselves, "why does this crazy girl have chick peas on top of her brownies?" But before you judge, look a little closer. Those are wonderful bites of heaven! Kraft has decided to take their wonderful chewy caramels and package them up in these tiny little balls of joy! Chewy, sweet and oh so creamy! Add that to the wonderful frosting and voila....a sweet slice of heaven. And when I say slice, I mean ...half the pan" lol. These brownies definitely helped motivate high school students to get their work done. By the end of the period, most of them were drooling in anticipation of having one of these. I'm sure their next periods teacher did not appreciate all the requests to leave the room for a drink of water. Yep, you either gotta have some water of some milk, cause these are super rich!
For the brownies: 
1 box Brownie mix,  prepared according to package directions

Make brownie batter according to pkg directions. While the brownies are baking, prepare the frosting.

For the frosting:
6 Tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla


1 bag Kraft caramel bits

Melt butter in saucepan on the stovetop. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir until melted and smooth. When brownies come out of the oven, let sit for 5 minutes then pour the frosting evenly onto the top of the brownies. Spread till smooth, if needed. Top with the entire bag of Kraft Caramel bits. Let sit until frosting is firm. You can place this in the refrigerator to firm up the frosting faster, but just note that the caramel will not be as soft if you choose to do it this way.



Healthy Southwest Black Bean Soup

I have noticed recently that I hadn't looked through my actual cookbooks in forever. I had become a Pinterest recipe hoarder. So one day this week, when my grand daughter was over, I got out cookbooks to show her. I started going through some of them and found some new recipes to try. This black bean soup was one of  them. Oh boy, we truly loved it. So maybe it's time to give my Pinterest recipe boards a rest and bust out the good ole recipe books.
If you like the taste of beans with a little Southwestern flare, then this recipe is perfect for you. If you don't like the after effect of beans, then I'm not quite sure what to tell you other than to go buy some good old Beano at the nearest Rite Aid haha!
Recipe Adapted From The Cookbook: "Healthy Homestyle Cooking" by Evelyn Tribole

*Makes 4 medium bowls of soup

1 cup dried black beans
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry cooking sherry
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large  carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 1/4 tsp coriander
1/2- 3/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke

*For garnish: grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro

In a large saucepan, combine the beans and the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 min.
While the beans are cooking, combine the sherry, onions and garlic in a skillet. Cook and stir until the onions are tender.
Add the onion mixture, carrots, celery, cumin, coriander, pepper and liquid smoke to the beans. Bring up to a boil again. Cover and reduce the heat to med low and simmer for 30-40 min or until the vegetables and the beans are both tender. Serve topped with cheddar cheese, and cilantro.