Carnitas Feast

The photo above was snapped when we hosted our friends Gabe and Dory for dinner while we were in Florida this winter. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing and I was so glad I had some frozen carnitas meat in the freezer. In fact, I was able to throw this whole meal together with things I already had on hand.

Making carnitas is one of my most favorite ways to feed a crowd; the meat is so easy to make and all I need to do is put out some warm corn tortillas and savory accompaniments. I’ve cooked a lot of roasts over the years and this recipe is my favorite one for carnitas type meat. It doesn’t include orange juice – gasp – but the end result is a deep, rich flavor. A chuck roast could be substituted for the pork if beef is preferred.  Or, you could use a whole chicken if the switch beef broth is switched out for chicken broth and cut the cooking time in half.

 

Pulled Pork Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people

Ingredients:

2 pound pork shoulder or picnic roast

1 (15 oz.) can beef broth

4 cloves garlic, put through a press

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:

Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or get out your crock pot and set it on high. Pour the beef broth into a deep baking pan or into the crock pot.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, lemon pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika. Trim any excess fat and remove any string from the roast. Rub the garlic mixture into the roast.

Lower the spice rubbed roast into the baking pan or the crock pot. Cover the baking pan with foil or put the lid on the crock pot. Allow the roast to cook for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is easily shredded with a fork.

Remove the roast from the pan or pot and place on serving platter. Scrape away any excess fat. Using two forks, shred the meat. Spoon some of the cooking liquid onto meat.

This is totally optional, but if you want to go an extra step, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. In batches, put the shredded pork and some of the cooking liquid in the skillet. Allow the surface of the meat to crisp up. Remove from pan and serve.

Serve with salad below and plenty of warm corn tortillas.

 

Lettuce and Cabbage Salad to Dress the Carnitas – enough for at least 6 people

Ingredients:

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 head of lettuce, washed, dried and shredded

1/4 green cabbage, washed, dried and shredded

1 avocado, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

 

Directions:

Place the red onion slices in a shallow bowl and pour white vinegar over them. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, add lettuce, cabbage, avocado, tomatoes and cilantro.

Being careful to reserve the vinegar, lift the red onions out of the bowl and add to the lettuce mixture.

Add the oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder to the reserved vinegar and whisk together.

Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the salad – enough to coat but not have the salad swimming in dressing – and gently toss.

Serve to stuff in tacos alongside the carnitas.

 

Fajitas Style Bell Peppers and Onions

Ingredients – enough for at least 6 people

Any color bell peppers of your choice, enough to total 2 peppers, sliced

1 yellow or white onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup plain white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano

 

Directions

Place in a peppers and onions in a microwave safe dish. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Pour olive oil mixture over peppers and onions.

Cook pepper mixture in microwave for 5 minutes.

Serve with the carnitas as something just a bit extra to put in the corn tortilla…

 

And just for fun…

                           

Click to Pin!

 

Day After the Wedding Brunch

Photo courtesy of JennaStoller.com

A couple of weeks ago my daughter Caroline was a beautiful bride. The wedding weekend was a whirlwind of gatherings and activities. One of the events that I enjoyed planning for the most, was the day after the wedding brunch held at our house. Since the groom’s family was from out of town, Caroline requested that we offered them one last chance to get together before they traveled home. Everyone had a chuckle or two as they rehashed the events of the weekend; there were a few shenanigans that will be remembered for a long time!

In planning for the brunch, I knew that by the time it rolled around I would be exhausted. Leading up to it was a BBQ on Thursday night for groomsman who were staying with us as well as other people who were in town, a 9:00 rehearsal Friday morning (another wedding was going on at the venue that night so we couldn’t rehearsal then) followed by a bridesmaid luncheon, the Friday night rehearsal dinner, and then the wedding day with all the flurry of getting ready and a long night of celebrating.  So although I love to cook, I realized I was going to have to order food to be brought in.  I had attended two events at Table, a restaurant that is part of a glorified grocery store, Market District, and thought the food was delicious and reasonable. However, they offered what I really wanted: home delivery.  They have several locations in the United States – here is a link to their catering menu. The menu says “Pick Up Menu” but they do indeed deliver!

Ten days before all the crazy wedding madness began, I gathered all the containers and serving pieces I figured I would need for what I ordered. I set them aside on the floor of the dining room and no one wandered in there to notice them.  A week before, I shopped for the non-carry in items such as the granola, yogurt, and paper goods.

The morning of the eleven o’clock brunch, I put the serving pieces on the table and Beth Ann from Market District in Carmel arrived about 10:30 am. She kindly helped me set up the spread and then sped off before the guests arrived. I was going for an elegant shabby chic vibe, and I think I achieved it. Snagging five of the wedding flower arrangements from the night before definitely made it look pretty.

Unfortunately, I only took a very few photos before the guests arrived. But hopefully this small documentation of my experience might help another harried mother of the bride!

Here is what was on the menu:

Orange Juice and Mimosas

I put out a couple of carafes of OJ which I refilled several time during the brunch. (The refrigerator was just a few steps away and I had bought a couple gallon containers of orange juice.) Perhaps it would have been nice to have an alternative juice like cranberry, but I was going for ease while hostessing.  For people who wanted a bit of the hair of the dog that bit them the night before, I offered a chilled bottle of bubbly for mimosas. I had another bottle tucked away in the refrigerator as well. I used pint sized Ball jars for glasses and I found the striped straws at Party City

Tea and Coffee

A couple of weeks before, I retrieved my mom’s silver coffee & tea service that had been tucked away in a cabinet for decades. The pieces were literally as black as the label on the twine tied tag that said “coffee”. I used Wright’s Silver Cream Polish and the tarnish didn’t budge hardly at all. Tarn-X Tarnish Remover saved the day, although I used the Wright’s immediately after it to remove a yellowish cast that was remaining.  I had Market District bring boxes of regular and decafe coffee and pored the regular into the silver urn while putting the decafe in another container off to the side. Everyone wanted regular however and I ended up having to brew more. I put hot water in the tea pot and put out assorted teas but what people really went after was the regular coffee.

 

Orzo Salad, Lots of Berries and Pastries

The Market District’s orzo salad with artichoke hearts and feta among other ingredients was so, so delicious. For my copy cat recipe of their Mediterranean Orzo Salad, click here. They also brought the pastries and all the beautiful, washed berries. I covered the main table with a roll of brown paper and then put everything in my own serving pieces.

DIY Yogurt Parfaits

I poured Quaker Oats granola as well as spooned honey and cherry chocolate yogurt into large jars. I parked them close by to the fruit and placed a tin tub with 1/2 pint ball jars on the table. My Walmart purchased brown cardboard labels tied with twine around the tub made the suggestion to use the jars to hold yogurt parfaits. But – most people didn’t use the jars!

Toast Bar

Far and away the hit of the day was the toast bar. I plugged in a toaster, put artisan french and whole grain bread in a basket, and provided lots of spreads. Guests came back two or three times to toast their bread and slather it with either avocado mash, hummus, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, good olive oil, and even a honey comb. There was also peanut butter, regular butter, hot pepper flakes, lemon slices for squeezing, and sea salt. (The hummus was store bought, but if you’d like a really great hummus recipe, you’ll find it in a post link here.)

Breakfast Pizzas and Caprese Salad

Rounding it all out was a caprese salad and three different kinds of breakfast pizza all from Market District. All of the pizzas had scrambled eggs on top which sounds weird but it turned out to be really scrumptious. My favorite was one with sun fried tomatoes, basil, and feta but most people loved the one with sausage gravy as the pizza sauce. A third one with mushrooms, roasted peppers, and onions was also delicious.

After it was all over, we just melted into the couch and rehashed the whole weekend. I was glad I did the brunch; it brought a sense of closure to a year of planning and the actual big event!

                         

 

Tradition Hanukkah Recipes

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For the past five Decembers, I have had an absolutely wonderful time writing some kind of holiday recipe article for a local area magazine I contribute to. The articles usually involve multiple dishes and a whole lot of photography. Since The deadline is in November, a few times my daughter Jennifer was home for Thanksgiving and assisted me with the cooking and snapping of pictures. We always start out calmly and neatly, but by the end of the day it all somehow gets away from us and the kitchen starts to look like something exploded in it! The ultimate time was when I was featuring each writers favorite seasonal recipe. Jenny and I began the task of making around 15 different items such as cookies in the shape of bows, stuffing spiked with sherry and the best pull apart caramel nut rolls we ever experienced. We worked all day and into the early evening and by the time we were done, every pan let alone ounce of flour had been used!

This year I was asked to highlight traditional Hanukkah recipes. My Jewish friends happily gave me some of their family favorites. I have to say, everything was delicious! The fried potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts celebrate the miracle of The Festival of light; a single cruse of oil lasted for eight nights in a temple reclaimed by faithful Jews. The cookies are made from a fabulous cream cheese dough and the vegetable dish is now a new favorite in our family. But the best has got to be the beef brisket! The left overs make wonderful filling for street tacos or, with BBQ sauce, a great sandwich!

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