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Pork Carnitas

September 17, 2019

 

If there was an award give to a food for the least amount of work for the most amount of bang, it would have to be these pork carnitas.

With about 15 minutes of prep time in the morning, you can literally feed a crow with all the delicious flavors of street tacos. The flavors are built up by the citrus, garlic, and spices and then linger low and slow for a while in the crockpot. All the fattiness from the meat gets cut by toppings like pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I love to make these on sports Saturdays when we are running around to different fields but really want to come home and relax. With bigger kids, my favorite slow cooking on Saturday evenings, sipping wine is not a reality. I’m not complaining though because football under the lights with popcorn is a pretty cool family event and the games are so exciting to watch! I still want to eat yummy food when I come home though of course.

Enter festive crock pot dinners. I throw these flavors into a crock pot – the spices I combine in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the whole pork shoulder. If you want a leaner cut of meat use the boneless pork shoulder blade roast, but I usually use the pork shoulder picnic.

Also don’t mind my dented crock pot. I have no idea how it got dented but I blame kids.

It’s important to keep turning the roast as it cooks so the flavors are easily distributed.

When it’s done, you shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices for more flavors, and lay it on a baking sheet. Then you turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Then I like to channel my inner food truck owner and lay out all the fixings.

Everyone can make their own taco with their favorite toppings (read: picky eaters are happy). This is a great meal to share so invite some friends over and throw some cold drinks on ice. A perfect and easy Saturday night meal.

 

 

Hope you and your crew get to try these soon! They’re so so good.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 onions, sliced

3-4 lb. pork shoulder picnic or 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast

3 T salt

1 t. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 T cumin

1 T oregano

1 T chili powder

1 t. cinnamon

6 garlic cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

Directions:

Place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker set to high.

Place pork on top of onions. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the pork. Add chopped garlic, juice of orange and lime.

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10.

When it’s done, shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices, and then lay it out on a baking sheet. Turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Serve in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Pork Posole

August 29, 2019

We are back in the swing of the school year, and I’ve been scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find new dinner ideas. My criteria has been dishes that are easy, delicious and feed a crowd. And I guess I’ve also been looking for things that are a little different, something we’ve never tasted before.

This Pork Posole checks all the boxes. When you find a dish that has SO much flavor, and is so simple and easy, and is a little bit different than anything you’ve had before, you have to share it. The amazing flavor comes from three things: the salsa verde…

the hominy…it was a little hard to find for me so I bought six cans from Amazon and I am very excited to have the makings for more posole in my pantry. Amazon Prime for lyfe. (Seriously, what did moms of little kids do before it existed?)

…and the addition of 3 cups of tortilla chips at the end. It sounds so weird but then you realize that the corn chips dissolve and when they do, they thicken this dish and add salt and fat that makes you crave more. It’s loaded with veggies that help to balance this decadence though, right?

I was a little worried that the fresh poblano pepper would make it too spicy, but my normally picky nine year old loved this dish along with my big kids.

My six year old did not love it though and ate what we always serve the kids who think something is too spicy: a cheese roll up. This is the name we give a tortilla sprinkled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 30 seconds with some avocado. (Just looking out for you mommas out there.)This dish has got to be one of the best bowls of stew/soup I’ve ever had. I’ve seen a lot of posole recipes around using chicken instead, and you could easily swap the pork for the chicken here. But the pork was so flavorful and satisfying I highly recommend trying it. There are a lot of crock pot versions too, but I think sautéing the veggies adds so much flavor and once you’ve done that you might as well just let it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes.The salsa verde and the lime make this taste so fresh, but at its heart this is comfort food and perfect for fall. I hope you get to try it and fall in love with it like we did. 

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2-inch diced

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 Holland yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and 3/4-inch diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade, simmering

1 (12-ounce) jar medium salsa verde

2 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups yellow corn tortilla chips, plus extra for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, sliced or diced avocado, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, grated Cheddar, and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (11-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any liquid to a bowl and set aside. (Don’t worry about crowding the pan here). Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and its juices to the pot.
  2. Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, corn chips, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock and the chips.
  3. To serve, ladle the posole into large soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, tortilla chips, Cheddar, and sour cream. Serve hot.

Recipe from Ina Garten can be found here on Foodnetwork.com

Greek Panzanella + Notes from a Lake Kitchen

July 27, 2019

We’re spending a month by the lake in our new (to us) camp about an hour north of Portland, Maine, near Sunday River and it has made me think a lot about food. We’ve had the house since January, but then it felt more like a ski house kitchen, and I had crock pots of short ribs and spaghetti and meatballs on heavy rotation. This summer we’re here for a whole month because our kitchen and floors are getting redone after we had a leak (and why this blog is so silent lately!). It definitely feels like the longest vacation we’ve ever had, which has been lovely and the days are passing like caramel melts in your mouth, sweet and slow.

I wasn’t sure this would be the case. A summer version of The Shining did cross my mind when I was packing my six kids to come up here. But walks by the lake every morning, swimming and reading every afternoon have given us such great family time and enough structure without any stress which feels…amazing. As Winnie the Pooh says in the recent Christopher Robin movie, “doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” And of course he is right.

When you’re on vacation, you want to eat delicious food but don’t want to clean up. Going out to eat is how many people resolve this but going out to eat with the twins gives me indigestion and makes me want to take a nap immediately, so we avoid it.

At home we rely on our pizza delivery place, but here they a) don’t deliver and b) don’t always know what the difference is between 30 minutes and 75.  So we’ve been making our own. It’s swayed us mightily since they are always easy and good. I’m somewhat obsessed with the margherita pizza we’ve been making and I don’t see that obsession going away anytime soon, though sautéed Brussels sprouts with pancetta is a close second.

For breakfast I’ve been living off of avocado toasts (the twins love it) and my favorite mushroom and goat cheese fritatta.

For dinners I wanted to try out a few new recipes and promptly realized why a stocked pantry is so necessary to cooking. Buying all the asian condiments like hoisin sauce and fish sauce and rice wine vinegar will add to your bill considerably. And may make you wish you did in fact go out to eat. But still this 30 minute Asian beef bowl – which was born from my 13-year olds craving a dish he had had on vacation one time – was worth all the condiments, and it was really good with some broccoli and red peppers sautéed with soy sauce and sesame oil drizzled on it. And this thai chicken flatbread pizza was so good too.

It’s the rhythms of food that always appeal to me, and that stands out so much here. Chopping an onion, mixing a vinaigrette, turning yesterdays meal of roast chicken or grilled veggies into something delicious. Forming these little rituals that will become ways to connect us to our time here through the years. And that’s what seasonal eating is, just relishing the present moment with all its delights. When our neighbor, Bobbie, who has a camp right next to us invited me over for a visit, she offered me some raspberry pie with her fresh raspberries picked from her patch at home. It was like summer sunshine exploded in your mouth. And another friend and her mom were here for a visit and she made raspberry jam that we’ve been spreading on toast. It’s making me want to go home and plant as many raspberry bushes as I can fit into our yard.

I love finding treasures offered up by the local food stores. The road to the ski mountain Sunday River is loaded with wonderful markets and organic offerings, and I found Miso and fresh greens and the best rosé in a can which fits perfectly into the stroller cup holders. I also found great asiago bread at the store in town and toasted it’s delicious – it’s a lot like the cheese bread we get in Pemaquid, Maine. They also have great ciabatta bread and another bakery sells pain au chocolat too. These are the beginnings of our food memories here, and they’re making me so happy.

I turned the leftover bread into panzanella salad this week and decided to make it a greek version – I have a long standing love of Greek salad and could eat it for lunch every day so I always have the makings on hand.

And I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, preferably with some kind of vinegar.

So much goodness in one bowl. I love the briney olives with the creamy salty feta and chewy bread that’s absorbed all the vinegar.

 

In short, eating on vacation in July is the essence of simple. And the best part is all the walking and swimming and playing in the sun keeps you feeling great.

Next week I’ll be back in my newly refurbished kitchen and taking all the inspiration from this month with me. Stop back here if you want to see what it looks like!

Well, I just heard a splash that means the kids are swimming and I think I’ll go join them. They made up a new game that involves racing off the dock, and that’s pretty much what we dreamed of when we bought this place.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Greek Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

1 small French bread or ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large shallot, diced or 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

8-10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Greek olives (or more if you love them like me)

8 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons Red wine vinegar

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Make the vinaigrette, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over them. Toss to coat, and enjoy!

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

May 17, 2019

You guys, it’s been a while since we had a casserole here on THO. But I have a friend who just had a baby girl (hi Meaghan!). When I thought about what meal I could bring her I was bored with every casserole I had made before.

Enter this Chicken BLT one.

I’ve been on a BLT kick ever since I ordered one at Panera a few weeks ago. So simple! So delicious! My daughter even asked me if I had bought a large package of bacon or something because I had been cooking with it a lot. Does bacon come in bulk? If so, sign me up.

We all loved this dinner, it’s comfort food and it freezes and travels well, so it makes a great dish to share. Like most casseroles there are a few steps, but you could bake it in the same pot as the pasta is cooked in and you stir it all together if you wanted to.

The thing that makes this SO delicious is I cooked the tomatoes and the spinach in the bacon grease so it would take on the bacon flavor. I got the idea from a pasta dish at the Mother’s Day brunch we went to, where I bit into a cherry tomato and was like, that tastes like bacon! Wait, it’s been cooked in bacon grease!  This had to be duplicated. And voila! It works perfectly here. I love when greens are cooked in flavor too.

I didn’t use bacon grease for the roux as I thought it would make the dish too heavy. Instead in the same pan as I cooked the diced chicken (to save time though you could use rotisserie or bake the chicken in the oven and then dice it) I made a roux with butter, onions and chicken stock and just a little cream and parm to make it delicious.

Then I poured it over the pasta to combine it. It’s important to let the sauce coat the pasta first and then add the tomatoes, spinach and bacon so you don’t burst the tomatoes or crumble the bacon too much.

Then you toss it all together and add this delicious parm and panko topping that really mimics the toast in a BLT.

Drizzle the top with a little olive oil so it turns brown in the oven (channeling my inner Giada here since she does this topping for every casserole she makes).

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the panko turns golden, and then when you remove it, add another little crumble of bacon because why not?

True story, when I was taking these photos, I was getting my kindergartener ready to go to LaCrosse practice, and I took a few bites from this plate. It was so ridiculously good that the whole time we were at practice I was counting the minutes until we could go home and have this for dinner. (I finished reading My Brilliant Best Friend to keep my mind off of it thankfully).

Here’s to new babies, comfort food, and good books!  Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 pound penne pasta

1 pound of bacon

2 c. cherry tomatoes

4 c. packed fresh spinach

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 chicken breasts, diced (or meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 onion, diced

4 Tbsp. of butter (½ a stick)

¼ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup cream

½ + ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesean

⅓ cup panko

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package, drain, and return to pot, drizzling with a little oil so it doesn’t stick. While it cooks, fry bacon (may need two pans or to work in batches if pan is too small). Once it’s cooked, remove and place on paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add tomatoes and spinach to remaining bacon fat and cook on medium heat, tossing in pan instead of stirring so you don’t break tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are slightly blistered, taking care not to overcook. In another large pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat, then add diced chicken, salt and pepper. (If using precooked or rotisserie chicken you can skip this step). Cook until chicken is nicely brown, then remove from pan on a plate and set aside. In the same pan, melt 4 Tbsp. butter, and then add diced onions. Cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then whisk in flour for 1 minute. Then add chicken stock and whisk well. Then whisk in cream and ½ cup parmesan and mix until its melted into sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Then add the cooked tomatoes, spinach and chicken. Seperate 3 strips of bacon, and cut up the rest and add to the pot. Gently combine all these ingredients so as not to break the tomatoes and then pour them into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Combine panko and remaining ⅓ cup parmesan and sprinkle over the top, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until panko is slightly browned. Remove and sprinkle with remaining 3 strips of bacon, cut up.

Pane Cotta

January 15, 2019

I first saw this dish called Pane Cotta on the author Jane Green’s Instagram page – she had it at a restaurant and it was so good she went home and made it and posted a rough recipe of it! It translates to Baked Bread, it’s an Italian peasant meal (read: rustic and delicious). 

This was one of the most original things I’ve eaten lately, with totally surprising flavors and textures that worked so well together. The braised escarole mixed with the pancetta and leeks were all somewhat delicate, then mixed with the sharp saltiness of the melted cheese, the meatiness of the white beans (you can use any kind here) and cubes of herby, garlicky bread…

The recipe calls for herbs and garlic and it’s really forgiving – I just sprinkled on some garlic salt, olive oil, and thyme. While the bread is toasting, everything else cooks in the same pan. First you cook some pancetta, then in the same pan you add some butter and some leeks…

Then you braise some escarole in chicken broth, and add some white beans…

Then the thing that really ties the whole dish together is the cheese. I tasted it a little with just parm, and just asiago, then with both of them together, and I liked them combined. But don’t let having only one kind of cheese keep you from making this because its just delicious.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part! My kids loved it. This seems like it should be a grown up dish, but really its just a twist on things kids love anyway – bread and cheese. If your kid won’t touch anything green, then I can’t speak for them, but mine will and they asked for seconds.

Like many peasant dishes, it was meant to use up left overs, and I think that is what this dish will be for my kitchen – an amazing way to use up a loaf of bread that is starting to get hard. But really it is nice enough to bring to a pot luck or serve for company, or just to have a nice side dish for a roast over the weekend.

Hope you try this soon, it is such a special dish, and will transport you to Italy for a minute or five, I promise.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Pane Cotta (printer version here):

Ingredients:

3 cups day-old bread, torn up into crouton sized pieces

2 T. olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves or 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Fresh herbs, salt and pepper

8 oz. pancetta, diced

2 leeks, sliced (white and light green parts only)

2 T. butter

1 head of escarole, rinsed and torn into small pieces

1 cup chicken stock

1 can white beans, rinsed

1 cup of parmesan and/or asiago (I used ½ cup of each)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Place bread on cookie sheet, and toss with olive oil, garlic salt (or minced garlic), fresh herbs if desired, salt and pepper.

While that bakes, cook pancetta on medium high heat until browned, then remove and set aside. Place butter in same pan, and add sliced leeks. Saute until soft, then remove from pan and set aside (can put them on same plate as pancetta). Add escarole with a cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid on for a few minutes until escarole is soft. Mix in a can of rinsed white beans, and add all the other ingredients (bread, pancetta, leeks, etc) to the same pan. Top with grated parmesan and/or asiago cheese, and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

 

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Fritatta

October 25, 2018

I love frittatas so much – they are such a blank canvas that you can do anything with.

But I have a soft spot for this combo of mushrooms and goat cheese – that tang from the goat cheese with the umami from the mushrooms – such great flavors.

Making one feels like the same amount of work as scrambled eggs or an omelet. It takes maybe 10 minutes longer, but then you have a delicious breakfast or lunch waiting for you for the rest of the week. Of course you could make this for 6-8 people and I do! Sometimes. But I often just make one for me (plus the babies love frittatas now too!) for a very quick breakfast or lunch during the week that is so satisfying.

They also are the perfect meatless meals. Once or twice a week we try to skip out on meat for the day, and although pizza usually fills the dinner time slot, this is a great dish any meal that day. The mushrooms are kind of meaty, the eggs full of protein. It makes you so satisfied after you eat it you won’t miss meat or carbs.

And at the risk of blowing your mind, I recently saw Ina Garten make a frittata in a baking sheet pan, then cut it into squares as an appetizer for a party. It instantly made dozens of filling apps and the effort was so minimal. If you tripled this recipe, you have that amazing option too.

I learned the weirdest fact about mushrooms – they actually taste better if they are slightly wilted/old/looking pretty soggy. Somehow the flavor concentrates as they are aging. So don’t be afraid to use some that look like they are on their way to the nursing home. (Mold or bad smells should be trashed of course).

In addition to mushrooms and goat cheese I also love leeks and shallots, so I used those instead of onions, though they are inter-changable. Unless you’re feeling the French ingredient vibe like I was apparently. I wrote this recipe how I made it – to speed it up I cooked the mushrooms in a separate pan, so they didn’t get crowded. Sometimes I even cook a bunch of mushrooms ahead and use them up through the week in things like omelets, salads, or frittatas. I always add tarragon to them while they are sautéing since tarragon brings out great mushroom flavor.

Then I add them back to the pan with the leeks and shallots and pour the egg over them, then crumble the goat cheese and the chopped parsley over the top.

Let it set for a few minutes, then slide it into a preheated oven. You’ll know it is done when you touch the center and it is cooked, not wet. In less than 15 minutes you’ll have this:

Hope you find a way to make this for a great weekend breakfast, or if you’re like me, just make it for yourself and you’ll have a weeks worth of amazing, fast, healthy meals. Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Frittata

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 10-13 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 8 oz packages of mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, dried (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced (or 1 large)
  • 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper
  • 3-4 oz. of goat cheese (feta or gruyere work too)
  • Handful of chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, then add butter. When it’s melted, then add mushrooms, tarragon, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 7-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned and fragrant. (I cook these separate so the pan doesn’t get too crowded, other wise the mushrooms steam instead of sauté.)

3

In a second pan, heat olive oil, and add shallots and leeks with a pinch of salt. Stir to avoid browning too quickly, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan when they are cooked.

4

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. eggs and season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Pour eggs over leeks and shallots, then add the goat cheese and parsley evenly throughout. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top of frittata is just set, 10 to 13 minutes.

5

Invert or slide frittata onto a plate and cut into 6 wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.