Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Slow Roasted Greek Chicken



I am obsessed with Greek food. Ob-sessed. For real.  I could not stop thinking about tzatziki. Have you ever had tzatziki? I could eat it with a spoon. Creamy, dilly, cucumber(y) and oh so delicious. You can find it in almost every grocery store. With the Greek yogurt craze,  tzatziki is everywhere. Lucky. Me. I prefer to make my own though. I'll get to that later. 

The real star of this show is the chicken. Let's start with the back story.  Last Sunday, Jen had mentioned that she had slow roasted some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded them and then mixed in some BBQ sauce.  How delicious does that sound? I couldn't stop obsessing over slow roasting boneless, skinless chicken. I mean, it makes sense because low and slow is one of my favorite ways to prepare any meat, but why had I never thought about it?

As luck would have it, boneless, skinless chicken breasts went on sale Sunday at Meijer. I rushed there after church and while I was wandering around the store it hit me--slow roasted Greek chicken. Oh. My. Goodness. I just drooled. 

I assume this recipe would work in the crockpot as well but I will continue to roast it in the oven. It has such a great texture once it's shredded. Sometimes chicken in the crockpot just becomes mushy.  Slow roasting helps maintain it's texture while keeping it super tender and moist (I hate that word and cringed while typing it.) Final verdict for me? Try this slow roasting method if you have time. It takes literally 5 minutes to throw it in the oven. Then you walk away for three hours a and voila--- crazy good chicken. I wonder what the Greek word is for crazy?

Remember earlier when I was talking about my love for tzatziki?  Here's a great link from Brown Eyed Baker.  This is the perfect addition to turn this into a phenomenal gyro!

Slow Roasted Greek Chicken                                                 Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water

In a small bowl, mix the herbs, pepper and salt.  Rub the mixture on both sides of each chicken breast.  Coat well. Place any leftover mixture in the 9x13 baking dish along with the water. Place the chicken breast in the pan and slow roast in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours, covered with aluminum foil. 

Remove from oven and shred with two forks. 

Use on gyros, sandwiches, salads or pasta




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sweet Basil Meatballs


Middle school was the most awkward time of my life. I feel like I'm not alone here.  Or maybe I was the only awkward middle schooler. Let's face it. I'm still awkward. I'm ok with it. I've learned to embrace it actually... 

One of the only bearable middle school memories were speech tournaments. I'm not sure if every state has this program or not but they should. Every Saturday we would hop on a bus at the butt crack of dawn, armed with Ale-8 and junk food and travel to far away places to compete in our different events such as Original Oratory, Poetry, Storytelling, Broadcasting, Duo Acting--the list could go on but I'll stop there.   (If you don't know what Ale-8 is, look it up. Hashtag Kentucky Proud is what it is. The original energy drink.) 

Kentucky does such a great job with their speech program (insert inappropriate Kentucky hillbilly joke here). It gives each and every competitor a great sense of confidence and what middle school student couldn't use a big ol' dose of that? 

Not to brag, but I did win first place in broadcasting when I was in the 8th grade. My plan was to become the first female ESPN anchor. So obviously, I majored in music in college and now work at a bank. What is it they say about plans? If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans, I believe. I've been responsible for more than a few laughs for the Big Man upstairs. 

I told you that story because I am writing this post from one of the state speech tournaments! My cousin Betsy is one of the organizers for the KESDA state tournament and I volunteer to judge because what's more fun than judging a child? I kid, I kid.  But seriously, it's a great event and I enjoy it so much that I give up two Saturdays to help out. 

I realize this tangent I just went on had nothing to do with basil or meatballs. I'm getting there. Patience. It's a virtue.

I've told y'all about my friend Jen a few times before.  Sweet Basil Meatballs just happened to be one of the first meals she ever made for me--100 years ago when we became friends.  She is a great cook and an incredible hostess.  I hadn't known her very long before I felt comfortable enough to raid her fridge for Keebler fudge shop cookies.  Keeping those in the fridge reminded me of my grandmother and I knew we would be friends forever.  This is one of the meals that her son, and my godson, Jarrod requests for his birthday and in honor of his 16th birthday rolling up very soon (where does the time go?  And why have I not aged a day since the kid was born?) I thought I would share her delectable meal.  Plus it brings back great memories of spending time with the Lange family.  That's what comfort food is all about, right?  

Jen has made some changes to this recipe but this is the original that she started with and it is delicious. It's just a simple, warm, comforting meal.  Plus, this meatball recipe might be my new go to.

If you enjoy this one you should really taste her lasagna.  She makes the best lasagna in the world.  You're thinking that the world is a really big place.  I know it is.  And hers is the best.  I'm trying to talk her into a guest post so she can tell you a little bit about her amazing self and share her recipe.  That would be so exciting!! 

Sweet Basil Meatballs                                                       Printer Friendly

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 egg, beaten
3/4 tsp dried basil plus 1/2 tsp for sauce
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1 pound ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, milk, basil, onion powder, marjoram, salt and pepper. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.  Mix in ground beef.  Roll into one nice balls and brown in a skillet over medium to medium low heat.  Drain the grease from the skillet

Sweet Basil Sauce

1 can cream of mushroom soup*
1 can milk
1/2 tsp basil

In a small bowl mix the soup, milk and basil.  Pour over the top of the meatballs.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  

Serve over rice or my favorite, egg noodles

*Note:  I rarely, if ever have canned soups in my pantry.  I most always have mushrooms in my fridge though.  This is what I substituted for the cream of mushroom soup:

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 5 more minutes to make a roux.  Add milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and allow to thicken for about 10 minutes, stirring often. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Greek Lemon Chicken


Where has this week gone? Sheesh! Also, what have I done with it? Obviously I haven't been writing blog posts.  Well I'm here now and that's what matters, right? 

In an attempt to shed some of this weight  that I've put on through two polar vortex (what is the plural of vortex? Vortex's, vorti? Too much for me to think about) and way more snow that I have ever wanted to see, I am posting a recipe that's a little bit healthier.   Of course I'm using chicken thighs but still. 

I love, love, love Greek flavors. They are so robust and bright.  What is better than Greek oregano? Yum-o! I'm not normally a fan of Greek yogurt but I thought the tang from the yogurt and the lemon would compliment each other. Turns out they did! At least in my humble opinion. 

The Mediterranean diets are pretty popular and for good reason. The food is delicious!  It's rich in Omega 3's with Salmon and olives and I don't feel deprived when I'm eating foods like that. And now I want Salmon. Great. 

Enjoy this chicken with some sautéed kale, spinach or a green salad. 

Greek Lemon Chicken                                                       Printer Friendly

Ingredients

4 bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt

In a bowl, mix lemon juice, Greek yogurt, olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, white pepper and a pinch of salt. 

Place chicken in a plastic food storage bag and cover with the marinade. Massage the marinade into the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until juices run clear and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. 

Place under the broiler until chicken has become golden brown, watching it closely to prevent burning. 

Country Ham and Asparagus Quiche



I love long weekends.  Have I ever told you that before?  I have so much more free time to procrastinate and that's pretty much my dream life.

Seriously,  I haven't accomplished much of anything.  That's not entirely true.  I did manage to get my house cleaned.  It was in desperate need of some attention.  And I did start House Of Cards on Netflix.  So intense.  Most importantly,  I made this quiche.


Ahhh…  The stars of the show.  Asparagus was on sale for $1.49 a pound.  You heard me right.  $1.49.  Crazy, right?  I had to make 3 trips to the store to get it.  Obviously, they kept running out.  Another key player in this quiche is country ham.  Quick show of hands--who has not experienced country ham before?  You're missing out.  It's a salt cured ham that makes my taste buds tingle.  I grew up eating country ham sandwiches.  It's important that you eat them on a hamburger bun and use Miracle Whip instead of mayo.  You think I'm insane now, right?  Just trust me.  The closest thing I could compare it too would be prosciutto.  That's what we'll go with-- the south's version of prosciutto. Fair enough.  Of course, quiche isn't quiche without the eggs.


How pretty is that?  The green of the asparagus is helping my mood until I can see the green grass again.  Heck, at this point I'll take brown grass--anything as long as the snow melts.  

When it comes to easy dishes, a quiche certainly qualifies.  In fact,  Quiche Loraine was one of the first items I ever attempted in the kitchen.  It was an assignment for my French class my freshman year of high School.  Bonjour, Madame Wyles.  

Country Ham and Asparagus Quiche                                             Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1 cup country ham pieces
1 cup asparagus, trimmed
3 cups water
6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup swiss cheese
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
Fresh ground pepper
1 pie crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the pie crust into a 9 inch pie pan.  Crimp the edges.  Cover the pie crust with parchment paper.  Place pie weights (dry beans would also work) on top and blind bake for 15- 20 minutes. (This will prevent a soggy crust.)

In a small skillet, brown country ham pieces over medium to medium high heat for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  

In a sauce pan, bring about 3 cups water to a boil.  Add asparagus and blanch for 3-4 minutes or until the asparagus has turned a bright green color.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Roughly chop the spears into 3 or 4 pieces.  

In a mixing bowl beat the eggs and cream together.  Add the cheese, green onion and a couple of turns of fresh ground pepper.  Finally mix in the country ham and asparagus.  Transfer to the pie crust and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Reheat by covering with aluminum foil and baking for 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven.  

Creamy Mac and Cheese



Sometimes you just need a big ol' bowl of comfort.  Like when winter has gotten the best of you and you're convinced it will never end.  And that makes you sad because you've been dreaming about summer produce and the farmers market and patios.

Or maybe you just need comfort food because it's the weekend and that's what you do.  That could just be me.  

This is not your usual baked mac and cheese. This is in a cheesy, creamy sauce.  Over the years I have lost my desire for baked Mac and cheese. I don't like the way it reheats. Or the way it dries out. This reheats beautifully either in the microwave or on the stove top by adding a little more milk to the pan.  

Have I mentioned the cleanup? I use the same pan to cook the pasta and make the sauce. So, big pan and a pasta strainer and that's it! I love simple clean up because I despise washing dishes. 

I eat this as a main dish because it's just me. And I'm lazy. And I love Mac and cheese.

Creamy Mac and Cheese                                                         Printer Friendly     

Ingredients

16 ounces elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups shredded cheese
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, making sure to salt the water.  Once done cooking, drain pasta into strainer. Sit aside. 

In the same pan that cooked the pasta, melt butter over medium to medium low heat.  Sprinkle in flour and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Slowly incorporate milk, about a cup at a time. Once all the milk has been added, mix in mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium low heat, stirring occasionally.  When the sauce has come to a slow boil remove from heat. Add in cheese. Mix well. Add drained pasta to the cheese sauce. Let rest about 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy! 


Vegetable Broth



Word on the street is that we're getting one to four more inches of snow this afternoon.  I'm overjoyed.  Also, I need a sarcasm font. 

My poor dog is having a hard time. The snow is taller than she is in some places. You would think we would both be used to it by now. We aren't. 

Next year I'm going to change the name of my blog to Fork Heart Florida or Hawaii or some other warm weather state for the months of January and February. Who can blame me? 

In my Blackberry Pancake post I talked about saving money by shopping the ads. Another way I save money is by making my own broth. It honestly couldn't be any easier to make. I promise. If you can chop a carrot into a couple of pieces and if you can boil water, you can definitely make this broth. 

Now, there are some vegetables that I would avoid when making a broth: kale, bok choy, chard.... Basically, any green leafy vegetable. For a basic broth I use onions, celery, carrots, garlic and some herbs.  Those items can normally be found in my fridge at all times.

After making the broth I store it in my freezer and voila, you're never too far away from a delicious soup, stew, gravy, sauce--whatever your heart desires.  Well, as long as it calls for broth.

Vegetable Broth                                                                   Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 gallon water
10-12 whole peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme

In a large stockpot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery to the melted butter.  Cook for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables have started to brown.

Pour 1 gallon of water into the stockpot.  Add in garlic, peppercorns, rosemary and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 hours.  Pour broth through a strainer.  Allow to cool before storing.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese



Remember when I said 2014 was the year of the sandwich? I wasn't kidding. More specifically I think it's the year of the grilled cheese sandwich because I have another one for you! 

This is what happens when I get bored: I open up my cheese drawer, and pull out anything I can find. On this particular day, some Swiss and some goat cheese. Yes, I have an entire drawer in my fridge dedicated to cheese. Don't you? No? Hmmmm.... I'm not going to lie, sometimes you will find a package of hot dogs in that drawer. Other than that, it's all cheese. Obviously, I have a love affair with cheese. I have a love affair with a lot of things lately.

Bread.  Another love affair.  Especially when it's grilled with melty, gooey cheese in between a couple of slices.  The first bite of a grilled cheese is one of those simple things in life that I relish.  The crunch and crispiness paired soft cheese is a texture dream.  Now THAT is feel good food right there.

I always considered myself a grilled cheese purist.  I was happy with good old American cheese thrown between some white bread.  Then I started experimenting with different cheeses and breads and frankly, I just can't stop.  Thank goodness.  Otherwise I would have never thought to use goat cheese or the Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly.  Even after all this time, I still get a little misty-eyed over that combination.  I'm starting to think I have serious issues since really good food can bring me to tears.  I'm OK with it.  At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese                                                    Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 slices of bread
Goat Cheese
Swiss Cheese
Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly
Butter

Spread a thin layer of Pomegranate Rosemary Jelly on one side of both pieces of bread.  Layer 2 slices of swiss cheese on top of the jelly on one slice.  Crumble the goat cheese on top of the swiss cheese.  Top with the second piece of bread, jelly side down.

Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.  Lay the sandwich in the middle of the buttered pan.  Cook over medium-low heat until the bread is golden brown.  Flip the sandwich and toast the other side.  Remove from pan onto a cutting board.  Let the sandwich rest for about 4 or 5 minutes before cutting.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seafood Pot Pie



Have I mentioned that I LOVE Trader Joe's? I'm sorry. I can't help it. It's a love affair that I don't see ending anytime soon.

A few months ago I eyed a mixed bag of seafood containing shrimp, calamari and scallops.  I was intrigued and so began my mission to find a delicious use for it.  Most Mondays I participate in a link party on Jam Hands. Ali has so many great recipes, one of which just happens to be a seafood pot pie.  Immediately that light bulb went off in my head. This would be a slightly more affordable way to make this pot pie.

With the great weather we had this past weekend I was able (read: motivated enough) to run all over town for my purchases. Sadly, I don't live very close to TJ's. Well, sad for me. Lucky for my bank account.  Anyway, I knew this was the time for the Seafood Pot Pie as the weather was bound to turn worse. Boy did it ever! Pot pie is one of my favorite comfort/cold weather foods. It almost ranks up there with beef stew--almost. 

Can I take a minute to talk about "catfishing"? It's sad. Why do people fall for these things?. (This message is brought to you by Dr. Phil which I can hear in the background in the break room at lunch. Yes, I'm writing some of this during a break. That's dedication.  In my opinion, Dr. Phil is six months away from becoming Jerry Springer.)  I. Am. Random.



Back to this pot pie. I didn't want to take any short cuts. If I was going to spend the money on this sweet, succulent seafood, I had decided that I would make everything from scratch. You don't have to do that. I'm just bored and have lots of free time. Plus, I'm a huge food nerd. I made the vegetable stock on Sunday. It's so simple to make and if you can chop vegetables and boil water, you can make stock. I'm planning on a post about my stock and other money saving tips very soon!  I also decided I would make the crust from scratch. I mean, why not. Let me tell you why not. I tried one. Years ago. Way before blogs even existed. It was a disaster and such a mess to clean up. However, with my new found fondness of dough, I figure I'll just go ahead and give it another shot. I believe Thomas Edison said, never give up. Or something like that. 

In the spirit of electricity, which I luckily did not lose in the ice storm, I refused to give up. And you know what? It was successful. I may or may not have shed a couple of tears of joy. Buttery, flaky, delicious. Oh man, I feel my eyes welling up. I'll stop. Food makes me emotional. 


Seafood Pot Pie                                                                         Printer Friendly

Ingredients

For the filling:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup milk or cream
2 teaspoons garlic powder
16 ounce bag of mixed seafood
1 cup frozen peas
Salt
Pepper
Sugar

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium to medium low heat. Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add onions and continue to sauté the vegetables for about 15 more minutes or until soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, place about 2 cups of vegetable stock in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the bag of frozen seafood. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the seafood starts to turn pink.  Remove the seafood and set aside. 

Sprinkle in the flour over the vegetable mixture to form a roux. Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix well and allow to slightly thicken. Add milk, also in 1/2 cup increments.   Add a pinch of sugar and stir.

Once the vegetable mixture has thickened, remove from heat.  Stir in peas and seafood.

Place mixture in a 2 quart baking dish.  Cover with prepared pie crust.  With a sharp knife, cut slits in the pie crust to allow the steam to vent.

In a small bowl, crack 1 egg and add a teaspoon of water.  Mix until egg is beaten.  With a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the pie crust.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cheeseburger Wraps


Every Sunday, when I lived in Tampa, my roommate and I would walk to Beef O'Brady's to watch football. It was our Sunday "home away from home".  We would gather with some friends from all over the country and root on our different football teams.  I predictably ordered the same thing week after week. The Cheeseburger Wrap. 

I love burgers so much. I'm can always go for a burger no matter what type of mood captivates me.   To me though, the one negative about burgers is all the bread. Most of the time I can't even taste the burger for the bun. Not to mention the fact that I'm stuffed after a couple bites. It's difficult to get that bun to burger ratio just right.  I've tried everything from wrapping them in lettuce to slapping them on toasted white bread. My favorite is a good old flour tortilla though. In my opinion it is THE burger to bread ratio. 

I'm what I would call a cheeseburger purist. Don't get me wrong, every once in a while I will go for some crazy burger concoction with barbecue sauce, avocado and onion rings but in general I prefer a basic burger. Just give me cheese, mayo and tomato with the occasional pickle and I'm a happy girl. With that being said, get as inventive as you want with this recipe. Consider the tortilla your blank canvas. 

I love the thought of a blank canvas. Just had to throw that out there. 

Cheeseburger Wraps                                                         Printer Friendly

Ingredients

1/2 to 3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 1/2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 burrito size flour tortillas
1/2 tomato, roughly chopped
Pickle slices
Cheese
Mayo

Preheat a large skillet on medium heat.

In a bowl, mix ground beef, worcestershire sauce and garlic powder until well combined.

Crumble the beef mixture into the skillet and brown until cooked.

Meanwhile, spread tortillas with mayo.  Lay slices of cheese in the middle of the tortilla.  When ground beef is cooked, place on top of cheese.  Top with tomatoes and pickles or toppings of your choice.  Fold the ends up and fold the side of the tortilla closet to you over the ground beef mixture tightly until completely enclosed.  

If you choose, preheat a grill pan over medium heat.  Place burrito seam side down and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Flip the burrito and grill for another 3 minutes or so.  

Serve with your favorite burger sides.  Enjoy! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Baked Tortilla Chips with Lime


I have a slight obsession with Trader Joe's.  I was over the moon with happiness when they announced they were moving to Lexington.  They have great produce at great prices--not to mention their baked goods like the corn tortillas.  Twelve fresh corn tortillas for 99 cents.  Where else can you find that?  The answer is nowhere. 

Have you seen the price of tortilla chips lately?  Goodness gracious! That's why I make my own out of corn tortillas.  I can make as many as I want and none of them are crushed.  That's a win-win in my book!

My favorite tortilla chips in the world are at Chipotle.  They're salty and tangy with lime.  Delish!  Paired with guacamole or their corn salsa they are out of this world!

I found a recipe for tortilla chips that changed my life.  The oil is brushed on a whole tortilla and THEN the tortilla is cut.  Seems like a such a simple concept.  I can't believe it never occurred to me.

Once that's done you slap them on a sheet tray and throw them in the oven.  Can't get much easier than that!



Baked Tortilla Chips with Lime                                                  Printer Friendly

Ingredients

12 whole corn tortillas
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt

In a small bowl whisk the oil and lime juice.  Brush both sides of the first tortilla with the oil mixture.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place the second tortilla on top and brush the top of that tortilla with the oil and again sprinkle with salt.  Repeat until all of the tortillas have brushed with oil and salted.  Cut the tortillas in eighths and place on a sheet tray.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite salsa or guacamole.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cuban Sandwiches






Now that you've made that delicious, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth and super easy mojo pork, you're probably wondering what do with the copies amounts of leftovers you have.  I normally freeze it so I can enjoy it later.  Sometimes I make tacos with it (yum-o) but my favorite way to use up some of those leftovers is to make a Cuban Sandwich.  

My most favorite sandwich in the world is the Cuban.  Crispy, toasty bread,  melty swiss cheese, tangy mustard, crunchy pickles, ham and savory mojo pork.  Hold on, I'm drooling.  Is it any wonder that Cuban food is one of my favorites?  


If you're into history and food like I am, take a look at Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile's Hunger for Home by Eduardo Machado.  It's his story of growing up in Cuba during the revolution and how he adapted to the US.  I've read it several times because I find it so compelling.  

Side note:  Just when I thought I was at my breaking point with Old Man Winter, the beautiful Bluegrass State got a taste of spring yesterday.  60 degrees and sunshine.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  It was warm enough to read outside and the sun on my face filled my soul with happiness.  I am so grateful for the reprieve from the bitter cold.  However, at 4am I was woken up my a winter weather warning alert on my phone.  Reality reigned me back in quickly.  I'll keep my memories of yesterday close to my heart during the 3-5 inches of snow we get today.  Kentucky weather.  It's just cray-cray.

Anyway, back to these sandwiches which will also make your soul soar with happiness.  It's so simple to throw together.  Swiss cheese, sliced ham (I used Virginia ham from the deli), pork, mustard and pickles.  Seriously, my mouth is watering again.  It's one of those things I could eat every single day and it wouldn't bother me a bit.  

Cuban Sandwiches                                                          Printer Friendly

Ingredients

Virginia ham
Swiss cheese
Dill pickles, sliced
Mustard

Slice the bread in half lengthwise.  On the bottom half of the bread place slices of cheese, followed by ham and the shredded mojo pork.  Top with the pickles.  Spread mustard on the top slice of the bread and place on top of the sandwich.

Place sandwich in a panini press if you're lucky enough to have one.  I don't so I use a grill pan or a big skillet.  Place a heavy object on the top of the sandwich to press it down.  I use my cast iron pan since it's the heaviest item in my kitchen.  A brick covered in foil would work well also.  

Flip the sandwich until it has grilled evenly on both sides.  Remove from pan or panini press.  Cut in half or fourths and serve with a side of tostones (fried plantains).  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Slow Cooker Mojo Pork



I'm baaaack.  Some of you thought I was gone forever, right?  Well you aren't that lucky.  I've missed this little blog.  However, I was stricken with what I can only imagine was the plague which kept me out of the kitchen for far too long.   That was followed by "Polar Vortex: The Sequel" which basically consisted of me on the couch watching Grey's Anatomy with multiple blankets while forcing my dog to lay on my feet.  Also, there were a lot of tears.  Winter is frustrating me this year.  It will be over soon, right?  RIGHT???

Anywhooo, whenever I need to brighten my spirits I turn to my time in the Sunshine State, specifically, Tampa.  Ahh Tampa.  The food, the music, the sunshine,  the culture (which is made up of several different latin cultures with some college sorority girl thrown in.  I love it for the latin influence.  Not so much the sorority thing).  It's just a warm welcoming place and I miss it very much.  Mostly during extreme cold, but I miss it nonetheless.

While living there I was drawn to the Cuban culture and people.  They are so much fun.  They live life with abandon and their food is out of this world.  The flavors they combine always make for a party in your mouth.  There used to be a common misconception that latin inspired foods were always spicy.  Not the case at all.  Most of the food just combine bright, fresh flavors,  much like this delicious mojo.

I discovered Mojo during my time in the south and it changed my life.  I think it will change yours too.  Seriously.   Mojo is basically garlic and citrus.  Specifically sour oranges.  Oddly enough, sour oranges aren't really found in Kentucky so that can be remedied with adding lime juice.


I made bread to go with the mojo.  What?  I don't like baking bread.  Turns out I actually DO like baking bread.


Mmmmm…. Cuban bread.  Fresh out of the oven.  What is better than that? I used this recipe which turned out pretty good and made a lot of bread!  Little side note:  roll the dough out thin if you want to make sandwiches.  In my opinion it works better.

Slow Cooker Mojo Pork                                                       Printer Friendly

Ingredients

2 1/2-3 1/2 pound pork shoulder or boston butt
8-10 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
5 or 6 sprigs fresh oregano
Salt and pepper

Place the pork in the crock pot.  Generously season the pork with salt and pepper.

Pour the orange and lime juice over the pork.  Add garlic cloves and oregano to the crock pot.

Cook on low for 7-9 hours or high for 5-6.  Shred with a fork and serve with rice and beans, plantains or on a sandwich.  It can't get much easier than that.  Enjoy!

*I prepare this the night before and refrigerate.