Carnitas Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

I’m all about recipe books with great pictures and layouts these days and I pick up a new one from the library each time I go in. This recipe comes from Kelsey Nixon’s Kitchen Confidence and it’s a keeper. These carnitas are incredibly flavorful! (It comes with a recipe for pickled red onions, which I did not make, but will do so in the future. That recipe follows the carnitas.)

1 3lb boneless pork shoulder (butt), trimmed of excess fat
Juice of 4 limes
1 C orange juice
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 T chili powder
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 T kosher salt

Cut the pork shoulder into 1.5-2 inch pieces and put them in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the lime juice, orange juice, garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, and salt. Add just enough water to cover the pork and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for at least 1.5 hours but no longer than 2 hours, stirring occaisonally and taking care that there is still liquid in the pot.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, about 10 minutes. Continue cooking, carefully turning the pork pieces, until they develop brown, crispy edges, about 5 minutes.

Serve the pork with picked onions (instructions below), warmed tortillas, and, if desired, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, cheese, and lime wedges for squeezing.

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PICKLED RED ONIONS

1/3 C fresh lime juice
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1/3 C sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into rings
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

In a small saucepan, combine the lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Place the onion slices in a bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for about 20 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days.

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Roasted Cauliflower Soup w/ Turmeric

After accidentally buying a second head of cauliflower, I looked for ways to use up and was intrigued by a roasted cauliflower soup. I combined two recipes, and it resulted in a really delicious soup for a chilly spring night. Total win here. My whole family enjoyed it.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, diced
5 cups vegetable stock
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 t turmeric
1 t curry
1/2 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

Cut head of garlic, about 1/4-inch, to expose tops of garlic cloves. Place garlic head, cut side up, in a sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold up all 4 sides of the foil and cover tightly.

Place cauliflower florets in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, turmeric, and curry. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil; gently toss to combine. Spread cauliflower out onto baking sheet. Place garlic onto the baking sheet. Place into oven and roast until cauliflower and garlic is tender and golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool before squeezing cloves from skin.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in vegetable stock, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in cauliflower and garlic. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is tender and falling apart, an additional 10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached.
Stir in heavy cream; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable stock as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately.

Taco Tot Casserole

My friend Joan contributed this recipe to our freezer meal group years ago. It’s a very Nebraskan dish; right up there with “salads” made with whipped cream folded in. And seriously, don’t knock it. It’s super yummy.

1lb lean ground beef
1 – 1.25oz pkg taco seasoning mix
1 – 15oz whole kernel corn, drained
1 – 11oz can nacho cheese soup, undiluted
4 cups frozen tater tots
salsa (opt)
sour cream (opt)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a skillet cook beef until brown. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and add water, cook as directed on package of taco seasoning. Spoon meat mixture into an
un-greased 2-quart casserole dish. Spread corn over beef. Spoon undiluted soup over corn and arrange tater tots in a single layer over this.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes are lightly browned. If desired, serve with salsa and sour cream.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Black Beans & Rice with Sausage

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Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked white rice

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2-3 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 t paprika
cilantro, to taste
3 cooked black beans
1lb cooked sausage of your choice

Directions
In a stockpot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 4 minutes. Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Cut sausage into approx. quarter inch discs, saute in pan until heated through.

To rice, add the spices, black beans, and sausage. Mix and serve.

Pasta with Garlic Shrimp & Broccoli

This one from AllRecipes was a winner with the entire family tonight. It felt extravagant—and sure, it’s not great to eat heavy cream and butter every night—but it came together easily and tasted delicious. Winning!

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package angel hair pasta
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Melt 1.5 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in milk and cream; simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Mix in pesto, parsley, 3 cloves minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, place broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Saute shrimp, remaining 3 cloves minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.
  5. In a large bowl, toss pasta, shrimp and broccoli; pour sauce over and serve.

    **I used frozen shrimp with tails on, first thawing them in cool water and setting them aside. I used frozen broccoli, cooking it most of the way in the microwave and then tossed it the butter and garlic to heat up by sauteeing. After a minute or two I added the shrimp and heated it altogether. Easy.

 

Spiced Beef Patties with Couscous

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My daughter picked out this recipe from a library magazine. My intention was to have her make it, however she was putting away laundry so I went ahead alone. The beauty of a kid-picked recipe was that the weight of new-recipe-trying was completely off my shoulders—hoorah! As it turns out, this recipe is simple and DELICIOUS. A total win, and perhaps one of the best flavors of burgers my husband has eaten. 

2 carrots, finely grated
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 C couscous (10 oz)
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 t hot paprika
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon

1. Combine 2 C water, half of grated carrots, 2 T olive oil, dried apricots, 1/4 t salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add couscous; cover and remove from heat. Set aside until ready to serve.

2. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, half the cilantro, 1 t paprika and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Combine the ground beef, scallions, cumin, cinnamon, 1 t salt, remaining grated carrot, and 1 t paprika in a large bowl. Mix with hands until just combined. Form into four 3/4 inch thick oval patties.

4. Heat the remaining 1 T olive oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in remaining cilantro. Serve the patties with the couscous and yogurt sauce.

Roasted Salmon Pasta with Tzatziki

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I pulled out this recipe from an online whole food kitchen class I took a few years ago. I knew it would be a bit of a stretch for my family, and sure enough, each of the kids said “ew” to the description. I did almost lose my nerve partway through, but I am so glad I persevered (not that it was a particularly hard recipe, just that I almost convinced myself I’d be eating it on my own for the next fourteen meals). I needn’t have worried. We ate every single bite, and I think Ian and Clara would have eaten even more had it been available.

Notes for next time: Jason said I could have doubled the salmon (and I agree). I was too lazy to make a gluten-free pasta option for myself, so I just gluten-ed it up with the rest of the family. Also, I didn’t get a picture of the tzatziki, but it was really good as well. The recipe notes say that traditional tzatziki uses mint as the fresh herb but that the dill pairs nicely with the salmon. I agree, but I might experiment with mint or even cilantro.

Also, the original recipe calls this “pasta salad.” I left out the “salad” because it was not at all salad-like in my opinion. The salmon and asparagus had cooled, and the tomatoes were room temperature, but I made the pasta last and tossed it while the pasta was hot, so overall the dish was warmer than room temp but not steaming by a long shot. The tzatziki was cool, and all those temperatures worked well together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6-ounce) cooked filet salmon, cooled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I prepared it just like the salmon in this recipe); next time I would double this
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, sautéed and cooled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (remove the woody tips and add to a medium-hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper; sauté just a few minutes until bright green)
  • 1 package tricolor veggie pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions:

  1. Toss salmon, tomatoes, asparagus, and pasta in a large bowl (or, um, large skillet if you don’t have a large enough bowl)

For the tzatziki

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (and roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup plain greek-style yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 3 teaspoons dried dill)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt)

Combine all the tzatziki ingredients in a food processor or blender and process on low until well blended.

Serve on the side to be spooned over pasta.