Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shredded Pork Soft Tacos #CrockPot

Weeknight tacos usually consist of quick-cooking fillings like ground beef, packaged taco seasoning and some hard taco shells.  It's all good for a quick dinner.

These tacos don't need any cheddar cheese or lettuce or even taco sauce!  
If you are craving some South of the Border flavor, you have come to the right place.


1 3 lb. boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 large onion, peeled and halved through root end, plus chopped onion for serving
1 Tbsp. minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 orange, halved
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
10-12 corn tortillas, warmed*
Fresh cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced radishes


Combine pork, water, onion quarters, chipotle, oregano, sugar, cumin, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and bay leaf in slow cooker pot.  Juice orange into bowl and remove any seeds.  Add juice from orange halves into pot, then add spent halves.  Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours.  This can also be done in the pressure cooker and cooked for 35 minutes.

When ready, remove onion quarters, orange halves and bay leaf from cooking liquid.  Using a large spoon, skim excess fat from surface of sauce.  Increase setting to HIGH and simmer, breaking up meat into bite size pieces with wooden spoon until cooking liquid has thickened, about 15 minutes.  Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm tortillas, chopped onion, cilantro, radishes and lime wedges.

*Warming the torillas up before serving is crucial for both their flavor and texture.  Toast tortillas, one at a time, directly on cooking grate over medium gas flame, until slightly charred around edges, about 30 seconds per side.  Or toast tortillas, one at a time, in dry skillet over medium-high heat until softened and speckled brown, 20-30 seconds.  Wrap in clean dish towel to keep them warm and soft until serving time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Easy, Buttery Garlic Knots

Super easy, fool-proof garlic knots.  Biscuit dough makes them fluffy and tender and practically melt in your mouth!  You can also use pizza dough if you have some in your freezer.  I keep two portions of pizza dough in my freezer at all times since I make homemade pizza once a week.  Try them both ways!  The garlic mixture is not overwhelming like some garlic knots can be, and I have even made the mixture to sprinkle on top of my pizza!
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tube refrigerated buttermilk biscuits or pizza dough
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly oil a baking sheet, or coat with non-stick spray.  You can also use parchment paper or foil and lightly spray.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter and add Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, parsley and salt.  Set aside.
  • Halve each of the biscuits, making 16 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 5-inch rope and tie into a knot, tucking in the ends.  If using pizza dough, follow the same procedure.
  • Place knots onto the prepared baking sheet and brush each knot with half of the butter mixture.  Place into oven and bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and brush with remaining butter mixture.  Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce or as an alternative to garlic bread with any Italian meal.

~Adapted from Comfort of Cooking

Chicken Tortilla Soup + #Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Giveaway!

Did you know?

The natural salt in food accounts for about 10 percent of total intake, on average according to the FDA.  The salt we add at the table or while cooking adds another 5 to 10 percent.  About 75 percent of our total salt intake comes from salt added to processed foods by manufacturers and salt that cooks add to foods at restaurants and fast food.
Healthy Solutions Spice Blends are made using only the highest quality spices and have no fillers or preservatives, no MSG, and are low in carbohydrates.  Most blends are made with no salt or sugar.

It's difficult to cook without salt!  Food needs salt to taste good!  But if you put together the right combination of spices, you add flavor and Healthy Solutions makes it easy!  There are so many delicious blends to choose from such as Hearty Beef Stew, Italian Meatballs, Perfect Steak, Ultimate Burger, Cajun Seafood, Shrimp Scampi and more!  The packages contain plenty of product and can be used for several meals.  Follow and 'Like' Healthy Solutions Spice Blends for more recipes for the Holidays and everyday meals.

I used the Authentic Chili/Tacos Spice Blend for my Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I have made several recipes using this blend since my family loves Mexican Food!  It's not overly spicy and gives any Mexican dish a great flavor.

3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 Tbsp. Healthy Solutions Authentic Chili/Tacos Spice Blend
1 Tbsp. canola oil (plus 4 Tbsp. for frying tortilla strips)
1 cup onion, chopped
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 can low-sodium cream of chicken soup
1 cup half & half
1 10 oz. package frozen corn
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3 corn tortillas, divided

For Garnish:
1 ripe avocado, cubed or sliced
Fresh cilantro
Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Fried tortilla strips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle chicken breasts with about 1 Tbsp. of Authentic Chili/Tacos Blend and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.  Prepare soup base.

Set a skillet over medium heat.  Once it is hot, toast the chiles for about a minute per side.  In a medium saucepan, place the toasted guajillos, tomatoes and garlic clove and cover with water.  Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until tomatoes are cooked and mushy and the guajillos have rehydrated and plumped up, about 15 minutes.

Place the guajillos, tomatoes, garlic, onion and 1 Tablespoon Authentic Chili/Tacos Blend, along with the simmering liquid.  Puree until completely smooth.  
In a soup pot, heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil over medium high heat. Once hot, pout in the tomato puree.  Cook until slightly thickened and puree turns a deep red, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add chicken stock, cream of chicken soup, half and half, corn, green chilies and beans.  Bring to a simmer.  Tear up one corn tortilla and add to soup.  Simmer to blend flavor, about 30 minutes.  Stir in shredded chicken.

For Tortilla Crisps:

Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a small skillet.  Stack two corn tortillas and cut into thin strips.  Fry in hot oil until lightly brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.  Place on paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt and Authentic Chili/Tacos Blend

Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro, cheese of your choice and fresh avocado cubes or sliced.  Add a handful of tortilla strips.

Makes about 2 quarts.  Fry additional tortilla strips to garnish.
Guajillo chiles can be found in most supermarkets in the Latin section.

Enter below and choose your favorite blend!
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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Easy Weeknight Dinners #3

The colder weather is slowly creeping in on us.  Most of these meals can be prepped ahead of time!  Even if you just choose one for any night of the week, it will save you time and not have to worry about "What's for Dinner"?
Monday:  Spinach-Bacon Mac & Cheese - Tired of the same old mac & cheese?  Crisp applewood smoked bacon and chopped spinach really adds another dimension to our comfort food favorite.
Tuesday:  Fried Onion Burgers -  A hot skillet makes a great burger with crispy edges and caramelized onion flavor!
Wednesday:  Easy Salmon Cakes -  It's a great way to use canned (or leftover salmon).

Thursday:  Coconut Chicken Tenders - Coat the tenders in coconut, fry and pair with a sweet and sassy sauce for a combination of sweet, spicy, cold and crispy.
Make extra sauce - because they will be double dipping!

Friday:  Wendy's Style Chili - Hopefully you made a big batch and can take a quart out of the freezer!

SUNDAY BONUS:  Mom's Old Fashioned Rice Pudding
Have a great week and keep on cookin! 

Featured on NOWJERSEY.com

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shrimp Salad Rolls with Tarragon

This salad - creamy in texture with crunchy bits of celery and plump shrimp is a nice change from tuna or chicken salad - and we can't all afford lobster.
Tarragon adds a warm, aromatic flavor with a peppery bite!
Warm, toasty buttered rolls make the sandwich!


2 lbs. large shrimp (easy-peel frozen)
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
1 Tbsp. finely chopped tarragon
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
6 Hot Dog Rolls, New England Style split top preferably
  • Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp begin to float to the top.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.  Shell the shrimp and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • In a large bowl, stir the celery, mayonnaise, chives, tarragon, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  • Spread sides of rolls with softened butter.  Heat in a non-stick skillet and until browned on both ends.
  • Spoon the shrimp salad into the rolls and sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.

Serves 6
~Adapted from Fine Cooking

Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...