Friday, April 29, 2011

Shrimp, Asparagus and Radish Pasta

There are a few dishes or ingredients that I like so much, it actually pains me a little to try a new recipe with them.  Take polenta, for instance.  I love polenta - a little honey and a little butter is all I need. I actually can't bring myself to add cheese to it and the one time that I topped polenta with a delicious vegetable tamale concoction, I scraped off the topping and ate the two separate.  To me, the sum was just not greater than the parts.
Asparagus is another ingredient that I don't very creative with.  Ever since I was little, it's been one of my top ten favorite foods.  I love roasted asparagus and since we've been getting it weekly in our CSA box, I've been roasting it weekly.  So finally, I forced myself to try something a little different.  I had seen a recipe for shaved asparagus pizza and while I wasn't making pizza that night, I thought that shaving asparagus sounded like an interesting trick. 
Also, my dad had told me how much he had liked a shrimp and radish pasta that was in one of the recent Everyday Food magazine issues.  We finally got radishes in our CSA box so I knew I had to try that recipe.  Only I decided to throw in some shaved asparagus.  And use less butter.  And add a little of that leftover white wine.  And top it off with a little lemon.  While I ended up deviating quite a bit from the original recipe, it was still a delicious pasta that seemed like a perfect spring dish.  And I didn't have to scrape off any toppings this time.
Shrimp, Asparagus and Radish Pasta
Loosely adapted from: Everyday Food magazine
Serves 4-6
  • 3/4 pound linguine or other long pasta (I used white whole wheat pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, divided (plus more to taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch radishes, including greens
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 pound frozen large shrimp (peeled and deveined), thawed
  • 2-4 Tbsp white wine (I freeze my leftover white wine in ice cube trays for recipes like this!)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more to taste)
  1. To prepare: Shave asparagus with a vegetable peeler into long, thin strips. Thinly slice or chop garlic.  Thinly slice radishes.  For the radish greens, rinse well and then give a rough chop.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions.  When there is only one more minute of cook time left for the pasta, drop the shaved asparagus into the boiling water and let the asparagus and pasta cook together for 1 minute.  Drain pasta and asparagus, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water if possible.
  3. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and radishes and cook, stirring occasionally, until radishes are crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add radish greens and cook until wilted. 
  4. Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and the shrimp to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp is opaque throughout, 4 minutes. Deglaze with white wine (I used approximately 4 tablespoons for a stronger wine taste in the dish).  Add pasta, asparagus, and remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and toss to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.  Add more white wine, butter, lemon juice, pasta water and/or salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thai Chicken & Noodles Salad

I often don't like salads for my main course. I know, I know, you can have your protein, carbs and, of course, vegetables in it but somehow, I don't seem to feel as full after a salad (purely psychological is my guess).  So a salad has to look pretty darn enticing for me to bookmark it and place it on our menu plan.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that we've been swimming in lettuce from our CSA box so I'm always looking for ways to use it (not that I'm complaining!). 
This Thai chicken and noodles salad is simple and delicious.  The marinade really is the star of the show.  I marinated the chicken for about 9 hours and it was incredibly flavorful.  We drizzled the extra marinade all over the salad which is a must. 
There's definitely room for imagination (or using up vegetables in your fridge).  Shaved carrots and thinly sliced cucumbers were great in the salad but next time, I'd probably include red peppers as well.  I brought the leftovers to work the next day and my coworker gave me some of her pineapple which I promptly added to my dish. The sweet and tropical flavors from the pineapple worked incredibly well with the dish!
Thai Chicken & Noodles Salad
Taken from: The Parsley Thief
  • 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast {cut into thin slices}
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced {white & light green parts}
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (I omitted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 3 1/2 ounces Chinese rice noodles
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled & sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • optional toppings: chopped peanuts, sliced scallions, sliced limes, bean sprouts, red pepper flakes, red bell pepper, pineapple, lettuce leaves
  1. Begin by making the marinade for the chicken: Add the scallions, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, light brown sugar, lime juice, anchovy paste and red pepper flakes to resealable plastic bag. Shake to combine.  Remove half of the marinade (which will be used as a sauce on top of the finished salad).  Place the chicken in the bag with the remaining marinade.  Coat all the chicken, seal & chill for at least 30 minutes (I placed mine the morning of dinner). 
  2. Cook the noodles, according to the package instructions, drain and transfer to a platter.
  3. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken, in batches, for about 1-2 minutes per side, or until cooked through & golden brown. 
  4. Transfer the chicken to the platter with the noodles and top with the carrots, cucumber, basil and any additional toppings.  Serve with the remaining marinade on the side.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sauteed Orzo

I love risotto.  The creaminess, the flavors from chicken broth (especially homemade) and white wine, the versatility...what's not to love?
The time involved, that's what (especially if you're like me and use brown basmati rice). The stirring. The constant hovering to prevent any burning.  This dish had similar flavors to risotto but swapped out rice for orzo pasta which made for a faster and easier substitute. Altogether, it took about 20 minutes to cook this dish from start to finish and only a couple stirs.  We ended up eating later than planned so the orzo simmered away patiently for an extra half an hour.  This is a big plus for me because I find myself getting a little impatient when the-food-needs-to-be-on-the-table-and-eaten-right-this-second.
You still get the great flavors from using chicken broth and white wine and adding a touch (or more) of parmesan.  You can also add plenty of vegetables -- we added sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms and asparagus to ours and it was delicious (although pancetta, peas, and even shrimp or chicken would be wonderful, I'm sure!).  Overall, a more weeknight-friendly side dish, reminiscient of risotto.  A winner in my book!

Sauteed Orzo
Taken from: AllRecipes
Serves 6
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/4 yellow onion, minced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley 
  • extra add-ins of your choice such as peas, sauteed asparagus, cooked bacon, pancetta, sauteed mushrooms, etc
  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook until golden brown. Add in orzo and stir 3 minutes.
  2. Pour water and wine into the skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Cook 7 to 10 minutes, until orzo is al dente. Stir in the extra veggies, parmesan cheese, and parsley to serve.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coconut Bars

I grew up thinking that I didn't like coconut.  Well, more specifically, I didn't like the coconut flavor and coconut flakes that I had tasted in candy bars like mounds and almond joys. Recently, however, I've been using more coconut -- we've been putting coconut flakes in our granola (delicious) and I've discovered that the combination of coconut and chocolate is actually darn tasty. So I can't tell if coconut is growing on me or if I've been depriving myself for years because of fake flavors in a candy bar. Maybe a little of both. 
My husband, on the other hand, loves coconut.  He could probably talk for hours about his love for almond joys and mounds (just ask him about our time in Bartels).  So when I came across a recipe for coconut bars, I knew he would like them. What I didn't know is that I would end up loving them as well!  Surprisingly, I thought that these coconut bars tasted remarkably like pecan pie bars (which, coincidentally, I had been wanting to try for a while).  The coconut flavor is delicious but subtle - believe it or not, I think I'd actually increase the amount of coconut next time!  These bars were best when completely cooled, but of course I didn't wait that long for my first bite and it was still delicious. A buttery crust with a gooey topping...what's not to like?
Also, since we're talking about coconut, I learned this trick on how to un-sweeten coconut flakes from The Kitchen Generation. I can only find sweetened coconut flakes in my grocery store but if you place the sweetened flakes in a fine-mesh sieve or colander and then run water over the flakes until the water is clear, you remove the sugar. The spread the flakes on a cookie sheet to dry.  This tip isn't really relevant to this recipe (although I am sure you could use unsweetened flakes here) but how ingenious is that?
Ok, enough of sharing tips and onto finally sharing the recipe:
Coconut Bars
Taken from: Gourmet Magazine (the October 1953 issue!) via Honey & Jam
Serves 10-12 (I easily halved this recipe by using a loaf pan)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I recommend adding more)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Cream 1/2 cup of butter. Add gradually 1/2 cup brown sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 cup sifted flour and spread batter in the bottom of a 8 inch square cake pan. Bake in a moderate oven (375) for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. While crust is baking, beat 2 eggs and 1 cup light brown sugar together until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/2+ cup shredded coconut tossed with 2 tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. Spread this batter over the crust and continue to bake for 20 minutes longer. Cool completely (sticking it in the fridge helps speed up this process) and then cut into squares or bars.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Whole Wheat Knots & Week's Menu Plan

I've found it: my favorite rolls.  When my husband was working late one night, I realized I would have more time than usual before we had dinner.  So as soon as I got home from work, I got busy making these rolls.  Normally, these rolls would be near-impossible to make on our typical weeknight because they require a bit more time for steps like cooling the oats mixture and letting the dough rise (twice).  The majority of the time is hands-off, so if happen to have the chance, it is so, so worth it.

I couldn't believe how unbelievably light these knots tasted even though they're chock full of good for you ingredients like whole wheat flour, oats and flaxseed.  I had 2 right out of the oven because they were just that good.  Also, when I toasted one the next morning, it tasted a lot like a bagel! We've had them toasted for breakfast, as a sandwich bun, and served as a side dish for dinner and loved them each way.  I was originally going to brush them in a butter garlic topping which I think would still be wonderful.  I can promise I'll be making these again!

Whole Wheat Knots
Taken from: A Hint of Honey
Makes 16-24 rolls (I believe I made 20
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water (100-110 F)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. gluten (optional)
  • Approx. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 large egg, whisked + 1 tsp. water (optional, I omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp. rolled oats (optional, I omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds (optional, I omitted)
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds  (optional, I omitted)
  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and add 2 cups boiling water, stirring until well blended. Cool to room temperature (I stuck mine in the freezer which took about 10-15 minutes to cool).
  2. Dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add yeast mixture to cooled oats mixture; stir well. Stir in flaxseed meal.
  3. Gradually add 4 cups whole wheat flour to oats mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Knead about 1 minute and then let dough rest for 20 minutes.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes by hand, 5-6 minutes by stand mixer); add enough of all-purpose flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
  4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, approx. 60 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Divide dough in half; cut each half into 8-12 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot; tuck top end of rope under bottom edge of roll. Place each roll on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray; let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 30-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  7. Optional step: Combine water and egg in a small bowl; brush egg mixture over rolls. Combine oats, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds; sprinkle evenly over rolls.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
Week's Menu Plan

Sunday: Thai Chicken & Noodles
Monday: Cod with Coconut Curry Sauce, quinoa and roasted cauliflower
Tuesday: Southwest Sweet Potato & Black Bean Hash
Wednesday: Sweet & Sticky Chicken Breasts, Mashed Turnips & Potatoes, steamed broccoli
Thursday: Skirt Steak Salad with sauteed asparagus
Friday: out

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Crispy Bourbon Glazed Salmon

    When I found Jessica's post on How Sweet It Is for her crispy bourbon glazed salmon, I knew I had to drop everything -- rearrange my (somewhat) meticulous weekly meal plan -- because I needed to make that salmon that night.  I can't say that happens too often, even when I stumble across a delicious-looking recipe, but this was worth it.  It definitely lived up to our expectations; my husband couldn't stop talking about it - the sweet and tang together, a little bit of heat to add complexity - altogether a wonderful combination of flavors. 
    My only regret is that I halved the bourbon glaze recipe because it seemed like too much for just two of us and I hate wasting food.  That was a mistake - the glaze is the star of this dish so I highly recommend making the whole thing! 
    Sadly, we ate all of the salmon without taking a single picture until the very last bite.  But that means that you'll just have to make it yourself to see what it looks like! It would be so easy to serve with a few simple sides (like roasted cauliflower and rice pilaf).
    Crispy Bourbon Glazed Salmon
    Taken from: How Sweet It Is
    Serves 3-4 (makes about 1/2 cup of glaze)
    • 1 pound fresh salmon
    • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
    • 3/4 cup bourbon (I used whiskey)
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
    1. Combine the bourbon, sugar, mustard, garlic, honey, vinegar and worcestershire in a small saucepan and whisk. Heat over high heat and allow it to come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture reduces by about half. Pour mixture in a bowl and let sit at room temperature while the salmon cooks. The glaze will thicken a bit at this time.
    2. Preheat the broiler in your oven. Make sure the salmon is dry and season it with the coarse salt and pepper on both sides. Lay it on a non-stick baking sheet.  Broil for about 5-6 minutes on each side, until the top develops a crispy crust. If your salmon is very thick, you may need to go a little longer.
    3. Remove the salmon from the oven and brush it with the bourbon glaze. Add as much or as little as you would like. Feel free to use it as a dipping sauce too. The glaze can be stored in the fridge for a week or two – just allow it to come to room temperature (or slightly warm it) before using.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Kale Chips

    If you don't know about kale chips...well, you should.  They're pretty incredible. Who knew taking kale, (arguably one of the healthiest foods), and a few other ingredients could make something that tastes remarkably like potato chips?  The kale ends up crisping in the oven so it gives you the same satisfying crunch as a potato chip.  You can keep it as simple as kale, salt and cooking spray (3 ingredients!) or add a few extra spices for a barbecue flavored chip. I did half of the chips just with salt and the other half as barbecue chips, and, honestly, we liked both equally. 

    We had our kale chips as a side for our spicy chicken and avocado sandwiches.  A delicious spring dinner!

    Kale Chips with Salt
    • 1 head kale (preferably curly kale)
    • salt
    • cooking spray
    Barbecue Kale Chips
    Taken from: Peas and Thank You
    • 1 t. paprika
    • 1/2 t. garlic salt
    • 1/2 t. sugar
    • 1/4 t. onion powder
    • 1/4 t. chili powder
    • 1/4 t. dry mustard (I omitted)
    • pinch of cayenne (optional)
    • 1 head kale
    • cooking spray
    -For BBQ kale chips, mix all spices together in a small bowl. 
    -Preheat oven to 300.  Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil (the foil is optional but makes for easy clean up) and then spray foil with cooking spray.
    -Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces and arrange leaves in a single layer on baking sheets.  Spray kale pieces with cooking spray and then sprinkle with salt or BBQ spice mixture.
    -Bake for approximately 20 minutes; after 10 minutes of cooking, rotate the pan and then check every few minutes so they don't burn. Chips should be light and crisp.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Cinnamon-Topped Baked French Toast

    On the rare occasions when Bryant and I go out to breakfast or brunch (my favorite meal of the day), I pick up the menu and study it intently, lost in the possibilities of what I should order.  Bryant, however, knows better.  He simply says, "I know you'll be ordering the French toast." And he's right...pretty much every single time. (Of course, we split our meals so I do know that I'll be getting half of a delicious savory breakfast item, too.  But I can't really help that I'm a sucker for French toast.)

    So when Bryant and I FINALLY got a quiet Saturday together, I knew I would be celebrating...with French toast.  So I found one of those delicious recipes that I had bookmarked a while ago that looked divine: a cinnamon and sugar topped baked French toast.  I loved that you prepare the night before so we still get a lazy morning together. It was also an incredibly easy recipe to halve or to third (like we did). Served with some fresh strawberries from our CSA box, Grade B maple syrup (maple syrup is a must!), and a side of eggs and bacon, it was exactly the kind of celebratory/lazy/delicious meal I was hoping for.

    Cinnamon-Topped Baked French Toast
    Taken from: Two Peas and their Pod
    Serves 16*
    *To halve this recipe to serve 8, halve the ingredients and use an 8x8 baking dish.  To cut this recipe into a third (like we did), cut the ingredients to approximately one-third and then serve in a 4x8 loaf pan (I had a glass loaf pan but a standard loaf pan would work as well).
    • 1 loaf French Bread (I used challah)
    • 8 large eggs
    • 2 cups milk (I used skim)
    • ½ cup heavy whipping cream (I used a little whole milk and one tablespoon of butter instead)
    • ¾ cups granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    For Streusel:
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
    1. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Tear French bread into chunks, or cut into cubes,  and evenly place in the pan. 
    2. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
    3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture using a fork or your hands. Combine until the mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store mixture in the refrigerator.
    4. When you’re ready to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from refrigerator  and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the French toast is set and golden brown.
    5. Serve warm with maple syrup.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Spaghetti al Limone & Week's Menu Plan

    The other week just seemed like one big downpour of cold rain.  And this week? 80 degrees today! I believe we've skipped spring and went straight to summer (although I think it'll drop down to low 70s for the rest of the week).  And nothing seems like spring (or summer) more than bright yellow lemons.  And I just so happen to have 10+ lemons sitting in my kitchen that my co-worker picked from her tree for me (that's love right there).

    So to celebrate spring and to use some of these lovely lemons, we had spaghetti al limone.  Basically, it was spaghetti with olive oil, a touch of cream and lots of lemon.  Very light...actually, probably a bit too light for my starving husband without any other kind of side dish (we did eat at close to 9 pm) but really refreshing on a summer-like day.  Also, I served it with a roasted artichoke which we just LOVED.  Instead of the traditional mayonnaise-like dipping sauce, you place a artichoke in foil, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, sliced garlic and salt and roast at 400 degrees for 45-75 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes).  As you can tell, lots of lemon and olive oil in our life!

    Also, by popular demand, I am bringing back the menu plan.  And, of course, by popular demand, I mean me -- I happen to like having each night's meal a click away. Most of these meals happen to be quick weeknight dinners which I always like having in my arsenal.

    Spaghetti al Limone
    Taken from: Cook's Illustrated, January 2011 issue
    Serves 4 (I halved this recipe)

    • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
    • 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water (you can use regular water if you forget)
    • Salt
    • 3 lemons (approx. 1 tablespoon of zest and 1/4-1/2 cup of juice)
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream (you could decrease this amount if desired)
    • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
    • Ground black pepper
    • Small handful fresh basil or arugula, chopped (approximately 1/8 cup)
    1. Bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti until al dente.
    2. While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest. Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.
    3. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat. Return pasta to pot and stir until coated. Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together. Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser. Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice . Stir in basil or arugula and season generously with salt and pepper.
    4. Serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan cheese.
    Week's Menu Plan

    Tuesday: Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry with broccoli
    Wednesday: Stuffed Flank Steak with biscuits and roasted asparagus
    Thursday: Spicy Asian Noodles 

    Friday: Nachos 

    Saturday: Pepita Crusted Mahi-mahi with polenta and baked spinach

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Slow Cooker Pork Tinga Tacos

    I happen to love my slow cooker.  It was such a great wedding gift -- I just love the idea of throwing things in a pot, going to work and then coming home to a complete meal.  Who wouldn't want that? So when I found this slow-cooker taco recipe, I couldn't wait to try it!  

    This was a huge success, too! I only had pork tenderloin in our freezer instead of pork shoulder so I just cut down on the cooking time dramatically and it ended up being perfect - not too dry, which is usually the problem with using a lean cut of meat. The meat was so easy to shred with two forks.  I think one of my favorite things was that usually after work, my mind goes straight to cooking.  But for this meal, I threw it in the slow cooker at lunch time and forgot about it, had a great coffee date with Bryant after work and was still able to have dinner on the table within minutes of coming home.

    We thought these tacos did have quite a bit of heat (even after removing most of the seeds in the chile); the avocado helps cool it down but I cooled it a bit further with some nonfat yogurt.  We served it with some homemade refried beans on the side to round out an easy weeknight meal.

    Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos
    Taken from: Elly Says Opa via Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
    • 1 lb. redskin or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ cubes
    • 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces OR 1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, fat removed
    • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), including juice
    • 3-4 chipotles in adobo, sliced (remove seeds for a milder dish)
    • 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tsp. dried oregano
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4″ thick
    For serving:
    • 4 oz. fresh Mexican chorizo sausage (optional)
    • 24 warm corn or whole wheat tortillas
    • 1 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese, such as feta or goat cheese
    • 2 large avocados, diced
    • nonfat yogurt (optional)
    1. Spread the potatoes over the bottom of a slow cooker and top with the pork.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the (undrained) tomatoes with the chipotles, adobo sauce, Worcestershire, oregano, garlic, onion, and about 1 1/2 tsp. salt.  Pour the mixture evenly over the meat and potatoes.
    3. Cover and slow cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 (if using pork tenderloin, cook on low for 5-6 hours - I had halved this recipe and the pork was perfect at 4 hours on low).
    4. When you’re ready to eat, fry the optional chorizo and then stir everything together, breaking the pork into smaller pieces (with pork tenderloin, shred with two forks).  Taste and season with additional salt if necessary.
    5. Serve with warm tortillas, cheese, avocados and optional yogurt for making soft tacos.