Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crockpot Pork Carnitas

Ever since I started grad school it's been harder and harder to find time to try out new recipes. Between work and school, resting my body and making sure I get enough sleep is my number one priority. I am not quite sure how I ever pulled all nighters or did what I did in college. Those were my younger years when I was wild and carefree. I know some of you are laughing, but it's true! I could never stay up til all hours and function on just three hours of sleep anymore. No way jose! Nevertheless, the crockpot has become one of my best friends. Well, it always has been been, but even more so nowadays. In fact, I have made a crockpot meal become part of my weekend routine. One of my favorite things to do is put something on Sunday morning or afternoon, let it do it's thing and have it ready to go for Monday night. After a long day of work and class on Monday, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook dinner - as bad as that sounds. So it's perfect to pull the meal out of the fridge all cooked the day before, heat up and eat. Plus, the captain enjoys it too. Win win.

Last weekend I knew I wanted to try something new and spice it up. Literally. I had come across a recipe for carnitas in the crockpot and for some reason, it was just calling my name. Plus, who doesn't love Mexican food, right? Even better, this recipe isn't fried like traditional carnitas is. Did you know it is traditionally fried after it's cooked? I just recently learned that and was kinda grossed out. Kinda sorta. Now the crockpot version is baked to give it that crispy fried texture, but we'll get to that later. Hang with me heref. This recipe couldn't be easier to prepare. Seriously. You'll first need to get yourself a 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder. You shouldn't have any problem finding in your store and it should be right by the other big pieces of pork (mine was in a twine wrapping to keep it together, but you'll want to cut that off before placing in the crockpot). Once you have your pork, you'll rub it with a combination of spices (ie. cumin, oregano and chili powder) and then add the juice of one orange, one lime, a bit of red salsa and then a chopped onion, some garlic and jalapeno. Close the lid and let it look for about 8 hours and you will have the most tender and most delicious carnitas you've ever had. And just when you thought it was good, it gets better. Take pork out of the crockpot, shred it up and place it under the broiler to get those crunchy yummy edges. Let's be honest, those are the best parts.

You can serve this yummy pork in a taco, burrito or even a burrito bowl (which is my favorite way to enjoy it). Or even on a salad! No matter how serve it, I can promise you that you'll enjoy it. And in fact, it may become your favorite way to make carnitas. Even better, if you have leftovers, you can re purpose it by using the meat in homemade baked taquitos. Just roll the leftover meat into corn tortillas with a bit of cheese and onion and then either bake right away or freeze for another time. Freezer meals and the crockpot are a life saver for me these days. You should see our freezer. It's overflowing with goodness.

all seasoned up

add in the onion, garlic and jalapeno

don't forget the juices and salsa!

pulled and ready for the broiler

use that left over pork for taquitos!

 Crockpot Pork Carnitas (Handle the Heat)

2-3 pounds boneless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup salsa

Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno to the slow cooker. Pour the lime juice, orange juice, and salsa into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until tender.

Shred the meat with two forks and return to slow cooker to combine with the leftover sauce inside. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the meat evenly over the sheet. Pour some of the sauce over the meat. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the pork are browned.

This recipe is also great for a crowd - how yummy would this be for a pot luck or a homemade taco bar? Delish!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Cups

Several people have asked me to blog about these. That was almost a month ago. Now, that's pretty bad. You'll have to forgive me as my masters program has really taken over my life and has left me little time to blog and sleep. Especially after a long day of work on top of it all. Just ask the captain. Poor guy. Not quite sure how he puts up with me on those days of oober stress and lack of sleep. Don't fear though, I continue to try out new recipes and will post them when I can sneak away from all that studying. Promise!

To keep my body going and keep that studying energy up, I am continuously looking for new snacks that are low in calories, but will cure that tummy growl and be super tasty. I won't eat things that don't taste good. I know you know what I am talking about. There are a lot of recipes out there that say they are healthy and taste good, but when you go to make it and try it, well, let's just say it's like evil in your mouth. I often wonder if those people lost their sense of taste or they really did think it tasted good. One will never really know.Don't worry though, I won't do that to you. That's just plain mean. So, let me get right to it. I have been trying to find the perfect granola bar recipe for the captain and although some have turned out okay (yes, just okay), I am still trying to find the perfect one. One that doesn't crumble. One that doesn't fall apart when you cut it and one that isn't loaded with sugar and butter just to hold it together. That just defeats the purpose of being a granola bar. I am sure it tastes good, but not so much on the better for you healthy side of things. Which is something I am always looking for.

When I was over visiting my parents a month or so ago, my mom told me about a recipe she saw online for baked oatmeal cups. I thought it sounded good, but wasn't so sure on the baked oatmeal part. I love oatmeal, but since I was on a kick about granola bars, I really wanted to find a recipe that would work for the captain and I. I figured I probably shouldn't dismiss these so quickly and since I had everything in the house to make them, I gave them a whirl. These oatmeal cups are super easy to make and I am sure you have everything you'll need too - bananas, oats, eggs, a little brown sugar, milk (I used unsweetened almond, but you can use any milk of your choice), baking powder, vanilla and mini chocolate chips. Go check your kitchen - I bet you have all of those. Am I right? If you don't have chocolate chips, you can leave them out and add the same amount of chopped nuts or even raisins would do. Stir everything up, fill your sprayed muffin tins and bake for about 15-18 minutes. Although these are not granola bars per say, they are totally filling and curb that afternoon sweet tooth with the little bit of chocolate chips in them. Even better, the captain loves them and I now keep them on stock in the freezer by making a double batch so he can just grab and go whenever he wants. These oatmeal cups are about 130 calories each and totally amazing. They are perfect for breakfast on the go or for that mid morning or afternoon snack. These oatmeal cups are a part of our weekly routine and I am sure they will quickly becomes yours too!

the perfect way to use up those ripe bananas!

dry ingredients

wet ingredients

combine and add the chocolate chips (I may have added too many the first time I made these - oops!)

about to go in the oven!

baked and ready to enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Cups (

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk (you can use soy or skim milk if you like)
3/4 cup mashed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly mist 18 cups in a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites, egg, mashed banana, milk and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until blended together. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the oatmeal mixture evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake uncovered for 18-22 minutes or until oatmeal is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Stay tuned for my next version of these oatmeal cups - chocolate covered cherry baked oatmeal cups! Coming soon...