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Easy Pork Carnitas

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Easy Pork Carnitas

I made these recently for a Taco Tuesday party, and cannot tell you how delish, and easy they are.  I have not really experimented with carnitas, but will definitely do it again.  And, super affordable!  I found this recipe on the Food Network,  thanks to Melissa D’Arabian and then did a little “Connie editing” as I always do.

I encourage you to yank out that slow cooker, cuz it’s certainly too hot in Kansas for anything other than the grill.  Give this a whirl, and leave comments below if you create your own version of happiness.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget that you can get these ideas, ramblings and recipes delivered to YOUR inbox!

~Connie Kaye

Pork Carnitas

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Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (or 2 1/2 pounds bone-in)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 orange, cut in half.  Squeeze juice and place on meat
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Salt and pepper liberally. Mix the oregano and the cumin with olive oil and rub all over pork. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and add the two halves. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Once the meat is tender, remove from slow cooker and let cool slightly before pulling apart with a fork. In a large saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Press the carnitas into the oil and fry until crusty on one side.

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Steak tacos….using pita or naan bread

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Steak tacos….using pita or naan bread

Skirt or flat iron steak are cuts that are many times ignored as tough, chewy, etc.  However, if you marinate and slice correctly, they are both delicious!

A friend of mine has told me how great naan bread is, and with a little searching, I found it in the deli section at one of our larger local grocers.   Also, this recipe uses watercress — I have absolutely no clue what this is, so I grabbed some fresh spinach off of the salad bar.

Gotta tell you, we will make these again.  Easy and delish, and I encourage you to try this meal that won’t break your bank!

Enjoy!

~Connie Kaye

Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • 1 onion, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 4 pocketless pitas or naan bread
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • watercress or fresh spinach

Preheat a grill to medium high. Make the marinade: Whisk the olive oil, garlic, mint (if using), oregano, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the marinade to a small bowl or plastic bag; mix in the yogurt and 2 tablespoons water. Add the bell pepper and onion to the bowl with the remaining marinade and toss; remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the steak and toss.

Grill the bell pepper, onion and steak, turning once, until lightly charred.  Set steak aside to rest, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the pitas or naan until marked, about 1 minute per side.

Slice the steak against the grain. Fill the pitas with the steak, grilled vegetables, tomato and watercress/spinach. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce.

So where’s spring?

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So where’s spring?

Apparently we’re getting snow and ice tomorrow, and that is no April Fool’s joke!  In anticipation of that cold weather, I rounded up the stuff to make Vegetable Beef Soup.  I use hamburger and frozen veggies, so it’s super easy!

If you check out my Recipe Box, you’ll also find another good soup recipe that my daughter Brandi gave me — Lasagna Soup.

So here’s to getting through hopefully the last bit of winter!

~Connie Kaye

You have a ham bone, now what??

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You have a ham bone, now what??

How many of you plan to cook a ham for Easter?  Ooohh, I can see your hands in the air!  The dilemma is solved, my friends, with what to do with that dang ham bone, in this post.  Bottom line, do not throw it away — that Easter ham is the gift that keeps on giving!

I cooked a ham after Christmas, and froze the bone.  Since we have had all four seasons in one week, today being foggy, chilly, and rainy, I thought ham and beans might just fit the ticket, plus it can cook away all day in the slow cooker.   If you have read other posts of mine, you might have seen that I’m a fan of Southern Living magazine.  I’m a midwest girl, but that magazine will give you some of the best recipes and ideas ever!

I grabbed this recipe out of the drawer, and voila, Spring Ham and Bean Soup was ready when we arrived home.  I prepped everything the night before and threw it all in before heading out the door.  The recipe actually calls for a 6 hour jaunt on high in the slow cooker, but since I was gone all day, I cooked it on low for about 11 hours.  PERFECT!!!!  You can find the recipe here but I’m adding it below for your convenience.

So, if you are one of the lucky ones eating Easter ham, save the bone and take advantage of an easy peasy meal!  Happy Easter, and thanks for stopping by!

~Connie Kaye

Ham and Bean Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, sorted of debris and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (dried works as well)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large, meaty ham bone

Stir together chicken stock, Great Northern beans, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Place ham bone in the center of mixture; cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender, about 6 hours, or low until you get home from work. Remove ham bone; let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bone; discard fat, gristle, and bone. Shred meat, and stir into soup.

 

Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes???

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Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes???

I am a fan of Boston Creme Pie, although I don’t eat a lot of sweets.  However, I am not a baker (even though that’s my maiden name).  I cannot even make decent chocolate chip cookies, but my roommate (a.k.a. Mike) kicks it to the moon with his!  I ran across this recipe posted by Life, Love & Sugar, and thought I’d give it a whirl.

I actually made everything from scratch, although while I had the hubs whisking for a second, he (possibly sarcastically) said, you know, you could just use a yellow cake mix.  Yep, I had already thought of that, and actually looked at the options in my cupboard.  But I figured I was going to do this the recommended way.  I did read some of the comments, and one person suggested that instead of making the filling, use a 50/50 ratio of whipped cream and vanilla pudding.  I figured it was just as much trouble to make the pudding as it is to make the filling, so what the heck, just go for it!  As far as the cake mix idea, you could certainly use the shortcut of a butter yellow cake mix.

The only other recommendation that I have would be on the ganache frosting — make it FIRST!  I was doing all of this in anticipation of watching the KSU Wildcats play (eek out a win, and make it to the Elite 8) and I got to the last step which is the ganache frosting and it has to chill for an hour or two.  Therefore, I ended up hurrying around to get the cupcakes iced.  I admit that I tried to use my pastry bag to pipe the icing, but remember, I’m NOT a baker, and I ended up with ganache on anything within reach on my kitchen counter (even my salt shaker).  Therefore, I iced the little devils!  Took them to work, and wow, what a great way to start a Friday.

So, if you like Boston Creme Pie, I encourage you to make these, and if you have tips or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!  Happy Weekend!

~Connie Kaye

Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes

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Ingredients:

Vanilla Cupcakes
6 tbsp, unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
6 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp milk
2 tbsp water

Pastry Creme Filling
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup + 2 tbsp  milk
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
12 oz  semi sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream

Let’s Do This

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare cupcake pan with liners
  2. Make ganache:   Put the chocolate chips and corn syrup in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Place the chocolate ganache in the fridge until completely cool and firm, 1-2 hours.
  3. Make cupcakes:  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the amount of creaming time.  Add sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.  Add egg whites in two batches, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the milk and water in a small measuring cup.
    Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners about halfway. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.
  5. Make filling:  Put the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl and gently beat them together. Set aside.  Add the sugar, cornstarch and milk to a large saucepan and mix until smooth.  Cook, stirring continuously, over medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken and bubble.   Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.   Add a little bit of milk mixture to the egg yolks and whisk together, then add egg mixture to milk mixture. This process ensures that you don’t cook the egg yolks.  Place the pan back on the heat and bring to a light boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.   Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  6. Once everything is cooled and ready, cut out the centers of the cupcakes. I used an empty pill bottle, but apparently there’s a cupcake corer on the market; you could also use a knife.
  7. Divide the pastry cream between the cupcakes and fill in the centers.
  8. Frosting  If you want to get fancy, pipe it on (once it’s hung out and chilled), or just ice as usual.  Either way, delish!
  9. Store in fridge, and are good for 2-3 days.  Be sure to cover so as not to dry out!

 

Easy Green Beans from a fave BBQ joint!

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Easy Green Beans from a fave BBQ joint!

Last weekend, we made our first jaunt of the summer to the Lake of the Ozarks, and our first stop (well, second I guess – the first was checking out my boat at the marina) was lunch at Wobbly Boots BBQ in Osage Beach.

After you have a smoked prime rib french dip there, you’re basically ruined for all other dips!  They offer very few recipes on their website, but one that is SOO good (Easter is on the horizon) is their Green Beans.  Yeah, I know that sounds boring, but they’re super easy, and all you need is onion, garlic and white wine (and probably some crumbled bacon, but that’s not how they make ’em) and you’re in green bean heaven.

Their easy recipe is below, and thanks for following me, and stopping by!

~Connie Kaye

Easy Spring Green Beans

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Ingredients:

Green Beans – select Haricot Vert Beans used are best – they are longer and slimmer than green beans, but the regular garden variety work also

Snap ends from beans and use approximately 1.5 handfuls for a single serving

  • In saute pan, heat approximately 3-4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • Toss in beans, diced red onion and minced garlic, to your liking
  • Over medium heat, cook the beans for 2.5 to 3 minutes – just until the rich green color begins to fade to a deeper hue
  • Pour 2 to 3 TBSP of white wine over the green beans to intensify and brighten the flavors
  • Remove from heat and consume…delish!

Chicken, bacon, cheese…….

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oh yeah, and jalapenos, but not hot.  I promise.

chicken bacon

Since we had the day off yesterday,  we did a barbeque run to a new spot, and are recovering from some amazing Kansas City BBQ at Slaps in Kansas City, KS.  I highly recommend this joint to everyone.  RIBS.  The end.  We ended up with an entire meal that we brought home, so order lightly.  Oh yeah, and BRISKET.  The best word to go with BBQ is joint, and this place brings it home.  We will definitely be back.  We shopped and then gambled at Hollywood Casino on the way home, and although we didn’t come out on top, it was fun!

Thought I might brew up something a little lighter for dinner, and made these chicken bacon jalapeno wraps.  We had a wonderful Christmas with friends, family and even more friends from Australia, plus an upcoming Mexico vacay in which we might just possibly overindulge, so the hubs and I have been eating a lot of meat, veggies and fruit.

So, let’s bring on the yard bird.  The husband of the house is not a fan of “yard bird” as he and his friend Charlie call it, but this, is delish.  I remove all of the innards from the jalapeno so it’s not hot, and combine with cheese and bacon, and yummo.  It’s about -10 degrees outside so I didn’t grill, which is the best, and most delicious option, but baking works as well.

Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to a fantastic 2018!!

~Connie Kaye

Chicken Bacon Rollups

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Ingredients:

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
5 jalapeno peppers
20 strips bacon
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup cup grated colby jack or cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Favorite BBQ sauce

Slice chicken breasts in half width wise (each half makes 1 chicken rollup).  Place between 2 pieces of wax paper and pound to 1/4″ thickness.  Season each with salt & pepper.

Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds, ribs and the end with the stem.

In a small bowl, mix softened cream cheese with your grated colby jack or cheddar cheese.

Fill each jalapeno half with cheese mixture.  Place 1 jalapeno half at the end of each chicken piece, and roll up.  Doesn’t always close the way you think it might – no worries, the bacon brings everything together.  Wrap each piece of chicken with bacon, tucking in the ends of the strips.

Preheat grill and cook over indirect heat for 20-25 minutes, turning every 4-5 minutes.  Baste chicken with BBQ sauce every time you give it a flip.  Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees.  If you don’t have a meat thermometer, buy one.  🙂  Just kidding…you can pierce the chicken with a fork, and if juices run clear, you’re good to go.

Alternate method — if you choose to bake, set oven at 375 and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, basting as above.  You can broil at the end so bacon can crisp completely.