Pulled Pork Irish Nachos

Know what happened to me yesterday?  I was doing homework and reached into my bag to grab my Orgo notes and *almost completed* homework assignment when I realized it wasn’t there.  Panic ensued.  THEN I realized I *may* have left it in the student lounge in my physics building so I drove all the way to campus.  Doors locked.  Not to be thwarted, I walked the entire perimeter of the building until I found a delivery entrance that was open.  Then navigated through the basement maze till I found a stairwell that was open.  Then made it to the lounge where I saw my notebook and homework sitting untouched on the table…through the glass of the locked door.  Cue tantrum.  Echos of my displeasure rang down the empty halls.  No janitors to be found.  The lock was resistant to being picked by a hairpin.  Or pens.  Or my car keys.

pulled pork nachos

So…I had to print a new copy of the assignment (due first thing Monday…I was not going to chance the lounge still being locked at 7am).  I’d already done it once, how bad could it be?  Yup…genius I am that bitch took me 3 hours.  Cue tantrum #2.

So Super Bowl!  Actually, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to use the actual name of the event without infringing copyright or something.  It’s true.  No, really.  Ever wonder why all the TV commercials just call it “The Big Game?”  The NFL is protective like that.

This it fortunately or unfortnately one of those years where I have no legitimate preference for either team–Seattle and Denver both have awesome programs, great coaching, great cities, and hot quarterbacks.  I guess I’ll pick Denver, though, since I actually lived there for a year.  Fair?  Good.  Let’s go eat football food.

For this recipe you will need Pulled Pork and Sugar Free BBQ sauce.

Pulled Pork Irish Nachos
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 lbs pulled pork (leftovers work well)
  • 1 recipe Sugar Free BBQ sauce
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t sage
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • chopped onion and tomato, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice up your sweet potato with a mandolin or by hand. Make your rounds as thick or thin as you want but the thicker they are, the longer they need to cook.
  3. Lay out your rounds on a greased cookie tray. Brush the tops with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with about half the thyme and sage and garlic and as much salt as you'd like.
  4. Bake for about 10-15 mins, until browned. Carefully flip, then brush the other side with a little more oil and spread the second half of the seasoning.
  5. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a plate and top with a mound of hot pulled pork and some BBQ sauce. Enjoy!

 

 

Pad Thai

My winter break was almost seven weeks long.  Seriously.  I have never…in my LIFE…had this much time off to do absolutely nothing.  Maybe it would be OK if I was like all of my classmates and took a trip somewhere?  Or if I was capable of sleeping 14 hours a day?  Except no.

The house is cleaner than it’s been or will be for decades.  I’ve put in a bazillion hours of MCAT prep.  I volunteered at the hospital.  The pups have gotten more walking in the last 6 weeks than they had all last year.  Ate a few too many of those chocolate covered acai berries (the ones from Costco…dangerous).  Too much…*way* too much…has been spent at Target.  I don’t know what else to do, you guys.

Class starts next week and it’s the home stretch…4 more months of pre-med and then…well, I’ll let you know.  Maybe.  Lots of *life plans* in the works and I’m honestly not necessarily sure how it’s going to pan out.  Not gonna jinx it.  Nope nope.  I can tell you, though, that we will be…moving…again.  Since I left college I have moved through 3 different states, 1 year-long deployment to Iraq, 5 different homes.  Six if you count my CHU in Iraq but I really don’t think that counts.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone unless you have some weird desire to live in a big tin box and sleep on a plastic mattress that smells like mothballs.  Blech.

Paleo Pad Thai

Enough of that…how about I make you dinner?  Following my weird BBQ fetish, I’ve been doing a lot of Asian cooking lately.  And by that I mean I’ve been putting fish sauce and coconut aminos in *everything.*  I recommend it.

This dish can be made meatless or with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork…or all of the above.  We like options, don’t we?

Pad Thai
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Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • ⅓ c apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ c coconut aminos or tamari
  • 1½ T hot chili paste
  • ¼ c fish sauce (omit if you want this to be vegan)
  • 3 T palm sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 c snow peas
  • 3 green onions (scallions), sliced
  • ½ c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Slivered almonds and lime wedges to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the spaghetti squash in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins. When finished, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Using a fork, remove the squash strands into a bowl and set aside.
  3. While the squash is cooking, whisk together the vinegar, coconut aminos, chili paste, fish sauce, and palm sugar in a small dish. Set aside.
  4. In a high rimmed pan or pot, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat.
  5. Add the garlic, sauteing until lightly browned, then add the onions.
  6. When the onions are translucent, reduce the heat to medium and add the spaghetti squash and snow peas. Toss to coat in the oil and garlic.
  7. Add the sauce, stirring to coat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. When you are ready to serve, add the scallions and cilantro, mixing well.
  9. Serve garnished with slivered almonds and lime wedges.

 

Ridiculously Easy Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops

My camera has been MIA for a few weeks…and then last night my phone decided to walk off, too.  Cue the iPad photos.

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So this one was kind of a last minute thing, as my cooking endeavors so often are these days.  We’ve got finals next week and to say I’m just strung out would be a major compliment.  My daily routine for the last 10 days has pretty much been “wake up drink coffee go to library drink coffee study all day drink coffee come home collapse into catatonic heap on the couch and fall asleep watching reruns of Parks and Rec.”  Winning.

This is a great dinner on those days you don’t really want to cook but maybe, just maybe, want to have something that resembles “real food.”  I’ve been eating waaaaaaaay too many baked potatoes…with pickles straight from the jar…and spoonfuls of almond butter…yeah.  Sometimes it’s nice just to eat off a plate, you know?

Ridiculously Easy Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops
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Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large, bone-in pork chops
  • ½ c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped (or ½ t garlic powder)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Place pork chops in a dish.
  2. Pour vinegar on the chops and add oil and seasoning.
  3. flip a couple times to coat.
  4. Cover and marinate at least an hour (I left it in the fridge all day while I was at school).
  5. Heat a grill pan (or heavy skillet) over medium high heat with a little olive oil.
  6. Cook on each side for about 4-6 minutes, until juices run clear.
  7. Steam some veggies on the side. Consume with utensils. Fell all grown up.

 

Crispy Roasted Pig Tails

I may or may not have posted this recipe before.  But this one is a weeeee bit different, I swear, but still a fun riff on hot wings.  At least my photography skillz are moving beyond toddler-level.  You guys weren’t exactly loving the pig’s feet when I made posted my recipe, but pleasepleaseplease trust me that pig tails are a helluva lot better and less weird to eat.  Pinky swear.

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One thing I did differently this time was indulge my obsession with Tessemae’s and use this sauce instead of making my own.  I guess I was making up for the fact that I completely re-did the brine…but this batch was infinitely better and more tender and juicy.

Crispy Roasted Pig Tails
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Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs Pig Tails
  • 1 c Tessemae's Hot Wing Sauce (or hot sauce of choice)
  • For the Brine:
  • 6 c Water
  • 2 Lemons, Quartered
  • 2 Onions, Chopped
  • ¼ c Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 T Salt
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 2 T Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients for the brine and pour over the pig tails. Allow to sit for 12-24 hours. This is an essential step to ensure the meat is tender.
  2. Drain the pig tails and marinate in the hot sauce for at lease one hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange pig tails on a greased baking sheet and brush with additional sauce. Bake for 30 minutes. With tongs, flip each pig tail and brush with more sauce. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes.

 

Easy Slow Cooked Boston Butt

We first decided to hop on the Paleo bandwagon almost 4 years ago when we lived in Texas and giant cuts of meat were plentiful and–most importantly for us–affordable.  I didn’t know a pork loin from a chop at the time since I’d always been a good girl who opted for whole wheat pasta over fatty meats, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have to learn quick.  The first time I bought a Boston Butt I actually thought it was the pig’s ass meat…score one for immature curiosity.

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Fun fact: it’s the ham that’s the pig’s ass.  Just FYI.  Boston Butt is the pig’s upper shoulder, like up around the shoulder blade and is an incredibly tender, meaty and fatty cut that is superb for slow cooking.  Don’t let the layer of fat freak you out–for one fat is good for you, and for another it renders down considerably during the cooking process and flavors the rest of the cut.  It can be seasoned minimally or maximally (try this recipe, or this one, or this one), but this recipe is my go-to for a busy week night because it’s FAST, EASY, and DELICIOUS…and makes enough leftovers to keep us fed for a few days if needed.  When we were at Ft Hood and had to commute in at 4:30 am, then not get home till 7:30 pm, this was an absolute lifesaver.  I’d make a 5 or 6 pound butt on Monday, shred it up, and we’d have dinner and lunches till Wednesday.

Easy Slow Cooked Boston Butt
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Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4-5 pound Boston Butt (also sold as "pork shoulder")
  • ¼ c Olive Oil
  • 2 t Salt
  • 1 t Pepper
  • 1 T Dried Roseamry
Instructions
  1. Place your pork in the slow cooker.
  2. Pour the oil on top and give it a good rub down, like you're sending it to a tannin bed.
  3. Dump the spices on top and massage them in.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
  6. When ready to serve, shred with a pair of forks.

 

Ancho Chili Pig’s Feet

Ever cooked with pig’s feet before?  I sure hadn’t till this weekend.  You know me…I see a weird part of an animal and I just…HAVE to eat it.  That sounds awful.  Pleassssse don’t get grossed out and run away just yet…they were actually quite delicious.  A little interesting to eat, but delicious.

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I know pig’s feet are generally used just as a flavoring agent–I’d only ever seen my mom use pig feet and hocks to make split pea soup.  And I guess you see them pickled but that just looks nasty to me.  There isn’t too much meat on them but a nice amount of fat and skin, which gets soooo tender and crispy when they’re slow cooked in the sauce then broiled to perfection.

Warning: you will get messy.  I started off with knife and fork but realized that it’s so much easier to tear into them with hands and bare teeth.  Kinda like ribs.  Soooo I wouldn’t wear white.  Trust me, it got a little primal in here.

Ancho Chili Pig's Feet
Author: 
Recipe type: Crockpot
Prep time: 
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Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3-4 lbs Pig's Feet, halved
  • 4 Dried Ancho Chili Peppers
  • ½ c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 1½ c Chicken or Beef Stock
Instructions
  1. Rub your crockpot down with some olive oil, then arrange the pig's feet.
  2. Toss the peppers, oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, onion, and stock into a blender.
  3. Pulse until totally liquified.
  4. Pour sauce over the pig's feet.
  5. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
  6. When ready to serve, use tongs to remove the pig's feet onto a greased baking sheet.
  7. Broil for 5-7 minutes until they get a little crispy around the edges.

 

Crockpot Brats

For some reason, brats and sauerkraut is Ross’s most-requested meal.  Not that I’m complaining…I like it when I don’t have to plan dinner since I almost always get the “Whatever you want to make!” response when I ask.  More than anything, though, I like it because it’s easy.  It’s comfort food that can be dressed up or down with whatever you’ve got on hand.

Crockpot Brats

If you haven’t noticed, though, I’ve been hella busy with school this summer and Ross is all over the place, too.  More than I’d like to admit, we’re not even home for dinner at the same time, so the crock pot has been a godsend.  Ross was really skeptical of brats in the crockpot…and to be honest, I was, too since I was afraid they’d just disintegrate.  Nope!  We got juicy bratwursts that actually seasoned the ‘kraut as they cooked.  Feel free to add whatever you’d like but it was so nice to have just a few ingredients to toss in together before I ran out the door.  This one’s a keeper!

Crockpot Brats
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Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Bratwursts
  • 2-4 c Sauerkraut
  • 1 t Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Toss everything into the crock pot.
  2. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hrs.
  3. Serve with coarse mustard.

Triple Meat Italian Meatballs

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There’s something to be said for a rich, hearty, tomato-saucey, meaty, Italian meal on a cold night in late spring.  Obviously a nice Chianti makes it even better.

The secret to success with these babies is the triple meat combo.  You get the juiciness and richness of the beef, fattiness of the pork, and a nice kick of flavor from the veal.  The texture is unmatched by your run-of-the mill beef meatballs and this combination of seasonings is pretty much my go-to for Italian-inspired dishes.  It’s also a very easy meal that can be prepped ahead of time if need be.  I made this batch in the morning and cooked them shortly after I got home after work.

Ah, work…I don’t miss it.  I’m functionally unemployed now that I’m officially out of the Army for good.  It’s…liberating.  Class starts in a week and a half but until then I’m catching up with family and friends.  I love living so close to loved ones for the first time since I left home.  Don’t get me wrong, I got to visit and live in some great places the last 8 years and I have so many experiences that have made me who I am, but I guess its’s time to reconnect with my inner homebody.
I will say, however, that I most definitely did NOT miss this East Coast humidity.  I walked outside yesterday morning and felt like I got body-slammed with a wall of moist heat.  Ugh.  I already miss the crisp Colorado mountain mornings…but then again I don’t miss the snot rocks.  Those are pretty painful in case you didn’t know.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Triple Meat Italian Meatballs
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Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Ground Pork
  • 1 lb Ground Veal
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Dried Oregano
  • 1 t Dried Basil
  • 1 t Dried Rosemary
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Large Onion, diced
  • 28 oz Tomato Sauce, commercial or homemade
Instructions
  1. Combine the beef, pork, veal, eggs, olive oil, and seasoning in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Gently mix everything together until just blended. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  3. Heat some oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Drop golf ball sized meatballs into the pot, browning on all sides, then remove to a plate and continue with the remaining meat mixture.
  5. When all meatballs are cooked, add the minced garlic and chopped onion to the drippings and sautee until the onions are transluscent.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and meatballs, then reduce heat to medium low.
  7. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Serve over spaghetti squash or on their own.

 

Vanilla Maple Glazed Pork Chops

So who’s in the mood for a giant hunk o’ meat?  No wussie pork chops here…even though they’re showing their sweeter side.

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Oh, and as an added bonus this meal only takes 30 minutes…probably less.  And there’s only six ingredients, counting the salt.  How cool is that?  I was debating whether or not to post this since it’s not exactly Whole30 or 21DSD friendly and I know a lot of people are detoxing before summer rolls around, but I couldn’t resist.  If nothing else I think this would make a KILLER meal for your first day after you’re done.  Much better than destroying your decade old twinkie stash, no?  I mean, it’s a big juicy pork chop, slathered with maple syrup that carmelizes all over in the oven.  You get some sweet, some salty, some savory…and just trust me, you’ll want some sweet potatoes on the side.  All the drippings from te pork and syrup just get soaked up by the potatoes like a sponge.  You’ll thank me, I promise you.

Vanilla Maple Glazed Pork Chops
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Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Large Bone-in Pork Chops
  • 2 T Coconut Oil
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2 T Maple Syrup
  • ¼ t Cinnamon
  • 1 t Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Sprinkle the chops with salt on both sides.
  3. Sear the chops on both sides (3-ish mins per side, till lightly browned).
  4. Remove the chops to a baking pan.
  5. Whisk the vanilla, cinnamon, and syrup together.
  6. Drizzle the syrup mixture over the chops.
  7. Finish the chops in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Yummmmmm.

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Smoky Chipotle Garlic Pork Belly

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I need a new camera.  Wanna buy me one?

I can’t believe how hard it is to find pork belly–the only place I can find it in the Springs is at the commissary.  This is problematic because in a couple weeks, we’re moving back east where there won’t be a commissary…thus stripping me of my sole source of offal and other fun cuts.  That’s…really depressing.  Somebody hold me.

Also, I’d like to bitch for a second on how hard it is to find chipotles.  I mean, they’re so popular, but the only form they’re in 99.99% of the time is canned with adobo sauce and like a bazillion other wacked out ingredients like sugar and sulfites.  Ew.  But lucky for you today, I found a bag of plain old dried chipotles and was able to kick out this dish.  It’s so damned good–pork belly is way too underrated…and all the fat haters out there just ruin it for everyone.  It’s a giant, fatty, hunk of bacon.  What’s not to love?

Another note, though.  There are a bunch of different ways to prep a pork belly, all equally delicious but it comes down to personal preference and frankly, time (for me at least).  Melissa summed up a few methods here. but I almost always use the sear-and-crockpot method.

Smoky Chipotle Garlic Pork Belly
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Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 4-5 lbs Pork Belly
  • 1 14 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 6 oz Tomato Paste
  • 1 Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • ¼ c Fresh Parsley
  • 1 T Mexican Oregano
  • 1 t Salt
  • Handful (1/3-1/2 c) Chipotle Peppers
  • 1 c Water
Instructions
  1. Score the skin of the pork belly in a criss-cross pattern.
  2. Heat some coconut oil in a large skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Sear the pork belly on all sides (even the sides...use tongs for that part) for about a minute.
  4. Remove pork belly from heat and set in a crock pot.
  5. Place all remaining ingredients into a blender and liquify.
  6. Pour the raw sauce into the pan with the pork drippings and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Pour the hot sauce over the pork belly.
  9. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.