Recipe // Slow Cooker Carnitas, 3 Ways

Carnitas3WaysMy new favorite Mexican restaurant serves eye-rolling, grunt inducing carnitas so I decided to attempt to replicate them at home so we didn’t have to show our faces in there AGAIN this week. We even got fancy and experimented with different topping combinations with the pineapple and salsa being my absolute favorite. We will definitely be making these again since my slow cooker basically did all the work for me. Who doesn’t love coming home to a house/apartment basking in the smell of a dinner you haven’t slaved over? I know I do! It’s like having an inexpensive personal chef. What is your favorite way to finish off carnitas?

Slow Cooker Carnitas (via):

1 (2-3 lb) pork roast
1 can (15 oz) enchilada sauce (I used red)
1 cup salsa
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
tortillas and toppings (optional: guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pineapple, salsa, lettuce)

Place roast in a slow cooker sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and then pour over the roast. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours (I would recommend the low setting). Remove the roast from the slow cooker when and shred using two forks (it should fall apart pretty easily). Cover a large baking sheet with foil and spread the shredded meat on top of it. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the liquid from the slow cooker over the meat. Broil the meat for about 5 minutes, until it starts to caramelize around the edges, flipping once during this time. Serve the meat on tortillas, in burritos, enchiladas, salad or make nachos. Top with your favorite toppings. We used warm tortillas and guacamole, pineapple, sour cream, salsa, spinach, and cheese!!

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Recipe // Loaded BLT Sandwiches

LoadedBLTSandwichesClassic BLT’s get even better with the addition of avocado, pepper jack cheese, and spicy Ranch dressing in these Loaded BLT Sandwiches. A great and easy way to update a favorite.

BLT-4 BLT-1 BLT-2Loaded BLT Sandwich (via):

2 pieces of sourdough or bread of your choice
mayo
spicy ranch dressing
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 an avocado, sliced
3 or 4 leafs of iceberg lettuce
2 slices of pepper jack cheese
6 pieces of bacon
ground black pepper

Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place bacon on the baking sheet, sprinkle with black pepper, and place into a cold oven. Cook the bacon until the oven is preheated to 400 degrees, continue baking until desired crispiness. Blot the bacon with paper towels to remove grease before adding to the sandwich.

While bacon is cooking, slice the tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and pepper jack cheese. Coat one side of each slice of bread first with a thin layer of mayo followed by a thicker layer of spicy ranch. Assemble the sandwich in this order, bottom to top: bread, lettuce, avocado, hot bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato, and the final slice of bread. Serve immediately.

Recipe // Creamy Tomato Pasta

TomatoPasta-1We eat a lot of meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, we eat it. There is no discrimination in this household. With my dislike of fish, seafood, and the majority of vegetarian meat substitutes we have been at a loss for ideas for meatless meals that will still taste delicious and keep us full throughout the night. That left us with mainly pasta heavy options (aka carb loading, aka weight gain inducing) like this one. Unlike our usual boring meatless spaghetti nights, this one-pan dish felt straight from the streets of Italy with the addition of tomatoes, spinach, and creamy flavors.

TomatoPasta-2Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta (via):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb penne pasta
1/2 of a 9 ounce bag fresh spinach

(for step by step photos check out Budget Bytes here)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted in again. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Recipe // BBQ BLT Pizza

BBQBLT2Last week we chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a quiet dinner at home consisting of homemade pizza, craft beer, and cupcakes. As we were cleaning up dinner, I suddenly realized I forgot to take pictures of the delicious BBQ BLT Pizza we had (aka we devoured it and we weren’t stopping to take pictures) so I figured since I already stole Iowa Girl Eats recipe I may as well steal her mouthwatering pictures as well. People, this pizza is super easy and delicious – it is filling without feeling heavy and tastes so fresh and healthy. Instead of ordering pizza or buying a frozen pizza this weekend make this, you will not regret it.

BBQBLTBBQ BLT Pizza (via):

pizza crust (I used Pillsbury or make your own)
1/3 cup barbeque sauce
2 cups kale (I used bagged kale and tore it into smaller pieces)
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4-6 slices bacon
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Line a baking sheet with foil, place a cooling rack on top, and spray with nonstick spray. Lay bacon slices on top of cooling rack and place into a cold oven. Set oven to preheat to 400 degrees. The bacon will cook gradually as the oven heats up. Continue to cook at 400 degrees until the bacon is crispy (about 5-7 minutes). Allow the bacon to cool slightly and then chop.

While bacon is cooking, prepare the kale. In a bowl, place 2 cups of kale, drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Massage the kale with the mixture for about 30 seconds.

Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet very well with nonstick spray and spread the pizza dough into an even layer. Spread BBQ sauce on top then layer on prepared kale, tomatoes, chopped bacon, and mozzarella. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust and cheese are golden brown.

BBQBLT3**all images and recipe via Iowa Girl Eats**

Recipe // Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice

CheesyChickenRiceSometimes a recipe becomes so basic to a family’s weekly meal plan that we don’t think of it as anything special. But then you go almost a year without it and you begin to crave it and realize how absolutely delicious and worth sharing it is. This Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice recipe has been one of our favorites since we concocted it in college when it was considered a “special” meal since it included meat AND a vegetable. We have since upped the fancy ante by switching from canned chicken to grilled chicken and from frozen to fresh broccoli, but either way you make it this one pot meal is easy cheesy peasy deliciousness that tastes just as good warmed up as leftovers as it does hot from the pan.

ChickenRice-5 Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice:

2 packages Knorr Cheddar Broccoli Rice Sides
2 tablespoons butter/margarine
2 chicken breasts, cubed and grilled OR 1 can Swanson Premium Chunk Chicken
2 slices Kraft American Cheese
1-2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli, cut into smaller pieces

In a saucepan, bring 4 cups of water, 2 tablespoons butter, and package contents to a rapid boil. Stir, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer for 7 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and mix in cheese, chicken, and broccoli. Let stand about 2 minutes. Stir and serve.

ChickenRice-4