crockpot carnitas

i have to admit – i made this recipe for crockpot carnitas last january.  yes a year ago.  i don’t know how i still haven’t written a post on it because it was really really good.  so i apologize for not sharing this recipe with you sooner.  i hope you forgive me.

i love crockpot recipes.  i even did a whole series of crockpot recipes a while back because i had so many different crockpot recipes.  check them all out here!  crockpot/slow cooker recipes are the best because they are usually super simple.  this recipe is no different.  brown the meat, add the seasoning, plop in the crockpot – then set it and forget about it.  genius.

i some how bought the biggest pork shoulder ever so i ended up with a lot of carnitas.  but that was okay because it is incredibly versatile and stores well in the freezer.  chris and i ate a lot of the carnitas as tacos.  i just rolled up some carnitas and cheese in a tortilla then packed it with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.  i love these lunch boxes with the different compartments.

but you can also use the carnitas to make homemade chipotle bowls, quesadillas, taquitos and much more.  sometimes we just ate it with rice and veggies.  having some carnitas stashed away in the freezer was perfect for quick, weeknight meals.

to make this crockpot carnitas, start with a pork shoulder.  the recipe suggests using a boneless pork shoulder but i didn’t find one at the store and didn’t really feel like dealing with the hassle of taking the bone out.  so i just left it in – oh well.  it was fine.  also, like i said i got the biggest pork shoulder ever so it wouldn’t fit in the crockpot with out me cutting it into 2 pieces.

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waffles

what do you prefer?  pancakes or waffles.  you know i go back and forth on this.  sometimes i like pancakes more and other times i like waffles.  but do you really have to choose?

i don’t think so.

when you want pancakes you should totally make my grandpa’s pancakes, which are the best and made even better with chocolate chips.

now when you want waffles, you should make this recipe.

they are super simple and you probably already have all of the ingredients in your fridge/pantry.  i guess the only thing that may get a little tricky is the waffle iron.  chris and i registered for one when we got married and our kind friends were nice enough to get it for us.

i only used it once before and the recipe i used was total yuck.  so i am so glad that i found one that works.  they are light, crispy, and delicious with a nice drizzle of maple syrup.

oh and here’s a helpful tip to keep your waffles from getting soggy – soggy waffles are no good.  do not stack your waffles while they are still warm!

i know i have pictures of stacked waffles and you know what i ended up with?  you got it, soggy waffles.  so instead, cool your finished waffles on a cooling rack.  this will keep them nice and crisp.  if you made the mistake of stacking them or laying them flat on your plate, just toast them in the oven or a toaster oven.  good as new!

the waffle batter starts off with some flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  mix to combine.

then add the wet ingredients – 1 egg, vanilla, buttermilk, and oil.  i didn’t have any buttermilk, so used the trusty substitution of milk with a little lemon juice,

mix and then allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes.

make the waffles according to your waffle maker’s instructions.  for mine, i was instructed to pour 1 cup of batter on the iron and bake for 5 minutes.  oops, some of my batter oozed out.

1 batch of waffles are done.  repeat until you’ve used up all of the batter.  enjoy the waffles with some maple syrup and you’ve got yourself a wonderful breakfast treat.

for the recipe, please visit best bites.   oh, and while you’re there, check out all of their other amazing recipes.

light vanilla bean ice cream

i was recently asked what my favorite dessert is.  i’m sure based on the recipes that i post on my blog, you would guess cupcakes are my favorite.  surprisingly you would be wrong (say what?!?!).  as much as i love cupcakes (and i love them a lot), my favorite is actually ice cream.  i think i get this from my grandma who since i can remember always has ice cream in her freezer, from fat boy sandwiches to praline and cream ice cream, she had all different kinds.  she loves ice cream just as much i do… probably even more.

since i got an ice cream maker, i’ve enjoyed making different kinds of ice cream.  i’ve made strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, and more.  but making my own ice cream allowed me to see just how much fat and sugar goes into making it.  although these rich and creamy ice cream recipes were quite delicious, i wanted to see if i could make a lighter version so i could feel just a little less guilty about indulging in my favorite dessert.

i was so excited when i found this recipe in cooking light (one of my favorite cooking magazines).  they figured out how to make creamy ice cream that isn’t high in fat.  yes!  the trick is to use a little bit of light corn syrup and low-fat evaporated milk.  because the evaporated milk doesn’t have the high water content that low-fat or skim milk does, this ice cream doesn’t end up icy like many low-fat ice creams do.

(i only just saw that i didn’t get low-fat evaporated milk.  oops!)

but i have to admit, when i first tasted the finished ice cream i didn’t really like it.  the evaporated milk taste was prominent which i wasn’t quite expecting (though i don’t know why since clearly there is evaporated milk in the ice cream, silly me).  but after i ate a few more bites, i stopped noticing it.  instead the vanilla flavor stood out and i was shocked how creamy it was considering there is no cream in this ice cream.  amazing!  also, chris added some chocolate chips and later a chocolate peanut butter sauce to his ice cream which made it extra special.

i can’t wait to use this as a base recipe for other kinds of ice cream – i’m thinking maybe light strawberry ice cream or how about raspberry?  ooo so many possibilities.  i can’t wait!

like other ice cream bases, you start by combining the half and half, evaporated milk, some of the sugar, and corn syrup,

and vanilla beans and the pod

in a medium saucepan and warm it until it reaches 180 degrees F.

i love using my handy dandy thermometer.

then remove it from the heat, cover it, and let the milk mixture sit for 10 minutes.

in the meantime, mix the egg yolks and the rest of the sugar in a medium bowl.

now slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg yolk/sugar mixture.  whisk constantly to ensure the eggs do not scramble.

there you go…

now pour the base into the saucepan and return it to the stove.  heat until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F.

pour the base through a mesh sieve

and then discard the vanilla pod and little bits of vanilla and egg (yuck).

cover the base with plastic wrap.  be sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the mixture to ensure a layer of film doesn’t form on top.

refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 6 hours or overnight.  last part – freeze the ice cream base according to your ice cream machines instructions.

look!  it’s ice cream!

transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container…

and freeze until firm.

now it’s ready to eat! scrumdiddlyumptious!

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coconut teriyaki chicken

i love grilling during the summer time – well actually i don’t do much grilling, chris does.  so i guess i should really say, i love it when chris grills during the summer time.  haha.  we have an amazing grilling terrace in our apartment with free grills that we can use.  so nice!  we enjoy grilling veggies, kalbi chicken and beef, lemon chicken and lots more.  here’s the master griller cooking some hot dogs and our coconut teriyaki chicken skewers.

i found the recipe for this marinade online and was intrigued.  i actually hadn’t heard of a teriyaki recipe calling for coconut milk.  i was also interested because it was called “hawaiian grilled chicken.”  i find it entertaining how people from the mainland call anything with coconut and especially pineapple “hawaiian.”  this chicken isn’t really hawaiian at all, so that’s why i changed the name on this post.

but name aside, this chicken is delicious.  the only caution is that the recipe makes A LOT of marinade.  i would suggest cutting the recipe in half.  but if you decide to make all of it, you could set aside some of the marinade to make a sauce for the chicken.  i’m glad that i was able to figure out a way to use up the excess marinade but next time i’m just going to make less of it.  oh and i also decided to make skewers instead of grilling the chicken pieces whole because i find that with chicken breast it stays juicer.

the chicken has a nice balance of savory and sweet.  the coconut flavor is subtle, but we could taste the difference between this chicken and the teriyaki chicken that i usually make (that doesn’t include coconut milk).  another plus of this recipe is that it is really simple to put together.

first combine all of the marinade ingredients into a large bowl.  this marinade includes soy sauce, coconut milk, garlic, onion, green onion, brown sugar, water, and a touch of sesame oil.

then cut up the chicken into chunks and put them into a gallon size ziplock bag.  i used both chicken breast and thighs.

if you make the full recipe of marinade, reserve 2 cups of the marinade and pour the rest over the chicken.  mix to make sure each piece of chicken is covered in marinade.

after allowing the chicken to soak in the marinade for a few hours (up to overnight), thread the chicken onto the skewers.  i didn’t have enough metal ones so i also used a few smaller bamboo skewers (just be sure to soak them in water before using them).

then grill the chicken until they are done…

our chicken skewers took about 30 minutes to cook.

yum!

now on to the sauce, mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into 1/2 cups of cold water.  set aside.

pour the reserved marinade into a medium saucepan and warm over medium high heat.  then add the cornstarch/water mixture.

bring the sauce to a boil and cook until it thickens.

the sauce is done!

i served our coconut teriyaki chicken with a mix of white and brown rice.

since i didn’t change the recipe much, i’m going to send you over to chef in training for the recipe.  just don’t forget to halve the recipe!

taco macaroni & cheese

macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods.  i will admit i love the boxed kind or if we really feel like splurging velveta shells is the best.  don’t hate.  but i know, i know – of course homemade mac and cheese is delicious and definitely better than the boxed version full of (delicious) fake cheese.

plus, it’s always fun to try different kinds of macaroni and cheese recipes.  i’ve seen everything from cheeseburger mac and cheese to this taco mac and cheese.  it has all of the flavors of tacos incorporated into macaroni and cheese.  genius!

there is taco seasoned ground turkey (or beef), salsa, green peppers, onions, lots of cheese (cheddar and cream cheese), sour cream – all kinds of good stuff.  then i topped my taco mac and cheese with salsa, sour cream and cilantro; chris isn’t a fan of cilantro so i topped his with green onion instead.

be warned this recipe makes a lot of mac and cheese.  so it’s perfect for my style of meal planning (i just cook a couple dishes a week and chris and i eat for lunch and dinner) but if you don’t feel like eating the same thing every day, i would suggest making this for a potluck or maybe freezing instead.

first, cook the macaroni according to the package directions and set it aside.

now for the taco turkey – brown the ground turkey, onions, and green peppers.

then add the taco seasoning and garlic.  (p.s. homemade taco seasoning is the best.  try it out!)

throw in the salsa and stir it all together.

the taco turkey is ready.  set it aside as you work on the cheese sauce.

pour the milk, sour cream, and cream cheese into a medium saucepan (i’m lazy and didn’t want to dirty any more dishes so i just used the pot i boiled the macaroni in).

mix to combine and then cook until the cream cheese is melted, then add the shredded cheddar cheese.

stir until the cheese is melted.

pour the taco turkey to the cheese sauce and mix to combine.

add the cooked macaroni…

lastly, stir everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.

the taco mac and cheese is ready to eat!

the recipe for this taco mac and cheese can be found here on cassie craves.

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