Tacos de Carne de Cerdo

This weekend was the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. I had a great time, as I was on a couple of panels and even did a reading from my latest book, Bitter Heart. On one of the days that I knew I was going to be busy all day at the conference, I put a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with some spices and a bit of citrus juices for us to have meaty tacos for dinner and for me to have delicious leftovers.

I was joined for dinner by my fellow author, Mercedes Lewis, who read from her book of poetry (Glimpses of a Fractured Soul) at Saints and Sinners and also participated on a poetry panel.

Tacos de carne de cerdo

Dry Rub

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix dry rub together and store until ready to use in an airtight container.

Carne de Cerdo

5-8 lb pork shoulder, bone in preferred
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed

Cut off the large fat cap and any other spots of hard fat. Rub spice mixture on the meat. Heat a skillet and brown the meat on all sides.

Remove meat from the skillet and place on a bed of onions and garlic in a large crockpot. Pour the juice and stock into the skillet to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any fond on the bottom and then pour over the meat.

Cover and cook on low in the slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours. Remove when the meat is falling off the bone. Let cool for 15 minutes before attempting to shred for tacos.

For the tacos, I had both hard corn taco shells and soft flour tortillas, guacamole, sliced red and green bell peppers, black beans, grated pepper jack cheese and salsa to go with the shredded meat. We built our tacos based on our own taste and ended up eating more than planned as everything tasted so good.

I will use the leftovers in quesadillas, burritos or even with a little BBQ sauce for a pulled pork sandwich.

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Immune Boosting Roast Chicken

My Facebook feed is full of people suffering from the flu. I’ve so far escaped but, with all the parades and events heading into Mardi Gras on February 13th, I need all the immune boosting I can get.

I had thawed a chicken and decided that I’d do something that contained a lot of natural antibiotics – ginger, garlic, oregano, lemon juice. I altered my lemon oregano roast chicken recipe – the original called for dry white wine, for example and I replaced that liquid with ginger ale. If you can’t eat garlic, replace it with a tablespoon of minced ginger instead.

Immune Boosting Roast Chicken

4 to 5 lb whole chicken
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ginger ale
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons crushed dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

4 russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes

Remove the backbone of the chicken and reserve for another use. Cut chicken into quarters and place in a zip top bag. Whisk together the lemon juice, ginger ale, olive oil, oregano, garlic, ginger, salt and black pepper. Pour over the chicken. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Toss the cubes of potatoes with a little olive oil and spread them out in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir the potatoes around and add the chicken with its marinade, balancing the chicken on top of the potatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before dividing among dinner plates.

 

 

Oven Baked Shrimp Fajitas

My dad will pull a shrimp trawl several times over the summer and then we get to enjoy Alabama shrimp for the rest of the year. Here is a picture of him sorting the catch – we throw all the small fish back and the dolphins and pelicans come to feast.

This recipe uses a dry spice mix on the veggies and a one hour marinade on the shrimp for a quick, weeknight dinner. I served these on flour tortillas with refried beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole. 

The picture illustrates my family’s preferred shrimp to veggie ratio!

Oven Baked Shrimp Fajitas

1.5 to 2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 14.4 packages of bell pepper and onion stir fry
10 flour tortillas

Shrimp Marinade

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic

Veggie Spice Mix

1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of onion powder
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the shrimp marinade and place in a zip top bag with the peeled and deveined shrimp. Smoosh the bag around to completely coat the shrimp. Place in the fridge for one hour.

Put together the dry spices. Place the veggies in a large bowl and toss with the spice mixture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet. Put down the veggies as a base layer. Sprinkle the shrimp on top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove the shrimp and turn on the broiler. Cook for 2 additional minutes until shrimp is done.

Squeeze a little lime juice over the dish and serve with warm tortillas and your choice of add ins.

 

Worcestershire Chicken

I’m the lucky recipient of some homemade saffron rolls from my friend Charlotte and I figure they’d be perfect for sopping up pan juices. This recipe is one of the first ones I ever developed –  although it came about because I spilled part of a bottle of Worcestershire sauce all over some chicken that was thawing in the pan. A happy accident that became the basis of a tasty dish.

Worcestershire Chicken

4 chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

Score chicken breasts with about three slices on one side and pepper them lightly on both sides. Place chicken in a shallow casserole dish that has been lightly buttered. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350º F for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes.

Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

I love tacos and there is something comforting about plain ground beef with a little sprinkle of cumin and then lots of yummy toppings. Sometimes, though, I want to kick things up a notch in the meat department but I want something better than just sprinkling a seasoning packet over ground meat. Here is a version that comes together quickly and tastes like you spent hours on it.

Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon chipolte powder (or cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (or beef broth)

Preheat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Sauté the diced onion for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary.

Meanwhile measure out and combine all the dried spices. When onions are translucent, put garlic  into the skillet and add spice mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute to bloom flavors.

Add ground beef to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to prevent scorching.

Once the beef is no longer pink, siphon off fat. Then, stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to simmer until liquid has thickened, but not completely dry, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Place in serving bowl and serve with taco shells, refried beans, pepper jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other toppings of your choice.

Turmeric Brine and Rub for Chicken

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year and thought I could use some brain boosting to help get me started on writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Turmeric, with its curcumin content, has a number of health benefits (especially when paired with black pepper to assist your body in absorbing it), including helping fuel your brain. It also tastes good and adds a pretty golden color to food, so what’s not to like?

Turmeric Buttermilk Brine

1 quart buttermilk
1 quart water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
10 lbs chicken leg quarters

Combine buttermilk and seasonings in a large container. Add chicken. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight. Remove chicken and discard brine.

Drain chicken and pat dry. Place in a single layer in a large pan. Place in the refrigerator until ready to build your fire.

Turmeric Rub

4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix with your fingers to break up any lumps. I needed to double the recipe for 10 lbs of chicken. Sprinkle over both sides of the chicken at least 1 hour before grilling.

Grill over indirect heat until the internal temperature registers 165 F. I usually put it skin side down for the first 20 minutes and then flip it over for the next 40 or so minutes, placing the drumstick closest to the heat.

Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

I was in a general store last month and they had dried lavender amongst other things. I picked up some on a whim, not knowing if I wanted to cook with it or be crafty with it. As the grocery store had chicken thighs on sale, I decided to go ahead and cook with a portion of it.

This roast chicken recipe is very fragrant and flavorful. I think I will cook this again for a romantic occasion. I served it with roasted potatoes tonight that I dunked into the pan juices before serving. Next time, I might use the time while the chicken rests to make a sauce to pour over the chicken and jasmine rice.

Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

Juice and zest of two lemons (approx 1/3 cup juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons dried lavender
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 3lb whole chicken or 3 lbs of chicken thighs
1 lemon cut into slices

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and place into a zip top bag with the chicken. Rub well to coat completely and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place chicken in a roasting pan on a rack, skin side up. Squeeze out any remaining marinade from the bag and smear it over the skin. Roast until the internal temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees, about 40 minutes to an hour. After 30 minutes of roasting, place slices of lemon on the chicken.