Monthly Archives: June 2013

Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

It’s been a fairly healthy week of eating for me.  Rainbow chard, roasted beets, veggies and hummus.  And after all that…I’ll admit it.  I needed some hot wings.

Spicy, messy, sauce on your face, make your nose run wings!  There is no substitute for hot wings that will give one the same satisfaction.  I don’t make them very often, but when I do, holy cow they are yummy.  Afterward, I sit, looking at the pile of bones stacked on my plate, with my lips still stinging, and feel sticky, blissful happiness.

I make my wings slightly healthier by baking them, but I don’t delude myself into thinking this is health food by any means.  Still, in moderation, I think it’s okay to eat just about anything once in a while.  That being said, make more than you think you’ll need because I guarantee you will want some more!

Independence Day is coming up, and I promise these will be a perfect addition to any barbecue, potluck or picnic.  Bring extra napkins.

Can't Stop Eating Hot Wings!

Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

Can’t Stop Eating Hot Wings!

2 pounds chicken wings (split into wing and drum sections if they aren’t already)
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce (not the wing sauce, just the original kind) plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp. honey
Red Hot and olive oil for drizzling
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Spread out wings in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Shake some Red Hot on the wings.  Bake 20 minutes, turn wings, shake some hot sauce on the other side, bake another 20 minutes.

As if the sauce wasn't enough, I drizzle with hot sauce to bake some of the flavor right into the wings before they take their saucy dip.

As if the sauce wasn’t enough, I drizzle with hot sauce to bake some of the flavor right into the wings before they take their saucy dip.

In a large pan over low heat, combine butter, barbecue sauce, Red Hot and honey.  Stir to combine.  When butter is melted and sauce is hot you can turn off the heat.  Remove wings from the oven and toss in the sauce.  Serve hot!

These paired beautifully with my Italian-ish Pasta Salad on the side.  Cool and refreshing to contrast with hot and sticky.  Mmmm.

Wings with a side of pasta salad.  Yum.

Wings with a side of pasta salad. Yum.

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Roasted Purple Cabbage Wedges

Why is purple cabbage called red cabbage?  It’s not red.  This is a mystery to me.  I call it purple cabbage.  So there.

In any case, I usually prefer the red to the green.  It’s a little sweeter and holds its shape better when cooked.  Nobody wants limp, squishy cabbage.  But firm, almost crunchy cabbage bursting with flavor?  That’s another story.  These wedges are simple to make and very tasty!  I cooked these in the oven, but I also think they’d be great on the grill too. Or campfire?

If you prefer green cabbage, either kind will work great for this.  Since I prefer my veggies a little on the crunchy side I only cooked mine about 20 minutes.  If you like it a little softer, keep it in a little longer.

Roasted Red Cabbage

Roasted “Red” Cabbage.  Even more purple when it’s cooked!

Roasted Purple Cabbage Wedges

1 red cabbage, quartered
4 strips bacon
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. worcestershire
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook bacon and drain on paper towels.  Preheat oven to 425˚.  Mix olive oil, lemon juice, worcestershire in a small bowl.  Place each wedge on a square of foil.  Drizzle mixture over each one, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Crumble bacon on top.  Wrap each wedge individually.

Ready to wrap and cook.

Ready to wrap and cook.

Place on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes.

These paired beautifully with farmers market franks and snap peas.  Yum!

Roasted Red Cabbage

Roasted Purple Cabbage, snap peas & franks.  Delish!

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Pork-a-Palooza! Ten things you can make with leftover pork roast.

I have to say that as far as cooking on a budget goes, the big prize recently goes to the pork roast.  I picked a couple of these up when they were on sale and boy did I get my money’s worth and then some!  I’ve posted most of these recipes already, but there were so many, and they were so spaced out (since we didn’t feel like eating pork every day for weeks) that I thought I would consolidate them all in one porky place for easy reference.  Just click on the recipe you want to get all the details.

The method that works best for me is to cook the roast up ahead of time in the oven or crock pot (my basic recipe is included in all of the blog posts below), shred all the meat, and portion it out into freezer bags or containers.  Simply pull one out for an easy meal with most of the work done already.

Works for breakfast…

Lunch…

Or Dinner…

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Smothered Breakfast Burrito

Last week I posted a recipe for an amazing pork green chili.  Now just in case you are thinking it’s summertime and too hot for chili, just let me remind you there are other things you can do with chili beyond eating it out of a bowl.  Welcome to Casa de April, where I make a breakfast burrito I would pay for in a restaurant.  Green chili is the key that takes it from ordinary to incredible.  So make the chili, which freezes beautifully by the way, freeze in small batches to bring out for breakfast!  And although I say breakfast, I would eat this for any meal of the day.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito.  More please.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito. More please.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito

For each burrito:
1 small/medium potato
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup green chili (or more!)
Flour tortilla
Sliced avocado

Heat chili in a saucepan or microwave until hot.  Set aside and keep warm.  Poke potatoes and microwave for a few minutes until fork tender.  Dice or chop potatoes.  Beat eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Warm tortillas in the oven or microwave (if I’m doing a bunch I wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven while I’m making everything else; if it’s just one I nuke it).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of oil or butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan (or you can use cooking spray).  Add potato and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to brown a bit.  Add eggs and scramble with the potatoes.  Sprinkle in the cheese, toss with the other ingredients and remove from heat.

Melty yummy goodness on the inside.

Melty yummy goodness on the inside.

Wrap in a tortilla and top with chili and avocado.

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Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

A fruitful (ha) trip to farmers market resulted in a whole counter full of veggies and me wondering how the heck I was going to eat them all before they went bad.  And more importantly, where the heck to put them all in the meantime.  I got a good start on solving both problems by throwing together this wonderful  main dish salad for dinner.

This time of year I’m always happy to find spring onions at the market.  I never see them at the store for some reason.  But I love them.

Spring onions.  Like scallions on steroids.  You can eat both the green and white parts.

Spring onions. Like scallions on steroids. You can eat both the green and white parts.

If you can’t find spring onions, feel free to sub red onion or scallions instead.  For the potatoes, I found tiny pebble sized potatoes but you can use bigger new potatoes if you can’t find the tiny ones.  Just half or quarter them to make bite sized pieces.

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Spring Onion Vinaigrette

6-8 cups fresh spinach leaves, big stems removed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 cups baby potatoes (the smallest ones you can find, cut in half if needed to make bite size)
3 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 spring onions, divided into white and green parts
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tsp. raw sugar
1 tsp. coarse dijon mustard
3-4 tsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

In a small saucepan, cover potatoes in water and bring to a boil.  Boil 8-10 minutes until fork tender but not mushy.  Drain and set aside.

Wash spinach and pat dry, remove any large tough stems.  Put in a big serving bowl.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer's market.

Yummy fresh spinach from farmer’s market.

In a small bowl whisk together sugar, dijon and vinegar.  Add a pinch of salt & pepper.  In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add white parts of onions and sauté 1-2 minutes.  Add cabbage and green parts on onions and sauté another minute.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

A quick sauté on the veggies to soften just a bit and bring out the flavor.

Add vinegar mixture and potatoes to skillet and toss to combine.  Cook and stir gently 30 seconds or so to heat through and let the vinaigrette permeate all the veggies.  Pour over the spinach and add tomatoes.  Toss everything together.  Serve warm.  Makes 4 main dish servings or 6-8 side servings.

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Roasted Strawberry Parfait

I’ve never cooked strawberries before, unless you count making jam.  They usually don’t last that long since we tend to dig in as soon as they appear.  But I saw a recipe for a roasted strawberry parfait on Pinterest and thought it sounded intriguing.  I didn’t have (or want) granola or nuts or anything else that the recipe had and I really wanted something more dessertish than breakfastish, so I added some whipped cream and vanilla too.  Roasting the strawberries brings out the natural sweetness even more, and makes them extra juicy.  This was a wonderful summer dessert, and so pretty too.  Although it was just for me and the kiddos, we fancied them up in pretty glasses and they were sooo pretty!

Beautiful and delicious!

Beautiful and delicious!

Roasted Strawberry Parfait

1 quart strawberries, quartered
2-3 tbsp brown sugar – divided
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Toss strawberries with 1 tbsp. brown sugar.  Spread out on parchment paper.

Ready to roast.

Ready to roast.

Roast for 10 minutes, until they start seeping juice, but still holding their shape.

Don't roast them to death, just until they are juicy and syrupy.  So good!

Don’t roast them to death, just until they are juicy and syrupy. So good!

In a bowl combine whipping cream, greek yogurt, 1 tbsp. brown sugar and vanilla.  Beat for 4-5 minutes until thickened.  During the beating, taste and add another tablespoon of sugar if you want it sweeter.  Layer cream in dishes with strawberries and eat it while it’s warm.  Yum!  If you’re feeling really crazy you can drizzle it with chocolate syrup.

Serves 3-4.

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Going Green…Chili Style!

Just when I thought I had used up all my shredded pork, a gift came in the form of a gallon bag of shredded smoked pork from my uncle.  Not one to look a gift pig in the mouth, I divided it into a few containers and stuck it in the freezer to be doled out to my family at a later date.  Of course I had to cook some of it right away.  And it tastes amazing!  If you aren’t lucky enough to have people giving you pork, you can use leftovers from my basic pork roast recipe, or simply throw in a small pork roast or some chops.  Since this is a crock pot recipe they will cook up just fine over the course of the day.

When I went to school in Denver, I discovered the best Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  The general thinking there is to smother just about everything in green chili.  And I am okay with that!  And if you don’t feel like eating it over the top of a burrito, a nice bowl of it works just fine.  As opposed to most other places I’ve lived, in that style of cooking the green sauce is more spicy; the red sauce is the mild stuff.  I didn’t have a recipe for green chili, so I just winged it and was very pleased with the results!  Since we were planning to eat this as a soup/stew, I made this version chunkier than I remember, and added some black beans.  Not that that will stop me from using the leftovers to smother something – like a breakfast burrito!  Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Pork Green Chili

5-6 Anaheim Chiles
3-4 Poblano or Padilla Peppers
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
3-4 cups shredded or chopped pork*
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
Rice & tortillas for serving if desired

Looking yummy already!  Tomatillos and peppers.

Looking yummy already! Tomatillos and peppers.

Seed peppers.  You can do this to the small ones by cutting of the top, turning upside down and rolling between your hands or shaking out the seeds.  Or you can cut them in half and remove the seeds that way.

All ready to roast.

All ready to roast.

Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes per side until skin is blackened.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black.  It will peel right off once it is cool.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black. It will peel right off once it is cool.

Place in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins and coarsely chop peppers.

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Turn on high for a 2-3 hours, then turn down to low and cook until dinner time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

* If you don’t have a bunch of leftover shredded pork in your freezer, feel free to use a small pork roast, or pork chops.  Just put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot and pile everything else on top.  At the end of the day, take a couple of forks and pull the meat apart into shreds or chunks and remove any bones before serving.

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Quickie Greek Pizza

It’s hard to get much quicker than this little weeknight treat.  It’s so easy I’m not sure it actually qualifies as a recipe, but here it goes anyway.

I buy hummus from a stand at farmer’s market a pretty regular basis.  With so many varieties there is always a new one to try.  But beyond the dipping extravaganza, who knew that it would work just great as a pizza topping?  Well now we know.  Combined with a pita and Greeky sorts of toppings it was just lovely.  And pretty healthy too, gotta like that!

Quickie Greek Style Pizza

Quickie Greek Pizza

Quickie Greek Pizza

1 Greek style pita
2-3 tbsp. hummus, whatever variety you like best
Kalamata olives
Sun-dried tomatoes (I usually use the kind packed in olive oil)
1 tsp. pine nuts
Feta, mozzarella or queso fresco

As you can see from my stellar measurements here, I usually don’t measure anything.  Simply spread the hummus over the pita and sprinkle toppings on in whatever quantity you like!  Crumble some cheese on top and grind a bit of pepper on top.

Now of course you could just eat it like this.  But if you want it hot and crispy, cook it!

Now of course you could just eat it like this. But if you want it hot and crispy, cook it!

For a nice crisp crust, I cooked mine right on the oven rack.  About 10 minutes at 375˚ or until it’s melted and crispy on the bottom.

If you want it less crispy, put it on a pan first and don't cook it as long.

If you want it less crispy, put it on a pan first and don’t cook it as long.

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Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I always have a more productive day (with a lot less snacking) if I start off with a little protein in the morning.  These little egg cups are quick to throw together and they bake while you’re getting dressed and brushing your teeth.  Perfect for weekday mornings.  Or any mornings.  Or an afternoon snack.

I usually keep a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in my fridge for little things like this.  I prefer the kind that are packed in olive oil, but you can use any kind you like.  They give a huge punch of flavor to just about anything.  I had leftover asparagus from dinner the night before.  If you don’t I would recommend a quick toss in a pan or microwave just to soften it a bit, although if you like it on the crunchy side, it’s not absolutely necessary.  Feel free to adjust the ingredients in this dish to your tastes, adding or removing elements as you like.

Baked eggs with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Baked eggs with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

For each ramekin:

2-3 stalks asparagus, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, sliced or chopped (I usually buy the ones already in julienne strips)
1 strip bacon
1-2 eggs
1-2 tbsp. crumbled or shredded cheese (I used queso fresco)
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Spray each ramekin lightly with cooking spray or rub with olive oil.  Cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Crumble or chop.

Layer your ingredients in the ramekins.  I started with the asparagus.

aspsundriedeggs

Then the sun-dried tomatoes. No worries if there are some bits of cold oil stuck to them, it permeates the dish nicely as it cooks.

aspsundriedeggs2

Top with bacon and some of the cheese.

aspsundriedeggs3

Break two eggs carefully on top.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and remaining cheese.

aspsundriedeggs4

Carefully put into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until eggs are set.  This paired perfectly with some homemade hash browns.  Want to know how to get them just right?  Click here for my hash brown recipe.

 

Baked eggs with hash browns on the side.  Mmmm!

Baked eggs with hash browns on the side. Mmmm!

 

 

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Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Casseroles are and probably have always been the best dumping ground for leftovers.  Way back in caveman days I can only imagine the cave-wife saying “what the heck am I going to do with all this leftover mammoth?” And then she thought, “I’ll mix it with these weeds and seeds, stick it in a bowl, cook it in the fire and call it good.”

I finally used the last of my giant pork roast and this was arguably my favorite recipe of them all.  I’m not a huge casserole lover, but occasionally it’s just the most satisfying and comforting thing.  This one tastes like enchiladas, without all the work of actually making enchiladas.  The sauce is a very quick blender affair, and the casserole comes together in a jiffy.  Nice weekday meal that will seem like you slaved over it (even if you didn’t).

Queso fresco is a Mexican style white cheese similar to mozzarella.  It’s very mild and delicious and melts beautifully!  Rather than shredding it you can just crumble it apart in your fingers.  Great on anything from tacos to salads.

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

2-3 cups shredded pork (click here for my basic pork roast recipe)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 package corn tortillas
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup tomato, chopped

Verde Sauce:
12 oz. tomatillos (7-8 large)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted green chiles (or one 4 oz. can)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and put in a small saucepan.  Cover with water; boil for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain and transfer to a blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.

Homemade verde sauce.  So quick and easy!

Homemade verde sauce. So quick and easy!

Mix pork with sour cream, cumin and chili powder.  Add salt & pepper to taste if needed.

In the bottom of your casserole dish, ladle enough sauce to liberally cover the bottom of the dish.  Lay out tortillas in a single layer and top with pork mixture.

Building your casserole, just repeat from here.

Building your casserole, just repeat from here.

Repeat layers of tortillas and pork until ingredients are used up.  End with tortillas on top.

I like to finish with the tortillas on top and then pour sauce over the whole thing.

I like to finish with the tortillas on top and then pour sauce over the whole thing.

Pour verde sauce over the whole thing (you may not use all your sauce – you can serve extra on the side, keep it for something else or freeze it for later).  Sprinkle queso fresco and tomatoes over the top and finish with a sprinkle of cheddar.

All ready to pop in the oven.  So pretty!

All ready to pop in the oven. So pretty!

Bake for 30 minutes or so until heated through and melty.

All cozy in a bowl.  I served this with a black bean and veggie salad on the side.

All cozy in a bowl. I served this with a black bean and veggie salad on the side.

Serve with salad on the side for a satisfying, lip smacking dinner!

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