Foodie Friday – Dr. Pepper shredded pork or beef tacos

So it seems the last SEVEN recipes I’ve posted were cakes. Everything but my first recipe of 2013. Yikes! Luckily I’ve got a couple of recipes to share that don’t require baking for a change. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to cakes and cookies in a few weeks! But for now, the first non-dessert recipe I want to share is one that went viral on Pinterest last year. And that status was definitely well deserved because these Brie and Brisket Tacos are delicious. I made this recipe twice back in March 2012 – once with beef and once with pork – and it turned out well both times. So simple and so tasty. It’s perfect!

3 lb pork shoulder or beef brisket
Chili powder
Garlic powder
16 oz Dr. Pepper

If necessary, cut the meat into two pieces so it will fit in your Crockpot (and you can get more seasonings on it this way too). Rub a liberal amount of chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on all sides of the meat. Place the meat in the Crockpot and pour the Dr. Pepper over the top. I recommend using a slow cooker liner for easy clean up. Cook the meat on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Add a little of the liquid from the Crockpot if them meat seems a bit dry. Discard the rest of the liquid. Serve the meat in corn or flour tortillas topped with a little BBQ sauce and some cheese (preferably Brie, per to the original recipe, but any kind works). Enjoy!

Based on Confections of a Foodie Bride’s Brie and Brisket Tacos.

Foodie Friday – Slow cooker pork ragu

I was inspired to try this recipe for slow cooker pork ragu because of a pasta dish at Medeteraneo restaurant on the Hermosa Beach Pier that I absolutely love. Of course the results of my homemade version weren’t nearly as good, but I still think this is a great dish. It was easy to assemble and using my Crockpot made for a fuss-free dinner. The flavor of the end result was wonderful, but there wasn’t quite enough “sauce” for my taste. The texture was more like pulled pork for that reason. Next time I think I’ll use twice as much crushed tomatoes (while doubling the seasonings as well) and then shred the pork a little more to make it easier to serve with pasta. I was happy to eat the results of this batch alone with a fork, though! It was so delicious!

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 lb boneless pork loin
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 c chicken stock (I used broth)
1 c diced onion
1/2 c shredded carrots
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (or freshly chopped rosemary)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or freshly chopped thyme)
1 bay leaf
12 oz dried pasta cooked according to package directions

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Sprinkle the pork loin with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, rosemary and thyme (I cut my pork in half first so it wasn’t so unwieldy). Brown all sides of the pork in the skillet, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place the pork inside a Crockpot coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top the pork with the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock (or broth), onions, carrots, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. When the pork is cooked, shred it into bite-sized pieces using two forks, discarding any large fat deposits (yuck). Remove the bay leaf, return the pork to the Crockpot, and stir to coat with the yummy sauce. Turn heat to simmer/warm for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta. Enjoy!

Based on Mother Thyme’s Slow Cooker Pork Ragu.

Foodie Friday – Greek nachos

This is Dan’s new favorite meal – Greek nachos. I’ve made it several times and he just loves it. And after raving about it at Arthur Murray I got requests to bring some in for everyone at the studio to try. It was a hit. The teachers hovered over the plate making “yummy” sounds while Dan and I had our lesson. It always makes me feel good to know that someone enjoys my cooking. And since this recipe is fairly healthy I definitely see it becoming a staple in the Feller household. It all started with a pin on Pinterest (no surprise there) and a few ideas of my own. I used the seasoning mixture from my Crockpot gyro recipe for the meat and, of course, my famous tzatziki sauce to top it all off. If you like Greek food I highly recommend this recipe.

1 lb ground lamb (or ground beef)
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pita chips (or tortilla chips)
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Chopped cucumber
Chopped red onion
Feta cheese (or Gorgonzola cheese)
Tzatziki sauce

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the ground lamb or beef until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Add the seasonings and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. I’ve also tried this adding the seasonings before cooking and that turns out well too. Throw some pita chips or tortilla chips on a plate and top with some Monterey Jack cheese. Nuke the plate in the microwave for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Top the chips and melted Monterey Jack with some of the meat mixture, some chopped cucumbers, some chopped onions (which I forgot to add before snapping the above photo), Feta cheese (or Gorgonzola), and a generous helping of my famous tzatziki sauce. Enjoy!

Based on Not Without Salt’s Greek Nachos.

Foodie Friday – Crockpot Hawaiian chicken

Back when I was working long hours and weird shifts I had grand visions of using my Crockpot to make a home cooked meal each and every day. Sadly this illusion only lasted for two days. Most days during that two and a half week period I was just too wiped out to do much of anything when I got home work work. I did manage to make this simple Crockpot Hawaiian chicken one day, though. After the semi-success of my Marinated Hawaiian Chicken, I was eager to try this slow cooker version. The list of ingredients was relatively simple (especially since I had some quick cooking tapioca left over from another recipe) and there was very little prep required. But the only thing that matters is how it tasted, right? Well, it was pretty good! Dan even ate all of the leftovers in the fridge the next night which is always a mark of approval. This is a great weeknight meal that I’m planning to tweak a little bit and use a lot. I think I’ll add some minced garlic and a little salt next time to counter the sweetness of the pineapple juice. Slow cooker recipes are infinitely adaptable so feel free to try this recipe with your own changes!

1 1/2 lb chicken (I used breast strips)
1/4 c flour
1 can (20 oz) pineapple rings, juice reserved
1/4 c soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Dredge the chicken in the flour and place it in the slow cooker. In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, tapioca, and apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Top the chicken and sauce with the pineapple rings. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

Based on 365 Days of Crockpot’s Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken.

30 days

I read somewhere that it takes thirty days of doing something for it to become a habit. Well, I went back to the gym today for the first time in 2012. Dan and I have taken a couple of walks to the beach since the beginning of the year, but this was my first spinning class since before Christmas. Ouch. My legs feel like jelly. I tripped over a bench in the locker room and was barely able to catch myself on my aforementioned jelly legs before I totally wiped out. Pathetic. And I know it’s just going to be worse tomorrow and the next day. But I’m committed to making this gym thing a part of my life again, so here’s to day one of what will hopefully be the thirty days required to make it a habit.

Foodie Friday – Turkey meatballs

I’ve made a lot of meatballs in my life, but these are by far the best. I was skeptical that such a simple a recipe could produce turkey meatballs worth eating, but it seems that just a few ingredients are needed to create something delicious. I must admit that I didn’t follow the original recipe very faithfully, though. I didn’t have any fresh parsley, or even dried parsley (probably the only dried herb missing in my cabinet), so I substituted some Italian seasoning. I also used a couple of jars of Barilla sauce rather than making my own. Pure laziness! Oh, and one more thing, I combined the meat and seasonings a day ahead of time, wrapped the mixture in plastic wrap, and refrigerated it overnight because I wanted to get ahead on my weekly meal preparation. The meatballs definitely didn’t suffer because of these changes. I don’t have a photo to share, but you’ll have to trust me that these meatballs were amazing! I’ll definitely be making them again.

20 oz ground turkey
1/4 c seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 egg
2 Tbsp minced garlic , divided
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 jars marinara sauce

In a large bowl combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp garlic, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together well combined. Form meatballs using about 2 Tbsp of the meat mixture for each one, about the size of a ping ping ball. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 350 deg F for 20 min.

While the meatballs are baking, in a medium stock pot saute the remaining 1 Tbsp of garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a simmer. Take the meatballs out of the oven, add them to the marinara sauce, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with pasta, in a sub, or just by themselves. Enjoy!

Based on Skinnytaste’s Skinny Italian Turkey Meatballs.

Foodie Friday – Marinated Hawaiian chicken

A new recipe! Hooray! But I can’t seem to get away from chicken recipes these days. I think I need to stop pinning them on Pinterest. But anyway, on to the recipe! I needed a quick and easy recipe for a weeknight meal so I adapted this recipe for grilled Hawaiian chicken so I could make on the stovetop. I marinated the chicken overnight as directed and threw it into a skillet to cook the next day. It couldn’t have been simpler to make. Deviating from the original recipe a little more, I added cornstarch right at the end to thicken the sauce so it looked beautiful, as you can tell in the above photo. The chicken was really tasty, especially paired with some yummy coconut rice, but I’m not sure I would use the word “Hawaiian” to describe it. Maybe replacing some of the brown sugar with pineapple juice would help, but the way I made it didn’t taste the way I thought “Hawaiian chicken” to taste. Still good, but not what I was expecting. When I try this recipe again I’ll use chicken thighs instead of breasts to soak up more marinate, cut the chicken into smaller pieces, use more coconut milk and less soy sauce in the marinade, and add a little of the marinade to the skillet when cooking. I think this recipe has enormous potential because it is simple and tasty. I’ll keep working on it and let you know if I have more success.

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken (I used breasts)
1 c low sodium soy sauce
1 c water
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 c coconut milk
Sesame oil for the pan
Green onions, sliced (optional)

Cut the chicken into bit sized pieces. In a large bowl stir together soy sauce, water, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic, sesame oil, and coconut milk. Add the chicken and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, heat a little sesame oil in a large skillet. Drain the chicken (discarding the marinade) and add it to the pan. Cook the chicken, stirring frequently until cooked through. Add a couple spoonfuls of cornstarch to the pan, stir to combine, and cook just about a minute more or until the sauce is properly thickened. Serve over coconut rice (just replace half of the water with coconut milk when boiling the rice) and garnish with green onions, if desired. Enjoy!

Based on A Dash of Thyme’s Hawaiian Grilled Chicken.

Foodie Friday – Sweet and sour chicken

Since I didn’t go to work on Monday I took it upon myself to make a homecooked dinner for Dan and me. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out like I was hoping it would. Before I left on my business trip I cut up a bunch of chicken breasts and froze them in a Ziploc bag for future use. I intended to make some manner of stir fry before I went to DC, but I ran out of time and I hate when food goes to waste. So on Monday I thawed the meat and gathered the necessary ingredients to make sweet and sour chicken. The recipe I tried is based on one from Cooking Light magazine and I think that’s why it leaves something to be desired. Like fat and calories. Those things are yummy. I’m sure that with a few tweaks this recipe could be a real winner, but I wouldn’t suggest making it as is. Dan was very kind and ate a large helping, but I wasn’t all that fond of it. In the future I’ll compare it with some other recipes and see what changes might make it more successful.

2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp candied ginger, minced
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 c chopped onion
3/4 c chopped celery
3/4 c chopped bell pepper (I used orange)
1 can (15 oz) pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
1/3 c reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp dry sherry (I used cooking sherry)
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c cashews

In a large nonstick skillet heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, candied ginger, and chicken and saute for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken mixture from the pan. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper to the skillet, and saute for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain the pineapple, reserving 1/2 c juice in a 2 c measuring cup. Add the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and brown sugar to the measuring cup and whisk to combine. Add the sauce and pineapple chunks to the skillet and cook for several minutes until the sauce thickens and everything is heated through. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cashews.

Based on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen’s Sweet and Sour Chicken.

Foodie Friday – Slow cooker lamb chops

First of all, I have to admit that I failed to update my webpage yesterday. My excuse is that I has some sort of flu-like illness yesterday that kept me from doing…well, anything. Long story short, I skipped work, took a bunch of medicine, and slept it off. I felt infinitely better when I woke up this morning after about fourteen hours of sleep. More about that later, but for now, on to the recipe!

I’ve been wanting to make lamb chops in the slow cooker for a long time, so last Friday when I took the afternoon off from work I seized the opportunity. I bought some lamb chops from Whole Foods, seasoned them when I got home, and plopped them into the slow cooker on low for a good long time. After six hours the house smelled amazing. I was so excited to serve succulent, fall of the bone lamb shops for dinner! However, Dan wasn’t hungry when he got home so I ate a little myself. Turns out it’s a good thing he had already eaten because while the meat tasted OK, it was really, really dry. Very unappetizing. Looking back, I think I made one of two mistakes – 1) The cuts of meat I bought were too lean, or 2) I should have added some liquid (water or broth) to the slow cooker. I’m leaning towards the former because I can’t imagine a little broth would have saved these poor mistreated lamb chops. I was so disappointed, but at least I learned something. Actually two things if you count the obvious “I should always have a backup plan for dinner when I’m trying a new recipe.” You never know when your perfectly planned meal is going to turn on you! So while I don’t recommend anyone trying this recipe as written, here it is anyway in case anyone can recommend an alteration that might lead to a more favorable outcome.

1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Lamb chops (~2 lbs worth)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Place the onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, garlic powder,rosemary, salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the lamb chops and add them to the slow cooker. Top with garlic. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender.

Based on Taste of Home’s Slow Cooked Lamb Chops.

(Belated) Foodie Friday – Crispy gnocchi with pesto

I didn’t post this recipe yesterday because I was way too tired after spending the afternoon and evening at Disneyland with Dan. But I can’t let my list of new recipes get backed up, so here’s the latest of my dinner creations. When I was running short on time in the evenings I used to boil some pre-made ravioli and top it with refrigerated prepared pesto for dinner. It was OK, but when I saw this recipe for crispy gnocchi and pesto I decided to mix things up a little. I haven’t eaten gnocchi too many times, but I’ve discovered that it can either be really tasty or really terrible. Very polarizing. Luckily this recipe turned out favorably! I used some seasoned frozen gnocchi from Whole Foods and some of our favorite Monterey pesto from the refrigerated pasta section of Ralph’s. Crisping the gnocchi didn’t add much time to the dinner preparation process and I was even able to use the same skillet that I had browned the turkey sausage in earlier (extra flavor!). Both Dan and I really liked this meal so I will definitely be making it again. I’m definitely adding this to my list of perfect weeknight meals. I don’t shop at Whole Foods too often because it’s so expensive, but I’ll make sure to pick up some more gnocchi next time I’m there!

1 package gnocchi (I used frozen)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Prepared pesto
Parmesan cheese

Cook the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. After boiling and draining the gnocchi, place it in the skillet in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the gnocchi and cook another 3-4 minutes until they are golden on the other side. Stir to coat with olive oil before removing from the pan. Stir as much pesto as you want in with the gnocchi and garnish with Parmesan cheese. And maybe throw some sliced turkey sausage on top for a little protein. Enjoy!

Based on Two Peas and Their Pod’s Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Pesto.