Thursday, January 25, 2024

Leftover Makeover: Al Pastor Tacos from Pork Chops


I baked pork chops last week and we ended up with two whole chops as leftovers since Caleb refused to eat the night, we had them.  I contemplated what I might do: make a stir fry dish, make fried rice...all sounded good, but I wanted something different.  I came up with the idea of trying to recreate a sauce packet I'd bought on clearance a few months ago that was absolutely delicious.  It was a Mexican sauce with a citrus base.  We'd used chicken with the sauce, but the packet had called for chunks of pork.

Here's my take on that sauce packet meal.

Tacos al Pastor

2 cups chopped cooked pork (you can use butt or shoulder meat or tenderloin in place of the chops)

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tsps. minced garlic

half a packet of taco seasoning mix (about 1tablespoon)

Juice drained from a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits (about 3/4 cup)

1 cup pineapple tidbits

olive oil

Heat olive oil in skillet and cook onion over medium heat for 3 minutes or until just soft.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute at most.  Add meat, taco seasoning and the pineapple juice.  Stir until meat is well coated then lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.  Add pineapple tidbits and hat through.

I served this meat mixture on tortillas (soft tacos) with finely shredded red and green cabbage, a drizzle of Ranch dressing (using more of the leftovers in the fridge), and shredded cheddar cheese.  My family all exclaimed over how good these tacos were and told me to remember this recipe!  I love when I throw random things in a skillet and the family raves over them.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Slow Cooker Apple Butter


Apple Butter

8 large apples, pared, cored and quartered then diced or sliced

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp. orange peel

1 cup of apple cider or water

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3 tsps. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp each of allspice, nutmeg, cloves

2 tbsps. lemon juice

 I decided to use my crockpot to make the apple butter.  The original recipe calls for making apple sauce (using an additional 1/4 cup liquid).  I skipped this step and just dumped everything into the crockpot.   

I started my crock on low and when this proved to be too slow, I moved the heat up to High for four or five hours, then reduced it to Low once more and allowed all of this to cook for about 20 hours total.   

My crockpot runs a little hot in one area, so I was careful to stir frequently.  I also smashed apples as they were tender enough to break up.  

The next morning, I allowed this to cool for about an hour, then put the apple mixture into my blender and blended on low until it was smooth.  If you do this be sure to remove the center of the lid to allow steam to escape.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Barbecue Meatballs


I've seen Ruth Ann Zimmerman make Cheddar Meatballs and they look so good every time I see one of her photos.  I thought they were Barbecue Cheddar Meatballs...So that's the recipe I went looking for online.  Then I looked at her recipe.  Two different things.  However, by that point, I'd gotten my mouth fixed, as we say in the South, for some Barbecue Cheddar Meatballs.  So I pursued that recipe instead.  

Of course, I didn't follow that recipe either.  You know me.  I always just use another recipe as a jumping off point.  What I ended up doing was making my usual meatball mixtures. I followed Ruth Ann's recipe only in the matter of what size to make the meatballs.  These are not tiny meatballs.  Think tennis balls.  1/2 cup meat mixture per meatball.  Then I looked at the sauce on Six Sisters website on their version and decided that I wanted to do that, but again, not exactly.  I added my own spin there as well.

What we ended up with was a really good supper entree.  It was comforting and cozy, the exact sort of thing you'd want to eat on a cold brisk autumn day, or even one that was warm but just looked dreary out the window. 

Here's what I'd change in the future. I shredded cheese to put in the meatballs.  It literally just disappeared.  Perhaps the flavor was there but the bit of melty cheese I was looking for wasn't.  In future I think I'd be prone to dicing into fine cubes and mixing it in that way.  Or skipping it altogether and perhaps serve it with some shredded cheese on top.  Shredded mixed with the meat mixture seemed a waste of effort and an additional cost in my opinion. I'll include that in the recipe as I made it that way the first time, but just know this is my opinion.

The leftovers of this were really good, too, by the way and improved in the reheating process.  Do give this one a try!

Barbecued Cheddar Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves finely minced garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

salt and pepper 

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 


1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup brown sugar (NOT packed)

1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 375F.  Mix all the meatball ingredients except cheese.  Once the egg and all is well incorporated then add cheddar if using.  Form mixture into large meatballs.  Ruth Ann's recipe said 1/2 cups. I guesstimated and formed roughly tennis ball sized meatballs.  I think I ended up with a dozen meatballs total.    Place in baking pan.

Mix sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs.  Bake until baked through, roughly 30-40 minutes.  This is not the way the Six Sisters recipe reads.  They combine sauce ingredients and pour over top after the meatballs are done.  I did things my way and really appreciated the caramelization of the tomatoes and Barbecue sauce over the meat.

These meatballs can be served over grits, mashed potatoes or rice.  I think they'd make a terrific meatball sub, too.  I'm going to try them served that way one day soon.  On a butter toasted hoagie bun, topped with Cheddar and put under the broiler. Gosh that would be good!

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Saturday, September 2, 2023

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes


Katie forwarded this idea to me a couple of weeks ago.  I scanned through the ingredient list and realized that every item was something we generally have on hand.  I looked up the full recipe and tagged it for the future.

I wanted an easy meal Friday night and not one that I'd already planned.  We'd had a cooler (relatively compared to the last three weeks of high 90's low 100's) and it was drizzling rain.  It seemed a day for a comforting sort of easy meal.

I pulled up the recipe once more and decided it's day had come.  Oddly, I stuck pretty hard to the original recipe with only minor alterations due to outages in my kitchen.

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion

1 medium green bell pepper

8 ounces mushrooms (I used a 6.5 ounce can of mushrooms since I had no fresh on hand)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. steak or burger seasoning blend

1 tsp. powdered garlic (use fresh or minced if you have it, I didn't)

2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup A-1 steak sauce (or store brand)

1 cup beef broth

2 tbsps. cornstarch


Hamburger buns, 6-8

A mixture of sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, shredded  (original recipe called for Provolone slices)

Brown beef over medium heat, then add onions and peppers, mushrooms, salt, pepper, seasoning blend and garlic.  Cook until onions and peppers are just tender.  Add sauce ingredients and mix thoroughly over medium heat.  The sauce will thicken slightly.  

Warm buns.  Spoon on mixture then top with shredded cheeses. 

Recipes says six servings.  I think you can manage eight easily.

This was delicious.  It was a big heat with the whole family.  I will definitely be rotating this into our menu plans in future.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Simply Delicious Pork Chops

I've seen a recipe a few times on YouTube shorts with pork chops that intrigued me.  It was the use of a Sour Cream and Onion dip that I wondered about.  Now you might know this but California Sour Cream and Onion dip is one of my favorites.  I make it with half the amount of onion soup mix just to reduce the saltiness.

In need of a meal this week, I decided to make the recipe I'd been seeing online.  I thought I'd try this recipe but it's so hot just now that I didn't want to turn on the oven at all. I didn't have room in the toaster oven for a pan to fit the size of my chops.  I decided to use the slow cooker and that evolved into tweaking the recipe a bit.

I opted to make this a one pot meal.  It was a huge hit with all four of my household members.  I'll definitely do this again and I'll likely keep it as a slow cooker meal.

Simply Delicious Pork Chops

4 1 inch thick well trimmed center cut pork chops (I used bone in)

1/2 packet instant onion soup mix

1 1/4- cups sour cream

4 medium potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 of a medium onion, cut into slices

Seasoning of choice (I used a Montreal Steak Seasoning)

Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Layer potatoes and onions in bottom of pan.  Place chops on top, then season with Steak seasoning (or your choice of seasoning).  Mix soup mix and sour cream.  Spread over top of chops and onto any exposed potatoes.  Put on lid and cook for 5 hours on High heat.  I find my own slow cooker is a bit fast so I lowered the temperature to Medium after about 4 hours.

Caleb ate every bite, Katie remarked on how good it was and John told me while the sides I'd served were good, the pork chop and potato dish was the real star.  I was very pleased with the way this turned out.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Skillet Mock Street Corn


I loved that this recipe was so simple and had so few ingredients.  It was a super tasty side to our spicy Crock-Pot Birria Tacos.  Super quick to prepare as well!

Skillet Mock Street Corn

2 15-ounce cans whole kernel corn, drained (or sub in 4 cups frozen)

2 tbsps. Butter

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

4 ounces cream cheese

1 tbsp. fresh cilantro or 1/4 cup diced green onion

Heat skillet.  Melt butter and add corn, stirring and heating for a few minutes then add in the lime juice and cream cheese.  Stir until well blended and heated through.  Toss with cilantro or green onion.

I'd think if you had cream cheese with chives on hand this would go as well with the corn and you could skip the cilantro or green onion entirely. 

Crock Pot Birria Tacos - A bit Spicy!


A couple of years ago, Katie made Birria tacos and brought me a sampling.  I thought it was pretty good, if a little too hot for my tastes.  Recently when we went out to the new Mexican restaurant, I tried their version.  It was far too mild.  Just call me Goldilocks, despite my brunette head, okay?

I decided to try my own hand at this dish, and I have to say after eating them tonight that I was well pleased.  I had everything I used on hand, as part of my usual pantry ingredients.    While I tend to avoid recipes with a load of ingredients, these are all necessary for the flavor profile.  I know I served this on the first day of August, but it would be a lovely warming dish to serve once the weather is cold.  

I will say that I think you're wise to taste test the chipotle in adobo sauce to see how warm it might be and then add accordingly.  I've recently learned that chipotle peppers are actually smoked jalapenos in a seasoned sauce.  And jalapenos can vary widely in heat index.  I've had chipotles that were just pleasantly smoky tasting and barely warm.  These were fairly hot, so I added five. I knew I wouldn't be adding the Guajillo peppers the recipe called for and I didn't want to compromise the taste of the sauce too much. The Consommé was still a bit spicy but in a very pleasant tongue and lip tingling way. 

You'll have chipotle peppers left over (and tomato paste too, most likely).  Just scoop the peppers and a bit of sauce into individual piles on a cookie sheet covered with parchment and freeze, then pop the puck into a baggie to save to use later in other dishes.  Or more Birria!

I'll share the link to the recipe that Katie forwarded to me and then I'll post the ingredients I myself used as the recipe.  

I liked the broth I teste so well that I sipped a cup of it yesterday after I'd finished cooking the roast, before blending the broth and other ingredients into the thick consommé we had today for dipping.  And yes, I did keep the beef and the broth in the fridge for 24 hours before reheating and serving as tonight's meal.  

Click on the title to go to the original recipe on Pinterest.  And read on for how I made it.

Crock Pot Birria Tacos

2-pound boneless chuck roast

2 tbsps. olive oil

salt and pepper

5-6 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce

1 small onion, sliced

8 smashed cloves garlic

32 ounces of water

14.5-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes 

4 tsps.  beef bouillon powder

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. dried cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper the roast, then brown in a hot pan.  Now add all the other ingredients and cook on low heat for 8 hours.  It smells amazing as it's cooking.  

Remove meat and then blend the remaining sauces and ingredients in the pan. I allowed mine to cool completely, since I was serving it the next day.  If you are blending hot liquids, then please do it in small batches and follow all precautions.

The original recipe says to save the fat.  My roast was so lean that there was no fat on the broth at all.  There is a good reason for saving that savory fat though if you have it.  You'll want to heat the fat in a frying pan and use that to fry the corn tortillas for serving the tacos.  I can tell you this does add another layer of flavor to this dish.  

Shred beef.  Mix with 1-2 cups of the Birria Consommé, just enough to moisten it.  Heat and serve remaining Birria Consommé on the side for dipping.

This meat mixed with the blended sauce reheated extremely well the next day.  The consommé has a slight thickness to it once blended.  I didn't think we needed all of it for the meal, so I put 1.5 pints of it into the freezer.  I'm just going to reuse that next time I decide to make Birria Tacos.  I mean it's already fully seasoned...It would also make a great soup or chili base.

I served this on homemade flour tortillas with a side of a mock street corn (I'll share that recipe next) and a salad.  We topped the tacos with cheddar, diced green onion and Kate and I opted to have cilantro as well.  We both like the flavor of cilantro.  Caleb and John passed on that.