Tacos al Pastor

TACOS AL PASTOR

 

While the rest of the country has been experiencing extreme bouts of cold weather, the Northwest has had a surprising amount of sunshine and dry days (knock on wood that this continues!). This sunshine teaser has tricked my mind to transition to Spring and Summer thoughts of sundresses, grilling, trips to the farmer’s markets and more. One of my favorite Summer foods are tacos due to the fact that they are highly versatile, hot sauce is always included (always) and they are a perfect go-to item for a get-together.

For this weekend, I wanted to make something other than the standard ground beef, cheese, onions and sour cream taco combo. While I’m not knocking that staple (it is delicious), I wanted to try something different. These tacos – Tacos al Pastor – were a perfect hit. Its use of charred pineapple, guajillo peppers and copious amounts of cilantro creates a fiesta of flavors that you’ll still be thinking about the next day.

Here’s how to make this recipe:

Step 1: Gather Ingredients for Tacos;
Chop Pineapple and Onions

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

Step 2: Add Pineapple, Onions,
Orange Juice, Guajillo Chile Powder,
Spices, Chipotles and More to
Food Processor; Puree

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

Step 3: Add Pureed Mixture to
a Bag with Pork and Marinate

MAKING TACOS AL PASTOR

Step 4: Grill Pork and Pineapple
Slices on Grill, Let Pineapple and
Pork Rest and then Chop; Assemble
into Tacos with Onions, Cilantro,
Avocado and Other Toppings; Eat!

TACOS AL PASTOR

I never thought I’d be cooking with pineapple in March. But now, this recipe has me convinced otherwise. The charred pinapples add a bit of smoke to their sweet taste; however, it helps to elevate these tacos when it’s combined with the guajillo chiles, juicy pork, onions and cilantro. Chop up some limes, invite a few friends over and have a fiesta with these Tacos al Pastor!

Cheers!

TACOS AL PASTOR

Advertisements

Mustard Pork with Sage, Hazelnut Topping

Mustard Pork with Sage and Hazelnut Topping
I am definitely a true carnivore at heart and have a great appreciation for trying all different types and cuts of meat. One of my absolute favorites is a well-cooked pork loin. I was drawn to this recipe, Mustard Pork with Sage, Hazelnut Topping, for several reasons, but especially as a result of the hazelnut topping. Over the last few years, I have experimented with pork many times, including different rubs, sauces or relishes, but never with a nut topping.

Hazelnuts are particular tasty and not overly oily which makes them an ideal choice to use in this recipe. The use of mustard combined with a flavorful rub allows the pork to be juicy while the hazelnut topping mixed with sage creates a nice crunch and aroma that fills the kitchen. I served this pork recipe during the holidays for my family and it was crowned an instant hit.

Have you ever added hazelnuts or another type of  nut to pork? Please share in a comment below.

Cheers!

Mustard Pork with Sage and Hazelnut Topping

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

When done right, combining sweet and savory flavors can result in a nice combination. One of these examples is the use of pork and certain fruits. Some of these include classic examples such as peaches and pork chops, ham and pineapple on a pizza or prosciutto and melon. This specific recipe, Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Date Relish, smartly uses a very sweet date as a relish but is able to balance the intense sweet flavors with the use of cilantro as well as by adding a nice peppery and salty rub to the pork.

Deemed a winner by all who tried it, this recipe is a nice one to use for a Sunday dinner with family or friends. I’d recommend to add extra cilantro (as shown in the below picture) and add a few cloves of roasted garlic.

What is your favorite fruit and pork combination? Share in a comment below!

Cheers!

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

Meatloaf

So, I’m  not going to lie, the whole thought of meatloaf is not that appetizing to me. I’m not sure why not – the ingredients that comprise it are pretty much the same ingredients for meatballs. So, in essence, meatloaf is just like an expanded version (a much expanded version) of meatballs. But, I think perhaps it is the thought of the meat looking like a “loaf” that makes me feel oddly about it.

Regardless, my boyfriend suggested making meatloaf the other night. I was a bit skeptical; however, we at least chose a recipe from a very, very legitimate source (Bobby Flay’s cookbook titled Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!). I must say, I was pretty pleased with the results. Although I didn’t include the recipe from his cookbook, I would highly encourage you to buy this book. It has great recipes and I’ve enjoyed choosing a recipe from there every now and then!

Cheers! 

5 Things in February

February has been quite the surprising month. Basically, the weather couldn’t seem to make up it’s mind and teased everyone with bouts of sunshine and plummeting rain, I became addicted to the HBO show The Wire, and have started to widen my vocabulary through increased studying for the GRE test. I also celebrated many birthdays of friends and family and listened to both lovers and haters of Valentine’s Day on February 14th. All in all, it was a great month. But, I am definitely looking forward to March which brings St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, and hopefully more sunshine!

The following highlights just a few of the many sparks, laughs, and tidbits that kindled my interest in February:

1. Summer Skirts & Hats — Yes, it is technically still winter; however, I am completely sick of the dreary and gray weather. All of the clothing stores I frequent have already started sporting spring trends on their websites and stores. It’s tempting me too much! So, while on the hunt for some new boring black pants, I managed to become sidetracked by a bright colored skirt at H&M and a summery hat from Urban Outfitters. For now, I’ve hung both on a rack for a quaint reminder of warm weather to come!

2. Jerky — A large group of my friends ventured to the Oregon coast this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. For the trip, my friend’s boyfriend happened to purchase some beef jerky as part of an impulse buy while stocking up on groceries for the trip. At the time, he deemed this purchase to be a smart choice; however, upon first bite, he was completely aghast by the bland taste and texture of the $4.99 jerky. After witnessing this terrible incident, we all were scared to buy beef jerky again.

Picture this: a run-down road-side tent selling beef jerky conveniently placed next to a Dairy Queen out in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Oregon. Sketchy right? We spotted this stand on our return trip home from the Oregon coast. After careful consideration, we decided to abandon our fears of beef jerky and try the stand. The 6 foot 5 inch scruffy man working the tent proceeded to explain his business to us and assured us we wouldn’t be let down. And let down we were not. I’m glad we trusted his roadside stand and I just wish there were more of these stands so others can experience authentic jerky over store bought jerky any day!

3. Reo’s Ribs — 2,500 miles. The previous figure is the approximate distance between the Northwest and New Orleans, Louisiana. Although the distance is vast, I hope to someday find myself  enjoying the sights, sounds, and tastes of the South. Until then, I can only dream and occasionally try Southern-style restaurants in the Northwest. Now, that’s not to say that the places I’ve tried here haven’t been great, because I’ve definitely enjoyed every sip, bite, and calorie of it. But, I’ve longed for a true Southern restaurant. Well, last week, I fully achieved this desire through Reo’s Ribs. We went there for my brother’s birthday and were treated like family. In fact, upon being seated, the waiter reached out his hand to introduce himself to each of us. He entertained us with stories of the South and gave my brother a free Red Velvet Cake for his birthday. Besides the fact that the food was phenomenal, the hospitality and aura seemed to help transport us to the South. Although I quickly awoke from my teleportation, I plan on visiting this place again sometime soon. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that the owner is Snoop Dogg’s uncle? Pretty darn cool.

4. Personalized Birthday Cake — I’ve helped celebrate many birthdays of friends and family this February. Especially amongst my friends, funfetti seems to act as the “go-to” cake to eat for birthdays. So, with that request, I made a funfetti cake for a friend for her 23rd birthday. In typical fashion, I couldn’t just frost it and add candles, I had to add some type of frosting decoration!

5. Painting Pottergy — Although my artistic flair for painting is definitely lacking, I do enjoy painting at pottery places. The place I visit always has a new piece of interesting pottery to paint everytime I go. I happened to make a typical plate the last time I visited; however, next time I want to paint a “spoon rest.”

[Don’t make too much fun of my plate — the big blob is supposed
to be pasta — it didn’t quite turn out like I thought it would… oops!]

To recap: February was an oddball month, but wouldn’t have been complete without spring/summery temptations, random jerky stands, traditional Southern food, birthdays, and the occasional adventure of painting!

Cheers!

Christmas Dinner

This year, I wanted to experiment with a few new and non-traditional recipes (for example: berry pie instead of pumpkin pie). The following highlights some interesting recipes I made from Real Simple and Epicurious.

Caramelized Onion Tart With Apples: I chose to make this because I liked the fact that this recipe was a mix of a savory and sweet flavors. Specifically, caramelized onions add a perfect flair to any recipe. Plus, this recipe called for Pastry Sheets which means I didn’t have to make the dough! Simple, easy, few ingredients, and delicious! What’s not to love?

Step 1: Chop Onions and Apples

Step 2: Caramelize Onions;
Add Apples and Other Spices

Step 3: Thaw Pastry Sheets, Add
Sour Cream, Apples and
Caramelized Onions, Bake!

Mustard-Crusted Pork Roasted With Shallots and Wine Sauce: This recipe just LOOKED amazing from it’s picture so I decided on a whim to make it. Good thing I wasn’t dissappointed! The addition of mustard made the pork juicy and very flavorful.

Step 1: Toss Shallots in Olive Oil

Step 2: Mix Mustards and Chopped
Sage; Add to Pork

Step 3: Bake at 400 Degrees for 95
Minutes, Cut, Serve!

Now, this next concoction was a mix of two recipes: Classic Sour Cherry Pie With Lattice Crust (crust) and Mixed Berry Pie With Ginger, Orange, and Almond Streusel (filling). Every time I make pie, I always end up with too many leftovers that do not get eaten in time. So, this time, I opted to make individualized berry pies. Plus, I found a super good deal at Kitchen Kaboodle ($2.95 each for Ramekins!).

Step 1: Make Dough With Flour, Butter,
and Other Ingredients; Chill Slightly

Step 2: Use Rolling Pin to Roll Out
Dough, Spread onto Ramekins,
Cut Off Border

Step 3: Use Pastry Wheel to Cut Lattices

Step 4: Stir Filling with Berries,
Sugar, Cornstarch, and Lemon Juice

Step 5: Fill Dough, Place Lattices, Bake!

The dessert definitely took the longest hands-on time to make, but it was definitely worth it. I hope your Christmas was fabulous!

Cheers!