Crock pot Carnitas

I am guilty of the girlfriend group text.  I have four friends from my gym that are all part of this group text and it is hard to keep up.  We all have busy lives, but somehow I always feel like I look at my phone and there are 50(+) new texts in our group chat.  Has anyone else felt hostage to a group chat?!?!  I mean it is addicting and you don’t want to miss out on the conversation.  I usually use my 30-minute walk home from work to catch up on the group text.  It’s awesome how close all of us have become, despite our completely different careers, unique interests, and diverse backgrounds.  I am thankful for my local gym Rival Fitness for providing the foundation for our friendship :)

Today, one of the girls in the text suggested each of us sharing a few recipes that are in our weekly rotation so we could all try something new.  You know my inner foodie and food blogger perked up at this text.  I try to create and post recipes that are easily integrated into the working (wo)man’s life.  Can I get an amen for simple, delicious, nutritious meals?!?!

Crock pot Carnitas

Traditional, boring pork loin roast.  Blah, not in my kitchen.  Pork is such a tricky protein, since it can dry out easily if you over cook it.  This slow cooker dish is anything but boring and your taste buds will be thankful for the explosion of flavors.  Best of all it’s easy and makes great left overs for the work week.  I threw the ingredients in the slow-cooker when I came home from work.  I came home from the gym and voila the apartment smelled fantastic and dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Crock pot Carnitas

Andrew, literally thanked me for thinking ahead and having dinner ready on our drive home from TRX class.  Nobody has time for a hangry (angry because he’s hungry) boyfriend.

Crock pot Carnitas

I kept things healthy and served the carnitas over a farro-quinoa mix and topped it with fresh cilantro, onion, avocado, and some of the marinade from the slow cooker.  No one was hangry in our house tonight ;)

Crock pot Carnitas

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 4 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low
Servings: 4-6

The Players:

2 lb pork loin
1 T ground cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 red onion, diced (alternatively yellow or white onion)
1/3 C jalapeno slices (alternatively 1 jalapeno or serrano, sliced)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 C orange juice (alternatively juice of one orange)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
1 T coconut oil (alternatively vegetable oil)

The Rules: 

  1. Rinse and dry the pork loin.  Season generously with salt and black pepper on all sides.
  2. In a bowl combine the cumin and chili powder.  Massage all sides of pork loin with dry rub.  Place pork loin in slow cooker.
  3. Top pork loin with onions, garlic, and jalapeno slices.  Place cinnamon stick in slow cooker and pour orange andlemon juice over meat.  Place the lemon half in slow cooker too. (Note: If using fresh orange, place orange halves in slow cooker too)
  4. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on high setting or 6 to 8 hours on low setting.  Slice pork loin in half to check if done.
  5. Remove pork loin from slow cooker and shred with fork.
  6. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Transfer carnitas to skillet and press firmly with spatula, cooking for 2-3 minutes until crispy on one side.
  7. Serve in tacos or over your favorite cooked grain.  Garnish with fresh cilantro, onion, avocado, cotija cheese, jalapeno slices, lime juice, or marinade from crock pot.

Apricot-glazed Pork Stir Fry

I feel so guilty I took almost a week-long hiatus from Bon Appeteek.  My brother, Reggie, flew out from Wisconsin this past weekend to spend the holidays with us.  Since it was just the three of us on Christmas Day we made breakfast at home, opened presents, and decided to go on a little adventure.  Where does one go on Christmas Day, when everything is closed???  Well we went to the cutest Bavarian Village in Leavenworth, WA.  If you are ever in the Seattle area for an extended period of time…YOU MUST visit Leavenworth.  It’s decked out like Christmas –365 days a year.  Nestled amongst The Cascades, locals and tourists come to Leavenworth for a weekend getaway, cabin trips, wine tasting, German brews and brats, Oktoberfest, or just to get a little Christmas spirit.

Apricot-glazed Pork Stir Fry

With all the holiday parties, baked goods, and Seattle restaurant experiences I decided we needed to have a slightly healthier meal at home.  This recipe is dedicated to my best friend Natalia.  Who requested a stir fry recipe about a week ago….a little late on my delivery oops.

Apricot-glazed Pork Stir Fry

I love stir fry recipes.  You can add whatever veggies you have on hand: peppers, snap peas, bok choy, mushrooms, onions, chestnuts, carrots, etc.  I went with a basic broccoli stir fry, but seriously people let those creative recipe juices flow ;)  Same goes for the protein: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, tofu… now I can get down with a recipe where you can sub whatever is on hand.  If you do use chicken, pork, or beef the key to a great stir fry is slicing the meat thin.  It will allow for a quick cooking time and make for easy bite size pieces.  You should not need a fork and knife to eat the stir fry…think to yourself, “Could I eat this with chopsticks?”  If the answer is ‘yes’ then you are golden.

Apricot-glazed Pork Stir Fry

I like to play around with the sauce each time I make a stir fry.  I do enjoy a sweet, spicy flavor and apricot preserves are a great way to achieve the sweet flavor.  I will let you in on a not-so secret…Natalia does NOT like fruit, but this glaze does not taste fruity.  The soy sauce and ginger cut through the sweetness of the apricots and chili paste adds some nice heat.  Seriously, this glaze would taste yummy on anything.  If you really are opposed to the apricots, honey is a great alternative, but give the apricot preserves a chance before you dismiss…it is Christmas time after all ;)

Apricot-glazed Pork Stir Fry

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6

The Players: 

3 T sesame oil
1 lb pork chops, boneless
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 C broccoli, bite-size pieces

For the glaze: 
3/4 C sugar-free apricot preserves
4 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 t ground fresh chili paste (add more based on desired spice)
1 T fresh ginger, minced

The Rules: 

  1. Prepare the pork: trim the fat from the pork chops and slice against the grain into 1/4-inch pieces.  (Note: use a sharp knife)
  2. Preheat a wok over medium-high heat.  When the wok is hot, add 2 tbsp of the sesame oil.  Then add your pork to the wok, cook stirring occasionally until meat is browned ~7-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pork from the wok.  Add remaining sesame oil, garlic, onion, peppers, and broccoli.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is slightly tender ~7-10 minutes.
  4. While the veggies are cooking, combine ingredients for the glaze in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well incorporated.
  5. Transfer pork back to wok and pour glaze over the veggies and meat.  Stir to coat and cook additional 2-3 minutes. (Note: to thicken the sauce you can add 1 tsp corn starch mixed in 1-2 tbsp cold water to the wok, I like mine a little thinner so I do not do this)
  6. Serve over cooked jasmine rice, yakisoba noodles, quinoa, or as is :)

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

Pork chops.  I have to admit that I do not make pork chops often.  I tend to cook with chicken or seafood and occasionally I throw some sausage into the mix.  Pork chops are not a common meal plan in this household.  Every so often I feel that we are in a protein rut and I reach for pork chops or pork loin.

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

After all, it is the other white meat ;) kinda, sorta healthy?  You can use bone-in or bone-less pork chops.  For this recipe I went with boneless since I wanted to have a nice even crust from the pesto.   Pork chops are great plain, breaded, or crusted.  You do have to be careful not to dry them out if you opt to bake them.  That is why I like to pan sear the pork chop.  I buy the meat thin enough so that there is a quick cook time.

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

If you’re like me and always have pesto, or the ingredients to make your own pesto, on hand this is a great, simple, and quick meal to throw together.  They take less than 5 minutes to cook so they are a great week-night meal.  The comfort of something home-made without all the fuss!  You can pair the pork chops with a salad, a carb of choice, or a hash like I did.  I threw the leftover pork chops on a bed of spinach and veggies and had it for lunch the following day :)

Pesto Crusted Pork Chops

This recipe will definitely be one I keep up my sleeve whenever we are look for a change of pace in our weekly meal planning.

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 4

The Players:

4 boneless top loin pork chops (~1/4-inch thick)
1/2 C pesto (https://bonappeteek.com/2014/11/19/kale-pesto/ )
1 T extra virgin olive oil (alternatively: non-stick cooking spray)
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

The Rules: 

  1. Prepare your pork chops by lightly seasoning each side of the meat with sea salt and cracked pepper.
  2. Using a spatula, spread ~1 tbsp of pesto on each side of the pork chop.  Ensure that the face of the pork chop has an even coating of pesto.
  3. Preheat oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  (Note: if using cooking spray then preheat pan and spray right before adding the pork chops)
  4. Add the pork chops, pesto-side facing downward to the pan, reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 2 minutes.  While the pork chops are cooking, spread another tbsp of pesto on the upward-facing sides of the pork chop.
  5. Using a fork, flip the pork chops over and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat.  Allow the pork chops to rest for 2 minutes.  Serve warm with your favorite side.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ Ribs

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ Ribs

I love barbecue.  Who does not enjoy a yummy, spicy, smokey, sticky, messy barbecue dinner?  Name one person, I DARE YOU…they do not exist.  Even if you do not love BBQ ribs, there is something smothered in a tangy sauce that is either smoked, roasted, or grilled that you do love.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ Ribs

I lived in Memphis, Tennessee for 2 years when I was in elementary school and to this day I crave the BBQ of the south.  Southerners know how to do it right.  There are so many types of barbecue from dry rubs to the traditional barbecue sauce and let’s not even get started on the types of wood chips the professionals dabble with to get the perfect smokey flavor.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ RibsMake sure the grill is nice and hot before you put your ribs on, this will ensure that you get those char marks you are looking for.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ RibsThere’s a whole lot of flavor going on with these bad boys. The dry rub plus your favorite BBQ sauce oooweeee (they pack a punch).

I am no barbecue professional, but that is just it…you do not have to be an expert to making some damn good, finger-licking ribs.  I grew up watching my dad make ribs this way.  My dad does not use a dry rub, he just seasons the meat with salt and pepper because my mom and brother do not handle spicy food well.  Feel free to season with just salt and pepper if your palette is not as addicted to spicy food as mine is.  Grilling the meat before roasting it in the oven gives it a great charred look and taste.

And the directions below that say wrap the ribs in plastic wrap before roasting them…are not a typo.  Like everyone else your first thought when you read the directions will be, “Won’t the plastic wrap melt?”  The answer is no, tried and true, my dad has even taken bets on it.  For some reason when the oven temperature is less than 350 F the plastic wrap does not melt.  Surrounding the plastic wrap in aluminum foil will help ensure all the juices and flavors stay sealed in too.  Trust me on this cooking technique.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ RibsMake sure you tightly wrap the ribs in the plastic wrap and then cover with aluminum foil, making sure the ribs are sealed in tight.

So enjoy these simple, fall-off-the bone, spicy, tangy BBQ ribs.  I am interested to see how many of you take on the challenge of home-made ribs after reading this post.

Oven-roasted, Spiced-up, BBQ RibsMonday night dinner just got a little more exciting at our house!

As always,

Bon Appeteek

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 2

The Players: 
1 pork loin back rib
1 C of your favorite barbecue sauce + extra for dipping

Dry Rub: 
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
1 t garlic powder
1 t cayenne powder
1 t smoked paprika
1 T packed brown sugar
1 t ground mustard

The Rules: 

  1. Preheat grill to 500 F and preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Combine ingredients for dry rub in a small bowl and whisk together.
  3. Cut the pork rib in half to make two half-racks of ribs.  Sprinkle 1 tsp of the dry rub seasoning on each side of the ribs and massage into the meat. (Note: If you do not like a lot of spice then omit the dry rub and season the ribs with salt and pepper.  They will still taste amazing.)
  4. Place the ribs with the meaty side down on your grill.  Close lid of grill and cook for 4-5 minutes.  The temperature of the grill should come down to 400 F.
  5. While the ribs are getting some nice grill marks, tear two pieces of plastic wrap and aluminum foil (~ 2 ft in length).
  6. Flip the meat over and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Remove the ribs from the grill.
  7. Coat each side of the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce (~ 1/4 C per side). I use a basting brush to apply the sauce.
  8. Then wrap the ribs in plastic wrap first, making sure that there is a good seal.  Then wrap in aluminum foil.
  9. Roast ribs in oven for 2 hours.  Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes.  Then peel off aluminum foil and plastic wrap and serve immediately.  Serve with extra barbecue sauce if desired.