Friday, February 27, 2009

Food Photo Friday--Pork Barbacoa (Sweet Pork)

About a month ago, I started getting comments from Hero-boy about how fabulous Costa Vida's sweet pork was. I think he dreams about it sometimes. Needless to say, I was intrigued. Then, one Sunday, I was tipped off about not one, but TWO possible recipes for sweet pork--or Pork Barbacoa. Stacie directed me to the Close-To-My-Heart owner's blog, and Natalie gave me her own recipe that she had recently acquired. Well, the recipes were similar, but each contained intriguing ingredients of their own, so, not being able to choose between the two, I decided to combine them. I think it worked out very well, and Hero-boy must have agreed, because in a two-day span, he consumed six loaded sweet pork burritos. I cooked my roast in the oven, but the original recipes gave instructions for a crock-pot. I will include those instructions at the end*. You would need a pretty good-sized crock-pot. Here we go with the ingredients!

6 LB pork roast--shoulder or rump I bought a large shoulder roast from Costco and cut it in half.

coarse salt (if you only have table salt, use only 1/2 the stated amount)

1 12 oz. can Embasa brand Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
2 heaping Tbsp. minced garlic

1 12 oz. bottle taco sauce--La Victoria from Macey's has mild and medium. I used mild and it was barely spicy.
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 to 1 1/2 cups brown sugar--vary this according to your own taste. I used 1 1/2 cups and will use 1 cup next time
1 20 oz. bottle of Coke (just the regular--Diet will not work right)

Take the can of chipotle peppers and the 2 heaping Tbsp. Garlic and blend to a smooth paste in a blender. Set aside. You will be using 1/4 of this rub. Freeze the remainder in 1/4 portions in ziploc bags.

Take the 6 LB. roast and sprinkle it with about 1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse salt, rubbing it in to the roast. Place roast in an oven safe approx. 6 qt. pan with a tight fitting lid. Fill with water until roast is about 3/4 covered. Wrap a couple of layers of foil over top of pan and cover with lid. Cook in a 275 degree oven for 5-6 hours. Remove pan from oven and pour liquid into another container. Rub with 1/4 of the chipotle rub. Return roast to pan. Remove the fat from the reserved liquid and return 1/2 of it to the roasting pan.

Mix the taco sauce, cumin, brown sugar, and Coke together and gently pour over the roast trying not to wash off the rub.

Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and cover again and cook for 1 more hour. Remove roast from pan and shred. Return to liquid in pot and cook 1 more hour, or until desired tenderness. Serve with however much sauce you prefer. Use for burritos, tacos, salad, enchiladas, or whatever. We used it for burritos:

I also made homemade Mexican Rice, Cilantro Dressing, Pico de Gallo, and had sour cream, black beans, lettuce, and cheese as well. The only thing missing was guacamole! Next time, I guess!

*Crock-Pot times: 1st cooking period--12 hours on low
2nd cooking period--6 hours on low
3rd cooking period--2 hours on low

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Hero-Boy saved my mac


You know how you go to buy a new computer and they sell you the "top-of-the-line" version and tell you it will take years for you to use up the available space?  Well, it did.  Take me years.  Two exactly, to max out the space on my hard disc with about 20,00 digital pictures.  It started to get progressively slower as I loaded on more and more photos, finally gasping it's final breath as I added a hundred or so RAW-file photos of an enciente friend.  I was actually down to only a couple of MB of space.  Not even enough to maneuver things around to try to free up space.  I'm not even going to get into my issues of deleting photos because frankly, it's a little embarrassing,  and I have been working on it, I swear!  My point is, it was obvious that I needed an upgrade. 
So what does a computer-illiterate person do when they need computer help?  They call the MAC store.  They assured me that for one low payment of $160 I could have DOUBLE the SPACE that I currently had!  My 256GB would jump up to a massive 512GB!!  It would only take about an hour, and I was almost 100% guaranteed that I would not lose any data!  Well, I figured that it would probably have to be done, and that considering I was an idiot when it comes to computers, I should start to mentally prepare myself for the fact that I would have to back everything on my hard-disc up and transport my precious mac to the MACDOC store for the necessary work. 
Well, let's just say that it's a darn good thing that it takes me a loooong time to mentally prepare myself for anything, because my delay in getting that ball rolling ended up being a great thing!

One cold and snowy afternoon, Hero-boy was over visiting my eldest and commented on the sluggishness of our computer.  Being a self-proclaimed "computer geek" and  having some pretty good credentials in the "I think I'll build myself a super-cool mac for cheap" department, he assured me that I could get some RAM and a larger hard disc on line for a very reasonable price, and that he could put it in my computer for me.  He proceeded to direct me to the "New-egg" website and walked me through my purchase.  I, having no qualms whatsoever, ordered the necessary products.  Never once did I think to myself, "I would be crazy to let a 16 year-old punk take apart my imac and transfer all my information to a new hard disc".  I had total faith because this is Hero-Boy we are talking about!  

The package came and we began to operate.  

Now imacs do not have a separate tower and monitor.  The hard disc and disc drive along with everything else is built in to the monitor.  This is a feature I both love, and am afraid of.  It looks super cool on the desk-top, but makes me afraid to even pick up, let alone transport or open up, but Hero-Boy showed no such trepidation.  He hauled over his whole computer set up and followed directions he found on the internet to take apart my precious mac. 

Removing itty-bitty hard disc

 (Nope, still not scared.  Although I didn't like the sound made by the seal as it ripped apart--it seemed so final, like opening a very old bottle of some vintage beverage  and knowing there was no going back now...) 

Hero-Boy laughing at the pathetic size of my old hard disc

 He gently removed my itty-bitty hard disc and using his computer, cloned all my data to my new hard disc.  As the mac was re-assembled and sealed back up (minus the actual seal which Hero-Boy assures me was not necessary)  we held our breath until my familiar, cluttered-up screen appeared.  I could almost hear my computer make some unmentionable noises as it spread out to take advantage of the newly acquired space.  And I'm talking SPACE people!!!!!  Hero-Boy had, with his generous donation of information, know-how, and time, upgraded my 256GB hard drive,  512MB RAM mac to a whopping 1TB and 2GB RAM!  So basically I have four times the computer for less than the price of just a hard disc upgrade!!  Amazing I know!!  I'm not sure but I think Hero-Boy and my eldest are now betrothed, but, hey!  It was totally worth it!!!
  Thanks a lot Hero-Boy!  You're the best!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Food Photo Friday--Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder

Since spring is obviously on it's way, (yay!) I've got to get as much milage out of the soup recipes as possible!  This requires a little pre-preparation with the wild rice, but the rest is pretty simple.

Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder

8 slices bacon--cooked, set aside, save drippings

3 Tbsp. drippings from bacon
3 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1 cup celery, chopped
3 cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cream
5 Tbsp. flour
1 cup wild rice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups cooked chicken--roasted is yummiest
1 Tbsp. chicken base--not bouillon, Better Than Bouillon from Macey's is good

Cook wild rice in 3 cups of water until done, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
Cook bacon until crisp. Chop, set aside. Save drippings.
Put drippings and butter in 8 quart sauce pot. Saute celery, onions, & carrot for 5 minutes.
Stir in flour, salt, & pepper. Stir until flour thickens. Slowly add chicken broth.
Add cooked rice & heat to boiling. Lower heat, cover, & let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cream, chicken base. Taste. Adjust salt if needed. Add chicken and chopped-up bacon.

This is pretty hearty--if you'd like it thinned down at all, add 1 cup milk and 1 tsp. additional chicken base.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Funniest thing ever!

Oh. My. Gosh. How grateful I am for video cameras.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Valentine Yumminess

If something like this appeals to you at all, you could watch a certain local chef prepare it on FOX 13 news at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, the 9th of February.  I will attest that it was quite delicious!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Food Photo Friday--homemade noodles

If you have never had or tried to make homemade noodles for your soup, or pasta dish, I want to tell you now: It is my mission in life to convince you that they are easy, Easy, EASY!!!! There is nothing more simple. They should change the saying to "easy as homemade noodles" because, although pie crust isn't all that hard, apple pie really isn't a no brainer unless you use canned apples (ew..). Noodles have three ingredients and one of them is water. That oughta tell you something about the process. Are you ready? OK. Here we go!

1 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg

Did you get that? I hope you didn't blink, but if you did:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 large egg

See? You don't even have the excuse that you need special ingredients from the store! If you are out of eggs or flour, or heck--even water!! Call me!! I'll loan you some! I did add some dried parsley to mine last night. I like it. It's pretty. Try it. About a tablespoon is good. Or oregano. Or thyme. I can loan you that too. Now, the procedure:

Clean off your table or counter space. Take your one cup of all purpose flour and dump it in a pile on the table or counter space. Make a well in the center. Add your egg which you have broken into a cup and beaten slightly. Using the fork, whisk the egg, catching a little bit of the flour at a time, until it is incorporated into the flour. During this process you will add little bits of water, maybe a 1/2 tsp. at a time. Too much water is not good. Sticky pasta is never good. When it seems like your pasta ball is holding together pretty well, take it and knead it together with your hands to form a nice ball. Then, flatten it and run it through your pasta machine a few times. Or you can channel your inner Italian Granny and roll it out by hand (ugh--too much work....keep your eye out for a pasta roller at a yard sale if you don't have one. Or borrow mine!!) Choose your desired thickness. Sometimes I'm in the mood for thick, more dumpling-ey pasta, sometimes I like it thin. Doesn't matter. Then choose your shape. I like the fettuccine cutter for chicken noodle soup. As you cut each sheet of pasta, lay them out on a clean dish towel to let dry for a few hours. I don't know why this is, just do it. It'll make you feel domestic. Then, just use as you would bagged pasta from the store! Only it is SOOO MUCH BETTER!! Then you have something that looks like this:

I will tell you it was yummy. And pretty. It was pretty darn yummy!! If you don't already have a chicken noodle soup recipe that you love, give this one a try.

Homey, Hearty, Chicken Noodle Soup

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (low sodium lets you control the saltiness)
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery

Simmer the vegetables in the broth until they are almost tender.

Then add:
4-6 more cups water, depending on how far you want your soup to go!
2-3 heaping teaspoons of chicken base (NOT BOUILLON--it's WAYYY to salty. And yucky. Get chicken base that has actual chicken as the first ingredient. I use "Better Than Bouillon" from Macey's. It seems a bit pricey, but it makes a BIG difference. Look for it on sale and buy a few bottles at a time.)

Then taste. If it seems flavorful enough for you, then move on. If not, add a little more base.

Next add about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of milk. I like a creamier type of soup. If you don't, forget this ingredient.

Then add:
1/4 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 the juice of 1/2 a lemon. in other words... 1/4 of a lemon--get it?
a pinch of poultry seasoning.

These are the "secret ingredients" This was passed on to me by a famous chef. Not Jason. Shh, don't tell.

Now, if you added the milk, and aren't looking for a real brothy soup, you need to make a roux.

3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp flour

Put the butter in a small saute pan. Melt it and bring it to a boil. Add the flour and stir, until it is all incorporated. On a medium heat, keep stirring the mixture as it cooks out the flour taste, about 3-5 minutes. Don't burn it.

Bring your soup to boiling and add your homemade, parsley-specked noodles. The cooking time will depend on how thick you left your pasta. My thin pasta took about 5 minutes. Keep checking after a few minutes so you don't over cook it. Once your pasta is just about perfect, add the roux. It will thicken as it boils. I only thickened it slightly, just to keep it from being too brothy. If you want it thicker, make a larger amount of roux. Just use equal portions of flour & butter. Adjust your salt now. I find it usually doesn't need much. And lots of black pepper really adds too, but only if you like black pepper.

As far as chicken goes, I leave it to you to decide. I buy a Costco roasted chicken because they are so moist, and pull the meat off to use. One chicken usually has enough for 2 batches of soup. About 2 cups is a good amount.

The pasta will keep in an airtight container for up to a week. The soup won't last that long. It's too yummy. We fight over the leftovers.

Let me know what you think!

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