Dinners

Recipe—Crock-Pot Barbacoa Tacos

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants when I need a quick fix has got to be Chipotle. You can get quality flavor packed food in a jiffy. My go to is their carnitas and my husband can’t resist their barbacoa. It is kind of funny, Chipotle’s barabcoa meat literally makes him sweat when he eats it. But he still loves it! I can’t help but laugh as soon as the sweat starts to bead up on his forehead. Does anyone else do this when they eat something with a little kick? I swear it reminds me of something from a cartoon. I love that guy.

I made this recipe and it is without a doubt a near perfect match of Chipotle’s barbacoa meat. It is a tender, juicy, flavor packed meat perfect for burritos, tacos, or even nachos. I personally love it with a side of my Cilantro Lime Rice. Muy bien!

Note: This meat definitely has a bit of heat in it from the chiles in adobo sauce so if you have a member of your household that doesn’t like heat I would either cut back the chiles or leave them out completely.  

INGREDIENTS
3–4 lb beef chuck roast
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 yellow onion
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp, garlic, minced
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2–3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3/4 c beef stock

SOME FABULOUS GARNISHES

cotija cheese
, crumbled
chopped green lettuce
diced tomatoes
diced onion
guacamole or sliced avocado
sour cream
pico de gallo
chopped cilantro
lime wedges 

STEPS

  • Trim excess fat off of the roast.
  • Spray your crock-pot with cooking spray (this helps a good deal with cleanup).
  • Place roast in crock-pot.
  • Place all of the ingredients, except for the chuck roast, in the blender and puree.
  • Pour the pureed sauce over the roast.
  • Cook on low for 8–10 hours, or high heat for 5–7.
  • When the roast is done cooking, transfer it to a large cutting board.
  • Using a large fork shred the meat and place it back in the crock-pot to soak up some of the tasty sauce.
  • Serve in a warm tortilla with your favorite taco toppings.

Recipe adapted from Unsophpisticook.

Dinners

Recipe—Herb Roasted Chicken

I would say 95% of the time when I am cooking chicken I am working solely with the breast. Boneless skinless breasts seem to be the quickest and easiest to work with, but you pay a little bit more for the convenience factor. However, there isn’t really anything special or fancy about a plain chicken breast. On occasion I really do enjoy cooking a whole chicken. It just seems much more impressive to roast the whole thing. While the ingredients are incredibly simple in this recipe, it is the most fabulous and flavorful chicken you will ever have. I’m not one to typically sit there and eat the skin off a chicken but when I am carving up this chicken I can’t stop eating it once I start. The skin has just the perfect amount of crispiness and more flavor than you can imagine. You are lucky if there is any skin left on your piece of chicken by the time it makes it to the table. It is that good! Once you make this recipe you will understand. I guarantee this will be the best roasted chicken you will ever have.

Note: The most complicated part of this recipe is brining the chicken, which really isn’t complicated at all, people just think it is. If you aren’t familiar with brining I will bring you up to speed. Brining a chicken is when you soak it in salt water for a good amount of time. Giving it this “salt bath” ensures your chicken will be moist and juicy and it also allows the salt to soak into the meat, which really enhances the chicken’s natural flavors. I personally feel it makes a huge difference in the taste. In my opinion, brining is the difference between a good chicken, and a great chicken.

INGREDIENTS
3–4 lb chicken
1/2 c kosher salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

STEPS

  • Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken and place it in a large pot.
  • Pour the kosher salt over the chicken and fill the pot with water until it is submerged.
  • Cover the pot with the lid and place in the fridge for 4–8 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot, rinse with cold water, and pat dry.
  • Place the chicken on a rack in a shallow roasting pan breast side down. (If you do not have a rack just place it in a large baking dish.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375º.
  • Combine the melted butter and garlic in a small bowl.
  • Combine the basil, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper in a second small bowl.
  • Use a basting brush or your hands to lather the chicken in half of the garlic butter.
  • Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the chicken.
  • Flip the chicken over so that it is now breast side up.
  • Repeat with remaining butter and herb mixture.
  • Roast the chicken uncovered for 1.5–1.75 hours or until cooked through. (I like to baste mine every 20–30 minutes.)
  • Allow the chicken to sit for 5–10 minutes and then transfer to a cutting board to be carved.
Appetizers

Recipe—Garlic Parmesan Wings

So I am totally on a low carb kick right now. I am determined to loose this extra weight in preparation for summer and just to feel better overall. A lot of people ask me, “How can you do low carb? Don’t you miss all the good stuff?” My response is, “Uhhh…NO!” One of the reasons I love low carb is that you still get to eat really good food. Look at these garlic Parmesan wings, NO CARBS! Zero! Zilch! And while they are short on carbs they are most certainly not short on flavor. I actually made these for a party last weekend and they were a hit! When I told my husband what I was making for the party he told me he probably wouldn’t eat any. Well, guess who was standing over the kitchen sink chowing down on these wings? He just could not resist them. They smelled so incredibly good! And tasted just as scrumptious. I highly recommend these wings even if you aren’t watching your carbohydrates. They were super easy to make and a real crowd pleaser. By the end of the night several people had asked for the recipe. That my friends, is a very good sign.

INGREDIENTS
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried rosemary, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried cumin
3 lbs chicken wings
4 tbsp olive oil (I used some roasted garlic flavored that I had on hand. Delish!)
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • In a small bowl combine oregano, rosemary, salt, and cumin. Stir to combine.
  • Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with the seasoning mixture. Toss to coat.
  • Place all the wings in a single layer in a baking dish.
  • Bake for 23–27 minutes or until the wings just start to turn a golden brown.
  • Place the cooked wings in a large mixing bowl.
  • Drizzle the wings with olive oil and toss to coat.
  • Season the wings with the basil, garlic, and Parmesan and again toss to coat, making sure they all have an even coating of all the flavorful goodness.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Savory Herb Bread Pudding

A couple months back my family and I went to Disneyland for a few days. During our stay at the Hilton we ended up ordering room service for dinner because we were just too pooped from all the fun to actually go out. One of those nights I ordered roasted chicken, which came with a savory bread pudding. The bread pudding was phenomenal! So phenomenal, that I ordered the same dish a second time during our visit. Yes, it was that good! The bread pudding was flavor packed and went perfectly with the chicken. This last weekend I tried to replicate the recipe to go with my roasted turkey because I didn’t want to do the same old stuffing I had just had a couple of weeks prior at Thanksgiving. I think it turned out fantastic! One thing I love about this recipe is that it is super easy, can be made in advance, and goes with any type of meat! This Christmas I will be making this bread pudding along with my prime rib. Whether you are cooking a ham, turkey, or a fine cut of beef at Christmas this will be the perfect side dish that will have everyone talking. It is a perfect substitute for those plain dinner rolls or even mashed potatoes.

Note: The bread pudding can be assembled up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove baking dish from fridge at least one hour before baking and bring to room temperature. If you have a smaller group of people this recipe is easy to halve. Just use an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.

INGREDIENTS
2 large sourdough rounds, cut into 1” cubes
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/3 c chives, chopped
8 eggs
2 c chicken broth
2 c heavy cream

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a large bowl combine the bread, parsley, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • In a small skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the garlic cooking until tender. Do not burn the garlic!
  • Add the chives to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and toss to coat.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, broth, and heavy cream.
  • Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and stir until evenly coated.
  • Transfer the bread mixture to a greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
  • Gently press the soaked bread into the pan.
  • Bake for 50–60 minutes or until center is set.
  • Tent dish with foil until ready to serve.
  • Slice into squares and enjoy!
Side Dishes

Recipe—Loaded Baked Cauliflower

Whenever I want to try and drop a few pounds I typically opt for a low carb diet. That means cutting back on those delicious carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and potatoes. I really love my potatoes, and while there is no substitute for the real thing, this is as close as you can get to a loaded baked potato. This recipe is one of the many reasons I LOVE low carb dieting. I mean come on! A diet where you can eat bacon and cheese and still loose weight? You will not feel deprived while eating this for dinner. This recipe is certainly not a low calorie recipe, but it is a fantastic way to make a flavor packed vegetable dish that is very satisfying. If you have a picky eater that doesn’t typically like veggies give this a try. You may find out that they love cauliflower.

Note: If you want to make a healthier version of this recipe use low fat sour cream and cheese and substitute turkey bacon for regular.

INGREDIENTS
head of cauliflower prepared and broken up into florets
1 c sour cream
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
3 green onions, chopped
6 slices cooked bacon, chopped or crumbled
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.
  • Add in the prepared cauliflower florets and cook for 6–8 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.
  • Remove cauliflower from water and allow to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • While the cauliflower cools, stir together sour cream, 1/2 of the cheese, 1/2 of the green onions, and 1/2 of the bacon in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop cooked cauliflower into small pieces and add to the sour cream mixture. Be sure to give it a good stir.
  • Place mixture in a medium baking dish and top with remaining cheese and bacon.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with the remaining green onions just before serving.