Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pork and Green Chili Stew

So I realize it is spring and almost summer, but I have neglected to share a recipe that has become a favorite of our household. I found this in Food and Wine Magazine's September 2012 issue. Yes I subscribe to food and wine, please don't judge my attempts to be slightly refined. The Pork-and-Green-Chili-Stew was a little scary to me because well I don't like hot things but I love green chilies that are mild so I thought it was worth a try. I did modify the recipe slightly because I was scare of the heat but next time I think I'll follow the ingredient list to a T but I'm still going to cook it my way.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder cut into cubes
1 large sweet onion thinly sliced
1 pound mild green chilies (I used Anaheims and poblanos) cored and thinly sliced
3 serrano chilies, seeded and thinly sliced (at this point I used jalapenos, but will try serranos next time)
6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I omitted, I love it but someone else doesn't so I used flakes)
Lime, warm corn tortillas and rice for serving

Directions from the Food and Wine Website link for the recipe:
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until almost smoking. Season the pork cubes with salt and black pepper and add them to the casserole. Cook the pork over high heat, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green chilies, serrano chilies and garlic. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer the stew over moderately low heat until the pork is just tender and the broth is reduced by about half, about 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the 1/4 cup of cilantro and season with salt and black pepper. Garnish the stew with cilantro and serve with lime wedges, corn tortillas and rice.
The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, but we have found that it is much better reheated after being frozen. I use Ziplock freezer bags and use a measuring cup for portion control (you will need it on this stew) and freeze the bags flat so they store easier. You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.

I actually cooked mine for 1.5 hours the first night then for another 45 minutes the second night just to make sure the pork was good and tender.

We have also enjoyed ours with cornbread as well so the sky is the limit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DIY Chalkboard Bridal Shower

I wanted to share with you a recent bridal shower that I was involved in hosting that we took an interesting twist on...we had it at a CUPCAKE SHOPPE! This was pretty much a hands on DIY effort which I loved.

A little back beautiful, smart (no really, she is I am just not saying this) and talented cousin is marrying her sweetie in what-will-be an awesome Texas country wedding. My sister-in-law, my mom and I set out to host a shower for her back in good ol' MO where both of her parents are from and their families live. We were fortunate that we were able to find a location that was 1) close to my Grandma's where she would be staying and 2) located between all of the attendees in a start-up bakery called Sweet Wishes Cakery.

We went with a chalkboard/vintage theme. 1) because it fits her wedding theme and 2) well because we all really liked it and well isn't it all about what the hostess want? Kidding...well kind of.

Because of the location site it made our lives a little easier because we didn't have to bake, Sweet Wishes took care of all of the baking including three different kinds of cupcakes - Red Velvet, Carrot and Chocolate and we asked her to dip Oreos in chocolate and put them on a stick. First of all the food was awesome. We felt like we needed to add some fruit to the mix to balance it out and my mom is famous for her party mix so she made a double batch of that we served in giant glass canisters. I will include the recipe for the lemonade at the bottom the post because it was AMAZING. My sister-in-law got it from a teacher friend of hers.

I am probably most excited about the decorations starting with the serving vessels which were just 1-2 inch slices out of a tree trunk my dad made for mom's Christmas table and the Oreo Pop log which dad also found/made (that dad of mine is pretty crafty). Then we used a glass serving platter my mom had and my $20 Sam's Club acrylic drink dispenser. I always like to frame the invitation in a nice frame that fit the shower theme. We used mason jars and old glass bottles (milk and Crown Royal) painted with chalkboard paint that we added designs to from the invitation using a seamstress chalk pencil (so much more accurate than a real piece of chalk) for flower vases and we just used a variety of wild flowers in green, yellow and pink. The centerpiece of the gift table was a custom piece using the bride's future last name that we created by adding chalkboard paint to the tree circles and chalking a giant M on it. Then we gave it to her as a memento for the event. We purchased the tablecloths off Amazon and the fabric was just scraps we found at Hobby Lobby. The square plates came from Party City, the napkins came from Target and the silverware and cups I had from other showers. Other items on the table including the wooden crate (Michael's Arts and Crafts), cake plate (I picked up at Wal-Mart after Christmas for $2 5-6 years ago) and the cupcake tree (a gift from a friend) I already had in my house. It is amazing what you can find around your house to use to decorate or serve foods.

Small buttermilk glass jug with chalkboard paint, frame from Michael's Arts and Crafts.
Custom Oreo pop display, log with some drilled holes. (You can also see the cute party mix in the background, glass canisters from Wal-Mart)
Gift table...LOVE this! Custom M with a plate/picture stand from Michael's Arts and Crafts. Glass milk bottle (Shatto for those of you around the Kansas City area) with chalkboard paint and a design off the invitation on the bottle. They are both on top of a boot box covered in craft paper.

To top all of this off my sister-in-law is great with games and she came up with 3 fantastic games that really kicked the party off. 1) How well do you know the bride questions? Our prize was the framed shower invitation. 2) Celebrity couples game, matching the celebrity couple. Our prize was a People Style Watch Magazine and glitzy ink pen. 3) Newlywed game asking her the same questions we asked him with her having to add a piece of bubble gum to her mouth for every wrong answer.

Sparkling Shower Lemonade
This is a per batch recipe, we made 2 batches to fill the container on this picture. You could also add some Vodka or other alcohol if you wish.
Juice of 10 lemons
Juice of 4 limes
1 cup sugar
1 bottle 7-UP

Combine the juices and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add 7-UP just before serving and stir well.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Roasted Red Potato Salad (with a twist)

I love to cook outside and being able to grill again without having my winter coat on (because yes I am that girl who cooks in her winter coat outside in a snow drift, I see nothing wrong with this at all). I had some great cheddar brats that I picked up from Kurzweils (Yes I have mentioned them before, no they are not paying me but if they wanted to give me some free brats I would not object at all...hint, hint) and was really excited to grill them so I was looking for the perfect accompaniment to go with them and for some reason I was craving potato salad.

Now here is the deal with me and potato salad...we don't have a love affair, I don't crave it and for the most part if I do crave it and I have it I'm disappointed because it is mushy or overly sweet or just plain bad. So most of the time when I crave potato salad unless I can make it myself I just don't have it. But last night was different, there is nothing that screamed that summer was around the corner more than some grilled brats and potato salad. So I started some research and decided to throw out Google and go ahead and just wing it and if it wasn't any good then I would just throw it out before Jake got home. :)

The outcome was quite the opposite...I got rave reviews and honestly I would have eaten a whole bowl of it if I wouldn't have already had an ear of corn on the cob, brat and some cottage cheese. And for once I don't think I will tweak it at all for us but you for sure can for the tastes in your household.

The potato salad is in the bottom left corner, and yes I do like a lot of mustard on my brat.

Roasted Red Potato Salad
(makes enough for 4-5 servings)
6-7 small red potatoes washed and diced
1/4 large Vidalia onion diced
2 tsp olive oil
3 hard boiled eggs chilled and diced
1 cup low-fat Miracle Whip (or mayo or whatever your choice is)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1/2 tsp diced fresh garlic
2-4 small sweet Gherkin pickles diced very small
1 tsp dill weed
1 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish (raw would work too I just didn't have any on hand)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a large sheet pan spread out the red potatoes and onions and add the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake stirring every 10-15 minutes for 45 minutes. While your potatoes are roasting place your bowl in the freezer to chill. Once the potatoes are slightly browned allow them to cool while you make the dressing. Combine the Miracle Whip, mustard, vinegar, garlic, diced pickle, dill and horseradish in a small bowl and whisk until completely combined and creamy. Add your potatoes to the chilled bowl then add your eggs and gently fold into the dressing. Chill for at least 1 hour and serve cold.

Hope you enjoy and have a great Memorial Day Holiday!!

Update 5/28/13:
Made this at mom's this weekend and she added bacon (because why not bacon is good on well pretty much everything) and we put in Famous Dave's Sweet Hot pickles instead of the Gherkin's.

Also comment from Christy was to add some green onions to the top.