DIY Iced Coffee

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There is something about summertime in Ohio that makes every day carry a bit of vacation sparkle with it. The sunshine is abundant, the birds are singing from dawn until dusk, and the hot breeze coasts gently along the lush greenery decorating the trees. People are happier and life seems pretty grand. These glorious months demand an extra special way to start the day and this DIY iced coffee fits that bill.

The convenience of drive-through coffee shops doesn’t exist in our neck of the woods, but this recipe provides a tasty and much less expensive alternative. It’s very simple to make. It does take some planning ahead as the coffee grinds need to steep for at least eight hours to create a strong cold brew. I prep everything in the evening before I go to bed, which allows me to wake up to a copious amount of coffee that just needs strained through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer. After that, I pour a generous amount over ice and add a splash of cream for a drink that gives me an extra pep in my step all day long. I store the extra coffee in the fridge and enjoy it for the several days that follow.

If you love iced coffee and the celebratory feelings of summer, then I invite you to make a batch of your own. You will be so happy you did. 

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

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DIY Iced Coffee

Yield: 1/2 gallon (2 quarts coffee)

Ingredients

  • 1/4lb freshly ground coarse coffee of your choice
  • 2 quarts filtered cold water
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mesh strainer

Directions

  1. Place freshly ground coffee in a large glass pitcher or bowl/container. Carefully add in the water. Stir gently to ensure the coffee grinds are fully moistened. Allow to steep at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
  2. After the eight hours have passed, line a large mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Place the strainer over a large bowl. Slowly pour the coffee through the strainer/cheesecloth. Stir and press the grinds/liquid to facilitate the straining process. Remove strainer/cheesecloth and transfer coffee to a glass pitcher or container of your choice. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve over ice and enjoy.

Source: The Pioneer Woman, who adapted it from Imbibe Magazine

Caramelized Onion Jam

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Father’s Day sometimes gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of June, but I wanted to make sure I took the time to recognize the special men in my life. First, my father.

When I think back to the kind of man my father was (and still is), I remember the fact that he has always been a steadfast source of support and good advice. I’ve realized through my own memories and through my own adventures in parenting, children don’t forget the words their parents speak or the way in which they act;  and they can sense genuineness from an early age. I can still remember the time when I was about eight years old, and my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up while he was tucking me into bed. I can’t remember what I said; but I distinctly recall him sitting on the edge of my bed, patting my shoulder, and telling me, “Lolly- I believe you can be anything you want to be.” It was such a simple statement, but it made a profound impression on me because I trusted my dad and I knew his words were sincere. Dad was always there to help check my math homework, to show me how to attempt a hook shot in basketball, and to teach me the beauty of some musical greats like James Brown and Marvin Gaye. Today, I still ask him for advice and he still offers it, along with a gentle nudge to look into retirement funds and life insurance. Thank you dad, for being a great father to your three children. We love you.


I would be remiss not to mention how much I love seeing the father my husband is to our little rump roast. Robert always makes Smith a priority in his life, despite his busy schedule; and his patience, love, and tenderness towards Smith is a spectacular sight to see. As our beefcake gets older and his personality develops, I can see that he and his dad are cut from the same cloth. I couldn’t be happier. Someday Smith will realize how lucky he is to have hit the jackpot in the dad department; but I think, even as a two-year-old, he already knows that.


After all this sentimental stuff, you may be thinking, “I don’t really find onion jam and dads synonymous,” and I can see your point.  However, this condiment is a way to make just about any meal extra special for those wonderful fathers in our lives . This caramelized onion jam is fantastic smothered on top of a burger, slathered over a thick sirloin steak, or drizzled on top of gooey baked brie. It’s a great item to make because it uses simple ingredients and it stores well in the fridge for a few weeks. I know I will be making a lot more of this when the onions in our garden are ready to harvest. Robert adores this jam, and I think you will too.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fantastic dads, granddads, uncles, and father-figures out there that provide the children of the world with the love and support they need to grow into wonderful adults and human beings. I am especially thankful for those incredible men, today and every day.

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Caramelized Onion Jam

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large sweet onions, cut into thin strips lengthwise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until lightly browned, for about 15 minutes.
  2. Tie together the bay leaves and rosemary with kitchen twine. Turn down the heat to low, add the herbs to the onions and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the onions and cook, without stirring, until the sugar melts, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and cook, without stirring, until a  golden-brown caramel forms, about 6 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat back down to low, stir in the balsamic vinegar and simmer, stirring a few times, until the jam is thick, about 5 minutes. Remove the herbs, season the jam with about 1/4 teaspoon additional salt (or more, if desired). Let cool and top on burgers, steaks, or cheese.

Source: Hugh Acheson, recipe posted at Food & Wine

Sweet Potato Hash

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When I was in graduate school, a point that was constantly repeated by professors to us students was to always avoid talking about two topics when working with patients: politics and religion. Both are polarizing and highly personal and it was advised to stay mum to avoid potentially unnecessary conflict. While I agree with my instructors, I would also add a third topic to keep under wraps: diets. Holy guacamole, can there be seriously dogmatic views on nutrition. All one needs to do is stroll through the diet section of the nearest bookstore and it’s amazing what can be discovered. Paleo, vegan, low carb, low fat, blood type, raw, cabbage soup, ketogenic.  The list goes on and on and it can be confusing and maddening. With all the information -and misinformation- floating around, I think we can all agree on one principle in particular: we need to incorporate more vegetables into our daily menus. They are packed full of nutrients and fiber; and despite the strong opinions of my father-in-law, vegetables can be delicious. Take this sweet potato hash recipe, for example.

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I love to use it as a base for eggs in the morning, as a side dish for dinner, or even sprinkled in a salad to make it extra jazzy. If I’m on an insatiable sweet potato craze,  I will double this recipe and make a big batch of it on the weekend to use throughout the week. It’s always nice to have something so versatile tucked away in the fridge that is ready to be used at a moment’s notice. Even better, this dish fits the mold for a whole host of individuals who abide by certain dietary guidelines. It can be served to those who are vegan,  paleo, dairy-free, gluten-free, or lower carb. I can only imagine the conversations that would be had at that dinner party. It takes all kinds.

Have a great weekend, all!


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Sweet Potato Hash

Yield: About 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the sweet potato cubes evenly onto the parchment paper. Add the onions. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss all the ingredients together to ensure even distribution. The sweet potatoes shouldn’t be piled on top of each other so they don’t end up steaming instead of roasting.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.

Source: Hickory Creek Lane

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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Rhubarb is a fabulous, yet highly-underrated opening act for Midwestern summers. This perennial plant is here for a brief moment of time, but it seems it’s always overshadowed by the flashier and super popular Ohio strawberry. I love strawberries, too; but rhubarb will always hold a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my late maternal grandmother, Grammy. Grammy adored rhubarb.

Admittedly, Grammy didn’t love to cook and, when I think back to times I spent at her house, I remember that her pantry was never overflowing with copious amounts of food and she didn’t have a cookie jar (unless she was hiding it from me, which is a conspiracy theory I just surmised). If the time of year was right, though, Grammy would usually have a saucepan of stewed rhubarb on the stove. Her kitchen would be filled with the scent of tartness and cooked sugar. When no one was watching, I would tiptoe in and taste a spoonful of it and sear the roof of my mouth from the piping hot temperature, trying to play it cool if an adult happened to walk by while blisters were likely forming inside my mouth.   If I were lucky enough to hit the jackpot and find ice cream in the bowels of my grandparents’ garage freezer, I would drizzle a bit of the rhubarb on top and scurry off to the spare bedroom to enjoy it. Looking back, I participated in a lot of sneaky eating in my youth. Oh, the days of yore. 

I recently listened to a podcast about making and canning jam because I am age 30 going on 76. The woman who was being interviewed made a comment about how she loves jam so much because she feels that when she cooks and cans the jam, she is preserving a moment in time. When we make jam, we are taking a fruit at the peak of ripeness in its respective season and we bottle it up to enjoy  for an occasion in the future. I found this to be quite poetic. How comforting to think that, when January hits and the snow is covering the landscape, I can walk down to our cellar and pluck the tastes of early summer right off our shelves in the form of this strawberry rhubarb jam? Even more comforting is the fact that every time I taste rhubarb, I am fondly transformed back into Grammy’s kitchen in the 1990s. Just a plump, carefree 10-year-old with burns on the roof of her mouth from the rhubarb she lovingly stole from her Grammy.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Yield: 6 half pint jars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups crushed clean strawberries, (I started with 4 cups uncrushed)
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 6 tablespoons pectin
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5½ cups sugar

Directions

  1. Thoroughly clean canning jars and bands.  Wash lids in warm soapy water.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine strawberries, rhubarb, pectin, and lemon juice. Stir to blend. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Return mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and scoop off foam with a spoon.
  4. Immediately ladle hot jam into jars, leaving about 1/4 inch space between jam and the top of the jar. Clean rims, center lid on jar, and secure bands
  5. Flip each can over so they are upside down. Use oven mitts if necessary as  the jars will be very hot.
  6. Allow jars to sit for at least 1 hour. Flip them back over and ensure the lids have sealed.
  7. Cool for at least 12 hours. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not pop up and down when center is pressed. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. The jam will keep for 3 weeks in the fridge after being opened.

Source: Back to Her Roots

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Waffles

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Has it really been four months since I last posted a recipe? I’m not quite sure how that happened, but I have sorely missed snapping a ridiculous amount of pictures of what we eat and writing about said dishes. Sometimes I think this hobby I have takes up too much of my time. Time that I should be using to be more productive with things that need done. But I keep coming back to this little blog. I love to try new recipes and style food to make it look more appetizing. I get a thrill from trying to capture not only the look of a meal, but the feelings that that particular meal evoked. To me, these waffles symbolize weekend breakfasts at home.

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I made these waffles a few months ago on a chilly Sunday morning in January. Smith and I got up early that day. Or should I say- Smith woke up early and yelled “MAMA!” until I tiptoed, half-asleep,  into his bedroom and scooped him out of his crib. I wanted to let Robert sleep in that morning, so my little dude and I watched an episode of Paw Patrol and played with his toys for a bit before I got a hankering to switch things up from our usual breakfast routine and dust off our waffle maker. I started making the batter while Smith commenced his morning routine of running around like a wild animal and scattering his toys all throughout the house. Soon Robert woke up and the waffles were finished, the coffee was hot, and we sat down around our kitchen table and enjoyed a very simple and happy breakfast together. It wasn’t extraordinary, but it was lovely.  And I’ve come to realize that life’s best moments sometimes occur in these brief snippets of life. I think taking pictures of food is another way I can etch these memories into my mind, so I will keep filling up my hard drive with too many photos and I will do it joyfully.

Wishing you all a fantastic Mother’s Day weekend.

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Weekend Waffles

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, stir together the whole milk, buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat a waffle iron.  Fill with batter and cook according to the particular iron you are using.  Cook until crispy and lightly browned.  Serve immediately. Serve with fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Source: Annie’s Eats

 

 

Farro Cakes

Farro Cakes Aerial

One of my goals for the New Year is to create more nourishing and invigorating dishes that fuel me and my family. I find lunch a particularly challenging meal to plan. A lot of times I will eat leftovers from the night before or toss together a hodgepodge of items collected from the fridge; but I usually discover the food on my plate uninspiring and unfulfilling.  Luckily, I struck gold with this new recipe for farro cakes that had me ready to break out a quill pen and write poetry by the fireside.

Of the grains I have tried, farro is definitely my favorite. It boasts a nutty, chewy, and a slightly sweet flavor that provides a great base to salads and soups. It worked very well as a substitute for quinoa is this dish and the end result was a crispy and earthy patty that reminded me of a new and improved potato pancake. It was positively scrumptious with the addition of a fried egg fresh from our girls out back.

  
 Robert suggested a drizzle of Red Hot on the side and it made our taste buds sing. The man knows how to pair hot sauces with food. There should be a title for this skill. Hot sauceror?

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Perhaps what I loved most about it is the fact that it is so quick and easy to make. I made the farro the night before while I was cleaning up the kitchen, and this made things as easy as pie for the following day. These farro cakes are everything I was looking for in a lunch and I know I will be making them again very soon. I hope you do, too.

Farro Cakes

Yield: About 8 small cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups farro, cooked
  • 3 eggs. lightly beaten
  • 1 cup loosely-packed and fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed crackers or 1/2 cup bread crumbs (whichever you have on hand or prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Olive oil, for the pan

Directions

  1. Combine the cooked farro, eggs, spinach, onion, parmesan, crackers, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hand to combine all ingredients until well-mixed. Form into 3 inch patties The ingredients are delicate so you have to press them together firmly or you can add more bread crumbs or cracker crumbs as a binder, if needed (I didn’t have to).
  2. Add olive oil to a large, non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat until hot. Carefully place the patties onto the pan and sear for about 3 mins on each side, or until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Pan-fry remaining patties. Serve hot with a sunny-side up egg, if desired.
  3. These patties can be re-heated the next day by simply searing them briefly in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1-2 mins per side or until warmed).

 

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats originally from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Smith’s Construction-Themed Second Birthday Party

 

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Our little rump roast recently turned two and we celebrated by hosting a small party with Smith’s grandparents and aunts and uncles. Since he loves all things diggers, trucks, and dirt, I chose a construction theme for this year’s shindig.

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The decorations were straightforward. Construction balloons, construction garland, and some bulldozer temporary tattoos.

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In a moment of impulse while on a Target trip with my sister, she and I thought a bull piñata would also be a great, albeit completely unrelated, addition to the party. Unfortunately, we never got around to the candy-filled bull; but it was probably a good thing considering the birthday boy is just learning how to successfully shovel food into his mouth independently. Why not give him a stick and tell him to hit a floating object repeatedly? Bert just loved this part of party prep. This picture makes me laugh.

IMG_8924The menu was pretty simple and was mostly a reflection of some of the foods our little engineer of destruction loves most. It included:

  • Grilled bratwurst and (uncured) hotdogs with various toppings
  • Baked three-cheese macaroni and cheese
  • Tippy’s tossed salad
  • Grandma’s fruit salad
  • Great Aunt Khaki’s birthday cake cookies (recipe coming soon)
  • Chocolate cake with fluffy chocolate buttercream icing
  • Ice cream

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The grill master.

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I had so much fun making Smith’s cake this year. The lad loves chocolate. I couldn’t be prouder.

Construction Birthday Cake

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After lunch, Smith opened gifts and I assumed my role as the family creeper by snapping candid pictures of everyone without their consent.

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After capturing lots of fun, I whipped out my tripod and forced all of us to take a few group shots. Childhood birthdays make me sentimental and nostalgic and documenting it with pictures of the ones I love the most is a way of keeping those emotions in check.

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Smith’s construction-themed second birthday was so much fun. Both for Smith and his family. These past two years have flown by and I am so thankful for the gift of motherhood that I have been given. I would be dishonest if I were to say parenting is all sunshine and lollipops, but it is without a doubt the most fulfilling adventure I have been on. We love you, Smith. Thank you for filling our lives with laughter, joy, and unbridled energy.

  
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It’s not a party until someone brings out the (unfilled) tea kettle.

New Year. New Name.

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Happy New Year! With the start of another trip around the sun, I’ve decided to shake things up around here. Lolly’s Sweet & Savory Treats is now Hickory Creek Lane. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed making food, taking lots of pictures, and writing stories to go along with what’s going on in my kitchen. I don’t publish blog posts as much as I’d like, but I still find this little hobby of mine fun and I felt it was time to transition with the changes that have occurred in our neck of the woods.

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Most notably, we welcomed our little rump roast into the world two  years ago and we followed that with a move from the suburbs of Columbus to the rolling hills of Walnut Creek. My focus on food has shifted from making more complicated recipes and trying new restaurants downtown to creating nourishing and simpler family meals that invigorate our lives. I have also come to love the beautiful backdrop that now surrounds us in Ohio’s Amish Country and I want to find ways to incorporate more about this unique community we call home. IMG_9935

As for the name change… the land on which we live is peppered with shagbark hickory trees and there is a gentle creek that runs adjacent to our driveway. Hence, Hickory Creek Lane. I’m excited for the new year and new home cooking adventures in Amish Country. I hope you will stop back again soon.🙂

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Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

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I love the celebratory feeling in the air. The Christmas music jingling through radio speakers, the colorful lights peppering the night sky, and the excited anticipation of having a few days of vacation to spend with the ones we love. Just this week I was picking up a couple of last minute items at the grocery store and I was so pleasantly surprised by how many cordial exchanges I had with people I encountered. The store was packed, but nearly everyone seemed to be maintaining an attitude of Christmas cheer. Even when my own mood was slightly dampened after the cashier scanning the things I was buying didn’t ask to see my ID when she rang up the wine I had in my cart (first time this has happened), I couldn’t stay mildly offended too long because she was just so bubbly.  I did think about telling her my newly found interest in neck cream, but I refrained. Excellent decision on my part. I am very thankful I am on the eve of celebrating my 31st Christmas, silver strands of hair and all.

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That celebration wouldn’t be complete without Christmas cookies. I tend to struggle when it comes to making up my mind when I am trying to narrow down what treats I want to make for the holidays. I decided to revamp a traditional Amish cookie recipe that I love and came up with these vanilla bean buttermilk cookies with bourbon caramel frosting. The cookie from the previous recipe I used was good, but it was a little dense and tough. I reduced the amount of leavening agents, added an extra egg yolk, and used real vanilla seeds to make a cakier and more flavorful base. As for the frosting, I also added real vanilla bean seeds, kosher salt, and some good bourbon to enhance the depth of one of my favorite frostings of all time. I finished everything off with a sprinkling of toasted chopped pecans and the end result was a new and improved version that my family loved. I had so much fun experimenting with changes to this cookie that I am hoping to do more remixes of classic recipes. It’s an excellent creative outlet and a fantastic way to brush up on my seriously rusty knowledge of chemistry.

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There are only a few hours before old Saint Nick makes his rounds. I hope your shopping and preparations are drawing to an end and you are ready to enjoy this most wonderful time of year. May the joy of Christmas fill your homes and hearts; and may this next year be the best one yet. Peace on Earth and good will to men.

   

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cookies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted REAL® Butter, at room temperatures
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted REAL® Butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons high quality bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark 46)
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Directions

For the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and ensure racks are positioned in the middle. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, one yolk at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the seeds/pulp from the vanilla bean. Mix until well-incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, stir together the baking soda and buttermilk. Turn the mixer on low, and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure dough is evenly mixed.
  3. Use a 2 inch cookie scoop to drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or just until the edges/bottom of the cookies have lightly browned. Be careful not to overbake. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For the frosting:

  1. Place ½ cup unsalted butter into a medium-sized sauce pot. Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and gently whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a low boil before gradually adding in heavy cream while continuing to whisk constantly. Bring the caramel back to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes while continuing to whisk constantly. Turn the stove off and remove from heat. Add in the salt and vanilla bean seeds and mix to combine. Allow to cool to a luke-warm temperature.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the cooled caramel, ½ cup at a time, and mix well with the whisk attachment of a handheld mixer (or a stand mixer if you prefer) after each addition. Add in the bourbon and mix until smooth. Frost the cooled cookies and sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Lolly’s Sweet Treats Original

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

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During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I find it very easy to get into a dinner recipe rut. With all of the Christmas cookies, festive parties, and overall chaos this time of year brings, cooking a meal is pretty low on my list.  That’s where the incredible folks at America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) come in. I can’t stop my feelings of passionate adoration for these people. I have several of their cookbooks and I recently discovered their podcast. Between visits to patients’ homes, I have been binge-listening (is that a thing?) to their amazing weekly programs and I stumbled upon a recipe for their Mexican pulled pork, often known as carnitas. Perhaps it was just my deeply-rooted love of rolling the “r” when saying Spanish words (thanks to my lovely high school profesora, Señora  Antequera); but caRRRRRRRRRRRnitas sounded like a perfect change up to our mundane weeknight rotation.

The prep for this dish is pretty simple and the seasonings are readily available. However, the inactive cooking time involves some planning ahead just because it requires 2 hours of baking in a low oven. I had a lot of stuff to get done on the day I made this and it was so nice to throw everything in my Dutch oven, pop it in the oven, and go about my business. If you don’t have the ability to be at home early enough to make this, I suspect it could be made a day in advance or even in a slow cooker. Perhaps I will have to try one of those methods the next time I make it because I absolutely will be making it again. The flavors are refreshing and not too overpowering and Robert loved it so much he used the leftovers to make some super crazy nachos.

If you are looking for something to jazz up your meal planning, look no further. I love you, ATK. So much that I may get your name tattooed on my arm.

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Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2-4lb) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 orange, halved

For serving:

  • Flour tortillas
  • Minced bell peppers
  • Minced onions
  • Freshly shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about ⅓ cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Place lid on pot and move to the oven. Cook until meat is soft and falls apart when poked with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.

2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy, about 10-12 minutes. There should be about 1 cup of reduced liquid at the end of the process.

3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not burnt) and edges are slightly crisp, around 6-8 minutes.  Carefully flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, another 6-8 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings and warm tortillas. Enjoy!

Source: Directly from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook (Page 281-282)