Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pork Carnitas - Low Carb and Frugal

Carnitas. Sounds fancy doesn't it?  It's not at all fancy or complicated.  If I can do it anybody can do it.  It's just braised or slow cooked meat (generally pork, although I have done it with beef and antelope) that has been shredded and warmed up/crisped in a skillet.  It's one of the meals my family of five eats all the time.  Everybody in my house loves it and it lasts for days.  Unless of course we have company then it's usually gobbled up in a blink. It's low-carb friendly and it's a meal that can seriously stretch a dollar.

It can be:
  • put into tacos (soft or crispy)
  •  made into taquitos
  • put on top of a salad
  • in a lettuce wrap
  • paired with roasted veggies
  • cooked with shredded cabbage and onions
  • cooked with scrambled eggs for an easy breakfast
  • or just eaten with your fingers straight from the skillet
Not that I would know anything about that last suggestion. <blushing>  The uses are as limitless as your imagination.  I made some for my family yesterday and thought I'd share my general recipe.  For most of you that know me, my "recipes" are very loose and most things never get measured and the dishes turn out similar, but never exactly the same.  However, this dish is very forgiving and turns out consistently delicious every single time.  I've tweaked it until I have what I think is worthy of sharing.

Start with a 3-4 pound pork roast, I prefer it if it with the bone-in and with a good little slab of fat on the bottom, but you can find leaner cuts if that's your preference

wash and dry it with a paper towel, then rub a little oil over it.  You can use any oil, however, I am currently in love with coconut oil so that's what I use.  (So much so, that my friends and family actually make fun of me)
Then mix together the dry rub ingredients:
  • 3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried jalapeno bits (or you can just chop up 1 whole fresh jalapeno, but I HATE dealing with the juices on my fingers, so I use the dried stuff)
Sprinkle and rub the dry ingredients all over the roast.  Put the roast in your crock pot (fat side down), set on high and get on with your day. I had gotten distracted yesterday morning when I started the meat and skipped a usual step. My husband asked if there should be onions or liquid or "something else" in the crock pot.  I said that "yes, I usually add a chopped onion or two and squeeze an orange or two over the meat".  So he very graciously did that step for me.  This is the meat after about 1 hour of cooking with the new ingredients added.

pork roast after 1 hr. in slow cooker

After about 5 hours on high, you take the meat out and shred it with two forks. It generally falls apart of it's own free will.  LOL

pork roast after 5 hours in slow cooker on high

shredding with two forks

after adding liquid from slow cooker and extra spices
Put the shredded meat in a skillet, add the liquid and melted onions from the crock pot.  Discard whatever is left of the oranges.  I also have discovered that this is the stage where I like to add more of the original seasonings.  I sprinkle in more of pretty much everything except salt.  I have also been known to add another orange and sqeeze the juice on the shredded meat. Then you just cook on med. to med. high until the extra liquid has cooked out and you're happy with it's flavorful golden-brown crispiness.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The winter that wasn't?

These pics are from New Year's Day 2012.  It's been a particularly mild winter here in West Virginia.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I'm all about the sun and getting my vitamin D these days.  We're finally on the other side of the shortest daylight times which makes me wildly happy.  I'm on enough of a roller coaster ride of hormones from peri-menopause without being in constant darkness.  I hear my husband chiming in with a big AMEN, on the hormone roller coaster ride from hell.  I think it's a ride we'd both like to get off of.  LOL

This was a memorable day.  Windy as all get out and beautiful to the Nth degree.  Two of the kids had a great time outside flying a kite.  The other one couldn't be bribed to go outside.  Go figure?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Morning

It's Sunday morning and the sun is shining so that's a good thing and it's 32 degrees.   So tired of dreary gray days, I know I'm not the only one.  My friend Crystal has a daily post on Facebook of how many days we have until Spring.  As of today, we have 51 more days!  I always look forward to her daily countdown.  Waking up with a headache wasn't a great start, but I'm looking for silver linings. 

View from the front porch
 Later today is my youngest daughter's birthday party.  We're having a combined rollerskating party later for her and a friend's daughter.  Two parties + one time + split the cost = YAY!!!!  Those girls are so cute together, with smiles that could light up a room!  Lots of friends coming.  So blessed.  It should be a really fun and busy afternoon. 

Coffee - check
Guess that means I need to get started on those cupcakes.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

low carb chicken taquitos? yes, please

So I made baked chicken thighs last night.  It was good, but this dinner is gonna be even better!  I love the family packs of chicken, cook it all up at once and you get 2 meals for less effort! ;-)

shredded chicken
1 can Great Value Fire Roasted Tex Mex Style Diced Tomatoes
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce

warm in skillet....

Take Joseph's Brand Flax-Oat-Bran-and-Omega-3-Square-Lavash bread split into 4 equal pieces.  Those suckers are HUGE, tasty and full of fiber!  Having low carbed for so many years I've tried ALOT of wraps/tortillas/fake bread.  Joseph's is the closest I've found to the real thing without the soy.  I think it's the soy that makes all the others taste so nasty.

-dip one side in melted coconut oil (I like the Wilderness Family Naturals - expeller pressed coconut oil to cook with as it has no coconut aftertaste)
-add chicken
-add crumbled queso fresco
-bake at 350 for 20 min. flipping halfway through

But does it taste as good as it looks?  Why yes, thank you for asking.  It was totally delicious!

Breakfast: Fried Eggs, Bacon, Cabbage, Chia Seeds and Scallions

I'm a low-carber from way back.  LOL  "Way back" being April 2002.  I lost about 60 pounds in under a year following the Atkins program.  I was a serious carb-nazi!  Then I got pregnant with our third child and gained it all back and then some.  I recommitted to low-carbing after my 40th birthday in 2010.  Facebook pics that friends posted of me were the "inspiration".  <<<SIGH>>>   Gotta start somewhere, right?  So fast forward to now and I'm down 56 pounds and back on track after a Christmas break of slogging around in the proverbial carb overload.

The most common question is "what do you eat for breakfast if you can't have cereal?".  My honest answer is pretty boring.   "Eggs"  Dead silence....then you get that glazed or surprised look that says either that I'm crazy or boring.  Eh...I'm okay with that.  I probably AM boring, but I don't think eggs are boring, I think cereal is boring and kinda gross.  Have you taken a look-see at the ingredient list on most cereal boxes?  I don't think this breakfast was dull at all.

I admit I did have to get used to the look of the black Chia seeds, although I like the look of them now.  I do find that when I add more Chia seeds into my diet I tend to lose weight more consistently.  The only drawback is that they get in your teeth and you need to brush and floss afterwards.  They're so good for you, I figure it's worth the extra step.  I bought mine years ago from http://azchia.com/ .  One of the great things about chia vs. flax is that chia seeds last FOREVER!!!  Unlike flax which seems to go rancid the second I buy it!  I hid my cabbage shreds underneath my bacon, I love the crunch.  Truth be told, I try to incorporate alot of shredded cabbage into my daily meals.  It's almost flavorless and gives a nice crunch and bulk to the meals to fill me up.  I try to shred a bunch at once and keep it in a baggie in my fridge.  For some reason if I have to go to the effort to pull out the head of cabbage and cut some off each time, I won't do it.

So technically this is JUST eggs and bacon, but to me it's a great start to my "on plan" day.