About straightarrowlife

Atheist, critical thinker, junglist, scientist, cook, runner, writer. Hardcore Whovian.

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef Tacos

img_7025Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef Tacos
(courtesy of Belly Full, serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jar (16 ounce) salsa verde
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

For serving:

  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado, diced
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Limes, sliced

Method

Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Season the beef with the cumin, salt, and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, per side, to a nice golden brown.

Transfer meat to the slow cooker; add the salsa, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shred the meat with 2 forks and stir with the liquid.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, place some of the meat in each tortilla, topped with some cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

NOTES

Amazing tacos with just a few ingredients and a few minutes of effort. I was genuinely blown away by how good these were. Totally going in my back pocket for future party menus!

Pork and Green Chile Stew

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Pork and Green Chile Stew
adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds pork shoulder, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Hatch green chiles, chopped small (or sub 7-ounce can diced green chiles)
  • 24-oz jar salsa verde
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, diced
  • Handful of chopped cilantro, for topping

Method

Combine the pork, flour, pepper and garlic powder in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Shake to coat thoroughly and then set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the fresh garlic and onion and sauté until translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Add the dusted pork and cook until browned, approximately 5 minutes. Add the chiles, salsa verde, stock and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

Add the potatoes and raise heat to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!

NOTES

I’ve been looking for a good weeknight (i.e., using jarred sauce) salsa verde stew for a while, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Mary’s version that I knew I had found the one. Potatoes! Why have I never tried it with potatoes?? I always made these green stews with white beans. But the potatoes work so well here. We absolutely loved this on the very first shot.

Teriyaki Pork Stir Fry

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Teriyaki Pork Stir Fry
courtesy of the book Good Fast Eats from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil, divided
  • 6 oz. broccoli slaw
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (use thick teriyaki sauce, not thin teriyaki marinade)
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Juice from one large lime
  • Cooked rice

Method

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, warm half the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add broccoli slaw to the hot pan and saute for about 2-3 minutes until almost tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining sesame oil to the skillet, followed by the pork, garlic, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Cook pork, stirring often, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no pink remains, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drain off excess fat, if desired.

Stir in teriyaki sauce. Add slaw back in, along with the scallions and lime juice; mix to coat.

Serve over hot cooked white or brown rice.

NOTES

Another winner from Good Fast Eats and probably Steve’s favorite thus far. Like everything else from Amy’s book, it’s super fast and delicious. Just doesn’t get any better than that.

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet

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Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz short pasta (penne, rotini, ziti)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Method

In a large skillet or dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook and brown for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion is soft and chicken is nearly cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the pasta, wine, broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs; set aside.

When the pasta is tender, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and then the parmesan and bread crumb mixture.

Broil for 3-4 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle parsley on top. Serve.

NOTES

I’ve been wanting to do a dish like this for a long time. I absolutely love my pan-fried-then-oven version of chicken parm with spaghetti, but that’s more of a weekend endeavor. This skillet is perfect for a weeknight when I am craving the flavors, but don’t want to make a ton of effort. Absolutely fantastic.

Beef Pho

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Beef Pho
Serves 4
with thanks to The Woks of Life

Ingredients

  • 2 (3-inch) pieces ginger, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 onions, peeled, cut in half
  • 5 pounds beef marrow or knuckle bones
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into two 1-pound pieces
  • 4 scallions, cut into 4-inch lengths
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 2-1/2 ounces rock sugar, palm sugar, or granulated sugar
  • 8 star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh pho noodles
  • 1/3 pound beef sirloin, slightly frozen, then sliced paper-thin against the grain

Garnishes:

  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Thinly sliced onion
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Thai basil
  • Lime wedges

Method

  1. Start by charring your ginger and onions. You can do this by a) using tongs to hold the ginger and onions over an open flame; b) place the vegetables directly on an electric burner; or c) putting the vegetables on a sheet pan under the oven broiler. Turn until they’re lightly blackened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Rinse away any blackened skins and set aside.
  1. Place the bones and beef chuck in large stockpot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and thoroughly clean the stockpot. This process will give you a much cleaner broth.
  1. Add 5 quarts fresh water back to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Transfer the bones and meat back to the pot, along with the charred/cleaned ginger and onions. Add the scallions, fish sauce and sugar. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beef chuck is tender, about 40 minutes. Skim the surface often to remove any foam and fat.
  1. Remove one piece of the chuck and transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Transfer the beef to a container and refrigerate. Leave the other piece of chuck in the pot.
  1. Now toast the spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds) in a dry pan over medium low heat for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Use kitchen string to tie up the spices in a piece of cheesecloth, and add it to the broth.
  1. Continue simmering for another 4 hours. Add the salt and continue to simmer, skimming as necessary, until you’re ready to assemble the rest of the dish. Taste broth and adjust seasoning by adding more salt, sugar, and/or fish sauce as needed. Strain, if desired (see notes).
  1. To serve, add noodles to each bowl. Place a few slices of the beef chuck and the raw sirloin on the noodles. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and ladle it into each bowl. The hot broth will cook the beef. Garnish with your toppings, and be sure to squeeze a lot of fresh lime juice over the top!

NOTES

I barely know what to say. I never ever dreamed that I would make pho at home that tasted this perfect, flawless, the broth as good as any Vietnamese restaurant I ate at in SoCal. Seriously, THAT GOOD. I almost cried. Yep.

Not gonna lie. The initial stages take a bit of effort. But it’s a labor of love. And once you get to the point of leaving it to simmer, it pretty much takes care of itself after that. I did add a cup of water nearly ever hour to keep it from simmering away too much (my stove runs hot, even on low), and in the end I strained the broth to make it easier to serve, though you certainly don’t have to if you’d like to skip another step. I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

I can’t wait to eat this again.

Sausage Gravy

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Sausage Gravy
courtesy of Self Proclaimed Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spicy pork breakfast sausage (store-bought is fine, but I highly recommend you make your own, see below)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Buttermilk biscuits, for serving

Method

In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the sausage until brown and crumbly. If excess oil, drain while keeping a solid tablespoon of the sausage oil in the pan. Add the butter and stir well until melted.

Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle sausage with flour, stir, and allow to cook for several minutes.

Add the milk and stir. Continue stirring occasionally over medium heat until gravy thickens, 5-10 minutes. Add fresh ground black pepper, as desired.

Serve over buttermilk biscuits.

NOTES

HOLY. MOLY. Never did I think I would be able to make sausage gravy and biscuits equivalent to those served in roadside diners in the south, but this was IT. If I had known how easy it was, I would have started making this long ago. Insanely good. Easy easy. And you can cut the recipe right in half or double it with the same result (though the thickening time will be less/more if you do so). Going to keep this one on hand for life.

If you want to make your own sausage, as I did, this is a great recipe:

Spicy Breakfast Sausage

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Method

In a small bowl, mix together all the seasonings until well combined. Add the ground pork and work in the seasonings with your hands or a fork, until evenly distributed.

Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup

img_5945Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup
very slightly modified from Spend with Pennies

Ingredients

  • 1 package Hurst’s® HamBeens® 15 Bean Soup® with flavor packet
  • 8 cups chicken stock (can substitute other stock, broth, or water)
  • 1 leftover ham bone with meat (plus enough diced ham steak to make about 1 lb. of meat total for the soup; if no hambone available, a full 1 lb of diced ham or smoked sausage can be used)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • Optional for serving: scallions, hot sauce, rice, cornbread, corn chips

Method

Rinse beans and drain. Sort any unwanted debris and set seasoning packet aside.

Place beans, stock, ham bone, onions, garlic, chile powder, and thyme in a 6-quart slow cooker.

Cook on high 4-5 hours (or low 7-8 hours), or until beans are tender.

Once tender, remove the ham bone (if used) and chop any meat left on the bone and add it back to the pot, along with any additional diced ham steak to make 1 lb. of meat for the soup.

Stir in diced tomatoes and Ham Flavor packet.

Cook for an additional hour on low.

Serve with scallions, hot sauce, rice, cornbread, etc., as desired.

NOTES

This was so damn good! It’s hard not to have something fabulous on your hands when beans and leftover ham are involved. I am kicking myself for not having scallions to top it with – big oversight on my part – but the side of hatch chile cornbread was a pretty fantastic pairing all on its own. I will definitely make this again, with or without a leftover hambone!