Chorizo and Chickpea Frittata

Let’s get back into the swing of things shall we?

Tax season? Check. Another CPA exam? Check. Vacation planned? Check.

We’re taking off soon [as in next week] on a road trip. That’s the big trip this year. I realize doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous as jetting off to Europe or Asia for a few weeks, but I really think it’s going to be equally as awesome. I’ve never gone on any sort of significant road trip other than down to California a couple of times or over to Salt Lake City when I was so young that I really don’t remember it. I’ve been to Europe a handful of times now, so it sounded good to dig into a bit of the US for once. The focal points are a few national parks — Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier — but I’m honestly looking more forward to the quirky little towns we stop in along the way. Let’s be real, I’m not that outdoorsy despite living in the Northwest. The No Reservations: Montana episode kind of inspired this whole thing. Bring on the obscure, the hearty, and the history.

Speaking of obscure and hearty, I really didn’t know what to think about this frittata. I would have never thought to put eggs and beans together on my own, but I put a lot of stock in Food52. The whole eggs and beans thing actually makes a lot of sense. The beans are soft, tender, and provide a whole heck of a lot of fiber to a protein heavy breakfast. Eggs and chorizo will do that to you. The spinach and roasted red peppers really brighten up the whole thing. If I had feta on hand, you can bet that would have been in/on the whole thing. It’s like a fully loaded frittata. The egg takes a back seat holding everything together, and lets the rest of the big flavors take over. It comes together quickly when I’m starving on a weekend morning and want to eat ASAP.

Completely unrelated, I’m really liking Food52’s Burnt Toast podcast. I’m not usually a podcast person, but this one is fun. Random food topics that I wish I could get into conversations with people about.

Inspiration: Food52

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or use a microplane like I did
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/2lb ground chicken chorizo
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • salt

Preparation

Brown the chorizo in the pan you’re going to bake your frittata in. Once browned, remove the chorizo but do not drain the grease. Add the onion. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until the pieces are soft and fragrant. The edges might start to brown and that’s a-ok. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add the chorizo back along with the chickpeas, roasted red pepper, and the smoked paprika. Stir to combine. Add the spinach. Stir to combine. The heat from the pan should start to wilt the spinach.

Turn on the broiler on high. Whisk the five eggs in a small bowl. Pour the eggs into the pan and stir so it’s fully distributed throughout. Stop stirring and let it sit for a couple minutes. When you jiggle the pan the eggs should be mostly set.

Place the pan into the oven. Cook the frittata for a couple of minutes until the top is set and starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before cutting. It can be served from the pan or inverted onto a serving plate. Slice into wedges and serve.

 

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Have you ever watched videos about Pyrex dishes exploding? It’s intense. I haven’t had one shatter [thankfully!], but I don’t usually bake with glass. If you do use Pyrex and have no idea what I’m talking about, it might be worth looking into.

That ends your PSA for the day.

Now on to buffalo chicken dip! Frank’s Red Hot is a really bizarre flavor. I like it and feel weirdly addicted to it when it’s around [which is next to never]. I think it’s that vinegar bite. I cringe almost instantly and then settle in for that spicy flavor. The idea of putting it in a dip with a cream-style base mellows out the vinegar just enough that I want to just eat it by the spoonful. That happened a lot.

The base really doesn’t have any cheese in it even though it looks like it. It was magic. It’s all that “cheeze” or cheese-like stuff. It’s actually kind of close — closer than any of the other fake cheese things I’ve tried. I wanted something that I could eat a ton of without worrying about the effects of it. When you’re eating it like a soup, I really didn’t need a bunch of cream. The chicken is also optional, but totally a nice addition. Give me all the protein! I used shredded, but looking back, I’d probably use ground chicken next time. The consistency of the dip can be a little thin, and it was really not all that easy to scoop out the mixture and pull out equal parts chicken and “cheeze.” Speaking of dipping, the celery was challenging. Maybe less so had I used the ground chicken. Chopping it up into the dip would be cool, too. The blue cheese would have been a stellar addition, but would have rendered it full of dairy. I should have served it on the side. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I wasn’t. Clearly.

Inspiration: Chasing Some Blue Sky

Ingredients

  • 1/3-1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce [I used the full 1/2 cup]
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers [not pickled!]
  • 1 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing mix
  • Water
  • 2-3 cups shredded or cooked ground chicken
  • Blue cheese, celery, pita chips, etc for serving

Preparation

Add all of the ingredients up to the Ranch dressing mix to a blender or food processor. Start with a cup of water. Blend until smooth. Continue to add more water to your desired consistency. I used a full 2 cups of water, which is why mine ended up so runny. I’d use less next time.

Pour the sauce into a pan with the chicken. Heat through. Serve hot.

Thai Basil Pork

My first full weekend without work was equal parts good and bad. Saturday felt like Sunday the whole time, but it obviously wasn’t. We checked the box on several big pieces to the new patio out front. Bistro lights were hung. Outdoor furniture has been purchased. More plants have found homes. There are only a few things left to do. Regardless we spent a lot of time outside eating. It’s the new favorite place in the house. Get ready for a lot of food photos from out there. It’s going to happen. Sunday was spent watching a lot of football [soccer], studying, and a whole lot of my body fighting some sort of congestion crap. Not the perfect weekend, but I’ll take it.

This stir fry has become the new curry in this house. I make it all the time. When we don’t know what we want to eat? I make this. If I managed to have some time in the kitchen during busy season? I made this. The first meal back in the kitchen? This.

It started out as this Thai Basil Chicken recipe, and it’s morphed into what it’s become for me now. I don’t measure much anymore; it becomes an shake of this and a dash of that. The overall foundation is there. There is always a fried egg. There is always white rice. The bottle of fish sauce is always on the table. I add it to the stir fry and then again when it’s on my plate or in a bowl. My love of fish sauce is strong. I tried using a defrosted chicken breast once. Don’t do that. It was way too watery. I’ve tried ground chicken, which is good, but kind of bland ultimately. I ended up with ground pork because it’s cheap, already cut up into small pieces, and imparts a lot of flavor with it’s fattiness without being too greasy. Since New Seasons the fridge doesn’t have Thai chilies or Thai basil, it’s jalapeños or serranos and regular basil. It’s still very good, and still very worth it.

Inspiration: Eating Thai Food

Ingredients

  • 3/4lb ground pork
  • 2-4 small jalapeños or serranos, depending on your spice tolerance, sliced
  • 1-2 large handful of basil leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • olive oil
  • fried eggs and rice for serving

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and jalapeños or serranos. Stir often. You don’t want that garlic to burn. Burned garlic sucks. Once it gets hot and fragrant, add the ground pork. While it browns, whisk together your sauce ingredients and sugar. Once the pork is cooked, if there is a lot of grease, drain it. It happens every two or three times for me. It totally depends on the pork. Add the pork back to the pan. There should be no need to turn the heat back on. Stir in the sauce and the basil. Stir until the is basil starts to wilt. Serve with rice and a fried egg.

Chorizo and Brussels or Brussels and Chorizo

Another successful tax season in the books. I’m ready for a change of pace, and I’m ready to get back into the kitchen. Latest bookmarks include: Chicken and Pesto Stuffed Sweet Peppers, Jerked Sriracha Roast Pork Tacos, and Kale White Bean and Farro Salad. I want to eat ALL.THE.FOOD. that isn’t catered.

I made this blueberry slab pie with rye crust for a pie contest at work a couple of weeks ago. [Sidenote: I was originally going to say a week ago, but then I remembered I have no idea how much time elapses anymore. It was at least two, going on three. Time flies!] We were having a Thanksgiving themed dinner and thought it a good idea to have people make pies. Mine didn’t have a lattice top because the dough turned out a little too dry for that. Besides, it looked like a giant pop tart. Way cooler. It was really good. The rye had a savory note that played off the sweet, mellowing it out. I really liked it. It didn’t win because frankly giant blueberry rye pop tart doesn’t win. Chocolate cream does. I really just wanted an excuse to make the pie. It all got eaten that night except for one piece, which I happily ate for breakfast the next day.

This bowl of brussels and chorizo is a dangerous one. If I’m not careful, I can easily eat the entire pan. I was thinking about these brussels this weekend. There are still brussels in the grocery store. We live in a world where we have year-round produce, and I’m still surprised. The original recipe calls for cured Spanish chorizo sliced thin. I went with the ground chicken chorizo for a little more of a spicy kick and I wanted the brussels to bathe in the rendered chicken fat. Using a cast iron skillet to do the dirty work leaves a nice char to the brussels. They’re super tender on the inside and a bit spicy — a winning combination. I put them on a bed of couscous for something different, but really they’re just fine on their own. I could go for a bowl of them right now. And a piece of pie.

Inspiration: Saveur

Ingredients

  • 1lb brussels sprouts, halved or quartered depending on the size
  • 1/2lb ground chorizo
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the brussels and cook until tender, about six minutes. Transfer them to an ice bath to stop them from turning to mush. After about five minutes, drain them and set aside.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Toss the onion into the pan. Stir occasionally. Once it’s soft and translucent, add the chorizo and crumble. Once it’s almost cooked, add the brussels and garlic to the pan. Toss to coat in the rendered fat. Cook until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper.

Roasted Fennel White Bean Dip

I’ve become a fennel fanatic lately. I had my nose glued to a star anise candle today. My sister gave me that “you’ve lost it” look that sisters can give. I came across this recipe for a fennel and radish salad that I have to make IMMEDIATELY [which really means on April 16th because we all know I’m only eating catered meals at the office until then]. Fennel is just so dang refreshing.

Mixing fennel and white beans in dip form [because what other form is there…] makes a great hummus alternative. Adding a boatload of parmesan and roasted garlic really tie everything together. Roasting fennel mellows out that bright anise flavor and sweetens it up. No one knows it’s in there really, so if you’re a fennel hater we can’t be friends you’ll be just fine. It blends into your white bean base that really just is your creaminess. White beans take on whatever flavor you want it to. My favorite part might have been the crispy parmesan pieces that baked to the dish. I’m one of those people. Plain ol’ pita chips work like a champ here or crudite or a spoon. You get the idea. This is definitely my new go-to dip assuming I have time to roast the fennel.

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 large fennel bulb, save the fronds for garnish
  • 4 cloves of garlic still in their skin
  • 2 cups white beans [or one can]
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for topping
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a Silpat. Roughly dice the fennel bulb from the white to the light pale green. Keep the fronds for garnish. Toss the fennel and the garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 3o minutes. The fennel will be crisp on the edges.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the white beans, shredded parmesan, the fennel, and the garlic cloves with the skin removed. Pulse to get the mixture started before adding the lemon juice, rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Pulse it all together until it’s a thick puree. Add more olive oil if for consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a oven proof dish. Top with more parmesan and bake for 15-20 minutes with the oven temperature increased to 450°. The cheese will be hot and bubbly, browning on the edges. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and the fennel fronds before serving.

Parmesan Black Pepper Grissini

I made this on NYE and it’s almost April. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve seen grissini pop up a fair bit lately, on Food52 more specifically, which reminded me of these. Those aren’t the ones I made, but they’re similar. They disappeared rather quickly at the NYE party, which is the highest compliment. I don’t want need to be told they’re awesome. Just eat. When they disappear, I’ll know.

They’re easy and difficult all at the same time. They come together almost too easy. It’s a simple dough. The rise time is next to nothing, so you can totally make them right before you’re walking out the door. I’m living proof. The only thing that was really a challenge for me was actually forming the dough. It was really a lot more dry and tough than I was expecting. They took forever to get to a reasonable length and more than one tore but I just pieced it back together. “A more rustic look,” I’d say. The sprinkling of parmesan and black pepper hides any deformity, and let’s be real, they taste good so no one cares. Rolling them out reminded me of my Play-Doh days. I probably wasn’t very good at it then either.

Inspiration: The Endless Meal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked in a bowl with a tablespoon of water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preparation

In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter into the milk. You only want it slightly warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl to be safe. You’ll add the yeast next and don’t want to risk the hot pan overheating it. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It’ll start to foam on the top, so you’ll know it’s working.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and you pinch of salt. Add the cooled milk mixture to the flour and mix it together with a large spoon or your hands. It’ll be a dry, shaggy mess until it ultimately forms a ball.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. The dough will be smooth on the outside. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

When your time is up, preheat the oven to 350° and prep your baking sheets. Either grease them or lay down a Silpat. Split the dough into 24 equal pieces. I measured them because I’m a bit type-a, but as long as you get close you’ll be fine. Roll them out into long, skinny sticks. Place them on your prepared baking sheet with a little distance between them. Brush each stick with the egg wash and then sprinkle them with the parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Use your fingers to get as much parmesan to stick as possible.

Bake for about 15 minutes. They should be crispy and golden brown, the cheese especially. Let them cool before removing them from the pan. They’ll harden as they cool giving them more of a crunch.

Eating the baked on cheese off your Silpat is sort of optional, but it’s really not something to be missed.

Cuban Sandwich

I’m in love with Eb & Bean. From their website: Eb & Bean is proudly redefining frozen yogurt with handmade flavors, organic, probiotic-rich dairy, non-dairy deliciousness, and artisanal toppings. The keywords here are the non-dairy and deliciousness. They actually nail non-dairy and do things that aren’t just fruit flavors. There is nothing worse than craving ice cream/fro-yo and all you can find are sorbets. It’s just not the same. Fro-yo just started getting really popular right around my self-imposed dairy ban, and it was really hard to deal with. Even though I’m back on the occasional dairy wagon, yogurt continues to be my nemesis. Having Eb & Bean around is just what I needed. They also strive for the local/seasonal thing too, which generally tastes better. The toppings aren’t just a junky selection of old candy and sad fruit pieces. We’re talking about things like fresh cookie crumbles, donut pieces, marshmallow sauce, honeyed whipped cream, and cold brew bourbon sauce. There is a ton of gluten-free and vegan options if that’s your thing. Three of the yogurt flavors rotate and get all kinds of creative. Tonight? I had the cold brew pecan fro-yo with a mountain of dark chocolate mini chips. So. Freakin’. Good.

Also freakin’ good was the impromptu 90’s dance party I had in my living room last night, but that’s a story for another day.

Let’s talk about Cuban sandwiches. This beast of a sandwich is definitely not an authentic Cuban sandwich, but it’s a fantastic interpretation. That’s all I really care about anyway. Authenticity doesn’t mean that much to me. I’m excited to have authentic eats, don’t get me wrong, but at the end of the day it needs to taste good. That’s priority numero uno.

Bread is key here since the juice of the pork makes such a delicious mess. Slow cooked pork, pickles, cheese, and that gloriously spicy soppressata is so dang good. It’s a mouth party, and you’re invited. The original recipe talks about making zucchini pickles, and had I not been lazy, I’d have made them and told you how awesome they are because I bet they are. I love pickled anything [well, nearly]. I haven’t made pickles because it requires actually having the foresight to make pickles before I want them. I inevitably go to the store and pick some up.

Bon Appétit is to blame the inspiration for the juicy mess that will inevitably drip down your hands with each bite. This magazine never ceases to amaze/fail me. I haven’t been so happy with a food magazine since La Cucina Italiana and we know how they ended up [RIP]. Fingers crossed I’m not the jinx.

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 sprig of oregano
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1-2 teaspoons red chile flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • dijon mustard
  • mayo
  • brioche buns
  • 1/2lb soppressata, thinly sliced
  • 1/2lb pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • sliced pickles [zucchini pickle recipe can be found in the link]

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 300° and get a large Dutch oven. Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Optional, sear the pork on all sides for a few minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté, covering in the oil [and pork goodness]. Remove from heat. Nestle the pork back into the pot. Add the oregano, rosemary, chile flakes and chicken broth. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3-4 hours. Flip the pork every hour or so if you are able. When the pork if falling apart tender, it’s done.

Remove the pork from the oven and bump the temperature up to 400°. Remove about a cup of the liquid if there seems to be a lot left and shred the pork. Place the tops and bottoms of the buns on a baking sheet, face up. On the bottoms, top with a healthy layer of soppressata, pork, and cheese. Place the pan in the oven until the cheese melts. Keep an eye on the tops so they don’t burn, only get toasted. Spread the top halves with the mayo and mustard. Top the cheesy pork with pickles and cover with the top bun. Devour. Bring napkins.

Chewy Gingerbread Bars

We had friends in town from San Francisco for the weekend, and they generally bring ridiculously good weather for some reason. I don’t know how they do it, but they have yet to see the famed Portland rain. Andrew played host and tour guide while I worked, but I was able to sneak out for a glass of wine in at Bar Vivant, a plate of fresh linguine with braised veal sauce and my favorite tiramisu from Piazza Italia, some homemade musubi made with linguica from my friend Chris, and a ridiculously good biscuit sandwich from Bad Habit Room. Not too shabby for a limited amount of time off. I was still ready for the chicken skewer and salad I made tonight though. Sometimes you got to.

Is it bad that I’m posting about gingerbread in March?

I could actually go for one of these right now despite it being unbelievably sunny and warm. These were like a thick, chewy gingerbread cookie. Sort of a gingerbread brownie [blondie?]. I wish I had used the candied ginger per the original recipe for some added oomph. You should too unless you really can’t stand the stuff. I made them for a group that hasn’t been exposed to a whole lot of ginger, candied or otherwise, so I didn’t want to freak them out by how in-your-face that flavor can be. Mission accomplished. It’s the same reason why I didn’t ice them at all either. I dipped them in coffee at least once or twice. They maintained the chew for a few days before ultimately drying out. A scoop of ice cream on one wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Inspiration: The Crepes of Wrath

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup candied ginger, roughly chopped, optional
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle on top, optional
  • White chocolate drizzle, per the original recipe, optional

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 13″x9″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. I used aluminum and sprayed it with cooking spray to be safe.

Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and mix to incorporate. The sugar mixture will be shiny and you won’t see any of the yolk streaks anymore. Add in the molasses and almond extract and mix. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the dry ingredients with the wet. Don’t over mix. Fold in the ginger, if using.

Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan. You’re going to need something to assist you unless you don’t mind using your hands [I don’t]. Try to even out the mixture and then sprinkle with the sugar, if using.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick should be clear when you test it in the middle. Make the white chocolate drizzle while it bakes, if using. Allow the bars to cool for a good 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

Weeknight Porchetta

I’m in the full swing of tax season if you hadn’t guessed. 60 hour weeks leave little time for hanging out in the kitchen other than making cold brew [currently loving some Dark Horse Coffee Roasters — Andrew’s sister hooked us up with a subscription for Christmas]. I actually made dinner on Friday night, a usual Thai stir-fry, and it felt equal parts foreign and awesome. Most often it’s just catered dinners at the office Monday through Thursday and breakfast on Saturday. I eat out 97% of the time for lunch. There is too much good stuff downtown. My latest lunchtime infatuation includes a jianbing from this new cart called Bing Mi. It’s a handheld Chinese crepe full of awesome, but I prefer to liken it to a giant, softer spring roll. Again, full of awesome. And hot sauce.

So this recipe was made a little while back. I feel silly calling this weeknight porchetta, but if Bon Appétit says it is, who am I to argue? If you’ve ever had porchetta, you’ll quickly realize this is anything but. It’s really just a damn good roasted pork loin or two. Let’s be real — tender, roasted pork covered in lots of bacon [seriously buy more than you need], and nestled with a few heads of garlic. Eat all the garlic. I cannot resist roasted garlic.

Roasted garlic side story: We were having a glass of wine at Spoke & Vine late one night and they were prepping food for the next day, which included roasted garlic. They apologized profusely because they weren’t busy and were trying to be efficient. No need to apologize. I could have a roasted garlic candle. They probably exist. I don’t even want to check.

The thing with this pork is to really cover it in bacon. I didn’t heed my own instructions, thus the paltry amount of bacon in the photo. Don’t do what I did. The original recipe called for one pork loin about 1 1/2lbs. New Seasons didn’t have that, so thus the idea to use two. Math is my friend. It worked out just fine. It was nearly fork tender. I didn’t get the fresh herbs and didn’t think I lost that much from the flavor. Pork and garlic steal the show.

Inspiration: Bon Appétit

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lbs pork loin
  • 2 heads of garlic + 4 cloves, minced
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary + 1 tablespoon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-8 slices of bacon depending on your pork loin, you want to cover it

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425° and prep your roasting pan [mine could have used a shot of cooking spray]. Lay your rosemary sprigs down in the center of the pan and place your pork on top.

In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, coarsely chopped rosemary and fennel, salt, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Rub this mixture over the pork. Top with a healthy dose of cracked pepper. Wrap the pork in the bacon. Try to get as much of the surface covered as possible. Tuck the pieces under the loin as necessary.

Slice the heads of garlic in half lengthwise exposing all of the cloves in the middle. Nestle them around the pork loin. Drizzle them in olive oil. Use more than the tablespoon if it’s not enough, otherwise the garlic will dry out when roasting.

Roast the pork for approximately 40 minutes. If you have a thermometer, it should read 145°. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest for five minutes before serving.

Shredded Chicken Tostadas

I’m such a tostada hater. I also spell toastada tostada wrong on the first time through nearly every single time. They’re good. I do like them. I like the crunch. I have a soft spot for Taco Bell Crunchwraps that I don’t indulge in and haven’t in years. But you take one glorious bite of that wonderful pile of Mexican goodness and the tragically fragile toastada tostada shell shatters into about seven hundred pieces and you now have a glorified taco salad on your hands [lap?].

Sidenote: I really had no idea what I was getting into with making a crockpot full of chicken. Chicken in a crockpot can get expensive. Unless you’re finding a good deal on it, buying three pounds of chicken at New Seasons isn’t exactly cheap [but it’s so good!]. It wouldn’t be so bad if it would last longer than two meals, but in this house? Leftovers aren’t really a thing.

The key to this chicken is the “zesty” Italian dressing. Zesty and Italian dressing is kind of redundant, isn’t it?

Sidetone: I can’t read/write/say the word zest without thinking of this commercial. It was made in the 80s. Of course it was.

The dressing is the key to all the flavor. I also added a ton teaspoon of cayenne pepper [Surprised? Me neither]. I think next time I’d split the chicken into 50/50 breasts and thighs. Thighs always retain moisture. The breasts still fell apart and shredded easily once they’ve cooked low and slow in the crockpot for hours, but I’m kind of a sucker for chicken thighs. More flavor. A lot of the chicken was eaten before we’d even opened the package of tostadas. Have I talked about this bean dip yet? It’s fan-freakin’-tastic. Any time I’m making anything remotely Mexican, I’m buying this. I spread it on everything. I eat it by the spoonful. It’s such a nice texture and has good spice for something off a grocery store shelf. This was the glue on the base of my tostada. I was convinced it’d help hold it together [it didn’t]. I ate one topped with fresh romaine, guacamole, and some fresh shredded queso fresco. After that, I just made a salad out of it and broke the shell into chips. That’s way more my style.

Inspiration: Cooking Classy

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2-3lbs boneless chicken breasts, thighs or a mix
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper [optional, I suppose]

Preparation

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients [except the chicken]. Layer the chicken in the bottom of a crockpot. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn it on low for 6-8 hours. I had to leave mine in for closer to 9 and it didn’t dry out. It should leave a little bit of of the sauce, but if you shred it in the crockpot and let it sit for another 15-30 minutes, it’ll soak right up.

Serve in anyway that sounds good — tostada, burrito, taco, salad, quesadilla, enchiladas or my favorite, straight into your mouth.