Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Who here loves banana bread? I sure do. But I get sick of bananas pretty fast. And citrus is soooo in season right now. Bright, juicy, spirit-lifting citrus... EVERYWHERE. Aren't you loving it?
But what to do with it all? There's the usual standby of, you know, just eating it, but that gets old after a while too. And it would be such a shame to let citrus season pass without enjoying the wide range of its flavoring possibilities. So why not make some tasty bread with all that lovely orange goodness?
Like this bread. It's super tasty! Like banana bread kicked up a notch... except, you know, minus the bananas. Soft and dense with a subtle sweetness, a slight crunch from the earthy walnuts, and beautiful orange-y notes that sing, "Good morning, sunshine!" It's the perfect complement to your morning cup of coffee or glass of milk... a seriously sweet way to start your day. And it's seriously too good to pass up this citrus season. Trust me!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
It's no secret that I love recreating my favorite restaurant meals at home. There's something insanely satisfying about knowing that I can make something just as delicious in my own kitchen as what some chef once created in an overpriced restaurant. It's like saying, "See! I can run with the big dogs too!" And we all need a little ego boost every now and then, right?
This meal in particular was inspired by the great folks at Ono Hawaiian Cafe right here in good old Boise, Idaho. This is the place where Dane and I celebrated our engagement-versary and the restaurant that catered our wedding! We had so many compliments on the food at our wedding... no one left hungry (as I've experienced personally at some weddings) and everyone agreed that the food was delicious. I'll be the first to tell you, it's worth every penny to have these guys cater your event!
Anyway, Ono has quickly become one of our very favorite restaurants. And every time we go we order the Kalua Pork Sliders for an appetizer, regardless of how hungry we are. They're simply too good to pass up! Salty, flavorful pork, sweet crispy onion straws, fluffy, Hawaiian rolls, and juicy pineapple... how can you say no to that? I'm telling you, the combination is downright crave-able.
Well, since we can't exactly afford to be eating out all the time, I decided to take it upon myself to recreate these bad boys at home. And judging by the non-stop "yum" coming from my husband and the decided lack of leftovers for the next day (despite ample amounts of food), I'm pretty sure I hit the nail on the head with this one. Seriously... they turned out so good! I could hardly keep from eating half the batch in one sitting, all by myself. And you guys won't believe how easy they were to make! It does take some planning ahead to allow the pork to roast low and slow, but otherwise the process couldn't be simpler. Almost too simple, because now I find myself wanting to make them like every other day. But alas, I must refrain, for I have no desire to look like a 300-pound Samoan guy.
But seriously... make these. Today. Thank me later.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day!
This Valentine's Day you could go all stereotypical, with strawberries and chocolate and plain ol' Champagne. Or you could step out of the box, put forth a little more effort, and create this amazingly refreshing cocktail for that special someone today.
There's so much to love about this drink. To start, it's got the perfect balance of sweet and sour... just like any good cocktail. The combination of sweet pomegranate and cranberry juices and bright, bitter limes is simply intoxicating. Then there's the fresh mint, that sings like the happy high note at the top of a major chord... just that little extra something that you hardly notice is there but would totally miss if it were gone. But the real kicker? The real thing that takes this drink over the top is the bubbly! It's what separates this drink from any simple sangria and what makes it absolutely perfect for an evening like Valentine's Day.
And all that extra effort? It's really no effort at all. One sip and no one will know that it only took you about 5 minutes to throw together. Which is good... leaves you more time to spend with that special someone this evening. Enjoy!
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
January may be long and over, but hopefully those New Year's resolutions have not completely gone out the window just yet. I, for one, have not had the greatest of willpower over the last month, but I'm trying hard to get back on track. It's just really unfortunate that chocolate tastes so much better than say, brussel sprouts.
Aside from obvious taste preferences, though, my biggest problem these days is time. I'm busy! Sometimes I just don't have time to cook a healthy meal. Or if I do have time, I completely lack the energy... we've all been there. Or, I get sick and spend three days straight laid up on my couch wanting to die, which is how I spent most of last week. So, unfortunately, we spend more nights than we really should ordering in pizza or Chinese food from our favorite restaurant down the street. Sometimes it's just too easy to let someone else do the work for me, even if the options aren't always that healthful.
But this pasta kind of invalidates all of those excuses. It comes together in a matter of minutes, with very little effort. I'd wager that you could make this in less time than it would take that Chinese take-out to get to your house. And it's healthy without tasting like diet food. It's packed with flavor, but not with calories! If you've never had sun-dried tomatoes, you're really missing out... they add a wonderful savory-sweetness to just about any dish, and they pair amazingly well with a little pesto and broccoli. Add some creamy cannelini beans for protein and you've got yourself a delicious, guiltless, vegetarian meal in under 20 minutes. Beat that, delivery boy!
So who's ready to jump back on that healthy-eating bandwagon, huh?
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Pork carnitas have always been a restaurant favorite of mine. Oddly enough, my first experience with carnitas was back when I worked at Red Robin. I ordered the carnitas fajitas on my lunch break one day when I had a Mexican food craving, and was blown away! Since then I almost always order carnitas whenever they're on the menu... and I've never been disappointed.
It was only a matter of time before I decided to give carnitas a try at home. And it was so easy, I'll definitely do it again! Traditionally, pork shoulder is roasted in a whole bunch of lard to make carnitas, which is tasty and all but not exactly healthy. Luckily slow cooking in the crock pot delivers a similar tenderness without all the fat... the slower the better! I also appreciated the distinctive zing that the orange added to this recipe, but next time I think I'll try lime instead, just to see if there's a perceptible difference.
Enjoy this tender pork tucked inside some corn tortillas with a little Montery-Jack cheese and fresh cilantro like we did, or turn it into some fantastic fajitas... or heck, just enjoy it all by itself! But next time you need a dinner that tastes outta this world and basically cooks itself, look no further!