New Year’s Resolutions

I really meant to keep up the blog.  Really I did.

Then life happened.

I got a promotion at work, which meant I was working full rather than part time and still going to school, so things fell by the wayside a bit.  But I’m back baby!  Sorry for the long absence.  I’m still working and going to school, but things have calmed down a bit, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up the blog.  If not, mea culpa.

I have two new year’s resolutions this year: keep the house cleaner and go dancing once a week.

On the house cleaning front, I have created a comprehensive chore list and programmed it into my and my husband’s google calendars.  We each have light morning chores–I make the bed, he puts a load of laundry in the washer, we each wipe down a bathroom sink and toilet, he feeds the cats, and I feed the chickens and collect eggs.  In the evenings he puts the laundry in the dryer, I fold it, we clean up the kitchen together, and we each declutter one of the main living spaces.  On top of that, we each do one weekly chore per day (we trade off every week).  So far I’ve managed to keep up with it–our bed hasn’t been made this often since…umm…ever.  This morning I even managed to do it with a cat on top!

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As far as dancing once a week, I’m planning to go on Tuesday.  I miss it and I am sorely out of practice, so hopefully I’ll make the time to keep going!

On the food front, I made really really good pulled pork in the crockpot today.  With our busy schedules, I am going to need to utilize that appliance way more often.

A couple of ideas for all that chile verde.

I mentioned in my last post that we’ve been using the chile verde I made for all sorts of things.  My husband and I often have a lot going on, so sometimes we don’t have time to do a ton of cooking.  Because of this, we often make up dishes that we can use throughout the week.  I thought I’d do a quick post to show you some options for chile verde (or other taco meat dishes like carnitas or barbaracoa).  First up?  Breakfast!

Breakfast: Chile Verde Huevos Rancheros

A love of breakfast totally runs in my family.  My dad makes awesome breakfasts and my sisters and I are all huge fans of the meal, especially when eggs are involved.  One of my favorite egg breakfasts is huevos rancheros.  This is basically just fried eggs (usually either sunny side up or over easy) put on tortillas and topped with salsa.  It is often served with a side of beans.  One reason this dish is so awesome is that you can dress it up or down using basically whatever you have on hand.  This morning i didn’t have beans, but I did have chile verde and some homemade tomato salsa.

Om nom nom.  Delicious!  Plus, this dish is super easy to make.  You literally just throw it together and eat it.  I topped my overeasy eggs with some chile verde, salsa, onion and cilantro, and devoured it with a couple of corn tortillas.  It took all of 5 minutes to make, making this a perfect weekday breakfast.  Add a side of black beans and a bloody mary, and you are in prime brunch territory.

Lunch: Taco Time!

The difficult thing about street style tacos is that they pretty much have to be eaten right when they are made.  Otherwise the tortilla gets soggy and the onion just overpowers everything.  The solution?  Pack everything separately!

The toppings I like to use are chopped white onion, chopped cilantro, shredded jack cheese, and some fresh lime wedges.  Other options could be chopped fresh jalapenos, pico de gallo, etc.  We have glass containers with plastic lids that we use for lunches, but as long as you can microwave the container containing the pork (or you don’t mind munching on it cold), you could use whatever you have.  Another option that might work better for school kids or those who don’t have access to a microwave at lunch time is to pack the pork in a thermos so it stays hot.

The beauty of this system is that you can do it in a couple of ways.  You can make individual tacos and put the toppings on them as you eat them, or you can put the toppings onto the pork and eat it out of the container, using the tortillas more like a side.  You could also pack a larger flour tortilla and include some beans and/or rice and voila: burrito time!  The modular system is one of my favorite ways to pack lunches because it can be done ahead without things getting mushy.

If you have enough containers and/or room in your fridge, you could even pack several days worth and just fill your lunch box morning of.  Easy peasy.  Don’t forget to include a napkin and a fork!

Chilly Weather = Chile Weather!

Back in the day, I was a vegetarian for 6 or 7 years.  Then one day I was at a farmer’s market in Walla Walla, Washington with one of my best friends and she told me that she was eating the best thing she had ever tasted.  That thing was a freshly made pork sausage with sweet onions, all locally sourced.  I took a bite and declared that I was no longer a vegetarian.

My point is that if there was ever a reason for eating meat, it’s pork.  Pork is delicious!  It is also incredibly versatile, running the gamut from decadently fatty bacon (which I like to think of as the candy of meats) to lean and healthy tenderloin.  The tenderloin does get less healthy when you wrap it in bacon like I usually do, but that is beside the point.   I still eat vegetarian a good chunk of the time (because vegetables are awesome), but every once in a while pork really sounds good.  And by every once in a while I mean this week.

I had about 3.5 pounds of pork tenderloin in my freezer that needed to be used and when my husband said he was in the mood for Mexican food, I hit upon the perfect solution: chile verde.  Chile verde is basically a stew with pork, various peppers, garlic, and tomatillos.  It can be eaten straight up in stew form or used as a taco filling.  It is also a perfect slow cooker recipe.

I used this recipe from the Food Network as the basis for my chile verde, although I made a few alterations.  For one thing, I love the flavor of roasted chiles, so I roasted all the peppers along with the tomatillos.  I took before and after pictures of this but then accidentally deleted them from my camera.  Doh!  It was pretty straightforward, though.  I just cut all the peppers into chunks and threw them under the broiler on a sheet pan.  Another alteration I made was whirring the tomatillos in the food processor rather than chopping them.  Also, after I sauteed the vegetables I deglazed the pan with tequila.  Then everything went into the crock pot.

I set it for 3 hours on high, but you could also set it for ~6-8 hours on low and it would work fine.  At this point you could call it done and serve it as a stew.  We wanted it for tacos, however, so I strained out the solids using a colander.

Then I pulled out all the pork pieces and shredded them using two forks.

Once all the pork was shredded, the peppers and onions got added back in.  I also added a little of the broth to give it some moisture (I reserved the rest of the broth for tortilla soup).  Once that was done, I did a final seasoning and called it good.

We’ve been eating this as a taco filling with corn tortillas, fresh lime, cilantro, & a little jack cheese and it is awesome!  It’s also really good with eggs for sort of a huevos rancheros style breakfast.

Do you like to use a slow cooker?  What are your go-to recipes?