Valentine’s Day Quick Carnitas Tacos

fullsizerender-3On a whim, I decided to make carnitas tacos for Valentine’s Day dinner at home.  I didn’t have to worry about not thinking ahead because my pressure cooker would cook the meat even if it wasn’t all the way thawed in time.  Whew!

Thankfully I’d thrown a pork shoulder in the freezer when they’d been on sale at the grocery store, so I’d just have to rummage through the refrigerator and cupboard to see what I could cobble together to make a meal.

Appetizer:  Spicy Pickled Carrots & Jalapenos

  • 6 Carrotsfullsizerender-4
  • 2 Large Jalapenos
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water

Boil the water and apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When at a full rolling boil shut off the flame and immediately add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir once and let stand for about an hour.  Serve at room temperature, or if you have time, refrigerate to bring out even more flavor.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within a week.

Now on to the main course.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 4-6 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Large Fresh Lemon
  • 1 Jalapeño Sliced in Half
  • 1 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth


  1. Set the pressure cook to brown setting
  2. Pour the oil into the pressure cooker
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and cloves on all sides of the pork
  4. Place the pork in the pressure cooker and brown on all sides
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the pork, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, halved jalapeño, the squeezed lemons and the chicken broth
  6. Cover the pressure cooker, lock on the lid, and bring to high pressure
  7. Cook pork at high pressure for 45 minutes
  8. Turn off and allow pressure to release naturally
  9. Transfer pork to a baking sheet
  10. Preheat the broiler to high
  11. Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet
  12. Broil until the pork starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
  13. Serve with warm corn tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, pepper jack or cojito cheese, hot sauce and wedges of lime

A can of refried beans, a couple of street tacos and a beer and it’s a meal!

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Thanksgiving Night Helper

Bon Appétit is always such a lifesaver!

When we are at a loss for how to wow dinner guests, they have just the recipe for us.

glazed-and-lacquered-turkey-overhead-horizontalWhen we’ve agreed to host the feast and  bitten off a more than we could chew , I meant do, they’re there for us with Live (yes! Live) help via Facebook, podcasts we can play again and again, and even via shared tips and tricks on Instagram.

Tonight they seek to come to our rescue yet again, this time with a recipe to help all of us digest the mass amounts of food that we all intend to stuff into our bodies on Thanksgiving day.

Mint, ginger, fennel, and cayenne are known for their digestive properties.

Their recommendation is to have this ready for the morning after, but why suffer all night with a bloated belly?  I would make this the  day before, when you are prepping the rest of your feast, and make a double batch so it’s ready to go before you hit the hay on Thanksgiving night.

Overeater’s Tonic

Makes about 3 cups

  • 3 sprigs mint
  • 1 1½-inch piece turmeric, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly slicedovereaters-tonic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds or aniseed
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon aromatic bitters
  1. Muddle mint sprigs, turmeric, ginger, fennel seeds, and cayenne in a 4-cup measuring glass until turmeric and ginger are broken up into bits.
  2. Add vinegar, honey, bitters, and 3 cups cold water; stir to dissolve honey.
  3. Chill until very cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  4. Strain.
Per 4 servings: Calories (kcal) 60 Fat (g) 0 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 13 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 8 Protein (g) 0 Sodium (mg) 10

Tip:  Turn this into a spritzer by using club soda instead of water.

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Prepping For an Unexpected Surgery

Sesamoiditis14 1/2 years ago I underwent a procedure to repair a broken sesamoid bone in my foot that had gone untreated, although I had sought help, for roughly two years.  When I finally had the source of my pain identified it resulted in a screw being inserted in my foot but the doctor was a bit aggressive in his treatment, his expectations of recovery, and then difficult when the treatment and surgery proved unsuccessful.  I had issues/side effects from medications he prescribed that resulted in weight gain that I still haven’t been able to shake and my foot hasn’t healed properly!

The pain finally sent me to a different surgeon and the x-rays told a story that is not going to have a happy ending without another, more invasive, surgery and 8-12 weeks down afterward.

Of course it needs to happen ASAP, but I have lasted this long, what’s 3 more weeks?  I’m already canceling a trip to St. Lucia, missing the first 8 weeks of home and road USC Trojan football games and another planned short trip, but I dug my heels in when it came down to my 2 sets of Guns N Roses tickets for the 18th and 22nd of this month.  I can watch football on TV, but I have waited too long, and spent too much money to miss these shows.  The doctor said he wouldn’t let me go to either if we did it before those dates, so we are scheduled for the 25th.

That being said, I am amping up my fruits & vegetables, cutting back on carbs and boosting my intake of fish and chicken since I’ll be sitting on my butt for 8 weeks following surgery, unable to put any weight at all on the foot, I’ll be severely limited for at least 4 weeks after that, and then I’ll be right in the middle of holiday season.  I feel my jeans getting tighter already!  UG!!!

Apple-Cider-Vinegar-and-HoneyTo try and get ahead of this, the plan is to drink this concoction twice daily for the next three weeks to start flushing the anti-inflammatories (which thin my blood) and any other toxins out of my system, increase my hydration by trying to drink at least a gallon of water a day and stick to protein shakes for the 2 days immediately preceding the surgery.  I’m going to show my husband how to make this drink for me so that I can flush the medications and anesthesia out of my system after surgery so I can start feeling better as quickly as possible.

The flush consists of:

  • 8 oz Hot Water
  • 2 TBLS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TBLS Honey

Honey and Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) are said to be great for your health because:

  1. They act as a method of cleansing waste from your colon;
  2. Both are high in potassium, which regulates the amount of sodium and breaks up mucus in your blood which clears the lymph nodes and helps normalize blood pressure;
  3. Both high in magnesium which also assists with lowering blood pressure by reducing the amount of pressure on blood vessels;
  4. ACV boosts healing properties of the skin;
  5. ACV flushes environmental toxins from the liver;
  6. ACV increases energy levels;
  7. ACV lowers blood sugar;
  8. ACV suppresses your appetite & slows fat accumulation, so you might lose a few pounds;
  9. ACV, when mixed with an equal amount of warm water and gargled, kills the bacteria that causes colds, sore throats and sinus infections;
  10. ACV kills bad breath bacteria;
  11. Diluted ACV (mixed into water or juice) help settle that stomach.

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Quick Cucumber Salad

cucsaladI wish I had all day to experiment in the kitchen, but that is one luxury I do not have.

Between my “real” job, the groups/charities I volunteer my time to, my family, my dogs and the few other things I get to do in my free time, I rarely get as much time to create new recipes as I’d like.

Today was another one of those days.  You know, the kind with business meetings, tasks on the ever-growing to-do list, a trip to the hair salon, and a few other unexpected things, so I knew dinner time would be rushed as well.

This morning I put 2 frozen chicken breasts in a Rubbermaid container with some of my favorite marinade (Ponte’ Winery Scallion Oil Marinade/Dressing) with hopes that they’d defrost in time and then surveyed the refrigerator for what I’d be able to serve with them.

oxoI really am trying to cut back on the carbs, fat and extra calories in our diets, so a cold salad I could marinate all day would be just the right choice!  Plus, I’d get to use my new kitchen tool: my OXO slicer/grater.

Quick Cucumber Salad

  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Small Yellow Onion
  • 1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 6 Large Leaves Fresh Basil
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  1. Using either a very sharp knife or a Mandolin slicer (I use the OXO Complete Grate & Slicer Set), thinly slice the cucumber, the tomatoes and the onion and combine in a gallon sized zip bag.
  2. Stack the basil leaves and roll like a cigar and then thinly slice into narrow strips.  Add the basil to the zip bag.
  3. Add pepper, vinegar, and olive oil to the zip bag.
  4. Seal the bag and shake the contents vigorously.
  5. Open the zip bag then push the air out and reseal.
  6. Place the salad in the refrigerator until time to serve.
  7. Before serving, open the zip bag again to allow air to enter, then reseal and shake the salad to mix before place on plates to serve.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: