Fajita Seasoning

Fajita Seasoning 1

Having this seasoning mix on hand makes dinner easy breezy!  (lemon squeezy??) Make a double batch and you can keep it for months in a cool, dry spot.  Use it on vegetables, fish or meat alike, these flavours go so well together and make dinner quick and simple.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

How easy is this? just toss it all into a bowl and thoroughly mix.  Do yourself a favour and make lots.

Fajita Seasoning

Just looking at this, you can tell it’s tasty, right??

This works with anything your imagination can come up with …. salad dressing or vegetable dip or seafood bake …. you let me know if you come up with more!

 

For fajitas:

  • protein (or not to make it vegetarian)
  • onions
  • peppers

 

To make fajitas, simply generously sprinkle slivered chicken (or any meat, seafood of your choice) and toss in fry pan until just cooked through.

Cook sliced peppers and onions separately so they don’t overcook.

Serve with:

  • lime crema (sounds fancy, but it’s just a squeeze of lime juice with sour cream and a bit of salt)
  • salsa
  • avocado
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • tortillas

You can so easily turn this into what is crazy popular right now,  power bowls!  Just serve with cooked quinoa or grain of your choice.

Turn it into a sheet pan dinner, also featured everywhere right now, just generously sprinkle everything with the seasoning and toss it into a hot oven (?400?).

Yes, you are welcome, you didn’t know dinner could be so quick, easy, healthy and delicious, did you???

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Tonkatsu Sauce

Who knew tonkatsu sauce was so easy to make?  We were lucky enough to get some Japanese chow mein from the Japanese bazaar, and it seemed a perfect time to cook up a pork cutlet with tonkatsu sauce.

Pork cutlet with Tonkatsu

Japanese chow mein is such a treat, I love the way it tastes crunchy with the lightest of seasonings.  It goes so well with many dishes.  Tonight we served it alongside the pork cutlet with tonkatsu and bok choy with peppers and lemon tahini sauce.

  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili oil

Whisk together and adjust to your liking.  Traditionalists will use 1 tsp sugar instead of the chili oil but we really like the additional bite of heat.

 

Almost Shake Shack sauce!

IMG_4127

Almost famous all right …. Make your own Shake Shack sauce.

 

This creamy sauce will take your home made burger right to the level of that famous burger at Shake Shack.

In order to replicate the burger all the way – make sure you use good beef, 1/4 pound of it per burger, and cook it on a flat surface … without greasing the pan!  That creates the crisp exterior.

Use soft potato buns, lightly butter and grill or toast.

Lettuce, tomato, pickles and this amazing sauce will complete the deal.  And you may never buy another burger!

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 4 slices kosher dill pickle
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
IMG_4134

Maybe not the best presentation photo, but this creamy, slighty tangy sauce takes your burger to lip smacking, napkin required level.

Perfect Pulled Pork

During the winter months we just can’t use our smoker ….. too cold, it’s buried under snow and nobody wants to be out there checking the temperature.  I have a perfectly acceptable and delicious slow cooker recipe for pulled pork, but I’ve been looking for one that roasts low and slow in the oven for those crispy bits around the outside.  I found this one on a website:  www.kevinandamanda.com

Pulled pork rice bowl

I know, I know …. pulled pork sammies are the way to go, but we have not been eating a lot of wheat products, so for the second night we had “pulled pork bowls” and you know what???  I liked it even better!

It’s rare that I don’t make any changes, but this was phenomenal just the way it was written, and we all devoured it.

1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast

Dry Rub

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cups cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and dry rub and stir well to combine.

Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place in a 2 gallon ziploc bag (or a container big enough so the shoulder is completely covered in brine solution). You can add more water if necessary to completely cover the pork.

And add two dried bay leaves.

And refrigerate for at least 12 hours. 24-36 hours is best. I usually do it about 24 hours. Make sure that however you keep it, either bag or container – that it is completely submerged.

At least 12 hours later…

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. (Yes, 225 degrees, that is not a typo :)) Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution and place in the roasting pan

Pat the skin dry with paper towels so you’ll get a nice, crisp crust.

Generously, generously, cover the WHOLE thing in your dry rub mix.And massage it into that skin real good. Be sure and get it up under any flaps you may come across.  Make sure the fat layer is on TOP.

Place uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack.  This is totally adjustable.  The original recipe had the roast cooking for 13 hours, but I just didn’t have that much time.  I adjusted the temp to 250 for a 4 1/2 pound roast, and it took about 6 hours.

When shoulder has reached 200 degrees, turn off the oven and let the roast rest for about 2 hours before removing from the oven.  Keep the thermometer in the meat, so you can monitor the temperature. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the resting period. Mine still had a lot of moisture in the bottom, so I didn’t cover mine.

Pulled Pork 1

After a couple hours, when the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove the shoulder from the oven.

Remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Using two large forks, begin pulling the meat apart. It will fall apart *very* easily and it should not take you long at all to pull apart this whole roast.  If you can stop yourself nibbling while you do this, it will feed quite a crowd!

Pulled Pork

Serve on buns with creamy cole slaw and prepare to be licking your fingers. My recipe for:

Jean’s creamy cole slaw 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.

 

Tart and Tangy Thai Pork Noodles

This makes for a quick and easy dinner, using one skillet (or wok), and just involves a bit of chopping.  As always, please please, taste your marinade before adding cornstarch.  If you don’t smack your lips and say yum yum, try adjusting.  Maybe you like it spicier?  – add chile flakes.  Maybe you like it more tart?  – add lime.  Any dish that has Thai in the title should be well balanced, with salty, sweet, spicy & sour in perfect harmony. Once you get that perfect balance add the corn starch.

Pork noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless pork loin,  cut into strips
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons soya sauce (reduced sodium)
  •  4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
  •  broccoli florets
  • carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • bamboo shoots (optional)
  • water chestnuts (optional)

Realistically – – – all the vegetables are optional, use whatever you like, just make sure you have a good assortment of color and crunch.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Remove enough just to cover pork and place in bowl.
  2. Add pork, marinate while preparing pasta and vegetables or up to overnight.
  3. Cook (or soak) rice noodles according to package directions, drain.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic & ginger for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.
  7. Add remaining oil and pork mixture to skillet. Cook until pork is nicely browned.
  8. Remove pork, keep warm and stir in remaining marinade to skillet.  Cook until bubbly so the cornstarch is cooked through and thickens.
  9. Return pork & vegetables to skillet, add rice noodles, heat through and serve.

Garnishes:  sliced green onions, toasted and chopped peanuts and roughly chopped cilantro.

This dish works equally well if you want to make it a vegetarian dish, or decide to change up the protein, try:

  • sliced chicken thighs
  • prawns
  • seafood

We like rice noodles, but you could easily use any type of pasta you have on hand like chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.

Hawaiian Pork Bowl

All the fresh vegetables in the garden inspired me to create this Hawaiian Pork bowl with a combination of raw and grilled vegetables.  The recipe originated from a Food and Wine magazine but I couldn’t resist tweaking it a bit, and definitely adding more vegetables.

Pork Bowl 4

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 English breakfast tea bags
  • One 1-pound pork tenderloin, butterflied and flattened
  • 4 slices cooked bacon
  • Three 1/2-inch-thick 
slices of fresh pineapple—peeled, quartered and cored
  • 1 red onion, cut through the core into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 1 red pepper, quartered
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 a jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soya sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, plus sprigs for serving

(I can’t say this enough, TASTE your jalapeno for spiciness, and add as much as you enjoy.)

 

  • Steamed rice, crisp bacon, diced avocado 
and thinly sliced 
jalapeño, for serving

In a large bowl, combine the boiling water, sugar and tea bags and let stand for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags and stir the tea to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely, then add the pork and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Pork bowl

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Drain the pork and pat 
dry with paper towels. Brush the pork, pineapple, zucchini and red onion with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 
the pork over high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the pork registers 135°, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a carving board and let 
rest for 5 minutes, then slice the pork against the grain. Meanwhile, grill the pineapple and vegetables, turning until charred, about 4 -8 minutes.

Pork bowl 2

In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice with the minced cilantro, sugar, garlic, soya sauce, minced jalapeno, sesame oil and the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

Serve the pork, and vegetables over steamed 
rice with crisp bacon, diced avocado, thinly sliced jalapeño 
.Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Pork Bowl 3