It's been a series of cooking fail after cooking flail, so I had to take a break from trying to clear out everything in my pantry to make something that I knew would turn out well: CARNITAS.
And oh my god, was it delicious and exactly what I needed. This recipe from Cafe Delites is my absolute favorite carnitas recipe. The only thing I do differently is that I omit the jalapeno and poblano peppers.
I usually just throw everything in the slow cooker, let it cook on Low for 8 hours, then I transfer the meat into a bowl, and I shred it all up. The recipe states that you should broil or pan fry it for better texture, but the meat is already so good as-is. This time I did broil it though, and it was absolutely worth the extra five minutes of cooking. The crisp edges were 👌
I served this on some mini corn tortillas that I lightly fried on the pan with a little bit of water and oil. I topped the tacos with some cilantro lime rice, sweet onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime.
SO GOOD. And SO BEAUTIFUL. So beautiful, that I had to take a whole bunch of pictures and post them here.
I even went back for a fifth taco!
I'm going to take a brief pause from my Teochew work to show you these tacos that I made last night.
They were so good. Also so much work. So so much work. I used this crispy braised chipotle beef taco recipe that I found on Half Baked Harvest (my co-workers rave about this site). I opted for the slow cooker version of this, which I think is less work than using the stove and oven, but it was still a lot.
I had planned to go play DDR that morning, but I wanted to get the beef cooking first, so I got up early and bought ingredients, prepped the sauce, and cut up the meat. The recipe says to use a blender to blend up the ingredients, but my only blender is a single serving size Nutribullet, which definitely was not big enough for this. I used my food processor instead, and it made me wonder why this recipe specifically called for using a blender.
Well, I hit the "LOW" button and suddenly a bunch of sauce spilled out of the container and went flying everywhere! 😱 And then when I went to pour the sauce into the slow cooker, it was splashing all over the place!
Okay, I guess that's why they say to blend liquids in a blender.
It all turned out well though. If I ever make this again, I'll want to use a fattier cut of meat, and I would probably forgo the blending altogether. Just dump everything in the slow cooker, and I'm sure it would taste just as good.
I had COVID a little over a month ago, and I was mostly confined to my aunt's guest room for five days. I ended up staying at my aunt's house for a week longer than I anticipated, so once I got back to Pittsburgh I was itching to cook again. I actually only had a week before having to go back to my aunt's house again, but now, NOW, I'm back in my apartment, and I am doing lots of cooking.
I'm trying to remember why I decided to make enchiladas, because I'm not the biggest fan of them. I think I had tortillas in the fridge from a while ago. I also had some of that dry pulled pork that came from a pork loin. Yup, that's why. I wanted to use the rest of that.
I decided to try this vegan black bean and avocado enchilada recipe from Budget Bytes, but of course I substituted the corn for pork in it which made it very much not vegan anymore.
But who cares! I wasn't looking for a vegan recipe. I was looking for an enchilada recipe. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how this turned out. After I had prepared the filling, I took a bite and I thought "Wow, this is pretty good". The fact that I could munch on the filling before I baked it in the oven was great, because man, this recipe took a really long time to make and I was getting hungry.
I ended up having a lot of leftover enchilada sauce, so once I got back to my apartment the second time, I decided to make more enchiladas. But I didn't really want to make pulled pork again (and I guess I could have actually gone the vegan route, but uh...I didn't) so I tried a different type of Mexican meat and I made chicken tinga.
Yeah, this was...okay. The recipe listed several methods of cooking the chicken, and I opted for just throwing some raw chicken into the tinga sauce and letting it cook on the pan and then shredding it. I think I should have slow cooked it for a few hours instead. I probably cooked the chicken for too long and it was kind of tough, so shredding it was a pain.
I also had to buy another can of chipotles in adobo sauce, and now I need to figure out what to do with the rest of the can again.
But I was still able to make tasty tacos! Even if the meat is not the best, I can just throw it on a corn tortilla with some onions and lime and cilantro and it's a beautiful meal.
Enchiladas ended up being easier the second time around since I didn't have to make the sauce from scratch. I mixed some of the chicken tinga sauce into my remaining enchilada sauce from before and I think I like that it made it a little lighter.
Overall, I'm happy with it! I actually still have leftover enchilada sauce, but I think I'm all enchilada'd out for a while now.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for spicy chipotle honey salmon bowls and it looked really good. It claims to be a good "weeknight dinner", but I found it to be way too much work, and it had too many components, so I don't think I'll ever make it again. I didn't even take a picture.
One of the ingredients that the recipe calls for is chipotles in adobo sauce, so I bought a little can of it. I tried a little, and it was so much spicier than I expected, so I didn't use nearly as much as the recipe said to. This meant that I had almost a full can of these chipotles left and no idea what to do with them.
But I thought, "I can improvise! I'll make some fajitas!" So I bought a pack of shrimp and some bell peppers and tortillas, and I tried to throw something together.
It was not good. Honestly. I know they look good in the photo, but tacos always look good. The shrimp just tasted weird. Maybe I marinated it and cooked it for too long. And the marinade I made was also bad.
Okay, so I had to try something simpler. I figured since these were so spicy that I could throw a couple of peppers into hummus and blend it up.
Well, it wasn't really hummus. I only had half a lemon and I didn't have as much tahini as I needed for a single can of chickpeas. And then when I was at Aldi, I couldn't find any pita bread, so I bought naan instead. But it tasted great when I dipped a warm piece of naan in it, and now I think I'll always get naan for hummus.
Finally, I threw some of the chipotles into a large batch of pulled pork for some tacos. This time I actually used a recipe that I know works well, and I just added the chipotles to it. (And sugar! I always add sugar)
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a small piece of pork butt, so I bought a pork loin instead, and man was it dry. But that's okay, it wasn't terrible, so I just decided to buy lots of toppings to put on top.
It also made for some good breakfast bowls.
As part of my newly established Lunar New Year tradition, I made fish tacos! I have no idea how long I've been keeping these tilapia fillets in the freezer, but I'm really trying to actually clear out the food in my kitchen. I've made these spiced
catfish tacos so many times, and it's become one of my go-to recipes.
In the past, I've sliced up the sweet potatoes in thin quarter circle shapes, but this time I went with dicing, and I think that makes their flavor stand out more in the taco. And in my continued effort to not accumulate more food in my kitchen, I bought a bag of "RAINBOW VEGGIE SLAW" instead of buying a head of cabbage. Plus it's easier since I don't have to cut up any cabbage.
I cooked five tilapia fillets and we just about finished all of it. That mayonnaise + lime + sugar dressing makes it so good. We just had a single half of a fillet left, which I ate the next day (as well as a pork taco using leftover pulled pork from another meal).