Thursday, May 19, 2011

Slow Cooked Puerto Rican Pork

Today’s recipe is quite different from the Artichoke Heart Stuffed Shells I told you about earlier this week.  Those shells were crazy delicious, but they were quite time and labor intensive.  Today’s recipe?  Not so much.  In the time and labor department, that is.  This truly might be the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted.  But don’t let that fool you into thinking the flavor suffers one bit for lack of effort.  One taste of this Slow Cooked Puerto Rican Pork just might make you swoon.  And if you make this for the man in your life, I absolutely guarantee you’ll make him swoon – and love you forever. 

This recipe is based on the traditional Puerto Rican recipe for Pernil, a dish consisting of pork shoulder simply prepared and cooked for hours in the oven.  Taking the same flavors and placing them in a slow cooker makes for a recipe that absolutely couldn’t be easier.  Or tastier.  When it’s done cooking, this pork is juicy, succulent, and fall apart tender.  It’s a little salty, a little tangy, a little garlicky, and completely delicious.  You can serve it with rice or beans, use it to stuff tortillas, or just eat it straight out of the slow cooker.  However you serve it, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser – which is good, since this recipe makes enough to feed a small crowd.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Artichoke Heart Stuffed Shells with Lemon Ricotta Sauce

When I went back to work full-time a little over a month ago, I had no energy to cook.  For the first few weeks, we ate takeout, frozen meals, cereal, and the most basic homemade food possible.  Stan was okay with it, but I was less than thrilled with the lackluster options gracing our table.  Fortunately, after a few weeks, I got my energy and my cooking mojo back.  I’m still all about easy, quick-cooking meals during the week, but on the weekends, I like to take the time to have a little fun in the kitchen. 

Last weekend, my culinary project was these Artichoke Heart Stuffed Shells with Lemon Ricotta Sauce.  This recipe is a great one for the weekend because it has a few more steps than I imagine most of us have time for during the week – you have to cook the pasta, make the filling, and make the sauce.  However, the steps are easy, and the end result is so worth the effort.  Tender pasta shells are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of artichoke hearts, onions and two kinds of cheese.  They are bathed in a light and creamy white sauce made with ricotta cheese and fresh lemon.  The final product is incredibly delicious – and is a much lighter take on stuffed shells than the more traditional red sauce-smothered, cheese-laden variety. 

To be honest with you, I was afraid these shells would be a little too light for Stan.  They are meatless and full of (in his opinion) girly ingredients.  However, much to my surprise, Stan loved these stuffed shells.  Seriously, I had to take the pan and hide it in the kitchen so he wouldn’t eat the entire batch in one night.  And he actually pouted a little.  Over girly food.  If that doesn’t convince you to try this recipe, I don’t know what will.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Strawberries with Cannoli Cream Dip

I don’t know about you, but after last week’s hearty, Mexican-inspired recipes, I’m in the mood for something a little lighter.  A little more Spring-like.  Something containing fruit.  Something like today’s recipe for Strawberries with Cannoli Cream Dip.

I’ve had this recipe saved to try for about a year.  A big sale on strawberries last week gave me the excuse I’d been waiting for to try it out.  Of course, like so many recipes I tell you about, after just one bite, I kicked myself for not trying this one sooner.

Imagine all of the creamy, slightly sweet flavor of traditional cannoli filling paired with juicy, ripe strawberries instead of the typical cookie wrapper.  Heavenly – as good as the original with a springtime twist.  If you’re not a fan of strawberries, this dip would also be amazing as a dip for cookies or graham crackers, spread on top of brownies, or even as a topper for cupcakes.  It’s even good straight out of the bowl.  Not that I would eat dip right from the bowl or anything… Just sayin’.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ground Beef Enchiladas

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you might remember a post I did quite awhile back for Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells.  That recipe took a Tex-Mex flavored ground beef filling and stuffed it into jumbo pasta shells.  What you ended up with was an Italian-looking recipe that tasted decidedly South of the border.  A weird fusion, I know, but extremely delicious.

Today’s Ground Beef Enchiladas are a spin-off of those Tex-Mex Stuffed Shells.  I took the ground beef filling we loved in the shells and rolled it into whole wheat tortillas – something we have on hand much more frequently than jumbo shells.  The result? Recipe adaptation awesomeness.  The flavorful meat filling and the easy, homemade enchilada sauce worked just as well with tortillas as with pasta.  If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing, crowd-feeding recipe for your Cinco de Mayo festivities, look no further than these ground beef enchiladas.

P.S. Please do not be alarmed by the extremely shiny cheese topping my enchiladas.  I was experimenting with a new brand of reduced-fat cheese.  While the cheese did actually taste okay, it formed that lovely, shiny, rubbery layer that low-fat cheeses tend to do.  Lesson learned.


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