Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care’s mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Paleo Turkey Lettuce Wraps (AKA Turkey Larb)

Turkey Lettuce wraps

Here is a great light Thai inspired dish that I have made numerous times! And falls into the Paleo category. I have been trying to find other alternative recipes  to red meat (beef), and honestly after watching “CowSpiracy” I have been avoiding red meat about 95% of the time. That movie was such an eye-opener! Surprisingly, Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer. Anyway, hope you enjoy this simple light recipe, it was inspired by a recipe I found in Women’s Health Magazine back in 2012.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp organic canola oil
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 3 small shallots, diced
  • 1 piece of lemongrass (4″ long) minced
  • 1 Thai or Serrano chili, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb of 99% fat-free ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp of sriracha (optional for a bit more “kick”)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 head of organic butter lettuce

Directions:

  • In a bowl, whisk lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce, and honey.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, shallots, lemongrass, and chili. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add turkey to skillet and Siracha. Season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently and making sure turkey does not stay in large chunks. Cook until meat and vegetables are cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mint and season with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon turkey mixture onto lettuce leaves and serve.

Thai lettuce wrap ingredients

Classic Italian Risotto

Classic Italian Risotto

Okay, since I’m mostly Swedish, I cannot claim to have a perfect Italian Risotto, but my psuedo-Italian husband can! He definitely “thinks” he’s Italian, especially since he spent a number of year in Italy. Being green-eyed and blond-haired, the Italians always questioned his origin… it’s actually Michigan! Nevertheless, after many years, I can honestly say he has mastered the classic Italian risotto. And according to my children, I am incapable of making his perfected recipe. I actually don’t mind handing over the kitchen to him once in a while, so HE can “slave over the hot stove”.

The key to an honest Risotto, is definitely the broth, (my recipe can be found here). You also need to make sure you use Arborio rice. It is an Italian short-grain rice, named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, which is situated in the main growing region. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy, and chewy if cooked just right. The key is cooking then stirring, cooking then stirring, a labor of love for sure.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onions
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of dry white wine
  • 5 cups of homemade broth
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 cups of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Warm the broth in a pot on low heat, making sure it does not boil. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, add oil, butter then onions and sauté for several minutes until they become translucent. Add in the Aborio rice and stir to coat.  Now here comes the hard part, you are going to add in the liquid 1 cup at a time and stir to cook. Start with the wine, as you want this to cook down over time, then alternate with the broth. You’re going to keep adding in the liquid one cup at a time for at least 20 minutes, maybe more. The point is to add the liquid in small doses, and stir it as it absorbs. When the rice starts to get a little puffy you want add in the strands of saffron. Stir for a couple of minutes, and then start tasting it. You want the rice to be firm, but not hard in the center. Once you get the right consistency, get your warm plates and ladle ready, add in the parmesan cheese and stir. You might need to add a little salt at the end, but remember the parmesan cheese is quite salty. Now you ladle one large scoop onto each warm plate, and jiggle it around so flatten it out. Remember this is really rich, so please don’t make the portions too big. Think Italian size… not American portion. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top… Mangiare subito!

Flavorful Bone Broth

bone broth

I love to have bone/meat broth on hand at all times. Especially, when my husband makes his Italian Risotto. This broth is truly the key to the most hearty, deep and rich risotto. We also use the broth occasionally to flavor pasta, rice, or even broccoli. It’s also great for sauces!  The little Italian ladies in the country-side of northern Italy would make this for my husband, when he came down with a cold so it has some amazing health benefits: containing minerals, healthy fats, collagen, amino acids, and more.

Ingredients:

  • 3 beef bones (soup bones)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large chopped onion (or 2 medium)
  • 8 chopped carrots
  • 8 chopped celery stalks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of salt (more if desired)
  • 1 whole fryer chicken
  • 1 ½ lb. beef (I used top round steaks)

Begin by roasting your soup bones. I like to set my oven to 375ºF and bake my bones and meat for about 30 minutes, or until they begin to brown. In a 20 quart stock pot add in olive oil and chopped onions, cook for 2 minutes, then add in the carrots and celery. Stir to coat with oil and cook for 5 minutes. Add in salt and bay leaves. Add in 12 cups of water (preferably filtered). Scrape the roasted bones into the pot along with any juices. Add in the chicken and beef. Add more water if necessary to cover bones, meats and vegetables. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally, for at least 8 but up to 24 hours on the stovetop. The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will be. Add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged. Once the broth has cooled down, you’re ready to strain it and store it! Strain it through a fine sieve. Your broth will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, or a few months in the freezer.

Pan-Seared Chicken Breast with Caper Lemon Sauce

chicken-capers-lemon

I’m always trying to find other ways to make chicken, as we are making a conscious effort to try and eat less red meat. I have some dairy items in this recipe but they can be replaced if you are trying to stay away from it. This recipe is pretty easy and quick and goes great with roasted potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (filleted and pounded) Organic preferred
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp of lemon
  • 1 cup flour (organic preferred)
  • 2 tbsp butter (divided)

Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped shallots
  • ¼ cup capers
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup cream (optional – can use a paste of four and water to thicken sauce)

Directions:

If you have whole chicken breasts, you can first remove the tenderloin first, then filet the breast. Pound out all of the pieces so they are thin, approximately ¼”. If all your pieces are the same thickness they will cook evenly and at the same time. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs, with lemon and 1 tsp of salt. Place the chicken into egg mixture. You can do this proceed before cooking, for a little extra time in the marinade. I marinated them for ½ hour.

For the sauce you will melt the butter and oil in a saucepan, add in the chopped shallots and cook on medium high heat, but be sure not to burn them. Then add in the capers and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the capers and onions from the pan, leaving the liquids (butter/oil) in the pan. Now you can dredge the chicken breasts. I dredge them as I cook them so they don’t sit in the flour. Add 1 tbsp of butter and place the chicken pieces, spaced so they do not touch. Cook the chicken until crispy on both sides (approx. 2 minutes a side). Repeat, adding butter and additional chicken pieces. Once all pieces are cooked you place them on a platter, or warming plate. Next you will add the caper/onion mixture back into the pan, scraping up any residue on the pan. Add in the mustard and lemon stirring frequently, then the chicken broth. Cook down the mixture for 3-5 minutes. Add in the cream and stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. If you prefer to avoid the cream you can add a mixture of 1 tbsp of flour in a cup with some warm water, until you have a flour paste. You can slowly whisk this into the sauce to thicken it. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve. (Additional sauce can be placed into a gravy boat).

Serves 4

Creamy Zucchini Pasta with Pecorino Cheese

creamy-zucchini-pasta

Yes, another pasta dish. Here is a simple pasta dish to make with some zucchini and pecorino. Makes 4 “european” size portions.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small yellow onion diced approximately ¾” cup
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 small-medium zucchini chopped in ¼” pieces
  • ½ cup pecorino cheese
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 4 servings of pasta – I used spaghetti but I think Fussili or Farfale would have been better

Preparation:

In large pot, boil pasta water. Add pasta to salted boiling water. Zucchini takes about 15 minutes to time your pasta accordingly. In a large sauce pan, on medium-high heat melt the butter. Add in the onions and garlic until translucent. Add in the zucchini and cook until zucchini start to brown slightly.  Add in the cream and cook until it thickens. (If sauce gets too thick you can add in some of the pasta water). Add salt to taste and parsley and basil. Drain pasta keeping some water for reserve (to thin out the sauce if too heavy for your liking). Plate pasta onto each bowl, add the zucchini mixture. Add in the cheese to each plate. Toss before eating.

Lamb with Pea Puree and Roasted Potatoes

Lamb with Pea Puree and Roasted Potatoes

With recommended pairings from my favorite book, The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dorenburg, I combined Lamb with rosemary & garlic; Potatoes with rosemary, garlic, sour cream and chives, and added in “pea puree”, combined with cooked onions, garlic, chives and creme fraîche.

For the lamb:

  • 3 lamb tenderloins
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp on chopped fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Place all of the ingredients in a plastic bag and add the lamb and move around to make sure the lamb is covered evenly with marinade. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. To cook the lamb place 2 tbsp of butter in iron skillet on high heat. Add salt and pepper to the lamb, and place lamb in skillet, sear all sides and cook until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees (for medium rare). Remove from skillet and allow the lamb to rest for 5 minutes. Internal temperature should be around 140-145 degrees.

For the potatoes:

  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of rosemary
  • 3 cups of new potatoes cut in half
  • salt
  • ½ cup sour creme
  • 1 tsp chopped chives

Set oven to bake at 400 degrees. Mix olive oil, rosemary and garlic in large mixing bowl. Add the potatoes and toss so potatoes are covered with oil mixture. Add potatoes to cookie sheet or large oven proof pan. Sprinkle salt on potatoes. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked. If you want to crisp them a bit, turn oven to broil and broil them for a few minutes until browned.

For the Pea Puree:

  • 1 bag of frozen sweet peas
  • ½ yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • ⅓ cup créme fraîche
  • salt

Cook the peas in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook stirring 3 -5 minutes until softened. Add in strained peas and cook for another minute. Transfer all ingredients including the chives to a food processor with an S blade. (my favorite is the Brevile Sous Chef) and puree until smooth. Place into a bowl, and slowly fold in the crime fraîche. Add salt to taste.

Plating:

Place a nice smear of the pea puree onto the center of the plate. Add the roasted potatoes on top of the puree on one side, and the lamb on the other side. Sprinkle lamb with parsley, add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives to the potatoes. And voilà! Dinner is served!

Swedish Meatballs

Homemade Swedish Meatballs with Cream Sauce and Parsley

This is probably one of the best Swedish Meatball recipes that I have ever tasted.. mainly because it comes from an authentic Swede… My mom! Who was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden! I sometimes make this recipe in large batches and store the mixture (prior to cooking) in the freezer. It’s a little time consuming but well worth it. The meatballs can be eaten with ketchup or you can go for gold… and make the cream sauce to go with it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (I prefer the 90% grass-fed)
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • ⅓ cup plain bread crumbs (unflavored)
  • ½ cup pureed onion
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley (leafs only)
  • 1 tsp salt to taste + 1 tsp for flour
  • ½ cup flour
  • butter (1 tbsp per batch of 20 meatballs)

Materials:

  • Food processor with S-blade
  • large plastic bag
  • measuring cups
  • Tsp and Tbsp
  • 12″ Iron Skillet
  • Small Sauce pan

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • Mix the egg together with the milk, stir in breadcrumbs and let sit for 5 min.
  • Place onion in food processor till pureed
  • Stir the onions into the milk and breadcrumb mixture
  • In a separate bowl, blend the two meats using hands or fork to mix
  • Add the chopped parsley to the meats – mix well
  • sprinkle in salt and mix well
  • Add meats and onion/breadcrumb mixture together
  • In a plastic bag, add ½ cup flour and 1 tsp of salt – shake well
  • Make round balls of the meat mixture no bigger than 1 inch for each ball
  • Place 10-14 meatballs in the bag with flour and gently turn bag to coat meatballs
  • Remove each meatball by rolling in hand to remove any excess flour
  • Place the coated meatballs a large platter
  • Repeat above steps to complete entire batch of meat
  • Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a 12″ iron skillet at medium high heat
  • Add 14-16 meatballs at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan
  • Roll the meatballs in the pan every minute so that they keep their round shape and don’t get burnt on one side
  • Fry until cooked through and evenly browned
  • Remove meatballs to a oven proof platter and scrape the drippings into a separate sauce pot
  • Repeat about directions to cook each of the 14-16 meatballs
  • with the last batch of meatballs – remove the meatballs and add in the reserved scrapings from saucepan
  • Place meatballs into the oven while you make the sauce

Now for the Swedish Cream sauce!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup Crème Fraîche
  • 16 oz beef stock
  • 1 tbsp “Better than Beef Boullion” paste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ cup beef stock
  • drippings from saucepan

Combine the drippings from sauce pan back into the iron skillet and add the beef stock, and bouillon paste. Cook down for 5 mins stirring occasionally. Add in the Crème Fraîche stir until well incorporated. In a cup, add the flour and slowly stir in the ¼ cup beef stock to form a paste. Add the flour paste to the iron skillet and whisk constantly to make sure there are no clumps of flour. This will thicken the sauce. Cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the meatballs from the oven and pour the sauce over them. You can sprinkle with a little chopped parsley for decoration. You are now done and ready to enjoy my mom’s traditional Swedish Meatballs. (Goes well with traditional mashed potatoes).