What I Ate: Pulled Pork Tacos

Today’s What I Ate post features my use for some leftovers. Like all What I Ate series editions, it isn’t recipe worthy but it made me really happy and was a great way to jazz up the leftovers.

Have you ever cooked a pork butt? It is hefty. I haven’t seen smaller ones than 3-ish pounds. That’s a heck of a lot of servings. The good news? It freezes well, reheats well, and has some alternative possibilities. It is pretty cheap too. It might be my favorite crockpot item. Woah.
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I used some pulled pork to make tacos and I loved every bite. I made pulled pork (like this crock pot pulled pork post from way back when) and we ate it a few times as bbq pulled pork, or on rolls. Then I served it with crunchy taco shells, black beans, and some slaw.
Pulled Pork Tacos
Hello taco!

The slaw was red cabbage mixed with some shredded carrots, cider vinegar, veggie oil, and a dash of sugar.  It was perfect, easy, and cheap. I loved that it felt reinvented and wasn’t exactly how we had eaten it before.

Any inspired leftover revamps to share?? 

What I Ate: Nacho Burger

I feel like a genius. I created an amazing burger out of nowhere. I made burgers out of ground pork, taco seasoning,  and some salsa con queso.

The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tbs taco seasoning
2 tbs salsa con queso

Directions:
Mix the ground pork (or beef/chicken/turkey) with taco seasoning and salsa con queso.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Form into patties and grill
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Top with sliced pepper jack cheese and some more salsa con queso!
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

This had some great spice and perfect cheesiness. I think the cheese sauce was a perfect way to keep the meat juicy. I served it with a vinegar based bean salad. We loved this one!

Portland Pie Pizza

The vacation of eating continues! Seriously, Portland ME is a foodie mecca (donuts & duckfat fries). I really hoped we’d make it to Portland Pie and it was everything I dreamed of. I buy their refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store and love it. It is the best, hands down. It worked out to be a great dinner option for the last night we were in town.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

I was really torn as to what I was in the mood for. Their fall specials looked amazing. I might need to recreate one of their fall dishes. There was a mustard/sauerkraut/bratwurst/pumpkin ale pizza that sounded amazing. I also was intrigued by a maple balsamic dressing for salad.

We got an app (even though Mr. J was all about the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert). I knew after all our eating we could not eat an app, pizza, and dessert. Way. too. much.

We chose the sweet potato smoked cheddar dip with rosemary biscotti.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

They were working the kinks out on this one. We actually sent it back to be reheated. The breadbowl it was in was nicely warmed, the cheddar on top of the dip was melted, but the dip was cold. It wasn’t just “not piping hot” but it was cold. We neverrr send stuff back but this was meant to be warm. It then took forever. Other tables got their salads, drink refills, salads cleared and pizza served while we waited.

The kitchen wasn’t sure the best way to reheat it while maintaining the dip. I wanted to cancel it but our server was a bit MIA. She returned telling us it would be ready when the pizza was and the kitchen made a new app. I really would have just cancelled it or they could have offered to take it off the bill. Instead they offered us dessert. That made Mr. J one happy guy.

Our server thought it would be ready when the pizza was so we asked for whatever was ready to come out. I didn’t want the pizza sitting to stay warm. I’m not sure it was worth all the hype for all of this process, but it was good. Smoked gouda would have been better.

We ordered 2 pizzas so there’d be some leftovers to take home for the next day. We got one Bar Harbor which was super exciting now that Mr. J eats scallops! Woohoo! It was scallops, bacon, mozzarella with alfredo sauce. It was amazing. The scallops were cooked nicely and every bite was flavorful. The topping to crust ratio was spot on.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

The other pizza we got was called Dead River. It was red sauce and had spinach, red peppers, ricotta, and we swapped out hamburger for sausage. It is finished with garlic and crushed red pepper. Some bites definitely have a kick to them. I liked this one a lot and it was a great contrast to the sweet & smokey scallop pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

One of my favorite things that happened was just too funny. For some reason our server didn’t seem sure that we were together. She packed the dessert to go as separate containers and asked if we each wanted some of each pizza packed up. I was so amused since we were celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary weekend!

I love their menu. I wish there was a Portland Pie near me! I’d be happy to drink the delicious local-to-Maine brews and dine on their expansive menu if they wanted to come further south!
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

Flautas with Ground Pork and Spinach

I’m expanding my non-authentic Mexican food repertoire. I made flautas. I first googled to find out what the difference was between flauta and a taquito. Again, from non-authentic sources, it seems like flautas are flour tortillas and taquitos are corn tortillas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flautas

I prepped some of it in the morning before work, which always makes me feel like a rockstar. The pup was very into these. When I say he’s under my feet in the kitchen, I mean it. See? He’s just to sweet to totally kick out of the kitchen. It makes me feel loved since I come in second to Mr. J in his eyes (unless I’m cooking).
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Ingredients:

½ pound ground turkey/pork/chicken/beef (I used pork)
3 tbs taco seasoning
12 small flour tortillas
2 cups baby spinach
6 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
oil for frying

Directions:

Cook the ground meat with taco seasoning until cooked through and mix with spinach after removing the meat from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Heat about ¾ of an inch of oil to fry the flautas when they’re assembled.
Lay tortillas out and top with 2 tbs each shredded cheese, and the ground meat and spinach mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
roll up the filled tortillas into skinny cigars and secure with a toothpick
gently drop into the oil for a few minutes, rotating them to crisp evenly.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
When they’re evenly golden, remove and let hang on paper towels. Don’t forget to pull out those toothpicks!

They stayed together nicely and I served them with a little chipotle ranch dressing (also known as: ranch with a touch of BBQ sauce for smokiness, a dash of hot sauce, and taco seasoning). They were really good. I loved how different they felt from burritos or enchiladas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Frying anything stresses me out. I only did a few at a time and kept the others warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

These are a great use for leftovers :ahem:spinach:ahem. I would have thrown in any other veggie I had around. Think: corn! onions! zucchini! mushrooms! They also didn’t require a ton of ground meat. I end up with weird amounts of leftover ground pork or chicken and almost always use it for a Mexican meal.

Serve these with my favorite Mexican bean salad for a quick & easy fiesta! They also are great reheated in the toaster oven for lunch the next day at work!
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Onion Dip Burger

Grilling the best part of summer. Dontcha think? Or maybe it is the beach. I think food is best in the summer. I capitalize on burgers at home since not everywhere offers their delicious combos ontop a burger I can eat. I can make my own chicken, pork, turkey, etc burger at home. Let’s be honest, I’ve been all about the ground pork lately since it is by far the cheapest, and tends to not get as dry as turkey. Try it.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
This idea came from Ms. L long enough ago that she had forgotten about it. I didn’t. I heard onion-dip burger and was all about it! I modeled this one off my technique for ranch burgers.

Ingredients:

½ pound ground meat (I used pork)
1 container of onion dip
1 packet of onion soup mix
2 slices of cheese
3 tbs fried onions

Directions:

Mix the ground meat with the onion soup mix, and 1/3 cup onion dip until well incorporated.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Form into patties and grill (or cook) until cooked through.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Lightly warm fried onions in toaster oven or skillet.
Top burgers with cheese, onion dip, and fried onions.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger
Enjoy!

The onion burgers were juicy and completely flavor packed. I’m salivating just thinking of them. They stayed together perfectly on the grill (unlike some of my stuffed burgers).

These are such a great treat and EASY way to amp up your regular burger. I think the dip as a condiment is perfect and the crunch from the onions was awesome. They do have a use other than green bean casserole!

When I heard about onion dip burgers I was going to top it with chips, like Bobby Flay’s crunchified burgers but the onions seemed like a fun but unexpected topping.
The Three Bite Rule - Onion Burger

I do need to crunchify my next burger though.

Restaurant Recreation: Chicken Cordon Bleu Calzone

In my world, there’s nothing better than take-out and DVR Friday nights. I’m old at heart and this is my ideal way to end the week. It feels so right to be lazy and loungy and doesn’t make me feel guilty at all. Saturday & Sunday mornings are a different story. I feel the need to get stuff done…immediately. Plus, in this heat do you really want to be crazy like me and crank your oven?

I don’t usually plan dinners for Friday night and Mr. J gives me a sly grin saying “how ‘bout we order something?”. I am the cheap one so often I’m the one who would eat something weird that I can come up with from the depths of the freezer or pantry rather than going out. Since we moved to the burbs our take-out delivery is slightly more limited. We tend to go with pizza or Chinese.

I got a chicken cordon bleu calzone from a local pizza joint and was stoked. Enough for lunch leftovers over the weekend! Woohoo! It was amazing and I wanted to recreate it.
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I made regular chicken cordon bleu and loved it but this calzone was definitely the easy way out.
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Ingredients:

4 breaded chicken tenders
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
4 slices deli ham
Pizza dough
2 cups arugula
1 egg + 1 tbs water = eggwash

Directions:

Cook chicken according to directions (or bread and bake your own!)
Spread pizza dough onto a baking sheet.
Chop chicken, ham, and arugula.
Layer the chicken, cheese, ham, and arugula over the pizza dough.
Remember to include fillings almost to the edge and keep layering eventhough it will look like too much filling.
Close pizza dough over to seal shut.
Cut a few slits into the top and brush with eggwash (optional)
Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing (or you’ll have an oozer)

Since I can’t pretend I made this idea up, I’m not tooting my own horn saying this was soooo good. I loved the swiss in there. That’s different than most of my calzones. I threw the arugula in since I had it and figured a little green never hurt anyone!
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The pre-made chicken tenders made it super simple. Those suckers are dirt cheap. Maybe that’s why there are so many kids who don’t know chicken in another form. Whatever. I’m not an 8-year-old but having these in the freezer reduced this recipe to purely an assembly project.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The calzone will look like it’s wayyy over stuffed but not enough filling is definitely a rookie mistake.

Cost:

4 breaded chicken tenders $1.14
8 oz shredded Swiss: $2.75
4 slices of ham: $0.75
Refrigerated pizza dough: $1.99
2 cups Arugula: $1.33
Total: $7.96 serves 4 for $1.99 per person
Total at my local pizza joint: small for $9.69 serves 2 for $4.84 per person

It is kind of crazy that I know I can make it for $1.99 per person and as frugal as I am I’ll still pay $4.84 per person for somebody to make it and bring it to me.  Whatever, don’t judge ;)

Bacon Wrapped Burgers

I was really excited for my menu for Mr. J’s birthday. My guy loooves a good burger so I thought about a bacon wrapped burger. I guess Birthday Burgers are a tradition now since I made stuffed burgers for his birthday last year.

I googled and saw a few that put bacon around the edge. That’s not good enough. I was thinking of weaving it to make a little bacon wrapping.
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It seemed like it would cook ok, it just might need to be secured with toothpicks (I recommend counting them to be sure they all come out). We strategized that getting the bacon crisped on the first side might help keep it all together before flipping.

Ingredients
2 burgers
strips of bacon (4-6 strips per burger)

Directions
Lay 3 strips of bacon and interlace 3 other strips in the opposite direction to form an L.
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Place burger on the bacon intersection. Fold the flaps over and weave them together.
bacon_burger_assembled_590_390Mr. J’s was a beef burger. I did ground pork. Though I didn’t eat Mr. J’s burger, I have to say I think the 4 strips of bacon is plenty (versus the 6 on his).

I served it with a cucumber ribbon salad. It was plain greek yogurt, dill, garlic, and pepper.
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I sliced the cucumber with a mandolin but was afraid to make them too thin. I figured not slicing my hand off was a good birthday present too.
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The burgers were reallllly good. I topped mine with swiss and Mr. J’s with American cheese. I think it was a fun meal.
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Now what kind of burger am I going to make for his bday next year??

Biscuits and Gravy…it’s not just for Breakfast

Sometimes I’m full of dinner ideas and others I’m racking my brain. I don’t know how I came up with biscuits and gravy but I was feeling especially southern. This is more of a what-I-ate rather than a recipe but I wanted to share my biscuit success!
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Some of my thought was I haaaaad to prove it to myself that I could make a biscuit. I tried to make some that looked simple enough for thanksgiving that were a huge flop.

I made simple bisquick biscuits and they came out great! I used a juice glass to cut them. I brushed the tops with butter after cooking for a few minutes. They were light, fluffy, and absorbent.
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I crumbled 2 sausage links and made a simple creamy gravy. The sausage and gravy topped biscuits.
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I felt like we needed something else so I baked apple slices with some brown sugar, maple syrup, and oatmeal.
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Fontina and Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

Ahhhhrugula! I think I’ve decided that if I were going to eat one food for the rest of my life it’d be pizza. I love all sorts of crazy toppings and I have learned a thing or two.

I was partially inspired by the last pretty authentic neopolitan pizza I’ve had lately (Antico Forno) when I dreamed this one up. I also was feeling a salad-y topped pizza for a change too. It’s nicely springy and would even be a good vehicle for any leftover Easter ham you have kicking around!
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Ingredients:

pizza dough
1 tbs chopped garlic
3 tbs olive oil
2 cups shredded fontina
4-6 slices of prosciutto
3 cups arugula
drizzle of truffle oil
¼ cup with shaved Parmesan

Directions:

Pre-bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
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Top with cheese and garlic/olive oil mixture brushed on crust. Return to the oven until melted (about 5 minutes)
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Once out of the oven, top with slices of prosciutto
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Then top with arugula tossed with truffle oil
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It was good, and different. I liked the few quality ingredients. The prosciutto was salty and the fontina was googy and nutty. By not cooking the prosciutto, it kept it really soft and bite-able.
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I actually didn’t top the whole thing since obviously it was going to be lunch the next day. It reheated well too!

Pork Tamale Pie

The other night, I was prepping dinner and I was following a recipe. I actually rarely follow recipes. I consider them “suggestions” or jumping off points in most cases. I read a lot of blogs and google a lot of recipes so it is often mishmash of an “adapted from.” Following recipes can be stressful and it takes even longer! You might be surprised how quickly I can whip something up if I’m not blogging it!
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Things were going well, then going poorly, and it was crazy. Part smelled really good but the other part seized up. I burned my hand (not badly, don’t worry mom!) and almost dropped the entire cast-iron skillet (which contained the entire meal). The external flash I nab from Mr. J wasn’t working, I chose a pan a bit too small, and the pup was underfoot.

While all of this was happening, I was rocking out to my kitchen radio the previous owners of the house so kindly left. Kelly Clarkson’s “oldie” “Beautiful Disaster” came on. How appropriate for this meal?! It was seeming like just that.

Pork Lover’s Tamale Pie

 

from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups boiling water
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon corn oil or EVOO
1/3 pound mexican chorizo (raw) or chopped spanish chorizo (cured) (I nixed this since my store only sells spicy and Mr. J doesn’t love lots of heat)
4 slices bacon, finely chopped (I nixed this too since I planned another meal with bacon and figured we’d be fine without it)
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (about 1/2 palmful)
1 small onion, chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup beer
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained (I used fresh)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
Cilantro leaves and sliced scallions, for garnishing (I chopped arugula I had instead)

Directions (in Rachael Ray’s words)

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk. Whisk in the cornmeal, then whisk in the boiling water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the butter and honey.
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Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the chorizo and bacon and render the fat for 3 minutes. Stir in the pork and cook, crumbling the meat, until browned, about 8 minutes.

Season with the thyme, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften. Stir in the beer to deglaze for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to heat through.
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Spoon the thick cornmeal over the pan and spread evenly. Top with the cheddar and brown under the broiler for 2 minutes. Serve from the skillet, garnished with the cilantro and scallions.
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So, check out what happens when you read the first step and overlook the fact that the water should be boiling water. In the time it took to heat the water (after adding the cornmeal to the milk) it totally seized up. I was going to dump it and start over but I was feeling especially determined. I whisked as much as I could once the water was finally boiling. Seriously though, milk and cornmeal are cheap ingredients and wouldn’t have set me back.
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After all that I bet you’re wondering how it was. It was good, not amazing. I think the chorizo and bacon would add a bit more flavor. We joked it was Pork-Liker’s Tamale Pie rather than Pork-Lover’s Tamale Pie since I omitted 2 of the 3 porks. I used fresh tomatoes and think canned would have boosted the flavor too. That’s quite the creative licensing given the fact that I said I was following the recipe.
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I liked the cornmeal topping and I appreciated that this wasn’t a million ingredients. It reheated surprisingly well too. It was a fun and I was glad to have a different Mexican meal for a change.
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