Diary of a Foodie

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sweet Pork Nachos with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce

I know, I know. It's been 8 months. I haven't stopped cooking, I've just stopped blogging. Does anyone even read this blog? If so, leave me a comment so I'll continue making recipes for everyone.

This is an easy recipe. One that you can put all the meat in a crockpot around lunch time (or earlier) and it will be ready in time for dinner.

My family loves this meal and requests it often. It's very versatile and can be changed to suit your favorite nachos toppings.

Sweet Pork
 2-3 lb, bone-in pork roast
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 can diced green chiles
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c brown sugar
1 c Dr. Pepper (or Coke) DO NOT USE DIET
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Season the pork roast with cumin, salt and pepper and place it in a slow cooker. Top it with enchilada sauce, green chiles, garlic, brown sugar and Dr. Pepper. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low, 6-8 hours. Once pork is cooked through and fork tender, remove it from the slow cooker and cover it with foil, allowing it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove half of the liquid from the slow cooker and discard. Once meat has rested, remove the bone,  shred the pork into bite size pieces and place back into the cooking liquid. Let the meat hang out while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce
2-3 tomatillos
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise made with olive oil (this reduces the fat)
1/4 c cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno, seeded (DO NOT ADD ALL AT ONCE)

In a blender, add all the ingredients EXCEPT for the jalepeno. Mix until blended well, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 of the seeded jalepeno and blend again for 30 seconds. Taste at this point to test the heat level. If you like the amount of heat, stop now. If too weak, add another 1/4 of the jalepeno and blend again. Taste again. Add jalepeno until it reaches your desired heat level. Set aside for assembly of nachos.
Other Toppings Needed:

2 bags Tortilla chips
2-3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or your fav melty cheese)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 TBSP cilantro, minced
1 TBSP onion, diced

Mix together all ingredients and set aside


Preheat oven to 350* F. Place one layer of tortilla chips on a cookie sheet. Top with shredded pork, beans, and cheese. Repeat by adding a second layer to the nachos.  Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and top with pico de gallo. Serve with the cilantro tomatillo sauce.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Craisan Nut Bark

Here's another super easy candy to add to your holiday baking and making. Feel free to add any ingredients that you like and take anything out that your don't.

Craisan Nut Bark

24 ounces white chocolate
3/4 c dried cranberries (Craisans)
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c whole almonds
1/2 c shelled pistachios

In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate over medium heat. Once melted, pour onto a Sil-Pat or parchment paper. Using an offset spatula, smooth chocolate out until about 1/3 inch thickness. Sprinkle on dried cranberries and nuts. Using hand, gently press fruit and nuts into the chocolate so they will set into it. Let cool on counter for at least 1 hour. Break into smaller pieces, about 1X1 inch squares. Store in a cool, dry place.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

We've had this meal twice in the last two weeks. I generally do not like to repeat a meal even within the month, so to have it twice in two weeks just tells you how much the entire family loved it. It does take a few hours to make it, but most of the time it spent braising in the oven, so no extra work is needed from you. Just make sure to plan ahead for dinner when making this dish to give it enough time to become tender.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

6-8 bone-in beef short ribs (plan on one per person)
1 cup flour
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, peeled and diced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP tomato paste
4 cups beef stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary

Heat 1/3 c vegetable oil in a large saute pan, that has a lid, over medium high heat. Dredge short ribs in flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Once oil is hot, sear the short ribs on each side, until browned. Remove meat from pan once browned. Pour out any burned drippings from the saute pan. Add 1/4 c vegetable oil back into the same saute pan. Add celery, onion, carrots, garlic, and tomato paste. Cooked over medium heat, until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the short ribs to the vegetables. Pour over the beef stock, thyme, and rosemary. Place lid on the saute pan and place in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Braise in oven for 3-4 hours. About an hour in, taste the broth to check for salt and pepper levels. Add as needed. After 3-4 hours, remove from oven and serve over cheesy polenta, or mashed potatoes.

Cheesy Polenta 

1 c polenta (not quick cooking polenta)
3 cups water
4 TBSP butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 c grated Parmesan

In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add butter and polenta, stirring vigorously. Continue stirring over medium heat. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Mixture will be thick and may bubble up-be careful as it can burn your skin. After 15-20 minutes, stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Cook while stirring for another 10 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and the Parmesan cheese, cooking for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with the short ribs. 

Triple Nut English Toffee

Tis the season to make candy and treats for friends, family, and neighbors. This is an easy addition to any treat box. I've been tinkering with my mom's original recipe and I think this one is a winner.

Triple Nut English Toffee

1 lb butter
2 1/2 c white sugar
4 TBSP water
2 TBSP Karo corn syrup
1 c chopped almonds
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c chopped pecans
2 c semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Prepare a cookie sheet by greasing it and sprinkling the pan with all the nuts. The cooked sugar will be poured over the nuts, so set it aside for assembly.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter, sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, until temp on a candy thermometer reaches 300-310 degrees F. Color will be a medium brown color. Once toffee has reached this temperature, remove from stove and pour it over the nuts on the cookie sheet. BE CAREFUL! Cooked sugar is very hot! Spread toffee evenly over the nuts. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. After it has cooled slightly, pour chocolate chips over the top and allow the warm toffee to melt the chips. Using a spatula, smooth the chocolate over the top of t
he toffee. Allow to cool completely, about an hour. Using hands or a knife, break toffee into smaller pieces.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Pecan Rolls

My dad has a great apple tree in his yard. It only produces apples every other year, but this was our lucky year! Baking in the Fall means apples, cinnamon, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg. I combined apple pie and pecan sticky buns in this recipe to make a delicious new hybrid.

Salted Caramel Apple Pecan Rolls


1 cup warm milk (between 105-115 degrees F)
1/3 cup melted butter (no margarine, that is of the devil)
1 T quick acting yeast
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 t salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a stand mixer, (I use my Kitchen Aid) with the bread hook attachment, add the warm milk, melted butter, yeast and sugar. Set on low speed and let mix for 2 minutes. Turn mixer off and let yeast activate for 10 minutes. You might see bubbling, which is good. Very good. If your milk was too hot, you'll kill the yeast and have to start over. Good rule of thumb is to have the milk the same temp as bath water. Too hot for your fingers, too hot for yeast. After yeast has bloomed, add the eggs one at a time and let mix. Sprinkle in salt and half the flour. Let the bread work for about 2 minutes and then add the rest of the flour. Let mix for a good 5 minutes. Keeping the dough in your bowl, place dough, covered with a clean kitchen towel, in a warm area of your kitchen. I place my dough on the stove while the oven is preheating. Let the dough rise for at least an hour but up to 3 hours. 

Apple Cinnamon Filling
4-6 large apples, peeled, cored, diced small (use a good baking apple- honey crisp, gala, fuji, granny smith, golden delicious, etc...)
3 TBSP butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP corn starch

In a medium sized saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and corn starch. Cook apples for about 10 minutes, or until slightly softened, but not mushy.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before assembly.

Caramel Sauce:

1 stick butter
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 c heavy cream
1 cup toasted whole pecans, chopped

Butter a 9X13 casserole dish and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and cook till sugar is completely dissolved and smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Take off heat and add the salt and heavy cream. Stir till cream is completely incorporated. Pour caramel sauce into the prepared 9X13 pan, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Sprinkle the caramel with the whole pecans and set aside.


Once your dough has risen for at least an hour, pour it out onto a floured flat counter. Roll dough into a 16X12 inch rectangle. Spread the cinnamon apples over the dough evenly. Roll the dough into a jelly roll. Cut dough into rolls about 3/4 inch thick. Place in the caramel sauce,  12 rolls per pan. Place rolls back in a warm area and let rise again for at least 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and immediately turn the rolls out onto a cookie sheet, being careful of the hot caramel sauce. Scoop any pecans and caramel out of the 9X13 pan and spread onto the rolls. Ready to eat.

Taco Soup

Fall is clearly in the air; crisp nights, leaves on the ground, boots on my feet. I love this time of year! And with it being Fall, that makes it soup season. Soups are so easy and quick to make. On a busy school night, I can have a soup ready in 30 minutes or less. It's such a great go-to meal.

Taco Soup

1 lb ground hamburger
1 TSBP chili powder
1 TBSP salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth or stock
1 can Rotel tomatoes (mild or hot depending on your heat preference)
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn

In a large soup pot, brown ground hamburger until completely cooked through. Add all seasonings to browned meat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced onion and garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add beef broth, Rotel tomatoes, beans, and corn. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, and/or jalepenos.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Southern Mac and Cheese

There a few distinct differences between how most mac and cheese is made and Southern mac and cheese. Most notably is that eggs are added to the Southern version as a thickener, instead of a regular butter and flour roux.

As my husband is from the South, he never really loved my original recipe with a flour and butter base because it is not what he grew up with. I've been trying for several years to get a Southern version right, and this one is just cheesy deliciousness.

Southern Mac and Cheese

1 lb box elbow macaroni
2 c milk
1/4 c diced yellow onion
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve 3/4 cup of this for topping)
1/2 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c muenster cheese, shredded
1 TSBP Frank's hot sauce
1 TSBP Kosher salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 2 TSBP salt to water and add macaroni. Cook according to package directions, about 8 minutes. While pasta is boiling, in a separate bowl, whisk together milk, onion, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and eggs. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. Drain pasta once it is done cooking, and run it under cold water until pasta is cooled completely. This is a very important step, otherwise you will have scrambled eggs, not creamy mac and cheese. Once pasta has been cooled completely, add it to a greased 9X13 inch pan. Mix the cheeses into the pasta, (except for reserved 3/4 c cheddar for the topping). Pour the egg milk mixture over the pasta and stir. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top of the pasta. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until top is bubbling and browned. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.