Homemade Carnitas Tacos

homemade carnitas tacos on www.inthiskitchen.com

homemade carnitas tacos on www.inthiskitchen.com

If you can get your hands on some pork shoulder, you can make these carnitas. Carnitas have always seemed to me like they’d be too complex to make at home – a lot of recipes require boiling in lard, which is something I don’t often do – but these don’t need it at all. Here, all you need is a roasting dish, into which you can put some cubed up pork shoulder with some citrus, aromatics and spices, and then slow roast them all in the oven for three and a half hours. The pork slowly lets off its own fat and stews in it, and about an hour before it’s done roasting, fills the house with the glorious smell of braising pork, garlic, orange, cinnamon, and onion.

All that’s left to do is strain off most of the liquid, shred up the meat, and broil it for about ten minutes so that it gets crispy and charred on top but stays tender and juicy on the inside. Then into the tacos it goes, showered with some chopped white onion, cilantro, and hot sauce on top. It’s really a beautiful thing.

So if you’re stuck inside at home on a chilly weekend, you can at least be stuck inside with slow roasting homemade carnitas. Because these are incredibly easy to make, and all it takes is a little time. I was amazed that something that tasted so complex could come out of my own kitchen.


homemade carnitas tacos on www.inthiskitchen.com


homemade carnitas tacos on www.inthiskitchen.com



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Butter and Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

I took a vacation about a month ago, and it seemed to extend until around now. Summer vacation has a tendency to do that, it seems – and in the office where I work, it’s only reinforced, because at any given time there are 20% of my coworkers on vacation between the months of May and September. So the overall feeling of vacation hangs around, even long after my own is over. I’m definitely not complaining – I’d extend summer throughout the whole year if I could.

I finally feel like I’m getting back to a sort of normal routine, though, and with that I am able to cook more regularly again. I’d had this recipe bookmarked for a couple weeks and finally got around to making it yesterday. It’s as simple as can be, and was easy enough for a weeknight where I was sleep-deprived and couldn’t bother with anything complex. You just toss some (good quality) canned tomatoes into a large baking dish, and throw in a handful garlic cloves, a teeny bit of anchovy, and butter to help it along. It roasts for just 35-40 minutes, bubbling away and reducing to a luscious sauce that you can pour over any pasta you’d like. With minimal chopping required, it’s almost as easy as just opening a jar of sauce, and it certainly tastes a whole lot more unique.

butter & roasted tomato pasta sauce on inthiskitchen.com

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Corn & Quinoa Salad with Lemon & Mint

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

I write to you from Tucson, Arizona, where it is now “only” 99 degrees Fahrenheit outside, cooling down from what was likely a balmy high of 104. I’m here visiting family and taking in the general gestalt of the desert, where I lived for 18 years as a kid, but somehow appreciate so much more now. You don’t get sunsets and golden light like here anywhere else. And after marathoning Breaking Bad for the last few weeks (I know I’m late to the party, but yeah, it’s good), the desert seems even more cinematic, driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour with nothing but mountains, dust, and cacti on either side.

In any case, summer is felt loud and clear around these parts, and in summer I love these kinds of salads that can be a light dinner, a whole dinner, a lunch, an appetizer… and be as delicious cold as it is warm. This particular quinoa salad has a fantastic flavor, probably owing a lot to the fresh flavors of the corn, lemon and mint that play perfectly off the deep background flavor of butter and a hint of honey. And the fresh mint leaves throughout make the whole thing come together and sing. I devoured this warm for dinner, then ate it the next two days for work lunches, just cold out of the fridge. I probably don’t have to tell you that it would be a great potluck meal or side dish to bring too, and very easy to make a day ahead.

I hope everyone out there (at least those of you in the Northern hemisphere) are having a lovely summer so far, full of fresh foods and longer relaxing days. Do you have an all-time favorite summer salad?

Lemony Corn and Quinoa Salad with Mint Recipe

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Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

Recipes have failed in my realm lately, guys. Almond butter chocolate chunk cookies that came out too oaty and chewy, despite using an entire jar of (expensive!) almond butter in them. Dark chocolate amaretto cookies that looked so good in the recipe I was using, but came out weirdly acidic and bitter (the magic must have been lost in translation, literally – I was using Google to translate the recipe from Lithuanian). I only have so much time and money to bake with, and it’s just sad when things don’t taste great. My search for Amaretto recipes lives on though, since I’ve got to do something with the bottle of it I bought for my lemon cakes recipe months ago. I will keep you updated with any future successes.

So today I’m turning to this buttermilk biscuit recipe, which I’ve made twice and both times to great, great success. The biscuits are called “Touch of Grace biscuits,” which is the perfect name to describe how airy and light these biscuits are. Don’t get me wrong, they are immensely buttery and creamy, but they crumble perfectly and don’t feel dense at all. Southern self-rising flour is a key ingredient, which I previously hadn’t heard of, but was easy to locate in Whole Foods.

The biscuits are from Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise. I heard about them from Molly Wizenberg, as I do many of my favorite recipes. I was listening to Molly and Matthew Amster-Burton’s terrific podcast Spilled Milk and when Molly described these biscuits, I had to go out, get myself some Southern self-rising flour, and make them that same weekend. We ate them hot right out of the pan, and they still were good hours later at room temperature. They were good enough that I even took a tupperware full of them to my boyfriend’s parents and they loved them, which is always a good way to win brownie-points (biscuit-points?).

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits | in this kitchen

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Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

The first time I had caprese, it was in a salad. Not the traditional caprese salad you may be thinking of – which is just sliced tomatoes, basil and mozzarella laying together in harmony, perfect as they are – but instead a big pile of salad greens with fresh basil leaves throughout, topped with cut tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and a balsamic vinaigrette. Needless to say, it was incredibly good, so good that I often ordered in lieu of pizza at that restaurant (gasp). It has since been my go-to whenever I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a potluck – it’s hard to mess up.

And in the warm months, it’s hard to imagine a better thing to eat. Basil and tomatoes are at their freshest and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, you can just go grab handfuls of both right outside. It is a big, bold, underlined item on my Life Goals list to have a garden of my own, and when I do, it will be required to house many bunches of my beloved basil.

Here, we’ve got another slight variation on the tomato, mozz, basil holy trinity: toss ’em with pasta. This caprese pasta salad has a twist, too: the tomatoes are quickly roasted in olive oil and garlic until they blister and soften in the oven, taking away any bitterness and replacing it with earthy sweetness. I had a hard time not plucking them all off of the pan and eating them before assembling the pasta. The roasted tomatoes get tossed with whatever pasta you like, ribbons of basil, and mozzarella in a bright vinaigrette. It’s equally good cold, room temperature, or warm, which makes it a great take-along meal for potlucks, parties, or just your desk at work.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

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Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

Do you like to travel light, in minimalist fashion, and not gather too many possessions to your name? Or do you happily collect and squirrel away your belongings? I always have been in the former camp, never wanting to have too much stuff so that when I inevitably move (as I have ~8 times in the past 10 years), I don’t have too many heavy things to carry. No furniture. Not too many heavy books. I donate big bags of clothes at least three times a year.

My boyfriend is firmly in the latter category, especially when it comes to his books – he has hundreds, and wouldn’t dream of getting rid of a single one. It makes me anxious just looking at them, thinking of how much weight and effort it will be during our next move. But they keep on coming, and we keep getting more bookshelves to accommodate them. We recently maxed out the two bookcases we had, so it was time to go to the Mecca for Twentysomething, Non-Rich Couples: Ikea!

We made the 40-minute trek there yesterday, to get our 3rd bookshelf. We do not have a couch yet, a TV, or any real living room furnishings to speak of, but the books, they have a home. I did make the crucial purchase of a $7 string of lights to drape around our back door, in a side of the room that normally is dark and unwelcoming. I love the glowy little lights and along with the bookshelves, we at least have an interesting living room, if not a furnished one. Baby steps, right? One day we will feel like real live adults with a proper home! (Right?)

One thing we never skimp on is food. I tell myself that I’m allowed to spend a little more money on luxuries like prosciutto or the more expensive brand of olive oil, because I save so much money by never going out to bars and clubs, like most 25-year-olds do. I can especially forgive expensive prosciutto when it’s paired with such simple things as asparagus and pickled shallots here, which come together to make a unique and non-fussy side dish (or dinner, when I accidentally eat a huge lunch earlier in the day).

This simple recipe comes together in no time and is great for late spring. The pickled shallots alone are worth the recipe, but I’m just biased because I love pickled anything.

Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pickled Shallots

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Bacon and Broccoli Pasta

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Do you have a go-to pasta recipe? One that you think of when you hear the word “pasta?”

For me, and probably a lot of you too, it has always been a simple spaghetti with meat sauce. This was what I had growing up, as much as I possibly could – it was by far one of my favorite foods, and I’d always scoop up the remaining sauce with a nice piece of bread in what I like to call Having Some Carbs with My Carbs. It was delicious; it still is.

But these days I like to branch out just a little more when it comes to my pasta recipes. Ones that don’t necessarily need to contain tomato sauce (gasp!). This bacon and broccoli pasta one is one of our new favorites around here, and it’s got tons of broccoli as well as a good amount of bacon, making it semi-healthy and very flavorful.

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

Bacon and Broccoli Pasta | in this kitchen

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Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

I don’t know about you, but buffalo chicken pizza, or chicken on pizza in general, has never been my thing. Chicken on puff pastry though – that’s a whole ‘nother ball game, and these buffalo chicken puff pastry squares are so, so good. If you like buffalo chicken at all, you need to make these. I searched the web many times trying to find a buffalo chicken puff pastry recipe but didn’t come up with much, so I decided to try to make one myself, and it was actually pretty easy!

These of course have lots of buffalo chicken, shredded mozzarella cheese that gets nice and brown and bubbly in the oven, a little bit of oregano and garlic powder, and then they get a nice topping of blue cheese and scallions when they’re done. It’s as good as it sounds, and it’s all on top of a super flaky puff pastry crust. I already want another one.

Buffalo Chicken Puff Pastry Squares | in this kitchen

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Miso Ginger Baby Bok Choy

Easy Miso Bok Choy Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Easy Miso Bok Choy Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

You know those recipes where you make, say, a sauce, and it is so good that you think “I’m going to put this on everything from now on?” Oh man, this is one of those recipes. I admittedly have quite a few sauces that are in this category, almost all of them Asian – this otsu sauce, this spicy and sweet szechuan chili sauce, this fresh ginger lemon sauce, and this miso sesame sauce just to name a few. But this miso ginger baby bok choy I have today has landed on the list as well, with its mild miso, hint of lime, present but not fiery ginger, and sweet mirin.

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Easy Homemade Bulgogi

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

There is a small & humble but consistently delicious Korean restaurant that Dan and I used to frequent when we lived in Bethesda, where the bulgogi, dolsot bibimbap, japchae were always waiting & the waiters got to know us. We’d often go after stopping at the nearby comic book shop and one waiter would ask about what books we got and chat about those comic-related things that I know nothing about (superheroes, presumably). He always made sure we had enough hot & spicy gochujang sauce to go around. We’re not nearby that little restaurant anymore, but we are close to an Asian market (and some other Korean restaurants), which almost makes up for it.

The good news is you don’t even need to have an Asian market to make this homemade bulgogi! I was amazed at how flavorful it turned out, and how reminiscent of “the real thing” it actually is. If you had asked me a couple months ago, I would have said I was intimidated by homemade bulgogi, but this stuff is so, so good and not hard at all. It’s all about that marinade – I left mine in for at least 8 hours. Then you just pan-fry or grill it up, and it is exactly what you want over some good steamed white rice, or in some bibimbap if you wanna get fancy.

You should definitely try to make some of this – it’s easy, it’s great with beef, pork or chicken (I used pork) and after a good marinating session in the fridge it’s ready to whip up on any weeknight.

Quick Homemade Bulgogi Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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