Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos

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I’ve found a lot of favorite new recipes on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe recently. This one I’ve already made twice and know it’ll be a frequent repeater because it’s absolutely yummy (especially with ancho chili powder- you must try it!) and comes together so so quickly. Pork tenderloin might be my favorite cut of meat- it’s super lean and still has so much flavor. These pork tacos are sweet (thanks to the pineapple/juice) and just a bit spicy (from the chili powder/cayenne) and amazingly tender. We wrapped the sweet and spicy pork filling in warm corn tortillas (the Tortillaland uncooked corn tortillas from Costco) and topped them with salsa verde, a touch of sour cream, and guacamole.

Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder (I used ancho chili powder because I love the flavor)
pinch of cayenne pepper (more to taste, if wanted)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 cups diced pineapple (fresh or frozen preferred to canned)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving
salsa verde, for serving (optional)
sour cream, for serving (optional)
guacamole or avocado, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the pork pieces and add them to the hot skillet, browning on each side until golden (the pork doesn’t need to cook all the way through in this step, just get a nice color on all the pieces).

2. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the juice and pineapple and simmer the mixture until the pork is just cooked through, 5-8 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro. Serve with corn or flour tortillas and salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (all optional).

Serves 8 (I halve it to serve four.)

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

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By in Pork, Southwestern · Comments { 1 }

Chipotle Guacamole

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Chipotle as in the smoked jalapeno pepper, not the restaurant. (Just to be clear.) We eat lots and lots of guacamole. Most often I mash a ripe avocado with some red salsa and voila! guacamole. But this is my new favorite recipe for when I want to put forth more effort. Originally I added an ear of fresh corn but didn’t love it. (More of a personal preference. If you love sweet corn, you might prefer it.) I did love the chipotle flavor so on my second attempt I used a red onion instead for crunch and thought it was perfect.

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Chipotle Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 large ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 Tbsp. chopped red onion
1 canned chipotle chile*, finely chopped (I used a medium chipotle for mild spice, feel free to add more)
1 Tbsp. sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional add-in: 1 ear fresh corn

DIRECTIONS

1. Mash avocados with lime juice in medium bowl. Stir in tomato, garlic, cilantro, and onions. Combine chipotle and sour cream in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir cream mixture into avocado mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of guacamole and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeños canned in adobo sauce. They are available at some supermarkets, at specialty foods stores, and at Latin markets. Leftovers can be frozen for a long time.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

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By in Appetizer, Southwestern · Comments { 0 }

Cinnamon Biscuit Fans

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My mom made us these delicious cinnamon-sugar biscuits many times when I was a kid. And I had forgotten all about them (for over a decade!) until she mentioned making them recently. So, of course, I requested the recipe and have made them several times since. Think of them as cinnamon rolls (minus the yeast and hours of rise time) in biscuit form. They can be baked from scratch in about a half hour (meanwhile I scramble some eggs, heat some sausage links, you get the idea…). One of my favorite breakfast treats!

I didn’t read the recipe too closely because sometimes I just assume I know what I’m doing. (I often don’t.) And so I added much too much milk, making my glaze too thin. And I didn’t remove the muffins from the tin before drizzling the runny glaze over top. They still tasted great, but next time I’ll follow my own instructions!

Cinnamon Biscuit Fans

INGREDIENTS

Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tsp. milk
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oven to 425 F. Grease 8 regular-size muffin cups.

2. In large bowl, mix flour, 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, the baking powder and salt. Cut in firm butter using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until mixture particles resemble fine crumbs. Stir in just enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball.

3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll into 12×10-inch rectangle. Spread 3 Tbsp. butter over rectangle. Mix 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle. Cut rectangle crosswise into 6 (10×2-inch) strips. Stack strips; cut crosswise into 8 pieces. Place cut sides up in muffin cups.

4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from muffin cups to cooling rack.

5. In medium bowl, mix all glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm biscuits. Serve warm.

Makes 8 biscuits.

(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

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Orange Couscous with Cranberries and Cashews

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I realized while typing out this recipe that it would make a very festive Christmas side dish. And here we are on the first 80+ degree day of summer! You don’t have to wait for Christmas to make this couscous. Dotted with green onions, sweet dried cranberries, and roasted cashews, and tossed in a maple-orange vinaigrette, it’s light and fresh and perfect year-round! I served it with Parmesan and panko crusted thin-cut pork chops and steamed green beans. It would be excellent with chicken kebabs or grilled shrimp or fish or just about anything.

Orange Couscous with Cranberries and Cashews

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
1 cup water or low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
zest of 1/2 orange
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Put the couscous in a medium bowl. In a very small saucepan, bring the broth and a pinch of salt to a boil over high heat, then pour it over the couscous. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand until the couscous is tender and the broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Gently scrape and fluff the couscous with a fork and serve as is (stir in a little butter or olive oil, if you like).

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, and oil, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the dressing over the warm couscous and gently toss to combine. Add the cranberries, cashews, and scallions and gently toss again. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve.

Serves 4.

(Adapted from Keepers)

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By in Sides, Uncategorized · Comments { 0 }

Grilled Mahi with Tropical Salsa and Coconut Rice

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This is really three recipes in one. And each is awesome on its own. We snacked on the tropical salsa with blue corn tortillas chips. The coconut rice could accompany grilled chicken. It’s just delicious. And the grilled mahi, marinated in olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro is fresh and flavorful. It’s all so good. Don’t let your lack of a grill stop you, the fish could be roasted, broiled, or pan-fried as well. Here’s to summer and hopefully many more meals like this!

Grilled Mahi with Tropical Salsa and Coconut Rice

INGREDIENTS

Mahi:
1/2 cup sliced yellow onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
pinch cayenne
4 (~6 oz.) mahi mahi fillets
toasted coconut flakes, garnish
chopped cilantro, garnish

Coconut Rice:
1 cup coconut milk (I used a full can of light coconut milk and reduced the water to 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1 cup long grain white rice
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Tropical Salsa :
1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup minced red onions
1/4 cup minced red bell peppers
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. minced jalapeno (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
1 tsp. minced garlic
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. In a bowl, combine the onions, oil, orange and lime juices, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne. Place the fish in a large, non-reactive baking dish. Pour the marinade over the fish, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

2. Preheat a grill (or indoor grill pan), and lightly oil the grill rack with vegetable oil. Remove the fish from the marinade. Place on the oiled grill and cook until marked, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Turn carefully with a spatula and cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 4 minutes, depending upon thickness. Remove from the grill.

3. Spoon the coconut rice into the center of 4 large plates. Arrange 1 fillet onto each serving of rice and top with the Tropical Salsa. Garnish with toasted coconut and cilantro, and serve.

Coconut Rice:
1. In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the rice, stir well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer undisturbed until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit without stirring for 10 minutes.

2. Fluff with a fork and add the cilantro. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Serve hot.

Tropical Salsa :
1. Combine the mango, avocado, pineapple, onions, bell peppers, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno (or cayenne), garlic, and salt and pepper in a bowl and gently fold to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving for the flavors to blend.

Serves 4.

(Adapted from Food Network)

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By in Seafood · Comments { 1 }