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)

By in Pork, Southwestern ·

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)

By in Appetizer, Southwestern ·

Chicken Tacos

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Last week I flew to San Francisco (Menlo Park specifically) to spend time with one of my best friends and her new baby. It was my first solo trip since becoming a mama myself and it was so relaxing! And then I returned just in time for Clara’s 3rd birthday. We celebrated with a few friends and had BBQ (pineapple pulled pork sandwiches and this southwest slaw) and a dreamy vanilla cake that I’ll share ASAP. It was busy/fun/crazy! And how is Clara already 3?! On to the recipe…

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I’m just realizing that tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Perfect timing for this post! Today’s tacos are made with ground chicken, peppers, garlic, and my favorite ancho chili powder (among other things). So much flavor going on here. Serve with your favorite taco toppings- always avocado, cilantro, and salsa verde on a cheesy toasted tortilla for me!

Chicken Tacos

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken (I used ground chicken thigh)
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
~1 tsp. kosher salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used crushed tomatoes instead)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

for serving:
corn or flour tortillas, warmed
shredded Mexican cheese (such as Monterrey, Colby, or Pepper Jack)
shredded lettuce or cabbage
diced onion
chopped fresh cilantro
diced tomato
salsa
avocado or pico de gallo
sour cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat the olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers and green peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to brown, 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the ground chicken, paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to high; use a wooden spoon to stir and break the chicken into small clumps until the chicken is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, then turn the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking chicken into smaller clumps, until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste if necessary. Serve in warmed tortillas with lettuce, cheese, onion, cilantro, tomato, salsa, avocado, and/or sour cream.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Once Upon a Chef)

By in Chicken, Southwestern ·

Slow Cooker Barbacoa (Shredded Beef)

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Oh my goodness this beef is good. It’s meat to mimic Chipotle’s Barbacoa but I can’t say how close it gets because I usually choose the chicken or pork when I order a burrito. But I suspect it’s much much better because WOW, so much flavor! And tender and easy because you just throw it in the slow cooker. Beef roast slow-cooked with onion, garlic, smoky chipotle peppers, lime juice, cider vinegar, cumin, allspice, cloves, and oregano. We melted cheese over tortillas on the stove and then stuffed them full of the shredded beef, lettuce, onion, salsa, and guacamole, etc. And had this favorite Mexican Beans and Rice on the side. This recipes makes quite a bit of meat. Leftovers can be turned into freezer burritos to be enjoyed later.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa (Shredded Beef)

INGREDIENTS

3-4 lbs. beef rump or chuck roast
1/2 yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chicken or beef broth
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo (I use 3 for medium heat)
juice 1 lime
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 bay leaf

for serving:
warm tortillas
cheese (Monterrey, Colby, or Pepper Jack)
shredded lettuce
diced tomato
guacamole or sliced avocado
sour cream
diced white onion
chopped cilantro
salsa or pico de gallo

DIRECTIONS

1. Trim beef of any fat and cut into several large chunks that will fit in your slow-cooker. Place the onion, garlic, broth, salt, pepper, chipotle peppers, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, oregano, allspice, and cloves in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour over the meat in the crock pot. Add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for ~6 hours or low for 8-10 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

2. Remove the meat from the sl0w-cooker and set aside to cool slightly before shredding. Return the meat to the slow cooker and toss with the juices (the more of the leftover juice you use, the spicier it will be). Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with warm tortillas and toppings.

Serves ~8.

(Adapted from The Lean Green Bean and Spicy Spoonful)

By in Beef, Southwestern ·

Citrus Ancho Grilled Chicken or Pork

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This marinade is amazing. I’ve made it twice now- both times with chicken breast (although pork tenderloin would be fantastic) and served it as tacos. The citrus (orange and lime) + brown sugar + ancho chile powder works magic on a lean, boring cut of meat. This could also be prepared as kabobs, threaded with onions and peppers or pineapple and mango and served over a bed of rice or quinoa.

Ancho chili powder can be found at Whole Foods or in the Latin section of many grocery stores. It’s my favorite of all chili powders and I use it constantly. So stock up- you won’t be sorry. A few other recipes using ancho chili powder: Chicken Skewers with Ancho Sauce, Maple Ancho Grilled Salmon, and Slow-Cooker Carnitas.

Citrus Ancho Grilled Chicken or Pork

INGREDIENTS

1- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cut into strips or cubed
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pure ancho chile powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

for serving as tacos:
corn or flour tortillas
cheese (Monterey or Pepper or Colby Jack)
lettuce
salsa (tomatillo highly recommended)
sour cream
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
diced white onion

DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime juice, oil, sugar, ancho powder, garlic, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

2. Add the chicken or pork, toss to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly oil and grill the meat (if the meat is cubed, you’ll want to thread it onto skewers before grilling) until the juices run clear (time will depend on the size and type of meat). Let rest several minutes before slicing (if needed) and serving.

4. To serve as tacos, melt cheese on tortillas over medium heat on the stove or griddle. Fill with meat and toppings and serve.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

By in Chicken, Pork, Southwestern ·