Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fiesta, Fiesta!!

What better way to send a US Soldier off to Afghanistan than... Mexican food?! Well in my family, that makes total sense. A celebration is just not a celebration if there are no margaritas or salsa present!! This weekend we had a little last minute fiesta with about 15 family members for my wonderful, heroic cousin Luke. This week he will be headed to Afghanistan as a photo journalist, and we wanted to stuff him with food and drink before he leaves. I decided I had enough grilled chicken fajitas I could handle this summer, so I took a little different route. This was super easy for a party of people and everyone enjoyed it! (Or so they said) :)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Carnitas
(serves 10-15)

2 4lb packages of pork shoulder (AKA pork butt - really can't say that with a straight face). I used 1 slow cooker per package.

In a small bowl mix 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp chile powder, salt and pepper. Rub dry mix over meat.

Layer a few bay leaves at the bottom of the slow cooker. Add pork. Pour about 1/2 cup of chicken stock around meat. Top with a bunch of fresh cilantro and the juice from 1 lime. Don't even need to chop cilantro - just throw it on top. Did you know the cilantro stems have the most flavor?

Let this cook 4-6 hours. When it is done, remove from the crock pot onto a cutting board and shred the meat. It will be so tender you hardly have to shred at all, just tear it apart. Remove and discard excess fat and bones.

Toss the shredded meat with about 1/3 or 1/2 of a 12 oz. can of enchilada sauce, and then before serving bake at 350 for about 20 minutes to crisp up the top.

Slacker's Mexican Rice

The night beofre I made rice with dinner so I was sure to make extra to convert into Mexican Rice. I made about 5 cups worth in the rice cooker and then stuck it in the fridge until I was ready. To make quick mexican rice -
Sautee garlic and white onions until translucent in olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1 can of diced green chiles. Add cold rice, and separate with your fingers if there are clumps. Add a bit more olive oil over rice to help it cook. Add 1 can diced tomatoes, and the remainder of enchilada sauce (my dad wasn't happy I cheated here, but a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do).
Add about 1 tsp or so of cumin and salt to taste. Squeeze the juice from 1 lime over rice. Remove from heat and toss in fresh cilantro. Throw this in with the meat for 20 minutes to melt cheese (if you want on cheese on top) and again, crisp up the top.

The beans above are pretty self explanatory - but I do add almost an entire jar of salsa and a little enchilada sauce, as well as sauteed onions and garlic just to give it a kick. And top with cheese, obviously!

For less carnivorous guests, I also made some quick fajita veggies. Sauteed garlic, onions, green pepper, red pepper, zucchini and tomatoes in a simple fajita seasoning package were a good way to utilize some summer veggies and add some color to the meal.

And finally, what is a party without some beverages. I decided to use up the plethora of peaches I had in a White Wine Sangria. Beware, this is so delicious, it's easy to drink it like juice!

White Wine Sangria

1 bottle of white wine - I like Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio

Add whatever fruits you have on hand - but don't leave out the citrus (lemons, limes, oranges)! What I had and therefore used was peaches! As well as lemons. Squeeze the juice in first and then throw in the rind. Add 2/3 cup of sugar and stir. Fresh mint also gives this a nice flavor. Add about 1/2 a liter of club soda before serving to give it some sparkle.


Christine Bilek said...

yum! This all looks fantastic! What a great send-off for your cousin!!

The Claybornes said...

ooo! definitely goin to try this :)

Angela and Mike said...

Whoa, that looks awesome. You are really good...I would buy frozen lazagnes. I'll have to try this one too.

The Claybornes said...

fyi! I used your recipe tonighs! see my Armcandy blog for credits :))