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Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas

I made these last week for dinner on one of our crazy busy sports nights. We enjoyed these with shredded cheese, freshly cut tomatoes, sliced avocado, and salsa wrapped in corn and/or flour tortillas.

The recipe is very easy, and I had not thawed the steaks out either…so I threw them in frozen at 8 a.m. and cooked the whole recipe on low for 9 hours. Every steak was fall apart tender except for one, but when I cut that one it was just like a regular steak…and very tasty. Maybe that steak wasn’t covered enough by the cooking juices? Either way it was still good.

The recipe is from Eat Live Run and definitely deserves a turn in your slow cooker!

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Mold vs Waffles and a cucumber….Mold won!

It’s been 95% humidity here or greater for over a week. I can take high temps, but humidity just makes me fall apart…it makes my hair frizzy, makes my pants stick to my legs, and in general makes me cranky. I know I’m not the only one out there that feels his way either.

This week the humidity claimed our left over waffles and one farm market cucumber (not pictured).

Also not pictured was a container of leftover meringue. We made it for our Baked Alaskaย Cupcakes but the meringue portion of the recipe was entirely too much for us. I read several recommendations online about how to store meringue to make it last, and the consensus was air tight container in the fridge. The meringue separated and was a runny mess of egg whites with very weak white meringue foam on top…no thank you. Is there a way to save it? My husband was quite sad the evening I washed it down the drain…he wanted to eat it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Waffle-ish Wednesday…on Thursday?

Actually, it was Waffle-ish Wednesday yesterday, but I didn’t post it…oops. It was also Papiere’s last day visiting so we topped them with ice cream.

Anyway, every Wednesday we have homemade waffles or pancakes…hence “Waffle-ish” Wednesday.

I use a basic recipe from the cook book How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

I received this book as a gift when I graduated college. Good thing, I didn’t know how to cook anything…and now, everything is an option ๐Ÿ™‚

We love making waffles and pancakes. We mix and match types of flours, gluten free brands, regular brands, coconut flour and we vary wet ingredients with sour cream, buttermilk, coconut milk, canned pumpkin, mashed bananas, apple sauce….all delightful!

This recipe seems to be pretty universal with the ways we switch it up and I’ve never had to make drastic changes to it. It’s all been hit or miss with very small variations. Although I have learned that adding chocolate chips, blueberries, or other things into waffle batter never works out well in the waffle iron. So we just add them on top when the waffles are done. Pancakes do a better job with ingredients added into the batter.

Quick and Easy Waffles
From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
– Canola or other natural oli for brushing waffle iron
– 2 C all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 T sugar
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1 1/2 C milk
– 2 eggs
– 4 T butter
– 1 tsp vanilla extract

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat.

Combine dry ingredients. Mix together milk and eggs. Stir in butter and vanilla. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients. If the mixture seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk.

Spread a ladleful or so of batter into the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

**I use 2 ladlefuls in our waffle iron.

How do you like your waffles?

Quick Fridge Pickles

Papiere came for a visit….and stopped at a farmer’s market on the way. He told us he was going to do this, so we fully expected the abundance of veggies.

We grilled a lot of veggies and ate them for lunch and dinner. However, we woke up two days into his visit to find a cucumber starting to mold. I chucked that one and then quickly set to work on saving the rest of them….making Quick Fridge Pickles.

First, I sliced and salted the washed cucumbers. After ten minutes I put them into their jars.

Then, I boiled 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 Tbs of diced garlic, 1 Tbs of dill weed, 1 Tbs of peppercorns, and 3 dried chili peppers.

Once this mixture started to boil I poured it into the jars of cucumbers until they were covered. The amount was perfect for 2 one quart jars.

After everything was cool I covered the jars and stuck them into the refrigerator for 24 hours. Today we tore into these spicy spears!

Now the cucumbers have an extra 5 days of life ๐Ÿ™‚

Our spice mixture was just based on our personal tastes, you can taylor yours to whatever you think will work. Quick fridge pickles are great because they stay crispy, not soggy like most pickles are that get canned for the long haul.

If you are more of a visual learner check out Serious Eats for an awesome little slide show!

Baked Alaska Cupcakes

Hands down, these cupcakes are the best dessert I have ever made! Micaela and I made these to celebrate the end of our geography lesson on Alaska. Alaska does not have an official state food and she wasn’t up for Moose steak ๐Ÿ™‚

We started this project on Friday evening by making Alton Brown’s Chocolate Ice Cream. Alton Brown is our food geek hero, so we don’t mess with his recipes at all! This ice cream is absolutely wonderful!

I love watching Micaela in the kitchen, she doesn’t even realize that she is practicing her math and science skills! Math is her leading cause of dramatic headaches ๐Ÿ™‚

On Saturday the ice cream was definitely finished so we set off to make our cupcakes. Sprinkle Bakes was our favorite recipe, and picture…heck, she set it on fire! We swapped out regular flour for King Arthur Flour Multipurpose Flour, Gluten Free, 24-ounces and baked the cupcakes according to the directions.

Since I had no intentions of lighting these cupcakes on fire, this is never a good idea in my house with four small children within an arm’s length, we left the cupcake wrappers on and just cut out the 2 inch divots in each cupcake. The kids then eagerly devoured the little cake bites that were removed. The cake was deliciously fluffy and light! No gluten lover in my house could tell the difference, which is always a plus in my dining room!

Once the ice cream was in the cupcakes we put them into the freezer and ate dinner, which Daddy and Papiere were grilling while we baked.

Post dinner we returned to the kitchen and whipped up some meringue according to the original recipe. This recipe produced A LOT of meringue, probably 3 times as much as we needed, so we’ll definitely cut this back next time. We aren’t much for fancy cupcake frosting, and when it’s meringue we are definitely not fancy! We are goopy and glutinous ๐Ÿ™‚ Enormous dollops of meringue topped these cupcakes and were browned in the broiler until they looked like perfectly roasted marshmallows…

and then there were no cupcakes.

Thank you, Alaska, for being so yummy in cupcake form!

Coconut Cream Pie

Isn’t she beautiful?!?! She should be, she took a while to make..plus, I’m bias. Oh, and my forearm now looks like it belongs to Popeye ๐Ÿ™‚

Making a coconut cream pie from scratch (well the filling from scratch) is definitely a time commitment. So, make sure that you have about an hour and half to do this….with nothing else to do because you can’t walk away!

I used the recipe from Pinwheels. The directions seemed easy enough, and I had everything required to make it. However, there is not a time indicated in the directions for making the filling….so I was really lucky that I did this after my kiddos went to bed. I only changed 2 things from the original recipe. I toasted 3/4 cup of shredded coconut for the topping, and I waited to toast it until right before I wanted to put it on the pies.

I used pie shells that you can buy in the freezer section of the grocery store (this recipe is for two pies). I baked them at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. When they were done I made the filling according to the directions. I learned that bringing something to a boil over low heat takes a REALLY long time! It will come to a boil…about an hour after you start stirring it over low heat. I followed the directions to a T though and stirred it the whole time. When it started to boil I took it off the heat and added the coconut as directed and poured the filling into the baked pie crusts. The consistency looked like this.

Then I put them in the fridge and went to bed at 2 a.m. I know, crazy!

At 7 a.m. when my six year old little darling tapped me on my nose I got up and we came downstairs. We spread the coconut shreds out on a foil lined baking sheet and browned them. I toasted 3/4 cup of coconut shreds, so I had to brown them longer than the 5 minutes called for…I watched them the whole time, and at the 5 minute mark I spread them around on the sheet with a fork every minute until they were toasted. It took about 8 minutes total.

We let the toasted coconut cool while we put the whipped topping on the pies. I just used cool whip. Then we sprinkled the pies with the toasted coconut and put them back in the fridge….again, doesn’t the final product look lovely.

Here’s the results: 4 out of 5 eaters loved this pie! The 5th eater was the one I was trying to impress, but sadly, he prefers instant pudding…so that’s fine, he can stick with Mrs. Smith or Sara Lee. If you don’t like homemade pudding I would also recommend you just stick with the non-homeade version.

I can honestly say that I loved this pie and I’ve never really been a big fan of coconut cream pies before. I don’t mind working hard on something for a long time if it’s really good, and this I’ll make again for company. I do think that next time I will just put all of the filling into a deep dish pie shell and then make a huge mound of whipped topping for the top layer as well. I also recommend that you wait and put the toasted coconut on the pie right before you serve it. If you put it on and refrigerate it it will get a little chewy, but nothing too bad. This pie is creamy and the coconut milk gave it a very real, yet mild coconut flavor. I don’t like overbearing, fake flavors in pies and this was definitely in the real flavor category!

Thank you Pinwheels for the delightful recipe!

Old Tuna, a raunchy onion, a bad peach, and an egg who rolled away

This week was a wasteful week for us. If I had noticed sooner I could have made some tuna salad with the onion and tuna, but I overlooked them.

We also lost a peach. It’s been humid here and with our windows open the life span of our peaches was shortened. This was the only one that molded up, but the rest got pretty soft overnight. Only one day old, too. So sad. I used the soft, not moldy ones to make peach cobbler cupcakes

And finally, when I was making the said cupcakes an egg made a roll for it. Sadly, it met it’s fate when it landed in our sink. Poor thing…