crockpot carnitas

i have to admit – i made this recipe for crockpot carnitas last january.  yes a year ago.  i don’t know how i still haven’t written a post on it because it was really really good.  so i apologize for not sharing this recipe with you sooner.  i hope you forgive me.

i love crockpot recipes.  i even did a whole series of crockpot recipes a while back because i had so many different crockpot recipes.  check them all out here!  crockpot/slow cooker recipes are the best because they are usually super simple.  this recipe is no different.  brown the meat, add the seasoning, plop in the crockpot – then set it and forget about it.  genius.

i some how bought the biggest pork shoulder ever so i ended up with a lot of carnitas.  but that was okay because it is incredibly versatile and stores well in the freezer.  chris and i ate a lot of the carnitas as tacos.  i just rolled up some carnitas and cheese in a tortilla then packed it with lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.  i love these lunch boxes with the different compartments.

but you can also use the carnitas to make homemade chipotle bowls, quesadillas, taquitos and much more.  sometimes we just ate it with rice and veggies.  having some carnitas stashed away in the freezer was perfect for quick, weeknight meals.

to make this crockpot carnitas, start with a pork shoulder.  the recipe suggests using a boneless pork shoulder but i didn’t find one at the store and didn’t really feel like dealing with the hassle of taking the bone out.  so i just left it in – oh well.  it was fine.  also, like i said i got the biggest pork shoulder ever so it wouldn’t fit in the crockpot with out me cutting it into 2 pieces.

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shoyu chicken

today we have a snow day!!!  yay!!! i love snow days and because we live in the dc area we actually get a fair amount of snow days/late openings considering we don’t get all that much snow.  the district just is a bit over cautious and tends to freak out even with a couple inches of snow.  but i’m certainly not one to complain.

because now i have some extra time to write a blog post and share with you a recipe for one of my favorite local (hawaii) foods – shoyu chicken.  kind of funny writing about food from a nice sunny warm place since it’s cold and snowing here, but it’s actually the perfect comfort food, so rain or shine this is a great dish to make for you and your family.

shoyu is soy sauce in japanese and in hawaii people frequently refer to soy sauce as shoyu.  so pretty straightforward, this chicken is cooked in a soy sauce or shoyu based sauce – it’s almost like a teriyaki sauce, made with shoyu, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and a touch of rice vinegar.  the chicken thighs (or breast – though i prefer thighs because they have less of a tendency to dry out) are cooked in a slow cooker in this lovely sauce for a few hours.  once the chicken is done, the sauce is slightly thickened with some cornstarch and the chicken is ready to serve is a bowl of steaming rice.  my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

i hope you give this simple, savory recipe a try and get a taste of hawaii.  enjoy!

first, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl – it’s just shoyu, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated fresh ginger, and rice vinegar.

then place the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bowl of your slow cooker/crockpot.  you could also chicken thighs that still have the bone in and/or skin on it.  whatever you prefer.  chicken breast may work, but i have found it to get too dry.

pour the sauce over the chicken.

there you go…

but now you need to mix the sauce and the chicken to make sure that each piece of chicken is covered in sauce.  this will ensure all of the chicken will absorb the flavor of the sauce.

now cook the chicken on low for 4-5 hours  or on high for 2-2 1/2 hours.

take the chicken out of the pot and slice each piece.

the sauce will have a bit of fat in it, especially if you use chicken thighs.  so carefully skim off as much of the fat as you can.  this is what it looks like pre-fat skimmed.

once you remove the fat, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and then pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce.

mix and then cook until the sauce is thickened slightly.

put the sliced chicken back into the sauce and stir to coat the chicken with sauce.

serve the shoyu chicken with a sprinkle of chopped green onion.

aloha!

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spinach and ricotta stuffed shells

sorry the picture above is not all that pretty.  but you know what the one downside with food blogging is?  having to wait to eat dinner because you’re trying to style your food just right so that you can take a pretty picture to post on your blog.  poor chris has to wait all the time – just one more second and we can eat, i promise!  a million seconds later and it’s finally time to eat.

well sometimes, i’m just so hungry that i’m not able to take all the time i would like to make the plate of food pretty.  this happened when i made these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells for dinner.  it was already past our dinner time and when i’m hungry, i get just a little cranky.  so i just plopped a few of the shells on a plate, snapped a couple pictures and we dug in.

so please forgive me for the less than beautiful pictures, but please don’t let that keep you from trying out this recipe – because it’s amazeballs.  yes, that’s totally a word (anyone else watch giuliana and bill?).

anyway, i stuffed the shells with a flavorful mixture of spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, onions and herbs and then topped it all with some crockpot bolognese sauce and melty mozzarella cheese.  if you don’t happen to have bolognese sauce on hand (but who really does?  we only had some since i was on a crockpot/slow cooker kick) just use a large can of diced tomatoes or a large jar of your favorite pasta sauce.  the original stuffed shells recipe i used had sausage in the stuffing mixture, but i took it out since the bolognese sauce already had meat in it.  but if you plan on using just diced tomatoes or pasta sauce, i would definitely suggest adding the sausage back in.

start by boiling the shells.

once they’re done, rinse and drain the shells well and set them aside to cool.

then make the filling mixture.  saute some onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  once the onions are translucent, turn the heat off and allow the onions and garlic to cool.

in a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, spinach, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, pepper, and basil.

then add the onions and garlic.

now the filling mixture is ready to be stuffed into the shells.

get ready, this is going to make a lot of shells,  so get 2 pans ready one 9 x 13ish and 1 8/8ish pan.  spread a little bit of the sauce on the bottom of each pan.

then start stuffing the shells and line them up in the pan.  big pan done…

and the little one.

now spread some bolognese sauce over the shells.

cover each pan with foil.

then bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  take the foil off and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the sauce,

and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

i’ll warn you, it’s going to smell really really good and you’re going to want to dive right in.  once you try it, hopefully you won’t blame me for not wanting to wait and take pictures and you too will want to just gobble these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells up.

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crockpot butternut squash risotto

whenever i think of crockpot or slow cooker recipes, i automatically think of cooking some kind of meat whether it’s chicken, pork, beef, whatever it may be.  but i had no idea that you can make so many other things in the slow cooker like desserts and even risotto!

if you read miki’s kitchen regularly, you know i love risotto – and now i may love it even more knowing that you can make it in the slow cooker!  i had resigned to the fact that in order to have risotto i had to stand in front of the stove stirring and stirring and stirring.  not anymore!!!

although it’s not authentic risotto because it isn’t made on the stovetop with lots of stirring, it still is perfectly creamy and amazing just like stovetop risotto.  this risotto is full of tender butternut squash and a sprinkling of peas.  isn’t it pretty! i just love the beautiful orangey-yellow color of the squash and the bright green of the peas.

if you’re looking for an easy and actually relatively quick slow cooker meal (it only takes a little more than 2 hours, compared to most slow cooker meals that take 4-6 hours), please try this crockpot butternut squash risotto.

of course, the risotto starts with the butternut squash.

peel and chop that bad boy up.  i ended up getting about 5 cups of chopped squash from mine, so i saved some of it for later.

set the squash aside and saute the onions and garlic in the melted butter.

once the onions are translucent, add the arborio rice.

cook for a few minutes, making sure each grain of rice is covered with the butter.

then add the white wine (i was actually out of white wine, so i added the same amount of chicken broth).

stir constantly for about 5 minutes until all of the wine or broth is absorbed.

pour the rice mixture into the bowl of your crockpot/slow cooker.

then add the chicken broth and chopped butternut squash.

mix it up and put the cover on – then set the cooker to high and cook for about 2 hours.

after about 2 hours, it ends up looking like this…

you should take a closer look.  checkout how creamy it is, even without the cheese and even without being made on the stovetop!

so now, add the frozen peas and stir to incorporate the peas throughout the risotto.

allow the risotto to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

turn the crockpot off and add the cheese, salt, and pepper.

mix and it’s ready to eat!

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crockpot italian turkey meatballs

and i’m back in the game!

does anyone recognize that quote?  it’s from one of my favorite movies, 10 things i hate about you.  you remember the part when joseph gordon-kevitt’s (the guy from (500) days of summer) character kisses larisa oleynik’s (alex mack) character and then she gets out of the car and he says, “and i’m back in the game!” and then he hits the steering wheel.  i used to watch it on vhs over and over again when i was younger.  sooo good.

anyway, we’re back to slow cooker/crockpot recipes with these crockpot italian meatballs from skinny taste.  i hadn’t ever made meatballs in the crockpot before – i used to just bake them.  but after trying this recipe, i think this may be the only way i make them.  the turkey meatballs were so tender and flavorful.  plus the tomato sauce was equally delicious.

(uncooked meatballs)

since the recipe makes quite a bit of meatballs, we had them 2 ways – first we made meatball subs and then we just had the meatballs and sauce over some pasta (i forgot to take a picture.  sorry!)

first up, the  sauce.  just pour the crushed tomatoes into the slow cooker and add the roasted garlic and bay leaf (i also may or may not have added about 1/4 cup of red wine too).  mix to combine.

now, the meatballs.  put all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl – ground turkey, egg, parsley, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and italian seasoned breadcrumbs (i didn’t have any in my pantry so instead i used panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning).

mix everything together…

and form the meatballs.  i used about a rounded tablespoon of the ground turkey mixture of each meatball.  then plop them into the sauce.

set the slow cooker to low and cook for 4-6 hours.  once the meatballs are done, add salt and pepper to taste along with some chopped basil (i used my trusty basil in a tube).

if you want to make some meatball subs like we did, all you need to do is put about 4-5 meatballs on a sub roll.

then sprinkle some mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, and italian seasoning on top.

finally, broil the sandwich until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

nom nom nom.

for the recipe for these simply delectable crockpot italian turkey meatballs, please visit skinnytaste.