Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Make a Night of It

Theme nights can be a lot of fun. This summer, we had a Mexican theme night with some fantastic pork carnitas.

Crock Pot Carnita Tacos with Chipotle Cream


For the quick pickled onions and jalapenos:

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the chipotle cream:

2 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo, finely minced
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice

For the carnitas:

1 (4-5 lb) lean boneless pork roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3" chunks
1 tablespoon oil
12 oz beer (or you can substitute beef broth like we did)
1 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle in adobo, from can, chopped, plus 1 teaspoon sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

For the tacos:

12-16 corn tortillas, toasted
Cotija cheese, for topping
Cilantro, for topping


Start by making the pickled onions and jalapenos. Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve. Put the onion and jalapeno in a sealable container and pour over the vinegar mixture. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the cream and pork.

In a small, sealable container, combine the sour cream, chipotles, and lime juice. Mix well and taste--add more adobo sauce if you like yours spicier, or more sour cream if you'd like to tame the heat. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large skillet over high heat, heat the oil. When hot, add in the pork and sear until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place the pork in the bottom of the crock pot.

Add in the onion, beer or beef broth, chipotle, garlic, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Put the pickled onions and jalapenos in the refrigerator.

After 6 hours, check your pork. When it easily shreds with a fork, it is ready to be removed from the broth and shredded.

Preheat the broiler and prepare two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Scatter the pork around the baking sheets and ladle about 1/4 cup of the broth over each sheet of pork.

Place one sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, then toss the pork and ladle another 1/4 cup of broth over. Broil once more, until crispy but not overcooked, and then ladle another 1/4 cup broth over the pork. Repeat with the second sheet.

When the pork is done, serve it in toasted corn tortillas (one suggestion is to use 2 corn tortillas per taco to keep in all of the juices) with the chipotle cream and pickled onions and jalapenos. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and cilantro.

Source: Host the Toast. You can find it here. Adapted from a recipe found on Gimme Some Oven, which you can find here.

Notes: These were really good. So tasty and satisfying! I wussed out because I was pregnant and skipped the onions and jalapeno because I was worried it would give me heartburn or acid reflux, but everyone who tried it with the onions and jalapenos loved it and said that the pickling tamed them.

Above: Shredded pork.


Above: Chipotle cream.  


Above: Pickled onions and jalapeno.

Above: We served this with a variety of other toppings as well so that everyone could make these carnitas their own. 

Above: Options are a good thing!


Mexican Corn Salad


3 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole kernel corn, cooked
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


In a heavy large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the corn, bell pepper, zucchini, green onions, and jalapeno pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate vegetables until chilled.

Add salsa and chopped cilantro to vegetable mixture. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source:, submitted by Barrett. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really good. It made a nice addition to this meal.

Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw


3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, zested
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 red onion, finely diced, or more to taste
4 cups shredded green cabbage, or more to taste


Whisk mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, sweet chili sauce, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar. Mix cilantro and red onion into dressing. Stir cabbage into dressing mixture, about 1 cup at a time, until all cabbage is coated.

Source:, submitted by Mom (though not my Mom! Ha ha!). You can find it here.

Notes: I LOVED this. I could have eaten the whole bowl by myself if there weren't so many other good things to eat. There was no room left in my belly!

(Cafe Rio Copycat) Mint Limeade



1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 cups water
2-3 sprigs fresh mint (not peppermint or spearmint)


1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
8-10 cups cold water
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Garnishes (optional):

Fresh mint sprigs
Fresh lime slices
1/2 cup sugar and freshly grated zest of 1 lime combined (for sugaring the rims of the glasses)


Combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and strain the mint leaves. Allow to cool at room temperature or place in the refrigerator. The syrup can be made a few days ahead of time.

When ready to serve, place the chopped mint leaves in the bottom of the serving pitcher. Add the syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, and 8 cups of cold water. taste and add additional water to taste, if necessary. If serving over ice, you might want to make it a tiny bit sweeter than you normally like to account for the dilution from the melted ice.

To make the lime sugar for the rims of the glasses, mix the zest of one lime with 1/2 cup sugar. Using a damp paper towel, wipe around the rim of each glass and then invert the glass into the lime sugar. Carefully fill the sugar-rimmed glasses with ice cubes and pour the limeade into the glasses to serve.

Makes 12-14 servings.

Source: Our Best Bites. You can find it here. Be sure to check out Our Best Bites because they have a Strawberry Mint Limeade variation, as well as instructions for how to make any flavor of berry limeade. Sounds yummy!

Notes: So good! Enough said!


  1. Ah, yes. That chipotle cream. That's what's been missing from the other carnitas I've tried. This was better than any I've ever had in a restaurant. I would give this recipe 5 stars. I'm so hungry for Mexican food right now!

  2. We made these for Super Bowl Sunday. Since it was me and Jeremiah who were eating them, we ate them all the next week (and I didn't cook at all that week). We tried all sorts of combinations. The coleslaw is actually fantastic IN the tacos too. Win win. Yummy stuff. It didn't exactly help me in my weight loss goals, but it was worth it. :)