It all started with a head of red cabbage……….

cabbageThe dish I was buying this particular piece of produce for only called for 1/3 (or even less) of the vegetable. Seeing as my local grocer wasn’t selling portions of cabbage that day, I was stumped about what the heck I was going to do with the rest of it. As I stood amidst the cucumbers and radishes, a plan started to form. It suddenly occurred to me that I had about a pound of pork loin waiting for me in the freezer at home. Pork and cabbage go together right?

In my personal life, like many others before me, I had been searching for a new creative outlet. One where I could challenge and discover more about myself, but that could also keep my limited interest for more than five minutes. I reflected on the past few years, during which I’d undergone a huge transition in the way that I eat and cook.

Back in the ‘good old days’, I could barely be bothered to do more than boil water for macaroni and cheese. Let alone orchestrate an entire, well-balanced meal. My food planning criteria was pretty minimal- it had to taste good and it had to be easy. Needless to say, a lot of what I ate came from boxes, packages, and/or fast food joints.

These days, I still value simplicity and maintain the mentality that if it doesn’t taste good, there’s no point in me eating it. However, I’ve become more aware of the benefits of cutting the processed stuff out of my diet and educating myself about how to balance the foods I like to eat with a healthier lifestyle.

That’s where this blog comes into the picture. I love to eat, I love to cook. What better way to express myself than to do it through food? I realized it was here where I could explore and share my adventures in the kitchen, reveal the places (both new and old) I like to eat, and connect with a community all at the same time.

The recipe below was the result of my cabbage confusion. While the pork is the star of the show, it was the cabbage that was the inspiration. Using flavors I knew worked well together and ingredients I already had on hand, this recipe was created purely by accident. And to me and my husband’s utter amazement – a totally delicious accident! Developed entirely on the ‘a little of this, a little of that’ technique, this was the combination of flavors that we enjoyed the most. A little sweet, very succulent, with the right amount of heat.

All that being said, I’m not sure what this blog will be or where this road will take me in the future – but I’m excited to explore, to learn, to grow, and to meet new (and reconnect with old) friends along the way. Bon appetit!

Chipotle and Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos

Ingredients

1-2 lbs. pork loin (other cuts can be used)
1/2 cup orange juice (bottled or fresh squeezed)
1 1/3 cup beef broth
1/2 cup water
1-2 tblsp. canola oil
1-2 tblsp. olive oil
Zest of 1 lime
1 1/2- 2 limes juiced (depending on how much each gives)
1/2 a white onion chopped
1/3-1/2 lbs. grape tomatoes halved or quartered (canned tomatoes can also be used)
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 bay leaf
Honey (approx. 2-3 tblsp.)
Salt (approx. 1 tsp. for seasoning the meat)
Pepper (approx. 1/3 tsp. for seasoning the meat)
Chipotle Chile Pepper Seasoning (approx. 1/2- 1 tsp. for seasoning the meat)
Garlic Salt (approx. 1/2 – 1 tsp. for seasoning the meat)

• Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
• Season all sides of pork with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and chipotle chile pepper seasoning.
• Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven on med. high heat, sear meat on all sides and remove to a nearby dish.
• Add the chopped onions to the Dutch oven, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for approx.     3-5 minutes allowing the onions to soften (add olive oil if needed at any point).
• Add the garlic, cook for approx. 2-3 minutes.
• Add chopped tomatoes, season lightly with salt and pepper – cook for approx. 5 minutes allowing the tomatoes to soften. (Feel free to break the tomatoes with a wooden spoon in order to release more of the juices).
• Add the lime zest.
• Add the orange juice to deglaze the pan. (Make sure to scrape up all the meat bits on the bottom of the pan).
• Add lime juice, beef stock, and water. Bring to a boil.
• Add the honey, salt, pepper, and chipotle chile pepper seasoning to taste.
• Add the pork back to the pot, along with any juices that may have collected on the plate.
• Add a bay leaf.
• Bring back to a gentle boil/simmer, cover, and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours turning the pork over half way through.
• Remove from oven and break up the pork into shreds with a fork or wooden spoon.
• Bring everything back up to a boil and simmer for another 20-30 minutes on the stovetop.
• Serves 2 – 3 people.

I served this on warmed, flour tortillas with Greek yogurt mixed with fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper (to taste) and chopped red cabbage also mixed with lime juice, salt, and pepper. (This would also work well in a hamburger bun or with rice. Yum!)

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