Slow-Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken

Slow-Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken | Cinco de Mayo Recipes | ApplestoZiti.com

On Cinco de Mayo I posted a Vanilla Bean Banana Muffin recipe that is to die for. But the thing is… banana muffins are not what you would call ‘festive’ for this holiday. Therefore, even though I didn’t have time to get step-by-step photos ready, I thought I should at least post one recipe this week in honor of Cinco de Mayo. {I will try to get a step-by-step for this recipe up soon though!}

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Greek Quinoa

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When I first considered what food to choose for “Q”, the only thing that came to mind at first was “Quail”…. hmm….

Never in my life have I woken up and thought, “Hm, I think I’ll make quail for dinner today.”

Think about your last trip to the supermarket. Did you see quail in the butcher case? Did you even think to look? I didn’t.

That is why, Q is NOT for Quail.

Q is for QUINOA!!!

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A savory take on Jam

At first I dismissed the idea of “J is for Jam” altogether because I thought there would be no “dinner” recipes made with jam…

Only desserts came to mind.

Then I realized that jams would make a FANTASTIC glaze for meats… especially chicken or pork. But more on that in another post.

A “jam” that I definitely did not expect but ended up LOVING is the subject of today’s post: TOMATO Jam!

Throw out any pre-conceived notions that just entered your head… you NEED to try this!

Tomatoes are a fruit after all… why not make jam out of them?

This is amazing on a burger!!! Take a look…

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C is for Coffee-Molasses Pork Chops

As you may know, I’ve been doing very little blogging lately. The good news is… I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking! Just in time for the holidays I have some yummy recipes for you to try in our “C is for Coffee” line up.

The first recipe is for dinner: Pork Chops!

This is a wonderful recipe because you can throw the pork chops in the marinade the night before! This leaves you with just a few steps to getting the pork chops on the table, and leaves you free to make any sides you might want to make.

For the marinade:

Wait… what is a marinade?

It is liquid that is seasoned with herbs, spices, salt, and/or pepper. Putting meats or other foods in the marinade allows them to absorb the flavor. For some meats a marinade helps to tenderize them. You will see some type of acid (wine, lemon juice, or vinegar) in meat marinade recipes that are intended to tenderize. Our recipe calls for Apple Cider Vinegar (made from fermented Apple Cider). This will help tenderize our pork chops!

You need a gallon-size zip-top bag. I always set mine inside a bowl just in case it leaks. It’s a much smaller mess on your counter or in your fridge when it’s contained in a bowl!

Here’s what you need for the marinade:

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To the gallon bag add 1 cup Strong Coffee (cooled down), 6 oz Molasses by weight (this is about 1/2 cup liquid measured), 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 TBSP Dijon Mustard, 2 Garlic Cloves (minced), 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 6-8 sprigs of Fresh Thyme. The only thing left out of the picture above is the pork chops! If you’re making the full recipe you need 4 bone-in, 1 inch thick pork chops. We only used 2 pork chops to feed our little family and saved the other two in the package for another night. Throw them right into the bag with everything else, seal it up, shake and massage the ingredients around for a bit, and then stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight!

Here are the marinade steps: (Just click on the first photo to see the close ups and to click through the slideshow)

When you’re about 20-25 minutes from being ready to grill your pork chops, take them out of the marinade. Put them on a plate to take the chill off. DO NOT pour out the marinade or throw it away! Pour ALL of it into a small saucepan and put it over high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce for about 12-15 minutes. It will be about 1/2 liquid when you are done. Stir it gently every couple of minutes to keep the bottom liquid from burning. After reducing it, REMOVE the sprigs of thyme. Pour this into a ramekin or gravy boat of some kind. You will use it to glaze the pork chops after they cook. You can serve the extra on the side for extra dipping sauce. It would be wonderful drizzled over mashed potatoes if you used them as a side dish for this recipe!

What is “reducing“? In simple terms: boiling a liquid until it becomes a smaller amount of liquid by evaporation. The liquid will thicken and it will heighten the flavors in the liquid. The reduced liquid is called a reduction. So, if you see “white wine reduction sauce” on a menu, you now know the chef reduced white wine (and possibly a few other ingredients) to create that sauce!

It is REALLY important you reduce the marinade before using it to glaze the pork chops. First of all, it will thicken the marinade (making it a better glaze) and it will intensify its flavor. But secondly, it kills any germs left by the raw pork chops that were in the marinade. Don’t skip this step… you risk getting sick! Yuck.

TIP: Allowing food to rest at room temperature before throwing it on a hot grill is a good rule to follow. If you allow it to come closer to room temperature it will cook more evenly and according to recipe times/instructions. Removing food from the fridge about 20 minutes or so before cooking is a good rule of thumb! 🙂

Pre-heat your grill to medium-high (this is about 400 degrees F on a gas grill). You can do this before reducing the marinade to be sure your grill is nice and hot when you’re ready to grill!

The recipe says to cook the pork chops for about  3-4 minutes per side but it took ours a bit longer than 4 minutes. I think 5 1/2 or so… I don’t know if they were a little thicker than the 1 inch that is called for, but they were DEFINITELY not done at 4 minutes! You can test this by using a meat thermometer. The pork chops should be at least 145 degrees F in the center of their thickest part to be considered safe.

When the pork chops are done, put them on a plate and let them rest for about 5 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and will make the meat more juicy! Nobody likes a dry pork chop.

Brush or drizzle the marinade reduction over the pork chops. Serve some on the side for extra drizzling and dipping!

Here’s the final shot:

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Click here for the official recipe from Alton Brown!

Happy Eating!

A is for Apple, Brie & Ham Sandwiches

I had to start with the final shot!

A super-yummy lunch (or dinner)…

Okay, so you go to buy ingredients for the Turkey, Apple & Brie burgers with Arugula…

(Click here if you haven’t read that post yet!)

Why not buy some sliced ham and an extra apple and make these sandwiches for lunch the day of, or the day after, you make your burgers? And, BONUS… use the ham for a DELICIOUS panini dinner another night of the same week! (I will be posting this recipe soon!) I love being able to use the same ingredients for several different recipes if possible, so I tried to pick some recipes with the same ingredients for your sake and mine! 🙂

Let’s dive into making these sandwiches!

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