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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Braised Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs for Two via applestoziti.com

If you’ve never tried short ribs before… it’s time to take the plunge. They will take you into slow-cooked bliss and you’ll never look back. I feel it’s essential to my well being to have these at least a few times every year.

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Roasted Shrimp Skewers

Roasted Shrimp Skewers via applestoziti.com

If you love shrimp and you love simple… you’ll love this simple shrimp recipe!

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Thyme-Chive Butter

Thyme-Chive Butter via applestoziti.com

An elegant dinner for two just wouldn’t be the same without butter. Or really any dinner for that matter.

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Homemade Potato Chips with Garlic & Herb Salts

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After Christmas we had an exorbitant amount of potatoes left. I think six pounds. What was I going to do with all those potatoes?!

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Pumpkin-Ricotta Pasta

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Click here for the recipe!

As I was concocting one last savory dinner dish for ricotta, I realized I had not done the most obvious meal possible for this ingredient: PASTA! How could I leave this one out? Being that Thanksgiving is upon us, I decided I must include a key Turkey-day ingredient to get my family’s hearts (and stomachs) prepared for what is soon to come. You could even make this as an “After Thanksgiving” meal and add some chopped up turkey leftovers to it. That would be amazing!

I’m doing it!

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Ricotta & Sausage Calzones

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This is the second time I’ve posted a calzone recipe here on A to Z.

My family voted unanimously that they were better this time around. You’re gonna love ’em!

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Onion Stuff

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Okay, so I’m not sure what to call this recipe, but it’s amazing and you MUST try it!

The closest thing I can think of is jelly… no, more like preserves because it’s not smooth… so I guess “jam” is a good name for it. There you go, this post should have been called, “Onion Jam”. At least your handy RECIPE printable will no longer be titled “Onion Stuff”… “JAM” it is!!

I am smokin’ hot.

NO really, I’m serious.

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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, Ham & Gruyere Panini

I was going to end with this recipe because it was my FAVORITE of all the apple recipes… I decided against this because I wanted anyone who bought (or is going to buy) ham for their “Apple, Ham & Brie Sandwich” to get a double-duty use out of their ham. The ham with the brie and apples was a wonderful lunch, but this panini is hard to beat… we will be eating this every other week for the rest of our lives if I have anything to say about it! Really, it’s that yummy…

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If you read the word “panini” and were about to gloss over this recipe because you don’t have a panini maker… READ ON!

Not only is this recipe too delicious to pass up but you can always make a grilled sandwich in a skillet. No panini-maker required! If you have one already… WONDERFUL! It’s time to pull it out!

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