Carnitas with Green Chili Salsa
I've got lots of hobbies. Cooking, gardening, sewing, photography and exercising - just to name a few. My husband also has hobbies - but at the top of his hobby list - flying. Albeit an expensive hobby - it's what he truly loves to do. For reasons that I can't comprehend or even explain - Ben LOVES to be in a plane, thousands of feet off the ground. He really doesn't even need to GO anywhere - it's just about the experience of flying for him. Ben got his private pilots license about 22 months ago and I can assure you that he smiles the biggest when he's flying a plane. There's no question that flying is his passion.
We should all be so passionate about something as Ben is about airplanes and flying. His dedication to achieving his dream of becoming a pilot is inspiring. A goal that he set for himself and started striving for in high school, only to be put on hold for nearly 30 years.
While I don't have the same passion for flying as Ben, I do have other hobbies. I guess you could say that finding, creating and blogging about new recipes is my passion? Is that a hobby? I found this recipe for Carnitas in my Cook's Country magazine. The original recipe was accompanied by a tomatillo salsa recipe but I put my own spin on the recipe and it was amazing.
Carnitas with Green Chili Salsa
4 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 2" pieces
2 pounds lard
24 (6 inch) corn tortillas
28 ounce can green chilies or tomatillos
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, chopped
juice from 2 limes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Transfer chilies to food processor along with onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, 3/4 t. salt, sugar and 2 t. oil
Season pork with salt and pepper. Divide among warm tortillas.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with salsa.
One of the great things about my passion for cooking is that it's something that I share with my brother and my parents. Our mutual love for food bonds us and brings us closer together even though we live hundreds of miles apart. My brother actually recommended this recipe to me after he made it for himself. He gave it such high praise that I had to try it for myself. I trust his recommendations completely so I knew that these Carnitas would be a huge hit. He was right. These were amazing.
Have you ever stopped to think about how powerful words can be? They have consequences - both good and bad. Words have energy and the power to heal, encourage and uplift. They also have the ability to hurt, humiliate and harm. We get to choose whether to use words to build or to destroy. I'd like to say that I always speak encouragement and life but that would be a lie. Ever try and navigate through a discussion with a blatantly hostile or abrasive person? How do you speak positive and respectful words when someone is attacking you? It's so hard not to get defensive and use harsh words to fight back but that's never EVER been an effective means of solving the problem. Trust me.
It takes discipline and practice to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness and humility - even in the face of adversity. One of the things that I've had to do is to teach myself to breathe before I speak. Taking a moment to breathe and think before I speak makes me more mindful of the words coming out of my mouth. I'm not very good at controlling my tongue but I'm trying to be more aware of the words that I use. I find it way easier to edit my words when I'm writing a blog post than when I'm having a conversation. If only there were a delete button that I could press when I instantly regret saying something negative to a friend.
I love the analogy that Gary Chapman uses to describe words as either bullets or seeds. HIs point is that words can be used as "bullets" to inflict a feeling of superiority or condemnation that cause irreversible damage OR we can choose to think of our words as "seeds" and deliver them with a feeling of sincerity and supportiveness. Speaking positive words is like sowing seeds in a garden. They can grow and foster life affirming relationships. I am choosing to make a conscious decision to be kind to all and speak words that are beacons of inspiration, enthusiasm and encouragement. Kind and sweet words are always music to the ears of the listeners. "Words are free. It's how you use them that may cost you." -KushandWizdom
Perhaps that was too deep for a food blog but it's food for thought anyway. Onto the recipe of the day - an amazing Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry muffin or a Blueberry Banana Whole Wheat Muffin. I've rearranged these four words in so many different ways and I still can't decide how to best describe these muffins. Words.
Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry Muffins
Bake 30 minutes at 350.
Cool on wire rack.
There's no reason that healthy eaters have to skimp on great breakfast muffins. If you're trying to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet - replace the brown sugar with stevia or another sugar replacement that you like or leave it out all together. The blueberries and the banana really add plenty of sweetness to this moist, delicious muffin.
Roasted Ranch Potatoes
Poor potatoes. They've gotten such a bad wrap. It's a shame really that anti-carb fanatics have turned the potato into a forbidden vegetable. I for one am not buying into all of the bad potato press.
Potatoes are inexpensive, they're available year round, they're full of vitamins and potassium and let's face it, few things are as delicious as a potato. As if those weren't enough reasons to fall in love with potatoes, they're also super simple to prepare and they're incredibly satisfying. After all what would Thanksgiving be without a giant bowl of buttery mashed potatoes? What's a burger without fries or a sandwich without chips?
I'm bringing potatoes back to our table. White, red, sweet, roasted, baked or fried - bring em on. I can't even think of a way to prepare a potato that I DON'T like but my favorite is probably baked or roasted potatoes. It just doesn't get much better than a batch of roasted potatoes smothered in cheddar cheese and served with a ranch dipping sauce.
Roasted Ranch Potatoes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh dill
Sprinkle with cheddar and bake another 3 minutes.
Transfer to platter and serve with sauce.
Roasted Ranch Potatoes are a great side dish for almost any meal. The next time that I make them I think I'll slice them into wedges though to make them even easier to dip into the ranch sauce. Cubes or wedges, I think you're going to like these.
Can we just start a club for people who really want to make and eat healthy dinners for themselves and their families but who fall massively short of their high expectations? A club where we encourage each other even when we have to pick up fast food for dinner. A support group for busy, stressed out parents who need to know that they're not a failure if they run out of time to fix a healthy meal and they order pizza instead.
Since this sort of club may never exist, I'll take it upon myself to tell all of the stressed out parents that you're not alone. You are not a disappointment, you're not inadequate and you should not feel guilty. Believe me when I tell you that everyone shares in the struggle to provide healthy meals.
Leave your guilt at the door and whether you cooked a healthy dinner last night or if it's been a month since you fixed a healthy meal - it's never too late to start preparing nutritious meals. It's a daily struggle - trust me - I get it.
It's easy to get discouraged when I try and fix healthy meals, especially when I spend an hour preparing a meal and my family really doesn't even enjoy it. It happens to everyone. Don't get frustrated, just get back on the healthy meal bandwagon and try again.
If you're looking for a healthy meal that your family will actually enjoy - give this Grilled Rainbow Trout with Chimichurri a try.
Grilled Rainbow Trout with Chimichurri
4 skin on trout filets
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 garlic clove
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped jalepeno
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
5 Tablespoons olive oil
Grill 3-5 minutes until opaque.
Serve with chimichurri.
Monday is always fish night in our house and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare it. The fresh and bright chimichurri sauce was such a nice compliment to this light and flaky fish. If you can't find fresh trout - I'm sure that this chimichurri would be great on any type of flaky, white fish.
I think that we're all drawn to super positive people. The kind of people who always have a smile on their face. People who remain calm and cheerful even when it seems like the world is ending. I'm not sure where this magical power of positivity comes from but I totally admire the glass half full attitude. I wish that I could remain optimistic in the face of adversity but if I'm being totally honest, I struggle to remain grounded and happy when my world starts to collapse around me.
The more time that I spend around positive people, the more that I realize that positivity may be less of a genetic trait and more of a learned behavior. Positive people, in my opinion, are more grateful than people who have negative attitudes. They appreciate the big and the small things in life. They seem to live with the attitude that they may not have it all - but they have always have enough. You rarely see them going after the bigger and better things in life. They are content and grateful for everything they have.
I feel like it was so much easier to be positive and grateful when we were young. There were no bills to pay, errands to run or chores to be done, just friends to meet and sledding hills to be conquered. It's easy to be grateful for a day spend riding bikes with friends or exploring in the woods. I should be equally grateful for a day spent running from the post office to the grocery, cooking meals or weeding the garden. I have to remind myself what a blessing and a privilege it is to be healthy enough to be able to accomplish everything on my to-do list for the day.
So, I'm learning to be consciously grateful for everything that I have in my attempt to be a more positive person. I know that there are days when I will get upset, disheartened or frustrated but I'm still going to try and count my blessings even on those days. To be honest, most of my anxiety and negative attitude comes from the "what-ifs". Like a lot of you, a lot of my anxiety comes from worrying about what could potentially happen in the future. When I redirect my thoughts to the here and now, I tend to be more grateful for the things that I have right now.
I'm also my own worst critic. I find it hard to say positive things to myself. It's much easier to speak encouragement and gratefulness to a friend than it is to tell myself those same positive things. Speaking positive words to myself is totally unnatural and awkward but I feel like the "look on the bright side" attitude is worth striving for.
I've heard that if you smile while you're talking on the phone, it will make you seem happier and more positive to the person on the other end. Maybe there's something to that. The fake it till you make it strategy.
Eat all your vegetables. There are children in China who are starving and would be grateful for this food that you're wasting. I heard this from my parents and I told it to my kids. OK, so maybe it was a little dramatic but the fact is that there ARE starving children - all over the world and we do need to grateful for the food that we have. My goal was to get my kids to eat their veggies and to be grateful for them. My strategy didn't always get them to consume more vegetables but maybe it made them stop and think about gratefulness for just a moment. Don't worry, it won't take any extra convincing to get your kids to eat these broccoli fritters.
Drain on paper towels
Not sure I'll be able to smile through my next "woe is me" slump but I'll certainly try and count my blessings and be grateful even on the hard days.
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