Tasty Tuesday…on a Wednesday!–Beast Craft BBQ: Beer-Braised Carnitas

My love for carnitas is well-documented…I just shared a link to my crock-pot carnitas recipe (which I originally published here five years ago!), yesterday! So when I saw that Beast Craft BBQ, my very favorite BBQ place, was serving beer-braised carnitas last week, I was very excited. I was also worried when I first saw it, because I thought it might be a one-time thing that I was going to miss out on, but now it appears that their carnitas will be making a regular appearance on the menu!

So, um, I’m pretty sure I should never make carnitas again. Because how could I ever compete with the amazing smokiness in the Beast carnitas? And they were served perfectly, with Beast’s delicious lime sour cream, diced tomatoes, and white cheddar. All on top of one their tortillas, which I already loved (seriously, best tortillas ever!), but with the added benefit of having been fried! Did I mention that I had it with the Texas Chainsaw BBQ sauce? I’m pretty sure I’ve never tried it before, and it has a great kick! This is seriously my new favorite dish from Beast!

Honestly, after all this time, I figured that their food would always be great (because it always is!), but that there wouldn’t be much new to look forward to. I am pleasantly surprised to discover that I was wrong, and I have even heard that there might be something else new in the future!

Tasty Tuesday–Tostadas

This is my favorite tostada recipe. There are so many options out there, from different meats, like chicken and shrimp, to a wide variety of toppings, and it seems like we’ve tried them all! I like to keep things simple, so my dream tostada is topped with pork carnitas, jack cheese, and sliced avocado. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll drizzle Mexican creama on top, too. Lettuce, tomatoes, and olives also make good toppings if you’re feeling adventurous!

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Mother’s Day Dinner

Since it is Mother’s Day, I figured I should pick what we had for dinner. You couldn’t pay me to go to a crowded restaurant today, so I decided to make one of my favorites, plus something new for dessert:

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Tostadas with pork carnitas, jack cheese, and avocado slices, plus some avocado salad on the side. What can I say? I really like avocados, and so do my girls! For dessert, I made a sopapilla cheesecake, which was easy to make, and delicious. That one is definitely going in the permanent file!

Tasty Tuesday–Replica Qdoba Mexican Gumbo

After making Southwestern Turkey Soup in January, but substituting leftover Pork Carnitas for the turkey in the recipe, I realized that I had the basis for replicating the “Mexican Gumbo” that Qdoba serves. I have to say, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good approximation! Bunny seems to agree with that assessment, as it has quickly become one of her favorites, as well. It even works with leftovers from the original turkey soup variation, if you’re not in the mood for pork!

  • Leftover Southwestern Soup, (with the majority of the broth drained off)
  • Cooked Rice, (flavored with lime juice, to taste)
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Shredded Jack Cheese
  • Tortilla Strips
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

Place cooked rice in the bottom of a bowl. Top with leftover soup, using only enough broth to keep the rice moist. Garnish with toppings as desired…my favorites are cilantro and shredded jack cheese.

The Five Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten

Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant and hungry all the time. Or maybe it’s because I have gestational diabetes, and can’t eat anything interesting. But lately, I’ve been thinking back over the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, and I think I’ve come up with the top five, (none of which are things that I cook–I wanted this list to contain special, restaurant-only items!).

Chicken Thomas–This was one of the specialties at a restaurant my parents and I used to go to, Cafe Wheaton, (that has, sadly, closed), and while they had many delicious thing on the menu, including chicken and/or veal oscar, I almost always ordered this. It was a breaded chicken breast, slathered in some kind of parmesan sauce, served with pasta, and there were artichokes involved. I wish I could remember more details about it so that I could try to replicate it, but it’s just been too long.

Fresh Trout–Back in college, I went to Copper Harbor, MI, for the very first time, for my cousin’s wedding. While we there, I had fresh trout, caught that day in Lake Superior. I don’t think I knew what really fresh fish was like before that day! In all honesty, I don’t really even remember how it was prepared, but it was, hands-down, the best fish I’ve ever eaten, and there are days that I think it would be worth the trip up there just to eat fish that fresh and wonderful again!

Tiramisu Cheesecake–This is the only thing on my list from a chain restaurant, (Cheesecake Factory), but this cheesecake is so good, it’s worth it. My two favorite desserts, combined in one amazing piece of cake. Seriously drooling just thinking about it. Lucky for me, there’s a Cheesecake Factory near enough to us that if I have to have a piece, I can, but not so close that I’m danger of going there often. It’s the perfect set-up for a serious pregnancy craving, (gestational diabetes aside).

Seamus McDaniel’s Cheeseburger–The first “local only” item on my list, the Seamus cheeseburger is by far the best I’ve ever had. Rare, with provel, tomatoes, and onions, it’s like a bite of heaven. The french fries that come on the side aren’t too shabby, either.

Beast Craft BBQ Carnitas–I’ve loved Beast since it first came to Belleville, but the carnitas, a recent menu addition, are just over-the-top delicious. I seriously couldn’t eat them often enough!

Honorable Mention (because I couldn’t just leave the list at five!):

Triple Chocolate Suicide Cake–I haven’t had a piece of this cake in probably over 20 years, but I still remember it. This is from another, (now defunct), restaurant that my parents and I used to frequent, and tiramisu and cheesecakes aside, it’s the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. Several layers, (at least three, maybe more, and they were thick layers!), of rich chocolate cake, and an almost fudge like frosting. Oh, and big triangle of a chocolate bar stuck in the top, and the whole thing drizzled in more chocolate. Sinfully delicious!

So, there you have it. Those are the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I’m proud of myself for “only” including two desserts on the list. I could have easily made a list of just the best five desserts I’ve had, or a list of 10 or more of my favorite foods, but I wanted to narrow it down to the best of the best. Of course, there’s the chance that I’ve overlooked something, but in my current pregnant and constantly hungry state, these are the items that immediately came to mind.

Sadly, of these five items, only two of them are remotely accessible to me, (and I’m not supposed to be eating cheesecake right now, so that leaves me with just the cheeseburger–no fries). Of the remaining three items, two of the restaurants were a.) In Suburban Chicago, and 2.) Have closed anyway, so are no longer even an option. And the third item…well, Copper Harbor, MI is 750 miles from here, so that’s not happening anytime soon. But when I’m hungry in the middle of the night, I console myself by remembering some of the best things I’ve had the opportunity to eat!

Tasty Tuesday–Pork Carnitas

This is one of our favorite slow cooker recipes, (all four children like it, and three of them even had seconds–unheard of around here!). The meat is excellent on its own, or served over rice, as a tostada topping, or in a tortilla, either as a soft taco or a burrito, with cheese and tomatoes. It also makes a great quesadilla filling. And it goes great as a substitute for the turkey in our family’s new favorite soup–Southwestern Turkey Soup–I think we actually liked this variation better than the original! And, after you make the soup, you can make a replica of the Qdoba gumbo with the soup leftovers! This one recipe has many uses, and if you use a big pork shoulder, you can try out a lot of the options with the leftover meat!

  • 3 to 4 lb. pork shoulder picnic roast
  • 16 oz. green salsa
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 c. tequila
  • Pepper and garlic powder to taste

Place pork roast in crock-pot. Sprinkle liberally with pepper and garlic powder. Place bay leaves on top of roast. Pour salsa and tequila over all. Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours.

Remove roast from crock-pot and shred. Return to crock-pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

Tasty Tuesday–Southwestern Turkey Soup

This is the best new soup recipe I’ve tried in a while. Turkey and Bunny especially liked it. We’ve discovered that it’s particularly good with shredded Monterey jack cheese on top.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
  • 7 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups cubed cooked turkey
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (10 ounces) rotel, undrained
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • Sour cream, coarsely crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced ripe olives, optional

In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Stir in the broth, chilies, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne. Add the turkey, beans, rotel and corn.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Garnish with sour cream, chips, cheese and olives if desired.