Easy Carnitas, Three Ways

Easy Carnitas, Three Ways
If you're looking for a tasty, versatile recipe that can be enjoyed in different ways, look no further than this Instant Pot Carnitas recipe. With just a few simple ingredients and the magic of the Instant Pot, you can create delicious and tender pork carnitas that can be served as tacos, nachos, or a burrito bowl. Here's how it's done:

- 4-5 lbs pork loin, cut into chunks (excess fat trimmed off)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper as seasoning for pork chunks

For Mojo Sauce:
- 1 cup beer OR chicken stock
- 1 head of garlic. peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (or 3 drops of lime vitality)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Sprinkle both sides of pork chunks with salt and pepper.  Add olive oil to Instant Pot ( enough to fully cover the bottom) and select Saute.  Once hot, add 1/3-1/2 off the pork (whatever will fit without overlapping), and brown on all sides.  Repeat until all pork is browned, removing  to a clean plate as you go.  You may need to add more olive oil for last batch.  Turn off heat when done. 
2. While pork chunks are cooking, whisk together all ingredients for mojo sauce. 
3. Add all pork and sauce back to Instant Pot, stirring to combine. Close lid and set vent to sealing.  Cook on Manual for 30 minutes, following with natural release (will take 15-20 minutes.)
4. Set oven on broil.
5. Remove lid from Instant Pot.  Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Shred pork using two forks, then pur about 1/3 of sauce over meat, tossing to combine.  Broil for about 5 minutes until the edges of the pork start becoming crispy.  Remove from oven, pour a second third of juices over pork, toss to combine, then broil again.  Repeat a third time and meat will be ready. 
6. Now comes the fun part where you get to choose your toppings and serving style of choice!  Here are some of our family faves:
Tacos:  corn tortillas with carnitas, guacamole, cojita cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde
Nachos:  favorite chips with carnitas, queso, cojita cheese, cilantro, sliced cherry tomatoes, and salsa verde
Burrito Bowl:  carnitas, Spanish yellow rice, black beans, cojita cheese, and cilantro

Make it your own and let me know what you used for toppings!

This Instant Pot Carnitas recipe is a great option for busy weeknights when you need something quick, tasty, and versatile. Plus, it's a crowd-pleaser that everyone will enjoy, whether they're eating tacos, nachos, or burrito bowls. Give it a try and see how delicious and easy it is to make!
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Tuscan Chicken for Simple Supper

Tuscan Chicken for Simple Supper
This is a family favorite, which means it has become the fave of several friends I've shared it with, too!  You can print the recipe here as well, if you like.  Let me know what you think! 

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Use the Cloth Napkins and Good China

Use the Cloth Napkins and Good China

My great-grandmother used to always say “Use the good china.”

As I was folding napkins after the Christmas meal, I mentally added “and the cloth napkins, too.”  The thought came to me because they were sitting in a stack at my youngest child’s place at the table. 

At that moment, my heart became filled with two incredibly strong feelings.  The first was tied to a memory of my eldest child as a toddler at Christmas and how I set her little high chair with a water goblet, a silver fork, a small plate from my wedding china, and yes, a cloth napkin.  Her eyes grew so big and a smile lit up her face to have special things just like the adults did.  And I could feel the family story of my great-grandmother saying “Use the good china.”

You see, too often we don’t trust our children with the things we should, yet we hand them responsibilities for which they aren’t ready.  Could my child have broken something?  Yep, and we would have rolled with it.  But you know what?  She never broke any of it, and neither have either of her younger siblings.  Now the adults are a whole other matter! #multiplewineglassesdown 

Of course, the real moral to my great-grandmother’s saying was that the people around us are what is special, not the objects.  Don’t save things to use once per year; instead, use them regularly to celebrate your loved ones.  After all, aren’t we constantly being reminded that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed?   

So shake things up and make the signature Thanksgiving side in June.  Sing your grandfather’s favorite song whenever the mood strikes, rather than only on his birthday.  Share memories of favorite people all year long, not just at weddings and funerals.   

And break out the good china to celebrate with those you love. 

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Learning Through Grief: 3 Steps to Holding your Heart Together

Learning Through Grief:  3 Steps to Holding your Heart Together
I recently lost someone very dear to me. While the world would have called us friends, there is a circle of people who well understood that we were really family.

Her loss has devastated me.  Twenty-five years ago, she and her blood family gave a young, lonely college student a home-away-from-home.  What started out as a weekend job grew into a lasting bond.  Losing such a fixture as that rocks your world to its very core.

This loss was compounded by current coronavirus orders and suppositions.   I wasn’t able to do my random drop-by visits that we both so enjoyed.  Knowing others stole that time from us makes the grief even more mind-numbing. 

I’m usually one of those people that tackles difficult things head-on.   Doing, helping, and supporting helps me to heal, but in this case, that was all taken away.  I sat for the first few days, barely having the energy to lift my arm to take a drink of water.  Forget eating or sleeping well because none of that was happening. 
I realized I was going to have to do something to start processing my grief.   While tears can be healing, I was simply wallowing in them.  Here are some simple things I’m doing to begin healing my heart.

  1.  Talk to people.  I know, that sounds obvious, but in these days of so much isolation, it is more important than ever.  There was no gathering when my friend died, no plans for a funeral.  I so desperately needed human contact and to speak with people who knew her.  Phone calls became my lifeline of sharing memories, telling hilarious stories, and chatting about what an amazing cook she was.  Yes, I sobbed through many of these conversations, but it was incredibly therapeutic.  I will say, though, I was selective with whom I spoke.  Having people ask if it was due to corona or blow off my anger at not being able to see her would not have benefitted me in the least, so I only called people who would be a genuine source of support. 
  2. Listen to your loved one’s voice.  If you have a recording, voicemail message, or video, take the time to hear their words.   Photographs are great, too, for reliving positive memories, but there is just something about hearing the person’s voice.  It can make you feel closer to them and not quite so alone. 
  3. Enjoy something they created or an activity you did together.  This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Maybe it’s a Christmas card from five years ago with a handwritten message.   Perhaps you had some favorite songs you listed to together.  It could be a favorite shared recipe or some really corny joke.  In my case, my friend made bird feeders and have given me several.   I filled those up right before a big snow storm, and for days I was able to enjoy watching the birdies and remembering how much she enjoyed spending time in her workshop.
The biggest thing to remember is something everyone says but you don’t really understand until you are in the throes of it:  the grieving process is different for everyone, and that’s okay.   There is no wrong way to do this, as long as you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally and not harming others.  If the steps above don’t speak to you, listen to your heart and find what does.  And if you need a listening ear, I’m here for you.

If you need a place to share ideas about preserving knowledge of the past while putting your own modern twist on things, I would love to have you join us in Old Souls with New Ways.

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Trying Something New: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Trying Something New:  Chicken Gnocchi Soup
How many of you, after being mostly stuck at home for ten months, are going stir crazy?  One outlet we have found is in the kitchen.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know our youngest child has had a passion for cooking since she was seven.  As a wife and mother, I've been cooking for decades.  This lockdown time has led my husband and other two children to become adventurous with recipes as well, and it has truly been fun for all of us. 

The other night, I tried this new recipe for chicken gnocchi soup.  It was absolutely delicious, but it made sooooooo much.  So I posted on my FB page, offering bowls to anyone who wanted to come and get some.  We had a few takers, but people who didn't live close by kept asking for the recipe.

I'm including both a link to the original recipe (because you have to give credit where credit is due!), plus all the ways I tweaked it.  Hope you love it as much as we did!

Here's the original:
You can click the "Jump to Recipe" button at the top of the page.

Here are my tips:
  • I used center cut bacon.  It has less fat and is easy to find in the store.
  • I always use Vidalia/sweet onions in any recipe that calls for yellow onion.
  • Only used 1 carrot.
  • Double the garlic (or more.) This is my standard advice when using garlic.
  • I used pink Himalayan salt rather than seasoned salt.
  • It was pretty peppery, so you may want to cut it by 1/2 tsp.
  • I always use organic chicken stock over broth.  It has more nutrients and flavor.
  • 3 chicken breasts, pounded.
  • 2lbs gnocchi, cuz you can't go wrong with that yumminess.
  • Highly recommend adding the Boursin.  I used garlic and herb. 

I would love to hear what you think of the soup.  And if you want more tips or to follow our hilarious shenanigans, check out Old Souls with New Ways. 

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