Constant Growing Amazement Cooks!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Roasted Pork Carnitas

When I was on a recent girl friend trip to San Clemente, Ca., we were recommended an eating establishment called "Nick Around the Corner."  The person recommending was the gal that owns the Schmidt's Chocolate Company there and she said, "You can trust a girl who owns a chocolate company!" and we could!  She recommended the guacamole, the shrimp taquitos and the pork carnitas.  We ordered all 3 and shared.  The next day we went back for more.

I never knew I was a Pork Carnitas lover.  Now, it is all I can think about!  Right now I have this recipe slow cooking in a brand new dutch oven.....and so I will share how it was after the taste test. (it was marvelous!!!  I left it in big chunks instead of shredding it which is how they serve it at Nick's.)   I pinned several good looking recipes on Pinterest but this particular recipe called for Coco Cola which I remember was in the menu description. 



My Favorite Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes


  • 3 pounds pork shoulder cut into 3 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola beer or low sodium chicken broth can also be used
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 leaves bay
  • juice from 2 limes
  • cilantro for serving


Classic Slow Roasted On the Stove

  1. Toss the cubed pork with the garlic powder and chipotle chili powder. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear the pork on all sides. If needed, sear the pork in batches if your dutch oven is not large enough. Reduce the heat low and pour in the coke, orange juice and 1/2 cup water (there should be just enough liquid to cover the sides of the meat). Add the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours on LOW. After 1 1/2 hours the pork should be falling apart. Remove the lid and continue cooking another 30 minutes. The Coca-Cola will caramelize and the liquid will evaporate almost completely.
  3. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred. Drizzle the carnitas with lime juice. Serve with warm tortillas, avocado and cheese. EAT!


  1. Toss the cubed pork with the garlic powder and chipotle chili powder. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear the pork on all sides. If needed, sear the pork in batches if your dutch oven is not large enough. Transfer the pork to the bowl of your crockpot. Add the coke, orange juice, 1/2 cup water and the bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. During the last hour, remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate almost completely.
  3. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and shred. Serve with warm tortillas, avocado and cheese. EAT!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza

I love Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell.  I have several Copy Kat recipes and the one I made was a combination of several of them- Todd Wilbur and also plus my own variations.  Since we just have two of us eating- I added the leftover enchilada sauce to the meat mixture to freeze and then will use salsa on the top tortilla for the next meal.  This is a great less-than-30 minutes meal!  And yum!

Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell
  1. 1 pound lean ground beef
  2. 1 (1 ounce) packet taco seasoning (I used Taco Bell!)
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 6 medium-size flour tortillas ( Mine were 9" which fed easily two per pizza)
  5. 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  6. 1 (8 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
  7. 1 1/2-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  8. 1 1/2-2 cups  shredded pepper-jack cheese
  9. 1 tomato, diced
  10. 1 green onion, diced
  11. 1 small can sliced olives (opt.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray each side of the tortilla with cooking spray.  Place on parchment on cookie sheet.  Place 3 tortillas on each baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, carefully turn tortillas and  bake another 5 minutes to crisp on the other side, punching any bubbles. You want tortillas a slight golden color and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain grease. Add taco seasoning and water. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir and simmer for a few minutes.   Remove from heat.
  3. I had plenty of enchilada sauce so I added some liquid from the hamburger mixture and mixed with the bean In a microwave-safe bowl, then heat the refried beans until warmed through. Spread a thin layer of beans on one tortilla. Top with 1/3 of the meat mixture. Place another tortilla on top of the meat. Spread 3 Tablespoons of enchilada sauce (or use salsa of choice) on top of the top tortilla. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese and pepper-jack cheese. Add a few dices of tomato, green onion and olives.
  4. Repeat process with the remaining tortillas. You will have 3 Mexican pizzas total.
  5. Place pizzas on the baking sheet and bake for 6-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Note:  I seem to recall that years ago, Taco Bell also had a thin layer of sour cream on top of the beans.  I meant to do that this time but forgot- because I was soooo hungry!  Next time for sure!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reuben Flatbread

Dang that St.Patrick's Day got by without me knowing about this delicious easy dish.  But I love Reuben's any time and after spending the day with daughter Brandi- we ate these at Rooster's Brewing Company and Grill in Odgen.  They were so good I had to come home and whip them up. Easy peesy.


I like the Stonefire Naan bread found at our local stores.  The amounts would vary depending on the size of the flatbread.  This isn't rocket science.  If I can figure it out, anyone can!

Spread a couple of tablespoons of Thousand Island dressing on top  of the flatbread.  Top with several thin layers of corned beef deli slices, topped with drained sauerkraut, topped with a titch more dressing and mixed cheeses on top.  I also took a few slices of the corned beef and made a tuck in it so I had a little bowl- like at the restaurant- and put a dab of dressing and more kraut for a garnish on top.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Garnish on top with chopped green onions, tomatoes if you like or parsley.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Utah Fried Scones

I just spent the week at my dad's in Washington and he really, really, really wanted something from his childhood- a treat his mother often made when making bread.  Fried scones.  Not having a mixer there, I googled a recipe from the Internet that was easy to make- to stir up- and they turned out okay- but I knew my good friend Patty made "super" scones for Christmas for her family and I knew that recipe called for buttermilk (which I didn't have on hand at my dads anyway...)  Here is the recipe for the quick and easy ones. (Actually the real easy recipe is getting Rhode's Frozen roll dough and letting it raise completely, then stretching each dough roll and frying them)  I like frying them in an electric fry pan to monitor the heat of the oil.  375 degrees.  If you cook them too quickly, they'll be brown on the outside and dough-ie in the middle.  Not good.  I like best with honey butter or jelly.


Fried Scones (aka: Utah Scones)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 quarts oil, for frying
  • for serving: honey butter, syrup, honey, powdered sugar
  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of warm water with yeast adding a pinch of sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes (mixture will rise and foam).
  2. While yeast is rising, combine hot water, oil, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add egg to the yeast mixture and mix well.
  4. Add the egg/yeast mixture to the oil/sugar mixture. Stir well.
  5. Gradually add flour stirring well after each addition. Knead the dough as it stiffens until you get a doughy, elastic consistency ( about 5 minutes)
  6. Place dough in a well-greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Let dough rise for about 30 minutes or until double in size.
Frying Directions
  1. Line cooling racks or plates with paper towels. Fill a large sauce pan with 2 inches of oil and heat to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, punch down dough and divide into 12 balls. Roll out a piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼-inch thick circles or squares. Use your fingers to stretch out the balls of dough.
  3. Carefully place two or three balls of dough in the oil and fry until golden brown on each side (about 1-2 mins). Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat until the dough is all fried.
  4. Serve hot with honey butter, butter, syrup, or powdered sugar. Our favorite is honey and powdered sugar!
Recipe makes about 12 large scones.



Patty's Super Scones (Overnight Recipe- perfect for holidays)

1 quart warm buttermilk- can use Saco powdered
2 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tb. sugar
2 beaten eggs
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
9 cups flour
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and sugar until foamy, then add the warm buttermilk and the beaten eggs.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture and beat well.  Stir in the remaining flour.  Place in a large Tupperware type bowl, greased, and store in a cool place.  When doubled in size, punch down and then cover with lid and refrigerate overnight. The dough will be kind of sticky.  Roll out on floured surface about 1/2 inch thick and cut into rectangles or shapes with pizza cutter.  Let rise again 30-60 minutes.  Don't stretch.  Place carefully in deep frying oil and cook until golden on both sides.


Six Sister's Utah Scones- similar to Patty's but 1/2 quantity and not overnight.


  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 cup warm buttermilk, (110° to 115°) (can use powdered buttermilk- Saco) 
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In another large bowl, combine the buttermilk, egg, oil, sugar, salt, baking soda, yeast mixture and 2 cups flour; beat on medium until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  • 2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll dough into a 16x8-in. rectangle. Cut into 24 rectangles. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour.
  • 4. In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry scones, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  • 5. For honey butter, in a large bowl, combine butter, honey, confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread on scones. Yield: 2 dozen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lemon Magic Cake

This was my addition to our recipe Mediterranean Bon Appetit dinner.  David liked it but I thought it was just so-so.  Valene and I have made lots of lemon desserts through the years so they are a tough act to follow.  Good but I'm not rushing out to make it again.

Lemon Magic Cake
Lemon Magic Cake - one simple batter that turns into a 3 layer cake.  The popular magic cake now in lemon flavor.
Servings: 9
Author: Joanna Cismaru
  • 4 eggs at room temperature separate yolks from whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted, (1 stick )
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour (or 4 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cup milk lukewarm
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice  (note: I would double this)
  • zest from one lemon
  • powdered sugar for dusting cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Grease a 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Separate eggs and add the egg whites to a mixer and mix until egg whites are stiff. Place egg whites in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light. Add butter and vanilla extract and continue beating for another minute or two after which you can add the flour and mix it in until fully incorporated.
  4. Add lemon juice and lemon zest then slowly start adding the milk and beat until everything is well mixed together. Add the egg whites, a third at a time and gently fold them in using a spatula or a whisk, repeat until all egg whites are folded in, but there should still be white bits of egg whites floating in the batter.
  5. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 40 to 70 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the cake is firm to the touch. The baking time could vary greatly depending on the oven, so take a peek at around 40 minutes and see how it looks.
  6. Sprinkle some powdered sugar after cake has cooled.

Mediterranean Bon Appetit

Last night we had Bon Appetit at the Cook's.  Valene cooked a amazing Mediterranean dinner (from a Bon Appetit 2004).  Over the top amazing.  Just look at these pictures!  Truly, Valene's home is my favorite restaurant!!!!!  Delish!
White Bean Puree with Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Pita Slices
Makes 4 cups
  • 1 cup dried Great Northern beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 small onion, quartered
  • 2 4-inch-long fresh rosemary sprigs
          1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (or more) boiling water
          2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges
  • Toasted pita triangles
Place beans in medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight.  Drain beans well. Return to saucepan. Add 4 cups water, onion, and rosemary sprigs. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until beans are soft, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs. Drain beans and onion; cool to room temperature.
Using on/off turns, puree drained beans and onion, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and chopped rosemary in processor until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Puree until blended. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup boiling water. Thin with more water by tablespoonfuls if necessary. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Transfer white bean puree to wide shallow bowl; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with toasted pita triangles.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian
 Skewered Rosemary Shrimp with Mint Pesto
Makes 24 Servings

Mint pesto

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoon (packed) feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped jalapeño chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 24 large uncooked shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled, deveined, tails left intact
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 24 4-inch-long woody rosemary sprigs

For mint pesto:

Combine first 7 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture is smooth. Add mint leaves and lemon juice; process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Gradually add oil and process until mint pesto is smooth and creamy. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.

For shrimp:

Preheat broiler. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Whisk oil, garlic, and parsley in medium bowl to blend. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Arrange shrimp in single layer on broiler pan. Broil until opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to large bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice and toss with 1/2 cup mint pesto. Starting at base end of rosemary, skewer 1 shrimp on each sprig. Arrange on platter and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian
Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Herbs and Asparagus

Mediterranean Chicken


8 Servings
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • &nbsp
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoon (1/4 stick) chilled butter
  • 1 cup teardrop tomatoes (red and yellow)
  • &nbsp
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Caper berries, halved (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, add chicken to skillet. Cook until brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to ovenproof plate and place in oven to keep warm. Discard oil from skillet.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to same skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until wilted and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth; boil until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add olives, plum tomatoes, garlic, shallot, and capers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add butter; stir until melted. Mix in teardrop tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon mushroom mixture over chicken. Sprinkle parsley and pine nuts over. Garnish with caper berries, if desired, and serve.
Capers are flower buds from the caper bush, and caper berries are the fruit. They are about the size of an olive, and are usually pickled and sold in jars. They can be found at Italian markets, specialty foods stores, and some supermarkets.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian

Roasted Potatoes and Herbs

8 Servings
  • 4 pounds 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 5 large)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • &nbsp
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Add potatoes to large pot of boiling salted water. Cook 6 minutes and drain. Toss potatoes with shallots, oil, salt, and pepper in large bowl to coat. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets. Roast 35 minutes. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley and 2 teaspoons thyme over potatoes on each sheet. Using metal spatula, turn potatoes to coat. Roast until brown and tender, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian

Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Gratin


Makes 8 Servings
  • 4 10-ounce bags fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat large deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (about 10 cups at a time), sauté fresh spinach in dry skillet until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer spinach to strainer. Squeeze spinach dry; roll in kitchen towel to remove excess water.
Char peppers directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and slice peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, shallot, and garlic; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk cream and eggs in large bowl to blend. Whisk in all cheeses, salt, and pepper. Stir in spinach, leek mixture, and 2/3 of roasted red peppers (reserve 1/3 of peppers for topping). DO AHEAD - Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Transfer spinach mixture to prepared dish. Bake gratin until knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Arrange remaining red pepper strips decoratively atop gratin and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian


Monday, March 20, 2017

Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

This is a killer dessert...truly meant for sharing because it is soooo rich!  I doubled all the ingredients because my dish was 8 by 6 1/2.  I also added a caramel and a chocolate sauce at the end.

Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

For the graham cracker crust:
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup chocolate chips

For the cookie layer:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup crushed walnuts (yikes-  pecans for sure!!!)
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon butter
dash of cinnamon

vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce, for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 6x6 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and use a fork to toss crumbs together until they are evenly moistened. Press graham cracker mixture evenly onto the bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the graham cracker crust.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add milk, oil, and vanilla and using an electric hand mixer, beat together on low speed until combined. Beat in coconut and nuts. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter over crust. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To serve, melt butter with cinnamon in a small skillet, until sizzling. Place a piece of pie on top of the sizzling butter. Top with ice cream, walnuts, chocolate, and caramel sauce.

Best if served immediately after removing from oven

Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 can (14 ounce size) sweetened condensed milk (other half is for the hot fudge sauce)
1/4cup margarine or butter, cut in slices
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, more as needed

Combine the sugar and sweetened condensed milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves then remove from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat well until the butter melts. Slowly stir in the milk and continue stirring until fully incorporated.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Hot Fudge Sauce
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt chips and butter with the condensed milk and water.  Cook and stir constantly until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Makes 1 cup