Slow Cooker Carnitas

DSC_0204Carnitas is basically slow-cooked pork, pan fried until it’s nice and crispy. It tastes amazing, and the best part is that it’s super easy to make. At our house, we turn it into a burrito bowl, which is basically a tortilla-less burrito. You could use it in tacos or actual burritos, or use the meat to make a chili or stew.

What you’ll need:

2 pounds of carnitas meat
Season salt
garlic powder
Citrus fruit

Olive oil

1 1/2 cups white rice
2 T chopped cilantro
2 cloves chopped garlic

Cabbage
Tomatoes
Onions
Cilantro
Avocado
Olives
Salsa
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
(Basically, what ever you’d put on a taco or burrito)

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What to do:

Let your slow cooker do most of the work. Put the pork in the bowl and season with season salt and garlic powder. If you can’t fit it all in one layer, season each layer. Zest a piece of citrus fruit into the pot as well. I’ve used lemon, lime, and orange, and they all taste fantastic. Cut the zested fruit in half and add to the pot as well. That’s it. You don’t need any liquid with the meat. I cook on high for an hour, and then on low for six to eight hours. You want the meat to be fall-apart tender in the end.

Heat a large frying pan with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Take the meat out of the slow cooker and shred, removing any remaining fat.

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Put the carnitas meat in the hot oil, spreading it out into a layer. Now, just leave it alone while you cook the rice. You want a nice, crusty, crunchy layer on the bottom and tender, soft meat on top.

Add 1 1/2 cups of white rice to 3 cups of water. Throw in the chopped garlic and cilantro, as well as the citrus fruit halves from the slow cooker. The fruit will be very cooked and soft, and it will have absorbed some of the flavor of the meat broth and give that to the rice. Yum. IBring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is soft. Stir the cilantro and garlic in.

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When the rice is done, the meat is done. I swear, it’s like magic.Take the lemon out of the pot and give the rice a stir to distribute the garlic and cilantro.

Put some rice in each bowl and top with meat and shredded cheese, where it can melt a little. If you’re having a big bowl, you might want to put a little rice and a little meat and a little cheese, in layers, then repeat, so you’re not left with a bowl of rice when you get done with the toppings.

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We always put the toppings out and let everyone make their own the way they like it. I really love to make this on days when I’m at school until just before dinner time. I get to eat something scrumptious, even though I’m mentally exhausted, and feed my family something that didn’t come out of a box, even though I’m not home all day.

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Favorite Finds: February 2013

I’ve been keeping a list in my Smash Journal of a single, favorite thrifting find each week. I thought it might be fun to put those into a monthly post.

Here are my favorite finds of February 2013:

DSC_0128A record player, after years of searching.

DSC_0149A sweet little bamboo bird cage.

DSC_0133A whole collection of Heller tableware, in awesome juicy colors.

DSC_0138Adorable daisy afghan.

DIY: Changing a Lamp Switch

A few weeks ago, I bought two vintage lamps at the Goodwill Bins store for $3.

DSC_0130When I got them home, one worked like a charm and one wouldn’t turn on. (Goodwill had a testing station, but no light bulbs. What?) I was upset, because I love the art deco shape, the cool peach color, and the smoothness of the paint under the glass of these lamps. I wanted both!

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Lamps have very simple electronics. When you take one apart, what you basically have is the cord running up a tube from the base to the top, attached to a simple switch that the light bulb screws into. The switch is in a case that pops open to give you access. That’s it.

DSC_0157The cord has two parts. Each part wraps around a screw on the switch, which is then tightened down. Think about battery cables, only without polarity so it doesn’t matter which side of the cord wraps around which screw.

DSC_0158If you take apart the familiar switch casing (right), you’ll be able to take out the actual switch (left.) The screw you see facing you on the switch is where one side of the cord goes. The only tool you need is a flat head screwdriver.

DSC_0160 A new lamp switch cost about $3 at Home Depot. It never occurred to me before, but lamp switches come in standard sizes–because light bulbs come in standard sizes. In the picture above, you can see Kevin tightening the screw on the wire. We wanted to make sure it was the switch that was the problem, and not the wire. If it had been a wire, Kevin would have cut the receiving end off a simple extension cord and striped the wires to replace the existing lamp cord.

DSC_0162No need! The new switch did the job.

DSC_0165The bottom of the switch case goes in first, then the switch is wired and put in place, followed by the top of the switch case, and voila!

DSC_0166All fixed, and for less than five bucks, including the lamp, plus about fifteen minutes of work. I’ll never worry about whether or not a cute thrifted lamp works again.

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I shared this here: Coastal Charm, Tuesday’s Treasures, Take a Look Tuesday, Homemade Tuesdays, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, One Project at a Time, Make it Work Wednesday, Hooking up with HOH, Weekend Wander, Simply Creations, Frugalicious Friday, Weekend Show Off,

Putting it Together (7)

Putting it Together is a weekly feature. Every Monday, I’ll find an straight-sized outfit, analyze why it works for me, then put it together in plus sizes with some ideas about making it affordable. The “My Shopping List” page has a list of items that I’m hunting for and links to every PiT post.

Have a outfit in mind you’d like me to put together? Email it to me at circoluma@gmail.com.

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I found this week’s inspiration picture at Shamepuff.com.

sofrawnchI like the simplicity of this outfit. The original post calls it “so European” and I agree, and love it! I think the aqua scarf makes it. I also love that this is a good winter-into-spring outfit. You could easily add tights to make it warmer, or a striped short-sleeve shirt and switch the scarf for a necklace to make it cooler.

Here’s how I put it together for fat girls:

PicMonkey CollageI added some texture, just because I roll that way. I also used a long-sleeve jersey top instead of a sweater.

image1xlThe top is from ASOS. I love the chevrons at the sides, especially. And the peplum. Who doesn’t love a peplum? This top is $37.30.

14227430_120927043000The skirt is from Target. It has a lace overlay, which I adore. It costs $22.99.

1257559_AquaThe scarf is from Kohls. So pretty. It costs $14.99.

517392_hiLove these black crocheted ballet flats from Torrid. They cost $28.50, and come in sizes up to 13.

Total, this outfit would cost you $103.78. Not too bad, considering each piece is pretty basic and could be worn in a thousand ways. In fact, I already have a black skirt and black flats, and I bet you do, too. So, remixing what you already have could save you more than half right up front.

As I’ve said before, scarves are a thrift shop standard. You might even find something vintage, or otherwise super cool, and it would probably cost you no more than about $5.

Watch ASOS for sales. That top is seriously cute.

Sunday Love (8)

Super simple, adorable, and cheap. I’m going to have to add little bitty animals to my shopping list!

How to Create a Record Wall

Very cute. I’m not sure where I’d do it, but I love the idea. The colorful labels are key. Either that, or sometimes I see a collection of records with similar labels, and that might be cute, too.

Probably not the most authentic Spanish rice in the world, but I think the flavors at least aren’t far off. Plus it’s easy, and my family LOVES it.

 Osmia avoseta

I love when TV leads to learning something new. Elementary had a bee on it’s episode this week. A bee that makes beautiful flower nests. Interesting, right? And lovely.

I think I want to make this. Looks cozy

I’m about 2/3 of the way done making this. Now it’s packed away somewhere. Incentive to unpack!

DSC_0186Last, but not least, the view from my new writing desk at sunset. I love watching my neighbors lights pop on. It’s like living in a Christmas card with the snow on the mountain and everything.

Blasphemous Pork Chops and Noodles

I married my high school sweetheart, way back in the time of the dinosaurs. The marriage didn’t last, but the recipes I learned from my mother-in-law did. One meal that was a part of my ex-husband’s family culture, to the point of being nearly religious, was pork chops and noodles. I wasn’t even allowed to have the recipe until after I was officially a Lamare.

Pork chops and noodles is basically pork chops braised with butter and water, and with cooked egg noodles mixed  in the resulting broth and bread crumbs stirred in to make a sort of stuffing.

Changing up the recipe is a kind of blasphemy, especially considering that I cook for two Lamare kids on a regular basis. But I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. Plus, I wanted pork chops and noodles on a school night this week, so I needed to use my slow cooker. The result was amazing.

I give you my Blasphemous Pork Chops and Noodles.

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What you’ll need:

6 pork chops
1 1/2 cups liquid (I used chicken broth. I think vegetable broth, or even V8 juice would work just as well.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T onion, finely chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
1 T Italian seasoning
1 t dry mustard
1/3 cup apricot preserves
Italian bread crumbs

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What to do:

In a bowl, mix everything but the pork chops and bread crumbs. Pour into the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the pork chops. Cook on high for four to five hours or low for eight to ten hours. About half way through the cooking time, turn the pork chops so that any part that wasn’t already submerged is.

When the pork chops are done, start cooking the egg noodles. I give them seven minutes, because they won’t be cooking with the pork chops at all. Take the meat out of the slow cooker and set aside. Strain the broth and return to the slow cooker. Remove any fat from the meat and put the chops back into the broth. Use a couple of forks to break the meat up into shreds.

When the noodles are cooked, drain them, then dump them into the slow cooker with the meat and broth. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and mix everything together. I used about a cup of bread crumbs, and it turned out perfect. You might like more or less, so just use your judgement. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.

indexTradition calls for serving pork chops and noodles with applesauce. My kids actually stir it into their noodles. Leaving it off might have caused flat-out mutiny in my house, so I think your family might like it that way, too. Green beans is a good veggie to round out the meal.

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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Shared at: Frugalicious Friday, Get Schooled Saturday, Frugal Friday, Feature Friday, Foodie Friday, Simply Link, Friday Favorites, Check Me Out Saturday, Show and Tell Saturday, Saturday Spotlight, Sew Darn Crafty, Scrumptous Sunday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Made By You Monday, Hunk of Meat MondayMealtime Monday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday,

My Thrifting Week: 2/22/13

PicMonkey Collage

Lots of Presidents Day sales this week. So, lots of good chances to pick things up super cheap, but also tons and tons of people in the stores. Crowds aren’t my thing, but I did manage to find some pretty awesome stuff.

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I’m having so much fun checking out the records at the thrift stores. This week, I found Kansas, Eddie and the Cruisers Soundtrack, Endless Love Soundtrack, Little River Band, Ray Charles, The Jackson Five, Lipps Inc., Stevie Wonder, 9 to 5 Soundtrack, Sly and the Family Stone, Steve Perry, Asleep At The Wheel.

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I was so excited to find this Catherineholm Lotus casserole dish. So pretty!

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Cute straw suitcase with orange and yellow embroidery. Also, Angel popping in to say hello.

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Pretty, minty green wool blanket. I think I’m going to make pillows out of it.

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My favorite find this week! How pretty is this daisy afghan?

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Now I have two paint-by-number paintings. That’s a collection, right? Right.

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Adorable raccoon pillow kit.

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This is a slow cooker cookbook that someone self-published. It’s adorable. The recipes are all hand written and illustrated. Some of them have notes to the readers, obviously family and friends. Like, one for slowcooker meatloaf that has a note that it’s better in the oven, but the author wanted to get her mom’s recipe in the book.

DSC_01331950s Christmas book. Crazy cute.

DSC_0152I was so excited to find this cute cake saver, because I have plans for a cake-making project and I really wanted one! This one is mustard yellow and has a cute little atomic design on it. And it cost $1!

DSC_0153I fell in love with all three of these pretty brooches, but the seagull really captured me, and they were only 50 cents each.

DSC_0154My favorite local indie bookstore has a vinyl day once a month. It’s the only day you can shop their records, and they all cost $1.99. I picked up two U2 albums, The Police, Sting, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, and Tears for Fears.

DSC_0155Pretty blue, open-weave short-sleeved sweater.

DSC_0156Equally pretty long-sleeved, light-weight button up.

DSC_0158Adorable 1960s fondue plates. Love.

DSC_0150Two cute little smock aprons, perfect for my Ruby (right, with her roller-derby-girl dragon tattoo) and her bestie to wear when they’re in art mode.

DSC_0151This was a little kit. The whole thing is only about 2 inches square and it took me less than an hour to make it.

DSC_0171I fell in love with this cork board/ chalk board combo. My kids ask me what’s for dinner at least a dozen times a day. Even after I’ve already told them! Now I can just write it down and they can check for themselves! Sanity saver for $1.50? Yes, please.

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Shared at: Thrifty Things Friday, The Penny Worth Project, Feathered Nest Friday, Be Inspired Friday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Overflowing With Creativity, Nifty Thrifty, Magpie Monday, Mod Mix Monday, Thriftasaurus, Thrift Share Monday, Vintage Thingie Thursday,