Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas (Paleo, Whole30)

Can kids become possessed?

I think mine was today.

We went out to breakfast and then grocery shopping and she was great. But then we got home and the Spawn of Satan emerged. She wanted TV… no. She wanted our phones to watch YouTube… no. She wanted her tablet… no. We are strict with screen time and every time explained that she had already watched TV that morning and she had whole playroom full of toys to play with.

I finally convinced her that she should play and she picked dress up. OBVIOUSLY, she had to decide to be Anna from Frozen. Where is the Anna costume. Eff if I know!!! She wore it to daycare on Halloween and I don’t remember seeing it since. Maybe she has worn it? I tried all different options, all unacceptable.

We finally got her to nap thinking she was just tired and that she would be a nice normal, regular jerk of a 4 year old… wrong, she was still very much possessed by some hellish creature. She then spent a good bit of the afternoon telling us she was going to throw a fit and stomp her feet.

Do not laugh at your kids if they tell you this, it will make things so much worse. Resist to laugh at the tiny terrors. (HA!!!)

And days like that are exactly why I need recipes like Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas in my life.

Quick, easy, delicious, versatile. Check! Check! Check! Check!

I’m sure I could list other awesome reasons why this recipe is a winner but I’m trying to focus and write this quickly before the Spawn of Satan discovers that I have hidden myself away from her screeches.

 

 

The Instant Pot makes this insanely flavorful in a short amount of time. You can have this on the table in under an hour and a half. Can’t beat that!

You don’t have to put it under the broiler when you are done, but it gives the shredded pork edges a nice bit of texture that sets it apart from your average pulled pork.

Plus, these Crispy Carnitas are Paleo and Whole30 compliant, which just rocks.

We plan on doing another round of Whole30 later on this year so we are always on the look out for yummy recipes that will satisfy us and keep us inspired while doing a round. This is going to be on our dinner table often, and I’m sure it will be on your’s too.

Instant Pot Crispy Pork Carnitas

Makes 6-8 servings

Total time: less than 1 1/2 hours

Instant Pot: 6 Quart+

Ingredients

  • 3.75 – 4 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed off
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons course salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne

Process

  1. Place the pork shoulder in the pot of a pressure cooker (6 Qt+) with the olive oil. Turn on the saute function. Brown all of the sides of the pork. Turn off.
  2. Cover the pork with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Lock the cover one and then cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Let pressure release naturally, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pork shoulder from the pot; discard the bone. Pour the liquid in the pot through a mesh strainer, let the fat separate, and then skim it from the liquid. Set aside.
  5. Allow the pork to cool enough so that you can shred it by hand or with 2 forks. Add 1/4 Cup of the liquid to the pork, mix well.
  6. Spread the pork out on a rimmed sheet pan.  Place under the broiler until meat is crisp on the edges, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Serve in tacos, burritos, rice bowls, salads.
  8. When storing, pour more liquid into the pork to keep it moist. I suggest reheating in a skillet

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Perfect No-Soak Instant Pot Black Beans

Were you one of the many, many people that scooped up an Instant Pot during last year’s Prime Day Sale? Or Black Friday Sale? Or Cyber Monday Sale?

If you were then congrats!!! Instant Pots are awesome.

If you haven’t yet purchased one… shame on you!

Just kidding!!! Maybe you not interested at all. That’s okay, but I really think you would love one. Maybe you think it’s too big? They have little 3-quart ones now! Maybe you are scared because of all the horror stories you hear about using a pressure cooker? These are not your grandmother’s old school stove top pressure cooker! These are super cool and super safe.

I purchased mine Black Friday on 2016 and have become an avid Pot Head. Its use is in heavy rotation in our house. From meats to stews to soups to sweets. I love it!

But how is it that I have have had my Instant Pot for over a year now and I have only shared Instant Pot recipe… shame on me!!

What’s that recipe I shared? My Instant Pot Monkey Bread. Check it out!

The number one thing that we make in our Instant Pot is black beans. So many black beans. SO SO MANY!!!

We all love beans but Autumn really loves them so I happily make them for her so that she gets nice and full on a healthy protein packed food.

I previously shared our favorite recipe for black beans, which Autumn actually calls “Teacher Beans” as her previous daycare teacher used to make them and got her hooked on them. It’s a great recipe that I just slightly tweaked to make it perfect for the Instant Pot.

Gloria’s Black Beans are perfect but they do require an overnight soak, when not using a pressure cooker. Instead of making beans being an overnight process, I now can have them on our table in under 2 hours!

I have a feeling these will be a family favorite in now time and you will be walking past the canned beans from now on.

Perfect No Soak Instant Pot Black Beans

Makes 10-12 servinges

Total time: less than 2 hours

Instant Pot: 6 Quart+

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry black beans
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 6 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • garnish with cilantro

Process

  1. Pick through the beans to remove any stones or damaged beans. Set aside.
  2. Turn on the Instant Pot (6 Qt) to sauté setting and pour the oil into pot. Saute the garlic, pepper, and onion until soft; 3-5 minutes. Pushing the beans to the side, make a clear space in in the pot to toast the spices. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, Cayenne; toast for 1 minute. Turn the Instant Pot off.
  3. Add the dried beans and the stock.
  4. Place the lid on the Instant Pot system twist until it is locked in the closed position. Turn the Instant Pot on, press Manual, set the timer to 45 minutes.
  5. The Instant Pot will come up to pressure, cook for 45 minutes, and then the timer will go out. Let it Naturally Pressure Release (NPR) for 30 minutes. Release any remaining pressure manually. Change setting to “Keep Warm” to keep the beans warm until you are ready to serve them.
  6. Garnish with cilantro (optional) prior to serving.

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Perfect No-Soak Instant Pot Black Beans_PIN

Apple Pecan Honey Baked Brie

So news…

I gave my ‘notice’ at work last Friday.

Yep, I am going to do the SAHM thing starting in the new year.

I’m giving up my hopes and dreams for a real career just to change diapers and color. HA! Let’s be real here, that’s not the case. But I’ve heard people (errr… men) make those remarks when women decide to stay home with their kids. As well, I’ve heard that it’s lucky that husbands are understanding since staying home is easy and women just screw around home baking and doing crafts with kids. And kids aren’t hard, they just need to watch tv and movies to pass the time. Sure, sure guys.

Just like when a male friend asked how my “baby vacation” was when I went back to work after I had Autumn. Umm, kay…

In reality, I know that there are hard things about working when you have kids and there are hard things about staying home with kids. There always is a sacrifice, but in the end, I felt like I was sacrificing my sanity in running around trying to work, conquer a never ending to do list, and not really getting to see my kids. Plus, let’s not get into all the pumping and driving I was doing to be able to keep my supply up and attempt to get to work or at home on time. Multitasking 24/7!

There will be a lot of things that I will miss about going to work, but I decided that none of it was worth it when it came to being with my kids. Even when I get joy of temper tantrums about where I hung up decorative pink globe lights, like this past weekend.

 

I’ve been reminding myself that kids are kids and they throw fits, and while they make me say “Oh my God!! Enough!” they are over fairly quickly and we can move on to the next thing, like activities that don’t involve throwing dolls at me in the fit of rage. Ugh Kids are the worst. ha!

So yeah, that’s what going on.

That and making this Apple Pecan Honey Baked Brie and trying to resist shoveling it whole in my mouth. Thankfully, I shared with my neighbor so I didn’t eat the whole damn thing.

This is the perfect appetizer to make for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

The salty brie and the sweet topping is a winning combination of flavors. The honey highlights the apples and the brie. I swear bite after bite will have you more in love than the last. It’s just so awesomely delicious, but what makes it even better is it’s simplicity and it’s wow presentation factor. I mean, come on, nothing it more cheese lover enticing than melty cheese, and the toppings on is as beautiful as it is delicious.

Apple Pecan Honey Baked Brie

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup diced apple (I used Gala)
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 Cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 ounce wheel of Brie

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper or use a shallow oven safe serving dish.
  2. While
  3. Place brie on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the brie is warmed through and starts to ooze out a bit.
  4. Top with the warm apple and pecan topping.
  5. Serve with crackers, apples, and bread.

 

White Chocolate Chip Lemom Cake Mix Cookies

It’s 42 days until our cruise.

I’m super amped about it. SUPER AMPED!!!!

This will be our first vacation as a family of 4, so I am really excited about that.

We are leaving out of Tampa and are going to Key West and Cozumel. While we have been to both places previously, yet I am still really looking forward to the cruise. We are just going to visit these places with a different focus now, especially having kids now.

Like, we are want to see how Key West is doing post Hurricane Irma – hopefully well! Also, the last time we were in Key West was for our Babymoon with Autumn. So fun, but I need a drink in hand this time, especially from The Rum Bar.

We have had a Royal Caribbean Credit Card for awhile and I just recently noticed that we had some points expire. Unacceptable! So I started to look into cruise that we could take and how I could redeem the points that we have before they died off. I was looking for a really affordable cruise and ending up stumbling across one that had a BOGO 1/2 OFF deal with a Kids Sail Free deal. That means the 4 of us are taking a cruise for the cost of 1 1/2 fares. WIN! And I redeemed a ton of points to cut that price in half. I nearly had a Brandi Chastain moment when I got off the phone after I booked the cruise. AHHHHHHHH!!!!! GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!

Anyway, leading up to the cruise, I should stop eating all the stuff that is brought into my office from vendors (I can resist some chocolate, but toffee from Tampa based Toffee To Go… I WILL NEVER RESIST THAT FOOD FROM THE GODS!!!!!!) and these cookies.

I’m warning you, these are super quick and easy to make, and I swear will disappear just as quickly. Cake Mix cookies for the win!!!!!

White Chocolate Chip Lemon Cake Mix Cookies

Makes 22-24 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 15.25 ounce package of lemon cake mix
  • 2 Cups white chocolate chips

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place a non-stick silicone baking mat on a large cookie sheet.
  2. Whisk together the oil and the eggs. Mix in the cake mix.
  3. Once the cake mix is completely moist and lump free, mix in the white chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop 8-12 heaping Tablespoon sized dough balls on to the baking sheet (depending on size of baking sheet)
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just set. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to allow of them to firm up in the center. Remove to continue to cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Repeat for the rest of the cookies.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Salted Caramel Sauce

We got a car!!!!!

More specifically, my husband picked out a certified pre-owned mini-van. He got it Friday night and now I’m in love with it.

I loved our Rav 4, but it wasn’t going to work out for us long term with 2 kids and 2 dogs. We are active with friends and family so then we can’t travel with any of them. Sure, someone could squeeze between 2 car seats but that’s not too fun. And, what do we do if we want to bring one of the kids friends with us for something? We certainly wouldn’t be able to get 3 carseats/booster seats in the back.

So now we have a Honda Odyssey that has more cup holders in it than I know what to do with. Seriously, that is what I snapped to Amanda when I first got into it. And, of course, my husband is like, enough with the cup holders! Do you actually like it?!?!?” Yes, I love it. It’s so great.

Now I need to find the perfect political bumper stickers to slap on there. And I need a Vineyard Vines’ pink whale on it. Isn’t that just perfect? The preppiest bumper sticker ever with a “Pod Loves America” sticker?! HAHAHA

Anyway… cinnamon rolls!!!!

 

Guys, I learned something very valuable the first time that I made these… don’t put cinnamon in the dough. At least not the quantity that I put in. Cinnamon is acidic and can retard the yeast from getting its bubble on. It rose well-ish over night, but didn’t do another successful rise when rolled out the dough and made the cinnamon rolls. I baked them up anyway just to taste the flavor, which was good,but the texture was horrible.

So, repeat after me, do not put a lot of cinnamon in the dough.

Okay, so now we that all learned something from my fail, let’s make great Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls!!!

Secondly, in my adventures in making a crap ton of cinnamon rolls this year, do not over work the dough, or roll it out too thinly. It breaks up the bubbles in the dough, so keep that in mind when you are making them. You really want to keep the dough to be at least 1/4″ thick.

The apple cider salt caramel sauce is everything on these cinnamon rolls. EVERYTHING.

If nothing else, just make the caramel sauce and put it on everything. But you really need to take the time to follow the instructions. I make this sauce all the time in the fall and once I was rushing and didn’t make the sauce syrupy enough at first and when I added the rest of the ingredients it was a mess. I was sorta able to  salvage it, but just follow the directions and take your time. It’s soooo worth the time babying it.

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Apple Cider Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls*

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 Cup warm milk (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted (but not hot!)
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 2 large baking apples- cored and then sliced into 1/8″ thick slices
  • 1/2 Cup melted butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 2 Cups apple cider
  • 1 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt

Process

  1. Add the yeast to the warm milk. Let rest for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, then slowly mix in the warm milk mixture. Add the butter and just mix to combine.
  3. Add in the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a hook attachment, work the dough until combined.
  4. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into a smooth ball. Add the dough to a large bowl that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Rotate to cover the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let double in size, at least 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease a 9x 13 baking pan.
  6. On a well floured work surface, roll the dough out so it is approximately 14″ x 24″ x 1/4″ thick
  7. Evenly arrange the apple slices on the dough in rows along the entire length of the dough. Keep the apple slices 1″ back from the edge where the cinnamon rolls are sealed, when rolled. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.
  8. Roll the long edge towards you and then cut into 12 evenly sized rolls. Arrange the cinnamon rolls in the baking pan.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, prepare your caramel sauce. Using a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and slowly cook until cider has reduced from 2 cups to 1/4 Cup. It will be fairly thick and syrupy at this point. Stir occasionally.
  11. Add the sugar, cream, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously. You’ll want it to be syrupy at this point.
  12. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla extract. Add 1/2 teaspoon  the sea salt, mix well. Add more to desired taste. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool.
  13. Serve your warm cinnamon rolls with a healthy drizzling of caramel. (You will likely have to reheat the caramel sauce for drizzling consistency if it cools or you store it for a few days as the caramel thicken as it cools.)

Caramel adapted from Bashful Bao

*I purposefully rolled out my cinnamon rolls to be smaller and more than 12 so that I could share at work. Typically, I would just make 12 cinnamon rolls, as the recipe states.