Cold Weather Meals

The cold this week (It’s finally winter!) made us want to do a repeat of the beans and rice from last week. They really do warm the belly and fill you up. So we made another pot. But, alas, veganism didn’t last too long in this house because we added pork. Three hour braised pork. And some corn tortillas. We made carnitas.

a carnita
a carnita

I really have no idea if these are anything like traditional carnitas, but this is the Castejón version. The pork was tender and juicy and the tortillas warmed over the fire gave them a nice smoky taste.

braised pork in your face
braised pork in your face

Adding the beans and rice to the carnitas not only makes them more filling, it makes them last longer. Next time we’ll make our own tortillas- if I get fancy enough.

Carnitas al Castejón


leftover beans and rice, warmed

small corn tortillas, wrapped in tin foil and warmed over a fire (or in the oven)

3 lbs pork Boston butt

1 T non-GMO canola oil

1 t cumin

2 t chili powder

1 t onion powder

1 t garlic powder

1 t dried oregano

1 T salt

1 t pepper

2 t flour

1 large onion, julienned

1 large red pepper, julienned

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 cup Cognac or brandy

1 can diced tomatoes

2 cups beef broth (preferably homemade), warmed

1 large, dried bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Mix the spices, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Dry the outside of the meat with paper towels and rub in the spice mixture on all sides. Sear the meat for 1.5-2 minutes on all sides, remove from the Dutch oven and set aside. Drain the fat from the pot until only a thin layer remains on the bottom and return to flame over medium heat.

Sauté the onions and peppers in the same pot for 5-7 minutes, until slightly golden. Add the minced garlic and stir around for 1 minute. Add the flour and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the Cognac and add the can of tomatoes in the juices. Return the meat to the pot and nestle into the veggies. Add the beef broth around the meat, but do not completely cover in liquid. Cover and place in the oven for 3-4 hours, until fork tender.

When time is up, remove and shred the meat with two forks. Mix back in to the sauce that has formed. Take two warmed tortillas and stack them, add a scoop of the beans and rice and a scoop of the braised meat and veggies, fold over and enjoy!

One of these cold mornings this past week made it necessary to add something warm to our normal smoothie breakfast. Although there’s not always enough time to make a nice, warm frittata from scratch in the mornings there IS time to pop a pre-assembled one (or 2) in the oven and continue about your morning routine until they are done. A hot, healthy breakfast sets you up right for the day!

Mini Veggie Frittata
Mini Veggie Frittata

This recipe only makes two because I only have two ramekins, but feel free to double or triple it if you have more. Make them ahead of time and stick them in the oven when you wake up. They should last pre-assembled for at least a couple of days in the fridge. Sure does beat cold cereal.

Once you make these you’ll never stop to get a sausage biscuit at McDonald’s again!

Mini Veggie Frittatas for Two


3 xl eggs, beaten

2 T heavy cream

1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1 t olive oil

1/2 onion, small diced

5 button mushrooms, small chopped

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup thawed and drained frozen spinach

1/2 cup gruyere cheese, grated

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1.5 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small frying pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes until slightly golden. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

Mix all of the other ingredients -leaving out 2 T parmesan and 2 T gruyere for the topping- in a large bowl until everything is evenly combined. Add the onion mixture and combine evenly.

Split the mixture between two greased 9oz. ramekins. Top with the remaining parmesan and gruyere. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the egg is completely set. They may puff up a bit.

On Sunday and Monday (what we like to call the Food and Bev weekend) we took a break from cooking and ventured out to soak up some (cold) Charleston sunshine. Sunday’s stop was at Revelry Brewing downtown. We had never been before, but our desire to try some souped up (pun completely intended) ramen led us to stalk the 2 Nixon guys(<— follow their twitter account to see where they will be today!) all the way to Revelry Brewing Co. They were serving up some designer ramen alongside Revelry’s craft beer selection.

Pepperoni Ramen by 2 Nixons
Pepperoni Ramen by 2 Nixons

Alfonso wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was about, but he is forever changed by the ramen! We had the pepperoni version, but they also offered a veggie option. My favorite part was the poached egg mixed into the broth. It made an outstanding broth creamier and impossibly more delicious.

Broke the egg
punctured egg

We didn’t last too long in the cold once the sun started to set so we headed home to a fireplace with a plan find a place to enjoy the sunshine and drink more beer the next day.

That place was Bay Street Biergarten. We’ve been to BSB tons of times before. There’s nothing not to love. Tons of beers on tap, lots of outdoor seating, cornhole, and delicious German inspired comfort food! Here are some yummy mussels from one of the last times we were there:

Mussels with Pretzel Bread
Mussels with Pretzel Bread

Those damn demi-glaced tots get us every time, so we had those and we split a Haus Burger. Tell me you won’t be dreaming about those tater tots tonight. Also, the fried brussel sprouts that we had with the burger were no joke. Crispy and salty goodness.

Tater tots with a demi-glace
Tater tots with a demi-glace
Haus Burger with Fried Brussel Sprouts
Haus Burger with Fried Brussel Sprouts

Like on Sunday, the cold got us and we lasted just long enough for two beers and to inhale the tots. So we headed home in a potato haze to once again warm up by the fire.

One more for the road:


How was your chilly weekend?