Men Who Cook: Joshua De Mers’ Pork Enchiladas

I was poking around the W4D cookbook trying to figure out what to post today when I remembered that our old friend Joshua had sent me a great looking recipe.  Here it is:

Sometimes you just look around your kitchen, see what all you have in the house, and figure out what the hell to do with it. This was the end result of one of those long stares into the refrigerator where you calmly await the Lady of Culinary Inspiration to whack you over the head. It’s a take-off from an older recipe of mine that I think works better in this iteration! Pretty much everything here is readily available at the grocery store. A tip for newer cooks: poblano peppers are the largish longish dark green chiles usually in the same section as the jalapenos. They should be dark, firm, and look like collapsed footballs. Enjoy!

Pork Enchiladas

  • 1 lb. boneless pork, either tenderloin or shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tsps & 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 8 oz bag Mexican cheese blend
  • 12 corn tortillas (or until all of filling is used up)

in a large pot, combine pork, chicken stock, 2 tsps salt, and spices. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until meat is very tender. Watch liquid level so pork is always submerged, if necessary add in hot water to keep pork covered.

About 20 minutes before pork is done, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high. Add in onions, peppers, and 1 tsp of the salt. Allow vegetables to cook 10-12 minutes or until very soft with a little color on the edges. Two minutes before veggies are cooked, add in chopped garlic.

When veggies are good and soft and pork is cooked, remove pork from the remaining liquid. Either with your fingers (if you have the Teflon fingers) or with two forks (if yours are more delicate) shred pork into small bits. Mix together corn starch and water, add to liquid in pot, mix in cilantro, and bring to a boil until thickened. (You want it thicker than water but not too thick, it will thicken more as things bake in the oven.) Heat tortillas in microwave on high for 60 seconds, 5-6 at a time, until soft and pliable. Place about 1 tsp each of the pork, veggies, and cheese in a tortilla, and roll. Place seam side down into a 13x9x2 baking dish, making sure things stay tight and folded in. Continue assembling until all the filling is used (you may need an extra pan) and ladle sauce generously over the top. Cover top of enchiladas with the remaining cheese.

(You can actually stop here and freeze the enchiladas covered tightly in aluminum foil.)

Place pan into oven uncovered and cook 30-35 minutes or until cheese is melted thoroughly and enchiladas are hot and bubbly. Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans.

Joshua De Mers

Thanks Joshua for making my day a little easier.  This looks yummy. – TaMara

BBQ Sauce

We were having an interesting discussion in comments here about BBQ sauces that might work with turkey.  I remembered a sauce made by the fellow that ran a now defunct BBQ pit in my hometown.  I half remembered the recipe and tried to describe the sauce in one of my comments.  I wasn’t too far off!  Mostly..

Anyway, Mrs J mentioned just a while ago, “I have a recipe for that sauce, we got it from one of your pipefitter pals, it’s in this big folder here”.  Kerplop

Now it would have been a miracle if the thing had flopped open to just what I was looking for.  It didn’t happen that way.  But I found it!

You can probally read that, but in case you can’t:

2 c each of vinegar and water

2 c sugar  (I used Splenda this batch)

1/3 c cornstarch in water (make a slurry-use minimal water)

1 t salt

3 t pepper  (I used white pepper, and added 1 more of black pepper)

1 t red pepper (ground cayenne)

8 oz can of tomato sauce   (I didn’t have any so I used a good dollop of tomato paste and whisked it in along with a little water-May have used too much as the end product seems a tad less translucent than I remember the original sauce.)

That’s pretty much it, mix everything but the cornstarch slurry in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a good simmer, add the slurry and whisk it as it returns to the simmer.

It’s not a bad sauce, won’t be to everyone’s liking.  I think it’s pretty good, and I don’t think I would hesitate to dredge a slice of turkey breast through it.

I used cider vinegar but I can easily imagine this made with white vinegar or red wine vinegar.

Easy Back To School Dinner: Greek Pasta Salad

With school back in full session, some easy, make ahead dinners might be welcome. This one can be made ahead of time or it preps in the amount of time it takes the pasta to cook. Toss and dinner is done.

Greek Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz Rotini or wagon wheel (ruote) pasta
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz diced smoked ham
  • 4 oz diced pepperoni
  • 1 red pepper, cut in strips
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 button mushroom, sliced
  • 12 Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup Greek dressing
  • 2 oz feta cheese

saucepan and serving bowl

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and ice to cool completely. In serving bowl, toss meat & vegetables, spices with dressing, add pasta, toss well and top with cheese.

Thursday Night Menu: End of Summer Edition

Homer and his pretty red cast

September is Disaster preparedness month. Are you prepared? I used to be a Disaster Relief Coordinator, so I’m a little preachy on this subject. I’ve been in hurricanes, earthquakes, 3-day blizzards and spent many a stormy night in the basement during tornado warnings. I’ve helped more people than I can count after home fires. And one week it was a broken water main, leaving me scrambling to figure out how to get fresh water to us, three Great Danes, 2 cats and a duck. These are all things made a bit easier if you have some type of plan in place.

In other news, we have a new blog mascot, a kitten who has seen some hard times. His name is Homer and he now resides at the home of JeffW and Mrs. J in a pretty red cast and with a total look of trouble in his eyes. If you can look at the pictures without saying “aaaaahhhh” then you are made of stronger stuff than I am.

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods!

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning


In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

8X8 baking dish, bowl

In 350° oven, melt butter in baking dish. In bowl, sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder & salt. Add milk & egg, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour into baking dish (don’t stir butter in). Scatter fruit evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until fruit bubbles and batter is golden brown.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder

Squash Confetti

Okay, so I like food to sound like fun…you can call this what you want.  But it’s a great way to use those zucchinis neighbors are leaving on your porch (and just a hint people, if the zucchini is big enough to use as a weapon, don’t try to foist it on friends and family,  just compost it).

Squash Confetti

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, diced*
  • 1 yellow summer squash, diced*
  • 8 oz corn
  • 1 red pepper, seeded & chopped*
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper


In skillet, heat oil, sauté zucchini, summer squash, corn, pepper and onion until squash is tender and onion is translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Mix 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, salt & pepper to taste and toss with vegetables.

*when chopping vegetables for confetti, it works best if you dice them to similar sizes. They don’t necessarily need to be small pieces, but uniform gives the best effect.

Shrimp and Baby Bok Choy

I bought the bok choy a while ago and Mrs J alerted me to the fact that it was going to have to be used today or it would be too limp and yellow to be of much use.  She was right, and I ended up tossing nearly half of it due to condition.  Salvaged enough for a meal.

I’ve always thought that head on shrimp dishes looked just great.  I remember watching a famous TV chef eat a meal of them and remarking that “this is the only way to eat shrimp”.  Well, I bought some (frozen) at the Asian grocery last time I was there.  Tonight was the night!  I chopped the bok choy, and sliced some mushrooms to go with the shrimp, and dragged out some noodles I’ve been meaning to cook.  I made up a sauce from chicken stock and sesame oil.  I added a good tablespoon of garlic chili paste and thawed some of my minced red bell peppers.  A tablespoon or two of corn starch went in to thicken it in the pan later. Last was a couple of tablespoons of Splenda for sweetness.

I started the water boiling for the noodles, and then set about stir frying the shrimp.  They went into some hot oil in a pan where garlic and ginger were just starting to brown.  I let the shrimp cook for a minute then flipped them over, and dashed in an ounce or two of water and quickly covered the pan to let the steam help cook them.  After another minute I set the shrimp aside.

I added more oil to the pan and heated it up again, then tossed in the onions and mushrooms, then a few minutes later  the greens.  Covered those for a minute or two and let them cook.  The sauce mix went in next, and it thickened nicely as it bubbled, next the cooked shrimp were added back, and then the cooked and drained noodles.  Some stirring about with the tongs and it was ready to plate.


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Amazing Fritatta

This thing was just killer.  Took my cast iron skillet and melted some butter, tossed in some chopped spinach to cook down, added some asparagus cut into 2″ lengths, sliced in some red onion with my trusty mandolin, followed that with a bit of red bell pepper and a bunch of fresh sliced mushrooms.  When the asparagus was about tender I crumbled some feta over it all and poured in some egg beaten with a little milk.  Slid that into a 350 oven until it was about set, then topped it with cheddar and jack cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan.  Really, really good stuff.  Have a look:

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Cold Soups: Chilled Mexican Soup

I’ve been experimenting with cold soups this month.  This is one I enjoyed, though I cannot decide which preparation method is better.   I took half the recipe, brought it to a boil, reduced heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, then refrigerated overnight  The other half, I didn’t cook at all, just chilled and served.  The flavor difference is subtle, the texture of the cooked batch is smoother, as the vegetables have cooked down.  Try it either way and see what works for you.

Chilled Mexican Soup

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • dash of lemon juice
  • dash of sage, basil, rosemary
  • 1/2 each green, yellow, red pepper
  • 1 to 4 jalapenos, seeded
  • ½ tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 3 green onions
  • 3 carrots, scrubbed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • sour cream, opt

Add all ingredients, except sour cream, into blender and blend until smooth.  Serve with dollop of sour cream.

I actually picked up some tomatillos for another recipes and added one of those to this recipe, too.  It was nice addition.

If you don’t like cilantro, you can omit it, or add some parsley or basil instead (I would only use about 1/4 cup chopped).