A couple weeks ago I shared my favorite carnitas recipe along with our planned Easter menu. I thought I'd write a follow-up post to tell you how it went. Before that, though, I need to apologize for our absence on Monday. The whole family has been together and it's been busy and chaotic...in a good sort of way.
Our Easter menu consisted of:
- Carnitas (complete with toppings - tortillas, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, beans, rice, salsa, hot sauce, etc.)
- Refried beans
- Brown rice
- Tortilla chips
- Pico de gallo
- Peanut butter cup brownie bottom cheesecake
- Grapes (on sale for 88 cents/lb)
First of all, let me just say that everything was a big hit! Sure, it wasn't a traditional Easter meal, but it was delicious and didn't require much preparation on Sunday, leaving us free to spend time with each other (mainly just chasing after kids all day)! Here's how a little run-down on how I got everything done.
- Made the cheesecake
- Made the ganache for the cheesecake and put the peanut butter cups on top
- Defrosted the pork
- Started the refried beans in the slow cooker right before I went to bed
- Prepared the meat for the carnitas, put everything in the crock of my slow cooker, and stuck it in the refrigerator (I borrowed a slow cooker, so I had 2)
- Made pico de gallo
- Pulled guacamole out of the freezer to defrost
- Got up shortly before 4:00 am to put the crock into my slow cooker and start it. This worked out perfectly, as the meat was done right as we walked in the door after church.
- Shredded the cheese (should have been done Saturday, but we were gone most of the day)
- Used my immersion blender in the slow cooker to "mash" the refried beans (note: to get a chunkier texture, I usually remove some of the beans before pureeing, then add them back in at the end).
- Warmed the tortillas
- Shredded the pork; crisped in the oven
I would definitely recommend this type of meal for any family holiday, as it truly does free you up to do other things than just work in the kitchen all day. Not only is it efficient and delicious, but it's also very cost-effective. The most expensive part of this meal was the meat, which I had bought a couple weeks ago when it was on sale for $1.79/lb and stuck it in my freezer. I had about 7.5 lbs of pork, so it only ended up being about $13.43 for the meat (keep in mind there were 6 adults and 5 kids eating this meal). The other ingredients were quite inexpensive as well. Often, carnitas contain mainly just the meat and maybe some cheese, but to cheapen it up a bit by stretching the meat, we added the beans and rice to ours. Since the beans were homemade and I bought the pinto beans for about 69 cents/lb, they were much cheaper than buying canned beans (and much healthier as well!). I'm guessing the refried beans ended up costing less than $1.50 for a slow cooker full of them. The rice was also cheap but filling. I made 2 cups of rice, which I had bought for around 75 cents/lb. I'd say the total price for the main portion of our meal (not including dessert) was less than $20. And we not only ate a big lunch of it on Sunday, but we've also been eating the leftovers for lunches for the past two days and we still have more! I'm thinking this may become our family's traditional Christmas dinner as well as Easter!
Now let me talk about dessert. Oh yes, dessert. If you recall, we had planned on making resurrection rolls and cheesecake for dessert. However, we had visited some relatives Saturday afternoon and came home with some cupcakes, so we ended up not making the resurrection rolls and giving the kids cupcakes instead. We did end up making the rolls, but not until Tuesday night. Anyway, what I did end up making was this super amazing, super rich cheesecake. Oh my. It was delicious. It definitely doesn't fit the usual Near to Nothing parameters of being healthy and inexpensive, but it is oh. so. yummy. And if you can get a good deal on cream cheese and cream, it's not so bad. You'll also want something salty to eat after the cheesecake, because it is so sweet and rich. Thankfully we had tortilla chips leftover from lunch. Oh, and I guess I should mention that we were all so full from lunch that we skipped dinner and just had cheesecake instead, which is totally acceptable on holidays.
So, next holiday, if you're looking for something easy, inexpensive, and delicious, let me encourage you to try this menu or something similar!