BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

Homemade Barbecue Pulled Pork Nachos

Let the madness begin! March Madness, that is. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be seeing some pretty intense college basketball rivalries hashed out on the court. This is the time of the year to reconnect with old buddies to cheer on your alma mater and of course, enjoy some game day food. When we think of foods to munch during games, we’re thinking big flavors like Sriracha Hatch-Sauced Wings, Buffalo Cauliflower, Coconut Shrimp and more. March Madness also means it’s perfectly okay to eat nachos for dinner every day from Thursday to Sunday. This year, your standard cheese nachos get a scrumptious upgrade with the ultimate BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos! While these nachos are loaded, putting them together is anything but tedious. It takes only a few minutes to prepare the pulled pork, which is then thrown into the slow cooker to cook for a few hours until fork tender. Pile the pulled pork onto crunchy tortilla chips along with your favorite toppings like tomatoes, cilantro and chiles. And of course, don’t forget that gooey melted cheese. Now that’s a slam dunk nacho recipe that’s perfect for any game day! For other delicious March Madness recipes and ideas, check out this year’s newly updated menu.

Hot Sweet and Chili Pepper Varieties

Whether you like your chiles mild, medium or hot, Melissa’s has a vast selection of chiles and peppers ranging from common jalapeno chiles to specialty finds like bhut jolokias chiles and shishito peppers. Chiles play an important role in many cuisines and are integral to giving dishes extra flavor and heat. These pulled pork nachos definitely get that extra kick of spice from the addition of chile peppers. You can use any of your favorite chiles for this recipe but we highly recommend either jalapenos, Anaheim chiles, Serrano chiles or even Red Fresno chiles. Each chile pepper brings a different kind of flavor and heat. If you’re looking for something on the mild side with a slight sweetness, Anaheim chiles are a great versatile choice. Jalapenos have more of that extra kick and boast a green vegetable flavor as opposed to Red Fresno chiles which are both hotter, sweeter and fruitier. And if you want to take things even further up a notch, then throw in some Serrano chiles if you dare. They have a Scoville rating ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 making them some of the hottest chiles commonly available.

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

For the pulled pork:

  • 2 and 1/2 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/4 cup of dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

For the nachos:

1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, place the pork shoulder inside along with the onion. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry spices. Coat the dry spice mixture onto the pork evenly. Then spread the ketchup and mustard onto the meat.

2. Cook the pork shoulder on high for around 4 hours until the meat becomes fork tender and pulls apart easily.

3. Remove the meat from the heat and place onto a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat.

4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the tortilla chips into a cast-iron pan or oven-proof skillet. Then add some of the pulled pork, BBQ sauce and cheese. Repeat these steps with a few layers of tortilla chips.

5. Place into the oven and bake for around 8 to 10 minutes until the cheese melts and becomes bubbly.

6. Top the nachos with the tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Serve hot.

 

 

Kale and Farro Salad

Kale and Farro Salad with Feta and Cranberries

Lent begins this week, which means it’s time to go meatless on Fridays. While not exactly a time known for fancy cooking, that doesn’t mean you need to struggle to eat deliciously either. With all of the amazing recipes you can make during this religious observance, you may find that meatless Fridays are actually a blessing in disguise. This is a popular time for not only trying out new seafood recipes such as our comforting, Bouillabaisse with Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, but also vegetarian and grain recipes. Ancient grains such as farro, barley and quinoa have been taking up the culinary world by a storm and make a wonderful base in a hearty, filling salad. This year, we’re including this trend into our Lenten recipe repertoire with our scrumptious Kale and Farro Salad. The combination of chewy, nutty farro, crunchy, leafy kale and sweet, tart dried cranberries is too tasty to eat only once a week. It’s finished off with a tossing of extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh citrus to brighten things up and bring this simple salad together. This dish is perfect as a side accompaniment to your main meal but its protein and nutrient-rich contents are also filling enough to stand on its own.

Organic Raw Farro Grain

Fun fact: Farro has been around since ancient times and is believed to be the original grain from which others have originated. If you’ve never worked with farro before, be prepared to discover a whole lot of goodness. This unique grain is flavorful with a delightful texture that when cooked perfectly, gives you that perfect chew. In fact, it holds its texture exceptionally well in heat and doesn’t become soggy or softened after cooking. It’s meatier than barley and quinoa and slightly sweeter than spelt, which by the way looks quite similar. Melissa’s Organic Farro is very easy to prepare and can be used in not only salads but also soups, stews and bowls.

Kale and Farro Salad

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of Melissa’s Organic Farro
  • 1 bunch of organic kale, chopped
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 sprigs of oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, pour in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat up. Add the red onion and cook until softened for about 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the farro and cook for around 4 minutes, making sure to stir often. Reduce the heat and add the water and oregano. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 30 to 35 minutes until the farro has become tender. Once finished cooked, drain the water from the farro and set aside.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lime zest, salt and pepper.

4. Assemble the salad by putting together the farro, kale, dried cranberries and walnuts in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss together gently.

 

DIY Raisins with Muscato Grapes

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Raisins are dried grapes, simply put. There isn’t a whole lot of complication going into the process of making them. All you need are your favorite grapes and a working oven. Some people may challenge the idea behind making your own raisins at home. It’s a task that few have taken the time to undertake. After all, what’s the point of taking the time to dry grapes in the oven when the store-bought variety is readily available at the supermarket?  To this, we say there is very much a point. Making your own raisins the DIY way allows you to experience a wide range of flavors, textures and aesthetics while utilizing grape varieties of your choice. The final result is a juicier, and more intense-tasting raisin that you simply cannot get out of a cardboard box.

Oven-dried grapes are the sweeter, more flavor-concentrated cousin of store-bought raisins. And if you decide to use different kinds of grapes, you’ll also see a broad range of flavors ranging from sweet to something more tart. The oven-dried version will definitely have more of that natural, genuine grape flavor compared to a regular raisin. Some of the sweeter varieties such as our Muscato Grapes will yield a divine caramelization on the outside. The process of drying your own grapes in the oven also speaks for itself since ovens are hotter than food dehydrators. As long as you’re careful, you can maintain control over just how flavorful your raisins turn out. The hotter the oven, the dryer and more concentrated in flavor. If you prefer your raisins on the plump and juicy side, dry them at a lower temperature and they will yield a less intense but equally delicious, fresh flavor.

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If you research the best methods for drying out your grapes, we’ll go ahead and tell you to save any extra steps you find for another day. This isn’t a fancy process and you definitely don’t have to blanch them or cut them first to save on time. All you need are your favorite grapes, preferably in different colors so you can enjoy a wide range of flavors, a baking sheet and your oven on low. Here at Melissa’s, we have many grape varieties you can choose from from our selection. Can you imagine how amazing Cotton Candy® Grapes and Candy Sweets® Grapes would taste oven-dried? We’re definitely throwing that into our recipe bucket list to try when they become seasonally available. For this particular experiment today, we went with our signature Muscato Grapes, using both the red and green varieties. Although they do fall under the same variety, we were optimistic that we were going to be seeing some very different outcomes from all of them. We also threw in a black variety grape to the mix just to see the difference.

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The process took quite a while at about three hours but the results were well worth it. We set our oven to about 225 degrees and as you can see, the grapes retained their plump, round shape even after a few hours in the oven. Had we cranked up the heat to around 300 degrees, the grapes would’ve come out smaller and more shriveled and probably even deeper in flavor. A few of us at Melissa’s tasted them in our test kitchen and were at odds over whether the red or green Muscato grapes came out sweeter. The Red Muscato grapes were definitely on the sweet side and quite juicy. The Green Muscatos were also sweet although slightly more tart than the reds and could’ve used a little more time in the oven. As for the black variety grapes, they were quite sticky even after the drying proess. While still delicious, they were a tad difficult to photograph because of their excessive juiciness. On the bright side, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing for eating!

One thing to note is oven dried grapes have a shorter shelf life than store bought raisins. Store bought raisins can last for quite a long time at many months but the homemade ones usually keep for no longer two weeks to a month.After that, they begin to lose their freshness and strongly concentrated flavor. How long they last really depends on on how dry you made your DIY raisins. The drier and more concentrated in sugars, the longer they will keep.

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Now the question begs, what to do with all of these wonderful oven dried raisins? The answer is, just about anything really! If you can stop yourself from polishing off these raisins due to excessive snacking, which by the way is no easy feat, the possibilities are endless! Toss them into scrumptious salads such as this Chickpea and Grape Salad or Kool Cabbage Wedge Salad. You can bake them into cookies like in these Chocolate Apricot and Coconut Cookies and Cherry Hazelnut Cookies. Simply swap out the dried fruits in those recipes for your DIY raisins instead. Don’t forget about throwing them into baked goods like this brunch-worthy Apple Raisin Coffee Cake or picture perfect Holiday Pannetone. And if you really want to spice things up, you can always include them in a fruit and cheese platter paired with wine among other things.

Overall, these oven dried grapes were an experiment that couldn’t have gone more right. If you like to enjoy a healthy, tasty, no-fuss treat and have a little extra time in the day, then this is your best bet for a weekend baking project. And while we’d never shy away from oven dried fruit, we’d have to agree that the homemade version has captured our hearts.

Citrus and Beet Salad

Blood oranges and beet salad with feta, mint and balsamic dressing

Citrus season is in full swing and today, we’re going back to basics. After last weekend’s Big Game festivities, it’s time to get back onto track with some light and healthy eating. Although it’s still wintertime, citrus is plentiful and happening for the next few months. This is the prime time of the year to enjoy special citrus varieties that are only available seasonally such as Blood Oranges, Kishu Mandarins, Meyer Lemons and much more. To get into the spirit of the season, we’re celebrating with this gorgeous Citrus and Beet Salad. Layered slices of fresh citrus and steamed baby beets finished with a simple lime and olive oil dressing, this is pure beauty on a plate. We also crumble up some goat cheese on top for that extra salty, tangy bite of flavor, which serves as a nice contrast against the sweet, juiciness of the citrus. And the final touch? A sprinkle of our edible flowers to add glamour and elegance to this simple, exquisite salad.

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You may use any kind of citrus for this recipe but we especially love the flavor and aesthetics of blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges or Shasta Gold tangerines. All of these citrus varieties are delicious with unique qualities of their own. Blood oranges have a deep crimson hue and distinct sweet and slightly bittersweet flavor with berry undertones. Cara Cara oranges, also known as red navel oranges, have a pink raspberry-colored flesh with a flavor of sweet cherry undertones. And don’t underestimate Shashta Golds. While they fall under the tangerine category, their size can be comparable to that of other oranges. They’re incredibly juicy, super sweet and conveniently seedless! Feel free to mix and match any of these varieties for this winter citrus salad.

Citrus and Beet Salad

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

1. Use a sharp knife to remove the peel of the oranges, cutting in a downward motion. Begin by cutting the peel off of both ends and then the sides. Make sure to cut deep enough into the pith to remove the white part and reveal the juicy segment. Then cut the orange downward into 1/4-inch rounds.

2. Place the orange rounds into a large bowl. Then add in the beets. Then season with the salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil. Toss in the salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil and mix together.

3. Arrange the salad onto plates by overlaying the orange rounds and beets. Then sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese and mint leaves.

4. Garnish the salad with the edible flowers and serve immediately.

Chocolate Coconut Truffles

No bake coconut balls

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we all know that the easiest way to someone’s heart is through chocolate. After all, what could be sweeter than a box of decadent chocolates on the most romantic holiday of the year? The answer: making your own DIY chocolate truffles for that special someone. Truffles are not at all difficult to put together and only involve a few steps of choosing from the endless possibilities of fillings and rolling them in delicious chocolate ganache. The result? A homemade sweet treat that comes from the heart and is sure to impress. For today’s recipe, we’re merging two of our favorite desserts together into one. Coconut macaroons? Meet your new best friend, chocolate. These quick and easy Chocolate Coconut Truffles are cool, creamy and luscious and make quite a gorgeous gift for your significant other, best friend or even yourself! Make a big batch of these bite-sized, melt-in-your-mouth goodies and place them into a pretty box for a memorable Valentine’s Day gift this year. For other delicious Valentine’s Day recipes, check out our menu with romantic dinner and dessert ideas.

Fresh Grated Coconut

These Valentine’s Day truffles get their extra punch of coconut flavor from Melissa’s shredded coconut. Each bite yields a distinct chewiness that you can only get from using real coconut. And its fine texture makes it easy to mix into the truffles and other various desserts. Shredded coconut can be used in so many different ways, from cakes to pies to cookies and more. It’s also utilized in plenty of Asian dishes and can add a subtle sweetness to breading for meat, fish and chicken.

Chocolate Coconut Truffles

Yields: 20-24 truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips or baking chocolate
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Use a hand mixer to beat the butter until smooth. Then mix in the condensed milk, vanilla extract and coconut extract.

2. Add the powdered sugar and shredded coconut and mix until well combined.

3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Take a scoop of the coconut mixture and roll into evenly-sized balls.

4. Chill the balls in the freezer for about half an hour.

5. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave. Dip the coconut balls into the melted chocolate. Then roll them into more shredded coconut.

6. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet that’s newly lined with wax paper. Place the truffles into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

7. Serve the truffles at room temperature. You can serve them right away or place them into a box to give as a gift.

 

Vegetarian Potstickers

Homemade Asian Pork Potstickers

Happy Chinese New Year! Let’s give a big warm welcome to the Year of the Rooster as we usher in a new Lunar year of good luck, happiness and prosperity. Food is central to Chinese New Year celebrations, as many dishes traditionally eaten during that time serve as important symbols. You may come across whole fish, turnip cake, spring rolls, chicken lettuce wraps and popular desserts such as walnut cookies, candies and other delicacies. Another must-have for the holiday are dumplings, also known as jiaozi. Dumplings are eaten in excess for breakfast, lunch and dinner because of their resemblance to gold and silver ingots and their representation of wealth and good fortune. They can be eaten steamed or pan-fried into potstickers, which is what today’s recipe is all about. While potstickers are usually filled with pork and shrimp, we’re going down a healthier route and stuffing them with Napa cabbage, organic carrots, shiitake mushrooms and more. Just because they don’t have meat doesn’t mean they’re not Chinese New Year worthy! These delicious little pockets of gold are incredibly simple to make and get crispy on one side and succulent on the other from being seared in a hot wok and left to finish steaming. Make a big batch of them and freeze any leftovers you don’t use so you can indulge in them all through the remainder of the Year of the Rooster! And check out our other lucky Chinese New Year Recipes by Chef Martin Yan to try during the holiday!

Mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms are essential to Asian cooking. They symbolize longevity in Asian culture because of their incredible health benefits and have both long-standing culinary and medicinal use. These earthy, fragrant mushrooms have a savory yet sweet umami flavor and meaty, hearty texture that lend themselves to some pretty incredible dishes. You can toss them into a classic Bok Choy and Shiitake Stir-Fry,  Braised Chicken with Shiitake and Snap Peas or Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Soup and much more. If you’re unable to find fresh shiitake mushrooms, feel free to use dried shiitake mushrooms instead. All you need to do is rehydrate them by soaking in water for around 30 minutes and then you can use them as you would fresh. Melissa’s Dried Mushrooms are a wonderful alternative if you can’t get your hands on your favorite mushrooms and taste just as scrumptious once reconstituted.

Vegetarian Potstickers

Yields: 24 potstickers

Ingredients

  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 1 head of Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup of Dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
  • 1 organic carrot, shredded
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of chives, chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger root, 1-inch, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Water, for assembling the potstickers

1. In a large wok or skillet over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil and cook the ginger and onions for 2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms. Afterwards, add the carrots, Napa cabbage and chives. Pour in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and cook the vegetables for another 3 to 4 minutes, until softened.

2. Drain the oil from the vegetables and set aside. Allow for the filling to cool for at least 15 minutes.

3. Lay out your wonton wrapper onto a flat surface. Fill a small bowl with water. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the center of the wrapper. Then dip your finger into the water and wet the edges of the wrapper. Fold the edges of the wonton wrapper over in the center and pinch the sides to form a few pleats to seal the potstickers.

4. Heat up more vegetable oil in your wok or skillet over high heat. Add the potstickers face side down and cook for about 2 minutes until browned.

5. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the wok or skillet and cover with a lid. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and finish cooking until the remaining water has evaporated.

6. Remove the potstickers from the heat and serve immediately alongside your favorite dipping sauce.

 

Baked Avocado Fries

Homemade Breaded Fried Avocado Fries

The Big Game is more than just the biggest football showdown of the year. It also happens to be the second largest food consumption day of the year in the United States, only following Thanksgiving. Nothing beats gathering together with friends and family to enjoy a day of football, fun and food. At any Big Game party, you’ll usually find the usual tried-and true game day foods such as Roasted Soy Citrus Wings, Artichoke Garlic Dip and more. While eating healthy isn’t exactly the top priority on this particular Sunday, we always like to make sure we have some alternatives to balance out our table spread. This year, there are some new fries in town and they’re made with fresh, succulent avocados. Breaded in panko breadcrumbs and baked in the oven to perfection, these Avocado Fries are crunchy on the outside and luscious on the inside–basically everything you can ask for in a Big Game treat. These incredible crispy, buttery fries are best served with a side of cool, spicy mayo, aioli or ketchup for dipping. We’ve provided a quick and easy recipe for a Chipotle mayo dipping sauce you can use with this recipe or any other finger food!

Organic Raw Green Avocados

Americans consume millions of pounds of avocados on the day of the Big Game with the numbers growing year after year. After all, they aren’t just for guacamole. Known for their rich, nutty flavor and buttery texture, avocados are also noted for their high nutrition benefits in healthy fats. From toast to pasta to smoothies, avocados have inspired many brilliant health-based food trends and continue to do so to this day. In fact, these deliciously creamy fruits can serve as a great alternative for meatless recipes such as in these Avocado Quesadillas with Mango Salsa or Red Savina Avocado and Grilled Corn Wontons.

Baked Avocado Fries

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the avocado fries

  • 4 organic avocados
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray

For the chipotle mayo

  • 2 chipotle chiles from 1 can of chipotles in adobo
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the avocados lengthwise into 1/2 pieces.

2. Set up three separate bowls. For the first bowl, add the flour. In the second bowl, crack the eggs and beat the eggs. In the third bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

3. Take the avocado slices and dip them first into the flour, then the egg and then the panko bread crumbs. Set up your baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the surface with cooking spray.

4. Place the avocado slices onto the baking sheet. Bake for around 20 to 25 minutes until the fries are a  light golden brown. Flip the fries halfway through baking.

5. While the avocado fries are baking, make the chipotle mayo sauce. Add the mayonnaise, chipotles, sour cream and lime juice into the blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth.

6. Once the fries are finished baking, remove them from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with a side of chipotle mayo for dipping.