Adult Tuna Melt

By Libbie Summers

What started out as cheap mundane dorm fuel before parties has become a fancy adult lunch sandwich when made with layers of flavor that I couldn’t have appreciated at 18. 

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Adult Tuna Melt
Serves 1

What you need: 
1 thick slice of rustic bread
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (can sub adobo sauce or hot sauce)
1 (5 ounce) can tuna packed in water, drained
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, hand grated on large grate
1 cup mixed greens
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Drizzle of olive oil
Flake sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

What to do:
Preheat broiler.
Place slice of bread on a baking sheet and slather with butter. Broil until just browned around the edges.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and chipotle powder.
Spread spicy mayonnaise over bread.
Top with tuna.
Top Tuna with grated cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Top with greens. Squeeze lemon juice over greens. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a dash of salt and pepper.
Serve hot!

Pro Tip: If I have a red onion on hand, I will shave a few pieces and caramelize them in a pan with butter. Then top the tuna with them before adding the cheese. It’s a delightful surprise inside!

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Pork Carnitas

By Libbie Summers
Recipe by Pati Jinich (with a couple of tweaks)

I’ve been making carnitas since as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until the blizzard that hit New York City in January 2016 (when I made Pati Jinich’s recipe) that I upped my carnitas game. I was in NYC food styling a shoot for Better Homes and Gardens for their May issue (we were working 3 months in advance) and we were featuring Pati’s recipes from her new book. This was one of them…and it changed my life forever. Just the addition of one or two ingredients and a whole new world opens up. It’s easy, it’s affordable, it feeds a crowd and it’s damn near impossible to beat. 

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Pork Carnitas
serves 8

What you need: 
1/2 a white onionpeeled and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic
*1/2 whole jalapeno (cut lengthwise) *my addition
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cumin
4 whole clovesstems removed *(I used 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea saltor to taste
1 tablespoon lardvegetable shortening or oil
4 to 5 pounds boneless pork shoulder or buttcut into 4-inch chunks, fat on!
Kosher or flake sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Corn tortillas, charred for serving
Salsa verde, for serving (optional)
Radish, cut into matchsticks for serving (optional)
Cilantro, chopped for serving (optional)

What to do: 

In the jar of a blender, place the 1 1/2 cups water, onion, *jalapeno, garlic cloves, marjoram, thyme, black pepper, cumin, cloves and 1 tablespoon salt. Puree until smooth.
Set a large Dutch oven or heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Add the lard (or vegetable shortening or oil), and once it has heated up, add the pork chunks and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Brown the meat on all sides, stirring and flipping as each side browns, about 10 minutes.
Pour the onion mixture over the meat, let it come to a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the orange juice and sweetened condensed milk, add the 2 bay leaves, and give it a good stir. Let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover.
Cook covered, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the casserole 2 to 3 times along the way, until the meat is completely cooked and coming easily apart if you pull one piece, about one hour and a half (this took 2 1/2 to 3 hours for me). Remove the lid, cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Scoop out the carnitas with a slotted spoon, leaving any fat behind, and serve in a bowl or platter. Shred with a fork, if desired, before tucking into tacos. Or do like we do, serve straight from the pot.
To Serve: Serve warm with charred tortillas and cilantro, salsa verde and radish on the side.
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Homemade Caramel Popcorn (aka Cracker Jerks)

By Libbie Summers (from Brown Sugar by Libbie Summers, Shortstack Editions)
Gingham Trimmed Linen Napkins from Yum Yum Smile Shop

Learn the recipe for the perfect POP and up your weekend Netflix viewing game with this perfect sweet meets salty snack! 

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Homemade Caramel Popcorn (aka Cracker Jerks)
makes 10 cups

What you need: 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup Spanish peanuts, husks removed (available in most grocery stores) (OPTIONAL)
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and 2 popcorn kernels. Cook over high heat until the kernels pop, then add the remaining popcorn, cover and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the kernels stop popping, shaking the pan often. Discard any unpopped kernels and spread out the popcorn on a large, deep, nonstick, rectangular cake pan or lasagna casserole dish (I use a 14-by-10-by-4-inch nonstick cake pan). If you use a pan that isn’t nonstick, grease it with butter or nonstick cooking spray first. Toss the popcorn with the peanuts and place the pan in the preheated oven to keep warm.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a medium sauce (or use a Thermapen)- pan over medium heat and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until the temperature of the candy reaches 260° to 275° on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.

Working quickly, remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven and pour the hot syrup mixture in a fine stream over the popcorn to cover
it evenly. Using a nonstick spatula, carefully toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the mixture cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. The Cracker Jerks will keep for up to 10 days.
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Easy Egg Foo Young

By Libbie Summers

In 1997 this simple recipe helped make the toughest days aboard our 40′ sailboat, Calumet, a happier place. We were able to use up the bits and bobs of produce that was on its last legs AND enjoy a dinner that our then ten year old son said “tastes just like carryout from home”.
Pro Tip: Make this dish your own. Don’t have the produce I call for? Use what you have! Make sure there is a crunch inside and always make the brown sauce…always. 

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Easy Egg Foo Young
Serves 2 (can easily scale up for 4, 6 or more)

What you need: 
For Brown Sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
For Omelets
4 eggs
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup finely shredded cabbage (can substitute bean sprouts)
3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions plus more for garnish
Canola oil for frying
Sesame oil for frying (optional)

What to do:
1. Make Sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients and place over a medium heat. Heat, whisking often, until thickened.
2. Make Omelet Mixture: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, soy sauce, water and black pepper. Stir in cabbage, mushrooms and green onions.
3. Fry Omelets: In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil. Once oil begins to shimmer, use a 1/2 cup measuring scoop to add one scoop of mixture to the pan. Cook until bottom is set and beginning to brown and top is almost set. Use a spatula and flip omelet over and continue to cook until eggs are just done.
To Serve: Place omelets on plates or a platter and spoon sauce over. Garnish with green onion. Serve immediately.

Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares

By Libbie Summers

A 3-ingredient delicious dessert that doesn’t involve eggs, flour or sugar? I’m ALL IN! 
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Chocolate Covered Date Nut Squares
(makes 16…depending on how big you cut them)

What you need: 
1/2 cup packed fresh dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups nuts (you can mix any nuts here, use the bits and pieces of whatever you have on hand)
6 ounces dark chocolate, melted (a heaping cup)

What to do: 
Prepare an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so as the ends come over the sides of the pan.

1. Soak Dates If Needed: If your dates are on the drier side (mine were), soak them in warm water for 5 minutes and drain before using.

2. Make Nut Mixture: Add nuts and dates to a food processor and process until mixture is sticky and small pieces of nuts can still be seen.

3. Start Bars: Press date nut mixture into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to press down flat.

4. Finish Bars: Pour melted chocolate over date nut mixture and spread evenly. Place in freezer or refrigerator until chocolate has hardened completely (about 10-20 minutes).

5. Cut Bars: Remove bars from pan onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
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