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I’m going to be quite frank with you here. I was pretty sure that Chris would hate this dinner.

Not that there is anything wrong with these tacos, there sure isn’t, but Chris has very specific requirements for his tacos.

I started toiling away in the kitchen while Chris made a run into town for beer flank steak. By the time he got home, I was mashing and smashing pinto beans like nobody’s business.

FYI: If you do not own a potato masher, your meat tenderizer will work wonders for smashing pinto beans.

I just realized that I don’t even know what a potato masher looks like and that the above comment may not make sense at all. ::Off to Google.::

Oxo Good Grips Wire Potato MasherOxo Good Grips Meat Tenderizer

I’m sure that I am not alone in being somewhat culinarily challenged (ok, maybe I am). The device on the left is a potato masher. The device on the right is a meat tenderizer, also works as a potato masher in a pinch.

In my defense, I always thought potato mashers looked like this:

Cuisinart HM-70 Power Advantage 7-Speed Hand Mixer, Stainless and White

Ok, so it turns out that those two tools should not be billed as interchangeable. (Trust me, they totally are.) No wonder Chris looked at me so quizzically when he saw what I was doing.

Anyway, when Chris walked into the kitchen, in typical Chris form, he tasted the “refried” beans. “Did you make beans with lard in them? They’re so creamy!”

I immediately knew that at the very least the beans were a home run! And no, I did not use any lard.

I have always said that refried beans with no lard are no good. Why bother eating them? And that refried beans made with lard are supremely unhealthy. Won’t eat those either.

It turns out, that lard-free “refried” beans can be amazing! Thanks Elly!

The big test was to see if our house taco expert would give this creation a thumbs up. Win! They even won the ultimate Duke’s House accolade “Good enough to serve to other people.”

 

Inspired by Elly Says Opa!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • olive oil spray
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth (I used 99% fat-free.)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 6 oz beef, flank or skirt steak would work well
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning (Just use your favorite kind.)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 oz Manchego cheese, shredded or grated
  • 3 scallions, sliced

Directions:

  • Saute onion in a heavy skillet until tender.
  • Stir in the garlic until fragrant, and then the chicken broth, cumin, beans, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the mixture to a light boil and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Begin to sauté peppers in a second skillet.
  • As the bean mixture is cooking, cook the beef in a third skillet (or grill pan if you have one), seasoning somewhat aggressively with steak seasoning.
  • Set your oven to 275 degrees and place the corn tortillas inside to warm them slightly.
  • Use a potato masher to press down on the beans, and mash to your desired consistency. If necessary add more broth, or simmer longer to remove moisture.
  • When the beef has finished cooking, remove it from the skillet and chop it very finely.
  • Remove tortillas from the oven, fill with beef, refried beans, sautéd peppers and onions, and top with the Manchego cheese and sliced scallions.

Servings ~ 4 (two tacos per serving)
Calories (per serving) ~ 387, Fat ~ 21 g, Carbohydrates ~ 38 g, Protein ~ 20 g
Calories (per taco) ~ 194, Fat ~ 11 g, Carbohydrates ~ 19 g, Protein ~ 10 g

We went all out for breakfast yesterday morning. Ok, maybe not all out, but this was way fancier than our typical breakfasts.

I am an oatmeal girl, at least five days per week. Lately I have been making overnight oats with almond milk and blueberries. Chris favors bagels, two whole wheat un-toasted, no toppings. I don’t think his breakfast choice is exciting enough for me to eat week in and week out, but it is efficient, that’s for sure. As long as he is happy, I am happy!

The divergence from our normal breakfast was due mostly in part to me being sleepy and trying to put off mountain biking for later. I successfully delayed us for at least an hour or so.

These things were awesome! I made mine with four scrambled egg whites instead of the two over-medium eggs pictured, but I understand that egg whites are not so popular with everyone.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cups corn (I used frozen.)
  • 2/3 cups black beans
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 oz jalapeño cheddar, shredded
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • 8 tbsp sour cream (I used reduced fat.)
  • diced tomato (optional)
  • hot sauce to taste
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • Chop onion, then sauté in a skillet with olive oil spray.
  • Just before the onions turn translucent, add the corn and black beans and continue to cook until all of the ingredients are evenly heated.
  • Cook eggs, over-medium.
  • While eggs are cooking, place tortillas (lightly sprayed with olive oil) in a broiler to heat them until they are pliable.
  • Top each tortilla shell with one egg, several spoonfuls of the black bean mixture, 1/8 avocado (sliced), 1/2 ounce of shredded cheese, and 1 tbsp of sour cream.

Servings ~ 4
Calories (with whole eggs) ~ 553, Fat ~ 34 g, Carbohydrates ~ 41 g, Protein ~ 26 g
Calories (with egg whites) ~ 490, Fat ~ 26 g, Carbohydrates ~ 41 g, Protein ~ 35 g

After making a huge bowl of peach salsa, Chris and I needed to get busy eating peach salsa like nobody’s business.

Putting the peach salsa on tacos over shrimp seemed like a no-brainer.

Not only was this a super tasty meal, it was pretty healthy, and even quick and easy to make. This one is likely to go into our regular rotation!

Incidentally, the leftover peach salsa is also really good as a topping for cottage cheese. Does anyone else regularly eat salsas on cottage cheese?

Chris and I were debating the salsa on cottage cheese thing over lunch today as we each scarfed some down. We both did it before we met, but I am convinced it is out of the norm. He is convinced that it is commonplace. What do you think?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. salad shrimp w/o tail
  • cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, finely shredded
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups (about 4 servings) peach salsa
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to broil.
  • Cook shrimp, I defrosted pre-cooked frozen shrimp by steaming them.
  • Spray tortillas with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and place them in the oven. Heat tortillas in oven until they are pliable.
  • Shred cabbage and set aside.
  • Drain shrimp, then season to taste with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Assemble tacos with cabbage, shrimp, then salsa on top.
  • Other tasty toppings might include sour cream, hot sauce, or guacamole.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 350, Fat ~ 5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 51 g, Protein ~ 29 g

Before heading out for our weekend camping trip, Chris decided to spend some extra time and make a more indulgent breakfast than usual. These breakfast tacos sure did hit the spot!

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 4 oz. chorizo
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo
  • 8 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • hot sauce (We used Sriracha)

Directions

  • Heat tortillas in oven.
  • Heat chorizo.
  • Cook eggs over medium.
  • Place eggs on tortillas,
  • Layer chorizo, chopped avocado, and pico de gallo on top.
  • Mix sour cream and milk to form a sauce.
  • Add several spoonfuls of sauce to the top of each taco.
  • Drizzle with hot sauce.
  • Enjoy.

Servings ~ 1-4 (I had one, Chris had 3. I guess it is up to you!)
Calories (per taco) ~ 254, Fat ~ 13 g, Carbohydrates ~ 17 g, Protein ~ 17 g

As a native Angelino and avid longtime surfer, Chris has many fond memories of surf trips to Baja where he would eat fish tacos from roadside stands and his favorite beachside cantinas. Unfortunately, Chris’s move to the Hoosier State has precluded weekend jaunts south of the border. Bummer.    

I had no pictures of surfing Chris, this is Chris in his current state instead. The fishing is fine in Duke’s Pond. This fish was not harmed in the making of these tacos.

In order to win Chris’s heart, I have spent years perfecting the art of preparing Baja-style fish tacos (sans authentic atmosphere). Hopefully my efforts more closely resemble the tacos from the cantinas than those from the roadside stands.      

There are several important components to this dish, the guac, the pico de gallo, the seasoning on the fish, the taco shell, the cabbage, and the hot sauce.   

 

First, the guac. You need a fairly ripe avocado or you will have a heck of a time mashing it. It then needs the right balance of cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice. If we weren’t cooking within the parameters of Duke’s House Budget, we would also add some diced jalapeño. If we weren’t cooking for Chris who hates raw tomatoes, we would add some finely chopped grape tomatoes. 

   

Next the pico de gallo. Ours is just finely chopped onion, preferably the white or red variety, and fresh cilantro.     

   

On to the fish. Nearly any type of mild flavored, crumbly fish will work, at Duke’s House we use whatever is on sale. This week tilapia was 4 lbs. for $9, so tilapia it is. Pollack, haddock, grouper, and flounder also work. Use your imagination. We usually season the fish with lemon juice, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. This isn’t fine fish, the point is to make sure that you don’t taste it.   

     

The taco shell must be a soft corn tortilla! Nearly the entire Hoosier state is staring wide-eyed at that last sentence. A whaaa? That’s right. No crunchy taco shells, or at least not the yellow U-shaped ones that you are thinking of. Not a four tortilla, not even if it is whole wheat. I’m talking about the 6″ corn tortillas that come bagged in stacks of 84. Don’t worry, I am pretty sure that they will stay fresh for a year or more in your refrigerator, not that they will last that long anyway. After you try these, you will be going through corn tortillas like nobody’s business!   

Lastly, the hot sauce. We have quite a hot sauce collection at our house: Tabasco, Sriracha, Frank’s Ret Hot, Cholula, we may even have some El Yucateco hidden in the back of the pantry, but at Duke’s House we only use Tapatio for fish tacos.   

The cabbage is pretty self explanitory. We usually buy ours pre-shredded because we’re lazy very hungry and short on time when we get home from work. Chopping it up from a head of cabbage would be great as well.   

We generally make up all of the individual components of this dish, warm up the tortillas, and assemble the tacos as we go. Note, if you do not warm up the tortillas, they will break and you will be wearing your dinner.   

   

Fish Taco Fish:   

Ingredients:   

  • 6-8 ounces of crumbly, mild tasting, light colored fish
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:    

  • Combine fish, lemon juice, and spices in a foil packet.
  • Grill over a medium heat until fish is flaky and cooked through.