1221 Taco Tuesday

Oh hello, Taco Tuesday.  We meet again.  We are utterly devoted to you and your $1 tacos.  We had planned on leftovers tonight, but they could hardly compare to the promise of salty chips, sweet-savory salsa, and, oh yes, tacos al pastor.  Shane had four tacos –  chorizo, chorizo, al pastor and al pastor – which he did his best to enjoy slowly, despite post-workout hangrrr.  I forgot that the hard tacos are superior to the soft, but still enjoyed my shrimp, roasted veggie, and al pastor.

I’m really glad that after a year and change of bemoaning overpriced sandwiches, we found a very cheap favorite place to eat in A2.  A Christmas taco miracle!


1214 Is it spring yet?

Snow Day
Photo by di_the_huntress

I ask because the winter angst is hitting me hard.  Shane picked me up from work and I immediately burrowed under a blanket and refused to come out.  I wouldn’t come out to exercise.  I wouldn’t even come out for Taco Tuesday, not even when Shane offered to brave the cold for Sabor Latino takeout.  I regretted it later when he was enjoying his tacos, but still couldn’t be convinced to come out from under my blanket until Shane consented to turn the heat up a few degrees.

I just can’t handle the cold.  I can’t do it.  I like all the things you do to avoid the cold, though.  I like knee socks and hot chocolate.  I like sweaters.  I like cuddling under blankets in front of a fireplace.  I like coffee, coffee with whiskey, coffee with Bailey’s, coffee with Kahlua, coffee with whipped cream.  I like soup and oatmeal, though not at the same time.  Most of all – perhaps more than any of these other things –  I like taking baths.

So that’s what I did tonight.  I took a long, very hot bath.  I read the August issue of Bon Appetit cover to cover in an attempt to pretend that it was still grilling weather.  I thought warm thoughts, and then I bundled up in my pajamas and read in front of the space heater.

What do you do to cope with the winter?

1109 TVP Tacos

I’m not sure what possessed me to pick up TVP the other day, other than that it seemed like it might be an inexpensive and healthy way to get a bit more protein into our diets.  Once I dumped the TVP out into a canister at home, however, I realized I had no idea what to do with it.  It’s pretty strange stuff – a soy protein extruded, in the words of Wikipedia, into “a fibrous spongy matrix that is similar in texture to meat”.  Weird.

Anyway, tonight I decided to give it a go.  TVP is notoriously short on flavor, but I suspected that rehydrating it while also rehydrating a dried chipotle pepper might give it a subtle kick – which mostly worked, though the TVP still had a ways to go before being palatable.  Using the same basic recipe as our tempeh tacos, I sauteed the TVP in some vegetable oil with a finely diced onion, a chili or two, cumin, coriander, and a fair amount of salt and pepper.  When the TVP was cooked through and starting to brown, I pulled it out of the skillet, then quickly stir-fried up a couple of cups of mushrooms in the skillet’s residual spices.  We rolled the TVP, mushrooms, and a cubed roasted butternut squash up into vegan burritos.  All in all, not outstanding, but a reasonably good first effort at using TVP.

Tempeh tacos

1019 Taco Tuesday? Taco Tuesday.

At some point this afternoon, Matt and Shannon both tweeted about TACO TUESDAY.  I don’t know if their tweets put the seed of Taco Tuesday in Shane’s head, but by the time he finished his workout, he had a mad craving for tacos al pastor.

Tacos al pastor con cilantro y cebolla
Photo by Dave77459

So back to Sabor Latino for another sub-$20 meal – 3 tacos for me, 4 for Shane (plus a bonus unwanted fish taco), and 2.5 (free) orders of sweet-hot salsa over crispy chips. I would say that we’re going to go broke if this Taco Tuesday habit keeps up, but while I’m interested in making tacos al pastor at home, I suspect we’ll be back for another Taco Tuesday soon. Like maybe next Tuesday.

1012 Taco Tuesday

238/365 - Autumn bokeh
Photo by aechempati

It’s fall here – for real, despite the weekend temperatures near 80. Our driveway is full of leaves, and the garden is starting to give up the ghost. It’s basically perfect moped weather, but with other obligations this weekend, we hadn’t had a chance to get out for a ride together. We sold my moped earlier in the week – it’s been acting up, and we were going to get rid of it anyway – so Shane was excited for me to learn how to ride his Hobbit tonight. We hopped on the peds for a short ride before dinner, zipping up Dexter and down Maple towards Huron River Drive.

And then Shane’s ped died. And then, just as the lights changed, my ped died. Did I mention that I hadn’t ever started the Hobbit on my own? So that was fun. Shane had already zipped through the light, and when he realized I wasn’t behind him, he doubled back, fearful that I’d crashed. By that time I’d figured out how to start the bike, but we both decided that a longer ride was a bad idea.

Instead, we went for tacos. Dollar tacos at Sabor Latino, to be precise. Neither of us had been, but it seemed like a good, cheap, and fast dinner – and it was. For $16, we had 7 tacos, an order of guacamole, a soda, a beer, and chips and salsa between us. Not quite as cheap as Taco Bell – but oh so much better! We both enjoyed the tacos al pastor, and we’re resolved to figure out how to make it at home. The salsa was spicy-sweet – even better than the guacamole, which is really saying something since we both love avocado. We left full and happy, and will definitely be back for more soon – perhaps even on the mopeds if this beautiful weather sticks around.

0810 Shrimp Tacos, Corn on the Cob

Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by the urgency of thawing food from the freezer and of a giant bag of corn dropped on a doorstep.

shrimp taco
Photo by beanqueen

A pound of shrimp that half thawed over the weekend, peeled and quickly sauteed. A couple of spoonfuls of yesterday’s cilantro “pesto” (which I forgot to mention also contained a handful of raw cashews, which added a creamy nuttiness). Hard taco shells (soft would’ve been better).  Corn on the cob, boiled and topped with a fair amount of butter, salt, and pepper.  Simple, satisfying, and delicious.

0707 Black Bean Tacos a la Smitten Kitchen

I was recently helping a friend brainstorm meals that he and his vegetarian girlfriend could make – and I dug up this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen archive for crispy black bean tacos.  It’s not so much a recipe as it is instructions for quickly throwing together a cheap and delicious dinner – all things that I like!  After Steve raved about the end results, I added it to our menu for the week.

Black Bean Tacos a la Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen recommended a number of modifications to the recipe, which was originally published in Bon Appetit, including using a different slaw, adding in more protein, or using beans canned with a savory sauce or other spices.  Since she recommended further modifications to a recipe that she already modified, I felt pretty comfortable fooling around with it as well.  The resulting tacos were tasty – especially the slaw – but still need some work.  The recipe below combines my noodling about this time, as well as modifications I’d make for the next round of tacos.  Measurements are approximate, and you should absolutely season to taste.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
Adapted from Bon Appetit by way of Smitten Kitchen

2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
a handful chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup nonfat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish (more to taste, but start conservatively)
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of one lime
1 15-ounce can black beans
1/4 pound (or so) Mexican chorizo (the crumbly stuff)
generous 1 tablespoon ground cumin
generous 1 tablespoon ground coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 small corn tortillas
crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, horseradish, sugar, lime juice, and a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Toss with cilantro and shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Drain your black beans, then mash them together with the cumin, coriander, and a generous pinch of salt.  In a small pan, saute the chorizo over medium heat until cooked through, then add black beans and stir to combine.  Continue to saute until the beans are warmed through, then remove from heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil (or a generous amount of non-stick spray) in large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tortillas in single layer, then spoon the bean-chorizo mixture onto half of each tortilla and cook 1 minute.  Fold tacos in half and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 1 minute per side.

Serve with feta and slaw.  This recipe should make 6-8 small tacos – 4-6 if you omit the chorizo.  Plan for at least 2 tacos per person, and have hot sauce on hand.

0511 Last Minute Shrimp Tacos

I say ‘last minute’ because I really didn’t have a plan tonight.  Well, I kind of had a plan, but then it was extremely rainy, and also we went out to dinner last night, and the quantity of cheese and fancy fish on hand wasn’t really enough to constitute a meal, per se.  I also forgot that Karin doesn’t eat fish (or is it just shellfish? not sure) and had planned to do something shrimp-y.  So you see, there were problems.

It all worked out just fine, though.  Karin had picked up a salad from Plum Market while out being a grocery store tourist, so she was all set.  I had been kicking around the idea of roasting shrimp using this basic recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, so I quickly thawed some shrimp, lined a roasting pan with tinfoil, drizzled the shrimp with olive oil and salt and pepper, then popped them in the toaster oven (oh beautiful Cuisinart oven) for about 7 minutes.  We filled warmed tortillas with the shrimp and a bit of plain Greek yogurt, then topped them with leftover coleslaw from Sunday’s pork.  The tart spiciness of the coleslaw nicely balanced the sweetness of the shrimp, and the Greek yogurt mellowed out the extremes of both flavors.

This was such an easy dinner – from start to finish, about 45 minutes, including time to thaw the shrimp – and I suspect you’ll be seeing it on the menu again soon, especially if we can source the local shrimp we keep hearing about.

0429 Chicken Tacos

Carrie Anne posted earlier in the week asking for strategies for getting meals on the table – one of mine was the roast chicken used in multiple meals throughout the week.  And look!  I practice what I preach!

Tonight’s dinner used the last of Monday night’s chicken – or what would’ve been the last, had there not been leftovers tonight as well.  It also did a pretty good job of cleaning out the crisper, which is always a plus.  I sauteed an onion, a bell pepper, and an Anaheim chili in some olive oil until the kitchen was spicy enough that I was getting choked up – then added the chicken and some cumin and coriander.  We spooned this mixture into warmed tortillas and topped it with a handful of greens and some goat cheese, which reduced a bit of the heat.  We were both still sweating by the end of dinner, though.