Potato salad is a classic American summer side dish that reminds me of hot summer days, afternoon picnics and grilling sessions. I used to purchase potato salad from a local deli but the ingredients on the label were a bit off-putting. I didn’t recognize most of them listed and I finally decided to just make it from scratch. This recipe is a perfect antidote to the store-bought problem. While it is more time consuming than just running to the store, this recipe is healthier and you know exactly what’s going in it. It’s a delicious alternative to the processed stuff!
Tacos are one of my favorite foods and I’m always looking for different combinations to try out! This recipe combines tender, shredded chicken with a smokey Chipotle salsa and melty Oaxaca cheese. I roasted the chicken in the oven with fragrant spices, garlic and honey. The nice thing about roasting the chicken is that it produces plenty of juice in the pan to incorporate back into the meat once it has been shredded. This results in the juiciest, most tender meat for the tacos. The Oaxaca cheese melted easily over the tacos and had a mild flavor that complimented the other ingredients. The salsa can be made up to two days beforehand to save time on preparation.
Once I had a batch of Pickled Corn Salsa ready I took a nice pork shoulder and slow cooked it for some tasty tacos! The pork is marinated in tomatoes, onions and spices and slow cooked for about 4 hours in a crock pot. The pork ended up being succulent and fall apart tender. I was really happy with how soft and flavorful it turned out. The acids from the pickled salsa complimented the richness of the shredded pork. For garnish, I added a touch of lime and queso fresco.
Roasted a whole chicken is a perfect meat for tacos because it is tender, flavorful and easy to shred. I chose a basic spice blend of smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and oregano for the chicken. Then I baked it in the oven for a few hours which gave me enough time to make some fresh Pico de Gallo and shredded manchego cheese. Manchego is a great cheese for tacos because it has the creaminess of queso fresco but with a little more tartness. The tacos turned out really well! The smoky flavor of the chicken worked nicely with the manchego and creamy avocado. The recipe for the chicken is pretty versatile so I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with different salsas and condiments next time!
What better way to make a slow transition into fall than with an apple rhubarb crisp? I am a little reluctant to acknowledge the fact that fall is coming so it’s nice to bring the two seasons together in a dessert! I saw a lot of recipes for apple rhubarb crisp that called for green apples but I thought sweet red apples would be a good choice since rhubarb is so tart. To compensate on the apples’ sweetness I just cut the sugar a bit and it turned out great! The recipe is similar to the other rhubarb crisp recipe and just as delicious! I liked the combination of the sweet apples, tart rhubarb and crunchy crust. Whipped cream and vanilla ice cream are the perfect accompaniment for this dessert!
One of my favorite summer dishes is caprese salad. Sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and balsamic vinegar offer the perfect combination of flavors. It also turns out these ingredients are a perfect grilled cheese in the making! The one issue was the balsamic vinegar–how to incorporate a liquid ingredient on a sandwich that isn’t a dressing? My solution was to simply roast the tomatoes in balsamic vinegar in the oven which infused the flavor of the balsamic into the tomato. I chose sourdough for the bread which worked nicely with the other ingredients. The sandwich was really tasty and not hard to make at all. It was a great way to turn a caprese salad appetizer into the main course!
What better way to try out a tasty new salsa than to serve it with tacos? I picked out a skirt steak for these tacos because you can get a great sear on the outside and I figured it would go well with the salsa. I went simple and just seasoned the steak with a little cumin and smoked paprika. The salsa, steak and onions went really nicely together. Caramelized onions are so good on tacos so I add them in whenever possible. I caramelized the onions in the leftover adobo sauce which added a smokiness that wasn’t too sweet. Then for a little texture and crunch I added some red cabbage on top. A little crumbled queso fresco added creaminess (sour cream would probably work fine too.) All together, this was a really delicious taco and I look forward to having it again sometime.
When making Vietnamese Pho I noticed that the condiments and garnishes play a big roll in the way you eat the dish. With pho, the condiments are added methodically (usually one at a time) as you eat the soup. This salad applies that rule as well, with the platter of condiments on the side of the plate. Carrots, fresh mint, bean sprouts, red chilies, lime slices, and basil wait to be mixed in with the noodles or dipped into two bowls of dipping sauces. If any of you “played with your food” as a kid you might enjoy the process of mixing and dipping involved with this dish.
One way I would describe this dish is clean and refreshing. It really is a perfect spring or summer meal just due to the freshness of the ingredients. The grilled chicken is marinated in lemongrass paste, garlic, ginger and red chilies. The chicken was so good and the flavors were sweet and a little spicy. I loved the way all the condiments blended together with the rice noodles and chicken. I dipped the chicken in the Nuoc Cham and Cashew Butter sauces. I was generous with the sauces and poured them over the noodles and condiments which tasted great as well. I will be making this dish again soon!
There’s this great Mexican restaurant nearby that serves black bean salsa with corn chips before the main course. I have been wanting to recreate this salsa because it’s hard to stop eating it. The salsa is easy to throw together and has great flavor. It works nicely as a condiment for chips or in tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc. The spiciness can be dialed down by adding fewer jalapenos and cayenne or increased by adding serrano peppers which are quite a bit spicier. The corn provides an element of sweetness and the white and green onions a good amount of texture and crunch. I think the recreation of the restaurant’s salsa was a success because once again it was hard to put the bowl down and save room for dinner!
Grilled cheese sandwiches are a great way to use up leftovers from other dishes. I had some queso fresco, jalapenos and avocados from previous meals and I didn’t want them to go to waste. I decided to make a sandwich out of them and what better sandwich than grilled cheese? I never realized queso fresco was such a great melted cheese since I had only eaten it crumbled. It turns out it slices really well and melts perfectly on sandwiches. I was worried that all those jalapenos would overpower the other flavors so I roasted them in the oven until they were just starting to char. This mellowed the heat but concentrated the flavor of the peppers. To make things easier I added the avocado slices after grilling the sandwich because they tend to fall out. The sandwich was really tasty so I might have to start buying the ingredients instead of waiting until I have leftovers!