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!
I guess I always overlooked beef chili a bit. This is probably because I didn’t care much for ground beef for a long time. Lately I have been enjoying this chili recipe because it is so simple and tasty. It gets points for the amount of ingredients (you can count them on one hand.) That is definitely not the norm for chilies which can require up to 20 ingredients! This chili should be cooked on a heavy bottomed saute pan where it slow cooks for about an hour. I like the taste of grass-fed ground beef so I use it for this recipe. The amount of hot sauce to add into the chili is really up to personal tastes. I like it on the spicy side so I add approximately 1/4 cup. I topped the chili with sharp cheddar and it can be served on top of rice or with corn bread.
I had never tried making a chili with squash so I was excited to see how this recipe would turn out. But first, let me back up and say that this chili has an interesting back story. Last year, my mom threw some squash seeds in a compost bin. The seeds did not break down as they should have but rather grew to be enormous squash plants over the summer (the vines were 20 ft. long and growing all over the lawn). Letting the vines run wild paid off because they produced gorgeous sweet dumpling squash and I was sent 6 of them in the mail (I’m sure there’s more where that came from). I was so excited to get started since I had never tried sweet dumpling before.
I read up on the squash and it turns out that most recipes just season and roast the squash whole because of their smaller size. They are milder than other squash and taste a bit like sweet corn. I thought preparing it in a chili with beans and corn would work nicely. I started with traditional chili spices like Chipotle in adobo and cumin as well as spices that would compliment the squash like allspice and cinnamon. The chili was so tasty and I was really happy with how it turned out.
Once I had my Corn Esquites Salad ready I decided to try it out in tacos. I settled on using a whole oven roasted chicken because the meat is tender and shreds easily so its perfect for tacos. I was thinking about which spices I wanted to use to season the chicken and I thought chipotle and lime would work well with the corn salad. I settled on a simple dry rub of chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, allspice and oregano. While the chicken was roasting the kitchen started to smell heavenly and I couldn’t wait to try them out! The tacos were really tasty and easy to put together. The smoky flavor of the chipotle and the tangy lime juice were a great combination. The recipe makes 12 tacos, or enough for two people for two dinners (3 tacos each).
When I came across the recipe for corn esquites salad I took one look at it and knew I had to give it a try. This salad is basically Mexican elote which is roasted corn on the cob seasoned with cayenne, butter, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese. The corn in this recipe is cut off the cob and pan roasted until the kernels char and caramelize. Then the corn is mixed with the elote ingredients, garlic, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro. I decided to kick it up a notch and add sliced tomatoes and avocado to the salad. It was so tasty! The combination of ingredients was sweet and spicy from the corn and jalapenos yet creamy and tangy from the lime juice and cotija cheese. It ended up being the perfect topping for tacos!
Since Korean food works great with Tex-mex I wanted to try Korean-style tacos again! Usually “kalbi” refers to Korean BBQ short ribs but I really wanted to try the kalbi marinade on skirt steak since it’s a great meat for tacos. The marinade consists of ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and asian pears so it was really easy to throw together. If you can’t find asian pears I think it would be alright to substitute in regular pears. I marinated the steak for about an hour before grilling. I used a flat pan to saute the beef at a high temperature, but I’m sure grilling the beef would be a great way to get extra flavor. The tacos were really tasty! I loved the sear on the beef along with the flavors of the kalbi marinade. I really enjoyed the sweet and savory kalbi beef with the tangy sesame soy dressing. I topped the tacos with chopped tomatoes, a cilantro lime salsa and sesame soy sauce dressing.
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.
I recently came across a recipe for chipotle cherry salsa and I was automatically intrigued. The combination of sweet, spicy and smoky made me so excited to give it a try! The only time consuming part was removing the pits from four cups of cherries. It turned out to be well worth it as the salsa was everything I thought it would be: smoky/spicy from the chipotle and sweet and fruity from the cherries. There’s also a hint of balsamic vinegar that adds another dimension to the salsa. It was a combination that worked out great for the Steak Tacos.
Who knew butternut squash could be so versatile? As a kid, I remember only having it around Thanksgiving and the holidays. It turns out butternut squash is great on both pizza and tacos. The squash is rubbed with ground annatto/achiote seeds, cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. Then it’s roasted in the oven until soft. For the toppings, I caramelized an onion with brown sugar and smoked paprika. The tacos were sweet and spicy and so good! I added a tablespoon of the black bean salsa along with some queso fresco for garnish.
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!