Braised Chicken Tacos

I’m in a taco phase right now… Anything I can stuff into a tortilla, I want to devour. Lately I’ve made a multitude of breakfast tacos, fish tacos, and then these braised chicken tacos. If I could eat tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner I would… well, I guess nothing is stopping me from doing that, other than the fact that I want to make every recipe known to man, and that includes recipes that aren’t tacos… but seriously, tacos are the best. Maybe I’ve told you this story, but when I was a kid, my brother Jeremy was not a taco fan. Whereas I would be ecstatic when I heard it was taco night, he would moan and groan and complain about tacos being boring and not filling. He said they were the Mexican equivalent of sandwiches… which I guess he also found boring. Weirdo! Luckily he has now changed his tune, otherwise I might have to disown him.

Onto the tacos… these are so simple, spicy and flavorful. They are a perfect and quick weeknight meal, which as you know are my favorite! Served alongside some rice and beans, you’ll have a complete (and filling) meal that no one should consider boring.

Braised chicken tacos

Braised Chicken Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

1 large bone-on, skin-on chicken breast (about 1 lb)

1 cup chicken broth

1 12-15 oz can tomato sauce (mine was 15 oz)

2 Tbsp cumin

2 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp chipotle chile powder

Kosher salt, to taste

12 corn tortillas

For topping:

Cilantro

Scallions, thinly sliced

Radishes, thinly sliced

Avocado slices

Cojita cheese (optional)

Lime wedges

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a heavy pot, preferably a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add onions, jalapenos, and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions and jalapenos are browned and have started to soften.  Add chicken broth, and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium.

2. Add the chicken breast to the pot, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, so that the fat has a chance to render.

3. Add the tomato sauce, cumin and chili powders and stir to combine. Flip the chicken over, and place the lid on to cover. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, flip chicken over and cook another 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

4. Remove the chicken breast, and shred the meat. Add the shredded meat back to the pot, and throw away the bone and skin. Season with salt to taste.

5. Heat up the tortillas- to heat mine, I place a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, add as many tortillas as can fit (my 12-inch skillet can hold 3). When the first side is starting to brown and puff up, I flip and brown the other side.

6. To serve, top the warm tortillas with the braised chicken and sauce, cilantro, radish slices, scallions, avocado, cojita cheese (if using) and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve alongside rice and beans.

Source: heatherchristo.com

Blackened Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw and Chipotle Aioli

Blackened Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw and Chipotle Aioli

The tacos strike once again! Seriously, I think I could eat tacos every day for the rest of my life and never tire of them. There are just so many ways to make them, and so many wonderful combinations to explore. Did I ever tell you how my brother used to hate tacos, thinking they were not enough for a meal?! Taco night was one of my favorite family dinners growing up. I would get so excited, and be thinking about dinner all day long. My brother, on the other hand, would endlessly moan and groan about it, saying they were basically just sandwiches, and thus, boring…. ummm.. okay?! Obviously, he was crazy. Luckily he has changed his tune, and now understands the wonderfulness that is the taco. When Ron told me he had never had fish tacos, it became my mission in life to make some. This gave me an excuse to put tacos on the menu again, and also gave me a use for some of the tilapia in my freezer. I also had half a head of cabbage in my refrigerator begging to be made into a slaw, so it was definitely meant to be. These tacos were awesome! A little spicy from the Cajun seasoning and the chipotle aioli, and balanced out by the refreshing and light cilantro lime slaw. So so good!

Blackened Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw and Chipotle Aioli

Blackened Fish Tacos 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb flaky white fish (I used tilapia)

3 Tbsp butter, melted

2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (store-bought or homemade- I used this recipe)

2 Tbsp olive oil

8 corn tortillas

Cilantro lime slaw (recipe follows)

Chipotle Aioli (recipe follows)

Directions:

1. Brush fish with melted butter, and sprinkle on both sides with seasoning.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add fish and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until fish is cooked through. Remove from pan, and flake with a fork.

3. To assemble tacos- warm corn tortillas in a a skillet, or in the microwave. Put some fish in the tortilla, add some slaw, and top with chipotle aioli.

Source: Tide and Thyme

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Ingredients:

4 cups cabbage, finely shredded

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

4 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Salt, to taste

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl, and toss to combine. Chill for at least an hour before serving, to allow flavors to meld.

Source: Muy Bueno Cookbook

Chipotle Aioli

Ingredients:

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbsp sour cream

3 Tbsp chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped

2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Juice from 1/2 a lime

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl, and mix together to combine. If you’d like the aioli to be a smoother consistency, you can blend all the ingredients together in a food processor.

Source: Tide and Thyme

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Happy, happy weekend! My pansies are planted, my windows are open, and my mood is relaxed! Coffee is being drunk, movie watching is commencing, and meal planning will be happening in a bit. I also went to Target today and found a comforter set on sale for $50(!!!!), bought some colorful pens, a binder to organize blog stuff, some pet food, and a dog toy. I can never walk out of there without a hodgepodge of stuff.  So altogether, the weekend has started successfully. I love Saturdays!

Pansies

I tend to make new things all the time, and find it a rare thing when I make a recipe over and over again. This is one of those rare recipes. Who knew that homemade taquitos were so easy to make? These are baked rather than fried, so they are healthier than regular taquitos, and, unlike the store-bought ones, you know exactly what is in them, so that’s something to feel good about too! These would be great as an appetizer, but we like them so much, that we usually have them as a meal, alongside some rice and beans. Another awesome thing about this recipe… it freezes wonderfully. You can make a bunch, freeze whatever you aren’t eating that day, and have them for a quick and easy meal for some future night when things are super-busy!

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Makes about 12-16 taquitos

Ingredients:

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup salsa (homemade or store-bought)

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

1-2 scallions, chopped

2 cup cooked, shredded chicken

1 cup shredded cheese (i.e. cheddar, monterey jack or pepper jack)

10-16 6-inch flour tortillas

Cooking spray

Kosher Salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, a silicone mat, or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, shredded chicken, and cheese, until well combined.

3. Microwave tortillas about 20-30 seconds to make them easier to roll. To assemble taquitos, lay a tortilla flat on your surface, and place about 2-3 Tbsp of the filling down the middle. Roll up tightly, and place on prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining tortillas.*

4. Spray the tops of the taquitos lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle on kosher salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole if desired.

*At this point you can freeze the unbaked taquitos- just place the baking sheet in the freezer and let chill for 30-60 minutes. Then transfer to a freezer-safe bag. When you want to cook them, just remove from freezer and bake frozen, adding a couple minutes onto the cook time. Do not thaw before baking.

Source: Annie‘s Eats (Originally from Our Best Bites)

Taco Seasoning

Tacos make me happy. They are one of my desert island foods- ya know, if taco shells, tortillas, and all the fillings grew on islands! I love the traditional ones, the fancy ones, and the exotic ones- like the grasshopper tacos I ate last year at Oyamel in Washington, DC. So, so good!  Also delicious- these green chile chicken soft tacos. I need to make those again soon!

I love tacos so much that when I get married eventually I have decided that I really, really, really want a taco bar at my wedding! They are so customizable- whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc, I think that a taco can work for everyone. You don’t even need a tortilla to enjoy something taco-like- a taco bowl is super-delicious as well. Check out this article on Serious Eats showing just how many types of tacos are out there!!

This won’t be a post about how to make a taco, but rather be a recipe for homemade taco seasoning. I love those convenient little packets as much as the next guy, but making a homemade version is just so easy. All the spices that go into the seasoning are staples in my pantry, so there is no reason not to! There are a bunch of versions for homemade seasoning, all of which I’d like to try, but the one I used this time was great, so I figured I’d jot it down here for you, and so that I remember which ones I’ve tried. I figure someday I’ll eventually have a favorite that I use consistently.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Makes about 2 3/4 Tbsps

Ingredients:
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix together all the ingredients in a small container.
2. To season filling, use about 2 tbsp per pound of ground meat, Use more or less to taste. Add the desired amount of seasoning and 1/2 cup of water to the browned meat, and simmer until the water is absorbed.

Source: Allrecipes via The Girl Who Ate Everything

Chorizo, Potato and Mushroom Tacos

Man, I feel like I’ve been making a lot of tacos lately.  This was pointed out to me when Ron (the bf) told me that every time he is hanging out with one of his friends, and he leaves to come home and have dinner, he says we are having tacos, and his friend says, “didn’t you just have tacos the other day?”  That doesn’t bother me though for 3 reasons: a) tacos are delicious 2) they are oh so versatile and d) I do what I want!!!!

This recipe once again comes from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday!  As you can obviously tell from the title, it combines chorizo sausage, potatoes and mushrooms, and was quite yummy and extremely easy to make, although next time I make I will be making some modifications which I will tell you about in the notes after the recipe.

Chorizo, Potato and Mushroom Tacos
Tacos de Chorizo con Papas y Hongos
Serves 4


Ingredients:
12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casings removed
About 1 tbsp vegetable oil, if needed
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 ounces mushrooms (i.e. shiitake or oyster), stemmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 medium (12 ounces total) red-skin boiling or Yukon Gold potatoes, grated through large holes
Salt
1/2 cup cilantro (loosely packed), chopped
12 corn tortillas, warmed
Roasted tomatillo salsa, guacamole, or bottled hot sauce for serving


Directions:
1. Heat a large preferably nonstick pan over medium heat, and add chorizo.  As it cooks, break it into smaller pieces.  Cook it until about halfway done, about 4 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium high (or not, depending on whether you have uncooperative burners like mine).  Check to see whether any fat has rendered from the cooking chorizo.  If it has, awesome!  If it hasn’t, add a tbsp of vegetable oil to the pan.  Add the onion and mushrooms and cook about 3 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Stir occasionally.
3. Add the shredded potato and cook about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft, stirring often.  If the potatoes are browning too quickly, lower heat.  Taste mixture, and season with salt if needed.
4. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl, and add cilantro.  Serve with tortillas, salsa and/or guacamole.

Source: Mexican Everyday


Notes:

  • Once again not having a nonstick skillet has been a little frustrating.  The food turned out good, but the fact that it stuck to the bottom of my pan was a little annoying.  I don’t think it altered the flavor, but it’ll be a pain to clean.
  • I used russet potatoes instead of red or Yukon Gold, and I have a feeling that those potatoes would have fared better in this dish.  The russets were okay, but they were a little mushy/starchy.  I’ll have to try the actual potatoes he called for and see what difference it makes.  
  • I also used cremini mushrooms instead of shiitake or oyster, and while you could tell they were there, they didn’t stand out in any way, or add any real flavor that I could tell.  Maybe a different or more flavorful mushroom would have fared better.
  • Next time I make this I would make a few alterations- more chorizo, less potato, and I might just omit the mushrooms.  They really didn’t seem to do anything for the dish in all honesty.  They weren’t bad- they were just there, and because I love mushrooms, this was a little disappointing to me.  I’d rather use them in a dish they actually stand out in. 
  • I think maybe cubed potatoes would be a good substitution for the shredded potatoes as well, and maybe make the filling less mushy, and more on the crispy side.

Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos

Last Friday I purchased a cookbook I’ve been eyeing for a while (thank you Borders for the 40% off coupon!). I’ve been wanting one of Rick Bayless’ cookbooks since the beginning of time and after scanning the titles I decided to go with Mexican Everyday.  I’ve heard it mentioned here and there, and since I don’t always have hours and hours to do prep work on a dinner, this cookbook seemed perfect for me, as it contains recipes that one can complete in little time, which is perfect for me since most of the time I get home from work between 6 and 6:30.  Last Saturday, the day after my purchase, I was already cooking one of his meals- a Red Chile Chicken Enchilada (I will definitely be making it again, so you can expect it on here at some point), and it was excellent!  Today I thought I’d go with another of the recipes from this cookbook, and I decided on the Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos.

I make a lot of chicken because it is the meat I am most comfortable cooking and it is so versatile…. and it was on sale for $1.99/pound this week, which didn’t hurt!!!  Yep, I’ll be making a lot of chicken this week it seems.  The chiles used in this recipe are poblanos, but he says that pretty much any large fleshy pepper will work (red peppers and Anaheims are the others he mentions).  I served these with a Mexican rice recipe that I found on Annie’s Eats a few weeks ago that is just amazing, and I’ll post up sometime, and canned black beans (which I added some cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder to).  It was a seriously delicious and filling meal, but so good that I just wanted to keep eating until my stomach burst or I went into a food coma.



Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos
Tacos de Pollo al Chile Poblano
Serves 4


Ingredients:
2 large fresh poblano chiles
2 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil (divided use)
1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound (3 medium-large) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
12 warm corn tortillas, store-bought or homemade
About 3/4 cup Roasted Tomatillo Salsa or Guacamole, or bottled sauce or hot sauce, for serving

Directions:
1.  Roast the poblano chiles, either over an open flame, or under the broiler.  If roasting them over and open flame, turn them often, until blackened all over.  It’ll take about 5 minutes.  If roasting them under the broiler, adjust to the highest rack.  Place them on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil), roast about 5 minutes on each side.  When done, put the peppers in a bowl, and cover it with a kitchen towel, or plastic wrap.  Leave them in the bowl until cool enough to handle.
2.  Turn the oven on to its lowest setting- on my oven it is 200 degrees.  Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until golden, stirring often.  This’ll take about 4-5 minutes.  Put them in a heatproof serving dish, and put this into the oven to keep warm.  Set the skillet aside until ready to cook the chicken.
3. First though remove the blackened skin from the chiles, remove the stems and seeds.  Rinse them under water to remove any remaining skin and seeds.  Cut them into 1/4 strips and add them to the onions in the oven.  Taste the mixture and season with salt if needed, it’ll probably be about 1 tsp.  Put the dish back in the oven.
4. Put the skillet back on the stove on medium heat.  Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, and place the chicken in the hot pan.  Brown one side (about 5 minutes), turn over and cook the other side until done (about 4 minutes).  Add lime juice and garlic to the pan.  Turn the chicken in the mixture for 1-2 minutes until the lime juice has reduced to a glaze and the chicken is coated.
5. Cut the chicken in 1/4 inch strips and combine with the onions and peppers.  Taste and season if desired.
6. Serve with warm corn tortillas, salsa, guacamole and/or hot sauce.

Source: Mexican Everyday


Notes:

  • I used store-bought corn tortillas this time.  I’ve never made my own, and I’m a bit intimidated to be honest, but I’ll give them a try at some point.  To heat them, you can sandwich them between dampened paper towels or clean kitchen towels and microwave for about 45 seconds to a minute.  Rick Bayless suggests a different method which involves dribbling some water on a kitchen towel, wrapping the tortillas inside, slipping them inside a microwavable plastic bag, microwaving on high for 4 minutes at 50% power, and then letting them steam for 2-3 minutes, and I’m sure that works great, but I’m a bit more lazy than that.  
  • My chicken took quite a bit longer to cook than this recipe says.  It’s probably because my chicken breasts were larger than medium-large.  In any case, just make sure the chicken is actually cooked before adding the garlic-lime mixture. 
  • I blackened my poblanos under the broiler and I didn’t really feel it necessary to keep turning them.  I just did 5 minutes on one side, flipped them over, and broiled 5 minutes on the other side.
  • Bayless suggests either serving this with roasted tomatillo salsa or guacamole, but I decided to go crazy and make both.  It was an excellent combination with both the spiciness of the salsa, and the creaminess of the guacamole.  Don’t worry, those recipes will follow these notes!
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Makes 1 1/2 cups
Ingredients:
4 medium tomatillos (about 8 ounces total), husked, rinsed and halved
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
Hot green chiles to taste (i.e. 2 serranos or 1 jalapeno), stemmed and roughly chopped
About 1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
Salt
Directions:
1. Set a large nonstick skillet, or foil-lined sticky skillet (what’s the opposite of nonstick?) over medium-high heat.  Place the tomatillos and garlic in the skillet, cut side down.  Cook about 3-4 minutes, until the tomatillos are brown, then flip and cook the other side about 3-4 minutes (flip the garlic too).  The tomatillos will be soft.
2.  Put the browned tomatillos and garlic in a blender or food processor.  Let them cool to room temperature, and then add the chiles, cilantro and a 1/4 cup of water.  Blend until coursely chopped, or to whatever consistancy you like (mine was a bit more on the finely chopped side).  Pour into a bowl for serving.  If it is too thick, you can add a little more water.
3.  Rinse the chopped onion under cold water.  Stir into the salsa.  Taste and season if necessary (about 1/2 tsp).    
Notes:
  • I used 2 serrano chiles in mine, and I thought the spiciness was just perfect.  It did tone down a little when paired with the tacos.
  • Bayless suggests that if the salsa is not going to be served immediately, to wait to add the cilantro until it is about to be served, as well as the onion.  If you are not adding the cilantro in at the blending stage, it should be finely chopped, rather than coursely.
  • My salsa had no issue with being to thick, in fact I was concerned that it was too watery at first, but once I added the onion and cilantro, it ended up being just perfect.

Guacamole
Makes about 3/4 of a cup

Ingredients:
1 medium ripe avocado
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
Salt
About 1 tablespoon lime juice
Directions
Cut the avocado in half, twist the halves apart, and remove the pit.  Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon into a small-medium bowl.  Mash up the avocado.  I used a fork, but a potato masher would also work.  Add the garlic, salt and lime juice.  Taste and add more salt or lime juice as desired.

Notes:
  • I halved Bayless’s recipe and it was enough for the two of us (my boyfriend and I), especially because we paired it with the salsa as well, but you can certainly double the quantities and make a normal sized recipe.  If doubling it, 1 clove of garlic will still be enough, unless you like your guacamole extra garlicy.  Also the lime juice quantity may remain the same, depending on your personal taste.
  • Bayless has 3 versions of guacamole in his cookbook- simple, herby, or luxurious.  This adaptation is a combination of simple and herby.
Source: adapted from Mexican Everyday