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

Summer Vegetable Soup

Every week I try to make a healthy lunch that will last me for the week. I love not having to put something together every single night… and I feel much better about taking something homemade rather than store-bought (although sometimes in a pinch that stuff is awesome!). Soups make a great lunch. Usually they taste even better after sitting for a couple of days as it allows the flavors to meld together. This vegetable soup is a delicious, healthy, and very customizable recipe that made for an awesome lunch. You can use pretty much any vegetable you have on hand, mix and match depending on your own personal preferences, use up frozen vegetables from the freezer, and little bits of leftover pasta. This was a great recipe to use in my quest to clean out my fridge/freezer/pantry. I had an open bag of frozen peas that I threw into this, a bit of Israeli couscous, some red potatoes that were on their last hurrah, a can of cannellini beans that has been in my pantry forever, and all I had to buy was some zucchini, vegetable stock and green beans. You can throw in some diced sweet potatoes, fresh tomatoes instead of canned, yellow squash, spinach, leeks instead of onions… the sky’s the limit.

Summer Vegetable Soup

Summer Vegetable Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, quartered and sliced thin

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or more, if desired to make the soup broth-ier)

1-2 small zucchinis, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans (or Navy beans)

5 small red potatoes, diced

1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)- I omitted this because I didn’t have any

1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen), cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 tsp Kosher salt

1/8 tsp tumeric

2-4 ounces Israeli couscous (or other small pasta shape), optional

2 Tbsp tomato paste

Directions:

1. Place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until softened.

2. Add the vegetable broth, zucchini, beans, potatoes, peas, corn, green beans, diced tomatoes and juice, salt, pepper, and tumeric. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. If you are using pasta, add when there is about 10-15 minutes left of cooking time.

3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the tomato paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: barely adapted from Prevention RD (originally adapted from food.com)

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

I swear this week has been one of the most tiring ever!  Do you ever have weeks like that? When you just feel like you are walking around in a perpetually foggy state? I think that I’m still recovering from this cold-type illness I had, and am stuck in a cycle of not being able to get completely better because I’m so tired, and vice versa. Good thing it’s the weekend, and especially good because I only have a week until vacation. Not having to set an alarm to wake up in the morning is one of the best feelings in the world! I have a few things to do this weekend to get ready for vacation- make a packing list, shop for a couple things I need for my trip (i.e. sunscreen!!!), and decide what I will be cooking/freezing for Ron while I’m away.  Burritos would actually be a great thing to make and freeze… but I am already planning on making taquitos and enchiladas, so maybe that would be too much Mexican food. Wait… who am I kidding?! One can never have too much Mexican food!

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

Serves 3-6 (depending on hunger level)

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup onion, chopped

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 tsp canola oil

3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 (10-inch) flour tortillas

2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Cooking spray

Pico de gallo or salsa, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. Swirl to coat. Add the chicken mixture, and cook about 8 minutes, until chicken is cook through, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and garlic, cook until heated, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

3. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas, and top with cheese. Roll up burritos.

4. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray both sides of burritos with cooking spray. Cook burritos about 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Cut in half, and depending on your appetite, eat a whole or half burrito! Serve with pico de gallo or salsa, and sour cream.

Source: Cooking Light, June 2012

Roast Chicken Diavolo

It’s pretty unbelievable to me, but I have less then 2 weeks until I go on vacation! It seems to me that the summer just started, and it’s already the end of July… incredible! Part of me says SLOW DOWN!!!!!  but of course I’m also looking forward to vacation. Just being able to relax for 2 weeks, away from work and all the daily stresses will be awesome. In these two weeks of crunch time one of my major goals is to use the food that I have in the pantry/fridge/freezer before I leave. Ron won’t be going with me, and since he doesn’t know how to cook (other than grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, eggs, chicken, and microwavable meals), I really want to make him some meals for the 2 weeks I’m away. I did this last year too- made and froze a bunch of meals, and just wrote the instructions on the outside of the containers so that he would have some good home-cooked meals, and not eat fast food for 2 weeks straight. It really worked out so well, and made me feel a little better about leaving. Also, since he didn’t eat every meal, it was wonderful to come back from vacation and have a few pre-made meals I could pop in the oven, and not have to worry about going grocery shopping immediately!

This is the first meal in Operation Clean Out the Fridge. I bought a whole chicken about a month ago when there was a great sale going on at the supermarket and kind of forgot about it. When I was perusing my Everyday Food Special Summer Issue this roast chicken recipe caught my eye. I love roast chicken- it’s economical and can be used for multiple meals. I especially love using the flat-roasted (or spatch-cooked) method as it doesn’t take quite as long for the chicken to cook, and it cooks more evenly. The first time I butterflied a whole chicken I was really intimidated, but it’s super-easy!! Nothing to be scared of at all! This roast chicken was great! I loved the herby, lemony, slightly spicy flavor to it, and I was really excited to use herbs from my garden. Wonderful!

Roast Chicken Diavolo

Roast Chicken Diavolo

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

2 whole dried chiles de arbol, crumbled, or 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish

1 whole chicken (3.5-4 lbs), rinsed, patted dry, and butterflied (cut out backbone, turn chicken over and open, and press down firmly!)

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1 large yellow onion, root end intact, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place one rack in middle of oven, and the other in the upper third. Mix together the rosemary, oregano, chiles de arbol or red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (use more if you’re brave- the recipe actually called for 1 Tbsp).  Coat a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil, and place the chicken in the pan, skin side up. Spread the herb mixture under the skin of the chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt, and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Place chicken in the oven, on the upper rack and roast for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the bell peppers, onion, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil together on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer, and season with salt and pepper. After the chicken has roasted for 10 minutes, add the wine to the baking pan with the chicken. Also, put the baking sheet with the peppers and onions in the oven on the center rack. Roast for 20 minutes.

3. Remove both of the pans from the oven, and using tongs, transfer the peppers and onions to the baking dish with the chicken, arranging them around the edges of the chicken. Place back in oven (on middle rack), and roast for 20 minutes more, or until chicken is done (the thickest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees). Let rest for 10 minutes, and then carve. You can serve this warm, or at room temperature.

Source: Everyday Food (Special Summer Issue, 2011)

Sausage Cacciatore

So Ron’s birthday went wonderfully 🙂 We had these bacon, egg and grilled cheese sandwiches for breakfast, which were really awesome!! For lunch I made chicken quesadillas, and then for dinner Ron requested the three cheese, rosemary and pepperoni pizza, and we ordered some buffalo wings as well. For dessert I made these chocolate chip cookie dough brownies in lieu of cake. He decided all he wanted to do all day was sit on the couch and watch Top Gear, so that’s what he did. I fully support people doing exactly what they want on their birthdays. Want a big party? Awesome! Want to be a super-lazy couch potato? Equally awesome!!

Anyways… this Sausage Cacciatore is a great Monday night meal (unless you are doing Meatless Monday- then it definitely doesn’t qualify). Its pretty easy- saute some sausage and vegetables, cook up some pasta, toss it together, and you’re done! The portion sizes are generous, and the flavors are great! I just love the combination of peppers and mushrooms!!

Sausage Cacciatore

Sausage Cacciatore

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 links sweet Italian sausage

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 (14-oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 cup beef or chicken stock

1/2 tsp marjoram or oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp sugar

3/4 lb (12 oz) pasta (I used rotini, but you could use any kind of similar shape such as medium shells, or penne)

Parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions:

1. Place a large skillet over medium heat, add sausage links and brown on all sides. Remove from pan to a cutting board.

2. Add the olive oil to the skillet, and add the onions, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften. Slice the Italian sausage into 1/4-inch slices, and add back to the skillet. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), stock, herbs, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover the pan, and let simmer 20-30 minutes., until the sausage and vegetables are cooked though, and the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

3. While the sausage mixture is simmering, place a pot of water on the stove to boil, and cook pasta according to package instructions.

4. When the sausage mixture is done, season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix with pasta if desired, or serve over the top. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Source: Lauren’s Latest

Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

Who is ready for the 4th of July? My plans include going to a cookout at my parent’s house, eating some ribs, celebrating my dad’s birthday (belatedly), and not much else… which is just the way I want it! I do think fireworks can be fun to see, and are really pretty, but I hate fighting the crowds that come with going to a fireworks show. I am just not that into being in large crowds of people. It can be so overwhelming, and then the traffic afterward can be such a nightmare. I’m sure I’ll be able to hear my fair share of fireworks being set off throughout the day, and maybe even be able to see some small displays from my yard. I think that’ll be enough for me this year!

This meal has nothing at all to do with the 4th of July, but you should still make it! I love meals that can be made in just one pot or skillet. Seriously… the less dishes I have to wash, the better. Washing dishes is probably my least favorite chore, and sometimes it seems like they are never ending. I get through one stack of dishes, only to then cook another meal, and have another stack to wash. Maybe someday I’ll be able to get a robot to help me around the kitchen, and clean up my messes. This pasta is worth washing a couple dishes for though. The smoked sausage and spicy tomatoes give it so much flavor, and I love the pop of freshness and color from the baby spinach. Even Ron will eat spinach when it’s mixed into a pasta dish like this 🙂

Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

Spicy Sausage Pasta Skillet

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

12 oz smoked turkey or chicken sausage, sliced

2 large shallots, or 1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups chicken broth

10 oz Rotel (or canned tomatoes with green chiles)

1/2 cup half and half

8 oz pasta (rotini, penne, or other similar sized pasta)

4 cups baby spinach

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions:

1. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Add sausage and shallots (or onions), and saute for about 5 minutes, just until starting to curl and brown. Add garlic, and saute about 30 seconds.

2. Add chicken broth, Rotel, half and half and pepper. Increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add pasta and stir to combine. Place lid on skillet, and simmer for 10-12 minutes (or more depending on pasta), until pasta is cooked to your liking.  (The mixture may look curdled when you remove the lid, but stir it around a bit and it’ll come together, so don’t worry!!) Add baby spinach, stir to combine, and cook another minute until the spinach is wilted. Top with Parmesan cheese, when serving.

Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Enchilada Lasagna

Enchilada Lasagna

Are you guys ready for another variation on enchiladas? I know it’s only been a few weeks since I posted an enchilada recipe, but I just love the flavors of enchiladas so much that I never tire of them, and wouldn’t mind making a new variation every week! I’ve actually made this particular variation several times, and like all of the other Alton Brown recipes I’ve tried, it does not disappoint. This is similar in flavor to the red chile enchiladas, containing the chicken, cheese, and red chile sauce (although this one uses chipotles instead of guajillo chiles), but it is a quicker variation as everything is layered, rather than rolled up. I think the traditional rolled enchiladas make for a prettier presentation, but the flavor of these is just as good, and so on those nights where you have a little bit less energy, this is perfect! If you cut this lasagna as soon as you take it out of the oven, you’re slices will be pretty messy, so I suggest waiting for it to cool down a bit so that it slices more neatly. If you can’t wait though, I don’t blame you! It’ll still taste just as good.

Enchilada Lasagna

Enchilada Lasagna

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For sauce:

2 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded, diced (or 2 canned chipotle chiles, diced)

3 large garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp cumin

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups tomato sauce

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For filling:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced

1 1/2 cups onion, diced

Pinch kosher salt

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (Cut 3 of them in half)

3 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

1. To make sauce: combine the chipotle chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Add chicken, and saute for 7-9 minutes, until cooked through. Remove chicken to a dish, and add onion and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 4-6 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic and oregano, and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the onions are softened. Add the chicken to the onions, and remove from the heat.

4. To assemble: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spead 1/2-cup sauce in the bottom of the dish. Dip 3 tortillas, and 2 of the halves in the enchilada sauce, and lay in the baking dish to cover the bottom. Add half the chicken mixture in an even layer, and 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat with next 4 tortillas (3 whole and 1 cut in half) dipped in sauce, remaining chicken, and 1 cup of cheese. Top with remaining tortillas dipped in sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the top, and top with remaining cheese.

4. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for 10 more minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbling.

Source: Alton Brown