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

Fresh Corn Pancakes

These are my favorite pancakes in the whole world. Decadent, buttery and bursting with the flavor of corn, they are perfect for the summer as a breakfast, or a side dish. You can serve them with maple syrup, sour cream and salsa, topped with more butter, or just plain (which is how I like them). They are definitely a treat, and I do want to find a healthier version of corn pancakes or fritters that I can eat more often, but every once in a while, you need some decadence in your life. These do use quite a few dishes, but they are quite easy to make, and other than the corn, which you’ll want to pick up fresh, the remaining ingredients are probably already in your pantry and refrigerator.

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Fresh Corn Pancakes

Serves 4 (Makes about 12 pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

3-4 ears of corn (enough to measure 2 cups of kernels)

3/4 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

1. Add the flour, baking powder and sugar to a large bowl and whisk together.

2. Cut off kernels from corn, until you have 2 cups. Scrape the pulp from the corn cobs with the back of your knife, and add it to your blender. Add the milk and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels to the blender with the pulp, and blend until smooth. Strain the corn/milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a separate medium bowl. Add the eggs, vegetable oil, and cooled butter to the corn/milk mixture and whisk together.

3. Add the corn/milk mixture to the bowl with the flour and add the remaining corn kernels as well. Whisk together, just until combined.

4. Heat a large heavy pan, nonstick skillet, or griddle over medium-heat until hot. Grease with oil, and cook pancakes in batches, using 1/3-cup batter per pancake. Cook about 2 minutes on first side (until bubbles appear on the surface, and the bottom is golden-brown). Flip and cook another minute on the other side. Grease between batches if needed. Serve with desired accompaniments.

Source: Gourmet Magazine, July 2009

Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses-Cream Cheese Frosting

My mom’s birthday was a little less than a month ago, and to celebrate we had a small family gathering at my parent’s house. I was in charge of dessert! I immediately thought of carrot cake when I started thinking about what I wanted to bring, because my mom is a fan of such cakes as carrot and applesauce cake. The first cake I thought about making was a layered carrot cake that I remembered seeing in an issue of Cook’s Country last year, but since not everyone in my family is a fan of carrot cake, I wanted something that would be a little smaller scale. When perusing one of my favorite cookbooks (Gourmet Today) for ideas I came across these cupcakes, and my mind was made up right then and there. Having not only shredded carrots, but also toasted walnuts and coconut, these cupcakes were really delicious and interesting. The coconut adds a subtle flavor, and because the walnuts are finely chopped, they don’t intrude in the cupcakes, but lend a nice nutty note. The molasses-cream cheese frosting complemented these perfectly, and added even more interest. These would be great with a classic cream cheese frosting as well, but I loved the flavor that the molasses added- I love molasses so much I could eat it by the spoonful! 

Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses-Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cupcakes

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (about 4-5 medium)

1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped and lightly toasted*

1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, lightly toasted**

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the oil-sugar mixture, and stir together with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the carrots, walnuts, and coconut and stir until just combined.

3. Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tin. The batter will fill them up about 3/4 of the way. (I like to use a large cookie scoop when placing the batter in the tins). Bake about 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick placed into a cupcake comes out cleanly. Remove the cupcake from the tin, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Frost when completely cool.

*To toast walnuts, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree preheated oven for 5-15 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic.

**To toast coconut, spread on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.

Molasses-Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

1 Tbsp molasses (not robust)

2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients into a medium bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined, and fluffy.

Source: Gourmet Today

By the way, the other dessert I brought was a chocolate-stout bundt cake (using this recipe, and baking at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes- from Smitten Kitchen)

Chocolate-Stout Bundt Cake