Green Monster Tacos

I told you the lime and cilantro trend would continue, and here’s another easy and scrumptious recipe—this time with chicken!

2 chicken breasts
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

six corn tortillas
2 Tbsp bacon grease, halved
1/3 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
salsa verde of your choice, to taste (y’all know which one I use!)
handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place chicken in a roasting tin or oven-safe pan, and rub both sides with olive oil.  Sprinkle cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper over it.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until cooked throughout (the internal temperature should be 160°, with no pinkness).

2. For tacos: In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp of bacon grease over medium heat.  Fry each tortilla briefly, 1-2 minutes, until it begins to soften and then brown.  Set each tortilla aside on paper towels, while still soft and malleable, to drain.  Repeat with each tortilla.  If using a large skillet, you should be able to fry two at once.  After doing the first few, your bacon grease will probably be burned and dark.  Pour it out, wipe out the skillet, and start afresh with the other half of the grease.

For tostadas: Melt half the bacon grease over medium heat.  Fry each tortilla just until crisp and lightly browned, then set aside on paper towels to drain.  If using a large skillet, you should be able to fry two at once.  After doing the first few, your bacon grease will probably be burned and dark.  Pour it out, wipe out the skillet, and start afresh with the other half of the grease.

3. Once your chicken is done, it’s time to assemble the tacos!  Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes.  Then shred the chicken with your hands.  It’s pretty easy to pull the meat apart into nice, bite-sized pieces.

4. Place the tortillas on serving plates and top with shredded chicken, chopped onion, grated cheese, salsa, and cilantro.  Top with some salsa verde and serve immediately.

Other recommended optional garnishes includes sour cream and raw jalapeño slices!



Quick and Cheesy Corn Chowder

Here’s another easy, cheap, weeknight meal that’s great for both summer and winter.  It’s fairly light, and makes a nice main course for summer, but it’s also nice and warm and would be great served as a first course before a meaty main in winter.

I used a bag of frozen corn that had been hanging out in the freezer for a while, but you could of course use fresh corn if you aren’t as concerned about the “quick” part, and the result would be even better.

Finally, I actually garnished this with smoked Gouda from Wheatsville.  This cheese complemented the other flavors perfectly, and gave the first few bites of chowder a nice little bit of unexpected bite.  I should also reveal that the teaspoon of sour cream you see above was for display purposes only; I actually used about three times as much.  I love sour cream.  I can eat it straight out of the container.

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
16 oz. chicken stock
16 oz. frozen corn
1/2 head fresh cauliflower (or half a bag frozen)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cream
sour cream, to garnish

1. In a large stock pot, melt butter into olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir. Sauté for about five or so minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add salt, cumin, and chili powder, stir, and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.

2. Add chicken stock, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Add corn and cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If necessary, adjust heat to make sure the soup doesn’t return to a boil, but so that the pot is warm enough that it continues to slowly cook.

3. Pour soup into a blender or large food processor and purée. I like to leave about one cup of chunky corn kernels aside, to add texture to the final dish. Use more as less, as you prefer. You may need to purée the corn mixture in two separate batches. After mixing, return of it to the pot and stir together with chunky bits.

4. Over low heat, add cheeses and stir constantly until they’re completely mixed in (about two minutes). Then add cream and stir until it, too, disappears into the soup.

5. Serve immediately garnished with sour cream, more grated cheese, a sprinkling of chili powder, a sprig of cilantro, or anything else that sounds good! I also like to serve it with homemade tortilla chips!  Mmm.

Serves 4.

Refrigerates nicely, too.

Breakfast tacos with Hal’s Hot Love

Okay, so it was more like brunch… or, even, lunch. But I finally got my greedy hands on some fresh Hal’s Hot Love, and my only choice was to immediately make tacos!

Corn tortillas from El Milagro; local eggs from H& Ranch (purchased at Wheatsville), scrambled (with salt, pepper, garlic, and cream); grated cheddar; and Hal’s. Mmmmmm.

Homemade Cheese Enchiladas

Last night, to celebrate the fact that I just quit my job (more on this soon), and in lieu of spending $20 at the local Tex-Mex establishment in light of of this same fact, I made a big batch of cheese enchiladas! And they turned out fantastic. I made ten, and we only have two enchiladas left over! Oops!

Here are full instructions on how I make my Old School Tex-Mex Enchiladas, including my super easy and very addictive Fieldmarshal’s Basic Tex-Mex Enchilada Sauce.

I taught myself how to make this stuff while living in England for four years, with nary a decent Mexican restaurant in a thousand mile radius (let’s pause to consider that for a moment, shall we?).

It’s so easy, just as good as the restaurant version (if not better), and great for the budget cook. Of course, enchiladas also make great leftovers.  This sauce is so good, I could drink it. I lick the spatula like it’s cake mix.

This batch of enchiladas were stuffed with a mix of cheddar and pepper jack cheese and topped with sauce, chopped onions, and more cheddar. That’s it. I served it with leftover Stella’s Frijoles Refritos Negros (also cheap but delicious), homegrown jalapeño slices, and a dollop of sour cream (I am also addicted to sour cream.  I could eat the whole tub in one sitting!).  I thought I had made so many enchiladas that we’d have leftovers to eat for days, but someone liked them so much he ate seven enchiladas!

I told you they were good.

Stella’s Slow Cooker Chili

I know it’s practically summer already, but Eric had a real hankering for chili, and who am I to refuse?  If anything, I want to encourage his assimilation as a Texas nationalist, right?

We found some ground chili meat on sale, so we decided to try out various flavor combinations with the old slow cooker, and this was the winner.  It’s so tender and hearty, with just the right amount of heat from the chiles.

I’ve used black beans here at Eric’s insistence.  You can of course used canned beans, and kidney beans are more traditional; just skip the first step, involving cooking the beans alone in the pot on high heat. And, yes, I know that beans in chili is blasphemous in Texas. But the boy insisted; bless his heart. Plus, it makes the chili go a lot farther, so it’s great it you’re on a budget! And I’m a sucker for black beans. Love ’em!

1 cup dried black beans
1 cup water, halved, plus more as needed
2 lbs. chili beef (ground into large pieces)
1 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1-2 jalapeños, finely diced, to taste*
1/2 oz. dark chocolate (one square, or 1/8, of a regular bar)
1 heaping Tbsp Gebhardt’s chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6. oz tomato paste (1 small can)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Chili Garlic Cholula Sauce
1/2 can of Guinness
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, to garnish
saltines or Fritos, to taste

1. Rinse and sort beans in a colander, under cold running water, removing all stones and imperfections. Place in crock pot with 1/2 cup water and turn to high heat. Allow to cook for about one hour, until the water is mostly absorbed.

2. Meanwhile, chop your other ingredients and cook the beef. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add ground beef and sauté for about fifteen minutes, turning the meat frequently. Once it’s browned and cooked through, remove from heat; drain juices.

3. Add beef, beef, onion, celery, jalapeños, chocolate, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Cholula Sauce, Guinness, and remaining 1/2 cup of water to the crock pot, stir thoroughly, cover, and turn heat to low.

4. Cook for 8-10 hours, adding more water as needed, if the meat dries out (I usually cook mine overnight starting at 9:00 or 10:00pm, and it’s perfect by about 7:00am).

5. To serve, spoon out into bowls, top with grated cheddar, and enjoy with crackers or Fritos. Once the chili is done, you can turn the heat to the “keep warm” setting and leave it out all day, eating a bowl whenever you want.

Serves 4-6. Also refrigerates and freezes beautifully.

*I only used one, because our homegrown peppers tend to be very hot.