Sunday Family Dinner

It Ain’t Easy Being A Green Fam Din

March 2017 Family Dinner
Alright, so I’ll be the first to admit that some of our Fam Din themes are a bit more successful than others. When we’re on point, we totally nail it like with our Hawaiian Lu’au, “One Night In Bangkok”, Korean Feast, or the N’awlins Seafood Boil.

But some themes are bit tougher than others. Case and point, a certain holiday a few months ago that inspired us to try and make dishes that were green.

That’s right, the color green.

March 2017 Family Dinner
First up–appetizers!

V+L were in charge of this portion and came up with wonderfully fresh and sweet Scallops Carpaccio.

Lovely, right?

March 2017 Family Dinner
And before you ask for the green, might I direct your attention to the chopped cilantro and green platter???

Totally green.

March 2017 Family Dinner
A year or two ago, T got N a Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Block from Williams Sonoma. She hadn’t had the opportunity to use it yet and figured Fam Din was the perfect chance. So she pulled out the slab and seared some sweet scallops on them.

I think we had average results with it. Yes, it did impart a subtle flavor to the scallops and sure–the process looked impressive. But we didn’t get that lovely golden sear on them as if we had used a pan.

Don’t worry, we’ll try again.

March 2017 Family Dinner
N placed the scallops over fresh and peppery arugula. She dressed it with grape tomatoes, fresh basil and a light vinaigrette. Light, lovely and would be a wonderful summer lunch with some crusty bread.

But being the chunky monkeys we are, we had them as an appetizer.

March 2017 Family Dinner
As for our entree, T chose to slow-braise pork in a rich and luscious chile verde sauce—key word, “verde“.

As in green, folks!

The pork was tender, savory and quite versatile! The chilies are not the least bit spicy but more so mild and brought a verdant, tangy flavor.

March 2017 Family Dinner
To serve alongside the pork, I whipped up some homemade Cilantro-Flour Tortillas. The recipe is from Rick Bayless and I wrote about them here. At the very end when I rolled out each tortilla de harina, I sprinkled on some chopped cilantro before throwing them on a cast iron skillet.

Tender, flaky and perfect with the pork.

March 2017 Family Dinner
In addition, I made a big batch of my Cilantro-Lime Rice because carbs are my friends.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Last but not least—DESSERT!

Now, when thinking of green desserts, my mind kept drifting towards matcha. But since BIL’s birthday was the following month, I was bound to have to make a green tea dessert in a few weeks. So I mulled around and decided to rely on the bright green hues of the kiwi to make this Kiwi Fruit Pie.

The shell was a shortbread crust and I filled it with Cook’s Illustrated pastry cream. Next came lots of slices of fresh kiwi fruit.

Easy peasy right?

March 2017 Family Dinner

Now let me share one thing before I close this post.

Silly things happen at our Family Dinners. In truth, it’s one of my favorite things about the whole tradition. And this month, was no exception.

After dessert, the kids started doing arts and crafts for Nini’s elections—and there was a bottle of glue on the table. T, V and I started reminiscing of when we were kids and made “glue skins” from our hands.

And then this happened.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Oh yes….as we laughed, drank wine (the 21+ and over of us–that is), and sang along to Erasure–we painted layers of glue on our hands. Then, once dried, we slowly peeled them off to make “glue skin”.

March 2017 Family Dinner

Silly, I know. But I wouldn’t change anything.

It’s what our Family Dinner is all about. ❤

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Appetizers: Scallop Carpaccio, Scallops Seared on Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Block over Arugula
Entrees: Slow Braised Pork Chile Verde
Sides: Cilantro-Lime Rice, Cilantro Flour Tortillas
Dessert: Kiwi Fruit Pie

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Breakfast/Brunch · Sponsored

Huevos Rancheros …..Be EGGS-ellent

Huevos Rancheros

Brunch is my Spirit Animal.

In fact, if I had it my way, we would be allotted a few leisurely hours every day to create and enjoy brunch. Without a worry in the world….other than what delectable dishes we’d have and if there are enough mimosas….

Or Bloody Marys….

Who am I kidding–it’s your Brunch World…have both!

Huevos Rancheros

Sadly, with summer winding down, many of y’all with munchkins have either already sent them off to start a new school year or will be doing so shortly. And when that happens, daily brekkies become less elaborate and more about efficiency and time saving.

Heck–I totally get it.

I only have a fur-child and between getting her walked and my own act together before work, I can barely manage to guzzle down some coffee in the morning.

And thus, my brunch heart weeps.

Huevos Rancheros

So do yourself a favor….and your kiddos too!

Make them something a little special Monday morning to get them jumping out of bed….like Huevos Rancheros! Huevos Rancheros are easily one of my favorite dishes to have for brunch. Packed with flavor, various textures and all smothered with a beautiful runny fried egg.

Good lawd…I’m a sucker for eggs.

Wait–maybe runny eggs are my Spirit Animal?

Suddenly, EVERYTHING makes sense….

Huevos Rancheros

These Huevos Rancheros are the perfect addition to this month’s  Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen. Not only does it affirm my adoration for the remarkable egg but it is sure to have your loved ones waking up with a pep in their step.

The whole process from start to finish takes about 30 minutes since I use some short cuts like canned refried beans and store bought enchilada sauce for the Huevos Rancheros “sauce”. But if you precook the sausage and prep everything ahead of time, you can have these gorgeous Huevos Rancheros on the table in about 15 minutes. Not bad for breakfast “cooking” during the weekday.

Much thanks to our friends at Safest Choice™ and to learn more about them and their pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella, please click here.

Have an EGGS-ellent weekend!

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Huevos Rancheros
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ cup sour cream
½ tablespoon Tapatío Hot Sauce or hot sauce of your choice
½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces breakfast sausage
vegetable oil, divided
4 small corn or flour tortillas
2 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs
kosher salt
8 ounces refried beans, warmed
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or Mexican blend shredded cheese
8 ounces enchilada sauce, red or green, warmed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup thinly sliced radishes
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup pickled red onions, optional
½ small avocado, sliced
½ tablespoon gochugaru or other ground chili pepper
2 lime wedges

In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, hot sauce, lime juice and garlic powder. Cover and refrigerate.

In a skillet, add the breakfast sausage and cook over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage and break into small pieces. Cook the sausage until browned — transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Take a paper towel to wipe out the grease left from the sausage. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Fry the tortillas in the oil until both sides are crispy and brown. Add more oil when needed. Drain the crispy tortillas on plates lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Take another paper towel to wipe out the majority of the oil left and place the skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Crack 2 Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs in the skillet and fry until the center has set and the whites are opaque. Sprinkle each egg with salt. Transfer the fried eggs to a plate and keep warm.

Begin assembly. Place one crispy tortilla on a plate. Spread a thin layer of the warmed beans over the top. Sprinkle cheese over the beans and add a few spoons of the browned sausage over the top. Spoon some of the warmed enchilada sauce over the items and top with some tomato halves, radish slices and cilantro leaves. If you choose to, also add a few slices of pickled red onions.

Top the stack with another crispy tortillas and repeat the layering process. Once done, top the stack with a fried egg, avocado slices and drizzle some of the spiced sour cream over the mound. Top with cilantro and gochugaru (or other ground chili pepper) and serve with lime wedges.

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*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*

Breads

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Because it’s Friday, the sun is shining, and Cinco de Mayo is just a few days away……

it’s Tortillas de Harina time!

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

I’ve always preferred flour tortillas to corn.  And c’mon now, there is just something about fresh tortillas that you just cannot beat. But truthfully, I’ve always been kind of shy to make them as I was never sure as to what type of “fat” yielded the best texture and flavor.

Vegetable oil? Lard? Shortening?

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

So one morning a few months ago, I woke up and channeled my inner abuelita. I played around with several different recipes that varied from AP flour to bread flour to a mixture of both masa and AP. I tried vegetable oil bases,  shortening and even lard.

And in the end….the winner in my book? A combo of AP flour and vegetable shortening—and a recipe courtesy of Chef Rick Bayless, the American chef who is renown for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}

Thankfully, the recipe is quite simple and the resting time is only about 30 minutes.  Once rolled out, the tortilla is cooked on a hot cast iron skillet for less than a minute. Tender, slightly flaky (I’d say due to the shortening)….perfect.

You can also add chopped cilantro, chiles, lime zest, etc. Anything that your heart may desire.

Hands down, my new go-to tortilla recipe. And something you DEFINITELY should make for your upcoming Cinco de Mayo festivities!

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Tortillas de Harina {Flour Tortillas}
Makes 12 large tortillas or 24 taco sized tortillas

Ingredients:

2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas
5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, or a mixture of the two (I used shortening)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup very warm tap water

Make the dough. Combine the flour and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass. If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary). Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.

Rest the dough. Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball. Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).

Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.

Recipe from Rick Bayless

Poultry

Turkey & Peppers Tacos – Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Well gang…y’all made it — HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!!!!

And as promised, I have one more little goodie to share with you that will definitely make some tummies quite happy today.

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Turkey & Peppers Tacos!

Like my Portabello Mushroom Tacos, these little beauties are super quick to make and are darn right tasty. And if you’re not a fan of ground turkey, you can swap out the protein with ground chicken, pork, beef– or even ground tofurkey!

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

And just don’t stop with tacos. The filling works fantastic over nachos, tostadas, inside burritos or even inside lettuce wraps.

Because this gal likes versatility.

Turkey & Peppers Tacos

Here’s to a fantastically festive Cinco de Mayo — have a margarita (or 2 for me)!

Salud!

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Turkey & Peppers Tacos
Makes 8-10 Tacos

Ingredients:

 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onions
2 small serrano peppers, seeds removed, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground turkey meat
¾ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups diced bell peppers (I prefer red and orange peppers)
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, more to garnish
8-10 small tortillas
1 cup crumbled Cotija cheese, or whatever cheeses you prefer
oven-roasted tomato salsa
lime wedges

 

In a large cast iron pan or large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until they become translucent but not browned. Add in the minced serrano, garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

 

Add the turkey and use a wooden spoon to stir it around the pan while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the turkey until it is no long pink & begins to brown– approximately 5 minutes.

 

Stir in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, garlic salt, kosher salt, black pepper and scallions. Cook for 1 minute and then add the diced bell peppers. Cook for an additional few minutes to allow the peppers to begin soften and the turkey to cook through.

 

Take the pan off the heat and fold in the cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

 

Warm the tortillas (in a skillet, over a open flame, or even in the microwave). Begin assembling the tacos by placing a few spoonfuls of the filling mixture in the center of each tortilla. Top each taco with some Cotija cheeses and chopped cilantro. Serve with salsa and lime wedges.

 

Vegetables/Vegetarian

Quick & Easy Vegetable Quinoa Wraps

Vegetable Quinoa Wraps

These past few weeks have been B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

I’ve barely had the chance to catch my breath, let alone spend any quality time cooking. So when I do find a few moments when I can whip something together, I rely on quick dishes that are still yummy but don’t require a lot of effort–and especially those that don’t make too many dirty dishes!

These Vegetable Quinoa Wraps totally fit that bill!

Vegetable Quinoa Wraps

What’s great about a dish like this is that anything goes! You can throw whatever you have on hand in these wraps–veggies, proteins, starches, herbs…whatever tickles your fancy. I like to use quinoa as a base because it is high in protein and packed with fiber. It’s fluffy and pairs well with the crunchy raw veggies.

And you know what? All of this goodness can be done in about 25 minutes! You can maximize your time by chopping the veggies while the quinoa cooks so when it’s done, it’s just a matter of assembly. Plus, the wraps are great in sack lunches or picnics since they are served at room temperature.

Delish? CHECK!

Quick? CHECK!

Minimal mess? ABSOLUTELY!

I’m totally into it.

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Vegetable Quinoa Wraps
Makes 8 wraps

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced shallots
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
2 cups vegetable stock
½ cup roasted corn
1 small red bell pepper, diced
½ cup edamame beans
¼ cup finely diced red onion
½ cup diced and seeded tomatoes
½ chopped fresh cilantro leaves
kosher salt and black pepper
8 large tortillas
salsa
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese (optional)

Using a fine mesh strainer, thoroughly rinse the quinoa under cool water. Gently shake the strainer so that the quinoa is drained.

In a medium size pot, heat the olive oil and cook the shallots until softened and translucent. Add in the garlic, jalapeno, thyme, red chili flakes and quinoa. Stir and cook for 1 minute before pouring in the vegetable stock. Turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the contents to simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the liquids have all absorbed. Remove the pot from the stove and let sit for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the cover and use a fork to fluff the quinoa.

Add the corn, edamame, bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro to the pot. Gently fold the ingredients together and season with kosher salt and pepper as needed.

Begin assembling the wraps. Lay one tortilla on a flat surface. Spoon 1/8 of the quinoa mixture in an even line in the middle of the tortilla. Top with a few spoonfuls of salsa and cheese. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and firmly roll up the wrap. Repeat with the remainder of the tortillas and filling. Enjoy!

Appetizers/Small Plates · Poultry · Sponsored

Spicy Chicken Flautas – ¡Olé!

Spicy Chicken Flautas

I’m kind of a fanatic when it comes to Mexican food. And lucky for me, I live in San Diego where I can get lots of it!

There’s something wonderful about the cuisine that really strikes the perfect balance in each dish. Bright, rich….acidic, salty….spicy, sweet. And the condiments—oh, the condiments! So many options to accompany each bite.

Just perfecto!

Spicy Chicken Flautas

When I’m not ordering fish or al pastor tacos, I’m reaching for a plate of flautas–crispy rolled tacos.

Now here’s the million dollar question. Are they “flautas” or “taquitos”?

I’ve done some research on the matter (okay, I’ve just Googled it and have asked every restaurant I order them from) and there seems to be some mixed thoughts. One school of thought believes that when corn tortillas are involved they become taquitos and are called flautas when flour tortillas are used. Some say it depends on the size and others say it’s regional.

Spicy Chicken Flautas

So since I use flour tortillas, I’ll call mine flautas 🙂

And in my humble opinion, what makes a great flauta is not just a crispy exterior but also one that has a really flavorful filling. I start by roasting bone-in chicken breasts that have been seasoned with tons of spices. After shredding it, I combine it with sauteed aromatics, herbs, more spices and lots of cheese.

I’m a big fan of using Sargento’s Mexican Cheese as it contains a blend of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero cheeses. More types of cheese = more flavor.

Spicy Chicken Flautas

Of course, one shouldn’t enjoy flautas without fantastic sides. I serve mine with fresh pico de gallo, luscious guacamole and a dollop of sour cream to cool down the spices.

And with that Friends, you’ve got a meal with the perfect symphony of flavors! ¡Olé!

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Spicy Chicken Flautas
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
¾ tablespoon garlic salt, divided
¾ teaspoon ground cumin, divided
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
1½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
1½teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup diced white onion
1 jalapeno pepper, minced*
1 serrano pepper, minced*
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1½ cups Sargento® shredded 4-Mexican Cheese, or cheeses of your choice
vegetable oil
12 small flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ tablespoon garlic salt, ¼ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Use your hands to rub each chicken breast to thoroughly distribute the oil and seasonings. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes or until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Once cooled, remove and discard the skin and bones. Shred the chicken into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the remaining olive oil. Sauté the onions, jalapeno and serrano until the onions are just translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the shredded chicken.

To the chicken, add the remaining garlic salt, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and kosher salt. Stir in the cilantro, scallions, lime juice and cheeses until combined.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F.

Working in batches, place 2 heaping spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll up each tortilla and use toothpicks to secure them closed. You may need to slightly heat the tortillas so that they become pliable to roll.

Fry the flautas for 2-3 minutes until they become golden brown. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Serve warm with pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream.

*The amount of peppers can be adjusted depending on heat preference.

Seafood

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw

I spent a good part of Saturday gallivanting around Old Town San Diego TAH-KEY-LA tasting with some fab friends. The beautiful California sun was shining and we were getting to know the lovely complexities of Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo.

But want to know my little secret? After all that “training” I still don’t know anything and will continue to judge different tequilas based on the following responses I give after tasting it –“Meh“, “ACKK!!”, or “MAKE IT A DOUBLE!”

Totally scientific.

But amidst all the tequila-shenanigans, I did get down on some delish Fish Tacos–a west coast treasure. And I am pretty much obsessed with all types of fish tacos— grilled, blackened, seared, and of course Baja style which is lightly beer battered then fried.

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw

This is one of the ways I prepare Fish Tacos when I’m a tad short on time and are in one of my über avocado moods. Which let’s be honest, is all the time.

I make a quick cabbage slaw with a creamy and slightly tangy avocado dressing and pile it on top of fish that has been marinated and broiled. Super crunchy, super bright, super tangy, and SUPER DELICIOSO!!

I may have overdone it with the “supers” but you get the drift. 🙂

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Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Tacos
½ pound firm white fish fillets, such as cod or tilapia
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pinches ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
4 flour or corn tortillas
1 cup chunky salsa
lime wedges

Avocado-Cabbage Slaw
1 cup ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, finely diced and seeded
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ tablespoon agave or honey
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage

In a shallow dish, coat the fish with garlic, lime zest, cilantro, red pepper flakes, cumin, and oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

In a blender, puree the avocado, crema, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and agave until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with a few spoonfuls of the avocado puree until lightly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven broiler and arrange the marinated fish on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet a few inches away from the broiler, and broil the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the fish becomes opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Warm the tortillas. Divide the fish, salsa and slaw amongst the tortillas. Sprinkle each taco with the extra chopped cilantro and serve warm with lime wedges on the side.