Taco bar – fish, chicken, beef and shrimp

We are going to celebrate May 5th aka cinco de mayo with a little taco party for family and friends.  While it may look like a lot of work it really isn’t too bad.  Your time will be spent mostly dicing and slicing and a little frying.  The reward far out weighs an hour or so prepping for your party.  And pulling off a party in less than 2 hours is quite satisfying.

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some of the ingredients for today – plus I made a frittata with some of these ingredients

Being the Saturday before and writing this I have made up my shopping list and am just about to head out to the store.  I am going to make up a few things today like the Mango salsa the chipolte mayo and the beef taco mixture and then tomorrow will be a cinch to pull everything together.

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I plan on setting out several small bowls filled with sour cream, salsa, fresh cilantro, diced tomatoes, lime wedges, diced green onions, shredded cabbage and lettuce and some shredded cheese.  I think that is all that is needed to top your taco no matter which one you choose to make.  I’ll set up my fry station and assembly line the fish, chicken and shrimp. and them place them on a platter for everyone to create their own special taco.
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When everyone arrives it is nice to have something to snack on and what better than a 7 layer dip. you could also set out some chips and salsa for a slightly lighter fare. Since I will have my fryer out I might just have to make churros but we’ll have to see if everyone has room for something sweet after the taco bar.

Beef Taco
1 pound hamburger
1 small can tomato sauce
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder

Brown meat and drain excess fat.  add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
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Chicken, Shrimp and Fish Taco
F
lour
Egg beaten
Breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

Set out 3 dishes, 1 for flour, 1 for eggs, 1 for breadcrumbs. make sure to salt and pepper each one.  Dip each piece of meat in the flour first, then the beaten eggs and finally in the breadcrumbs. An easy way to remember the dipping order is FEB flour, egg, breadcrumbs

Fry in batches in 350’F oil till browned and cooked through.

Chipotle Mayo
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1 cup sour cream
  3. 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  4. 1 tsp adobo sauce
  5. 1/2 lemon, squeezed
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until combined.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Mango Salsa
2 Limes – sectioned, diced
2 ripe mangoes, diced
4-5 red radishes, small diced
1 small red onion, small diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper

Add all into a dish stir and refrigerate until ready to use.
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It can be intimidating to slice up a mango. They naturally have a flat bottom; slice along both sides. If you can’t slice through just move over a little bit.
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Make vertical and horizontal slices to the skin not through it. Flip the skin inward and then you can slice off all the chunks.

7 Layer Dip
1 can refried beans
1 container Sour cream
1 packet Taco seasoning mix
1 jar prepared salsa
handful of iceberg lettuce shredded
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped tomatoes – dry on paper towel and seeding them will help with wetness
Green onions – chopped

Mix the taco seasoning into the sour cream, set aside.
Layer refried beans, sour cream mix, salsa, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes top with green onions
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Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

It will be 6 years this June since I started writing this weekly food blog and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. I hope you are all OK with that; well I guess if you are reading this; you are on board with me continuing.
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With that being said I have upgraded my subscription on WordPress (more $) and am getting some help with how to make it a little more professional; and I hope easier for you to save and hopefully print out your favorite recipes. At least that is my goal. I just finished day 2 on how to build a better business blog so we’ll see where this takes me/us.
IMG_4029I have mentioned before that I am not very good at “self promoting” but yesterday I went to The Flying Butcher to pick up more pork chops and am making them tonight for my niece and her husband. I mentioned to the guy that helped me that I write a food blog and mentioned them in one of my posts because the pork chops we SO good. He said I should tag them and they will share it on their site. Look at me go! The name of the pork chops are Hatfield I need to ask them next time what Hatfield refers to. Name of the farm? Name of the pig? Company they get them from?
IMG_4037.JPGThe recipe I am going to share here today is what I am making for them later today. Not only because it is delicious but also because they collect and boil sap to make maple syrup and who doesn’t love having recipes that go along with what you worked so hard for.
IMG_4033.JPGThis recipe is even easier than the pork and apple recipe from a couple of weeks ago. Plus it’s fresh maple syrup season right now so let’s get cooking!
IMG_4030Pork Chop
4 pork chops – bone in or thick cut
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons beef broth
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan add all the glaze ingredients together and bring to a boil. You’ll want to boil it down for about 4 minutes.
IMG_4031Using a cast iron pan; if you have one. Either pre-heat it in your 350’F oven while you prepare the glaze, or place it on the stove top and put it on low to heat it up nicely.
IMG_4034.JPGPat the chops dry using paper towels. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a little olive oil. Once your pan is almost to the smoking point. Add the chops and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip and add some of the glaze to the browned side. After another 2-3 minutes flip again and add more glaze. You can keep flipping and adding glaze or finish them off in the 350’ F oven till they have an internal temperature of 140’F.
IMG_4035.JPGRemove them from the pan adding more glaze and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

Happy Easter!!!  Have a wonderful day!

If I was better at this blogging thing I would have given you this recipe last week so you could make it today as part of you Easter dinner. I plan on making it later today for my fam that will be here for dinner. I first made this and blogged about this recipe back in 2016. I am looking forward to having it later today, I can taste it already!

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I also am planning on making a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting or it might turn into carrot cupcakes; both sound appealing to me.  I’ll have to see how the day progresses.

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Right now the house is super quiet. all I can hear is my fingers tapping on the keyboard. Which is very unusual around here. At the very least the dog is wanting something; could be out, could be attention or mostly could be a treat; but even he is still sleeping.  In less than an hour all things are going to change. My son and his fiance and my in-laws will all be here for pancakes, sausage and home fries.

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We have had Easter morning pancakes long before my kids were even born. And yes even though the kids are adults I will be hiding eggs. Which is almost as much fun for me as it is for them to find them.  I do love that I can truly hide them. The only problem is me keeping track of where I put them.
 
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If you happen to not have the ingredients on hand and there isn’t an open store near by I hope you keep this recipe in the back of your mind as it is easy to bring together; yes there are a few steps but nothing you can’t handle. The flavors meld so nice together and  you’ll look like a rock star placing it on the table for all to share.

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The Marcona almonds used to be something you had to look for around here but not now. I can get them pretty much at all of the grocery stores around. Which is great and now I have them on hand ALL the time. They are awesome by the handful as well as in sweet or savory recipes.  You should check them out if you haven’t already.

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Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad
Preheat oven to 425’F

2 pounds carrots
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
⅔ cup dried cranberries
⅔ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic (grated)
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese
⅔ cup Marcona almonds (roasted/salted)
1½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon Freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare carrots to 1 inch wide and 2 inches long – because they are roasting at a high temperature you don’t want them too small.

Place in a medium bowl with the olive oil, 1 tsp salt and pepper toss together. Using 2 sheet pans (they need space you don’t want them to steam) Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once until the carrots are tender. Transfer all of the carrots to one sheet pan and add the maple syrup. Toss and roast for another 5-10 minutes just till the edges caramelize. Watch them. Once out set aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer then set aside for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
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Place the arugula in a large dish, add the carrots, cranberries in their juice, goat cheese crumbled, almonds and the vinaigrette. Toss and serve at room temperature.

 

Recipe – Ina Garten the Chew episode

Sausage & Broccoli Pasta

“I hope you are going to blog about this; it is delicious” “I am going to have this for lunch on Monday; maybe even tomorrow too” just a couple of quotes from my fam after eating last night’s dinner. So here I am going to share it with you. Though a little back story, it was NOT what I had intended on making at all. I had some chicken thighs that needed to be cooked and I wanted to do a sheet pan chicken thigh and veggie dinner; until I opened the package; damn they had been in the fridge too long and went right into a sealed bag into the trash. So this was a back up plan as I also had some sweet Italian sausage in there that needed to be cooked. Thankfully they fared far better and made a great quick simple meal.
IMG_3999.JPGI am still trying to go through the freezer; I know; how deep is that damn thing that I am going on what 2-3 months of trying to use up what is in there. I had seen enough progress so that I took everything out the other day and placed it on the counter. Then called my husband out of his office to “come and pick something out for dinner” he picked arancini (fried Italian rice ball) and egg rolls – Um no thank you! That night was arancini; the next night was the egg rolls. It’s a good thing he is cute!

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I spy in the upper right hand corner my Godiva bottle*Chocolate Martini’s was also on the menu 

Back to how my Italian sausage and a few things from my freezer turned into a quick, simple and blog worthy dinner. When I laid everything out on the counter from the freezer I noticed the broccoli that I put in there from my garden was getting beat up a bit. Apparently being in there since September and getting knocked around a bit it was turning into smaller and smaller pieces. So I thought it best to use it or lose it. I have homemade chicken stock in there majority of the time; thankfully so I added a little pasta and voila dinner.
IMG_3995The best tip I can give you is brown the sausage; without browning it in the pan and letting the pan get all dark in coated with the yummy bits, I am not sure my fam would have been raving about it. The browned sausage made all the difference in the world. The chicken stock helped to deg-laze the pan which gave such a deep rich flavor to the otherwise boring pasta.
IMG_3996I didn’t and usually don’t measure anything so I am going to ballpark it for you!

3 links of sweet Italian sausage – casing removed
1 pound broccoli
1 pound penne pasta – cooked to the packages direction
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup or more Parmesan cheese – grated plus more for serving
Olive oil

Add a little olive oil to your pan and let it get warmed up, add the sausage; breaking it up and letting it get brown. Remove and set aside.
IMG_3997Add the broccoli and let it get a little browned on each side. Add the red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage and pasta back into the pan. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and let it meld.
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Serve and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

I hope you had a wonderful day/weekend however you spent your time! We had 9 for Thanksgiving dinner and today (Saturday) will be 11 for homemade pasta (another personal cooking class for my sister-in-law) and Bolognese.
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For as far back as I can remember my family took all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and made them into a casserole of sorts. Basically take a 9×13 container and fill it or several of them with a little bit of everything and then top it with gravy. I still love doing this but this year when the family was cleaning up after eating I asked them to put everything in their own containers. I wanted to try making a thanksgiving leftover egg roll after seeing something similar floating around on FB.

IMG_3658And I had recently had an appetizer couples cooking class and I had them making a typical egg roll; pork, cabbage, carrot and scallions; except I had them air fry them, for the only reason being that there were 6 of them and we had made a lot app’s and it was the last one we made. I was a little worried about all of us being around hot oil. Did I mention that they bring wine with them. Just didn’t think it would be a good idea.
IMG_3659They were good air fried but we all were in agreement that we should have fried them in oil especially since the definition of a egg roll is “a Chinese-style snack consisting of diced meat or shrimp and shredded vegetables wrapped in a dough made with egg and deep-fried.” So egg rolls have been on my mind.
IMG_3661The ones I made were super easy and a big hit with everyone. I made 20 egg rolls and there were 7 of us that made them basically disappear. There were 2 left and my daughter brought them to one of her co-workers who also thought they were awesome. I wasn’t too sure about dipping sauces but they are a must. They just add another level of flavor. I always have thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge, I wanted to use the leftover cranberry sauce I made but my husband threw it away grrrrr. Thankfully I had a can of whole berry sauce that I added some orange juice and sriracha too that made a really nice tart sauce with a little heat. And of course there is always leftover gravy that I didn’t get a picture of but everyone gobbled up all 3 sauces.
IMG_3663Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

Egg roll wrappers
Leftover turkey chopped up
Leftover stuffing chopped up
Cranberry sauce
1 egg – beaten

Oil for frying
Yes it was that simple

Cranberry dipping sauce
whole berry cranberry sauce
splash of orange juice
sriracha to taste
place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about a 2-3 minutes

A few comments from the crowd
“what a fun way to eat leftovers”, “you are just amazing”, “these are SO good”

IMG_3662On the back of the package of egg roll wrappers will tell you how to fill, wrap, seal  and fry.

Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad

I did it again; I made something that needs to be shared and didn’t take pictures. Why do I do this to myself? I often wonder if it is so I have to make it again? I doubt it I think I was a little pressed for time; who makes a new roasted chicken recipe during the week for friends? This girl does!
IMG_3634.JPGI knew it was going to be good since it was an Ina Garten recipe and she is a rockstar in the kitchen. And roasted chicken is her thang. Yes I wrote thang on purpose. I can’t be certain how many ways there are to roast a chicken, or how many different ways I have roasted chicken or even how many of them were Ina’s recipes. But everyone should have at least one favorite way to do so and make it often. This one is a keeper, very moist full of flavor and pairs perfectly with the arugula salad.

I actually roasted 2 chickens in two separate pans; one cast iron as instructed and the other in a stainless steel. The bread I used was not thick enough for the cast iron and came out too burned for me. It worked perfectly in the stainless. Thank you KP for asking if I was going to take a picture so I actually have a couple to share just before we dug in.
IMG_3633.JPGRoasted chicken for me is home, warmth, comfort, family and friends. What dish brings you home?

Notes: Season the chicken 24 to 48 hours before you roast it
I hate reading a recipe and get excited about making it and then find out I should have started it a day or so before. 

Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad
Ingredients

1 (4-4½ pound) whole chicken (try finding a Bell & Evans)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 thick slices of country bread – ¾ in thick
Olive oil
Arugula salad (see below)

Directions
Place the chicken in a baking dish, Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Ina ties the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. I didn’t do either of those thing and it worked out for me. You do you!
Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 or 48 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500’F, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm up a bit. Place the bread in a medium 10” cast iron skillet in a single layer. Pour a little olive oil over the bird and place the bird breast side up on the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn the bird over and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.

Place the dressed arugula salad in a large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1 inch squares and sprinkle it on top of the salad. Carve the chicken into thick slices and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt and serve warm.

Salad ingredients
¼ cup Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
2 tablespoons dried currants
6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)

Directions
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a mason jar, or small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.

Recipe: Ina Garten make it ahead