Street Tacos and Pico de Gallo

Homemade Street Tacos

Last weekend I attended the very first “Taco Fest” in Reno.  I found some amazing fish tacos that I really liked.  The downside was that it was $3 per taco, and I’m talking traditional street taco size that is eaten in a few bites.  So pretty much I was spending 75c-$1 per bite.  Anyone who knows me will realize that is not my style.  So of course I decided I need to try my hand at making my own street tacos.  Now I will say that the meat will take some time to perfect, and I’ll likely utilize my Instant Pot as I did this time.  That way I can have street tacos in December.  Hah!

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Dutch Babies // Updated

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The name is weird to me, but I know Stephanie has made these in the past and they are well liked in her house. David told me last night that breakfast today was on me as he and the girls made breakfast yesterday morning. So I considered making waffles, but decided that’s too much mess. We had just had pancakes. Sophia loves crepes but I suck at them. Then I remembered the Dutch Babies I’d never actually had. Since you can make it in the blender it seemed like the perfect mostly mess-free breakfast option.

I am a big fan of using home milled flour whenever possible because it’s whole grain, freshly milled, and WAY cheaper than buying unbleached flour from the bulk bins at Winco. I get my wheat berries in bulk at Winco as well, so the price is really good. For this though, I may have to turn to my unbleached flour that I keep on hand for feeding my sourdough starter. It apparently makes a big difference, which I’m hoping will turn David around on not really loving this.

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Shredded Beef Tacos

In the last few weeks we’ve had dinner over at a friends house a couple of times. Specifically the person who was my best friend in middle school. We’ve known each other for somewhere around 20 years. A really long time when you’re 32. Crockpot cooking seems like it might be a staple since her husband does freelance video work, and she’s currently a producer at a local TV station and will soon to be a 911 operator in training! The last dinner was shredded chipotle pork tacos, but she fried the corn tortillas and sprinkled them with the powdered parmesan like a local taco stand does.

It. is. amazing.

David typically doesn’t eat pork out of personal preference, so I got a nice looking chuck roast on sale last week. Now it’s insanely easy, but I did manage to mess it up, but I’ll explain that after the fact in the form of a “Do as I say, not as I do” type warning. Also my friend used the Dr. Pepper method for her pork. Being a total lush as of late, I used beer. Okay and we don’t drink soda typically. David got an amazing coffee stout that I divided in half for the 2 roasts I got (one went into the freezer to be used next week).

Gingham Apron // Shredded Beef Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

1 Beef chuck roast, about 2-3 pounds
1 Bottle of beer, a good dark stout is best
3 Chipotle peppers and adobo from container

Corn tortillas
Oil
Powdered parmesan cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped romaine lettuce
Black olives
Refried Beans
Sour cream

Place the roast into the crockpot.

Use toothpicks to secure the 3 chipotle peppers to the roast

Pour beer over the chipotle adorned roast.

Cook on high for 6+ hours, or until the roast shreds easily.

After the meat is shredded use a frying pan to heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place a tortilla in the pan and place a few tablespoons of shredded meat on one half of the tortilla, quickly fold the taco in half before it start to crisp up. Let the taco get golden and crunchy on both sides before moving it to a tray with a towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, and keep making delicious tacos! Add cheese, lettuce, refried beans, black olives, sour cream, or more chipotles if you’re deranged (or David).

I can have 3 folded tacos in my medium frying pan with no issues at one time, because doing one at a time would be painfully long.

As I promised … a warning … Do NOT use the whole can of chipotles. That’s like 8-10 chipotles too many, and it makes the sauce almost unusable. The girls in no way appreciated the spice level of the sauce, so the taco meat was a little drier than it should have been. David managed to make my fuck up tolerable by adding some tomato sauce. That guy is always saving my ass in the kitchen. 😛

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Homemade Skyline Chili Recipe

I lived just outside of Cincinnati when I was little. My first real concert was at Riverfront Stadium. Yes, it was New Kids on the Block. I was like 9 or 10. Which frankly scares the crap out of me since Nola is the exact same age, but I digress. I distinctly remember Ollie’s Trolley from visiting my dad at work downtown, but honestly I don’t remember Skyline. Horrible to admit, I know. Somehow in the past few years David has come to like the only variety available to us here in Nevada… cans. Specifically 8 cans for $60. That’s $7.50 a can! O_O

By the time you’ve fed 4 people that devour Skyline Chili you’ve used 2 cans. That’s $15 and you’ve not even gotten the spaghetti, onions, or shredded cheese. I have most of the ingredients on hand at all times already. There is one big change I’ve made to the recipe I found, and that is the type of meat I use. Ground turkey has become more of a staple around here and so that’s what I used. I don’t think it made that much of a difference in taste, and visually you can’t tell either. It still gets consumed at break neck speeds here.

Skyline

Skyline Chili from Tornado Ali @ Food.com – Slight changes by me. 😉

1.25 lbs ground turkey (Jennie-O packs are 1.25 pounds)
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef broth
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp cocoa
2 tsps instant minced garlic
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit this, kids and all)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 bay leaf

1 package spaghetti noodles

Toppings
Onion, finely chopped
Cheddar cheese, finely shredded

Chop 2 cups of onions. I usually use an entire onion and call it good.

In a large pan, I use my enamel dutch oven, cook turkey meat. Brown if at all possible, and do *not* drain. Add onion an cook a few minutes longer.

While turkey is cooking measure all dry ingredients into a bowl. I use Better Than Bullion for the beef broth, and add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to that.

Add all remaining ingredients to cooked meat and tender onions. Let simmer until sauce has reduced quite a bit. It can take 60 to 90 minutes. I do use 3/4 of a pound LESS meat than what the original recipe states, so the liquid has to cook down more, but it turned out quite good. David really likes how the sauce cooks down and there is more flavor.

Once the chili is nearly done simmering down, get your spaghetti cooked.

Top spaghetti with a scoop of chili, then top the chili with the finely chopped onions, then top the onions with finely shredded cheese. This my friends is what is called a “4-way”. Sophia prefers the “3-way” since she does not like raw onions (she somehow fails to realize there are onions IN the meat… don’t tell her). I know you can get beans with it, but frankly that just seems sacrilegious.

Try not to become too addicted.

I know that for some spaghetti and chili might seem weird. Okay, chili with cocoa powder might be really weird too, but it’s awesome. It’s not always a dish that is loved instantly. It’s taken Sophia two years to get to the point where she enjoys eating, and is still kind of ambivalent if I try to pretend I don’t want to make Skyline for dinner. Nola … well, she’ll go into near hysterics at the notion of making something else. At least it’s something everyone will eat without complaint I suppose. 😛

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Peanut Butter

It’s not really a thrilling topic, but since I need to keep in the habit of posting here it is…

Sophia hates it.

Nola loves it.

David likes crunchy, hates creamy.

I like creamy, and dislike crunchy.

David also likes Skippy brand whereas I like natural kinds. You know, the ones that separate and you have to nearly lose an arm trying to stir the oil back in… David hates having to do that every time he wants peanut butter. I also don’t enjoy having to do so for the girls all the time either.

Amazingly, when I put peanuts from Costco into my Vitamix I get this…

Peanut Butter

This time it came out with some bits still in it, but not as big as chunky PB. There is no need for the fridge, and it won’t separate! The tin of peanuts is $6-$7 and I get about 2 jars worth (I don’t fill up my jar to the top). There’s nothing hydrogenated in it either, which is why David was willing to do without his beloved Skippy. 🙂

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some more 2014 in 2014 numbers to post. I keep losing track of the number of items when I go on purging binges. I’ve had to make some estimates, but I low-ball it just to be on the safe side. I can already tell a difference in the areas I’ve worked on and organize, and I’m really really liking it! 😀

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Follow me…

… on Facebook!

I have and iPhone and an iPad, so posting quick updates and photos there is so very easy for me, and I do it quite often. Everything from my recent inability to flip a pancake and my scrambled egg fail to yummy homemade pizza and chicken stock. I have had almost 3,000 unique page views here, so I know people *do* visit my blog.

Here’s the deal… I like giving away books. I especially like giving away cookbooks. If I get to 100 likes on Facebook I’ll do another drawing for a cookbook on my Facebook page. 🙂

So this means you need to go like my Facebook page, and then share it with your friends.

And yes, every time I put Facebook there is a link to my Facebook page. 😉

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Homemade Almond Butter

I’ve heard of all sorts of people making homemade butters – peanut, cashew, sunflower, coconut, and almond. I finally decided to give almond butter a try since I’ve been successful twice now at making almond milk from scratch (which I *still* need to photograph and post). How hard could making almond butter be, right?

Well, after pausing the movie that my sick kid was watching – because I have amazing timing and all – it took a solid 20 minutes of thinking I was going to kill the food processor. There were a few stops to scrape down almond chunks. I stopped a few more times because I just *knew* that a second more and it would give up the ghost. But in the end…

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I had almond butter!!

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Baked “Hard Boiled” Eggs

Everyone who has been on Pinterest has likely seen the baked “hard boiled” eggs.  Stephanie made them the other day and I decided to do the same.  She said that one batch came out sort of soft boiled, and I cannot do anything short of 100% cooked eggs, so I took her incident as a sign and bumped up my oven a little bit.

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Those dots all over the shell caught me by surprise.  Though I figured it was the many pores in the shell at work, and most of it rinsed off anyhow.

I did 2 dozen eggs, in my normal muffin tins, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Ice bath as soon as they came out of the oven, and then back into the ice bath after I peeled them.

This is what happened……

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Food Revolution and a Giveaway!!

***ETA – This post is “stickied” until the Giveaway is over, please scroll down for new posts!!!***

I’ve posted this before, but please watch this video. It’s 21 minutes and 53 seconds long, but the message is important.

Jamie Oliver has done some great work. He has points that are valid not just for kids, but adults too. As a parent I know I am guilty of not providing the best options to my family at all times. It’s hard sometimes. We have busy lives. David starts two college classes tomorrow, Girl Scout cookie sales are in full swing, plus meetings, it’s also illness season and our family has not been spared. Sometimes the solution is to run to Little Caesars and get two of their $5 pizzas. Convenience is the key more often than not, and it shouldn’t be. I’d rather pull something from my freezer that I got at Trader Joe’s, and while it’s still a packaged meal I can add a frozen veggie and give my family something that offers more nutritional value.

A few years ago I did a food challenge and I did good for maybe a week, and then I slipped, and slipped some more, and by the end of the month I was like “That’s it, I suck!”. Going all out from the start did me no favors. I did it to myself, and honestly I let my slips discourage me too much. I can’t make a promise to only eat home cooked meals from scratch every single day for any length of time, but I can make better choices when I do go out. I can also make a few small changes at home that become a habit, and then change a few more things. For example..

I’ve been buying loaf bread lately. I have a grain mill, and a recipe that my family likes. I need to make bread at home.

I got a new Vitamix for Christmas, and smoothies have been requested almost daily. I know I can make yogurt at home much cheaper.

I know I won’t be able to get all organic food, but I can keep plenty of fresh healthy snacking options available for the whole family.

That brings me to…

FoodRevolution

The simple things I mentioned above to take steps in the right direction to eating better will be implemented by me for Food Revolution starting March 1, 2013. Yes, I know it’s a whole month away, but I want people to join me! I also want time to plan, because I’m a list maker (David says OCD). I want to see tons of other blog posts!

You don’t have to go all out, just change a few things. Eat out less, make something at home that you’ve been meaning to start doing again. Eat more fruits and veggies.

So please join me!! If you decide to participate please feel free to add this little badge to your page, and of course comment right here on this page. 🙂

Also, since Jamie Oliver deserves some well earned credit I am going to do a…

Giveaway

Yes, a giveaway!!

There are rules and stipulations though, of course.

1) Like Gingham Apron on Facebook.

2) Comment here confirming that you completed #1.

3) The drawing will be open from the moment this post is up, until 12:00pm (Pacific) on February 28th. I will put the number of comments received into a random generator and announce a winner soon after both here and on Facebook.

I’m sure you’re wondering what I will be giving away… Well I did say I would be giving Jamie Oliver some credit, so I think that his book Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals is a perfect prize!

Giveaway is over.  Congrats to Elizabeth on her new cookbook! 🙂

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Good luck, and I hope to see people participate!

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“Is pizza junk food?”

That was the question asked at dinner last night.

Dinner consisted of Boboli pizzas we topped with cheese, black olives, and turkey pepperoni. While we were eating Sophia asked if pizza was junk food. I told her that yes, pizza was junk food. That was cause for an exasperated remark of “We’re eating JUNK FOOD?!”. Yes, honey, we are. What do you think our “Family Dinner Out” to Buffalo Wild Wings was? David piped in at that point with “Do you think mac and cheese is junk food?”, and I pointed out the french fries. She seemed a bit disgusted with this revelation. She may have even said “ew”. I was already plotting though, which I am excellent at.

“How about, no junk food for 2 weeks?”

Starting today, we will not have “junk food”. No eating out. No pizza. No mac and cheese. And no ramen. David even agreed to it.

A caveat. My parents will be in town as of the 6th, and if the only opportunity for them to go to dinner with the girls is before Monday the 11th, then I will just tack a day on at the end. Grandma and Grandpa being here is very special because it was not expected, and honestly I wasn’t sure when we would see them again. So I am willing to cut some slack on that one, but I will encourage the girls to make some healthy choices.

This has me thinking though. Two weeks is a good start. I want to push myself again. I attempted to do a real food challenge 3 years ago, but I didn’t do as well as I know I could have. I want to try again. Later today I will get some details together. I do not want to do this alone though. So fire up your blogs, your kitchens, and yourself!

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