Skillet Taco with Brown Rice

Everyone has a cheap, quick comfort food dish from childhood memories. Mine is Dad’s Skillet taco recipe. Perhaps, Mom occasionally made it, too. It a classic 1970s dish. It was taco seasoning mixed into ground beef scrapped to the center of the skillet. White rice surrounded the beef. Shredded iceberg lettuce layered the rice. Gooey, melted, shredded cheddar cheese topped the meat, and the dish was finished with plain chopped tomatoes. What I remember most about this dish: Always wanting more cheese.

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Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.

Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.

In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).

There’s memories surrounded by tacos. Since, Dad was ‘The Cook’ in our house, we were excited when Mom decided to make one of her few dishes, which were tacos. For the record, even though I strive to eat healthy most of the time, I always prefer her deep-fried taco shells.  Read more

Cilantro Almond Pesto
Cilantro Almond Pesto

The other day, a friend curiously smiled as I discussed experimenting with a Cilantro Almond Pesto. With confidence, we talked about several versions of pesto, not being limited to the traditional ingredients of basil, cheese and pine nuts. The Witchy Kitchen blog made a Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto. The sunflower seeds are economically alternative to pine nuts. Although, Despite Nuisances I Will Be Happy’s blog creatively referred to her Arugula version as a spread; it’s still a derivative of a pesto. Aimée at Simple Bites, posted a recipe of the traditional basil pesto, and she offers ideas on how to incorporate it into recipes. This week, I pick up my household’s first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box full of greens, fruits, vegetables and eggs. In addition to prepping and cleaning the vegetables and fruits for proper storage that will extend their freshness, several of them will turn into a pesto and frozen for future use. Read more

Turkey Empanadas
Turkey Empanadas

Black, rounded, sans-serif characters spell out the title, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A medium image of a single, red splattered drip in the shape of a bird’s wing protruding out of a young boy’s profile is easy to recognize because of the book’s popularity. A few years ago, every reader on the subway train was engulfed in this Pulitzer Prize book by Junot Diaz. The novel is about a Dominican family’s immigration experience via generations. An intriguing story, it has the adult cartoons, bad boyfriends, childhood memories, teenage love stories, lecherous dictators, college drama, the Dominican Republic’s 20th century history and a nerd boy descended from a curse many times evil because of the sincere actions of his grandfather. A friend, Danny Rodriguez, wrote a serious book review on his blog, The Cultural Critic Who Carries a Kampilan….

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A Farmer's Market Find: Cosnes
A Farmer’s Market Find: Cosnes

Getting up early last Saturday was the opportunity to go to the farmer’s market in the city. It was a nice winter warm day of walking pass stalls and creating a menu in my head for next week. Before it became too crowded, I was exiting the market with a heavy bag of Savoy cabbage, spicy turkey sausage, a smoked turkey wing to be placed in the freezer for Southern-style collard greens, gold rush apples, freshly baked pretzels as a low-fat snack, apple cider, and crosnes. Read more