Handmade Crunchy Tacos

There are many reasons why I love living in Seattle. One of the reasons is definitely not the lack of Taco Tuesday’s. Taco Tuesday takes the worst day of the week and turns it into one of the best. It basically give you something to live for, if your life sucks and you love tacos, that is. I mean, how can you beat soft corn tortillas made right in front of your face, endless chips and salsa and $3 margaritas? But, isn’t it Thursday? Whatevs, it’s Taco Tuesday somewhere.taco5

Now, I didn’t make the tortillas from scratch, but I did fry them to make the crunchy shells…that has to count for something, right?taco1 taco2 taco4

Handmade Crunchy Tacos

1 pound lean, grass-fed ground beef
1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s taco seasoning (not the other crappy brands filled with food coloring and cancer)
8 corn tortillas
pico de gallo
shredded mexican cheese
chopped romaine lettuce
oil for frying (canola or olive)

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium/high heat in a large sauté or frying pan and add the ground beef and taco seasoning. Cook until done, stirring frequently.

In a separate large frying pan, heat 1-2 inches of oil over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the hot oil and fry for 30 seconds then flip and fry for 30 more seconds. Using tongs, bend the tortilla into the shape of a taco shell (hold the tortilla in place with the tongs if necessary) and fry until golden and crispy, flipping sides as needed. Repeat with each tortilla. Place shells on a paper towel to cool and to remove some of the excess oil.

Load the cheese into the tortilla, top with the ground beef, pico de gallo and lettuce, grab a margarita and enjoy! Olé!taco3 taco6

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

When I’m sick, the first thing I crave is sugar chicken noodle soup, and boy am I sick! I’m talking sinus infection, ear infection, can’t breath out of my nose sick. And since I spent the last weekend indulging in margaritas and tacos-galore in Mexico, I figured it was time I whipped up a batch of my homemade chicken noodle and tried to nurse myself back to health.

soup5

My mom used to make chicken noodle soup on the regular and as a kid, I longed for the canned Campbell’s crap because hers was loaded with veggies. Nowadays, the vegetable soup is just what I need, but alas, I still crave the good ole’ classic chicken noodle when I’m feeling under the weather.soup3 soup4

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

24 ounces chicken breast (fresh or frozen and thawed)
1- 8 ounce package of egg noodles
2 quarts chicken broth or stock
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Start by boiling your chicken in water until done (the center of the chicken will be white) then transfer to a cutting board and chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.

While the chicken is boiling, heat a large, oiled stock pot over medium/high heat and add your mirepoix (fancy term for chopped onion, carrots and celery). Add the basil, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté your mirepoix until the onions are translucent and fragrant.

When the veggies are ready, slowly pour the chicken broth or stock into the pot and increase the heat to high. When the broth begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium/low, bring the soup to a simmer and add the noodles.

Let the soup simmer until the noodles are soft. Add your chopped chicken pieces and bam! You have a big pot of classic chicken noodle soup.soup2 soup7

*If you’re like me and hate chopping veggies, Trader Joe’s has a pre-made mirepoix mix and it’s the perfect amount!

BBQ Chicken !Meatballs

Last week I posted an all time favorite of mine and a great recipe to bring to potlucks or BBQs: pigs in a blanket. In an effort to keep up with the graduation theme, I chose another recipe this week that is perfect for throwing together and bringing to a BBQ, or as an appetizer at a graduation party. I give you…drum roll please: BBQ Chicken Meatballs.meatballs3

These little balls of heaven are so easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. They’re also great for binge-watching House of Cards and stuffing your face. It’s you’re call on what you want to do with them, but as for me, I choose the latter.

meatballs1

Oh, and did I mention they are gluten free, dairy free and made in the crock pot! Lazy people with food allergies rejoice!

BBQ Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
3/4 cup almond meal
1 egg
BBQ sauce (1-2 jars)
Seasoning of choice

For the seasoning, I chose to use the Everyday Seasoning from Trader Joe’s, but some simple salt, pepper and garlic powder works great too!

Mix the chicken, almond meal, egg and seasoning together in a medium bowl until everything is evenly combined.

Roll out the balls to your desired size (mine were a little bit bigger than a ping pong ball) and brown on medium/high heat in an oiled pan, rotating until all of the outside is browned, don’t worry about the middle.

Pour half of your BBQ sauce into your crock pot, add the browned meatballs and cover with remaining sauce.

Cook on high for 1 1/2-2 hours and enjoy!

*If you want the meatballs to be gf/df, make sure to check the ingredients in the BBQ sauce you choose, some brands have hidden crap in them!

meatballsmeatballs2

Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket

pigs7
‘Tis the season, once again, for yet another generation of graduates to enter into the workforce…or college, or whatever. Bottom line is, with graduations comes BBQs and with BBQs comes food.

Let’s be honest, who goes to a graduation party for anything other than the food? Okay, maybe a lot of people, but not me. I love food, especially comfort finger food. Pigs in a Blanket are an all time favorite comfort food of mine. They remind me of childhood, and with my selective memory, I conveniently forget the heartburn associated with said food, but hey, it’s worth it, right?

Instead of the disgusting traditional crescent rolls and lil smokies version, I decided to spice things up and make Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket.pigs1 pigs2 pigs3

Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket

3 cups flour
8 ounces cold butter, cut up
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning)
Buttermilk
12 maple chicken sausages cut in 1/2 (fully cooked)

Pan fry or broil the chick sausages until brown and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the biscuits, add the flour, baking powder, seasoning and cold butter chunks into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until it resembles cornmeal. Next, slowly pour some buttermilk into the dry mixture, while the mixer is running, until in forms a slightly moist dough. You want to have some crumbles, if it is too wet it will be very difficult to handle.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-1/2 an inch. Using a round cookie cutter, or small cup or pretty much anything, cut out 24 small circles. (Alternately, you can cut out small triangles by hand and roll the sausages up like the crescent rolls version.) Roll out each circle further to make an oval then roll the sausage up inside of it. Place the piggies, with the seam of the roll on the bottom, onto a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Bake the pigs for about 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are a nice golden brown. Bring those suckers to a party and enjoy! Or just eat them all at home like me, smothered in maple syrup.pigs5 pigs6 pigs4

Vegetable Beef Pasties

The first time I ordered a pasty, pronounced pah-stee, I asked for a pasty, pronounced paste-ee, you know, like the nipple covers? Well, it was embarrassing, to say the least.

pasty1

Anyways, for St Patties day this year, I decided to make some traditional meat pies for dinner. But wait, aren’t pasties Cornish, not Irish? Shut up.

pasty7

pasty4

Any excuse to eat pie for dinner is good enough for me! The flakey pie crust melts in your mouth with every bite and you find yourself going back for fifths seconds.

pasty6

Vegetable Beef Pasties

Pie Dough
1 pound pastry flour
10 ounces cold butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
ice water

Filling
1 pound lean, grass fed beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 large carrots, pealed and chopped
1 large russet potato, pealed and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

1 egg
pinch salt
splash water

Preheat your oven to 375.

To make the pie dough, cut the butter into small pieces, making sure that it is cold, if it is warm then it will melt into the dough and it won’t be flakey.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium/low until the butter pieces are a little larger than the size of a pea.

Using your thumb and pointer fingers, flatten out the butter chunks to create flakes. Slowly add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Don’t let it get too sticky!

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, add 1 tablespoon of butter to large pan, add the beef, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, add the fresh thyme and cook over medium heat until done.

In another large pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and saute the onion, carrots and celery on medium/high heat until the onions are translucent, then add the peas and cook until they are soft.

In a sauce pan, boil the potato chunks until soft, then strain the water out of them.

Add the potatoes and veggies to the meat and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter to make about 12 circles (I had to re-roll the pieces a few times to get 12).

Roll out the circles a little bit more into an oval shape, add a couple of spoonfuls of filling and fold the dough together like a pocket. Pinch the edges together so the dough stays closed while baking.

Mix your egg, pinch of salt and splash of water together to make an egg wash and brush the tops of the dough with it. This will give the dough a crispy and golden look. Use a sharp knife to make a couple of slices in the tops of the dough on each pasty to let the steam escape and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pasties are golden brown.

Enjoy with a Guinness…or tea

pasty2

Fried egg Croque Monsieur

The French really know how to cook/bake. I mean seriously, we can pretty much thank them for the crème de la crème of food: croissants, baguettes, croque monsieurs! What is a croque monsieur, you ask? It’s basically a better version on a grilled cheese. No, it’s grilled cheese on crack, smothered in more cheese.

croque4

I’ve made some pretty decadent grilled cheeses in my day (mushroom and goat cheese with bacon is a must-try!), but this was my first time making a croque monsier.croque3

This sandwich is perfect just the way it is, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding a friend egg to it and boy am I glad I did! Just look at that beautiful yellow yolk engulfed in cheese and tell me you don’t want to eat it.

croque1

Fried Egg Croque Monsieur
*makes 2 sandwiches

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 thick slices of french bread
2 cups shredded cheese (gruyere or parmesan are great!), divided
4 slices of havarti cheese
8 slices of ham
2 eggs
Dijon mustard

Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400F and toast the bread slices. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat and fry both of the eggs, flipping each egg once.

Make your Béchamel sauce: in a small sauce pan, melt remaining tablespoon of butter. When butter starts to bubble, add in the flour and whisk for 2-3 minutes. Next, slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. Keep your eye on the milk mixture, whisking often to prevent the milk from scorching or boiling over. When the mixture has thickened slightly (about 6-8 minutes), add 1/3 of the shredded cheese, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, whisk together and remove from heat.

To assemble the sandwiches: spread dijon mustard on one of the toasted bread slices, add one slice of havarti, two slices of ham, some shaved cheese, one fried egg, some more shaved cheese, two more slices of ham, one more slice of havarti and top with a toasted bread slice. Do this for both sandwiches.

When both sandwiches are assembled, place them on the foil-lined baking sheet and smother them with your Béchamel sauce. Bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then switch your oven to broil and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the Béchamel sauce is golden brown and bubbling (it will take a little longer if using a toaster oven).

Remove from oven and enjoy your Fried Egg Croque Monsieur in all of its cheese, gooey goodness!

croque2

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Is there anything better than coming home late from work and having one of your favorite meals already made for you? Why yes there is…when it’s chicken tortilla soup! Now, I don’t want to say that I’m lazy, but let’s be honest: who wants to cook after work? Definitely not me. Half the time I find myself rummaging through half eaten blocks of cheese leftovers because I would rather be malnourished that cook.

tortilla soup1

Alas, the “winter” months are still upon us here in Seattle and though I can’t wait for some warmth, I might as well embrace soup season while it’s still here.

tortilla soup 4

Throw it all in the good ol’ crock pot, turn it on, botta bing botta boom, you’ve got soup.

tortilla soup 6

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (Trader Joe’s has it)
1 12 ounce jar fire roasted red and yellow peppers (Trader Joe’s again)
1 cup frozen fire roasted corn (you can also use canned of fresh)
1/4 teaspoon spicy mexican style chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Mexican blend shredded cheese
Avocado
Crumbled tortilla chips

Throw everything from the chicken breast to the ground pepper into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4).

Before serving, shred the chicken breast with two forks (or you can use small chicken breast pieces to make it easier).

Top with a generous heap of mexican blend shredded cheese, crumbled tortilla chips and avocado. I like to use half of an avocado for 1 bowl of soup, but that’s just my personal preference.

Enjoy with chips, salsa and guacamole and maybe throw in a dos equis ;)

tortilla soup 3