Pear and Pomegranate Tacos

I had to think about whether I wanted to post tacos two days in a row on here, but decided, “What the heck?” Tacos are delicious and specialty tacos are even more delicious! It also just occurred to me it is the second day in a row of fruit salsa. If you read yesterday’s post about the mango salsa, then you definitely know I love fruit salsa! It is a great combination with a faint touch of sweet, hint of zest, and just all-around yummyness.

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The original blogger of these tacos from Gimme Some Oven titled them “Christmas Tacos” because they kind of look like Christmas! She also made them as little “taco boats” too, which would make a great appetizer! I think that counts as a different recipe, therefore I could sort of make this again and it would NOT be the same dish twice.

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The flavours came together so well – with the sweet tartness of the salsa, the protein-filled chicken, the punch that feta cheese packs (oh – I couldn’t find cojita cheese, so I subbed feta instead, which was also a great choice). It just works. I would love to put this salsa on everything! The only thing stopping me is that pomegranates take some time and effort to seed! Even all the easy “hack” ways are still a bit time consuming – but so worth it!

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Pear and Pomegranate Tacos

serves 4

Ingredients:
-Tortillas (any kind you like will work)
-1 large cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced or shredded
-1/4cu crumbled cotija cheese (I used feta)
-optional garnishes: fresh lime wedges, extra chopped fresh cilantro
For the salsa
-2 fresh pears (any kind), cored and diced
-1 fresh pomegranate, seeded
-half a red onion, diced
-1/2cu chopped fresh cilantro leaves
-juice of half a lime

Directions:
-Cook and shred the chicken (I just baked it for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees).
-While the chicken is cooking, prepare the salsa by mixing all the ingredients together, then season with salt and pepper.
-To assemble the tortillas, add a layer of chicken, a few spoonfuls of the salsa, and top with cheese. Add your additional garnishes, then roll up and enjoy!

Crockpot Barbecue Beer Pulled Pork Tacos with Crispy Onion Straws and Mango Salsa

The title of this recipe is a mouthful, am  I right?? Well, the entire dish was an amazing mouthful, so well worth the long name! This pulled pork taco dish comes from the amazing blogger over at How Sweet It Is. I am on-and-off obsessed with her recipes, because they are most often quite delicious, and she is a funny and quirky writer. The downside is that they are often very elaborate dishes and not usually “everyday” kind of dinners. My husband and I had an at home date night last Friday and I decided to make these and we watched Divergent (we are watching the second one tonight, and I cannot wait for the third one to hit the theatres!).

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This dish is AMAZING. Seriously, it’s amazing. But it is also a heck of a lot of work, so be prepared for that. I did realize that going in. The pork itself is pretty simple because it just cooks away all day in the crockpot. The mango salsa is a bit time-consuming to chop and throw together but pretty basic. Can I also say that I just love fruit salsas? A close friend of mine haaaaates them (you know who you are ;)) but I just love them. They are definitely not sweet (as most of you know, I hate overly sweet things), and the onion, cilantro, etc. that is also in them usually counteracts any sweetness. I will say that one mango is perhaps not enough, because the mango did not get to shine enough, but I ended up adding extra onion too, since I had some leftover.

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But let’s talk about the onions. Oh, the onions. They are WORK, my friends. I stood over the stove for what felt like forever frying up these babies. I used a stock pot, but an entire onion thinly sliced takes awhile to fry. I also want to mention that adding the salt as soon as each batch is done frying is essential. I taste-tested one (ok, ok, a lot) pre-salt and taste-tested some post-salt, and the post-salt definitely won me over. I didn’t use much, just a quick grind, but it really packs a punch on the hot, fresh from the frying oil coated onions. That being said, they are definitely essential for these tacos. Yes, store-bought is WAY easier, but you will not be sorry for frying up these babies. Keep in mind to only make what you will use for that serving, as they don’t really re-heat super well.

BBQ Beer Pulled Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa and Crispy Onion Straws

serves a lot (we still have leftovers from 3 days ago)

Ingredients:
-1 (3-4lbs) pork shoulder roast (mine was boneless)
-1tbsp onion powder
-1tbsp smoked paprika
-1tsp garlic powder
-1/2tsp salt
-1/2tsp pepper
-12oz beer (I used rootbeer which made it a bit sweeter, but still good)
-32oz barbecue sauce + additional for drizzling
-small flour or corn tortillas
-4-6oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
-1 batch of crispy onion straws (see below)
For the mango salsa
-1 mango, peeled and chopped
-1/4 red onion, finely diced
-1/2 jalapeño, finely diced (I omitted, because my husband doesn’t like that much heat)
-1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
-the juice of 1 lime
-1/4tsp salt
-1/4tsp pepper

Directions:
-Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the pork on every side (about 2-3 minutes per side) until golden brown before adding to the crockpot.
-Add pork to crockpot with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8+ hours, tossing once or twice if desired.
-After 8 hours, shred pork with forks and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss pork to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. Remove bone (if bone-in) before serving.
-Combine all of the mango salsa ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to mix. **It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days**
**You can make the onion straws and mango salsa a few hours in advance, if desired**
-To assemble your tacos, layer pork, mango salsa, cheddar cheese, and onion straws on the tortilla, fold up, and enjoy!

The crispy onion straws come from the genius blogger, My Life as a Mrs.

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Crispy Onion Straws

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1 large red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
-1.5cu lowfat buttermilk (I made my own using a mix of regular milk and lemon juice)
-2cu flour
-1.5tbsp garlic powder
-1.5tbsp salt
-1tsp black pepper
-1tsp cayenne (optional – I couldn’t even taste it)
-canola oil for frying
-additional salt

Directions:
-Preheat oil in a deep pot to 350°.
-Add onions and buttermilk to a large bowl and toss until combined. In a second bowl, mix together flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
-In small batches, take the buttermilk coated onions and dredge in the seasoned flour (shaking to remove excess flour), and fry for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 minutes on each side (or until golden and crispy). Place on a paper towel line platter and sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt. Repeat until all onions are golden and crispy.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza

I’m back and ready to blog! I went on quite a long hiatus as you can tell, but I am back and want to continue documenting the dishes I create, as it is pretty fun and interesting to look back on. I just hope I can match all the dishes to the pictures I’ve taken over the past several months, and I will do the best I can.

Today I am writing about the roasted garlic chicken pesto pizza from Sugar Cooking. It was truly so delicious – and so easy to make! My husband helped a lot with this dish, as he cooked the chicken and roasted the garlic because I was late getting home from work that night, and it was a success! It ended up being very oily because I used the entire small jar of garlic which was probably about double what the recipe calls for. But who doesn’t love pesto?? The roasted garlic, however, got a little drowned out because of the excess pesto, but it was still delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t venture out and make my own pizza crust, but I used whole wheat dough from Trader Joe’s. Inexpensive, easy, and delicious!

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Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza

serves 3-4

Ingredients:
-1 pizza dough
-1/2cu prepared pesto
-1 bulb of garlic
-1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded or cubed
-Mozzarella cheese
-Parmesan cheese

Directions:
-To roast the garlic, peel the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Cut a little off the top of the bulb, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Set on a piece of foil, drizzle with some olive oil, and cover with the foil. Bake on a baking sheet at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Remove garlic gloves and smash with a fork.
-Spread roasted garlic over pizza dough, then spread over the pesto.
-Arrange the sliced or shredded chicken evenly over the pizza.
-Sprinkle with mozzarella and top with parmesan.
-Bake on preheated pizza stone for 8 – 12 minutes.

Sizzling Steak Marinade

Right now, I am sitting on the couch watching Beverly Hills, 90210 on Hulu Plus (I am almost done with the first season). I have watched all ten seasons, of course, but I am so excited to re-start the entire series now that it is available to stream. My dog is laying next to me on the couch snoring to his heart’s content. It is the cutest. Welcome to my Sunday (even though you won’t be reading this until Monday).

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I have cooked far less than usual lately, so I decided to get back into the swing of meal planning by cooking this Mom’s Sizzling Steak Marinade by Six Sisters’ Stuff. It was…well…to be perfectly honest, my husband and I couldn’t even finish eating it. We tried really hard and ate over half of our respective steaks, and then went to grab McDonald’s. I have never had a problem with a recipe by Six Sisters’ Stuff before, so I am pretty sure it may just be a fluke.

It was so, so, so sour. At first, it just seemed a bit tart, and then it just got plain sour and was hard to swallow. It was like eating a dinner of Warheads prior to getting to the sweet candy center. The lemon juice and vinegar combination was just too much for us to handle. Granted – there are some alterations I made that may have played a role.

First of all, I used less than one pound of steak and did not change the marinade amount at all, therefore there was less meat to soak up the marinade. However, with how incredibly sour it was, it is hard to believe that more meat would soak it up entirely and evenly to make it not sour at all. I am curious to know if it works, but I will likely not give it a shot, since I am a little wary at this point.

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Second of all, I substituted red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar, as I didn’t have any cider vinegar, and this may have affected it a little as well, however in many cases, vinegar is vinegar, so I am not sure how much of a difference it would have made.

The other downside to this dish was not the recipe but rather the cook. Our grill is out of propane, so I decided to pan-sear the steaks and googled various ways to do this. One site said to sear each side on high for one minute each, then turn down the temperature to medium and continue to cook one minute per side, until each side has been cooked about 2-3 minutes, for a medium doneness. Well…let’s just say that didn’t happen. My husband’s steak turned out medium well and mine turned out almost well done (since mine had broken into two smaller pieces, they cooked much faster).

So there we are…eating sour, overcooked, non-juicy steak. To make matters worse, I had decided to boil the marinade to make into a gravy for the rice I was serving it with (before I had realized how sour it all was). I added in several tablespoons of flour to thicken the marinade, which really did turn out to be a great looking gravy, but definitely ruined the rice for us as well.

As a final note, when we returned from McDonald’s later that night, the entire apartment reeked of vinegar. What happened??? If you are looking for a surefire steak recipe, go with this juicy marinated steak recipe also from Six Sisters’ Stuff and is linked on the other recipe page. It looks much better and I wish I had gone with that!

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Sizzling Steak Marinade

serves

Ingredients:
-1.5cu vegetable oil
-1/4cu Worcestershire sauce
-1tsp ground pepper
-1/2cu apple cider vinegar
-3/4cu soy sauce
-2tbsp dry ground mustard
-1/3cu lemon juice

Directions:
-Mix all ingredients together in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container and add 2 pounds of steak.
-Refrigerate the steak and marinade for 8-24 hours.
-Grill over medium-high heat to your liking.

Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

Let me start by saying my life was completed yesterday. I got to see my favourite musician in the world, Andrew McMahon, in concert (not for the first time) and he played such an amazing mix of old and new music. After the show, I got to meet him, hug him, get my picture taken with him, and have his new CD signed! An even better bonus is that I took the day off work today and am just at home enjoying my free time!

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In almost equally exciting news, I made this uh-mazing avocado macaroni and cheese the other week, by Two Peas and Their Pod. Seriously. Creamy and cheesy pasta plus creamy and smashed avocado…all mixed together? How does it really get any better than that? I was a bit perplexed at first, since it is definitely a little different, but the outcome was so, so, so amazing. There was plenty for leftovers the next day…which I must admit was a bit odd, given that avocado browns over time, however the browned part is still edible, but also it only browned on the very top, so if you prefer, you can scrape off the browned part and then chomp away!

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One of the best parts also was the chopped chunks of avocado that the recipe calls for you to throw in the finished product. Once again I say…SERIOUSLY. Creamy. Cheesy. Smooth. Avocado. Pasta. What else is there in life? Ok ok, a lot of things. But food wise, this basically takes the cake for sure.

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Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-10oz dry elbow macaroni
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 avocados, peeled and pitted
-2tbsp fresh lime juice
-1/3cu chopped fresh cilantro
-2tbsp butter
-2tbsp all-purpose flour
-1cu milk
-2cu shredded Pepper Jack cheese
-salt and pepper, to taste
-fresh avocado chunks, for garnish, if desired

Directions:
-Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Salt the water and add in macaroni. Stir and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
-While the pasta is cooking, make the avocado sauce by placing the garlic, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
-Make the cheese sauce by placing the butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. When melted, whisk in flour to create a paste, then whisk in milk until smooth. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce starts to thicken, then add in Pepper Jack cheese and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is creamy.
-Transfer the macaroni to a large bowl and pour the avocado sauce over the macaroni and stir until well coated. Add the cheese sauce and stir until macaroni is covered and becomes creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot and garnish with fresh avocado chunks.

Triple Pork Mazeman with Roasted Garlic and Pea Tips

Recently, my mom tried out Blue Apron for a couple of weeks. It is a meal service that delivers ingredients right to your door. You can choose the frequency and my mom was on a plan for 3 meals per week that serve two people each. That totaled about $60, which actually isn’t *too bad* of a price. The neat thing about Blue Apron is that everything is sent in neat little packaging and contains the precise amount of each needed ingredient.

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My mom ended up canceling her subscription, because the price did add up after awhile, plus she is not quite as adventurous of an eater as I am, and Blue Apron really offers a wide variety of dishes, an she is more of a meat and potatoes type of gal. Though she did like that it helped her prepare even simple vinaigrette from scratch, the type of thing she is not inclined to make on her own (similar to most people!). Similarly, this recipe calls for a pork demi-glace, which is basically a fancy rich, thick type of stock. I don’t think I would ever make it on my own, but you can google recipes for it, but I am not sure where you might find it in a store.

In any case, my mom gave me one of her meals, which was this Triple Pork Mazeman. It was delicious! It turns out that mazeman is a type of ramen, but it is dry, and made with a thin sauce instead of a broth, allowing the toppings to take on center stage, in this Japanese dish, according to the recipe page!

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Triple Pork Mazeman with Roasted Garlic and Pea Tips

serves 2

Ingredients:
-5oz ground pork
-1 slice bacon
-12oz fresh ramen noodles
-2oz pea tips
-1 bunch garlic chives
-1 head of garlic
-2tbsp pork demi-glace
-2tbsp soy sauce
-2tbsp mirin
-1-in. piece of ginger
-1tsp pork mazeman spice blend (black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, kibbled nori and sansho pepper)

Directions:
-Preheat the oven to 475F. Cut off and discard the top of the garlic head (to expose the cloves). Place it on a piece of aluminum foil, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap the foil around it, place on a cookie sheet, and roast for 28-30 minutes. Set it aside, to cool.
-While the garlic is roasting, heat a large pot of salted water to boiling (you’ll come back to this later). Dice the bacon into very small pieces, mince the garlic chives, cut the pea tips into one inch pieces, and peel and mince the ginger.
-In a medium pot, heat one teaspoon of oil on medium. Once hot, add the bacon and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned and crispy.
-To the bacon pot, add the ginger and all but one pinch of the garlic chives. Cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add the ground pork and cook for 4-5 minutes or until heated through, breaking the meat apart with a spoon; season with salt and pepper, then remove it from the heat.
-When the garlic is done and has cooled enough to touch, squeeze the individual cloves out of the head. Add the pork demi-glace, soy sauce, mirin, roasted garlic cloves, and one cup of water to the pot with the pork mixture, and stir to combine. Turn to high to bring to a boil; once boiling, reduce it back to medium and let it simmer, while stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until it reduces in volume.
-While the sauce is simmering, add the noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook and stir for 90 seconds (no longer), then drain well and immediately add it to the sauce pot. Cook and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in pea tips and season with salt and pepper to taste.
-Spoon the finished product into each bowl and then top with the remaining chives and spice blend.

Panko Crusted Sriracha Cod

I hope everyone had a fun Labour Day weekend last weekend! I enjoyed my 3 days off…spent a lot of time catching up on blogging (hence this week full of blogs), watching CSI Miami, spending time with friends, and going to a neighbourhood and family barbecue hosted by my brother’s family! Oh, and cuddling with my dog. Lots of cuddles. ;)

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I may not have cooked a lot lately, but I have a lot of back-recipes just waiting to be posted. For the past week or so, I’ve been cooking on the cheap, so trying to use up things we already have at home – wild Alaskan salmon burgers from Costco, for one. They’re really good, and inexpensive, if you haven’t tried them!

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In any case, this panko crusted sriracha cod from Foodie with Family may not be for everyone, but my husband and I loved it! I went easy on the sriracha, since my husband doesn’t like things quite as spicy as I do, hehe. If you do like to be a little adventurous, like fish, and spicy food, then I would definitely recommend this dish for you.

This is also another pretty quick dish to throw together! And as you can see, I did indeed add plenty of extra sriracha to my own plate!

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Panko Crusted Sriracha Cod

serves 4

Ingredients:
-4 cod filets, boneless and skinless
-salt and pepper, to taste
-3tbsp mayonnaise
-2tsp sriracha
-1cu panko bread crumbs
-1tbsp butter
-non-stick cooking spray
For Garnish
-additional sriracha
-thinly sliced green onions
-toasted sesame seeds

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375°F, then line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, spritz lightly with non-stick cooking spray or spray oil. Next, pour the panko crumbs into a pie plate or round cake pan.
-Lay the cod filets on the prepared pan and season both sides with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and sriracha together until well combined. Brush the mixture over the top of each filet, then turn mayo-side down into the panko crumbs and pressy lightly to help the panko adhere to the mayo. Set the filets back onto the pan, crumb side up.
-When all of the pieces have been coated, heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat until it is melted and frothy. Place each filet gently crumb side down and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy. Carefully return each piece of cod to the prepared pan, crunchy crumb crust side up. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filet, or until opaque throughout and easily flaked with a fork. The internal temperature of cod should reach 145°F to be done. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before plating or transferring to a serving dish.
-Garnish with additional sriracha, thinly sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with desired accompaniment.