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.

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.

Mini Football Pizzas

I had a fun baseball-filled weekend watching the Everett Aquasox, a minor league team, play on both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday’s game was not very eventful, until the bottom of the 10th when they won 3-2, but Saturday’s game was full of fun, including my little niece catching a foul ball!

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However, football is upon us, so it is time for some football-themed snacks, like these yummy mini football pizzas from The Daring Gourmet that I made last year during football season. They are a fun snack for any football party.

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I also had Seattle Seahawk themed Jamberry nail wraps for the occasion!

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Since there were some vegetarians in the crowd, I used meatball crumbles, which were actually pretty good. Feel free to use whatever meat you’d like.

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Mini Football Pizzas

serves

Ingredients:
-1 (11oz) can refrigerated Pillsbury thin pizza crust
-1 (14.5oz) can pizza sauce
-4oz bulk Italian sausage
-1 green bell pepper, diced
-3 mozzarella cheese sticks

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Lightly flour a surface and unroll the pizza dough. Use a football-shaped cookie cutter, or cut the dough into football shapes by hand, according to your desired size.
-Cook the sausage and peppers on medium in a skillet until cooked through, and set aside.
-Spoon pizza sauce onto each pizza crust and top with the sausage and pepper mixture, then bake for about 4 minutes.
-Cut out the mozzarella cheese sticks into long and short strands and lay them on top of the pizzas (check out the pictures). Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is cooked through.

Mini Cheddar-BBQ Turkey Meatloaf Cups

I never said happy 4th of July the other week! I hope everyone enjoyed theirs! I enjoyed my 3 day weekend from work which was full of family barbecues. I spent Friday afternoon at a barbecue at my dad’s house, and my husband got to meet two of my stepbrothers for the first time! On the 4th of July, we relaxed and cleaned in the morning and then went to a small barbecue at my mom’s, then sat on the street to watch the fireworks – a bit frightening, but just as good as any professional firework show! ;);)

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These cheddar-BBQ turkey meatloaf cups from Aggie’s Kitchen are pretty “all-American” too! 😉 I never really grew up with meatloaf as a dinner staple in my household, but I must say there is something even better when they are in little individual cups! Maybe they are just more fun to eat, who knows? Anyway, this really is a tasty twist on plain ol’ meatloaf.

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One note is that the original blogger said this makes 12 cups. As you can see, mine only made 8, and mine were not quite full. The cup-size on my tins may be larger, or…well, who knows.

Let me know what you think!

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Mini Cheddar-BBQ Turkey Meatloaf Cups

serves 4-6

Ingredients:
-1lb lean ground turkey
-2tsp steak seasoning
-2tsp Worcerstershire sauce
-1/2 small onion, grated
-1 egg
-1/2cu panko
-15oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained well (I used a little tomato sauce/paste instead)
-3oz cheddar cheese, shredded
-2tbsp honey
-1/2cu barbecue sauce
-1tsp mustard

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Add all the ingredients for the meatloaf mixture (minus honey, sauce, and mustard) into a large bowl and gently mix with your hands. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non stick spray then add meatloaf mixture evenly among the cups.
-Combine the honey, barbecue sauce and mustard in a small bowl, then spoon or brush it evenly over the meatloaf muffins.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until you see the muffins bubbling and start to slightly separate from sides of muffin pan. Turn broiler on for 2-4 minutes to get the tops nicely browned.

Grilled Steak & Hummus Mashed Potatoes

Not only have I been blogging every day this week, but today is a two-fer! You can get your grilling on tonight with this Weight Watchers grilled steak and Hummus Mashed Potatoes from Gimme Some Oven.

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I had recently stocked up on some steaks on sale (most of my stories start like that, I’ve realized), because I’m a good wife and I know my husband loves steak…so what do I do? Create a WW recipe out of it. 😉 However, this marinade was just delightful! The steak was so tasty and flavourful and great to grill on a spring or summer day (or fall or winter…).

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The mashed potatoes were good too, but I added in more hummus than the recipe called for, and neither of us could taste it at all. They were good, just not good as advertised, if that makes sense. I used different potatoes (I can’t remember what kind though), so maybe the hummus just got lost in the potato flavour. In any case, it was still a successful dinner all around, and hopefully will be for you as well!

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Grilled Steak

serves 2

Ingredients:
-2tbsp chili sauce, or ketchup
-1tbsp packed brown sugar, dark-variety
-1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
-1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-2tsp mustard, course-grain recommended
1tsp ginger root, fresh, minced (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
-2 steaks

Directions:
-Preheat grill to high.
-In a small bowl, combine chili sauce (or ketchup), sugar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and ginger, and brush the sauce all over steak. Grill, flipping once, brushing steak with any leftover sauce while steak cooks, about 6 to 7 minutes per side, or until desired degree of doneness.
-Remove steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Hummus Mashed Potatoes

serves 2

Ingredients:
-1-ishlbs Yukon gold potatoes
-1-2tbsp butter
-1-2cu favorite hummus, homemade or store-bought
-1/8tsp salt (or more to taste)
-1/8tsp freshly-cracked black pepper
-optional garnish: chopped fresh Italian parsley, lemon wedges, extra drizzle of olive oil

Directions:
-Peel the potatoes if you would like, and cut them into large chunks, roughly the same size. Immediately add to a large stockpot and fill with water until the potatoes are covered, then bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until a fork-tender. Remove from heat and drain the water.
-Return the pot to the burner and use a potato masher to mash the potatoes until smooth. Then turn off heat, and add in butter, hummus, salt and pepper, and stir until combined. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Then top with garnishes if desired.