tacos

All posts tagged tacos

Homemade Ranch (and Chipotle Ranch) Dressing and a Trick for “making” Buttermilk

Published February 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

I make a lot of salad dressing, mainly vinaigrettes, which are generally pretty simple.  However, one dressing I’ve never attempted to make before was ranch.  We always just buy it in the bottle – basically the only dressing I buy in the bottle.

Ranch Dressing

I’ve always been a vinaigrette girl, but when I first met Nate, he put ranch on everything.  And I seriously mean everything (pizza, sandwiches, cereal…okay, maybe not cereal).  Being that it was always around, it sorta turned me into a ranch person, too.  But just on my salad 😉  One thing I have a severe weakness for is anything with a chipotle ranch.  Any salad or sandwich with this on it, and it’s a sure bet that’s what I’m going to order.  So, in deciding to make homemade ranch dressing, I thought I better throw in a chipotle ranch, too.  Good thing I did, because it’s soooooooo good.  The ranch is great, too, but man, the chipotle ranch is the bomb!  Try it on tacos instead of Greek yogurt or sour cream.  It’ll knock your socks off!

Play around with the seasonings, and feel free to substitute fresh for dried or dried for fresh, depending on what you have in the fridge.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

TIP: Oh, and a quick tip about buttermilk.  I don’t usually have this in my fridge, and I hate buying some to only use a few tablespoons and let the rest go to waste.  So whether you’re in a pinch or you’re like me and hate buying the stuff, you can easily make your own at home with things you probably already have, milk and white vinegar.  To a liquid measuring cup, add one tablespoon vinegar, then fill with milk to the 1 cup line.  Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before using, and viola!  Buttermilk.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Servings: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk (see tip above if you don’t have any)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, except buttermilk.  Slowly add buttermilk to desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  This will last in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

To make chipotle ranch dressing, add 1/2-1 tsp (depending on preference) McCormick chipotle chili pepper.

Meatless Monday: Spicy Bean and Rice Tacos

Published June 17, 2013 by jenmatteson

Once again, it’s Meatless Monday!  For this edition, I decided to go with Jaida’s spicy bean and rice tacos from Sweet Beginnings.  I’ve made her avocado and lime black bean tacos in the past for a recipe swap and saved this one as well.  We love tacos, so I anticipate we’ll be back to try several more of her taco Tuesday creations.  What a fantastic idea!

Spicy Bean and Rice Tacos

This really seems like a burrito-taco to me, seeing as though it has rice and beans, but honestly, I’m not sure what constitutes a taco or a burrito.  I am going with tacos though, because they are in a taco shell, and not wrapped up like a burrito.  That makes perfect sense, right?  These tacos came together so quickly and incorporated ingredients that are always in my pantry or fridge.  I added a little extra cayenne pepper, as we like it spicy, but other than that, these were perfect.  Add some choice toppings and you’re good to go!  We used the leftovers as salad toppers, as we do for most of our leftovers when applicable.

Spicy Bean and Rice Taco

Spicy Bean and Rice Tacos

Source: Slightly adapted from Sweet Beginnings
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup water or vegetable broth
1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked whole grain rice
flour tortillas
toppings as desired (lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, Greek yogurt, etc.)

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, chipotle pepper in adobo, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the beans and water to the pan and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Partially mash the beans with the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Remove from heat and add rice.  Stir until well combined.  Scoop mixture into tortilla shells and top as desired.

Recipe Swap: Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Published May 24, 2013 by jenmatteson

I got pretty busy over the weekend and didn’t get around to Meatless Monday, but hopefully next week I’ll get there!  We had a lovely weekend of family, friends, and even a little gardening.  Last summer, we put a vegetable garden in the back, which I absolutely love!  We also put in the foundation for a front garden, but didn’t actually get to putting plants in it.  My parents have a gorgeous garden, several actually in their gigantic yard, and were kind enough to split almost anything they could and send it home with Nate and me.  We ended up staying all night, sitting by the fire, playing some cards when it decided to downpour for a short time and enjoying some cocktails, so we didn’t get to planting them that day, but we got everything in the next.  We are both so excited!

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

We’ve just been so busy with work, softball, gardening/yard work and other activities, that I had really let this recipe swap slip away from me.  This week’s swap is Blogger Choice, hosted by Sarah at Taste of Home Cooking.  I got another blog that I hadn’t WC-Recipe-Swap-badge-1visited in the past.  I love when that happens!  I was assigned Ashley’s blog, Cheese Curd in Paradise.  Thankfully, it’s not a blog all about cheese curds or I would have been in trouble ;P  When we do bloggers choice, I try not to go directly to the chicken category and sift through the other categories that interest me, but nothing really grabbed me, so I visited my old standby, chicken.  As soon as I saw the beergarita tacos, I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  It’s made in the slow cooker, perfect for our suddenly overwhelmingly busy schedules, we love chicken tacos, beer, and margaritas.  I make a margarita chicken (have yet to blog it) on the grill that is so flavorful and juicy, I figured this would be somewhat similar, and probably just as delicious.  Even better, there is basically two steps.  Dump ingredients in the slow cooker.  Shred.  Done and done.

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

The chicken turned out really flavorful.  I combined the ingredients, minus the chicken the night previous, so all I had to do was put the chicken in the slow cooker, pour the mixture over it in the morning and turn it on.  Bam!  But, the mixture didn’t smell so good in the morning, so I was slightly concerned.  However, they did turn out really juicy and lovely.  Nate and I both had two, and we made a salad from the leftovers for lunch today.

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Source: Cheese Curd in Paradise
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup margarita mix
6 oz lager beer
1/2 tsp lime zest
3 jalapeno peppers, diced (seeded for less heat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 /2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
tortillas
cilantro, shredded cheese, non-fat plain Greek yogurt (all optional for garnish)

Directions:

1. Place chicken into slow cooker (using frozen breasts is fine, and actually recommended for long cooking times).  Mix all remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over chicken.  Cook on low for approximately 8 hours, or until chicken is easily shredded with a fork.  Shred chicken breasts between two forks (I just leave it in the slow cooker and do this, but if it’s easier or you’d rather, go ahead and remove the chicken, shred it, and return to slow cooker).  Continue to cook until heated through.  Serve on tortillas and garnish as desired.

See what the others ladies cooked up for the Bloggers Choice Swap!

Recipe Swap: Avocado and Lime Black Bean Tacos

Published November 30, 2012 by jenmatteson

It’s that time again – Blogger’s Choice Recipe Swap, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  This week, I was assigned Jaida’s blog, Sweet Beginnings.  It might sound familiar because I’ve made several of her recipes in the past: double crunch pork chops, pumpkin scones with maple glaze (which I just made again before Thanksgiving), and salsa verde chicken ‘n’ dumplings.  Scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to see what other recipe swappers made!

I have to be honest, I must have been out of my mind to sign up for a recipe swap right after Thanksgiving.  We still had turkey and potatoes leftover, I had to test a pot pie recipe for a dinner I’m catering next week, so we had 6 total (thankfully Nate didn’t mind bringing them for lunch and making his co-workers jealous!), and we also had a ton of leftover salsa chicken that Nate had practically begged me to make because he loves it so much.  We still have pie, cookies and pumpkin scones from our friends thanksgiving, so the last thing I needed was another sweet.  But, I powered through and found an awesome recipe 😉

It really came down to the wire for me to make something for this swap, and I ended up having to do it on a night that Nate had class.  I definitely didn’t want to make some extravagant meal for just myself, so I opted for something similar to what I make myself when he’s not home, but with a fun twist. 

When Nate’s gone, one of my favorite things to make for myself are black bean tacos – black beans, onions, jalapenos, peppers, lettuce, cilantro (sometimes avocados – it really just depends on what is in my fridge), hot sauce and a dab of Greek yogurt on a whole wheat flour tortilla.  I saw Jaida’s avocado and lime black bean tacos and thought it’d sounded perfect.  Oh, and if you are a taco fan (which I am) she has Taco Tuesdays and has more taco recipes on her blog than I’ve ever seen before (over 40!).  Love it!

While the ingredients are fairly similar to what I would normally use, I found that sprinkling the tortilla with cumin really brings out the smokey flavor (I normally add it into the black beans), but it’s balanced out perfectly with the lime juice.  What an excellent combination!  I omitted the cheese (as I’m not a fan) and unintentionally omitted the egg whites.  I thought I had eggs (or at least egg substitute) at home, but I didn’t.  They were still excellent!  These tacos were an excellent way to jazz up my normal Wednesday night alone meal.

Avocado and Lime Black Bean Tacos

Source: Sweet Beginnings
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsps lime juice
kosher salt
1 avocado, chopped
2 whole wheat flour tortillas
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
plain non-fat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with foil. 

2. In a small saucepan, heat black beans over medium heat, about 2 minutes, until heated through (microwave would work fine here).  Set aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, combine beans, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice.  Add salt to taste.  Stir in avocado and set aside.

4. Place tortillas on baking sheet and sprinkle each with cumin.  Add cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

5. Spoon bean mixture evenly on each tortilla.  Add a dollop of Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and hot sauce if desired, fold gently and serve.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Published July 1, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve had this pork tenderloin in my freezer for about two months; I bought two because they were on a great sale, and used the first one for the hoisin glazed pork tenderloin.  I’m not a big pork eater, but when I do eat pork, I prefer tenderloin versus a chop, as the meat is so much more, well, tender.  I decided to throw it in the slow cooker with some seasoning and salsa to make some tacos for Friday night dinner.

On on a side note regarding “slow cooker” vs. “Crockpot”…some people wonder why I use the term slow cooker as opposed to Crockpot.  Well, if you don’t already know the answer, it’s because Crockpot is a (well-known) brand of slow cookers, where as slow cooker is what the appliances is actually called.  Think about tissues and Kleenex, or lip blam and Chapstick.  I don’t know why, but it drives me crazy when people refer to lip balm in general as Chapstick.  I’m a Blistex girl myself.  I do own a Crockpot, but  I still refer to it as slow cooker.  Okay, rant over.

As per usual when I have something in my slow cooker, when I got home from work, my house smelled amazing.  I don’t know how the cats can stand the insanely awesome aromas all day long; it would drive me crazy.  I shredded the pork and left it on warm as we had to run a few errands before dinner.  All I could think about was pork tacos and I was getting crankier and crankier the longer they took.  Finally, we got home and were ready to eat dinner. As usual on Friday, we didn’t get around to it until after 9 PM, which means my pictures don’t turn out quite as well.  But believe me when I say these were yummy.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

4-5 lb pork tenderloin
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1 cup salsa

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix seasonings.  Add tenderloin to slow cooker and sprinkle seasoning mix over the top.  Add salsa, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. After 6-8 hours, shred tenderloin with two forks, and mix with remaining liquid in slow cooker.  Serve in soft or crunchy tortilla shells, over rice or over salad with desired toppings.

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