coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos I know the name for these tacos sounds a bit strange, but believe me, they don’t taste strange, in fact they taste pretty darn amazing.  I never thought coconut milk, lime and pineapple juice would be a winning combination with ground pork, but they really compliment the pork, and add a nice tropical flavor. The coconut milk while adding flavor and richness to the ground pork, also helps to keep it moist. These tacos may look complicated, but they’re not.  You can have these on the table in less than 30 minutes, making them another easy weeknight meal.  Who doesn’t love that?  Please don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients listed below, most of the ingredients are spices, in fact, I had most of the ingredients on hand the first time I made these up, except the pork, coconut milk and pineapple juice.

… 

Read More »

spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacos

spaghetti squash tacosI know there are many of you who have been patiently waiting for this recipe ever since I showcased it in my weekly menu post last week. Thanks for being so patient and I hope that these tacos make your wait worthwhile. I love it when I find a new family approved and easy weeknight meatless dinner (that was a mouthful). It’s so nice because I try and strive to have at least 2-3 meatless dinners a week, if possible. I want to make meatless nights fun and tasty and full of variety for the family, not boring and something that no one looks forward to. I truly have found the best recipes since I started my meatless search, and these tacos along with my Paul McCartney refried bean tacos are keepers!

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacosI was originally hesitant to try these tacos because even though I like spaghetti squash, I don’t LOVE it as a substitute for good old pasta, (I’m truly a carb girl) and neither does my family. We eat as a substitute once in a while because its healthy.  So, I finally picked up my reserved copy (after months of waiting) of Smitten Kitchen’s new cookbook from the library. I opened it up and this particular recipe grabbed my eye. Deb’s photo was amazing and really made me want to eat these tacos. I also loved that Deb was not a huge fan of spaghetti squash being a substitute for pasta either. She did feel differently about spaghetti squash when she made these tacos though. The squash really captures all the flavors from the chili spices and lime and it pairs wonderfully with all the toppings, plus it looks so pretty. I felt that if Deb and I were both in agreement that spaghetti squash is not a great substitute for pasta, then I might agree with her about these tacos, so I was game to give these a try.

… 

Read More »

cilantro lime chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa

cilantro lime chicken tacos
cilantro lime chicken tacosThese cilantro lime chicken tacos are the BOMB!  This is the recipe that I raved about in Friday’s mango avocado salsa post.  If you like chicken and tacos, then you will love this recipe.  These tacos were rated a 10+ in my house.  Everyone had 2 tacos and some people, (I’m not mentioning names) wanted a third.  The chicken is so moist and flavorful from the cilantro lime marinade, and top it with the mango avocado salsa, well, you have yourself a winner.   

I got this recipe from a blog that I have been following for some time called, For the Love of Cooking.  Pam has been blogging for years, and she has so many recipes that you could literally make a new recipe every day for a year and then some.  Every recipe that I have made from her blog is a winner.  I love that Pam gives her kid’s honest opinion on each dish, as it helps me to know if the dish is going to be something my kids will eat.   

This recipe is super easy to make, and pretty much a make-ahead meal, perfect for entertaining. You can marinate the chicken in the morning and then just grill it up that evening (don’t marinate it for more than 6 hours though). The mango avocado salsa literally takes 5 minutes to whip up.  

DSC_0145

cilantro lime chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa:

recipe slightly adapted from for the love of cooking
serves 4 to 6 
printer friendly version
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat
  • juice and zest of 3 limes 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of a large red onion, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • package of whole grain corn tortillas
  • cotija cheese or queso fresco
Click here for the mango avocado salsa recipe.
Prep all of your ingredients.  
Chop up your cilantro, zest and juice up your limes, mince your garlic and chop your red onion into small chunks.
You can either mince your red onion by throwing it into a food processor or mince it by hand.  I find it easier to just throw it in the processor, and let it do the work.
In a medium bowl, mix together the lime zest and juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, minced red onion, red pepper flakes, chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper.  
Put the chicken breasts into a ziploc bag and pour in the mixture.  Zip up the bag, and give it a couple of shakes to make sure that all of the chicken breasts are evenly coated.  
Put the bagged chicken in the refrigerator and let it marinate for 2-4 hours or up to 6 hours. 
Note:  I wouldn’t recommend marinating the chicken breasts for more than 6 hours, as they will get a bit rubbery.  If you want to make this a true make ahead meal and marinate it for more than 6 hours, then you can pick up some boneless chicken thighs.  They will take in the marinade beautifully and can handle marinating overnight or for more than 6 hours.     
Once the chicken has marinated, call upon your grill master (that would be my husband) to get the grill nice and hot.  Grill the chicken breasts about 7 minutes per side or until thoroughly cooked (when they reach an internal temp of 165 degrees).  Chicken breasts vary is size so it usually takes longer than 7 minutes per side, that is why I always test my chicken with a meat thermometer.  
DSC_0002Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes, and then slice the  chicken breasts into thin slices.  
While the chicken is resting, throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side.

cilantro lime chicken tacosThese tacos are not complete without the mango avocado salsa, seriously, it adds so much flavor.  

Top each tortilla with the sliced chicken, mango avocado salsa, cotija cheese or queso fresco and some fresh cilantro.  My kids and hubby honestly loved this dish.  The chicken was super flavorful, and topped with the mango salsa, it was a real treat. 

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos One of my challenges is to find some new meatless dinner recipes that the whole family will enjoy, besides your typical pasta.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but I want to offer other meatless alternatives for the family.  I’ve been trying to cut back on our meat intake to just a couple of days a week, and it’s been easy to find recipes that John and I like, but it’s been a bit harder to find recipes that the kids will enjoy as well.  

I recently picked a new favorite cookbook called, Meat Free Monday, and came across this refried bean taco recipe from Paul McCartney.  It was said to be one of his favorite recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  

So how did these tacos go over with the family?  The kids & hubby rated them a thumbs up!  I rated them a thumbs up as well due to the taste factor, but also because I had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes.  These tacos are the perfect weeknight meal because everything can be made and assembled in less than 20 minutes, and chances are you have most of the ingredients on hand in your pantry. Double thumbs up to Paul! 

Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos:

recipe from Meat Free Monday
serves 4-6

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box - the Fig beans come in a 17oz box and I used the whole box – I also like and most often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped – I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt 
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells – Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional – 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce – I did not add this because the kid’s do not like things to spicy

Below are most of the ingredients you will need to make the tacos.  
I really love beans from Fig Food Company as they are organic, and come in BPA free packaging.  I have a stocked pantry full of their cannellini, garbanzo, and black beans.   
You can find these beans at most Whole Foods.  
Update:  I’m finding that these beans are becoming hard to find, so I often use Amy’s Organic Refried Beans.
Below are the three ingredients you will need for the actual filling, so easy!
First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.
 Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato?  I will show you how.  
Cut your tomato in half lengthwise. 
Then quarter it.
Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.
 Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise. 
It’s much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.
Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.
Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  
Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored. 
Stir in the refried beans.  Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through.  Season to taste with some salt.  
If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.
John wanted a bit more spice so he diced up a jalapeno pepper and topped his taco with it instead of making the mixture spicy for the whole family. 
Below is a picture of the refried bean mixture.  
I know it’s not the prettiest picture, but I wanted to show you what it looks like.
Its time to heat up your tortillas.
You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.  
Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20
seconds per side.
Don’t feel like turning on the grill?  Then turn on your stove.  Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.
You don’t have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.
Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!
Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.
Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Here’s what we topped our tacos with.
I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro. 
The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.
John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
We paired the tacos with some roasted asparagus (surprise, surprise).
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
These were so good that I had some leftovers for lunch the next day. I paired the tacos with some strawberries and blueberries fresh from the farmers market, so good!
Paul McCartney's refried bean tacos
Do you try and have a meatless day during the week?  If so, what are some of your favorite recipes?

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Rating: 51

Serving Size: serves 4-6

Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounce can of refried beans or a 17 ounce box
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped - I used Italian plum tomatoes
  • pinch or two of sea or kosher salt
  • 1 package of whole grain corn tortillas or taco shells - Paul used hard taco shells in his recipe, so feel free to use hard taco shells
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 lime
  • *Optional - 1-2 teaspoons hot chili sauce - I did not add this because the kid's do not like things to spicy

Instructions

First, chop up your onion, and then de-seed and chop up your tomatoes.

Not sure how to de-seed and chop an Italian plum tomato? I show you pictures in the post, but also explain how to below.

Cut your tomato in half lengthwise.

Then quarter it.

Take a small knife and scoop out the seedpod.

Lay the tomato skin side down and cut into thin strips lengthwise.

It's much easier to cut tomatoes on the inside than the outside.

Cut the strips crosswise into small pieces.

Heat up the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft but not colored.

Stir in the refried beans. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook until heated through. Season to taste with some salt.

If you like your tacos spicy, add the 1 to 2 teaspoons of chill sauce to the refried bean mixture.

Its time to heat up your tortillas.

You can heat up the tortillas 2 ways.

Throw the tortillas on the grill, and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20

seconds per side.

Don't feel like turning on the grill? Then turn on your stove. Set your burner to low and put the tortilla on top of the grate and cook for about 20 seconds per side.

You don't have to heat up the soft tortillas, but they taste so much better when you do.

Now comes the fun part, assembling the tacos!

Top each tortilla with the bean mixture and then add your favorite fixings.

Make sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice on each taco.

Here's what we topped our tacos with.

I topped mine with Monterey jack, sliced avocado and cilantro.

The kids topped theirs with Monterey jack, sour cream and cilantro.

John topped his with Monterey jack, some diced jalapeno, sliced avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/06/paul-mccartneys-refried-bean-tacos/

chipotle shrimp tacos

shrimp


My friend Em wrote an amazing post on intuition and health and it got me thinking that we do tend to take our health for granted till it’s not there.  I know that when I’m feeling sick I crave feeling good again, I miss it, and when I do feel good again I feel so grateful and strong.  Health, love, peace and safety are my top priorities in life.  I feel blessed knowing my family is in great health, that I have lots of love and friends in my life and that I have a beautiful home that keeps my family and I warm and safe.  We can all get caught up wishing and looking for the next and greatest thing or focusing to much on the future instead of the here and now.  If we focused more on being present and on what is in front of us, we would realize that we really do have a wonderful and blessed life!

Speaking of feeling blessed, I felt extremely blessed on Saturday when the sun finally came out and the temperatures climbed up to the low 70’s.  It was a day where we had no obligations other than just being together, how cool is that?  We cleared off the back deck, the kids played in the yard till dark and John and I cooked this amazing meal together.  All in all it was an A+ day.

There are 3 recipes listed here.  You can just make the chipotle shrimp or add these delicious sides that we created.  It’s all up to you!  

chipotle shrimp tacos:

Recipe from Food Network
Serves 4

  • 1 pound medium shrimp (about 20) peeled and deveined & tails removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder – You may want to add a bit less of this if you’re serving these to your kids and they are not fans of spicy things.   My kids were fine with these, but they can handle spicy dishes.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas

Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Sorry about the raw shrimp photo, not to appetizing is it?Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high.

Pour on the shrimp and arrange them so they are not touching one another. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side.This is a much prettier photo than the raw shrimp!Throw the tortillas on the grill and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side.

Now, lets move onto the toppings.

 red cabbage slaw:

  • 1/4 red cabbage
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

We make the slaw about 1/2 hour to an hour before dinner so it can marinate.  You don’t want to make it too much further in advance because it may get soggy.

Coarsely chop the cabbage, squeeze both lime halves over the cabbage, add the kosher salt and mix it all together.  Let the slaw sit and marinate.

cilantro-lime yogurt sauce:

Makes enough for 8 tacos with some leftover

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Combine the greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice and minced garlic into a small bowl and mix together until blended.  Refrigerate sauce until needed.  This sauce can be made earlier that day or a day in advance.Spoon a bit of the cilantro yogurt on each tortilla and then top it with the red cabbage slaw and about 2 to 3 shrimp.  We served this up with some homemade avocado and tomatillo salsa (recipe to follow) and some tortilla chips, yummy.  

We gave ourselves a night off from veggies :)

This was the perfect “welcome to spring” meal!

beer-braised chicken verde tacos

tacos

Let’s talk Mexican!  Who doesn’t love Mexican food? I personally don’t know anyone that isn’t fan of Mexican fare.  Living in the bay area we have access to some amazing Mexican restaurants, and we frequent them quite a bit. I love cooking Mexican at home as well, and have really branched out from just making tacos and burritos. I remember when we first moved to California, 15 years ago, the only Mexican food I ate was a bean, rice and cheese burrito.  I’m so glad I got out of that rut and tried some new and exciting flavors.

My husband introduced me to this recipe.  I saw the title, beer-braised chicken, and thought beer, really John?  Is this something the kids and I are going to eat?  It sounded to me like a “manly meal” not a “family friendly” meal.  I took a bite just to please him and was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed it.  The kids loved it so much that Zoe ate 3 tacos and Eli ate 2 (that’s a big deal for him as he usually eats about 1). You don’t taste the beer in these, in-case there are those of you that are worried about that. The chicken is super moist and really mild in flavor.  Don’t be scared off by all the ingredients. Most of them are just spices that you most likely have lying around the house.

Another great thing about this dish, besides the fact that it tastes great, is that it is a two-nighter meal and it can be made ahead of time.  Who doesn’t love that?  Oh, and it’s a great weeknight meal because it takes about 30 minutes or so to throw together.  

beer-braised chicken verde tacos:

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican issue
serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil - I used olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion – I used a yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Mexican Beer – I used Pacifico 
  • 1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 4oz can diced green chilies – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • 1 4oz can diced jalapeños – you can always use the fresh stuff
  • package of corn tortillas

Make ahead or leftovers?  You can make this chicken verde ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator till needed.  All you have to do to re-heat it is to put the chicken mixture in a saucepan over low heat, and stir occasionally.  The liquid will come out from the chicken and make a sort of sauce for the chicken to simmer in.   

 Let’s prep our ingredients, shall we?
Cut up your onion, combine all your spices and salt into a small bowl (as you will be adding them at the same time), mince up your garlic, wash and prep your chicken (cut off any fatty parts) and open up your canned goods and the beer.
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. 
 Add butter, and your spices of cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano & salt.  
Cook and stir until butter melts.
Add beer, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and jalapeños.  Bring to a boil.  
Add chicken. Return to a boil and then reduce heat.  
Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring a few times.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board.  
Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered, for about 10 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  
Meanwhile, using two forks, shred up your chicken.  Put shredded chicken into a medium sized bowl.
 Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices to the shredded chicken and stir to combine.  
You can use this mixture as a filling for either quesadillas or hard or soft-shelled tacos.  
We chose small soft shelled corn tortillas. 
To warm them up, we wrapped the tortillas in tin foil and cooked them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Insert your favorite taco fixings.  

We love topping ours with shredded red cabbage, queso fresco and lots of cilantro.These tacos are family approved and rated a 10+ in our house.  Whenever I make these, all I hear from the troops is, “thanks for making these mom, they’re so good.”