Tag Archives: tacos

Sesame Crusted Fish Tacos with Avocado Salad and Slaw

So, here we have meal #2 from the Cuizoo Arsenal.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting one done per day, but I’ll try to keep these coming as frequently as possible.  I know I’ll be cooking tonight, but once the weekend hits, I don’t make any promises as cooking cuts into my drinking time.  I kid.  (I should mention though that one small bottle of white wine has lasted me *all* week, which is some sort of healthy living record for me.  And no, I haven’t switched to bourbon in an attempt to take it easy on wine.)

Today we are going to talk about tacos.  They are generally a huge kid favorite and when it comes to flexibility, anything in a wrap is about as good as it gets.  Let’s first discuss the shell.  I, for one, don’t really like grocery store taco shells because they just break and make a mess.  When I came across this lightly fried/soft shell method for tacos a while back, I began to enjoy them again.  Basically, you soften a corn tortilla in a bit of oil in a saute pan, fill it with toppings and cheese, fold it over, and let it crisp a bit before flipping it and then crisping the other side.  What you end up with is a crispy (but not crunchy) taco shell with warm fillings and melted cheese.  It’s sort of a cross between a quesadilla and a taco.  This all being said, if you like regular taco shells or if you want to do soft tacos with flour tortillas, it’s totally up to you. One thing to add here is that you should always have some corn or flour tortillas in your freezer (and regular taco shells or tostado shells — which I do love — in your pantry).  It is a no-brainer of a meal.

Second, you need some protein.  Obviously, the choices are pretty obvious here.  A can or two of white or black beans heated up with some garlic and spices and mashed is fantastic in a taco (and about as fast as you can get for a dinner).  Grilled chicken or ground beef are the old stand-bys.  Sauteed veggies with cheese is great too.  You can also do a combination of several proteins and let everyone pick their favorites.  But it seems that the whole world is gaga over fish tacos right now (and I can’t say I blame them), so that’s what we did last night.  On the subject of the fish, I will add that the sesame crusted method I used makes a great and easy stand alone entree with a simple salad or vegetables. You can also add some bread crumbs to the sesame seeds if you like.

Third, you need some condiments.  The easy ones are salsa and sour cream.  Not much more difficult is making some basic guacamole.  When I do that, I simply mash one or two ripe avocados with a chopped garlic clove, salt and pepper, some cumin, and lime juice.  With last night’s meal, I had some tomatoes and cucumbers left over from the previous night, so I just chopped those up with the avocado for more of an avocado salad.  As the veggie or an additional condiment, I like to serve some form of cole slaw or salad greens with tacos because they are just as good inside the taco as on the outside. Find a good hot sauce for the grown-ups at the table and you are basically done.

Now, for variations that we love:  Spicy Mashed Black Beans with a Creamy Red Cabbage Slaw and Queso Fresco or Feta cheese — that is one of my favorites; Grilled BBQ Chicken (or leftover chicken) with Creamy Slaw and Cheddar Cheese; Steak with Caramelized Onions and a bit of Blue Cheese and Balsamic Greens; Fajita style with Grilled Chicken and Sauteed Red Peppers and Onions; or for a VERY quick dinner, just cheese and whatever else you may have leftover or in the freezer (guaranteed to be faster than any fast food).

As for the $15 limit, I might be slightly over because the fish itself was about $10.  But clearly you can make this meal just as easily with chicken or beans and cut that cost dramatically.  So, I’ll let it slide.

Sesame Crusted Fish Tacos with Avocado Salad and Slaw

Makes 8-10 tacos (enough for 4-6 people)

1 pound of mild white fish (I used cod)
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds (you can buy them pretoasted in Asian markets)
1 T butter
Salt, Pepper, Smoked Paprika or Chipotle Powder
10 – 6 inch corn tortillas
4-6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Sour Cream
Salsa
Hot Sauce

Avocado Salad
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cucumber
10-12 grape or cherry tomatoes
Onion
Fresh cilantro from one bunch
1 garlic clove
1/2 of a lime
1/4 t cumin
Fresh cilantro
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Slaw
A small Napa or Chinese Cabbage (or any type of cabbage will work)
Fresh cilantro from one bunch
Olive Oil
1/2 of a lime
A bit of orange juice

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Melt 1 T butter and mix with sesame seeds.  Add to that 1/4 t salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to season (Chipotle Powder if you like it spicier).  Place fish on a parchment line baking sheet.  With a sharp knife, cut it into 3/4 inch slices, but leave whole filet in one piece (See pic above). Pat sesame seed mixture all over top.  Bake for 12-13 minutes until just opaque.

2.  While the fish is baking, mix avocado salad.  Halve, peel, and remove pit from avocado.  Chop it into a medium-sized dice and place in bowl.  Halve the cucumber lengthwise, remove seeds with a spoon, and chop into a medium-sized dice.  Quarter the cherry or grape tomatoes. Finely chop a small piece of onion to make about 2 T.  Chop about 1 T of cilantro.  Finely chop the clove of garlic.  Mix all of the above in the bowl.   Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime and a drizzle of olive oil.  Season with 1/4 t of salt, pepper, 1/4 t of cumin, and a bit of Smoked Paprika or Chipotle Powder.   Set aside.

3.  Prepare the slaw.  Cut the cabbage in half and remove the core.  Thinly slice 1/2 of the cabbage and place in a bowl (reserve other half for a different use).  Chop about 1/4 cup of cilantro and add to cabbage.  Drizzle with about 1/4 cup of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lime, and a bit of orange juice to taste.  Season with 1/2 t of salt and pepper.  Play with the dressing if needed, adding more citrus, salt, or olive oil if necessary. Set aside.

4.  To prepare the tacos:  heat a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan.  Take one corn tortilla and place it flat into the pan, spinning it a bit to coat it with olive oil.  After about 10-20 seconds, it should be flexible (if it’s not, your shells may crack).  Add one or two slices of the baked fish and about 1 T of shredded cheese.  Gently fold the taco in half and hold with a spatula for a few seconds to make sure it stays folded.  Repeat with another taco (I usually do two at a time).  When the tacos are lightly golden on one side, flip and cook on the other side.  Remove to an oven safe platter and place in oven to stay warm.  Repeat with remaining tacos.

5.  To serve, put a bit of the avocado salad inside the taco and serve with slaw, sour cream, salsa, and hot sauce.  The slaw is also good inside the taco as a condiment.

No Hangover Tequila Chicken Tacos with Guacamole

Well, I guess I cannot entirely guarantee that you won’t have a hangover with these tacos.  If you are so inclined to drink the remaining tequila in the bottle after you make the marinade, then you are on your own.  And it is a lonely place to be — trust me.  The tequila hangover is something that one just can’t explain.  You may ask:  as bad as way too much cheap red wine?  Yes and worse.  And different.

A tequila hangover is like childbirth.  It is so painful that it keeps you from doing it again for a while, until the cloud of happiness infiltrates your brain and you think “hey, let’s have some tequila tonight.”  Several years in between episodes at the minimum.  And I am pretty sure there might be a heavy correlation between tequila and childbirth, as it can be used to both make the baby and sterilize the forceps.

My worst tequila hangover was like having quadruplets in a field somewhere.  The night started innocently enough with some Indian food takeout and a bottle of red wine (probably not advisable, but also not terrible).  The night ended with tequila shots and then finishing another bottle of red wine. And if there ever needed to be some rhyme made up about what to drink and when, this is the combo:  red wine, Indian food, tequila shots, and more red wine.  You are never in the clear in this situation.  It will be a two day hangover and you will struggle to remember what the hell happened and why you were playing Gin Rummy.  Just take my advice on this and don’t do it.

The tacos, however, are delicious.  We like to have them either in soft tortilla wraps or lightly fried to make them crispy, but not so annoying as to fall apart all over your plate.  (To do that, just put some oil in a saute pan, soften the wrap slightly in the oil, add your fillings, fold it in half, and pan fry until golden and then flip and repeat.  I love soft tacos this way because the cheese actually melts and they are a cross between a taco and a quesadilla.)  Either way, the chicken is succulent and lightly kissed with the flavors of your favorite Mexican drink.  And served with some homemade guacamole and fresh salsa, you will be ready to kiss someone.  Just try to keep your shirt on.

No Hangover Tequila Chicken Tacos with Guacamole

Serves 4-6

Marinade:
1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup orange juice
Juice and zest of two limes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 t sea salt
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
Freshly ground pepper

Guacamole:
2 avocados, peeled and pit removed
1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 t sea salt
Juice of half of a lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Soft taco shells
Salsa (freshly made takes it to another level)
Sour Cream
Freshly shredded cheddar cheese

1.  Whisk together marinade ingredients, except chicken thighs, in a pyrex baking dish.  Place chicken thighs in marinade and turn to coat.  Marinade for about an hour if you have the time (longer is OK too).

2.  Mash together guacamole ingredients and set aside.  (Before mashing, I like to reserve one half of an avocado and cut that into chunks.  I then add the chunks to the mashed guacamole for better texture.  Your choice.)

3.  Grill chicken thighs over indirect heat for about 15-20 minutes until done.  Remove, let rest, and slice into strips.

4.  Serve chicken and guacamole with soft taco shells, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

Barbecued Chicken Tacos with Slaw

Some of my favorite meals are the leftover creations I enjoy at lunchtime.  In fact, leftovers are a staple and become the basis of almost every lunch that the kids and I eat.  That’s the beauty of cooking real food at dinner time — it generally always provides you with another meal.  And these meals are quick — the meat is already cooked, many of the veggies are prepped and washed — which leaves you only a few minutes away from a lunch (or a soccer night dinner) that’s ten times better than anything you can find in a restaurant.  For a heck of a lot less money, too.

So last night, we had a simple and delicious dinner of my husband’s “world famous” (he has deemed it so) barbecue chicken and cucumber salad.  We always try to grill a little extra meat to have for leftovers — in this case we had boneless chicken thighs with some awesome barbecue sauce that we found on vacation in South Carolina.  Also in the fridge were a wedge of purple cabbage from the other night, some corn tortillas, and some cheese.  So, my first grader got a nice chopped salad made of purple cabbage and barbecued chicken with some olive oil and spices on it.  (She also got a banana and a cookie).   My two year old only wanted the chicken and a rice cake.  That was easy.dsc_5598

I was left with one chicken thigh and my brain obsessing about barbecued chicken tacos with slaw.  You could just as easily make a chicken quesadilla or chicken soft taco with a flour tortilla. These kinds of things aren’t really recipes as much as methods — so get creative.  I should also add that a head of cabbage is on my farmer’s market or grocery store list every week.  It is perfect for quick family dinners because it’s easy to wash and prep (remove some of the outer leaves and give it a rinse, cut it into quarters, remove the core, and slice thinly), you don’t have to spin it dry like salad, a half of a head easily makes enough cole slaw for 4-6 people, and the remainder stores in the fridge very well for a long time.  Try it lightly sauteed with butter and a bit of beer or wine served with mashed potatoes — my kids love it.  And certainly feel free to use pre-sliced, bagged cole slaw mix if you like — but it is more expensive, much less flavorful — and I trust my own kitchen a lot more than the “salmonella spinach farms.” It takes all of five minutes to prep the whole head.

Barbecued Chicken Tacos with Slaw

  1. Make a quick slaw with sliced purple cabbage, a handful of chopped cilantro, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and lime juice.
  2. Slice leftover chicken and shred some cheddar cheese (or grab a bag of preshredded like I did).
  3. Heat a splash of oil in a saute pan over medium heat and place one small corn tortilla in the oil.  Spin it around a bit until it softens (so you can bend it without it breaking — important for corn tortillas, flour ones aren’t as fragile).  Quickly add sliced chicken, a bit of slaw, and some cheese and fold the tortilla in half.  When lightly brown on one side, flip and brown the other side.  Remove to a paper towel to soak up any extra oil and repeat with remaining ingredients until you’re done!
  4. Serve with additional slaw and sour cream, guacamole, or salsa if you like.

*If you or your kids have access to a microwave at school/work, this would make a great lunch with a flour tortilla heated for a bit just to melt the cheese.  Wrap it in parchment paper to keep it safe for microwaving (plastic wraps and containers leach chemicals into your food in the microwave and obviously foil causes a little fireworks show — something the lunch lady might not be so pleased about).