Grilled Cauliflower and Queso Blanco Tacos

Happy Summer Solstice!  After a cold and damp spring, it is nice to finally have some warm temps.  Maybe even a little too warm for the start of summer, but I don’t want to complain.  In the blink of an eye, it will be winter again, and I’ll be wishing for beach days long gone.

Luckily these warmer temps bring an opportunity to turn off the oven and get out the grill.  Or in my case, the grill pan since my apartment doesn’t permit grilling *sigh*.  At least my Le Creuset Bistro Grill gives the flavor of an outdoor grill.  It’s also really easy to clean.  I’ve had other grill pans that weren’t worth using due to the cleanup involved after.

I was inspired to make these tacos after seeing a recipe that Half Baked Harvest shared.  First, I should start off by stating that I was very skeptical of cauliflower and it’s new found fame.  It seems to be following in the footsteps of kale (which I was also a skeptic of at first).  Up until this point, my only experience with cauliflower was cauliflower rice.  I was surprised by how good it was, but it was not enough to convince me that cauliflower could be the star of the show.  As in, cauliflower “steak”(what???!!!) or cauliflower “wings”.  How could cauliflower replace beef or the chicken in wings?!  Vegan cheese is one thing, but this is a whole other level of food trickery!

I finally tried buffalo style cauliflower a few months ago at the New York Botanical Garden Hudson Garden Grill, which is a delicious farm to table style restaurant.  I’m so glad I did.  The cauliflower was crispy and spicy and barely needed it’s blue cheese accompaniment. Now I don’t think I could go so far as to say that this would become a replacement for regular wings, but clearly I now understood all of the hype around this unassuming veggie, which brings me back to the tacos.

The original recipe has you roast the cauliflower and serve with fried halloumi cheese.  I decided to grill it, and since my local grocery stores don’t carry halloumi, I used queso blanco as a substitute.  It also has a high melting point so I was able to grill it before serving with the tacos.  I love halloumi and when I need another cheese fix, I think I’ll order some from Amazon Fresh.

It seems that cauliflower tends to take on whatever flavor you’re imparting on it.  So the cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder definitely gave it the right Mexican kick.  It also stays tender on the inside when you cook it.  Be sure to serve the tacos with lots of guacamole, a good salsa (I like Joe’s or Shoprite Kitchen’s) and fresh cilantro.  I will definitely make these again and plan to make buffalo style cauliflower in the upcoming weeks! Are you a cauliflower convert yet?

Ingredients 
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoons sesame
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper
8 ounces queso blanco (or halloumi cheese), sliced
8 tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory’s Handmade Style Corn Tortillas or Chi-Chi’s Flour and Corn Tortillas)
Guacamole
Salsa
Fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, oils, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Grill cauliflower over medium high heat until each side has a nice sear.  Transfer to a baking tray and keep warm.  Grill or pan fry the queso blanco (use foil if using a grill) and cook 1-2 minutes per side until the cheese begins to melt.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Transfer slices to tray with cauliflower.  Heat the tortillas using your desired method.  I like to heat them on the grill pan. To assemble the tacos, layer the cauliflower and queso blanco in the tortillas and top with guacamole, salsa and fresh cilantro.

 

Spicy BBQ Chicken Tacos

If you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal, then look no further.  I ended up pulling together two different recipe ideas to come up with these spicy barbecue chicken tacos.  They require little effort but result in big flavor.  I used rotisserie chicken, which is a great shortcut, and even had some leftover to make waldorf chicken salad for lunch for the week.  You could also make a batch of pulled pork in a slow cooker if you’re not feeling like chicken.  Since I wasn’t making barbecue sauce from scratch, I wanted one that didn’t have a ton of sugar in it.  I recommend using Sticky Fingers Sweet Southern Heat since it only has 9 grams of sugar per serving, which is a lot less than other brands.  I also recommend heating your tortillas on a grill pan.  I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this sooner!  Slaw and pickles are a must for these so don’t be weirded out by the thought of tacos + pickles.

Ingredients
2 cups broccoli slaw
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast
1/3 cup Sticky Fingers Sweet Southern Heat barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 tortillas of your choice
Dill pickle chips

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Toss half of the mixture with the broccoli slaw.  Reserve additional sauce for serving.

Place chicken, cayenne pepper and barbecue sauce in a medium bowl.  Cover loosely and microwave on high until chicken is heated through.

Warm tortillas using a grill pan or method of you choice.  Transfer chicken mixture to the tortillas and top with slaw, extra sauce, and pickles.

Mexican Chicken Meatballs

IMG_3319I made these Mexican Chicken Meatballs almost a month ago and have waited way too long to post the recipe (I hope I can remember the ingredients)!  As my chicken meatball obsession continues, I am all about finding new ways to make them.  I LOVE tacos too so combining both of them was a no brainer.  I made this batch of meatballs slightly smaller than regular ones I make so 2 to 3 of them they easily fit into a soft corn tortilla.  Eventually, I’d like to make my own corn tortillas, but in the meantime, La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style White Corn Tortillas are my favorite.  I just heat them up in a pan with a little bit of oil.  Serve them with the meatballs and your favorite taco toppings.  I used Fresh Express’s chopped salad mix with their Greek yogurt jalapeno ranch dressing.  Yummmm!!!

Ingredients
1 pound lean ground chicken
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
Half a small white onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons diced green chiles
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon  chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tortillas and toppings for serving

In a small skillet over medium heat,  saute onion and green chiles in a small amount of olive oil until onions are soft.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly.  And ground chicken and remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.  Form into small meatballs, about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cook in small batches until evenly browned and cooked through.  Serve with tortillas and slaw or your choice of toppings.

Taco Fiesta Spaghetti Squash Bowl

In an effort to eat healthy and up my workouts during the week, I spent most of this afternoon cooking in preparation for the work week.  I usually eat pretty healthy, but if I don’t have options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner mapped out, I find it harder to stay on that path.  So today I grilled some eggplant, roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, made pumpkin spice “cake” bites, and whipped up the components of the Taco Fiesta Spaghetti Squash Bowl!   Everything turned out great, and I will post some of the other recipes later in week.

Ingredients
1 small to medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
1 pound ground turkey
1 small yellow onion, chopped2 tablespoons jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole, and salsa for serving

Preheat oven to 450º F.  Drizzle squash halves with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place flesh side down on parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool slightly before removing the squash from the skin with a fork to create “spaghetti”.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

IMG_9801In a large pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey.  Add the onion, jalapeno, and corn and saute until softened.  Add all of the spices (or use pre-made taco seasoning) and a 1/4 cup of water.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes.

IMG_9812

 

 

Place a portion of the spaghetti squash in a bowl and top with the ground turkey mixture and toppings of your choice.

Pulled Pork Tacos

IMG_9209A few weeks ago, I finally bought a slow cooker, and I’m so glad I did.  Since it’s been pretty hot and humid lately and my kitchen is without A/C, I needed to take a break from using the oven and stove.  I had a slow cooker years ago that someone gave to me, but I never really used it.  I ended up leaving it at my former place of employment for the guys to use for their annual Christmas party.  Lucky them!  Not knowing a lot about slow cookers/crock pots, I did a little research and ended up purchasing the Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker.  So far it’s been great!  I love that it switches to warm once the cooking time is finished.

I am also looking forward to using it in the winter so I can make more than one meal on Sunday when I’m prepping for the week.  I don’t always feel like cooking on nights I get home late so this will be a huge help.

This past Sunday, I had late afternoon plans to make dinner for friends who just had a baby and to hang out with their other two little ones. 🙂  Since I wasn’t going to be home to cook later, I decide to try my hand at shredded pork tacos.  I’ve been craving them and figured they would be easy to attempt.  I found two different recipes but ended up coming up with my own combination of ingredients.  They were delicious!  The pork was tender and flavorful and just what I was in the mood for.

Ingredients
2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 cup chicken stock
1 15 ounce can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo
1/2 white onion, chopped
1  tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Corn or flour tortillas
Salsa
Guacamole
Shredded Mexican blend cheese (optional)
Fresh cilantro, limes, and/or sliced radishes for garnishes

Place the pork tenderloin in the slower cooker and add the chile powder, salt, chicken stock, tomatoes, and garlic cloves (whole).  In a food processor or mini-prep, combine 2-3 chipotle peppers, half of the adobo sauce, onion, vinegar, and brown sugar.  Pulse to combine.  Add to the pork mixture. Stir to combine and evenly coat the pork
Cook on low for 8 hours.  Using two forks, shred the pork.  Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas, salsa, guacamole, and your choice of garnishes.  Enjoy!