Friday, May 25, 2012

Easy Layered Zucchini and Tomato Frittata with Dill

Big, beautiful, green zucchini are starting to arrive at the farmer's markets. In my house, our favorite way to eat fresh zucchini is to simply slice and boil it, and add a little butter and salt. Usually there's a little leftover cooked zucchini - which is great for adding to the next morning's eggs.

Tomatoes and zucchini are always a good match. So for this frittata, I kept it very simple, only adding onions and dill for flavor. It's a great summery breakfast, but you can make it any time of year.

Note: A cast-iron skillet is a must for any kitchen - at least one good, heavy, 6-7" pan. It can go straight from burner to oven, at any temperature. It achieves perfect crispy brown-ness for anything. Eggs taste ten times better from cast iron, I promise. 

Layered Zucchini and Tomato Frittata with Dill
2 servings (easily doubled, but increase baking time)

3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 T cold water

1 T dill, chopped (plus more for garnish)

Salt & Pepper

1 T butter
1/4 C onion, diced
1 C sliced zucchini
1 C sliced tomatoes

1 T parmesan cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 425F.

1. Whisk together eggs, water and dill. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a 7" cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add butter and onions. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.

3. Place a layer of zucchini on top of the onions, leaving 1/2" between each piece. Add a layer of tomatoes over the gaps. Repeat.

4. Pour egg mixture evenly over the contents of the pan. Give the pan a gentle shake to incorporate the egg down through the layers. Cook about 2-3 minutes, so the egg sets a little. 

5. Top with cheese and place in the oven for about 15 minutes. Insert a knife to check that the egg is fully cooked. Serve hot, garnished with dill.

*5-6 eggs will take much longer - start checking at 15 minutes, but plan for 25-30.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baked Polenta with Orange Black Bean Salsa

There's one thing I don't like about polenta: it's difficult to make a small amount. The liquid to dry proportion is so great, that it's hard to adjust down to only two servings. With most foods, it's just fine to have a little leftover, but polenta doesn't reheat well. It will never be as creamy as the moment it was poured from pan to plate.

Last week, I made a pot of creamy lemon-pesto polenta to go with King Oyster Mushrooms. Then, for a quick Thursday night meal, I took the leftover polenta and smooshed it onto a baking sheet to reheat it. 

Baked polenta topped with salsa is one of our favorite summer meals. It's a change of pace from the norm - neither a hot dish or a cold one. The polenta satisfies like a solid meal, without being heavy, and the salsa is cool and refreshing. I mixed up a quick topping for the baked polenta with what I had on hand. Most important are the black beans, since they are the key source of protein for a dish like this. I also added a little avocado on the side for healthy fats. Using the pre-made polenta, the whole meal can be ready in 15-20 minutes.

Any ready-made polenta will work here. You can vary the type of legumes, or the herbs used in the salsa. Try different types of cheese, fruits or nuts for topping. There are endless variations you can make with a dish like this. 

Baked Polenta with Orange Black Bean Salsa
2-3 servings

3 C prepared polenta, refrigerated
1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese

1-1/2 C canned black beans, rinsed well and drained (prefer Goya brand)
1 navel orange, skin and pith removed, cut into small sections
1 C tomato, diced
1/2 C cucumber, diced
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 T lime juice (or lemon)
salt & pepper to taste

Seasoned Avocado:
1 avocado, sliced
1 T lime juice
1 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400F.

1. Using your hands, press the polenta into a baking sheet with 1/2" high sides. Keep the thickness 1/2", so if you have leftover space at one end of the pan, it's ok. Top with cheese and bake 15 minutes. Raise heat to 425F for 5 minutes, or broil for 1 minute to brown the cheese.

2. Meanwhile, prepare salsa by mixing together all ingredients. Set aside.

3. Slice avocado and drizzle with lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat evenly. Set aside.

4. To serve, cut polenta into 4"x4" pieces and serve with salsa and avocado on the side. Top immediately before eating.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Grilled Marinated King Oyster Mushrooms and Roast Tomatoes over Lemon Pesto Polenta

Oh lord of delicious things, I have outdone myself this time. Finally, you've blessed me by granting me a really good idea!

The real credit goes Madura Farm's mushrooms from Monday's greenmarket in Union Square. I stopped by to browse on Monday, after a particularly brutal dental cleaning. I might not have gone by the market, had it been one of those gorgeous days that attracts crowds. But, as it was drizzling and still fairly early, I tested my luck at finding something interesting.

The greenmarket can be a bit cut-throat at times. If the wrong person catches you eyeing an item too long, it might get snatched up before you can blink. I was reminded of this Monday, as I noticed some fine-looking baby bok choy - and some guy busted in front of me and started grabbing them like they were going out of style. I had a moment of panic, but he stopped at 5 or 6, and there were a few left.

The main reason for my interest in the bok choy was a stack of beautifully fat King Oyster Mushrooms at Madura Farm stand. Knowing there were only a few, and probably no more, I was rushing to glean a recipe idea from the other produce stands. I hurriedly collected some Asian-ish ingredients like the bok choy, some radishes, turnips and scallions.

Two phallic mushrooms and $14 later I was jotting experiment ideas into my iPhone. I have some of my best inspiration on the subway, and I know if I don't write down the ideas that they will be gone forever when the doors open.

I had a good start with the Asian ingredients, but seeing as I had two very expensive mushrooms I wasn't going to spend them all in one night. I wasn't worried about the bok-choy mushroom dish - it would be the beginner recipe. The next one would be something new, fused with the more familiar: Italian.

Tossing the Kings with peasantly pasta seemed a bit simpleton... so I continued to challenge my inner database. Ah! Polenta! It's been far too long since I played with polenta. And how about a few of my other favorite ingredients: lemon, basil, pine nuts and tomatoes. How can we go wrong here?

King oyster mushrooms over polenta
It was not wrong at all. I took time crafting a plan. A tasty marinade to engorge the meaty mushrooms. Polenta just flavorful enough to devour alone, but mild enough to fade into the background and let the mushrooms shine. And roasted tomatoes to add juicy sweetness, and cover up for any flaws in the rest of the execution.

It was a wonderful combination. The King Oyster Mushrooms loved being grilled - this method was far better than searing. They remained plump with tart juices, and meaty without being tough or chewy. The polenta was as planned - a basic with just a twist of flavor. The tomatoes, as always, brought the whole thing together, along with a very important dash of good aged balsamic vinegar.

Tip for time management in the following recipe:
First, heat the oven for the tomatoes to 425F. Then, marinate mushrooms. As they set, roast the tomatoes. Remove tomatoes and grill the mushrooms, setting both aside when cooked. 

Make the polenta at the very last minute, so it is still creamy when served. It will need your full attention, so as not to overcook it. You can always pop the mushrooms and tomatoes in the microwave for 30 seconds if they've gotten too cold. 

Grilled Marinated King Oyster Mushrooms
4 servings

Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms
4  medium sized King oyster mushrooms (5" long, approx 2"thick - about the size of a standard pepper mill) , cut lengthwise into 1/4" thick strips

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 C white wine
2 tsp sea salt (grey salt works well, if you have it)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 T lemon juice

Whisk together marinade ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the sliced mushrooms in a  large zip-top bag and pour the marinade in. Close the bag and gently move it around to get the marinade all over the mushrooms. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, place the mushrooms with tongs. Cook about 2 minutes on the first side, and 1 minute on the 2nd side for nice grill marks. Remove immediately.

Roast Tomatoes
4 servings

10 small Campari tomatoes, halved (these tend to be deliciously sweet, and worth the money) 
OR 20-25 cherry or grape tomatoes, whole
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt (grey salt works well for tomatoes)

Heat oven to 425F. Place tomatoes on an aluminum foil lined sheet pan and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 25 minutes. 

For cut tomatoes, you want them to be just starting to look exhausted and wilted, and a little wrinkled, but still juicy. For whole cherry or grape tomatoes, remove from the oven as soon as some start to burst open.
Juicy roasted Campari tomatoes
Lemon Pesto Polenta
4 servings

1/4 C lemon juice
8 medium basil leaves
1 small clove garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

2-1/2 C vegetable stock
1 T olive oil

3/4 C quick cooking instant polenta

2 T pine nuts
1/3 C grated parmesan cheese *optional, omit for vegan

1. Puree together first 5 ingredients in a blender or small food processor. Set aside.

2. Bring stock and olive oil to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add polenta and reduce heat to low. Whisk or stir in quickly.

3. As soon as polenta is dissolved in stock, quickly add the basil puree. 

4. 3 minutes from adding the polenta, remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

King Oyster Mushrooms with Bok Choy Rice Noodles

I stopped by Union Square Greenmarket on Monday morning for a little cooking inspiration. The market nearest me is lacking in newness lately, so I was looking to find something unique in Union Square. It never disappoints.

Any time I see an unidentifiable item, I'm drawn to it. Sometimes I might know what it is, but if I've never cooked with it, it calls for me to try. I was hoping to find some peas or other green and springy foods on Monday, but it's still a little early in the season. I found myself drawn to the mushrooms at Madura farms instead. I always check the mushroom displays. Nine out of ten times the contents of the boxes are entirely predictable: Oyster, Shiitake, Cremini. BOH-ring. But this time there were some new players: Maitake, King Oyster, and Lingzhi.

Hmmm... Maitake I've heard of, but not sure what flavors it goes with. King Oyster I've had and liked, but only deep-fried. And Lingzhi? Just the name sounds threatening, like I probably should stay away at least while I'm pregnant! Now is not the time to experiment too wildly - so I compromised and bought a couple big King Oyster mushrooms.

As soon as I forked over fourteen dollars for two servings of mushrooms, I decided I had to make the most of them. I guessed that three experiments would be enough to find one that works well enough to make again. This way I can plan ahead next time, with a recipe in mind, before I spend serious coin on fungus.
King Oyster mushroom, bok choy, scallions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes
For my first experiment I focused more on cooking the mushrooms than coming up with an original recipe. I wanted to do something easy and obvious just to try my hand at preparing them, and not be too disappointed and hungry if I failed. I found a recipe for Bok Choy Noodles from the New York Times that I can proudly say, I actually had ALL the ingredients on hand to make... ok, with some minor revisions. I haven't cooked Asian in a while, but somehow my pantry was still at the ready.

All the pantry fixings for a good noodle bowl
As for the mushrooms, I read up on how to slice and sear them. Very similar to scallops. I used real butter, just to be safe. Maybe I cooked them too long, about 6-8 minutes waiting for them to brown perfectly. I found them tough. A little dry. Thank goodness I was just tossing them into a giant pot of noodles. Can't go wrong with a big bowl of rice stick and veg!

Seared King Oyster Mushrooms
Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove dirt. Slice into 1/4" thick rounds. Heat butter (and a little canola oil) and minced garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms and cook 2 minutes on each side until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan.

Cut into 1/4" rounds
Sear in butter and garlic

Stir-Fried Rice Stick Noodles With Bok Choy and Cherry TomatoesRecipe from New York Times. 
 *I used vegetable stock, rice wine vinegar instead of sherry, omitted the egg, and added cooked scallions. I felt the need to add lime juice to the dish, and for anything other than mild palettes, you need some chili-garlic paste or sriracha / hot sauce. 

Have all the ingredients at the ready to toss into the pan quickly

The mild noodle dish shows off the mushrooms

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Hunt for Vegetarian Food in Curacao

All these fresh Venezuelan produce, so much potential...
Last week, Amit and I took a quick 4 day trip to Curacao. We had wanted a little beach time, but we're not really sun-bathers, so we opted for an island with some culture to explore. And of course the other requirement was being able to use air and hotel points. We thought it would be fun to go and take pictures of the pretty architecture, see some blue water, and maybe try some local cuisine.

The colorful Dutch architecture of the Punda
It actually was not the easiest task to track down the local cuisine. It seems apparent that the abundance of tourists require big juicy steaks and grilled seafood, or pizza and pasta if they're going light. The "local" favorite spots were those serving festive cuisine with an Indonesian background - rijsttafel.  It's described as a buffet of satays, sambals, vegetables, meats, egg rolls and other spicy dishes. To me, the relationship between the Dutch and Indonesian rijsttafel seems similar Britain's fondness for Indian curry, adopting it as a type of national cuisine.

I wish I could show you pictures of this so-called feast, but we never got to try it. The one restaurant serving a vegetarian menu, called "Rijsttafel", eluded us the entire weekend. We tried to have a reservation made, but no one picked up the conceirge's calls. A $40 taxi would have been a waste if we got there to find it closed. So we tried again the next day - no answer. We drove there ourselves on Friday night. The street looked dark and residential, no life in sight, after two passes. We later heard that we should have been looking for a sign for "Surinda" and a tiny door in the back side of a lawyer's office on the dark street. Anyhow, we never found it. Other rijsttafel venues were suggested, including Tempo Doeloe, but all were 100% meat, no veg. We were sorely disappointed. Funny enough, apparently we can go to a restaurant right here in Brooklyn and sample a few vegetarian dishes served in the rijstaffel.

The only diners at the Butterfly Garden were goats.
Our other disappointments included driving around to find the Butterfly Garden, an actual butterfly garden and restaurant known for it's excellent vegetarian options. It was closed. Unfortunately, the result of road construction hurting business and the guy defaulting on the business loan. Poor guy. Poor butterflies! Our plan B was to swing by Subway in Otrabunda for some sandwiches - and that was closed too!

Here is what we did find suitable for vegetarians:

Sol Food in Westpunt

This was one of the highlights of our trip. We were out exploring the beaches on the West end of the island and I had researched a couple places for lunch. We didn't have an address for Sol Food, but considering the excellent reviews on Trip Advisor we decided to just drive around Westpunt until we found it. Just across from Jaanchi's on the main road, we took a turn and saw their sign leading us to the green house on the cliff.

We were so happy that we finally found a restaurant on our list and it was open! We were greeted by the owner Sunshine, who was talkative and friendly. We saw her husband in the kitchen, busy grilling. She led us out to the covered patio overlooking the tree-tops and the bay and Playa Grandi.  We found out they are from New Hampshire (and she originally from Massachussetts) and started talking about New England and New York. She explained that they had moved to Curacao after being dive-certified in Bonaire, and finding Curacao real estate more affordable. They are certainly living their dream, just up the steps from the water.  We are jealous!

I would say the menu was American: pizza, burgers, salads, grilled meats and fish. The vegetable pizza would have been a good option, or rice and vegetables. But we were a little sick of pizza already, and tried something new, even though the neighboring table said it was awesome with the homemade crust. My husband opted for Sunshine's side dishes as a main course: Momofuki-inspired vegetable noodles and sweet potato,apple and rice salad. He loved the noodles. I ordered a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp, knowing this was the place to finally order fish, and it was delicious.

We ended with Sunshine's homemade brownie sunday, since we wanted to linger a bit longer. We had struck up conversation with both of the other tables, and it was raining just lightly outside. It was more fun eating, socializing, and watching turtles pop their heads up in the bay, than trying to sunbathe under the clouds. We must have stayed about 3 hours eating and chatting.

It isn't just the food that makes Sol Food a great place to stop. It's the atmosphere that Sunshine and David have created. You feel like a special guest in someone's home, welcome and relaxed.

Nautilus at the Renaissance Hotel in Otrabunda

We stayed at the Renaissance and stuck around the first night to try Nautilus. The online menu looked fabulous, with several classy veg choices like "envelope of eggplant", "vegetable wellington" and "mushroom-spinach ravioli". None of these things existed in real life. The menu they handed us looked more like the kid's specials at Friendly's. Burgers, salads, spaghetti bolognese. Nothing veg but salad! What a bastard of a trick. The menu sucks, so what do you do? You order the $38pp buffet so you can have some rice and beans. Despite the inflated price, the Mexican night buffet was very very good. I had their version of a burrito, made fresh, but honestly I'd rather have $9 Chipotle any day! Even being pregnant, I had a hard time eating our money's worth. And that includes at least 4 chocolate covered beignets. My suggestion: order a salad and indulge in the $10 dessert buffet.

Plasa Bieu (Marsche Bieuw) in Punda

Ok, so upon first glance, no one is serving vegetarian cuisine in the local food market. But with a little negotiating and special requests from the pleasant waitstaff, it can certainly be pieced together. The Asian stall offered some vegetables and rice, but I didn't want Chinese food on vacation. The first stall as you walk in (from the direction of the fruit market) serves several vegetarian items: lentils with rice, pumpkin pancakes, fried plantains and various salads. If you're not too hot to eat, this is a good place to check out. At 2pm the stalls (of which 3 were operating) were closing up, so I'm not sure what else is regularly offered.

Dal Toro, Water Fort Boogjes in Punda

This Italian restaurant in the water fort was recommended by someone at the hotel. We were a little nervous walking there late at night, over the bridge from Otrabunda. The walk behind the Plaza Hotel was a little desolate. But once we entered the arches into the water fort, we realized it was a water-side oasis of dimly lit restaurants, menus along the walkway, as you'd find in almost any waterfront tourist destination in the world.

Dal Toro is one of many restaurants situated along the walkway, with a restaurant inside, a tiki-bar showing the Knicks game on the flatscreen (complete with NY fans on the stools) and seating on the deck above the crashing waves. Once again, the menu was quite different from the one they showed us at the hotel. It was a typical, but seafood-heavy, Italian menu. We started with bruschetta, that was actually more of a tapenade with tomatoes and olives, which was ok. My husband had spaghetti and I had penne with tomatoes and mozzarella. Both were decent, a little over-oiled, but good. The wine was not so good - either long-since opened or poor quality.

Sopranos Piano Bar in the Rif Fort, Otrabunda

I felt a little hokey walking into a hit HBO show themed bar. But with few lunch options we settled on pizza - which is all they had on the menu here. It's more of a party spot, with happy hour, cigars, televisions and loud music. But the margherita pizza we ordered was just fine. Definitely nothing close to a Brooklyn slice worthy of the Sopranos, but decent none-the-less. It looked like a fun place to go and have a few beers with friends, get drunk, and soak it all up with some pizza. It may have been the only time in my life I've understood the concept of non-alcoholic beer (which they don't serve, and I don't blame them one bit), because once you're sitting in this type of bar on a hot day, you really really want that refreshing cold one!

Indi's Spice Bar in the Rif Fort, Otrabunda

Sick of pasta and pizza we gave in and went for Indian, knowing there are many vegetarian choices. It was not authentic, nor impressive, but the ambience is nice. See my Trip Advisor review here.

Medi at the Hyatt in Newport

We resigned to making real use of the car and driving out to the Hyatt just for dinner. On our last night in Curacao we were desperately seeking interesting vegetarian options and the eclectic menu at Medi looked so enticing. The Hyatt was SO much further than we realized. After 30 minutes, it felt like we were driving into a dark abyss wondering where we were going to end up, worrying we'd hit a pothole and breakdown miles from civilization, and hoping the distant lightning bolts would not turn into rain. Coming from rural New England, I saw nothing wrong with the situation, but my husband was not thrilled.

We finally found our way through the checkpoint into the Santa Barbara plantation and continued to drive the dark and twisty roads that were like a maze. When we finally made it to the Hyatt, I felt a little jealous that we were not staying in this paradise oasis. Happy people were going about their vacations, tanned, and looking content. The restaurant was as well designed as the lobby, with a clean contemporary, almost Asian, feel. There was an open kitchen and brick oven, and the staff were very professional.

Finally, here the menu was exactly as promised online. Finally, a venue that keeps it's website up-to-date. We had come with a Mediterranean mezze dinner in mind: hummus, fatoush, bruschetta, fig salad, cheese and vegetables. But by this time, after the unexpected drive, we were tired, hungry, and not in the mood for small plates. We did end up ordering the hummus - which after a little extra salt was great - and too filling to finish without spoiling our appetites.

I know we're talking vegetarian here, so please excuse my fish-related compliments for a moment. It's worth mentioning that my salmon was cooked absolutely perfect. Maybe the best I've had, not fishy, very thick and moist. I never eat the skin, but this was crispy like bacon, and delicious. It was served over delicious stewed eggplant and buttery mashed potatoes.

My husband had the mushroom gnocchi. The flavors were good with full leaves of sage and browned butter. But, the gnocchi dumplings were too soft. Maybe overcooked, maybe just too much potato, they were mushy. Having made them from scratch myself with success, I can see these chefs are all about the grill, and lack a flare for proper Italian. But they get points for flavor.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bon Bini!

Bon Bini!
That means "welcome" in Papiamentu - the local language of Curaçao. This Dutch island is located North of Venezuela in the Netherlands Antilles islands (ABC islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao).

We arrived here in Willemstad yesterday afternoon. So far it's got it's pretty parts, but for the most part it's been fairly unexciting. Maybe because there haven't been any cruise ships docked, and it's only Thursday. I'm not looking to party, but it's almost too quiet around here.

I did a lot of research before leaving home, in order to find vegetarian options at the restaurants. It is definitely a challenge here. They put ground meat in everything and even chicken on French fries! And by the way, aside from "local" (creole) type specialties here, French fries are pretty much the veg of choice. It seems like entrees pretty much come with rice or fries no matter what. And the fries are pretty decent.

Hopefully we will go further out to explore later. Here are some pics from the day:

This container ship looked massive passing by our pool:

View of the colorful Punda:

Busy kitchen at the Plasa Bieuw (old market) where locals eat, or so we are told.
More on this later:

View from our balcony. Upgraded to ocean view, but can only see a little ocean:

And me, lookin preggers at the infinity beach pool. Most confident I've ever felt in a bikini!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Perfect Vegetarian Tacos

Layering technique matters
A few days before I found out I was pregnant, I had my first sign. I didn't even realize it was out of the ordinary. I had the incredibly strong craving for crunchy, fresh, fully stuffed, flavorful tacos that perfectly contrasted textures, flavors and hot vs. cold. It was more than in my head, or in my gut, it was in my jaw. My jaw wanted to crunch down on tacos like you wouldn't believe. Much like the urge to pop bubble-wrap.

I began frequenting Chipotle despite the long lines. I powered through messy taco-eating frenzies over my desk at work. I made tacos at home, too, forcing the subject on my husband (a somewhat willing participant, but only the first couple times). I even left work to go to the mall one day, less for shopping, and more because I knew there was a Taco Bell there. I couldn't get enough.

The cravings turned to emotional eating. I don't even know what the emotions were. Anxiety mostly. But I can't even begin to describe how wonderfully happy and at peace I felt from inside out, from top to bottom, each time I stuffed myself with tacos.

On the day I decided to make a taco bar at home, I used vegetarian "meat" so my husband could eat them too. I threw in absolutely everything I could get my hands on to make them a rainbow of flavors and textures. They were truly the perfect vegetarian tacos.

Components of a Perfect Vegetarian Taco:

1. Corn Taco Shells / Kit (I like Old El Paso brand taco kit, because there are no meat products in the seasoning)

Warm the taco shells in a 350F oven for a few minutes.

2. Black Bean Filling

1 T butter or oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Adobo seasoning (or onion & garlic powder)
salt & pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in butter for a few minutes. Add the black beans and season with a dusting of Adobe, salt and pepper. Cover and reduce heat to med-low for about 10 minutes.

3. Vegetarian "Meat" Filling
1 T butter or oil
1 package frozen meat-free textured protein crumbles - Morning Star Farms (soy protein/wheat gluten) is great and easy to find, Quorn brand (soy-free - mushroom protein/wheat gluten) is good too.
1 packet of taco seasoning from the taco kit

In another shallow pan, heat oil over medium heat and add frozen protein crumbles. Cover for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it thaws. When heated through, add seasoning packet. Cook a few minutes and then taste to see if you need to add salt. Uncover if the mixture becomes wet, to evaporate the liquid. Cooking should take about 8-10 minutes total.

4. Simple Guacamole
2 avocados
1/4 C lime juice
salt & pepper
*diced jalapeño optional

Mash the avocados and add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. 

5. Other Toppings
8 oz (1/2 lb) chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 C cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped
4 limes, cut into wedges
8oz sour cream
1/2 C shredded taco cheese, jack or cheddar
hot sauce from taco kit, or favorite brand

Assembling the tacos as the diagram at the top of the page should ensure the least soggy shell. Making each taco right before eating it helps also. But it is, after all, a taco bar. It is supposed to be fun and awesome. Add and subtract ingredients as you wish!

Leftover fillings make great nachos
I found I had a ton of filling left over. Since I couldn't get enough tacos, I was happy to eat them in nacho form the next 3 days. Just sprinkle some cheese on the chips, pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and top with whatever you have. Non-stop deliciousness.

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