Monday, September 22, 2014

Review - Old El Paso Chicken Tinga Tacos

I recently signed on for yet another year as a Life Made Delicious blogger! I love working with a brand that has such a wide range of products like General Mills Canada . As part of my blogging contract they routinely send me new products to try out. I got this box of goodies last week!


My kids dove right for the Dunkaroos of course (thank goodness they come in 5 packs!) and I ripped into the now "peanut free" Nature Valley bars (delicious!). But what I was most eager to try were the Chicken Tinga Tacos. Mexican night is big at our house. We love our tacos. The whole family cheered when I declared Sunday "Taco Tuesday" (my kids are obsessed with The Lego Movie)!

I always like to try a new product out the first time exactly how they instruct to get a feel for it. Then I customize it to meet my kids' picky palates. 


The husband and I had our first round of tacos loaded with the mildly spicy, smokey chicken and onions, the chipotle taco sauce that comes in the kit, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, avocado and cilantro as the box suggests. So. Good. The flavours were authentic, much like the tacos we had on our honeymoon in the Mayan Riviera. The tortillas seem slightly thicker and fluffier and the chipotle taco sauce just kicked it all up a notch.


The next round we added cheese and guacamole and sour cream, also delicious! My oldest daughter (8), who will only ever have a tortilla with cheese in it on taco night, tried the chicken in her tortilla and declared it "pretty good!". Very high praise from the kid who's practically living off air and cucumbers. She devoured her taco and asked if we could have them again the next night. Wow. Just wow. My 4 year old loved the taco sauce but the other three found it a wee bit too spicy so we left it off theirs. No big deal there! My 5 year old had two tacos, which was a first and the 2 year old had his taco deconstructed because that's what toddlers do, deconstruct things. Plates were pretty well clean at the end of dinner and there was no dessert bargaining!

Any meal ALL my kids will eat is a keeper in my books. The next time I make this I'm going to try cooking the chicken and onions in the seasoning in my slow cooker which will be great for our busy night of ballet. I'm looking forward to trying the Carné Asada and Fish Taco kits!

Please read my Disclosure Page to learn more about my relationship with General Mills Canada.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crispy Fish Tacos


Almost three years ago now I got the opportunity to go to Blog'her in San Diego California. My first time at a conference, my first time on the west coast and the longest I'd ever been away from my kids. Side note: I came back from the trip and a month later found out I was pregnant with kid #4. My husband used to joke that if the baby came out with a surfer tan I was in big trouble. Back to the trip... it was amazing! The sun, the beaches, the ocean, and the fooooooood. OMG the food. San Diego is right next to Tijuana, Mexico. Mexican flavours permeate the food in SD. 

It was on a poolside patio at the fabulous hotel I was staying at that I ordered my first fish tacos. It always sounded kind of gross to me, I pictured fish tossed with taco seasoning and smothered in shredded cheese, and fish does NOT go with cheese. 


I had no idea. 

But sitting there, by the pool full of happy tanned people, a stone's throw from the ocean, it just felt like the right thing to order. 

I got my plate of 3 little fish tacos and had it not been for the fact that I was sitting at a table with a bunch of people I barely knew and I didn't want to embarrass myself, I would have ordered 2 more plates. They were so fresh, and light, and crispy, and just the yummiest tacos I've ever had. Well, that is until I came home and started working on my own recipe. It took me about a year to get all the components tasting like they did that day by the pool in California, but I think I've got it!

Now, I've seen people use frozen breaded fish sticks, an ingenious solution for those nights you just need to get dinner on the table in a hurry, but I promise you, you will not regret making the fish by hand. And the same for the tortillas. Store bought will do the trick, but this tortilla recipe was given to me by a friend by way of her husband's Mexican grandmother. It's straight up legit

 

  
The best part of this meal is that my whole family LOVES it, which quite frankly shocked the hell out of me. Try this once and I guarantee it'll quickly become a family favourite at your house too!


Print this recipe

Crispy Fish Tacos

For the Pico de Gallo:

3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 a lime, juiced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
A small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Salt

1. Mix the tomato, lime, onion and cilantro in a small bowl.
2. Season to taste with salt.
3. Set aside to allow the flavours to incorporate.
 

----------------------------
 

For the Cilantro Lime Crema:

1 cup premium quality sour cream (I like Gay Lea Gold Sour Cream) 
1 tbsp lime zest
1/2 lime, juiced
1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro until well combined. 
2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


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For the guacamole:

(Side note, I like my guacamole creamy, if you like a chunkier guac, you can just mash with a fork)

2 ripe avocados, pitted and scooped from skin
1 lime, juiced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp Tajin*
1/4 cup red onion, minced
Salt to taste

1. In the bowl of a food processor, add the avocado and lime juice and pulse until the avocado is broken down into small chunks.
2. Add the garlic & Tajin and purée until it has reached your desired consistency. 
3. Scrape the guacamole out into a bowl and add the onion and season with salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate covered until ready to use.


---------------------------- 

For the tortillas:

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups of hot water

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the first 4 ingredients until incorporated.
2. Slowly start pouring in the water as the mixer mixes on low speed.
3. Allow the dough to mix for 7 minutes. Then turn off the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
4. Separate the dough into 16 equal portions.
5. Heat a cast iron pan over high heat (I set my burner to 9) with nothing in it (ie no oil or butter)
6. Roll out the balls of dough on a floured surface until they are about 1/8" thick.
7. Add a round of dough to the frying pan (one at a time) and all ow to cook on each side for about 10 seconds a side.
8. Keep warm on a plate in the oven, set on a low temperature) covered in a damp tea towel, or in a tortilla warmer.


---------------------------- 

For the fish: 

2 cups milk
1/2 lime juiced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked chipotle powder (optional)
Salt
2 large cod fillets
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 cup flour
Seasoned salt
1 tsp cumin
2 cups panko crumbs
Oil for frying


1. Mix together the 2 cups or milk, the lime juice, the cumin, the chipotle powder and a wee bit of salt and set aside.
2. Cut the cod into strips about 2-3" long. Think fish stick size.
3. Add the fish to the milk mixture and set aside. 
4. In a small bowl, add the flour and salt and cumin and set aside.
5. In a second bowl, mix the eggs and 2 tbsp of milk and set aside.
6. In another small bowl add the panko crumbs and set aside.
7. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a deep pan on the stove to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Take a strip of fish out of the milk mixture and roll it in the flour until it's coated on all sides. Shake off the excess.
9. Dip the floured fish in the eggs and them roll in the panko until the fish is coated on all sides.
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until you have 4-6 strips done.
11. Place the breaded fish carefully in the hot oil and cook for about 7 minutes* or until the coating is golden brown. (If you cut your fish thicker this can take longer. You can use a thermometer to check for doneness or cut into a piece and check and then adjust your cooking time accordingly)
12. When the fish fingers are cooked remove them from the oil and place on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.
13. Repeat steps 8 to 12 until all your fish fingers are cooked.
 
For an authentic fish taco, place a piece or two of fish in a tortilla and top with cilantro lime crema, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage (I use bagged coleslaw mix), and thinly sliced radish.

*Tajin is a spice that is commonly used in Mexico. It has a chili lime flavour. My sister originally brought it back for me from Mexico after a missions trip there and she has since found it for me in Ottawa, Ontario. I imagine it can be found in most city centres if you poke around a bit. You can also order it online. Google it :)


Print this recipe 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Cups



Ever just get a craving for something and have to have it, like, 2 minutes ago? Happens to me alllll the time. Unfortunately I rarely have the opportunity to jump up and run out the door for it. That's probably a good thing otherwise I'd be 700lbs and have my own show on TLC. 

Not everything I crave I can make a DIY version of, like my beloved Moscato wine *swoon*. Luckily, when I get a craving for peanut butter cups I can easily whip these up.


Peanut Butter Cups

1 c. Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter
1/4 c. butter
1 c. icing sugar
1 1/2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs (about 25 squares crushed)
2 cups chocolate chips or wafers (dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate all work, use your favourite)
2 tbsp butter 


Instructions: 

1. Combine peanut butter, butter and sugar in a bowl.
2. Fold in graham crumbs and mix well.
3. In a microwave safe dish hear the chocolate and butter for 30 seconds. Then stir. Repeat until chocolate is mostly melted (should only take 60-90 seconds). Continue stirring until chocolate is smooth.
4.Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of a muffin cup in a muffin tin. 
5. Spoon out 1 tbsp of the peanut butter mixture and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and place in the muffin cup.
6. Spoon another tablespoon of chocolate over the peanut butter disc.
7. Tap the muffin tin on the counter to flood the chocolate down over the disc so it's smooth.
8. Chill until set.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Strawberry-Shortcake Pancakes

Spring has only just begun, and it’s still pretty chilly, but I’m already seeing signs of life in my garden. My strawberry plants are back and they're about 3 inches tall! Looking at them the other day got me thinking about strawberries; ripe and red and sweet and warm from the sun.

Strawberry shortcake is my favourite strawberry dessert. I could eat it for every meal, all summer long. Alas, I feel this would set a bad example for my kids…. and my pants would get smaller. So I’ve decided to settle for a yummy breakfast substitute. I made a fresh strawberry purée and incorporated it into a batch of fluffy Bisquick pancakes and then topped them with a healthy dollop of cheesecake whipped cream with diced strawberries.

While this is delicious warm for breakfast, I discovered that it’s equally as yummy cold for dessert! A fresh, decadent dessert you can prepare in minutes when unexpected company pops over? Perfect!




Strawberry-Shortcake Pancakes
(makes 9 pancakes)

for the pancakes:

2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
2 tbsp granulated sugar

1. Mix the strawberries and the granulated  sugar and set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. Take half the strawberries and their juice and purée until there are no more chunks. Set the other cup of strawberries aside for the whipped cream.
3. In another bowl, mix together the Bisquick, milk, egg and the strawberry purée.
4. In a preheated frying pan set over medium heat, pour in 1/2 cup of the pancake batter at a time and cook the pancakes until you see bubbles in the batter and then flip over and cook through. Remove from the pan.
5. Cover and keep warm.

for the cheesecake whipped cream:

4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a small bowl beat the cream cheese with the milk and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir.
2. Dice the remaining strawberries and add them to the cream cheese mixture.
2. In a separate bowl, whip the whipping cream with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
3. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it’s incorporated.
4. Top each pancake with a generous dollop of the whipped cream and serve immediately.




Also delicious served cold for dessert!


Check out lifemadedelicious.ca for more recipes from my kitchen!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread



My husband and I have been seriously considering taking our brood camping this summer. I don’t think we’re quite ready for tents yet as our baby just turned two (and it’s hard enough to get him to sleep in his crib), but I can see a trailer working pretty well. We have done cabins in the past but I’d like to get the kiddos away from satellite TV and A/C for a few days and see what happens.

I love (almost) everything about camping (I could without all the bugs). I love waking up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of nature, and other campers. I love sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and watching fireflies. I even love huddling together in the tent playing board games on a rainy camp day. But mostly I love the food. Everything just tastes better outside. Bacon frying in the great outdoors is a truly amazing smell. And campfire chili? So good eaten out of a mug next to a fire while you play cards. I love a good hunk of soft bread with my chili and this bread has a nice little kick that complements a smokey chili. Make it ahead and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and it’ll stay fresh for a few days.

If you’re planing a camping trip this summer, maybe I’ll see you out in the forest!

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread


1 cup + 1 tbsp warm water
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 cup whole wheat flour*
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups shredded cheddar (I like marble)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

1. Place the first 7 ingredients in your bread maker in the order your manufacturer recommends. (I find it best to put liquids in first, then the dry ingredients)
2. When (if) your bread maker beeps to add in garnishes, add 1 cup of the cheddar and 3/4 of the chopped jalapeño. (if it doesn’t signal when to add them, you can put them in during the final kneading cycle)
3. When the dough has proofed and is about to start baking, top it with the remaining jalapeños and the rest of the cheddar and allow it to complete the baking cycle.
4. L


et the bread cool before slicing and serving.

* you can omit the whole wheat flour and just use 3 cups of all purpose if you prefer.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nutchos Treats


I started participating in a cookie exchange 3 years ago with my neighbour and her circle of friends. The first year I had NEVER done an exchange before, read the instructions wrong, and didn't make enough cookies. I was soooo embarrassed. I was also completely shocked when I was asked back the next year! And thank goodness I was because someone makes these every year and I realllllly wanted the recipe! 

I asked her what they were called and how to make them and I've made them several times since. The combination of the sweet chocolate and salty chips and peanuts is ADDICTIVE. You've been warned...

Nutchos Treats

2 10 oz bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 10 oz bag peanut butter chips
2 cups roasted salted peanuts
1 bag (7oz) plain rippled potato chips

1. In a double boiler melt the chocolate and peanut butter chips together.
2. In a seperate bowl add the peanuts and crushed potato chips. 
3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the chip/peanut mixture and mix to coat thoroughly.
4. Drop by the tablespoonful into waxed paper lined baking sheets and refrigerate until set.

Store in the fridge.

Makes about 6 dozen.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hamburger Helper - Momma's Little Secret

So tonight I'm flying solo on the whole dinner/bathtime/bedtime deal. It's a fairly regular occurrence with a 12 hour shift working husband. Today was especially crazy though because right after school pick up my youngest daughter had ballet. Monday is a rush rush rush day. 

I wasn't thinking (brain was still on weekend mode) and I forgot to plan dinner. I went down to the pantry in my basement and looked around. There I spotted these:


I don't usually make this sort of thing, I tend to cook from scratch 85% of the time, but I was told by the good people over at General Mills that they've tweaked the recipes and reduced the sodium in their Hamburger Helper meals so I pulled the Creamy Stroganoff off the shelf and headed to the freezer. Luckily I had some precooked hamburger in there thanks to some wise words of advice from my friend Tara, so I pulled that out too. 

Dinner came together in minutes. My kids loved the pasta and I loved that there was only one pan to clean!


If you haven't tried Hamburger Helper in a while, or have never had it, I suggest you try it. It has saved our diner time a few times already!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Homemade Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream


I got an ice cream maker this summer. It was a gift and I was so excited. It's something I've always wanted but probably would never have bought myself. My excitement was a pale comparison though to my kids'. The screaming and jumpy-clapping and pleas to make strawberry ice cream RIGHT NOW PLEEEEEEEASE were epic. 

Sadly we discovered we had to wait 24 hours for the bowl to freeze, which turned out to be a stroke of luck because I had NO idea how to actually make ice cream! I read a few recipes, found a chocolate one that sounded good and after 24 hours of "is it ready yet?" every 20 minutes we made our first batch of ice cream. And it was glorious! There really is nothing like homemade.


 

We tried a few more flavours and then I got brave and decided to create my own recipe. My first thought when I was trying to decide what to make was cheesecake. I had just been to my favourite local farm stand and bought a big basket of raspberries and I was dying to use them.  It was a match made in heaven. 

If you don't have an ice cream maker there are tutorials online on how to do it "the old-fashioned way" that are fun and entertaining for the kids. 




Print this recipe


Homemade Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream    

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
150 g whipped cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

1. Put the raspberries and 2 tbsp of sugar into a bowl and mix to coat. Set aside and allow to macerate*.
2. Pour the cream and milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat.
3. Add the sugar to the milk/cream mixture and store until the sugar is dissolved.
4. Remove from the heat and put in the fridge for an hour to cool.
5. Remove from the fridge and using a hand mixer, begin to whip the milk/cream/sugar mixture and add the vanilla and cream cheese. Blend until thoroughly combined.
6. Pour into an ice cream maker and follow your appliance's manufacturer instructions.
7. Pour 1/2 the ice cream into a plastic container and top with 1/2 the raspberries and juice. Top with the remaining ice cream and then the raspberries.
8. Pu the ice cream into the freezer and allow to set for a few hours.

Scoop and serve when the ice cream has reached desired consistency.


 *macerate - to soften or break up by soaking. The sugar does this to the berries.

Print this recipe  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Life Made Delicious – Recipe round-up

Hi folks! I've been MIA from blogging for a while, this end of school year stuff has me running all over like a chicken with my head cut off. And when I AM home I have a VERY precocious one year old who has been keeping me on my toes. Let's just say I'm regretting my kitchen reorganization as I hear muffin tins and cooling racks flying across the kitchen floor 20 times a day.

I wanted to take a minute to show you what I've been posting over at my LMD blog in case you've forgotten to go over there to check it out!

Easter Trifle

Yes, I know Easter is over with, but I can't be the only one with chocolate still kicking around right? 




Maple Pecan Cheese Spread

Do you say puh-cahn or pee-can? I'm with the south on this and pronounce it puh-cahn, but either way you say it this is one tasty little nibbly!




Cream puffs that don't take hours to make? Whaaaa? Yes, I'm totally serious. Try them.


There will be more to come shortly as I put to bed all the school registration papers, Home and School Association calendars, and volunteer luncheons/school concerts/ field trips and get back to work!

Amanda