Tag Archives: tacos

Weekly Menus: Week of 2/19/2012

Gentle Readers, it is that time again, when The Practical Cook looks into her crystal ball, or at least her crystallized freezer, and plans the meals for the week. Once again, she is also traveling during that week. And while that leads to some expertise in plane food (do NOT try the pizza), it is less conducive to complicated sit-down dinners.

Deep Fried Moonpie at The Pig in Chapel Hill: Speaking of Cravings

Deep Fried Moonpie at The Pig in Chapel Hill: Speaking of Cravings

And I have been craving some serious field research lately. I am having a moment like the Chairman did before creating Kitchen Stadium. I don’t think I’ll bite a whole pepper, but I want some new ideas. Spring can’t come fast enough.

So without further delay, here are the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 2/19/2012

Weekly Menus: 2/19/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/19/2012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/19/2012

Which will hopefully translate into:

Sunday: Something Traditional
You might even say “revolutionary.” Any guesses where we’ll be doing field research?

Monday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
Sometimes, it’s just best to Punt! in advance. This will be most necessary after our journey!

Tuesday: Salmon and Brussels Sprouts
I need more fish in my life, my brain needs all the support it can get. And I’m craving sprouts, don’t judge.

Wednesday: Tacos!
We need to use up some ground beef, and nothing says “festive” like tacos.

Thursday: Beans and Sausage
My kids could eat this constantly. I love it because the variations are endless, just choose a bean, a sausage, and a green. Tomatoes optional but encouraged.

Friday: Chinese Take-Out!
I feel an extreme need for Field Research coming on. I believe it will be a two-fer.

Saturday: Dine Out!
The problem with scheduling in advance is that I sometimes create my own cravings. Sigh. I’m not committing to where the dining will happen, but I’m thinking a lot about Turkish food.

Send your menus, leftovers, and cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Wednesday, Three Reasons to Host a Potluck.

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Tomato Paste Edition

Gentle Readers, there is no greater satisfaction than sharing a tip with a fellow cook. For me this week, that came in the form of tomato paste in a tube. Yes, it’s not a great choice for brushing teeth, but it’s ideal for ramping up flavor or serving as a thickening agent. Use a little, use a lot, up to you. I’m never without a tube of this in my fridge.

Why use toothpaste when you can use tomato paste?

Why use toothpaste when you can use tomato paste?

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Tomato Paste

1. Spaghetti Sauce. If you need to Punt! with commercial jarred sauce (and I’m not proud, I do need to oftentimes), I strongly recommend adding a flavor of some sort. I often use pesto cubes, a splash of balsamic, or, wait for it, a dash of tomato paste. That way you can rinse the jar with water, which dilutes the flavor, and replace with some tomato paste, bringing you back above the level mark.

Twist and Fill Spaghetti Bird's Nests

Twist and Fill Spaghetti Bird's Nests

2. Tomato Soup. This was a key element in driving the flavor meter up. Also, learned the trick of browning it slightly to further intensify the taste. Yum.

Homemade Tomato Soup with Toasted Pimento Cheese

Homemade Tomato Soup with Toasted Pimento Cheese

3. Tacos. Perhaps you noted that the other night I had an epic measuring fail when making tacos from a seasoning packet. Really, how sad is that? Undeterred, I reduced and reduced, but grew impatient at the end. I added a couple of teaspoons of tomato paste, stirred, and bam, thickened taco meat. And, bonus, it was way better than usual. That Punt! just became a permanent installation in the Taco Night! pantheon.

Are you a tomato paste fan? How do you you use it? Post a comment below!

Questions, queries, marzipan pigs can be sent to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Chicken Bowl Recipe!

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Punt! Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor

What could be better than a Rotisserie Chicken? Out at dinner with some fellow bloggers (or as the Practical Cook prefers to say, “real bloggers”—these ladies know what they’re about), it was nice to discover that these convenient fowl have quite a following. Sunday night’s emergency chicken left enough chicken to do something with, but not enough to stretch for a meal for four. What to do?

Open-face Pollo Taco al Pastor

Open-face Pollo Taco al Pastor

Every once in a while, there’s a happy moment where multiple little things are in the fridge and they work together. This recipe comes from that special place, but is good enough that I’ll collect the ingredients and make it on purpose

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor Recipe

Adjust amounts relative to your taste and your leftovers.

dash of olive oil
1 spring onion (or a scant 1/4 cup chopped onion, if you have one that needs to be used up)
1 head green garlic, minced (or a couple of cloves of regular garlic)
1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded
1 to 1 1/2 cups diced pineapple (fresh if you’ve got it, but a can will work fine), juice reserved
1/2 can diced tomatoes with mild chiles, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cumin
corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage
lime wedges
guacamole, sour cream, chopped cilantro, diced onion, radish slices (optional accompaniments)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and garlic and stir until you smell them. Immediately add chicken and pineapple.

2. Stir mixture and cook for a few minutes until pineapple begins to get juicy. Add tomatoes and cumin, and add some of the pineapple juice, or extra tomato juice if the mixture is dry. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to low.

3. Simmer the mixture for 15 or 20 minutes until flavors meld, adjusting seasonings as needed.

4. When the chicken mixture tastes good, serve it on corn tortillas with a bit of shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime juice.

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor with Mexican Corn and Beans

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor with Mexican Corn and Beans

Stand back taco truck owners, pollo al pastor in the house! (For those who aren’t taco truck fans, tacos al pastor are made with pork, take much longer to make than the above cheater recipe, and really rock out. So do give them a try.)

Do you prefer soft or hard tacos? Vote today in the comments section!

Send questions and thoughts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Can This Castle Cake be saved? Birthday disaster looms.

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