Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tasty Tacos!

Before she left to adventure and serve in Guatemala (can you tell I'm proud?) my sister asked me to compile recipes for her, newly graduated from college, that I have accumulated since I graduated. So Alisha, consider this post the first installment in your recipe book.

I began to experiment with tacos one summer three years ago. I now have the recipe down pretty near perfect, with the vital addition of one ingredient that makes everything better: love! Just kidding, avocados. Okay, you can add love to it too.

Anyway, these tasty tacos are very versatile. The filling can be whatever you choose – from Mexican food leftovers (because the taco cooking process reheats whatever is inside) to vegetarian. Once you cook the fillings you desire, the steps are quite straightforward. We'll get to those in a minute.

The recipe begins, as many do, with boiling water on the stove, to cook either rice or quinoa. The rice or quinoa can be prepared any way you like. The other night I used cilantro lime rice and it was delicious. Next, prepare the meat, and again, this can be any kind of meat you prefer: a few nights ago I made chicken, and marinated it in coriander, cumin, pepper, and a chipotle spice blend that I received for Christmas. Alisha, the first two spices you should purchase are cumin and coriander!

Once the fillings are appropriately cooked, the magic begins. I butter a frying pan and place it over a medium-high flame, and then throw on some tortillas. Quality tortillas are important here. For years I used the cheapest corn tortillas I could find, but recently Aaron and I tested tortillas from Trader Joe's that are a blend of corn and wheat (de mi Abuela tortillas, in case you are wondering) and found that they were very much worth the extra cost. They really pump up the flavor of the overall taco, and are not as crumbly as cheap tortillas. They are especially beneficial for me with my heavy-handed gas stove tendencies, for they are thicker and do not burn as easily as the others did.

Sprinkle copious amounts of cheese over the tortillas, and then toss on the fillings, in any order you desire. I usually start with rice, then open a can of refried beans and put a few spoonfuls on the tacos, and finally top it off with the meat. To make a vegetarian version, simply saute slices of bell peppers and onions to provide extra filling in lieu of cooking meat. I also tend to make quinoa for the vegetarian version, as quinoa is a complete protein.

Next, fold the whole taco over with a spatula and cook it for a few minutes on each side to melt the cheese and heat the taco through. You can get several tacos going at once in a large frying pan, and then keep them heated in a tortilla warmer or some other warming container. Be sure to butter the pan for each batch, or you can butter one side of the tortilla if the frying pan is really hot.

At last – the avocados! I slice them and then put the slices into the tacos as the finishing touch.

This dish is one of my favorites to pull out on a night when I'm feeling uninspired, or when I have leftovers that need to be eaten. Make extras and pack them for lunch the next day; don't forget avocados for that too! These tacos are delicious and although they can be fairly time consuming, depending on what kind of meat or rice you want to cook, the end result is always worth it.

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