Wednesday, June 11, 2008


After a frenzy of packing we will be leaving for vacation on Friday, not returning until June 29th.

I will try and post when I can, since the kitchen of our rental looks pretty nice
and I do plan to be cooking more than eating at restaurants,
so please excuse my occasional absences for the next couple of weeks!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Coleslaw

Recipe: Grilled Chicken Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Coleslaw

Soft tacos are one of my favorite dinners. Fillings can be chicken or fish, I always have corn tortillas in the refrigerator, and the toppings are endless-- so it’s no wonder these are a staple of my dinner menus in the summer.

For years I thought of soft tacos as only containing ground beef or shredded beef or, sometimes, shredded chicken. As I grew older and became more aware of alternatives to the beef/shredded cheddar/bottled taco sauce/sour cream version which I was introduced to, which was how I prepared them for many years, my taco repertoire grew. Several years ago, at a cooking club dinner, the host made fish tacos. I had read about fish tacos before and, even though I had long since changed beef taco filling for chicken, I just could not imagine tacos with fish. Silly me! I absolutely loved them, and added seafood tacos to my recipe binder.

I found a salmon taco recipe last year which featured a topping of coleslaw with an avocado-tomatillo dressing. It was excellent, so last night when I arrived home at 6:30 and saw what ingredients were in my refrigerator, I thought of this recipe. I needed to use some Napa cabbage, and a half avocado which I had used the other half in a sandwich the previous day, and some tomatillo puree which was in the refrigerator. This would be the perfect opportunity to make that coleslaw. Unfortunately I was out of salmon, except for a large fillet which is too big for both us and should be saved for entertaining. So I thawed a couple of chicken breasts, rubbed them with a chicken taco seasoning mix bought at Penzey’s last fall, grilled them, and served the slices in corn tortillas with the avocado-tomatillo coleslaw. It was delicious! The smoky, spicy grilled chicken slices topped with crunchy cabbage dressed with a cooling avocado/ sour cream sauce. And chopped tomatoes. Nothing goes better with avocados than tomatoes!

I remembered how darn much coleslaw the original recipe made, so I scaled it back and changed a few ingredients. This is an absolutely excellent summer meal!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Coleslaw

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- ----------------------------------------

8 whole corn tortillas

10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- (2 pieces)

2 teaspoons chicken taco seasoning -- (I use Penzey's; any seasoning or rub that is made from chili

powder, cumin, oregano, etc. can be used as well)

1 medium garlic clove

1/2 small jalapeno pepper -- seeded

1/3 cup tomatillo puree -- (or 2 large, cooked tomatillos)

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, whole -- loosely packed

2 tablespoons light sour cream

1 tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt

3 ounces avocado -- diced (about 1/2 of an 8-ounce, pitted, peeled avocado)

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces shredded cabbage -- (finely shredded)

2/3 cup chopped fresh tomato

Preheat grill.

Warm tortillas and wrap in a clean towel to keep warm.

Rub taco seasoning into both sides of chicken breasts, spray with cooking spray, and grill until done. Prepare the coleslaw while the chicken is cooking.

In a blender or small food processor, drop the garlic clove and jalapeno pepper into the work bowl while the machine is running. Stop the machine and add the cilantro through salt. Process until creamy. Place shredded cabbage in a medium bowl, pour dressing over, and mix well.

Remove the chicken from the grill and slice into thin slices. Transfer chicken to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Spoon chicken onto each tortilla, cover with coleslaw, add tomatoes. Fold. Eat.

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Per serving: 486 Calories (kcal); 14g Total Fat (4g Saturated); (24% calories from fat); 37g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 81mg Cholesterol; 774mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Occasionally, though, I still crave soft tacos made “almost” the way I learned how in college. Gone is browning the ground beef, then using the drippings to soften the tortillas (eek, what was I thinking?). I now use ground turkey mixed with veggie burger crumbles and the toppings are usually taco sauce, lowfat cheddar, light sour cream, and tomatoes. No, they don’t really taste exactly as I remember, but they are still pretty darn good! Placing a Pink Floyd album on the turntable will add to the effect, as well.

Oops, I'm dating myself... ;)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Three Berry Tiramisu

Recipe: Three Berry Tiramisu

I have a stack of recipes and a folder of photos which have yet to find their way into my writing. Today I am going to post a dessert recipe which I made this afternoon rather than add another scrap of paper to the stack.

Jack's birthday is next Sunday, but today we invited his mother over for his "birthday dinner" since the next week is going to be incredibly hectic. I've had difficulty concentrating on things lately, because there is a lot going on, and for some reason it skipped my mind entirely that I needed to plan a special dessert until last evening (imagine! me forgetting about dessert!!!). I did not want to go to the grocery store, so I limited myself to preparing a birthday-appropriate dessert with what I had on hand. I came up with a tiramisu-like treat which I was very happy with, and which Jack loved. Sometimes, things have a way of working themselves out! Or I'm just lucky...

I had a package of ladyfingers in the pantry, cream cheese (just a bit past its expiration date) in the fridge, frozen berries in the freezer. So I beat the cream cheese (actually, neufatchel cheese) until fluffy, added some sugar and vanilla, then folded in Cool Whip Light to lighten the texture. I dipped the ladyfingers in a mixture of the juices drained from the thawed berries and Amaretto, layered these with the cream cheese and berries, then sifted cocoa over the top. The result was a delicious, light dessert which would be perfect for a summer evening. Although I always try to use fresh fruit, you really need to use frozen as the juices from the berries are essential.

The entire preparation, less the time required to thaw the berries, was a mere 20 minutes. This needs to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours, though, for the flavors to blend and the cookies to soften.

Strips of pound cake would also work in this recipe in place of the ladyfingers. And the only change that I would make next time would be to add some toasted, sliced almonds sprinkled on top of each piece just before serving.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Three Berry Tiramisu

Recipe By : Vicci
Serving Size : 6
Preparation Time :0:20 + 6 hours refrigeration after prep

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 cup raspberries, frozen -- unsweetened
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen -- unsweetened
1/2 cup blackberries, frozen -- unsweetened
6 ounces neufchatel cheese -- softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Cool Whip Lite® -- thawed
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
3 tablespoons amaretto -- divided
18 whole ladyfinger cookies
1/4 cup cocoa powder

A few hours before starting, place the frozen berries in a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices (which will be used). When thawed, proceed with the recipe. The Cool Whip Lite should also be thawed and refrigerated, and the cream cheese softened and at room temperature, before beginning this recipe.

With an electric mixer on high, beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and the vanilla and beat for an additional minute. Fold in the Cool Whip with a spatula. Set aside.

Remove the colander from the bowl and set on a plate to catch any drips. Into the berry juices (there should be about 1/3 cup), stir 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar until dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons of Amaretto and stir.

Dip about 10 of the ladyfingers in the juice/Amaretto mixture and line a glass bowl. Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture on top.

Sprinkle all of the thawed berries directly on top of the cream cheese.

Dip the remaining ladyfingers and arrange them on top of the berries. Using a pastry brush, cover the ladyfingers with the remaining tablespoon of Amaretto.

Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture over the ladyfingers and smooth. Sift the cocoa over the top. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Start to Finish Time:

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Per serving: 349 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat; (30% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 27mg Cholesterol; 189mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1 Fruit; 2 Fat; 2 Other Carbohydrates