Homemade Chorizo Tacos with Mango & Red Onion

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Writing a food blog has made eating at restaurants more entertaining.

When I really like something it becomes this fun guessing game – “What kind of cheese is in this mac and cheese? Is it white cheddar? You know what… I think it’s a combination. Yeah, it has to be a combination.” It usually results in me asking the server –  “Excuse me, what kind of cheese is this?”

Getting inspiration for recipes from restaurants is easy. Recreating the recipes is another story. Especially when they use things like “house seasoning” or “house dressing”. I haven’t fine-tuned my tastebuds to that level of discernment yet.

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Luckily this recipe was restaurant-inspired, but not impossible to recreate. The restaurant it came from made their chorizo in house and thankfully, chorizo seasoning is not some kind of locked up family recipe requiring maximum level clearance to get access to. I did have to do quite a bit of Googling though. :) It took a couple tries but I’ve got it down now.

You can never go wrong with a salty sweet combo. I love all the spices of the chorizo combined with ripe, juicy mango. The red onion adds a nice bite while the cilantro brings a pop of freshness. This is a super easy recipe and would be a flavorful and quick weeknight dinner.

Homemade Chorizo Tacos with Mango & Red Onion; Recipe or Not

makes 10-12 crispy tacos

For the chorizo:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T. smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 t. salt 
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. ground coriander
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper, optional
  • big pinch of black pepper

For the tacos:

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 10-12 crispy taco shells
  • cilantro for topping

Heat a skillet on medium heat. In a bowl, combine the ground pork and all of the seasonings until the seasonings are evenly mixed. Cook the chorizo, breaking it into small pieces with a spatula or spoon every couple of minutes. Cook until the chorizo until no longer pink inside (as best you can tell since it is tinted red from the paprika), about 12-15 minutes or so. Fill the taco shells with a spoonful or two of chorizo, top with mango, red onion, and cilantro.

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Greek Power Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

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The first time I tried kale it tasted like straight chlorophyll.

I like to push myself to give new foods a chance so I made an effort.

Kale chips. Kale salad. Kale in soups.

Welp, I tried. Moving on.

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Then I had an idea for a Greek salad packed with nutrition and irresistible flavor.

I had a hunch to give kale one more chance. (Always follow your hunches…unless your hunch is telling you to make a tuna cheesecake. Don’t follow that one.)

I threw in a bunch of colorful veggies, made sure it had plenty of flavor with feta and a lemon dressing, and added chickpeas and quinoa for protein.

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The salad turned out perfect. Nutritious and irresistibly good.

So the lesson today is – don’t give up on foods if you don’t like them at first. :)

Is there a food you’ve had to try several times before you liked it? Leave a comment and share.

Here’s to health and new foods!

Greek Power Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette; Recipe or Not

Salad:

  • 1 bunch kale, torn into bite size pieces and massaged gently with clean hands for 30-60 seconds
  • 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa, cook according to directions
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup diced olives
  • crumbled feta for topping

Dressing:

  • 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
  • 2/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 t. dried oregano
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkle of black pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the directions. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the other salad ingredients. Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl or platter. Combine the dressing ingredients in a mason jar or container with a tight lid. Shake until the lemon juice and oil are completely combined, 30 seconds or so. Toss the salad with dressing and crumbled feta.

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Peanut Butter Oat Chocolate Balls

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I’ll never forget the first time I shook my husband’s hand when we met.

It was a brief meeting but my subconscious stored it away as if it knew that moment was important before I did.

Fast forward four years and here we are, married for over two years.

One thing I love most about him is his sense of humor. He has the goofiness of Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation, the quirkiness of Jim Carrey, and he can do a spot-on Nacho Libre impression. He’s always making me laugh.

He also has more patience than a snail herder and I’m a very lucky gal to go through life with him.

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Yesterday was his birthday so I thought I’d share one of his all-time favorite foods.

He’d been requesting that I make a peanut butter ball recipe for awhile. Patiently (see snail herder reference above) waiting for that glorious day when they would become reality.

And now they are!

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This is an incredibly simple recipe. If you use dark chocolate with a high cacao content, I would dare call these a healthy dessert.

Peanut Butter Oat Chocolate Balls; Recipe or Not

makes 10-12 1″ balls

  • 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 c. rolled oats
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips or broken up chocolate bar* (health bonus points for chocolate with at least 70% cacao)
  • 1/2 T. coconut oil  (use canola oil if you don’t have coconut oil)

 The prep: In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, oats, and honey. Form 1″ balls and place them on a wax paper covered baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Next, melt the chocolate over a double boiler, adding in the coconut oil. Once the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, dunk each peanut butter ball in the chocolate, making sure the whole surface is covered. Lift the ball out of the chocolate with a fork and let the excess drip off, then place the ball back onto the baking sheet. Once all the peanut butter balls are covered, place them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes (if you can wait that long) then transfer to the fridge. Store them in the fridge until you serve them.

*We’re dark chocolate people so I haven’t tried milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. It couldn’t possibly be bad though. ;) End disclaimer.

 

Maple Coconut Oatmeal

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Alternate titles for this post were:

  • My Current Breakfast Obsession
  • Let’s Put Coconut Oil in E’rythang
  • Maple & Coconut = BFF’s 4 Life
  • How To Stop Hitting the Snooze Button

If you want to start your day off right, start it with a bowl of this oatmeal.

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It’s difficult to describe, specifically, the taste of this oatmeal. It’s neither overly maple-y nor overly coconut-y but the blend of the two is perfectly balanced for a delightful and sweetened oatmeal. Perfectly paired with coffee, of course. ;)

Maple Coconut Oatmeal; Recipe or Not

serves 2

  • 1 1/3 c. rolled oats
  • 2 2/3 c. milk (I used almond.)
  • small pinch of salt
  • 2 spoonfuls unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 4-6 T. maple syrup

In a medium pot, bring the oats, milk, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Monitor, stir, and reduce heat if needed until the oats have absorbed the liquid, about 15 minutes or so. Divide the oatmeal up in two bowls, stir in the coconut oil and maple syrup. Enjoy!

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Mini Pepper Nachos

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A few weeks ago my husband and I were over at my parent’s house and I stumbled upon my diary from when I was nine. It included such treasures as this:

Dear Diary,

It’s me, Jordan. I just wanted to say that I love writing in this diary.

Love, Jordan

PS – I will probably write again later!

My family and I couldn’t stop laughing at the funny musings of my nine year old self.

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Ironically, I turned twenty-five over the weekend and it has me feeling like I’m really an adult now, as if the last few years were just the preteen stage of adulthood.

The good news is whether I’m a real adult or not, I can still stuff my face with nachos. Nachos are for all ages!

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I made dinner out of these nachos but they could certainly be appetizers as well. They will satisfy your cheesy nacho craving while giving you a boost in your veggie intake. Mini pepper nachos for the win. :)

Mini Pepper Nachos; adapted from my sis-in-law, Emily

serves 4-6 as an appetizer, serves 2 for dinner

10-15 mini peppers*, cut in half, remove seeds
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast**, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
1- 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used a combo of pepper jack & monterey jack.)
Dash of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, & pepper to season the chicken
1 T. olive oil
Tomato & cilantro for topping
Salsa & guacamole for dipping

The Prep: Preheat oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken for about 10-12 minutes, seasoning with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Add in the onion and continue cooking until the chicken is no longer pink inside and the onions are becoming translucent, 2-3 minutes. In an oven proof skillet or 9×9 baking dish, lay the pepper halves on the bottom, next layer on the chicken & onions, top with the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the peppers are heated through. Top with fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Dip in salsa and guacamole.

*If you can’t find mini peppers, cut regular bell peppers into 2 inch pieces. I would estimate 2-3 bell peppers to be equivalent.

**You could also use beef or turkey or for a vegetarian option, use black or pinto beans. Use the same seasonings.

Pineapple Crisp with Coconut Crumb Topping

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Do you ever have those weeks when everything just feels extra chaotic? By the end of each day your brain feels like mush and you wonder how you’ll get through the next day.

It’s been one of those weeks.

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I’m really looking forward to catching my breath over this long weekend, celebrating the 4th of July and my birthday. (Yay! Turning 25!)

I’m usually all about pie for the 4th of July. This year, however, I’m taking a more simple approach.

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This crisp is as simple as it gets with a hands-on time of about 10-15 minutes. That’s it! Then it bakes for 30 minutes or so and dessert is ready. The tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut are just the thing to sit back, relax, and pretend you’re at the beach. And if you’re actually going to the beach, can I come too? :)

Pineapple Crisp with Coconut Crumb Topping; Recipe or Not

serves 4 using a 9×9 baking dish, see adaptations below for a 9×13 pan

1 pineapple, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 T. cornstarch

Topping:

1 c. oats
1 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. chopped macadamia nuts, optional
3 T. unrefined virgin coconut oil, in a solid state
Butter or additional coconut oil to grease the pan

The Prep: Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, coconut flakes, brown sugar, and macadamia nuts. With clean fingers, mix in the coconut oil (this gets a little messy) until it is thoroughly combined. In a greased 9×9 baking dish, pour in the pineapple then sprinkle on the topping mixture evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is slightly brown from toasting and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Pro-tip: Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. :)

Ingredients for a 9×13 baking dish, serves 6-8

2 pineapples, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
3 T. cornstarch

Topping:

1 1/2 c. oats
2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts, optional
1/3 c. unrefined virgin coconut oil, in a solid state
Butter or additional coconut oil for greasing the pan

Follow the instructions above for combining the ingredients. Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown from toasting and the filling is bubbling. Let cool 10 minutes.

Chicken & Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce

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Before we get into food talk…

I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for trying my recipes. Creating these recipes and sharing them with you brings me so much joy.

Time is a precious thing and when I think about you taking time out of your day to read a post or make a recipe, I am deeply honored. I hope I inspire you in the kitchen and inspire you to enjoy food and eat well. :)

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And speaking of eating well… let’s talk about this dish.

It has all the simplicity of a weeknight dinner with flavors to make you think you’re dining out.

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Chicken and mushrooms get a dose of sophistication with a splash of white wine. Serve over some garlic-seasoned grains for a complete meal.

Make this dish, light some candles, put the phones away, and have a little date at home… on a Wednesday! Could be fun and will definitely be delicious. :)

Chicken & Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce; Recipe or Not

serves 2-4

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 pint mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used baby bellas.)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or white cooking wine
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • fresh herbs & Parmesan for topping

Serve over your favorite grain seasoned with salt and garlic powder (Quinoa is pictured above; other ideas are brown rice, couscous or barley.)

The Prep: Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is no longer pink and is turning brown. Remove the chicken and put it on a plate. Drain a little of the juices remaining in the pan. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and heat the pan back up to medium heat, add the onion and sauté for a minute or two. Then add the garlic for one minute and next, the mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of dried thyme. Add the white wine and let the mixture cook for 4-5 minutes to allow the mushrooms to absorb the wine. Add the chicken back in, stirring to make sure the chicken gets coated in the sauce and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Serve over garlic-seasoned grains and top with Parmesan and fresh herbs. Enjoy!