Tacochiladas, pasta potluck and, of course, I do something else with beets

15 May
Whole foods...also known as the money hole.

Whole foods…also known as the money hole.

Ahhh, Whole Foods. The place where I go when I need to feel, in a very Holly Golightly sort of way, that I am in a sanctuary where nothing awful could ever happen. In reality, Whole Foods is just the place where my betrothed shakes his head in agony as I inspect organic avocados and ponder the differences between the various environmental ratings ascribed to items ranging from pecans to pecorino romano. It is the place that supplies the kombucha to which I am addicted and the almond cheese that no one else on earth sells. It is the embodiment of my first world problems (what! the cherry lime chia is out of stock!?!). Most critically, it is the place where my money goes to die.

Fortunately, the last few days have led me to believe that all the money I’ve recently spent at this fine foods emporium may not have been for naught.  I can’t keep up with some of these other chicas in their twenties and thirties who all seem to be killing their own livestock in the backyard, growing their own kale, making their own yogurt from home-harvested bacteria and spinning their own yarn all over the internet. Not to worry, there is none of that here. Unless of course, you want it. In which case there are many amazing bloggers with more time, talent and patience on their hands than I. And I suggest you stop reading this and go elsewhere stat. If you still feel you’re in the right place, here’s the lowdown.

Part I. Taco/Enchilada (does that make it a tacochilada?)

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I have been told by runners and by yogis alike that mantras are helpful in physically difficult situations. At the twelve mile mark on my run last weekend, I thought briefly of some inspirational stuff as the pain in my feet grew worse but the only thing that stuck in my mind with every step was: enchilada, (insert expletive here),  enchilada, expletive, enchilada, expletive. You get the idea.

Seeing as last weekend was Cinco de Mayo, I quickly darted from the finish line to Whole Foods to get some supplies. Much to my dismay upon arrival, I was literally inches away from snatching the last package of soft tortillas when the woman in front of me made a b-line and nabbed it. Now, I know it’s not a true enchilada unless you go to Mexico but it’s even more of a s****** American taco if you don’t have the right materials. At any rate, I had to settle for some hardshell blue corn tacos.

Sensing where this endeavor was going, I ad-libbed quite a bit.

Here is my recipe for tacochiladas (you can substitute chicken for black beans or a tofu based substitute, as I was tempted to do, but whenever I cook for the fiance, I end up relaxing my somewhat elastic vegetarianism…):

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (I prefer the reduced cruelty chicken sold at Whole Foods :))
  • 1 box of 12 blue corn taco shells
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 large bag of RBST free cheddar jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (or more if you’re like me) of chipotle or chili powder
  • 1 15 oz can of salsa de tomate (aka Goya or similar tomato sauce)
  • 1 12 oz can of green enchilada sauce

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees farenheit or 175 degrees celsius. Wash and clean your chicken breasts trimming extra fat. Get a medium skillet and coat it with omega 3 DHA canola oil. In addition to adding the seasonings in the amounts listed above, I like to coat the oil in the skillet with extra pepper and chili powder and a slight pinch of salt. Place the chicken in the skillet. Over medium heat, cook chicken breasts until liquid runs clear (or, if you’re me, cook the chicken a little too long).

It will take awhile for the skillet to heat up. So I used this time to clean my hands and break out the red onion, bell pepper and garlic and chop them up nicely. After slicing those veggies up, I put them aside for safe-keeping in a clean bowl and returned to monitor the chicken, flipping from side to side and adding seasonings as I saw fit.

When the chicken was cooked, I broke the breasts up into smaller pieces and cracked open the salsa de tomate, and stirred that in along with the green enchilada sauce. I mixed a little cheese and stirred in my veggies slowly. I then added each of the above-listed doses of oregano, parsley, pepper and chili powder. After letting all these ingredients cook for about 4 or 5 minutes (and you’ll have to use your discretion with regard to heating as everyone’s stove is different, the idea is to slow cook these ingredients over a period of a few minutes rather than tossing them in a very hot pan that is spewing volcanic sauce fragments everywhere).

Once the onions are cooked, empty the contents of the skillet into a deep baking dish. Cover with cheese to taste and place in the oven for about 10-12 minutes longer.  After that, take it out and stuff taco shells with enchilada mix.

Seems sort of sloppy but it is yummy.

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Part II. Pasta Potluck

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Yes, friends, this really is as easy as it sounds. And it gets even easier.  I don’t know if you can read the bottom of the packaging on this Bona Chia bag, but this pasta cooks up in about 3 minutes and 30 seconds or less. In previous postings I’ve extolled the value of slicing up veggies commonly found in fridges and turning them into quick lunches or dinners. The same is true here. After a very busy day at work followed by what turned into a late night run, I barely had time for dinner last week.

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Bona Chia is a great product because it’s healthy and easy to make. For this recipe, I simply turned on the oven to 450, wiped some clean asparagus with canola oil and sprinkled them with lemon juice and pepper. I threw the asparagus in the oven, read the news for about 15 minutes, took the asparagus out and left them to cool. I sliced up some tomatoes and separated some broccoli florets.

I cooked the pasta with the broccoli for about 3 mins, then mixed in tomato slices at the finish. Broccoli turned up perfectly cooked, and the heat wilted the tomatoes nicely. I sprinkled a tad of parmesan cheese thus spoiling what was otherwise almost a delightfully animal free dinner.

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This recipe would make my Italian relatives wince, but I still call this a pasta dinner.

Part III. Pickled Rose Wine Soaked Beets (or something like that)

These are my beet porn pictures, I present them to you up front. I don’t know why they fascinate me so. Maybe it’s something to do with the color, but beets are my new thing. Incidentally, beets, along with chia and a zillion other things are credited with (maybe) having endurance boosting powers, so runners take note.

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I got the recipe for rose and raspberry pickled beets from Cooking Light Magazine and instantly felt compelled to make it after dinner on Sunday evening. For this recipe you will need the following:

  • 1 pound red beets (about 2)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cups dry rosé wine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

    A little fruit porn. Another tip is if you haven't had dessert prior to making this, I recommend conserving the raspberry refuse after straining and dumping immediately into a small cup of vanilla frozen yogurt. It's delicious in that fancy restaurant sort of way.

    A little fruit porn. Another tip is if you haven’t had dessert prior to making this, I recommend conserving the raspberry refuse after straining and dumping immediately into a small cup of vanilla frozen yogurt. It’s delicious in that fancy restaurant sort of way.

Note: For some reason, I couldn’t find dry rosé wine, so I ended up using pink moscato instead. I reduced the sugar in this recipe by a lot. I wanted a less sweet beet so I only used about 1/4 cup of sugar rather than the full 3/4. Just seems like loads to me. Further, I thought the beets would taste better with rosemary sprigs, so I substituted those for thyme.

Here are the instructions as indicated on the magazine page (or you can access the steps on their page directly):

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  1. 2. Leave root and 1 inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place beets in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish; add water to a depth of 2 inches. Cover with foil; bake at 425° for 50 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool. Peel beets; cut into 1-inch wedges. Place beets in a large heatproof glass jar or bowl with peppercorns and thyme.
  1. 3. Combine raspberries and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and raspberries begin to break down. Strain raspberry mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Pour hot raspberry liquid over beet mixture; cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
The finished product before being drowned in the raspberry wine sauce.

The finished product before being drowned in the raspberry wine sauce.

The results were satisfactory. This was super simple but left me feeling like I’d actually made something wholesome yet different. I don’t say that about my cooking often. My one tip is to drain the mixture after about 15 hours. Don’t let the beets soak forever as they will get tart. Drain almost all liquid out after that time, conserving only a little mixture and leaving the beets to sit on top of the rosemary and peppercorns.

2 Responses to “Tacochiladas, pasta potluck and, of course, I do something else with beets”

  1. themovingmuncher May 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    Mm yummy recipe, had never seen blue corn taco shells before but would make a nice change 🙂 Wholefoods = my dream land where I leave happy but with an empty wallet!

    • theadventurousyogi May 24, 2013 at 1:25 am #

      Seriously, Whole Foods sucks my funds dry. But I am addicted. Hopefully, I’ll feel motivated to try some great new vegan recipes I’ve come across.

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