MARTHA’s Mango-Chicken Soft Tacos!!

This is from Martha’s blog.  A crock-pot-clean-out-your-fridge-wonder!

Enjoy!

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (Sprouts has these on sale all the time for really cheap, and they have way more flavor than breast)
a splash of chicken broth, though you may not need depending on how juicy the mangoes and lemons are
3 over ripe mangoes (you could probably use frozen too)
2 lemons, juiced
1 onion
7 small cloves of garlic
3 tsp dried mint
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I always have the nuts that I just use a microplane to grate)

Corn tortillas
2 ripe avocados sliced or diced
1 tomato chopped
Monterrey Jack cheese (Sprouts always has blocks of cheese on sale, it is MUCH better to grate it yourself)
Annie’s chunky salsa (refrigerator section at HEB, best salsa EVER!!)

I warm up the tortillas on a comal, grill, or microwave.  Add cheese, mango chicken filling, avocado, tomato, and salsa!  Yummo!!

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I hate puns, but the name describes this sauce perfectly

I hate puns.

No, really.  I hate them.  My husband would have you believe otherwise, but it’s really true.  Unfortunately, and much to my husband’s delight, I’m sure, as it helps to prove his case, there is no better name for the dish that I’m about to share with you other than,

PASTA FAUX-LOGNESE!

(I’ll give you a moment.)

This is a recipe for a marinara sauce that would traditionally be made with ground beef, therefore, making it a “Bolognese“.  However, because I have been, for several reasons, sticking to purchasing very little meat for our family, I had to improvise.  Thus was born a tasty treat made with beans instead of meat!

I’ve made this dish a few times, and each time, the types of beans used were a little different depending on what I had on hand.  The following recipe is my favorite version thus-far:

The BEANS:

  • Start by soaking 1 cup of dried beans overnight.  I prefer a combination of red beans and garbanzo beans at a ratio of about 4:1 respectively.
  • After the beans have soaked, put them in a pot of cold water, and bring it to a boil.  The beans should be boiled, uncovered, until they are thoroughly soft (notal dente“). This can take some time, depending on the beans used and the amount.
  • You may want to note that boiling raw beans that have been dried usually requires skimming the foam and film that is produced early in the boiling process.  Also, DO NOT add salt at this point– that will dry out the beans and make them crumble.
  • Once the beans are thoroughly cooked, take them off the heat and set them aside, keeping them in the hot water in which they were boiled.

The SAUCE – this taken, mostly, from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe

  • In a large saucepan or pot, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter on medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, but before it starts to bubble, at 1/3 cup of grated white onion. (The larger-sized grate is fine for this)
  • As the onion cooks, add dried oregano to taste (I also use marjoram).
  • Sometimes, I chop some fresh parsley and add it at this point– whatever you like.
  • Once the onion is cooked-through and soft, add minced garlic.  (You can use a couple of cloves, but since I love garlic, I would probably use 4 or 5!)
  • To this, now you can add a pinch of salt (I love cooking with kosher salt).
  • You don’t need to cook the garlic much at all.  In fact, I would go ahead and have the other ingredients ready to throw in within a minute or so of adding the garlic to the onions.
  • After just a minute or so, ladle the cooked beans into the sauce pan using a slotted spoon so as to keep from adding too much of the water (though you might need it later if your sauce gets too thick for your liking).
  • Stir together, and add pepper to taste.  I like a bit of cracked black pepper and also a couple of teaspoons of red pepper flakes.
  • After the beans have been incorporated, let it all cook together uncovered for about 3-5 minutes.
  • If at any time during this process you find that the vegetables and/or beans are sticking to the pan, you can add a little more butter or a touch of canola oil– you’ll want to wait to use olive oil!
  • Next, add 1 can of crushed tomatoes. (I like Muir Glenn Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes!)
  • Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on low for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking.
  • After the sauce has simmered, add salt to taste, but be sure to taste the sauce before salting. (Remember, other ingredients in the sauce have already been salted, and using canned tomatoes, while tasty and convenient, often have some salt in them already.)
  • Take the sauce off the heat, and stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped basil.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir in to incorporate. (Adding the olive oil at the end will keep your sauce from having a bitterness that can come from over-worked olive oil.)

The PLATE

  • In a wide bowl, start with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves.
  • On top the bed of spinach, add a hot serving of your favorite pasta (this works well with spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni– just to name a few).
  • To your bed of pasta and greens, ladle on a helping of the hot fauxlognese sauce.
  • Top with grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino and a sprig of parsley for color.

Et Voila!


You gotta eat your spinach, baby!

Spinach? Seriously? YES!  This isn’t your mom’s over-nuked limp mound of tasteless stringy mush.  No sir, it’s so much more.  At least, it has the potential to be so much more.

Spinach is simply one of the tastiest and more versatile greens there are.  Few greens can be served raw or cooked and be enjoyable both ways.  While there are a few recipes for cooked/grilled lettuce, they’re just not that prevalent (for a reason, I say).  Other greens: mustard, collard, etc. can just be down-right bitter, and you wouldn’t dare serve them raw.  Not so with spinach.

First, it’s an instant salad.  Grab a handful and toss with your favorite dressing.  Or, you can get creative.  Add bacon, walnuts, goat cheese, and toss with a warm cherry vinaigrette that just barely wilts the leaves, and you’ve got a tasty treat.

Second, it’s an instant veggie to go into practically any soup or sauce you make.  I put it into my black-eyed peas with rice to add some color, flavor and vitamin D.  You can throw it into your favorite marinara sauce before you ladle it onto your pasta.  (For that matter, you can try ladling your favorite sauce over a bowl of hot pasta and fresh spinach– or JUST a bed of spinach if you’re watching carbs.  Really.)  You can throw it into a batch of navratan korma or even pad thai.  The possibilities are endless!

Third, it really can be wonderful cooked and served beside a steak, a fish filet, a piece of grilled tempeh or tofu.  But, you have to learn how to cook it.  It doesn’t take much heat at all.  Try this:

  • Start with a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a pan (remember to start with a cold pan.  throwing olive oil into a hot pan can easily burn it.  if you burn the oil, best to throw it out, wipe down the pan and start fresh.)
  • Throw in a bit of chopped, minced or sliced garlic– whatever your preference.
  • Once the oil is hot and the garlic has just begun to sizzle, throw in a pinch of salt (I prefer Kosher salt), stir a few times, and then turn off the heat.
  • If you didn’t hear me before– turn off the heat
  • Throw some freshly washed and dried spinach into the pan, and using either tongs or two forks, simply turn the mound of spinach over and over, coating the leaves in the hot oil.  The residual heat from the pan and the heat of the oil is enough to cook the leaves.
  • Serve soon.  Don’t let the leaves stay in the pan– they will turn to mush.  If you’re not ready to eat them right away, at least put them on a plate away from the heat until you’re ready to serve.
  • Crack some black pepper and maybe a squirt of lemon juice, and you’re ready to munch on some tasty goodness.

You gotta eat your spinach

baby,
that’s the only thing to do.
It’ll keep you kinda healthy too,
and what it did for Popeye,
it’ll do for you,
you gotta eat your spinach,

baby,

it’ll keep you nice and strong,

and the stronger you are,

the longer you’ll live,

and the longer I’ll have to love you.

From the song sung by Shirley Temple