Monday, July 25, 2011

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

MmmMmm TACOS! If I had to eat one kind of food for the rest of my life it would be tacos. Chicken tacos, beef tacos, fish tacos, shrimp, pork, veggie, scrambled egg tacos. The filling and the topping possibilities are endless. 

I grew up with ground beef tacos, which I absolutely adore. Especially when they're served in a freshly fried crispy corn tortilla. Not the store-bought hard taco shells - I'm talking about corn tortillas fried in oil right before the tacos are assembled. Fried deliciousness! It makes me happy just thinking about them.

BUT! These healthier slow-cooker chicken tacos are giving the comforting ground beef tacos a run for their money! They are the easiest and most delicious chicken tacos I've had. I originally found the recipe in Martha Stewart's Living magazine a few years back. I tried them and I WAS HOOKED. 

Martha. Seriously. You had me at Taco. 
And then you had me again at Slow-Cooker. 

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tacos

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 or 2 chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tablespoon chili powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 corn tortillas

Cilantro, shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, lime wedges, hot sauce, sour cream - whatever you like! 

A note about the ingredients:

I buy bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs because they're always cheaper than the other. And then I always kick myself later for being a cheap-ass. I take the skin off before I throw them in the slow-cooker and that's a pain. After the chicken is cooked, I have to shred around the bone and that's a pain, too. But I do it Every Single Time. And Lord knows, the next time I'm staring at the chicken in the grocery store, guess what I'll be buying. Yep. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Because I'm a money-saving martyr.

I've talked about chipotle chiles in adobe before. If you have never tried them, don't be afraid! Start with one and see what you think. They really add such a nice smoky flavor. If you are too afraid, go ahead and make the tacos and skip the chiles. You'll still be my friend. But SO HELP ME if you tell me that you think cilantro tastes like soap... we might have an issue. The issue being that cilantro is fantastic and you're wrong. That's right. I said it.

Every time I make this, I double the chicken recipe. I use all the leftover chicken and garnishes to make FANTASTIC chicken enchiladas. I'll tell you all about those in my next post. They're worth the wait!

Make It:
In slow cooker, combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chipotle chile, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours (or on low, 8 hours).

Here's my chicken slowly cooking away. The dark red pieces that you see in the picture are the chipotle peppers. I also added a chopped tomato to this batch because I had one that was getting a little too soft. I didn't add it to the recipe above because I'm a rebel like that.

Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks; moisten with cooking juices. 

Here's my finished, shredded chicken. Doesn't it look delicious?

Serve in taco shells and load with your favorite toppings!

I've been trying to NOT fry my tortillas lately. You know, to make the tacos more healthful. It's SO BORING! They're still delicious, but I do think that frying the tortillas brings the tacos to a whole new level of tastiness. 

Ignore my soft corn tortilla picture and Go! Go forth and fry your tortillas! 


If you could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cold-Brewed Coffee

Have you ever had cold-brewed iced coffee? Because it is DELICIOUS. 

The New York Times posted this recipe for it, and then all sorts of my favorite food bloggers were talking about it, so I decided to give it a try.

It's kind of amazing. And really easy.

Here's what you do:

Mix 1/3 cup of coarse ground coffee (the darker roast, the better) with 1 1/2 cups of cold water in the container of your choice. I triple and quadruple the recipe because I likes me some coffee yo! 

Were you expecting mine to be in some sort fancy Mason jar? Ha! Turns out, clam chowder takeout containers are the perfect coffee maker. Take THAT Toddy McTodd Todd! 

Anyway, you mix the coffee grounds with the water, cover it up, and then try to ignore it for the next 12 to 15 hours. You don't even need to refrigerate it during this time, although you can if you really want to. I don't.

And yes, this is the same lid I used as a rainbow template for the Tooth Fairy Door. So?

When the coffee has served its counter time, you can strain it with a paper coffee filter or a double layer of cheesecloth. I've even heard of people using a couple layers of paper towels. Dude! I make mine in a clam chowder takeout cup, so I'm not judging. 

And maybe I need to clarify. I do own Tupperware. A lot of it. I even own a few Mason jars. But I've been going to the Crab Cooker since I was little little little. We used to eat there with my Nanny - my great-grandmother - and it has a very special place in my heart. It's a little bit of a trek for us to go there now, but whenever we're in the neighborhood, we try to stop by and eat in or grab some clam chowder to go. I just love my Crab Cooker containers.

Back to the coffee! I pour my coffee ground concoction directly into the coffee filter of my coffee maker. You know, without turning the coffee maker on or anything. I just use it for the filter.

Pour the filtered coffee into a covered container and stick it in the fridge.  It can stay fresh in there for a good couple of weeks. I know! This stuff is amazing.

At this point, it's basically coffee concentrate that you should mix with equal parts water or milk. I like my coffee strong, so I don't dilute it very much. Cold-brewed coffee isn't bitter at all! It's just pure heavenly iced deliciousness. Try it and see!

Fill a glass with ice.

Pour in some of your cold-brewed coffee. Since the coffee is not hot, it won't melt the ice cubes and get all watery and bland. You know what I'm talking about. Sad, sad melty ice cubes. Layer of watered-down coffee and half-melted ice cubes on top of regular coffee. I will no longer drink that sort of nonsense.

Iced coffee made from hot coffee is a little bit delicious. 

Iced coffee from cold-brewed coffee is VERY delicious. 

Then you can fix your iced coffee however you darn well please. 

I like Coffeemate or half and half and Torani flavored syrup. It makes me feel fancy.

And then I drive by Starbucks and yell out my car window, "Suck It!" 

Okay, I've never done that. 

But just look at it! Seriously! It doesn't get any better. 

Mmmm Mmmm! Refreshing!

Try it and let me know what you think!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tooth Fairy Door

So Ali was all, "Hey, we should make this!" 

And I was all, "What the heck! $15 worth of supplies from Hobby Lobby for a Tooth Fairy door? Plus a bazillion dollars for shipping? Rip off!"

And then I ordered them anyway. Because, c'mon, that door is ADORABLE! And when I showed James, he basically demanded that I make it for our kids, saying that it was the cutest thing ever.
Or maybe he just said, "Hmmm..." 
And before he could say anything else, I screamed, "Okay! I'll make it! Geez!"

I bought this door, this door handle, and this door knocker. The door handles come in a set of two, and since I wasn't going to use one on the inside of the door, Ali and I shared. It's good to have friends who are as crazy with the crafting as you are.

Peyton and Ella will be sharing the Tooth Fairy Door because they share a room. So we had a family discussion about what color I should paint it. They agreed on rainbow colors.

So I used my fancy rainbow template to pencil on some rainbow arcs. 

I knew that if I didn't, my rainbow colors would be all crazy and uneven. They were anyway. But I do think my fancy rainbow template helped. Eat Lots A Fish!

And then I started to paint. First, I just did the major color blocking.

And then I spent the next 5 freaking hours trying to make the rainbow curves actually look like curves amidst all the angles and cutouts of the door. 

I am SURE there is some mathematical equation out there that explains at what angles to color each little nook and cranny to make the rainbow look perfectly curved. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT EQUATION IS. 

I'm telling you - save yourself the agony. Paint your door one color, the moulding another color, and call it a day. 

I do love the way it turned out, though. It's so bright and cheerful!

Peyton and Ella wanted to help with the painting. We decided I would paint the inside of the door yellow, and then they would each decorate a side.

Peyton did the left side and Ella did the right. 

So, imagine this. You're the Tooth Fairy and you're about to enter through this door into my kids' room. Are you thinking, "Hey, cute! The kids painted the door! How lovely!" or, do you see it and think, "Great. It's a crack house. I'd better make it quick."

Crack house. Right?

I love my kids.

I glued on the door handle and door knocker with tacky glue. And I added some glitter glue to the door moulding. TO MAKE IT MAGICAL FOR GOODNESS SAKE!

I didn't want the kids to open The Magical Fairy / Crack House Door to just see the wall on the inside.  Because that's just boring.

So I went through my craft supplies and grabbed handfuls of stuff I might be able to use. 

I cut out some some white felt clouds and embellished them with white sequins. And then I glued the clouds to some starry night scrapbook paper.

Then I called Ali and we brainstormed the mini clothespins idea. I strung little tiny clothespins through some twine and backed the twine with red ribbon. 

Then I glued it all to the backside of the door frame. 

I cut the top off a little 2x3 inch zip top bag (just like I did here) and stuck in some orange burlap and added the red polka dot stickers to frame it.  It's the perfect size to keep a little lost tooth safe until the Tooth Fairy comes and leaves some cold hard cash.

James says it looks like it came straight out of a magical story book. Peyton and Ella love it!

I used Command Strips to attach it to the wall by the upper bunk of Peyton and Ella's bed. And then we put their two most prized loveys, Pink Puppy and GG, in charge of watching it for us. 

I can't wait 'til the Tooth Fairy comes!


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