Super Bowl Salsa Recipe

Are your social networks exploding with Super Bowl recipes? I never knew so many people were obsessed with the NFL. In the food blogger world, the Super Bowl is about much more than the events on the field. It is a chance to showcase some crowd-wowing creations. Every few months, cooks get a chance to flex their cooking and baking muscles. This is your chance to step up. Continue reading Super Bowl Salsa Recipe

A Fresh Take on Frozen Burritos

red's frozen burrito

When my stomach cries out “yo necessito burritos,” my first thought was never a frozen burrito. Nor was it “why is my stomach talking to me?” Normally, I’d convince coworkers to save their sack lunch and adventure to the closest taqueria. If I had the ingredients at home, I would make my own.

The folks at Red’s Natural Foods reached out with some samples of their natural and organic burrito offerings. Maybe it was my #burritos2015 campaign that caught their eye. Their latest frozen burritos go way beyond what you’d envision from an icy burrito buried in the freezer section. The few frozen burritos I have had prior to Red’s were bean and cheese or something labeled meat and cheese. Continue reading A Fresh Take on Frozen Burritos

Sopa de Elote Dip Recipe | Bacon Takedown Showdown

It isn’t every day your food is featured in Thrillist for Best Bacon dishes.

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking competitions. I swear them off, but not long after I get the invite, I am signed up and scouring recipes for inspiration.

The latest was the fifth annual bacon takedown. I eat bacon once or twice a year, so I’m by no means a connoisseur. Cycling through dishes I’ve perfected that include bacon, I considered stuffin muffins and carbonara. The first is ingredient and labor intensive. The latter has poor reheat value. After vetoing these dishes I started questioning why I signed up.

Then I got my idea: Mexican corn.

I started it as a chowder soup. Serving soup samples is tedious. Know what isn’t? Making it a dip.

Of course you made something with tortilla chips.

The addictive element of competitions is you get instant feedback from people who aren’t your family or friends. They have no obligation to say your food is good. And they definitely don’t have to come back four times for another taste.

The good news: everyone seemed to love the dip.

The bad news: I didn’t win. Always a bridesmaid…

Continue reading Sopa de Elote Dip Recipe | Bacon Takedown Showdown

#TortillaChallenge | A Gringo's Mission

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What would you do if you only had one tortilla?

This was the question that consumed me Sunday night as I warmed my last tortilla on my Weber grill while the chicken breasts finished cooking. The obvious answer is “buy more,” but what if it were the very last tortilla IN THE WORLD?

What would you fill it with? Chicken, steak, fajita veggies? Would it be corn or flour? Cold? Warm? Crispy or soft? Folded in half for a quesadilla? Salsa verde or roja? Or would you make enchiladas?

Friends often send me articles about the best taco joints or every time Taco Bell or Chipotle is in the news. They also treat my photos like a variation of “Where’s Waldo?” Surely there’s a tortilla in that photo somewhere.

I am a tortilla-eating fiend. Think of the Cookie Monster, but with tortillas. I will use them in place of plates. I will eat them on their own. I prefer flour to corn, mainly because I’m a gringo. But yellow corn tortillas tend to fall part each time I use them.

Incapable of going a day without my beloved, I went to the store Monday night and restocked with a 36 pack of small, white corn tortillas.

Thus begins the #TortillaChallenge! Post your ideas in the comments or use the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

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For the next 36 tortillas I will do my best to make different dishes and highlight the supreme versatility of the circular wünder food.

The first three tortillas were dinner on night one. After warming the blanco discs, I sprinkled shredded cheddar cheese, then topped the melting queso with slices of grilled chicken. Arugula and halved cherry tomatoes came next before a light drizzling of #BBANCH.

Each tortilla was delicious. But I can do better.

Thirty three tortillas remain.

Are you up for the challenge?

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9 Bites at Big Star

big star, chicago, tacos, wicker park, pork belly, al pastor, fish taco

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The adage “always leave them wanting more” is attributed to P.T. Barnum and Walt Disney. But neither of them had the chance to dine at the taco sensation known as Big Star in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Big Star’s, well, big star, shines in the night summoning all the hipsters the small, standalone taqueria can hold. Here are things I can promise you you’ll see:

  • Pants so tight they make you uncomfortable
  • Funky glasses that probably don’t even have a prescription
  • Tattooed folk
  • Chuck Taylors
  • Vintage bicycles locked outside.
  • If you’re lucky, maybe a Vespa with a helmet on the seat.

After a meeting in the city, I met mi amigo de tacos at Big Star. At this point in my life, everyone knows how I feel about Mexican food. I think about eating mas Mexican food WHILE eating Mexican food.

“Know what would be good with this?” I ask myself or whoever mistakenly decided to listen to me. “More tacos.”

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My preference is burritos instead of tacos, but the gran estrella only serves tacos. I opted for an array of three tacos to get a taste of their different flavors: al pastor, de panza (pork belly) and de pescado (fish).

I started with al pastor, which is my preferred meat at taquerias. Their tacos are served on small, white corn tortillas and garnished with more authentic-leaning toppings than cheddar, sour cream and shredded lettuce. The al pastor was good, but I had better at several other spots.

Next was the pork belly. A favorite of mi amigo de tacos. This was better than the al pastor and may cause you to scream “Get in my belly!”big star, chicago, tacos, wicker park, pork belly, al pastor, fish taco

I closed with the breaded fish taco with chipotle mayo. The fish was a good size for the tortillas and it was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Everything you look for in a fish taco.

The final two were the best of my trio, but here’s the thing. Each taco was $3. Each taco was also 3 bites. That equates to a dollar a bite. Thinking back, I keep envisioning myself eating a crumpled dollar. I’m frugal when it comes to food. The bang for the dólares is usually very high with Mexican cuisine. But for single-tortilla’d tacos at a buck a bite, it’s hard to justify the expense.

My gold standard (or aluminum foil) is Chipotle. You get a massive amount of food for a reasonable sum. The food IS good. The people watching is unrivaled. If you’re new to Chicago, or visiting, Wicker Park is a great area to wander around and get drinks. I saw one man eating out of a dog bowl at the corner of Damen and Milwaukee. I found it best not to ask.

Big Star is also cash only, so depending on your wad of cash, Big Star may leave you too wanting more.

Ultimate Guacamole Recipe & Turkey Taco Tuesday

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I don’t trust any guacamole recipe that doesn’t yield a bathtub full of the green stuff. Most recipes will mislead you and instruct you to peel the avocados or mix salt with lime juice.

False.

Step one should always be: find a larger vessel, like an unused ship or timpani.

Step two: find more avocados. However many you have, it isn’t enough.

Then multiply whatever inadequate recipe you were following by a multiple of 10 and proceed.

The snowicane named Nika is hitting Chicago tonight, so I loaded up on the essentials at the grocery: bell peppers, cilantro and avocados. When they start naming snow storms you know it’s serious. Will this be my last meal?

After snacking on cold pizza, I started my cooking. I’ve outlined my basic approach to tacos on here before. Quick recap: sauté onions, garlic, peppers. Season with s&p. Brown meat. Add cumin, chili powder and oregano. Finish cooking meat. Heat tortillas–we are civilized aren’t we? Add cilantro.

Plate.

Eat.

Bring it on Nika. I have food for 2-3 days and I found yogurt that may or may not be expired. I’m saving that until shit gets real.

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