Monday, June 19, 2017

Confessions of a Tacoholic & Unabashed Salsa Fanatic

For a long time, years actually, there was really no type of food I loved more than sushi.
Pure adoration.

What did I want for my birthday meal?

What did I want for Mother's Day?

What did I want my husband to grab on his way home from work after a bad day?

What did I get for Christmas and use to make a culinary feast on New Year's Eve?
A sushi bazooka.
Yeah, that's right.
A sushi bazooka.
The thing is amazing.  Don't judge.
lol I actually have a half-finished post about it and the wonders I've made with it I've been meaning to wrap up for the past 6 months now.

Anyway, I say all of that to say this- it would take something really, truly, amazingly special to usurp sushi as the reigning culinary king of my heart.
Well, it's happened.

Don't get me wrong, sushi holds a special place in my heart...but for the past few months I've been more than a wee bit obsessed with tacos.

Not the Americanized kind in a crispy, flavorless shell from a box loaded with ground beef and it's ilk- though no judgement from me if that's your deal!

No, I'm talking about soft, pliable as-close-to-homemade-as-possible tortillas.
Preferably corn, but I'm not going to turn up my nose at flour either.

I'm talking about al pastor...or carnitas...or picadillo...or any number of other fantastic fillings.
I'm talking about cheese that's not cheddar.
Sauce that's not just sour cream.

Oh...and the salsas.
Good night...the salsas.  I want all the salsas.  Just give me salsas and a spoon if necessary.  I've mentioned my love of salsa a time or two in the past!

I got a couple of wonderful cookbooks for my birthday last month, Taqueria Tacos: A Taco Cookbook to Bring the Flavors of Mexico Home and Tacos: Recipes and Provocations.  No joke...I left them on my coffee table for a solid week just picking them up and drooling over them, poring over the recipes and sighing happily.  The latter of the two is my favorite (how great is that name?), but they're both pretty fantastic.

So salsa.
I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately to go with my new-found taco obsession- branching out from my old stand-by pico de gallo.  My favorite so far (I have many more to try) is this Salsa Roja.  The recipe is from Mike and Patty of Chili Pepper Madness and they have nailed it.

I've made it 3 times- doubling it the last two times.  It's dangerous...I cook with it.  I use it as a condiment.  I can't help but grab a handful of tortilla chips and indulge a little as soon as I open the fridge and see it sitting there.  

Lately, my favorite way to start the day has been to get in my 5 miles on the elliptical, get cleaned up, and head downstairs for some simple breakfast tacos.  Filling, fantastic, just over 200 calorie breakfast tacos.  For two of them!  I fill a couple of our store-brand of corn tortillas (which are 50 cals each) with 1/3 of a cup of frozen hash brown potatoes (33 cals) that I have browned and then tossed with some of this incredible salsa.  I add in a beaten egg (70 cals), let it scramble, and voilà- an insanely delicious low-cal breakfast!

So this salsa is super-simple.  It's the basic ingredients you already know and love- tomato, cilantro, onion, garlic, some cumin and lime juice.  Of course you need spice too- the recipe calls for jalapeños but says to use serranos if you like heat.
We like heat in this house- so it's always serranos.
Feel free to use jalapeños if you and yours don't feel the same way!

I just toss it all in a food processor, blend till smooth, and then let it simmer.

Give it a try, your taste buds will thank you!

2 lb tomatoes, quartered
1 small white onion, quartered
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, halved- ribs and seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ C chopped cilantro
Juice from half a lime, or more to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin, or more to taste
3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

1.  Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth.  Blend on high until completely smooth.

2.  Preheat medium-size pot over medium-high heat.  Transfer salsa mixture to pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, allow to simmer for 45 minutes.  Cool and store in refrigerator.

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