Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Taco Salad With Tostitos Garlic and Black Bean Chips

We make taco salads on a fairly occasional basis but they have always been beef based. For a change of pace, I thought we should try one that was chicken based.

To start the process, I took some of those Foster Farms chicken strips we bought at Costco a while back and tossed them with some chili powder and EVOO and put them in the fridge to thaw.

When my wife got home, she finished heating them up in a pan on the stove. I chopped some romaine lettuce, pulled the cheese out of the fridge along with some salsa and got those Tostitos Garlic and Black Bean chips that I reviewed recently.
Our conclusion: this worked really well and it was a fun, tasty dinner. There are a lot of different textures and flavors going on here.  The romaine lettuce and the chips give some crunch, while there is a meaty texture from the chicken.  The lettuce gives a fresh flavor while the salsa and the chips give a little spice and zing.

The value from this is pretty good too. A salad like this is probably going to set you back $16 to $20 for two people at someplace like Applebees. And unless you live next door to a restaurant, chances are you can put this together in less time than it takes to drive there and back.

So the next time you crave a taco salad, take a look in your cupboard, your fridge and your freezer. You very well might be able to make something delicious in less time than it takes to get to the restaurant.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pasta Prima Chicken Mozzarella Ravioli With Pancetta And Vidalia Onions

We stocked up on the Pasta Prima Chicken Mozzarella Ravioli that was on sale last month and I thought it would be a good idea to make very simple sauce to help highlight the elegant flavor of the ravioli. This dish had only four components:

Pasta Prima Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli-one package
About an inch think slice of pancetta, cubed
Half of a large vidalia onion, chopped

All there was to cooking this dish was just browning the onion and pancetta and then just adding a bit of EVOO to have enough liquid to balance out the sauce.  By serving it with a romaine lettuce salad we had a fine and complete meal in just minutes.
My wife and I were both very pleased with how this turned out and it was definitely a success. The hearty taste of the pancetta complimented the more delicate flavor of the ravioli and the sweet, light taste of the onion.

Our only negative was that the dish is just a bit salty due to the pancetta being a salty meat. But let me be clear, it was a very sucessful dish. I am only saying that if we could figure a way to temper the saltiness of the meat in it a little, it would be perfect.

As it stands, it was a lovely meal and the return on our time was fabulous.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Costco Coupon Book For May 12 to June 5 2011

Once again I would like to thank my wonderful friends at Addicted To Costco for putting this month's coupon book online.

Some of the things we will be getting this month include the bourbon chicken, the M&M's and the fruit bars.

I will have more on these items later.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tostitos Garlic & Black Bean Chips-A Quick Review

You still have until tomorrow to buy these chips on sale and if you are a salty snacker like I am, I highly recommend stocking up on them.

While I generally eat my tortilla chips with salsa or as part of taco salad, I found these chips flavorful enough to eat on their own. The garlic and black bean flavors are present and enhancing, without being overpowering.  Also, these chips have more fiber than your typical tortilla chip, so they are a slightly less guilty pleasure. And while they are great by  themselves, they still work well with salsa.  And at some point we will make a chicken taco salad with some chicken strips we bought from Costco.

At $6.59 for a 26 ounce bag, these are definitely a better value than the bag you buy in the grocery store.  Then add in the coupon and you are paying about the same price for a 26 ounce bag as you pay for a 13 ounce bag in your typical supermarket.

Once again, Costco sells a great product at a great price. If you like tortilla chips, I highly recommend picking up some before the sales ends on May 8.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quinoa With Ham, Pineapple, Black Beans and Vegetables

Sorry about the delay in posting. We went on vacation and then when we got back, we had a bunch of mundane chores to do like car shopping.  But it is time to start into posting again. Here is a fun, colorful dish that was easy to make to help me get into the swing of things again.

After Easter, my mother in law offered me all the ham I wanted, so I took her up on the offer.  I thought it might be fun to do something with quinoa and after some research, I came up with this dish.

1 cup quinoa, cooked and just so lightly salted
About 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 small onion, diced
About 1 cup chopped baby carrots
About 1 cup chopped celery
Canola oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
A portion of a fresh pineapple, chopped, with some juice from the pineapple
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground red pepper
Some freshly ground curry mix
Dried dill, crushed

I cooked the quinoa per directions. While that was happening I sauted  the ginger and garlic in the canola. After they had cooked a bit, I added the onions, then the celery and carrots. When they to about the right consistency, I added the quinoa, pineapple and beans. The last step was to season it and honestly, I just kept adding the spices until it had the flavors I wanted.

Due to our complex schedules, the first meal we had of it was for lunch the next day, so maybe that helped the flavors to meld. In any case, I think I got the seasoning pretty close to where I needed it. The ginger adds a fun, bright flavor while all the rest of the spices help to make the flavor profile broad enough that the dish was a little more complex, but not too busy.

My wife and I both rated this a success and I think we will try ham and quinoa together again.

I took a lot of inspiration from this recipe. However, as it is typical of me, I didn't bother measuring any of the seasonings.  Also, I eliminated the powdered milk and added onions. Finally, I used fresh pineapple and fresh ginger. I think those are probably the biggest changes since they help give the dish a lively, fresh and invigorating zing. (Eliminating the powdered milk also makes this dish a little brighter). I think this recipe definitely has a similar ingredient list to the one I referenced, but I think the few changes I made help to make it significantly different.  But I do want to be honest, I did get some good ideas from the dish I referenced.

Also, the quinoa and the black beans make this a pretty healthy dish, so you can enjoy the wide variety of flavors and textures this dish has to offer without any guilt.