Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

IMG_3431

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

IMG_3432

The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.

The Only Pasta Salad Recipe You’ll Ever Need.

I neglected to write a “planning” post this week – whoops!  I actually DID plan out our meals, too…though with only a couple of nights of cooking needed (we are headed to MIAMI! this weekend), I took a bit of the easy way out.  We did a lot of recycling and reusing chez nous, and we’re still dining on leftovers.  For example, this pasta salad, which I made to bring to a friend’s impromptu BBQ on Sunday evening (another reason to love spring: impromptu BBQs).

This “recipe” is an absolute go-to.  I remember making it for the first time with my mom probably ten years ago, and it’s become a staple at the yearly beachside bonfire we host with a bunch of family friends.  Of course, the first time she made this, my mom was just using up vegetables she had in her fridge – I don’t get my propensity to throw things together and call it dinner from nowhere, you see.  There are, however, two secrets to elevating this from grocery store pasta salad to the kind of pasta salad to end all other pasta salads.  See if you can spot them.

IMG_3340

The World’s (well, in my humble opinion, anyway) Best Pasta Salad

  • 1 box curly pasta – my favorite is Cavatappi
  • 1/2 jar sundried tomatoes, in oil – coarsely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (orange adds a nice pop of color!)
  • 1 can corn, drained, or ideally, 2-3 stalks of fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • one bunch green onions, chopped
  • handful of spinach
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • a goodly amount of Parmesan cheese
  • fresh herbs: cilantro provides a gorgeous zing, but parsley and/or basil also good options
  • dressing:
    • a good squeeze of anchovy paste (*leave out if making a totally vegetarian version*)
    • salt, pepper, crushed reds
    • balsamic vinegar
    • olive oil
  1. Boil water for pasta; while you’re waiting, prepare/wash/chop all of your veggies, and place in a LARGE bowl, EXCEPT for your sundried tomatoes.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions.  While the pasta is still warm, toss with the veggies – and then add your sundried tomatoes and a bit of the oil it comes in.  Give it a thorough toss.
  3. Whisk together your dressing and add to your pasta.  Finish off your salad with Parmesan and a generous dose of herbs.  Serve warm or chilled – it won’t last long either way.

IMG_3332

The Verdict:

This one’s a go-to for good reason.  I made an extra large batch on Sunday, taking most of it to the BBQ and leaving a bit behind for me and the Husband.  By Monday evening, I had (very generously) left him two (full!) strands of Cavatappi.  I am such a great partner, sometimes.

PS: You can obviously add olives to add brininess, and whatever else your little heart desires.  I have and enforce a strict no-olive policy chez nous.

Vegetable & Soba Noodle Salad

It is officially spring in Washington, DC: my Instragram feed is full of cherry blossoms and the car is dusted with pollen.  Life is good again (as long as the tourists stick to the right side of the Metro escalator.  Seriously, ok? Right. Side.).

Spring means more happy-looking vegetables, even at our local Safeway.  It also means that fresh, quick & easy is the best way to do dinner.

This “recipe” comes courtesy of my sister, and before that, one of her friends.  Really, though, there’s no plan to follow here – just use the vegetables in your refrigerator.  Although as my sister wisely said to me, “I know you wouldn’t do this, but obviously don’t skimp on the avocado.”  OBVIOUSLY NOT.

IMG_3313

Soba Noodle Salad

  • 1 package soba or buckwheat noodles
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 head purple or green cabbage, shredded
  • handful sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • a big handful cilantro, chopped
  • other optional toppings: feta cheese, shredded/cooked chicken, pan fried tofu, peanuts
  • dressing:
    • 1 part olive oil
    • 1 part rice vinegar
    • 1 part soy sauce
    • 1/2 part toasted sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon or so honey, plus more as needed
    • juice from 1/2 lime
    • healthy dose sriracha
    • freshly grated ginger
    • s&p to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook soba noodles until just before al dente, about 5-6 minutes.  Rinse immediately with cold water.
  2. Combine all of your chopped veggies (from bell pepper through cabbage) in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk your dressing together; continually taste and adjust to your liking.
  3. Add noodles to veggies; top with sesame seeds & dressing.  Give the bowl a thorough mix with tongs and add avocado and cilantro.  Serve warm or cold.

IMG_3314

The Verdict:

Husband hasn’t passed the verdict yet, so you can be the judge…d’accord?

Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

I’ve been knocked flat by a cold.  I do mean I have literally been knocked flat – getting out of bed requires a monumental amount of effort.

I need some chicken soup, but I need to be able to make it without having to stand up for too long, because that gives me the coughs.  Obviously, my slow cooker is going to save the day; recipe inspired by Eating Well.  Because what could be better for your breathing than lots (and lots) of Asian spice?

IMG_3176

Slow Cooked Chicken Pho

  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skim removed
  • 8 cups chicken broth (the best stuff you have)
  • about 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • about 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 8 whole star anise
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash crushed reds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 inches fresh peeled ginger, grated
  • 1/2 package udon noodles
  • 5-6 bunches baby bok choy, washed, bottoms removed, and roughly chopped
  • fresh herbs: basil, cilantro
  • toppings: scallions, thinly sliced yellow or white onions, sriracha, fresh lime, hoisin sauce, jalapeno
  1. In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the pan, 3-4 minutes on each side, to maximize chicken flavor.
  2. In your slow cooker, combine ingredients starting with the broth and going through ginger.  Give it a quick mix and then add the chicken, meat side down.  Cook on low for about 7 hours.  Take out the chicken from the slow cooker, and remove it from the bone.  (Optional step: strain the broth for the star anise, so you don’t accidentally bite down on them later.)  When slightly cooled, shred, and add back to the cooker for another 20-30 minutes.
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, boil water for your udon noodles and cook according to directions.
  4. With about 5-10 minutes to go, add the bok choy to the slow cooker and give it a stir.
  5. Place noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top.  Serve with your desired toppings – big handful of herbs, sriracha, lime juice, anything that sets your mouth on fire.

IMG_3170

The Verdict:

The crunch and spice of the basil, cilantro and scallions at the end are a must.  This was the first thing I’ve actually tasted in a while, so you know it tasted good.  Anything with this much heat is bound to clear up the sinuses, at least for a little while!  That being said, the Husband really dug this, too…though he thought it might be better with a little less star anise.  Would love feedback from anyone who gives it a go!