– drum roll, please –
Vinnie! Who could’ve guessed?!
You’re getting a triple whammy here. My first guest chef, plus a couple new recipes and although it wasn’t planned (they never are!) some new hidden hearts!! ❤
Let’s start off with the guest chef part. I’m not certain that Vin really counts but let’s just go with it. For his birthday last October, I got Vin the Coleman Roadtrip Grill as part of a group of camping themed birthday presents. Even though it’s meant for camping, etc… It also fits perfectly on our front stoop. Unfortunately, we haven’t had much time off from work to use any of the new camping stuff more than once and certainly not up to their full potential (I hardly think that toasting bread on the grill counts as really using it!).
The other night we finally did it right! Homemade tacos with grilled steak, chicken and veggies for yours truly. YUM.
…and just for the record, the leftovers have been equally delicious – I had them for lunch/dinner last night, in fact!
It’s always fun for me to have Vin in the kitchen with me. This is what he had to say about it:
I am neither creative or nearly as intelligent as Hill but I’ll do my best not to bore you. Ever since Hill started really getting creative and inspired by cooking, I’ve enjoyed lending a third hand. She is what you’d call a natural. As mentioned before, I am a picky eater but everything she makes is good. Some people say it’s love, some say its a gift… All I know is that I’m very lucky.
Now for the tacos!
My theory for seasoning is “just put a little.” I like using chili powder, garlic salt, red pepper flakes and a little beer during the cooking process. You can put anything else on it but you won’t ruin anything if you just put a little on it. Unfortunately, the steak wasn’t the ideal purchase this time but it was an adequate substitute. Usually, the steak is very thin so you don’t need to cook it for more than three or four minutes on each side. I start with the heat pretty high and lower it when I flip the meant to the second side.
The chicken was marinated in beer, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and pepper. I added chili powder (cayenne pepper) in thirty minutes before I took the chicken out of the marinade. Once on the grill, I started the chicken on high heat for two minutes on each side then turned it down to medium low heat. You know chicken is hard to keep moist. I found that cutting a small slit in the thickest piece of meat helps to give you a good idea of how much longer to keep the chicken on. To be honest, I got lucky this time and it came out great! I left the chicken on for three minutes more (after the first two minutes on high) on each side on medium low heat.
Last was the veggies. I cooked them on medium high heat, turning them every minute for about five minutes. Hill’s seasoning was perfect and, to my surprise, I didn’t over cook them!
In reality, all you need is a corn tortilla, meat and salsa. Maybe some cheese… That might just be a Mexican thing (which I am) but there can be so much more! Fresh tomato, onion, cotija cheese, extra cilantro, lime, hot sauce and my favorite, guacamole. Over time, Hill has proven to on up me on guacamole. I thought mine was good but its not better than hers. I like to start my taco out with guacamole as the base layer and then add the meat next. The rest is up to you! Make sure you don’t shy away from the cilantro!!
We are fortunate enough to do most things together but I feel that cooking brings something different to the table, so to speak. We are working together, we are loving each other with hugs, kisses, a couple butt smacks, jokes, drinks and laughter. All things that don’t have to do with food. Maybe this makes even the food that ends up burnt still taste good, I don’t know… What I do know is that I love Hill and I enjoy how much time, energy and soul she puts into filling me up with the best food!
How cute is he?! I hardly even had to pay him to say all those sweet things 😉 We really do have fun together. In or out of the kitchen, doing chores or being lazy, it doesn’t matter… We work really well together and it’s (almost) always really fun. He’s my puzzle piece! (Sorry for the corny inside joke… it’s something we’ve called each other for years but it really fits!)
The meat looked delicious and, I can say first hand that the rest of the toppings were very tasty. How can you really go wrong with taco stuff, though? As Vin mentioned earlier, I made guacamole. My recipe for guacamole is usually a little bit more simple but we had cotija cheese for the tacos so I decided to add it this time. Also, I normally just have regular garlic in the house but I decided to go with the elephant garlic since it was there. You can mix avocado with just about anything and have a winner
1½ large avocados
2 thick slices of red onion, coarsely diced (I like my guac chunky 🙂 )
2 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese
10 stalks of cilantro
1½ cloves of elephant garlic
the juice of one large lime
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
salt and pepper to taste (maybe a couple dashes of of hot sauce and/or a sprinkle of garlic powder)
Sometimes I’ll throw in some tomatoes or maybe even some homemade salsa also. Mush it all together and if you’re feeling fancy, garnish it with a sprinkle of cotija cheese and a sprig of cilantro.
*Please remember that I LOVE garlic, cilantro and everything spicy so you might want to adjust some of the amounts.
I had never made salsa verde or taco sauce or anything before this try but I was thrilled with how it turned out! Vin LOVED it too. I hope I get just as lucky next time!
Sala Verde Taco Sauce
½ small red onion
1 teaspoon cumin
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon white vinegar
15 stems fresh cilantro
1 green bell pepper (top cut off and seeds removed!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
a couple dashes of hot sauce
salt, pepper (and maybe some cayenne) to taste
Cut up the tomatillos, slice the jalapeños and bell peppers, dice up the onion, and chop the garlic. Toss them all together and broil them for 10-15 minutes. Mix the rest of the ingredients in with the remaining fresh mixture. Once they’re done broiling, let them cool for just a few minutes and throw all of it into a food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and puree it all up until you have the consistency that you want. It smells so good and so fresh when it’s done!
I think that’s about it for the tacos… As you can see in the pictures we had a nice spread of fresh tomato, onion, cilantro, lime, cotija cheese as well as Trader Joe’s shredded “Mexican Blend”, my homemade salsa, the new favorite salsa verde, guacamole, grilled chicken, grilled steak and grilled veggies (a mix of green bell pepper, jalapeño, onion, garlic and tomatillo) with some yummy corn tortillas that we heated up on the stove top. Not half bad, eh?
We got hungry while making this delicious feast so I sprinkled a little canola oil and salt on a couple of the corn tortillas and heated them up in the toaster oven until they were crispy. They made perfect tortilla chips to snack on with the salsas and guacamole while prepping everything else. The last tortilla I made makes the perfect sequel to the Hidden Hearts Game. Vinnie and I found four. I’m sure they were a little easier to see in person but give it a go!
I think that’s it for today folks. Sorry for droning on for so long. There was a lot to cover! The next Hidden Heart is already locked and loaded so you should get another post tomorrow. I hope you guys don’t get too sick of me!!