Adobo Chicken Tacos


All tacos all the time!

I think ours would be happy household if we made this every day. The words, “I don’t think I feel like tacos tonight” have never been uttered under our roof. That is partially due to these awesome Adobo Chicken Tacos.

Veggie tacos used to be our jam. Step 1. Go to the latin grocery store around the corner. Step 2. Buy lots of jalapenos and other veggies for nearly zero dollars. Step 3. Cook with spices and insert in tortilla. Step 4. Enjoy. It was a nearly perfect process. Cheap and easy, fast and delicious. But that process was ruined – RUINED – when we received the  June 2012 Bon Appetit.

The June 2012 Bon Appetit is a very special Bon Appetit. It is the one with the salmon on the cover, but inside the is a huge TACO SECTION. There are pork tacos, beef tacos, chicken tacos, poblano tacos (which will require their own post at a later date) and SHRIMP TACOS!

(If you know me at all, you know that this is all highly suspect. I don’t eat anything that ever lived in the sea… so a Salmon Bon Appetit and Shrimp taco recipe should be an immediate turn off.)

So these Shrimp Tacos were cooked in an Adobo sauce. Obviously, the shrimp had to go, but the sauce looked so fantastic, we had to try it.

Long story short, (too late!) this sauce is awesome. And you should use it on your shrimp tacos, chicken tacos, sparingly on your veggie tacos, or on other non-taco-centric food-related ventures.


The whole process starts with Ancho chiles. I took a special picture of these chiles because sometimes it is hard to identify dried chiles once you’re at the market. Obviously, these are easier to find at your local Latin grocery store. If you don’t have one, you can still check at your regular grocery store, but you’ll probably have better luck at grocery stores with more elaborate “ethnic” sections.

If you have a bunch of dried chiles that aren’t Ancho chiles, or only a few Anchos and a bunch of other chiles, GO FOR IT! It’s fun to see what happens when you mix them. It might turn out very spicy though, so be careful!

Many chile sauces start with this same process, so once you have it down, you can experiment with just about everything. Go crazy! Use chicken stock instead of water! Add some spices! It will probably turn out very yummy.


This also requires a blender and/or food processor. If you don’t have one of these, GET ONE. It’s an awesome investment and your taste buds will thank you. Mmmmm just looking at this awful photo makes me want tacos.


This is just a picture of the shishito peppers I got at the farmer’s market. (Did I mention lately how much I love our CSA??) If you’ve never had them, you should try them. I just put them in here because I was snacking on them while making these tacos. All you have to do is char them and salt them and you have a really yummy snack!

Happy Taco Time!

Adobo Sauce
(adapted from Bon Appetit’s Shrimp in Adobo Sauce from June 2012.)

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stemmed
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Toast the dried chiles in a hot skillet until fragrant and slightly softened, about 1 minute.

For a spicier version: remove the stems but reserve the seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
For a less spicy version: remove the stems and seeds. Cut the chiles into strips with a scissor
2. Put the strips of chiles into a bowl and pour 1 cup of hot water over. Let them steep in the hot water (turning and stirring if necessary to get everything wet) for 10 minutes. [The original recipe suggested 1/2 cup water. This makes the sauce more paste-y. This is fine, but if you’ll be cooking it in a skillet, much of the water will eventually evaporate anyways. You can also substitute chicken broth for the water, if desired.]
3. Add chiles, water, garlic, vinegar, salt, oregano, cumin and sugar (along with reserved seeds, if using) to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process into a thick paste/sauce.
The best way to cook taco chicken in the adobo sauce is to cut the chicken into cubes, marinate the raw chicken in the sauce for half an hour, and then cook it up in a skillet until the chicken is fully cooked. You can use a simliar method for shrimp or other meats. This sauce is powerful, so use sparingly with veggie tacos.
Taco Toppings!
Our favorite taco toppings are:
– Queso Quesadilla
– Sour Cream
– Pickled Red onions (see quick recipe here) or diced raw onions
– Lettuce or whatever greens are in the fridge
– Cilantro
And here’s one more picture of that awesome taco!
p.s. Have you seen this recipe on Spoon Fork Bacon (aka my favorite guilty pleasure food blog and thus my favorite food blog)!?

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Acorn Squash (aka Happy Fall!)


Miles & Mingus (Sorry it’s blurry… the car ride was bumpy!)


It’s that time of year again. Time to take the kittens in to the vet, (obligatory cat picture… check!) time to bust out the boots, time to get ready for fall cooking!

It’s been a busy summer around here and it’s finally drawing to a close. I can’t say I’m unhappy to be able to wear sweaters again, though I’m really celebrating too soon. I think we are expected to jump back into the 80s next week.

What REALLY made it seem like fall was getting a beautiful little acorn squash in our CSA this past weekend. Neither Bill nor I are very fond of squash. We have never cooked it at home and rarely order things with squash components at restaurants so this was really going to be a new challenge. Being the adventurous cooks we are, we decided to tackle this little guy first, and leave the peppers, greens, eggplants, and other CSA goodies we’re more familiar with for later in the week.

Side note: our CSA this year has been INCREDIBLE! There has been such an abundance of great and varied veggies (and some fruits–even though we’re only signed up for the veggie share.) If you’re in the Chicago area, we really recommend Montalbano Farms. Next year I think we’ll sign up for Spring through Fall, instead of just summer. I won’t say it’s the cheapest CSA on the books, but I think you get a lot for what you put into it.

Back to the squash. We decided to start with something familiar — pizza. But we also wanted the squash to be the star.

Karla et all… meet the Squah Pizza 2000…


Cheese, squash, carmelized onions, pine nuts and a little balsamic reduction. We also put arugula on top, but you can see the pizza better without it in the picture. It really was a glorious pizza. But, it wouldn’t have been quite so amazing if we hadn’t used Smitten Kitchen’s awesome roasted acorn squash recipe.  I think that this way of preparing squash would be a great first step for adding bits of it to pizza or pasta, and it’s also pretty great just by itself. Now, this is a big deal because remember, we don’t eat squash!

Roasted Acorn Squash
from Smitten Kitchen’s “Roasted Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

1 (1- pound) acorn squash
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (we used 1/2 tsp. and it had plenty of kick)
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide half moons and place in a medium bowl. Toss the squash with the syrup, olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the squash until tender and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.


Oh! And also, don’t forget to pair this with your favorite pumpkin ale for the real taste of fall!

A few other things from around the web:

Oh my god have you seen this post on “How Sweet It Is?”

We also made mashed potato waffles this weekend. Slam Dunk! (Also the funniest recipe I’ve read in a while)



Filed under Vegetarian

Birthday Bee Sting Cake

Bee Sting Cake

It’s a birthday tradition at my office that on your birthday YOU bring in treats. It’s very efficient, since everyone has a day of the year to bring in treats, and we all get to celebrate many times over. We’re very cheesy about the whole thing. We make a birthday treats meeting, close the door, and all sit around for an hour talking, eating and decompressing. Then we all get back to work.

Oh and we always sing happy birthday with multiple harmonies. As I said… cheeseballs.

I always take the opportunity to make one of the beautiful Smitten Kitchen cakes that I’ve been drooling looking at for the better part of a year. I have a million cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazines in my house, but honestly, when I think about making a cake, I always go to Smitten Kitchen.

Voilá! The Bee Sting Cake.

I had to assemble this baby at work because it would have been a b*tch to carry around otherwise, but it was well worth the effort. I had never made a yeast cake before, but it was a bready, airy, and very un-sweet cake with the sweet almond caramel topping and the INCREDIBLE buttercream custard (laced with almond extract) on the inside. When Deb describes the process of making this cake on her website,, she talks about all the variations of this cake she cooked through to make it come out just right. She says the effort was worth it. I add my endorsement!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

I had to bring a big bread knife to cut the cake in half and add the custard at my cubicle!

Bee Sting Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 1/4-ounce package) instant yeast (not active dry) (also sold as rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup whole milk, ideally at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Honey-Almond-Crunch Topping
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (4 3/4 ounces) sliced almonds
Two pinches of sea salt

Pastry Cream Filling
1 cup whole milk
Seeds from 1/4 to 1/2 vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I used the almond!)
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch [updated]
2 pinches sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine

Make the cake: Combine all of the cake ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive, then stirring for two minutes more. In a stand mixer, you can mix this with the paddle attachment (no dough hook needed; batter is thin) at low-medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 60 minutes, till it’s a little puffy. (It won’t fully double; this is fine.)

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Stir the batter a few times to deflate it slightly, then scrape it into the prepared pan and nudge it until it fills the bottom. Cover again with plastic wrap (don’t let it drape in and touch the top) and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the honey-almond-crunch topping: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter, sugar, honey, cream and salt until the butter is melted. Bring to a simmer and let it boil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes a shade darker–it should go from a yellowish tone to a light beige (don’t forget this step! Wait until it’s beige and more custardy!), stirring frequently. Stir in the almonds. You will probably panic because this mixture is going to get very thick — but don’t. Set it aside to cool slightly.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cake has finished its second rise use a small spoon to scoop out small amounts of the almond topping and distribute it over the top of the cake. It’s going to be a little pesky because it is firm, but I promise, even if it’s not perfectly evenly distributed, it will all smooth out gorgeously in the oven.

Bake cake on a foil-lined tray to catch any caramel drips, for 20 to 25 minutes, until top is bronzed and toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the outside of the cake, making sure no places are stuck and invert the cake onto the cooling rack. If you’re like me, you’ll be positive that all of the almonds will fall off, but shockingly, in five rounds, I only lost one or two. Reverse it back onto another rack to finish cooling, replacing any almonds that fell off right back on top. They’ll merge back with the caramel as it cools; nobody will know.

Make pastry cream: Warm milk and vanilla bean scrapings (if using; if using an extract, don’t add yet) in a medium saucepan. Pour into a small bowl or cup, ideally with a spout. Set aside. Rinse saucepan with cool water, to rinse and cool; wipe to dry. Off the heat, whisk the yolks and sugar vigorously together for a minute, until pale and ribbony. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth. Drizzle in warm milk mixture, a spoonful at a time, whisking the whole time. Once you’ve add half of it, you can add the rest in a more steady stream, again whisking the whole time. Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium-high heat until it bubble, then simmer for one to two minutes, more whisking the whole time. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and any extracts you may be using. Cool custard completely before using, a process that can be sped up in the fridge or whisking it over a bowl over ice water.

Finally, assemble the cake: Once both the cake and pastry cream are fully cooled, place the cake on a serving platter and divide it horizontally into two layers with a long serrated knife. Spread pastry cream over bottom half. Place top half on pastry cream. Serve in wedges; watch out for bees. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!

Our lovely intern took this photo of her slice! A beautiful ooey-gooey cake!


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Corn and Bean Sriracha Baked Tacos

IMG_2473Rather than our usual taco dinner, we decided to make these baked tacos (sort of a cross between taquitos and enchiladas) because it is so much easier to make them all at once than prepare them one-at-a-time at the table. These would be a great dinner or lunch while watching the game and drinking a beer, and they’re perfect for a crowd. We used up leftover ham and cheddar cheese that we had in the fridge along with refried beans, corn salsa and chopped tomatoes, but you can use a variety of different fillings (ground meat, bell peppers, queso blanco, etc). We also chopped up some iceberg lettuce and made some guacamole to go on the side. We used small corn tortillas, but you can use flour, wheat, or large tortillas… they will all do the job. If you want more of a sauce, add a can of crushed tomatoes or mild salsa on top before sprinkling the cheese on and baking.

Corn and Bean Sriracha Baked Tacos

Small corn tortillas

Ham, cut into strips

Cheddar cheese, cut into strips

Refried pinto beans

Tomatoes, chopped

Corn salsa (combine corn, onions, sugar, chilies, and cider vinegar)

Shredded Mexican cheese, or cheddar and mozzarella


Iceberg lettuce (optional)

Avocados for guacamole (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a large deep baking pan with cooking spray, or use butter for added flavor.


Assemble tacos by filling tortillas with corn salsa, beans, cheese, ham and tomatoes and rolling up. Place them in baking pan with edges down. Pack them close together so fillings do not spill out.



When the pan us full, sprinkle tacos with cheese and drizzle with Sriracha. Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly brown at the edges and  cheese is beginning to bubble.



Let cool slightly and serve with chopped lettuce, guacamole, and your favorite beer.




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Bursting Blueberry-Peach Coffee Cake


Hey Lauren,

First of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’m sure you got a delectable birthday cake, but I made this one in your honor🙂.. and because I’ve been craving coffee cake, but didn’t want one of those ones that has a one-inch layer of sugar at the top. So I tweaked a recipe I found on the food network website and made a healthier, lighter version bursting with tons of blueberries and summer peaches! You can’t even tell there’s only 2 tbsp of butter, some added ground flax seed for fiber, chopped walnuts, and one cup of whole wheat pastry flour. Result… great treat for morning breakfast or with ice cream for dessert. Plus its not that hard to make and a great way to use up the last of the season’s best fruit!

Bursting Blueberry-Peach Coffee Cake

Cooking spray or butter for greasing cake pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or regular whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt or plain keifer
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh peaches, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8 or 9 inch cake pan.

Whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to press out any lumps in the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully combined. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stirring until just combined.


Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter and top with the blueberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Add peaches to the batter and spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake, pressing gently. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.

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Filed under Breakfast, Desserts

Summer Berry Pie from Scratch

IMG_2336So I finally tried your pie crust recipe and it ROCKS! I made this berry pie for our goodbye dinner with Dennis’s mom and sister, us and the pups, before we left for SoCal. The flavors were so good! I used the same ingredients as the rhubarb pie you posted here, except I added a little more cornstarch– apparently not enough because it was still a bit runny. Everyone loved it and it came out looking gorgeous. Next time I would try either tapioca starch or twice the cornstarch to really make the berries stick together. But again, taste-wise this was a winner! Thanks for the recipe Lauren. This will be my staple piecrust.

Hope everything is going well in Chicago. Cooking anything lately? It’s almost FALL! Can’t wait for the new flavors…


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Filed under Desserts, Seasonal

4th of July Chile-Lime Chicken Burgers

IMG_2123Hello again! It’s been a while since the last post, but summer adventures, travel, and family weddings are to blame for the lack of home-cooked meals and time spent blogging. Lauren and Bill took a West coast road-trip vacation where they got to explore Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. I took a East Coast trip to visit family in Boston and stay with friends in New York City, where I had a reunion with the girls I traveled to Prague with three years ago! And just this past week, Lauren and I got all dolled up for a Southern wedding in North Carolina where we watched our older cousin tie the knot! Needless to say, we’ve been busy in a good way. Summer is a time for reconnecting with old friends and distant family, rekindling the love with exciting new adventures, and definitely eating light (to look our best in that brand new polka-dot bikini… or whatever it is). Haha.

I figured 4th of July was a good excuse to get back to the blogging, since food is such an important part of this big celebration. Cookouts, burgers, potlucks, American beer, watermelon, star-spangled cakes and treats… it all about traditional American food, light and fresh to reflect the season. Let’s face it, no one wants to turn on the oven or even cook indoors at all (with the exception of assembly) unless absolutely necessary.

For this 4th of July I decided to make chili-lime chicken burgers. True, they are not your traditional  burger, but it reflects the area I happen to live in, San Jose.. so American it is! I got the patties from Trader Joes and dolled them up with avocado, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, and bell peppers. I also made a simple corn black bean pepper salsa on the side for my quinoa tortilla chips. Nom nom… great snack while cooking.

After preparing my burger I made some strong lemon green tea (I thought about beer, but who wants to drink alone) with lots of ice and mint and sat down to my all-time favorite and very holiday-appropriate movie, Braveheart! Half way through the movie, I got my own personal firework show from my apartment window. I’ve never spent a 7/4 alone, but I have to say, this was one of my favorites. : )


Chili-lime Chicken Burgers

Trader Joe’s Chili-lime burger patties

Arugula, rinsed and dried

Avocado, thinly sliced

Heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

Yellow bell pepper

Crumbled feta cheese

Plain yogurt or greek yogurt

Store-bought pita bread, halved

Black bean and corn salsa (optional)

Grill or pan-fry burgers 3-4 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, arrange fixings neatly inside pita bread leaving space for burger patty. When done cooking, place patty inside pocket and drizzle yogurt on top and serve immediately with salsa and chips, and more veggies on the side. Grab a cold drink and enjoy! Happy 4th!






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Filed under Main Dishes, Meats, Sandwiches