Tag Archives: queso

Beet Down – A New Way to do Beets

4 May

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I’ve moved a lot, both growing up and now in my adult years.  More than occasionally I get the, “How do you do that?” round of questioning, mostly from people that consider a significant move an over-filled pick-up truck unloading across town.  Now, don’t get me wrong, a move is a move.  But some are more uprooting then others.

We’ve been in Jacksonville for about 3 years now, and I’m starting to get a tad bit antsy about where we’ll go next.  At night, Rob and I lie in bed perusing Zillow, dreaming of a possible destination for our next Coast Guard-led adventure.  Port Angeles, Detroit, Boston, not much is out of the running except for land locked areas, most of which we wouldn’t want to live in anyway (sorry, Oklahoma.  Been there, done that).  Of course we look at houses that are waaaaay beyond our means – with kitchens that just might make me famous – but it’s just a fun torturous game we play.  Like window shopping at Gucci.

Everywhere we go we try to squeeze everything we can out of the location, and we have only a year left in north Florida.  We’ve done a lot here, but definitely have a lot more to go, do, and see.  Though altogether we’ve found things we love (paddle boarding, the bird life, dolphins, good shopping), and really don’t love (the bugs, the heat, the bugs, the heat, oh and snakes.  Well, I don’t mind the snakes, but Rob runs away like a little girl).

In terms of one of the more important things in life – food – we’ve also found our regional likes and dislikes.  Sorry, Southern folk, we haven’t taken to the oddly-hairy-yet-slimy-at-the-same-time-omg-who-created-this-thing called okra, nor have some traditions (potato salad at Thanksgiving?) found a settled place in our hearts.  BBQ, however, that’s a love story.  So are the sweet onions.  Also, honey.  And so are the beets.

I’ve never actually documented the epic argument Rob and I had over beets.  Maybe one day.  But, beets!  Really?  Aren’t there better things to argue about, like sponges or spoons?

Well, we’ve grown in our relationship since arguing about beets (thank goodness) and now we can’t go a week without them.  Luckily, farms in Florida grow beets almost year round, and the months they don’t, the red roots keep for a long while in a crisper – if they last that long.  Thankfully, our CSA provides us with bunches regularly.  We eat them straight from the oven, or cold with a bit of vinegar and honey.  I’ve chopped them up into fancy tapenades and relishes, used their juice to dye Easter eggs, and have even infused vodka to make a fancy beet cocktail.  Beet options are endless.

So then why are restaurants only serving beets with the standard goat cheese and arugula?  I mean, some have pecans, some do a balsamic reduction drizzle, but really they are all the same.  It’s so sad!  Culinary monotony at its best.

So let’s turn the tables, shall we, and shake up the beet world.

With these: Beet Tacos.

Vegetarians, unite!  Meat Eaters, indulge!  Paleo folk, take a shower from your last CrossFit workout and pick up one of these tacos (sans cheese and crema)!

These are simple enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for easy entertaining.  Having spent enough time in Mesa, Arizona, I prefer the small corn tacos to flour, and I feel their earthy flavor compliments the sweet beets wonderfully.  Chipotle crema is nothing more than 1 c Mexican cream (found now at most grocery stores), 3 chopped up chipotle peppers, lime zest and 1 tsp of agave Every Mex dish needs some beans, which are super simple to prepare.  Heat some canned black beans (drained and rinsed) in a pot over medium heat with ½ c water, 1 glove of garlic, and a sprig of mint.  Once boiling, remove from the heat, discard the herb and garlic, season the beans with s&p, and smash them with a fork.  For the star of the show: In a foil-lined baking dish, roast 4 peeled beets at 400 degrees with a dash of s&p, a drizzle of canola oil, 1 tsp cumin, and a whole jalapeno (sliced down the middle) until beets are tender, about an hour and a halfThe fresh topping of crisp cilantro (tear off stem) and soft shredded romaine (roll 2-4 leaves like a cigar then chop into thin strips) top off the bite with herby freshness For an optional creamy, salty indulgence, crumbled Queso Fresco tops the taco with ease.  Oh, and don’t forget the squeeze of that lime you zested earlier (it’s not just a margarita garnish, you know).

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When Rob and I were dating, tacos were our go-to dinner date.  Here in Jacksonville, we haven’t been able to find quite the same ole(!) experience as I we had in the South West.  Remembering those fresh flavors, I decided to create my own using one of Jacksonville’s finest produce, the bodacious beet.  Yes, bodacious.

With Cinco De Mayo coming up, enjoy these tacos with friends and maybe a marg or two.  You’ll get the best of two worlds, or at least the best of two regions of the U.S. (speaking from lots of moving – and eating – experience here, folks).

CinEnjoy!

Beet Tacos
(serves 4)
*ingredients and instructions above. 

To assemble:
Put the corn tortilla on a plate.  Spread some of the smashed black beans on the tortilla.  Top the beans with some roughly chopped beets.  Then Top the beets with the lettuce, cilantro, queso fresco, and a drizzle or two of the crema.  Squeeze the juice of a lime slice over the top, and you’ve got seriously one of the best tacos you’ll ever eat.

Enjoy!

An Aftertaste
If you like beets, check out these and these.  

And… We’re Back

5 Jun

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There are many reasons I can provide for my lack of stories, pictures, recipes, and overall blog-o-sphere absence.  Like:

  • My students took over the classroom and forced 5 hours of homework a night on me for retaliation of years of self-diagnosed assignment abuse.
  • The computer broke only when I tried to blog.  It was the weirdest thing.
  • I got a new camera and the user instructions were in Swahili.
  • My left foot hurt.
  • Oregon, just simply, ran out of food!
  • We won the lottery and spent the last 6 months in Tuscan wine caves (it was like the beer cask scene from the movie, “Strange Brew”)
  • My dog ate my computer.

Can you tell I work in a middle school?

While I could keep going (and going) with absurd excuses, to be perfectly honest, time, life, and my pre-teen educational environment have taken over.

Every morning, the baby robin’s nest next door croons beautiful give-me-worms melodies – sounding more like a scene from “Cinderella” than real-life nature – making it a struggle to put on clothes and shoes and make-up and face the day.  Even though Rob and I are generally in bed by 9:00 at night, we would much rather spend the next 2 ½ days lying in bed, listening to the birds, and enjoying the last gorgeous Spring the state of Oregon has to offer us.

That is right, as the Coast Guard’s bell tolls, we are leaving this emerald wonderland and are bound for the converse of cold and dampness: Jacksonville, Florida.  Thus, our days have been filled with house hunting, house buying, paperwork, paperwork, decorating, wondering, movers, packers, plans, plans, plans, and inventory.  All on top of our current respective daily careers, of course.

Let’s take a jaunt back 3 years ago, shall we?  The belly-aching was insurmountable moving from sunny Southern California to cold, gray Oregon.  But like moss on the north side of a tree, Oregon and stuck to me and engulfed me with a soft, squidgy, comforting – albeit a bit damp – hug.  I love this place!  Now we have to leave.  Remember the berries?  Oh, so many berries?  And the fish – the cold Pacific water fish is unbelievable.  And the greens.  Grassy, earthy greens that even the freshest grocery store products can’t prove justice.  While I might not miss 30 straight days of rain in March, I will miss almost everything else.

But on to the next challenge: life in Florida.  Jacksonville, Florida, no less, close to the border of Georgia and true to traditional Southern roots.  Can this Southwest, SoCal, Pacific Northwest, Scandi of a girl be transformed into a Southern Belle, AND find roots in new agriculture?  Well, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.

But until then, we are going through our pantry, freezer, and fridge and coming up with some great use-them-all-up dishes.  One of which was my enchilada green salad.

After a week (yes, a week) of this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations (seriously. good. food.), one is, shall I say (in a polite and correct oration), no longer craving the heavy, cheesy, spicy goodness that is Mexican food.  But what to do with all the extra homemade enchilada sauce?  Sweet, tangy, smoky and real, to sit in the back of the fridge it was not its fortunes fate.

So to alleviate the too-many-beans bloat, and keep the fresh enchilada sauce alive and well, the Enchilada Green Salad was born.  Light, green, crunchy, fresh, with the hint of smoke and creaminess, combined with a subtly onion brightness.  It was simply divine.

As life will continue to keep me crazy at the moment, I found it best to return to my blog roots, deeply seeded in food, fun, and stories.  But for now, please be patient with me, and revisit the last few years of Oregon recipes – as we have.  Wish us luck on the long-haul (with Siglet in tow!).  Jacksonville – and a soon-to-be sweet southern accent – or BUST!

Enchilada Sauce
(makes 1 pt)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 10 oz tomato paste
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Ancho chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp crushed, dried oregano
  • s&p

Over medium heat melt butter and add the flour to create a roux.  Mix well, stirring until the flour is golden brown and smells like popcorn.  Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and mix well.  Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking the whole time to ensure no lumps.  Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  The sauce should be smooth and thickly coat the back of a spoon.  Season to taste with s&p.

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Enchilada Green Salad
(serves 2)

  • 1 head chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped, or julienned, baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, packed and roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Queso Fresco cheese
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp Enchilada Sauce

In a large bowl, toss the romaine, spinach, cilantro, and green onions together, and set aside.  To make the dressing, mix 2 tbsp of the Enchilada Sauce with ½ tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  The dressing should resemble the texture of a creamy dressing and have a silky feeling in the mouth.

Pour desired amount of dressing over salad, and top with a sprinkling of Queso Fresco, and a touch of s&p to taste.

Enjoy!

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