Thursday, March 3, 2011

Homemade chipotle burritos, fish tacos, coconut shrimp and more!

I think making your own plate of food is so much more fun than not having a choice. That's why buffets are so popular; you get to choose what you want and how much you want. The best part is you can come up with some pretty fun combinations; like putting chili on top a baked potato or mixing spinach greens into a premade pasta salad (slightly referencing Souper Salad here).
Since my family has such a wide range of preferences when it comes to food, make-your-own-meals are quite welcomed around here.
Homemade "Chipotle" burritos (or Freebirds, etc) are a great example. At the restaurant you get to decide what you want and don't want on your burrito, so why not the same at home? Plus, you can use whole grains where restaurant chains usually won't like with the tortillas or the rice. Also, you can choose how much of each item you want in your burrito as opposed to places like Chipotle where, if you want guacamole in your burrito, they give you a good third of a cup or so and it ends up being way too much.
So I made fixings for burritos the other night that everyone could doctor as they please.
You have the cilantro-lime rice:
Using a brown and wild rice blend.
 Black beans seasoned with taco seasoning, cumin, and chili powder ( no picture)
Guacamole with cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, and lime:
Fajita vegetables (green bell pepper and red onion sauteed in olive oil seasoned with salt and oregano):
Spicy barbacoa beef that had been slow cooking for a couple hours and shredded:
And, of course, all the other fixings like cheese, salsa, shredded romaine, and Greek yogurt. All wrapped up in La Tortilla Factory large whole wheat tortillas.
Black beans hiding behind the yogurt.. shy little guys didn't want a picture!

The beef was pretty simple because it requires very little face time. Of course, instead of the barbacoa you could always do grilled marinated chicken or leave out the meat entirely!
I used two pounds of chuck roast and cut the beef into six chunks. I browned them in a stockpot on all sides and then poured in an adobo sauce, 6 tablespoons of chicken stock, and 2 small bay leaves. To make the adobo sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a mini food processor until relatively smooth.
Adobo Sauce for Barbacoa Beef:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 large chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (I use regular, but if you have it, go for it!)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Then, once everything is in the stock pot, turn the heat to low, pop a lid on it, and walk away! It simmers for four hours with the lid on; just turn the chunks every once in a while (like once an hour) so that one side doesn't completely dry out. After the four hour mark, take the lid off and let it simmer for another hour or two. It turns completely fork tender and has a tremendous amount of flavor from the sauce.
I attempted to stuff my burrito to the extreme and was pretty successful.
After taking this picture I thought of the bright idea of getting some foil and trying to wrap it up like they do it at the burrito joints. It worked really well because otherwise its just about impossible to eat! My dad's kind of fell apart on him.
SO YUMMY! This hit the spot, for sure. I've made this barbacoa recipe twice and it has turned out delicious both times. The last time I made it was back in the summer and I think I've really progressed since then cooking-wise. My parents agreed that these burritos tasted better than last time and I attribute that to more experience in kitchen. I don't focus so much on the exact recipes but just their concepts and go on from there.

And besides making great dinners, burrito fillings also make great leftovers as a burrito salad (:
Ohhh yeahh. :D
Another great "make it yourself" meal is fish tacos! I used this recipe just for its marinade for the talapia.
Other topping choices were:
mango jalapeno salsa (with red onion, lime juice, and cilantro)
shredded cabbage
avocado slices
lime wedges
and a chipotle mayo
I made the "mayo" by combining vegan non fat mayo with some adobo sauce, chopped up chipotle pepper, and lime juice. It added a nice spicy kick to the tacos.
I love how fresh these are! This is a really good marinade for the fish, too. In the taco, the great marinade flavor was covered by all the other flavors going on but when I tried a piece of fish by itself it was off the hook! (get it? Fish, hook, fishing...yeahh)
It will be my go-to marinade for fish for now on.
Another awesome way to make dinner a little different is by combining little meals into one meal. Some may call this eating appetizers for dinner, and I completely condone that :P

My mom was out one night and I always take that opportunity to prepare some sort of shell fish because she's strongly allergic to them. As long as it's out of the house by the time she's back, we're all good! We had frozen shrimp in the freezer from the last time she was out and I had been eying a particular baked coconut shrimp recipe for a while. I've never had coconut shrimp before, so I had no idea what to expect; but something that has coconut and shrimp in it has to be good! :D

And since coconut shrimp is usually classified as an appetizer of sorts I decided I would keep with the theme and serve guacamole with homemade chips and flat bread on the side. For the coconut shrimp recipe I used this one but only used 2 egg whites instead of 3. Otherwise, everything was kept the same. The only problem I had was that the shrimp I was using were tiny so they turned into little coconut balls. For the flat bread, I used this recipe for the topping which I have used before when making pizza. The topping is basically bell peppers, onion, and zucchini roasted in balsamic vinegar that get all caramelized. For the flat bread base, I used a whole wheat "foccacia" flavored rectangular wrap. It worked perfectly! And lastly, I made the corn tortilla chips by just spraying a couple tortillas with oil spray, brushed them with lime juice, and sprinkled with kosher salt. I baked them at 375 for about 15 minutes. Sadly the lime flavor didn't really come through, but they were tasty none the less!

Of course, seconds were to be had! Everything was super delicious.
The flat bread also had parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and cranberry goat cheese. Yum! I was worried the shrimp would just taste like a big ball of sweet coconut (not a bad thing, just not for dinner!) but they were actually quite balanced and absolutely AH-MAY-ZING.
The coconut got all toasty, and crunchy, and lets just say the shrimp disappeared fast. :)
Oh, I also made a orange dipping sauce for the shrimp. I read that some reviewers mad a sauce to go along with their shrimp, so I just kind of eyeballed the measures from the ingredients they said they used. I used about a quarter cup of orange marmalade, a tiny bit of horseradish, a couple teaspoons grainy mustard, and a dash of salt.
The shrimp paired with the sauce was on the sweet side, but the sauce still worked really well with it. All I can say is yum, yum, YUM! Need I say more?

All of these dinners were nice treats because they were a little out of the norm compared to the usual. Its fun to eat things that are fun! You got to love the fact that no forks were required in any of these meals; finger food at it's finest!

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