The Need for Comfort over Authentic: Dad’s Mexican-Inspired Skillet Taco

Skillet Taco with Brown Rice

Everyone has a cheap, quick comfort food dish from childhood memories. Mine is Dad’s Skillet taco recipe. Perhaps, Mom occasionally made it, too. It a classic 1970s dish. It was taco seasoning mixed into ground beef scrapped to the center of the skillet. White rice surrounded the beef. Shredded iceberg lettuce layered the rice. Gooey, melted, shredded cheddar cheese topped the meat, and the dish was finished with plain chopped tomatoes. What I remember most about this dish: Always wanting more cheese.

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Parade Magazine: Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Roast Butternut Squash and Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Growing up, tacos were filled with ground beef or shredded chicken, and they were topped with chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. Mom deep fried corn tortilla shells and asked everyone whether they want soft or hard taco shells. Back then, tacos were simple, and I still love my childhood version today for nostalgic reasons.

Today, an online search for tacos yields more than lettuce and tomatoes. Tacos are topped with pickled vegetables and authentic Mexican cheeses. They’re filled with meat slowly simmered in mole sauce, quinoa and spicy roast vegetables. And, some people buy tortilla presses to make their own corn tortillas. Personally, my taco shells aren’t deep-fried, instead a little oil is added to a hot skillet as a tortilla shell is flipped over several times for a few minutes.

In this autumnal taco, butternut squash is roasted with warm spices and toss with shredded chicken. The meat and squash filling is placed over a corn tortilla and before its folded in half to enclose it, pineapple salsa is spooned on top for a fresh and sweet taste. Of course, no taco is complete without cheese. In this version, only a mild flavored cheese is needed, such as Cotija (think of it as a Mexican version of the Italian Ricotta Salata cheese).

There’s memories surrounded by tacos. Since, Dad was ‘The Cook’ in our house, we were excited when Mom decided to make one of her few dishes, which were tacos. For the record, even though I strive to eat healthy most of the time, I always prefer her deep-fried taco shells.  Read more

Peanut Sauce with Udon Wheat Noodles, Vegetables and Shrimp

Udon Noodles with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce
Udon Noodles with Vegetables and Peanut Sauce

Depending on how many Spring Shrimp Rolls are made, the amount of peanut sauce prepared could initially seem excessive. It was to me, and that sauce is too delicious to forget and let spoil in the back of the refrigerator. Taking a mental inventory of what’s in the kitchen, I remembered the wheat noodles left over from an incredible Asian soup made a few months ago. In the freezer, was a bag of frozen, precooked shrimp. The CSA share provided plenty of squash and carrots. However, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, bell peppers, water spinach, napa cabbage, baby corn, mushrooms (dried and/or fresh), daikon, snow peas, sugar snap peas, peas, cauliflower, celery, onions, scallions, garlic, ginger, parsnips, radishes, broccoli rabe, edamame, leeks, asparagus, bamboo shoots, and sweet potato all are delicious options to include. Was there a vegetable left out? Let me know, especially if it’s a vegetable not commonly sold in the United States. Read more