Tacos, Shepherd Style

bsomb.gifWhen Adam and I first started dating, I was generally the one exposing him to new and exciting foods (a.k.a. sushi) and home-cooked things like chicken parmesan. Then, one day, Adam asked me if I’d ever had “tacos al pastor” and, surprisingly, I had to say no! He explained to me that his friend had brought him to a local Mexican restaurant, and had him try these amazing tacos, and we were going to get them for lunch that day. How could I say no?

At the restaurant we went to, the tacos were served simply, in small corn tortillas with only a topping of chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. I had never had a taco quite like it before. The flavors were perfect together, the meat was perfectly spicy, and the onion/cilantro/lime combo was, well, amazing! We frequented the restaurant for quite some time, and then just kind of stopped going. (I swear, this story is going somewhere, I promise!) I tried to recreate the meat one time, and failed miserably. I mean, it was good, but it wasn’t the same.

“Al Pastor” is a Mexican term for tacos “shepherd style”, which means they can a) be eaten in a few bites, b) use local fresh meat, usually pork, and c) the meat is cooked with some sort of sweet liquid, such as juice or fruit. True al pastor recipes are family secrets, and most people just make them by feel, rather than a strict recipe. The other reason it’s so hard to recreate at home is that the meat is usually stacked on a spit, and cooked shwarma-style, a technique brought to Mexico by the Lebanese. (and there’s your food history lesson for the day)

Now, did I recreate a real al pastor recipe for dinner tonight? No. BUT, when we were at our favorite international market today, their fresh meat counter had, for sale in bulk, freshly marinated al pastor pork! I promptly ordered a pound of it and was SO excited! I sent Adam back to the produce section to get cilantro, and I grabbed the freshest tortillas in the place.

When we got home, I heated up a pan, cooked up the meat, heated tortillas, and made the traditional onion/cilantro topping with half a chopped onion, half a bunch of cilantro, the juice of one lime, and about 1/8 tsp. salt. The result? AMAZING!

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I could’ve eaten many, many more of these, but instead, we saved enough so I can make a wrap for lunch tomorrow. I love that these tacos are fantastic without sour cream, cheese, or too many other ingredients, but could still be dressed up differently if you wanted. I did find a great-looking al pastor recipe in my research of the history, and you can find that here. I’ll be trying it soon!

Speaking of dressing up, last night, Adam and I went to my friend Nicki’s wedding! (like that segue?) I’m definitely sore today, mostly from dancing a good long while in these bad boys:

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They were surprisingly comfortable, but my quads are KILLING me today! We of course, had a great meal and cake, but since I was with mostly work people, I wasn’t exactly comfortable taking photos of the meal. I did enjoy a whopping two drinks, and this marks one of the only times in my life that I’ve had an alcoholic beverage two days in a row. I think Adam and I looked pretty great last night, if I say so myself…

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We went a little Big Lebowski with our drinks in this picture.

Earlier today, I met up with my amazing friend Amy and her husband and daughter for a brunch at Cracker Barrel. They were in town for a very short time, and amazingly had some free time, so we decided to meet up! They live about two and a half hours away, and I really wish I could see them more! Love you Amy!

Tomorrow is the start of week 3 of camp, but I’m BOUND AND DETERMINED to actually cook this week! Expect multiple dinner posts from me!

Have a great Sunday night!


Posted in Mexican/Latin, pork, simple recipe | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Cute Food Saturday!

Welcome back to the 17th installment of Cute Food Saturday! Is this your first time here? Make sure you click here to see the other installments.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Have a wonderful Saturday! I hope the cuteness brightened your day!

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Warning: Post May Contain Hunger-Inducing Images

You may have noticed that I skipped posting yesterday… Adam and I went out with a bunch of my camp friends to a local minor league baseball game and then to a friends’ house, and by the time we got back, it was WAY past my bedtime! So, thanks for coming back!

After one of the hottest weeks I can remember in my ten years at camp, all I wanted to do tonight was to go out for a great meal that SOMEONE ELSE COOKED! Ever have those nights?? I was debating back and forth in my own head as to where I wanted to go. Did I want Thai food? Nah… Sushi? Yes, but I really wanted something COOKED. Then it hit me. I wanted chopped salad and steak. Yup, that was it. Chopped salad and steak from Wildfire.

We have been to Wildfire bunches of times, most recently for Adam’s birthday. For some reason, their chopped salad is the. best. ever. I’ve tried to replicate it and it never works. So, I decided to get us reservations at Wildfire for dinner tonight, and treat Adam and I to a great meal out. When we pulled up, we noticed something we’d never seen before: outdoor seating! The weather finally broke a bit, and it was a perfect 68 breezy degrees, and what could make a great meal greater? Eating outside, in this beautiful patio:

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After being seated, I promptly decided that I needed one of these mango-tinis: a martini made with orange vodka, mango puree, mango liqueur and juice of some sort. SO GOOD!
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The rumbling in my stomach was quickly calmed by some of each of these beautiful breads. The lighter one was onion and the darker one was a dark rye with raisins:
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Choosing our appetizer was easy: Chopped Salad! The salad contains lettuce, tomato, bacon, bleu cheese, crispy wontons, corn, avocado, wood-roasted chicken, and a mango vinaigrette that I enjoyed fork-dip style. The remaining salad after we were served was placed on a very cool stand.

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As my entree, I decided on my favorite steak to eat at a restaurant: filet mignon. This one is truly special though! It was topped with a horseradish crust and wrapped with a piece of bacon. Seriously delicious!
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This came with a side of a barbecue-rubbed sweet potato. (Excuse the next couple of pictures… my camera battery died, and I was left with my phone!)
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We had noticed on the specials menu that the dessert of the month was Door County Cherry Pie. Door County is a region in northern Wisconsin that is famous for its tart cherries, and of course, the pies made from them. We couldn’t turn down SOME of the pie… so we shared half a slice. It was perfectly baked, crispy, and had delicious tart cherries inside. It didn’t need the ice cream, but it was a nice addition.
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We left the restaurant full, but both stomach-satisfied and emotionally satisfied. After being so drained for so many days, I needed a nice night out. You may be wondering how camp is going… I’ll let this picture tell the story:
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Yes that’s me, kissing a fat-tailed gecko.
It’s past my bedtime again, so I’ll leave you with this: Mara, I think its funny that when I mix my yellow snow cone with my green snow cone it turns blue, but it doesn’t taste like a blue snow cone!

Four year olds are FUN!!!
Make sure to come back tomorrow for Cute Food Saturday! It’s the 17th installment!!
Happy weekend all!

Posted in beef, dinner out | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Wednesday in Numbers

Happy Wednesday! Today was another fantastically fun day at camp… but heres the day, broken down by numbers:

Number of Campers in my group: 9

Average age of campers: 4.5

Average height of campers: 3′

Number of campers on one of 4 school busses today: 65

Average temperature for the day: 97 degrees

Number of trips to free soda/lemonade fountain: 6

Number of trips to the “potty ride”: 2

Number of rides ridden at KiddieLand: 12

Number of minutes spent on climber/ball pit: 36

Number of reapplications of deoderant: 4

Number of parents who asked “so how’d it go in that heat?”: ~30

Average speed on commute home: 34 mph

Number of minutes spent on commute home: 75

Number of ingredients in our house to create delicious, balanced dinner: 0

Number of minutes it took to decide to go to Panera: 1

Number of different dishes purchased at Panera: 4

Number for me: 2 (tomato mozzarella panini, chicken chopped salad)


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Number of hugs before Adam noticed I stank: -1, he noticed before he could touch me!

Number of mosquito bites I’m now finding: 8

Hours spent awake: 16

Number of Camper Quotes of the Day: 1 “If we go on that roller coaster, will it fly?”

Tomorrow: painting flower pots and a traveling petting zoo!


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Summer’s Here!

After the first week of camp was vaguely warm, Summer welcomed herself in the Chicago area with a 93 degree day with a 106 degree heat index! How did we spend our day? OUTSIDE!!! We got 2 hours of swimming, a treasure hunt, and lots of bug catching in, and I officially cannot wear a strapless dress without some serious self-tanner. While I felt like I was melting most of the day, one thing (oddly, I know, I’m a nerd) that really kept me going was the pound of wild Sockeye salmon I had in my fridge, just SCREAMING (no, not really) for a sesame crust and teriyaki glaze.

The color of this salmon was unbelievable, and I cooked it medium-rare, so that the true flavor came through. All I did was heat about 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan, sprinkled the sesame seeds on top of the flesh side of the salmon, then placed the fish skin-side up in the hot pan. I cooked it about 4 minutes on each side, then drizzled some teriyaki glaze on top. I ended up with this:


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Apparently, I focused on the sesame seeds on top… this is kind of a weird picture! Sorry about that…

A quick little thing for all of you… I know my commenting has been next to nothing lately, but please know that I AM reading your blogs, and I just can’t comment while on the school bus at camp. I understand if you bail on reading my blog, but I hope you’ll stick with me through the craziness of summer! There’s so much in store! (wedding cake tastings, hair trials, great dinners, restaurant openings…)

Since I’m mostly melted from the day today, and have a fun day in similar heat at KiddieLand tomorrow, I’m heading out. BUT not before today’s Camper quote of the day! “One day, when I was at that store that has the milk and cheese and food and stuff there was this HUUUUUUUGE dog there shopping!”
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to go to that store!

Have a wonderful night, and a fabulous Wednesday!

Posted in fish or seafood, simple recipe | Tagged | 13 Comments