budget margarita/ gringo tacos

If your like most people, the the current recession has really taken the wind out of your sails. This blog entry is a siren call! While a lack of funds certainly takes a toll, remember that money doesn’t equal happiness and you can usually have a large amount of fun for a small amount of money. Since I love going to the grocery store, I find I usually have quality staples around my house for a decent meal. Since I also love spending time at my house rather than a bar, I keep an eye out for deals on alcohol that my nearests and dearests enjoy. Hence, budget margaritas and gringo tacos, a phenomenon of Winter ’09.

Corn tortillas pretty much go with anything, and if you have a gluten allergy, they can quickly become your BFFs. So, you have tortillas?

Get some goat cheese.

Make a tuna salad (my house recipe currently includes Genova Tuna, this crazy Turkish spice my friend Sean brought home for me, a healthy dose of natural mayo, and a healthy dose of Dijon mustard. Yes, Genova is made by Chicken of the Sea, but it’s really good and packed in olive oil, and I like it.) Put the goat cheese in a taco, when it’s cooked add the tuna, eat and enjoy.
Photobucket (this is a kind of gross picture of tuna salad in the making)

Now, on to the fun part. The guys I work with always mix really good tequila with Squirt. I decided to follow their lead after talking it over with GB.

Get some good tequila. Put a shot in a glass, top with Squirt. Cut up whatever citrus you have, squeeze into the glass, and enjoy.
Delicious, and cheaper than buying all those limes. Just try not to think about the corn syrup.



The good news is, I received a new camera for Christmas. The bad news is, I haven’t posted in almost 2 months! I’m back, with a camera, so prepare to eat. So far, the winter has proven to be extra chilly and pretty productive. I’ve been working a lot, the end goal being a trip to visit my brother in Mérida, Mexico, playing a lot of board games, getting financial stuff worked out for culinary school in the fall (it’s really happening!), and the thrill of thrills- growing out my hair.

Thus far, the best recipes of this winter have been tomato jam and various soups. After a scary encounter with a scale at a Superbowl Party (uh, probably not the best time to step on a scale), I’ve decided that I need to eat more vegetables and less bacon. I won’t call it a “diet”, but I also won’t call it “eating whatever I want to eat.” Working at a restaurant with one of the best burgers in the city hasn’t helped with the bacon intake, and the kitchen has put me on a bacon embargo… We’ll see how that works out when I work a double next Saturday.

Eating more healthfully, but not less deliciously, involves a little more thought than sticking butter and starch in the oven. Today I’ve made Quinoa and Roasted Cauliflower Salad (I didn’t turn into a hippie, I promise). Quinoa is quite the superfood, according to my extensive Wikipedia research. Regardless of its nutritional properties and rich history, quinoa is pretty damn tasty. It has a nutty taste, kind of like brown rice, but better, and less chewy. At said Superbowl Crisis Party my friend was talking about how you shouldn’t cook with garlic and onions at the same time. I don’t know if I agree 100%, but today I tried just using garlic, and I was pleased with the results. The garlic paired especially well with the nuttiness of the quinoa and the sweetness of the roasted cauliflower.

Also, a slice or 4 of crispy fried proscuitto on the top would take this recipe to the next level on my tongue and hips, but you know, the bacon embargo makes that kind of impossible.

1 cup dried quinoa, prepared as directed (it’s nice in the salad warm; this will also leave you with three cooked cups)
1 head cauliflower
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup small tomatoes, chopped in half
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt, divided into two 1/2 teaspoons (I use Kosher)
As much freshly ground black pepper as you like
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.

1. Preheat your oven to 350. Clean and chop your cauliflower so there are no greens. Place in roasting pan. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oiland one 1/2 teaspoon salt on the cauliflower and mix up with your hands. Cover in pepper. Roast at 350 for abut 45 minutes.

2. Wait a few minutes, check your email or twitter or facebook or read a book. Relax! Now, stop relaxing and start your quinoa. Using a 1/2 quart sized saucepan, put one cup of dried quinoa in the saucepan with two cups of water. **You should rinse the quinoa before you cook it. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is at a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the water is absorbed.

3. While all this is happening, you should saute the remaining veggies in the olive oil. Add the garlic after a few minutes; when it is aromatic, add the balsamic vinegar. It should be sizzling. Reduce the heat so that nothing gets burnt.

4. Remove your cauliflower from the oven. You’ll only need half of it for a LARGE single serving. Put the cauliflower in the bowl you feel like eating out of. Remove your veggies from the heat and add them to the bowl too. Put your spinach on top of that, and then top it off with a healthy serving of cooked quinoa and not as much Parmesan as you would like.

5. Add salt and pepper,stir up, and eat! The heat from the roasted cauliflower and the cooked vegetables will wilt the spinach and melt the cheese. You do not need any extra dressing for this recipe because the vegetables are cooked in what is essentially a dressing. It’s a pretty healthy lunch and if you follow these directions you’ll have enough for a cold salad tomorrow!