Potato and Chorizo Tacos

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I’ll admit that the first time I heard of a potato taco, I wasn’t impressed. It sounded like a dense, heavy, carb-fest. Then at the Foodbuzz festival last November I had the opportunity to try a potato and chorizo taco from tacolicious. My mind was changed – they were one of the highlights of the street food fare and I’ve been anxious to try them again ever since. When I saw that my local grocery store started selling their own house-made tortillas, I knew that the time had come to try making these at home.

For something that’s whipped easily up in 15 minutes, these are phenomenal. The potatoes are mild and really let the flavor of the chorizo shine through – you don’t really taste “potato” at all. What I really love about these though are all of the contrasting textures – soft potato, chewy chorizo, and creamy avocado. There’s not really much more to say about them than that – they’re very simple with bright flavors and a fresh feel. I don’t know what more you can ask for in a quick meal. [....]

Braised Chicken with Grapes

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Chicken and grapes – it sounds like something that you would feed your five year old for dinner. But trust me when I say that this meal is greater than the sum of its parts. The chicken is browned and then braised in wine until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. The pan juices are made into a delicious sauce enriched with a touch of cream and plenty of fresh thyme. And then there are the grapes – when heated, they transform into tiny morsels of juicy perfection that are the perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

I first had the idea of cooking with grapes over the summer. I must have seen it somewhere because shortly after I first started thinking about it, food + wine magazine featured a recipe with roasted grapes. That was closely followed by an issue of fine cooking that has a whole section on cooking with grapes! As great as the idea seemed, I was always distracted by the fresh, seasonal produce that was available. Grapes seemed silly! Until now. In the dead of winter in upstate New York, produce – especially fruit – is scarce, but grapes seem to be a constant. So I gave it a try, and my only complaint is that I shouldn’t have waited so long! [....]

Manhattan Clam Chowder

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I just got back from my last holiday get-together of the season, and while it’s nice to see everyone I have to admit that I’m so happy it’s finally over! All of that traveling is exhausting, and I think I’ve eaten enough cookies over the past two weeks to last me until summer. Everyone kept trying to send me home with goodies, but I honestly just didn’t want them. I’m tired of eating garbage, and I can feel the negative effects that eating like like this has had on my body. I’m definitely ready to get some balance back in my diet.

I made this clam chowder last week, and it’s exactly the type of dish that I’m looking forward to eating over the next few weeks. We love clam chowder, but typically go for the creamy New England style over the tomato-based Manhattan style. I wasn’t in the mood for a creamy soup this time though (even if I lightened it in terms of calories, it seemed too heavy), so I set out to make a new and improved Manhattan Chowder.
And improved I did! First, I used fire-roasted tomatoes since I love the way they taste with seafood. They gave the soup a really nice flavor that was mellower and less tomatoey than typical soups. A few slices of bacon lent a slight smokiness and tabasco passed at the table provided some heat. Nutritious vegetables added bulk to make the soup filling while keeping the calorie count down, and fresh seafood made the dish seem special. Shawn was actually very skeptical when I said I wanted to make this, because he hates tomatoes so tomato based soups really aren’t his thing. He loved it though, and told me that I should make it again! Served with a crusty piece of bread to sop up the broth, this is the perfect dinner on a snowy January night. [....]