Host The Toast http://hostthetoast.com a Kitchen Kapers blog Wed, 27 May 2015 15:12:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese http://hostthetoast.com/classic-creamy-macaroni-and-cheese/ http://hostthetoast.com/classic-creamy-macaroni-and-cheese/#respond Wed, 27 May 2015 13:58:13 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=4445 If anyone were ever to call me a recipe purist, they’d be wildly mistaken. I like my foods fusion-ified. I like them loaded with crazy amounts of fillings and toppings, and authenticity always follows far behind enjoyability when it comes to my meals. I do not have a Plain Jane appetite, to say the least.... 

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Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com

If anyone were ever to call me a recipe purist, they’d be wildly mistaken. I like my foods fusion-ified. I like them loaded with crazy amounts of fillings and toppings, and authenticity always follows far behind enjoyability when it comes to my meals. I do not have a Plain Jane appetite, to say the least. However, when it comes to the classic comforts– chocolate chip cookies, brownies, meatballs, and macaroni and cheese, for example– every person absolutely has to have a traditional, dependable, and totally delectable recipe under their belt. It’s a must.

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com
This Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese recipe is the mac and cheese you’ve been searching for all your life and just didn’t know it. Three cheeses are added to the bechamel, and a visit below the broiler crisps up the top to create a lovely golden layer. No nonsense, just oh-so-comforting pasta and cheese sauce, like some adorable grandma out there used to make. Not my grandma, but someone’s grandma, for sure.

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com

Because this recipe doesn’t load up heavily on sauces or spices, you don’t want to cut corners with the cheeses. Aged cheddar, nutty gruyere, and salty parmesan make the cheese sauce ultra-flavorful.

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com

To make sure the sauce is creamy, I start with bechamel. Bechamel is made simply with butter, flour, and milk to create a thick, rich sauce that the cheese will melt into evenly and easily. I toss al dente pasta into the cheese sauce and I can eat it right off the stove, simple as that!  I like crispy cheese crusts, though, so I pop mine under the broiler until it begins to brown and then sprinkle it with chives before digging in.

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.comClassic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Simply the best. | hostthetoast.com

When you make this classic mac, make sure to tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter to show off your side-dish!

Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound macaroni or pasta of choice
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated, divided
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped, to top
Directions
  1. In a large pot of salted water, boil the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside to dry.
  2. In the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, a bit at a time, until completely combined, and continue to whisk until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth and continue to whisk until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Mix in the salt, garlic powder, and cayenne powder.
  3. Add in the cheddar, gruyere, and half of the parmesan, a handful at a time, stirring until melted entirely. Toss the cooked pasta in with the sauce mixture and transfer to an oven safe skillet or baking dish. Top with the remaining grated parmesan.
  4. Broil until the cheese on top gets bubbly and begins to brown on the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.
Notes
I used cavatappi pasta here, because it allows the cheese sauce to stick better, but any pasta shape of your preference will be fine. (Although it's technically not macaroni and cheese without using macaroni, we don't really care much as long as the flavor is the same.)



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Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles http://hostthetoast.com/blue-moon-orange-creamsicles/ http://hostthetoast.com/blue-moon-orange-creamsicles/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:51:57 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=4427 Just over two years ago, I came up with one of my most popular recipes– Creamy Margarita Popsicles. At the time, James told me that they were going to be a hit; “You should sell these,” he said, “You’d make a lot of money.” And even though I didn’t decide to venture into entrepreneurship with a... 

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Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

Just over two years ago, I came up with one of my most popular recipes– Creamy Margarita Popsicles. At the time, James told me that they were going to be a hit; “You should sell these,” he said, “You’d make a lot of money.” And even though I didn’t decide to venture into entrepreneurship with a boozy popsicle stand, I still think he was right.

After a year of James begging me to make more poptails, I finally caved and decided to make Boozy Red, White, and Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicles. James told me that they were the best dessert I’d ever made. Those also wound up being a hit with everyone who tried them.

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

James likes to tell me that he is “the voice of the people” when it comes to my recipe choices, and even though that concept is ridiculous, I decided to test the theory with another icy, boozy treat. Meet Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles, the warm-weather, beer-filled, refreshing and creamy popsicles that exist purely because James loves every damn thing about them.

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

If you were all about the creamsicles when you were placing your ice cream truck orders as a child, then you’ll definitely enjoy this grown-up version. These Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles are super citrusy with creamy vanilla to mellow it out, with flavor from the wheat beer’s barley malts, hops, and oats shining through. But they’re not just delicious, they’re also super easy to make!

All you have to do is combine orange concentrate, Blue Moon (or another witbier of your preference), sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract, and you’ve got yourself your popsicle mix. Then, take tangerine or clementine slices and push wooden popsicle sticks through the centers. Pour the mixture into Dixie cups, top with the orange slices, and freeze– it’s really that simple. 4 hours later, you’ll have popsicles that are just begging to be eaten!

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

How do they taste? Well, James very seriously begged and pleaded with me to not share them with anyone and just keep them in my freezer for whenever he visits, so I’m going to say that he probably likes them a lot. Just a guess. I thought at first that that they wouldn’t be up my alley, but they were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!

But I want to know what you think about them, so when you give them a go for your next party, take a photo and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter and be sure to let me know if they’ve earned your thumbs-up (and if I should keep trusting James’ tastebuds to inspire my recipes).

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles. These boozy popsicles will be the star of your BBQ or party! Easy to make, too! | hostthetoast.com

Blue Moon Orange Creamsicles
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen 100% orange concentrate, thawed
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • 24 oz Blue Moon Belgian White Ale or other Witbier (2 average-sized bottles)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 clementines or tangerines
You will also need:
  • 12 (3 oz) Dixie cups
  • Small popsicle sticks of craft spoons
  • A pitcher or large cocktail shaker
Directions
  1. In a pitcher or large cocktail shaker, combine the orange concentrate, sweetened condensed milk, beer, and vanilla extract. It is important to combine the ingredients in a container that has a spout because it will make it much easier to pour the mix into cups.
  2. Line out the Dixie cups on a baking sheet, so it will be easy to transport them to the freezer. Fill each Dixie cup 90% of the way with the orange-beer mixture.
  3. Slice the clementines into ¼ inch thick rounds. Push a craft spoon through the center of each clementine round, so that half of the stick pokes out from each side. Top the mixture with the clementine sticks. Make sure the clementine is resting directly on top of the orange-beer mixture.
  4. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. When ready to remove the popsicles from the Dixie cups, simply snip a small cut in the rim of each cup and peel them away from the popsicle. Place the popsicles onto a dish with crushed ice to keep them from melting too quickly, Serve.
Notes
You can also make these in popsicle molds, if you'd prefer!



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Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches) http://hostthetoast.com/pambazos-mexican-salsa-dunked-sandwiches/ http://hostthetoast.com/pambazos-mexican-salsa-dunked-sandwiches/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 17:08:30 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=4410 I can’t help but pronounce “Pambazos” with a very exaggerated, stereotypical Italian-American accent.  Pam-BAAAH-zos! Even though I know that Pambazos are not Italian. Even though I know that they’re named after “pan basso”. Still, it’s pam-BAAAH-zos every time. But what is a Pambazo? It’s a guajillo salsa-dunked sandwich that’s traditionally filled with spicy chorizo and potatoes. In... 

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Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

I can’t help but pronounce “Pambazos” with a very exaggerated, stereotypical Italian-American accent.  Pam-BAAAH-zos! Even though I know that Pambazos are not Italian. Even though I know that they’re named after “pan basso”. Still, it’s pam-BAAAH-zos every time.

But what is a Pambazo? It’s a guajillo salsa-dunked sandwich that’s traditionally filled with spicy chorizo and potatoes. In other words, it’s a Mexican sandwich that is right up my alley.

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

The salsa– a guajillo pepper sauce– is made from scratch, but it’s really quite simple. Dried chiles, diced onions, garlic, a bit of salt, and water is all it takes to make a delicious, vibrant sauce to bathe the bread in.

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

The potato and chorizo filling is a popular one in Mexico, and you’ll find in everything from tacos to breakfast bakes. The potatoes soak up a lot of the spicy chorizo sausage flavor as they crisp up, which is great because chorizo is one of the most delicious things ever created. Or at least I think so. (For further proof, see here, or here, or here, or here… and so on.)

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

But while the potato-chorizo filling is delicious, the refried beans are creamy, the lettuce is fresh and crisp, the cheese is salty, and the sour cream is cooling, the real star of the show is not the filling. It’s the bread.

Typically, Pambazos use pan basso, a tough and chewy white bread that keeps its shape and texture after it’s soaked in the sauce. Pan basso can be difficult to find the further away from Mexico you go, but other sturdy rolls such as Portuguese rolls can be substituted.

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches). They're filled with potatoes, chorizo sausage, and refried beans! | hostthetoast.com

After the rolls are dunked, they’re griddled or fried in a bit of oil until crisp, and then stuffed with a generous amount of the fillings. James and I like to wash ours down with a few cold cervezas.

Make these Mexican sandwiches and share a photo for them on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #hostthetoast!

Pambazos (Mexican Salsa-Dunked Sandwiches)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs mini potatoes, skins on, boiled until fork tender and quartered
  • 1 lb raw Mexican chorizo, removed from casings
  • 1 large white onion, diced, divided
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 12 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup refried beans, warmed
  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 oz queso fresco, crumbled
  • 6 sturdy rolls (pan basso, teleres, or Portuguese rolls)
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
Directions
  1. In a large, high-walled skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles until fragrant, about 15 seconds on each side. Add in ½ of the onion and the garlic and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the chiles are rehydrated.
  2. Strain out the chiles, onions, and garlic over a bowl, reserving the liquid. In a blender, combine the strained solids, a cup of the reserved liquid, and about ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt. Blend until smooth.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the chorizo and cook through, breaking apart with a wooden spoon as you cook, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ½ of the onion and cook until softened.
  4. Add in the boiled potatoes and press them with the back of a wooden spoon to crush slightly. Season to taste with Kosher salt.
  5. Oil a skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the rolls in the sauce and turn to coat well. Add two at a time to the hot skillet. Fry, pressing down gently, until browned on both sides. Remove from heat, set aside, and continue until all of the rolls have been fried.
  6. Cut the rolls open. Top with refried beans, the potato and chorizo mixture, lettuce, queso fresco, and sour cream.
Notes
If you can't find queso fresco, other Mexican cheeses such as Oaxaca cheese work well, too!


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Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce http://hostthetoast.com/sausage-stuffed-chicken-rollatini-with-roasted-red-pepper-tomato-sauce/ http://hostthetoast.com/sausage-stuffed-chicken-rollatini-with-roasted-red-pepper-tomato-sauce/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 11:47:30 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=4399 When I was in college, “Chicken Rollatini” was one of the first recipes I ever added to my regular rotation.  Chicken Rollatini is an Italian-American dish that involves rolling up fillings inside of thinly sliced and pounded chicken breast halves, and then baking them.  You may also hear them referred to as Involtini or Roulade, but to... 

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Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. Flavorful sausage is wrapped up in tender chicken breasts, baked, and topped with a tangy sauce for an easy and impressive weeknight dinner! | hostthetoast.com

Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. Flavorful sausage is wrapped up in tender chicken breasts, baked, and topped with a tangy sauce for an easy and impressive weeknight dinner! | hostthetoast.com

When I was in college, “Chicken Rollatini” was one of the first recipes I ever added to my regular rotation.  Chicken Rollatini is an Italian-American dish that involves rolling up fillings inside of thinly sliced and pounded chicken breast halves, and then baking them.  You may also hear them referred to as Involtini or Roulade, but to me, they will always be inauthentically and affectionately called Rollatini.

I used to fill my Rollatini with spinach and ricotta, or broccoli and cheddar, or whatever ingredients I managed to scrounge together with my broke-student budget.  Being broke bred some creativity, and there wound up being countless variations that I fell in love with– some of which might also be credited with getting James to fall in love with me (the perks of cooking for your crush in college)! Although I enjoyed a lot of combinations, Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini was always my favorite (and James’, too).

Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. Flavorful sausage is wrapped up in tender chicken breasts, baked, and topped with a tangy sauce for an easy and impressive weeknight dinner! | hostthetoast.com

What made them so special? Well, there was flavorful Italian sausage, provolone cheese, tender chicken, and parmesan, to start. Then there was this Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce that I served over pasta with the chicken and it was UH. MAZE. ING. to the point that no one would guess it used jarred peppers and canned tomatoes– shhh, no one needs to know, let’s just keep it between us!

All together, it always seemed like the dish took a ton of effort and time, but I had the whole thing done in just under an hour. It was perfect for my busy class schedule then, and it’s still perfect for my busy work schedule now. I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly over the years, but this is almost identical to the way I first made it nearly 4 years ago.

Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. Flavorful sausage is wrapped up in tender chicken breasts, baked, and topped with a tangy sauce for an easy and impressive weeknight dinner! | hostthetoast.com

Try the recipe for yourself, and I bet it will stay in your rotation for years to come, too! When you try it, make sure you take a photo and tag #hostthetoast on Instagram or Twitter, as always!

Sausage-Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 rollatini
Ingredients
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, divided
  • ½ cup basil, chopped, divided, plus more to garnish
  • 8 oz Italian sausage, removed from casings (pork or turkey)
  • 4 oz provolone cheese, shredded
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14.5 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 10 oz jarred roasted red peppers, finely diced
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 lb pasta of choice, cooked, to serve (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray an oven-safe baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ¼ cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup basil, the Italian sausage, and provolone cheese. Work the ingredients together with your hands until well-combined.
  3. Slice the chicken breasts in half, horizontally, to create thinner cutlets. Place the cutlets between pieces of plastic wrap and pound evenly to ¼” thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the sausage mixture evenly on top of each chicken cutlet. Roll up the chicken cutlets around the sausage mixture and place, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Brush the tops with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and the parmesan cheese. Bake until cooked through and browned on top, about 20 minutes.
  5. As the chicken bakes, prepare the sauce. Heat the remaining olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add in the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, chicken stock, dried oregano, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and mix in remaining basil.
  6. Toss pasta in the sauce, top with chicken, and spoon extra sauce on top. Garnish with basil.
Notes
Feel free to add in some hot cherry peppers or crushed red pepper flakes if you want some added heat in your sauce.




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Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico De Gallo http://hostthetoast.com/crock-pot-chicken-tinga-tacos-with-bacon-pico-de-gallo/ http://hostthetoast.com/crock-pot-chicken-tinga-tacos-with-bacon-pico-de-gallo/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 13:45:36 +0000 http://hostthetoast.com/?p=4378 Happy Cinco de Mayo!  How are you going to celebrate? (Pssst! If you’re not planning on eating tacos tonight, it’s time to reevaluate your choices.) Lately I’ve been absolutely swamped with things to do, so I’ve been trying to be a bit minimalistic in the kitchen. Simple recipes with a relatively short list of ingredients... 

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Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico de Gallo. Big on flavor, low on effort! | hostthetoast.com

Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico de Gallo. Big on flavor, low on effort! | hostthetoast.com

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  How are you going to celebrate? (Pssst! If you’re not planning on eating tacos tonight, it’s time to reevaluate your choices.)

Lately I’ve been absolutely swamped with things to do, so I’ve been trying to be a bit minimalistic in the kitchen. Simple recipes with a relatively short list of ingredients that pack in big bites of flavor have been my saviors, and I have found that tacos are a great option for crazy busy days. Chicken Tinga Tacos are no exception! These tacos, which originated in Puebla, Mexico, feature shredded chicken that is stewed in a spicy chipotle tomato sauce with plenty of onion and garlic — I think of the sauce as the Mexican version of marinara. When made in the slow cooker with just a short list of ingredients, they require hardly any effort and are easy on the wallet as well. Who could resist?

Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico de Gallo. Big on flavor, low on effort! | hostthetoast.com
Because the chicken filling is already quite tomato-y, I decided not to top my tacos with traditional salsa. Instead, I made a pico de gallo that would back up the flavors in the tinga, using bacon to kick up the smokiness and radish to bring out the spiciness and lend some crunch. Is it still technically pico de gallo if there are no fresh tomatoes in sight? I’m not sure, to be honest. It may not be authentic, but my goodness is it delicious.

Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico de Gallo. Big on flavor, low on effort! | hostthetoast.com
Top your Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with creamy avocado and crumbly cotija, wash them down with a strong margarita, and snap a picture for Instagram with the tag #hostthetoast to show off your foodie fiesta.

Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico de Gallo. Big on flavor, low on effort! | hostthetoast.com

Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos with Bacon Pico De Gallo
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 16 tacos
Ingredients
For the Chicken Tinga Tacos:
  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Bacon Pico de Gallo:
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 small radishes, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 8 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled, to top
  • 1 avocado, sliced, to top
  • 16 corn tortillas, warmed
Directions
  1. Combine the Chicken Tinga Taco ingredients in a slow cooker and set to low for 5-6 hours, or until chicken shreds easily. Discard the bay leaf. Remove the chicken from the tomato sauce mixture and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  2. As the chicken cooks, make the Bacon Pico de Gallo. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the onion, garlic, radishes, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss to mix. Then, toss in the crumbled bacon. Set aside.
  3. Scoop the Chicken Tinga mixture into corn tortillas, top with a slice of avocado, Bacon Pico de Gallo, and crumbled cotija cheese. Serve warm.
Notes
The chipotle peppers are spicy, so if you're sensitive to heat you may want to stay on the conservative side. You can always add more at the end if you'd like.


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