Ground Lamb Tacos

These tacos were absolutely divine. I surprised my damn self!

I got some ground lamb from a local butcher. It ran me about $22 for two and a half pounds. If that is not in your budget, Kroger has ground lamb for $6.99 per pound. But I must say, the fresh lamb from the butcher is worth the extra money.

I did a cucumber tomato “salsa” (it’s just like cucumber tomato salad that most southerner’s have at cookouts), an avocado crema and fresh feta cheese. Not the pre crumbled kind.

Ingredients

2 lbs of ground lamb

2 tbsp of chili pepper flakes

1 tbsp of cumin

2 tbsp of kosher salt

2 tbsp of mint

2 tbsp of fresh parsley

1 tsp of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp of thyme

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

fresh feta (it comes in a brine) it will be in the cheese section at your grocer

Package of  flour tortilla shells

Cucumber tomato salsa

1 cucumber

1 tomato

1 red onion

3 tbsp of red wine (it can be cooking wine)

Avocado Crema

1 large avocado

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt

2 tbsp of virgin olive oil

2 tbsp of water

dash of garlic salt

kosher salt to taste

Instructions

In a large skillet, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and make sure the whole skillet is coated. Add the sliced garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb to the skillet. Season with spices above. Lamb is funny and you do have to season it until the flavor goes all the way through. I added a little bit more salt and all the flavor bursts through.

While the lamb is still cooking, start on the cucumber tomato salsa. Chop all ingredients into 1/2″ pieces and add to a bowl and then mix the red wine into it. set to the side.

For the avocado crema, place all the ingredients into a blender until all ingredients are blended well together. Pour into bowl and set aside.

Crumble the feta cheese into a small bowl. Not the water, just the cheese.

Heat oven to 425. Place the tortilla shells on the middle oven rack until the puff up into a circle. Take them out the oven and place on a cookie sheet and then press down the middle with a fork to deflate it.

Place the lamb in the shell, add the salsa, the cheese and then the creme on top. If you don’t want to use the crema, just add avocado.

These tacos are absolutely amazing and I hope you enjoy. IMG_4331

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Jerk Chicken Tacos with Honey Jalapeño Slaw

Jerk Chicken Tacos

Jerk Chicken Tacos

I wanted something different for dinner and had been saying I was going to make jerk chicken for ages so I made these tacos. I was winging it with the seasonings and it all worked out. The slaw was an experiment as well, but it was oh so good! The slaw really makes the tacos so don’t leave it off of them or you won’t get the full flavor experience.

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

package of flour tortillas

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 teaspoons ground thyme

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 garlic cloves sliced thinly

1 small yellow onion

Slaw Ingredients

Small head of cabbage, cut thinly

1/4 cup of olive oil

3 tbsp of honey

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, sliced thinly

fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

Mix all the spices except the brown sugar, together in a small bowl and place to the side. In a larger bowl, mix the olive oil and the sliced garlic together. Add the brown sugar a little at a time so that the mix does not get clumpy. If it does get clumpy, add some more olive oil. Once that is mixed well, add the other spices to the mix. If it is too thick, add more olive oil. Once the marinade is at a good consistency, put the chicken breasts in the marinade and cover with foil or saran wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, chop up one small onion. I prefer yellow.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, once it is warm add one tablespoon of olive oil until the skillet is completely coated. Add the chopped onions to the olive oil and saute until translucent. Once they are translucent, add the chicken and the marinade to the skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides and then turn the eye down to medium heat.

Let the chicken cook for about 12-15 minutes or until no longer pink once cut. While the chicken is cooking, start preparing the slaw.

Slaw Instructions:

Chop the head of cabbage up into thin pieces. In a medium bowl, mix the olive oil and honey together. Add the cut up cabbage and mix. Then add the jalapeños and the cracked black pepper. I just added black pepper and honey until the slaw had the flavor I wanted so if you need more honey or black pepper, add as much or as little as you like.

Once the chicken is done cooking, place on a chopping board. I get my chicken into perfect strips by sticking a large fork into the chicken and then cutting the chicken between the fork lines.

Cut all the chicken up as such and then place back into the skillet.

Heat your oven to 425 and then place the flour tortillas on the middle oven rack. I bake them for about 2 minutes or until they have puffed up into a circle. Remove tortillas from oven. Place your fork in the center of the shell to deflate it.

Assembly

You can assemble however you please, I place the slaw first, then the chicken on top. I added some Monterey jack cheese, the kind from the cheese section, not the pre packaged kind, it taste way better, trust me. And then you can add avocado or sour cream or whatever you like to the tacos for additional fixings! Just don’t forget the slaw!

White Chicken Chili

This is my most favorite thing to make in the winter. It is savory and delicious and surprisingly healthy.

INGREDIENTS:

One package of ground chicken

2 cans of great northern beans

1 can of black beans

2 cans of Rotel

2 cups of chicken broth

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 lime

2 tbsp of fresh cilantro

*optional- I add 3 tbsp of a Mexican beer if I have one handy.

Chili seasoning mix

1/2 tbsp of salt

1 tsp of pepper

1/2 tsp of cumin

1/2 tsp of corriander

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp of chili powder

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

*mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside*

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Sauté onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil  in a large pot until translucent.

2.Turn heat to medium and add ground chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Drain once done (about 12 minutes)

3.  Dump chicken back into the pot and add the chicken broth, beans (please wash black beans prior to adding to mixture), Rotel and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil.

4. Turn heat down to medium low and add the beer, if using, juice of half the lime and the fresh cilantro.

I allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes before serving. You can simmer longer if time permits.

Add your favorite chili fixins. I do avocado, tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Pancakes are my most favorite breakfast food. I try to make some every Sunday and switch up the flavor so I don’t get bored with them. A few weeks ago, I decided to make some sweet potato pancakes.

Lissen…

They touched my soul and gave me instant itis…

This is a perfect Sunday morning treat and I would say healthy because sweet potatoes are healthy, right?

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 tsp of ginger

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

1 tsp of orange extract (optional)

1 sweet potato, cooked ( I used a microwaved sweet potato) peeled and mashed.

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INSTRUCTIONS

Heat griddle to 400.

1.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the melted butter, egg, buttermilk, and extracts together. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients in and whisk together.  Then add the mashed sweet potato. It will be clumpy.

2)Melt butter on the griddle and Use a ladle or a 1/2 cup measuring spoon to pour batter on the griddle. When you see the batter bubbling, flip over and cook until done.

Mango Chutney Chicken Tacos

As many of my recipes come about, I was searching for something to eat and just combined some stuff that I had handy and it was delightful.

These tacos are sweet and spicy and down right succulent.

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1″ slices

1/2 purple onion, sliced (optional)

1/4 cup of mango chutney ( I get mine from Kroger in the international food aisle)

1/2 tsp of Curry powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp of cumin

2 tbsp of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

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INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Turn stove to medium and place skillet on eye to warm.

2) slice chicken into 1″ slices. Season with salt and pepper

3)  Cook chicken (and onion if using) in olive oil until no longer pink.

4) Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the mango chutney, cayenne, cumin, and curry. Bring to a slight boil.

5) Once the mixture has started bubbling, continuously stir and then turn the heat down to low.

6) While the chicken is simmering, Heat the oven to 425. Place desired amount of flour tortillas in oven, flat. I bake them for about 2 minutes, but I like my shells a tad crunchy. If you don’t like them very crunchy, only bake for 1 minute. The shells will puff up, but once you take them out of the oven, they will flatten.

7) Place the chicken in the taco shells and dress with your favorite toppings. I use spinach, avocado, and Colby jack cheese.

Mango Chutney Chicken Tacos

Mango Chutney Chicken Tacos

*If these help you, please donate a little something so I can bring you more and better content. Paypal is tioradavis@yahoo.com*

Savory Sausage Pasta

I LOVE PASTA!!

It’s quick and easy and delicious. One Sunday, I wanted to try something besides chicken so I decided to make a pasta with turkey Italian sausage. Once I learned how to make my own Alfredo sauce, I never looked back and I hope you don’t either!

Ingredients

1 package of sweet or spicy turkey Italian sausage (or pork)

1 package of fresh sage (wash and pat dry)

1 package of portobello mushrooms

1 box of bow tie pasta

1/2 cup of heavy cream

1 block of Asiago cheese (shredded)

3 gloves of fresh garlic

4 tbsp of butter, unsalted

2 tbsp of Olive Oil

salt, peper, Italian seasoning, basil to season

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INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and add the sausage, still in the casing and cook until no longer pink

2. While the sausage is cooking, chop up the fresh sage and mushrooms (I get pre-sliced mushrooms if available) and cook pasta according to packaged directions.

3. Once the sausage is no longer pink, remove from heat and place on a cutting board. Cut the sausage into 1″ pieces ( I achieve this by piercing the sausage with a large fork and then cutting between the two slits of the fork). Place the sausage back in the skillet with the mushrooms and the fresh sage and toss around. I add a little pepper and basil to the mixture for taste. Turn heat down to medium low and let it continue to cook.

4. Heat another skillet to medium low and melt butter. Add the sliced garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown. Add the heavy cream and stir until bubbly. Once the cream starts to form small bubbles, add the Asiago cheese and stir until all is creamy. Season sauce with Italian seasoning and a dash of salt and pepper.

5. Drain the pasta and toss the sauce and the sausage mixture together. Add cream if you would like your dish to be more creamy.

*This takes a little longer than 30 minutes. Maybe 45*

Smiling

This year marks eight years since I’ve been divorced. I’m 30 years old and have been divorced for eight whole years. What the what?

I left everything at my husband’s home when we separated and that included my wedding pictures. I hadn’t seen those pictures since February 13, 2007. For some reason, I wanted to see them so I asked my sister if she had some.  She sent me a few and I almost cried.

Not because I missed my husband. Not because I felt any remorse.

But because I am smiling but I look absolutely miserable.

I’m unrecognizable to myself. And I don’t have any eyebrows.

IMG_9800

Right before the formal ceremony, my husband and I had gotten into a fight. A physical one. But you would never know it by looking at the picture.

Opening up about  domestic violence is not an easy thing to do. It comes with a lot of judgement. Comes with a lot of victim blaming.

“I would never let a man hit me”

“You’re dumb for staying”

“Any woman that lets a man hit on them is dumb and deserves what they get”

“Why didn’t you just leave?”

I don’t know how many times I had to grin through people saying these things while I was in an abusive marriage. Didn’t have the courage to say that that was my current situation.

I’ve been more open over the years about my marriage because you never know who you can help with your story. Opening up always comes with judgment and criticism and what you should have done. But if it helps get someone through, I can deal.

I married very young, 21 to be exact. I didn’t love myself very much and was in a bad place mentally.  I was soooo in love with my husband and I can’t even tell you why. He wasn’t a nice person. He wasn’t nice to me. He was very mean spirited. He was ugly. God he was ugly but I loved his uglass. He had green eyes though, that has to count for something.

But there was another side of him. He was funny. He was charming. He bought me gifts. He was very persistent about marrying me. He proposed to me three times. Three. The last time he proposed, I said yes.

A week after the proposal, we went to the courthouse on my lunch break and got married. I wore a brown skirt, bedazzled mules (it was 2006), and a white button down. Nothing fancy. Just couldn’t wait to marry this man. My sister, brother in law and their two youngest children stood as witnesses. A 15 minute ceremony changed my life.

As soon as we walked out of the courthouse, I knew I had made a mistake. I didn’t tell my parents I got married until after I did it.  And now I know I didn’t tell them because I was ashamed and knew that I shouldn’t have gone through with it. Neither of them talked to me for weeks.

We had been married about a month and one day, his friend stopped by the house. I opened the door and told him that my husband was not at home and to just give him a call. He said he didn’t have his phone but to let him know that he had stopped by. I said ok and shut the door. About 15 minutes later, my husband came home and I told him that his friend had come by looking for him.

Remember that scene out of Purple Rain when The Kid slapped Appollonia so hard that she spun around? Yeah.

He accused me of sleeping with his friend (in the 15 minutes that he was gone) . I just laid on the floor. Confused. Face throbbing. Wondering how did this just happen to me. My mother, father and grandfather told me if a man ever put his hands on me to kill him dead.

But I just layed there. Stunned. Hurt. Disoriented. Spaced out. He left out the house and took my car keys to make sure I didn’t leave while he was gone.

I called my Mom but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what happened. I was literally shaking but I dried my tears and had a normal conversation with her. I heard him pull up to the house and I rushed her off the phone.

He came in the house with dinner. He kissed me on the cheek like he hadn’t just slapped fire out of me less than an hour ago. “Baby, can you get plates so we can eat?”

Am I in the twilight zone? Is he really acting like he nothing happened? What the what?

I just sat there and ate dinner with him in silence. I didn’t know what would happen next.

I hid the abuse from everyone. I became distant from friends and family so they wouldn’t ask me or suspect that anything was going on. I lost contact with so many good people trying to protect the image of my marriage and my husband.

Why did you stay?

I to this day cannot tell you why I stayed. I can tell you that I loved this dude. I loved him so much. We had good times. Some really good times and I would just try to forget about the bad stuff. I was also young and impressionable. He had alienated me from some family and a lot of my friends so I really didn’t have anywhere to go. But I kept smiling. “Tiora, how’s your husband? How’s married life?” I would just smile and say it was great. *internally shakes head no*

Why didn’t you just leave?

You know. I tried to leave quite a few times. As I would be headed to the front door, he would grab me. By my arm, my hair, my waist, my shirt, whatever he could grab a hold of. I would run, but he was bigger and faster than me and would catch me. I would just say to myself, “If I could just get to the front door, If I can just get to the front door, I’ll be free”. But he would beat me to a point that I couldn’t, I would just give up. I was fighting him but I would become exhausted. I would just beg for him to stop. Please. Just stop. I’m done fighting with you. “You can’t go to your Mom’s house looking like that. How are you going to explain to her what happened? What are you going to say?”

I would clean myself up and lock myself into the bathroom until he fell asleep.  This was a regular thing with us. I was in a toxic situation and didn’t know how to get out.

My mother and I made amends and she wanted to throw me a wedding reception since I got married at the courthouse. I told her no, but she was adamant about it, so I let her. I’m 21, I don’t really have a backbone. At this point, I had already checked out of my marriage mentally but I let my Mom and my sister plan this beautiful ceremony that I didn’t want.

But I was too scared to tell them that I didn’t want it and to scared to tell them what was really going on in my home. So once again, I smiled through it.

So, we have this reception. My family and his family come from out of town. It’s beautiful.

I’m miserable.

He showed up drunk and high. He was being unruly and I was just so embarrassed. But I smiled through it. No one had any idea that I was on the verge of tears because I just wanted to run away from the entire situation. We had so many beautiful pictures and we looked so happy but I was going off on him about 90% of the ceremony and people were oblivious to it. Because. Smiling.

The toxic cycle continued after the ceremony. I would never know what would set him off. I would walk on eggshells around him. Some days he would start with me and I would talk cash shit back and be like one of us is going to die today, but it won’t be me. It was  awful.

I was disgusted by the sight of him and by the sight of what I had become. I was not myself. I was miserable. Miserable. MISERABLE. MISERABLE WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE.  Many days I thought that death would be better than the situation I was in. But no one knew I was suicidal because. SMILING.

The day I left, he pulled a gun on me. I saw the red dot that was pointed at my head gleaming on the wall. The wall that I had painted a beautiful Ecru because I wanted to make his house our home. I saw that red dot and him smirking at me. He thought he won. I closed my eyes and prayed and told him I would rather be dead than to be with him one more day of my life.

The smirk left his face and I ran. I left everything that couldn’t fit into my car and I ran. I never went back.

I smiled through the pain of a divorce, I smiled while I was partying to get over my divorce, I smiled the day my divorce was final. I smiled and joked and laughed and cried and dusted my issues under the table.

I had a slight breakdown in 2010. A whole three years after my divorce, I couldn’t smile anymore. I had to face my shit. I was dying on the inside and no one knew. Because you guessed it. SMILING.

I am healed now. I have truly healed. You never get over something like that. You never forget something like that.

I chose to own it. I chose to face it. I chose to heal. I chose to live life. I chose to not ever lose myself in a man again.

I haven’t stopped looking at my wedding picture since my sister sent it to me. I’m thankful for the girl in that picture because without her, I wouldn’t be who I am now. But I’m glad she’s gone. I’m glad I’m a different person now. Glad that I’m happy instead of just smiling.