Tuesday, August 9, 2011

300 Best Taco Recipes Cookbook Giveaway + East-West Chicken Tacos...an Asian Spin On a Classic

I've got a fun giveaway to share today as part of this month's ongoing one-year blogiversary celebration for The Weekend Gourmet. I've had such fun trying and sharing some of the fun taco recipes in the book 300 Best Taco Recipes that I'm partnering with Robert Rose Publishing to give away a copy of this fantastic cookbook to one of you! I've tried three different recipes from the cookbook so far, and all of them have been wonderful: quick to make and full of flavor. 

I had a chance to chat with the book's author, Kelley Cleary Coffeen, earlier today. We talked about why she chose to focus her cookbook on tacos. Coffeen lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico and has been collecting different ideas for tacos for several years, and this book was a way to share all of them in one book. She told me that tacos are versatile and lend themselves to a variety of flavors and ingredients. According to Coffeen, tacos have three big things going for them: they offer immediate gratification since they're quick to cook, they're inexpensive to make, and they're made with healthy ingredients and cooking methods.

We also discussed that the book potentially has more than 300 taco recipes once you factor in flexibility. The book has 300 taco recipes and 55 sauce/topping recipes, many of which can be mixed and matched to change the flavor profile of a given recipe. I can vouch for that. When I made the Mesquite Chicken Tacos, I subbed in Creamy Corn Salsa for the topping called for in the recipe...and it was delicious! Today is my third recipe feature from this cookbook...and this one's a bit outside the box. I decided to go with an Asian flavor profile and feature the East-West Chicken Tacos. 

If you like Asian lettuce wraps that are popular on many restaurant appetizer menus, then you'll LOVE these tacos. They taste JUST LIKE a lettuce wrap tucked inside a soft flour tortilla! These were a huge hit for dinner last night. The flavor combination is really nice: a little salty, a little spicy, and just a wee bit sweet. Add in crunchy veggies and some chopped honey-roasted almonds, and you've got a winner on your hands! The only tweaks I made to the original recipe were to reduce the amount of sugar in the Spicy Asian Sauce and add some garlic and chopped water chestnuts to the chicken mixture.

East-West Chicken Tacos
adapted from 300 Best Taco Recipes

Step 1:  Make the Spicy Asian Sauce by combining the following ingredients in a small saucepan: 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tbs. ketchup, and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tbs. cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the saucepan and whisk well to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently for about 5 minutes, stirring. The sauce will thicken up nicely. Set aside 1/2 cup of the sauce and place the remaining sauce into a squeeze bottle. I stored the sauce in the fridge to cool until ready to use.

Step 2:  Add 1 tbs. olive oil to a medium saute pan over med-high heat. Add 1.5 lbs. diced chicken breast, 2 cloves minced or grated garlic, and 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts to the pan. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, then add the reserved 1/2 cup of Spicy Asian Sauce. Stir to combine and cook for about 5 more minutes, until the sauce makes a nice glaze on the chicken.

Step 3:  Assemble the tacos as follows: Place a warmed flour tortilla on a plate. Top with a few pieces of butter lettuce, some of the chicken mixture, sliced green onions, julienne carrot -- you can buy it bagged in the produce department, chopped honey-roasted peanuts, and a drizzle of the Spicy Asian Sauce.

To eat, simply fold in half and enjoy! This taco is full of flavors and very light and healthy...and I loved the extra bit of crunch from the water chestnuts. I'm thinking shrimp would also be really good in this recipe. I'll definitely be making this one again very soon!! If you'd like to win a copy of 300 Best Taco Recipes, leave me a comment below. Let me know your favorite way to serve tacos, along with your e-mail address. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 on Friday, August 12th. I'll announce the winner this weekend.

Before I go, I wanted to tell you to BE SURE to come here on Friday to get all the details on a really fun recipe contest that's I'm hosting in conjunction with Texas-based food company Cookwell & Company. The winner will receive some really great prizes, so I hope all of you will showcase your creativity and enter!! Full details are coming on Friday...but I want to get your mind focused in this direction: salsa.

1 comment:

  1. I love to serve tacos open faced...mainly because I enjoy too many toppings to close it up (think lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, avocado, meat, hot sauce, jalapenos, bell peppers, olives, onions, and who knows else...just whatever I might have around :)


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