pulled turkey tacos

Sometimes I grocery shop with a clear menu in mind and sometimes I buy whatever strikes my fancy and figure out how to use it later. That’s exactly what happened the other day when I came home from the store with two packages of turkey cutlets. I knew I could grill them or bake them just like I would chicken, but I felt like taking a more untraditional approach. Francese? Stir fry? Parmigiana? No… Tacos!

We’ve all had those uninspired and dull as dishwater tacos made with a lump of ground beef and a packet of “taco seasoning.” Yeah, no thanks. I had far greater aspirations for my turkey tacos. First of all I planned to slow cook the turkey with sweet onion, garlic and traditional Mexican spices so that it was crazy flavorful and falling apart tender. Then I would shred it and serve it in warm soft taco shells with some aged cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro leaves, pickled red onion and jalapeños piled on top.

Oh baby— These were some of the tastiest tacos the Greco family has ever eaten (and frankly we’re eaten more than out fair share.) So long boring hand-held meal and hello delicious Wednesday night dinner!

Pulled Turkey Tacos
This shredded turkey is fabulous in tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or as a pulled sandwich. The recipe is just as fantastic if you decide to swap a boneless pork lion for the turkey. 

pickled onions

2 1/4 cups homemade (or jarred) marinara sauce
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2.5 lbs. turkey breast cutlets (or boneless pork loin)
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. cold water
1 tbsp. butter*
soft taco shells, optional
shredded cheddar cheese, optional
shredded lettuce or cilantro, optional
Greek yogurt (or sour cream), optional
pickled red onion, optional
diced jalapeño pepper, optional

  1. Stir together the first 8 ingredients and pour into the crock pot. Add the turkey cutlets and mix to coat well. Cover and cook on medium for 6 hours.
  2. When the turkey is done remove it from the pot and shred it using two forks.
  3. Mix together the corn starch and water and add it to the sauce. Stir in the butter until it melts, then add back the shredded turkey and mix so that the turkey is well coated with the sauce.
  4. Serve in warmed tortillas with fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, and pickled red onions and an ice cold beer.

*Because the turkey breast is so lean I added a bit of butter to the sauce to add some richness and depth of flavor. However if you use pork loin instead of turkey I can’t imagine you would need to add it and therefore wouldn’t bother.

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sweet summer sauce

As I mentioned last week my tomatoes and peppers are very happy with this record breaking hot weather. So happy in fact that I have an insane number of cherry tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter. I’ve been eating them everyday day; quickly sauteed with eggs, in a green salad or as a snack, but I’m not even close to making a dent in my overwhelming supply. So, what’s a girl to do but… make sauce!

Ordinarily I make red sauce during the cool months with canned tomatoes, a bit of lean meat (to round out the flavor) and a full day of simmering on the stove. But this was going to be a summer sauce; all garden fresh ingredients with a short cooking time and instead of meat I’d use a bit of butter to knock down the acidic bite.

This resulting sauce was some of the best I’ve ever made. Seriously, the best! It was so good that after we enjoyed it for dinner the remainder went directly into the freezer; how lovely it will be to pull out a container of that wonderful sauce on a cold winter night. And with the way my plants are continuing to produce tomatoes, I just might be able to squeak out another batch or two of sauce before the end of the season. Hooray for happy heat loving tomatoes!

Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce
This sauce was the perfect way to use the freshest of summer ingredients from my garden. It was only a matter of hours from harvesting to serving.

3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 lbs. cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
5 springs fresh thyme
6 large leaves fresh basil, julienned
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup red wine
3 tbsp. unsalted butter

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook the onion until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Add the whole cherry tomatoes, give a good stir and let cook (covered) until the tomatoes begin to pop.
  2. Add the fresh herbs, bay leaves, red pepper, salt and wine. Let cook, stirring every 2-3 minutes and smashing the tomatoes with the back of a spatula, until all the tomatoes are popped, about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat to low, cover and let simmer until the sauce has thickened, 25-30 minutes. Once everything is soft and cooked through remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Use an immersion blender to break down the skins, seeds and onion and make the sauce smooth.
  4. Add 3 tbsp. of unsalted butter and 1 tsp. white sugar and let cook uncovered for another 10 minutes. Adjust the salt to taste and serve with your favorite pasta or cool for use at a latter date.

Pizza?!?

My family loves pizza. They would be content to eat it two or three times a week. I on the other hand, am not such a big fan. But because my husband and children adore it, I make it. From scratch. Homemade sauce, homemade dough, etc. etc. Actually, making pizza from scratch is not all that difficult to do, especially if you have a stand mixer for the dough, although it does take a bit of forethought and planning. But hey, I’m a multitasking modern woman, I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan…

Last weekend I made sauce, which means in my family’s mind pizza was soon to follow. “When?” they kept asking, “When is it going to be pizza night?” The daily interrogations were wearing me down so I declared that tonight would be pizza night. HOORAY!!

Yeah, well that advanced planning I mentioned, that somehow never occurred over the course of my afternoon and before I knew it, the clock read 4:30 and the stand mixer was still sitting in the pantry. Not wanting to see their sad little faces when I broke the no pizza news to my family, I quickly scanned the contents of my refrigerator. I found a package of Indian nan-style bread in the freezer but only a small chunk of fresh mozzarella in the crisper. However I still had leftover cheddar, jack and asiago from my macaroni and cheese recipe. These may not be the makings of my regular pizza, but with any luck I would be able to create something vaguely resembling personal pizzas with them. And so pizza night was back on!

To say these personal pies were a success would be an understatement. The nan created a lite crispy crust, the crazy mix of cheeses were delicious and the kids loved having their own little pizzas. And since we each got our own pie I was finally able to have pizza topped with something a bit more to my liking— spinach, onions and hot peppers!.

(How To Save Pizza Night) Personal Pizzas
The great thing about these pizzas is that you can really get creative with the toppings. Green olives and hot peppers, grilled chicken and caramelized onions or even sunny side up eggs and fresh spinach— go crazy!

4 pocketless pita breads
2 cups red sauce
4-6 oz. grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, asiago, provolone)
toppings of your choice

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pita bread on baking sheet and broil on high for 1-2 minutes until slightly crisp.
  2. Top with a layer of sauce, grated cheese and toppings of your choice.
  3. Pop back under the broiler for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce is warm and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  4. Slice, eat and enjoy.