Summer in the Ozarks is a great time of year for cooking and eating. There are more opportunities to cook with the great weather for grilling and more time to eat during the longer days! With all of this time for food on our hands, it would do us well to try and eat a little lighter and maybe even a bit healthier!
This week’s menu is light, healthy, and delicious! The first course, Watermelon with Goat Cheese, Olive Oil and Toasted Cumin Seed, may sound a bit strange, but I think that when you taste it you will enjoy it quite a bit. The creamy, tangy, goat cheese blends perfectly with the crunchy, sweet, watermelon. The oil and toasted cumin provide a savory element that nicely rounds out the dish.
For the entrée, I made soft tacos. So, you’re thinking, “Tacos? That is the best he can do?” Well my friends, these tacos are beyond ordinary. First of all, I like to let my guests make their own tacos. I make taco meat using ground Smart Chicken for those who like meat. I also provide a large assortment of fresh vegetables, cheese, and sauce so that a vegetarian taco can be made as well. The kicker is the homemade flour tortillas as they are always a treat. The presentation of veggies, tortillas and full ingredients laid out on the table is a beautiful site to behold!
We have some excellent strawberries on sale this week so I whipped up one of my favorite combinations: Strawberries with Port Wine Reduction. I added some low fat Weight Watcher’s yogurt to top it off. The creamy yogurt with the tangy strawberries and the sweet Port wine is really delicious. I hope you like it!
In This Menu:
- James’ Chicken Tacos
- Watermelon with Goat Cheese, Olive Oil, and Toasted Cumin Seed
- Strawberries with Port Wine Reduction
James’ Chicken Tacos
Makes 12 tacos
- 1 lb. Smart Chicken ground
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Taco meat seasoning
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1½ cups Borden grated
- ½ cup Hiland sour cream
- ½ cup red radish, diced
- ½ cup each yellow and red bell
- ½ cup diced zucchini, diced
- ½ cup diced tomato
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup bicolor sweet corn mixed with ½ cup rinsed black beans, and 2 T. diced red onion
- 1 cup salsa, your choice
Get a skillet hot, add oil and sauté chicken until almost done. Add your taco seasonings. If you don’t have a taco seasoning that you like to use, add 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and ½ cup water to chicken. Mix spices in well, bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is cooked out. Toss the diced avocado in the lemon juice to keep it from browning. Arrange remaining ingredients in small serving bowls. Serve with warm home made tortillas (see below).
For the Flour Tortillas:
- 1½ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
- Warm water
In the bowl of a counter top mixer or small bowl, mix flour with baking powder and salt. Add lard and beat with paddle at medium speed until the mixture looks like coarse meal. If you do not have a counter top mixer, cut the shortening in with a pastry cutter. In either case, after the shortening is cut into the flour mixture, add a little water at a time, stirring between each addition until a dough is formed. Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until soft and pliable. Wrap in plastic and let the dough rest for 30 minutes in refrigerator.
If you have an electric tortilla press/cooker, use it now. If not, divide dough into 12 round balls. On a floured board, flatten a dough ball into a round disc. Flour a rolling pin and roll out until dough is very thin, almost transparent. If you are having trouble or just want your tortilla perfectly round, roll out then place a proper sized plate or other round object on top of the rolled out dough. With a sharp knife, cut around the edge of the plate, removing irregular edges. Save dough edges to make more tortillas.
Heat a skillet or griddle to 350° (medium high for 3 to 5 minutes in skillet). Add a little vegetable oil and place a tortilla on griddle. Cook for about 4 minutes until you see bubbles form and the cooked side is lightly browned. Turn over and repeat cooking process. Remove from heat and keep covered. Serve warm. If you want to refresh tortillas later, wrap in damp paper towels and microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
Watermelon with Goat Cheese, Olive Oil, and Toasted Cumin Seed
- 1 seedless watermelon
- 1 log of creamy goat cheese
(available at our Plus stores)
- Olive oil
- Cumin seed
- Kosher salt
- Mint sprigs
Remove the rind from the
watermelon and cut into ½” cubes. For each appetizer portion you should cut about 12 cubes. Cut the goat cheese into cubes as well. This is easier if you dip your knife in some hot water, dry it, then cut through the cheese. Toast about 2 teaspoons cumin seed per appetizer portion by placing a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cumin and stir or toss constantly until the seeds begin to smoke lightly. Remove seeds from heat and set aside.
Arrange the melon pieces and goat cheese on a large plate. Sprinkle very lightly with some Kosher salt; about ¼ teaspoon per serving. Drizzle about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil evenly over fruit and cheese on each plate. Top with a little cumin seed and garnish with fresh mint sprig.
Strawberries with Port Wine Reduction
Port wine reduction is easy to make and is very versatile. It does as well on steak as it does on fresh berries. Try it with anything you use a sauce for, you will be surprised at how good it is!
- 1 bottle inexpensive Port wine
- 2 pints strawberries
- 2, 8 oz. containers low fat Weight
Watchers Vanilla Yogurt
- Mint sprigs for garnish
For the reduction: place Port wine on the stove in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 30 minutes or more. You must watch carefully because if it boils too long, it will turn into “tar”! When the bubbles begin to noticeably grow in size, the reduction is close. Boil for another 4 to 5 minutes and remove from heat. The sauce should be the consistency of warm pancake syrup. Let reduction cool. This will keep without refrigeration for up to two months or longer. I keep it in a squeeze bottle like honey.
Wash the strawberries, remove the tops and cut into halves. Place in three or four wine glasses. Drizzle Port wine reduction liberally over berries. Spoon some yogurt over the top. Garnish with the mint. Amazing!