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Tempeh Tacos

It’s going to be a scorcher today, Boston! Cooking might be the last thing on your minds on this freakishly warm March day. I appreciate warmth and a mild winter, but mid-to-high 80’s in March is worrisome even to me. More importantly, we have wine traveling from California, and I am crossing my fingers the crazy temps don’t spoil it.

As you know, I celebrated the big 32 on Tuesday, and dinner was so great I thought I would share. Since we were in Sonoma and Napa so recently, I decided I wanted a quiet birthday evening at home. After lots of loving messages from friends and family and gorgeous flowers from my family and my husband and a loooong work day, I kicked off my birthday celebration with a bubble bath and a glass of bubbly.


I was able to relax because I had started dinner the night before. I cubed a giant block of tempeh to start. After this meal, I realize I prefer tempeh to tofu for a vegetarian protein; I like the chewiness, and does it soak up sauce!

Raw tempeh looks a little like brains, unfortunately.


I chose to marinate my tempeh in this Ortega taco sauce. When we were little and my dad would travel for work,  we often had tacos for dinner because my dad didn’t like them.  This taco sauce brings back fond memories of these dinners. And it’s tasty.

taco sauce

Marinated overnight, the tempeh basically took on the flavor of the taco sauce which made it a fabulous filling for our tacos.

marinated tempeh

When it was time to start our build-your-own-taco bar, I sautéed the tempeh on low in a frying pan while I prepped our toppings.

They included grated cheddar and chopped romaine,

cheese and lettuce

I also brought out some of my homemade habanero salsa which is to-die-for and makes my forehead sweat, guacamole,  2% Fage yogurt, and of course warmed whole wheat tortillas. We each built out own tacos, starting the tempeh, piling them high with deliciousness.

tempeh tacos

We ate on the floor with the windows open and bubbly in our glasses and followed our tacos with some desserts that my husband brought from Flour. It was a nice picnic dinner.

Warm weather definitely brings out the desire for quick foods that don’t take a ton of heat to prepare. The tempeh was the only part of these tacos that required turning on a burner, and that was only for about 10 minutes so it didn’t heat the house much. Tonight we’re having giant salads with fried eggs and trying to stay cool with a walk at Castle Island. What a week!

Have you done anything summery this week?

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Tags: dinner, Food, recipe, salsa, tacos, tempeh, Vegetarian

So many appealing small plates, so little time! A chilly Tuesday night dinner with friends was enough to warm me up and to guarantee I will be back to Tico very soon.

Tico is the new venture of Chef Michael Schlow and as luck would have it, a restaurant that is directly across the street from my former office, a place I spent 2.5 years. As luck would also have it, a wine and cheese store opened IN the building I used to work in after I quit, but I digress.

Over a few tweets about the opening of Tico, Daisy, Justin, Megan, Michelle, Tania and I talked about a group dinner that finally came to fruition on Tuesday night. Tuesday also happened to be National Margarita Day, so we started off with a round of margaritas. Tico unfortunately does not have a drinks menu set up yet, but they make several different types of margaritas like the blood orange margarita below. It was delish.

blood orange margarita

Once we had all arrived, we were seated at a nicely sized table, perfect for sharing small plates. Tico definitely gets two thumbs up for space. Though it is a large restaurant, tables are not close together, and I didn’t really notice anyone else while we were dining.

After browsing the menu, we finally decided on tacos and small plates to share. And then the food started coming.

Crispy Fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce – This was one of my favorites. Tender bites of fried cheese with a sweet, syrupy sauce made for that perfect salty/sweet contrast.

Crispy Fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce

Brussels sprouts with bacon, kumquats, mint and jalapenos- I also loved these. I don’t remember seeing any kumquats, but the Brussels were cooked to perfection, and really bacon and Brussels sprouts are always right.

Brussels sprouts with bacon, kumquats, mint and jalapenos

Shrimp toast with avocado, pickled jalapenos and lime – This was my least favorite dish of the evening. In theory, it sounded like something I would love, but it was not very hot and the toast was kind of oil-soaked. I would pass on these next time.

Shrimp toast with avocado, pickled jalapenos and lime

Crispy fried chicken with fennel slaw & spicy buttermilk dressing- Of all of the tacos we tried, I expected to like these the least but loved them, especially the spicy buttermilk dressing. It had a kick! And I love crunchy fennel. This was a great combination of flavors. One thing to note about all of the tacos was that I was not crazy about the tortillas. They were cold and a little too thick. Other than that, Tico tacos rock.

Crispy fried chicken with fennel slaw & spicy buttermilk dressing

Creamy Gigante Beans with chorizo and green onion- Another surprising favorite, the gigante beans were SO flavorful and tender with nicely spiced chorizo.

Creamy Gigante Beans with chorizo and green onion

Crispy Sweetbreads with masa harissa, endive, blood orange and hazelnuts- I passed these up but am sad I didn’t try the harissa as it is one of my favorite sauces.

Crispy Sweetbreads with masa harissa, endive, blood orange and hazelnuts

Crispy Fish, pickled onions & red jalapeno- These were another hit. For East Coast fish tacos, they were quite good.

Crispy Fish, pickled onions & red jalapeno

Octopus with yellow peppers, citrus, and Aleppo pepper- I also loved this (seeing a trend?). The octopus was tender and flavorful, the citrus really giving it a nice punch and likely responsible for how tender the octopus meat was.

Octopus with yellow peppers, citrus, and Aleppo pepper

Snap Peas with orange zest, Tabasco butter and “crunchies” – More citrus, more yum. These snap peas were nice and crunchy with a little kick.

Snap Peas with orange zest, Tabasco butter and “crunchies”

Spicy Shrimp, bacon and avocado – The avocado and bacon made these, in my opinion. The shrimp were good, but the other components definitely made them a repeat order.

Spicy Shrimp, bacon and avocado

“Creamed” Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Thai Basil- Though not very creamy, this was another great dish. I love corn, I have come to love bacon, and this was actually nice and light.

“Creamed” Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Thai Basil

And then came dessert!

I actually chose a warm car ride home over staying to eat dessert, so I snapped a couple of quick photos, grabbed a bite of the bright, tart, creamy lemon sabayon, and left my dining companions to devour the desserts, which looked beautiful (and left me wanting dessert for the rest of the night!).



I had such a fun time with bloggers who have become friends, and Tico definitely impressed me. There are quite a number of dishes on the menu that I need to try, the price was right ($40/per person for all that food + a drink!) so a return visit with the husband is in order very soon. Now if they could just get that drink menu up on their website so I can obsessively plan each part of my meal. . .

Come on, I can’t be alone on this! When you are going out to dinner, do you look at the menu beforehand (multiple times like I do!)?

Tico on Urbanspoon

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Tags: bloggers, Boston, brussels sprouts, dessert, Food, margaritas, Michael Schlow, octopus, Restaurants, tacos, Tico

Taco Tuesday

I make the best salsa. It is seriously some addictive stuff, and a few days ago, I put my salsa-making skills to great use by setting up a make-your-own taco bar with slow-cooked pulled pork.

I don’t cook pork very often; this particular pork roast was my very first, and I was nervous and excited to be making something I knew my husband would love.

I started with a big ol’ pork shoulder that was organic, hormone free, and humanely raised. You won’t see meat in our house otherwise.

Pulled pork isn’t pretty.

But I will tell you about it anyway. I started with one of my Foodbuzz Festival freebies, Tyler Florence’s Brown Sugar Pork Rub.

Brown Sugar Pork Rub

My fear of trichinosis means that I wasn’t touching the pork with my bare hands, no way, no how. I instead used the back of a spoon to rub the spices into the pork. In addition to the Tyler Florence mix, I also rubbed in cumin and garlic powder. I then placed the hunk of pork in my trusty slow cooker, poured in 2 cups of water, and added about a half a can of frozen tomato paste. I also added a small yellow onion, chopped, a few chopped jalapenos, and a few cloves of crushed garlic.

jalapeno, onion, garlic 

Cover and cooked on low for hours and hours, checking in every now and then. Once the meat was cooked through, I used forks to shred it in the sauce.

Like I said, pulled pork isn’t pretty! But oh my goodness, did this taste good!

pulled pork

Now for the salsa.

homemade salsa

My salsa is simple: a can of fire roasted tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 jalapenos, and a generous sprinkling of cilantro, all tossed in the Cuisinart and chopped until the desired consistency. I have probably said it before, but if I had a choice, salsa would most definitely be part of my last meal.

I served up the pulled pork in whole wheat tortilla wraps from Trader Joe’s, topped with salsa, guacamole, cheese, and lime juice.


pulled pork tacos

I added a few extra jalapenos to mine since I am spicy like that Winking smile 

I have an appointment this afternoon, then am planning a tough elliptical workout followed by wine class. And tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving travel day! I can’t wait to see my niece and nephew and my cousins who moved to Ohio last year. I love this week because everyone slows down for family time and of course because of all of the great food, the Christmas music, and the holiday buzz in the air.

What is your all time favorite holiday and/or holiday tradition?

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Tags: pork, recipe, salsa, tacos

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