January 29, 2010

1940's Casseroles to Healthy Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa

I grew up in a simple upstate New York family. The food I grew up on is a testament to that. 

My grandmother grew up during a time where cheese came in a government processed can.  Food wasn't about joy or celebration, or about being introduced to new ethnic tastes, it was about survival.  In the movie Julie & Julia,  Julia Childs, Simone Beck and Avis are discussing the trend of American food.  And with utter disdain looking at a 1940's cookbook, Simone says, "What is fluff?"  Enter my grandmother.  She was a 1940's 'be-lucky-you-have-food-on-your-table' mother to five kids and wife to a war veteran.

My mom made lots of casseroles that were passed down from my grandmother and with four kids with various lessons & practices to get to, they did the job. Standard dinners included casseroles, a lot of stew & pot roasts, a lot of fried hot dogs & potatoes, pork chops with gravy, etc.  Later came the Schwan Man's processed chicken nuggets, mini pizzas and frozen push pops.   

I didn't grow up eating ethnic foods (aside from VERY Americanized tacos) or eat 'crazy exotic fruits' like mangos.  We had oranges, apples, bananas and grapes if they were on sale. "Mangos are too expensive.  And why do you want to work that hard?  Have an apple."  

For example my mom made 'a dish' called Hamburg Gravy. Hamburg Gravy was DELICIOUS.  One of our faves and waaaay better than Tuna Muffinlettes. 

**Intimate MandiCrocker detail:  Tuna Muffinlettes are like a Tuna Noodle Casserole minus the noodles.  Add rice instead & cram that mixture into muffin tins & bake at 350.  Ummm... yeah.** 

So while home this past October, I happen upon mom's recipe collection & read the recipe for Hamburg Gravy.  A staple of my nostalgic childhood, I'm excited!  So many rich, salty spices- can't wait to know the recipe from scratch!


HAMBURG GRAVY IS:  Boiled potatoes topped with a cooked ground beef & two jars of store bought/ processed gravy mixture. WHAT!?  Not only is it NOT homemade... but it's starch & then more processed starch and then fat and THEN red meat. GROSSS!!!  Gravy out of a jar???  Is that for real?  Do people use this all of the time?  Is this a standard practice I just don't know about? Because to me it sounds like the equivalent of a slimy, jelly-like meat flavored aspic.  I suppose it's no better than gravy out of packets which I use so who am I kidding.  But I felt betrayed like the J. Geils Band. 'My Angel Is The Centerfold?' 'My Hamburg Gravy Is A Jello Mold.'  :(

All this to say, I LOVE being introduced to new foods.  I LOVE cooking!  I LOVE that food can be joyful and celebrated while maintaining a level of nutrition.  I love that The Sweet Lovin' Man has gotten me into fish, Indian food-- even sushi.  SUSHI!!

So today I'd like to share a super healthy recipe with you that will make your taste buds explode with excitement. The Sweet Lovin' Man has a book called 'Diabetic Meals' by Carrie Holcomb that has been just wonderful!   I'd like to share a recipe in there that is super light but hearty & delicious.   They were so good.  You'll be happy.  Truly.  I'm gonna call my mom!

Here's the recipe:

1/2 cup finely chopped plum tomato
1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled mango
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
4 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
3 tsp finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
12 ounces boneless chicken breast halves, chopped in pieces
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
8 6-inch corn totrillas
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/4 cup light diary sour cream

First we make the salsa.  throw the tomato, mango, red onion, 2 tbsp of lime juice, cilantro & jalapenos into a bowl.  Easy peasy.  Cover & chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Don't be scared of the mango. I was scared of the mango.  Will this be too sweet?  It's not.  As the SLM would say, "It's a revelation."

Don't know how to chop a mango?  Go HERE.  I didn't know until 2 years ago! :)

Then we're gonna work on our chicken.  In a large heavy skillet, combine the chicken & water. 

Bring to boiling; reduce the heat.  Cover & simmer for 12 to 14 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink on the inside.  I also added some salt & pepper & crushed red pepper.

Because I can.

Drain well & let cool a little.  Using two forks (or your hands), shred the chicken.  Toss the shredded chicken into the remaining lime juice, the salt & ground red pepper.

And you know what?  You could probably go to town with other spices.  Or dice up the chicken.  Feel free to give it a kick.  WA-BAM! :)

Check to make sure that the corn tortillas haven't molded. When you discover that they have, return to the closest store & get what they have- which is flour tortillas & then say, "Egh.  It'll do."

To serve, you just make-a the tacos!  Spoon the chicken into tortillas, drench it in delicious revelatory salsa, add a dollop of sour cream & MANGE!!!

Sorry for the goofy yellow pictures again.  

But who cares when deliciousness is on the line?

I'm hungry.

Each taco (they call them burritos in the book which is weird since there are no beans or rice, etc.?) has 129 calories.  It serves 8.  (But seriously, who eats one taco?)

They're delicious, delicious, delicious... they're healthy & divine.  They burst with flavor.  Truly. 

I'm still hungry.  Thank God it's sushi tonight!!

Lov, tacos AND burritos,


Family of Food said...

That looks yummy. I may have to go out and get a mango.

Beth said...

Looks Delish! In the vein of your americanized comfort food theme, We had weight watchers spicy beef tacos for dinner this week they were quite yummy as well :)
brown 2 cloves garlic + ~3/4 lb. super lean ground beef add 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles simmer ~5 min until liq. is mostly evap. serve in toasted corn tortillas with cheddar cheese (low-fat is not as yummy but if you are really dedicated...)or queso fresco, lettuce, fresh tomatoes and the salsa of your choice. They were super good and really fast to put together. 1 serving is 2 tacos (5 WW pts, ~250 calories).

Nan said...

I am so trying this!

Nan said...

I am so trying this!

MandiCrocker said...

Beth, that sounds goooooood. Then again, anything sounds good to me right now! I'm hungry! ;)

Nannypants! You should! And you should try it twice! ;)

Miss M! said...

Growing up, burritos did not contain rice or beans. Those were on the side. Burros are anything that is rolled up in a flour tortilla. Therefore, what you made was indeed a burrito. Now, a soft taco (I was so amused the first time I saw that term) is what someone who does not know how to properly roll a burro eats. So there you go!

mes said...

I love love love your blog :)

MandiCrocker said...

Miss M! I'm lovin' your definition!! And 'Mes'- THANK YOU. I think that made my Chicago-tuchus-freezin' day!! :)