Monday, May 26, 2014

Operation Taco Box

Wow, 5 months flies by fast! Nothing to crazy to catch you up on:

Luke and I had a super sassy trip to Boulder and Breckenridge in January - so much food, booze and fun to be had in 5 days. I hope to go back soon!

I turned 29 and had a lawn games and BBQ party (29 going on 60??).

I enjoyed work trips to New Orleans, San Francisco and wine country in northern California so far this year - no complaints here!

My nephew Ben is now 6 months old! We had a blast spending a long weekend in Galveston with my family and taking Ben on the beach and into a pool for the first time. He LOVED being in the water - future swim team member?

Now, on to this new baby taco box. I remember seeing this post in The Kitchn a few  years ago and thinking it was an awesome idea. Casseroles are plentiful with major life events, tacos are not. My friends Chris and Megan just had their second baby - a girl! I signed up to bring them dinner this week and wanted to make something a little different. The only restrictions are that Megan is pescetarian and can't eat spicy foods right now. No problem!

Here's the menu:

Chips and salsa
Mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons with a homemade herby buttermilk dressing (buttermilk, red wine vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper, basil and cilantro)
Cilantro, green onion and honey lime rice
Build your own tacos featuring:
Fresh made flour tortillas
Cumin scented tilapia - for the whole family to enjoy
Garlic lime marinated chicken thighs - for the guys
Crunchy cabbage
Grated carrots
Sliced green onions
Avocado sour cream sauce
Queso fresco

The salad is easy enough - toss the veggies together (sometimes I just use the plastic clamshell that the salad greens come in to save a dish), a baggie of queso fresco (several ounces that I crumbled for them since it's also a taco topping, and, who doesn't love queso fresco?), and then the homemade buttermilk dressing I put together in a mason jar so they can use as much as they like. It's advisable to not use any containers you hope to get back, and if you're doing something like a mason jar, make sure to tell them to keep it so the new parents aren't stressed about returning it!

Anyone can make plain ol' rice, so I love to make it a little more special by studding it with fresh cilantro and green onions and flavoring it with a bit of lime juice and honey.

The main event! I rarely make dishes many times at home, but fish tacos are one of the easy, put-it-together-in-my-sleep dinners. I typically make the fish kind of spicy with a little cayenne and chipotle powder, but I'm keeping it mild with just a bit of cumin and garlic powder since Megan mentioned her baby isn't loving it when she eats spicy foods. The avocado sour cream sauce is a favorite in our house - simply put avocado, sour cream, cilantro, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper in a food processor and whir until smooth. All the other toppings get put in separate baggies.

I figured the family is getting inundated with cookies and brownies, so I thought it'd be fun, especially for their 3 year old Liam, to have a handheld dessert with fresh, seasonal fruit! As a bonus, I'm making a double batch so we can bring some to a friends house this weekend.

A few other tips/thoughts:

  • If you're awesome and have baskets or cute boxes, by all means use that. Or, you can accost a produce team member stacking apples and ask for a box. Then simply spray paint it a solid color and decorate! Or, you can be lazy a use a paper bag from the grocery store :)
  • Always make sure you know the family's diet restrictions and preferences
  • Confirm you know when is the best time to drop off food. And be respectful - they may not be up for a long visit. Or, a new mom may love another adult to talk to!
  • Beer and wine are fun additions to any basket :)
  • If there's a child around, you may want to consider a special treat or toy for them. And, if you're on your game (I wasn't) a new baby card.

What's your signature dish to bring to friends and family going through major life events?