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I have a simple rule of thumb when shopping: stay away from the center aisles of the grocery store! If you think about it, everything you need is on the perimeter of the grocery store; produce, bread/bakery, meats, dairy. Of course there are exceptions, but if you have a well stocked pantry you should typically be able to avoid these aisles all together.

Here is my logic and rules.  I like to cook everything fresh.  This means:

  • No frozen
  • No cans
  • No boxed meals
  • No prepackaged spice mixtures – they just never suited my taste (taco seasoning, chili, etc)
  • No bottled dressing, mayo, condiments (ok, I know this is not always practical, but I like too make my own when I can!   Mayo and salad dressing is quite easy)
  • And I don’t buy sodas, chips, cookies, etc.

Let me reiterate, I know there are exceptions and practicality concerns – but again, this is just a rule of thumb.


Let me provide a case study.  This week I made tacos!  ”Adam, whats your freakin’ deal with tacos?”, you might ask.  …I don’t know, I just love tacos because you can customize so easy and add tons of flavor!  Whether it is from the meat or sauces, tacos can be made to anyones taste and anyone can do it!  Heres how.  (It’s much quicker than it looks)

First, I make some super awesome green jalapeño sauce:

…I aint gonna lie to you.  I use Emeril’s recipe with a few modifications:

  • I use about half of the vinegar he calls for
  • I add SaLimón powder for an authentic tangy zip
  • And I start eating it right away icon_wink

You may seriously want to consider deseeding the jalapeños.  I can eat habaneros on my cheerios, but 20 jalapeños mixed together for a sauce is hot!

Second, I made my taco meat seasoning.  In medium prep bowl, I added: (I just go crazy, what ever sounds good in my head)

  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Minced garlic
  • Cumin (careful, its powerful)
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper (ground)
  • Oregano
  • Laurel (ground bay leaf)
  • And because I am crazy and add fusion, ground ginger

I apologize.  I don’t measure a damn thing.  Just think how much a pre-seasoned back would add to a pound of meet and go from there.  Add parts as you see fit.  I added a lot of cayenne, but roughly about a teaspoon of everything else.  Trust your instincts and just think what makes sense in your head.

Third, I browned the beef.  I don’t like to use TOO lean of meat because it simply dries out and the fat rendered adds to the flavor.

  • In a pan, brown white onion with a little bit of olive oil
  • I then add the meat with some fresh chopped garlic and brown evenly
  • Once browned, I drain the fat
  • Next add the season mixture
  • Add water to cover the meat and mix thoroughly
  • Bring to a boil then let simmer to allow the water to evaporate
  • …I squirted a little bit of Sriracha while cooking it for an extra kick

Now keep an eye on the simmering.  You don’t want to dry it out!  You are looking to reduce the liquid to where you have a nice taco sauce that can be spooned with your meat.

Fourth, plate the sucker!

  • In a tortilla warmer (to keep moisture in), heat some tortillas
  • Spoon some taco meat with the sauce onto the tortilla
  • Add freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese (like I always say, no pre-shredded cheese!)
  • Top with chopped white onion and freshly chopped cilantro
  • Add your jalapeño sauce
  • And maybe a quick squirt of fresh lime

And the above picture is what you get, pure deliciousness!  You have no idea how good these were!  You will never look at store taco seasonings the same – or tacos from popular chain restaurants.

This wasn’t meant to be a “how to cook tacos” blog, but rather show you that you can not only make amazingly tasting food but make it ALL fresh from scratch.

Stay hungry, Houston – and let me know how your tacos turned out!

-Adam Brower

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