Tag Archives: Spices

Yucatecan Chicken Tacos with Sweet Potatoes and Onions

15 Apr

When I finished college, I quickly loaded up my books, hauled them to our nearest used bookstore, and traded them in for this gem of a cookbook, determined to learn a few key recipes that we could share with others. My husband and I found several recipes that we loved, but learned quickly that not everyone enjoyed spicy food as much as us — namely our children.

I recently mastered a garlic-spice marinade that we have grilled with, and love it for marinating shredded chicken for our tacos.  Experimenting one night, I decided to try it with onions and sweet potatoes, hoping to add a little more filling to our chicken tacos. I know it sounds odd, but the combination of flavors has soon become a family favorite, and one that my children eat happily. The inclusion of apple cider vinegar, paired with garlic, cinnamon, cloves, and the sweetness of the potatoes, is the perfect combination of flavors.

I have been working on this recipe for the 2013 Farm Table season, and was thrilled to see the addition of sweet potatoes in our first box! Please try this kid-friendly, healthy alternative that you can use to fill tacos, burritos, or to top a tostada with. 

You can click HERE for the full recipe to print off. Recipe inspired from Chef Rick Bayless, Mexican Everyday. Serves 4-6 people.

Preparing the marinade:

The Farm Table garlic

You will need 1 head of garlic, broken into individual cloves (10-12 cloves). Cut a slit into each side of the clove, place in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap, and microwave for a good 30 seconds.

Garlic-Spice Marinade

While the garlic cloves cool, measure out 1/3 cup olive oil, 6 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/4-1/2 tsp sugar, a dash of ground cloves, and salt to taste. After you’ve slipped the cloves out of their paper husk, throw everything into your food processor and blend until smooth.

Pour the marinade over already cooked/cooled, shredded chicken (2-3 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts), and either set aside, or allow it to marinade in a zip-top bag overnight in the fridge.

Garlic-spice marinade

Preparing the taco filling:

While the marinade works its magic on the shredded chicken, grab 2 sweet potatoes, slice lengthwise, and dice into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Slice 1 small onion (white or yellow) lengthwise, into strips. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a skillet on medium-high, add the sweet potatoes, onions, and 1 tsp oregano, stirring to make sure they are evenly coated with the olive oil. Add more if you need to, but be sure not to add too much — you don’t want a greasy mess. Allow the sweet potatoes to caramelize  and cover the skillet to help soften the potatoes (about 10-12 minutes), stirring often to prevent from burning.

The Farm Table Sweet Potatoes

Once the sweet potatoes have softened and have browned, add the marinated chicken to the skillet. I suggest adding a little water to deglaze the pan, about 1/8-1/4 cup. The water should burn off. Once the chicken has heated through, place in a serving dish and offer it with an assortment of soft or hard tacos, tortillas for burritos, or to place over a tostada with black beans. Add your favorite toppings — avocados/guacamole, diced radishes, Monteray jack cheese, and hot sauce are among our favorites.

Yucatecan Chicken and Sweet Potato Tacos

I highly recommend serving the chicken and sweet potatoes with this Tomatillo Salsa (you can omit the jalapeño if you are not a fan of heat. Do yourself a favor by doubling the recipe!). To cut down on your time in the kitchen you can purchase store-bought tomatillo salsa, but it is really easy to make the night before. If you do make it at home, be sure to roast your tomatillos.

Tomatillo Salsa

The Farm Table Tomatillos

Cut them in half, line a skillet with aluminum foil and place tomatillos cut side down on med-high heat. After a few minutes, flip them over and cook until they are blotchy, turning black, and starting to soften. Use your own recipe, or follow this simple and delicious recipe HERE, although I skip adding the water, preferring a chunkier salsa to go with this meal.

Trust me, you want to eat this!


Rick’s Tips: The Well-Stocked Pantry & Essential Cooking Tools

18 Aug

We hope you tried the Mushroom Risotto we shared in our last installment of “Rick’s Tips” — it really is an incredible recipe, and one your guests will go home talking about.

When we asked The Farm Table’s co-owner, Rick Grossberg, a self proclaimed “foodie,” what would be included in his top-10 list of essential seasonings and cooking tools, we were not surprised when he came back with a rather extensive list of items to create culinary magic in the kitchen! 

So, print off this list and head to your nearest grocer and kitchen supply retailer:

Rick teaching a cooking class The Farm Table held at the Richmond Alternative Center last winter

Kosher salt, not the very coarse salt which is made for ice cream machines and salt- baked fish, but the finer type. The salt looks like tiny flakes. I use it for everything and it is the most popular salt used by professional chefs – available at any grocery store.

Whole pepper corns are available at any grocery store, but if you are in Costco they have a pepper mill that contains whole pepper corns. I use it and it is great.

Herbs and Spices (dry unless the recipe calls for fresh; I struck out the less important spices): 

  • Bay Leaves
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Coleman’s Mustard
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Onion Powder/ not Salt
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme

Rick’s Essential Cooking Tools – not a top-10 list!

  1. an eight-inch chef’s knife –  the most essential tool in the kitchen
  2. an instant-read thermometer
  3. three stainless steel bowls
  4. sturdy tongs
  5. sturdy sheet pan
  6. plastic cutting board
  7. paring knife
  8. can opener – not electric
  9. vegetable peeler
  10. colander
  11. small, medium and large cast-aluminum saucepan
  12. medium nonstick cast aluminum pan – 10-inch
  13. steep-sided, heavier duty steel pan – 14-inch
  14. single cast iron 12″ fry pan
  15. skimmer
  16. slotted spoon
  17. rubber spatula
  18. bread knife
  19. big whisk
  20. food processor
  21. microplane grater
  22. box grater
  23. knife sharpener

Joe Gusti, a friend of The Farm Table, runs a commercial kitchen supply company where Rick gets many of the kitchen items that he uses. Farm Table members will receive a special discount — details were in your Farm Table newsletter this week. Joe’s contact information: 2923 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230, (804) 355-6600

Not a Farm Table member yet? Check out the newest Living Social Deal: Annual Produce Membership with Two Delivered Produce Boxes for $52 ($104 value). If you’re not a member yet, this is the time to do it!

Stay tuned this week for a Cajun-inspired recipe from one of The Farm Table’s members. 

Congratulations to Tiffany Coffman, the winner of our most recent blog giveaway: 50% off The Farm Table membership and 1 box of produce on us! We appreciate everyone who participated!

Kernel Knowledge

28 Jun

Peaches, blueberries, parades, grilled chicken, sun-kissed cheeks, lemonade, fireworks, and corn — the perfect recipe for the 4th of July.

We hope our Farm Table readers survived the nasty storm that blew through Virginia earlier this week, and that you survive the sweltering heat we expect this weekend. We have two fabulous recipes for you to try with the corn that arrived in your box, just in time for Independence Day, or to distract you from the weather. Corn is one of the most versatile foods we consume, and so much has been done throughout history to use up the cob, silk, stalks, leaves, husks, and the corn kernels. We hope you enjoy the recipes below, and look forward to sharing a recipe in a future post for a corn, cheese, and potato chowder that you can save for a rainy day.

While celebrating the purpose of our upcoming holiday, please also remember our farmers, most of whom will likely be working on the 4th, while the rest of us enjoy a festive summer day eating the food they have labored over.

Thank you, indeed.

What are your food plans for the 4th of July? Do tell!

Curt’s Grilled Corn with Zested Lime

This lip-smacking recipe comes from my brother-in-law in Oregon, and is enough for 3-4 ears of corn. This recipe is so good I could eat all 4 ears in one sitting. The only change I would make is buying more corn and doubling the recipe!


  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt, Curt insists on a good quality salt (not your everyday Morton’s)
  • Pepper, freshly ground


  • After the ears are husked, soak them in water while you prep the remaining ingredients
  • Zest your lime, and juice it
  • Add fresh ground pepper to the lime juice
  • Add the lemon zest, chili powder, and salt to the juice
  • Stir well
  • Brush on the corn as you grill it

Excellent with an ice-cold microbrew, or for our teetotalers out there, freshly squeezed lemonade. 

Simple. Healthy. Delicious.

Black Bean & Corn Salad


  • 2 cups fresh or grilled corn, cut off of the cob (approximately 4 ears of corn)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 lime juiced (you can substitute 1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar, if you prefer it over lime juice)
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional, but suggested: 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1-2 tsp of Tabasco sauce (or to taste)


  • Combine corn, black beans, bell pepper, and onion in a serving bowl
  • In a separate bowl, combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, minced garlic, salt and pepper
  • Drizzle lime juice mixture over the black bean and corn mixture and toss well
  • Chill and serve

You can amp this recipe up a few notches by adding  3 large tomatoes (diced), the tops of 3 scallions (chopped), Cotija or Feta cheese (approx 3 oz), and lay the black bean and corn mixture over a bed of greens. 

We sure hope to see you at our next Farm Table Event. You can RSVP HERE if you have not already. 

Get to Know: The Farm Table Blogger and a Giveaway!

13 Jun

As part of our Get to Know series, we would like to introduce you to our Farm Table Blogger, Michele Schwartz:

I am originally from the Pacific Northwest (a proud Oregonian and OSU alumnus), and made my way to Richmond nearly two years ago after spending 6 years in the Sonoran Desert, where my husband completed his graduate work at the UA in Tucson before taking his current position at VCU. I spent 10 years serving survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and 6 of those years at The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault before taking on my new role as a stay-at-home Mom for our 4-year-old daughter, and 18-month-old son; we are eager to greet our newest family member, another son, this September. I have been blogging for 4 years, and joined The Farm Table at the beginning of this season.

I became a Farm Table member last year when a neighbor encouraged me to sign up. I was pleased with the variety of food that came each week, enjoyed the exposure to new produce, and the challenge of trying out seasonal recipes which have sparked my creativity, and improved the way we eat in our home. My husband is an avid gardener, so between what we receive in our box each week, and what he harvests from our garden, we enjoy the bounty it brings and our ability to share it with others. While I am not too keen on the actual gardening part of food production, (I like the idea of it, just not the actual humidity and mosquitos one must endure while putting in the work), I really enjoy cooking what comes out of the garden. 

We encourage our daughter to participate in the preparation of our food, and although as a 4-yea-old she insists she “doesn’t like” most of the food we pass around the table (regardless of whether or not she’s ever tried it!), we know that the exposure to whole foods, and family participation in preparing it will pay off in a big way someday. This is what we’ve enjoyed most about being members of The Farm Table.

Among many other favorite dishes, we enjoy our weekly homemade pizza night, Escabeche (my husband’s signature dish — a recipe we’ll share with you in the future), and our go-to recipe, Red Beans and Rice. In leaner times, when we were just “getting started,” this side was a staple in our home. We typically pair it with some kind of grilled sausage or chicken, a salad, and homemade corn bread. The lemon juice counteracts the chili powder, so don’t be afraid to try this recipe if you have an aversion to spicy food.

I especially like preparing Red Beans and Rice with Santa Cruz Chili Powder from Tumacacori, Arizona, a spice I found during our time living in Tucson. Used in many Mexican dishes, this Chili powder is bright orange in color, and offers a rich flavor to most dishes. A dear friend from the desert sent me a carton recently, along with an extra one to share with one lucky Farm Table member.

To enter to win this giveaway, please follow our blog by entering your email address under the “Follow The Tractor” heading on your right ,and then comment on this post to let me know you are following the blog by 9:00pm (EST) on June 17, 2012. The winner will be announced by June 24th and the Chili Powder will be added to your Farm Table delivered box.

Congratulations to Joi Lenczowski who was randomly chosen to win our blog giveaway. The Santa Cruz Chili Powder will be routed to your Farm Table delivered box. Thanks everyone for participating!

Tumacacori Red Beans & Rice


  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup medium or long grain white rice
  • 3 Tbs Chili Powder (I say more!)
  • 1 Tbs chopped Basil
  • 1 Tbs chopped Oregano (or substitute the Basil and Oregano with a few tsp of fresh Cilantro, but not too much as this will overpower the dish)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (1 can)
  • 1 can dark red Kidney Beans, rinsed and placed in a bowl
  • Half of a large lemon, juiced 


  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium, add onions and saute until translucent.
  • Add garlic and rice, stirring often, careful not to burn the garlic and rice.
  • Add the Chili Powder. I suggest starting with 3 Tbs, but I prefer more – make the rice dirty! Add half of the basil and oregano.
  • Add the chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer on medium/medium-low, until the rice has absorbed stock, about 20 minutes. Add water if the stock has cooked off and the rice seems under-cooked. It is important to keep the rice covered the entire time to allow the rice to cook properly, and not to cook it too hot, as this will burn the rice and leave you with a messy skillet.
  • While the rice is cooking, pour the lemon juice, remaining basil, and oregano over the kidney beans, allowing the beans to marinate in the juice.
  • Once the rice is cooked properly, pour the kidney bean mixture evenly over the rice, and cover for a few more minutes, then stir everything together, making sure the bottom of the skillet comes clean. Again, add a touch of water if you need to and cover if the rice is still a tad under-cooked.
  • Feel free to play with the measurement of the herbs and spices to make the dish to your liking. I generally eyeball the measurement, and go back and forth between using fresh and dry herbs. 

Enjoy and thank you for reading!

We look forward to introducing you to our Twitter and Pinterest account manager, along with more highlights of The Farm Table’s Neighborhood Coordinators. Stay tuned!