Friday, September 30, 2016

Mexican pot roast tacos and fresh guacamole

Welcome, Fall!

It finally feels like Fall is here in Northern Virginia. I thought I would've settled into a blogging routine by now, but I'm having a hard time staying home. There is so much to see and explore. It is my first Fall in the country, after all! 

The Farmers Markets have transformed into stunning Fall fares. They remind me of the farms that my mom, sister, and I visit during our annual Fall trips to Solvang . . . loads of pumpkins, towering corns stalks, pots of mounding mums, bunches of colorful Indian corn, crates full of apples, squash and gourds . . . and some even sell home-made cider donuts, cookies, and pies! 

I have an insane amount of photos and recipes to share with you . . . and I'm way behind on posts.  I have so much that I actually feel a little overwhelmed. I think I need to just pick a few of my favorites, like this one, and then move on to new Fall-inspired posts and recipes, like these . . . 

the best ever orange cardamom crumb cake

simple Fall centerpieces

I hope you've been following along on Instagram! Because although I haven't posted much - I share photos of our Virginia happenings, almost daily.  It's a great way to see what I'm up to between posts. 

I shared on Instagram several weeks ago that we were going to host our first dinner since moving to Virginia. 

If you follow along, then you probably remember this photo. I couldn't wait to get home to take a quick shot of all my Farmers Market finds.  All of these beautiful vegetables were the ingredients for our dinner, and that pretty "pumpkin" was part of a table centerpiece.

I was able to pick up everything we needed for our dinner (except the meat) at the Farmers Market. 

Since we were approaching the end of Summer, I thought I would prepare a fun and delicious dinner. So I made Tyler Florence's Mexican pot roast tacos, along with his amazing recipe for guacamole. 

Seriously, the best spicy pot roast recipe ever. Ever!

And . . . the best guacamole ever. Tyler's recipe calls for olive oil. Yes, olive oil! A finishing drizzle of this tender, sweet oil gives it the most luxurious texture.  It's so good!

I made the Mexican pot roast and sauce the afternoon before our dinner party to help me save time the day of our gathering. I transferred everything to a crock pot and refrigerated it over night.  

I set the crock pot on low a few hours before our friends arrived, so that it would be the perfect temperature for dinner. 

I knew that I had a lot of chopping and prep work for the fresh guacamole and salsa the day of, so I was purposeful to do as much as I could the day before. 

Ok, so back to this amazing dish . . .

It's one of those "chop, chop, in the pot" kind of meals. It's easy to prepare and FULL of flavor, especially if you like warm, spicy dishes. 

My husband, who is incredibly particular about meat, LOVED it! After several hours in the oven, the beef was so tender that I was able to shred it with a fork. It melds into the sauce and just becomes pure deliciousness! *You know it's good when your guests ask you to email them the recipe!

I set up a 'taco bar' indoors with all of Tyler's recommendations . . .

Mexican Pot Roast Taco garnishes
.     .     .     .     .     .
finely shredded white cabbage 
 fresh cilantro leaves 
feta cheese, crumbled  
radish, sliced paper thin  
fresh guacamole
fresh salsa
warm corn tortillas
.     .     .     .     .     .

It's a great meal to serve to a small or big crowd, as everyone can pick and choose their favorites. 

I also served a huge bowl of sugar baby and orange watermelon. I wish I had remembered to take a photo, because it was quite impressive with its bright red and orange hues. After all, watermelon is a must-have with Summer meals, right!?

The weather was perfect, so we hosted dinner, dessert, and games - outdoors. 

We enjoyed a wonderful evening, and look forward to hosting many more dinners as we head into Fall.

Mexican pot roast tacos
.     .     .     .     .     . 
2 pounds beef shoulder 
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
Extra-virgin olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, smashed 
1 large onion, sliced 
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (recommended: San Marzano)  
1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder 
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper 
1 Tablespoon ground cumin 
3 bay leaves 
fresh medium corn tortillas 
Kosher salt 
.     .     .     .     .     .  
3 cups finely shredded white cabbage 
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro leaves 
feta cheese, crumbled  
radish, sliced paper thin  
.     .     .     .     .     .


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Sprinkle the beef on all sides with a fair amount of salt. 

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight-fitting cover, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown it on all sides, taking the time to get a nice crust on the outside. Remove the roast and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic cloves to the pot and cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the ancho powder, cumin and cayenne. 

Add the crushed tomatoes and the bay leaves, and stir. Return the roast to the pot and add the cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover with lid, place in the oven, and cook until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours.

Carefully transfer the meat to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Pour the liquid into a blender and puree. *I use an immersion blender, as it's much quicker and cleaner.

Return the shredded meat to the pot, add the pureed liquid, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.


assembling your Mexican pot roast taco
.     .     .     .     .     .
Lay some shredded beef on a warm corn tortilla, and top with guacamole and salsa. 
Garnish with cilantro leaves, sliced radishes and cotija (or feta) cheese.
.     .     .     .     .     .

.     .     .     .     .     .
6 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced   
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles, cut into rounds
1 big handful fresh cilantro with stems, about 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
.     .     .     .     .     .
Halve and pit the avocados. 
With a tablespoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. 
Mash the avocados using either a fork or potato masher, leaving them still a bit chunky.  
Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together. 
Drizzle with a little olive oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and give it 1 final mix with a fork. 
Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  
Yields about 4 cups  
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LET'S STAY in touch!
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Thank you so much for stopping by!
I love reading your comments and appreciate them so much!


  1. This sounds and looks amazing! Makes this Texas girl smile. :)

  2. Suzanne, I'm cooking this right now! Cheating a little by doing it in the crock pot but I know it's going to be amazing. 1 tablespoon of each of those spices will be amazing. Smells so good already. Thanks!!

  3. each of those spices will be amazing. Smells so good already. Thanks!


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