Category Archives: Latin

Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

I absolutely adore “Salsa Verde.” Whenever the husband and I visit the little taco shop by our house (which is very, very frequently) we both make sure to load up on little containers of salsa verde to liven up our tacos.

Earlier in the summer we were in San Diego for the wedding of two of our good friends and we ate at a local Mexican restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. The salsa verde was delicious and inspired me to try something creative with a recipe of my own.

I thought that adding some kiwi fruit into the mix would be a grand idea. The salsa verde remains in the green color spectrum, while the sweet fruit complements the tangy tomatillos.

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It’s really important to roast the tomatillos before adding them to the recipe. This brings out the robust and sweet flavor and cuts some of the tangy acidity found in raw tomatillos.

Simply husk, rinse, and quarter your tomatillos and place them in your oven to broil until roasted. Transfer to a food processor with peeled kiwi fruit, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, sugar, and lime juice then pulse until chopped but not liquefied. Season to taste with salt.

The easiest way to peel a kiwi is to begin by cutting off both ends with a sharp knife. Place one of the cut-sides down on a cutting board and use the knife to peel from top to bottom, working your way around the fruit.

Here’s the handy recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled
  • 1/2 c. white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove the husks from your tomatillos and rinse in cold water. Cut them into quarters and place on a greased baking sheet. Set your oven’s broiler to high and place the pan in the oven. Check every two or three minutes to turn the tomatillos and make sure they aren’t burning. Remove from oven when they have a nice brown color.
  2. Meanwhile, place the peeled kiwi, chopped onion, cilantro leaves, lime juice, sugar, and Jalapeño peppers in a food processor or blender.
  3. Add the roasted tomatillos to the food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients are combined but not entirely pureed. You want some little lumps in there.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before using. Try this as a dip with tortilla chips, or use it to top your favorite tacos, enchiladas, or tamales.

Dig in!

Nutrition (per serving):

77 calories, 2 g. fat, 2 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 2

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Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

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Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew

One of our very good friends just turned 30 so we attended a shin-dig hosted by his girlfriend over the weekend. The theme was “Fiesta” so I decided to bring Elderflower Sangria and a big pot of Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew with homemade corn tortillas. Bringing a hearty stew to a party in the middle of July may seem strange, but I was happy to have something filling to soak up the booze.

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At less than 350 calories per serving, this stew is the perfect choice for a filling meal without the guilt. I’d highly recommend taking the 30 minutes to make the homemade tortillas, as they just bring something special to the table compared to the store-bought variety.

The pork takes a little while to roast in the oven, but it is totally worth it to achieve that fork-tender fall-apart texture. Next to the heat from the Serranos and the bright flavor of the tomatillos, the pork tastes wonderfully savory.

Start by roasting some poblano chilies under your broiler, then set them in a bowl to steam under a cloth for fifteen minutes.

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Next, get your pork, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin, Serranos, green pepper, and onions into a Dutch Oven and into the oven to roast for one hour.

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Meanwhile, take two pounds of tomatillos…

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…husk them…

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…and chop them into quarters.

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Grab those poblanos out from under the dish cloth and peel them under running water. Remove the seeds, and chop.

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Add the tomatillos and poblanos to the pot and return it to the oven for another hour and a half. This would be a great time to work on some homemade tortillas!

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Add in the corn, stir, and taste. Add salt and black pepper as needed.

Garnish with cilantro and cotija cheese. Serve with warm corn tortillas for dipping!

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Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano chilies
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 serrano chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 lbs. tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and each cut into quarters
  • 1 can (16 oz). corn, drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat your broiler to High and line a broiling pan with foil. Place the poblanos on the pan and broil close to the source of the heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Wrap foil around poblanos and allow to steam until cook enough to handle.
  2. Turn oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a heavy 5-quart Dutch oven, combine garlic, salt, half of the chopped cilantro leaves, pork, green pepper, onions, serranos, cumin, and cayenne. Toss to combine. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, remove and discard skin and seeds from the poblanos. Cut chilies into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Stir  tomatillos and roasted poblanos into the Dutch oven. Cover and bake 1 1/2- 2 hours longer, or until the meat is very tender. Stir in corn and heat through. Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and cotija cheese.  Serve with tortillas.

Nutrition (per serving):

349 calories, 22 g. fat, 22 g. protein, 17 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

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Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

I have a serious obsession with kebabs lately. There’s just something about eating meat off a stick in the summertime. I can’t get enough!

I particularly love meals that have lots of different flavors, colors, and textures, so this Latin Pork Kebab Bowl is right up my alley.

Just picture it: you, some pork, a bowl of awesomeness, two or six margaritas….. paradise, I tell you.

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Looking at this picture I’m realizing that it looks like I borrowed some under-ripe tomatoes from the neighborhood Taco Bell….but, I didn’t. I swear. Those are actually chunks of papaya!

Papaya and avocado are one of my most favorite food pairings of all time. The smooth, creaminess of the avocado just perfectly balances the tang of the papaya. Together, they melt into smooshed-delicious-awesomeness in your mouth.

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This creation put good use to the leftover pinto beans and white rice in my fridge. You can, of course, prepare fresh rice and beans but you know how I like to speed things up whenever possible.

What can I say? I get REALLY hungry after work. The husband calls it hangry – I’m so hungry, I’m just angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.

Anyway, so here’s how you make this bowl of YUM:

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • marinade

    • Juice of three limes
    • 3 Tbs. grape seed oil
    • 2 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • Pinch cayenne pepper
    • Kosher salt
  • kabobs

    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • Bamboo skewers
  • bowl

    • 2 c. cooked rice
    • 1 1/2 c. cooked pinto or black beans (or just use one can, rinsed and drained)
    • 1 small avocado, diced
    • 1 cup papaya, diced
    • Juice from half a lime
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. To make the marinade, combine the juice of three limes, grape seed oil, brown sugar, cumin, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt in a resealable plastic zipper bag. Add the cubed pork, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to four hours.
  2. Meanwhile, soak your bamboo skewers in water for at least thirty minutes. Maybe have a beer.
  3. Cook your rice if you don’t have any leftovers to use: in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to a boil 1 cup dry rice, 2 cups water, a teaspoon of oil and a dash of salt. Continue boiling until water has reduced to just barely skimming the surface of the rice. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  4. Add the juice from half a lime to a medium sized bowl and add your red onion. Set aside.
  5. Fifteen minutes before your pork is done marinading, preheat your grill to medium-high.
  6. Once marinaded, thread pork cubes onto your pre-soaked skewers and place them on the grill. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill and let rest for three-five minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, add your papaya and avocado to the boil containing your lime juice and red onion and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Set out four bowls and to each one place a quarter of each of your components in the following order: rice, beans, papaya/avocado mixture, cilantro, and, finally, top with pork kebabs.

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Nom nom nom nom nom.

Don’t mind me, just chowing down over here.

What are your favorite foods to eat off of a stick? What else should I do with the massive amount of leftover papaya I have?

Nutrition (per serving):

446 calories, 17 g. fat, 20 g. protein, 56 g. carbs, 11 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 11

Related Links:

Caribbean Pork and Clementine Kebabs – from Healthy. Delicious.

Mango Pork Kebabs – from Pots and Plots

Papaya & Avocado Salad – from The Leftover Queen

Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

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Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)

I mentioned in my previous Brazilian Mojito post that the husband and I honeymooned in Brazil. We had such an incredible time in Rio de Janeiro, but my favorite part of our trip was when we ventured a few hours north to the beaches of Buzios. We stayed in this beautiful little boutique hotel called “casas brancas,” which translates to “white houses.” These pictures show the door to our room – it felt perfectly tropical.

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In the morning we would wake up and walk out onto the most beautiful balcony with a truly incredible view of the bay.

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Here’s the husband checking out the boats early in the morning. Look how clear that water is!

On our second morning there we decided to rent a boat for the day and go check out some of the coves and beaches. This really lovely local couple took us out on their boat and told us all about the history of the town and beaches, and made us some lovely Caipirinhas to sip as we cruised around.

braz4The water was so incredibly warm, clear, and blue – we snorkeled around and saw all sorts of amazing plants and creatures. We laid out on the beach, had a few more cocktails, then headed back towards town to check out a restaurant we had heard of which was famous for Moqueca.

braz5Moqueca is a Brazilian specialty – fish stew. In the picture above it is the one on the right. It has a rich, salty broth, a robust tomato presence, and melt-in-your-mouth pieces of flaky, buttery white fish.

This past weekend I got a wild hair and decided to make a batch for the husband as an ode to our incredible honeymoon. Seriously, you guys – this was delicious! When we ordered the Moqueca in Brazil I didn’t think I was going to like it that much. I’ve really been exploring different tastes and cuisines lately and I’m so glad that this dish was one of them! Give it a shot, it’s totally scrumptious.

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While this dish is full of complex flavor profiles, it is very simple to make and takes very little active time. The fish needs to marinate for three hours in the fridge, so making this on a weekend may be your best bet. Conversely, you could put the fish in the fridge to marinate before you leave for work, then come home and prepare the rest of the Moqueca.

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I happened to have a bunch of tilapia on hand, but you could use any firm white fish. Snapper, sea bass, or grouper would be especially delicious!

Here’s how I made it:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped, divided
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts), chopped, divided
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 1/4 lbs. firm white fish, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 c.  freshly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 c. freshly chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. fat free, low-sodium chicken  broth
  • 1 c. light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp.tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp.lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 c.canned or jarred hearts of palm, drained and diced (if you’ve never tired these, be aware that they are VERY yummy!)
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded, and diced (you could also used canned tomatoes here)

Directions:

  1. In a shallow bowl, mix together half of the green onion, half of the yellow onion, half of the ginger, half the cilantro, half of the garlic, and 4 Tbsp. of olive oil. Add the chunks of fish and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. 30 minutes prior to cooking, remove the fish from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out your fish on a large baking sheet and pour the lemon juice on top. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Bring the extra 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the remaining green onion and yellow onion to the pan along with the  bell peppers and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Add the rest of the garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for another minute or until it’s hot. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low or so and gently simmer the sauce while you prepare the fish.
  5. Place your tray of fish in the oven and bake until the fish is almost but not quite cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes.
  6. Add the almost-cooked fish and cooking juices into the saute pan of sauce.  Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the fish is soft and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Uncover the pan, add the hearts of palm and tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
  8. Taste the moqueca and adjust salt and pepper seasonings. Serve topped with the remaining fresh cilantro.

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Nutrition (per serving):

361 calories, 23 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 9 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Brazilian Mojito

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Brazilian Mojito

As promised, here is my recipe for a delicious and refreshing drink to go along with yesterday’s Poblano Chicken Tacos with Pipicha.

I’ve dubbed it the “Brazilian Mojito” simply because it’s a fusion of a classic mojito and Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha.

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The husband and I honeymooned in Brazil last September and sipped Caipirinhas like they were going out of style. We also camped out in a grocery store to borrow some WiFi so we could look up how many ounces of liquor we could stash in our suitcases and still make it through airport security.

The Caipirinha is made from Brazil’s national liquor, Cachaça, which is similar to rum but made with cane sugar instead of molasses. We brought back a few bottles of Cachaça and have been slowly working through them, saving this sweet nectar for special occasions and worthy dinners. You can purchase Cachaça at lots of liquor stores here in the U.S. – try asking at the counter if you can’t find it.

A Caipirinha  is made by muddling lots of fresh lime wedges with sugar, then topped off with Cachaça and ice. If it sounds like a strong drink, that’s because it is. Really strong. And full of sugar, which makes for a fun morning the day after you’ve had a few.

I played off this basic formula by incorporating some mint I picked up at the Farmer’s Market, and a splash of triple sec as a substitute for some of the plain sugar to add a bit more flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 1 “Brazilian Mojito”

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Cachaça (subsitute rum if you can’t find it)
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar (brown sugar works nicely, too)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • Ice
  • Water (I used still, but sparkling would be lovely, too)

Directions:

  1. Using a muddler (or the back of a wooden spoon), work the mint leaves and sugar together in the bottom of a rocks glass. When you think you’re done, muddle it for another 30 seconds. You want it really, really, muddly.
  2. Throw in the lime wedges and muddle for another 60 seconds. Muddle, muddle, muddle.
  3. Fill the glass with ice, and pour the Cachaça and triple sec in over the top. Top it off with water and give it a few swirls with a stir stick. Alternatively, you can make this in a cocktail shaker and pour the whole thing over ice, but I just didn’t see the sense in dirtying another dish.
  4. Garnish with an extra lime wedge, and drink up!

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Poblano Chicken Tacos with Pipicha

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Poblano Chicken Tacos with Pipicha

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Our neighborhood Farmer’s Market opened up this past weekend so we dropped by to pick up some goodies. I brought home fava beans, Mexican mint, and Pipicha (pictured, above right). While I’d never  heard of Pipicha before, the farm owner selling the herb explained to me that Pipicha is an herb commonly used in Mexican cooking. It tastes like a cross between cilantro and mint, with hints of lemon and anise. I brought home a bundle of it and had to try it out right away.

I also had to use up some of my mint by making drink’s I’ve dubbed “Brazilian Mojitos.” Recipe to come in a few days!

I recently bought a tortilla press and have been dying to try it out by making homemade tortillas. I was shocked at how fast it was to make my own corn tortillas at home. If you don’t have a press, you can still easily make your own tortillas using the bottom of a glass pie plate or simply with a rolling pin. No matter what you use, make sure you flatten the tortilla dough between two pieces of parchment paper for easy handling.

To make the tortillas, just buy a bag of Masa Harina (on the Hispanic foods aisle) and mix it with water. The bag will typically say what ratio to use; I mixed 1 & 3/4 cup masa harina to 1 & 1/8 cup water, which made about 12 small corn tortillas. Mix the dough, let it rest for 3o minutes while you prep the rest of your meal, divide the dough into 12 portions and form it into balls, then press using your method of choice into round tortillas. Simply cook them in a skillet over medium-high heat for thirty seconds per side and keep them warm in the oven until you are ready to eat them.

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These tacos really hit the spot. I roasted some Poblano Chiles under the broiler and mixed them with some chicken I grilled up in a skillet. I added some of the pipicha to the pan and then de-glazed it with tequila. I added the pipicha to the chicken and poblano mixture and kept it warm in the oven while I fried up the tortillas.

Poblano Chicken Tacos with Pipicha

I assembled my little tacos and topped them off with fresh cilantro, more pipicha, and crumbled cotija cheese. This was meant to be enough for four servings (12 tacos, so 3 tacos per person seems reasonable, right?) but the husband and I ate all 12 of them in one sitting. Whoops.

honeypoblanotacos3Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 12 tacos (2-4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Poblano Chiles
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast (two small breasts; or, use leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 Tbsp. pipicha, roughly chopped (substitute cilantro and/or mint if you can’t get your hands on any pipicha)
  • 1 3/4 c. masa harina (or, use store-bought tortillas if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste
  • Splash of tequila
  • Cilantro and cotija cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1. Make the tortilla dough by combining the masa harina and water in a medium bowl. Mix with your hands and form it into a large ball. If it is crumbly, add a little more water. If it is sticking to your hands, add a little more masa harina. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) on the stove and heat to medium-high. Season your chicken breast with salt, pepper, and cumin. Once your pan is hot, add a bit of oil to the pan (olive oil works great) and add your chicken breasts. Let them sear for one minute, then turn them over, turn the heat down to low/simmer, and cover the pan. Set a timer for ten minutes and leave the chicken alone – don’t open the lid!
  3. While your chicken is cooking, preheat your oven’s broiler on its highest setting. Place your poblano chiles on a baking sheet and place on the highest rack in your oven. Check on your poblanos every minute or so, turning occasionally so the peppers become charred and roasted on all sides. You want the skin to blister but not to burn and turn black. Once they have finished (about ten minutes or so), remove from the oven and turn your oven down to 200 degrees. Place the peppers in a bowl and tent them with tin foil. About this time your kitchen timer for your chicken will go off. Turn the burner off and re-set your timer for another ten minutes. Once this second timer goes off, your chicken is done and ready to be shredded. Remove it to a cutting board and shred with two forks.
  4. Now, remove the tin foil from your poblanos and bring them over to your sink. With the cold water running (just a mild stream), peel off the broiled outer skin. It should rub off easily as it has been steaming under the foil. The cold water will also help it peel off. Once you have the skin off, pull the stem out, open up your pepper, and rinse all of the seeds out. Once both peppers are skinless and seedless, move them over to your cutting board and chop them up. Place in a oven-safe bowl with the shredded chicken.
  5. Turn your pan back onto medium-high heat and add your chopped pipicha. Stir it around with a wooden spoon to get it mixed in with all the yummy leftover chicken goodness. Keep it moving so it does not burn. Once the pan is nice and hot, pour in some tequila and let it bubble in the pan. Keep working the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon until the liquid is reduced. If you don’t have any tequila, you could just use a little chicken broth or water. Empty the pan’s contents into the bowl with the chicken and poblanos. Place the bowl in your oven to keep it warm.
  6. Divide your tortilla dough into 12 equally-sized balls, rolling with your hands to ensure the dough doesn’t have cracks. Get that dirty pan back on your stove and put the heat back on medium-high. One by one, place a ball into your tortilla press (or under a pie plate) between two pieces of parchment paper. Press into tortillas. As each tortilla is pressed, drop it directly into your hot pan and cook for 30 seconds per side, or until golden brown with spots. Place cooked tortillas on a plate in the oven to keep warm.
  7. Once all of your tortillas are cooked, pull all of your goodies out of the oven and assemble into tacos. Start with the tortilla on the bottom, top with some of the chicken-poblano mixture, and garnish with cilantro, pipicha, and cotija cheese.

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Nutrition (per 3-taco serving):

411 calories, 9 g. fat, 42 g. protein, 38 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

What are you looking forward to picking up at the Farmer’s Markets this summer?