Whip Smart Kitchen

Recipes, methods & musings for the whip-smart home cook


Braised adobo chicken tacos

Mexican, RecipeLeannda Cavalier6 Comments

I need my tacos now. Jump to the recipe, please!

I feel comfortable saying a passion for tacos is pretty close to universal. Still, for all the time we spend thinking about them, for some reason tacos get a bad reputation in terms of health. It's pretty odd when you consider what a taco actually is—a shell, filling, and toppings.

Well, if you get your tacos out of a box or from a fast food restaurant, yeah, you're probably not exactly going to get gold star for health choices. Lots of processing. Lots of sodium. Probably a lot more cheese and sour cream than you would usually need. 

I have a confession.

When I was little... I thought I didn't like tacos.

I know. 

A disgusting disappointment. 

A disgusting disappointment. 

In my defense, the boxed tacos were all I knew! I had never even been to a Taco Bell, let alone an actual Mexican restaurant.

To be honest, I still don't like those boxed tacos, and not just because they're filled with sodium. I did learn to love tacos in high school, but I kept the salty-spiced ground beef to a minimum and loaded up on refried beans, salsa and veggies. 

These days I'm all in. I'd say tacos are actually one of my most-eaten foods. They're simple to make (generally) affordable, and there are so many possibilities! Chicken, steak, veggies, beans, tofu, shrimp, smoked trout and so many more. Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, lettuce tortillas, fried, baked, soft... I haven't even gotten into all the variations different seasonings and toppings offer, or the different ways you can cook the fillings.

One of my favorite tacos in the world is made with smoked peking duck and pickled blackberries. Yes, for real. It's at Black Sheep Burritos and Brews in Huntington, WV (& Charleston, WV now too). 

Listen, I'm not saying you need to ditch your lifelong love of box tacos or fast food. If you like them, that's great! Enjoy in moderation. But if you haven't already, I'm begging you to explore what's out there.

Your tastebuds will be happy, and you'll probably feel better after eating them. If you learn to cook some yourself... well that's even better!


This particular recipe uses braising to keep the chicken tender and make the flavors more complex. To braise, you just sear something over high heat, add a small amount of liquid, seal it up, turn the heat way down, and cook low and slow. It sounds scary and intimidating, but it's honestly one of the simplest and biggest steps forward you can take as a home cook. 

So, let's get braising!

I always love hearing from you, so in the comments tell me about the best tacos you've ever had! If you make these tacos, please let me know—I'd love to know what you think. If you take a picture and post it to social media tag #whipsmartkitchen so I can see! 

Cinco de Mayo, revisited: slow-cooker cilantro lime tacos

Mexican, Slowcooker, RecipeLeannda Cavalier2 Comments

This post was originally published on my old blog. This version may contain minor edits and updates. The original is preserved at Recipe Repository


May 5, already! Just got this post in under the wire. Phew. 

One year ago today I began Recipe Repository. I posted a recipe for chicken tomatillo enchiladas, a recipe I absolutely love. It’s full of flavor, healthful and filling.

Though it’s not difficult to make, a quick recipe it is not. I honestly love that about it, as making it requires you to use several techniques and less-than-mainstream ingredients you can learn here and use for other recipes. I wholeheartedly believe making recipes that take time and thought is one of the surest ways to learn to cook, and that everyone could benefit from spending a little more time cooking.

Still, I realize that sometimes you truly need a quick and easy recipe. We’re all running around like chickens with our heads cut off all the time. From work, to class, from the store, to a party that you were looking forward to but now you’re honestly kind of exhausted to go to… all the while you’re still compulsively checking your email without realizing it.

If you still want to make your own meal after all of that, you’re on the superhero fast-track, my friend.

Because I appreciate your super status and your food journey—whatever it looks like right now—I’m going to share the antithesis of chicken tomatillo enchiladas. One of my go-to quick recipes. Slow-cooker cilantro-lime tacos. 

Though slow is in the name, speed is the game.

If you can carve out 10-15 minutes in the morning (or on your lunch break, as I did today), you can make these. When you get home, shred it, stick it in a tortilla and add your favorite toppings.

Here we go!

Slow-cooker Cilantro Lime Tacos 

Makes 14-16 tacos 

Prep: 10 minutes 

 Cook time: 6-8 hours


  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 
  • 3-4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 small white or yellow onions, quartered 
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 TBSP cumin 
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 2 tsps oregano 
  • ¾ cup cilantro, chopped and divided in half 
  • 3 limes, halved 
  • Salt and pepper to taste (start with ½ tsp each) 
  • Taco tortillas (8-inch)

Suggestions for serving: 

  • Avocados or guacamole 
  • Salsa 
  • Diced tomatoes 
  • Shredded lettuce 
  • Crema Mexicana or sour cream 
  • Cheese


  1. Pour oil in the bottom of the slow-cooker, making certain to cover the sides as well as the bottom.
  2. Place the onions in the slow-cooker.
  3. Add the chicken, garlic and bay leaves.
  4. Evenly spread the cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper over the chicken.
  5. Squeeze two of the lime halves over the chicken, placing the (clean) rinds in the slow-cooker.
  6. Place the lid on and cook 6-8 hours on low or (if you’re desperate) 4 hours on high.
  7. Shred the cooked chicken with two large forks*, removing bay leaves as you go.
  8. Squeeze the remaining lime juice over the chicken and add the remaining cilantro.

Optional: wrap 3-4 tortillas in a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel (squeeze out as much water as you can), and microwave on a plate for 30 seconds to warm. 

*If any part of the chicken is still pink and will not shred, put the lid back on for half an hour more and check again.

Tip for more flavor: Sprinkle the raw chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper and sear for 4 minutes in a pan over high heat. This is a totally optional step and will make the recipe take longer, but it takes the flavor to a whole new level thanks to the maillard broening reaction that happens when you cook food with higher, direct heat.

Food safety tip: Frozen chicken is a Godsend, but it doesn’t belong in a slow cooker. Unthawing with the slow-building heat of the crock-pot puts chicken in the prime temperature range for bacteria growth for too long. If you want to use frozen chicken, be certain to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator first.

This recipe makes quite a bit, so it’s great if you have guests. Personally I like to make it and then eat off of it for a few days. I’m a big leftovers for lunch kind of girl, so it’s perfect. I know some people don’t like leftovers (explain this to me, please), but what kind of MONSTER doesn’t want tacos for lunch?!

Sorry, got a little carried away there. 


I really can’t believe it’s been a full year since I started this blog. I call it that lightly, because this was never meant to be permanent. Soon I’ll be starting a bigger project (really, it’s almost ready), so be on the lookout here, on my Instagram (@leanndacavalier) and on SnapChat (lcavalier33)! 

Yay for progress! And TACOS. 

Tacos. Mmmmm…

Let me know what you think with a comment or over on SnapChat. I’d love to hear from you!