Costa Del Sol Carnitas Tacos

Cloud and Mukki in Costa Del Sol“Damn! Sure is hot here! But I sure feel better now that I can say good-bye to this sailor suit.”

—Barret Wallace, FFVII

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 32 corn tortillas
  • 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 4 thinly sliced red radishes
  • 8 limes, cut into wedges
  • Flaky sea salt

Place the pork in a casserole dish. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano and sprinkle all over the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes.

Peel most of the papery outer skin from a whole head of garlic, leaving the bulb intact. Trim a half-inch off the top to expose the cloves inside. Repeat with the second bulb. Tuck the bulbs between the pork pieces, cut sides facing up, and drizzle with olive oil.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Turn the pork pieces and bake for 30 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow the pork to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat, removing bits of fat. Warm the tortillas over the stove.

Serve tacos with cabbage, avocado, and radishes. Squeeze a lime wedge and some soft garlic on top before eating and sprinkle with sea salt. Makes 32 tacos, enough to serve 8–10 people.

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Airship Salad

Aeris and airshipCid: “Wow, what a ship!”

Setzer: “That landing really messed up the engine. It’ll take a while to fix.”

Cid: “I’ll help. No machine can stump me!”

Setzer: “Don’t touch anything!”

Cid: “Go kill time in the casino! I can speed this crate up!”

—FFVI

You can use any dressing you like with this recipe. Here are two suggestions: Trader Joe’s low-fat parmesan ranch dressing, or for a more indulgent choice, Russian dressing (first three ingredients of the linked recipe).

  • 7 oz. chopped butter lettuce (about 5 cups)
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. smoked deli ham, cut into strips
  • 4 oz. crumbled Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, ends removed, cut in half, then quartered lengthwise
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, washed well and cut into wedges
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled, warm (optional)
  • Watercress sprigs or microgreens, for garnish (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salad dressing

Divide ingredients evenly between 4 bowls. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Per serving (does not include salad dressing): 509 calories, 27 g. fat, 17 g. carbohydrates, 8 g. fiber, 47 g. protein, iron 12%

Elixir Soup

Terra and elixir in Narshe“Show me the alchemist who doesn’t wish in his heart of hearts to know the secret behind making an elixir, and I’ll show you a fraud! Of course, he might already know it… but it’s taboo to reveal the ingredients.”

—Tyak, Master Chef, FFXII

Okay, so you already know to start a pot of White Mage Chicken Soup when you feel like you might be getting sick, right? Well, this is the soup to cook when you’re feeling stressed out, rundown, and in need of some serious super-strength mind and body healing power. It’s packed full of ingredients to reduce your stress levels and make you stronger.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or 2 small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 3½ oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced very thinly
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1½ pounds beef stew meat, uncooked, cut into 1″ pieces
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup dry green split peas (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 oz. sweet potato (1 large or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Fresh oregano sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 5-inch pieces of dried seaweed (optional)
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets
  • 6 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8–12 cloves), peeled and grated or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • Diced avocado and fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat olive oil and coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat just until the oil begins to shimmer. Add onions, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat as needed if the onions are browning too quickly. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add chicken and beef and sprinkle with sea salt, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Stir in split peas and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and sweet potato and continue cooking for another minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and seaweed. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until stew meat and split peas are soft and tender, about 2 hours.

Remove from heat and stir in broccoli, bok choy, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and crunchy-tender. Divide into bowls and top with avocado and basil, if desired.

Makes about 12 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (not including avocado): 319 calories, 9.2 g. fat, 3.9 g. saturated fat, 0.9 g. poly. fat, 2.5 g. mono. fat, 79.1 mg. cholesterol, 966.4 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 724.5 mg. potassium, 25.2 g. carbohydrates, 6.1 g. fiber, 34.2 g. protein, vitamin A 62%, vitamin C 58%, calcium 9%, iron 17%

Treasure Hunter’s Sandwich

Locke in South Figaro“You’re Locke, right? Edgar told me about you. Is it true you’re a thief?”

“That’s TREASURE HUNTER!”

—Terra and Locke, FFVI

Treasure hunters don’t settle for empty-calorie white bread and processed meat when they’re on the go!

Instead of buying a sub at a fast-food sandwich shop, treat yourself with nutritious whole grains, minimal-ingredient condiments, probiotic yogurt cheese, and fresh veggies.

Spread each piece of bread with mayonnaise and add mustard. Sprinkle one piece of bread with pepperoncini and pile with turkey breast, cheese, and avocado. Add salt and pepper and top with greens. Sprinkle with vinegar, if desired. (Not too much, or your sandwich will be soggy before you get to Narshe!)

Slice in half lengthwise and serve with pickles.

Makes 1 serving: 535 calories, 25 g. fat, 37 g. carbohydrates, 7 g. fiber, 36 g. protein, iron 21%

Costa Del Sol Guacamole

Hojo on Costa Del Sol beach“Wait a minute. I’m going to look for my guidebook. It says, Costa del Sol is the gateway to the West. And has a prominent world renown resort, which has been around for ages.”

—a tourist in Costa del Sol, FFVII

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll be left with half a tomato, half a chile pepper, and lots of onion and cilantro. Use them to make Costa Del Sol Sashimi Cocktail!

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato (about ½ small tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • ½ serrano chile pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, chile pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt, and lime juice. Mash until combined and stir in black pepper. Serve with warm tortilla chips.

Cactuar Nachos

Cactuar“Nacho nacho!”

—a cactoid, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 can refried beans
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 6 oz. thick tortilla chips
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 oz. grated cheese (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • Salsa
  • Greek yogurt (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add refried beans and broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until combined and heated through.

Arrange tortilla chips on an ovenproof platter or baking sheet. Pour refried beans over the chips. Sprinkle evenly with black beans and cheese and bake for about 5 minutes, until cheese is completely melted. Remove from oven and top with avocado. Serve immediately with salsa and Greek yogurt, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Balamb Cucumber-Fruit Salad

Balamb Town“When we get outta here, I’ll feed you all the food you want.”

—Laguna Loire, FFVIII

  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 2 Asian pears, cored and diced (about 10 oz.)
  • 8 oz. cubed seedless watermelon (about 2 cups)
  • 4 ripe avocados, peels and seeds removed, sliced
  • ¼ large red onion, peeled and diced (about ¼ – ½ cup)
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced finely
  • 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ oz. mint, stems removed, cut into strips
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp.)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, pears, watermelon, avocados, onion, serrano pepper, feta cheese, mint, olive oil, and lime juice.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and black pepper, and toss well to mix.  Serves 8.

Per serving: 260 calories, 22 g. fat, 5.6 g. saturated fat, 2.1 g. poly. fat, 12.6 g. mono. fat, 18.9 mg. cholesterol, 244.3 mg. sodium, 509.8 mg. potassium, 13.9 g. carbohydrates, 6.4 g. fiber, 5 g. protein, vitamin A 6%, vitamin C 15%, calcium 13%, iron 4%