Welcome to HowDoYouCook.com

By learning about basic ingredients and how to use them, you can create simple, quick and delicious meals your family will love!!

Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexican. Show all posts

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yucatan Lime Soup

Ahhh...it's finally Friday!  After a long work week, we have the perfect quick and easy soup for you to make this weekend.  For day 17 of Soup Month 2014 we made our own version of Yucatan Lime Soup also known as Sopa de Lima.

There are many versions of this soup, some of which call for allspice berries or 20 cloves of garlic or banana chilies, but we wanted to keep this soup simple.  We wanted this to be a standby recipe that can be made on any weeknight, without needing a lot of special ingredients, and I think we came up with the perfect recipe.

I'm always a fan of making a big roast chicken (about 5 or 5-1/2 pounds) for Sunday dinner, knowing I will have enough chicken left over for an easy weeknight meal.  Sometimes we use the leftover chicken to make Baked Chicken Chimichangas or Chicken Fajitas, and this recipe will surely be added to the list of options for those leftovers.

After a quick saute for the vegetables, the chicken and broth are added to the soup along with crushed tomatoes, a bit of spicy salsa and lots of lime juice.  This is a soup that you really want to be able to taste the lime juice, but you can adjust this up or down according to your own preferences.  We used 5 tablespoons of lime juice and everyone agreed the flavor was great.  I might have liked just 1 more tablespoon to increase the citrus, but I love lime!

The crunchy corn tortilla strips that are sprinkled on top of the soup only take a few minutes to prepare, but they are worth the extra bit of work.  They add a nice crunch to the soup and, if you sprinkle them with just a dusting of salt, this will add to the flavor of the soup, too.  Enjoy!!

2 TB  Canola Oil
1 small  White Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
2 or 3  Serrano Chilies, finely minced
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 TB  Lime Juice
3 cups  Cooked Chicken, chopped (leftover chicken works great)
5 cups  Chicken Broth
1 cup  Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup  Hot Chunky Salsa (we used Pace)
4 to 6 TB  Lime Juice (to taste)
Limes, cut into wedges for Garnish
6  Corn Tortillas, cut into thin strips, fried and drained on paper towels **

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chilies, pepper, salt and 1 tablespoon of lime juice.  Stir to combine and saute until the onion is translucent.

Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes and salsa to the pot and stir.  Simmer over medium heat for 20  minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 4 tablespoons of lime juice to the pot and taste test, adding another 1 or 2 tablespoons of juice depending on your own taste.  Serve with lime wedges and crunchy tortilla strips on top.

** Note:  To make the tortilla strips, heat a 1/2-inch of canola oil in a medium skillet, over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully drop the tortilla strips into the oil and stir gently until the strips are golden. Remove the strips and drain on paper towels, dusting lightly with salt, if desired.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mexican Pork, Poblano and Serrano Stew

So far this month we've worked our way through several new soups and one new chili, so it's time to add a stew to the mix.  For day 11 of Soup Month 2014, we made a quick and easy Mexican Pork, Poblano and Serrano Chili Stew.  This is a great way to make something different than the usual tacos for a Mexican dinner night and, it won't take very long to prepare.  This meal can be ready to serve in less than an hour.

My favorite part of this recipe is the mix of the mild poblano peppers and the spicier Serrano peppers, and the way they come together to create such a bright pop of flavor.  Some people have told me they hesitate to buy fresh peppers at the grocery because they see a price $3.99 per pound for Serrano peppers and they think this is too much to spend.  The reality is, since you only use 2 or 3 Serrano peppers, and they weigh very little, those peppers are going to cost you around 60 cents.  Very little cost, but lots of fresh flavor.  That's a bargain.

We served our Mexican Pork Stew with a scoop of steamed white rice, or you could use brown rice, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top.  We even tried a spoonful of Spicy Guacamole with this and it was delicious.  Serve with warm corn tortillas on the side and Enjoy!!

2 TB  Olive Oil
2 lbs  Pork Tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
1 large  Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 large  Poblano Peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
2 or 3  Serrano Pepper, remove seeds for mild flavor or leave in for more spice, thinly sliced
3 TB  Minced Garlic
1 TB  Chili Powder
1-1/2 tsp  Cumin
2 cups  Chicken Broth
Lime Wedges, Corn Tortillas and Steamed Rice for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over high heat until shimmering.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and add the pork to the pot.  Cook the meat over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned on the edges, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, peppers, garlic, chili powder and cumin to the pot and stir.  Continue to cook the vegetables over high heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer until the pork is tender and the broth is reduced by about half, about 20 minutes.

Season the stew with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve with steamed rice, lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Spicy Guacamole

Guacamole is a great item to add to your football party or holiday snack table.  Offer this dip along with a variety of white, yellow and blue tortilla chips and even some fresh cut veggies.  Many people who choose to stay away from tortilla chips will have the option of dipping veggies in the dip, and still get to enjoy this Spicy Guacamole.

When you shop for avocados, look for the ones that are dark skinned and just slightly soft to the touch.  You have to be a little careful when selecting avocados. Most grocers tend to throw new avocados in with the older ones, so you have to make sure you are not buying under ripe or over ripe  produce.  One one hand if you get a very soft avocado the flesh will probably be dark and not look very appetizing.  On the other hand, an avocado that is hard as a rock and a light greenish-yellow color inside will look nice but since it's under ripe, you won't get a creamy guacamole no matter how long you blend it.

Another handy tip when choosing an avocado is to look for the piece of stem on top.  If you can push off the stem, and it looks moist and fresh, you've got a fresh avocado.

When preparing the guacamole be sure to taste for the level of spice.  If it is too spicy for your taste, adding 1-2 teaspoons of sour cream will tone down the heat, but keep the guacamole creamy.  For a complete meal serve this Spicy Guacamole with Baked Chicken Chimichangas.

3 Avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 Lime, squeezed and juice reserved
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/2 small  Red Onion, diced (optional)
1/2 small  Tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

Scoop the avocado pulp into a food processor and add the lime juice, tossing to coat.  Add the salt, cumin and cayenne to the avocados and blend until smooth, or process just briefly for a more chunky texture.

Add about 1 TB (or more) of lime juice until the guacamole is the desired consistency. Chill or let sit at room temp for 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Quick Chicken Mole Chili

For day 19 of Soup Month 2013 we made a spicy Chicken Mole Chili with bold flavors and a rich, dark sauce.  The term "mole", (pronounced mo-lay) is a popular Mexican sauce that consists of cooked onions, garlic and chilies, various spices, plus a small amount of Mexican chocolate or, in this case, cocoa.  The chocolate might sounds a bit odd, but it actually adds richness to the chili without adding overt sweetness.

This is a pretty spicy bowl of chili, which I love, but adding a little crumbled queso fresco cheese on top was just the right thing to balance out some of the heat.  My daughter, who doesn't like too much spice, added sour cream to her bowl and she loved the chili.

We saved a lot of time preparing this chili by using the canned black beans instead of soaking the dried beans and we used already cooked chicken.  These shortcuts allowed us to keep the cooking time to just over an hour.

This would be a perfect chili to serve for a football party, but it is spicy.  If you have some guests that prefer a more mild chili, just serve both!  Make two batches of chili the day before, then heat each of them in crock pots the day of your party.  Use the same assortment of toppings that would work for both types of chili, such as grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices and corn chips, and you have something for everyone, and your guests will love you!  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 medium  Onion, diced
1 TB  Minced Garlic
4 oz can  Diced Jalapenos (use just 1/2 can for less heat)
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Chipotle Powder
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1 tsp  Chili Powder
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 TB  Cocoa Powder
1 TB  Sugar
14 oz can  Diced Tomatoes
14 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups  Chicken Stock
2 - 3 cups  Cooked Chicken
1 medium  Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 cup  Frozen Corn
1 cup  Chicken Broth
2 TB  Cornmeal

In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic and jalapeno, then cook 5 minutes until tender.

Add the dry spices and the sugar to the pot and stir to blend into the vegetables, cooking for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, black beans and 3 cups chicken stock to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chicken, red pepper, and corn to the pot and stir to combine and increase heat to a low boil.  In a small bowl combine the 1 cup chicken broth with the cornmeal, stirring to form a paste.  Add the cornmeal paste to the soup and stir until fully dissolved, then cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.  Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese or crumbled queso fresco, avocado slices and tortilla chips on the side. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup

For day 18 of Soup Month 2013 we made a spicy Mexican Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup that's packed with bold spicy flavors and is actually quite healthy. 

If you've never tried tortilla soup, this is a great recipe to try.  Made with green tomatillos, the salsa verde adds lots of flavor to the broth.  With just the right amount of chilies, onion, garlic, and just a touch of cilantro, the salsa verde makes this soup very easy to make.

By seasoning the meat with a basic taco seasoning mix, then quickly searing the meat, the chicken is nicely flavored and all of the juices stay inside.  Next the vegetables are sautéed and it's time to create the broth. 

I used this technique in a few other recipes recently and I love the results. By pureeing the corn with a cup of the chicken broth, you get these little pieces of corn in the soup, but the sweetness of the corn is infused into the broth.  This gives the broth a sweet taste and, when combined with the spicy chicken, is a perfect balance in this soup.  The addition of cornmeal near the end of the cooking time adds more corn flavor and gives the soup a nice rich texture, without diluting the flavors with flour or cornstarch.

For a garnish we fried up some tortilla strips, which only take a few minutes to make and add a crispy-crunchy texture to the soup.  You can also add avocado slices or crumbled queso fresco cheese on top of the soup. 

This is also a great "party" soup and it stays warm nicely if kept in a crock pot on the low setting.  Provide bowls of assorted toppings and your guests can serve themselves.  Super easy!  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, trimmed and cut into small pieces
2 tsp  Taco Seasoning Mix
1 TB  Canola Oil
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1/2  Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1  Poblano Pepper, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 cup  Green Salsa Verde
4 cups  Chicken Broth, divided
1 cup  Frozen Corn, defrosted
3 TB  Cornmeal
2 TB  Water
6  Corn Tortillas, cut into narrow strips
Canola Oil for Frying

Season the chicken pieces with the taco seasoning and set aside.

In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken to the pot and cook until browned, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Add the onion, both peppers and garlic to the pot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa verde and 3 cups of the chicken broth to the pot, and bring the mixture to low simmer over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn and 1 cup of chicken broth and use a stick blender to puree the mixture, then add this mixture to the soup pot.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. 

Combine the cornmeal and water in a small bowl, stirring until the cornmeal is moist.  Add this mixture to the soup, stir to combine, then reduce the heat to medium- low and cook for 15 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet.  Add the tortilla strips to the pan so they are not touching, working in 2 or 3 batches if needed, and fry the strips until golden and crispy.  Transfer the strips to a paper towel lined platter to drain.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with an assortment of toppings such as avocado slices, crumbled queso fresco cheese, and tortilla strips.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

For day 12 of Soup Month 2013, we have a mild, but flavorful Chicken Enchilada Soup.  If you're familiar with Mexican foods, you'll know an enchilada is a popular Mexican dish, made by filling a corn tortilla with a variety of meat, cheese and vegetables, then rolling up the tortilla, and covering the rolls with a chili pepper sauce.  Although a very simple concept, there are a million ways to make and serve enchiladas, and for this dish we turned this Mexican favorite into a soup. 

This soup is easy to make and is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken.  One ingredient you may not be familiar with is masa harina, which is a type of corn flour that's used to make tortillas.  (You can also use this flour to make Crispy Shrimp Cakes with Lime Salsa.)  The flour is used to give the soup its corn flavor, and it also thickens the soup to a nice creamy consistency.  Masa harina flour is available at most markets in the baking section, and is very inexpensive.

Chicken Enchilada Soup is more on the mild side, so if your kids like tacos and burritos, they will love this soup.  If you like your soup a bit more spicy, just increase the dry spices a bit or, instead of 2 cans of green chilies, substitute one of the cans with a can of diced jalapeno peppers.

We served the Enchilada Soup with cheese quesadillas and some cold Corona beers.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
4 cups  Chicken Broth
2  8-oz cans  Rotel Original Sauce
2  4-oz can  Diced Green Chilies
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp  Spanish Paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (for extra heat use 1 teaspoon)
2-1/2 cups  Water
1 cup  Masa Harina Flour
2 to 3 cups  Cooked Chicken, shredded
Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese or Monterey Jack Cheese for Garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the chicken broth, Rotel sauce, green chilies, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and paprika to the pot and stir, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

In a medium bowl combine the water and masa harina, using a whisk to gets all of the lumps out.  Pour this mixture into the soup and stir.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until the soup has reached the desired thickness.  (If the soup is a little too thick, add 1/4 cup water and stir.)

Add the chicken to the soup and cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.  Ladle into soup bowl and garnish with shredded jalapeno pepper jack cheese.  Serve cheese quesadillas on the side and Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chipotle Shrimp Soft Tacos

Tonight we were in the mood for Mexican food.  Something spicy with a little chipotle pepper flavor.  I love cooking with chipotle peppers, and the adobo sauce the peppers are packed in adds a nice smoky undertone to any dish.  So when I went to the grocery and spotted Florida Gulf shrimp on sale, I started thinking...Shrimp Tacos!

We started off with some very thinly sliced red onions, and let them marinade in lime juice, almost like a ceviche-style mixture.  The lime juice worked its magic on the onions, adding a citrusy bite to the sweet red onions.

Next we let the shrimp marinate in a very simple mixture.  Olive oil, a few spices and a couple spoons of adobo sauce was all that was needed to infuse the shrimp with lots of flavor.

We wanted to add a sauce to the tacos, too.  Something light and not so strong in flavor that it would hide the seasoned shrimp.  So for the sauce we went with a simple, yet amazingly delicious sauce of sour cream, one chipotle pepper and a dash of milk to thin the mixture.  If you like things a little more spicy, just add a second (or even a third) chipotle pepper to the mixture.

All of these bold flavors came together beautifully and this meal will definitely be added to our regular rotation of dinners.  This meal is very quick to prepare and can be ready start to finish in about 30 minutes, and any leftovers make a great lunch the next day.  Also as a side note, the chipotle sauce was simply heavenly and I know it would be wonderful on chicken sandwiches, or as a base for chicken salad, so you might see those recipes pop up here very shortly.  Enjoy!!

1/2 medium  Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 TB  Lime Juice
1/4 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 lbs  Medium Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 TB  Olive Oil
2 TB  Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
3 tsp  Adobo Sauce
1/2 tsp  Smoked Paprika
3/4 cup  Sour Cream
1 - 2  Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 tsp  Adobo Sauce
1 - 2 tsp  Milk
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Soft Taco Tortilla Shells
Garnishes:  Sliced Fresh Avocado, Fresh Lime Wedges

In a small glass bowl, combine the onions, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Stir until coated and set aside.

In a medium glass bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, garlic, pepper, adobo sauce and paprika.  Stir to evenly coat all of the shrimp and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To make the chipotle sauce, use a small blender cup and combine the sour cream, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, 1 teaspoon milk and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, add the additional teaspoon of milk and blend.  Adjust the salt and pepper here, if needed.  Chill the sauce until ready to serve.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the shrimp and marinade in a single layer and sauté for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring frequently and turning the shrimp over to cook evenly.  When the shrimp are pink and cooked through, remove pan from the heat.

To serve place a soft taco shell on a plate, place several pieces of shrimp in the center of the taco, add slices of avocado, a scoop of the marinated red onions, and a drizzle of the chipotle sauce.  A squeeze of lime is optional, but adds a beautiful, crisp citrus flavor to the taco.  Serve with Spanish rice.  Makes about 6 servings.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Smoky Pork and Chorizo Tacos

If you're tired of boring ground beef tacos, this is a great way to upgrade taco night.  These Pork and Chorizo Tacos get their great smoky flavor from canned chipotle peppers with adobo sauce.  If you're not familiar with these little peppers, this is a really simple recipe to experiment with chipotles. 

Chipotles are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried, then packed in a smoky, spicy red sauce.  One word of caution, different brands of chipotles can vary tremendously in flavor and heat.  For some recipes one pepper will add just enough spice, but with other brands you might need two or three peppers for the same dish.  The important thing here is to taste test.  Start with the single pepper and a little adobo sauce, taste the sauce, and if it is too mild you can always add more peppers or sauce.

If you have leftover peppers when you are finished with this recipe, there are many ways to use up the extras.  Store the remaining peppers, with the adobo sauce, in a small glass jar covered with plastic wrap.  These can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks without spoiling.  For a quick sandwich spread, you can puree the peppers and sauce with a few tablespoons of cream cheese.  Or they can be chopped and added to omelets, soups, chili, or polenta.  You can even freeze the leftovers in a small Ziploc bag.  The next time you are making chili, just break off a piece and add it to the chili pot. The added smoky flavor will transform any dish into something amazing.  You can find canned chipoltes in the Mexican foods section of your local grocer for about $1.00 per can.  Such a bargain!

This recipe uses pork sirloin, which is a juicy, full of flavor cut of pork.  When combined with spicy chorizo, onion, garlic and a few spices, you get a smoky taco that just needs a few toppings to be the perfect masterpiece.  We added sliced avocados, crumbled queso fresco cheese and, for the more daring, heat-loving diners, a little hot salsa for even more heat.  Enjoy!!

2 lbs  Pork Sirloin, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 tsp  Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1 TB  Olive Oil
1/2 lb  Fresh Chorizo, casing removed
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 TB Minced Garlic
3/4 cup  Crushed Tomatoes
2 or 3  Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, plus 2 tsp sauce
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Sugar
Soft Tortillas
Garnishes: Avocado slices, sliced onion, chopped tomato, salsa

Place the pork in a large pot, cover with water and add the thyme and bay leaves, then simmer the pork over medium heat for 30 minutes or until tender and cooked through.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pork to a plate to cool.  Reserve 1 cup of the broth and discard the remainder.

When the pork is cool enough to work with, use two forks to shred the meat into small pieces and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chorizo and cook 10 minutes, breaking the meat up with a spoon.  Add the pork, onion and garlic, stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the reserved broth, tomatoes, peppers, adobo sauce, salt, pepper and sugar, stir and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.  Adjust the sauce as needed by adding a bit more salt, pepper or adobo sauce.

Spoon the pork mixture into soft taco shells and serve with an assortment of toppings including avocado slices, queso fresco cheese, salsa, chopped onion or tomato.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chi Chi's Seafood Enchiladas

The inspiration for this recipe came from a jar of Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base.  I bought the base to make a Lobster Bisque during Soup Month, and it was wonderful.  But since I still had quite a bit of the lobster base left I wanted to find a tasty way to use it.

After a little research, I discovered that this type of base is the key ingredient in Seafood Enchiladas, which were a signature dish at the now-defunct Chi-Chi's Restaurants.  These little rolls of seafood seemed to have had quite a following, even years after the restaurants were closed, so I thought we would try them out.

I did change the recipe slightly.  Instead of using the 4 oz can of shrimp called for in the recipe, I substituted 1 cup of diced cooked shrimp.  The 100-count salad shrimp work great for this and are pretty inexpensive, but I just cannot get myself to cook with canned shrimp.  (Shrimp in a can just seems so wrong.)

This recipe turned out pretty good, but it still left me puzzled.  I read dozens of reviews for this recipe and they all said that these taste exactly like the original restaurant recipe.  And they did taste just like restaurant version, and the kids loved them.  But they still need something. A little oomph.  The biggest problem with restaurant food is that it almost always need more spice and flavor.  And that was the case here.

So on that note, I am on a mission to update these little seafood enchiladas into something new.  I will report back soon with the updated version, but in the meantime, give these a try and enjoy!

6 TB  Butter
1/2 cup  Flour
1/2 tsp  White Pepper
2 TB  Lobster Base
3 1/2 cups  Milk
1 cup  White Wine  or  Cooking Sherry
8 oz  Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 cup  Cooked Shrimp, diced
2  8-oz pkgs  Imitation Crabmeat, flake Style, chopped
10  6-inch  Flour Tortillas

To make the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the white pepper and lobster base, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the milk and white wine, stir, then add the cheese to the pan.  Cook over medium heat until the sauce is thickened, then remove the pan from the heat to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes.

To prepare the crab mixture, combine the crab and shrimp in a medium bowl and add 1-1/2 cups of the sauce and mix well.

To prepare the enchiladas, lay the tortillas flat and spoon 2 - 3 heaping tablespoons of the crab mixture down the center of the tortillas.  Place the flap over the crab mixture, then roll.  Place the rolled enchiladas flap-side down in a 9"x13" baking dish.  Continue with the remaining tortillas, then pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the shredded cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just slightly golden.  Serve with Spanish rice, refried beans and a few lime wedges.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chicken Fajitas

This is a great way to serve spicy Mexican food while going a little lighter on fat, sodium and calories.  Through a little experimenting I came up with this fajita seasoning mix that adds a lot of flavor to the meal without all of the sodium that the store bought packages contain.  Just as an example, one national brand packet I read had 260 milligrams of sodium per serving, and the package stated it would serve 8.  It's kind of hard to believe you will get much flavor into your food if that little packet is to actually season enough food for 8 people.  It's almost all salt.
To make this recipe healthier we included lots of sliced veggies and mixed up a seasoning mixture that is light on salt and loaded with zesty flavors.

Fajita Seasoning Mixture

1 TB  Cornstarch
2 tsp  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Paprika
1 tsp  Sugar
1/4 tsp  Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp  Onion Powder
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp  Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp  Ground Cumin

In a small glass bowl combine all ingredients and set aside while you prepare the chicken and vegetables.

1-1/2 - 2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into thin strips
1  Large Red Onion, cut into thin slices
2  Large Green Peppers, cut into thin slices
2 TB  Canola Oil
Regular or Whole Wheat Soft Taco Sized Tortillas Shells
Queso Fresco Cheese, crumbled for garnish
Lime Wedges, for garnish
Avocado Slices, for garnish

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken strips to the pan and stir to coat the chicken with the oil.  Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken, reserving 2 teaspoons.

Cook the chicken until the edges start to brown, about 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the onions and peppers to the pan, but do not stir just yet, but cover the pan and allow the veggies to steam for 5 minutes.

Remove the lid from the pan and sprinkle the veggies with the remaining fajita mixture and stir to combine the veggies and the chicken.  Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes until the chicken pieces are no longer pink.

Spoon the mixture onto tortilla shells and sprinkle with Queso Fresco cheese, if desired and serve with a few lime wedges and avocado slices for toppings.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mexican Layer Dip

Different variations of this recipe have been around for years and it is still a favorite for summer get-togethers.  If you like foods on the spicy side, use refried beans with jalapenos or add a layer of sliced jalapenos.  This dish can be made several hours ahead of time and chilled to allow the flavors to blend.  As an added bonus, if you have any leftover (although that doesn't happen very often..lol) a scoop of this next to scrambled eggs is delicious!

1 16 oz can  Fat Free Refried Beans (or the spicy version with jalapenos)
1 TB  Taco Seasoning Mix
2 tsp  Garlic Powder
1 tsp  Garlic Salt
8 oz  Light Sour Cream
12 oz  Spicy Guacamole (or use store bought)
1 cup  Pace Salsa
1 cup  Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1  4 oz can  Sliced Black Olives

Using a 9 X 9 inch pan, combine the refried beans, taco seasoning mix, garlic powder and garlic salt, stirring with a fork and then smooth the mixture into the corners of the pan.

Now you will start to layer the dish.  Smooth the sour cream onto the bean mixture, reaching all the way to the edges of the pan.

Next smooth the guacamole over the sour cream, and follow with the layer of salsa.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the dish and top with the sliced black olives.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ultimate Chicken Fajitas

This recipe was inspired by a Food and Wine recipe for Chicken Alambre, which actually seems to be misnamed.  Since alambre in Spanish means "wire", I'm still not sure where the name came from but we added a few twists to the ingredient proportions and the results were surprisingly good.

This dish reminds me so much of a restaurant in Phoenix that served southern Mexico cuisine, which is actually quite different than the food served in the northern regions of Mexico.  Many of the meals served in northern Mexico use grilled meat, and primarily beef as the main protein, while in the southern regions chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes are more common. The northern dishes also seem to favor heavier sauces, while the southern style concentrates on bold clean flavors from the foods themselves like in this dish.

Many Mexican dishes have also been "Americanized" by adding heavy cheeses to foods such as tacos or tostados, while in most regions of Mexico cheese, especially cheddar, is rarely used.  Adding a light queso fresco to this fajita allowed all of the flavors to pop and a squeeze of lime juice over the top brings all of these flavors together.

This is a delicious twist on the traditional fajita and we will surely make these again soon.  Included in the mix are sauteed red onion and red peppers, a little bacon and chorizo for extra flavor, and a topping of avocado and Mexican queso fresco cheese. 

8 oz  Thick Cut Bacon, diced into small pieces
8 oz  Fresh Chorizo, casings removed and meat crumbled
2 lbs  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, cut into narrow strips
2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1  Large Red Bell Peppers, cut into strips
1  Large Red Onion, sliced

For Toppings
Queso Fresco or Shredded Mexican Cheese
Avocado, sliced
Fresh Lime Wedges

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until slightly softened, then add the crumbled chorizo.  Continue to cook about 5 minutes until the bacon and chorizo are nearly cooked thru and the bacon is a little browned.  Drain the excess grease.

Add the chicken strips to the pan, stirring to combine and season with salt and pepper.  Cook 5 minutes until the chicken is almost fully cooked.  Add the peppers and onions to the pan, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.

Spoon the mixture into soft flour tortillas, add a few avocado slices, some crumbled queso fresco and a generous squeeze of lime and serve. Enjoy!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chorizo-Poblano Tacos with Pepper Cheese Sauce

These taco were amazing!  The spicy flavor of chorizo and the zing of pepperjack cheese added a nice twist to the standard taco.  Add a squeeze of lime for an extra layer of flavor.

Cheese sauce can be a little tricky to make.  Be sure to keep whisking the butter and flour at the start to create a smooth base texture. Then when adding the cheese, continue to stir until the sauce is smooth again, then you can turn to a low heat.

5 TB Butter
1/3 cup Flour
1 cup Milk
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Parsley Flakes
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 - 8 oz block Pepper Jack Cheese, grated or cubed

Meat Filling
1/2 lb Chorizo
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 small Yellow Onion, minced
1/3 - 1/2 of 1 Poblano Chile, minced
3 cups  Romaine Lettuce, shredded
12 Soft Taco Shells

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until golden, about 2 minutes.
Add milk and whisk until smooth and sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo and ground beef, breaking up the meat into consistent small pieces.  ** For a little healthier recipe, we drained off the grease at this point, but draining is optional.

Add the next 6 ingredients thru the pepper cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted and smooth. Turn heat to low and keep warm.

To finish the meat filling, move the meat to the outer edges of the skillet and add the oregano, pepper, onion, garlic and chile to the center of the skillet.  Continue to stir until the onions, garlic and chile are softened, then combine with the browned meat.

Fill each soft taco shell with the meat mixture followed by a spoonful of cheese sauce and a handful of romaine on top.  A squeeze of lime added a nice zing to the finished taco. Enjoy!   Serves 4 - 6

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baked Chicken Chimichangas

This is one of my favorite Mexican dishes.  Traditional Chimichangas are deep-fried which takes healthy chicken and turns it into a not so healthy dinner.  With this recipe you can use flour, whole wheat or even a low carb tortilla as an even healthier choice.

Serve these crispy chimichangas with Spicy Guacamole, salsa and sour cream and a side of refried beans and Spanish rice. Enjoy!

2 tsp Olive Oil
1 TB Garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups cooked and shredded Chicken  
1 1/2 cups Salsa
1 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 16 oz cans Refried Beans
1 4-1/2 oz can Green Chilies, chopped
8 Burrito-size Flour Tortilla Shells or Whole Wheat Shells
Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 TB melted Butter

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, saute garlic in oil until lightly browned. Add chicken, salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and garlic powder. Stir until heated through. Add 1 cup refried beans and 1/2 of the green chilies (saving the remaining chilies and add to refried beans). Stir well.

Take 1 tortilla shell and spoon about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Fold tortilla up from the bottom, fold in each side, then fold over gently. Place each chimichanga, seam side down, on a foil covered cookie sheet.

Brush melted butter over tops of chimichangas.

Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven, generously sprinkle with grated cheese, and bake 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted and browned.

Serve with sour cream, guacamole and refried beans topped with cheese.

Refried Beans - In a medium saucepan, heat remaining beans, adding 3-4 TB chili powder or taco seasoning, 1/2 can chopped green chilies and 1/4 cup milk (1/3 cup milk can be used for a thinner consistency). Stir until creamy and heated thru. Serve topped with grated cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sarah's Super Bowl Nachos

Dinner for Super Bowl Sunday was all about building the perfect nachos.  It's so much fun to watch kids decorate and construct the perfect blend of toppings and then they get to eat it!  After heating some nacho cheese in the crock pot, and making a quick batch of taco ground beef, we had bowls of guacamole, green onions, black olives, tomatoes and sour cream ready to go.