Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

We like to get our fajita on regularly in this household.  Many times that means cleaning out the leftover meat in the fridge and combining it with a homemade fajita spice mix.  Fajita spices can save almost any bland or tough meat when you let the flavors marry in a skillet for a bit and you’re left with tasty, tasty fare whether you liked the original meat or not.

Sometimes fajitas have nothing to do with salvaging leftovers and everything to do with the fact that we just love almost anything rolled up in a tortilla.  These fajitas are no exception because not only did we love them, but they prove my point that almost anything rolled in a tortilla is delicious.  Sweet potatoes for example.  Sweet potatoes that I normally eat dutifully because they are good for me but not because I like that oddly sweet starch.  But these fajitas can make me look forward to sweet potatoes.  And poblanos and chorizo because everything in this roll-up is delicious.

Chorizo, Poblano, and Yam Fajitas with Lime-Marinated Red Onions
Adapted from epicurious.com
Yield: 4 servings

1.5 cups paper-thin slices red onions
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups 1/2-inch-thick sticks peeled yam (red-skinned sweet potato)
12 to 14 ounces hard chorizo or andouille sausage
2 fresh poblano chiles,* halved, seeded, cut into thin strips
8 7- to 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss onions and generous sprinkle of salt in medium bowl. Mix in lime juice. Set aside to marinate, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, place yam in microwave-safe bowl. Add splash of water. Cover; cook on high until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Sauté chorizo in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer chorizo to bowl or plate.  Add chiles to skillet along with a splash of evoo if chorizo has not created much oil. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain yam; transfer to skillet. Add chorizo and toss 1 minute to rewarm filling.

Cook 1 tortilla at a time directly over gas flame or in skillet until heated, 10 to 15 seconds per side.

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Spoon filling in strip down center of each. Top with cheese, onions, and sprinkle of lime marinade. Fold in sides of tortillas.


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Shrimp and havarti quesadillas?  Um YES.

Perfectly cooked shrimp, sauteed mushrooms, my favorite cheese, and a bit of sweetness from the apricot preserves.  Um YES.  YES. YES.  YES.  Make these.  And you will be happy.

(And dinner will be on the table in 10-15 minutes.)

Havarti Shrimp Quesadillas
From Taste of Home June/July 2010, p. 22
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Yield: 2 dozen

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 T. canola oil
1 T. butter
6 T. apricot preserves
6 flour tortillas (10 in.)
6 oz. Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. cooked peeled deveined shrimp, chopped
2 T. butter, melted

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in oil and butter until tender.  Spread 1 T. preserves over half of each tortilla; top with cheese, shrimp and mushrooms.  Fold tortillas over.  Brush both sides with melted butter.

Grill quesadillas, uncovered, over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.  Cut each quesadilla into four wedges.  Serve warm.

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Eggs!  Eggs have become one of my new best friends since I started eating for two.  While frozen chicken breasts and pork chops languish undisturbed in my freezer for months, I’m getting my protein fill from breakfast foods.  And seeing as how I’ve been in love with Mexican food my whole life and now even more than EVER, Mexican eggs sounded like a scrumptious dinner treat.

They were.  They are.  We ate it.  It’s gone.  It was delicious.

And.  I poached my very first egg for this recipe, having just witnessed the triumph of this same scene from the movie Julie and Julia.  I’ve poached and conquered.  I’ll likely poach again.

Masa Corn Cakes with Poached Eggs
Originally from Food Network Magazine
Cook Time: 30 minutes, Yield: 4 Servings

For the Salsa:
2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), finely diced
1/4 small white or red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt

For the Corn Cakes and Eggs:
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
2 cups masa harina corn flour
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 Hass avocado, chopped, for garnish

Make the salsa: Combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Make the corn cakes: Warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until the butter melts. Combine the masa harina, 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar and queso fresco in a large bowl. Stir in the milk mixture to make a soft dough. Scoop the dough into 8 portions (about 1/4 cup each) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with another sheet of parchment; press a pan on top to flatten into disks.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the corn cakes until crisp and golden on the bottom, about 3 1/2 minutes; flip, press lightly with a spatula and cook until golden on the other side. Continue with the remaining cakes, adding more oil as needed. Season the cakes with salt; place on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you poach the eggs.

Bring a deep pan of water to a simmer over medium-low heat; add the vinegar. Poach the eggs.

Divide the corn cakes among 4 plates; top each cake with a poached egg, salsa and cheese; serve with avocado.

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Chilaquiles with Chorizo

Lately it’s been like a Mexican fiesta at our house: carnitas, gorditas, burritos, Mexican lasagna, corn and avocado salsa and most recently chilaquiles.  I’ve been holding out on you I guess with the lack of photographs of these goodies.  But Nate urged me to record these chilaquiles in photographic history. 

This is a traditional Mexican dish that I’ve never put my hands into, but my co-workers’ love for it left me ready to try when the Mexican craving hit.  (These things always come in waves for me and Nate never complains when it’s Mexican I fancy.)  It turns out this is a perfect weeknight meal with all of its rustic ease of preparation.  And even more perfect because it’s spicy and it’s Mexican and I love both.

Chilaquiles with Chorizo
Adapted from foodnetwork.com
Cook time: 30 minutes   Yield: 4 serving

First make the Stovetop Salsa:

5 Roma tomatoes 
1 large yellow onion, root removed, peeled, and halved 
½ or 1 jalapeno, stemmed (depending on preference and heat of particular jalapeno)
2 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems 
1 teaspoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium stock pot, place the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and garlic and cover with 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat and let cook 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a blender and puree until smooth with the cilantro and salt. If the salsa is too thick (it should have the consistency of a very thick soup), add a little of the cooking liquid. Check seasoning and add additional salt, if necessary, and pepper, to taste.

While the salsa vegetables are boiling:

Remove 6 oz. Mexican-style chorizo from its casing by splitting 1 end and squeezing out the meat. In a large heavy-bottomed high-sided saute pan, fry the chorizo until it is grainy but still soft, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to break up the meat and prevent a crust from forming on the bottom of the pan. Set aside and keep hot.

5 c. Mexican-style tortilla chips
4 ounces Cheddar, grated 
4 ounces Monterey Jack, grated 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 small red onion, finely diced 
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Once salsa has been blended, return it to the same stock pot and heat until boiling.  Add about half of the tortilla chips to the pot and stir to coat with the salsa, then cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add remaining chips, stir to coat with the salsa, and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 to 5 additional minutes. There should be a nice mix of very soft and still slightly crunchy chips when the chilaquiles are finished. Remove from the heat and use a slotted spoon or tongs to heap generous portions into each of 4 bowls. While still piping hot, top with the grated Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, chorizo, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of red onion and cilantro. Serve hot with Guacamole on the side.

*For added protein, we added a soft set egg to each plate.  From co-workers reports this is often a part of this traditional meal as well.

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I’m officially back in the saddle again.  I made dinner last night from start to finish, no pre-bought products, brand new recipe.  And it was deliciously satisfying and perfectly, boldly flavorful.  Just how I like it.  The recipe?  A result of my newest magazine subscription, Fine Cooking. 

IMG_1534The Southwestern flavor combos were enough to entice me away from my recently meatless cravings.  It’s been awhile since I stopped obsessively buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts and freezing them.  In fact, these were the only ones in the freezer but by gosh, by golly lucky me they were there when I was ready to come back to them!

This meal comes together quickly and smoothly, as long as you set up your dredging stations ahead of time.  I HATE when I cut up chicken and then have to wash my hands to dole out flour and spices onto separate places, only to re-chicken gunk my hands when I go to do the dipping and patting.  Every time this happens to me (like recently when I was cooking with Kim and threw out an egg yolk only find I needed an extra egg yolk later on in the recipe) I can just hear my mom in my head saying, “Well, didn’t you read the whole recipe before starting?”  No mom, I didn’t.  I am a Home Ec failure. 


Making this recipe I managed to avoid that internal monologue, only to have it replaced by the one where she says, “Didn’t you know to wash your hands right after cutting jalapenos?”  Yes mom, I did know but that doesn’t mean I did it and it doesn’t stop my upper lip from burning now.  My mom speaks to me often in the kitchen, despite the fact that I pretty much refused to have anything to do with cooking anything other than Chocolate Chip Cookies growing up.  Does your mom speak to you?  Does it happen anywhere specific?  Well, I am speaking to you to say “Go make this recipe now!  It’s good.”  (*unless you are my mother-in-law and then you shouldn’t because one bite of this and you will faint from spice).


TexMex Chicken_6

Tex-Mex Chicken with Chiles and Cheese

Originally adapted from Fine Cooking 99, p. 86.  I lowered the amount of butter and upped the amount of corn because we like corn and I wasn’t serving no carb-heavy side dish! Next time I’d add even more so there.

Serves 4.

1-1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 medium jalapeño, seeded if desired and thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2–3 medium limes, 1 or 2 juiced to yield 3 Tbs. and 1 cut into wedges
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar

Position a rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Toss the chicken with the chili powder, cumin, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off any excess.

Melt 1-1/2 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter, the corn, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until the corn begins to brown lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, lime juice, oregano, and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring, until the chicken is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the Cheddar and transfer the skillet to the broiler. Broil until the cheese melts and browns on top, about 3 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.

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