Guacamole

There is no single better dip in the world (in my humble opinion) than homemade guacamole. I could probably sit down and finish off an entire bowl to myself! As I said, perfect for a dip, a topping for burgers or a topping for a tostada.

Guacamole

Ingredients:
3 large, ripe avocados
2 Tbs. white onion, minced
1-2 jalapenos, minced (you can remove the membranes and seeds if you don’t like it spicy)
3 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime
salt

Directions:
1. Cut, peel and pit the avocados, and place into a small bowl.  (Good tutorial here)
2. Mash avocado with a fork, leaving a few larger chunks
3. Add the onion, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice. Stir to combine
4. Salt to taste

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Filling

This recipe is quick and requires few ingredients. It can be used as a taco or burrito filling or even over black beans and rice. This particular taco filling uses green salsa and jalapenos but you could use red salsa as well. It’s great for a quick weeknight meal that takes little time to prepare. If you have some extra time you can brown the meat before hand, it enhances the flavor.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Filling

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast
1 large bottle green salsa such as La Victoria salsa verde
1 pickled jalapeno (about 10 slices)
Salt
Pepper

Topping Ideas: cilantro, avocado, extra salsa, cheese, sour cream or hot sauce

Directions:
1. Cut the chicken breasts into a few smaller pieces. If you have time, brown the meat
2. Salt and pepper the chicken
3. Place the chicken and the jalapenos in the crock pot
4. Pour entire jar of salsa over the chicken and jalapenos
5. Cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3 hours stir once or twice if possible during the cooking time
6. Shred the chicken with a fork
7. Serve with corn tortillas for tacos or wrap in a flour tortilla with beans and rice

Pineapple “Pico de Gallo”

A couple posts back, I made some adobo pork tacos and while eating them I thought to myself, “these tacos would be perfect with some pineapple salsa” so this past weekend, I tried it out. Well my suspicions we totally correct – the sweetness of the pineapple combined with the slight heat from the jalapeno really played up the earthy taste of the adobo. I still served it with some chipotle salsa for some added heat and caramelized onions for texture. It’s a ridiculously easy salsa to prepare, and can be paired with any type of taco (especially good with fish tacos!)

Pineapple “Pico de Gallo”

Ingredients
2 cups canned pineapple, drained and cut up into bite size pieces
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup cilantro, packed
Juice from 1/2 a lime

Directions
1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl
2. Squeeze lime juice over salsa
3. For best results, refrigerate a few hours to let flavors combine

Adobo Marinaded Pork Tacos

I normally go for carne asada or chicken tacos, but this marinade seemed insanely well suited for a pork tenderloin. It really can be used for any type of meat and the marinade can be saved in the fridge for up to a month or more. This marinade is slightly sweet and pairs well with a fruit salsa, caramelized onions and cotija cheese or just a simple squeeze of lime and a few pieces of avocado.
I combined these tacos with a favorite rice and bean recipe from Rick Bayless for the perfect mexican dinner.

Adobo Pork Tacos (adapted from Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican)

Ingredients:
1 TBS. olive oil
5 garlic cloves put through a garlic press
1/3 cup ancho chili powder
2 TBS. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. water
salt
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
Limes (for serving)
Cilantro (for serving)
Caramelized onions (for serving)

Directions:
1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, then add the ancho powder, vinegar, oregano, sugar 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 cup water. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
2.  Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes

3. Cut pork tenderloin into 5-6 inch pieces. Using a basting brush, paint the marinade onto the pork
4. Fully coat each side of the pork and place in the refrigerator for as little as 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
5. Heat a gas grill to medium high heat
6. Cook pork until the middle is pink – about 10-12 minutes.
7. Allow pork to cool slightly, then cut into bite size pieces.
8. Heat corn tortillas and serve pork with a squeeze of lime, a few avocado slices and cilantro (can also serve with caramelized onions and cilantro as seen in my photo). Serve with rice (recipe below)
Rice and Black Beans (adapted from Rick Bayless Everyday Mexican)

Ingredients:
2 TBS. olive oil
1 cup medium grain white rice
1 small white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed

Directions:
1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large oven safe skillet, heat the oil over medium heat
3. Saute the onions and the garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes
4. Add the rice, stir constantly until the rice turns a milky white color (about 4 minutes)
5. Add the chicken broth and the beans, bring mixture to a boil
6. Stir a few times and then cover with foil
7. Place skillet in pre heated oven, bake for 25 minutes
8. Remove from the oven and fluff rice with a fork


Slow Cooker Pork with Pickled Tomatillos and Jalapenos

Usually when you think of slow cooker recipes, you think of stews, soups or pot roasts. I would have never thought to make this Mexican inspired pork dish if it hadn’t been for the wonderful Rick Bayless. In his cookbook, Everyday Mexican. he actually has several recipes that utilize the slow cooker, I’ve never used mine the same way again, I was hooked!

The other thing that I love about this (and a lot of Rick’s recipes) is that it’s healthy. It uses the tomatillos natural juice as the base of the cooking sauce, and adds relatively little else. I made quite a few changes to Rick’s original recipe, but the idea is the same. This dish would be good for a burrito or soft taco filling, or just as is over rice. (I forgot to take pictures, so use your imagination?)

Slow Cooker Pork with Pickled Tomatillos and Jalapenos

Ingredients:
10-12 pickled tomatillos cut into small pieces (recipe here) OR 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 pickled jalapeno (if using pickled tomatillos) 3-4 canned pickled jalapenos stemmed, halved and seeds scraped out (if you are using regular tomatillos)
1/2 loosely packed and roughly chopped cilantro (divided use)
1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder or tenderloin
1 TBS. worcestershire sauce
1 can large white beans

Directions:
1. Spread the tomatillos into the bottom of your slow cooker evenly
2. Spread the garlic, jalapenos and half the cilantro on top of the tomatillos
3. Cut the pork into cubes and in a large bowl, mix the pork with the worcestershire sauce
4. Place the pork on top of the tomatillo mixture
5. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. (Around hour 3 if you can, stir up the mixture)
6. Add the beans at the very end of the cooking time. Allow them about 15 minutes to warm through
7. Use the pork mixture as a filling for burritos or soft tacos, or simply spoon over rice and add the additional cilantro.

Chicken tortilla soup

There are few things that sound better to me when it’s cold outside or when you are sick than soup. This past weeks weather in Seattle was actually amazing – but I was a tad under the weather and nothing sounded better than a slightly spicy tortilla soup. I’ve used many recipes for tortilla soup, but by favorite by far is one from Rick Bayless. It’s a very simple recipe that doesn’t take a ton of time to prepare – but the flavors of the chile  and lime really shine in this slightly spicy and tangy soup. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly (mainly just added some black beans and roasted corn) but it’s a very versatile soup that can be adjusted for any craving.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday)

Ingredients:
1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded
One 150z can fire roasted diced tomatoes (in juice)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 quarts chicken broth
Salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup rinsed canned black beans
1 cup fire roasted corn (you can find this in the frozen food section)
1 large avocado, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (monterey jack, colby or mild cheddar work well)
Sour cream
1 1/2 cups loosely packed cilantro
4 cups roughly broken tortilla chips
1 large lime cut into 6 wedges

Directions:
1. Toast the chile in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing down on the chile for a few seconds on each side. Break the chile into small pieces and place in a blender or food processor along with the tomatoes and their juice.
2. Heat the oil in a large (at least 4 quart) saucepan over medium high heat.
3. Add the onion and the garlic (you can mince the garlic if you want, but you don’t need to) and cook, stirring frequently until limp and golden (about  minutes)
4. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add to the blender/food processor and process until smooth. (If you don’t have a big enough food processor, you can blend the tomatoes and chiles separate from the onions and garlic)
5. Return the saucepan to medium high heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until the sauce is thickened to the consistency of tomato paste.
6. Add the broth, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Taste and season with salt (usually needs about 1 tsp)
8. Just before serving, add the chicken, black beans and corn to the simmering broth. Cook about 5 minutes.
9. Garnish as you wish!

Oops – I made something low calorie by mistake!

So I hadn’t intended this dinner to be healthy (and by healthy I mean low-calorie)… but I was craving a casserole and Mexican food, so I decided to make a chicken enchilada casserole. I started making this awhile back when I was too lazy to make enchiladas (hey there is a lot of rolling involved) but was  curious to see how others were making theirs. Most of the recipes I found had cream of chicken soup or sour cream in them, which didn’t sound appealing to me, so I just decided to move ahead as planned. It appears I created more of a Mexican lasagna rather that a casserole.
If you need a quick, and apparently healthy weeknight meal – check this out. Calorie count is included below the recipe. I would have taken more pictures, but I was starving and couldn’t wait to eat… ooops 🙂

Chicken Enchilada Lasagna (makes 12 servings)

Ingredients:

2 cups 2% reduced fat mexican blend shredded cheese
18 6 in. corn tortillas
1 1/4 lbs. chicken breasts
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 TBS. taco seasoning
4 oz. diced green chilies in a can*
7 oz. can salsa verde*
28 oz. can green enchilada sauce*
14.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil spray
(Optional: sour cream, avocado)

(*images of ingredients)

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of an 11×9 pan with a bit of olive oil.
2. Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water (you can use chicken broth as well – just be aware it will add some calories). Salt and pepper the water, and add a Tablespoon of the taco seasoning.
3. Bring water to boil and gently poach the chicken breasts until cooked through (usually about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken).
4. Shred the chicken with a fork into a separate bowl and  mix with the remaining taco seasoning.
5. Heat a large skillet and spray with a bit of olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the green chilies and salsa verde. Simmer together for about 3 minutes (or until just heated).
6. Add the chicken and black beans to the skillet and heat through.
7. In the 9×11 pan, coat the bottom with enchilada sauce and cover the service of the pan with 6 tortillas (they will overlap a bit).
8. Top the first layer of tortillas with half of the chicken/bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese and a bit more enchilada sauce.
9. Repeat step 8. Top with remaining tortillas, sauce and cheese.
10. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes (or until the cheese and sauce starts bubbling). Make sure to keep an eye on it, lower fat cheese tends to burn a bit easier. If it starts looking a tad brown, just cover with foil.
11. Cut into 12 pieces and garnish with optional sour cream or avocado. The salsas from the “mexican hash” post would be a good topper as well – with minimum caloric gain.

Calories per slice: 250 (does not count the optional items listed above) 

Turning tacos into breakfast

I could probably eat tacos every single day of my life, so obviously I needed to find a way to incorporate them into breakfast. There is always the breakfast burrito, but I wanted something a little more breakfastie than a burrito, plus the egg always seems to overwhelm the flavor of the other components. I remembered a hash I had made with some leftover corned beef from St. Patties day and decided to give it a go with the taco meat. Now keep in mind this taco meat I’m talking about isn’t your typical ground beef with taco seasoning. I get my taco meat from a carniceria above the International District. It’s flank steak that they marinade in their own blend of spices and seasonings. (I’ll post a link to their yelp profile below). It makes great leftovers, and a great breakfast! The pictures are a tad random and off, I was playing with a new camera app I got on my phone… not as cool as I thought it’d be… it’ll be better next time!

Carne Asada Hash (serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 TBS. olive oil
1 lb. left over (cooked) carne asada, cut into strips
5 large red/yellow potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 a medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup salsa, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish ***See note below on salsa
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro
1 avocado for garnish
salt
pepper
4 eggs (optional for fried egg)

Directions
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil potatoes until fork tender, drain and cool.
2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil to medium/medium high heat
3. Add the onions and the peppers, saute for 2 minutes
4. Add the left over taco  meat and the salsa. Saute until just heated through, about 2 minutes.
5.  Add the potatoes to the skillet. Sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
6. Press down on the potatoes with a large spatula. This will create a good crust on the bottom.
7. Let the mixture cook in the skillet for 5 minutes. Resist the urge to peek, you won’t regret it.
8. Flip the mixture over and cook an additional 5 minutes
9. Divide mixture into 4 even portions and plate. Garnish with cilantro, avocado and a fried egg (optional)

Not only is it pretty, it’s simple and delicious!

The carniceria I frequent is called Carniceria Azteca. Don’t forget to ask for the meat marinated!

***Note on salsa – any jarred salsa will do, but I prefer to make my own.  I use Rick Bayless’ roasted tomatillo and chipotle roasted tomatillo salsa recipes. I usually add a bit more garlic to both, omit the onion in both and add extra cilantro to the roasted tomatillo salsa.