Category Archives: Mexican

Roasted Pepper Black Bean Chili

I know, I know. It’s 80 degrees and I’m making chili. You might think I’m odd, but for me, chili is not just a winter food. One reason is I like it too much to confine it to just one season. The other is that I planted ten pepper plants and I have to find ways to use them, assuming I don’t kill them off before they produce anything. Besides, this is a recipe for the crock pot, which means no heating up the house with the oven!

The basic recipe for this is actually quite similar to my regular chili, but this time I used dried beans and roasted peppers and wow! it tastes completely different. Deeper, smokier, wonderful! You can use whatever combination of peppers you like or happen to have. I’ll list the combo I used, which resulted in a fairly mild but flavorful batch. Feel free to toss in some hotter ones if you are a five-alarm sort of person.

Plan ahead and soak your beans the night before to ensure they get done in the slow cooker. Or you can use canned beans in a pinch. This works well as a vegetarian recipe too, just leave out the ground beef.

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

Roasted Pepper Chili

2 cups dried black beans
4 cups water
2 poblano peppers
3 anaheim chiles
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
1 pound ground beef
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2-3 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
Salt & pepper

The night before, rinse dried beans. Place in a bowl with at least six cups of water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain beans and put in crock pot. In a skillet, brown ground beef and add to crock pot.

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and lay skin-side up on a large cookie sheet. Place under broiler 4-5 minutes, until skin turns black. Remove and put in a paper or plastic bag to cool.

Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano and cumin to crock pot.

Remove peppers from their bag, chop and add to the crock pot. Cover with about 4 cups of water, give it a stir. Cook on high for 6-8 hours until beans are soft. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This was even better the next day!

So good.

So good.

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Harvest Enchilada Stacks

One of my very favorite friends is a vegetarian.  She also happens to be one of my favorite guinea pigs when it comes to trying new recipes, especially of the vegetarian variety.  Whenever she is coming over, I try to flex my flabby vegetarian muscle and do something creative that she doesn’t eat all the time.  To take the challenge up a notch, her husband is watching the carbs lately, so easy solutions like pasta are out the window.  Fine by me.  On this occasion, it gave me a chance to try out some enchiladas I had been dreaming up.  You could of course use whatever veggies or meat you like in these, but I did like this combo, especially the mushrooms!

I make verde sauce quite often, so I wanted to try something different and do a red sauce from scratch instead.  The dried peppers added a nice earthy/smoky tone that really went nicely with the fall/winter veggies.  I actually made a bigger batch of the pepper base so I’ll have it on hand for a couple more enchilada dinners later in the month.  Mmm, can’t wait!

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Harvest Enchilada Stacks

Sauce:
2 dried pasilla peppers
2 cups boiling water
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. salt
2-3 cans tomatoes, crushed or blended up

Other ingredients:
3-4 portobello caps, sliced
1 delicata squash, seeded and diced (peel if you want – I didn’t)
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 cup crumbled Queso fresco
Corn tortillas
2 green onions, thinly sliced

To make sauce:  heat oven to 400˚.  Toast dried peppers 3-4 minutes in oven.  Put in a bowl and pour 2 cups boiling water over them.  Let them sit and soften for 10 minutes and then pureé in a blender.  Set aside.  If you haven’t blended up your tomatoes do that, then set those aside as well.

In a medium saucepan, saute onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add crushed/blended tomatoes and seasonings to pan. Add pepper mixture (if you don’t want as strong a pepper flavor, you may want to add this gradually, tasting as you go).  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  If pepper taste is too strong, you can add another can of tomatoes if you wish to mellow it out.

In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.  Add portobellos, squash and onion.  Cook, stirring often, 4-5 minutes until veggies are tender.  Add garlic, spinach and corn kernels.  Cook another 1-2 minutes, until heated through and spinach is wilted.  Add seasonings and brown sugar.  Cook and stir an additional minute.

Yummy veggies

Yummy veggies

Turn oven down to 375˚.  On a large baking pan or casserole dish, ladle out enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.

Just getting started.

Just getting started.

Build your stacks on top of the sauce, starting with a corn tortilla, then a scoop of veggies, then a sprinkle of cheese (if desired).

Working on the 2nd layer.  Are you hungry yet?

Working on the 2nd layer. Are you hungry yet?

Continue with another layer just like the first.  End with tortillas.  Ladle sauce over the top of the stacks until well coated (you might not use all of your sauce, freeze leftovers for another day).

Don't skimp on the sauce!  If you have leftover sauce, you can freeze it for later or serve it alongside.

Don’t skimp on the sauce! If you have leftover sauce, you can freeze it for later or serve it alongside.

Crumble remaining cheese all over the top and sprinkle with green onion.

Beautiful!  All ready for the oven.

Beautiful! All ready for the oven.

Bake at 375˚ for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Serve hot.  Makes 5-6 enchilada stacks.

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Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

My baby brother (one of them) was born when I was 14.  Now while that was all very exciting, the part leading up to that was pretty cool too.  That was the part where my mom was craving Godfather’s taco pizza and raspberry ripple ice cream.  We ate a lot of taco pizza that summer.  Ever since that time, I have loved it.  These days, I hardly ever see it offered at pizza places, and when I do, it’s just not the same.  So, as I am wont to do, when I was having a craving recently I just made up my own.  I saw a recipe somewhere where the dressing was drizzled on top and I thought that was a pretty great idea so I copied that idea on mine.  Added a nice spicy zip!

If you are lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s in the vicinity, check out their fresh pizza dough, which you can find in the produce section.  Otherwise, use the brand you like best (or make your own).

Now…where can I find some raspberry ripple ice cream?

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Spicy Homemade Taco Pizza

Pizza Crust (I use the fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, but use your favorite)
1/2 pound ground beef
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
4 oz. can green chiles
1 cup crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1/2 jalapeno, minced (leave out if you don’t like it spicy)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, diced
Salt
Sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Cholula)

Preheat oven to 425˚.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.  Press out pizza dough with your fingers until it’s the thickness you like.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and onion and cook until beef is no longer pink.  Add beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder and green chiles. Stir and sort of mash the beans into the mixture. Cook until heated through.  Set aside.

Mix crushed tomato and minced jalapeno.  Spread over pizza crust.

tacopizza

Spread meat mixture over tomato sauce.

tacopizza2

Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the meat mixture.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is browned on the bottom, and crispy around the edges.

tacopizza3

Remove from oven and spread lettuce, tomatoes and olives over the top.  Whisk together sour cream, lime juice and hot sauce.  Drizzle over the top of pizza (you can do this with a spoon or put in a ziplock bag and snip off a corner).  Cut into squares and eat up!

tacopizza5

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Baked Huevos Verde

On the rare occasion I have leftover enchilada ingredients, my favorite thing to use them for is breakfast.  If you don’t have leftovers, this sauce takes mere moments to make and will keep in the fridge for a week.  Use beans, meat or veggies you might have left over or just use eggs and cheese.  Either way you stack it, it’s going to be delicious!  I had a bit of black beans and chicken, mixed with a dab of sour cream (my enchilada filling) so I used that in mine.

Baked Huevos Verde

Baked Huevos Verde

Baked Huevos Verde

For each ramekin:

Corn tortilla
Leftover chicken and/or black beans and/or veggies (optional)
2 tbsp. salsa verde (see below for recipe)
1-2 eggs
Queso fresco
Salt & pepper

Verde Sauce:
12 oz. tomatillos (7-8 large)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted green chiles (or one 4 oz. can)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375˚.

To make verde sauce:  Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and put in a small saucepan.  Cover with water; boil for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain and transfer to a blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.

Homemade verde sauce.  So quick and easy!

Homemade verde sauce. So quick and easy!

Use a knife to cut your tortilla, making 4 slices, but leaving the center uncut.

4 small slices, going from the edge toward the center, leaving about an inch in the center uncut.

4 small slices, going from the edge toward the center, leaving about an inch in the center uncut.

Spray your ramekin with cooking spray.  Fold tortilla into the ramekin in a little bowl shape (if you cut all the way through it’s no big deal, just stick it in there anyway, overlapping the pieces to fit).

Overlap the cut edges to make a little bowl shape in the ramekin.

Overlap the cut edges to make a little bowl shape in the ramekin.

Add a bit of veggies, meat or beans if you are using them.

Beans, meat or veggies on the bottom (if using).

Beans, meat or veggies on the bottom (if using).

Add 2-3 tablespoons of verde sauce.

I love love love this sauce.

I love love love this sauce.

Break 1-2 eggs into the ramekin on top of the sauce.

Add eggs.  Depending on the size of your ramekin and how much veggies you added, you may be able to fit two eggs in here.

Add eggs. Depending on the size of your ramekin and how much veggies you added, you may be able to fit two eggs in here.

Sprinkle with queso fresco and a dash of salt & pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until eggs are set and whites are cooked.  Serve hot!

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Seared Tuna Tacos with Tropical Salsa

Sometimes I have an idea for a dish and I just can’t find a recipe for it.  So I make something up.  And when all the planets align and things go like they should, it turns out just how it was in my head.  This is one of those recipes.

I’ve been craving tacos.  But not just any tacos.  Fresh tuna tacos!  Nicely seared with spice and fruit and bright, tropical, summery flavors.  I imagined myself lying on a beach somewhere and eating tacos made from all sorts of island goodies.

Alas, I am not on an island, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t just an absolutely wonderful luau happening right in my mouth.  This is my favorite recipe I’ve made up this summer (so far!).  You can bet your flip flops we’ll be making them again soon!

Spicy Seared Tuna Tacos with Tropical Salsa.  So freaking good!

Spicy Seared Tuna Tacos with Tropical Salsa. So freaking good!

Spicy Seared Tuna Tacos with Tropical Salsa

2-3 tuna steaks
1 small red chile, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Drizzle of olive oil
2 limes
Salt & pepper
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 mango, diced
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped napa or savoy cabbage
2 tbsp. mayonnaise or sour cream

Place tuna steaks in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle with red chile, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, juice from 1/2 lime and some salt & pepper.  Rub all over both sides.  Side aside.  Don’t do this ahead of time since the acid in the lime will “cook” the fish if left more than a few minutes.

Just a quick, simple marinade for the tuna.

Just a quick, simple marinade for the tuna.

In a bowl combine pineapple, mango, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and the juice of one lime.  Stir to blend and set aside.

Spicy Tropical Salsa.  So good!

Spicy Tropical Salsa. So good!

In a small bowl combine mayo or sour cream with the juice of half a lime.

Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle with olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  When pan is hot add tuna.  Sear 1-2 minutes on each side, leaving it rare in the middle.  Remove from heat.  Slice against the grain into thin slices.

Warm tortillas in the oven or microwave.  Build your taco with a few slices of tuna, topped with salsa and cabbage.  Drizzle with a bit of sauce if desired.

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Festive Black Bean Salad

Easy, pretty and delicious.  This salad is hearty enough to eat as a main dish – I usually throw it over the top of a pile of greens in that case – or great as a side with pretty much anything.  I especially like it for BBQs and potlucks because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and tastes great at room temperature.  This will also keep in the fridge for several days so I usually double the recipe so I have yummy leftovers.  If you like it spicy, toss in a little finely diced jalapeno for an extra kick.

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

1-2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 orange (or red or yellow) bell pepper, diced
1-2 diced tomato
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Eat!

Festive Black Bean Salad

Festive Black Bean Salad

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April’s Famous Salsa

I recently reconnected with my stepbrother after a number of years.  The first thing he told me (not kidding!) was that in all the years since we’d seen each other he had yet to find a salsa that measured up to mine.  A proud moment for me as a big sister, a cook, and a salsa lover.  :)

And he’s not wrong.  Not to toot my own horn (okay, maybe a little), but this stuff is pretty awesome.

You can make this chunky by just pulsing in a food processor, or smoother by using a blender.  For this batch, I used the blender.  During the height of tomato season I use fresh tomatoes, but most of the year canned tomatoes work just fine.  I especially like the newish “fire-roasted” diced tomato variety, for a little extra smoky flavor.  You can also roast the veggies before throwing them in for an extra smoky finish as well.

April's Famous Salsa

April’s Famous Salsa

April’s Famous Salsa

1/2 cup red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, (green or red or a bit of both – stemmed & seeded)
3-4 tomatillos, husked and quartered
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 handful fresh cilantro (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup)
1 can diced (fire-roasted or regular) tomatoes (or use 3-4 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped)

In a blender or food processor, add onion, jalapeno, garlic, tomatillos, lime juice and cilantro.  Pulse or puree (pulse for chunkier texture, puree for smoother salsa).  Scrape down sides and add tomatoes, salt and cumin.  Pulse to combine.  Check texture and blend more if you’d like it smoother.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Makes about 2 cups.  Store in an airtight container.  This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long!).

April's Famous Salsa.  I eat this on just about everything.

April’s Famous Salsa. I eat this on just about everything.

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Smothered Breakfast Burrito

Last week I posted a recipe for an amazing pork green chili.  Now just in case you are thinking it’s summertime and too hot for chili, just let me remind you there are other things you can do with chili beyond eating it out of a bowl.  Welcome to Casa de April, where I make a breakfast burrito I would pay for in a restaurant.  Green chili is the key that takes it from ordinary to incredible.  So make the chili, which freezes beautifully by the way, freeze in small batches to bring out for breakfast!  And although I say breakfast, I would eat this for any meal of the day.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito.  More please.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito. More please.

Smothered Breakfast Burrito

For each burrito:
1 small/medium potato
2 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup green chili (or more!)
Flour tortilla
Sliced avocado

Heat chili in a saucepan or microwave until hot.  Set aside and keep warm.  Poke potatoes and microwave for a few minutes until fork tender.  Dice or chop potatoes.  Beat eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Warm tortillas in the oven or microwave (if I’m doing a bunch I wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven while I’m making everything else; if it’s just one I nuke it).

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add a drizzle of oil or butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan (or you can use cooking spray).  Add potato and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to brown a bit.  Add eggs and scramble with the potatoes.  Sprinkle in the cheese, toss with the other ingredients and remove from heat.

Melty yummy goodness on the inside.

Melty yummy goodness on the inside.

Wrap in a tortilla and top with chili and avocado.

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Going Green…Chili Style!

Just when I thought I had used up all my shredded pork, a gift came in the form of a gallon bag of shredded smoked pork from my uncle.  Not one to look a gift pig in the mouth, I divided it into a few containers and stuck it in the freezer to be doled out to my family at a later date.  Of course I had to cook some of it right away.  And it tastes amazing!  If you aren’t lucky enough to have people giving you pork, you can use leftovers from my basic pork roast recipe, or simply throw in a small pork roast or some chops.  Since this is a crock pot recipe they will cook up just fine over the course of the day.

When I went to school in Denver, I discovered the best Mexican food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.  The general thinking there is to smother just about everything in green chili.  And I am okay with that!  And if you don’t feel like eating it over the top of a burrito, a nice bowl of it works just fine.  As opposed to most other places I’ve lived, in that style of cooking the green sauce is more spicy; the red sauce is the mild stuff.  I didn’t have a recipe for green chili, so I just winged it and was very pleased with the results!  Since we were planning to eat this as a soup/stew, I made this version chunkier than I remember, and added some black beans.  Not that that will stop me from using the leftovers to smother something – like a breakfast burrito!  Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Pork Green Chili

5-6 Anaheim Chiles
3-4 Poblano or Padilla Peppers
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
3-4 cups shredded or chopped pork*
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and quartered
4 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
2-3 tsp. ground cumin
Rice & tortillas for serving if desired

Looking yummy already!  Tomatillos and peppers.

Looking yummy already! Tomatillos and peppers.

Seed peppers.  You can do this to the small ones by cutting of the top, turning upside down and rolling between your hands or shaking out the seeds.  Or you can cut them in half and remove the seeds that way.

All ready to roast.

All ready to roast.

Lay out on a baking sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes per side until skin is blackened.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black.  It will peel right off once it is cool.

Leave them in there until the skin is nice and black. It will peel right off once it is cool.

Place in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When cool enough to handle, remove skins and coarsely chop peppers.

Add all ingredients to crock pot.  Turn on high for a 2-3 hours, then turn down to low and cook until dinner time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

* If you don’t have a bunch of leftover shredded pork in your freezer, feel free to use a small pork roast, or pork chops.  Just put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot and pile everything else on top.  At the end of the day, take a couple of forks and pull the meat apart into shreds or chunks and remove any bones before serving.

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Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Casseroles are and probably have always been the best dumping ground for leftovers.  Way back in caveman days I can only imagine the cave-wife saying “what the heck am I going to do with all this leftover mammoth?” And then she thought, “I’ll mix it with these weeds and seeds, stick it in a bowl, cook it in the fire and call it good.”

I finally used the last of my giant pork roast and this was arguably my favorite recipe of them all.  I’m not a huge casserole lover, but occasionally it’s just the most satisfying and comforting thing.  This one tastes like enchiladas, without all the work of actually making enchiladas.  The sauce is a very quick blender affair, and the casserole comes together in a jiffy.  Nice weekday meal that will seem like you slaved over it (even if you didn’t).

Queso fresco is a Mexican style white cheese similar to mozzarella.  It’s very mild and delicious and melts beautifully!  Rather than shredding it you can just crumble it apart in your fingers.  Great on anything from tacos to salads.

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

Shredded Pork Enchilada Casserole

2-3 cups shredded pork (click here for my basic pork roast recipe)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 package corn tortillas
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup tomato, chopped

Verde Sauce:
12 oz. tomatillos (7-8 large)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1/3 cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped roasted green chiles (or one 4 oz. can)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and put in a small saucepan.  Cover with water; boil for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain and transfer to a blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.

Homemade verde sauce.  So quick and easy!

Homemade verde sauce. So quick and easy!

Mix pork with sour cream, cumin and chili powder.  Add salt & pepper to taste if needed.

In the bottom of your casserole dish, ladle enough sauce to liberally cover the bottom of the dish.  Lay out tortillas in a single layer and top with pork mixture.

Building your casserole, just repeat from here.

Building your casserole, just repeat from here.

Repeat layers of tortillas and pork until ingredients are used up.  End with tortillas on top.

I like to finish with the tortillas on top and then pour sauce over the whole thing.

I like to finish with the tortillas on top and then pour sauce over the whole thing.

Pour verde sauce over the whole thing (you may not use all your sauce – you can serve extra on the side, keep it for something else or freeze it for later).  Sprinkle queso fresco and tomatoes over the top and finish with a sprinkle of cheddar.

All ready to pop in the oven.  So pretty!

All ready to pop in the oven. So pretty!

Bake for 30 minutes or so until heated through and melty.

All cozy in a bowl.  I served this with a black bean and veggie salad on the side.

All cozy in a bowl. I served this with a black bean and veggie salad on the side.

Serve with salad on the side for a satisfying, lip smacking dinner!

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