Tag Archives: mexican food

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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Black Bean Enchilada Stacks

What to make for the birthday dinner for one of my dearest friends of all time?  Well…Mexican food of course.  And something vegetarian for this particular friend. She was literally doing a happy dance in her chair while she was eating these enchiladas.

I first saw enchilada stacks in New Mexico, when I had huevos rancheros served this way in a little cafe outside of Taos.  I fell in love with these little towers of tastiness.  They are so much easier to make than rolled enchiladas but you still have individual servings which is a nice touch.  For me the highlight of this recipe is the amazing verde sauce.  It’s incredibly easy to make and so much better than anything you will find in a can.  Next time I’m making a double batch so I can use it on about a dozen other things.

Black Bean Enchilada Stacks with Homemade Verde Sauce.  Yum!

Black Bean Enchilada Stacks

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

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green chiles (canned is just fine)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup sour cream
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt & pepper

Other Ingredients:
16 corn tortillas (for 4 stacks, add more tortillas for more stacks)
2 cups shredded jack/cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup chopped red or orange bell pepper

Make the sauce first. Remove husks and stems from tomatillos and wash.  Add tomatillos to a sauce pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes until tender.  Drain. Put tomatillos and other sauce ingredients in a blender and puree.  Set aside.

In a bowl mix black beans and other filling ingredients.  In a large casserole dish or jelly roll pan (use 2 pans if needed), spread 1/4 cup sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Create 4-6 enchilada stacks (I made five), starting with a tortilla, then 1/3 of bean mixture, cheese, then tortilla, then 1/3 bean mixture, cheese, then tortilla, then 1/3 bean mixture, cheese, ending with a tortilla. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the stacks.  Cover with the remaining shredded cheese.  Garnish each stack with feta and peppers.

All stacked up and ready to go in the oven.

Bake at 375˚ for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortillas are starting to brown on the edges.  Serve entire stack on a plate with extra sauce from the bottom of the pan spooned over the top.  For lighter appetites, you may want to cut these in half, but we didn’t have any problem polishing off a whole stack each!  This recipe will make 4-6 stacks.

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Green Chile Chicken & Green Rice

I had someone ask me recently if I had any good slow cooker recipes.  And that reminded me – oh yeah! – I have one of those!  I decided to dust it off and take it for a long overdue spin.  So…this morning I took a look at the supplies I had and threw something in the magic pot to see what it would make me for dinner.  I have to say…the magic pot treated us very well.  Frozen chicken breasts and a couple other things transformed into a savory, spicy concoction over the course of a few hours.

Now you could serve this over regular rice, or just wrap it in a tortilla.  I decided to ramp it up and make some “green rice” to go with it.  I have to say, that stuff was so good I could eat it all by itself.  But why do that when you have some yummy chicken with which to smother it?  Sprinkle on some diced red pepper or tomatoes for a little touch of color, and dig in!

Green Chile Chicken & Rice

Green Chile Chicken

3 chicken breasts
2 cans of diced green chiles
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

Put all ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook 4-6 hours.  Using two forks, pull the chicken apart into shreds.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Green Chile Chicken, all ready to eat.

Green Rice.  Well, it’s sort of green.  And definitely delicious!

Green Rice

2 tbsp. oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/4 cup rice, uncooked
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tbsp. lime juice
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 jalapeno
1/2 tsp. salt

In a blender combine cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and salt, and 1/4 cup water (or liquid from the green chile chicken).  Puree.  Heat oil in a medium-sized sauce pan.  Saute onion for a minute or two.  Add rice.  Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Add 2 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth and pureed cilantro mixture.  Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

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The Chile Relleno Experiment

While I was living in Denver, Colorado, I learned to love Mexican food.  My favorite place to eat was Benny’s Cantina.  A tiny hole in the wall, you usually had to stand in line to get a table and it was worth every minute of the wait.  They tended to smother everything in wonderfully spicy green chili that was to die for (a bucket list recipe if ever there was one!).  Aside from that, they made the best chile rellenos I have ever tasted.  You had to go early if you wanted them because they almost always ran out.  To this day I have never found a restaurant that can make them as well – and believe me, I have tried.

Because of this phenomenal dish, and every other restaurant’s utter failure to measure up, I’ve been a little afraid to try to make these.  After all, if it was easy, everybody would do it well, right?

So…armed with a couple of recipes for inspiration and a few ideas of my own, I set out to tackle the chile relleno monster.  First let me say, there are probably some tricks to making these that I don’t know.  I did it, and they turned out well, but I’m not sure I accomplished this with my usual grace, and I managed to totally trash my kitchen in the process.  But, they were tasty, and I have a few ideas for next time!  Oh yes, there will be a next time! Until then, Benny’s still reigns supreme.

Chile Rellenos and Spanish Rice

Chile Rellenos

8 poblano chiles
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 ball of Queso fresco or mozzarella cheese, cut into strips
1 cup flour (plus more for dredging)
1/2 cup masa flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
12 oz. beer
1 beaten egg

Salsa (click here for my recipe or use your favorite)

Preheat the broiler.  Place all the peppers on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler.  Broil until black on both sides.  Put in a paper or plastic bag to steam and cool.  When they are cool, peel off the skin.  Make a slit and carefully remove the seeds.  Try not to mangle the pepper too much in the process.  Saute the mushrooms a bit in a little olive oil.  Stuff each pepper with some cheese and a few mushrooms.  Thread skewer or long toothpick through opening to “sew” shut.

Making Chile Rellenos

In a bowl, mix flour, masa, baking powder, cumin, salt and beer.  Whisk until smooth.  Now here’s where (for me) it got a little messy.  This could have something to do with my kitchen configuration or just me being messy.  In a skillet or pot heat canola oil for frying.  I used a frying pan so I just used about an inch of oil, and flipped the peppers to do the other side.  If you use a deeper pan, you won’t have to flip.  Dip stuffed pepper into beaten egg and dredge in flour (this is supposed to seal up any little tears in the pepper – yeah right).  Then carefully dip into beer batter.  If your pepper is falling apart, you might have to kind of coat it with your fingers instead of dipping.  Ease it into the hot oil.  Just do a few peppers at a time.  Fry until golden brown on both sides (flipping if necessary to cook both sides).  Drain on paper towels.

This is what mine looked like when they were done. If you deep fry rather than pan-fry, they probably won’t be as flat, but even flattened it was delicious!

Top with salsa or green chile and serve hot.  I served mine with my quickie version of spanish rice and chips.

Spanish Rice

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups rice
1 can crushed tomatoes (large or small can depending on how tomatoey you like it)
2-3 cups of chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. pepper

Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil.  Add rice and continue to cook and stir for a minute or two.  Put tomatoes in a large measuring cup and add chicken broth until you have 4 cups total.  Add to pan with rice and onions.  Add seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with fork before serving.

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Project Veggie: Day 30 – Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Cooking for my mom is always a little funny.  She likes what she likes and she doesn’t like to deviate much from it.  She prefers good home cooking, “comfort food”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff too. But, as an adult, I’ve developed my own tastes, and have taught myself to cook and eat different things than what I grew up eating.  I am pretty adventurous as far as food goes.  But it gets me in trouble from time to time.  Sometimes, when I try appeal to Mom’s adventurous side by making new foods, things go awry.  And yet…I keep doing it. 🙂  She says she likes my cooking, but secretly (or not so secretly) she thinks I’m a little weird.

When I first moved back to town, I made shrimp tacos for Mom.  I’ve made these before.  The kids and I love them.  Of course, we like spicy food.  My mom…not so much.  As my daughter so colorfully put it, I nearly “decapitated her with my spicy awesomeness.”  This was several years ago and my mom still talks about it.

Aside from the heat, these tacos have a great, zippy sauce that doubles as a terrific green salsa for chips.  If you’re not a fan of spicy, ditch the chile pepper and cayenne in this recipe, or reduce the amount.  They definitely have a kick otherwise!

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

For the shrimp:

1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium shrimp

For the salsa:

1/2 pound tomatillos
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 avocado, peeled
1 serrano chile, seeded

Other ingredients:

Corn or flour tortillas (I prefer the corn ones with these)
Shredded lettuce

Combine shrimp with chili powder, cayenne, salt & garlic, and let it marinate while you make the salsa.  To prepare the salsa, combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree.  Heat a large skillet over med-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then add shrimp.  Cook, stirring until shrimp are cooked through.  Build your tacos with shredded lettuce, 4 or 5 shrimp, and sauce.


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Project Veggie: Day 8 – Huevos Rancheros

There are days when I don’t feel like cooking.  When my alarm goes off, I stick my head out, scent the air, and want to crawl back under my covers with a good book I haven’t had time to read.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Stupid head cold.  One kid home from school sick, and me feeling more than a little on the crappy side myself.  Ugh.  But people still want to eat.  Kids tend to complain if you don’t feed them.  And rightly so.  So I reached into my bag of tricks for a meal I could make in about five minutes that didn’t require a trip to the store.  I had eggs.  I had the double batch of salsa I made the other day.  I had tortillas.  You can see where I’m going with this.  Huevos Rancheros.  Spanish for eggs on a ranch?  I live in a ranch style house.  Close enough.  And spicy enough to maybe clear my sinuses.  Yay!

There are many different versions of this dish – some fancy, some down & dirty.  This is a quick, simple version that I make often, even when I have more time and energy.  It’s fast, it’s delicious, and you only make one pan dirty.  I had dinner on the table and was back to being curled up in my big yellow chair in no time flat.

Huevos Rancheros with Roasted Potatoes & Pineapple

Huevos Rancheros

2 cups salsa (you can use homemade or store bought, whatever you like) – Click here for my salsa recipe
1-2 eggs per person (I did 6 in one pan, breaking 2 into each well)
shredded jack or cheddar cheese

Add salsa to large skillet and heat to boiling.  Make wells in the salsa and break eggs gently into each.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Poach eggs for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat & sprinkle with cheese.  Meanwhile, warm tortillas in oven.  Scoop eggs, with some of the surrounding salsa, onto the warm tortillas and serve.  I served these with roasted potatoes (see below for recipe) and fresh pineapple slices.

The eggs poach right in the salsa

Garlic-Cumin Roasted Potatoes

1 pound new potatoes or red potatoes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic paste (or minced garlic)
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix cumin, garlic, salt & pepper, and olive oil.  Toss potatoes in the mixture and spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 400˚ for about 20 minutes, stirring once partway through.

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Project Veggie: Day 6 – Day of the Taco

A friend of mine told me a few days ago that I was nuts for doing this vegetarian thing.  Every week his family does taco night.  He asked how you could possibly do a taco night without meat??  Seriously?  This poor individual is obviously suffering from a severe lack of imagination.  In my opinion, you can put just about anything in a tortilla and call it a taco.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite foods for that very reason.  A tortilla is just a delivery device for all sorts of goodness.

Yesterday was Day of the Taco.  The kids didn’t have school so we slept a little late, had a nice, lazy morning.  Around 10 or so, I decided to make breakfast tacos.  Some scrambled eggs, green onions, salsa, and the last of the leftover coleslaw (oh yeah, I said coleslaw!) and we were set.  They were amazing, and took mere moments to make.

Breakfast tacos

As Presidents Day wore on, there was some whining about being bored.  Not by me, who had plenty of work and mom things to do.  But the kiddos were feeling at loose ends.  Normally when they tell me they’re bored I send them outside to pick up dog poop.  But it was raining, so I took pity on them.  Project time.  I decided for our tacos tonight we’d make homemade tortillas.  We’ve done them once before, and they are amazing!  I love corn tortillas, but I don’t love the way they crack when you fold them.  The fresh ones don’t do that.  Plus you can add additional flavors to make them even more tasty.  And although I say “project” they are really not difficult to make, but they do take a little extra time.

I’m not sure where the exact line is between a taco and a fajita, so I’ll call these fajita tacos.  With the pan-sauteed veggies, they definitely have a fajita-ish quality about them.  To round out the Mexican feast, we made a quicky black bean salad (yummy protein!) and some homemade salsa in my trusty food processor.  I’ve been making my own salsa for a long time, and I like it better than anything I’ve found in a jar.

My beautiful fajita tacos with black bean salad

Fajita Tacos

4 oz. button mushrooms
2 poblano peppers, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 orange or yellow or red bell pepper, or some combo of those, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
shredded jack or cheddar cheese
sliced avocado

Heat skillet to medium high heat.  Add a tbsp. of olive or canola oil.  Saute the peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic, stirring constantly, just 2-3 minutes until they are crisp-tender.  They should still have a little crunch.  Add corn and saute until heated through.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Build your taco the way you like it.  I like to start with some of the pepper mixture, top with cheese, salsa and avocado – usually overfilling it so much I make a complete mess of myself when I fold it up and eat it.  But that’s part of the fun.

April's Awesome Salsa

April’s Awesome Salsa

1/3 onion
1-2 cloves garlic
3-4 tomatillos
1/2 – 1 red or green jalapeno (I use both if I have them)
1-2 tbsp. lime juice
a handful of fresh cilantro (1/3 cup? – I usually don’t measure, just throw some in)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes) with juice

In a food processor or blender add onion, garlic, tomatillos, jalapeno, lime juice & cilantro.  Pulse or blend until evenly chopped up.  Add tomatoes, cumin and salt and give it a whirl until it’s all combined.  Makes about 2 cups.  It will last several weeks in your fridge.

Fresh Chili-Lime Tortillas

2 cups masa flour
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. lime zest

In a bowl combine all ingredients.  Mix until it forms a ball of dough.  Add a little more water if it’s too dry to form into a ball.

Not dry & crumbly. Not wet & sticky. Think Play-doh.

Divide into 16 ping-pong size balls.  If you have a tortilla press, this next part will go really fast!  I don’t.  If you’re in the same boat, lay out a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with masa flour. Place a ball of dough there, top with another piece of parchment and roll out with a rolling pin (you want them pretty thin, you know – like a tortilla).  I tried this without the parchment and it was sticking to my rolling pin and a total mess.  Wax paper works too, but it stuck to the tortillas more than the parchment paper.  Use whatever works best for you.

It's sort of roundish

Don’t be alarmed if they are not perfectly round, mine were all sorts of weird shapes but they still tasted good.  Stack them all up, separated with wax or parchment paper so they don’t stick together.  Heat your skillet or grill to med-high.  Cook one at a time, 30-45 seconds on each side, and slide onto a plate.  Repeat until they are all done.

Black Bean Salad

Black Bean Salad

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup rice, cooked
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 bell pepper, whichever color you like best
1/4 cup chopped red or green onions
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
juice of one lime
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and eat!

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