Tag Archives: mexican

How To Make Tortillas At Home

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I love tortillas. They are so versatile, and save tons of money, because you can wrap up just about anything in a tortilla and it will taste great! You can use up leftover shredded pork, ground beef, chicken, eggs, and any type of vegetable pretty much.
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The problem is, sometimes tortillas are pretty expensive, and we go through lots of them. I always stock up when they are on sale, but if you just run to the store any given day, you might pay upwards of $3 per pack of ten. That adds up over time, so I sought a way to make my own tortillas for pennies on the dollar. Keep in mind this is my first attempt, I’m sure they get prettier with practice. =)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp salt
Step 1: Mix flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. I used butter here but as above, you can use vegetable oil, Crisco, or lard depending on your preference and pantry. There are many proponents of each type of fat, and I’m not taking sides.
Step 2: Pour in your hot (not boiling) water, and mix until dough comes together. You can always add another tbsp so go easy at first. I think I over-did it just a bit here. Let the dough rest in a warm place for about an hour, covered with a towel.
Step 3: Pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Flour your rolling surface and rolling pin, and roll out the dough into a roughly circular shape. Don’t worry if yours are misshapen, this is one of the many ways homemade tortillas are superior to cookie-cutter factory made tortillas.
Step 4: Heat up a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium/ medium-high.
Toss your tortilla on there, and let ‘cook’ 1-3 minutes. You want it to not be raw anymore, but you also need to be careful to not burn them. This takes a little practice, so don’t feel bad if a few aren’t perfect. You’ll get it.
Step 5: Flip the tortilla so that both sides can get nicely browned. This one was pretty good for a first go. I think I rolled the dough a little too thick for this batch though. I got 12, and likely could have gotten more like 15.
Balls of dough resting before being rolled out.
My rolling area was quite cramped, so I had to do one or two at a time. That is probably for the best though, you want to keep the raw dough and the cooked tortillas covered so they stay moist and pliable. You don’t want to accidentally make tostadas after all.
Rolling the floured dough into circles.
Rollin, rollin, rollin….
Flipping the tortilla to flour the other side. Don’t want it to stick.
Wow, I actually look like I know what I’m doing! =)
This one got a little too crispy…
Careful how much oil you use in the pan, don’t want to fry them.
Stack your finished tortillas and keep them covered with a towel. I kept mine in the microwave to stay nice and warm and fresh.
These are far superior tasting to any store-bought tortillas. They do take some time and patience to master, but are very worth it in the end. Then use as you would any other tortilla, for breakfast burritos, a PB & banana wrap, lunch wraps, tacos, whatever! They are probably good enough just to eat warm. And I totally did that with a few.
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What do you like to eat with tortillas?

Chicken & Cheese Enchiliadas

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It’s no secret that I love all Mexican foods. I’ve written about how I made the perfect refried beans, many variations on tacos, and the simple pizza-like toastadas. I’ve been meaning to tackle a particularly intimidating recipe for a while: enchiladas.
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You may not think enchiladas are intimidating, but for whatever reason I kept thinking it would be hard to make these. Then the s.o. requested it, I had a big stack of tortillas in the fridge, and so I was like, ok it’s time.
Turns out, they weren’t so scary after all. And damn delicious.
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Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
7 tortillas
2 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup refried beans
1 cup shredded cheese mix
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp sriracha
I used large flour tortillas here, I know corn is the norm. But trust me, no one was upset about these. Give it a try, or go ahead and use corn if that’s what you have.
Step 1: Cook the chicken either in the oven, frying pan, or poach in boiling water. Use two forks to shred it finely. Cook in a pan with a little butter and taco seasoning.
Step 2: In each tortilla, spread a few tbsp beans, a handful of shredded chicken, and sprinkle on some cheese. Roll up, and place with the seam-side down in a sprayed oven-safe pan.
Step 4: Once the pan is full, sprinkle more cheese over top, then pour the tomato sauce over everything. Use as much as you need to cover the tops, but not to soak them. (Sidenote, I hate the taste of regular enchilada sauce at restaurants, that’s why I went the homemade tomato sauce version. If you like it or have a jar of enchilada sauce at home, feel free to use that.)
Step 5: Squirt on a thin layer of sriracha and/or hot sauce, and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
We ended up having two each, and the leftovers didn’t last more than a day. These could be made in the crock pot as well, simply assemble and leave on low all day. Make sure to add extra sauce so they don’t burn if you go that route.
Serve with a little sour cream on top to cut the spice if that’s your thing.
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You could make the vegetarian by adding extra grilled veggies or tofu instead of chicken, and just feel free to add in some onions and peppers regardless of what else is in there.
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What’s your favorite Mexican food?

Crock Pot salsa chicken tacos

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I have heard so many recipes raving about how easy and delicious Crock Pot salsa chicken is, it is on nearly every Crock Pot recipe list I’ve seen. So one day before leaving for school, I decided on a whim to try it. Turns out, all these people know what they’re talking about! It was amazing by itself over rice, and it is even better shredded on a taco!
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Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp refried beans
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
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Step 1: Put the chicken and the salsa in the crock pot. Cook on low at least 6 up to 10 hours. The chicken will be slightly browned, lightly salsa flavored, and fall-apart tender. It tastes amazing on its own, serve with a vegetable and a starch side dish.

Step 2: Put a tiny amount of olive oil or stock in a frying pan, and fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the taco seasonings, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step 3: Smear refried beans on half the tortilla, heat in microwave 20 minutes. Add cheese so it melts, and about 3-4 oz of the chicken. Then pile on the veggies and smear the sour cream on the other half. Pour salsa on top, roll up and enjoy!

This is super filling, and all the flavors combine into a taste bud party in your mouth! Makes enough for several meals, probably 10 tacos depending on how much you stuff them. The meat could also be used for quesadillas or tamales.

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Salsa & egg breakfast burrito

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This is something I came up with when I realized I woke up 20 minutes earlier than I needed to for class. Since I had time to actually cook something, I decided on eggs. I looked in the fridge, and as I had been preparing for tacos this week, I had tortillas and salsa and a bag full of cut up bell peppers.
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So I figured why wait for these awesome Mexican-inspired flavors! I could make a protein and veggie packed breakfast that could even be portable.
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Ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 diced green onion
3-4 tbsp salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 flour tortilla (10″)
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Step 1: Fry the peppers and onion in a skillet with a tiny bit of oil if needed.

Step 2: Whip the eggs in a small bowl or cup. You can add a splash of milk for a fluffier texture. Add to the pan and cook slowly over medium heat. Use a wooden or plastic spoon to continually push the egg around until it is all cooked through.

Step 3: Heat a tortilla in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add egg and veggie mixture, then a handful of shredded cheese to melt on top. Top with as much salsa as you prefer.

Step 4: Roll up and enjoy!

As always, the add-ins are optional, put whatever veggies you like in it. You could even add beans, potato, sausage, bacon or tofu if you have a big appetite in the morning. You could wrap these in plastic or aluminum foil and carry them with you for a healthy, filling breakfast on the go. Much better for you waist and wallet than a fast food drive through breakfast burrito!

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Chicken Tacos

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So yet again I’m moving soon, and need to clean out my freezer and pantry. I had some chicken quarters I had gotten cheap a while back , and was sick of ground beef tacos. So I decided to make some chicken tacos. It helps that Meijer had a great sale this week, $1 bell peppers and avocados.
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Ingredients:
2 chicken leg quarters
Taco seasoning
Chili powder
1/4 red, orange and yellow bell pepper
1/4 red onion
1 tortilla
1/4 avocado
2 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup black beans

Step 1: Put the chicken in a sprayed crock pot, sprinkle with taco seasoning and chili powder. Add 1/4 cup water to keep moist. Cook on high 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.

Step 2: Remove chicken meat from the bones and skin, throw it away. Add more seasoning if you like.

Step 3: Cut the peppers and onion into thin strips. I steamed the peppers for about 10 minutes first.

Step 4: In a tbsp of butter or oil, saute the peppers and onion until soft and translucent. Add some taco seasoning.

Step 5: Warm the beans and tortilla. Layer the chicken, peppers & onion, beans, avocado in chunks, salsa and sour cream.

The combination of flavors is amazing: the creamy avocado, the spiced chicken, the crunchy-soft peppers and sweet onions, tangy salsa, milky sour cream…. just mmmmmmmm! And so much protein and veggie goodness! Obviously you can omit the chicken and just use veggies for vegetarian, and add as much or whatever spices you like.

Jealous? You should be.

Homemade Chipotle

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Chipotle is one of my absolute favorite “fast food” places for several reasons. They encourage responsible practices, local and healthy food, quality, plus it is just dang delicious. However, even the best intentioned company makes some compromises to be large scale, and I always prefer making food myself so I know what’s in it and can control the portions. Plus, though $6.95 seems pretty cheap, more than once a month or so isn’t practical. 
Therefore, I decided to make my own version of my favorite, the chicken burrito bowl. A website called Chipotlefan.com has recipes for several Chipotle favorites. I used their recipe for the chicken marinade, with a few variations of my own. Then I made my own version of the fresh tomato and corn salsas based on memory, and the cilantro lime rice. Try it yourself, it isn’t exact, but it is close and Delicious!
 
Chipotle Chicken:

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (remove chipotle peppers, skim out seeds)
2 tsp fresh ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tbsp powdered garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 quarter red onion
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
Boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders

 
Step 1: Mix all marinade ingredients in a blender/food processor. Add oil until it’s slightly pourable. 
Step 2: Poke holes in chicken, and pour marinade over chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour up to 24 hours. The best way to cook the chicken is to grill it, but you can cook it in a frying pan with a weight on top as well.
 Chicken sitting in marinade
Spiced Pinto Beans:

1 can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup water
3-5 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder

Step 1: Drain and rinse the beans, pour into a pot. Add spices, simmer on very low for 10-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans don’t stick.

 Seasoned beans

You can add a bit of bacon here too, if you have it and like that kind of thing. Chipotle has changed their recipe to make it vegetarian, so no bacon included.
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Cilantro-Lime Rice:

1 cup rice
1 1/2 cup water or chicken bouillon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Boil the rice or prepare as directed. 

Step 2: When cooked, add the cilantro, salt and juices, fluff with a fork.

The rice magic makers. Lemon juice, lime juice, and chopped fresh cilantro.

 

Finished rice, ready to be mixed
Corn Salsa:
1/2 cup corn
1/4 red bell pepper
Pinch fresh cilantro
Splash lemon juice
1/8 red onion
Step 1: Blacken the corn in a skillet or grill. 
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Step 2: Dice the pepper & onion, add to the corn with the cilantro and lemon, mix well. 
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For extra spice, take one of the chipotle peppers from the adobo sauce and dice it up to add, or use a fresh seeded jalapeno.
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Fresh Tomato Salsa:
1 large tomato, diced
1/8 red onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
Handful fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
Sea salt
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Step 1: Mix the diced tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro and juices. Add a grind or two of salt to taste. 
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Refrigerate both salsas until ready to serve.
Chicken after grilling and dicing, salsas ready to go.

 

 Beans and rice, ready for assembly.

 

Finished plate. Can make it into a burrito, tacos, or a bowl.

I tore up a few large romaine leaves and put the rice, beans, chicken and both salsas on, with a sprinkle of cheese on top. It was deliciously fresh tasting! It is on the spicy side, so if that’s not for you then dial down the seasonings and forget about the chipotle peppers in adobo. For vegetarians, ditch the chicken and marinate some tofu, add some guacamole, or other grilled veggies. Enjoy!

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Multi-Mexi

One of my favorite kinds of food is Mexican inspired food. Why?

  1. It is usually cheap
  2. It is pretty easy to make
  3. A little goes a long way towards fulfilling hunger
  4. It is so versatile! 

I made a few favorites this week with a handful of ingredients. Let me walk you through my multi-mexi recipes.

This is a case where one meal gets transformed into a new one, and then another one! This keeps you from wasting leftovers and prevents food boredom.

Here’s a list of everything I used all week:
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1/2 medium onion, diced
Lime juice
Lemon juice
Garlic powder
1 can refried beans
Cheddar cheese, shredded
1.2 lb ground beef
Taco seasoning

Ok, so meal #1:
I made my own salsa from the can of tomatoes and chilis, diced up fresh tomatoes and the onion. Added the cilantro and a dash of garlic, plus lemon & lime juice. Delicious with chips or as a topping!

Meal #2:
After 2 days, I still had plenty of salsa and was bored. So I heated a can of refried beans in the microwave, added all the rest of the salsa, topped it with some shredded cheddar cheese. You will be amazed at how delicious this simple dip is!

Meal #3:
Another 2 days goes by and it isn’t likely I will finish the huge amount of dip this made, so I browned the ground beef, drained it, and added taco seasoning. To this I added all the bean & salsa dip. This made for some very hearty tacos! Put over tortilla chips or wrap in a tortilla with lettuce, sour cream and cheese.

This is just one example of the many ways you can re-purpose leftovers into a different meal. It is thrifty, creative, and just an all-around good idea!

Taco Salad!

When you’re hungry for Mexican but don’t want to go out, don’t have much time, want to eat healthy, or don’t want too many ingredients (or all of the above), you can’t beat a Taco Salad. Quick and easy, it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want it.

Having just moved into a new apartment, most of my kitchen is not yet unpacked. Besides that, I don’t have an oven. I know, shocking. That eliminated about 1/3 of my cooking repertoire. However, this tasty salad requires only one pan, and little effort, so you can make it happen in under 20 minutes.

 
Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce, or 1 bag pre-cut mix
1-2 tomatoes
Doritos
Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or Mexican mix
Catalina dressing
1 lb. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup water 
Black olives (optional)


Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain off the excess fat, and add 1/4 cup taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water slowly, stirring it all together. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the seasoning to cook into the beef. 

Step 2: While waiting, chop up the Romaine and tomato and place in a large bowl. When all seasoning is cooked in, pour taco meat over top. Sprinkle on the cheese, crush up a few handfuls of Doritos, and douse with Catalina dressing. 

The Doritos give it a cheesy crunch and the dressing is just enough tang, while the sweet works with the spice of the taco seasoning. It is so tasty! Obviously, if you go heavy on the lettuce and tomato and light on the beef plus nix the Doritos and dressing, it is much healthier. But where’s the fun in that? 😉

What’s your favorite salad topping?

 

Stocking your pantry + Tortilla Soup

To make easy, delicious meals on the cheap and quickly, it is vital to have your pantry stocked with a few key ingredients. These staples are the things which keep for a long time and are versatile in many dishes, like grains and canned foods.

Here is a list of things I always try to keep in the house:

  • Rice (white and/or brown)
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta (various kinds, usually at least one straight pasta and 2 shapes)
  • Bread
  • Eggs

Canned:

  • Tomato sauce, paste
  • Pasta sauce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Beans (Black, kidney, chickpeas, chili)
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Salsa

One of the best, easiest Crock Pot recipes using cupboard staples I know is Tortilla Soup. It is perfect for a busy day, just open a few cans and throw them in the Crock Pot. You can let it simmer all day, then come home to a hot and filling meal!

Ingredients:
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can of chicken (optional)
1 jar salsa
1 cup cooked white rice
6 cups water
Literally, just dump all the ingredients in the crock pot. I added some dried onion flakes and oregano too. Then just let it simmer until you’re hungry!This tastes great with some cheddar cheese melted on top. You can also fry up some tortillas and put crisps on top. This does make quite a bit, so be sure to have some people to share with, or freeze individual portions for lunches all week.