Category Archives: Mexican

Chicken Taco Bowl

We love Mexican flavors and Southwest cuisine, and I love pressure cooking, so here is my version of a spicy taco bowl. It’s faster than messing with taco shells and making filling, so it’s a hasty and tasty meal for taco night. Enjoy.

RECIPE

Chicken Taco Bowl
Makes 5 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (frozen or thawed)
  • 1 cup dried black beans (not soaked)
  • 1 cup brown long grain rice
  • 12 ounces salsa or 1 regular size can Rotel® diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2½ cups chicken broth or water
  • 1 ounce chili or taco seasoning mix
  • 8 ounce block Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • (optional) fresh cilantro sprigs

Directions:

  1. In the pot of a pressure cooker, place chicken, beans, and rice. Pour salsa and broth over them. Add 1 ounce chili seasoning mix.
  2. Seal and bring to pressure. Cook 18 minutes (stovetop) or 23 minutes (electric).
  3. Remove from heat (or hit “cancel”) and allow pressure to drop on its own. Natural depressurization takes approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Carefully open cooker and stir. Chicken should easily shred, or you may remove it, shred it separately, and stir it into the rice and beans mixture. Top with cheese and cover. Do not return to heat.
  5. After a minute or two, the residual heat will melt the cheese and the taco bowl is ready to serve with optional garnish.

Variation: add 1 cup frozen corn kernels before adding the cheese.

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Filed under Cilantro, cooking, Healthful Eating, Mexican, poultry

Cinco de Mayo

Thanks to Olé, we can enjoy healthier Mexican fare as we celebrate today. Here is a hasty tasty chicken fajita recipe: 

 

RECIPE

Chicken Fajitas

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 OLE brand High Fiber Low Carb tortillas
  • 8 oz. chicken breasts, cubed or shredded
  • 1 Tbsp. Chili or Fajita seasoning blend
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil
  • 1 cup julienne-cut bell peppers (I mix green, red, and yellow)
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 2-3 Tbsp. prepared salsa
  • 1 spring cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Slowly simmer chicken with the seasoning blend in a dry, covered pan.
  2. Prepare peppers and onions.
  3. After chicken is fully cooked, remove from the skillet. Add oil and return skillet to medium heat.
  4. Saute onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add peppers and stir-fry together until peppers are firm-tender. Remove skillet from heat.
  5. Warm tortillas for 10 seconds in microwave oven. Add salsa to the center of each.
  6. Divide the chicken between the two tortillas. Cover each with half the peppers/onions. 
  7. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired. Fold, eat, and enjoy!

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Filed under chicken, Cilantro, Healthful Eating, Mexican, whole wheat

SOUTHWESTERN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

Butternut squash has vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene . It is a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. I realize butternut squash is healthful, but it was a hard sell to my family. I finally developed a recipe even they will eat. I know by putting a southwest spin on a dish, my family will eat almost anything. Including my newest recipe, Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup. Enjoy!

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RECIPE

Ingredients:
• 1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into equal size chunks
• 1 Tbsp. safflower oil (or spray generously with Pam®)
• ½ cup onion, sliced
• ¼ cup sweet pepper, chopped (I used an orange pepper to preserve that lovely orange color)
• 1 tsp. Kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt
• 1 Tbsp. Chili seasoning mix (I use Bloemer’s brand)
• 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
• 1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
• (optional) Cilantro for garnish
• (optional) sour cream for garnish

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Directions:
1. Heat the oil in the bottom of a 4 quart pot.
2. Add onions and peppers. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat.
3. Add squash to the pot. Salt.100_1090
4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and steam until squash is fork-tender* (approximately 30 minutes)
5. Remove from heat. Stir in half of the stock and deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.
6. Ladle the squash into a Vitamix (or food processor). Puree until smooth. Don’t overfill container. If necessary, process in batches.100_1091
7. Return squash puree to the pot, add the chili seasoning mix1, and stir.
8. Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining stock. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally to combine. For a thicker soup, simmer until soup reduces.
9. Remove pot from heat. Stir in the lime juice and serve with a sour cream and cilantro garnish with tortilla chips on the side.

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Yum!
Variations:
Kick up the heat level by adding a seeded and thinly sliced jalapeño pepper garnish.
1Vitamix users: During the pureeing of the squash, add the chili seasoning. Then to rinse the container, Add the rest of the stock to the container, run just enough to remove the stuck on squash, then pour into the pot.
*If your cookware isn’t waterless, add one cup of the vegetable stock to steam the squash.

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Filed under Chili and Stew, Cilantro, cooking, Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, Soups & Stews

Salsa Time!

I’ve posted in the past about making salsa in my Vitamix. Today I have a special guest who offers a flavorful twist to salsa. As soon as I pick up a fresh bunch of cilantro, I’m making this recipe. I grow my own jalapeño peppers and herbs but fail miserably at keeping cilantro alive. 😦

Today’s recipe is a guest post by Kristin, a writer for PAM and other ConAgra brands. She resides in Chicago, IL and enjoys trying new recipes on the weekends. Her favorite dishes include poached eggs in the morning, throw-whatever-is-in-the-fridge salads for lunch, and vegetable-heavy stir fries for dinner. She’s always on the hunt for unexpected yet delicious food combinations.  Please welcome food blogger Kristin Kruk:

salsaAugust
August is the Sunday of summer. Friends and family are making the most out of their last few weeks of sunshine and blue skies before fall kicks in. When you get an invitation to that last minute summer barbeque, come prepared with a zesty appetizer to surprise everyone’s taste buds. Bring a bowl of grilled tomato salsa with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips as an appetizer to the party.

On a time crunch? Don’t worry about grilling outside. A cast iron pan will do the trick because it gets hot and retains heat.

How to grill inside:

  1. Evenly spray PAM Grilling Spray on the cast iron pan.
  2. Place pan on stove top on medium-high.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low once the pan gets hot.

Now you’re on your way to a quick grilled tomato salsa!

Ingredients:

  • PAM Grilling Spray
  • 1½-2 pounds of tomatoes (try an assortment), sliced in half
  • 1 jalapeño , sliced in half
  • 5 green (or red) onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional ingredients: ½ can of black beans or corn kernels 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix cumin, garlic salt, onions and cilantro. If optional ingredients were used, combine as well. Set aside.
  2. See “How to grill inside” instructions above.
  3. Once the burner is set to medium-low, grill tomato and jalapeño slices.
  4. Rotate so each side is grilled for 3 minutes. When each side is slightly blackened, remove from grill.
  5. Chop tomato and jalapeño slices into cubes. Dump into the medium bowl (Step 1).
  6. Refrigerate until ready for use.

This quick and simple appetizer complements any picnic or outdoor outing at the end of summer. Enjoy!

(Cheryl note: I do all my indoor grilling on a Lodge cast iron grill pan (sprayed with PAM). It’s affordable, retains heat, and leaves nice grill marks on food–just like an outdoor grill but without the mess!)

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Filed under Appetizers, Cilantro, condiments, Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, salsa, tomatoes, Vegetables

Make Your Own Taco Shells…or Not

We should strive to consume more whole grains in our diet, so I try to choose whole grain products over refined flour products. That’s why I wanted to try those Tortilla bowls. (see previous post)

I wanted to make tacos but with whole wheat taco shells, not the traditional corn taco shells.  As far as I know, whole-wheat taco shells aren’t marketed.  After this experiment, I suspect I know why.

                       

Drape tortillas over the oven rack

 I took whole-wheat tortillas and arranged them in a preheated 400°F oven by draping each one over two of the grids on the baking rack. (See photo)  I baked them for ten minutes, at which time they were crispy and hard.  Success!  I had whole wheat taco shells.

Baked 10 minutes @ 400°

Buoyed with confidence, I proceded to cook my meat filling (ground turkey breast seasoned with chili powder), shred my iceberg lettuce, and dice my tomatoes and sweet onion.  I shredded reduced fat Colby and Monterrey Jack cheese then assembled my tacos as follows: 2-3 ounces ground meat, 1 – 2 ounces cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.  (The Vitamix makes quick work of shredding cheese and chopping onions)

The whole wheat tortillas yielded slightly larger taco shells than the standard shells, so I was generous with my fillings.  My presentation was impressive, and I served them alongside my homemade salsa.

Fill with meat, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese

The end result = delicious tacos in crunchy shells . . . crunchy, crumbly shells.  Very messy eating.  But we enjoyed them.  Were they worth the extra effort of baking my own shells?  No way, José!  Next time, I’ll buy already baked corn taco shells.  Or make taco salad.  Or maybe we’ll eat tacos at our local Mexican restaurant.

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Filed under Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, Turkey Recipes, whole wheat

Tortilla Bowls

Tortilla Bowls Kit

This week’s post is more a product review than a recipe. I had seen the “Perfect Tortilla Pan Set” advertised on television and waited to find it available retail to test drive. It’s marketed by Allstar Products Group in New York, but the pans are made in China. Score zero for made-in-USA. The box contained four non-stick bowls for shaping/baking any size tortilla, promising “golden, crispy bowls in 5 minutes.”

I made bowls using corn tortillas first, after which I tried whole wheat tortillas. I’m puzzled by the “5 minutes” claim because cooking time alone was 7 to 10 minutes. Add in preheating the oven to 400° and you’re up to 20 minutes for a crispy bowl.  Directions state to wait 5 minutes before removing the tortilla bowl from its pan, during which time it cools and “shrinks” from the pan’s surface. Speedy this ain’t. But it is simple to use and performs as advertised (except for the “5 minutes” thing).

The corn tortilla, even after baking the maximum time, was chewy. Not crunchy. Not good. I won’t make corn tortilla bowls again. The whole wheat tortilla, which I preheated 10 seconds in the microwave to make it pliable and to prevent tearing, turned out crispy and delicious.

I plan to use the bowls for side dishes of refried beans or chili, although I may try using larger tortillas to create a taco salad bowl. If you have children or if you entertain, you may find a use for the tortilla bowl kit.

Bottom line: Tortilla Bowls work, but not in 5 minutes. As for tortillas, flour, sì. Corn, no.

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Filed under cooking, Healthful Eating, Mexican

Speedy Black Bean Chili

There is a growing trend of going meatless on Mondays. I’m no vegetarian or vegan, but I certainly see the advantages to “Meatless Mondays.” Choosing one day a week to enjoy meals without meat, seafood, or poultry gives me the opportunity to stretch my creative cooking muscles. I look for ways to boost fiber and nutrition while saving a buck (meatless meals almost always cost less). Black Bean Chili is my contribution to this week’s “Meatless Monday.” If you make this chili, don’t skip the fresh herbs. Chopped fresh cilantro (or if you prefer, parsley) brightens the flavors. You won’t miss the meat!

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RECIPE

BLACK BEAN CHILI

 

There’s no need to presoak beans if you’re using a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, substitute a large (15.5 oz.) can of black beans for the dried in the recipe. Cook over low heat in a covered saucepan for an hour.

 

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 onion
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups (1 pound) dried black beans
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 quart + 1 cup liquid (broth, water, beer—your choice)
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Salt and pepper (optional—taste before adding)
  • Juice of one lemon (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of a 6-quart pressure cooker with the nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic (I use the Vitamix).
  3. Over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic. Add the chili powder.
  4. Rinse beans and remove any hulls. Add beans to the pressure cooker pot.
  5. Add tomatoes and green chilies, stir to combine, then pour in all the liquid.
  6. Secure lid to the pressure cooker and bring to pressure.
  7. Cook under pressure for 35 minutes.
  8. Remove pot from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own for 5 minutes.
  9. Carefully release pressure and open pot according to your manufacturer’s instruction.
  10. (Optional step) Scoop out a cup of the beans and puree then stir in to thicken chili.
  11. Stir in chopped cilantro (or parsley), the juice of a lemon (optional but good!), and then serve topped with a tablespoon of your favorite topping, such as sour cream, shredded cheese, or salsa.

Yield: 6 1-cup servings

If you prefer chili that’s more soup-like in consistency, increase the liquid to 1½ quarts. Vary the recipe with different kinds of beans and flavorings. Caution: Do not decrease the liquids as they are necessary to pressure cooking safety.

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Filed under beans, Chili and Stew, Cilantro, cooking, Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes