Fish Tacos

There are so many versions of fish tacos out there and believe me I’ve tried more than my fair share. There’s nothing better than a deep fried crispy fish taco with a tangy coleslaw on top. Especially if it’s paired with a margarita and lots of sunshine. But, reality check, it’s February and it’s the time of year when we really need to shed those winter thermals (otherwise known as fat on the gut) and trim down our waste lines. This recipe will transport you to warmer times and deliver on flavor without all the guilt.

Ingredients

For the Fish: (this will make 4 good sized tacos, so 2 each)

  • 1lb of cod (it’s a nice white fish and much less expensive than Sea Bass or my favorite, Halibut)
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil drizzle
  • Yellow corn taco shells

Avocado Crema

  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Jalapeño (seeds and veins removed)
  • 1-2 spoonfuls of light sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper

Coleslaw

  • 1/2 red cabbage sliced thin
  • 1/2 of white cabbage sliced thin
  • Cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • Little olive oil
  • Splash of apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

You can buy a bag of pre-cut coleslaw to make it easier. I’ve used Whole Foods cabbage, carrot and beet slaw which is also great.  With the recipe above, you will have leftovers of the coleslaw which is great on its own as a salad or even better leftover the next day.

Directions:

Season your fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just a little cayenne if you don’t like spicy), lime zest, lime juice and olive oil. Let marinate in the fridge for 10-15 minutes while you prep your other ingredients.

Place your cabbage in a bowl with cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Using a small food processor, place all ingredients in for the crema- avocado, a bunch of cilantro, a jalapeno, lime juice, sour cream and salt/pepper. If for some reason it comes out too bitter, add a dash of agave syrup (or white balsamic) to sweeten it. I find sometimes if your avocado isn’t ripe enough, it needs it. Puree to combine.

Put your pan on medium/high heat and put fish in. Cook for a few minutes and flip. It won’t take long but it depends on how thick it is. When it’s solid white you are good to go!

While your fish is finishing, place your taco shell on the burner and brown. If you don’t have a gas burner, just heat it up anyway you like (in a pan, microwave, etc. I like the flavor of the char). 

Put your crema down first, then your fish and top with the tangy fresh cole slaw.

Eat and enjoy all the flavor and none of the guilt!

Here’s a snap chat video from the last time I made them.

 

Homemade Salsa

Homemade salsa is one of the easiest appetizers to make. You can do it in advance and pull it out in seconds. I recommend making it the day before you want to eat it for best results. It also will stay in your fridge for a while in an air tight jar. So many people ask me for this recipe. Your friends will too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (pictured below)
  • Half of a white onion, quartered (has to be white, can’t substitute here)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed
  • Bunch of fresh cilantro
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper for extra heat

Note: the type of tomatoes you use will affect the outcome of this salsa. I recently tried a different brand and the taste was way off. You can get the ones in the picture below a lot of places including Whole Foods. I use them for my Italian sauces too. This is KEY to good salsa.

Instructions


Pour the ingredients into a blender. Pulse until desired texture. I like mine a little chunky so you can see all the ingredients in it.

 



Put it in a jar and refrigerate for 2 hours. It won’t taste good until the flavors have a chance to merry for at least an hour. Serve with chips and you’re done!

Pork Carnitas

Initially I was weirded out by the technique of cooking pork carnitas…so much so that I almost scratched the idea. But I didn’t have 8-12 hours to slow cook the pork all day so I was really forced into the decision. And I’m so glad. This pork was so delicious and so tender and unlike anything I have ever made. You can put it on a sandwich with sauce, over nachos covered in toppings and cheese or in a taco, which is what we did.

I couldn’t imagine how boiling the meat could ever get it to look like this…

Ingredients:

For the Carnitas-

  • 4lb boston pork butt
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Cold Water
  • Organic blueberry juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • Seasoned Rub mixture  (see below)

For the Tacos-

  • Corn taco shells
  • Coleslaw: Cabbage & dressing (I made my own using mayo, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, a little sugar, salt, lots of pepper, and celery salt).
  • Avocado cream sauce (put an avocado, sour cream, cilantro, a jalapeno and lime juice in a blender-if it’s too tart, add some agave nectar)

Instructions:

Cut the pork in to 1-2 inch cubes and smother in a rub of your choosing.

I used a rub given to me by my neighbor, whose brother owns a BBQ joint in New York. So I can’t exactly tell you what’s in it but I can guess/give you a suggestion.

A combination of salt, pepper, chili powder, coffee grinds, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and maybe some brown sugar. This rub isn’t spicy but very flavorful. Pile it on and don’t be shy. Rub it in to the meat.

Get a heavy pot/pan and put your cut up and seasoned pork in it. Pour water until you reach more than half way up the pork. Then add blueberry juice–I think I used 1/4 cup or so. I also added a splash of orange juice and the zest of one orange.

Add the chopped onion, garlic and salt & pepper. Turn the heat on high and bring it to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce to a roaring simmer. (You can use a nice beer or another citrus/whatever you like. I saw the blueberry juice in the grocery store and thought it would pair nicely with the pork).

 


After 45 minutes…

Stir it occasionally so all the meat gets cooked under the broth. The goal is to get the liquid to reduce all the way down.

After about 2 hours, I took my pork out and turned the heat up a bit, stirring the sauce until it reduced down further.

Put the pork back in. I used two forks to shred the meat a part a bit so they all weren’t big chunks. This is an optional step. At this point you can turn the heat off if you aren’t ready to proceed. I had an errand to run so I left it off for 45 minutes.

Set your oven to 400 degrees about a half hour before you are ready to eat. Put your pork in the oven, uncovered. This will caramelize the meat and reduce down the rest of the liquid, if any. All the fat left in the pan will fry the meat on the high temperature. When it’s done to your liking, take it out and I removed some of the big fatty pieces. They taste good but I’m not a fan! I left mine in probably 40 minutes.

Here’s your meat! Ready to enjoy however you would like.

Can’t ever go wrong with tacos.

Here is my snap chat video from the day –

 

 

Crock Pot Flank Steak Tacos

We all have busy days when we don’t have time to cook dinner so the crock pot is a wonderful tool for the working….any person. I was very skeptical about putting flank steak in a crock pot but I would never post anything I didn’t think was awesome. 10 minutes in the morning allows you to come home to a ready made meal. Try it for yourself!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb flank steak
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste (I recommend Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce)
  • Spice rub of your choice. I used the following: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and coriander
  • White corn tacos (or whatever you like)
  • Toppings of your choice: mexican cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, etc but it honestly doesn’t need it

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Directions:

  • Rub your steak with the spices and place in the refrigerator overnight. You can do this the morning of but I was trying to save time. 
  • The next morning put your steak in the crock pot on the bottom.
  • Slice your pepper and onion and put on top of the steak.

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  • Pour the soy sauce and hot sauce around the steak.
  • Cook on low for 9 hours.
  • Shred and serve.

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If you divide by 4 servings and use 2 corn tacos per serving you can see below this is a very healthy dinner option.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn has recently gained popularity and when it started popping up on food shows and then local restaurants I was hooked. It’s a quick and easy recipe to make. When one of our legislators brought bags of fresh corn into the office from his farm, I immediately knew what I was doing with it.


Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn on the cob
  • About 1 tbsp Fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 spoonful of mayo (more to taste)
  • Cotija cheese (You can use feta crumbles as substitute if you can’t find cotija)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper


Instructions:

  • Grill your corn, rotating it to get black marks on all sides (about 7 minutes or so total). You can choose to rub some olive oil on it before placing on the grill but not necessary.
  • Mix a spoonful of mayo with the juice of 1-2 fresh limes. You want it a little soupy so you can drizzle it over your corn. Add salt & pepper and combine well.
  • Plate your corn, drizzle the mayo and lime juice mixture over the top. Then add cheese crumbles.
  • Top with cilantro and a few dashes of cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
  • That’s it- it’s that simple. Eat and enjoy. It’s a great side dish to tacos, enchilladas, baked chiles rellenos, fajitas or my oven baked chicken & avocado taquitos (recipe coming soon-photo below). See my Mexican recipes here. 

Baked Chorizo Chiles Rellenos

It’s the New Year and it’s time to try and reign in all the indulgent eating we did during the holidays. So now my focus is on making healthy meals that are still fun and delicious (otherwise I’d go crazy). I was craving some cheesy Mexican food so I found a way to satisfy my craving without too much fat and calories. You can do this without meat and add more beans and veggies but I love any excuse to use chorizo. I’m careful about where I buy meats like chorizo but Whole Foods makes one thats delicious and I feel better about the ingredients in there. And instead of breading and frying these peppers as is customary, we will bake them. Still delicious, still cheesy, just a little healthier for you.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano peppers, washed, top cut off and seeds removed
  • 2 links chorizo
  • 1/2 cup or so of black beans
  • Ancho chili powder
  • 1 small red onion
  • chopped scallions
  • Fresh cilantro and oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 bag of Mexican cheese blend (would also be good with manchego cheese or reduced fat cream cheese if you really want that creamy texture)
  • Olive oil for sautéing

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Instructions:

Pre heat the oven to 375.

Cut the chorizo out of the casing and put in a hot saute pan with olive oil and onions.

imageLet the meat brown a bit and using a spoon gently break apart the meat. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and incorporate well. When it’s cooked through and the onions are softened add your fresh chopped herbs and shut the heat off.

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Pour into a bowl and add the cheese. Mix well.

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Using a small spoon, stuff each pepper and place on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the peppers are cooked. I put my broiler on the end to give the pepper a nice char.

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Dig in! This is great leftover and you can bring it to work for lunch the next day.

Huevos Rancheros

Mexican breakfast eggs, as my husband calls it, or otherwise known as huevos rancheros is one of my favorite brunch selections. Some combination of eggs, beans, tortilla and salsa… yum. There’s endless ways to make this dish and mine is simply based off what I had in my kitchen. You can certainly make it for breakfast but “breakfast for dinner” is an even better weeknight option – cheap, easy and usually pretty fast. This meal also happens to be incredibly delicious.

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Ingredients:

-Eggs

-1 can black beans

-1 can pinto beans

-Fresh cilantro

-1 can fire roasted tomatoes

-1 onion

-3 cloves garlic

-Chicken broth

-1 lb flank steak (an optional ingredient but Kyle reeeally wanted steak that night and I reeeeally wanted eggs)

-1 red chili pepper (use any hot or sweet pepper you like)

-Ancho chili powder

-Salt & pepper

-Fresh head lettuce, chopped in thin strips (washed and refrigerated with a paper towel to get it crispy)

-Crumbled feta or cotija cheese (whatever you can find in the grocery store)

-Olive oil

Instructions:

If you are using flank steak, season well with salt, pepper, ancho chili powder, garlic powder and rub into the steak with a tiny bit of oil just to moisten it before you throw it on a hot grill. Cook on the first side about 7 minutes and then flip the steak over. Take it off when it reaches your desired temperature (I like it medium) and cover it with tin foil to let it rest while you make the rest of your meal. This will help suck all the juices into the meat and will leave you with a tender and juicy steak!

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Strain both cans of beans and add to a pot with fresh cilantro. You can add lime juice if you have limes or I added some chicken broth.

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I wanted to make the texture a bit like refried beans even though isn’t your traditional refried bean recipe. I mashed the beans up with a spoon and then I poured the flank steak juices on the plate to add some flavor to the beans. (Usually refried beans are cooked in bacon fat)

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Add your can of fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, pepper and onions to a pot. Season with salt & pepper and cook on medium heat.

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Puree the mixture with your hand mixer. I left mine as more of a chunky salsa rather than puree everything together to a smooth sauce.

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In a hot pan, heat up some vegetable oil to fry your tortillas. Cook them on both sides until they crisp up and start to brown.

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Top the tortilla with the bean mixture and then sliced flank steak.

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Then add your salsa.

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Finally, fry up an egg on medium to high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over easy and place on top of your salsa.

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Finish with shredded lettuce and feta or cotija cheese.

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Enchiladas Roja

Who doesn’t love some enchiladas? Shredded meat in a tortilla smothered with sauce and cheese? I’m in! I’ve previously posted a recipe for enchiladas verde and also a very healthy version of enchiladas. And this time I share with you my spicy roja sauce! And for the record, these aren’t terrible for you if you pay attention to the ingredients you buy.

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Ingredients:

-2 chicken breasts

-2 chicken thighs (optional to add, but the dark meat often adds more flavor)

-2 habanero peppers (only use 1 if you want it mild)

-3 garlic cloves

-3 or 4 small sweet peppers or 1 red bell pepper (If you like your sauce sweeter rather than spicy, consider using roasted red peppers)

-1 large can of tomato sauce

-Handful of cherry tomatoes (optional but I had them on hand so I threw them in)

-Tortillas (I bought a package of whole wheat and a package of spinach, they were only 110 calories which isn’t bad for a flour tortilla. In the end, Kyle and I felt the spinach was much tastier. Also, the whole wheat stands up better to the sauce and doesn’t get soggy as the white flour tortillas usually do- unless of course you fry them first which is customary)

-Manchego cheese, shredded

-Reduced fat Mexican cheese blend

-1/2 of spanish onion

-Fresh cilantro

-Ancho chili powder

-Salt & Pepper

-Olive oil

This recipe yielded two separate trays of 5 enchiladas. I made one for dinner and placed the other in the freezer for a weeknight when we have no food in the house!

Instructions:

In a hot saute pan add olive oil, garlic and peppers. Season with salt and let cook for 5 minutes or so.

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Add tomatoes and tomato sauce to the pan and puree using a hand mixer. Bring to a boil.

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Rinse your chicken and place them into the sauce with salt & pepper. Bring to a low boil then cover and simmer on low for roughly 20 minutes.

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Take the chicken out of the sauce and set aside to cool. Turn heat off the sauce as well.

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Using two forks (or your hands which is sometimes easier) shred the chicken apart. When your chicken is shredded, sprinkle salt, pepper and ancho chili powder on top and mix together.

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Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of your baking dish.

To assemble your enchiladas, put your chicken, chopped onion, fresh cilantro and a mix of each cheese in the tortilla. Roll it very tightly and place in your baking dish.

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Pour a layer of sauce over the center of your enchiladas and top it with the manchego cheese. You can choose to drench them all in sauce but I like my tortillas to remain a little crispy so I do it this way.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for roughly 30 minutes until the sauce and cheese are bubbling. Top with fresh cilantro.

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Serve with a side of black beans which I cooked with onion, lime juice and salt! Cheesy-saucy-goodness.

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Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Finding delicious new appetizers to bring to a summer BBQ is always a fun challenge for me. It’s a risk trying something new, especially when bringing it to a large group of people but if you just have confidence in your ingredients it will turn out great! I’ve seen a lot of Jalapeno Popper recipes on Pinterest lately but they are typically stuffed with some mixture of cream cheese and jack cheese and wrapped with bacon and sometimes fried. Not exactly healthy and not that exciting (to me) in terms of ingredients. I love jalapenos so I started thinking how I could put my twist on this recipe. I substituted using all that cheese with avocado and I bought an all natural chorizo made by Whole Foods meat department. I used fresh herbs, quality cheese and cooked them on the grill; great flavor with out all the fat.

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Ingredients:

-2 Fresh Chorizo sausage links from Whole Foods (you could substitute with other kinds of ground beef or pork but make sure you season it well with things like chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper cumin, etc.)

-2 garlic cloves

-12 to 15 jalapeno peppers (Make sure you pick out larger and fatter jalapenos so you can fit a lot of stuffing in them)

-1/2 of a ripe avocado

-1-2 tbsp whipped cream cheese with chives (of course you can use any kind but I had this in my fridge)

-Manchego cheese, freshly grated

-Fresh chopped cilantro

-Fresh chopped chives

-Juice from half of one lime

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Instructions:

-Cut your jalapenos in half and take out the seeds and membranes. If you have some jalapenos on the skinny side, cut off 1/3 of it so you have a big enough pepper to stuff.

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-Cut the casings off the chorizo and place in a medium hot pan with fresh chopped garlic.

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-Combine the cream cheese, avocado, fresh herbs and lime juice in a bowl. Add salt & pepper. When the chorizo cools, add it to the bowl and mix well.

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-Using a spoon, stuff each pepper and top with a sprinkle of manchego cheese. Press down the cheese into the stuffing so it sticks to the mixture and doesn’t fall off. I stuffed them in advance and covered with tinfoil for a few hours until they were ready for the grill.

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-Get the grill nice and hot and put the flames on a medium level. Place the jalapenos directly on the grill and cook until the cheese melts. It’s a good idea to warn your guests that sometimes jalapenos are mild and sometimes they are spicy–it’s hard to know which one you will get.

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-Pop one in your mouth! Enjoy!

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Ancho Chicken Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw and Avocado Crema

It’s taco night!! Kyle and I LOVE tacos. We have multiple restaurants nearby that serve fantastic tacos: Bodega in Darien, Molcajetes and Tacos Mexico in Norwalk and in Hartford, my coworkers and I love (almost) weekly trips to the Lucky Taco truck parked on Bushnell Park. Tacos are versatile, incredibly flavorful and the best part, are really not bad for you. (Okay, well if you stuff it with fried fish and lots of cheese, that’s another story).

I’ve made countless kinds of tacos: shrimp, steak, black bean & veggie…I could go on. But this week I was looking for a high protein and low-fat taco to compliment the T25 workout program Kyle and I are doing. So I used a skin less and boneless white meat chicken breast, red cabbage and an avocado crema topping.

I had to leave the house for a meeting before Kyle got home. I left the tacos out for him to eat and he texted me to say, “I ate 3, is that really bad??” I responded “Haha no; I also had 3”. And his response was “I feel like I was really bad…” meaning no way eating 3 tacos was a healthy choice! So, this proves to you they are delicious and don’t compromise on flavor. Now, let me prove to you that they are good for you.

For 3 of these tacos you are looking at roughly 450 calories, good fat from the avocado and a fresh vegetable. And you will be full. Kyle may have went on to eat 4 but who’s counting, and he’s allowed more calories. Dig in and enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless and skin less chicken breasts
  • 2 jalapenos (add one more if you like it hot!)
  • Fresh cilantro (maybe 1 cup? – just eyeball it people!)
  • 2 limes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp reduced fat sour cream (optional ingredient)
  • 1/3 of a head of red cabbage
  • 2 tbsp red or white vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp or so of ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp lawrys seasoning
  • White corn tacos

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Avocado Crema:

Cut the jalapenos in half, lengthwise and remove the seeds and stems.

Place jalapenos, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.

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Cabbage:

Slice the red cabbage into coleslaw-style strips. Add vinegar and salt and mix.

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Ancho Chicken:

I marinated my chicken overnight with ancho chili powder, lawry’s, pepper and a bit of extra virgin olive oil just to moisten the ingredients. If you use lawry’s you do not need to add more salt. The overnight marinade is an optional step. If you don’t have time, simply season the chicken before you cook it.

Sear the chicken on both sides of a hot pan to get a nice crust. Then add chicken broth or a squeeze of lime juice, place a lid over the pan and let cook on low heat.

When the chicken is close to being finished, remove from the pan and dice in tiny pieces on your cutting board. Then place back in the pan to be sure everything is cooked through.

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Build your tacos with each of the ingredients and enjoy them guilt-free!

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Mexican Black Bean Quinoa Burger

I love burgers especially those huge juicy, cheesy ones topped with tons of fun things! However, I am always willing to try new things–especially if means a healthy alternative. In anticipation of our vacation next week, I decided to stick with low carb and low-calorie meals.  For that reason I opted to rest the burger on a bed of kale and spinach but I this would be phenomenal on a bun! I tried black bean burgers on their own which were delicious but the quinoa makes the burger a bit more hearty and filling.  As far as toppings go, the options are endless. I went with a small scoop of guacamole and some tomatillo salsa I had on hand. You could do caramalized onions, a fried egg, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and much much more.

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • bell peppers (I used baby red, orange and yellow for nice color), chopped

Peppers

  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper for heat (optional)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 egg
  • 3 scallions, chopped (you can use onion instead)
  • 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
  • Avocado for topping
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chili powder (1/2 – 1 TBSP)
  • Cumin (1 teaspoon)

Instructions:

  • Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups liquid (water or chicken broth)
  • Strain the can of black beans and place in a bowl. Using a fork, mash up the beans so it will form into a burger. If you need to add a splash of water it will help the process along.

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  • Add the chopped ingredients to your bean mixture. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the ingredients and if you like lime zest like I do, add some to the bowl as well.  
  • Season with chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin.

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  • Add the cooked quinoa and egg to the bowl and mix well. I made 2 very large burgers with these ingredients. It might be more manageable to make 4 smaller patties – but it’s your call. 

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  • Heat a flat pan to medium high heat and spray with olive oil.
  • Place your burgers on the pan and cook until you crisp up each side and the ingredients head through (about 4-5 minutes per side)


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  • While they are cooking place half an avocado in a bowl with fresh lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to place on top of your burger.
  • Serve your healthy and flavor packed black bean burgers!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup has been on my food bucket list for a while now. (Yes, I have a food bucket list– which includes foods that I have never attempted to make. i.e. crab cakes, sushi, homemade ravioli, etc). Black beans are good for you and I happen to love them. And loving black beans is clearly a pre-requisite for making this soup. It’s easy to make and it’s a low-calorie, healthy anytime meal/snack (Kyle and I calculated a hefty bowl being under 300 calories). If you puree the entire batch (instead of adding ingredients back in for a hearty more chunky soup), it can be used as a delicious sauce on top of chicken or in a burrito. I know the photo doesn’t exactly make you salivate but I promise it’s good, real good. There were two ingredients I didn’t have in my house which I highly recommend adding; fresh lime juice for some acidity and fresh cilantro for a finishing touch.

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INGREDIENTS:
-4 cans organic black beans
-3-4 cloves of garlic
-1 red bell pepper
-1 Spanish onion
-Olive oil (for sauteing)
-1 Anaheim chile pepper (a jalapeño or other hot pepper of your preference is fine)

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-Broth – chicken, vegetable or beef is fine. It’s a matter of preference. I used vegetable because I had it on hand. I used about 1 box.
-Squirt of tomato paste (optional)
-Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano
-Optional Toppings: reduced fat sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:
-In a large soup pan on med-high heat, add chopped onions with salt and pepper. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add in the peppers and garlic. Stir and let cook for another minute.
-Add the strained and rinsed black beans to the pot and mix well (personal preference, not necessary). Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir again making sure everything is evenly coated. Let cook for a few minutes.

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-Take about 2/3 of the ingredients out and put in a small bowl to the side.
-Add your broth of choice. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.

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-Using your hand held mixer puree the soup until smooth. If you feel your soup is not thick enough add some tomato paste or if its too thick add more broth. (If you don’t have a hand held mixer, you can pour half of your soup into the blender)

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-Add the mixture you set aside back into the soup bowl and let simmer until you are ready to eat.
-Serve with a small scoop of reduced fat sour cream, a slice of avocado, a sprinkle of Mexican cheese and topped with fresh chopped cilantro. You can use any or all of these toppings. I happen to think the avocado added a creamy and decadent flavor to the soup. Enjoy!

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Guacamole

Guacamole can top a burger, taco or fajita, be a hearty side to an egg or chicken dish or, the best way to eat it is with some chips as an appetizer.

The main factor when making guacamole is to be sure you select good avocados.  Pick up an avocado and give it a squeeze. Select ones that are soft but NOT mushy.  They should “give” a little when you squeeze them. Pick the stem off the end. If its green underneath then you’re good. If its brown, put it back and find another one. (If it’s brown under the stem, it will be brown inside).  If they are very firm you can use them in a few days. Rumor has it if you store them in a brown paper bag with tomatoes for a few days it will help expedite the ripening process.  Choosing the right avocados will make or break your guac.  Also, if you need to make your guacamole in advance, place one of the pits inside your dish as it will keep it greener for longer.

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INGREDIENTS:
-2 or 3 avocados
-2 tomatoes, diced
-1 garlic clove, chopped fine (sometimes I use garlic powder)
-1/3 of a red onion, chopped fine
-1 jalapeño (keep seeds for a spicier guac)
-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
-1 lime, zest and juice (sometimes I use red wine vinegar instead, or I’ll use both)
-1 baby cucumber, cut into small pieces
-salt & pepper

Optional additions:

– Habanero hot sauce for some extra zing

– For a new twist add fresh shrimp to your guac! Boil the shrimp for 2 minutes, cut it in tiny pieces and mix into your guac.

– If being healthy isn’t your concern, add some chopped crispy bacon. It will give your guac some salt and crunch!

DIRECTIONS:
– Add the tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion, cucumber, and jalapeño to a mixing bowl.

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– Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Squeeze each half of the avocado into the bowl.

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– Using a butter knife, cut the avocado into chunks and gently mix the ingredients together.  Squeeze lime juice and zest 1/2 the lime on top. Then add fresh cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Gentle mix again.

– Serve with chips and enjoy.

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If you don’t feel strongly about a chip preference, I highly recommend the xochitl line. The spicy lime ones are amazing.

Or you can try these “crack chips”.  I call them that because they are incredibly addicting. I can eat a bag without thinking about it.  They actually don’t need salsa or guac because they are delicious on their own but with guac they are that much better!

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Cinco de Mayo

You can also browse these recipes and more by going to www.jewtaliansrecipes.com/tag/mexican.

Hope you have a fabulous Cindo de Mayo with good food and fun drinks!

Healthified Chicken Enchiladas

My father is on a new diet so last night’s dinner was all about taking a dish I love (see recipe here: chicken enchiladas verde) and making it calorie friendly.  My brother also happened to be home and he is on the opposite end of the diet spectrum. With this dinner we managed to make everyone happy. My father, who is on an 1800 calorie a day diet, consumed 424 calories and the rest of us consumed 614, the main difference being the cheese but he also only had one tortilla (with no cheese) and used lettuce for the rest whereas I had two tortillas. The lettuce wraps are a great way to enjoy a wrap with less calories and an added crunch. We did, however, find a whole wheat wrap with only 45 calories which is a great find! Overall this was a healthy meal with lots of fresh veggies that was delicious and offers you a lot of options when cooking for a diverse group of people.

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Above is a healthy option with the same tasty chicken used in the baked enchiladas below.

Keep in mind that cheese is about 100 calories per ounce, so you better make sure you want that cheese! It made me think twice about snacking on the delicious, sweet manchego cheese while cooking this meal.

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For the Salsa:

  • Can of whole peeled tomatoes, diced
  • Cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • Orange bell pepper, chopped
  • One jalapeño, chopped
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Juice and zest from one lime
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper
Combine and let the flavors meld for 20-30 minutes

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For the Chicken:

  • 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans Trader Joes green chiles
  • 1 jar Trader Joe’s salsa verde
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 white onion
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • One jalapeño
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat sour cream

Place chicken breasts in a pot of water with salt, pepper, and other seasonings if you have them on hand. I threw in some salt and oregano.  Bring to a light boil and let cook.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Saute the garlic,onion and jalapeno in one cap full of extra virgin olive oil until translucent. Add in 1 3/4 cans of green chiles, the jar of salsa verde, the lime and lime zest. Season with salt & pepper.  Add a dash of cumin.  You want this to cook down on medium to low heat until the onions are sweet and all the flavors meld together.

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Shred the chicken into small pieces with two forks or your fingers. Add the chicken and sour cream, salt & pepper to the pan.

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Roll each tortilla with 1/2 manchego and 1/2 asiago cheese and the chicken mixture.  Spray the bottom of your casserole dish with olive oil, place the enchiladas in the dish and then spray the tops of the tortillas with olive oil.  This is a much better alternative to frying the tortillas and they will still crisp up in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

When they are almost done, add the remaining chiles and cheese to the top of the enchiladas. When the cheese bubbles, take them out.

For the side of black beans:

  • Fresh lime juice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro

Tacos de Barbacoa

For some reason I have always been intimidated by large roasts and the braising process. I guess it’s fear of the unknown. But after making barbacoa I’m not sure why I was so scared; it was one of the easiest dinners I have made. And the flavor was extraordinary.

If you have been to Chipotle you are familiar with barbacoa. It’s tender, juicy and packs a spicy kick of flavor. After some googling I decided to use a recipe from a fellow blogger as I was too intimidated by the process to start from scratch as I normally do. If you know me, then you know I did vary the recipe a little. After tasting the final product, I can’t wait to try it again with my own twist.

P.S. This is a great recipe to make if you are having a large group of people over. You can start it in the morning, it won’t over cook, and when everyone arrives you just put out the toppings bar and heat up the tortillas! It’s easy, not a big mess, and not too expensive either!

See the original recipe here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 pounds boneless chuck roast, excess fat removed
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • The juice from one lime
  • 3-4 canned chipotle chiles with the adobo sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • A few teaspoons ground cumin
  • A few teaspoons dried oregano (I couldn’t find Mexican oregano in the grocery store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • Few dashes of ancho chili powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Corn tortillas
  • Diced white onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Optional: Buy the beef the night before and put a rub on it (salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, maybe some brown sugar) and place in the fridge over night.

  • Preheat the oven to 275°.
  • Combine the cider vinegar, lime juice, chipotle chiles, garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, clove, chili powder, black pepper and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth — about a minute or so.
  • Dry the roast all over with paper towels, cut away any excess fat.
  • Heat oil in a very large pot that is oven safe (I recommend le crueset) set over high heat until it begins to simmer. Sear the beef on all sides until deeply browned, about 10 minutes.

  • Add the chile puree to the pot and stir until the beef is well-coated. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring the liquid to a boil.

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  • Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the lid with tin foil and add the lid to create a very tight seal. Place the pot in the oven.
  • You want the meat to braise for 5-6 hours, removing the lid during the last hour or so to allow the simmering liquid to reduce slightly.
  • Allow the beef to cool slightly, spoon off any easily removable fat from the braising liquid and then use two forks to pull/shred the beef into bite size pieces. (You may want to check a few hours in that there is still enough liquid in the pot, if not, add more chicken broth.)
  • We took ours out after 4.5 hours and I don’t know how it could have been any better. The meat just fell apart.
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  • Taste and adjust as necessary for seasonings–usually I add salt after I pull the meat apart.
  • Serve spooned onto warm corn tortillas topped with diced white onion, fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice. A cold beer doesn’t hurt either! 🙂

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What to do with leftovers? Instead of having tacos again I heated up a can of black beans with cilantro, white onion and fresh lime juice. I also made some brown rice and topped with the barbacoa. Simple and delicious. Top with some Mexican cheese and you won’t consider these “leftovers”, nope, it will be another fantastic meal.

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Mexican Pillows

Two cultures collide when I use Mexican flavors and wrap them up inside a Chinese wonton.  It just works! I created this recipe for a Super Bowl appetizer and they were a lot of fun to make.  The nice thing about them is you can substitute with any meat, cheese and/or vegetables you like!

Ingredients:

  • Wonton wrappers
  • Chorizo
  • Red Onion
  • Garlic
  • Jalapenos
  • Tomatillo pepper
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Cream cheese (about 1/4 of a cup)
  • Asiago cheese
  • Lime (juice and zest)
  • Ancho chili powder
  • 1 slice bacon
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  • Saute onion, garlic, jalapenos, and tomatillo peppers for a few minutes. Add s&p.
  • Take chorizo out of the casing and add to pan.

  • Let ingredients cook for a few moments, add ancho chili powder, salt, pepper, the juice and zest from 1/2 lime.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for a few moments in the food processor. In the mean time cook a slice of bacon on the pan.  Soak up any excess grease.  Add chorizo mixture, bacon and  fresh cilantro in the food processor and blend together.

  • Remove from blender and put in a bowl. Add both cheeses and mix well.  Keep in mind you can use any cheese you  like.
  • Take out a wonton wrapper and place 1 spoon full in the center.  Dip your finger in water and wet the edges.  Then fold it in half.

  • For some texture, you can use a fork around the edges of the pillow.
  • After you have finished assembling your pillows, spray well with olive oil on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven until brown (about 15-20 minutes).  Of course you can fry them in some oil but I always prefer the healthier option. They still come out hot and crispy!

If you would like a dip for these Mexican Pillows try mixing avocado with sour cream and add some spices! It provides a cool relief to the hot and spicy pillows.  Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Saturday night was girls night in after a beautiful snowy day, so Alex and I decided to do some cooking.  We researched a few different chicken enchiladas recipes, compared them with what we had in my fridge and decided to make a healthier version, but trust me we didn’t lose out on flavor.  We paired the enchiladas with a side of black beans with onion, fresh cilantro, garlic and lime juice and the product was a tasty sweet and spicy dish!  And we had fun while doing it 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tomatillo peppers, papery husks removed, rinsed      

   

  • 1 jalapeno (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 jar salsa verde (I purchased this at Trader Joes which was all natural and included basic fresh ingredients I highly recommend it)
  • 1 white onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 Lime and zest
  • Tortillas (I used white flour)
  • 1 can green chiles (I used  a can of Trader Joe’s fire roasted green chiles)
  • Asiago Cheese, Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 Tbsp ricotta cheese (I would have preferred to use sour cream, puree avocado or mexican crema but we have to go with what we got– this actually worked really well!)
  • Optional: dried cumin and oregano
    
Instructions:
  1. Place chicken breasts in a pot of water with salt, pepper, and other seasonings if you have them on hand. I threw in some cumin powder and oregano.  Bring to a light boil and let cook.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Chop the onions, tomatillos, garlic and jalapeno.
  4. Saute 3/4 of the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add in the tomatillos, 3/4 of the can of green chiles, jalapenos, garlic, 1/3 of the jar of salsa verde, 1/2 of the lime and lime zest. Season with salt & pepper.  Add a dash of cumin.  You want this to cook down on medium to low heat until the onions are sweet and all the flavors meld together.
  5. Put strained black beans in small pot with about 1/4 of the onion, fresh chopped cilantro, 1/2 lime juice and lime zest.  Add salt & pepper and let cook so the flavors meld.
  6. By now the chicken should be cooked through.  Use two forks (or your hands) to shred it into small shredded pieces.  Put the chicken in a bowl with the ricotta cheese, and the rest of the jar of salsa verde. Add salt & pepper and mix well.
  7. Assemble the tortilla with chicken mixture, pepper mixture and top with fresh grated asiago cheese.
       8.  Roll the tortilla up and place seem side down in a casserole dish.  Repeat  until you use up all your fillings.  Spray the enchiladas       using your olive oil misto.  Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown.
       9. Take them out and top with the remaining green chiles with the mexican cheese blend and some more asiago cheese.  Put it back in the oven until the cheese melts.  Top with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
    Plate with your black beans and enjoy!!
PS.  I heated the leftover enchiladas back up in the toaster oven for lunch the next day and they were still delicious!

Flank Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri Sauce

Flank steak is delicious, inexpensive and relatively easy to prepare. Pair it with some chimichurri sauce and you’ve got yourself a fresh and tasty fajita night with very little prep and cooking time. Use whole wheat tortillas to keep it healthy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Flank steak
  • Soy Sauce
  • Beer (preferably a lager)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic, smashed
  • Onion
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Whole Wheat Tortilla


For the Chimichurri: (the star of this meal!)

  • Fresh flat leaf parsley
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar

Directions:

Pat the flank steak dry with paper towels and place in a baking dish. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Put a layer of sliced onions and smashed garlic on the flank steak. Pour the beer and soy sauce over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge. Make sure the meat is room temperature before you cook it. You can opt to just do a dry rub on you flank steak which is what I normally do. You get a lot of flavor especially with a Cajun rub or something with a spicy flavor. With this recipe, I was trying something different inspired by Marcella from Mexican Made Easy (if you haven’t seen this show, watch it!!).

To make the chimichurri, use a small chopper or food processor. Add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pulse it lightly as you don’t want the mixture to heat up too much.

Chop up slices of one onion and one bell pepper, saute with extra virgin olive oil and s&p.

Prepare a grill, grill pan or heat up your broiler. I had to use a broiler because my grill pan wasn’t large enough. Cook the steak, without moving it, for about 5 minutes on each side, depending how thick your meat is. You want the outside nice and brown but the inside red to pink.

Transfer the steak to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Cut diagonally across the grain into slices 1/4 inch thick. This can be tricky but will come with practice.

Heat up your tortilla, place a few strips of beef, peppers & onions, and top with chimichurri. Enjoy!

Shrimp Tacos with a corn, poblano pepper and black bean salsa

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with tacos.  At work, we make weekly Friday visits to the taco truck.  Thinking about the endless possibilities of what you can put in a taco makes my mouth water.  I’ve made quite a few versions of tacos over the last year but Kyle and I agree, tonight’s tacos were incredible.  It doesn’t get much better than this!

Ingredients:

  • Shrimp (I always keep frozen uncooked shrimp in the freezer which is a great protein to have on hand)
  • Corn Tacos (I highly recommend the yellow corn and whole wheat tortillas I found at Whole Foods. They made this dish! See photo at the end.)
  • Grilled poblano pepper (I used a grill pan because I sadly don’t have a grill)
  • Fresh Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 can Yellow Corn
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1/2 can Black Beans
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Red Wine Vinegar (I would recommend lime juice and lime zest but didn’t have any tonight)
  • Mexican cheese blend

Instructions

  1. Grill the poblano pepper, red onion and yellow corn.  (I put the pepper on first, and then added the onion and corn to the grill pan with salt and pepper to give it a nice flavor).
  2. While that is cooking, chop up a large amount of fresh cilantro and tomatoes.  Put it in a mixing bowl with the black beans.  When the pepper, onion and corn are done cooking (about 5-7 minutes), let cool and then add to the bowl.  Add salt and pepper and a splash of red wine vinegar (or fresh lime juice).
  3. Put a flat pan on the stove on medium to high heat. Lightly rub the end of a stick of butter on the pan to slightly coat it.  Add shrimp with salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Cook on each side for roughly 2 minutes. Don’t over cook the shrimp or it will get chewy.
  4. When the shrimp is done, heat up the tacos on the same flat pan.  Plate with a bit of Mexican cheese, shrimp and salsa.

Chili for the Non-Beef Eaters

Enjoy a healthy turkey chili on a cold fall afternoon!  I learned this recipe when I was on a diet last year and adapted it to my liking.  It also comes in handy when Kyle’s parents visit since they don’t really eat meat.  I was originally scared of the ground turkey but in something like chili, you really can’t taste the difference.  And, it’s a lot healthier!

Look at those beautiful colors!

Ingredients

  • Ground turkey
  • Bell peppers (any colors you like)
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Cubanelle Pepper (optional)
  • Tomatillo peppers or habanero peppers for some heat!
  • Garlic
  • Spanish Onion
  • Ancho Chili Powder (has a better flavor over regular chili powder in my opinion)
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Can chopped tomatoes
  • Can tomato sauce (if necessary I like my chili  on the thicker side)
  • Tomato paste (if necessary)

Instructions

  1. Saute garlic, onion and peppers in olive oil. Add s&p, ancho chili powder and some chopped cilantro.
  2. Add ground turkey and mash up with spoon.  If you have some leftover red wine from the night before feel free to add some now and let it cook off for a few minutes.
  3. Add more s&p, a good deal of ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. S&P. Bring to a boil.
  5. Let simmer for a few hours. Add tomato paste for desired thickness.
  6. Serve with fresh cilantro, fat-free sour cream and a sprinkle of mexican cheese.  Today I served it over a hot baked potato with steamed broccoli!  Mangia!

Tacos!!!

Tacos can be made with any kind of meat, fish or vegetables. I happen to love pulled chicken in this delicious fresh sauce. I never make them the same but try these delicious Mexican treats I made the other night! I wish I had a photo to share!

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast
  • Small corn soft tacos
  • Any toppings you may like. We like to keep it simple: lettuce, fresh chopped tomatos, cut up avocado and fresh cilantro
  • For the Sauce:
  • Jalapeno
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber
  • Roasted Garlic (or regular is fine)
  • Roasted poblano or cubanelle pepper (skin peeled)
  • Fat free sour cream and/or avocado
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. Boil chicken breast until cooked through. Let cool. Pull apart with two forks and set aside in bowl. I do recommend throwing some garlic, onion, other vegetables and/or seasoning into the water for a tastier chicken.
  2. Roast garlic in toaster oven for as long as you can. Spray with some olive oil for added flavor. I just cut the top off the garlic bulb, wrap it in tin foil, spray with olive oil and stick it in!
  3. In a blender add jalapeno, cucumber, cilantro, roasted garlic, roasted pepper, s&p. Add some of the broth your chicken cooked in to loosen it up.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken and add a spoonful of fat free sour cream to thicken sauce. You can also consider adding freshly pured avocado for desired texture.
  5. Mix chicken and sauce together and heat up corn taco shells. Have a taco bar and let everyone make their own!
  6. Delicioso!