Mexican, Mexican, all the time Mexican.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mexican food, you beautiful thing you.  Mexican food is like the food that keeps on giving.  Quesadillas, burritos, burrito bowls, salads.  There's no end to the combinations.  Late last week I realized I'd made some variety of Mexican every single night that week.  Luckily, my family's affinity for this fabulous food group is pretty strong too.  No one even knew it'd been a week of Mexican!  And who cares if they had.  A week of Mexican is a week well-spent.  

I'll try to go through the gist of what we had last week and maybe it'll inspire you in the kitchen.  I know I am always looking for inspiration in the kitchen.  Either the recipes are coming at me rapid-fire or my mind is a blank slate.  So, if melted cheese and avocados and browned seasoned beef with a dollop of sour cream is your thing, read on.

(I'm pretty sure this isn't entirely authentic Mexican.  I've been to various parts of the country, and what they serve definitely looks different.  Perhaps this post would be more aptly titled: Tex Mex, Tex Mex, all the time Tex Mex.)

I had a few avocados that, when squeezed, had just the perfect give to them.  And so, guacamole was born.  Sometimes I get a little bit fancier with my guacamole, but if time isn't on your side, a few cranks of a sea salt shaker will do you just fine.  When time is on your side, however, sea salt, some chopped cilantro, fresh minced garlic (really good addition), and a few spoonfuls of a pico de gallo.  Our favorite salsa is the one in the Trader Joe's refrigerated section, plastic container.  I'm not sure exactly what it's called but it's very much a chunky "pico de gallo" as opposed to the blended type of salsa.  And, don't knock it till you try it, some feta cheese is amazing in guacamole too.  

Add some cilantro lime rice, shredded cheddar, chopped romaine, iceberg, or spinach, another scoop of salsa, browned beef or shredded chicken, and refried beans and you've got yourself a burrito bowl.  This is one of my favorite dinners because, it's a build-your-own which is always fun (especially for the kids), and because it's flour-less.  Not that I'm anti-flour, but I could eat it (and do eat it) all the time so to find a meal without any is a bonus.  Another great thing about this recipe: I almost always have some combination of the ingredients on hand.  Worth mentioning is the refried beans I buy.  They're the ones from Trader Joes that say vegetarian with an added salsa--in a can.  I'd like to eventually make my own, but haven't gotten there yet.  They're so good, less thick than the other varieties (you know the kind that have to be seriously coaxed out of the can) and so smooth and delicious (plus organic!).  I heat them up on the stove and add a good amount to my bowl.  I know refried beans aren't everyone's cup of tea but I love the stuff.  I'd dip chips in it or eat it straight off a spoon.  Other options: corn, sliced red bell peppers, or black beans instead of refried beans.  If jalapeƱos are your thing (they're not ours), add some too! 

Another favorite, are you still with me?, is quesadillas.  When I've had the foresight to defrost and cook chicken (in a crock pot is my favorite way!), the options are endless.  Sometimes I pull out four chicken breasts, cook them in the crock pot with a splash of water, and keep them in the fridge.  I high-five myself when I approach the dinner hour and realize I have meat already cooked!  You can do nearly anything with it but, Mexican is the obvious choice.  Is there a theme here?  I pull it apart, for some reason shredded/pulled chicken is infinitely better than cubed.  Then, with your open fajita shell, add cheese, black beans, red pepper (onion would be good here too), and a few pieces of your chicken (or beef?).  Fold it in half and close it in a panini press, or a pan with a flat lid that can press it down to stick the sides together.  Once it's cooked, the sides are browned and crispy, and the cheese is melted, put it on a flat surface and cut it into triangle pieces with a pizza cutter.  Add a big scoop of sour cream and salsa to it and it's DELICIOUS.  Everyone, including Parker, loves these--the dipping and the eating.  Steve actually declared last week, "BRIDGE.  This is better than any restaurant."  Yeah, I sort of know my way around a quesadilla.  Not a humble-brag, just a brag.  

And finally, all of the stuff mentioned above, but on a salad.  A taco salad isn't a huge departure from a burrito bowl.  In fact, I'd argue that dumping a burrito bowl onto a plate, you've got yourself a taco salad.  Maybe add another handful of greens to really help it own its name.  Add some crushed corn chips for a little added crunch.  (We don't use salad dressing on taco salads because with all of that added stuff, it's not really necessary.)  Several bowls on the table, all full of ingredients... kids are psyched.  When kids are psyched, Mom's psyched too.

And an added note: when we eat at home, we always buy our meat organic.  It's expensive (sometimes I'm slightly debilitated by the cost of organic chicken at Trader Joes.), so I up the fill-factor in other ways.  Beans and veggies.  We love meat (I really love meat, especially red meat), but for all of us I generally only cook a pound of ground beef or two to three chicken breasts.  We rarely (like four to five times per year?) have a meal where meat is the main dish.  I'd like to more, but it's not in the budget.  So, this is the perfect way to still be full and feel like you got some meat in you.

And that is our week of Mexican.  

Any recipe ideas for me?  Give 'em.

41 comments:

  1. I share your obsession. Actually, I can't recommend this book enough: http://hilahcooking.com/breakfast-taco-book/ (I got the ebook version and take the iPad to the kitchen!)

    Yum. My office lunch looks very boring now.

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    1. thank you!! it has 'taco' in the name so... this is an easy purchase.

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    2. Haha my thoughts exactly!

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  2. Sounds so good. And today is Taco Tuesday in our house so this is perfect timing for me :) Amy over at Taking Steps Home just made a burrito bowl too http://instagram.com/p/mOjd18sxcm/ I think we all have the Mexican food fever! :)

    ann

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    1. why haven't I implemented taco tuesday yet? why? how dumb. you're onto something.

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  3. "A week of Mexican is a week well-spent." There have never been truer words spoken ;) I'd recommend Lime Soup for a rainy day: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/yucatan-lime-and-chicken-soup

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    1. lime soup?! I'm so intrigued. and obsessed with citrus in my meals, so this is on the docket.

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  4. My husband could eat Mexican food every day and still complain we don't eat it enough. I need to try that rice. I crave that rice.

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    1. summer has a million great recipes. try any of them!

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  5. Hi! Love your blog. Speaking of ways to get the family dollar to stretch- do you ever buy Trader Joe's pizza dough? I know you can make it...but TJ's makes it SO much easier! I like to spread it out really thin, have everyone make their own, and load it up with fun things. Last night I did pesto, some halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. 12 minutes at 450 degrees and it is amazing. Also the dough is good for making calzones...

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    1. I'm glad you brought this up. I've never bought it, but I love the idea of making our own pizzas. I pass it all the time and consider it, then skip over it. NO MORE. getting it. thank you!

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    2. In the summer, try GRILLING the pizza's!
      1. Brush grill with oil (or spray the dough with Pam....gross but works)
      2. Grill for two minutes or until it gets lightly toasted
      3. Flip dough over and put toppings on the now-grilled up-side
      4. Close lid of grill and let cook until cheese is melted and bottom isn't burned!

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  6. Oh yes…I'm right there with ya on the mexican (tex mex?). I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be happy. I have a few things that may rock your tex mex world…Bearitos organic vegetarian refried beans (THE BEST BEANS EVER). I get them in the natural section at Fred Meyer/Kroger. A little more spendy than TJs beans but there is something about them, maybe a spice that makes them SOOO good. They come in refried black beans but I'm a fan of the pinto. Give me some chips and I'm set.

    Also, I was never a pork fan until I made carnitas in the crockpot. "Carnitas" is just a fancy name for mexican (not even tex mex!) shredded pork for tacos and such. I've been using this recipe for years and it's one of our favorite meals ever, plus it's cheap for a "meat" meal and makes a ton so theres always leftovers for burritos and quesadillas...
    http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pulled-pork-tacos-00000000008021/

    Another of our all-time favorite recipes is from Martha and I use it as a filler for burrito bowls on top of cilantro lime rice, topped wth guac and some greek yogurt (our stand in for sour cream…you literally can't tell a difference)...
    http://www.marthastewart.com/315328/slow-cooked-tex-mex-chicken-and-beans?czone=food/comfort-foods-center/comfort-foods-dishes&center=0&gallery=274310&slide=281842

    And one more fave, this is an oven fajita recipe. Super simple just lots of chopping. Make sure you drain the tomatoes really well! I like to add zucchini strips to bulk it up some more…
    http://realmomkitchen.com/9318/oven-baked-chicken-fajitas/

    Haha I think I just hijaked your post, definitely a great idea…I'll totally be trying some of these recipes!

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    1. ooh! zucchini strips. i like that idea. thanks for the ideas!

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  7. Jealous of all of your mexican food. My oldest got suuuuper sick after eating a burrito one time and still has trouble with it. I'm not big on making two meals, so we don't eat it very often.

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    1. DAMMIT.

      well, when the kids are in bed, you'll have to make these for you and your husband.

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  8. Oh, I love mexican-esque food. A burrito bowl is my fave. My husband hates mexican (should I get a divorce??) but he travels a lot and when he does, I pretty much eat some form of mexican every night.

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    1. do you get them at chipotle? I do. they're awesome. try if not!

      divorce isn't out of the question...

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  10. Hi there!
    Linking to Pinch of Yum, who has some fabulous Mexican recipes on her blog. Here's one of my favorites: http://pinchofyum.com/southwestern-quinoa-and-black-bean-casserole
    Enjoy :)

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    1. thank you! I'm not a huge quinoa fan but I feel like I really need to get over that and give it a few more tries.

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  11. Ok this recipe I am about to give you is my favorite, so easy and so good! Plus it is a crock pot meal which makes it 10 times better and easier.

    Throw the following ingredients into a crock pot:
    1 can corn (half drained)
    I can black beans (not drained)
    3-4 chicken breasts (if small, 2 if large)
    Half packet taco seasoning (mild or spicy, depends on what you life, add more to taste wanted)

    Cook for 6 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. When chicken is done, shred the chicken. Now you have a delicious filling to go on a tortilla with sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, and whatever else your heart desires! I make this meal at least once a week.

    Hope this helps,
    Heidi
    insincereapologies.blogspot.com

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    1. CROCK POT MEALS WIN FOREVER.

      do you ever put the chicken in still frozen? I heard you can. mind-blowing!

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    2. I totally have put the chicken in still frozen, and it does come out good, but it is much more tender and shreds easier if it is thawed first!

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  12. 100 Day Of Real Food has a suuuuper easy way of making refried beans in the crockpot. Like, ridiculously easy. I doctor up her recipe a little and we love them! We make our own Mexican pizzas by baking tortillas until they're crispy, then spread on a layer of refried beans, greek yogurt/sour cream, onions, tomatoes, salsa, you get the idea :) And no need for chips since you have the crunch as part of the main dish!

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    1. does it start with dried beans? I'm guessing it does. SUCH a cheap way to buy beans too. I don't know why I haven't tried it yet. oh yes I do, because I'm lazy and canned is easier!

      those Mexican pizzas sound amazing.

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  13. Whenever I'm jonesing for summer I crave mexican food. It's basic physics for me!

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  14. A trip to San Antonio, Texas would seriously do you some good. There are a billion mexican food (tex-mex) and mexican "fusion" restaurants here. I don't eat (indulge) in Mexican food often, but when i do, i try to keep it simple:

    "Tacos Callejeros"
    heat corn tortillas on each side (I actually buy Ezekiel although it's nice to use the "bad kind" sometimes) in a cast iron. Just a quick warming, then wrap them in a hand towel until they are all done. Add a dab of re-fried beans to base of each taco, then add shredded chicken. Top off with diced avocado and crumbled queso fresco (if you can find it!). A lot of the high-end mexican restaurants around here like to add their version of coleslaw as a topping as well. I recreated my own version of it.

    Coleslaw:
    1 small head cabbage (about 11⁄4 pounds) (you can also cheat and use the ready-made bag)
    2⁄3 cup sour cream
    3 tbs. fresh lime juice
    2 tsp. ground cumin
    1 garlic clove, pressed
    1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
    1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro

    thinly slice the cabbage (you should have about 6 cups). Stir the sour cream, lime juice, cumin, garlic and salt together in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, and cilantro, and stir together. Refrigerate. (Can be prepared to this point up to one day ahead.)

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    1. that coleslaw sounds SO GOOD. thank you!

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  15. Love this post and love all the comments with added recipes. I need to check them all out! Question: how do you brown/season your meat? Do you season it differently for burritos vs quesadillas? I think that'd be my husband's one drawback (tho we love 'tex mex') is if the beef/chicken tasted the same all week...even with melting it, tossing it in salad, etc etc. My go to is salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and a dash of cayenne pepper. Anything I'm missing out on?
    Kat

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    1. ah! And I add a bit of tomato sauce at the end and let it all soak up flavor together for a bit.

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  16. Super easy refried beans: can of pinto beans (slightly drained), half of a small can of diced green chilies, pat of butter. Cook til heated then mix w/an immersion blender. Easy peasy! Tried a vegetarian sweet potato and black bean flauta the other day and it was delish: http://www.peasandcrayons.com/2012/09/baked-black-bean-sweet-potato-flautas.html

    Enjoy reading your blog!

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  17. Mexican food is close to heaven on earth. That goes for avocados too. ;)
    Heaven is for Real review (release date April 16) http://bit.ly/1h0O6Rd

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  18. That guacamole sounds really fancy and yum!! I normally have it just plain but might have to try your recipe. Love mexican.

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  19. LOVE mexican over here, too! Recently made this black bean soup...
    http://www.amuse-your-bouche.com/veggie-packed-slow-cooker-black-bean-soup/#xVewdVtjpO3tCYiE.32
    SO SO good. My daughter loved it, too, which is always a plus ;)

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  20. Mmm. This is making me insanely hungry for quesadillas. Tacos are a regular staple in our weekly menu but I get so tired of them. You make all of these alternatives sound soooo much better!

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  21. Hi Bridget! As a fellow lover of Mexican food and easy dinners, I had to comment with some of our favorite Mexican recipes. We love skirt steak tacos/burrito bowls. This recipe is a current favorite (and...crock pot. Yes!). I use skirt steak and typically get about a 1-1.5 lb piece, so it's pretty inexpensive. If you don't like spicy, you could certainly adjust the cayenne/jalapeno. The rub is great and the meat comes out tender and perfect. http://www.eatliverun.com/crock-pot-beef-carnitas-tacos/

    For incredibly easy (seriously takes maybe a minute to make--it's actually in my crock pot now! :) ), we enjoy this recipe. I use the jarred Trader Joe's salsa verde. The Archer Farms version is good, too. This chicken is perfect for burrito bowls, quesadillas, tacos, etc.
    http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/04/easiest-crock-pot-salsa-verde-chicken.html

    And, lastly, we have recently tried cilantro lime cauliflower rice. I was totally a doubter. Would it be bland? Mushy? Not rice-like? Moral of the story, we loved it! A healthier alternative to rice that my rice-loving husband REALLY enjoys. WIN! I do add a little olive oil at the end as I stir in the lime juice. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/10/cilantro-lime-cauliflower-rice.html

    p.s. Sorry for the SUPER long comment. LOVE your blog!

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    1. i've heard of the crock pot chicken/salsa verde mix! why haven't I tried it yet though?!

      and cauliflower rice?! MUST TRY. i loooove cauliflower.

      thank you for the comment!!

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  22. Good Mexican food is probably the only thing I miss about living in Texas (other than family of course!). You've never had a good, fresh tamale until you have your neighbor (Maria) bring a batch to you wrapped in foil, still hot! She was a goooood neighbor and I was a lucky girl to have her as my neighbor. :)

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  23. I'm living in Beijing and have a Chinese boyfriend; luckily for me, he LOVES Mexican food ever since I introduced it to him. We made tacos at home for the first time last night and after just a couple bites was asking when we could have them again. I'll have to try some of these!

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  24. This post was perfect timing; I am dairy free and was running out of ideas!

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(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)

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