Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Food fit for a fiesta

I was craving Mexican food so intensely yesterday. It's been way too long since I've had real, good, Mexican food. I was craving the stuff I had in LA. I'd never tried to make anything like it before, and I decided to give it a go. Five new recipes later (it only took an hour to make everything) I was a very happy woman. I'm recording how I did this mainly so I won't forget, and so next time I'm hankering for Mexican I can satisfy my craving.


The first thing I started on was the rice.

I mixed a cup and a half of basmati rice (it's all I had) with three cups of chicken broth and half a can of diced tomatoes with chiles (I used the other half for the beans), turned on the rice cooker, and started on the beans.



(recipes adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe - "Rice & Beans")

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and saute, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until all the veggies are soft and tender. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, oregano and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or two of hot water to thin to desired consistency.

Stir in the fresh cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve over the hot rice.



While the beans were cooking I pulled some cooked frozen shredded chicken out of the freezer (I love when I have it on hand!) and spiced it up with the following (no measurements, but go heaviest on the chili powder and the cumin and you won't be disappointed). Just put a bit of everything and keep adding more and tasting as you go until it reaches perfection.

- Chili powder
- Garlic salt
- Oregano
- Cumin
- Paprika
- Crushed red pepper flakes (add these a bit at a time, as they add spice fast!)
- Onion powder

I heated the chicken and added a little veggie stock if it started drying out. Once it was hot, I put a lid on it, and got to making the pico de gallo!


Pico de Gallo:
(or fresh salsa, as I usually call it)

This one is so good! It's like a mexican bruschetta. Here's how I made it.

1 diced tomato
1 teaspoon diced red onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste.

Mix it all together, and then squeeze a bit of lime juice on top. I just made this recipe up, do maybe it doesn't follow the rules of real pico, but it worked for me. It's super quick and easy to prepare, and at this point the rice is cooked and staying warm in the cooker, the beans are getting there?, and the chicken is hot. One more dish to whip up, and you're set.


Avocado crema
This recipe is adapted from What's Gaby Cooking (another awesome food blog... can you tell how I spend free time?)

2 small avocados
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons water - to thin it out
salt to taste

Remove the avocados from the skin, remove pits, and place them into a food processor. Add the yogurt, green onions, and lime juice to the food processor and blend for until smooth. Add the water to thin out the crema and then remove the finished product with a spatula.
Taste and season with salt as needed.
Serve with tacos, nachos, or whatever else you see fit!

Her original recipe calls for chives and sour cream. I think Greek yogurt is plenty sour, and chives are pricey, so I changed it. I also added one more avocado than she did (she uses one) but that might just because I have avocados that need to be eaten.


Now that everything is finished at the same time, you can heat up the corn tortillas (microwave three at a time, stacked, between moist paper towels for 20-30 seconds). You can make little tacos, or just pull apart the tortillas and used that to scoop up little mouthfuls of everything else. I ended up mixing everything on the plate. Kimball loved it too, (thank goodness; it was a busy hour!) and even said, "This is blog-worthy!"

So here it goes, onto the blog.

There you have it. This was such a treat for us. I hope someone out there can experience the delight that this meal was sometime. Even just part of it.

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