Tag Archives: Mexican

Seasonal Recipe: Homemade Salsa

20 Jul

Snack of champions: chips and homemade salsa.

Grace’s hippie sister, Emily, here, surfacing for the first time in months to share a recipe that should come in handy for anybody who has a vegetable garden (or a neighbor with a garden).

That’s right, kids: It’s salsa time.

Use an entire head of garlic. Seriously.

Start by throwing a big handful of cilantro (one bunch from the grocery store or whatever you have in your garden will do) into a food processor and pulsing it until it’s nice and fine and feathery. Next, take a head of garlic, separate and peel the cloves, cut off the ends, and throw ’em into the food processor. Give ’em a good whirl to mince them, then add hot peppers to taste. Four serranos will give you a nice medium-hot salsa; adjust the quantity to suit your taste, and feel free to substitute whatever peppers you prefer (or need to use up).

I like red onions, but red or yellow will work as well.

Next, add three cored, quartered bell peppers in any color and a peeled, quartered onion, processing after each addition. Add the juice of two or three small limes — proportions aren’t critical, but you want to get a little extra acid in there for canning purposes — and process to mix.

Tomatillos look like little green tomatoes with husks.

If you can put your hands on some tomatillos, peel and core about five of them and add them to the mix at this point. If you can’t, don’t worry about it; they aren’t absolutely necessary, but they do add a nice flavor if you happen to have them. Process, then dump the mixture into a large bowl to make room in the food processor for your tomatoes.

Core and quarter about three pounds of tomatoes (Romas are ideal, but any kind will do; just be aware that the juicier varieties will make a finished product that’s more like picante sauce than salsa) and chop them in the food processor.

Now, here is a neat trick: If you have extra cucumbers that you need to use up, you can add a couple to your salsa at this point, and nobody will be any the wiser. Just chop them finely and stir them in. You’ll never notice them by the time they’ve absorbed the other flavors. You could probably do this with zucchini, too, although I wouldn’t use too much, lest it compromise the texture.

Unless your food processor is huge, you'll have to do half the tomatoes at a time.

Stir everything together in a huge bowl. At this stage, the salsa will probably look kind of bubbly and unappealing. Remedy this by stirring in ground cumin until the froth goes away, then stirring in chili powder until the color looks nice and red.

Salsa cans well in a boiling-water bath.

You can either eat the salsa now or pack it into clean pint jars with an inch of headspace and process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Serve nice and cold with plenty of tortilla chips or fresh vegetables for dipping. Makes about three quarts.

I like to bring this salsa to office parties. It always impresses people, and it’s safe for vegetarians, diabetics, and various other dieters, especially if you bring celery sticks and cucumber slices for low-carb dipping.


Low-Carb Recipe: Slow-Cooker Olive Turkey

13 Jan

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Plain turkey drumsticks get a saucy makeover in this easy dish.

Note: I see James Ramsden also has a poultry-and-olive combo on his own blog this week, albeit Morrocan-style in his case. I guess great minds think alike!

Turkey drumsticks are a great sale find at our local grocery store, and I love thinking up new ways to present them. I also love using my Crock Pot as much as possible when I’m restricting carbs. It keeps meal preparation fun and gives me something to look forward to all day, instead of staring at yet another bunless hamburger when I get home. 🙂

The combination of dark meat and slow-cooking keeps this version moist and tender, and the Mexican ingredients are a perfect match for stronger-flavored game poultry. Continue reading

Cheap Recipe: Mexican-Style Stuffed Peppers

13 May

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Mexican stuffed peppers.
An ethnic variation on a classic oven-baked dish.

A sale on stoplight-packaged bell peppers last week was timed perfectly with some leftover rice I had sitting in the refrigerator. On a whim, this version of an old standby (usually prepared with Italian seasonings and ingredients at my house) was born.

You can whip up a small amount of chili sauce for this recipe (like I did), use thawed leftover chili (this batch variation freezes quite nicely), or even substitute a can or two of Hormel in its place. My version is vegetarian, but obviously you can use ground beef or shredded chicken in the chili or even in the rice mixture if you like.stoplight bell peppers

My new Pfaltzgraff dish

Thanks, Pfaltzgraff, for my adorable new casserole dish!

Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees. Remove stems/caps from and hollow out the insides of 4 bell peppers (green, red, whatever) but try to leave shells intact all the way to the top opening, forming a sort of tall bowl.


Meanwhile, mix 1 can of black beans (drained) with 2 regular cans diced tomatoes (undrained) over medium burner heat in a large pot. Stir in 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

tomatoes, beans and spices

Tomatoes, beans and spices.

When mixture is thoroughly warmed, incorporate 1-1/2 to 2 cups leftover cooked rice into the bean mixture. Stir well until heated through.

leftover rice

Leftover rice. (Mine was saffron rice but it really doesn't matter.)

The excess liquid from the tomatoes will prevent the rice from drying. Cover warm mixture and remove from burner heat.

Stand the hollowed peppers upright in a square casserole dish so that each pepper helps to hold the others up. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese in the bottom of each pepper.

rice & chili mixture

Rice and chili mixture.

Spoon enough rice/bean mixture over the bottom cheese layer until almost level with top openings of peppers.

Cheese in the bottom

Cheese in the bottom.

Smush about 1/4 cup additional shredded cheese over rice mixture, or as much as will fit without spilling over.

Use a small spouted pitcher or cup to pour about 1/2″ water into bottom of casserole dish.

Rice in the middle.

Rice and beans in the middle.

Place uncovered dish in preheated oven; cook 20-25 minutes or until cheese is entirely melted and peppers have begun to soften slightly.

Water in the pan

Cheese on top and water in the pan bottom.

A fork inserted into the outer skin of one of the peppers should indicate doneness.

Serve in small bowls or freeze individually in small, lidded containers.

Microwave frozen leftovers individually on HIGH for about 3 minutes each. These travel well to work for eat-at-your-desk lunches! (Just remember to pack a knife!)

Top with sour cream if you're in the mood...


Cheap Recipe: Chicken Quesadilla Stew

4 Feb

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Another great use for leftover cooked chicken!

This is a sort of variation on tortilla soup I invented a while back. I didn’t feel like putting tortillas in the soup, and I wanted something a bit thicker and heartier so I wouldn’t have to worry about making sandwiches to go with dinner.

I left out the tortillas, added some new ingredients like cream cheese, and Chicken Quesadilla Stew was born. I liked it so much I may never make traditional tortilla soup or chili again! 🙂

Start with 2 or 3 cups of thawed, leftover cooked chicken (see this post for great tips on scavenging chicken & stock) and a can of

Chopped scallions lend some greenery to this pretty stew.

 chicken broth. Heat the chicken and broth in a large saucepan until slow simmer is reached. Refill the empty broth can with water one time and add water to mixture.

Give your leftover chicken a cheap, easy Mexican makeover with a seasoning packet.

Meanwhile, chop several green onions (or one small yellow onion would work) and add to the saucepan. Once chicken is simmering, stir in a store-bought packet of fajita or taco seasoning (or just add your own spices like cumin and chili powder if you prefer). Stir until spices are well-distributed.

Add a 10-ounce, undrained can of diced tomatoes with chiles (think RO*TEL), a 15-ounce undrained can of black beans, and a small, drained can of whole kernel corn (you

Hubby kept commenting on the yummy aromas while the pot simmered!

 can use frozen corn instead just as easily, too). Stir well and return to simmer.

I promise you'll want seconds.

Once stew is hot, stir in 4-6 ounces of cream cheese, adding a little bit of water or milk if broth is not substantial, or if you prefer the recipe to be closer to soup than a creamy stew.

Serve immediately topped with shredded Mexican cheese.

P.S.–The leftovers freeze beautifully!

Cheap Recipe: Ranch Skillet Bean Dip

9 Nov

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This ain’t your ordinary bean dip. It’s about a million times better.

This quick dinner came about after an extremely long weekend when I realized it was Sunday night and I still hadn’t made it to the grocery store.

After a quick scan of the cabinet and fridge, I found a recipe in Taste of Home’s Dinner on a Dime that I decided I could modify to suit the contents of my poorly-stocked kitchen. The end result was wowing, and I knew I had to jot this new meal down before I forgot what I’d done!


Brown meat and onions together.


Ranch seasoning packet from ALDI.

Brown 1 lb. ground beef (or ground beef & TVP mixture) over medium heat in large skillet with a slivered yellow onion. Once meat is thoroughly cooked, drain if necessary and add contents of a 1-ounce ranch seasoning packet. Stir well.

Drain a 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn and add to skillet. Pour in a 16-ounce can (undrained!) of baked beans, any variety.

Next, make three small mounds of condiment in skillet–about 1/3 cup barbecue sauce, about 1/4 cup ketchup, and about 1 tablespoon spicy mustard.


Mix condiments and canned ingredients into the meat.

Stir all mounds together until mixture is evenly coated. Allow to heat thoroughly (about 5-10 minutes) on stovetop. Once heat has returned to skillet,


Gradually stir in shredded cheese.

gradually sprinkle in 2 cups of any shredded Mexican cheese blend (Colby, Jack, Cheddar, whatever…), stirring often between additions.

Once all cheese has melted and blended into the mixture, turn off heat and serve immediately. This can be eaten with a fork or on top of tortilla chips.

I topped mine with green onions, but after tasting it, I REALLY wished I had diced a fresh tomato over the top of it, which would have been awesome. Seriously, buy a


This is one "accidental" recipe I can't wait to make again!

 tomato and do this. It will be wonderful.