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Carne Guisada (Mexican Beef Stew)

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Recently, we had a rainy day and I thought it would be nice to sit down to some comfort food.  I found a recipe for beef stew, which I had been wanting to make, but this one had a Mexican spin on it.  I was curious to see how the Mexican flavors played out in the recipe, so I decided to try it.

Many beef stews take a while to cook.  This one requires one hour of simmering time, but the rest of the preparation is pretty quick, so you could still make it on a weeknight (if you prep the night before, it would be even quicker!).  I just love the way this smelled while it was cooking.  The simmering time definitely built up the anticipation for this, but it was worth it!  This was such a delicious dinner.  I loved how all the flavors came together.   It had some heat, but it wasn’t too spicy.  It was a great spin on classic beef stew, and something I will make again for sure!  The recipe said that you can serve this with warm flour tortillas, which I think would be delicious, though we ate it as is.

Carne Guisada
Source: The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds sirloin tips, trimmed of all fat and gristle and cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped onions

1 pound small red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile, minced (I used a jalapeno)

½ cup chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon flour (I used cornstarch)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat and brown for 10 minutes.  Do not drain the liquid.  Add the bell pepper, onion, potatoes, garlic, chile, and tomatoes, and continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Add the spices, the tomato sauce, and 2 cups water.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender.  Add more water as required.  Season to taste.

In a small cup combine 3 tablespoons cooking liquid with the flour.  Stir to remove any lumps, then add to the carne guisada, mixing well until evenly thickened.

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Black Bean Squash Burritos

Black beans and squash aren’t normally a combination I would think to put into a burrito, but trust me, it’s a combination you want to try!  I’ve been thinking about this recipe for a long time, and after finding gluten free burrito-size tortillas, I’ve been all about having burritos and quesadillas for dinner.  This particular mixture was incredible as a burrito filling, and I even used the leftovers for enchiladas a few nights later and it was delicious both ways.  There were so many flavors going on in this recipe, but they all worked together so well.  I liked the sweetness of the squash, the spiciness of the chiles, and the flavor of the onions and coriander and cumin.  I love trying new things in traditional dishes, and this is a combination I’ll definitely have again!

The only thing I changed about the recipe was to peel the squash before roasting it, because it seemed easier.  I also used butternut squash because it was on sale 🙂

Black Bean Squash Burritos
Source: slightly adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Serves 4-6

2 small acorn squash (I used butternut squash)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
8 ounces green chiles, diced
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
10 (7-inch) flour tortillas, warmed
salsa
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled, or shredded cheddar (about 1 cup)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450F.  Peel the squash, then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut each half into ¾-inch slices. Spread 2 teaspoons of olive oil on a baking sheet and lay the squash slices on the oil, turning each slice over to thinly coat each side. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast until the squash is browned on the edges and tender throughout, about 20 minutes.

2. Heat 4 teaspoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just browned around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the chiles, beans and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat to low, cover, and heat just to warm.

3. Roughly chop the squash into ¼- to ½-inch pieces and stir into the black beans.

4. Layer the squash-black bean mixture, salsa, and cheese in center of each tortilla. Fold and serve.

Mexican Beans with Chorizo and Greens

Another winner from Rick Bayless!  I love chorizo, and this recipe stood out to me.  It’s basically a soup, but a pretty thick one.  With the greens, black beans, chorizo, chiles in adobo, and cheese, there are a lot of strong flavors present, but they go together really well.  It was incredibly simple to make, and I put it together in about 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight meal.  The chiles make it nice and spicy, and you can adjust the spiciness by adding more of less, depending on your taste.  We both really loved this, and I know it will be a repeat dinner on the menu at our house!

Mexican Beans with Chorizo and Greens
Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

8 to 12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed

10 ounces cleaned young spinach (about 10 cups) OR one 12-ounce bunch Swiss chard, thick lower stems cut off, leaves sliced crosswise into ½ inch strips (about 8 cups) (I used the Swiss chard)

Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

1 to 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

Salt

½ cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

½ cup chopped green onions or thin-sliced red onion, for garnish

In a medium-large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven), cook the chorizo over medium heat, stirring regularly and breaking up clumps, until lightly browned and thoroughly done, about 8 to 10 minutes.

While the chorizo is cooking, place the spinach or Swiss chard in a microwaveable bowl, cover with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the top and microwave on high until completely wilted, usually about 2 minutes for spinach, 3 minutes or so for Swiss chard.  Uncover the bowl and set aside.

When the chorizo is ready, add the beans, chopped chipotles, and 1 ½ cups water.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to blend the flavors.  Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of the chorizo and beans.  Add the wilted greens and let the mixture return to a boil.

Ladle into bowls and serve, passing the cheese and onion for each person to add.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa

I love Mexican food more than any other type of food, but foods traditionally made with flour tortillas have been a problem.  Luckily, I recently discovered brown rice tortillas at Earth Fare, so the problem has been solved.  I have loved being able to eat quesadillas and burritos at home so easily.  I got the Pastry Queen Christmas cookbook for Christmas, and I almost immediately wanted to make these quesadillas.  The good thing about this cookbook is that, even though its name implies Christmas, many of the recipes are appropriate all year.  Even though I’m a little late on the cranberries, I had a bag in the freezer from all my Christmas baking, so even though it’s February, I’m making them anyway 🙂 This was one of my favorite quesadillas ever.  The mushroom mixture has so much flavor, and the goat cheese is a strong cheese that really stands out.  The cranberry salsa was more of a relish than a salsa, but complemented the meal really well, and I know I’ll find other uses for it as well.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa
Source: The Pastry-Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather

Salsa:

½ cup whole pecans

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

1 shallot, sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until deeper brown and aromatic.  Transfer to a bowl, let cool, and coarsely chop the pecans.

In a food processor, combine the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, mustard, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper.  Process until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.  Make sure you combine the vinaigrette before adding the fruit.  The mixture becomes cloudy and less attractive if you process all ingredients at once.  Then again, if you don’t, it will still taste as good.

Add the cranberries, shallot, and jalapeno and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped.  Pour the salsa into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Stir in the pecans just prior to serving.

For the quesadillas:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used a few teaspoons of olive oil instead)

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 ½ pounds mixed wild mushrooms (I used baby bellas for the whole recipe)

1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon ground white pepper (I used regular black pepper)

Eight 8-inch flour tortillas

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey jack cheese

3 cups (15 ounces) crumbled fresh goat cheese

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter (or olive oil) over medium-high heat, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes, until translucent.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, and Worcestershire sauce and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the while wine and pepper and cook the mushrooms until the liquid is absorbed, at least 5 minutes.

While the mushrooms cook, coat a griddle or large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium.  Lay each tortilla on the griddle or in the skillet and cover with ¼ cup of the Monterey jack.  Evenly spread about 1/3 cup of the mushroom mixture on half of the tortilla and cover the mushroom mixture evenly with a thin layer of crumbled goat cheese.  Use a metal spatula to fold the tortilla in half and cook until lightly brown and crisp on the bottom.  Flip and cook until brown on the other side.  Transfer to a plate in a warm oven.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.  Cut each tortilla into wedges.

Jalapeno-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes

I have really been enjoying Mexican Everyday and have been trying to cook as many things from it as possible. There are so many delicious recipes and I want to try them all! I really like fish, but haven’t really tried it very many times with Mexican flavors, so I wanted to give this recipe a try. I thought the potatoes sounded really good as well. This is a simple dish, and one that I made on a Friday after a long week, making it a good possibility for weeknight dinners. To prepare the potatoes, you just steam them in the microwave (can it get any easier?), and while they are cooking, just blend the tomatoes, jalapenos, and the spices in the blender. You can make the mixture as smooth or chunky as you want. After the potatoes are done, just layer the fish on top, pour the tomato mixture over it, bake for 15-20 minutes, and dinner is ready! I also like that you can adjust the spiciness of the dish- if you don’t like spicy, just don’t add as much jalapeno, and if you like it spicy, just add more!

Jalapeno-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes
Source: Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

Serves 4

4 medium (1 pound total) red-skin boiling or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

Salt

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

1 large garlic clove, peeled and cut in half

1/3 cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish

About ¼ cup sliced canned pickled jalapenos

1 tablespoon jalapeno pickling juice

Four 4- to 5-ounce (1 to 1 ¼ pounds total) skinless fish fillets (I used tilapia), preferably ¾ to 1 inch thick

Turn on the oven to 400 degrees. Scoop the sliced potatoes into a microwaveable 8×8-inch baking dish. Drizzle on the oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss to coat, then spread the potatoes in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a couple of holes in the top. Microwave on high until the potatoes are nearly tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes with their juice, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, and pickling juice. Process to a puree, leaving just a little texture.

Lay the fish fillets in a single layer over the potatoes. Pour the tomato mixture evenly over the fish and potatoes.

Slide the baking dish into the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish flakes when pressed firmly.

Scoop a portion of the fish-potato-sauce onto each dinner plate, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve right away.

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Apple Pear Chutney

We recently had my sister and her fiance over for dinner, and I wanted to make something special.  I had just gotten two new Pastry Queen cookbooks. and I first looked there for inspiration.  I came across this recipe for rubbed pork and had a feeling it would be a winner.  I love cooking pork, and this was a spice combination I had never tried before.  The combination of the chili powder and the honey was delicious and had a perfect spicy-but-sweet flavor.  Searing the pork beforehand also gave it lots of flavor on the outside and made sure it was nicely browned. The pork does need to be marinated the day before, but the day of is quite simple, and while the pork is baking, you can prepare the rest of the meal.

This was my first time making a chutney to go with the meat, and I’m totally sold on this recipe.  I liked the combination of apples and pears, and it was a good recipe to use seasonal flavors and ingredients.  For the chutney, I skipped the dried cherries and used dried cranberries instead.  I’ll definitely use this recipe again.  It was a great mix of savory and sweet flavors.  I served this meat along with black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes, and it was a definite hit!

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Apple Pear Chutney
Source: Pastry Queen Christmas by Rebecca Rather

1 boneless pork loin roast (5 to 6 pounds)

One 12-ounce can or bottle bock beer (I skipped this, but I’m sure it would make this even better!)

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil for searing

Apple Pear Chutney, recipe follows

Resist the urge to trim any visible fat from the pork loin.  The fat will help keep the pork moist as it roasts.  In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beer, olive oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, and honey.  Gently submerge the pork in the marinade, seal the bag, and place in a large bowl or baking pan.  Refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.  Remove the pork from the marinade and pour the marinade into a large measuring cup.  Combine the chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub it evenly over the pork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat.  Place the roast in the sauté pan and sear until the meat is evenly browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Transfer the pork to a large roasting pan, and pour half the reserved marinade around the roast (Do not pour it over the roast, or it may wash away some of the chili rub).

Bake for about 45 minutes, then add the rest of the marinade to the bottom of the pan.  Bake another 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 140 to 145 degrees, for a total time of about 1 ½ hours (your thermometer will be a more accurate measure of when it’s done than the time!).  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Apple Pear Chutney

½ cup whole pecans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

2 pounds unpeeled pears, cored and coarsely chopped

1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and coarsely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup good-quality white wine vinegar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup dried cherries

2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)

1 tablespoon brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes , until darker in color and aromatic.  Remove from the oven, let cool, and chop coarsely.

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat.  Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  (Do not let it brown).  Stir in the pears, apple, lime juice, vinegar, sugars, salt, cherries, cranberries, and brandy.  Bring to a boil,, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until the chutney is thickened, most of the vinegar has been absorbed, and the juice has a syrupy consistency.  Remove from the heat and let cool, then stir in the toasted pecans.  To store, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

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I’ve been making this dish for about six months now, and it’s become one of our favorites.  I can’t believe I haven’t included it in the blog until now!  Usually when I made it we are in such a hurry to eat it that I don’t get to take a picture.  Last time I made sure I took one so I could share this delicious recipe!  I have always been a fan of Chinese food and I love finding new recipes so I can make my own at home.  David’s favorite Chinese dish is beef and broccoli, and it’s one of my favorites, and I hoped that I could recreate it at home.  This definitely met our expectations!  It was full of flavor, and the sauce was perfect.  I changed the recipe a little bit so that I could fully cook the beef at once rather than having to partially cook it, take it out of the pan, and then finish cooking it.   It was much simpler that way and didn’t dirty as many dishes. I also pan-fried the beef rather and immersing it in oil.  The broccoli was a great addition- I love broccoli in dishes like this.  The soy flavor was prominent and well balanced by the dark brown sugar.  We served this over rice and enjoyed having one of our favorite Chinese dishes at home rather than having to go out!

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli
Source: adapted from Love and Olive Oil

Ingredients
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large green onions
1 cup broccoli, microwaved for 2 minutes

Directions
Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and fry until browned.  Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add sauce and cook until thickened to almost desired consistency. Add partially steamed broccoli and cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 large green onions
1 cup broccoli, microwaved for 2 minutes

Directions
Make the sauce by heating 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4″ thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet until it’s nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and fry until browned.  Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add sauce and cook until thickened to almost desired consistency. Add partially steamed broccoli and cook until heated through.  Serve over rice.