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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.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I’ve been on a major cornbread kick lately.  I’ve always liked it, but recently I’ve been making meals where cornbread goes along with the main dish so well.  I made some Mexican-style chicken chili and thought this would be the perfect side to go with it.  I started using masa flour in place of regular flour in cornbread and have really been pleased with the results.  It adds a corny (ha!) flavor to the bread and keeps the excepted texture.  This cornbread was no exception!  As a southerner, I’ve been used to plain, slightly sweet cornbread, but I really liked this variation.  I added more cheese than the recipe called for for a stronger cheddar flavor, but I really liked the kick the jalapenos added.  It was delicious served hot and straight out of the oven, but we at the leftover cornbread over the next couple of days and it reheated in the oven quite well.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Source: adapted from Ina Garten via Food Network

3 cups masa harina

1 cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups milk

3 extra-large eggs,beaten

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar

3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine milk, eggs, and butter.  Using a spoon, pour wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved.  Do not overmix.  Stir in the cheddar (leave a little extra for topping) and jalapenos.

Pour batter into greased 9×13-inch pan.  Top with remaining cheddar.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and cut into squares.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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.

Homemade Refried Beans

David and I are known for cooking Mexican food.  We typically have a Mexican dish for dinner at least once a week.  I haven’t included many recipes in my blog because Mexican food can be so hard to photograph sometimes with the color of the tortillas and the oozing cheese.  However, I just had to share these beans with you.  Even though I’ve been making this recipe since March or April, I finally decided that I couldn’t wait any longer!

We love tacos for dinner.  Tacos may seem very ordinary, but they are made special by using homemade refried beans.  Making refried beans at home is surprisingly easy, and you can make a big batch and freeze leftovers for future use.  This recipe starts off by cooking onions.  It is important to cook the onions until they are very browned for the best flavor.  When you mash the beans, you can make them as chunky or as smooth as you want.  Once you make these at home, you will never go back to the can again!

Homemade Refried Beans
Source: Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

1 medium onion, chopped fine
canola oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained

Heat canola oil on medium-high (I like to use my Dutch oven for this, but any medium-sized pot will work).  Add onion and cook until nice and browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Lower heat to medium and add pinto beans, about half a can at a time.  Using a masher, mash beans until desired consistency (you don’t need to completely mash before adding more beans).  Keep on heat until it reaches desired thickness (this should only take a couple of minutes).  Serve and enjoy!