My market had a sale on Florida mini peppers. I like stuffing large peppers, so I thought I would try something similar with all these mini peppers. After thinking about what ingredients I would use – I came up with Nachos. I replaced the chips with mini peppers and this recipe turned out to be so delicious. Give it a try. Coleslaw is a good side for this entre and here is the kink to my recipe.
Mini Pepper Nachos
15 mini peppers
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, see recipe below
½ cup water
1 cup salsa
Half an onion, diced
Sliced pickled jalapenos to taste
15 Mini peppers
1 cup Velveeta light cheese, cubed
½ cup shredded Mexican blend or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a13x9 inch baking dish.
Cut the mini peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the halves in the baking dish.
Brown the meat in a medium skill. Add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer until the liquid evaporates. Spoon the beef into each pepper half. Place a spoonful of salsa on each pepper. Sprinkle the diced onion on top. Add slices of jalapeno to taste. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Make the cheese sauce: Place the cheeses and milk in a microwave-safe dish or measuring cup. Hear for two minutes. Stir. Return the mixture to the microwave for 30 seconds if the cheese is not melted or set aside for a few minutes and the cheese will finish melting. Stir well.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the cheese sauce over the peppers and place the dish under the broiler. Broil for a few minutes, just until the top begins to brown. Watch carefully.
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Stir all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
Add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water per pound of browned meat.
It has been very cold the past few weeks in most of the country, including the south. Warm casseroles and spicy dishes can warm you up but you don’t have to turn to macaroni and cheese for that to happen. Combining healthy foods with lots of flavor can do it for you. Try these recipes for a start.
Escarole and Italian Sausage Casserole
I save the ends of the parmesan cheese in a bag in the freezer and use them to flavor soups and stews.
Serve with crusty Italian bread.
1 pound escarole, approximately 2 heads
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped onion
1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped
1 lb cheese and parsley Italian sausage (or regular Italian sausage), sliced into half-inch pieces
1/2 cup lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup cooked cannellini beans
Parmesan cheese rind
Fresh black pepper
Remove the outer leaves of escarole if damaged or discolored. Cut off the stem ends, wash the leaves twice in abundant cold water and drain. Cut the leaves into two-inch lengths.
In a large Dutch Oven, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until golden but not brown. Add the escarole, salt and red pepper.
Cover and cook over moderate heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the escarole to a bowl and set aside.
Add the remaining oil, onion, fennel bulb and sausage to the pan; cook until the sausage is browned, stirring frequently.
Add the broth, Parmesan rind, escarole and beans.
Cover; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Like other stews, Beef Burgundy, tastes best when made ahead so the flavors have time to mingle. Serve with noodles, rice, mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash.
Roasted carrots make a nice side dish.
1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt and black pepper
5 slices bacon, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour or arrowroot powder
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 lb mushrooms, trimmed and halved
1-2 cups beef broth
2 cloves garlic head, crushed
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until the bacon is lightly browned on both sides.
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. Break into smaller pieces.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Add the butter to the pan and melt.
In batches, in single layers, sear the beef in the hot pan for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.
Remove the seared cubes with a slotted spoon to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Add onions the garlic to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the flour or arrowroot over the onions and stir until no dry flour remains. Whisk in the wine, tomato paste and anchovy paste until combined.
Add the bay leaves, mushrooms and thyme to the pan.
Add the beef and bacon and enough beef broth to come almost to the top of the beef.
Place the pan, uncovered, into the oven and cook until the meat is tender, 3 ½-4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding broth, if needed, to keep the meat half-submerged in liquid.
Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Stew can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Just a note here that this recipe is my version and not an authentic Mexican Huevos recipe.
For 2 servings
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups jarred salsa
2 seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
Prepare the tortillas:
Heat the oven to 150° F. Place a pan large enough to fit the tortillas in the oven to heat.
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet on medium high, coating the pan with the oil.
One by one heat the tortillas in the pan, a minute or two on each side, until they are heated through, softened and pockets of air bubble up inside of them.
Then, remove them to the pan in the oven to keep warm while you cook the sauce and the eggs.
Make the sauce:
Heat the oil in the same skillet and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook until tender. Add the salsa, tomatoes, chipotle and roasted red peppers.
Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Return the heat to medium, so that the sauce is bubbling slightly.
Crack 4 eggs into the sauce in the skillet, cover and cook for about 4 minutes until the egg are almost firm.
Uncover the pan and sprinkle each egg with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover the pan and cook for another minute to let the cheese melt and to finish cooking the eggs.
Place a tortilla on a serving plate. With a large spoon place two eggs and half the sauce on top. Repeat with the second tortilla and eggs. Serve immediately.
Baja California is an 800-mile-long peninsula, known for its varied geography, beautiful beaches and delicious cuisine. Baja California, about 15 miles from downtown San Diego, is south of the California border and is part of the country of Mexico.
A few years ago we visited the area and had some of the best fish tacos I have ever had. While Baja is part of Mexico, Baja cuisine is distinct from mainland Mexican cooking. Since virtually all points on the peninsula are no more than 50 miles from a body of water, seafood plays a starring role in many dishes. Also, its physical separation from mainland Mexico has allowed Baja cuisine to develop independently.
Many ethnic influences helped shape Baja’s culinary point of view. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers went to colonize Baja because they believed it was an area rich in jewels. Both Asian and European seafarers visited Baja on fishing and trading expeditions. So, eventually, a cuisine of Mexican, Spanish and Asian influences emerged and that eventually led to tacos.
In its simplest form, a taco is a tortilla wrapped around a filling. Most food historians speculate that the fish taco emerged when Asians introduced Baja natives to the practice of deep-frying fish. When this battered fried fish was combined with traditional Mexican toppings, the fish taco was born.
Modern fish tacos emerged in the 1950s in the Baja city of either Ensenada or San Felipe; it’s an ongoing debate, with both cities claiming to be the “home” of the fish taco. From their tiny stands, street vendors in these cities produce simple, inexpensive fare fast. The fish taco is hot, fresh and delicious — the perfect combination for hungry workers and market goers.
While I do not deep fry the fish in my recipe, these tacos are delicious and come close to what I remember eating in my visit there.
Baja California Style Fish Tacos
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup dark beer
12 ounces firm fillets of mild, white fish, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4-6 small corn tortillas, warmed
Tomato Salsa, recipe below
White Sauce, recipe below
Combine flour, cumin, garlic powder, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer to create a batter.
Coat fish in the batter.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Letting excess batter drip back into the bowl, add the fish to the pan; cook until crispy and golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 scallion finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos
1 small clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, red onion, scallion, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, oregano and lime juice.
Season with salt and pepper and chill until serving time.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons milk
Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. The sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.
Assemble The Tacos
Serve the fish in warmed tortillas topped with salsa and drizzled with white sauce.
Isn’t this dinner Mexican, you say?
Southwest or Tex-Mex is a style of food that evolved from what the nomadic ranchers in northern Mexico and (what is now) the southwestern US ate. If you were driving cattle across a vast area of land, what do you eat? Easily stored/canned things like beans, unleavened breads (i.e., tortillas) salsa or pico de gallo. They are the core ingredients that you get in what most of the country calls a “Mexican restaurant” (but which is really Tex-Mex).
True Mexican food is highly varied and regional, but it contains a lot of corn grain and more sophisticated meat preparations than just the ground beef and grilled chicken common in Tex-Mex food. In Mexico, tortillas are made from corn and, in the southwest, tortillas are usually made with wheat. Mexican cheese is white, while Tex-Mex cheese is yellow. Taco shells are practically unknown throughout Mexican. South of the border fresh coriander, parsley, oregano and epazote are the usual spices. While north of the border, cumin is the spice most often used along with hot chile peppers.
There is nothing Mexican about sweet corn (which is a common ingredient in many Tex-Mex dishes). It is an American addition. In Mexico, corn is mostly used in the form of grain. Tamales and moles are probably the most common and the most true of Mexican dishes. Tamales are made with a dough made from corn (hominy) called masa and with lard. Tamales are generally wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves before being steamed, depending on the region from which they come. They can have a sweet or savory filling. The most common fillings are pork and chicken and they are served with either a red or green salsa or mole.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
I used some of the leftover BBQ chicken for the stuffing that I made earlier in the week.
1 cup homemade or store-bought salsa
1 jalapeño chile (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat), minced
1 large scallion, chopped
1 minced garlic clove
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, finely diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large poblano chiles, a thin slice from the top, ribs and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat an 8 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine the salsa, jalapeno, scallions, garlic, cheese chicken, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the filling evenly among the poblano peppers, pushing the filling in as much as possible without breaking the sides of the peppers.
Place them in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake until the poblanos are tender, about 45 minutes. Serve over the bean and corn saute.
Pinto Bean and Corn Saute
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 scallions, diced
1 jalapeño chile
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup corn
1 large plum tomato diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
Saute the scallions and jalapeno for 2 minutes, until they are softened.
Add the garlic, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook for 1 more minute.
Add pinto beans, corn and tomato and cook for about 3 minutes. Add lime juice, stir until combined and serve.
This is the perfect time of year to go creative with your salad making recipes. So many fresh ingredients are available in summer that you will not get bored with the variety of salads to you can make. Below are a few I have made and you might like to give them a try.
Shrimp Cobb Salad
Mini corn muffins (see recipe) go well with this salad.
For 2 servings
For the shrimp
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, tails removed and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the ranch dressing
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
For the salad
1 slice cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded carrots
8 grape tomatoes, halved
Half a cucumber, peeled and diced
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce, sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or any other cheese)
To prepare the shrimp:
Early in the day.
Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them in a skillet with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss together.
Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, just until pink. Refrigerate until time to make the salad.
To prepare the dressing:
In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and mayonnaise until fully mixed. Add in the other ingredients, adjusting for taste.
Refrigerate until serving time.
To assemble the salad:
Arrange the lettuce in the bottom of two salad plates. In rows across the lettuce arrange the shrimp, carrots, tomatoes, egg and cucumber.
Crumble the blue cheese and bacon over the salad ingredients. Serve with the dressing.
Mini Corn Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (coarse or regular)
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 scallion, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 24 mini muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners.
Sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Combine the buttermilk, egg and oil in a big measuring cup. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.
Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
Mexican Corn Salad
Serve with fresh tomato salsa and homemade tortilla chips, recipes below.
8 ears corn, kernels stripped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Half of a large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 grape tomatoes, halved, optional garnish
In a serving bowl, place chopped celery, onion and peppers. Add the corn, salt, cumin and chili powder. Mix well. Stir in the mayonnaise.
Arrange the cut tomatoes around the top of the salad to garnish, if desired. Chill the salad until serving time.
Fresh Homemade Salsa
About 3 cups
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder or chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons lime juice
Be very careful while handling chile peppers. You can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands if you use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.
You can make the salsa in one of two ways: finely chop the ingredients by hand or use a processor. I prefer to finely chop all the ingredients because I like a chunky, more rustic salsa that is easy to scoop on tortilla chips.
For the processor method:
Roughly chop the tomatoes, chilies and onions.
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times-just enough to finely dice the ingredients but not enough to purée them.
Place the mixture in a serving bowl. Taste the salsa. If the chilies made the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. Adjust for salt.
Let sit for an hour at room temperature for the flavors to combine. Serve with homemade tortilla chips.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
One package (8-10) large (12 inch) flour tortilla
Taco seasoning mix, recipe below
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two rimmed baking sheets.
Brush the tortillas with olive oil and sprinkle each evenly with taco seasoning.
Cut the tortillas into 6-8 triangles and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Taco Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix all together. Store in an airtight container.
Serve with pita chips and hummus.
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup (about 1 pound) chopped very ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kalamata olives and Feta cheese for garnish
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Warm Pita bread or Pita chips, for serving
Rinse the bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve under cool running water until the water runs clear, then transfer the bulgur to a bowl.
In a heatproof bowl, mix the bulgur with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 cup boiling water.
Cover, and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.
Drain the bulgur to remove any liquid not absorbed.
In a large bowl, combine the scallions, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, remaining salt, pepper and cumin.
Add the soaked bulgur to the bowl and gently toss.
Add the olive oil and the lemon juice and lightly toss, adding more seasoning if necessary.
Set the tabbouleh aside for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to blend. Cover and chill overnight.
When ready to serve, garnish the salad with kalamata olives and feta cheese. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves and pita bread.
Baked Pita Chips
If you do not have access to Za’atar seasoning, you can make your own. See recipe below.
2 packages of whole wheat pita breads
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Brush each pita on both sides with olive oil.
Cut each in quarters and place on baking sheets. Sprinkle with Za’atar seasoning,
Bake until crispy and brown about 15 minutes.
Homemade Za’atar Seasoning
Makes 1/4 cup
Combine 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon sumac, 1 tablespoon ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
Stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight jar.