Most people know Rick Bayless from Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, his Public Television series, Mexico–One Plate at a Time and his many cookbooks. He is also the owner of multiple restaurants, including the outstanding Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, where my family ate numerous times when we lived in Chicago. I recently discovered that he developed a line of Mexican cooking sauces that are sold in most supermarkets. While the sauces have been available for a while, I just recently discovered them and find them to be delicious, authentic and so very convenient. I especially like these sauces because they are made from fresh ingredients with no preservatives, are gluten-free, and low in carbohydrates. They also come in convenient, easy to use pouches.
These sauces are so convenient when you are busy and want a good tasting dinner fast. I used one of the taco sauces for my recipe below. There are quite a few made by his company, Frontera Foods, and you can check out the rest with this link.
Serves 4. Since I only wanted two servings, I made half the recipe. I also used half of the sauce and froze the unused portion for another occasion. I also changed the directions from the one listed on the package in making this dish.
Serve this entree with a salad and ranch dressing.
1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp;
1 pouch Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce
8 tortillas (crispy or soft), warmed
Toppings: cheese, jalapenos, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tomato, avocado, etc
Heat the oil in a nonstick 10 or 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce and let it sizzle for a minute or two and then add the shrimp. Cook and stir over medium heat until the shrimp turn pink and are just cooked through about 4 minutes.
Speedy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
I used the last of my roasted chicken in this recipe. Here is a link to the post:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
One (8 oz) container enchilada sauce (I use Frontera brand), divided
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 ½ cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onion, and bell pepper; sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add 1/4cup of the enchilada sauce, chili powder, and the chicken. Hest over low heat until warm. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wrap tortillas in paper towels; microwave at high 30 seconds or until warm. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla; roll up tightly and place tortillas, seam side down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas, and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve with sour cream mixed with the cilantro.
Soft Beef and Cheese Tacos
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15-oz.) jar salsa (I used Tostitos Chunky Salsa Medium)
2 cups fresh corn
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
½ cup of water
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 medium flour tortillas, warmed
Sliced pickled jalapenos and sour cream, for serving
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook onion in oil until soft, 5 minutes. Add beef and cook until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes more, then add salsa, corn, taco seasoning, and water. Simmer until reduced and thickened about 15 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Spoon mixture into warm flour tortilla and top with cheese. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Top with jalapenos and sour cream and fold in half. Serve with a green salad with a store-bought or homemade ranch dressing. Recipe below.
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
Pinch of onion powder
Pinch of paprika
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Combine the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, chopped herbs, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined then cover and place into a refrigerator for at least 30 before serving so the flavors have time to mingle.
Tip: Did you know you can freeze whole lemons and limes? They are perfect for cooking. Leave the frozen fruit on the counter for an hour. The zest is easy to remove, and the fruit slices and juices easily also. Next time you see lemons and limes on sale, buy a bag and freeze them for future cooking.
Southern Italian Style Lemon Chicken
Cooking a whole chicken is very economical because you get several meals from one chicken.
3 large lemons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4-pound whole chicken
Remove the zest from the three lemons and set aside. Cut the lemons into thin slices and set aside.
Cut the chicken along the backbone on one side with kitchen shears. Do not remove the bone. Turn the chicken over and flatten it. (The reason I did not remove the backbone is that I want to use the entire chicken carcass for soup.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the baking sheet. Lay the lemon slices in the olive oil down the middle of the tray as a “rack” for the chicken. Sprinkle one-third of the lemon rub on the underside of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining lemon mixture over and under the skin of the whole chicken. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on the bed of lemons and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Roast, basting every 15 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thigh about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Using a fork, mash the lemon pulp into the juices on the baking sheet, discarding the rind. Mix the pulp into the drippings and use this mixture to spoon over the chicken just before serving.
Serve some of the chicken for dinner. I was able to remove about 4 cups meat. I left some meat clinging to the leg, wing and breast bones for soup. Shred 1 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Use the carcass and some of the cooked chicken for chicken noodle soup. You may even have enough leftover for some chicken salad.
Baked Chicken Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)
The entire recipe makes 20 taquitos. I cut the recipe in half and made 10 for my family. I like tortillas made from cassava flour for this recipe because they are grain-free, light and easy to roll.
For the Taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
20 corn tortillas
For the Toppings:
Chopped Green Onion
Crumbled Queso Fresco
Pico de Gallo
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lime juice. Stir until chicken is well coated with the seasonings. Stir in the shredded cheese.
Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a plate. Microwave for 1 minute or until the tortillas are warm and pliable.
Layout the tortillas on a flat surface and divide the chicken and cheese mixture among the 20 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place the taquito, seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Continue rolling taquitos until the tortillas and filling are gone.
Spray the taquitos generously with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the taquitos are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve warm with desired toppings.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Leave some meat on the bones, especially the legs, wings, and breast bone
Chicken bones leftover from the roasted chicken recipe above
1 whole onion, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon peppercorns
8 quarts water
Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Let drain completely. Pick out any meat in the cheesecloth and set aside. Discard the cooking vegetables and bones and return the broth to the stockpot.
Reserved chicken meat
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 scallions, diced
6 oz fettuccine or noodles
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the strained broth, carrots, celery, and scallions in the stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Return toa boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt (I added 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste. Stir in reserved chicken meat, dill, and parsley.
Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage
For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.
For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.
For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.
Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.
Serve a tomato salad on the side.
Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.
The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.
Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.
Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.
Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.
Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.
In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.
Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef
2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak
In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.
For Carne Asada Tacos
Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced red onion
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Blood oranges, cut into eighths
Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob
4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.
Mexican Red Rice
Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.
In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.
When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.
Black Beans with Chiles
1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.
Dipping Sauce: To Accompany Wraps
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch granulated garlic
Mix together and let sit at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.
Homemade Egg Rolls
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon honey
6 large wonton wrappers or medium low carb tortillas
1 egg, beaten
Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil, ground pork, grated ginger, and garlic.
Brown the ground pork and break it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the pork is mostly cooked through, stir in the shredded cabbage, bell pepper, green onions, honey, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Cook until the cabbage has softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Lay each wonton or tortilla out on a kitchen towel and scoop 1/6 of the pork filling on one end of each wrap. Brush the edges with egg to seal. Fold the edge of the egg wrap over the filling and fold the sides inward, like a burrito. Roll the wrap, tucking in the edges to fully enclose the filling. Brown on all sides in hot vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with Chinese mustard or dipping sauce.
Cabbage Pot Stickers
8 outer cabbage leaves from a medium head
1/2 pound lean ground pork
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the core off each of the cabbage leaves and add to boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked cabbage to a plate of paper towels to drain.
Prepare the pot sticker filling by combining the ground pork, chopped green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, and ground ginger in a skillet and cook until the pork is brown. Place ⅛ of the filling on each cabbage leal and fold in the sides and then roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling.
Brush the skillet with vegetable oil and place the cabbage rolls in the pan. Cover the pan and cook the rolls over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the rolls over, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with a dipping sauce.
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 pound chicken tenders
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Large lettuce leaves
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken tenders and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. Then cut the tender into small pieces.
Mix together the garlic, celery, green onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha in the skillet the chicken was cooked in. Cook 2 minutes and then add the chopped chicken. Cook until hot.
To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf and roll up.
Asian Broccoli Salad
Side dish for Asian wraps.
Half a head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 garlic clove, grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup Teriyaki sauce
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
In a large bowl, stir together the ingredients including the uncooked broccoli florets. Toss to combine.
Let sit for several hours at room temperature. Toss again before serving.