Huevos Motuleños

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can get tired of eating the same food over and over. Not other people though it seems. My sister typically rotates between cooking 1-3 meals for herself, and my boyfriend literally asks to eat pizza for dinner every other day.

But I need variety in life. Except when it comes to Tex-Mex. I could eat chips and queso, enchiladas, nachos, and tacos all week long. Pair it with a frozen margarita and that’s even better. There is so much variety even within Tex Mex that I can be satisfied, but the familiar base of cheese, spicy sauces, and salsa is the best.

When I saw this recipe on The Chew, I knew I had to make it. Now, this is not a quick 30 minute dinner. It has several steps and involves frying, which means you got to clean up oil (Ugh. The worst). But the flavor is great- crunchy, spicy, creamy, and rich. It is a great homemade meal when you want to cook something special for your Tex-Mex.

HUEVOS MOTULEÑOS
Adapted from Mario Batali at The Chew

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound Chorizo (not in casings)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 – 2 cups refried beans
1 plaintain & 1/2 cup light brown sugar, optional
6-8 small flour tortillas
Canola oil, for deep frying
3-4 eggs
Avocado, sliced
Cojita cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

Coat a large skillet in olive oil. Heat over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes. Season slightly with salt and pepper. Stir in Chorizo and cook until browned, about 3-5 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Remove and drain excess oil from mixture.

For optional plaintains: Slice plaintains. Coat plantain slices in brown sugar. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat coated well with olive oil. Fry plantain slices until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pour 1/2-1 inch of oil into a skillet. Heat over medium heat until oil is approximately 300°F. Place tortillas in oil one at a time and fry each side until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels. Set aside and keep warm (can be kept warm in a 200°F oven but keep your eye on them to make sure they don’t burn).

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with olive oil. Crack eggs individually into pan (be careful not to over crowd eggs- work in batches if needed) and fry eggs for 1-2 minutes. Flip eggs (carefully to avoid breaking yolks) and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

To assemble Huevos Motuleños:

Place a fried flour tortilla on a plate. Spread refried beans on top. Spoon chorizo filling on top. Sprinkle cojita cheese and avocado slices on top. Top with additional fried tortilla, if desired. Top with fried egg. Serve with fried plantains, if using.

Mexican Pizza with Homemade Refried Beans

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love making homemade food from scratch in my own kitchen, but sometimes you just cannot beat the fast food restaurants.  How McDonald’s gets their French fries so perfect is a mystery.  Why Chik-Fil-A’s chicken is so wonderful is one of the world’s great questions.  And the Taco Bell Mexican flavors have never been recreated in my kitchen.

I really thought I had an in to fast food secrets when my sister worked at McDonald’s last summer, but these mysteries still remain unsolved.

I used to eat Taco Bell about 3-5 times a week when I was a sophomore in college.  I was sick of dining halls, so I would drive out one night either to Subway or Taco Bell.  I would either get a 12 inch sandwich (BMT, lettuce, olives, American cheese) or 3 tacos & a Mexican pizza.  Then I would have dinner for 2 nights in a row.  Two days later, I would probably go out again.  When the people at Subway started to recognize me and my same order, I started to branch out.

Once I got an apartment and started cooking for myself, I haven’t hit my old haunts so much (with the exception of a DQ blizzard for dinner every now and then).  I love my own homemade Mexican food, but sometimes I still crave that Taco Bell taste.  So taking matters into my own hands, I decided to make my own Mexican pizza.  This version is probably a lot healthier and gets close to that TB flavor.  Definitely a winner for a way to mix it up on taco night.

With toppings, the sky is the limit. This time around I added in some hominy for some corniness flavor, and I loved it.  You can also used mashed black beans, make it vegetarian, add sour cream, or add hot sauce.

Wrap it in a cardboard box, and it will definitely taste even better.

Mexican Pizza
From Cinnamon Freud

For the Homemade Refried Beans:
1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked and cooked
Can sub 2 cans pinto beans, drained
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter, divided
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken/vegetable broth

For the Mexican Pizza:
4 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 smoked parika
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound ground meat
6 – 9 tortillas

For Toppings:
Shredded cheese
Green onions, sliced
Jalapenos, sliced
Avocado, sliced

DIRECTIONS

For the Homemade Refried Beans:

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and 1/4 tablespoon butter.  Add onion and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in pinto beans, remaining butter, cumin, and smoked paprika.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour in chicken/vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the beans are soft.  Transfer to a food processor and process until you reach your desired smoothness.

For the Mexican Pizza:

In a small pan combine tomato sauce, vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Let cook until slightly thickened, about 10-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

In a large saute pan, melt butter.  Add onion and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add ground meat and cook until cooked through.  Drain if needed (this will depend on the type of ground meet you use).  Mix in the sauce (use the amount that you want).  Remove from heat.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat.  Coat pan with butter.  Fry tortillas one by one, until crispy.

Preheat broiler.

Spread refried beans on tortilla. Top with meat mixture.  Top with cheese and jalapenos.  Place on baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Top with green onions and avocado if desired.

Makes 6-9 Mexican pizzas.

Primavera Enchilada Pie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Do you ever get into a rut?

I feel sometimes like I need some constant form of stimulation, or else I am bored.

I was feeling a little blah this week.  Feeling blah for me equates to a lot of sitting around watching television.  This week meant rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (no shame).  I watched this show off and on when I was a young, bratty preteen, and I have a secret to admit: back then I liked Dawson better than Pacey.

I can only blame this on my love for overly emotional, good boys back then.  I was blinded to the fact of how annoying Dawson was.  Blah, blah, I want to make movies, Joey why don’t you love me, wahhh.   And let’s not get started on little Joey who could never make up her mind  and acted superior to the world.

But I love this show still: sooo dramatic.  My favorite moment is tied between everyone jumping into the pool (with their clothes on, those crazy kids!!) after a long study session or Dawson’s dramatic walk out of the PSATs to show solidarity with Pacey.  Or maybe Dawson’s awful cry face when he tells Joey to go be with Pacey.  Too many great moments to choose from.

I have now watched almost every episode with those four whiny kids from Capeside*, and I gave myself a Cher-snap-out-of-it moment.    It was time to get up off the couch.  Rut time over.

Thank you to those of you who put up with a Dawson’s Creek rant that is about 10 years late.  Now on to the food,  I promise.

One of my first steps for getting out of my rut was making a new dinner with some spring veggies since spring finally seems to be here to stay since there is no snow forecasted in the next ten days.   Take some asparagus  peas, leeks, and any other veggies you love, sauté them, and coat them in a goat cheese sauce.

That would be a good enough, but it doesn’t end there.  Next you put the veggies between two tortillas and bake it.  This way the top tortilla gets crispy and the bottom one is soft.  It is a perfect mix of enchilada and tostada textures.

Here is my resolution: keep making delicious dinners like this and to get out more.

Also, rewatching Dawson’s Creek on Netflix with a completely different them song almost defeats the entire purpose of the show.

*For full disclosure, I do not judge Dawson’s Creek viewers- I too love it, just for what it is: melodramatic teens.  And also, this rewatching was over a few weeks.

PRIMAVERA ENCHILADA PIE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon of butter, divided
1/4 cup sliced leeks
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 once goat cheese
8 corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus  peas, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Cook until tender, 4-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in milk.  Heat until simmering and whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring occasionally  until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in goat cheese until melted.

Place four tortillas on a greased baking sheet.  Divide filling between the tortillas.  Top with remaining four tortillas.  Top with additional filling if desired.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 4.

Sweet Potato Tacos with Yogurt Sauce

Growing up, mom always served us a balanced meal with a protein, a starch, and a vegetable.  When I first was on my own in college, my meals may have become slightly less balanced.  Grilled cheese and cereal for at least four days a week made me miss mom’s home cooking.  The food at our school cafeteria wasn’t awful, but the meat was often overcooked or undercooked (I once got a plate of bloody rotisserie chicken).  So slowly but surely my meat intake dwindled.  Then when I moved into my apartment and began to cook for myself, I began trying new vegetables and began to crave vegetables and other types of protein rather than meat.  I still love a good steak or piece of pork, but many days I got meatless.
Meatless meals are a great way to save some money and try new flavor combinations.  These tacos mimic fajitas without any meat.  I used to not be a fan of sweet potatoes (until I ate this Struesel Sweet Potato Souffle), but now I love them.  And I especially love eating them around this time of year- gets me excited for Thanksgiving (only 2 months away!!).  These tacos are filling, delicious, and vegetarian.
SWEET POTATO TACOS WITH YOGURT SAUCE
Adapted from The Picky Eater
INGREDIENTS
For the Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Tacos:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
8-10 corn tortillas, warmed
DIRECTIONS
For the Yogurt Sauce:
In a bowl, combine Greek yogurt, roasted garlic, and ground cumin.  Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to use.
For the Tacos:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add sweet potatoes and season with salt.  Toss and cover.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, until sweet potatoes are cooked through (time will vary depending on how large or small they are chopped).  Add onion and remaining olive oil.  Cook for 5-6 minutes.  Add carrots and corn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Season with garlic powder, chili powder, and smoked paprika.  Adjust seasoning and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Divide filling between tortillas and top with yogurt sauce.
Serves 3-4.

Breakfast Pineapple Tortilla

First things first:  Thank the sweet lord it is finally the weekend.  The full schedule of the semester has officially begun, and as a result, cooking is becoming more a chore to try and fit into my schedule.  I was just scraping by making “just okay” meals and was loosing my culinary motivation- until out of sheer random choice, I made this recipe.  I am reinvigorated- loved cooking this and got a lot of work done after eating it.
I am always looking for new recipes to try, and as a result, I don’t remake recipes a lot, even if I really love them.  I ate this pineapple tortilla three nights in a row- I think it’s safe to say I really liked it.
It’s a very simple recipe with only a few ingredients, but the combination is so good.  Salty, sweet, and crunchy.  It’s a good way to start your day at breakfast, take a break at lunch, or satisfy your grumbling stomach as a midday snack.  Putting cheese on fruit may just become my new thing.
I still have some Fontina cheese left, and I’m contemplating buying another pineapple just so I can make this again.
BREAKFAST PINEAPPLE TORTILLA
INGREDIENTS

8 corn tortillas
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1 pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 ounces Fontina, grated
1/2 cup panko

DIRECTIONS

Preheat broiler.

Brush corn tortillas with 3 tablespoons butter and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Broil until crisped, 8-10 minutes.*  Let cool slightly.

Lower the temperature in the oven to 400°F.

Stir light brown sugar and pineapple together.  Top tortillas with pineapple.  Top with Fontina.  Stir together panko and remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.  Top tortillas with panko.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Makes 8 tortillas.

*You can also just warm the tortillas in the microwave if you want to eat like a soft taco- just skip the broiler step.

Picadillo with Peaches

I have a mid-year’s resolution.  My resolution is to reduce my grocery expenses and to waste less food.  This means more meal planning, cooking ahead of time, and shopping the ads.  My biggest change has been to stop eating frozen meals for lunch.  Those little meals are super easy and convienient but really add up quickly.  So if anyone has ideas for filling and transportable lunches, send them my way!  So far I have discovered my love of steel cut oats for lunch (best topped with currants or butterscotch chips).
So far I’ve been doing this for about a week, and I’m a little bit of a nerd because it’s actually kind of fun.  I like having to think up new ways to use up ingredients, and I love the thrill of seeing a sale.  There is nothing better than seeing a yellow price tag, especially on something you love.
One tactic I’ve used is buying more seasonal produce, which is a good idea both because the produce is at its peak taste and often much cheaper.  Now, I have bought lots of plums and corn this summer, but I completely neglected peaches and nectarines.  For shame.  I am now grabbing some nectarines or peaches every grocery store trip to make up for lost time.  One night I decided to make my own take on the Cuban dish picadillo and use some sweet summer peaches.  This dish is savory, salty, vinegary, and sweet- all great flavors.
So how did this meal do with my savings?  Very well-  I used some frozen ground turkey I had bought previously on sale, used fresh summer peaches, and used dried beans instead of canned.  Successful and delicious.
PICADILLO WITH PEACHES
Inspired by Branny Boils Over
INGREDIENTS
1 cup dried pinto beans
Water
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounces ground meat (pork, turkey, beef)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup dried currants
1/3 cup sliced green olives with pimentos
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
For serving:
Peaches, sliced
Corn Tortillas
DIRECTIONS
In a bowl, cover dried pinto beans completely with water with about 1-2 inches of water above.  Let soak for at least 8 hours, preferably 24 hours.  Drain and rinse the beans.  Transfer to a saucepan and cover with water, with about 1 inch of water above the beans.  Bring to a boil and cover with a lid, tilted to allow steam to come out.  Reduce to simmer and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours, until beans are soft.  Add more water if needed.  Drain and set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter and onion.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add ground meat and cook until cooked through, 4-5 minutes.  Add currants, olives, and pinto beans.  Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and paprika.  Mix together and add tomato sauce and red wine vinegar.  Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.  Serve on corn tortillas with slices of peaches.
Serves 4.