Tag Archives: Mexican food

From Fail to Fabulous

I made homemade tortillas to go with fajitas last night. The flour tortillas turned out great. The corn tortillas were an abomination. They were too dry. Too thick. Too awful. C’mon! It’s corn masa, salt & warm water. How hard can this be? I was tempted to throw them away, but I didn’t. As a corn tortilla lover, I was totally bummed. So bummed, I didn’t even make margaritas. That’s how bummed I was. Those of you who know me well are now probably saying, “Ahh, HELL no! She did NOT skip the margaritas!” I know! I know.

Homemade Corn Tortillas - great taste; terrible texture

The Complete Package is working from home today, so for lunch I took my short stack of awful corn tortillas and I fried them up in a little canola oil. Presto… homemade tostadas! My issues with texture went away when these little beauties crisped up in hot oil. With toppings like leftover grilled fajita beef, slow-cooked refried beans, grilled poblano peppers and homemade pico de gallo and guacamole, we turned drab into fab. I wish you could have been here. These puppies were fabulous! I think they will be going on our Hoegarden Weekend menu this spring (am I right, ladies?). I could eat these every day.

Homemade tostadas - holy cow, these were awesome!

Lessons learned:
1. never give up
2. be creative
3. there is nothing wrong with leftovers; not one little thing
4. when life gives you crummy corn tortillas, make tostadas!

On a scale of 1 to 10 (as my friend Kat likes to say), these were clearly 11/10. Thanks, Kat. You are SO right.

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Posole – It’s What (was) for Supper

You’ll be happy to know The Complete Package got his posole for dinner last night. He’s been craving it ever since I mentioned it in Monday’s post. Since then, he has dropped some not so subtle hints in the comment section of a few recent blog posts. I replied, in no uncertain terms, that I couldn’t make him no damn posole until he first smoked a rack of pork ribs, because nothing makes a fabulous pot of posole like leftover smokey rib meat. Well, I’ll be danged if he didn’t walk in the back door last night with a grocery bag. That’s right. You heard me. Mr. Spoiled Rotten stopped on his way home and picked up everything he needed to smoke pork ribs. Boy howdy, when that man gets a craving…

So Mr. I Have My Needs got his big honkin’ bowl of posole for dinner, and all is right with the world. If you haven’t tried posole yet, you really should. It’s the unsung hero of Mexican stews. And we love us some Mexican food around here. If you’re up to it, click here for posole. I hope you enjoy it… and you’re welcome, Mr. I’m Gonna Go Fall Asleep On The Couch Now. {giggling}

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My Favorite Mexican Food Side Dish: Creamy Poblano Rice

I feel like I should apologize for loading my blog with so many recipes lately. I usually try to spread them out, but we’ve eaten so many good things this past week, I feel like I need to share them before I forget them. Don’t laugh at me. It happens. I blame the menopause. Today, I want to share my new favorite side dish. I’m calling it Poblano Rice because I’m creative like that.

Poblano Rice - Before Baking - Inside NanaBread's Head

 

 

The Complete Package loves rice. I’ve mentioned this before. He’s addicted. I whipped this up one night to go with Mexican food, and now it’s our favorite side. It starts with poblano peppers, either canned or fresh. I’m in Texas, so I usually go for fresh.

Roasted Poblanos - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

 

Oh, baby. Poblanos are my favorite. I could eat them every day. I roast them over an open flame on my gas stove, steam them, peel and de-seed them, then chop. Then snitch a few. Then slap my own hand, usually. For this dish, I throw them into cooked or leftover plain basmati rice and add sour cream, monterrey jack cheese, garlic salt, salt & pepper. So simple, and yet so very satisfying.

Ingredients - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

 

NanaBread’s Creamy Poblano Rice
1 cup Texmati basmati rice, uncooked
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular table salt)
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 fresh poblano peppers – roasted, skinned, seeded & chopped OR 1 can of sliced poblano peppers (7.5 oz.), drained
1 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine; I even use fat-free Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups of grated pepper jack cheese
cayenne pepper, to sprinkle on top (optional)

In a medium size heavy-bottom pan, add the vegetable oil. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil just until it starts to shimmer. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice turns chalky white and some of the grains start to brown very lightly. Carefully add the water, throw in the salt, and stir to keep the grains from sticking. When your rice begins to bubble vigorously, give it one last stir. Place a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low (I set mine between 1 and 2 on my stove dial), and set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes. Once done, remove the lid and allow the rice to cool. TIP: this is a great way to use leftover steamed rice. Just start at the ‘stir in everything else’ portion of the recipe.

 

In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, sour cream, poblano peppers, garlic salt and one cup of grated pepper jack cheese. Mix it up and give it a taste.

 

If it needs more garlic salt, regular salt or you want to throw in some cracked black pepper, now is the time to add it. Once it’s perfect, spoon it into a baking dish that has been lightly sprayed or oiled. Spread it out evenly and top with the last 1/2 cup of grated pepper jack cheese. Man, I love cheese. All the cheese. Not Limburger, but all the others.

Grated Jack Cheese - Poblano Rice - Inside NanaBread's Head Blog

If you like spice, sprinkle on a little cayenne pepper. It really kicks it up a notch. I highly recommend it. Highly.

 

Pop your baking pan, uncovered, into a hot oven (375F) for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve it with your favorite main course. This week, it was my recipe for carnitas.

Poblano Rice - Ready to Serve - Inside NanaBread's Head

 

Two weeks ago, it was fajitas. Next week, it could be fish tacos. The possibilities are endless and the world is my oyster. Hmm… poblano rice with grilled oysters, shrimp and veggies? Or poblano rice with carne asada. Or poblano rice with the Pioneer Woman’s tequila-lime chicken. Dang. Now I’m hungry. Again.

Update: On June 2, 2016, I updated the photos for this blog post. The originals were poorly lit and frankly not very appetizing. If you followed a Pinterest link to get here and the photos don’t match, don’t worry. It’s the same recipe, just with hopefully more appetizing representations of one of my favorite family recipes.  -jeanne

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Craving Breakfast for Dinner? Try Huevos Rancheros (Ranch Eggs)

Huevos Rancheros - A Breakfast for Dinner Favorite

This used to be our favorite “lazy weekend” breakfast – perfect for those mornings when you want to sleep late and read the paper in your pajamas and bunny slippers. Lately, however, it seems like we’re eating it more often for dinner than breakfast, which still works because it’s great any time. I just love everything about this dish. It’s simple, easy to make, and it satisfies my cravings for Mexican food and breakfast for dinner. It also brings together my favorite elements of a classic Mexican food binge – chips, salsa & cheese. If you haven’t tried Huevos Rancheros yet, it’s time. Here’s how I make it for two people:

One small bag of corn tortilla chips
Pam cooking spray
4 large or jumbo eggs
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup of grated colby jack cheese
2 Tablespoons of minced purple onion
1/2 cup of red salsa
3 Tablespoons of cilantro (optional)

Set out two plates. On each plate, arrange enough tortilla chips to cover half the plate as if you’re making nachos. If you want your chips to be more bite-sized, crunch them up a little before spreading them out. Spray a non-stick skillet with a little cooking spray and cook your eggs until the yolks are to your liking. I’ll be honest with you, this dish is best if you leave the yolks a little runny. Gently place 2 eggs on each plate on top of the bed of tortilla chips. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated cheese on each serving, top each with one tablespoon of minced onion, pour 1/4 cup of salsa across each serving, then top with the cilantro. Put each plate into the microwave for 30-60 seconds on high to warm everything up and melt the cheese. Serve immediately. I like to serve this with pan-fried potatoes with onions or leftover refried beans. Out of salsa? Try it with pico de gallo instead. Want it spicy? Toss a fresh, minced jalapeno on the top or give it a few shakes of Tabasco. For me, this dish has it all – crunchy, creamy, salty, and spicy. It’s just fantastic. Whether you serve it for breakfast or dinner, Huevos Rancheros is sure to warm you up.

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Let’s Go South of the Border for Carnitas (a.k.a. Mexican Pulled Pork)

You Gotta' Try Carnitas - Mexican Pulled Pork

This recipe was featured on the America’s Test Kitchen on PBS, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to try it after the host, Chris Kimball, proclaimed that it is one of their “Top 10 Recipes of All Time.” We love Mexican food, and The Complete Package (my beloved) is a nut for pulled pork. Trying this one was a no-brainer for us. The technique is a little unexpected, but the results are fabulous.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 pork shoulder roast, boneless, 3-4 pounds
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 orange, quartered with seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 bay leaves, whole
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
2 cups of water
To serve: flour tortillas, guacamole, minced red onion, cilantro, sour cream

Preheat your oven to 300F. Trim the pork roast to remove most of the fat (leave some on); cut into 2”x2” cubes. Place into an oven safe saucepan or Dutch oven along with the onion, orange, the juice from the limes, the bay leaves, salt, pepper, cumin & oregano. Place on the stove over medium-high heat and bring up to a full simmer, stirring occasionally. Place a lid on the saucepan and move it to the middle lower rack of your oven. Bake at 300F for 2-3 hours, or until pork is fork tender (if you poke it with a fork, it easily slides off the fork). Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven to broil. Using a slotted spoon, move the pork into a bowl, and strain the liquid, placing it back into the pan for a glaze. Reduce the liquid over medium-high heat until the liquid reduces to about one cup.

Using two forks, pull each chunk of pork into two pieces, placing them back into the bowl. Toss with the reduced glaze to coat all pieces evenly; season with salt & pepper to taste. Place a baking rack onto a rimmed cookie sheet or a baking pan with raised sides (to contain any liquids). Place pork chunks onto the baking rack so that the juices will drip onto the baking sheet, about 1” apart. Put the baking sheet back into the oven on the lower-middle rack and allow to broil for 5-8 minutes, or until the meat starts to crisp on the top. Remove from the oven, flip all pork pieces, and place back in the oven to broil for an additional 5-8 minutes on the second side, or until edges are crisp but not burned.

Remove the meat from the oven. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top and give it a sprinkle of salt. Serve with warm flour tortillas, guacamole, minced red onion, cilantro, salsa and sour cream. The result – pulled pork so tender it melts in your mouth, with crispy broiled edges that will make your heart sing. The addition of fresh lime juice and salt at the end really perks it up. Leftover pork (if there is any) would be awesome as a filling for enchiladas, tamales, or burritos. Now go forth and get your carnitas on! Or in Spanish: Ahora ve en la cocina y hacer algo de carnitas para cenar esta noche!

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Posole – It’s a Mexican-Style Stew

Posole - It's What's for Supper

Posole (poe-SO-lay) is one of those Mexican dishes you may not have heard of. For me, it’s the unsung hero of stews. It is delicious and easy to make and should be in everyone’s recipe box. You really should try it sometime and see what all the fuss is about. C’mon…don’t be afraid to make a new friend.

This is my go-to meal when The Complete Package smokes a rack of pork ribs and we have leftover meat. And on his behalf, let me state for the record that TCP smokes a mean rack of pork ribs! Anything leftover after rib night gets picked off the bones and frozen in air-tight containers for posole. It’s also the reason I keep a large can of hominy in my pantry at all times. I like to plan ahead like that. And I’m the queen of recycling just about everything, including pork.

Here’s how I like to make posole:
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1/2 of one yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
One 29-ounce can of hominy, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
One cup of smoky pork rib meat, chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Pinch of cumin (or more, to your taste)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream, to dollop on top

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the oil, onion and peppers until translucent. If you don’t like heat, leave the jalapenos out, but keep the poblano – it adds so much flavor. Next, add the garlic and stir for about 30-45 seconds or until you start to smell it. Add the drained hominy, tomato sauce, smoky pork, chicken stock and all the dry spices. Save the cilantro and sour cream for the end. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then put a lid on it and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and allow the stew to sit for at least one hour. Trust me, it helps all the flavors come together. Don’t skip this part. After one hour, bring the posole back to a simmer to heat it back up. Add the fresh chopped cilantro and give it all a stir. Then spoon the posole into bowls, top with sour cream and go for it. You can serve this with warm flour tortillas or a crusty loaf of French bread. And if you don’t like this recipe, I’ll donate a can of hominy to my local food bank in your honor. That’s how good it is. Pinkie swear.

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