This isn’t a real post. And I don’t know when I’ll be able to get a second post going. I know it’s been years since my last post. Life sort of got in the way. There was the year where I didn’t have my own kitchen, then we bought a house and spent several months updating and making it our own. Then we had a baby. He’s super cute. You get the point. Busy people, etc.
So this isn’t a real blog post, it’s just my dinner last night and when I finished making it I thought, “damn that looks too pretty not to take a picture of it and if I’m going to take a picture of it maybe I should write about it.” It’s just a quick at-home version of Chiptole’s burrito bowls. The best part, for me, of this dinner was that we grew the bell pepper, jalapenos and tomatoes in our garden. For the first time in years of gardening all of our plants are producing like crazy. It’s definitely making up for the years we spent at the community garden, filling a water barrel with a hose hooked up to a fire hydrant down the block and never getting any good tomatoes because squirrels, mice and humans would steal them.
Anyway, honestly I don’t know if I’ve actually written this post already. I might have but I don’t have time to go back and check and hey, even if I did, it was years ago. You could probably use a refresher on burrito bowls, right? They’re really complicated. At the very least, here are some pictures of my dinner. PS I hope you like cell phone pictures!
1 cup long grain brown rice
two chicken breasts – already cooked is best
two fresh jalapeños
1 red bell pepper
Boil your rice and once it’s mostly cooked add some chopped onion. I find this gives some good flavor while easing the bite of the onion. While the rice is boiling, get your meat ready. I used leftover chicken breast from a previous dinner. Just gently shred it, toss it into a microwavable dish with a cover, add two fresh jalapeños, thinly sliced, some chili powder a little salt pepper and garlic and enough water so the chicken is covered about halfway. Microwave for six minutes stiring once halfway through. Make sure you take the seeds out of the jalapeños or you’ll probably burn your mouth off.
Chop the pepper and slice it the cherry tomatoes in half. That’s it for cooking, once the rice and chicken are done just build your bowl. A layer of rice, a layer of chicken, top with some cheese sprinkle on your red bell pepper and your tomatoes, and finally top with a little scoop of Greek yogurt. Done.
I have to be honest. I don’t create many fusion dishes. I’m not sure I have the expertise of any one genre so firmly under my control that I feel able to mash two of them up together. Before this recipe, I’d never tried it at all. That I can remember. And no, using spaghetti noodles in ramen instead of Udon noodles doesn’t count.
This was very much an attempt to use up fresh produce without it going bad and without getting bored of the same flavor combinations. While I could possibly eat nothing but tomatoes and basil all summer long, I fear that Señor may crave more diversity than that. Actually, I could probably convince him to eat just tomatoes and basil for a week or two. But still. That’s not very well-balanced now is it?
We both love Mexican food, thus our taco bar wedding reception. That taco bar was delicious and friends have told me they’re still dreaming about the amazing food. For real, she just said it this weekend. I wouldn’t lie about something so serious. And in all honesty, we are STILL eating through the leftovers. We had a small guest list and we had 20 percent of our responded guests not show. So we had a ton of leftovers. We’re almost done with them but the overwhelming amount of taco meat, tortilla shells and refried beans in our freezer definitely affected our desire to make tacos.
This recipe was my best attempt at bringing delicious Mexican food back into our lives without it looking or tasting anything like the beef, chicken, beans and rice in our freezer. It totally worked. In the heat of summer, I used canned beans instead of boiling my own. I didn’t have to plan this recipe in advance, I just dumped everything together and off we went. The corn had been roasted on the grill a few days earlier and was caramelized and smoky. The cilantro and basil were both about to turn. And thankfully, tomatoes are a staple of both cuisines. Which is maybe why I love them both so much? Or maybe that’s unrelated and it’s just that they’re awesome. That’s probably more likely.
In this dish, roasted grape tomatoes make most of the ‘sauce’ that covers the noodles, beans, corn and herbs. In the effort of full disclosure, this was delicious as a hot main dish and the a cold lunch the next day. This is also a super easy recipe to feed a bunch of dietary restrictions. Gluten free? Swap out the whole wheat noodles for brown rice noodles. Vegan or lactose intolerant? Skip the cheese topping. Delicious and versatile. I love that.
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti noodles
20-30 grape tomatoes
2 cobs roasted corn (approximately 1 cup of kernels)
1 can black beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of salt, black pepper, cayenne
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Heat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Be sure to let the noodles drain for a few minutes before tossing them with the dish to keep excess water from creating a soupy dish.
Prepare the noodles according to package directions.
While the water is heating, place the tomatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven or toaster oven for roasting. I prefer the toaster oven because the tomatoes sit closer to the heating element and finish roasting much faster. The tomatoes are ready when the skins are shriveling and there is some liquid on the foil.
Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs of corn.
Drain the beans and rinse well. Let drain for five minutes to remove any excess liquids.
Place six ounces of water in a glass measuring cup. Add the chili powder, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir and microwave the mixture for 45 seconds.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet. Heat on medium. Add the water and spice mixture. Toss the black beans and corn in the skillet until the spices are fragrant. Add the noodles and roasted tomatoes to the skillet and gently toss to incorporate. Adjust spices as necessary.
Tear whole cilantro and basil leaves off a clean bunch of each herb. When the pasta is just about ready to serve, remove from heat and toss a handful of both cilantro and basil with the dish.
Serve immediately; garnish with fresh cilantro, basil and shredded cheese.
One of my favorite restaurants is Ol’ Mexico. It’s this funky place in a strip mall, very close to my work and my sister’s house. It’s one of her favorite restaurants too. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have them cater our Minnesota reception. I love the idea of a taco bar and I don’t think you can find tastier tacos than at Ol’ Mexico.
One of my other favorite places is El Loro in Eagan. I rarely go there now because I don’t work or live in Eagan or nearby but I will occasionally make the trip for a lunch date with Kiz. They have a super-cheap lunch menu and my favorite item, the chicken chimichanga is very simple, but comes with beans and rice and is smothered in a delicious queso. Oh the queso.
A few weeks ago, Senor and I went to Ol’ Mexico for dinner and I’ve been more or less obsessed with the place ever since. I had their barbecue beef chimichanga and let me tell you, it was like a religious experience. Long story short: (shredded beef > ground beef) + (bbq sauce > no sauce) = holy guacamole deliciousness. I’ve taken the lesson to heart.
Since then I’ve made us bbq beef burritos a few times and they’ve been pretty delish as well. I don’t have the means nor desire to deep fry the whole thing, so while I do love a chimichanga, I do not attempt them in my home. I do smother them with my own queso that incorporates our home made salsa, and top them off with delicious Greek yogurt. Yum!
The other night we got home and were both pretty hungry. I knew we had leftover turkey meat from Thanksgiving, and that sandwiches would be a nice, quick dinner. At the same time, we’d had that same dinner two nights in a row and I felt compelled to mix things up. Thus was born, the smothered turkey burrito.
Friends, it was a fairly genius invention. They took approximately 5 minutes to make which is just the cherry on the sundae isn’t it? (What am I talking about? I HATE the cherry on the sundae!) The turkey provided a really yummy and unique flavor that you don’t usually get from a burrito. They also weren’t greasy or ‘juicy’ from the meat so they were easier and cleaner to eat. Senor really hates when burritos and tacos leak all over the place. I understand his frustration. The turkey, along with black beans, onions and mozzarella made for a pretty protein-rific burrito. I’m not going to say it was better than the holy trinity of beef+bbq+chimicanga, but it was pretty tasty.
Here’s how to make one:
Smothered Turkey Burrito
1 burrito shell
roast turkey meat (as much as you want!)
1/4 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
chunky salsa, as much as you want
green onions (for garnish and filling)
Greek yogurt (garnish)
for smothering sauce:
cubed velveeta cheese (1-2 ounces)
The sauce is really up to you and depends on how much cheese you want, how chunky you want it or how spicy you want it. I like to make it about an even blend of cheese and salsa. The milk keeps it from being too thick and helps make it pourable.
Make the sauce up first. Throw your cheese, salsa, hot sauce and milk into a pyrex liquid measure and pop it in the wave for a minute. You’ll want to stir every minute until it’s hot and bubbly. That’s when you’re done with the sauce. Yum.
Everything else gets wrapped up into the burrito except the greek yogurt of course. Feel free to season with hot sauce, bbq sauce, extra queso, extra salsa, whatever. We are actually out of BBQ sauce at our house so the turkey burritos weren’t BBQ flavored and they were still tasty. I love finding unique ways to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers!
Fish tacos are SUPER popular in Minnesota. You can get them at more or less all summer food events and all Mexican restaurants. Unfortunately most places batter and fry the fish and top the tacos with a creamy chipotle sauce. Don’t get me wrong, those fish tacos are delicious. They’re just not super-healthy and they’re not as easy to make as a basic fish taco. I’m not sure about their popularity in other states but we have a lot of lakes and a lot of fish here so it’s not surprising that you can get fish tacos at the Farmer’s Market.
|Fresh Pico de Gallo|
My recipe for fish tacos is awesome (if I do say so myself) and super-quick to make. Also, they’re cheeeeeeeeeeap which means fish tacos are eaten at Wee house at least once every ten days.
Here’s what you need for fish tacos for two made with pico de gallo:
1 7oz fish filet (mahi mahi is the best!) I buy the frozen kind from Target. 1 filet makes 4 tacos.
1 red onion
1 bunch of cilantro
4 soft taco shells
sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1 red bell pepper** optional
*refried beans make a good side dish.
Here’s what to do:
Toss your frozen filet into a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Chop up your tomato, red onion and cilantro. Toss with the juice from one lime. (Red peppers optional)
Flip the filet until it’s mostly cooked.
Once the fish is cooked, shred the filet with your spatula. Season with the juice of the other lime, garlic, cumin, and cayenne.
Now you’re done. Build your tacos.
Taco shell–shredded cheese–fish–pico–hot sauce–greek yogurt
Enjoy with refried beans. YUM!