Concocting luscious dips with Greek yogurt is one of my favorite cooking pastimes – almost it’s own little mini-cooking project for me. This recipe gets me excited because it has avocados (one of my favorite foods) and it goes great with pretty much any Mexican meal – which made it a huge hit with my family! Another special feature to this sauce? Once you’ve enjoyed it for dinner, it morphs into a dip – just add another scoop of Greek yogurt to thicken it up a bit.
Chips and salsa are big in our house, so I’m always trying to come up with new versions. I made this salsa for the boys’ first night home from college – Mexican is always their favorite meal – and they all loved it! Of course with three college boys in the house, the whole batch of salsa, and the bag of chips, was gone by the next morning!
Inspired by Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday, these beans are my take on a beloved Mexican restaurant side. These beans were for the older boys first dinner home from school for the summer. Along with Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos, Mexican rice and Creamy Guacamole Sauce, big servings of Mexican comfort food were devoured at dinner. Smoky, a bit spicy, Cowboy Beans are sure to become a favorite with your family.
Use this classic Mexican bean side to inspire all sorts of flavor combinations. You could add pickled jalapenos, roasted red peppers, or change things up and make a black bean version. Fresh cilantro would be delicious in either a pinto or black bean version. Happy cooking!
4 slices of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (preferably thick-sliced)
2 tsp Minced garlic
1 (15 oz can) Tomatoes, fire-roasted, drained (use regular tomatoes for less kick)
2 (15 oz cans) Pinto beans (do not drain or rinse)
Salt to taste (I love salt and did not find this dish to need any additional salt)
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes.
Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the garlic and sauteed for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned.
Add tomatoes and beans with their liquid and stir to combine.
Simmer over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld, for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the bacon.
Beans can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Reheat in the microwave or over low-heat on the stovetop.
I was so blessed to spend a wonderful day last summer with two dear friends. Lyn and Melissa have been my friends since 6th grade, it was so special to get to spend the afternoon with them and have all of our kids – 8 of them – get to know each other. I love cooking for my friends, so I had to volunteer to bring some food. Lunch turned out great, and since we had all told our kids we were having “Mommy time” we were able to chat uninterrupted for 20 minutes at a stretch. Bliss! What a fun picnic table lunch and we even got to catch up with our friend Karen. I gave her the leftover dressing for a dinner she was hosting later that night…multi-tasking at it’s finest.
This dressing has a zing to it, which you can temper with more or less chipotle peppers and honey. In addition to being a yummy on a salad, this vinaigrette makes a delicious marinade for pretty much any protein...chicken, pork, steak, fish...Plan on getting your money's worth from this recipe - an amazing salad and fab dinner on the grill later in the week. Happy cooking!
3-4 Canned Chipotle peppers (see note)
1 lime, zested and juiced
4 tbsp Red wine vinegar
4 tbsp Honey
2 tsp Minced garlic
½ cup Canola oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1½ tsp Cumin, ground
½ tsp Oregano, dried
In a food processor, add chipotle peppers, lime zest and juice, and red wine vinegar. Pulse until peppers are throughly combined.
Next add the honey, garlic, canola oil, Kosher salt, cumin and oregano. Throughly pulse until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Use the dressing right away or you can store in the refridgerator for up to 1 week.
Canned Chipotle Peppers - 4 peppers will give a medium heat. I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, and I like the "kick" from 4 peppers. If you prefer even less heat you can start with 2 or 3, the dressing will still be delicious.
Jeff and I had so much fun working on this recipe together. I finally figured out the perfect kind of cooking for us to do together – any tasks that have a high rate of repetition and precision – he excels with that type of stuff! We got off to a rough start because I had meant to buy corn tortillas for the nachos, but out of habit picked up flour tortillas. But my sweetie came to the rescue by putting a tiny slit in each tortilla wedge, that one step means your chip doesn’t puff up too much. We made these for Super Bowl, and oh my goodness…with Spicy Honey Pulled Pork…Jeff declared these were the BEST nachos he’d ever had!
By the way, we made these nachos with a container of pulled pork I had stashed in the freezer. When you are making those long-cooking main dishes, I encourage you to set some aside for the freezer. Right now in my freezer you would find a couple of kinds of pulled pork, chili and brisket…any of those would be delicious on chips. Just think, if you have some yummy main dishes in the freezer, you are just a quick microwave defrost away from nachos!
These nachos would be amazing with even just some shredded cheese, but I would love for you to try them with my Spicy Honey Pulled Pork!
Making these chips with flour tortillas was a happy accident for us, but we are more likely to have flour tortillas around anyway. If you want to make these chips with corn tortillas, the only change will be that you do not need to make a slit in each tortilla wedge. I encourage you to go crazy with the endless variations...pulled pork, shredded beef, ground beef, pulled chicken...the list of delicious toppings goes on and on. Happy cooking!
Deep fry or candy thermometer
Peanut oil (amount you use will depend on the size of your pan)
8 (10 inch) Flour tortillas, sliced into 6 wedges each, a small inch wide slit in each wedge
Topping Options: pork, beef, or chicken; black, pinto or refried beans (warm all protein and beans), shredded cheese; jalapeno, sour cream, guacamole, salsa
Clip thermometer to the side of a large flat-sided skillet or Dutch oven. Heat 3 inches of peanut oil, the oil needs to be heated to 350 degrees. Over medium high heat, it will take 8-10 minutes to heat.
Drop 4-6 tortillas into the hot oil, turning once with a slotted spoon. The tortilla chips will turn golden brown in 3-4 minutes.
Remove each tortilla chip to a paper-towel lines sheet pan to drain any oil.
Sprinkle with Kosher salt, garlic powder and cumin to taste.
Serve right away or store at room temperature in a closed container for up to 5 days.
If you are making nachos: preheat the oven to 350 and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spray with canola spray (so the nachos won't stick) and place chips on the sheet pan. Top with warmed protein and beans, then cheese. Cook in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Finish with jalapeno, sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa if desired.
I LOVE white chicken chili! It has all the tasty, slightly spicy complexity of beef chili without all that heaviness and the stick to the ribs element. Like every other soup or chili this meal just gets better after a day or so in the fridge, and it freezes great. My version builds a complex yet healthy base from poblano chilis and onions sautéed along with lots of garlic, cumin and coriander. I utilize the Indian technique of “blooming” spices, which simply means adding spices to hot oil and letting the flavors intensify. I use this technique almost daily in cold weather – it is an invaluable tool in developing deep layers of flavor in all types of soups, stews and braises.
My kids do not like soup, all three have a genuine HORROR of foods that are all mixed together – casseroles are their worst nightmare – so they loathe soup. And you know what? They are such great eaters – they will try any protein or vegetable and they love all types of flavors, that I just LET IT GO. I don’t even make them try soup. In the future I know I will re-introduce, but for now we are good. Both my boys have mild Aspergers and food textures have always been challenging for them. My daughter is typical, but come on, why would she like a whole category of food her brothers detest? So, I make this recipe for me and Jeff. What to do with the leftovers? I buy lots of Chinese food take out pints (a great tip picked up from Ted Allen’s In My Kitchen) and freeze big batches of soup for future lunches and dinners.
I like some thickness in my chili, and find you can add it in two ways. One - you can puree some of the cannellini beans like I did (my ratio is half pureed, half left whole). Two - you can swap out some of the shredded chicken breast for ground chicken. Or you can simply opt for more of a soup texture and enjoy the soup as is. If you want to go chunkier, either of these techniques works great. Happy cooking!
¼ cup Canola oil
3 Poblano chiles, minced (remove ribs and seeds to lessen the heat)
3 Onions, yellow, medium, minced
8 tsp Minced garlic
4 tbsp Ground cumin
4 tbsp Ground coriander
2 tsp Kosher salt
4 (15 oz) Cannellini beans, drained and half of the beans pureed (optional)
5 - 6 cups Chicken, shredded
6 cups Chicken broth, low sodium
Sour cream, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño and lime slices are all delicious accompaniments.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Poblano chiles and onions and stir to coat with oil. Sauté over low heat for 10 - 15 minutes.
Add minced garlic, cumin, coriander and Kosher salt to the pot and stir to combine. Continue to cook, allowing the spices to “bloom” (that’s a technique used in Indian cooking to intensify the flavor of spices) for 2-3 more minutes.
Add beans, chicken and stock to the pot and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. (At this step you can also utilize your slow cooker, see my instructions below)
Remove from heat and serve immediately. You can also cool the chili and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
I love to use my slow cooker once I have my flavor base built. If you are choosing to use your slow cooker you don’t need to get out your Dutch oven, just use a large skillet. Once I combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, I set it to LOW for 4 hours. Using the slow cooker for a nice low and slow cooking period really allows the flavors to deepen and intensify.
One of my favorite salads to make in the summer, serve it along side anything from a hamburger to my Mojo Pork Tenderloin. This salad also makes a great addition to a make-your-own taco bar, which is how we enjoyed it last week. But I think my favorite way to eat this is over scrambled eggs with a dollop of sour cream – breakfast perfection that I enjoy until the leftovers run out!
The dressing really makes this salad and has the perfect amount of zip to really elevate a simple bean salad. This is an ideal make-ahead dish - you can whip up the dressing and toss with the black beans and red peppers, just hold off adding the avocado and cilantro until you are ready to serve. Consider making a double batch of the dressing since you will already have the food processor out. Stored in the fridge, you could marinate chicken, pork, steaks, just about anything...Happy cooking!
½ of a Medium red onion, sliced in half
2 Limes, zested and juiced
1 tsp Sugar or Light agave syrup
1 tsp Chipotle chili powder (if you want less heat start with ½ tsp and increase after tasting)
2 tsp Minced garlic
½ tsp Kosher salt
½ cup Canola oil
1 lb, 13 oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Large red peppers, diced
2 Ripe avocados, diced
½ cup Cilantro, finely minced
In a food processor add the onion and lime zest and juice and pulse until the red onion has a paste-like consistency. Add the sugar, chipotle chili powder, minced garlic, Kosher salt and canola oil and pulse to mixture is emulsified.
In a large bowl toss the black beans and red peppers with the dressing. At this point you can refrigerate until chilled, allowing the flavors to meld, for 1-2 hours. Allow the salad about 30 minutes on the counter to take the chill off before serving. You can also refrigerate for overnight.
I love pork tenderloin! Grilled or roasted – it always turns out yummy and juicy. Think of it as a blank canvas, much the same as a skinless, boneless chicken breast – you can add any flavor profile to it and create an interesting and delicious meal. This marinade is so easy and the pork tastes incredible. Pork tenderloin is a great option for a quick family meal, or double this recipe and you have a ideal main dish for a crowd. It’s much easier to move a few pork tenderloins around the grill instead of tons of chicken breasts. Try this pork as the centerpiece of a make-your-own taco bar. Ours had thin slices of pork, flour tortillas, my grilled salsa (recipe link below), sour cream, Mexican rice (I had a ziploc of it frozen from our last Mexican dinner), shredded cheese and my incredible black bean salad (recipe coming soon). When I talk about how to make dinner kid-friendly this meal is a perfect example of how to do that – each person gets to make their own taco so everyone enjoys their dinner. I round this meal out with a big platter of raw veggies – my kids love vegetables so they can supplement their VERY basic tacos (pork, cheese and tortilla) with a few handfuls of vegetables, and dinner is done!
Love the Cuban flavors of this marinade, Mojo always say "summer" to me. Make sure to use fresh oregano, it really is the centerpiece of this marinade. I served this pork as part of a taco bar, but it could easily stand alone with rice and a salad. Happy cooking!
3 tbsp Oregano, finely chopped
¼ cup Canola oil
¼ cup Orange juice
2 Limes, zested and juiced
4 tsp Minced garlic
1 tsp Kosher salt
2½ lbs Pork tenderloin, trimmed (the package will have 2 smaller pork tenderloins around 1¼ lb each)
In a small bowl whisk together the oregano, canola oil, orange juice, lime zest and juice, minced garlic and Kosher salt.
Place tenderloins in a Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over the pork. Marinate in the refridgerator for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before grilling to allow the pork to lose some of its chill.
Prep grill with canola spray and preheat burners to low. Close the lid and allow the grill to heat up for 5-10 minutes.
Place pork on the grill and cook it for 10-15 minutes on each side. The pork is ready to come off the grill when it has an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Let it rest on a platter for 10 minutes before slicing so it can finish cooking (the temperature will increase another 10 degrees) and the juices can redistribute.
In all the years I’ve been cooking I have to confess I never made salsa. I really only made Mexican food for my clients, and if we were having Mexican at home I would pick up a great salsa at the store. That was before I found myself feeding college kids, because what do college kids love more than Mexican food? Nothing! So, a few weeks ago while looking for some recipe inspiration, I stumbled across a recipe for grilled salsa. That immediately caught my attention because I was going to be grilling Mojo Pork Tenderloin for tacos (that recipe coming soon) and I would already have the grill going. Below is my adaptation of an old Cuisine At Home Special edition on grilling…I miss those magazines, just page and page of great recipe ideas! This salsa was such a huge hit, it was demolished that night and I was so relieved to remember I had hidden a tiny container of it in the fridge (tricks you develop when you have hungry college kids raiding your kitchen at night), so I had just enough to top my scrambled eggs the next morning.
This is such an easy recipe to make - just throw the tomato packet on the grill and let the grill work its magic. If you have leftovers, though I doubt you will, this salsa keeps great in the fridge for several days. Happy cooking!
6 Tomatoes, medium size
1 Onion, medium size, sweet or red
½ cup Canola oil
2 tsp Minced garlic
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup Cilantro, finely chopped
Preheat half of your grill to low and close the lid.
Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and then slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out half of the tomatoes insides. So, if you make the whole recipe, you will be scooping out the insides of 3 tomatoes. This is so that the salsa is not too watery.
Slice the top and bottom off the onion, and slice it in half.
Slice off the top of the jalapeno and slice it in half lengthwise. I take out the membranes and seeds, but if you want more heat leave some of that in.
On a large piece of aluminum foil, place tomatoes, onion and jalapeno. Toss with canola oil and seal packet. Place on the grill and cook for 15 minutes.
Open the packet to check doneness. You want to have some grill marks on the veggies. If the veggies have grill marks, carefully remove the grill packet from the grill and put it on a plate (much easier to carry that way). If none have started to form, turn the burners up to high, leave the grill packet open and let cook for an additional 5 minutes, then remove from the grill and transfer packet to a plate.
Let cool for 15-20 minutes, you can speed this up, by removing the vegetables to a bowl or plate, taking them out of the cooking liquid. When the veggies have cooled slightly, place them in a food processor and discard the cooking liquid.
Add garlic, lime zest and juice, Kosher salt and cilanto and pulse to combine. You will only need to pulse 2-3 times - you want a chunky texture, not a puree.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. If you do put the salsa in the fridge, remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving so it can come to room temperature. The salsa will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days.
One of my new favorite dinners with a completely delicious marinade! A recent cookbook discovery, Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert inspired me to re-think all the work involved with making fajitas on a grill pan – how could I simplify things for a weeknight dinner? Cook the fajitas and veggies on a sheet pan! If you are looking for new dinner inspiration definitely check out this cookbook – if you kids are like mine, they don’t like foods mixed together – so roasting on trays is big in our house already. A huge bonus was making dinner on ONE foil-lined sheet pan…the fewer dishes to clean up equals a happy mom!
This marinade is sooo good. Think about making a double batch of marinade, throwing in some skinless, boneless chicken breasts and freezing the marinade and chicken in a ziploc bag - then you would have another great dinner in your future...with no extra work! Happy cooking!
Marinade and Steak
3 Chipotle chilis, in adobo sauce, minced
⅓ bunch Cilantro, minced (leaves and some stems)
½ cup Canola oil
1 cup Orange juice (whatever you have in your fridge is fine)
1 Lime, zested and juiced
3 tbsp Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Ground cumin
1 tsp Kosher salt
1½ - 2 lb. Flank steak (see note)
The Rest of the Meal
2-4 Peppers, thinly sliced (Pick ones your family likes most - red and green peppers are the traditional choice)
1-2 Onions, thinly sliced (I prefer to make this recipe with red, but you can also use yellow)
Pack of flour tortillas (I like the soft taco size - usually 10 to a pack)
Optional accompaniments - refried and/or black beans, rice
I make the marinade in a food processor - if you are as well, you don't need to chop the chilis or cilantro, put them in first and pulse until they are minced and have a paste-like consistency. You can also easily make this marinade with one bowl and a whisk.
Add canola oil, orange juice, lime, garlic, cumin and Kosher salt to the processor and pulse to combine.
Set processor aside and turn your attention to the flank steak. Score the flank steak (see note) and slice the steak into three pieces against the grain (if the meat is laying in a rectangle in front of you, against the grain would be top to bottom).
Place all three pieces of steak in a ziploc bag and add marinade, reserving 1 cup for the vegetables, after sealing the bag, make sure the flank steak is completely covered. Marinade at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Refrigerate the marinade for the veggies separately (you could marinate the veggies for an hour for additional flavor, but that's completely optional).
Thirty minutes before you are ready to cook - Preheat oven to 450 and move top rack to the uppermost level in the oven. Take the steak out of the fridge so it can start to come to room temperature. Toss vegetables in the reserved marinade. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place vegetables on the baking sheet and spread evenly, so that each piece is touching the baking tray and not touching each other (this helps them to caramelize and prevents steaming).
Roast for 15 minutes.
Remove tray from the oven, evenly divide the peppers and onions and move them to the two end of the tray (they will be in heaps at this point and that's what you want), clearing a space for the flank steak. Increase oven temperature to broil.
Broil for 5 minutes.
Remove tray from the oven and place vegetables in a bowl and cover with foil. Flip flank steak pieces and return to the oven.
Broil for 5 minutes.
Remove tray from the oven and place flank steak pieces on a cutting board fitted inside a rimmed baking sheet (makes for easier cleanup). Let steak rest for 10 minutes uncovered.
Thinly slice against the grain and enjoy.
Skirt steak would also work well in this recipe and it's less expensive. To score your flank steak, place the flank steak on a cutting board, then use the tip of a sharp knife to make several shallow cuts into the surface of both sides of the steak in a diamond pattern. Try to make each cut about 1⁄4 inch deep. If you can, cut against the grain of the meat. Scoring your meat has two purposes, first, it makes your meat much more tender and second, it helps the marinade penetrate the meat.