Thursday, June 25, 2009

More Healthy Mexican

This past weekend Jeremy and I had one of my friends from high school and his wife over for dinner. I made one of our favorite meals: burrito bowls (think something you'd get at Baja Fresh, Chipotle, or Quodoba). These are great because they can be altered to each individual's taste, so if you have a guest who doesn't like something they can just leave that off of their own individual plate (like me with the meat and dairy). I set up a bar of multiple dishes and condiments and let everyone assemble their own plate before sitting down to eat. Below are the items that I normally include, along with some sour cream, sliced pickled jalapenos, and freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures this time because I didn't want to weird our guests out by taking pictures of the food.

Seasoned Chicken
This is more of a method than a recipe. I cut up chicken and cook it in a pan and add some taco seasoning (see recipe below). I always assemble the other ingredients in advance earlier that day, and whip this up last minute as the guests are arriving. To have this a make ahead dish to avoid the last minute rush (as I generally try to do when I entertain) you could just throw the chicken in a crockpot with some salsa and taco seasoning, cook for 6-8 hours on low, and then shred before serving.

Taco Seasoning
-6 teaspoons chili powder
-5 teaspoons paprika
-4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
-2 1/2 teaspoons onion salt (because that's what I have on hand, you could use onion powder and add salt separately)
-2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Mix all ingredients well. Store in airtight container for 6-12 months. To use add 2 tablespoons of seasoning mix to one pound cooked chicken or beef, add 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes, or meat is coated and sauce is absorbed.

Black Beans
-1 lb. dried black beans
-(this time I threw in about 1 cup of diced tomatoes because I had them in the freezer and they needed to be used, but the recipe doesn't need this. you could also use 1 can tomatoes with chiles for a spicy flavor)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 bay leaves
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (this made them pretty spicy, use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon if you don't love spicy food)
-1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
-(this would also be wonderful with fresh lime juice or cilantro stirred in at the end, but I did not do that this time)

Soak beans overnight, rinse and drain. Saute onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Add beans and suggested amount of water on package. Add everything else except for the vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until desired texture is achieved (I usually cook them for at least 2-4 hours). If water dries up and beans are still too firm, add more water and continue to simmer. Stir in the vinegar (and any lime juice or cilantro) once finished.

Cilantro Rice
I cook rice in our rice maker and stir in fresh chopped cilantro just before serving to add a nice touch.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
This recipe can be found here on my post from last week. (I like to eat this on the side, but everyone else throws it right on top of the rice in their burrito bowl and enjoys it this way).

-4 avocados, sliced in half, then sliced into small cubes (while skin is attached) and removed from skin with a spoon
-2 roma tomatoes (or 1 medium to large tomato), seeded and chopped
-½ red onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-salt and pepper to taste (up to 1 teaspoon of each)
-a couple drops hot sauce or dashes of cayenne pepper
-chopped fresh cilantro
-the juice of 1 limes

Combine all ingredients in bowl, stir and serve immediately. Keep the pit of one of the avocados in the bowl if the dip will remain out for a while, or if it will be refrigerated (this helps keep it from turning brown).

Fresh Tomato Salsa
-6 tomatoes (you can use plum/ roma, home grown, or just the everyday variety), seeded and coarsely chopped
-½ red onion, chopped
-1 teaspoon white vinegar
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-fresh ground black pepper
-hot pepper sauce or cayenne to taste
-1 clove garlic minced
-1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients. Serve immediately or chill for several hours depending on your preference.


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