Mexican: Light & Refreshing

For dinner tonight, a friend came over to catch up on girltime. I prepared a quick dinner that was light, flavorful and used what I had on hand, since the hubby to the car to work today. (And it was a perfect chance to cook beef for myself since my hubby doesn’t eat beef!) With that said, here’s what I came up with and was pleasantly surprised what a little creativity can do!

Mexican Steak “Pitzas” with Cilantro Cream

1 lb beef flank steak, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon southwest seasoning
1 teaspoon Sazon con Cilantro seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil for cooking
4 gyro pitas
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2 finely diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2-3 tablespoons water

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a skillet over medium high heat, add the cooking oil, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
– Add the beef and seasonings and cook until browned.
– Meanwhile, place your gyro pitas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the pitas. Remove the pitas from the oven and set aside.
– When the beef has cooked thoroughly, carefully spoon the beef over the warmed pitas to cover completely.
– Top the beef with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted.
– While the pitas are baking, prepare the cilantro cream by combining the cilantro, sour cream and water. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
– When the pitas are done baking, remove from the oven and top with the cilantro cream and chopped tomatoes; serve.

Tex Mex Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 stalk green onion, sliced
2 japelenos, finely diced
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cook until done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add the slightly cooled quinoa to the bowl and toss
Season with salt & pepper to your taste.

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Beef & chorizo filling

The following recipe was prepared for my Tamales cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Beef & chorizo filling

4 lbs lean ground beef
1 pkg of beef chorizo (2 large links)
1 packet of Sazon seasoning
1 large onion, finely diced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced

In a large skillet, brown chorizo and ground beef.
Add remaining ingredients and cook through until onions have softened.
Place in bowl and allow to cool.
Cover and chill until ready to fill tamales.

Latin Love for Eggplant

After flipping through a new cookbook I received from last night’s Cookbook Swap, I was inspired to give our dinner a Latin twist today. Another task I had at hand was to reintroduce eggplant to my husband. He doesn’t like eggplant but I’ve asked him to give it another try. Apparently he last had eggplant as a child… so tonight I needed to be creative and successful in my attempts.

Combining both latin flavors and eggplant was the mission and here’s what I decided on for dinner – roasted eggplant, tomato & goat cheese quesadillas, accompanied by a tex-mex chopped salad with spicy oven roasted chicken. The verdict? He loved the quesadillas!Here’s my recipe for roasted eggplant, tomato & goat cheese quesadillas:
1 medium eggplant
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ripe tomato
olive oil
3 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped italian parsley
3-5 large flour tortillas (10″ size)

Seasonings: 1 teaspoon of each
salt
black pepper
cumin
chili powder
onion powder
garlic powder
paprika
sazon seasoning w/cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all seasonings in a small bowl and mix.
Cut eggplant in 1/2 inch circles.
Brush slices with olive oil & sprinkle seasoning mix on both sides.
In a saute pan, pan roast eggplant until brown.
Transfer slices to a baking sheet.
After eggplant slices have been browned, add onions and garlic in pan with some olive oil.
Cook until onions are translucent.
Add chopped tomatoes and remaining seasoning left.
Saute until warmed through and place onion tomato mixture over eggplant slices.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place cooled eggplant/tomato mixture into a bowl.
Cut goat cheese in chunks and place in bowl.
Combine gently with chopped parsley.
Fill tortillas with this filling and begin making the quesadillas.
To make the quesadillas, fill half the tortilla with the filling.
Fold over the tortilla to create a half circle.
You can either grill or pan fry quesadillas until tortilla is warmed through.
Tonight I baked them in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with sour cream and your favorite quesadilla condiments.

Tex mex chopped salad

Tex mex chopped salad w/spicy roasted chicken
& cilantro lime vinaigrette

Spicy Roasted Chicken:
cut up chicken pieces
olive oil
Seasonings: 1 teaspoon of each
salt
black pepper
cumin
chili powder
onion powder
garlic powder
paprika
sazon seasoning w/cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all seasonings in a small bowl and mix.
Season chicken pieces with seasoning mix liberally.
Place seasoned chicken in dutch oven.
Pour olive oil over chicken.
Bake in preheated oven uncovered for 1 hour.
Allow chicken to cool.
Debone chicken and add to the following salad…
Tex Mex Chopped Salad:
romaine lettuce, chopped
spinach leaves, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 can of black beans, rinsed
1/2 can of sweet corn, drained
1 small cucumber or pickle, diced
1 roma tomato, seeded & chopped
a few baby carrots, diced
handful of cilantro, chopped
chopped, deboned spicy roasted chicken
crushed tortilla chips

Combine above salad ingredients except tortilla chips and toss.
Serve with the cilantro lime vinaigrette below.
Top with crushed tortilla chips.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
juice of 1 lime
olive oil
handful of chopped cilantro (or to your taste)
salt, pepper & sazon con cilantro to taste