Posts tagged spicy food

Ditch the Tostitos, fresh is best

As promised, I’m bringing you a recipe to use those leftovers from my last post: the black beans and corn.  What I didn’t tell you was that this recipe was one of the best things I’ve made all semester.  It’s a simple salsa, but it’s so delicious and the fresh ingredients knock that jar of Tostitos that’s sitting in your cabinet right out of the water.  Homemade salsa is really healthy, as long as you moderate your portions.  Of course it’s traditionally served with chips, but for a healthy alternative, use it over chicken, or in a salad.  Here are some recipes using salsa from Yahoo.  You’ll probably need to go buy some ingredients, but everything is pretty cheap, and you’ll use everything.  

You’ll need:

  • The leftover corn (3/4 cup)
  • The leftover black beans (2/3 cup)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro (don’t omit!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, but I had lime juice at my place so I used that)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Put the leftover corn and beans together in a large bowl.
  2. Chop all the vegetables except the avocado.  The tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and red pepper.  This is the most tedious part of the process, especially the tomatoes.
  3. Add these ingredients to the bowl and mix everything together.
  4. Chop the fresh cilantro and add that to the bowl.
  5. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper and stir everything thoroughly.
  6. Now, you can be done here if you’d like: it’s delicious just like this. Or, store it in the fridge for at least two hours, and then just before serving, chop the avocado and add that to the salsa. I didn’t include the avocado in the pictures, because I haven’t served the salsa to anyone (other than myself) and have yet to add the avocado; but it does add a great touch.

Serving tip: If using tortilla chips, put them in a pan and place them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes before serving.  The contrast of cold salsa and warm chips is fantastic., which is why most restaurants do this.

A ridiculously easy recipe, yet one of the tastiest!  It’s a perfect solution if you’re having friends over, or want to store something you can use a snack for a few days.  Enjoy!

The picture step-by-step:

Use the leftover corn and black beans

 

Chop the vegetables: tomatoes will take you the longest

 

Keep chopping!

 

Add all the vegetables together and stir

 

Chop the fresh cilantro and add that to the bowl

 

Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to the bowl and stir one more time

 

Enjoy with warm tortilla chips

 

Try these other great salsa recipes:

Top 20 salsa recipes from AllRecipes.com

The Food Network’s salsa collection

Great-Salsa.com… pretty self-explanatory

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Craving Mexican? Behold, your sizzling solution

It recently dawned on me that I haven’t strayed much from Italian food when choosing recipes to share.  Don’t get nervous, I can never get too far, it’s my favorite.  But to mix it up a little, my roommates and I went with my favorite Mexican meal… Fajitas!  It’s largely unknown, but there are actually a ton of varieties of fajitas to try.  Some restaurants (Chili’s, Chuck’s Margarita Grill), offer many different spins on the traditional by using Cajun or chipotle recipes, and I’m going to give you my personal twist on the classic, so you can make it at school or at home instead of going out.  It’s a barbecue chicken fajita, and you can use as many or as little of the ingredients you like to customize your dish!

You’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast: for three people we used 4 good-sized pieces
  • Barbecue sauce: pick your favorite, here’s mine
  • One pack of flour tortillas: the small fajita size (Perhaps more if you’re serving for more people)
  • Black pepper
  • cayenne pepper (Can’t have good fajitas without a little spice!)
  • oregano (dried works better here)
  • Cilantro leaves (fresh)
  • Shredded cheese (Mexican blend)
  • Scallions, chopped 
  • Red onions cut into small slices
  • Salsa
  • About half a head of garlic (3 or four cloves), chopped into very small pieces
  • One lime, cut in half
  • One sliced tomato (I prefer this recipe without, but of course prepare it as you like)

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry the chicken breasts (that have already been defrosted) and get rid of all the fatty edges if you see any
  2. Rub the chicken in barbecue sauce, covering every inch and then sprinkle with black pepper, oregano and a dash of cayenne pepper, and small pieces of garlic.  Do this to both sides of the chicken breasts
  3. Drizzle olive oil over a pan and throw them in over medium-high heat (If you have a grill, by all means use it.  Those of us away at school will make do).
  4. Let the chicken cook here for a while, occasionally adding more barbecue sauce to the pan and more oregano and garlic powder if you have some to make sure it doesn’t lose its flavor.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, wash and slice up all your vegetables.  Have your roommates or friends help you here too, so you can keep an eye on the chicken.  Slice up the red onion, scallions, tomato and cilantro leaves (slice the leaves off the stem).
  6. Put all of these toppings in small bowls separately (along with salsa and shredded cheese).  I find that making a buffet line works best with fajitas so people can add or skip toppings as they choose.
  7. When the chicken if fully cooked (always make sure you cut through with a knife to make sure it’s not pink), slice it up into strips and place the plate of chicken next to your toppings line.  
  8. Here’s a trick for the tortillas: many people eat them as is, and some put them in the oven to heat them up, but if you leave the stove top that you cooked the chicken on, with someone ready with a plate in hand, simply place the tortilla on the hot stove top and after a couple seconds flip it over, and you’re left with a warm, slightly charred tortilla (see the picture of the finish product).  You just have to be sure that someone is ready to eat it, because otherwise it gets cold fast.
  9. Make sure you don’t leave that stove on, and you’re ready to load your fajita with all the toppings. When you’ve added all the toppings, squeeze the fresh lime over the entire fajita, and roll it up. Remember these tortillas are small, so don’t overstuff!

If you don’t have all of these ingredients, don’t sweat it.  You can make great fajitas without going all out.  It’s not that important to get scallions if you have red onion, and any type of cheese will work.  But if you have time to pick some things up (and these aren’t expensive- cilantro leaves I got for a little more than a dollar, a lime for 79 cents, etc.) then definitely do, because for this recipe all the ingredients really go a long way, especially the cilantro and lime.

For a great Mexican meal, serve with chips and salsa (Looking to make your own salsa?  Try this easy recipe from the Food Network), and preferably a Corona or margarita (Gotta use the leftover limes for something, right?).  Disfrute! (If my memory of spanish vocab serves me correctly, that means enjoy?).  If you’re feeling creative and come up with something new or you already have your own recipe, I’d love to hear your favorite twists on the classic fajita recipe!

Here’s a few links to some great ideas and unique dishes incorporating fajitas recipes:

The Food Network’s ‘All about Fajitas’ collection including fajita salads, soups and paninis:

DO NOT miss Paula Deen’s Gold Medal Sizzling Fajitas

A unique fajita marinade from AllRecipes.com

AllRecipes.com lists their top 20 Fajita recipes

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