Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo at home

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! If you haven’t noticed already, I really love Mexican food, so I had to celebrate this American-played-up holiday. I say this because I really think that it is a bigger deal here in the United States than it is in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It is actually a celebration of the victory over the French in the battle of Puebla. So to celebrate I decided to make some guacamole and homemade baked tortilla chips. I also thought that I would try my hand at recreating one of my favorite Mexican-American restaurants dishes. I think that I came so close that if it wasn’t for their fresh tortillas it would be awhile before I went back.

If you live anywhere near a Costa Vida, you must go. I am completely addicted to their food. It is fresh and absolutely mouth watering. I almost always order their taco salads which they serve in a hot homemade tortilla. They fill it up with romaine lettuce, cilantro lime rice, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, crispy tortilla strips, cotija cheese and here is the kicker, a delicious tomatillo ranch dressing. I was able to come close to their cilantro lime rice and their tomatillo ranch dressing.

The recipes may look like a lot of work for a single meal, but I actually made them yesterday when I had some time and then reheated them and made a quick yummy dinner tonight. To make the ultimate salad layer romaine lettuce, cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans, fresh corn, tomatoes, cotija cheese, and tomatillo ranch dressing. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Quick and Easy Guacamole

2 avocados

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ white or red onion, chopped

2 Tbs. cilantro

1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced, optional

Juice of 1-2 limes

Salt to taste

Scoop out avocado and mash with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime juice as needed.

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

6 corn tortillas

Cooking spray

Course salt

Chile powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray 2 cooking sheets with cooking spray. Cut tortillas into wedges and arrange in single layer on the baking sheets. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and chile powder. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crispy. They will crisp up a little more once they cool off. Watch them carefully because they will go from crispy to burned very quickly.

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Cilantro Lime Rice

2-3 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 ¼ cups jasmine rice

Zest of ½ a lime

Juice of 2-3 limes plus more for serving

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

1 ¼ cups water

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rice and sauté stirring occasionally until translucent and fragrant. Add the lime zest and juice, the broth and the water. Stir and bring up to a simmer. Turn heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add the cilantro, more lime juice and salt to taste.

* if you are making this ahead and want to refrigerate it, spray a large baking pan with cooking spray and spread the hot rice out on it to cool. This will help it cool faster and prevent it from sticking together as it cools. Once cooled it can be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated.

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Tomatillo Ranch Salad Dressing

2-3 tomatillos, husked and rinsed clean and roughly chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (about ½ a bunch)

1 cup mayo, (I use the reduced fat)

1 cup buttermilk

Juice of 1-2 limes

1 packet Hidden Valley ranch seasoning

Salt to taste

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Flavors develop more as it sits in the refrigerator.

Easy Homemade Pinto Beans

1 pound of pinto beans

Water to cover

1 Tbs. salt

2 bay leaves

Red pepper flakes, optional

Rinse the beans and sort through them to remove any debris that may have been left behind. Place the beans into a crock pot and cover with water 2 inches above the beans. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and set to high for 6 hours or low for 8-10. The beans should be soft with a creamy texture when cooked all the way through. To make the beans a little thicker, remove 1-2 cups of the beans with some of the cooking liquid and puree in a blender. Pour the mixture back into the rest of the beans. This will thicken them up, especially when they cool down. Taste and add salt if needed.

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1 comment:

The Marshall Family said...

I love Costa Vida too!