Category Archives: Mexican Inspired

Enchilada Sauce.

I originally posted this recipe back in 2011 here. Today I reinvented it as our go to enchilada sauce. Buying the sauce at the store seems such a waste given all of the added ingredients, preservatives, fillers, etc. Even the organic sauce we had changed to over a year ago contains canola oil. This sauce freezes well so large batches can be made at one time.

Enchilada Sauce.


5 dried ancho peppers (be sure to get air dried that do not have added oils or to dry them at home)

1 quart of homemade chicken stock (I have also used smoked chicken stock here)

24 oz crushed or diced tomatoes (be sure to purchase pure tomatoes, generally these will be Italian as most American tomatoes have citric acid — generally corn — added. Also you may sub fresh, roast and food mill into the mixture to add a deeper flavor)

1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste (be sure to purchase pure tomato paste with no additives, or use homemade)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon  ground cumin

1 tablespoon heaping Mexican oregano (whole, dried, then crushed)

6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1  heaping teaspoon Real Salt (I used fine)

dash (1/2 of 1/8 of a teaspoon) of baking soda (to remove a little of the bitter from the peppers)


The first thing you need to do is rehydrate the chiles. Start your chicken broth boiling in a medium pot. Cut the peppers in half and remove the stem, seeds and ribs. Anything you leave behind will impart heat into your sauce, so keep that in mind (use gloves if you are not used to handling hot peppers). Heat a dry sauté pan or skillet over medium heat and place chiles in for 5-10 seconds on each side. Use a flipper to push them down if they will not behave. Do not brown or burn the chiles, just heat them to get their oils active.

Place the warmed chiles in the boiling broth. Allow to boil for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Be careful not breathe in the pepper too much, it will make you cough! Allow to sit for 20 minutes so the peppers can steep.

Add remaining ingredients to pot and stir to combine. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour with an off center lid on it. Remember, tomato makes a big mess if it boils without being covered.

Remove pot from heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the pepper mixture smooth. Taste mixture and adjust salt if needed. Place pot (with off center lid) back on heat and simmer for an additional hour.

Cool and freeze into containers, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or enjoy immediately.


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Filed under Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired, Sauce and Gravy

Mexican Style Hamburgers.

Photo compliments of the hubs…he still eats wheat!

I have not been posting much recently. On the recipe front I have been making more of other people’s recipes than writing my own, which is fairly strange. But I think this stems from my major diet and lifestyle changes. As I get used to cooking without most grains and with limited dairy I have found it easier to use other people’s recipes, you know, to get my toes wet. I am also on a quest to remove all GMO foods from my diet. This is particularly difficult, even more so than most people have to come realize, but I will save that story for another day.

On the garden front, we have finally bedded down the garden. The garlic is planted (200 bulbs!!) and there are some broccoli and cauliflower plants that are looking strong as winter nears. I am the first to admit that the summer garden suffered this year and that is why there have been no posts about it. We had a very successful hop harvest, which I shared with you in September, but that was by far our most successful garden item this year (thankfully the hubs was manning their care faithfully!). The tomatoes, peppers, and squashed suffered from uneven watering and hot/dry weather that came too little too late. The beans did very well , as did the potatoes. And I did harvest 117 (I think) garlic bulbs.  But at the end of the season, I feel defeated and I am looking forward to planting my cool weather crops soon. To starting over in the garden, so to say. My 2013 early spring and summer gardens are planned. Next step is to plan the 2013 winter garden which will come in time.

Enough moping about my garden frustrations, and back to something I did right! These burgers turned out great. They are lean and mean, free of GMO, feature a little garden in the cilantro, garlic and jalapeño, and taste great without a bun!

Mexican Style Hamburgers. Makes four 1/4 pound burgers.


1 lb grass fed ground beef

1-2 T fresh organic cilantro, finely chopped

1 t ground organic cumin (I am really excited to be trying to grow my own in the 2o13 garden!!)

3 cloves of organic garlic, minced

1/2 t sea salt (I used smoked sea salt)

1/2 t fresh ground organic black pepper

1/2 small organic jalapeño, seeds and veins removed (to your heat tolerance), diced finely (or a tiny one like I had leftover from the garden!)

thinly sliced brie, or other creamy cheese, don’t do dairy? I strongly recommend avocado…or both!


Combine all ingredients except the cheese, mixing well, but avoiding beating up the meat too much. Divide into four burgers and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook. When you turn the grill on, remove the burgers from the refrigerator and place on the counter to warm them up a little.

Preheat grill to 425, place burgers on the grill over direct heat and cook for 4 minutes. Do not squish the burger with your spatula or turn before your timer goes off. After 4 minutes, flip each burger, place cheese on burgers if you are using it and cook another 4 minutes. This process will produce a medium to medium rare burger depending on how thick they are. If you want them medium to well, cook for 5 minutes on each side.

Remove burgers from grill and serve with toppings and buns if you are using them.



Filed under Beef, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Grilling, Mexican Inspired, Paleo

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa and Homemade Tortillas.

Slow cooked, shredded meat is a wonderful thing. We have been making a lot of shredded pork tenderloin lately, but while in Northern California over the Christmas holiday we happened upon a new organic food store. I know this doesn’t seem significant to some, especially if you live in a city with easy access to wholesome, organic, responsibly grown food, like we do in Portland. However, in a small town in Northern California this is a big deal. Stores like this tend to struggle and often go out of business before many people even know they exist.

So we made it a point to purchase several things, things we could get in Portland, just for the sheer act of support of a man who was trying his way at selling organic food stuffs in a small, fairly conservative town. We ended up with several lovely things, some persimmons, some Bragg’s vinegar, a lovely Northern California coffee for the hubs, and a natural, grass-fed, free range beef roast. We chose the roast based on the grain, it looked like it would shred well. And that, after all, is what matters.

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa.

Rub Ingredients

2 – 2.5 lb beef roast (I used a crossrib roast, but a chuck roast would also work well)

1 t ground cumin

1 t kosher salt

1 t chili powder (I used New Mexican ground chili)

1 t granulated garlic

1 t granulated onion

1 t Mexican oregano (ground up)

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

1 T olive oil

Broth Ingredients

32 oz beef broth

1/2 C silver tequila

1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped

1/4 C cilantro, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled

2 fire roasted jalapeños (can sub fresh), diced

juice of one lime

1 T rock sea salt


Combine spice in a small bowl and rub roast liberally, set aside.

Heat medium/large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and roast and sear on each side until crispy brown.

Add roast to slow cooker with remaining ingredients.

Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until the meat freely shreds, flipping meat once half way through cooking.

Serve over rice or in tortillas with your favorite veggies. We had this with homemade tortillas.

Homemade Tortillas. This is the recipe that came with my fancy new tortilla press and makes 12 tortillas.


2 C masa harina

1 1/3 C cold water

1 t kosher salt

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Working with one 1 1/2 inch ball at a time, make your tortillas, keeping the rest of the dough covered to avoid it drying out. To make the tortilla, press each ball between two pieces of wax paper, flattening the ball slightly with your fingers.

Close the press and push the handle down until the ball flattens completely. Peel the tortilla of the wax paper and cook one at a time until browned on each side.

Keep tortillas warm in a tortilla warmer until read to eat.

One last note, a quick recipe: with the remaining broth in the crock pot, I strained the liquid and then added one quart cup each of black beans, adzuki beans, French lentils and spelt berries, a can of tomatoes and some of my homemade chili seasoning. I also added diced red onion, carrots and turnips. I let this go on high for 6 hours, or until the beans were soft and the hubs had chili all week long.



Filed under Beef, Crock Pot Cooking, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired

Mexican Style Baked Eggs.

I get bored with breakfast, even though it is my favorite meal of the day. I get into ruts where I make the same thing over and over. It usually consists of potatoes, bacon and eggs. I feel like the sky is the limit, but I cannot seem to think out of the box. This is precisely why I got so excited when I saw this delicious looking dish on Pinterest. I headed over to check the recipe out at Closet Cooking. Though I have made baked eggs before, it was on potatoes. I had never made a Mexican inspired breakfast.

I modified this recipe slightly and slimmed down the method to make it a one dish meal. It ended up being really quick and easy to make and did not disappoint!

Mexican Style Baked Eggs. Serves 2-4.


1 T olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

2 fire roasted jalapeños, diced (can sub fresh here)

1 small bell pepper, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 C frozen corn (fresh/canned is fine)

1 t kosher salt

1 t ancho chili powder

1 t cumin

1 t Mexican oregano

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

3 T chopped cilantro

1/2 C shredded cheese of choice

4 eggs

Using a 10 inch cast iron skillet, or other oven safe skillet, preheat oil over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeño and sauté 3-5 minutes or until onions are starting to soften. Add bell pepper, garlic, corn and spices and sauté for 3 minutes longer.

Preheat oven to 375.

Add tomatoes and black beans to vegetable mixture and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in cilantro and cheese. Flatten mixture and crack the eggs over the top. Place skillet in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Serve with heated corn tortillas, sour cream, avacado, or any of your other favorite toppings.



Filed under Beans, Breakfast, Casseroles/Bakes, Cheese, Fast & Easy, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Weeknight Green Chicken Taco Meat.

The key to making this dish quickly is to have precooked chicken on hand. I like to cook a whole chicken on Sunday and make stock out of the bones, skin and what-nots. This means that when the chicken is done poaching, smoking or roasting I break it down completely and end up with a container of breast, leg, and thigh meat. To make these quick tacos I used a precooked chicken breast and this green tomatillo salsa.

Weeknight Green Chicken Taco Meat.


1 T olive oil

1 small red onion, sliced

1 small green pepper, sliced

1 breast of chicken, cooked and cubed

1 t cumin

1/2 t paprika (smoked if you have it)

2-3 oz green tomatillo salsa

Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or until they are starting soften. Add peppers, chicken, cumin and paprika and cook for 5 minutes. Add salsa and heat through. Serve in tortillas with rice, beans and all of your favorite fixins’.


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Filed under Chicken, Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Fast & Easy, From the Garden, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired

Weeknight Quick & Easy Enchilada Casserole.

While weekends are mine in the kitchen, as of late it has taken some mental effort to get home from work and want to cook. This is not a normal thing for me. Usually I have no problem coming home after working for nine or ten hours and spending oodles of time in the kitchen, chopping, stewing, baking, sautéing. But for whatever reason, as of late this has been a daunting task. I get home and dig around for left overs, quick snacks, anything that doesn’t take too much effort. That is sort of why I started making all of the quick weeknight dinner posts you have been seeing. I know they are not gourmet or detailed, but they are real life, they are really what people make when they are busy or just plain don’t want to cook and they are, for the most part, not processed. Sure there was a waffle mix (made with whole grains), and store bought chorizo (organic and locally raised), but they are not full of corn by-product.

This is a dish that I grew up eating. It epitomizes the speedy weeknight one dish meal in my head. It can be made with a number of on hand ingredients and takes little effort to prepare. As children, my sister and I loved this dish. We would ask for it by name and devour it when it was placed on the table. For me, it is home.

Interestingly enough I was unable to get the recipe that my family uses for this dish, perhaps there isn’t one, that is exists only proverbially. So what you get below is my rendition, made with on hand ingredients. It is waiting to be modified by you!

Quick & Easy Enchilada Casserole.


6 corn tortillas, chopped up

5 oz red chile sauce (or other enchilada sauce)

1 C cooked chicken, chopped

1/2 C sliced black olives

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 C shredded cheese

1 green onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup of cheese in a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with reserved cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is melted and golden brown! Top with green onions and serve with lettuce and sour cream.


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Filed under Casseroles/Bakes, Cheese, Fast & Easy, Mexican Inspired

Taco Dip for a Crowd.

Before I launch into this I have to tell you all something, this is the third time I have made this recipe for the blog. The first time was during our Eastern Oregon trip. I made the dip, but the measurements were altered because I did not have the right dish to make it in. The second time was this past weekend. I made a perfect batch for our camping trip…only to put it in the bottom of the cooler and have it fill with water. It was a complete loss. So I resolved to make this again and get it on the blog already! However, you will see in the photo below, I am just plain cursed…I forgot the cheese! Don’t fret, I added it to the top before we munched on it, but still! I cannot win with this one. So, onward!

This is one of my oldest recipes. It really isn’t a recipe at all. It is a combination of foods that are simply layered together in a typical party salad fashion. This dish was born out of my dislike for traditional seven layer salad. The one with the mayo and peas. Yuck! So in college I came up with this variation, which is actually just a taco dip. I will tell you though, I thought I was so smart!

Anyway, I still use this recipe when going to summer parties. It is quick, cheap and ingredients can easily be subbed if you don’t have something on hand. It is also plain enough to be enjoyed by even the pickiest of eaters.

Taco Dip for a Crowd.


1 can refried beans

10 oz sour cream

1/4-1/2 C taco sauce (use your favorite)

1-2 C cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 C shredded lettuce or green cabbage

1 large tomato, seeded and diced (drain on paper towel to avoid excess water in your dip)

15 black olives, sliced

2 scallions, chopped (can sub 1/4 C red onions if you prefer) ~ optional (I don’t normally add either)

1 bag of tortilla chips

Spread beans out in a 2 quart oblong baking dish. Combine sour cream and taco sauce in a bowl. Spread over beans with a spatula. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, olives, and scallions. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve.

And this is what it looks like when I remember all of the ingredients!


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Filed under Appetizer, Beans, Cheese, Dip, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired, Snacks, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Weeknight Chorizo Wraps.

*Sorry about the photo…erg.

You will find a theme with me, especially when we are talking about quick, weeknight dinners: many of them are paninied. It is about the quickest way I have found to create a handheld pocket of goodness that you can eat as you are running out the door for your next appointment. Last week I told you about Pita Pizza Paninis and I got to thinking, though I won’t have a bum finger forever, it might be fun to share more of my quick dinner ideas.

Often when I get home from work midweek and have another activity scheduled that I have to go to I don’t want to cook. This can frequently lead to eating out. Not only is this taxing on the budget over time, it is taxing on the waistline as well. So I have developed many quick dinners that take a little pre-planning, but only a little time to execute the night of.

The key with this dish is to cook up the chorizo ahead of time, it only takes about 15 minutes to cook up a pound of it and throw it into the refrigerator for use all week. If you are feeding more mouths, you may need to scale the weight up, but for two people, this will tide us over with a plethora of chorizo laden dishes all week.

Chorizo Wraps. (makes 4 wraps)


2 medium/large potatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces and boiled for 10 minutes

1 T olive oil

Your choice of veggies, chopped (I like to use whatever is on hand like red onion (1/4 cup), a little zucchini (one small one), and green cabbage (about 1/2 cup shredded))

4 oz cooked Mexican style chorizo

2 eggs, scrambled

1/2 C shredded cheese

4 tortillas

Preheat your panini pan.

Throw all of the ingredients, except the eggs, cheese and tortillas into a sauté pan heated over medium-high heat with olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to get an even seer on everything. Turn off heat and mix in eggs. Scoop one quarter the ingredients onto each tortilla, top with cheese, fold and panini until golden brown.

Serve with cilantro, arugula, sour cream and hot sauce.

As a side note, if you cook up rice or other whole grains at the beginning of the week to use in dishes this would be a great dish to add it to and you could save time not having to cook up the potatoes. You can also skip the panini part to cut down on the time a little…we just really like to panini stuff!


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Filed under Eggs, Fast & Easy, Mexican Inspired, Panini, Pork, Potatoes

Cheesy Chorizo Breakfast Potatoes.

I first had a dish like this at my sister-in-law’s house in Arizona for breakfast. It was so yummy that I had to bring it home. This is the only way I can make breakfast that the hubs will not add hot sauce! It is simple and it introduced me to chorizo, but not just any chorizo, chorizo at breakfast, which is quite exciting.

The hubs and I rarely eat a meal without heat anymore. Everything we make has some hot or spicy component in it. Nothing crazy hot, but warm and chili flavored. This dish is a perfect example of exactly what I am talking about. If you like comfortably warm and have built at least some tolerance for heat, you will like this, so long as your chorizo is not blazing hot!

Chorizo Breakfast Potato Scramble.

Ingredients (recipe is for two, if cooking for four double the chorizo, bacon and potatoes)

1/4  lb Mexican style chorizo

2 slices of thick cut bacon

8 oz potatoes

1/2 t cumin

1 t granulated garlic

1 t Mexican oregano, crushed

1 medium red onion, diced

1 medium bell pepper, diced

1/2-1 C cheddar cheese

Chop potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes and place in a small pot. Fill the pot with cold water just to cover the potatoes. Boil over high heat for 6 minutes. Remove the potatoes from heat and drain. Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the chorizo over medium heat in a large skillet. Remove from the pan and set aside. Drain fat from pan, it is ok if there are still chorizo bits present. Add bacon and fry. Remove from pan. Remove all but about two tablespoons of fat from the pan.

As an aside, if you want to pre-cook the bacon, reserve two tablespoons of chorizo fat for cooking the potatoes (it may make the dish hotter overall). If you use chicken chorizo instead of pork and don’t have a lot of fat, or don’t want to cook the potatoes in the fat at all, use olive oil (2 tablespoons).

Dice bacon when it is cool. Set these aside if you are still cooking your bacon.

Add potatoes and spices to the large skillet with the bacon fat. Cook potatoes over medium-high heat, tossing as they cook, for about 10 minutes, or until a nice char starts forming. After 5 minutes, add onions. After eight minutes add chorizo, bacon and peppers. Cook for two more minutes and turn off heat. Top with cheese.

Serve as is, with a fried egg on it or in tortillas with your favorite toppings, like cilantro, sour cream, and salsa.


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Filed under Breakfast, Cheese, Eggs, Mexican Inspired, Pork, Potatoes

Chili Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin.

So we have made this twice since I wrote the recipe. The first time the cook times were a little rocky so we wanted to make it again before we wrote up that part. Because there are a lot of chili beers coming out in Portland right now, we used a different one each time which I have linked to below. I will tell you that without a doubt this is one of my new favortite prepartions of pork loin and it allowed us to do some more meaty beer grilling, which we are now IN LOVE WITH.

Chili Beer Marinated Pork Loin.


2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 T fresh oregano, chopped

1 T cumin

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper

4 T olive oil

2 C chili beer (use something with some heat, I used the Calapooia Chili Beer the first time and Burnside Brewing Sweet Heat the second)

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced

1.25-1.5 lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

Combine marinade ingredients in a gallon size plastic bag. Add pork loin and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat grill to high (450-500 degrees) heat. Sear pork loin for five minutes. Rotate 180 degrees and sear another five minutes. Remove from direct heat and reduce grill heat to medium. Rotate pork loin 90 degrees. Cook five minutes (grill should be at an ambient temperature of between 350-400 degrees). Rotate 180 degrees and cook for 5 minutes more. Move pork loin back over direct heat and cook for three minutes. Rotate 180 degrees and cook three minutes more. Check internal temperature, looking for 140-145 degrees and remove from heat. If your meat is under temp, continue to cook for three minutes on each side until desired doneness is achieved.

Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes, covered with foil, before slicing. Slice into one to one and half inch thick portions and serve.


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Filed under Beer, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Grilling, Mexican Inspired, Pork