In high school, I worked at a Mexican restaurant, where I learned about enchiladas, pozole, and carnitas. Tortilla soup was one of the staff’s favorite meal items. Here’s a quick, healthy version.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 T vegetable oil
3 c water and/or chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 T tomato paste
14 oz can tomatoes with green chilis
2 c chicken broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 c frozen corn
For the garnish:
shredded cheddar cheese
green onion, finely chopped
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and grill or pan fry until they are browned and cooked through. Allow to cook, then cut them into bite-sized pieces.
In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, poblano pepper, and saute until the onions are softened. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then add the corn. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the chopped chicken to the soup, and serve with cheese, green onion, chips, lime, and avocado on the side.
Paco and I went to Taco Tuesday two weeks ago, which inspired an at-home taco night. We tried out a new Mexican market, and bought some marinated carne asada and tiny tortillas for street taco style tacos.
AND–as a huge bonus, they sell kastakan there! Kastakan is a cross between chicharrones and carnitas — fried pork skin with some meat attached. I read about it before we went on our honeymoon to Playa del Carmen, and I forced Paco to walk across town in 100+ degree weather to get these tacos. 100% worth it. Here’s me in Playa del Carmen with the aforementioned tacos. Note the large chicharrones served on the side in lieu of chips.
The kastakan that we bought here was not as delicious as the one in Playa, but it was a nice change from carne asada. This is how it looks at the store. Just heat it up and cut it into chunks.
We made a taco bar with carne asada, kastakan, homemade guacamole, tomatillo salsa, roasted tomato salsa, cilantro, red onion, lime, and grilled Mexican scallions.
I love the tiny tortillas!
I usually make turkey pozole, but I wanted to make a pork-based version. I used spare ribs because I wanted a cut of meat that braises well, but I needed something with a bone to add to the flavor of the broth. This was even easier to make than turkey pozole, because you don’t have to brown the spare ribs first!
2 lbs spare ribs
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp New Mexico ground chile
1 tsp dried oregano
1 32-oz can of hominy, rinsed and drained
red or green cabbage, sliced
diced red onion
tortilla chips or corn tortillas
Rinse the spare ribs, then cut into individual ribs. Put them in a large pot, and cover with water by two inches. Add the onion, garlic, chile, and oregano, and season generously with kosher salt. Heat over medium-high heat until the water reaches a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone. Turn off the heat, and use tongs to remove the ribs from the soup.
While the ribs cool, stir the hominy into the soup. Shred the meat from the ribs and discard the bones. Add the meat to the soup, then stir and warm over medium heat.
Serve with cabbage, tortilla chips, limes, cilantro, diced onion, and avocado.
Chili was one of the first things that my mom showed me how to make while I was in college. It’s so simple, and can be modified any way that you like.
In my first post-college apartment, my parents gave me a slow-cooker, and chili was the first thing I tried to make with it. It blew my mind! I could leave the house while it cooked and let the flavors really develop, and the beans were much more tender. Now I always make my chili in the slow-cooker. I usually eat it with rice, or try it with baked fries for a healthier version of my favorite food, chili cheese fries.
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 14 oz can of pinto beans, drained
1 14 oz can of kidney beans, drained
1 14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 chipotle in adobo
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c water
Serve with any combination of the following:
finely chopped red onion
sliced green onion
grated cheddar cheese
Add all ingredients to slow-cooker. Cook on High setting for 4 hours or Low setting for 8 hours. Stir and break up the beef with a wooden spoon. Taste and add additional seasoning as necessary. I sometimes add a bit of hot sauce (Chipotle Tabasco is my favorite for chili) or barbeque sauce at this point.
Serve with any or all of the desired toppings.
Other simple chili variations:
- Use ground turkey or pork instead of beef.
- Use white beans, black beans, or garbanzo beans.
- Add beer instead of water.
- Add chocolate! A handful of chocolate chips (or 1/4 c if you have big hands) add a little sweetness/richness to the chili.
- Add more vegetables – Try corn, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
- Use diced tomatoes with green chiles (instead of fire-roasted) and omit the chipotle in adobo, for a less smokey chili.
I had never made enchilada sauce myself; it turns out that it is super simple! This was an easy way to turn leftover chicken into something new.
I made this just for myself, so double it if you’re cooking for two. Enchiladas are not very photogenic, but they tasted much better than they looked!
1 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1 T flour
1/2 c tomato sauce
1 T New Mexico chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 c water
1/2 c cooked, shredded chicken
2 c raw spinach, wilted (add 1 T water and microwave for 30 seconds)
3 corn tortillas
enchilada sauce (see above)
cheddar cheese, shredded
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and garlic until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the flour and stir in with a whisk to make a roux. After the flour has cooked for about 30 seconds, add the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, water, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, taste, and add additional salt if necessary.
Spray a 9×9 inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each tortilla with spinach and chicken, then roll loosely, with the seam on the bottom. Cover in enchilada sauce and top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 12 minutes.