Archive for the 'Mexican' Category


I love enchiladas, but I think these might be even better. Completely unphotogenic, just like enchiladas, but more fun to say and possibly healthier (at least if you put spinach inside, like I did). There are ENDLESS variations… it would be really easy to make these either vegan or meaty, depending on your preferences.

Lately I’ve been loving living vicariously through bloggers who make beautiful desserts, have awesome jobs, and live in beautiful places. My life lately has been a blur of the gym at 5 AM, a whole day of 13 year olds, and nights of grading labs and tests. I’m happy, it’s just very routine, which is why I’m looking forward to this weekend’s long run much more than usual.

And speaking of being happy, there was a clip on Oprah recently about “America’s Happiest City,” which I guess someone decided was San Luis Obispo, California. I have really mixed feelings about the clip, in which Jenny McCarthy sees about 2 square blocks of town and chats with “happy locals.” (You can watch it here). I lived in San Luis Obispo for 8 years. I went to college, made tons of friends, met my husband, and got married in that town, so of course I have lots of happy memories. But something about the concept of finding the happiest place in America just seems a little ridiculous to me.

I did have a lot of happy times in San Luis Obispo, but I also had a TON of stressful times, and ultimately, I’m realizing now that living here in this nondescript suburb of San Francisco (which will never even make the top 100 for happiest cities in the country, I’m sure) I’m possibly happier than I’ve ever been before. I have a job that I love, lots of great places to run, and I feel like Mike and I are finally moving in the right direction toward our future.

For some reason, San Luis Obispo always felt like a kind of holding pattern. I never found a job that was satisfying, and in a lot of ways the town seemed like an out-of-touch bubble. I think my point, if I can dig one out of this mess of thoughts in my head, is that it shouldn’t matter what the happiest place in the country is. I’m guessing 95% of the country will never be able to afford to live there anyway. I think what matters, as cliche as it may be, is to find your own happiness wherever you are. Even if it’s a foggy suburb you didn’t know existed until you happened upon a job there.

So now that that’s out there, let’s get back to the food. I love this dinner because it’s quick and simple, but feels like comfort food.

There are just a couple steps:
1. Dip corn tortillas in a beans to soften them up.

2. Fill them with a little spinach, mushrooms, and grated cheese.

3. Then roll up and serve with hot sauce. This is our latest discovery from the Mexican grocery store. The lime is key!

(adapted from Herbivoracious)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups pinto beans, with their liquid (2 15-ounce cans)
water as needed

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 bunch fresh spinach, leaves only (washed well, then drained)
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese

about 10 corn tortillas
cilantro, for garnish

To prepare the beans, heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the beans and cover, then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, adding water as needed (you’re going for the consistency of gravy or hot fudge sauce). Salt to taste. Turn heat to low.

Heat the oil in a skillet over a medium high. Saute the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook just until it wilts. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using tongs, dip a tortilla in the beans. Hold it there for about 5-10 seconds, until it has softened but isn’t falling apart. Transfer it to a bowl, fill with about 3 tablespoons of the spinach mixture, sprinkle with a little cheese, then loosely roll up. Repeat for all of the tortillas.

Spoon some of the extra beans over the tortillas, then garnish with cilantro. Serve right away.


Chorizo, Mushroom, and Potato Tacos

This blog has kind of been pushed to the back burner, if you couldn’t tell. Lack of natural light, lots of papers to grade, and piling on the running mileage have all kind of contributed. I’ve been cooking the same stuff over and over, and I just haven’t been as fired up about trying new things as I used to. To help remedy that, I’ve committed to trying at least one new recipe from one of my cookbooks every week, and because I’ve failed this challenge numerous times before, I now have a list on the the fridge to keep me accountable. It kind of seems to be working!

As much as I hate the whole idea behind fake meat products, the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s somehow makes it into my cart of a fairly regular basis. This recipe looked too good to pass up (as most Rick Bayless recipes are), so it made it onto the menu. I LOVE how simple it is, and the flavors are great. The grated potatoes were unexpected but definitely made these a little heartier and more main-dish worthy than a typical vegetable taco. I’m sure they’re fabulous with real chorizo too!

(adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

1 12-ounce package soy chorizo (removed from plastic casing)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, sliced thinly
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 medium red potatoes, grated
a few pinches salt
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced
12 tortillas, warmed up in the oven or microwave

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat.

Add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Add the onion and mushrooms (and more oil if it looks excessively dry), turn the heat up slightly, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until onions are soft.

Add the grated potatoes and continue cooking until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add a pinch or two of salt and remove from heat.

Serve with warmed tortillas, and guacamole and cilantro for garnish.

Chorizo black bean soup

The first time I ate chorizo, I was staying with a host family in a tiny town in Spain. Every night after work (and before they ate dinner at about 10:30 PM), they put out bread, manchego (and other similar cheeses) and chorizo. I instantly fell in love with the salty, spicy cured sausage and was really bummed to discover how hard it was to find at home. I wanted to make paella for my family the way I learned how to in Spain, but all I could find was Mexican chorizo, which isn’t the same at all. Although I was not a fan of it at first, I came to love it even more than the Spanish variety.

When I gave up meat a few months ago, I wanted to steer clear of imitation meat products (like soy nuggets and fake lunch meat), but when I saw Soy Chorizo at Trader Joe’s, I had to give it a try. I don’t plan on eating it often, but I LOVE the stuff, and it really does look and taste a lot like the real thing (but without a bunch of random pig parts). I recently bought a package to put in breakfast scrambles, but I wanted to use some in a real recipe. Black bean soup isn’t normally my favorite, but with chorizo, it takes on a whole new flavor that’s totally irresistible. I love how easy this is to put together, and with a salad it’s a nice, light meal.

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lg onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
6 ounces Soy Chorizo (or regular…your call)
3 cups black beans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cans)
2-3 cups vegetable broth
lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro, for serving

Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and saute until soft (about 4 minutes). Add the chorizo, salt, and cumin and cook, stirring, another 5-6 minutes.
Stir in the beans and 2 cups of broth and simmer for about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, pulse a few times (so it’s partly but not completely pureed). Salt to taste, and add more broth if you’d like your soup a little thinner.
Serve with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Kale and Onion Tacos with Guajillo Salsa

Kale may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re making Mexican food, but trust me, it should be. Whether or not kale actually grows in Mexico, I’m not sure, but it goes really nicely with tortillas and is much healthier than say, carne asada, so I’ll stick with it

After loving the kale enchiladas I made a few months ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before kale tacos would make an appearance on the dinner table. Since our favorite farmers market vendor loves to give us about twice as much as we pay for whenever we buy vegetables, the refrigerator was recently overflowing with two different varieties of kale. I used the curly kale to make kale chips (toss with olive oil and salt and bake until crispy – better than Lays. Seriously), but saved the Tuscan kale, which I’d never used before, for these tacos.

Because there’s not a lot of protein going on here, I served these with black beans, and next time I think I might just mix black beans in with the filling. And if the idea of kale tacos doesn’t excite you, at least try the salsa. It’s seriously some of the best salsa I’ve ever made. Rick Bayless, you are truly amazing.

(adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless)

1 bunch Tuscan kale (tough stems removed), cut into strips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
pinch red pepper flakes
8 corn tortillas
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir a few times, then add the kale. Cook, stirring, until the kale is soft (about 7 minutes), adding water if it gets too dry and the pan begins to scorch. Add salt to taste, then remove from heat.

Heat the tortillas in a warm oven, or directly over the flame of a gas range for a few seconds on each side. Put a little filling in each tortilla, top with salsa (recipe below) and crumbled cheese.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 quajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 medium tomatillos, husks removed, sliced in half horizontally
1/3 cup water

Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chiles in the hot oil and turn every few seconds until very fragrant (about 30 seconds total). Remove with tongs and let as much oil drip off as possible.
Pour out the oil and wipe the skillet with a paper towell. Heat the garlic and tomatillos (seed side down) until browned on the bottom, then flip them over. They will cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat, and put the garlic and tomatillos into the blender with the chiles and 1/3 cup water. Blend until almost smooth, then add salt to taste. Pour into a bowl to cool.

Chiles Rellenos

This dinner was all Mike’s idea, and it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in ages (although I seem to be saying that a lot lately… I have always had a problem with overuse of hyperbole.)

ANYWAY. We’d both been talking about chiles rellenos, and how they’re pretty much the best Mexican food ever. I decided to put them on the menu for the week, and he suggested baking them in muffin tins so they weren’t so fragile (and could be baked, not fried). Of course I thought the idea was brilliant, and it ended up working perfectly. I put corn, mushrooms, and tomatoes inside, topped that with some jack cheese, and covered that with a fluffy egg mixture. HEAVEN. And they’re so cute and convenient!

The only thing you might need to be careful with is the heat factor of the peppers. I used fresh pasillas and half of them were pretty spicy (the other half weren’t at all). I don’t really have any suggestions about how to deal with this issue, I just thought I should give a heads up.

8 fresh pasilla chiles
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
kernels cut from 2 ears of fresh corn
1/4 white onion, diced
pinch cinnamon
salt and pepper
16 thin slices of jack cheese
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks

Put the chiles under a hot broiler and cook until the skin is blackened and blistered, turning every few minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a dish towel for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.

Scrape off the skin, remove the stem and seeds, and cut each chile in half lengthwise. Press each half chile into a muiffin tin cup and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium high. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, corn, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes or until the corn is tender.

Set the corn mixture aside to cool slightly. Whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gently beat the egg yoks, then fold into the whites then spoon into the
Stir half the egg mixture into the corn and mushroom filling.
Spoon the filling into the chile-lined muffin tins, then top with a piece of cheese (torn into pieces to fit, if necessary).

Put a dollop of egg mixture on top of the cheese, then bake for about 15 minutes or until egg is cooked. Carefully remove from muffin tins to serve.


A new development since we returned from Asia is Mike coming grocery shopping with me every week. I definitely don’t mind it, I just had to get used to walking every aisle no matter what was on the list, and random surprises ending up in the cart. Like a 6 pound can of hominy (but that’s okay because it was on sale for $2.18) So what does one do with a 6 pound can of hominy? Make posole of course!

Posole traditionally starts with a whole lot of pork, which obviously wasn’t going to happen here. But that doesn’t mean meat-eaters should feel left out, because you can easily serve shredded chicken or pork for them to stir into their soup. The garnishes are pretty essential to an awesome posole experience. I didn’t have any fresh radishes and didn’t want to go to the store just for them, but they are typically included on the plate of garnishes, so I listed them in the recipe.

(adapted from A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa)

1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 dried ancho chiles, stem and seeds removed
1 dried guajillo chile, stem and seeds removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 fresh poblano pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups hominy (drained)
salt (to taste)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

shredded Jack cheese
diced white onion
thinly sliced cabbage
diced radishes
wedges of lime

Before you begin, place the dried chilis and boiling water in a small bowl and cover for 20 minutes to soften them. The puree them with their soaking liquid and set aside.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until softened about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and poblano and cook another 5 minutes.

Stir in the cumin, oregano, vegetable broth, hominy, and pureed chiles. Simmer partially covered for 20-30 minutes. Salt to taste, then stir in the fresh cilantro and cook another 3-4 minutes (at a simmer).

Ladle into bowls and serve with garnishes.

Smoky Black Beans with Spinach and Masa Dumplings

I’ve cooked almost every recipe in Mexico One Plate at a Time since I got it in high school, but this and the guacamole are two I make the most. For a long time I was completely intimidated by cooking dried beans, but this recipe helped me get over that. If you want to simplify your life a lot, you can even use a slow cooker for the beans a day or two before you plan to make this.

I had this recipe in mind when I threw these black beans with spinach, mushrooms, and pasilla chiles together while we were living in Korea. If I could have gotten my hands on some chipotles and masa, I would have made this instead, over and over. I don’t know what it is about the smoky flavor that is so addicting, but that combined with cute little masa dumplings and the spinach just have me hooked!

(adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless)

1 pound dried black beans
10 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 roma tomatoes
4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, chopped
1 cup dried masa mixed with 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp hot water
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped (stems removed)

Put the beans, water, onion, and garlic in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until the beans are tender. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, simmer them on the stove, uncovered, for about 2 hours.
Roast the tomatoes under a hot broiler for a few minutes on each side until the skin is blistered and black. Let cool, then remove the skins and transfer the tomatoes to a food processor or blender. Add the chipotles and puree until smooth.
Stir the tomato mixture into the beans and season with salt to taste. At this point you can refrigerate the beans for a day or two, or just keep cooking.
To make the dumplings, mix the masa, water, and baking powder to make a smooth dough. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer. Roll small pieces of dough into marble-sized dumplings between your palms, then gently press your finger into the center to form a dimple.
Cook the dumplings in two batches, removing them with a slotted spoon once they rise to the surface. Cover with plastic wrap until you’re ready to add them to the beans.
Stir the spinach into the beans and stir occasionally until it is wilted. Add the dumplings, stir carefully so you don’t break them, and serve.


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