Sweet & Smoky Pork Quesadillas with Spicy Ranch Dressing

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Quesadillas are always a great idea for a quick meal, even on the busiest of nights. Stuffed full with shredded pork, diced green chiles, avocado, sweet corn, and a blend of Mexican cheeses– these Sweet & Smoky Pork Quesadillas with Spicy Ranch Dressing are a gourmet meal made on a budget, in under 30 minutes.

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{One Pot Wonder} 15 Minute Taco Pasta

Some days I seriously don’t think I’d survive without my quick one pot meals. Seriously. With everything life throws at me some days having these quick and easy meals the whole family can get behind is my saving grace. It may not be actual tacos, but it tastes just as good without all the chopping, dicing, etc. Give it a try and this recipe for 15 Minute Taco Pasta will soon be just as stained and well-worn as some of the other quick and easy family favorites in your recipe binder.

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Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Do you have a Mexican food stand at your local Farmers Market? Or a local food truck claiming authentic Mexican street fare? If the answer is yes to either of these, then you’ve probably come across this dish before. If not, you’re in for a treat.

The name literally means ‘toasted’ corn.

 Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 2

And it’s the smokey, sweet, spicy, and tangy off the cob cousin of elote (creamy, cheese coated corn on the cob), and it’s packin all those same feisty flavors. So, it does not disappoint.

Were just loving all these de-constructed versions of things recently, aren’t you? Convenience is priceless.

Even better this corn salad can be served hot or cold, so it’s perfect for a toasty, comforting side dish in the Winter months, and also easily adaptable for a cold corn salad to bring to any Summer barbecue.

Esquites ( Mexican Corn Salad )

Etiques (Mexican Corn Salad) 3

2 tbsp butter
2 cans corn, drained or 4 ears fresh corn cut off cob
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp Cojita cheese, finely crumbled (or shredded Mexican blend cheese)
1/8 tsp chili powder, to taste
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
    2. Add the corn to the pan and allow it to slightly char on the bottom of the pan, then give it a good stir and let it char one more time.
    3. Stir in the jalapeno and remove the skillet from heat.
    4. Transfer the corn mixture into a medium/large bowl and add in the mayonnaise, garlic, onions, cilantro, lime juice, cheese, chili powder and avocado.
    5. Gently stir everything together just until evenly incorporated.
    6. Serve immediately (warm) or cover and refrigerate, serving when chilled, your choice. Both ways are great.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

Have you ever had a Southwestern-style egg roll? They’re so good, and for the most part they’re not too bad for you calorie-wise. Originally we had to go to our local Chilis to enjoy them, but then we began making them at home, using tiny tortillas.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips 2

But have you ever worked with egg roll or wonton wrappers? Once you’ve opened the package, you’ve got days at most to use the rest before they go bad. And y’all know how much food waste pains me, so as usual necessity was the mother of ingenuity. And it led to our own deconstructed version of southwestern egg rolls, this time turned into a dip. With an egg roll ‘chip’ replacing our typical flour tortilla.

it good. When we ran out of chips the sons were scarfing it down by the spoonful!

East meets (south)West in this funky Tex-Mex, inside out, version of an egg roll. Its simple, fun and a great way to use up leftovers, especially if you’re like us and you’ve got a half a can of black beans here,a quarter cup of diced peppers there, etc.

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

Southwestern Egg Roll Dip with Wonton Chips

1 chicken breast, cooked, then either diced or shredded
3/4 – 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced and then diced
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
package of wonton wrappers
3/4 cup ranch dressing
the juice of 1 lemon or lime, your choice
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 avocado, mashed
salt and pepper, to taste
oil for frying

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, corn, beans, peppers, green onion, spinach, and cheese until roughly combined.
    2. In a separate bowl combine the ranch dressing, the lemon or lime juice, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper stirring until an evenly incorporated dressing forms.
    3. Mix the mashed avocado in with the dressing, whisking until evenly incorporated, and then pour the finished dressing over the veggie mixture.
    Heat vegetable oil in a pan over med/hi heat.
    4. Cut a stack (your desired amount) of wonton squares in half diagonally, forming triangular shaped ‘chips’. Fry the chips a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
    5. Serve the veggie/dressing mix as a dip in a bowl, with the egg roll chips on the side, or scoop out a bit of the dip onto each chip for easy grab and go bite sized snacks.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Who here loves a good taco? We sure do. Usually they’re filled with seasoned ground beef. We’ve even gone as far as filling them with shredded pork, carnita-style, sloppy joe filling, and chicken and ranch. All mmm-mmm good, totally tasty ideas.

Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

When I first heard about fish tacos though, I was a bit skeptical. I just couldn’t picture it being nearly as good as anything we’d previously tried. I mean it’s fish, on a taco, right? That doesn’t even sound appealing.

But then it transformed into crisp beer-battered fish, like from our much loved fish and chips, topped with the perfect tex-mex coleslaw, and I knew we were headed in the best possible direction.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Crispy fish, crunchy slaw, all on a fresh warm corn tortilla. What’s not to love?

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Beer Battered Fish Tacos and Cilantro Slaw 3

For the Beer Batter:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup beer
1 egg
For the Fish:
2 lbs fresh or frozen firm flesh white fish fillets, such as cod or catfish, cut into bite size strips
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
12 corn tortillas
For the Coleslaw Salad Topping:
4 cups prepackaged coleslaw mix, or 4 cups shredded cabbage and carrot
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Directions

For the Beer Batter:
1. In a bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, paprika and baking powder.
2. Add the beer and egg, and stir until the batter is evenly combined but still slightly lumpy.
For the Fish:
3. If using frozen fillets, Thaw out the fish. Pat the fillets dry using paper towels.
4. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.
5. In a large skillet heat about 1-inch of oil, over medium heat.
6. Pour the other 3/4 cup of flour into a shallow dish or onto a plate. Working one peace at a time, put the fish pieces into the flour, turning to coat, and then shaking off any excess.
7. Dip the flour-coated fillets into the batter.
8. Fry the battered fish, about four pieces at a time, in the hot oil for 2 to 4 minutes or until crispy and golden, turning once halfway through frying time.
9. Transfer the fried fish onto a layer of paper towels to drain.
10. Keep the fried fish warm in the oven, on warm, while frying remaining fish.
11. Place the cooked fish into/onto heated corn tortillas.
For the Cilantro Slaw:
12. Combine the cabbage mix, green onions, cilantro, vinegar, oil, sugar and salt in a bowl and toss to evenly coat/combine.
13. Cover and chill until ready to serve, or serve immediately topping each ‘taco’ with the preferred amount of slaw.

recipe adapted from Lady Behind The Curtain

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Is there anything quite as ‘refreshing’ as a good blend of some yummy fresh fruits or veggies into a good salsa? I’m not sure, but around here a good, fresh salsa always hits the spot. And this fruity, pineapple mango version is a family favorite.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 2

It’s perfect served up with our favorite or tortilla chips. Served over top grilled fish, or other seafood? Yes sir-ee! We even like it paired with grilled chicken. Serve the meat over a bed of rice with a hearty scoop of  salsa on top, and dinner time is a fresh, healthy hit.

Pineapple Mango Salsa 3

Put a little pep in your step and some groove into your meal with a heaping helping of this refreshing salsa.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

Pineapple Mango Salsa

1 (heaping) cup pineapple, diced
1 cup mango, diced
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, diced
1/2 whole red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
juice of one lemon
pinch of sugar, optional
pinch of salt, optional

Directions

1. In a large bowl, gently stir together the pineapple, mango, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro until evenly incorporated.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice overtop the salsa mixture. Again, gently stir to mix it in.
3. Add salt and/or sugar, if needed, and stir to incorporate.
4. Serve chilled with tortilla chips, or on top of grilled chicken or fish.

Papusas with Salsa Roja (El Salvadorian Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup)

Grilled cheese is one of the quintessential comfort foods. Even better? It’s one of those things that’s just as good, no matter how old you get, that’s just as comforting in its original, unaltered form ( just like Mama made it) or growing with you into more ‘gourmet’ versions. And we’ve run the gauntlet, bringing you all different varieties

 papusas 4

But we’re not the only country who’s on top of their grilled cheese game. Far from it.

Today we bring you papusas, straight from the streets of El Salvador. These traditional Salvadorian ‘grilled cheese’ consist of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that’s typically filled with a blend of meat and/or cheeses. But, of course, we’re focusing on the cheeses. And it may sound hard to replicate, but it’s surprisingly easy, and affordable. They do take a teensy bit of work, but they’re well worth the time. They’re a perfect snack, or main meal. Even better? Dip it in a fresh bowl of salsa roja, a seasoned tomato sauce that resembles a runnier version of tomato soup, but with kick butt flavors.

So, let’s recap, Pupusas are cheap and cheerful, exceptionally hearty, stuffed and griddled disks of corn tortilla oozing, gooey cheese induced euphoria that originated in El Salvador. Use our recipe to bring a batch to your house, and enjoy watching the face-splitting smiles that spread across their faces.

Papusas

papusas 8

2 cups masa harina
1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups warm water
½ tsp. salt

Filling

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled or shredded

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix the masa, salt and 1 ½ cups water together with your hands to make a dough.
2. Dump the dough onto the counter. If you press it and it cracks, you need to knead in more water.
3. You’ll know you have enough water when you press it and it looks smooth.
4. Break off a handful of dough and roll it into a ball. Slightly flatten the ball and make an indention in the dough. Add about a tablespoon of the cheeses that have been mixed together.
5. Fold the dough like a taco and press together. Fold in the opposite ends and press together.
6. Set the dough on the counter and press the dough together to cover the filling. Carefully flatten it out into a ¼-inch thick disc. Don’t press too hard or the filling will poke through the dough.
7. Continue with the remaining dough.
8. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat. Place pupusas on the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 5 minutes, until brown.
9. Flip. Continue cooking 5 more minutes. Remove from skillet and cook remaining pupusas. Serve with Salsa Roja for dipping.

Salsa Roja

papusas 6

3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and the oregano and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool a bit.
3. Once the mixture has cooled, puree the tomato ‘sauce’ in a blender until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.

papusa recipe adapted from Zestuous

7 Layer Cornbread ‘Casserole’

Before you guys call BS on me calling this a recipe, I’ll be the first to say, there is zero skill required for this so-called ‘recipe’. I can’t even call it a recipe in good faith, because it’s just so darn easy, and there isn’t even really any technique involved. Basically if you can open a jar, turn your oven on, and stir things together, you are golden.

Okay, so I know, I’m not exactly selling this, huh? Alright, well, let me start this over again and tell ya what is great about it. Well, it’s delicious, for one. For another thing, it’s perfect for a busy weeknight ‘meal’, alebit not the healthiest of weeknight meals, but yesterday was Cinco De Mayo so it’s totally acceptable, right? Of course! Snack suppers are totally a thing. Shoot, make it tonight. Even though it’s now the 6th of May, it’s still a fun change of pace. It also makes for a great game day appetizer.

 7 Layer Cornbread Casserole

Is your mouth watering yet? Forget tacos. Get a fiesta going in your house any night with this fun, easy, new Tex Mex idea. There that works 😉

7 Layer Cornbread Casserole

7 Layer Cornbread Casserole 2

Cornbread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs

1/3 -1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

Toppings:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 (1.25 oz) packet taco seasoning, or 2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1 (15 oz) can refried black beans
1 1/2 cups prepared guacamole
2 scant cups of sour cream
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 cup pico de gallo
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
¼ cup sliced green onions

Directions

1. Grease a large rimmed sheet pan with oil and set aside, or generously coat with non-stick cooking spray to prepare.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs, and corn. Transfer the combined wet ingredients into the dry ingredients ands tir until evenly incorporated. Spread the batter evenly out into the prepared sheet pan, using a spatula that’s been coated in flour or cooking spray to prevent sticking.
3. Bake the cornbread at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until  the middle is set and the top’s starting to turn a light brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes before layering the remaining ingredients on top.
4. While the cornbread is cooling, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When browned, drain the grease, and return to the skillet. Stir in the taco seasoning and ¼ cup water until evenly incorporated with the beef. Continue stirring, and cooking, until the sauce has thickened. Once the meat is cooked all the way through, remove from heat and set aside.
5. Start by spreading the refried beans over the top of the cornbread, leaving the edges of the cornbread exposed. Spread the guacamole over the beans and then the sour cream over the guacamole. Spoon the ground beef mixture over the sour cream and then sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Top the cheese with the pico de gallo and sliced olives and then finish it all off with the green onions.
Serve and enjoy!

recipe adapted from The Baker Mama