Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

In college, FHE and I ate out quite a bit.  There were a few local places we tended to frequent, but one institution received a few more visits than the others.  Chipotle.  Then known as Cha-pa-tul.  (Yes, we knew how to pronounce it, but that’s just what silly – nay, idiot – college students referred to it as.)  Nothing like the authentic Mexican fare we grew up with in the Bay Area, we became (embarassing, to some extent) smitten with their corn salsa, chipotle grilled chicken, and cilantro lime rice.  We didn’t often eat inside Chipotle – it was more of a grab-and-run meal.  One we’d then sneak into the library at all hours of the late morning, afternoon, evening, and wee hours of the morning.  Especially during finals.

Despite all the accolades about Chipotle’s farm-raised meats, fresh produce, and cooking methods, we knew our beloved burrito packed a caloric punch and contained enough sodium to make us bouyant.  My nutritionist mother-in-law gasped at the behemoth, carbohydrate-dense flour tortilla.  It wouldn’t have been a big deal if we ate it once in a blue moon but, for a good school year or two, our moon was always blue.  Slowly we weaned ourselves.  And while FHE was reluctant to give up the wrapper to his portable meal, I was thrilled to see the introduction of the burrito bowl (a.k.a. a burrito sans tortilla).

These days, Chipotle is truly a once-in-a-blue-moon stop.  Not because we don’t enjoy it – FHE might still be there several times a week if he could – but because it’s easier and more healthful to make a homemade version.  Consider this “recipe” as a template – vary the protein to your liking (beans, tofu, shredded pork or beef, grilled chicken, leftover rotisserie chicken) and incorporate as many of the salsa ingredients as you have on hand or enjoy.  (Tonight, we simply seared the salmon with salt and pepper.)  With all those saved calories, you’ve more than earned a beer or churro to finish off your Mexican-inspired meal.

Burrito Bowl

Cilantro Lime Rice, adapted from Chipotle


1 tsp vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp fresh cilantro
2/3 cup brown (or white) basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lime


In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted.  Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute.  Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil.  At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes.  Fluff rice with a fork and add additional cilantro, if desired.

Mango Salsa
Add your choice of salsa ingredients and season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.  Mix, chill, and serve.

1 large beef steak tomato or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small white or red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced (optional)
2 Hass avocado, peeled and diced (underripe today, so we didn’t add)
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro
Juice of ½ lime, or more
Salt and pepper, to taste


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Tortilla Soup

All the delicious flavors of Mexican cooking in one steaming bowl: pico de gallo, chicken enchiladas, avocado, sweet corn, cilantro, jalapeno, and cumin.  If you can, use fresh corn on the cob and throw the cobs into the soup for extra sweetness.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Tortilla Soup, adapted from Live, Love, Eat! by Wolfgang Puck


3 ears Fresh Corn, shucked
5 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, and quartered
1 jalapeno, trimmed and seeded
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
3 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares (I found an organic, vegan half whole wheat, half corn tortilla)
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
7 to 8 cups organic chicken broth (homemade preferably)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Toppings – add your favorites
3 corn tortillas, sliced (you can crisp them in the oven)
1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced or diced
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded or sliced (or black beans for vegetarian option
½ cup corn kernels
½ cup shredded cheedar cheese
¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro
Small onion, chopped
Lime wedges


  1. Using a large, sharp knife carefully cut the kernels off the corncobs.  Set the kernels aside and reserve the cobs.
  2. Put the corn kernels, garlic, onion, and jalapeno in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the machine until the mixture is coarsely chopped.  Set aside.
  3. To make the soup: In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat.  Add squares of tortilla and cook until they are slightly darkened in color and a little crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped corn mixture and sauté just until the vegetables are coated with the oil, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and cumin and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very aromatic, about 10 minutes.  Pour the stock into the vegetable mixture, add the corncobs, and simmer over low heat until the soup is reduced by one-third, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove and discard the corncobs.  In a blender (or using an immersion blender), puree the soup until smooth, taking care to avoid splattering.  Return the soup to a pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve with toppings.

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With the spring planting season upon us, I’ve got tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and avocados on my mind.  Of course, my own crops have yet to flourish but there is a bounty of spring vegetables at the local market.  This is a simple, refreshing preparation for tacos.  Cool, buttery avocado makes a soothing salsa – a palate-pleasing contrast to lean chicken breasts, sweet corn, and succulent tomatoes and mangoes.  For a vegetarian or vegan version, substitute black beans.  Leftover salsa is excellent as a chip dip – and just about anything Mexican-inspired – huevos rancheros, a quick quesadilla or atop rice and beans!

Shredded Chicken Tacos with Avocado Corn Mango Salsa

Ingredients for Chicken (Can easily substitute with Beef, Pork, or Fish)

Coarse salt and ground pepper
3-4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for Salsa

1 large beef steak tomato or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small white or red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced (optional)
2 Hass avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned corn (drained if canned)
1/4 to 1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro
Juice of ½ lime, or more

Flour or corn tortillas for serving


  1. Rub sat and pepper over chicken
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium.  Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.  Alternatively, you can roast the chicken at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine salsa ingredients, being careful to fold in the avocado chunks.  Season with salt and pepper and additional lime juice, if necessary. 
  4. Lay shredded chicken in tortillas and top with salsa.

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