What I Ate: Nacho Burger

I feel like a genius. I created an amazing burger out of nowhere. I made burgers out of ground pork, taco seasoning,  and some salsa con queso.

The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tbs taco seasoning
2 tbs salsa con queso

Directions:
Mix the ground pork (or beef/chicken/turkey) with taco seasoning and salsa con queso.
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Form into patties and grill
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger
Top with sliced pepper jack cheese and some more salsa con queso!
The Three Bite Rule - Nacho Burger

This had some great spice and perfect cheesiness. I think the cheese sauce was a perfect way to keep the meat juicy. I served it with a vinegar based bean salad. We loved this one!

Flautas with Ground Pork and Spinach

I’m expanding my non-authentic Mexican food repertoire. I made flautas. I first googled to find out what the difference was between flauta and a taquito. Again, from non-authentic sources, it seems like flautas are flour tortillas and taquitos are corn tortillas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flautas

I prepped some of it in the morning before work, which always makes me feel like a rockstar. The pup was very into these. When I say he’s under my feet in the kitchen, I mean it. See? He’s just to sweet to totally kick out of the kitchen. It makes me feel loved since I come in second to Mr. J in his eyes (unless I’m cooking).
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Ingredients:

½ pound ground turkey/pork/chicken/beef (I used pork)
3 tbs taco seasoning
12 small flour tortillas
2 cups baby spinach
6 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
oil for frying

Directions:

Cook the ground meat with taco seasoning until cooked through and mix with spinach after removing the meat from the heat.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
Heat about ¾ of an inch of oil to fry the flautas when they’re assembled.
Lay tortillas out and top with 2 tbs each shredded cheese, and the ground meat and spinach mixture.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
roll up the filled tortillas into skinny cigars and secure with a toothpick
gently drop into the oil for a few minutes, rotating them to crisp evenly.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta
When they’re evenly golden, remove and let hang on paper towels. Don’t forget to pull out those toothpicks!

They stayed together nicely and I served them with a little chipotle ranch dressing (also known as: ranch with a touch of BBQ sauce for smokiness, a dash of hot sauce, and taco seasoning). They were really good. I loved how different they felt from burritos or enchiladas.
The Three Bite Rule - Pork Flauta

Frying anything stresses me out. I only did a few at a time and kept the others warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

These are a great use for leftovers :ahem:spinach:ahem. I would have thrown in any other veggie I had around. Think: corn! onions! zucchini! mushrooms! They also didn’t require a ton of ground meat. I end up with weird amounts of leftover ground pork or chicken and almost always use it for a Mexican meal.

Serve these with my favorite Mexican bean salad for a quick & easy fiesta! They also are great reheated in the toaster oven for lunch the next day at work!
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Grilled Pineapple Salsa

I was thinking I wanted to make salsa once my work event was over I was thinking not just any salsa. Something crazy! I haven’t made salsa before but I winged it and it came out good. I wish it was spicier but I wasn’t sure that would appeal to the crowd.

I also can’t say I actually knew how spicy it was going to be anyway.
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Ingredients:

5 tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (seeds and
1 onion
2 garlic clove minced
1 lime, juiced & zested
½ pineapple, grilled
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp hot sauce
¼ tsp salt

Directions:

Blend 4 tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
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Add the jalapeno, then the last tomato, lime juice, lime zest, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, and salt.
Grill pineapple 2-3 minutes per side until lightly charred.
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Chop the pineapple and add to the salsa.
Let it sit at least 2 hours before serving.
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Salsa was totally easy. I was worried after I blended the tomatoes. It seemed too pink but it was a good amount of liquid to add the chunks to. I like it super chunky so I left the pineapple really big chunks.
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Any salsa tips for me next time? It was good, but maybe the next one can be great!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Have you ever used corn tortillas? I guess I don’t know how to use them! I had an enchilada mishap I figured I’d share with you. Not that any of my meals are pefect but I think everyone needs a reminder that not everything goes to plan. The meals that do go to plan are just more fun to blog about.

They were super crumbly. I tried soaking them in water but they still cracked.
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Then I threw in the towel. I shredded the tortillas and made it casserole style.
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We ate it anyway. Ohh well.
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Reader Recommended: Taco Pizza

I love when totally unexpected people tell me they read my blog! I was working a few weeks ago in Chicago and one of the local staff had a recommendation for me to try. She suggested a taco pizza! She and her husband like it and seem to have perfected it! Thanks Mrs. M!

I’m not into mixing food from one region to another (hello, taco stuffed shells? No thanks) but pizza is a whole different game to me. Does that make sense? Prob not. Do I make the rules? Sure do! I was super psyched to make this pizza and knew I’d like it.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough
1 can refried beans
¾ pound ground chicken/pork/turkey/beef
3 tbs taco seasoning (or half a packet)
1 ½ cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
¼ cup salsa
2 cups lettuce, chopped
5 tortilla chips crumbled (optional)

Directions:

Precook pizza dough for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Cook ground meat until cooked through and add taco seasoning and a splash of water when the meat is mostly cooked.
Remove pizza crust from oven and spread the beans on it (instead of tomato sauce)
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Top with cheese, then ground meat and cook for 10 more minutes (or until crust is crisped).
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Remove from the oven and top with salsa, lettuce, and tortilla chip crumbles.
taco_crust_slice_590_390 Continue reading

Creamy Spinach Enchiladas & Avocado Eggrolls

After thinking about other ways to use ricotta I thought, why not Mexican? I’m sure nobody who knows anything about enchiladas would ever use ricotta but I’m not pretending I know anything other than what tastes good.

The thought of biting in a huge hunk of cream cheese makes me shutter. I like ricotta because it’s light and creamy. It was beautifully green (thanks to some spinach) and light but full of flavor.
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Ingredients:

12 oz whole milk ricotta
2 cups spinach leaves
2 slices of thick cut ham
1 tbs taco seasoning
6 whole wheat tortillas
1 ½ cup enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar

Directions:

Blend ricotta and spinach in a food processor, or by hand (chopping spinach first).
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Pan fry the ham and taco seasoning just until golden and warmed through.
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Stuff each tortilla with the ricotta mixture and top with ham.
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Roll them up and put them into a baking dish.
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Top with enchilada sauce and bake 20 minutes at 375.
Finish with shredded cheese and bake 3 minutes to melt.
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I liked this seemingly strange combo. I actually had the ham around so that’s why I added it but I really liked it in here! You could easily use shredded chicken, sauteed peppers & onions, or corn and black beans…or whatever. These were cheesey inside and out and had some textural contrasts too.

Then I decided to recreate a recipe I had from a restaurant. Jose MacIntryre’s has these crispy avocado eggrolls that are addicting…especially during $1 appetizers ;)

Ingredients:

Egg roll wrappers
2 avocados
2 tbs salsa

Directions:

Cut avocados and mix with salsa
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Put 2-3 tbs of the avocado mixture into the center of the wrappers. Tuck 2 opposite corners towards the center, and then roll the corner closest to you to the center and roll it away from you (like rolling up a burrito).
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Fry for a few minutes on each side.
Remove and let cool on paper towel.
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These were pretty good. Not as good as the restaurant, but I liked it. Mr. J wasn’t a big fan so I had his for lunch the next day. That’s when I remembered they’re served with some creamy dipping sauce.

I mixed some ranch dressing, bbq sauce, and taco seasoning. Ohh my goodness. That’s the ticket! Don’t knock it will you try it!

Pork Tamale Pie

The other night, I was prepping dinner and I was following a recipe. I actually rarely follow recipes. I consider them “suggestions” or jumping off points in most cases. I read a lot of blogs and google a lot of recipes so it is often mishmash of an “adapted from.” Following recipes can be stressful and it takes even longer! You might be surprised how quickly I can whip something up if I’m not blogging it!
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Things were going well, then going poorly, and it was crazy. Part smelled really good but the other part seized up. I burned my hand (not badly, don’t worry mom!) and almost dropped the entire cast-iron skillet (which contained the entire meal). The external flash I nab from Mr. J wasn’t working, I chose a pan a bit too small, and the pup was underfoot.

While all of this was happening, I was rocking out to my kitchen radio the previous owners of the house so kindly left. Kelly Clarkson’s “oldie” “Beautiful Disaster” came on. How appropriate for this meal?! It was seeming like just that.

Pork Lover’s Tamale Pie

 

from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 cup milk
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups boiling water
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon corn oil or EVOO
1/3 pound mexican chorizo (raw) or chopped spanish chorizo (cured) (I nixed this since my store only sells spicy and Mr. J doesn’t love lots of heat)
4 slices bacon, finely chopped (I nixed this too since I planned another meal with bacon and figured we’d be fine without it)
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (I used dried)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander (about 1/2 palmful)
1 small onion, chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup beer
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained (I used fresh)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
Cilantro leaves and sliced scallions, for garnishing (I chopped arugula I had instead)

Directions (in Rachael Ray’s words)

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk. Whisk in the cornmeal, then whisk in the boiling water and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the butter and honey.
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Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the chorizo and bacon and render the fat for 3 minutes. Stir in the pork and cook, crumbling the meat, until browned, about 8 minutes.

Season with the thyme, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften. Stir in the beer to deglaze for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes to heat through.
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Spoon the thick cornmeal over the pan and spread evenly. Top with the cheddar and brown under the broiler for 2 minutes. Serve from the skillet, garnished with the cilantro and scallions.
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So, check out what happens when you read the first step and overlook the fact that the water should be boiling water. In the time it took to heat the water (after adding the cornmeal to the milk) it totally seized up. I was going to dump it and start over but I was feeling especially determined. I whisked as much as I could once the water was finally boiling. Seriously though, milk and cornmeal are cheap ingredients and wouldn’t have set me back.
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After all that I bet you’re wondering how it was. It was good, not amazing. I think the chorizo and bacon would add a bit more flavor. We joked it was Pork-Liker’s Tamale Pie rather than Pork-Lover’s Tamale Pie since I omitted 2 of the 3 porks. I used fresh tomatoes and think canned would have boosted the flavor too. That’s quite the creative licensing given the fact that I said I was following the recipe.
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I liked the cornmeal topping and I appreciated that this wasn’t a million ingredients. It reheated surprisingly well too. It was a fun and I was glad to have a different Mexican meal for a change.
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Three Bean Fiesta

The name ‘Bean Salad’ completely deceiving. My mum gave this recipe to me after raving about it. Then Mr. J was the one raving…he said it was the best side dish ever. This bean salad can be a side or served with tortilla chips as a dip. I got it prepped one morning so it would marinate all day and we had it for dinner.

I got the largest lime I’ve ever seen straight from Florida (thanks Aunt S & Uncle B)! I really wanted to put that to good use so I used it to marinate chicken with honey for a Mexican twist before Mr. J grilled the chicken.
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We are making up for lost time when the grill sat in the garage for 2 years before moving so there’s year-round grilling happening here. Also, my mum made me some taco seasoning for Christmas. I was super excited since I use it all the time and have only ever found it in packets so this jar was a big deal to me.

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The taco seasoning when on some brown rice and poof, we had a fiesta (served in fiestaware of course)!
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Ingredients:

½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 can black eyed peas
1 can Mexican corn
½ cup red onion
1 red or green pepper, chopped

Directions:

Heat oil, vinegar, and sugar until gently boiling.
Pour liquid mix over beans, peas, corn, onion, and peppers.
bean_ingredients
Let stand overnight (or 9 hours while at work).
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Serve with tortilla chip scoops as a dip or as a side.
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I subsititued white for red onion, since I had it on hand. I didn’t have any peppers so I chopped some tomatoes just before serving. I also didn’t have any black eyed peas so I just went with the other 2 beans. Three cans of beans would be a ton anyway.
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I liked the sweet/tart balance. We ate it a few times but I can see it keeping better if the onion & tomato/pepper was added just before serving.

It was a super easy side and was a pretty healthy one! I’m sure this will have a regular rotation in our house. I’d throw it on salad or tacos or the leftovers drained into soup or chili.  Ohh how fun would a chili bar be at a party?! The wheels are churning here for housewarming parties!

Zesty Mac & Cheese

Last year for my birthday I made Mexican Mac & Cheese and it was such a hit at the taste-off. That was wayyy too much mac and cheese so I took a break from any for awhile. If you need a non-holiday meal this is perfect!
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This one is special. It isn’t traditional which is also why it is so good. Ohh I love it…everyone else does too.

Ingredients:

½ pound elbow macaroni
⅓ pound ground turkey
3 tbs taco seasoning
½ cup butter
2 tbs flour
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
¾ cup milk
1 egg yolk
1 roasted red pepper
⅓ cup Monterrey jack cheese
¼ cup salsa
1 cup tortilla chips, crumbled

Directions:

Brown the ground turkey with taco seasoning while water is boiling for the pasta.
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Melt butter over medium low heat and add flour to get a roux going.
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Slowly add milk stirring constantly until well incorporated.
Turn to low and add cheese.
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When pasta is just barely soft, remove from the water and add it to a baking dish. Mix the egg yolk in and then the cheese sauce.
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Add ground turkey, roasted red peppers, remaining cheese and mix. Dot with salsa but don’t mix salsa through.
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Top with crumbled tortilla chips and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
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This mac and cheese is creamy and has really great flavor. I sprinkle more taco seasoning on the top before topping with chips. It’s kind of a casserole and it is such a winner.
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Green onions would be good and jalapenos if you wanted some spice. I think I threw in some leftover black beans once for color.

I use these smart choice noodles. They only come in 3 shapes (elbows, penne, & rotini) but they’re better than regular dried pasta since wheat pasta just isn’t the same.
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Cheap & Easy Chicken Enchiladas

I have to do a price breakdown for these Chicken Enchiladas because they were so filling and actually used so few ingredients. Cheap? Easy? Quick? YES PLEASE!

I whipped these up for dinner in a hurry and was thrilled. They were really good and I’d never made enchiladas before. I don’t know what was stopping me.
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Ingredients:

1 chicken breast
1 tbs taco seasoning
½ yellow onion
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans
½ cup tomato sauce
1 ½ cup enchilada sauce
4 wheat tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar
½ cup salsa

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dust chicken with taco seasoning before grilling it. Once cooked through, shred the chicken.
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Sautee the onions until almost translucent and add in the cooked chicken, corn, tomato sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.
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Fill four tortillas with half of the cheese, and the chicken mixture.
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Place the filled enchiladas, seam side down, into a baking dish on top of ¼ cup of enchilada sauce.
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Top them with the rest of the sauce and bake for 20 minutes.
After taking them out of the oven, top with remaining cheese.
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I served the enchiladas with the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had. They’re Tostitos artisan recipe chips with roasted garlic & black bean. Yum. These are seriously really good.
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That was it! I thought they were filling and easy enough to just serve the enchiladas with some chips and salsa. Mr. J LOVED it. I was afraid it might be a bit too spicy for him but he really liked it. I tell ya, he loves anything with a sauce!

The enchilada sauce was much spicier before it was cooked. I’m not sure why. I got a mild canned sauce but I hear they’re not hard to whip up.

Chicken enchiladas would be an easy one to prep in advance and just assemble and bake when ready.  I’ll totally make them again. I still need to make my own taco seasoning…I use it so much and hate that it seems to only come in packets.
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Here’s the estimated cost breakdown I could come up with (thanks to the local Peapod listings):

Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

chicken: $1.50 (1 breast)
onion: $1.25 (1/2 of a onion)
black beans: $0.50 (1/2 of a can)
tortillas: $1.32 (4, 8” tortillas)
enchilada sauce: $2.00 (1 can)
shredded cheddar: $1.94 (1/2 bag)

total: $8.51 for 4 enchiladas ~$2.12 per serving.

Do you see that? Crazy! I already had frozen corn and salsa but the rest is totally cheap. The pricing really surprised me. I knew this meal was cheap but it makes a single $4 frozen enchilada look pitiful!