Monday, July 20, 2009

Lazy Mexican Night

We love Mexican food. Love, love, love it. Even half-assed Mexican food (and no, I’m not talking about Taco Bell). Not only is it yummytasty, but it’s also very simple to just whip together. Check out a recent dinner we had:

Turkey Empanadas

Yellow Rice w.
Black Beans

Avocado Salad w. Roasted Corn Pico de Gallo


For the Empanadas:
(This is a semi-homemade, quick meal, so don’t expect gourmet stuff this time around)

Go get yourself a package of Goya Discos Grandes (empanada wrappers):

They’re usually available in the frozen food section of your grocery store with all the other Goya stuff. Let thaw.

Dice 1 medium onion and sautee in a bit of olive oil. Add 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves. Add 1 package of ground turkey (about a pound) and brown the meat. Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 package taco seasoning mix (follow directions on package). Let cook, take off heat and cool a bit.

Follow instructions on empanada wrapper to put them together. Basically, I use a rolling pin to thin and expand the dough, add a spoonful or two of filling, fold over and crimp the edge with a fork.

Heat oil in a pan (test by dipping a piece of dough in the oil—if it sizzles, it’s ready). Fry 2-3 at a time, on both sides until golden brown. Let drain on paper towels.

You can also make this a bit healthier by baking them. If you do choose to fry, make sure your oil doesn’t get too hot or you’ll have to deal with a smoke-filled house and dark brown empanadas (like mine in these photos—PapaPhat took me away from the stove while I was making these. He was doing “home improvements” and needed help…every 3 minutes…)

For the Rice:

1 Large onion, diced. Sautee in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion starts to get translucent, add ½ diced red bell pepper, mix. When that starts to get soft, add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic, a pinch or two of kosher salt and ground black pepper and half of packet of Sazon. Stir.

When everything looks cooked or close to cooked, add 3 cups chicken broth or water, or a mixture of the two. Bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 cups white rice. Let boil, add a pinch or two of saffron threads, cover and reduce heat. Simmer until all the water is soaked into the rice.

For the Black Beans:

In a saucepan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and throw in one small to medium yellow onion (cut in half or quartered) and 2-3 cloves of garlic for a few minutes (until they soften a bit). You can also throw in 1 whole Serrano chili, if you want to make it spicy.

Then add a tablespoon of tomato paste and mix. Throw in a few cilantro sprigs (don’t even take the leaves off), a generous serving of Adobo, the other half of the Sazon package, 1-2 teaspoons of red or white vinegar, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper. Blend it all up.

Now, add one large can of black beans (do not drain), stir until everything is well mixed. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for at least 15-20 minutes, sitting occasionally.

For the Salsa Fresca:

Roast 2 cobs of corn on the grill. You can also just used regular cooked corn, I just like the toasty flavor.

As those are roasting, dice up ½ to ¾ of a red or white (Spanish) onion.

Dice about the same amount of tomatoes (I like to use on the 3-4 tomatoes on the vine or 5-6 plum tomatoes) and add to the onions.

Now add:

- A half or whole jalapeno (depending on how hot you like it), finely diced. Scrape the seeds off if you can’t handle the heat.
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- Chopped cilantro (I like a LOT, like, a good handful)

When corn is roasted and cooled, cut off the kernels (I just scrape a butter knife down the cob), add to salad.

Now, season with lime juice, olive oil, a splash of white vinegar, salt and pepper. Tweak seasonings to taste.

I like to serve this with chips, or, in the case of this dinner, on top of avocado slices as a salad.

Put all of this on a plate and plop a dollop of sour cream in the middle. MMmmmmmm….Ole!!

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