It’s been Mexican week around here. I love Mexican and I’ve had the urge to make some of my restaurant favorites at home with tons of flavor and healthy, fresh ingredients. The results were a hit. The refried beans in particular were just fabulous.
I made both chicken fajitas and turkey tacos. The turkey tacos were garnished with roasted corn (frozen variety, cooked per package directions), black beans, chopped cilantro, red onion, romaine lettuce and some of my favorite all natural prepared salsa.
I have experimented for years on a homemade taco seasoning mix. I absolutely hate spending a dollar or more for the dried envelope of taco seasoning that’s filled with preservatives and sodium. Here’s the blend I like:
Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
Ingredients: For 1 pound of ground meat
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Brown the meat and drain off the fat. Add the seasoning mixture with 2/3 cups of water. Mix well and heat through until the water is mostly absorbed.
Note – If you’re using turkey, often times there’s not enough fat to drain off.
These refried beans were honestly the star of the Mexican feast. They just explode with flavor and mixing refried beans with whole pinto beans gave the dish nice texture. They were so good that I loved just eating the beans with plain corn tortillas. My friend said these were the best refried beans he’s ever had. So many times the beans you get at a Mexican restaurant are lacking in flavor and really look unappealing. These would also be great as an appetizer served with some corn or flour tortillas or in a quesadilla or as a bottom layer for a layered Mexican dip.
- One 16 ounce can of fat free refried beans
- One 15 ounce can of pinto beans (I used no salt added), rinsed and drained
- ½ cup prepared salsa - I used a salsa verde that is all natural and preservative free
- ⅔ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese - divided
- 4 scallions
- 2 tsp cumin
- Combine the refried beans, pinto beans, cumin, white parts of the scallions, salsa and ⅓ cup of the cheese in a medium saucepan.
- Cook over medium low heat until heated through, stirring frequently.
- Pour the mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining ⅓ cup cheese.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven until the cheese melts, approximately 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the green parts of the scallions and serve.
Mexican Rice Recipe:
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional). I grate my garlic on the microplane into the pan
1 cup of rice – long grain white. I used brown rice the last time (pictured above) and it turned out nicely.
2 cups chicken broth
1 10 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp turmeric – this gives the dish that beautiful golden yellow color and, it’s a natural anti-inflammatory…bonus!
1 tsp cumin – I LOVE the smoky flavor of cumin. I tend to go closer to 2 tsp but make it the first time using 1 tsp then adjust it the next time if you’d like a little more cumin flavor.
Salt and pepper to taste
Sautee green pepper and onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the rice and stir frequently for 3 minutes.
Add the broth, tomatoes, tumeric and cumin and bring to boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer until all liquid is absorbed.
A couple of other nice sides are a lime vinaigrette cabbage slaw and a cilantro-lime sour cream. The cabbage slaw has such a nice fresh taste with the lime juice and it’s so easy. It can be used as a side but it’s also great on top of your taco for some crunch.
Fresh cabbage slaw recipe:
1/4 – 1/2 head of thinly shredded green cabbage (depending on how big your cabbage is). A mixture of green and purple cabbage is nice also.
3 grated carrots
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lime
generous drizzle of olive oil
lime pepper (A beautiful blend but it can be difficult to find. I order Durkee brand through Amazon). If you cant find lime pepper use freshly ground black pepper and the zest of 1 lime, it works as well.
drizzle of Agave or raw honey
fresh chopped cilantro (this is to taste, I used about 1/4 cup)
Mix the cabbage, carrot and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture. Juice the lime on top, sprinkle with the lime pepper and salt and drizzle the agave (or honey). Mix everything together with tongs until evenly coated. Add the cilantro and gently stir it in.
For the Sour Cream garnish:
Mix together 1 cup of sour cream, the juice of 1/2 of a lime and some chopped cilantro to taste.
This fresh Mexican feast really brought my friends and I out of the winter doldrums with the fresh flavors and bright colors. And hey, if you’re feeling really adventurous, a margarita goes great with the meal. Check out my homemade margarita recipe.