Archive for the ‘Mexican/Southwestern’ Category


What is it about food from a mother’s kitchen that always seems to make it so therapeutic, nourishing, satisfying, and delicious? Maybe it’s the evocation of memories of wonderful shared meals with family and friends.  Or, perhaps it’s the evident amount of love and care that went into a motherly preparation. At the least, I know those two elements are apparent in the culinary delights I enjoy at home.   On my most recent pilgrimage to mom’s kitchen, we feasted on grilled grouper tacos with fresh cabbage slaw and black bean-corn-tomato salsa, cheese enchiladas, and homemade guacamole.


Another highlight from the springtime visit to Minnesota:  grilled marinated lamb kebabs with homemade tzatziki sauce.  Oh, how I’ve missed charcoal grilling while in NYC!



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One of the early staples in my cooking repertoire was the taco dinner: browned ground beef with an Old El Paso spice pack and all the prepacked fixings, from shredded Kraft cheese and chopped iceberg lettuce to flour tortillas and canned salsa. It was always an easy, tasty meal, but certainly not authentic, healthy or inventive. Oh how far I’ve come!

For a recent small fiesta with friends, I prepared two kinds of tacos and two homemade salsas for dipping and topping on the side.

I know “veggie” tacos may not sound the most enticing, but this recipe (Parade Magazine, Jan. 2008) is creative and surprisingly delicious. A medley of diced eggplant, red bell pepper, tomatoes and parsley is sauteed with onion, garlic and seasonings. Red kidney beans and chickpeas add substance and “meatiness” to the mix. Topped with grated cheese in a crunchy shell, these were a winner.

The slow-cooked beef tacos were even more of a hit among with my friends. Cubed boneless beef chuck is stewed for a couple hours in salsa, beef broth, garlic, brown sugar and soy sauce; cilantro and lime juice are added at the end for an extra kick. The meat emerges tender and flavorful, with a finger-licking-good sauce. Highly recommend this recipe (Bon Appetit, Nov. 1997).

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There’s nothing better after a long day at work than a hot bowl of this chili – and a cold glass of beer!

The recipe is a first-rate alternative to your traditional red chili with its unique, and positively addictive, taste. No chili powder here: just cumin, oregano, a dash of cayenne pepper, and cinnamon, which adds a subtle complexity to the flavor.

The spices meld with the gamey flavor of turkey and browned onion and garlic, and they’re stewed with white cannellini beans (a delicate substitute for the typical red kidney bean), yellow corn and mushrooms.

Topped with a handful of grated extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar, a bowl of this chili is a meal in itself.

Turkey White Bean Chili

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey

2 cans chopped mild green chili peppers

1 package mushrooms, sliced

1 can corn

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash of cayenne pepper

3 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans

4 cups chicken broth

Shredded cheddar cheese

(1) In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil for five minutes. Add turkey and brown, around 10 minutes.

(2) Add chili peppers and spices and continue to saute for 5 more minutes.

(3) Add two cans of beans, mushrooms, corn and the broth to the pot.  Using a fork, mash the third can of beans to a puree before adding.

(4) Simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes.

(5) Top with cheese, salsa and/or sour cream before serving.

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