Monday, March 15, 2010

A 3-Course Mexican Meal for my Hardworking Man

I love cooking for people. Cooking is most fun when you have someone to share it with so naturally I love to cook for me and my boyfriend. He isn't around a whole lot because he travels for work and this week he was actually given the chance the be a manager for the week so he most definitely deserved a nice big meal made from scratch and with love.

Mexican food is my favorite (Italian is a close second) because I am a huge fan of heat and spicyness. So I decided to make him a 3-course Mexican inspired meal of mushroom quesedillas, mexican lasagna, and mexican crullers (churros).

Mushroom Quesedillas
I was inspired to make this by my all-time favorite restaraunt La Fiesta in my hometown of Troy, Ohio. They serve a mushroom quesedilla that is so tasty I just had to try to replicate it myself. Here we have a "Dame Good" recipe...

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole-wheat or multi-grain tortillas
About 1-2 cups fresh mushrooms of choice
About 1 cup of queso blanco or queso fresca (these specialty mexican cheeses are expensive so feel free to use any shredded mexican blend or even a white cheddar would be good)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dry thyme
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil, sliced mushrooms and onions to the hot skillet and heat until mushrooms are dark and tender (about 8 minutes)
Add minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds
Remove from heat
Put desired amount of cheese on half of each tortilla, then cover with muchrooms and onions, fold over other half of tortilla
You can either bake the tortillas at 350F until cheese is melted or put them in a skillet and brown on both sides until cheese is melted
Cut tortillas into wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream

Mexican Lasagna
I found this recipe on, its by Rachel Ray so you know its good! I made a few changes to better satisfy my personal taste buds, so go to the to get origional recipe. Heres what I did.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4-1/2 cup chopped jalepenos or chiles
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
8 (8 inch) whole-wheat or multigrain tortillas
1-2 whole bags shredded reduced-fat four cheese mexican blend cheese
2 scallions, finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans, corn, and jalepenos/chiles. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste. Stir in sour cream

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Top with the scallions and cilantro and serve with side of salsa and sour cream.

Mexican Crullers (Churros)
A dessert I didn't bake...I know its crazy! I have been wanting to make these a while but was a little intimidated. Turns out, they are way easy. They remind me of cinnamon twists from Taco Bell which I always HAD to get as a kid. I heart Taco Bell.

1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 eggs
Canola oil , for frying
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the crullers: In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water, the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt over medium-high heat until the edges of the liquid start to bubble. Add the flour all at once and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until well mixed and no lumps of flour remain.

Remove from the heat. Add 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each. The dough should look soft and glossy and keep a "hook" shape when the spoon is pulled from the dough. If not, beat in the last egg.
Scrape the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pour enough canola oil into a deep heavy skillet (cast iron is ideal) to fill 1-inch. Heat over medium heat until the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon gives off a slow steady stream of tiny bubbles.

Carefully pipe the dough into the oil, forming 6-inch crullers. Pipe only as many crullers into the oil as fit comfortably. Overcrowding the pan will result in soggy crullers. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Put the sugar and the cinnamon in a paper bag. Crimp the top and shake well to mix. Drop a few crullers at a time into the bag and shake until coated. Best served as soon as possible

Everything took a little while but it all turned out great! I will definitely be making all of these again!


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