mexican monday: fish tacos & queso.

Mexican Monday was a great success this week!  While the menu generally consists of quesadillas plus a range of dips, I decided to focus only on two components this time: Fish Tacos with Green Apple Guacamole and “A More Natural” Chile Con Queso.  It was one of those meals that seemed to take forever to prep, because of all the chopping, peeling, and grating involved!  (I really need to take a cooking class on knife skills!)  The end result was SO worth it though.

I considered substituting chicken for the cod in the tacos, but ended up following the recipe almost exactly.  The chicken probably would have been fine, but the cod really complemented the other items in the taco well.  I love discovering strange ingredient combinations that just mesh.  Green apples in guacamole?  I knew that could either be weird or amazing…  and it really turned out great!  Refreshingly light and delicious.

Fish Tacos with Green Apple Guacamole

I’ve had a difficult time photographing tacos and quesadillas, so I just held it open this time!  Plus, now I can show off my manicured thumb.

This is the first time I’ve ever made queso, and in browsing through a few recipes, I noticed quickly that Velveeta cheese is a standard ingredient.  Now, I don’t mind eating things with Velveeta.  At this point, I realize that probably every queso I’ve ever had has included Velveeta… and I will continue to charge forward and dip my chips in these quesos!  However, there is something about creating the food on my own that makes me very picky about what I use.  I have weird rules for myself, like I hate using canned vegetables, frozen meat, or pre-grated cheese (this rule is not as important as the other two).   Anyway, I searched and found a recipe with more natural cheeses.

Queso substitutions:  I used a poblano pepper, a light green pepper (a medium-spicy mystery pepper), along with the jalapenos.  For cheeses, I chose a New York Cheddar along with a Habanero Pepper Jack from somewhere in the midwest.

Side-note on peeling tomatoes… is there an easy way to do it?  This is probably an odd comparison, but I almost felt like I was peeling a human!  The roma tomato was so slimy and veiny underneath.  (Sorry, that is very unappealing.)

A More Natural Chile Con Queso w/Tortilla Chips.

The queso was SO good.  We still have some left over, so I have just been loving life.  I was humbled yesterday, because the Washingtonian posted on their Best Bites Blog that Chef Jeff Tunks uses Velveeta in his mac & cheese at Passion Fish.  I adore Passion Fish and everything they do, and it is true: Velveeta does make both queso and mac & cheese pretty good.  I think I’ll stick to this delicious recipe though.  :)

basic enchiladas.

Do you ever get really excited about doing something you don’t usually do, only to realize later that there’s a reason why you don’t usually do it?  Well, this happened to me with enchiladas the other night.  No, this story isn’t going where you think it’s going.  (I probably started off too dramatic.)  All I’m saying is that I don’t usually eat enchiladas, but for awhile now, I’ve been really excited about the idea of them.

Chicken Enchiladas

After finally sitting down to taste my finished product, I remembered that I actually REALLY REALLY don’t like enchilada sauce.  What a bummer!  Objectively, I think that it all came out great.  The chicken and cheese on the inside were perfect.  I think the issue was that I used sauce from a can, and it just was not the best.  I’m not going to give up on enchiladas.  Next time, I will just make my own sauce… and I will make a different kind from the canned kind.

By the way, I think it was Old El Paso canned enchilada sauce.

Here is the recipe I used.  (Adjustment: I also threw in some extra queso blanco we had in our fridge.)  I still want to promote the recipe, because it was truly great and Chris really enjoyed the meal!  He gets the leftovers this time.  :)

a bachelorette party spread!

As the matron of honor (I know, “matron” sounds so old!), I was in charge of throwing my dear friend Lauren a bachelorette party!  She wanted margaritas, a request I was happy to comply with, so I planned the spread to be mostly Mexican-themed. :)

Bachelorette Party Spread

MENU

  • Margaritas (2 shots quality tequila, 1 shot cointreau, 1/2 shot lime juice, 1/2 shot agave nectar for 1 strong serving)…  very pure and lovely margs!
  • Lemonade
  • Barbacoa Sliders
  • Mini homemade pizzas (pepperoni and cheese options, garlic & herb dough from Trader Joe’s)
  • Exotic Fruit (thanks to Julianne)
  • Homemade Guacamole (avocados, lime juice, fresh cilantro, sea salt, and pepper)
  • Salsa (thanks to Kim)
  • Tortilla Chips (thanks to Kim and Carrie)
  • Queso (thanks to Chaney)
  • Spicy Artichoke Dip (thanks to Carrie… I sure need to get this recipe!!)
  • Cheese-Stuffed Peppers (Poblano & Sweet Peppers stuffed w/a ricotta, cream cheese, cayenne pepper spice, & red pepper flake spice blend… then coated in olive oil and broiled!)
It all turned out AMAZING, and I was so thankful to have great contributors help out!  Lauren had a wonderful time, and felt very celebrated.  Hooray for love, and for good food! :)  Here is a close-up of the sliders… I used the same barbacoa recipe from this post… I added lots more jalapenos and such, but still couldn’t get it very spicy!  Oh well, still good.  The coleslaw was from the recipe I referenced in this post.

Barbacoa Sliders

I was inspired to make Barbacoa Sliders, because of my obsession with the happy hour at La Sandia in Tysons.  Seriously, their happy hour has SUCH great deals on food and drinks.  In fact, they just extended happy hour until 9pm on weekdays!  You bet I’ll be there on Friday before seeing the new Harry Potter movie!

mexican, mexican, mexican.

I have SO much Mexican food to share!  Next post, I promise to move on to something else.  :)

Last weekend (not this past weekend, but the one before), I made my favorite casserole for our friends who just had a baby.  Here is a link to the recipe for the Southwest Pasta Bake…. I just call it “Mexican Lasagna.”  Tired of making the same old boring casserole?  Here is something that will wow your audience.  I made extra to enjoy with my dear friend Arielle, who was in town from Seattle.  We had a yummy South African Sauvignon Blanc (wine maker: Zafrika) from Trader Joe’s, which complimented the meal nicely.

Mexican Lasagna

Next, quesadilla madness.  Are you surprised?  I obviously love quesadillas.  :)  We had friends over a week ago, and this was the spread… Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw… (I know they are called “tacos,” but I really made them more quesadilla-like!)

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw

That’s Mexican rice in the crockpot, that our friend Sarah brought along.  I promise I will post the amazing margarita and guacamole recipes at some point!  A staple for Chris and I’s food life.

Tonight, I made similar quesadillas (with tomatoes added and pepper jack cheese, instead of feta).  I also wanted to share this Corn & Avocado Salad, from this month’s Real Simple issue.  Light and easy!  I used green onions instead of scallions.

Corn & Avocado Salad

The next meal will be more Italian-based… my other favorite cuisine besides Mexican.  :)

mexican tuesday.

Whenever Chris and I have no plans on Mondays, we make Mexican food and margaritas!  As I posted, we had our friend over for dinner last Monday, but we were free the next night, so we decided to postpone Mexican food a day later this week.  Usually, I make some pretty basic quesadillas, and then lots of dips to go along.  This week, I was inspired by Chipotle to try out making barbacoa (spicy beef) tacos!  I found this recipe for slow cooker barbacoa, and let me tell you… it was wonderful coming home after a long day of work to the smell of this cooking!

Barbacoa Cooking in the Slow Cooker

To be honest, it probably didn’t turn out as spicy as I would have liked… but we couldn’t really tell in the mixture of ingredients once the tacos were assembled.  We wrapped the shredded barbacoa, grated pepper jack cheese, and chopped peppers in soft tortillas (wheat).

Barbacoa Taco

On the table, we had spicy salsa and homemade guacamole to add in.  We also always make our margaritas from scratch!  At some point, I will post the easy recipes for homemade guac and homemade margs.