Category Archives: mexican

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing

Tonight was supposed to be leftovers night, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to cook something using the ingredients on hand. We had leftover chili and tortillas so I decided on chili enchiladas. That’s a heavy dish and as with most Mexican-style dishes I never know what type of vegetable to serve on the side. Broccoli? Cole slaw? Naw.

I rifled through the fridge and found an English cucumber, feta and some limes. I had chickpeas in the pantry. Yes….this could be something.

This salad was the perfect palate cleanser to the heavy enchiladas. The bright lime dressing cut through the spicy, cheesy sauce and left me licking the salad bowl.

You can opt to not fry the chickpeas, but that added crispiness was a wonderful touch.

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing

Serves 4

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 english cucumber, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3+ tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup feta crumbles
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Coat the bottom of a medium sauté pan with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Heat over high flame. Remove as much moister as possible from the chickpeas by putting them in a salad spinner.

When the oil is hot, add the chickpeas to the pan and fry them for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and crispy. Turn off heat and let chickpeas cool.

In a medium bowl, add the cucumbers, green onion, cilantro and feta.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When chickpeas are cool, add to the rest of the salad. Just before serving, whisk the dressing together and toss into the salad.

Cucumber chickpea salad with lime dressing | a recipe from Alaska Knit Nat

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Poblanos with corn and cream

Every year my family takes a trip down to Nayarit, Mexico to my parents’ vacation home, Casa Colibrí. Their housekeeper, Moña, is an expert cook and I look forward to her authentic Mexican dishes every time we visit.

I have tried to replicate several of her recipes in the past, including fried cauliflower and guacamole. I’ve attempted other dishes but there’s something about the fresh ingredients of Mexico that I am unable to replicate many of her recipes.

Here is one more attempt at one of her classic dishes, chiles rajados con elote y crema, or in English, sliced chiles with corn and cream. In Mexico, crema is a thick consistency, almost like yogurt or sour cream, but with a sweet cream taste. I’d say crème fraîche is the closest thing here in the states, but I have a hard time finding that in Anchorage, so I’m trying it with heavy cream.

Moña serves this for breakfast or lunch. It can accompany fried eggs or rice. It’s a versatile dish that’s got a slight amount of heat, which is mellowed out by the sweetness of the corn and cream.

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bullion
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Slice the peppers into strips and remove the seeds and pith. Add oil to a pan and heat over medium-high flame. Sauté the peppers and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the corn and cream and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle in the bullion. Turn heat down and simmer for a few minutes until sauce has thickened slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve. 

Poblanos with corn and cream | An authentic Mexican dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner | recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Moña’s Fried Cauliflower — A Mexican side dish

Our family just came back from a two-week vacation in Nayarit, Mexico. One of the perks of the place we stay in is a housekeeper who cooks for us. Moña used to run a restaurant out of her home and she’s the best Mexican chef I know. I yearn for her chiles rellenos and chilaquiles.

One of her specialties is battered, fried cauliflower. I’m not a cauliflower enthusiast, but when it’s prepared like chiles rellenos, I’m sold.

Florets are coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a simple tomato sauce. The florets turn out perfectly tender, almost like al dente pasta.

The difficulty with my trying to make Moña’s recipes back home is our lack of delicious produce. Our fresh tomatoes are usually terrible and our onions aren’t nearly as sweet.

Here is my attempt at one of Moña’s signature side dishes. It’s accompanying pulled pork enchiladas and mexican rice. Look for the rice recipe below.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Moña’s fried cauliflower

Serves 4

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed into small/medium florets
  • 5 eggs
  • 1, 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
  • about a cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the flour, chicken stock, sugar, chile powder and tomatoes in a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Separate the eggs and whip the whites until stiff. Fold in the yolks.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Pour oil in a small sauté pan. There should be about a half-inch of oil in the pan. Heat over high heat. When hot, dip florets in the egg batter till covered and drop them in the pan. You’ll need to do several batches but they brown pretty quickly. Spoon oil over the florets as they brown on the first side, then turn them all over and brown on the other side.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Drain the florets and place on a paper towel-lined platter. Set aside.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the blended tomato mixture and oregano. Stir until thickened. If too thick, add more chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Add the cauliflower florets and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Moña's fried cauliflower | florets coated in a delicate egg batter, pan fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. It's the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal. Recipe from Alaskaknitnat.com

Serve on a platter and sprinkle with cojita or monterey jack cheese.

Mexican rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan. Toss in the rice and cook, stirring for a few minutes until the rice is lightly toasted. Pour in 1 cup of stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Add another cup of stock, the carrots, onion and garlic. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Check the rice every now and then to see if it needs more liquid. Add more stock if necessary.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

White Chili – a simple weeknight meal

I’ll never stop promoting Costco rotisserie chicken. It’s only $5 and not only is it delicious hot off the shelf (I sometimes don’t even bother with a plate or silverware), but the leftovers can be used for myriad dishes such as pesto lasagna roll ups,  quick matzo ball soup and homemade chicken stock.

Tonight on the menu is white chili. My friend Danielle introduced me to the notion of non-tomato chili about eight years ago and when I thought of the dish for tonight I was surprised I hadn’t blogged about it yet.

This one-pot wonder has similar flavors to traditional chili. With the addition of salsa verde and sour cream you give chili night a new twist.

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

White chili with chicken

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • leftover rotisserie chicken meat, shredded
  • 1, 16-oz. jar salsa verde
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans great white northern beans, drained
  • 1 cup sour cream

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

Directions:

Heat oil in a dutch oven. Sauté the onions and peppers till onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chiles, chicken, salsa, stock and spices. Bring to a simmer, turn to low and simmer one hour.

Add the beans and cook another 10 minutes. Add the sour cream just before serving. Top with cilantro sprigs and shredded cheddar cheese.

White Chili | A simple weeknight dish from Alaskaknitnat.com

Chiles Rellenos with Smoky Cream Sauce

Chiles Rellenos with Smoky Cream Sauce | Alaska Knit Nat

Ingredients:

7 fresh pasilla or poblano chiles

3/4 lb. ground pork

1 Tbs. taco seasoning

3/4 cup canned black beans, drained

3 oz. cream cheese

1 cup shredded mexican blend cheese plus more for topping

1 can diced green chiles

1/4 cup cream (optional)

black pepper

oil

Chiles Rellenos with Smoky Cream Sauce | Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

Grill the chiles over high heat till blackened on all sides. Place in a paper bag and let steam for 10 minutes. Gingerly remove the skins and slice open on one side. Let cool completely and carefully remove the pith and seeds. Set peppers aside. Meanwhile, brown the pork in a lightly oiled pan over medium high heat. Add the taco seasoning and break up the meat. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the beans, pork, cream cheese, Mexican cheese and diced green chiles and season with pepper to taste. Stuff each chile and secure with a toothpick. Place stuffed peppers in a greased casserole dish and sprinkle liberally with more shredded cheese. Pour cream over the chiles and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes till cheese is bubbling. Serve with brown rice and southwestern roasted butternut squash. Drizzle with smoky cream sauce — recipe below.

Smoky Cream Sauce

Ingredients;

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. flour

2 Tbs. cream

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbs. cream cheese

1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add the cream and milk and whisk till thickened, about two minutes. Turn down heat till just bubbling and add the cheese and spices. Serve immediately. If it’s too thick, add more milk.

Chiles Rellenos with Smoky Cream Sauce | Alaska Knit Nat

How to Cook Perfect Beans

Taco night is always a big hit in our family and one of the most requested ingredients from our son is beans. Sure, canned beans are convenient and inexpensive, but there’s often a bit of sodium in them and when you reheat them, they can easily be overcooked.

Many are hesitant to cook dry beans due to lack of experience and convenience, but with a little planning and minimal effort, you can easily cook creamy, flavorful beans to accompany many food genres. And they are much cheaper than canned beans!

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Perfect Beans

Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

One cup of dried beans such as pinto, great northern or black

1 Tbs. salt

water

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Directions:

The morning you want to have beans for dinner, toss your dry beans into a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Add beans and salt to a medium saucepan. Fill with water so pan is about 2/3 full. Cover and let sit all day, about 7-9 hours.

Put pan on stove, still covered, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer beans for 1.5-2 hours. Be sure it’s not at a full rolling boil as the beans can get torn up if overly disturbed. Drain and serve.

*Beany tidbit: If your beans appear shriveled after soaking them it means they are past their prime. They will still taste all right but you may want to buy new beans next time.

How to cook perfect beans | Alaska Knit Nat

Low-guilt Nachos

I love me some junk food and nachos are near the top of the list. They are quick, cheap and can pile on the calories if you’re not careful. I like to justify mowing down on nachos by using healthier ingredients.

Here’s what I had for dinner:

Low-guilt Nachos | Alaska Knit Nat

And here’s how I made them.

 

Low-guilt Nachos

Serves 1 hungry person

Ingredients:

A few handfuls of Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips

1/2 cup low-fat grated cheddar cheese

2 green onions, chopped

1 Tbs. Neufchâtel cheese

1/2 of an avocado

1 Tbs. low-fat sour cream

2 Tbs. salsa

Chopped cilantro

Low-guilt Nachos | Alaska Knit Nat

Here’s my no-brainer secret to making perfect nachos in the oven — bake them, don’t broil them. Broiling sometimes burns the chips before the cheese has melted. So, preheat an oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the chips on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with green onions and cheddar. Dot the Neufchâtel all around the chips. Bake for about 7 minutes, or until the cheddar is gooey.

Remove from oven and top with sour cream, avocado, salsa and cilantro.

This is just a guideline, of course. You can add whatever toppings you like. Jalapeños, black beans, chicken, tofu — the world is your nacho!

If you’re in the mood for a fiesta, try some of my other recipes, such as:

Chicken Taquitos with Spinach & Wild Rice
Chicken Taquitos with Spinach & Wild Rice
Guacamole à la Moña
Guacamole à la Moña