Saturday, March 28, 2009

South of the Border

My mind must have been south of the border when I was making this week's menu because 3 out of the 4 meals have a little Mexican flare.  This is a great way to save money at the grocery store because a lot of the meals used the same ingredients in different ways.  I think it may also be because the weather is getting a little warmer that I was craving these fresh flavors.

This Week's Menu:    
This soup could not be simpler to make, especially if you use a store bought rotisserie chicken.  I love it because it makes the whole house smell like a Mexican food restaurant!  The heat really depends on the spiciness of the salsa you use.  Lately my market has had a slim (to say the least) selection of salsa verde.  I am going to go in search of some better brands.

1. Southwest Chicken Soup 
From Real Simple
makes 4 generous servings

1 12 oz. jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked chicken pieces (you can use a small rotisserie chicken, leftovers, or make it fresh by poaching and shredding 3-4 chicken breasts)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (use 4 cups for a soupier broth)
1 t ground cumin
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
tortilla chips (sometimes I like to make cheese quesidillas to have on the side instead)

Cook the salsa in a large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.  Add the chicken, beans, broth and cumin.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Top each bowl with some green onions, a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.  
I originally spotted this dish on foodgawker and followed the link over to Our Best Bites
Beside discovering just as we were about to put the meat on the grill that we were out of propane, it was easy to make and delicious.  I think this is going to be something we make frequently throughout the summer.  
2. Chili-Lime Steak Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
from Our Best Bites
makes 4-6 servings

For the Chili-Lime Steak:
1 t chili powder
1 t granulated garlic
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t oregano
1/8 - 1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lime
1-2 lbs flank steak (tenderloin, NY strip or tri-tip could also be used)

Juice the lime into a small bowl, add the spices and stir to combine.  If it seams a little too dry you can add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to thin it out.  Place the steak in a shallow dish and use your hands to rub the mixture on all sides.  Pre-heat the grill and let the steak sit for 15 minutes.  Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (if using flank steak).  When it is finished remove the steak and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing it into 1/4" strips against the grain.  

For the salad: (This list can obviously be modified to your liking, I forgot the black beans in mine and next time I will add corn as well.)
1-2 lbs flank steak, prepared as above
1 head romain lettuce
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 avocados, sliced
1 can black olives, halved or quartered
Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing
tortilla chip
cilantro for garnish

For Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing:  (I left out the cilantro because I have been dis-enchanted by the flavor of it recently.)

1 1oz. package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (do not follow the directions on the package)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup salsa verde
hot sauce to taste

Place all of the ingredients above into a blender and blend it up.  

So, does this dish look familiar?  It is pretty much a repeat of last nights dinner, just configured a little differently.  I didn't plan on using the steak in the tacos but we had leftovers from the salads so I threw it in.  I also topped them off with some of the lime dressing instead of salsa.  The only addition to the tacos is I cooked up a little brown rice and mixed in a can of black beans, this served as the base layer.  I think you all know how to assemble a taco so I am just going to include the list of fillings below  

3. Black Bean & Brown Rice Tacos

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
grilled steak
shredded lettuce
black olives
cheddar cheese
creamy lime dressing (by the way, I think this would be a great topping for fish tacos too)
flour tortillas (I like to sprinkle a little water on a tortilla and then microwave it for about 10 seconds, this has the effect of steaming the tortilla which gives it a great texture.) 

This recipe came from evil shenanigans and was also spotted on foodgawker.  I have made several recipes for mac and cheese that require baking but I was intrigued by this stove top version.  Indeed, it was much quicker to make and was super creamy!  I used an extra sharp cheddar and next time I am going to tone that down a bit.  Also, I don't know if it was the mustard powder that I had or if it is mustard powder in general but I think it made it taste a bit off.  I am going to omit it next time just to see what kind of difference it makes.  

Also, about the hot dogs, we like to use Hebrew National, they are bit more expensive but worth it.  And for all of you not in New England, they definitely have the rest of the country beat on buns.  New England style buns are baked touching each other, pulled apart after baking and sliced on top.  This allows you to butter the sides and grill the buns.  YUM!  This and the spicy deli mustard are my favorite parts of the hot dog! 

4. Stove-top Mac & Cheese
from evil shenanigans
makes 2-3 servings (can easily be doubled)

8 oz. elbow macaroni (or other small tube shaped pasta)
1 T butter
6 oz. evaporated milk (I used 2%)
6 oz. freshly grated cheese
1 egg, beaten
*1 t dry mustard powder
1/4 t crushed red peppers
hot sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to package directions but reduce the cooking time by 1 minute.  While pasta is cooking mix the egg, milk and spices.  Drain and return the pasta to the pot.  Add the butter and stir until melted over medium-low heat.  Add the milk mixture.  Stir until it begins to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese in four installments, making sure the first is melted completely before adding the next.  

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La Pixie said...

saw you over at justjenns.

the mac and cheese looks good! I will have to try that. Ive heard of those hot dog buns that are cut on top. never had one, but I wish I had.

Anonymous said...

Made the steak salad this week -- yum! I was glad to have plenty of dressing left over because it is really tasty.