Monday, May 23, 2005

Tex-mex four ways

I often jokingly tell my husband that we make all of our dinners using the same ingredients: garlic, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and either beans or ground beef ("soy" beef for us, as David is vegetarian). It's partially true, of course, as you'll see from the recipes below (check out the ingredient list for my Mexican Lasagna for further evidence).

Luckily, while the recipes below include similar ingredients, they're different enough in taste (and are coupled with differing sides) that they all warrant being made from time to time.

Taco Soup
This first recipe comes from Paula Deen, the great Southern cook of FoodNetwork fame. It's more of a stew than a soup, really, but who cares? It's wonderful regardless--any time of day and any time of year.

Top with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped chives and/or sliced jalapenos and you've got yourself a quick and hearty meal.

2 pounds ground beef (or vegetarian crumbles)
2 onions, diced
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
1 15-ounce can pink kidney beans
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 14-ounce can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can tomatoes with chiles
2 4-ounce cans diced green chiles
1 4.6-ounce can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot.

Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours (or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove).

Ladle into bowls--on top of corn chips, if you have them :)

David's Yankee Bean Pot
One of our best friends introduced me to this dish. It resembles the Taco Soup listed above, but it has more depth of flavor--probably thanks to the ketchup, relish and onion soup mix. It's great on its own, but it's made all the better by serving alongside tater tots (!) or on top of a baked potato.

1 pound vegetarian "crumbles"
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup pickle relish
½ cup green pepper, diced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce, for vegetarians)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 package onion soup mix
1 15-ounce can vegetarian baked beans
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce can stewed tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart crock pot and cook on low heat for about 6 hours (or place in a large stockpot and simmer over low heat for about 1 hour on the stove). Adjust seasonings and serve.

Classic Picadillo
I found this recipe on a flyer from Whole Foods. I'm not sure if it's really a "classic" recipe, but it has satisfied us enough that we make it fairly regularly. For a bit more depth of flavor, add a pinch or two of dried oregano and a bay leaf when you first start sauteeing the vegetables (removing the bay leaf before serving).

3 tablespoons oil
2 pounds ground beef (of vegetarian "crumbles")
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup green olives, sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cups cooked white rice

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; brown ground beef or crumbles. Remove from pan and add onions, peppers and garlic, ccoking until softened, about five minutes. Add tomatoes, raisins, olives, vinegar and brown sugar; stir and then cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 15 minutes more.

Adjust seasonings and stir over white rice.

Black Bean and Vegetable Burritos
This is the first meal I ever made for David. After we had been dating for a while we started having each other over for dinners on Friday nights. I had never knowingly cooked anything vegetarian, so I decided to start with something easy. This dish (which I got from the fantastic was not only easy, it was delicious--so much so that it regularly appears on our kitchen table.

1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons minced, seeded jalapeno chile
Flour tortillas

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened, about six minutes. Add cumin and chili powder and stir until combined. Add corn, beans and tomotoes and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occassionally, until heated through. Add jalapenos (if using) and then salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon about a cup of the filling into each tortilla, top with cheese and sour cream (if desired), roll up and serve.

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