Category Archives: Mexican

Green Chile Sauce Quest

I like challenges, especially when it is a food challenge levied by my husband.  There is no one on the planet I want to please more with efforts I bring to the dinner table.  From time to time, he will mention a meal he had while traveling or point to a recipe in a cooking magazine, requesting I replicate it.

The magazines don’t give me near the fit a fond dining experience does, though sometimes he provides a photo. Whether trying to match childhood memories of Grandma’s Molasses Cookies or the swoon-worthy Wagyu filet at a steakhouse in Phoenix, trying to recreate a dish or flavor experienced by someone else had can be daunting.  I do appreciate his unwavering confidence.

This brings us to Green Chile Sauce.  A couple of years ago while Matt was working in New Mexico, the stories of amazing green chile sauce started rolling in. Served on just about anything that would hold still, New Mexico Green Chile Sauce is known for its superior status.  Time and again, it drew him back to a small cafe for breakfast, and then lunch, for the chance to savor the saporous sauce.

I know, I’ve heard it before how easy green chile sauce is to make, but if that is so, why do so many taste flat, or lack depth?  With fresh green chilies, a few recipes (links below), and Matt’s savvy culinary memory to use as a guide, it’s time to rise to the challenge—make the best green chile sauce on the planet outside New Mexico (or maybe anywhere).  Somehow, so long as he believes I can, I am willing to try.

Beef and Green Chile Chili at Fine Cooking

New Mexico Breakfast and Green Chile Sauce at I love New Mexico

Traditional Style New Mexico Green Chile Sauce at

Green Chile Sauce at

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce Recipe at MJ’s Kitchen

Of course, your comments, suggestions, recipe hints are all welcome 🙂


Fish Tacos: Thank you, Baja!

We lived in California years ago, but my first introduction to fish tacos was at Rubio’s in Denver of all places.  I was hooked right away, the textures and flavors are addictive with crisp slaw, tender fish, a squeeze of lime, all cradled in your hand for quick delivery. Where the fish taco originated still raises debate according to this story in Sunset.  As far as I’m concerned, Ralph Rubio got it right when he opened his restaurant near Mission Bay 28 years ago.

This inspired recipe includes subtle twists on the tacos that won my heart—better oil for frying and adding a few more fresh items to fill the warm tortillas alongside the fish—there is even a grilling option if you prefer to avoid the stove when it is hot outside. Rubio’s soft corn tortillas are unique to the restaurant, but The Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas are pretty close.  The white sauce is mild and cools the spice of the salsa, but if you are looking for more heat, Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce is another option.  Here’s to Baja!

Fish Tacos

Serves 4
3      med white fish fillets (Mahi Mahi, Halibut, Cod) — cut into 1″ x 4″ strips
1       whole  lime — cut into wedges
1/2     head  cabbage — thinly shredded
1       small  carrot — peeled and grated
1/2     cup  cilantro — coarsely chopped
1/2     whole  avocado — peeled and sliced
1        cup  salsa (recipe below)
8       small  corn tortillas
salt & pepper
coconut oil

For the Sauce:
1/4     cup  mayonnaise
1/4     cup  plain yogurt

For the Beer Batter:
3/4     cup  beer
3/4     cup  flour
1/2      teaspoon  salt
1/2      teaspoon  garlic powder

Squeeze half of the lime over the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper; allow fish to marinate while prepping the other ingredients.  Mix cabbage, carrot, and one tablespoon of the chopped cilantro together.  Once the vegetables and sauces are prepped, mix beer batter in a bowl wide enough to dip the fish.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet by about an 1/8″.  Dry fish with paper towels and dip into beer batter, shaking off any excess so there is a thin coating. Place fish in hot oil and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Fill warm tortillas with fish, cabbage slaw, salsa, and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime on each taco just before serving.

To grill the fish instead of frying, leave the fish whole until after it is grilled. Omit the beer batter and add the garlic powder to the fish while marinating. Grill over medium heat on a gas grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.


Serves 8
1/3     yellow onions — chopped fine
1/4     Serrano pepper — chopped fine
1/4     green pepper — chopped fine
1/2     yellow chili pepper, mild — chopped fine
1         clove  garlic — chopped fine
5         Roma tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2     bunch cilantro leaves — coarsely chopped
2         teaspoons  lime juice
1/2     teaspoon  salt — to taste

Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves.  Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small.  Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well.  Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

NOTES: For hotter flavor use whole Serrano pepper.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Mom Trends Food Friday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday

Tacos with Picadillo: Test Kitchen Tuesday

In honor of so many celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I decided to look through my cookbook, The World’s Finest Food for inspiration for Test Kitchen Tuesday this week.  Tacos with Picadillo looked interesting and simple to make—a new twist on an old standby, for sure.  According to on-line sources, picadillo is a traditional Latin American dish, which varies by region. Some recipes include potatoes or carrots, while others favor canned tomatoes or paste. The following recipe from The World’s Finest Food is a fair representation of the dish served as a main course, or as a filling for tacos, empanadas, large chilies, or bell peppers.  I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make one of the recipes (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are feeling especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at so it can be included.

Tacos with Picadillo

Want to hear how to pronounce it? Picadillo
Source:  The World’s Finest Food 1994 p. 74
Serves 4
3        tablespoons  oil or lard
1         pound  ground beef
3/4    cup  onion — diced fine
2        tablespoons  dry sherry
1         tablespoon  lime juice
3        whole  plum tomatoes — skinned and chopped
2        whole  poblano pepper — finely chopped
1/3     cup  pimento stuffed olives — sliced
1         teaspoon  capers
1         whole  bay leaf
1/4     cup  raisins
2         cloves  garlic
1/2     teaspoon  cinnamon
1/2     teaspoon  cumin
salt and pepper
12     taco shells

Garnishes: (optional)
cheddar cheese — shredded
black olives — sliced
green onion — chopped
tomato — chopped
lettuce — shredded

In a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, beef, and onions, and cook over med-high heat until evenly browned. Lower heat, and add the sherry and lime juice. Cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, chilies, olives, capers, bay leaf, and raisins; simmer for another 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the garlic, cumin, and cinnamon, and toast for 3-4 minutes, then add to the meat with the pepper and salt. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Check the seasoning to adjust as needed.  Serve with warmed taco shells and suggested garnishes.

Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce

Saturday night friends came over to help us test the Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos recipe from the Test Kitchen challenge last week. The tacos received rave reviews, truly a fantastic recipe.  This sauce was a little something extra I created to garnish the tacos in place of sour cream. Habaneros really bring the heat, so this sauce is for those wanting that extra kick—a great garnish on tacos, fajitas, burritos, grilled fish or chicken.

Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce

2           whole  habanero chile — stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1/4        cup  cilantro leaves — chopped
1/4        cup  sour cream
1/4        cup  yogurt — plain

Remove the stem and seeds of the chilies and chop fine. The heat of this sauce can be adjusted by using more or less of the chile.

Add the chilies and chopped cilantro to the yogurt and sour cream and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer before serving.

Note: Always use gloves when handling chilies to avoid absorbing the oils into the skin.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Over the years, I have collected stacks of cooking magazines with dog-eared pages hoping to create a few of them in my own kitchen.  Test Kitchen Tuesday presents the opportunity to do just that.  Last night I rediscovered this recipe from last year’s May issue of Food & WineChile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos—and I cannot wait to try it.  Seasoned grilled steak in a warm homemade corn tortilla with sliced avocados and pico de gallo … Yes, please!

I hope you join me in preparing one of the three recipes included this week—Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos, Pico De Gallo, and Homemade Corn Tortillas—try one or all three, it’s up to you.

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe(s) (posted below or linked)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are feeling especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at so it can be included.

Chile-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos

Serves: 4
Yields: 12 tacos
2          teaspoons  sweet paprika
1           teaspoon  ancho chile powder
1           teaspoon  garlic powder
1           teaspoon  onion powder
1           teaspoon  light brown sugar
1/2      teaspoon  chipotle chile powder
1/4      teaspoon  ground cumin
1/4      teaspoon  ground coriander
1           teaspoon  salt
1/4      teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
1/4      cup +  2   tablespoons fresh lime juice
1           tablespoon  vegetable oil
1 1/2   pounds  skirt steak — cut into 5-inch strips
12         corn tortillas — warmed (see recipe below)

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the paprika, ancho powder, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, chipotle, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the lime juice and oil and shake the bag to blend. Add the steak and seal the bag. Let the steak stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the steak over moderately high heat, turning twice, until lightly charred on the outside and medium-rare within, about 10 minutes. Transfer the steak to a work surface and let rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice the steak and serve with tortillas, Pico de Gallo (recipe below), Avocado Salsa, and cabbage.

Pico De Gallo

2        medium  tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2    cup  finely chopped white onion
2        tablespoons  coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
1        tablespoon  freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes with the onion, cilantro and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Corn Tortillas: Homemade Goodness


Image via Wikipedia

It does not get any easier than a recipe with only two ingredients.  Making fresh corn tortillas is a simple way to add new interest to familiar recipes.  The technique may take a little practice, but it is worth the learning curve when you sink your teeth into authenticity. The soft texture and sweet corn flavor do more than just make the filling easier to eat with your hands—it makes it memorable.

Corn Tortillas

Serves: 4
2             cups  masa harina flour
1 1/3     cups  warm water

Stir masa harina and water together until dough holds together in a ball. Turn onto a working surface lightly dusted with masa harina. Knead quickly into a smooth ball. Divide dough into twelve pieces, keep covered with plastic wrap.  Trim the seams of a gallon size Ziploc bag so you have two sheets of plastic or use wax paper.

Roll one piece of dough into a ball. Place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper and flatten slightly. Press tortillas (still in wax paper/plastic) in a tortilla press until tortilla measures 5-6 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, stacking tortillas under a damp tea towel until ready for use.

When ready to cook the tortillas, preheat a seasoned cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. Heat the tortillas on skillet or griddle, turning frequently until it looks dry and has a golden color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Keep warm on a plate loosely covered with a towel.

If you do not have a tortilla press: Set 1 ball of dough between the sheets of plastic or wax paper. Using a skillet or a rolling pin, flatten the tortilla to a 5-inch round. Peel off the plastic or wax paper and set the tortilla on the hot skillet or griddle.

Wow Your Super Bowl Crowd With a Platter of Nachos

If you want a great appetizer for your Super Bowl party everyone will enjoy, Blue Coyote Nachos are just the ticket. Inspired by nachos we had at the Blue Coyote Grill in Palm Springs years ago, this recipe is an instant favorite.  Orange goopy, processed cheese peddled as food will be a distant memory once you try these.  Smoky black beans, seasoned chicken, and Monterey Jack cheese create the perfect foundation for a finishing touch of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

When we have them for dinner each plate is custom-loaded and baked which means the plates are hot when served (see photo above).  To accommodate a crowd, make the nachos on a large platter or pan the nachos can be pulled from to create individual servings on smaller plates.  Spice things up with jalapenos for those who cannot imagine nachos without them, or make them mild with a host of garnishes for guests to dress their own.

Blue Coyote Nachos

Serves 6-8
1       large bag tortilla chips
3       boneless, skinless chicken breasts — cubed
2       tablespoons butter — red pepper oil can also be used
2       cloves garlic — minced
3       tablespoons Paul Prudhomme Poultry Magic
1       can black beans
2-3   tablespoons hickory liquid smoke flavoring
3       cups Monterey Jack cheese — shredded

Garnish with the following:
Sour cream
Jalapeno peppers
Sliced black olives
Green onions

Simmer black beans and liquid smoke flavoring for 30-40 min.  Cut chicken into 1′ cubes.  Heat butter and garlic in skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken and sprinkle generously with Poultry Magic seasoning and brown in saucepan with oil and garlic until thoroughly cooked.

Place a layer of tortilla chips on a ceramic plate (approx. 8-10 large chips) for one serving.  (Serving sizes can be customized for each person.)  Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cup cheese to just cover chips.  Place approx 1/2 cup cooked chicken on top of cheese layer and approx 1/4 cup of black beans (use a slotted spoon to avoid the liquid) on top of chicken layer.

Bake in oven at 350° until cheese melts and chips are crispy, approximately 5-8 minutes depending on the serving size.  Serve hot and garnish as desired.

Also posted on Hearth & Soul Blog Hop.