Friday, January 14, 2011

Food For Thought

I have been on a little Mexican food kick lately:  enchiladas, rellenos, tacos, burritos ... ¡Olé!  Of course, often times these tasty dishes are just the vehicles for the delicious toppings they come with.  In our house, our children will eat just about anything as long as they can slather it with salsa, guacamole or sour cream.  It's all about the dip!

If you have kids with similar quirks, here are two dips and a side dish that can make your next meal more enjoyable ... and they are delicioso, tambien!

Auntie Allie's Salsa
(This recipe is from my sissy ... and it's a staple in our house.)

1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of cilantro, rinsed and plucked*
Crushed red peppers
Juice of one lime

*I pull the leaves off the stems, toss them in my salad spinner and give them a whirl.  This is one of Ashley's favorite jobs .... wheeee!!!!

I use my food processor when making this salsa, but you can use a blender, too.  Dump 1/2 of the can of tomatoes (juice and all) in the food processor.  Set the other 1/2 aside.  Add the garlic and the cilantro leaves.  Sprinkle a little of the peppers in, depending on how hot and spicy you like your salsa.  You can always go back and add more.  Pulse the mixture until the cilantro is chopped and mixed throughout.  Pour this into your serving dish and add the remaining 1/2 can of tomatoes and the lime juice.  Give it a stir.  This is a fantastic fresh salsa:  chunky, refreshing and addicting.

Just add chips.

Auntie Allie's Guacamole
(This recipe is also from my sissy ... do you see a theme here?  She also likes dips!  Truly a kid at heart.)

2-3 ripe* avocados
2-3 tomatoes
Juice of one lime
Fresh chives or green onions
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and Pepper

*A ripe avocado will be firm to the touch ... but not hard like a rock.  Avoid anything soft, because that usually indicates that it is bruised.  I like to buy my avocados a few days before I need them and let them ripen a bit on the counter.  Of course, you can never be sure until you cut into it ... I guess it's a bit of a gamble.  A potentially delicious gamble. :)

To prepare the avocado, cut it in half by running your knife around the outside from the top to the bottom and back up.  Twist the two halves in opposite directions and you will end up with one side with the pit and the other without.  Lay the side with the pit on the cutting board and carefully tap the knife blade into the pit.  Turn the knife 90 degrees and the pit will come out.  Next, cut through the avocado as shown:

Then hold the avocado over the serving bowl and press your thumbs against the skin.  The green, yummy goodness will peel away from the skin and you can scrap it into the bowl.  Repeat with each avocado.

Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped chives or green onions, garlic and lime juice.  Mix well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You will need more chips.
This next recipe isn't a dip, so much as a side dish.  But, coincidentally, it was delicious on a tortilla chip.  Go figure!

Creamy Black Beans
(This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, September 2010 ... with a few adjustments.)

1 pound dried black beans
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, halved, seeded and finely chopped
2 t. ground cumin
Fresh cilantro

FYI - this is one of those recipes that you have to plan ahead for.  But trust me, it's worth the wait.

First you will need to prep the beans.  Dump the bag into a colander and rinse thoroughly.  You will want to comb through and look for little rocks or ugly beans, too.  Pour the beans in a big bowl and fill with water.  Let this sit overnight.

Little black beauties.

Begin the rest of these directions about 5 hours before you want to eat.

Dump out the water and set the beans aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the beans and just enough water to cover everything - about 9 cups.  Turn up the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat back down to medium low, partially cover the pot and cook for about 3 hours.  Stir this mixture occasionally.  When the beans are tender, add 2 t. salt and let it simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.  This will allow the remaining liquid to be absorbed. 

Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.  We topped our little bowls of creamy, beany goodness with a little shredded cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro.  It will be hard to go back to canned black beans after enjoying this dish.

Don't forget the chips!
I am making the salsa and guacamole today for a friend's birthday ... and this yummy salsa, too (made with mangos this time).  Can't wait to dip in!

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, yum! We love Auntie Allie's salsa & guac too... can't wait to have some tonight!


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