Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

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Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

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The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.

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What I’ve Got in the Pantry Enchiladas.

You may ask: is this meal healthy, even in a relative sense?

You might ask: is this actual cooking, or did you just throw everything in your pantry together and call it a meal?

In fact, you could ask lots of things.

(The answers, by the way, in respective order: no, sort of, and yes, absolutely.  I don’t feel badly about that.)

Inspired by my very first cookbook…wait for it…the Complete Idiot’s Guide to 20 Minute Meals.  That bad boy has been around so long it’s missing pages and a spine.  But it was a backbone to my college experience, and I’m never getting rid of it.

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(Things That Are in My Pantry) Enchiladas

  • 1 15 oz can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 4 oz cream cheese
  • about 6 oz shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
  • dash of the following spices: cumin, chili powder, taco or adobo seasoning, crushed reds
  • 1 jar salsa, any kind you like – or your own homemade, if you’ve got the ingredients + time
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 poblano pepper, sliced thinly
  • salt & pepper
  • 4-6 large flour tortillas
  • optional/topping: limes, cilantro, green onion, sour cream, hot sauce, more cheese, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In an oven safe pan, thoroughly mix together the corn, black beans, cream cheese and shredded cheese, spices, and about 2/3 of the jar of salsa.  Bake for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a saute pan, heat some olive oil.  Cook the onion and peppers down, about 5-7 minutes, and season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
  3. Pull the corn mixture from the oven and spread a bit down the middle of a tortilla.  Top with a bit of onions/peppers, then roll it up and put in another oven safe pan.  Repeat, placing the enchiladas in neat, tight little rolls, until the filling is all used up.  Or, use the rest of it to make nachos!  Top with a little bit of cheese and salsa and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with your choice of accoutrement – a squeeze of lime juice as they come out of the oven, a little bit of sour cream, anything your decadent little heart desires.

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The Verdict:

No one is winning any Michelin stars for this meal.  BUT this requires very little effort on your part, makes tons of leftovers, and can be tweaked in about 1001 ways to suit what you have in your pantry, so you, too, can eat un-healthfully and without guilt.  It’s pretttttttty tasty, to boot.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Quesadillas

One of the nicest things about living where we live is that we walk to and fro work. (I won’t lie: during the week, I get to feeling pretty self-righteous about the numbers on my Jawbone.  Of course, those numbers take a swan dive off a very high cliff on weekends, when I prioritize catching up on all my Hart of Dixie.)

Sometimes, I walk home with my friend and co-worker, K.  We spend most of the walk talking food.  Tonight, K suggested making these – inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

mostly, i'm in it for the cheese.
mostly, i’m in it for the cheese.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Quesadillas

  • 1 bag mixed broccoli & cauliflower florets
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, chili powder
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • about 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • flour tortillas
  • optional: sour cream, cilantro, avocado
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Scatter the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large baking pan, coat with a bit of olive oil, and toss with salt, pepper, and a dash of chili powder.  Roast for about 20 minutes.
  2. As the florets roast, heat olive oil in a saute pan, add the onions and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until translucent.  Add the jalapeno and poblano peppers and cook another 5-6 minutes.
  3. When the florets are done roasting, add to a food processor and roughly pulse them just a few times – you don’t want them turning them to mush.  Add the lime juice and give a quick stir with a fork.
  4. Build your quesadilla: spread the broccoli/cauliflower mixture over one tortilla, add the onion and peppers over it, top with cheese and a couple of scallions.  Cover with one more tortilla on top.  Heat a large grill pan over medium heat and cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes before flipping – very carefully – to the other side, and cooking another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Cut into wedges and serve with a bit of sour cream (I gussied mine up with a little lime juice and cumin), cilantro, and avocado.
good times.
good times.

The Verdict:

Did I use one too many pans to make…quesadillas?  While we’re on the subject, does anyone need to use a food processor to make…quesadillas?  Yes, and absolutely not, respectively.  Still, these were delicious (although honestly, how could they not be, between veggies, cheese and carbs?!).  I think the Husband will be mighty pleased to find these in his lunch bag tomorrow.

It’s Mexican Night: Make Your Own Tacos

Is this a recipe?  Probably not.  But this is a go-to around here, and is perfect for those nights when 1. you need to feed more than two people; 2. you have no time to cook; and 3. you just want people to be happy (note: avocados + sour cream + cheese + tortillas + chicken = happiness).

crucial topping: avocado
crucial topping: avocado

Make Your Own (Slow-Cooked) Tacos:

for the chicken –

  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 jar salsa, your choice of spiciness
  • splash of chicken broth (if you don’t have that much salsa, which we didn’t)
  • spices galore: crushed red pepper, salt + pepper, chili powder, cumin, adobo seasoning, anything your heart desires
  • optional: 1-2 cloves crushed garlic

and your toppings –

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 bell peppers (green, red, orange), sliced
  • salt, pepper, other seasonings
  • additional: tortillas, taco chips, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese, quartered cherry tomatoes, spinach, beans, cilantro, salsa, rice, etc.
  1. Arrange the sliced onion at the bottom of the crockpot.  Season the chicken liberally – salt, pepper, chili powder, crushed reds, and then place on top of the onion.  Pour a bit of the salsa all around and finish with a splash of chicken broth, if needed.  Add more seasonings – seriously, you probably can’t use enough.  Add the garlic, if using.  Cover and set on low; cook for 8 hours or so.
  2. When you get home from work and are so hungry you might just tear into your cupboards instead, get your onions sizzling in a saute pan in a little olive oil.  Cook down a minute or two and then add the bell peppers.  Season as you wish.
  3. Shred the chicken in the crockpot, plate all of your toppings, and serve in a warm tortilla.  Happiness ensues.
i like to overstuff the taco/burrito. it's more delicious that way.
i like to overstuff the taco (maybe this is better called a burrito). i’m pretty sure it’s more delicious that way.

The Verdict:

Even if you don’t have a Mexican restaurant near you (Barbara, this one is for you!), you can bring the Mexican restaurant to you.  And if you have leftovers, this is seriously even better served over a bed of spinach as a salad.

Quick and Easy: Mexican-style Quinoa With Corn and Black Beans

A few days ago, my (new) sister-in-law sent me the below recipe, from Damn Delicious.  On my continued quest to empty our refrigerator and still cook healthfully before we leave this weekend, I decided last night was the perfect time to give it a try.  Almost everything in here comes straight from the pantry – and the best part: it all cooks in one pan!  (I think the Husband, on clean-up duty, appreciated that.)

Mexican-style Quinoa With Corn and Black Beans

  • olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno (I didn’t have on hand, so I used a can of green chilis and of course, some crushed red pepper)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can corn, drained and rinse
  • a big handful of chili powder
  • a good dash of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from 1 lime
  • toppings: cilantro, avocado, cilantro, grated cheese
  1.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic, the crushed red peppers (if you’re using them).  Also add your other “heat” factors – jalapenos, chilis, poblano pepper.
  2. Stir in quinoa, broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20-25 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and serve with your choice of toppings.
nonstop cilantro in our house
nonstop cilantro in our house…

The Verdict:

This was good, if not knock-your-socks-off.  Fresh ingredients – fresh jalapenos, fresh corn, fresh tomatoes – would really bring this up a notch.  And I’m not sure how I didn’t notice the lack of onion in the ingredient list – I’ve never met a recipe to which the addition of onion didn’t make it better!  Overall, though, this was quick and easy, a good way to use up the leftover ginger and cilantro sour cream mix from the other night, and it provided us with some great leftovers for lunch.  I might try this again in the future with more of a Mediterranean twist – I’m picturing garbanzo beans, sundried tomatoes, onions, garlic, tahini – tossed with fresh parsley and cucumbers?  Maybe the next time we need to clean out the pantry.