EatingTacoSaladCinco de Mayo
Hot fare for a hot month.


By Caitlin Covington


Sure, Cinco de Mayo comes early in May, but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate all month long. Things are warming up in the Triangle, and so are these Mexican-restaurant classics. Get spicy with recipes for south-of-the-border staples from recent cookbooks!






500 Best Sauces, Salad Dressings, Marinades & More

Published by Robert Rose










2 ripe avocados, halved and mashed
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup shallots, finely minced
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine avocados, lime juice, shallots, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro. Serve within a few hours as the guacamole will darken.


Serves 4


South-of-the-Border Salsa
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 can corn, drained
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add corn and red and green bell peppers, and saute until roasted, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, jalapenos and garlic.


Let stand in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for flavors to develop. Keeps for for up to 2 days.


Serves 6




The Best of The Best and More

Published by Robert Rose








Tortilla Soup
For the soup:
2 tablespoons oil
3 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup picante sauce (medium)
2 whole cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced


For the garnish:
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2 corn tortillas

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the tortillas, reduce heat and cook until they are golden brown and slightly crisp. Add the onion and cook 3 minutes longer; add garlic and jalapeno chili and cook another 2 minutes.


Add the Anaheim chilies, tomatoes and tomato paste; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cayenne. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and picante sauce. Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add the shredded chicken and avocado and heat until warmed through.


To make the garnish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tortillas into strips. Place the strips on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp.


Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the grated cheese, cilantro and baked tortilla strips.


Serves 6




Papaya Avocado Salad
For the salad:
1 head romaine lettuce
1 ripe papaya
1 large avocado, peeled and sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced


For the papaya seed dressing:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons papaya seeds
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup salad oil
2 green onions, finely chopped

Wash and dry lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces and place in salad bowl.


Halve and peel papaya. Scoop out seeds and save 2 tablespoons. Slice papaya.


Combine dressing ingredients in a blender until papaya seeds have the appearance of ground pepper. Store dressing in the refrigerator. Just before serving, add papaya, avocado and red onion slices to lettuce. Pour dressing over salad and toss.


Serves 6




Dinner in a Bowl: 160 Recipes for Simple, Satisfying Meals

Published by John Wiley & Sons








Taco Salad Bowls
4 flour tortillas (6- to 8-inch)
Nonstick cooking spray
12 ounces lean ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup green or red sweet pepper, chopped (optional)
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


For tortilla bowls, wrap tortillas in foil and heat in oven for 10 minutes. Coat four 10-ounce custard cups with cooking spray.


Carefully press 1 tortilla into each cup. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool tortilla bowls in custard cups on wire rack; remove bowls from custard cups. Set aside.


Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook ground beef, onion and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat.
Stir tomato sauce, vinegar, cumin and crushed red pepper into mixture in skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.


Place tortilla bowls in serving bowls. Spoon meat mixture into the tortilla bowls. Sprinkle with lettuce, cheese, sweet pepper and tomatoes.


Serves 4





Tex-Mex Chicken Stew
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into
bite-sized pieces
1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 to 2 fresh Serrano chile peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup thawed frozen whole kernel corn
Sour cream (optional)
Thinly sliced fresh Serrano chile peppers (optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add chicken, half at a time; cook and stir until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken and reserve drippings in a saucepan.


Add sweet potato, onion, chile pepper, coriander and cumin to saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of the broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Cool slightly.


Transfer sweet potato mixture to a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in chicken, the remaining 1 1/2 cups of broth, and corn; heat through. If desired, top each serving with sour cream and/or thinly sliced chile peppers.


Serves 6




Grill It! Secrets to Delicious Flame-Kissed Food
150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions From Cultures Near and Far

Published by John Wiley & Sons









Tequila-Marinated Chicken Thighs
12 chicken thighs, skinned if desired
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tequila
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place chicken in a large, re-sealable plastic bag set on a baking pan. For marinade, in a small bowl stir together orange juice, tequila, lime juice, chipotle pepper, oregano, garlic, salt and black pepper. Pour over chicken in bag; seal bag. Turn to coat chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours, turning bag occasionally.


Drain chicken, reserving marinade.


For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip-pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place chicken, meaty sides down, on grill rack over pan. Cover and grill for 50 to 60 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning and brushing once with reserved marinade halfway through grilling.


(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place chicken on grill rack over the burner that is turned off. Grill as directed.)


Discard any remaining marinade.


Serves 6




Mojo Pork Fajitas with Orange-Avocado Salsa
For the Orange-Avocado Salsa:
2 medium oranges, peeled, sectioned and chopped
1 ripe large avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt


For the fajitas:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 one-pound pork tenderloin
2 large red sweet peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 medium onions, cut into thick slices
8 eight-inch flour tortillas, warmed
1/4 cup dairy sour cream
Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)


For the Orange-Avocado Salsa, combine all ingredients. Cover and chill for up to four hours.


For the marinade, in a small bowl combine olive oil, 1/4 cup onion, lime juice and orange juice. Add cumin, oregano and garlic; stir well.


Trim fat from meat. Place meat in a large, re-sealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over meat; seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.


Drain meat, reserving marinade. Brush sweet pepper quarters and onion slices with some of the marinade; discard the remaining marinade.


For a charcoal grill, arrange hot coals around a drip-pan. Test for medium-hot heat above the pan. Place meat on the grill rack over pan. Place pepper quarters and onion slices on the grill directly over coals. Cover and grill for 8 to 10 minutes for peppers and 10 to 12 minutes for onions or until vegetables are crisp-tender, turning occasionally. Remove vegetables from grill; keep warm. Cover grill and grill meat for 20 to 25 minutes more or until thermometer registers 155 degrees.


(For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-high. Adjust for indirect cooking. Grill vegetables and meat as directed.)


Remove meat from grill. Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes. (Meat temperature after standing should be 165 degrees.) Meanwhile, if desired or if skin of peppers is too charred, peel skin from peppers. Cut peppers into thin strips and chop onions. Slice meat.


Serve meat and vegetables on warm tortillas with Orange-Avocado Salsa and sour cream. If desired, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.



Good Bite Weeknight Meals: Delicious Made Easy

Published by John Wiley & Sons










Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups salsa, divided
2 ten-ounce cans enchilada sauce
3/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
1 ten-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
8 eight-inch flour tortillas
1 eight-ounce package shredded Mexican four-cheese blend

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup of the salsa and the enchilada sauce in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.


Place cream cheese in a microwave-safe medium bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute or until very soft. Add spinach, chicken and remaining 1 1/2 cups salsa to the bowl and stir until blended.


Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture and roll up. Place the enchiladas, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce mixture evenly over the rolled tortillas and top with cheese.


Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove enchiladas from the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.


Serves 4




Cheese Tacos
1 tablespoon butter
8 six-inch corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 small apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 8 slices
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 1/2 cups salsa

Heat a large, cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Spread a small amount of butter on one side of 1 tortilla. When the pan is hot (it should sizzle when sprinkled with a few drops of water), place the tortilla in the pan, buttered side down. Using a spatula, flip the tortilla several times until both sides are covered in melted butter, then let the tortilla cook until pockets of air begin forming bubbles in the tortilla, about 3 minutes.


Add about 1/4 cup of the cheese to half the tortilla and, using the spatula, fold over the other side of the tortilla. Move the folded cheese taco to one side of the pan. Lightly butter a second tortilla, add it to the pan, and repeat the process.


Cook each cheese taco until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes per taco, then remove from the pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and cheese.


Open each taco and add 1 or 2 apple slices, 1 avocado slice and the desired amount of lettuce. Arrange on plates and serve with salsa.


Serves 4