Category Archives: Mexican/Spanish Recipes

Enjoy the spicy taste of tacos

Photo: Zucchini Taco Boat

As May draws to a close and warmer weather is coming to many places, here’s another Mexican-style dish that is quick and easy to prepare. This brings the spicy flavor of a taco to a low carb option of a zucchini base rather than using tortillas. Add fresh fruit or a green salad for a delightful, guilt-free meal.

I found the original recipe by Lauren Miyashiro on Delish.com and adapted it a little more to make it easier and lower carb’d.

Zucchini Taco Boat

2 Zucchini, 6 to 8″ long
2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/3 cup Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
2/3 pound Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning
1/2 cup Pico de Gallo
1 cup Cheddar Jack Cheese, shredded
Freshly chopped Cilantro for garnish
1 Haas Avocado, sliced

Preheat oven to 350° (F).

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a sharp paring knife to cut around the edge, leaving about 1/4 of an inch. Score across the inside piece to almost the bottom, then remove the insides. Chop into small cubes and set aside for later.

Place hollowed out zucchini halves, cut side up, into the bottom of a baking dish large enough to accommodate all four. Drizzle or brush 1 tablespoon oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes to soften the zucchini. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a  skillet over medium-high heat and add onion and reserved zucchini. Stir and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add ground beef, breaking up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cook until beef is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.

Stir in taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Add Pico de Gallo and mix well. If you don’t have any, use equal amounts of chopped onions and tomatoes, one chopped green chile, and 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro. Spoon the mixture into the zucchini bottoms and sprinkle cheese over the top of each.

Photo: Zucchini Boats in the pan from the oven.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the zucchini is tender and cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sliced avocado on the side. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information for Zucchini Taco Boats

Try fish for your Cinco de Mayo celebration!

Photo: Mexican-style Tilapia

For a long time, I haven’t included fish in my Mexican or Tex-Mex eating. Truth is, I am not a big fish fan, although shellfish is a whole different story. But I do like white fish, such as tilapia, cod, and halibut along with salmon. I never considered using them in Mexican food, but I decided it was time to try it out. I started with this delicious dish.

Mostly, I’m relying on seasoning to bring the flavor to the fish. I used Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning, but you can use your own favorite. This dish easy to make. Add about 1/4 cup of black beans or frijole beans as a side dish along with the riced turnips with chile I posted a few days ago or with the amazingly good riced golden beets I’m adding the recipe for below. I usually use them as a couscous substitute, but they work well with this fish.

Mexican-style White Fish

2 tilapia fish fillets (4 oz. each) or other white fish
1 cloves garlic minced
1/2 lime juiced
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

In a shallow pan or bowl, add garlic, seasoning, salt, and lime juice and mix. Rub the mixture over the fish fillets, making sure to cover them on both sides.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, place the fillets in the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn and cook the reverse side the same amount of time. Turn off heat, flip the fish back over, and let it sit another minute.

Serve with a salad, beans, riced beets, or cauliflower rice along with guacamole, sour cream, sliced onions, and tomato as preferred.

Makes two servings.

Photo: Riced golden beets

Riced Golden Beets

1 medium golden beet, peeled
1/4 cup Hot Water
1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bullion Chicken
1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 cup Diced Onions (optional)
Salt to taste

Cut beet into cubes and use a food processor to chop until the pieces are rice-sized.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add butter. Add onions and sauté for two minutes.

Add one cup of the riced beets and stir into the butter and onions for a couple of minutes. Heat water to boiling, then add chicken bullion. When melted add to the skillet, add salt, and stir in. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Check a couple of times to make sure the rice doesn’t dry out. Add water as needed. Check to be sure beets are tender.

Makes two 1/2 cup servings.

Image: Nutrition Info Mexican whitefishImage: Nutrition Info - Riced Golden Beets

Variations on Enchiladas

The seasons begin to turn, and I have been craving a little Mexican food this past week. It’s a fundamental part of my diet since I grew  up in a Southwest border town. But I also wanted to use a meatless variety choice, so I went for this adapted recipe for enchiladas. Just cheese in these logs of tortillas is common and can be found in most Mexican restaurants, so a little twist or two on the recipe makes it a more interesting and flavorful combination. This version is destined to become one of my favorites for a Meatless Monday or any time you want a light dinner.

For my ingredients, I used Great Value Fiesta Cheese mix, found at Wal-Mart, which includes four varieties of Mexican cheese and is really low in carbohydrates. You can select other cheese mixes or just Monterrey Jack cheese. I also used Jalapeno Cheese, which adds just a little kick. The butternut squash is a delicious, but mild stand-in for meat and adds a little substance to the dish.

Other add-ins could include chopped olives, chopped green chiles, green onions, chopped and cooked tomatillos, and additional seasonings such as cumin, cayenne pepper, and cilantro to adjust it to your preferences. Also, I made this batch with red enchilada sauce, but you can use green chile enchilada sauce or green chile salsa. Each change will affect the overall Carb count though. Anytime you are making Mexican food, you can expect the net carbs in the dish to push toward the 10 net carb mark, so figure any changes into the meal.

Photo: Enchilada cut open.
Enchilada cut open to reveal the cheesy interior. I served mine with a apple, kohlrabi, and cabbage coleslaw

Butternut and Cheese Enchiladas

4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cups Salsa
1/4 cup Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Jalapeno Jack Cheese, grated or shredded
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubed
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or Mexican Cheese Mix
6 7-inch Low Carb Tortillas
1 cup Red Enchilada Sauce
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F.)

Cook the butternut squash cubes for 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave until they are just tender. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and salsa and beat it to mix together. (I used a wooden spoon to work it together, but you can also use a hand mixer.) Add the onions and 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack or Fiesta Cheese and mix together well, then stir in the butternut squash. This is the filling for your enchiladas.

In a baking pan or a oven-safe skillet, add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/6th of the filling down the middle of a tortilla and roll it into a log over the filling. Place seam down in the pan. Repeat with the next 5 tortillas, fitting them snugly into the pan or skillet. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Cheddar Jack or more Mexican Cheese Mix.

Photo: Enchiladas in a pan.
Six enchiladas just out of the oven in a square copper skillet.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cheese is melted. Let sit for a few minutes, then use a spatula to remove each enchilada to the plate. Serve with a salad or Spanish riced cauliflower.

Makes 6 servings.

You might also like Chicken Enchiladas with ZucchiniCast Iron Skillet Enchiladas, and Apple, Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw.

Photo: Info for Enchiladas

Fantastic Low Carb Veggie Chili

Photo: Low carb veggie chili

Ready for another meatless Monday? As the weather is turning cooler in my part of the world, I’m looking at a tricky beast to manage to make a low carb vegetables-only chili. While most of the root vegetables that give this dish some substance are lower in carbs than potatoes, the amount used to replace the meat option adds in quite a few carbohydrates into the overall dish.  So this offering checks in at a little under 11 net carbs per serving. If you only have 20 or 25 net carbs to spend, this could really push your limit. But if you plan for it, you can have a nearly 0 carb breakfast (omelet with cheese) and lunch (green salad with cucumber) to free up those carbs for the chili.

While this is a meatless option, it doesn’t lose any of the spicy and delicious chili flavor of the meat version. The vegetables are delicious with the butternut giving a hint of sweetness in the dish, and they are firm enough to satisfy.  If you want a short-cut on the seasonings, Mrs. Dash Chipotle Seasoning is very good and includes almost all of the spices listed. The Jalapeno seasoning is also good.

One other thing, this chili would work well as a filling for a meatless omelet and you would only need about 1/2 cup for it. Or make a burrito with a low carb tortilla and 1/2 cup of filling.

Low Carb Veggie Chile

1 3-1/2 oz. can Jalapeno chiles, chopped
1 15 oz. can Tomatoes with chile
1 cup Butternut Squash, cubed
1 cup Kohlrabi, cubed
1 cup Turnips, cubed
1 can Baby Corn, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
3 stalks Celery, chopped
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 tablespoon dried Parsley or Cilantro
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
2 tablespoon chopped Basil
1 teaspoon Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop your butternut squash, kohlrabi, and turnips to about the same-size cubes. The bigger they are, the longer they will take to cook. If you can’t find kohlrabi, you can substitute in zucchini or cauliflower.

In a large pot, add oil and heat, then add garlic and onions and cook until they are fragrant. Add the chopped celery, stir, and cook about two minutes. Then add all the other ingredients except the pumpkin puree. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables.

Stir everything in the pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low cook, just above a simmer. Cover and cook for an hour. Check on the vegetables to see if they are fork-tender, If not, add more water if needed, then cook another 20 minutes. Test again. Check your seasonings. If you need more spice, add it now. If the vegetables are fork-tender, then add the pumpkin puree, stir in, cover, and cook another 10 to twenty minutes. The pumpkin will help thicken the chile.

Serve in bowls with a little cheddar jack cheese and sour cream if you wish.

Makes eight 1-cup servings. If you want a little fewer carbs, a 3/4-cup serving will bring the carb count down to 8.5 nc per serving.

Photo: Nutrition Information

Give this a try and let me know how you like it and/or any other ways to serve it.

Thinking About Going Meatless?

Photo: Baked rellenos with sauce

With many people thinking in terms of doing a “meatless Monday,”  I thought I’d start putting out recipes on Sunday for a meatless option on Monday. While doing a low carbohydrate life style, going without any meat in your meals could be challenging since the dishes often involve other things we don’t normally eat, such as grains, rice, and pasta. So, my goal is to give you alternatives that are satisfying and tasty while avoiding those things we don’t eat.

To kick this off, I’m offering my chile relleno  with zucchini recipe. If you don’t care about going meatless, you can add chicken to it or serve a grilled breast as a side dish.

For my dish, I used Anaheim peppers from my garden along with home grown zucchini. I chose to use Irish cheddar cheese in it since it is sharper than American cheddar, but any sharp variety will work. You can also use Poblano peppers. I used Herzes Taquera Salsa with a few cherry tomatoes from my garden to make the sauce.

Chile Rellenos with Zucchini

4 Anaheim or Poblano Peppers, charred and peeled
Or you can use canned whole chiles
4 to 6 thick strips of Kerrygold Irish Cheddar or other cheddar       cheese
1 cup sliced Zucchini, slightly cooked
3 tablespoons of Heavy Cream plus 3 tablespoons of Water
1/3 cup low carb Flour (I used Bakesquick)
1/3 teaspoon Baking Powder,1/3 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Egg, beaten
1/3 teaspoon Salt
1/3 teaspoon Cumin
!/3 teaspoon Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Seasoning

For the Sauce:
1 Small can Mexican-style Tomatoes with Chiles
Or 1 small can Taquera Salsa or other Salsa of your choice

To char and peel the peppers, put the peppers under the broiler on a sheet of aluminum foil for about three to four minutes until they are blackened on that side, then turn them, and cook on the other side. If they are large, it may take three turns to blacken the whole pepper.

Transfer the peppers to a plastic bag and let them sit for fifteen to thirty minutes. Run them under cold water and the charred part should peel off easily. Cut them open and remove the seeds and cut the top off.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F.)

Photo: Baked relleanos
Cooked and ready for a topping sauce to serve.

Put the peppers in a baking pan or a oven-friendly skillet (cast iron or copper). Place cheese strips within the middle of each of the peppers.

Cook the zucchini slices for a two or three minutes in the microwave or in a pan of boiling water to partially cook. Spread the zucchini over the top of the peppers.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, pepper, and herb seasoning. Stir in the beaten egg and stir together the well. The batter should be easily spreadable, so add a little extra water if needed. Spread over the top of the zucchini.

Bake for 25 minutes.

While the peppers are baking, prepare your sauce. This can be any kind of sauce you would like to use. Traditionally, I’ve usually seen a hot tomato salsa-type sauce. Put the tomatoes in a pan, add chile powder and cumin to make it spicier and cook until it begins to thicken.

For my dish, I used Herdez Taquera Salsa and added six cherry tomatoes cut in half to cut the spice a little. Heat for about 10 minutes to cook the tomatoes and reduce the sauce.

You could also put a cheese sauce over the top that has been spiced with chopped green chiles and taco seasoning.

Serves 2 large portions or 4 smaller portions.

Nutrition Info for Chile Rellenos with zucchini